Sunday, April 30, 2006

How Stupid Can We Get?

I am entirely disgusted with the illegal immigration "debate" that is going on in this country. This is another scheme in an seemingly endless train of legislative initiatives designed to increase corporate profits, at the expense of the American people. Non-enforcement of immigration laws or creating a guest worker program is nothing more than an attempt to depress wages and further the policy of wage stagnation in order to reduce the production costs of campaign contributors. While Bush and other proponents may cite humanitarian reasons for allowing guest workers, this utterly ridiculous. Our "humanitarian" government allows AIDS to run rampant in Africa and catastrophes like Darfur to continue, primarily because their is no profit to be made in the rectification of these situations.

Bush also claims that the illegal immigrants are doing the jobs "that no American will do." The fact that any portion of our population has swallowed this falsehood floors me. The only reason that Americans won't do these jobs is because they pay minimum wage, which is not a living wage for a taxpaying citizen. For example, one of the worst jobs in existence is working in a sewage treatment facility. Yet, these jobs are highly sought after by Americans because they pay very well. If you doubt me, go apply to your local sewage department and tell me when your start date is.

Don't bother writing me angry e-mails, particularly if you from Baltimore. Here, the effects of illegal immigration have been restricted to occupations like day labor and landscaping. On the other hand, I can tick off numerous Midwestern manufacturers that have replaced their workforce almost entirely with illegal immigrants. These companies insulate themselves from liability by using shell temp services to provide the illegals. If INS makes a raid, the temp service takes the penalty, dissolves itself, and reopens under a different name the next week. I have no problem with improving the lot of immigrants, but not at the expense of American citizens.

Additionally, I don't want to hear about how immigrants keep the costs of manufactured goods low. This is the same line of crap we were fed when they foisted NAFTA on us. Tell me, which goods got cheaper? Aside, from computers, where the low barriers to entry have allowed competition, I can't think of much. Did the price of chicken drop significantly when poultry industry embraced illegal immigrants? Many tier two and tier three automotive parts manufacturers use illegal immigrants. Has the price of an automobile fallen off the table? I lived in Louisville and watched the construction trades get decimated by illegal immigrants, yet new housing prices continued to spiral upwards. In other words, any cost savings created by cheap, illegal labor is not likely to be passed on to the consumer, unless competition forces it to be. This isn't likely in our current political environment.

Tomorrow, various immigrants groups have organized a boycott of buying goods and services in an attempt to use their buying power to promote the relaxation of immigration laws. It may well further their cause and it will probably garner sympathy from the American public. However, if they were protesting to get their average wage raised to $12/hour or for medical benefits, I can assure you INS would initiate mass deportations on a scale that has never been seen before in this country.

I have to say that I am in awe of how complacent we have become. It's not like you need a PhD in political science to fathom issues like Iraq, Social Security Reform, Bankruptcy Reform, NAFTA, or Illegal Immigration. It's real simple. All you need to ask is, "Who profits from this?" Unless you make your living by investing in the stock market, it isn't you.


At 7:12 PM, Blogger Broadsheet said...

Ummmm - so all the Mexican guys working for a crew boss putting up my brick garden wall this week? You mean they aren't from around here? I had absolutely no idea.

At 7:21 PM, Blogger Cham said...

I don't disagree with anything you have said. However, you ask about what prices has decreased over the last 10 years. I would say the price of quality clothing has plummeted. Sweaters, suits, trousers have all taken a dive because clothing manufacturers have bypassed Mexico and have headed deep into Central America, Asia and India where the price of labor is pennies per day.

None of what you have written is news to me, but what is somewhat astonishing is the recent opinion turnaround of the stereotypical normally flagwaving, Republican-loving, hate-filled white male. (mind you, I am not directly accusing you of this, tfg) It was on the backs of this group that Jorge the Lying Dicator was voted into office. There may be some hope for the US yet if enough people will take off the blinders and see the light.

Regarding immigration, American businesses claim they need the cheap labor to make ends meet. However, I'm sure we all can learn to automate our Taco Bell burrito orders with a touch-screen. iRobot makes a great robotic vacuum. I appreciate the undocumented worker's enthusaism when it comes to working but the US is already home to 12 million of them, I wonder how many more we can absorb if the US has no plans to build a wall on the Mexican border. These immigrants will keep flooding our borders and there will come a day when our homeless shelters are going to become packed with homeless latinos. The illegals may not have a roof over their head in the future but their kids will have free education and great medical care, unlike what is offered in Honduras.

When talking to the Guates, every single person I spoke with had an immediate relative living somewhere in the US, illegally or legally. All of them were receiving checks and electronic equipment like cameras and computers from their sisters, brothers and parents in the US on a regular basis. Huge amounts of dollars are flowing southward.

Who profits from illegal immigration? Manufacturers, construction, cleaning services, dry cleaners, restaurants, landscapers, bricklayers, flooring companies, concrete contractors.

Yes, prices for some things would increase if we deported these people, but I can live without restaurants and cleaning services. We all can.

Don't expect Jorge, Mikulski, Sarbanes or anyone else to do anything about illegal immigration regardless of all the rhetoric and paper pushing in DC these days. Most taxpayers, voters and citizens of the US don't have nearly the campaign contribution finances to get the attention of our elected officials. The lettuce farmer lobbyists will always have all the power.

At 7:49 PM, Blogger doggerelblogger said...

Just to address one small area of your discussion, part of the reason that housing prices have spiralled upwards in the U.S. is the softwood lumber trade war your govt is fighting with ours. Our wood is cheaper and better than the wood produced in the U.S. (and allowed in without duty under NAFTA, which we hated as much as you) but U.S. lumber companies have lobbied to have imports restricted, arguing that our product is subsidized. The National Home Builder's Assn is none too happy about all this, calling it an unfair tax on American homebuyers.

The U.S. govt has lost twice at the WTO, but only recently has agreed to negotiate a resolution with us (the quality of which not many here are too happy about).

So that's why new houses are so expensive in the U.S. - protectionist trade policies, mostly.

At 7:59 PM, Blogger Kira said...

cham, I'd add that quality of "quality" clothing, has also gone down, and much more poorly made than they used to be. So you get what you pay for.
I suspect the whole Immigration Debate, although timely and pertinent, is coming up on the table now more than ever, because the conservatives on talk radio, wanting to avoid the obviously bad way the war is going and having lost their way on their talking points for the Iraq war, are trying to deflect to another subject they feel more comfortable talking about.

At 8:19 PM, Blogger Cham said...

You're right Kira, yesterday I listened to someone on FOX radio talk for an hour about what language choice we should use for our national anthem. It seems as if FOX has conveniently forgotten that we have a disasterous war going on in Iraq and gas costs $3/gallon. I made the decision right then and there that I will only be singing the anthem in spanish from here on it. If someone can provide me with a convenient translation that will fit the melody I would be most appreciative.

Go ahead Republican assholes, call me a traitor.

At 9:02 PM, Blogger tfg said...

broadsheet-I wasn't implying that people from Baltimore are ignorant about this issue. However, I was implying that they don't know many people who have lost their jobs to immigrants.

cham-I knew somebody was going to bring up clothing. I can only speak about men's clothing, which has turned into garbage over the last 5 years.

doggerelblogger-Yes, the price of wood is a factor in housing prices, but the markups for builders are astounding. And I have no doubt that Canadian softwood is better than the particle board that these builders use. It might cost a builder $100,000 in T&M to build a house that sells for $600,000. Any discount that builder gets on labor goes right into his pocket, not to the buyer. Of course, dangerously loose credit and Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae have also contributed to the price spiral.

kira-I agree. It's rare to find clothes that last a year anymore. Shoes are even worse. You are right about resistance amongst rank and file conservatives, but maybe this issue will help them realize that their party is doesn't really give a rip about anything but servicing its corporate sponsors.

At 11:02 PM, Blogger Broadsheet said...

Cham -

Jose' can you see?

At 8:39 AM, Blogger Double Dogged said...

It's always about the money. Always!

At 10:06 AM, Blogger eebmore said...

NAFTA and I are getting married next week. you're not invited to the wedding. Of course, I'm not going to bother debating the issue until I can figure out a way to parlay this into a "your mom" joke.

At 4:22 PM, Blogger tfg said...


eebmore-Aren't you supposed to be on strike today?

At 9:15 PM, Blogger eebmore said...

*shhh* don't tell anybody, but it isn't a real wedding. I'm getting paid to marry some 19 year old Romanian chick by a greasy Russian named Nikolai so she can stay in the country and dance(plus+++) at the Scores Club.

At 5:52 AM, Blogger tfg said...

eebmore-Goddammit, if I've told you once I've told you a thousand times, don't use my real name on here.

At 9:52 AM, Blogger TheIdleReceptionist said...

I'm glad you wrote this post tfg. The thing that irks me is how every one is calling this an "immegrant worker" issue, or something. This simply isn't true.

America is America because of immegration. The problem, however, is Illegal Aliens.

I am in favor of tightening our borders, but perhaps make it less of a fiasco to attain citizenship. That way, no one will be sneaking in, siphoning off of our system.

Anyway, you're a great communicator and I'm not so I guess I'll just say bravo to your post.

At 2:14 PM, Blogger johnny dollar said...

i'm glad i read these comments, now i know that according to stereotype i am flagwaving, republican-loving, and hate-filled :)

At 11:31 AM, Blogger Charles said...

What I want to know is when did this immigration issue start? They have been crossing the borders for work for a long time. All of a sudden its wrong. Why wasn't it enforced when "the problem" was first spotted. Just tired of the drama.

At 10:26 PM, Blogger Cham said...


When illegal immigration began it wasn't as noticable, now with 12 million illegals saturating the available jobs the issue is very visible.

Day laborers are out in the street stopping traffic, and we are paying a huge chunk of change to educate and medicate these folks. The US Citizens are feeling this issue like it has never been felt before.

The question is are we going to take action now when it might be manageable or are we going to wait for a boiling point?


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