Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Should You Hate Immigrants? No.

In the 1800's, people worried about the 'Irish Menace' - that the influx of Irish Immigrants would radically alter our country and change our way of life.  They came to America and took our jobs, joined street gangs, and committed crimes.  They ran for office and corrupted politics.  And of course, they were racially inferior.  These were my ancestors.   And within 100 years, they came to dominate our country and one was even elected President.  Did America suffer, or was it made stronger?

One of the ways that the powers-that-be are trying to divide and conquer us, is to get poor people (and the middle class) to hate immigrants.  This distracts attention from their own misdeeds and provides a scapegoat for people to blame for their problems.  Immigrants - legal and illegal - actually increase the wealth of this country. 

One reason our economy is tanking, is lack of growth - fueled by this anti-immigrant hysteria.  Of all times in our economy, we should be welcoming immigrants and growth, but instead are turning them away, preferring instead to look inward and manage our decay and divide up what is left to the 'native born' who are often only a generation or two removed from immigration.

Should you hate immigrants?  Heck no.  They are a boon to our economy.  "But they are taking away our jobs!" people say.  Really?  You want to be a busboy that badly?

The reality is, an economy has to grow to survive, and when populations stagnate, as ours has, the economy stagnates.  We need more people to keep the great pyramid scheme of human endeavor going.  And yet, the "native born" Americans are reproducing less and less, and we are clamping down on all forms of immigration, and as a result, our age pyramid looks more like a minaret these days.

And at this critical juncture, where immigration would help our housing market (by increasing demand for housing, thus driving up prices) and help our economy (by creating more demand for consumer goods and consumption) many on the far-right want to cut back on immigration - both legal and illegal - and hunker down and keep America for Americans.

And the irony of this point of view is that it is not different than the point of view that the far right ascribes to Democrats.  The right-wing often accuses Democrats of trying to "divide up the pie" among a limited number of people.  "Make the Pie Bigger!" Many Republicans said - including Ronald Reagan and George Bush.  More pie for everybody.

Instead, here we have right-wingers saying the pie is FINITE, and we'd better divide it up only among ourselves, because there is only so much pie left.  Very odd, for a conservative to say.  But the anti-immigration stance is not really a conservative view, but something else entirely, as we shall see.  It is just idiotic.

And funny thing, too.  Ronald Reagan oversaw the largest "amnesty" program for illegal immigrants in the history of our country.  George Bush (yea that George Bush) proposed a humanitarian program to register illegal immigrants as "guest workers" and figure out who was here, keep track of them, allow them to work, and send back any troublemakers.  A sensible plan, which was shot down by his own party, as well as opportunistic Democrats who finally were able to vote down something George Bush wanted.

Since those days, people have turned the memory of Ronald Reagan into a talisman of far-right thinking.  He was the greatest President ever, they say (not really true) and also a proponent of far-right-wing thinking (also clearly not true).  Never mind the facts, Reagan today is a blank canvas we can project our desires and wants onto.  Sort of like Harry Truman or Thomas Jefferson.

But Reagan and Bush were right - they understood that the economy thrived as a result of the immigration, and that spending Billions of dollars trying to keep out immigrants was pretty pointless and fruitless.  And even if you were to succeed, well, the result would be the economy tanking, not improving.

Hey, whaddya expect?  Reagan was Irish, right?  Can't trust those immigrants!

"Well, what about legal immigration?" you say.  What about it?  And why is it any different, if you think about it, than illegal immigration?  The idea that there are imaginary borders on the land and you need permission to cross them is just an idea - like the idea of money - that so many people buy into, without thinking of the underlying proposition.  Yea, money is just an idea, and yet so many people think a dollar bill is money.  And people think there is a line across the country between us and Canada  or Mexico.

Legal immigration is really no different, and arguably more harmful than illegal immigration.  My ancestors came here to work as servants, to escape the Potato Famine.  Back then, immigration rules were far more lax.  You got on a boat and, welcome to America.  And back then, the "native born" decried this influx of Irish White Trash - taking all our jobs, getting involved in street crime, stealing, corrupting politics and of course, joining street gangs.  Yes, it was all there, back in 1870, just as it is today.  No different, just a different ethnic group.

Legal Immigrants - both those coming here to be citizens, and those with green cards, can collect Social Security, SSI, Medicaid, Foodstamps, and other government program money.   Illegal immigrants cannot.  You are sure legal immigrants are a better deal?  They are also harder to deport, too.  They have more due process rights.  Frankly, I think George Bush's idea was better.  Register them and let them work, and if they don't work, send 'em back.  More humanitarian and actually saves us money.

And I don't agree with George Bush on much, either.

But going further, you want to talk about "taking all the good jobs" you need to go to Silicon Valley or to Boulder, or Austin, or any other high-tech center in the USA and then go through the directory of any of these tech companies and look for any "American-sounding" names on the registry.  You'll find a lot of Singhs, and Changs and Patils, but not a lot of Smiths and Jones and whatnot.  Those "high paying jobs" are being taken by immigrants - legal immigrants.

Where is the outrage? After all, these are actually good jobs that you might want to have - not busboy or lawn care guy.

"But they are legal immigrants!" you cry.

OK, what's the difference?  They still "took your job" - didn't they?

Make up your mind.  You can't have it both ways.

The reality is, Immigration is a political ploy to get votes.   People are racist (act shocked) and they are prejudiced (act shocked again).  And they don't like seeing an influx of Mexicans any more than the old Dutch families in Old New York liked seeing Italians and Irish take up residence in the Five Points, and then run for mayor and form street gangs, and commit crimes and live in tenement slums and - well, do all the things we accuse Mexicans of doing today.

And this anti-Immigrant political "movement" was manufactured, lock, stock and barrel, back around 2006.  I recall listening on the radio to one political hack saying this would be "the next big issue" in politics.  The commentator said, "really, why?" and he replied, "Because we're going to make it an issue."

And if you go back through US history, anti-immigration was an issue raised time and time again - always by the most odious and scurrilous of politicians - and bought into by the dumbest, laziest, and most evil of people.  These movements have always ended up being a source of shame for our country - and a stain on our reputation, historically.  You sure you want to sign on to this?  To be a Nativist of the 21st Century?  A Know-Nothing for 2012?  That puts you up there with some real deep thinkers, pal!

But, you can sell weak thinking to Americans like gas-guzzling SUVs and Crappy Happy Meals.  They LOVE to hear that they could be rich, without work, "but for" the lazy blacks on welfare or those Mexicans taking all our jobs and costing us tax dollars.  The reality, as I have explained time and time again, is that most of our government money goes to pay US, not some unseen others.

It is race-baiting and also this "class warfare" that the GOP likes to accuse Democrats of.  But instead of pitching the poor against the rich, the GOP is pitching the middle class against the poor.  "All your problems," they tell us, "are because of lazy blacks on welfare and those darn Mexicans!"

My racist Grandmother said the same thing in 1968.  It was racist then, it is racist now.  But she used derogatory racial terms back then.  Today, we code our racism.  We say "illegal immigrants" instead of "those damn Mezzicans!" and we say "Welfare Queens" instead of [N-word].  Or as Mitt Romney recently coined, "Friends of Obama".  Very clever, Mitt.

And it is a narrative that sells to weak thinkers and weak minds.  And throughout history, it has sold well.  It's "Sell by" date never expires it seems.  Blame the Blacks.  Blame the Mexicans.  Blame the Jews.  Blame Canada!

Let's see, how did that work out for Germany?  Not well, as I recall.  Scapegoating, in the long run, is bad for the people doing the scapegoating.  Worse for the scapegoats.

And this sort of message is getting worse and worse.   We are told that more and more groups are "threats" to America.  Democrats just want to hand over the whole country to Welfare Queens and Al Qaeda!  Gays are out to destroy marriage!  Mexicans are going to take our jobs!

And so on and so on and so on...

The reality is, legal or illegal, these immigrants are taking jobs Americans don't want to do.   No "native born" American wants to wash dishes, mow the lawn, or study Calculus.  I know this, as when I was in Engineering school, most of my classmates were foreign-born.  My American friends?  They stopped taking math in 9th grade because it was "too hard."

And they felt that as 'native born' Americans, they were entitled to a certain standard of living.  I disagree.  We toss out the immigrants - legal and illegal - our country would end up as a bunch of fat, lazy bastards who don't want to do jack shit.  White folks have their head in the government trough more than any single group.

Those "native born" Americans are the problem, frankly.  Porking up on French Fries and Soda Pop and then getting full disability, type-2 diabetes, and a handicapped parking spot.  But God Bless 'em they are the real Americans and donchu forgetit!

Sorry, but that is the truth of it.  Frankly, I think we should IMPORT more immigrants and EXPORT Americans who have no jobs skills or motivational skills to the third world.  They would sober up pretty quickly!

But you know, that would just be scapegoating.

And scapegoating is wrong.