Saturday, February 15, 2014

"Wake Up!"

Mr. Thomas Donohue is the CEO and president of the United States Chamber of Commerce. Recently he wrote an editorial piece and he said something very interesting: “Many studies have concluded that the greatest percentage of job growth in the United States through 2020 is expected in low-and moderate-skilled jobs that cannot be automated or outsourced.” He goes on to give examples of landscapers and home health aides and bellhops. Because of this, Mr. Donohue says, we have to be willing to open the doors to immigration because Americans are too lazy and stupid to perform even low-skilled jobs. 

Having inadvertently spit out my coffee I had to clean up before acting on my plan to remind myself what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce does. It is not an official U.S. agency. It’s a lobbying group. It gets money from Goldman Sachs. It helps business-friendly politicians get elected. It supports politicians who believe in things like “free trade” and “outsourcing.” It supported President Clinton’s NAFTA policy and Mrs. Clinton’s 1993 healthcare plan. It opposed the DISCLOSE Act, which sought to curb the influence of foreign money on U.S. politics. It’s a big supporter of schemes like Keystone XL and the Transpacific Partnership.  

I have to ask, when the immigrants come into this country to change bedpans and trim the hedges, who will be paying their salaries? It’ll probably be members of the Chamber of Commerce. Goldman Sachs executives age like the rest of us and will need home health care. They are accustomed to a certain standard of living and wouldn’t want their topiary gardens to fall into neglect. 

Once upon a time, Americans were told that outsourcing is necessary because there are jobs that are simply too menial and too unpleasant to give to anyone who wants the work week to end at 40 hours or aspires to a living wage. But now, Americans are being told that the only jobs left in the United States – thanks to outsourcing – are too menial and too unpleasant for natural-born Americans, and therefore, we have to import immigrants to do the work.

It is true that many Mexicans may be willing to work for lower wages than many Americans. The reason for this is that many Mexicans have been born and raised in a maquiladora -- a shanty town -- and this is the only standard of living they've ever known. An American will work for as little as a Mexican provided that he or she gets used to the idea of living in a shanty town. Obviously, the folks at the Chamber of Commerce would be glad to see more Americans living in shanty-towns. But it's up to the American worker to defend the dream of enjoying a decent standard of living for his or own family, for his or her fellow Americans, and for Mexicans.

One needn't be "anti-immigrant" to wish for a future in which Mexicans and Ecuadorans are not starved of wages to the point that they are forced to pull up their roots and leave their families to find work overseas. In fact, it is because of deals like NAFTA that millions of Mexicans can no longer find work at home (source).

They have the same problem over in Dubai. When it comes to changing bedpans and seeing to the landscaping and such, they have to import Filipinos. The Filipinos are, by all accounts, treated badly, and there’s not much they can do about that because they’re not in a position to pack up their bags and fly home again. This leads me to think that there is a small cadre of Americans who are disproportionately represented in the Chamber of Commerce who believe that they are living in Dubai. 

Wolves at the door

Evidently, Americans believe what they are told. Once, Americans were told that outsourcing is necessary for those truly unpleasant jobs. Now, Americans are being told that foreign workers need to be “insourced” for those truly unpleasant jobs. And those other jobs – the jobs that a person can take that will feed his or her family and leave the weekends open for a little rest and relaxation? They’re gone, unless you are a financial executive or a captain of industry. 

The old solutions, I fear, will no longer apply. We can’t rely on labor unions to improve the situation. We can’t rely on the to-be-announced Democratic candidate for the 2016 presidential election. We can’t rely on the to-be-announced Republican candidate. Both of them will be taking money from Goldman Sachs and the Chamber of Commerce. Both will be wined and dined by private equity firms like the Carlyle Group. Both will support outsourcing and cheap immigrant labor and “free trade” deals, no matterwhat they may happen to say on the campaign trail. Both of them will try as hard as they can to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Being "pro-business" doesn't necessarily mean supporting multinational conglomerates. And it doesn't mean that you are a socialist if you believe that the balance of power in this country has shifted too far in favor of the politically well-connected financiers and CEOs.

I’ve been saying these things again and again in the New Independent Whig, hoping I’ll find the right words to inspire people, hoping that I’ll go viral one day, and hoping that I have not become that “red-faced man” who pontificates endlessly and offers nothing. I’ve tried to educate myself past the point of wearing the blinders of uncritical devotion to a political party. I’ve done my best to refrain from stating an opinion unless it is an informed opinion. But on days like today, caught in the grips of pneumonia and buried under a ton of snow and reading the treasonous words of Mr. Thomas Donohue of the United States Chamber of Commerce, all I want to do is repeat the words, “Wake up! Do something to save yourselves, or you will surely perish.”

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