4 comments on “A POLITICAL SUBTEXT

  1. The political parties are both totally cynical on this. The Democrats see new immigrants as a possible new constituency. The Republicans won’t say so but they see the influx of new workers as a way of expanding the labor force and thus driving down labor costs. Votes and cheap labor go a long way in motivating politicians and business leaders.

    Average working Americans see illegal immigrants as a threat to their jobs and therefore to their security and well-being. But the immigration issue isn’t about too many workers but about too few jobs. If the economy was operating at capacity and creating jobs as it should be, then immigration would not be the burning issue that it is today. We lost about 12 million jobs during the financial crisis and downturn of 2007-08 and haven’t come close to replacing them. That’s the crux of the problem.

    Turning around the economy would not make the matter of illegal immigration go away. We’d still need to find a way to manage the problem better than we do, and all the many moral issues you raise are quite valid and should be addressed. But if illegal immigrants were seen as finding open jobs instead of taking jobs from current workers, the problem would, well, not disappear, but would cease to be the emotional powder keg it is today.

    Some may see that as a simplistic answer, and in some ways it is, but it’s the economy, stupid, and it’s a matter of supply and demand in the labor force.

    • In a very real sense illegal immigrants take the “open jobs” as in
      stoop labor in the fields and “service” oriented – jobs their resident
      counterparts would rather eat their shoe than take – and in doing so
      become wage slaves in the truest sense of the word.
      An side to this is the manufactured hysteria by flag waving “patriots” who may or may not live in a camper down by the river with their pet goat.
      The impact of legislation like NAFTA opened the flood gates for the exportation of jobs – the effect may not have been felt immediately but it is undeniably a mitigating factor related to jobs.
      NAFTA was a Republican authored piece of legislation that then Democratic president Bill Clinton lauded, said he would do everything he could to promote it and that something like 200,000 new jobs for Americans would be the immediate result.
      The corporate “fix” was in then just as it is now, ably assisted by politicians of both the major parties, a fix whose goal is keeping wages static or as low as possible while ramping up profits – as long as people are willing to accept that not much is going change.
      Televangelists have found a way to generate revenue from “moral issues”, politicians do likewise in generating constituencies, when corporations and Wall Street devise a comparable strategy it may become time to turn the lights out and find a cave to in.
      More than “it’s the economy stupid” it is about blind party allegiance and a bizarre willingness to accept whatever is doled out.

  2. I am, always have been and always will be, a left-leaning Democrat, especially on economic issues. With that said, I will go to my grave appalled at some of the policies of the Clinton Administration, NAFTA and the other so-called “free-trade” agreements being near the top of the list. Funny how NAFTA and the like managed to place American manufacturing workers in direct competition with cheap labor from overseas, but didn’t do the same to American professionals like doctors and lawyers. Why? Because the ABA and the AMA have too much clout to let that happen. The labor unions that should have protected manufacturing workers were routed by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. The much-ridiculed Ross Perot was right about many things in 1992, especially economic issues, and he nailed this one. That great sucking sound was American jobs going overseas.

    Speaking of losing jobs overseas, the high-dollar policy of Robert Rubin, who was Clinton’s Treasury Secretary in his second term, made our exports expensive and uncompetitive in foreign markets. Consequently, we began importing more than we export, by about six percent of GDP. That massive trade deficit exists to this day and continues to send American jobs overseas. If we could reduce the value of the dollar by about 20 percent (much easier said than done for a multitude of reasons), it would almost certainly lead to the creation of millions of good-paying American jobs.

    Clinton also oversaw the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the New Deal legislation that separated regular banking from investment banking. That was 1998 and within a decade the finance industry, no longer encumbered by this badly needed set of regulations, had over-percolated to the point that the world economy nearly collapsed. Seven years later, we still haven’t fully recovered.

    Illegal immigration is a legitimate issue, but it becomes an emotional issue in bad economic times when working people worry about their job security. That emotion makes it easy for the special interests of both political parties to exploit it and make it a shell game. High unemployment leads to a large pool of available labor. Swollen by illegal immigrants, that pool becomes even larger, which in turn drives down labor costs. The special interests love cheap labor. And when working-class people blame other working-class people for their problems, as is happening now in the immigration debate, then those special interests win. They win because workers who should blame the special interests will instead vote for the special interests’ political candidates and against their own economic self-interest.

    You are correct. Our leaders are mostly cynical and the rest of us sit back and take it. It’s a time-tested formula. While in many ways we are much better off than we were 175 years ago, the dynamic between the powerful and the powerless has changed little since Charles Dickens’ time.

    • I couldn’t agree more about Glass – Steagall and one of many reasons
      why I say if a person will look at the voting records of politicians,
      the legislation they introduce or get behind it’s a short step to
      understanding they all to some degree or another are bought and paid
      for corporate minions.
      I also agree re Perot – the manner in which both the Dems, Reps, and
      media attempted to marginalize him speaks volumes.
      Now as the system “evolves” so called presidential debates once presented
      by the League of Women voters are crafted with a pre approved list of
      questions moderators can ask – a side note is that the LoW refused to
      follow this formula- apparently because they had a better understanding
      of the words democracy and debate.
      As for myself, I am, never have been, and never will align with a political
      party – the game being such that any true candidate with a desire to serve
      their constituents rather than the machine hasn’t much chance in being elected.
      So while I may occasionally support a candidate like Paul DeMain in Wisconsin
      who the infamous Koch brothers have taken to funding the opposition, I’m not
      interested in political parties.
      For all the outcry about minimum wage increases which should be a no brainer, to
      me the reality is that prices will increase across the board as the profit
      model has been set and will be maintained – so ultimately it becomes a
      catch 22 situation.
      Every presidential candidate runs on the mantra of change, playing to fears and
      dissatisfaction – yet we see “change” is relative and the same favoritism and
      cronyism remains the same.
      You say ” in many ways we are much better off than we were 175 years ago”,
      unfortunately as a people the nations cannot say the same, and find ourselves
      buffeted about by global and economic policies we have little if any input in.
      Our reality is becoming the reality for others not of our own, if they choose
      to ignore it that’s on them, and being on the bottom rung we will be dragged along
      with them suffering an even greater impact.

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