Thursday, January 08, 2004

the big story of the moment is bush's new proposal for allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the country provided they have jobs. (though the plan might not actually be implemented anytime soon, if ever)

now in theory it's nice that bush is acknowledging that our current immigration policies are totally fubar, and on its surface this plan might look like a boon for illegal immigrants. of course nobody is really happy with it: the republicans are complaining that this policy would be going too easy on people who don't follow the rules (because illegal aliens are, after all, illegal). & democrats point out that this policy doesn't give any real hope of the immigrants ever gaining citizenship or permanent residency, and that immigrants aren't likely to sign up if it means they will eventually be deported. and there are other complaints as well. but when i was listening to the soundbites on npr this morning, i noticed something hidden in the subtext that nobody seems to talking about:

"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," Mr. Bush said to cheers from an audience that included cabinet members and representatives of Hispanic groups.

but wait... isn't this a tacit acknowledgment that bush's economic recovery policies are simply not working? that for all bush's talk about job growth, the only jobs he's capable of creating are such dangerous, low-paying shit jobs that american citizens would rather stay unemployed (while the jobs we're losing are all higher-paying, relatively skilled jobs)? that the whole economic upswing that they tell us we're in the middle of is a complete sham?

this just reminds me of the recent brouhahahahahaha about steel tariffs, and how the simple fact that bush would allow steel tariffs at all proved that he didn't really believe all that garbage he spouts about "free trade"; he only want the freedom for us to export. (actually, the steel tariffs were only the latest example to show this hypocrisy, but it's the freshest in my memory & i don't need to research it)

but back to the immigration issue... the last thing i want to sound like is a reactionary who wants to prevent immigrants from taking "our" jobs. because frankly bush is right that the jobs illegal immigrants take are generally among the worst jobs out there. american citizens are too vain and proud to take jobs cleaning up slaughterhouses or public restrooms. but these immigrants don't care. if you want to know the real meaning of the phrase "american work ethic", look at mexicans or other illegals. they truly have the work ethic to do the important, hard jobs. (mexico is a part of america after all)

so while at first glance it may look like this guy (from some organization called the federation for american immigrant reform, an obvious pr industry front group if ever i've heard of one) and i are in agreement, we really aren't but on the most basic level:

"With nine million unemployed Americans and the nation in the midst of a jobless recovery," a spokesman for the federation, David Ray, said, "we need a foreign guest worker program like we need a hole in the head. It's going to have a huge downward pressure on wages and working conditions. It will basically allow employers unfettered access to cheap exploitable workers. If they claim they can't fill a job with an American, they can fill it with a foreign worker."

this guy's argument and mine might start in about the same place, but he goes about it totally backward. employers already have access to cheap exploitable workers. in fact they have such tremendous access that they're addicted to it, so dependent on cheap disposable labor that they need bush to legitimize their business practices. because our economy has been so thoroughly demolished, and the status quo of american business is so corrupt, that the only real choice is whether to export all our jobs, or import workers who will work for cheap (because the main alternative, raising pay and improving working conditions, is just not the american way). now admittedly, bush is not entirely responsible for this, but it's hard to deny that his economic policies have been the equivalent of the old "fake hand" hanging-from-a-ledge gag... you know how the joke goes: our hero (for example, let's say batman) is hanging from a ledge by his fingertips. if he lets go, he will fall thousands of feet, likely to his death. then the villain (let's say the joker) feigns compassion and reaches out a hand for batman to grab onto, so the joker can pull him to safety. batman grabs the hand, thinking it will save his life, only for the joker to reveal that the hand is made of rubber! it's fake! worse yet, it's not attached to his arm! having fallen for the trick, batman can no longer support his weight, loses his grip, and falls to a bloody painful death.

the only real difference here is that DC comics will never kill off batman, because the character is such a cash cow for them (how many fucking monthly batman- or gotham-related books are there, anyway? tons)

No comments: