A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Lies, lies, and more lies

Of all the lies that most set my teeth on edge right now, here's a beaut:

"Illegal workers are simply filling jobs that Americans are not willing to do."

In the treasured tactic of "If you repeat it enough, people will believe it," we hear this mantra repeated continuously. No one questions this statement. It is parroted in the so-called "liberal media," without so much as a glint of a doubt about the veracity of this claim. I saw this load of horsemuffins in my own hometown paper last week, without a drop of irony.

For instance, there's this claim from President Bush in January of 2004:
Reform must begin by confronting a basic fact of life and economics: some of the jobs being generated in America's growing economy are jobs American citizens are not filling. Yet these jobs represent a tremendous opportunity for workers from abroad who want to work and fulfill their duties as a husband or a wife, a son or a daughter..... The situation I described is wrong. It is not the American way. Out of common sense and fairness, our laws should allow willing workers to enter our country and fill jobs that Americans have are not filling. (Applause.) We must make our immigration laws more rational, and more humane. And I believe we can do so without jeopardizing the livelihoods of American citizens.

There are people who work as morticians-- my uncle is one. There are people who work cleaning up places after someone has died violently. There are people who clean up after the incontinent in nursing homes and who perform autopsies and work on that "Body Farm" in Tennessee. One of my college roommates worked in a Tyson chicken plant pulling chicken entrails out of chicken corpses and thereby covering herself in chicken excrement eight hours a day to earn the money to go to school so that she wouldn't smell like chicken shit for the next forty years.

There is NO SUCH THING as a job Americans won't do. I resent it being implied that we Americans are too lazy or spoiled to do a good honest day's work by people who are all too willing to trumpet The American Way when it comes election time. And by the way, don't think that the attacks that these same people make upon all American public schools is not part and parcel of manufacturing a sense of failure and unworthiness of the America worker (ironic use of the word "manufacturing" in this discussion is intentional). These same people also give tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs overseas. I don't mind the outsourcing part so much as I resent my unlowered tax dollars paying for it-- the ultimate insult to someone who would not be a college educated person if it were not for union wages.

There IS such a thing as a job Americans cannot do and be able to make a living. There is such a thing as a living wage in this country. Allowing illegal immigrants guest worker status in our country is simply a shameful attempt to cut the legs out from under all working people, particularly those like my students who will soon be entering the labor market. Enhancing and exacerbating a glut of workers equals lower wages for everyone on the lower end of the spectrum, and that eventually works its way up into the middle class, folks. The only people who will not suffer are the ones who get to hire these guest workers or their unlucky US citizen competitors at two bucks an hour as gardeners and landscapers and poultry plant workers. These would be the same people who have received all the tax breaks under the trickle down theory.

Let's start our own chant. Repeat after me: There is no such thing as a job Americans won't do. There is NO SUCH THING as a job Americans won't do. THERE IS NO SUCH THING! There are only jobs that pay wages Americans can't live on.

And I am not in any way unsympathetic to the plight of the illegal immigrants. But let me toss down a challenge to those who are trumpeting this trumped up need for workers: If it is as you say, let's open up the restrictions and the quotas and accept all comers. Let's show compassion for these people by opening up the borders-- we are already doing this in practice anyway. But I don't think that what would be entertained by this administration, and not just because of national security concerns, which is useful as a scare tactic when you want to erode civil liberties, anyway.

No, this administration wants OUR cake and they want to eat it too, while we serve it to them for two bucks an hour (plus tips).

More on this later.


Meanwhile, The Advocate Weekly is up at Joe Thomas's place over here, and the latest Carnival of Education is being guesthosted by Coturnix at Circadiana and will hopefully be up and running by tomorrow morning.


At 12/21/05, 1:37 PM, Blogger Coach Brown said...

Come on now.

This is really simple supply and demand. Ask the average American if he/she is willing to pay triple the price in agricultural products, and a vast majority will say no. It is really simple to slam the migrant immigration policy, until you realize that consumers are driving that policy.

Then you turn around and say that we should open the borders, and you blame the Bush adminstration for all the ills of immigration. Although I don't like many of the administrations choices, do you really think that the way to prosperity is opening the border? Don't you think that the National Security portion of that argument has merit?

I'm up for logical solutions to this problem, not partisian bashing.

At 12/21/05, 2:18 PM, Blogger Superdestroyer said...

The idea is based on geography and culture instead of economics. The decision makers in places like Washington, DC never, ever see or meet any blue collar whites.

In Washington, DC, due to the cost of living, all manual jobs and blue collar jobs are held by blacks or immigrants.

Thus, the elite of this country live in a world where they believe that whites will not do blue collar work because they do not know any white person who does blue collar work. In suburbs like Bethesda, such work is immigrant work.

It is not hard for them to go from that to believe that white America just will not do the work.

At 12/21/05, 5:12 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

It is about far more than agricultural products, and you know it. It is about ensuring the profit margin. It is about depressing wages.

As to opening the borders, I was simply addressing the "humanitarian" claims that was made in the quote from the White House. I actually don't think we should open wide the borders. I do believe that the reason to have an immigration policy is to have some control over this issue. But we have policymakers talking out of both sides of their mouths.

It is currently illegal to hire an illegal immigrant, so once again, if we would simply enforce the laws we have, this would not even be an issue.

Illegal immigrants are often exploited once they're in this country, and the answer is not to give them guest worker status. The answer is to not allow employers to place them in dangerous working environs. See, citizens used to have unions which gave voice to workers' demands to make workplaces safer.

I regret I did not express myself clearly on this, but in the midst of writing it, I was informed my father has terminal cancer which has metastasized, and I kind of dropped the post at that time. I will finish this later-- it's like therapy, and I do it in honor of my blue-collar dad.


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