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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

It's still the Economy, Estupido


Suggested read for the day:

Employers and political conservatives who have fought against increasing the minimum wage, guaranteeing pensions and providing worker healthcare should not be trusted when, as a last resort, they use the language of Statue of Liberty poet Emma Lazarus and call on Congress to pass an immigration bill that would welcome the world's "huddled masses." It is when they speak like Vicente Fox that these businessmen and politicians are disclosing their real motives.

Before we talk about opening up the country to more immigration, we need to talk about justice for those with centuries-old roots in the United States who are still doing badly. Then, and only then, can we discuss bringing newcomers to this nation and not be guilty of hypocrisy.

That is from a column by Nicoluas Mills in the LATimes today, wherein the professor also writes:

If you own a factory or a farm and need unskilled labor, hire Mexican immigrants. You won't have to worry about healthcare, retirement or paying minimum wage. They'll live in dormitories or cars, and when you have no use for them, they'll move on.

That's the future of the low-skilled, evermore poorly educated American worker if we continue on the path set by corporate and elected leaders while Americans continue to buy the myths of the so-called 'free market'. In fact, wages will continue to go down for all except a few as the labor force expands while opportunities for well-paying, benefits-providing jobs contract (and are sent overseas).

The column is "The Black and Brown Job Picture" -- which really also includes the impoverished, working class, working/not-working poor of any cultural group, of which in absolute numbers whites comprise the highest numbers in this country. As usual, it's really all about the money (and the power that goes with having it).

I loved hearing Rabbi Michael Lerner discuss the Biblical imperative to redistribute wealth every 50 years on Meet the Press last Sunday -- but you won't hear that concept discussed among the compassionate conservative Shrub/gun-slinging Cheney regime or the free-market-loving decision-makers and ever-wealthier power holders, much less the christian right, who are wrong about so much and proud of it, too. They would rather fear-monger and fund-raise over the 'homosexual threat' to marriage, etc than follow Jesus' imperatives to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the least among us ... mentioned exponentially more frequently in his teachings than either abortion or homosexuality ... in fact, if I recall my Bible history, Jesus never mentioned either one of those topics according to the people who wrote about him in what is now called the New Testament.

As a point of reference: in 1981, federal law set the minimum wage to $3.35 (from $3.10 in 1980). Today, in the year 2006, it is $5.15.

I don't hear the fear-based right or their favored political candidates (John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, whatchamacallit Romney from Utah, now Mass.) and all their hypocritical greedy lawbreaking figureheads talking about that little fact at all, not ever. I don't hear very many dems talking about it either for that matter -- worse yet, they're doing nothing, have done nothing. And shame on voting-age Americans for allowing that to happen. We get the government / leaders we deserve? We've squandered so much for so long -- it's not just money/capital -- think of the wasted, squandered, dismissed human lives, human potential, human capacity, imagination, creativity, the possibility for so much more.

Where's the MacArthur Plan or the Manhattan Project for America? For taking care of our own backyard as a top priority while simultaneously helping others elsewhere in the world improve themselves? (Not talking about continuing to prop up demagogues and dictators; that despicable history continues to contribute to our present woes.) Where indeed?

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