Servant of the Secret Fire

Random thoughts on books and life in the reality-based community

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The name I've chosen comes from "Lord of the Rings," when Gandalf faces down the Balrog in the Mines of Moria. My Hebrew name is Esther (which is related to the word for "hidden" or "secret") Serafina (which means "burning"). This seems appropriate because although I don't usually put myself forward, I do care very passionately about a lot of things. Maybe through these blogs I can share some of these passions, as well as less weighty ideas and opinions, with others.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Immigration Part 2

One reason I like blogs better than letters to the editor (and this has happened with my more well thought-out ones too), is that you can have second thoughts and clarify your ideas. Now I’m hoping that I didn’t unintentionally sound like I was endorsing Dubya’s guest worker program, because I don’t think that companies should go out and bring people over unless they absolutely cannot find anyone in this country to do the jobs, which I doubt. My proposal was more an after-the-fact penalty (in addition to any fines, which as I said I don’t think work on their own) on the employers. As was pointed out by Randi Rhodes on her show today, there also has to be work done on the other end of the “pipeline,” making Mexico, in particular, a place where people can stay and earn a decent living for their families.

I used to buy into the idea that undocumented workers do the jobs that Americans won’t do, but now I have some major qualms about that. In some cases it might be true, but if it ever was on a large scale, a couple of things have changed in the past several years. First, as someone else pointed out on the radio, they’re not just picking vegetables anymore; the number of industries hiring people who are here illegally has expanded. Secondly, the economy and the job market have gotten worse, so that people might be willing to take jobs now that they weren’t twenty years ago. Also, it would make a big difference if they were offered a decent wage, but that’s the sticking point.

I’m really not sure what kind of work Americans are supposed to do - On Point had a show on last week about how everything except service jobs is eventually going to be shipped overseas, and they want to bring people in to do those. Then the rest of us, I suppose, will be excoriated for being lazy bums. Of course, they will presumably give us those service jobs if we’ll do them for next to nothing, but in that case we will end up as a country with a very few very wealthy and a majority of poor people. Evidently they’ve forgotten Henry Ford’s insight - that you have to pay people enough so that they can buy what you’re providing, or you’ll have a very limited base of people to sell to.

Then of course we have to look at what to do with the people who are already here. The idea of deporting them all is ridiculous and unworthy of this country, although not of our present leadership. The only thing that’s protecting them now is Dubya’s loyalty to his corporate base. It would be a long haul (although it might provide work for quite a few Americans), but I think they should be looked at, if not on a case-to-case basis, at least not as a homogenous mass. Are they the kind of people we want to have as citizens? Are they attempting to assimilate, or would they if given legal status? Are they people who are willing to work hard if their work is rewarded? Do they have family here who can help them out?

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