Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Things We Hope For Today

1. cookies in the kitchen at work. Sometimes the receptionist brings cookies. Now that I think about it, she hasn't done that in a long while. That must mean we're just about due, before the annual onslaught of Christmas party leftovers--it's experimentation season. At least two of the guys here are industrious bakers at holiday time. Homer makes wonderful lemondrop cookies. Mike is a more of a chocolate chip man... who also hasn't coughed any up lately. What is wrong with these people?

2. brilliant insight on the current project. I'm having a very hard time teasing meaning out of the latest set of artifacts and associated maps and data. It's still chilly in here, despite a couple of layers and an extra sweatshirt draped over my knees, and it's hard to focus on anything but a cup of coffee and the nonexistant cookies.

3. some action, baby, and quality action at that. 'Nuff said.

Dubya was here yesterday for about an hour and a half. He talked about immigration reform, guest worker plans, ending "catch-and-release" programs... as if entrants are trout. They get screwed by the coyotes, they trash the environment, they're so desperate for work they'll take the lousy odds against making it across hundred of miles of hot stinking desert, they include drug dealers and murderers, they're young families with toddlers, they'll work shit jobs for shit pay, their willingness to work shit jobs for shit pay allows employers to maintain a wage structure that's far too low to attract American workers in the first place, they are an indispensable cog in the US economy, they suck up resources at a greater rate than they pay back in through payroll taxes, they terrorize citizens living in the border zone, they die horrible deaths as their organs slowly cook from the inside.

It's a problem far too complex and economically entrenched for simple sloganeering on either side.

I tend to fall on the side arguing for guest-worker visas and amnesty, provided that such a program doesn't legitimize de facto indentured servitude. How such a result is to be avoided is a mystery to me. Employers can pay illegals far below the market rate as long as the spectre of La Migra is held over the workers' heads. Once those workers are registered and "officially" integrated into the economy, can unlivable wages continue to be justified? Will they continue to be accepted by workers who, to this point, have been content to cram a dozen guys into an apartment intended for two because they had no other choice? Will US workers accept a system that officially sanctions employment for non-citizens at half the minimum pay mandated for citizens? How many of the people who are currently screaming for all illegals to be deported will howl when their consumer prices skyrocket to compensate for dramatically increased labor costs?

Wow. Reading this over, it sounds like I'm advocating institutionalized slavery. I like paying 89 cents for a head of lettuce. I wonder why it's taken me so long to wonder why I can get it for that.

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