Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Undocumented workers could cause obesity and other immigration issues

A letter to the editor, published in Newsday today, took issue with an opinion by Bishop William Murphy. Murphy had spoken at the Nassau County and Latino Immigration Forum and an excerpt of his remarks was run as an op-ed in Newsday.

The first half of the letter was devoted to making the argument that there are too many undocumented aliens on Long Island. Fair enough. There are too many people
in general on Long Island as far as I can see. I wouldn't be inclined to single out any particular group as putting us over the top, but that argument at least made sense if you accept the the premise. The second half, however, seemed to provide a pretty good argument to pro-immigration advocates if it did anything at all:
Bishop Murphy also falls back on the argument that they are indispensable to the labor force. In his words, "to date there is no reasonable alternative."

Well, here is my alternative: We can all get off our butts. Twenty-five years ago only the wealthy had landscapers; the rest of us mowed our own lawns.
This is so true. Thing is, most people didn't like it. If you were a teenage boy and willing to mow lawns for money you were in demand in those days. There were never enough teenage boys to go around. Also, the window of time in which a kid was old enough to do a decent job of mowing and the time when he lost interest in doing any such thing was maybe one full mowing season. Tops. There were exceptions, but they were rare. And forget edging. Wasn't going to happen. When those trailers full of lawn care equipment and laborers who could operate it arrived in neighborhoods they were pretty much greeted with open arms and wallets.

The best argument a pro-immigration advocate or beleaguered Democrat can make is, "OK, we deport all illegals, you go back to whacking your own weeds." That'll quiet down a reasonable percentage of anti-immigration voices right there.

A further point that our letter writer wished to make seems to be that we should also take responsibility for our own Big Macs.
The same may be said of [our reliance on] fast-food workers, busboys, health aides, etc. These were entry-level or unskilled jobs, but they got done. Perhaps the cheap labor created its own market; and if it was to vanish, there would be a readjustment, but not a collapse of the "American Way of Life" as we are led to believe. Indeed, if we all had to do our own gardening, and teens had to work instead of hanging out surfing the net and sending IMs, maybe we could reverse the growing problem of obesity and its accompanying health problems.
I'll give thim that the American Way of Life isn't going to collapse because of a crackdown on immigration. That's already happening - with or without immigration. But what I want to know here is, has Wendy's has instituted the draft? Because if not, teens who are currently hanging out surfing the net and sending IMs most likely aren't going to show up there in order to fill a labor shortage. All that's neither here nor there, though. For anyone wishing to reach the hearts and minds of conservative middle class Americans with a pro-immigration message should just remember this - It's the lawn mowing, stupid.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Planting questions

Do you find it hard to believe that there are members of the right wing who would even address the question of Hillary's planted questions? George Bush and Dick Cheney have to plant their entire audiences. And Hillary, and all the Democratic candidates, seem to be able to discuss the issues without the use of an audio feed. If I were a member of the radical right, I'd stay away from the whole issue.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Living on faith

Fred Barnes must be a true believer. He thinks that once the GOP is able to make it clear to every Republican voter that the SCHIP controversy is really about expanding the program to people who count as middle class the whole boondoggle will be a plus for the GOP. He believes that the scales will fall from Republican eyes and they'll see that their party is just being fiscally responsible, holding the line on government spending.

What's wrong with that picture, outside of the bitterly ironic premise of fiscal repsonsibility that starts and ends with refusing to provide more children with access to healthcare? Well, what's wrong is that not being able to afford or, in some cases, qualify for private health insurance is not a partisan problem. We're not talking a couple of hundred a month. We're not even talking $500 a month. A thousand a month is modest. It's less than what the organization I work for pays for family converage for each employee on their goup plan. With more and more businesses opting out of providing any health coverage, or only contributing toward coverage for the employee and not for the family this is a problem that's just going to grow. It's not going away and it's not only Democrats who are vulnerable.

A barrage of talking points may cause some ripples in public opinion, but the demand for a real solution to this real world problem will continue to gather steam and an increasing number of middle class Republicans of modest means will come to believe that their party has abandoned them. To fail to see that is blind faith, and blind faith and political ideology don't mix well and political ideology doesn't trump material reality.