Thursday, June 15, 2006

Hey, manipulative liar: Exactly what job will illegal immigrants do that no American will take?

I’m getting fed up, fed up, fed up – that’s very, very intensely fed up -- with the manipulative lie, subscribed to by both sides of the illegal immigration controversy. I'm talking about the lie that illegal immigrants are working at "jobs nobody else will do.”

What's people usually have in mind when they discuss this are jobs that range from house painting, to rearing other peoples’ children, to picking fruit.

Americans wonj't take them? What a bunch of unmitigated baloney!

Americans will do those jobs willingly. They just won’t do them for the minimum wage or less.

Pay $20 an hour with health benefits and you’ll have American-born fruit pickers (and legal immigrants) climbing over your fences to climb your fruit trees.

Pay up that to $50 an hour and you’ll have citizen Ph.D candidates in psychology and early childhood education begging to wipe your kids’ noses and change their stinky diapers.

Pay a living wage with overtime and decent medical and retirement benefits and you’ll have proud Americans in all kinds of businesses and service industries who smile, really try to help you, and take the initiative in solving your problems instead of running from trouble.

There would be no jobs for illegal immigrants. U.S. citizens and legal immigrants would fill them all.

One of the reasons nothing works in this country any more – why you get lost in Pushbutton Hell when you call a company with a problem, for example – is that big business is looking to raise profits by cutting costs. Sometimes they cut costs by exporting jobs to Bombay. Sometimes they cut costs by replacing people with machines that make you waste your time pushing buttons. Sometimes they cut costs by exploiting illegal immigrants.

Both political parties in this country have allowed work to be done on the cheap by “undocumented workers.” The Republicans are worse than the Democrats, but do try to remember the “Zoe Baird problem,” that a couple of Clinton Administration nominees had. Both pro- and anti-illegal sides of the immigration controversy are pushing the myth that illegal immigrants are only taking jobs Americans don’t want. It's all a huge wagon load of stuff that supposedly only illegal immigrants would shovel.

Somehow, all this brings an ancient joke to mind:

A guy jumps out of a chauffeur-driven limousine on Fifth Avenue and accosts a nice-looking young woman in a Channel suit. He says to her, “I’m a billionaire. Maybe you recognize me from my pictures in the newspaper. I’ll give you ten million dollars – ten million! – if you come to my home and get into bed with me, for just one night.”

“Ten million bucks for one night?” she says thoughtfully, “Well, okay.”

As she gets into the limo he says, “Well actually, I’m only going to give you a nickel.”

“A nickel!” she screams, “What the hell do you think I am?”

“We’ve already established that,” he says, “All we’re doing now is haggling over the price.”

Personally, I think America and our economy would get better value from better-paid workers, whether we’re talking about fruit pickers or hookers.

There is no legal job that Americans won't do – for a decent wage and decent working conditions.

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