EB: Giving ’em the business!

Brain dumps from the original Bonehead.

By Request: “Oooooo say can you wiki-wiki-wik-seeee…”

Ok, so here we are: Cinco de Mayo and this whole immigration thing has reached a boil.  This thing is big… no, huge.  Actually, that's still understated – we're talking about Andre the Giant-sized, holy shit big!  Oh come on, you know who he is!  Let's look at it starting with December 16th, 2005.  The House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing greater use of law enforcement to control illegal immigration, including a massive wall along the Mexican border, felony prosecution for illegal immigrants and those assisting them.  How do you like that grouping: Terrorists, murderers, rapists, and undocumented immigrants.  Think about it…  And by the way, that "passed a bill" link I slipped in there is pretty cool – not only can you get the verbiage of the bill but you can also get updated on it as the status changes if happens to be a hot button item for you. 

Now, some say that in a post-9/11 America it is more important than ever for us to secure our borders and I say that’s great if you really mean it.  While listening to NPR radio the other day, the callers expressed some great points on this topic.  One that stood out in my mind is that we're going to put a big wall up on the Mexican border but none on the Canadian border?  Is it because Mexicans are fleeing into America but Americans are fleeing into Canada?  Well, not exactly, but did you know that W's re-election drove record numbers of Americans to Canada's immigration website? Another good question is, at the heart of the matter, is this really just a thing about Mexicans?  You hear stories all the time about people making it here from Cuba paddling in a refrigerator but trying to make that same trip from Haiti will earn you an unpleasant date with the Coast Guard.  And how often during any of these discussions does anybody bring up the numbers of immigrants from Europe or Asia or elsewhere?  I guess all immigrants aren't created equal?

Then, there's been lots of talk about how important immigrants are to America's economy… you know, all the chatter about doing jobs that Americans won't do.  First off, I think the concept is extraordinarily arrogant, even for us, but most importantly it's a load of BS.  When you've got farmhands that will put on a plastic sleeve and go shoulder deep up a cow's asshole, you can find guys that will do anything.  CNN reports that there are approximately 50 million employable citizens in this country that aren't working and nearly 12 million illegal immigrants of which nearly 60% are employed (the largest concentration of which is in the farming and construction industries where they make up 24% and 14% of the labor force, respectively).  It's really beginning to sound like the problem, like so many others, is like rooted in dollar signs. 

If you're here illegally you're not part of the system.  Medical benefits and such are no longer your employer's concern and neither is a fair, "living" wage.  Forget about the amount of money that companies spend on benefit packages whether you use them or not, just for a moment, and let's look at exchange rates.  Right now, the average Mexican citizen is making around 46 pesos/day which is the equivalent of about $4/day; you couldn't get an American citizen to just sit and stare at you (much less, do any actual work!) for that kind of money.  And talk about win-win??  Forget about comp time – if your guy gets hurt you just pick a different guy off the truck tomorrow!  This is exploitation at it's finest.

The flip side to all this is that cheap labor should lead to cheap goods.  I wouldn't dare discredit the invincible power of greed, but this is one of the counter arguments I've heard: Do you want to pay $800k to purchase a home or $300k?   Meaning, if companies are forced to spend more on labor you'd best believe that the additional expense will be subsidized out of your paycheck.  It's a stunning counter because it makes the issue both personal and expensive for everyone no matter what your lineage.  Anyone that wants buy food to eat or a home to live in would be negatively impacted by not having illegal immigrants here busting their asses for $20/day.  I'd love to give you an answer for that one but the truth is I just don't know.  Tax cuts for compliance, and stiff fines for violators could help, but we're talking about a significant amount of money here.  Maybe providing "free" labor comprised of welfare recipients and inmates in those two industries hit the hardest would lessen, if not entirely offset the difference? 

Whatever the answer is, amnesty certainly isn't it.  Not only does it not provide new opportunities for the nation's unemployed but what message does it send to the millions of citizens that emigrated legally??  The people that waited in line and learned the language and took the test…?  They were rewarded for their patience and hard work with citizenship!  One of the best quotes I've seen from this side of the issue came from a Latino man, and retired Colonel, who said "…we and millions like us did it legally.  We're all here today to tell those protesters, 'You do not speak for me.'"  The colonel isn't the only one – there are websites like 'No Illegals' where immigrants and others have organized to battle back based on the contention that "We as American Citizens and Legal Immigrants have been sold out for the cheap labor and corporations that control our political system…"  Amnesty won't do; if you begin a policy of giving away what once had to be earned you are not helping.

And then there's the Star Spangled Bwiki-bwiki-bwiki-banner.  Somewhere in here I think is the other greatest constituent to the great immigration dilemma of the day: fear.  Basically, a Brit hooked up with some Latin musicians and reworked the Star Spangled Banner into 'Nuestro Himno', which translates to 'Our Anthem' in English.  Can you say mixed reactions?  Initially I wasn't a big fan of the idea when I first heard about it but then I came across some interesting pieces of information: First, there is no officially declared national language in the United States; and second, the U.S is fifth in the world in total Spanish-speaking population!  All of this got me to thinking, again, about how language is used and whether benign intentions are enough? 

The song isn't dissing or mocking or in any other way downing the country or the song.  It's just a new version.  A way for one of the many different peoples that inhabit this nation to say "this our thang too"… and believe me this isn't the first time.  What can anyone possibly find more offensive about this version than any other?  The song gets butchered on a regular basis – the most famous of which, I think, was at Woodstock.  If acid had a signature sound, it'd damn sure have been Jimi that day…  you could even hear when it kicked in and just took control of his mind.  And just like the present, many were opposed to this new creative rendition.  What's really the big deal about a Spanish-language version of a song that a good number of American's don't know the words to anyway? 

The big deal is dominion.  Fear.  R&B versions aren't always well received but at least they're in English.  Everyone from Robert Goulet to Natalie Gilberthas publicly forgotten the words from time to time but at least they tried to do it "right".  If you're singing my song and I can't understand what you're saying then what good is it?  But that's just the point – it's not your song, it's our song.  Or rather, it's Nuestro Himna… so get over yourselves.


May 5, 2006 - Posted by | Politics

1 Comment »

  1. It’s so sad that the ‘home of the free’ has become so greedy and selfish. We should WELCOME any immigrant…Most of our ancestors were immigrants, vying for a better life.

    In regard to the song, I think it’s fine. I hear that song completely BUTCHERED in English, so any version that ‘keeps in tune’ is good.

    Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!! 🙂

    Comment by Poca | May 5, 2006 | Reply

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