LULU by John Linton Roberson (c) 2012.
A comics adaptation of the Frank Wedekind tragedy. Now available in print! Click here to buy! Now also at Comixology!

I Didn't Write That!
10 January 2004
  The Next Best Thing to Slavery

This sudden pitch for "radical" immigration reform on the part of Bush is very clever and very insidious. I can't wait to see how he sells this in the midst of a jobless recovery. With so many Americans out of work, to hear Bush talking about "jobs Americans won't take" just proves he doesn't know there are other people in this country besides his family and circle of cronies. Or his contempt for the American people. And I don't really know if this will help him with Latinos, but that of course is the point. Even if this fails he can say to them, "Wahl, I tried mah best but the Dimmycrats stopped me."

The idea supposedly is to "rationalize" the situation that already exists. In other words, to give the exploitation of illegals that already goes on, and has gone on, official sanction. Only with a few advantages for the government: the government will know where they are and will be able to send them back after 3 years, unlike now when they have to be caught first. But employers will most likely still be able to pay them what they feel like. And best of all, citizenship isn't even in the picture. We take them, use them, wring them out and throw 'em back when done.

Now that so many have been thrown out of the workforce, this is a perfect time to perform this sort of replacement. Businesses want to fill jobs and are already transferring white-collar jobs to India. But to pick your vegetables or sweep your floors requires the presence of the serf. I'm sorry, I mean slave. No, no, I meant "worker." I beg your pardon.

Anyone who believes that it'll stop with the jobs illegals already do is mistaken. All of a sudden businesses will find all sorts of positions they "can't find Americans for." And I'm not talking executive or even clerical positions. I'm talking first about the service sector, which is full of jobs people like Bush probably think "Americans don't want." Maybe not but many Americans need the jobs anyway. McDonald's already is equipped to do this, with their pictographic-buttoned registers. And why pay, say, some African-American guy minimum wage as, say, a janitor when you can get a Mexican--legally--for half the cost or close to NO cost, and don't have to pay benefits? (I am certain the first demographic that will be hit by this is African-Americans)

If you ask your boss for a raise, or time off, or even just not to work overtime tonight, he'll always be able to respond that he can get a Mexican to take your place anytime, and you'll probably cease complaining. Even better, a permanent underclass of workers tied to their jobs who can be sent back to their countries if they squawk about, say, not being paid overtime even though they worked it(I'm sure Wal-Mart is coming all over themselves over this plan)--or about sexual harassment or bad work conditions or anything at all--is a quiet sector of workers. So labor rights will be severely diluted, as will wages.

Last night I heard Luis Guiterrez defend this plan on the basis that they're "just low-status and even dangerous jobs Americans don't want anyway." Interesting how eager those among its supporters who are Latino are to send fellow Latinos into miserable and possibly dangerous jobs so blithely. And isn't this spitting in the eye of everyone who did go through the process legally--which isn't easy or quick?

And best of all, Bush will be able to stop all discussion by claiming those against it are racist. And he will, or his lap pundits like David "Neo Means Jewish" Brooks will.

This is about nothing else but establishing serfdom in America. And by the way, I advise you to read up on the Roman emperor Valens and how such workers were treated under his manpower-needs-based policies toward the Germans. This isn't new.

And as has been pointed out, is there any legislation being floated? No, there is not.

I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility that this is just a cynical bit of vaporpolitics, designed to get the Latino voters to at least look more in his direction. Certainly he can't believe that in an election year, any member of congress is going to want to say to their constituents they're behind this, unless they're as politically stupid as poor Walter Mondale was to not just say he'd raise taxes, but emphasize it to such a degree that it was mistaken for his main platform. But then, I also expect Republicans to always be obstinately ideological against their own best interests(or Beast interests in their case) and forever try to hammer a decades-old square peg into a modern round hole. So I definitely hope that a whole bunch of Republicans think it's a dandy election-year proposal, and I also hope Bush is persistent in mentioning it.

His achilles' heel--and doesn't it seem like he should have a whole body full of them? why DOES he get away with so many stupid ideas?--is exactly the same as his dad's. Total ignorance of the domestic economy and day-to-day life of the American people, and again, a failure to grasp that there are more people in this country than his family, friends, and servants. My god, to hear him talk you'd think this country had recently become underpopulated. Does he think the rapture is underway or something? (If so what does he make of his still being present?)

As I think I glossed over, this is essentially a new form of indentured servitude. Except reduced to three years from the, I think, traditional seven so many of my own Scottish ancestors came over to work. (of course, they also ran off as soon as they could) And without any promise of citizenship at the end of it. And it will not change their situation; it'll make it worse. Think about it--nowadays under present rules, if, an illegal alien, a woman, say, is harassed by her boss to "do things" for him--or else he'll report her to the INS--she would still have the option to run off and disappear into another town. Much more difficult under Bush's proposals, where their location is more accurately tagged, in the sense that it is known then officially, and wasn't before. One squawk or even disagreement could lead to automatic deportation. Wouldn't you feel pressured to comply with almost anything? The rules can easily be used like a gun to the presently-illegal worker's head.

The boss will potentially be able to do anything to them they wish, as though they don't now anyway. And in many ways besides the rather tawdry example I just employed to get your attention. Think of the abuses of safety that already occur. I think the NY Times did a story a few months back about some kind of factory in Texas that has a particularly bad recent history of workers' accidents and a complete disregard for safety. Hands smashed and boiled off. Men impaled on pipes in shafts. That kind of thing, and it went on a long time before reports were even listened to. (I would appreciate anyone reminding me what this place was if they recall, and correct me on any inaccuracies in the details I mentioned) And these were American citizens. Nobody pays attention to OSHA rules even now, really. Certainly not at the level of employment these workers would be at.

So this isn't just a threat to American workers. This also will not be good for these folks. I also worry that in any event, resentment will end up being taken out on them, and I hope no one is that stupid. It was during the anti-Chinese crusade of the 1800s--which the Republicans, then calling themselves the "party of the free white working man," were born in spearheading with the refrain of "the Chinese must go"--and that's the potential tragedy of this kind of thing. Politician comes up with stupid proposal that makes no one happy, somehow gets it through. Foreign workers, caring no more than you or I would why or how they got the opportunity, take advantage of program resulting from said proposal, because it's still an easier way in even for a little bit. The foreign worker is trying to survive and gain comfort just like you or me. He has no particular wish to displace Americans. It's not a situation like being a scab. But it's often taken that way, leading to the third step: Alien worker gets beat on when it's not his fault. Fat cat gets fatter. Politician doesn't even look at the results and assumes it worked. It's happened many times with this subject. For a country based on immigration, we handle it very poorly.

And where will they be housed, the new ones that Bush hopes to encourage to come over? Barracks like Soweto or something? Or will the government secure apartments for them, with so many Americans homeless? And most of all: what happens when some have children while they're here, as some inevitably will? (or is this also an attempt to create a baby farm for infertile Republican women? God knows I wouldn't be shocked) My yes, this is a clusterfuck of disasters waiting to converge.

I find this issue fascinating because there seem to be so many angles from which to disagree with it. I also find it strange that when Bush wants to float an iffy idea, instead of leaking it and seeing how it plays out--as one ought to do with stuff like that, if one has any political sense at all--he goes up and makes a full-scale announcement. Limbaugh, Dubya, that's what VICE-presidents are for! Why do you think Nixon had Agnew or your daddy had Quayle? Or...oh, right. Never mind.

By the way, I can't imagine he can succeed with this. You know who really would have helped to actually make this come off as compassionate to the public? The left, who were at least able to get with Nixon on the environment, by contrast. Oopsy.

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