Arizona Republic
Jan. 18, 2005

Earl de Berge
Public opinion and market research

Ironic isn't it, that as free enterprise increasingly finds huge profits and opportunities in using Spanish-language media, Spanish-speaking employees and Spanish-language sales contracts to make money off those in our population whose first language is not English, conservative and so-called pro-business Republicans in the State House insist government should march in exactly the opposite direction.

While Rep. Russell Pearce crows ... "If you come to American, you should speak English," he should reflect on a more widely held belief, one which seems to be heartily embraced by President Bush, "If it is good for business, it is good for America."

He should also reflect on this reality: consumer research on Hispanics demonstrates that from first to second generation, the proportion of Spanish-speakers who become bi-lingual and who prefer English language media jumps to well over 80 percent.

This traces to their powerful desire to learn English and demonstrates that no governmental intervention is needed. It also underscores the potent influence of the bi-lingual work-a-day commercial and governmental world in which they work, in helping them learn English.

So where is the value in eliminating one of the very tools people rely upon to learn English - the ability to lay an English-Spanish document side-by-side and study them both as they learn?

That people who come to America should learn to speak English is not at issue. What is at issue is whether government should go out of its way to make the process more difficult and even insulting.