Background checks of the unseen

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Background checks of the unseen

No matter what your political or philosophical or emotional view of the war in Iraq, in the zero-sum game of government financing, $200 billion spent in Iraq is $200 billion not available to be spent on the search for Bin Laden, Al Quaida, and other terrorist threats not related to Iraq.

How does this apply to our day-to-day life? Well, let’s forget international actions and look simply at theUnited States. Some time ago we saw an hour-long news show on the smuggling of people into theU.S.by Mexican coyotes (the smuggler coyotes, not the animals). According to those coyotes interviewed, they had largely stopped smuggling Mexicans, and, instead, were smuggling Middle Eastern men, who paid better. The estimate was that they were smuggling roughly 500 men a month.

Astonishingly, the show also interviewed some of those who were being smuggled. Our recollection is that they largely said that their task was to get invisible jobs, and remain out of sight until contacted and given instructions. So, figure that about 5000 men from the Mideast come across the border a year, and have been doing so for the past few years. This means a lot of potential troublemakers invisibly spread throughout the country. Since many Americans have significant sympathy for the plight of theMideast(keep in mind the poll taken after 9/11 that said one out of every 20 Americans thought the attacks were completely justified), this creates a potential national security issue of significance.

What can you do? Well, for a start, be aware that under the best of circumstances it is prudent to do a background check on anyone you hire. As it happens, companies tend to be very bad about checking the background of senior-level people. And they are not too good about checking the background of middle-level people. And they are even worse at checking the background of low-level people. All of this is a bad combination.

This means that you can do a great deal to stop crime and violence by taking the time and effort to do at least minimal background checks on anyone with whom you deal. By finding people who have criminal backgrounds, or whose backgrounds simply don’t hold up to even minor scrutiny, you will not only reduce your negligent-action liability, but you will also go a long way toward contributing to a safer workplace, as well as to a safer country, and, in the end, to a safer world.

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