I find myself agreeing with George Bush. This is a most strange and disturbing state of affairs. So much that it's making me question my position on a particular issue. We're talking guest worker programs here.
This quote, "As we debate the immigration issue, we must remember there are hardworking individuals, doing jobs that Americans will not do, who are contributing to the economic vitality of our country," from Bush says it all.
There's racism at the core of this statement and at the core of my agreeing with it. The truth remains though, we Americans are spoiled children, looking for (usually) brown-skinned people to clean up for us, to take care of our children, to cook for us. To do anything we deem unpleasant or somehow beneath us. Oh, and we don't want to pay very much for the service. Because although we are increasingly living in a service economy we don't value service very highly. Even by people in the restaurant industry who should know better.
I'm not sure when this country turned into a nation of whiners who feel too entitled to scrub the floor. What we need to do is to make service somehow glamorous. Because fame is a potent motivator. Perhaps if there were reality shows like "Top Janitor", or "Project: Porter" we might have more citizens lining up to apply for jobs. Or just to recognize that service is the highest calling of all. Service is at the base of every religion I can think of. Service keeps people sober. Service gives life meaning to many.
My star line cook is back from Mexico. He has the requisite documents but like nearly every other Latin American cook, dishwasher, street sweeper, busser (insert your least liked task here) that I know, they may or may not be real. He started as a dishwasher, a position his father now holds. He's been a cook for a few years now. Organized, fast, clean, one step ahead. The hardworking individual Bush describes. He's one of the lucky ones. He's not standing on the street over by 4th street in Berkeley waiting for someone to pick him up and pay him a few bucks to do some job the Lexus driver deems too shitty for him or her to do. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there isn't a need for someone to do those jobs. I am saying I wouldn't hire someone to do something I wouldn't do myself.
On the surface this guest worker thing seems like it would be a good thing. Hard working individuals having access to the same schools and health-care as citizens. Wait a minute, maybe that's not such a bargain after all. The real issue here as always, is money. When a semi-legal worker has taxes withheld from their paycheck that money flies directly from their pocket into the US Treasury because they can't file a tax return and get that money back. Look around, just in your neighborhood. How many workers are donating a portion of their income to the United States? And if they were to get that money back, who makes up for the billions and billions of dollars exiting the governmental coffers? For that reason alone a guest worker program will never pass. Bush has to know this, so why is he promoting it? The only reason I can see is to court the Hispanic vote in the West and Southwest.