Saturday :: Apr 1, 2006

Forging New Wage Fetters


by pessimist

Immigration is the latest hot topic of contention among factions of the 'Melting Pot' that is America. Considering that the majority of Republicans are WASPs (and whites are no longer the majority in at least four states), one might understand their inherent 'discomfort' (to be extremely generous) with those of other races. One doesn't understand near as easily their rabid opposition to Celtic peoples who are also illegal immigrants. It's almost as if Mel Brooks could see the future:

All right, we'll give some land to the [N-word]s and the [Chinese],
but we DON'T WANT THE IRISH.

- Olson Johnson, Blazing Saddles

Considering the current political environment concerning immigration, the Irish are going to need all the four-leaf clover that they can muster since they can't raise hundreds of thousands like the Hispanics can:

2,400 Irish immigrants gather in Washington
08 March 2006

The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform says 2,400 people attended its rally in Washington DC to try to put pressure on the US government to reform its immigration policy. Irish people, living both legally and illegally in the US, travelled via coach from New York to Washington DC today. Hundreds more came from Philadelphia, Boston and further afield.

Even being White didn't help them much:


No special deal for Irish in US, says Ahern
16 March 2006

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has said there can be no special deal for Irish illegal immigrants in the United States, and that their situation will have to be dealt with as part of a comprehensive solution.

There are up to 12 million illegal immigrants in the US, and while the Irish only make up at most 50,000 of that figure, the Taoiseach is pushing the issue in the American capital this week. He was speaking after a meeting with Senator John McCain, one of the key sponsors of immigration reform legislation, [who] said he wanted a comprehensive settlement, and did not want to start 'carving out' different national groups.

Mr Ahern agreed, saying a patchwork solution would not work - only a comprehensive deal covering all nationalities.

Nothin' like the Luck o' the Irish, is there?

TDs to lobby for Irish illegals in US
29 March 2006 10:36

Members of the Dáil [the lower house of the Irish parliament] Select Committee on Foreign Affairs are in Washington to lobby on behalf of the estimated 20,000 undocumented Irish in the United States. Over the next two days, five members of the Dáil committee, led by Chairman Michael Woods, will meet key Senators and Congressmen.

One of the people they will be meeting is the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, James Sensenbrenner. He is co-sponsor of a House Bill that makes no provision for a guest worker programme and includes a clause making illegal immigration a criminal offence.

Even if the more lenient Senate Bill is passed, a compromise must be found with the House Bill.

That isn't going to be easy. The backlash of conservatives has erected a tall barrier for George to climb:

In immigration reform, border control must be job No.1
The Star-Ledger
Monday, March 27, 2006

There's nothing more permanent, as the saying has it in immigration circles, than a temporary worker.

Once it comprised men who came alone to work the farm fields of California and the Middle West. Their numbers were manageable and many returned home. Today, whole families have slipped across our southern border, not to work temporarily or merely in the farm fields, but to stay. Which is why the idea of a "guest worker" program -- in which the worker would be obliged to go home after a specified work period -- is delusional.

Nothing matches the need to regain control of our borders -- even if it means building fences, though that's the least attractive alternative.
But it doesn't do much for congressional Republicans seeking election this fall and fearing conservative backlash if they don't stand up for border security. It's another issue on which they're about to abandon Bush.

What action can he take in Hawaii that would please the backlash? It would be very difficult to put up viable fences on Waikiki Beach:


Hawai'i immigrant advocates laud Senate bill, criticize Case
By Gordon Y.K. Pang, Honolulu Advertiser Staff Writer
March 28, 2006

KahBo Dye-Chiew, chairwoman of the Hawai'i chapter of the immigration attorneys group, was one of two Hawai'i advocates in Washington, D.C., last week lobbying for the Senate [immigration] bill and against the House version. The Senate version is more like the so-called "guest worker program" supported by President Bush.

Maile Hirota, the former chairwoman of the immigration lawyers group, estimated there are about 1,000 undocumented immigrants in Hawai'i, said the Senate version does not provide a blanket amnesty for undocumented immigrants and they must undergo a series of background checks, show proof they pay taxes, are working, and have good moral character.

She said she has one client whose work visa is expired and whose employer is unaware of it. "I'm sure he's not the only one," Dye-Chiew said. "(The Senate bill) would help him. He's been paying taxes the whole time. He has no criminal record."

Initially, the man would be able to get a new nonimmigrant status, allowing him to seek work from another employer, and eventually apply for a lawful permanent residency status, she said.

Does this not amount to amnesty? This isn't a partisan question! It looks like amnesty to Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions as much as it does to the Democratic Representative from Hawaii, U.S. Rep. Ed Case!

Case, D-Hawai'i, said he opposes the Senate bill if it allows a blanket amnesty for illegal workers already in the U.S. if they only need to pay a fine. "I'm not ready to provide a blanket amnesty," he said. He said he would also consider the Senate bill "seriously deficient" if it did not require employers to verify the legal status of potential employees.

A major argument of those who oppose help for undocumented residents is that they are taking away jobs from U.S. workers. Dye-Chiew, however, said "there are lot of protections in place to make sure that foreigners who come to the United States do not take away jobs from these workers."

"Male Bovine Excrement!" shouts True Conservative columnist Clarence Page:


Low-wage U.S. workers aren't on Bush's mind
By Clarence Page
March 28, 2006

President Bush's happy talk about his proposed guest-worker program is facing hard election-year questions from Republicans in Congress. Unfortunately, of all the people who have clout with Mr. Bush on the volatile issue of immigration, low-income legal American workers don't seem to rank very high.

President Bush continues to say that his guest-worker program would match foreign workers with American employers "when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs."

There's hardly any job that Americans won't fill if you offer decent pay.
But why offer more pay when you're seeking someone to work your fields, baby-sit your kids, tend your garden, work your factory, bus your restaurant tables, lay your bricks or put up your drywall when you can hire an illegal worker who will work longer hours for less money?

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, illegal immigrants make up about a fourth of all drywall and ceiling-tile installers in the U.S., about a fourth of all meat and poultry workers and a fourth of all restaurant dishwashers. It is not a desperate need by America's employers that draws most illegal immigrants here. It is the higher income that they can make here than for the same type of work back home.

As a result, millions of undocumented immigrants have gained an economic foothold on the American dream while millions of the sort of people who used to fill those jobs, particularly undereducated black men, languish on street corners. America's lax immigration enforcement of recent decades would be far more tolerable if the government and the private sector did more to "make work pay" for legal low-wage American workers.

To sum up, it doesn't matter if you are Irish - or Mexican, or Lebanese, or Mongololian, because American workers are now feeling the pinch of globalization - a pinch enhanced by the exploitative efforts of the current corporatist regime in power.

The Republican Congress needs - as driftglass puts it - to "tread as lightly as a chubby mouse in a catnip bomber-jacket navigating the main floor of the Lion House just around sup-sup-sup-suppertime" lest the public fully realize the truth in his statement concerning this issue facing working Americans:

George Bush and his pet Republican Party couldn’t be doing a better job of destroying this country if they were the paid agents of a foreign power.

Men who live in First Class [Topper$] ... and have deluded themselves into believing that they can outsource the rivets and steel that hold the plane together, the engines that make it go and the flight crew that navigates it safely though the storm ... and yet somehow they will be able to fly on in comfort forever, fueled by consultants and canny financial valuation trickery.

[A] report by the Economic Strategy Institute [PDF], a nonpartisan think tank, ... notes that while the U.S. led the world in broadband Internet access in 2000, it has now fallen to 16th place. In 2000, 40 percent of the world's telecom equipment was produced in America. That share is now 21 percent and falling. The U.S. ranks 42nd for the percentage of people with cellphones. In an age when connectivity means productivity, when communications infrastructure is at the heart of any innovation ecosystem, these things matter for job creation and growth.

[T]o acknowledge these deficits is to acknowledge that we have to spend money to fix them,
and the radical Bush tax cuts make that impossible.

Remember what I wrote the other day about the statements of the UPS CEO?

But I digress.

We have become used to luxury. Those $.99 chicken fingers? The $12 bumper-to-bumper, inside-and-out car-wash? The three-oranges-for-a-buck sale down at the Jewel? These are, all of them, luxury items, created not by a band of rugged Libertarians hewing agricultural and technological miracles out of the living rock, but made possible by an ocean of cheap labor, federal subsidies and a continent rich beyond the dreams of Avarice in natural resources.

[S]lavery is where it all began. Slavery made us rich and destroyed our soul. [I]n order to reconcile the existence of Slavery as the pillar that supported the worldly prosperity of the ruling class in the Land of the Free, we created the mold of Divine White Male Privilege into which our hatred and fear has been poured, generation after generations. And out of which the scum of the Earth have lumbered, generation after generation.

Once they were the CSA. Today they are the GOP.
Nothing but Old Whine in New Skins, creatures whose Operating System was hammered into place using the butt-end of the Cross by the Confederate Government and the War of Choice they chose to wage in defense of their right to get rich from the forced labor of others.

Hey, don’t take my word for it. Just listen to what ol’ Jeff Davis himself had to say on the subject. From Jefferson Davis’ actual address to the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America, Montgomery, April 29, 1861:

Under the supervision of a superior race their labor had been so directed as not only to allow a gradual and marked amelioration of their own condition, but to convert hundreds of thousands of square miles of wilderness into cultivated lands covered with a prosperous people... for the full development and continuance of which the labor of African slaves was and is indispensable... and had become absolutely necessary to the wants of civilized man."
It was God’s Will that White Men exploit and subjugate the lesser races
and work them to death for White Men’s Prospertity.
In 1861 the South was prosperous specifically because of the forced labor of four million brown people who were reviled, exploited, abused and utterly necessary.

In 2006, America is prosperous specifically because of the peonage-cheap, illegal labor of twelve million brown people who are reviled, exploited, abused and utterly necessary.

We tolerate with a wink-and-a-nudge
a system that simultataneously criminalizes a labor force of twelve million
to keep them underground and terrified,
and then carefully extracts their labor for pennies.
We have chosen to burn through our collective inheritance of wealth and prestige to make foolish choices, set foolish policies, wage foolish wars, without having to feel any pain. Like crack-heads, we have stolen from our parents and mooched from our children enough fast, high-interest cash to allow us to trundle along in a state of oblivious Eloi-ness where we don’t have to make any hard decisions and our God-Given Right to Comfort and Ease keeps us from asking too many tough questions about where all this Free Lunch is actually coming from.
But Physics and Economics are brutal loan-sharks and we can’t all live forever on borrowed money,
no matter how successful certain individuals like Dubya have been at doing just that.
And sooner than we ever dreamed possible, the day will be upon us when we will be required to choose between:

* working and living a little harder and a little smarter for a little less in the short run, but a lot of good in the long term

or

* to continue to insist that God demands that we get the top cut of everything, even if it takes an army to force the rest of the world to give it to us.

And if we choose the latter – if we refuse to cope or adapt, [if we] just insist that the government keep us stocked with cheap goods and cheap labor by any means necessary ... the Slave Markets will have once again become permanent fixtures on our national landscape, and the Jefferson Davis South will have well and truly risen again.

If that happens, this time the slaves won't only be Black. They will also be brown and yellow and white and red - anyone who isn't making it in the world as well as a Topper. Anyone who for some reason falls behind economically. Anyone who bought into the lie and lost a mortgage, unable to declare bankruptcy to make a new start. Anyone who can't work profitably because of a dependent sick or infirm. Anyone who isn't already wealthy. Anyone who isn't a citizen.

It's time to trouble some 'beautiful minds' before anything can get much worse than it already is.


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