Sunday, April 30, 2006

English Only

On the first and second page of this journal you will find an employment law issue I have been looking for all week. As some of you know, the controversy caused by the translation into Spanish and singing of the National Anthem has been a hot topic this week, which inspired me to discuss English-only rules. English-only has primarily been, in most states, ruled unconstitutional and/or discriminatory. Only in Arizona has it recently been ruled an acceptable procedure. The main reason for this is that English is not the official language of the United States, as well as the fact that hispanic immigrants and those immigrants who have become citizens make up an extremely significant portion of the United States labor force - therefore, English-only laws in the workplace and imposed by government severely disadvantage people who are strongly affected by whichever entity's policies. In New York City (where I'm from), policymakers, including Republic mayor Michael Bloomberg, would not dream of instituting English-only laws like they have in Arizona, out of respect for the large hispanic population that deserves the right to be able to educate themselves on state policies. The underlying question is; what are the costs of English-only and what are the benefits? From a utilitarian approach, do the benefits outweigh the costs? I think you would be hard pressed to find such a situation - at worst, the right to translate policies provides some hispanic residents of this country with jobs that would be taken away with the institution of English-only. What do you think?


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