Class Warfare Blog

August 6, 2016

Yo, Trumpers, You Picked the Wrong Target for Your Ire

There is a large stream of anti-immigrant sentiment in the supporters of current GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. They are not alone. Immigration issues fueled a great deal of the Brexit vote and they form a core of the central issues for the far right-wing parties springing up all over Europe.

This is “normal” in the sense of when economic times are tough, there is a tendency to lash out at the “cause” of one’s misery. It is also “normal” for the subjects of our lashes to tend to be those we are prejudiced against.

What is unfortunate is that the target of our ire is poorly selected. It is not immigrants who are the cause of our current economic woes. Immigrant communities have lower crime rates that do established communities. Immigrants are usually more zealous regarding American values than home grown citizens, but are they really the reason why you don’t have a job? Have they swooped in and taken up all of the banking jobs? How about real estate? Computer technicians? Auto mechanics? Plumbers? Tool and die workers? An interesting case occurs regarding doctors. It seems that most of the medical professionals I see are either foreign born or appear to be first or second gen Americans. But I don’t see a lot of doctors complaining about how immigrants have stolen their jobs.

One can also make a strong argument that immigrants are an injection of vitality into our culture. I can remember a time when the gourmet dining opportunities in the Midwest involved chicken-fried steak. Now one can easily find Thai food, sushi, Ethiopian restaurants, etc. and that is just our food culture.

No, immigrants should not be the target of our ire.

The real target are the oligarchs, those in the class of people we refer to as being “rich,” the 1%. It is they as movers and shakers in business who have ruthlessly exported good jobs out of the country to be replaced by McJobs, low paying service jobs. They are the ones campaigning for lower business taxes when business taxes, the actual ones, not the listed maximums, are the lowest they have been since they were instituted, leaving ordinary people to pick up the slack. These are the people trying to starve the government of receipts so it will stop “redistributing” their wealth to the undeserving poor (and minorities) in obvious wastes of money like Social Security and Medicare. These are the people who have redistributed the people’s wealth into their pockets but don’t want that flow reversed or even diminished. These are the people for whom no amount of money is “enough” and who will do almost anything to get “more.” These are the ones who label poor people as being “lazy,” who think an education is the cure for all economic ills (it is not), and who think government should be limited to waging wars (profitable ones anyway) and enforcing contracts.

The real target of our ire should be the plutocrats, who with their obscene amounts of wealth have bought the courts, the legislature, and the political parties.

People like … Donald Trump.

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April 23, 2013

Republicans Against Immigration Reform? Nah, They Just Talk That Way

Many Republicans and their right-wing media machine are doing back flips to avoid having to do anything to fix the immigration system. The latest claim is that the Boston Marathon Bombers are just the latest indicator that our immigration system is broken. We need to ban all immigrants from Muslim dominated countries! We need to rethink immigration reform . . . blah, blah, blah!

In their mad rush to simultaneously placate potential Hispanic voters and their xenophobic base they kind of miss on a few facts . . . like the family in question (the Tsarnaevs) didn’t come through the immigration system; they sought political asylum and were granted it by the State Department.

Somebody needs to throw these Republicans an intellectual life preserver but, considering their track record they would probably eat it.

March 29, 2013

The “WetBack” Problem

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 9:02 pm
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All of the MSNBC talking heads had their hair on fire tonight because of a gaffe made by Alaskan Congressman Don Young who made the comment “My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes.” The outrage was focused on the term “wetback.” (Rebublicans were supposed to be currying favor with Hispanics and got confused because they associated curry with India.)

The unfortunate aspect of the parade of disapprobation was that the key point was missed by one and all. Apparently the ranch or farm (apparently in my home state California) hired what they thought were undocumented workers to pick their tomatoes. (For you conservatives, undocumented workers are what you call “illegal aliens” or “illegals.”) And this is the problem with the entire illegal immigration issue. And everybody knows that it is. Let me show you.

Question to You Why to people come here illegally?
You To get jobs?

See, I told you. You got it in one! There would be no illegal immigration if those coming here illegally couldn’t get jobs. The solution in virtually all of the other civilized countries is to require work permits for everybody. We apparently can’t do that because “this is ‘Merica!” or some other such nonsense.

The real reason why we can’t solve this easily soluble problem is that there are a great many people in this country who benefit from having a supply of cheap labor, labor which won’t run to the authorities because of some minor labor regulation violations, who won’t form a union or stage a wildcat strike. All right, boys and girls, can you guess who it is who wants to hire such workers? Can yuh?

Yep, it’s those same scum sucking job creators . . . the same gods damned conservatives who are blocking immigration reform.

It is time to try going on without conservatives. There are in this country but are out only for themselves. So, let’s put them out. Ship back where they came from if a large enough rock can be found for them to crawl back under.

June 2, 2010

Illegal Jobs or Illegal Drugs?

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 10:40 am
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It has been mentioned that the two most controversial things coming across our border with Mexico have some substantial similarities: illegal drugs and illegal aliens. Both are considered undesirable by the general polity of the U.S. and significant efforts have been made by the Federal Government to prevent the flow of both across the border. Such efforts have been, shall we say, less than successful. Both issues have been treated less than seriously as “political footballs” to kick around to get votes by being “tough” on something or other.

But one has to ask this question: one importation is people who take jobs Americans do not want, the other is drugs which are killing our children, so which is more important? And with regard to the immigration issue, and based on the lack of success of the “War on Drugs,” why do you think that the government will be more successful in a “War on Illegal Immigration”?

The real similarity between the two issues is that they are both driven by demand. It is important to note that business interests are not represented on the anti-illegal immigration side. They have no big lobbying effort or any effort really to address this issue. Since Adam Smith, it has been recognized that business people have always wanted a surplus of labor. Having extra laborers drives down the costs of labor. Whenever there are not enough workers of a particular kind, bidding wars drive up the prices needing to be paid for those worker’s efforts (e.g. the nurse shortages of the 1980’s and 1990’s drove up wages for nurses substantially). So, the right-wing position is fueled not by business interests but by “we don’t want those people becoming citizens because they become Democratic voters.” Yes, send me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses, but only if they have Green Cards and go home after work. Libertarians go so far as to want the 14th Amendment of the Constitution reworked so that the children of illegal immigrants don’t automatically become citizens when they are born here. (They tend to become Democrats, too. This is the same reason why conservatives had it in for Acorn; they organized poor people to vote.)

The demand for drugs and the demand for cheap labor drive both of these traffics. And supply side conservatives can’t see this some how (quite a blind spot, that).

The only solution to the immigration and drug problems is to lower the demand.

It is simple enough to do. The penalties for hiring “undocumented workers” must be more costly that the benefit accrued by hiring them. This is a simple economic fact. (This showed up in the health care debate in the form of an insurance company amendment to the final bill. Do you know what the penalty is for an insurance company denying a valid claim? It is $100 a day. Compared to the many thousands of dollars per day needed to treat some serious illnesses, you can imagine which course the insurance companies will pursue. The penalties must be greater than the benefits for any such counter-incentive to work.) So, significant penalties and swift, sure justice would lower the demand and Mexicans, while they may be desperate for work, are not stupid enough to make the effort to come here when no work is to be had. So, do this and you can tear down the fence and send the National Guard home, they will no longer be needed.

To address the demand for illegal drugs the simple solution is to make some recreational drugs legal. I have long advocated the legalization of certain recreational drugs, but I am not in favor of legalizing marijuana. (Surprised you, no?) The reason for my being anti-pot is the simple fact that smoking pot is no safer than smoking tobacco; neither is to be recommended. Smoking is a poor drug delivery system. I advocate a more enlightened approach, in fact, a market-driven approach! (Aha, surprised you again, no?) I would have the Federal Government conduct a contest, a contest whose task would be to create safe, non-abusable drugs. (Non-abusable drugs are merely drugs which have an optimum dose that is quite low. Raise the dose and the effect is diminished.) The top three drugs that meet all of the criteria (nontoxic, non-abusable, affordability, etc.) would receive government patents for 50 years to exclusively produce the drugs for the market. The taxes on these drugs would be quite high (to pay off the national debt, say) and use and sale of these drugs would be legal in all 50 states. Illegal drug demand would dry up to a small trickle supported only by anti-establishment types and the judicial hammer could be dropped on these miscreants quite heavily. So, people are going to continue to smuggle illegal drugs into a market that isn’t particularly interested in buying them? Uh, no, I don’t think so, too much risk, too little reward.

So, it is time for some “supply-siders” to be transformed into “demand-siders” and solve these problems.

May 19, 2010

Chasing Arizona’s Tail

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 2:41 pm
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I am a scientist. As part of my training it was drummed into me that it was really, really important to understand “the problem,” “the question,” before trying to answer it, because if you got the question wrong, you could waste a great deal of time and effort trying to answer it, and even if you did it wouldn’t be satisfying because it isn’t the answer that is needed.

Which brings us to Arizona.

The current brouhaha in Arizona is over their “immigration” problem. The state legislature passed a law requiring law enforcement officers to ask anyone “looking” like they might be in the country illegally for identification papers. This “papers, please” law has created a firestorm of controversy. Some say it leads to racial profiling. Some say it is a law enforcement nightmare. But has anyone challenged the reasoning of the sponsoring politicians? Remember we are talking about politicians here, not people trained to think well.

The stated rationale is that Arizona is suffering from a perfect storm of violence and crime from an unprecedented wave of illegal immigrants streaming over the Arizona-Mexico border. And since the Federal government has failed to act, Arizona was forced to do so.

So, is there any evidence to back up this argument? For example, what are the crime statistics?

Well, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the violent crime rate in Arizona was lower in 2006, 2007, and 2008 (the most recent years from which data are available) than any year since 1983. The property crime rate in Arizona was lower in 2006, 2007, and 2008 than any year since 1968.

A border county sheriff stated that the number of arrests of illegals is way down from ten years ago and that the standing procedure has been to turn those people over to the Border Patrol who then deports them right back across the border. (Unfortunately, the federal system is considerably backed up at present and many illegals are given temporary work permits and driver’s licenses until they can have their deportation hearing.) The new Arizona law requires these people be locked up in state run jails, being housed and fed at the citizen’s expense, while they work their way through the AZ judicial system. Sounds a lot more expensive to me. And law enforcement officers say the are afraid that the illegals, who up until now have been fairly docile when caught, will react differently if they know they are going to jail and/or prison, which will make law enforcement’s job much tougher. That doesn’t sound good, either.

Well, that kind of blows a hole in the “need” argument.

So, why was Arizona’s state legislators so worked up about a problem that was slowly getting better?

The answer is simply fear. There has been a great deal of drug-related crime violence just across the border and it has been leaking into the U.S. But still the statistics are what they are. The fear that is most threatening is the fear in the minds of these people. It is being fanned to white heat by the conservative fear mongering media. People who are afraid can be controlled and it doesn’t matter is the fear is real or imagined. There are real problems but the problems these conservative “commentors” are imagining are not the real problems.

Spending a lot of time and energy trying to solve a problem that isn’t real is a tremendous waste of time and effort and spiritual energy, that is such “problems” sap our spirits, leading us to think we are inundated with problems, that we are making no progress, when in fact things are quite different from what we were lead to believe.

And, we have enough real problems, thank you, and we shouldn’t we wasting time on Arizona’s stupid law. How about dealing with the real immigration problem? How about offering amnesty to all of the current illegals (with the appropriate hoops for them to jump through to achieve legal resident’s status) while simultaneously announcing that this is the last time such an amnesty will be offered . . . ever! To reduce the flow of people across the border, all we need do is require people to prove citizenship (or legal resident status) when they get a job and we need enforcement with severe penalties on employers who hire people without such proofs. If there are no jobs, people will not come. The reason they come now is the same reason drugs flow fairly freely across the same border—demand.

Why do we just swallow whole the rationales and claims of people making such divisive claims? Why don’t we check the facts first and get the problem right before we start “solving” it.

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