Fast on the heels of the revelations about Meg Whitman, The Nation exposes another hypocrite in the person of Lou Dobbs, who, it was found, employed undocumented immigrants even as he railed against them, even as he demanded jail time for the very act he committed.
The hypocrisy is rank, but surely not startling. We all know how deeply the undocumented permeate our society. Put simply, if you stay in a hotel, chances are that someone who served you in the hotel was undocumented. If you have work done on a home, or bought one new, chances are that someone who helped build it was undocumented. If you ate anything at all in the past ten years, chances are 100% that someone who touched the food before it got to your plate was undocumented. The undocumented are so ingrained in our society that we cannot eat without them.
This is the truth of how we live in America. Yet, somehow, we cannot allow ourselves to do the right thing by the people who feed us, take care of us and make us comfortable.
It makes you wonder why. How is it that we can live side by side with these folks, benefit from their misery, and do nothing to change it? Who benefits from this ugly status quo?
It certainly is not the American worker, whether native born or undocumented. Every time an undocumented worker is forced to accept bad wages or sub standard working conditions, pressure is placed on native born workers to accept less as well. Thanks, in part, to decisions like Hoffman Plastics, even joining a union is dangerous for the undocumented and if the person next to you on the line isn't in the union, then the unions are that much weaker. The undocumented do not have access to workers' compensation, disability, or any of the other safety net provisions that cover the native born worker.
For the native born worker, a large undocumented segment of the workforce means less pay, more competition for their labor, and makes it even harder to organize and fight for fair compensation and safety in the work place. For the undocumented, to speak out, to demand better wages or to get hurt on the job is to starve.
Again I ask: who benefits?
Well, if an undocumented workforce means weaker unions, less pay and less benefits for everyone, who could possibly benefit from that? Didn't I see something in the news recently about record profits being posted by large corporations, in large part because they were keeping costs down? Costs like pay and benefits.
I think I am beginning to see a pattern here.
Still, it is not the corporate interests who rant against "illegals." It is not they who have dehumanized the people who put food on your table. Even as they are the greatest beneficiaries of this nasty system, they remain oddly quiet about solutions, either pro- or anti-immigrant.
Instead, the role of attack dog has fallen to rabble rousers claiming to be populists. Pundits like Dobbs, Limbaugh and Beck all became millionaires, in part, by attacking the undocumented. Obvious sociopaths like Sherriff Arpaio in Arizona get their 15 minutes of fame by driving tanks out into the desert looking for "lawbreakers." And politicians like Meg Whitman and Gov. Jan Brewer think nothing of hopping on the hate bandwagon to rally the forces of fear against such easy targets.
So corporate interests benefit from the status quo, and they use the millionaire pundits, crazies, and opportunistic politicians to keep that status quo in place. No new news there.
What is fascinating is how they then turn the human beings most hurt by this system against one another. American workers are huge losers with this dysfunctional immigration system. But they are never encouraged to ask how we got here or how we can fix it. Instead they are fed rhetoric all day long about leprosy carrying illegals crowding the schools and hospitals and stealing "American" jobs.
After hearing this garbage day after day, with no rational voice able to get the same airtime, eventually the American worker begins to believe the myths. Good people, with no evil intent begin to attack immigrants and never ask who profits from their presence, or how we can fix the problem.
There are obvious historic corollaries here. When African-Americans had the audacity to demand to be treated like human beings, the monied interests that benefitted from their cheap labor used poor whites, also exploited, as attack dogs. When the insurance giants and their corporate buddies stood to lose billions in bloated healthcare profits, they relied on the unease of white middle class seniors to give birth to the tea party.
Thus, the status quo remains. Workers are pitted against each other in a downward spiral of low wages and bad conditions. And Corporate America posts record profits.
Meanwhile, Meg Whitman searches for a new nanny, Lou Dobbs will have to find someone else to groom his daughter's horses.
The only way out of this equation that I can see is to organize ordinary Americans against the special interests which keep the system rigged against them.
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