It turns out I can't enjoy being served gin and tonics while laying on a beach at a comfortable resort while, 300 yards down the beach a peasant woman washes her family laundry at the mouth of a foul-smelling creek as her children work the tourists for spare change.
Mexico is a country where a privileged minority have it good... very, very good. A country built on serfdom means never having to cut one's own lawn, raise one's own kids, or for that matter doing anything one deems beneath them.
That's life for a tiny minority of privileged Mexicans. The rest of the population scrapes and scrambles just to get by.
If you like that kind of social arrangement you're in for a real treat, because it's coming here. Actually, it's here already in some places, and is making steady inroads in communities across America.
"There's the rich, and then there's everything else, in terms of the economy but also in terms of social class," says Edward Wolff, a New York University professor and expert on the wealth gap. He likens it to the social divisions of the 1890s, adding: "If you don't counteract the extreme inequality trends, I see some social upheaval coming. That's my worst fear." (Full)
Democrats support the measure because Hispanic groups, a rapidly growing voting block, want a bill that will legalize the 12 million or so illegal Mexican immigrants now living in the US. They also want to retain the pretend border and workplace enforcement measures that have facilitated that influx.
Republicans want something else. They want to recreate the Mexico model right here on our side of the border. Outsourcing of once good-paying manufacturing jobs has already devastated America's once vibrant blue collar demographic. Workers whose jobs were lost to outsourcing have been relegated to lower paying service sector jobs. (The companies that once employed them are the same ones that are doing so well on Wall Street these days, and that's a major reason why.)
With that milestone now behind them Republicans have now turned their sights on highly-paid skilled white collar American workers. These domestic professionals are costing corporations money so, under the guise of “global competitiveness,” Republicans now want to increase the number of foreign skilled workers companies can hire through the H1-B visa program.
They also slipped into the “comprehensive” immigration reform bill measures that will skew future immigration to favor skilled immigrant workers, programmers, engineers, architects, and the such. Like the flood of unskilled immigrants that preceded them, these skilled foreign professionals work for less than their American counterparts. By hiring foreign professionals willing to work for less than half what similarly skilled Americans , companies can record another boost to their bottom line.
But what of displaced skilled American workers? They are not about to settle for unskilled, low-wage work in the service sector? The US Chamber types have a glib response – displaced skilled Americans should stop whining and “retrain” themselves for a different job or profession. If you ask them just what that new profession might be, they are short on answers, since they know that every skilled profession is the corporate hit list.
I get myself in all kinds of trouble with my friends on the left when I talk about immigration because I don't toe the party line. You know... the “there's no such thing as an illegal person,” clap trap non-sequitur, and those Mexicans that claim “we didn't cross the border, the border crossed us.” To whom I replay, “Yeah, that's what the Guatemalan illegals in Mexico shout too while Mexican police shove them back across their border with Guatemala – generally after administering them a thorough whomping.”
Of course there are real humanitarian issues mixed in with the other ramifications that flow from the inescapable reality of the world's richest nation sharing a porous border with one of the world's poorest. But those ramifications go both ways. Immigration is not a zero-sum game. One group's gain comes at the expense of another group. While uncontrolled flows from Mexico put pressure on US workers and wages, it takes releaves social pressures in Mexico which otherwise would almost certainly result in pressure on the privileged to spread the wealth more fairly. Rather than the US addressing the welfare of indigious Mexican workers we are securing the welfare of their oppressors back home.
Meanwhile back home here it was once an article of faith that “what's good for American businesses is good for America.” That may have been true once, but today it's demonstrably just the opposite. What's considered good for business today are things like, loose environmental and work safety regulations, shedding pensions and health care for workers, paying less in taxes to support a national infrastructure that benefits them more than anyone and, of course, a surplus of cheap workers.
And that's what on the burner in Congress this week. When you hear supporters of the current immigration bill peddling their vision of “comprehensive immigration reform,” first look at the speaker's name tag. If it reads “Democrat” they are whoring for Hispanic votes. Make have no doubt about it. There is not a shred of honor or integrity or humanity involved. It's all about rounding up the Hispanic demographic for Democrats and depriving Republicans of the same. If you believe otherwise, I have a garage full of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction to sell you.
If the name tag Ids them as “Republican,” then they are pimping for US Chamber of Commerce and their corporate supporters. Absolutely and provably bought and paid for.
So where do I stand on immigration reform? Somewhere else, apparently. I understand the problem created by reality of 12 million illegals already embedded in the fabric of our country. Most of them came here after the last “comprehensive” immigration reforms passed during the Reagan administration that legalized 3 million. That round of legalization attracted the 12 million more we are now all obsessing over. Do it again the same way and in decade we'll a 48 million more demanding a fast-track to citizenship. Frankly I find myself on the side of people I normally shudder at. I would counsel benign neglect – follow the changes below and let attrition whittle the number down to a level where, in few years, we are down a manageable level.
- Pass strict workplace enforcement with real penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers.
- The repeal or amending of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which forms the legal basis for so-called “anchor babies.” The intent of the 14th Amendment was to assure that the children of freed African-American slaves were denied US citizenship. It had nothing to do with babies of foreign immigrants and Congress needs to do whatever is required to clarify that issue.
- Limit aid to undocumented immigrants to basic humanitarian issues, such as emergency health services, food, water and temporary shelter pending deportation.
- Would be immigrants
from Mexico must get in the same line and comply with the same rules as
every other nationality wanting to immigrate legally to the US.
Of course, I doubt we will. Those Americans – many members of my “baby boom” generation -- have warmed to the Mexican model. After all, it's nice to have a nanny, a housekeeper and gardener happy to work for peanuts.
And then there's the agribusiness folks. They like to scare us with tales of how much we'd have to pay for our food if they couldn't hire cheap Mexican farm workers.
Maybe so, but these same agribusiness lobbyists about wet themselves singing the praises of turning food (corn) into Ethanol. I don't recall any of them warning doing that would drive food prices up. Have you noticed the prices in the cereal and meat aisle lately? Well, get ready, because they're going yet higher.
If you think you're suffering sticker shock at the pump, just wait another year or two and you'll feel the same way when when the clerk tallies up your weekly grocery tab.Cereal prices to rise
Wednesday, June 6, 2007--MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills Inc. said it would raise cereal prices to match increases by competitors. General Mills spokesman Tom Forsythe said Tuesday that customers should see lower prices per box, but the boxes will be smaller, so the effect is a price increase....The maker of Wheaties and Lucky Charms has been looking for a way to boost profits, which have been squeezed by higher prices for fuel and ingredients such as oats. (Full Story)
But never mind. That's a different issue, they'll tell you. Agriculture needs both cheap labor and the ability to sell their food crops for fuel. It's a “national security issue,” they add – with stern faces. (So, you prefer affordable food to fighting terrorists?)
And once again way too many working class Americans will nod in obedient agreement. We like our internal combustion gadgets. If we have to burn food to keep the speed boat running, oh well. And if that's going to drive up food prices, well that just means we need cheap farm labor all the more, right?
But of course.
And then there's all those spoiled baby boomers who've developed a taste for cheap hired help. And all those over-paid, over tax-exempted executives saddled with huge lawns that need mowing, pools that need care, multiple homes too keep clean. Imagine if they had to pay American workers a living wage to do all that! Unthinkable.
And so we continue a lemming-like march towards the Mexican model. When that happens the new border action will shift further north as undocumented Americans seek in Canada what they allowed to be pissed away back home.
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