Wednesday, February 09, 2011

With friends like these...

An African American state senator in South Carolina managed to use every stereotype imaginable, to advocate paying immigrants virtually nothing and thereby making legal businesses go bankrupt, all the while believing he was helping the cause of undocumented immigrants.

He recalled to senators that four workers in the country illegally showed up on his lawn and finished mowing, edging and other work in 30 minutes that would take others much longer, and only wanted $10 for the job. He went on to say he recommended the workers to his neighbors, and one local lawn care businessman lost work - a story one senator remarked was hurting, not helping, his case.
Black guys and white guys are going to get out there and do the hard work? No. I'm for America, and America's a country of immigrants," Ford said later when reached on his cell phone. "Everybody in America finds ways to take a break."

Everyone is lazy, so let's ignore the minimum wage.  He then said he would apologize, but he doesn't know what for.

This is the sort of thing that distorts the immigration debate.  It isn't about "lazy" versus "hard working."  Are there jobs so physically demanding and/or seasonal that many people don't want them?  Absolutely, but that is not related to laziness.*  What the U.S. needs is an immigration policy that encourages hard working people to come legally, which will raise the wages of those physically demanding and lower wage jobs (including lawn care) thus making them more attractive.  That in turn will help both businesses and workers.  The "us versus them" mentality just makes everything worse.

* On this point, once again I recommend Gabriel Thompson's Working in the Shadows, which I reviewed last August.


Slave Revolt,  8:18 PM  

There is no honest and in-depth discussion of this issue--nor will there be in the near future. Central to an honest discussion would be an effort to contextualize this issue with macro and micro economic history of the US and the Americas over the course of the last five decades.

US people will do hard, physical work IF the work allowed for a decent wage, the possibility of advancement, the ability to receive medical security, etc.

The problem is one of super-exploitation, and industries that seek to maximize profits and savings in purely instrumentalist fashion.

My industry is landscaping and farming--and nobody seeks my views about what has been happening.

This idiotic congressman simply reflects the ignorant views of most of the population--and, unfortunately, the corporate media and academia do little to advance the discussion in ways that might allow this nation to deal with these issues.

That the administration is embarking on deportation makes perfect policy sense. What is the problem with protecting domestic workers? In this economy there are millions of people that are working for less than minimum wage.

Are US workers supposed to race to the bottom and work for less than a subsistence wage.

Facing the problem honestly is not the same as Mexican bashing.

Have you ever tried to keep a crew of working class people in work, with a living wage, in the face of government contracts going to corporations that use undocumented, slave wage workers?

Didn't think so. But nobody solicited my opinion on this matter--because most of the comfortable don't really want to move on the generalized hypocrisy that has become cliche and received wisdom.

At the core of this issue is the painful wage-slavery that is being normalized and mainstreamed in the public psyche.

The illegitimate paradoxes and double-binds dominate conventional thinking on this issue.

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