Not sure how much this will accomplish:
President Obama will send up to 1,200 National Guard troops to the Southwest border and increase spending on law enforcement, yielding to demands from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers there that border security be tightened, administration officials said.
Mr. Obama is expected to make the announcement Tuesday, the officials said, after a meeting with lawmakers.
Homeland Security officials said that the troops would provide support to law enforcement officers already working along the border by helping observe and monitor traffic between official crossing points, and would help analyze trafficking patterns in hopes of intercepting illegal drug shipments. They performed similar tasks in an earlier deployment along the border from 2006 to 2008, when they also assisted with road and fence construction. The troops have not been involved directly in intercepting border crossers.
Calls to send troops to the border mounted after the shooting death of a rancher in southern Arizona on March 27; the police suspect the rancher was killed by someone involved in smuggling. Advocates of a new state law in Arizona that gives the police a greater role in immigration enforcement also emphasized what they considered a failure to secure the border as a reason to pass the law.
Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat from southern Arizona, praised the decision. Ms. Giffords is expecting a strong challenge for reelection, and was an early proponent of sending troops to the border.
If for no other reason, politically Obama had to do something like this, but I really don’t know what exactly it will accomplish except maybe ease some fears. When you factor in support personnel out of the 1200 soldiers, and then break them down into reasonable 8-10 hour shifts, this is essentially adding 200-300 folks to a several thousand mile border at any given time. Pretty much symbolic.
But I don’t know hat else you could really do. There is no fence that is going to keep people out, and we simply do not have the manpower or money needed to stop all human and drug trafficking.
Simpler solution: Place employers that hire illegal aliens (also known as Rich People and most likely Republicans) in jail. Once the demand goes away, the supply will cease.
@The Dangerman: Ha! You can’t put rich people in jail. They’re the ones who drive the economy and produce jobs. If you put them in jail just for breaking the law maybe they just won’t do anything.
By the way, this is an issue that separates the genuine hard core libertarians from the Republican pretenders. Libertarians believe on principle there should be no restriction on immigration whatsoever. You don’t have to let anyone on your property for any reason, but you certainly can’t keep them out of the country. I wonder how many professed Libertarians would go this far these days?
Trying to clean up the messes Bush left behind is like playing pick up sticks. You move one and several others topple.
Dangerman is right. Also the drug war isn’t helping any.
The Republicans are really going to go after Obama from now on. There is no such thing as peak hysteria.
Of course it’s not.
I don’t know if this country, or even the world, fully realizes just how major of a bullet we dodged by not putting this clown in the White House.
It’s the kind of the thing that should make the Mayans give us at least until 2013.
The term “election-year ploy” comes to mind.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this is partially in response to the riots in Kingston. As I understand it, a lot of these cartels have business ties to one another, so there may be some intelligence that there will be a big surge of violence in Mexico.
@Midnight Marauder: It’s odd. Even the most virulent anti-Obama posters on a political forum I frequent concede that McCain, AT BEST, would be no better, and would likely have been worse. However, they do all worship at the altar of Queen Sarah, so yeah.
It gives white people the illusion of safety.
That’s all that’s ever required.
Just Some Fuckhead
This is great news. Illegal immigration is a security problem and an economic problem. If I had my way, we’d build a 100 foot tall wall manned with robotic sentry guns and a no mans land on our side 10 miles wide laden with land mines.
Plus I don’t like Mexicans.
It would be nice to see a liberal Dem (Boxer?) get ahead of the issue and push for a strong employer sanctions bill. Really go after employers that hire undocumented aliens. Then the tea partiers can push for sealing the border and we can all compromise and put immigration reform to bed.
Or validate them. If Joe the Fencebuilder has been screaming, “The Feds aren’t doing their job!”, now he can start yelling, “Even federal troops aren’t enough, so they need to start funding my Citizen Freedom Border Force Omega and pass this law banning upside down exclamation points at the beginning of sentences!”
That’s probably about what it would take, at minimum. But a mere dislike of Mexicans wouldn’t be nearly enough of a catalyst to generate the kind of political will to make something like that happen.
Mike in NC
Somebody should look into how many illegal aliens are employed cleaning the McCain’s 12 homes (or however many they own), not to mention maintaining their fleet of nine cars or mowing all those lawns.
Tom Ridge said just the other day, neither party has done anything about this probelm for the last 25 years
As well as being local, all politics are also cosmetic.
You don’t like anyone.
It’ll give Republicans something new to complain about, I’m sure.
@Just Some Fuckhead: If you learn how to read, something they don’t teach you at FDL school, you’d know this is aimed at the drug trafficking problem, NOT the illegal immigration problem. Two seperate distantly related things.
But don’t let facts get in your way, I know that’s the first thing Headmistress Jane Hamsher teaches you.
Like putting lipstick on a pit bull.
I hope they’re soliciting volunteers. As a Marine reservist, I would be outraged if I got activated for pretty much anything less than actual war / national disaster. But I bet they are. Pretty much any given state will have 1200 guardsmen who are looking for a solid paycheck in these sorts of economic times.
Just Some Fuckhead
Yeah, there’s that.
I don’t think it will accomplish very much in the long run. But it will make a splash and might be good politics, and might make a marginal difference in the very short run.
There is another crisis, more immediate and more dire in my opinion, that could use similar high profile action.
But I won’t be more specific, otherwise uproar will be unleashed on this poor long suffering blog.
@Just Some Fuckhead: Dude, nowhere in this article does it mention illegal immigration.
Oh, forget it, I just realized who I was dealing with.
@John Cole: Now John, there is something to be said for being a misanthrope.
Hating one race = unacceptable
Hating ALL of them = works for me!
No one in power wants to actually stop it. They just want to look like they do.
Fine employers $1000/day for each undocumented worker employed and the illegal worker portion of the problem is solved.
Not for free- at a profit.
No, because everytime either party tries, they get slammed down by radical fringes who want either A.) complete shutdown of the border and apartheid of Hispanic people or B.) total open border and legalization of everybody immediately no matter what.
and since both are non-starters, we get nowhere.
This is one of those situations where a compromise…might actually work.
Just Some Fuckhead
@ND22: WTF are you talking about, tard? I’d guess Jane Hamsher would be an open border liberal if I cared to find out.
But you’ve made the valid point that Mexicans have made an absolute mess out of their so-called country. All the more reason to hate them.
Does anyone know how much the U.S. homicide rate would go up if by some impossible miracle we DID achieve some real reduction in the drug traffic across the border?
From Roxbury, hell, from Bangor, to Chula Vista, it’d be an amazing blood bath in reaction to the sudden 2000 percent spike in dope prices and what B-school calls “supply chain management” problems.
The current system allows U.S. dope consumers to enjoy relatively low prices while Mexican citizens suffer the “negative externalities” of their collapsing society.
Here’s one way to fix 1/4 of the problem in one shot:
@wrb: That is all find and dandy, but we’re talking about the drug trade here, not illegal immigration. If we fine every employee who hires illegal immigrants, that will stop the illegal immigrants coming here for jobs, but not the ones looking to push coke and dope.
@Just Some Fuckhead:
It’s funny because no where in my comment did I mention Mexicans…nowhere.
It’s funny because many of those drug traffickers…are actually Colombians who come through illegal through Mexico.
But you go ahead and misrepresent shit I say, I know, I know, Putting Words in People’s Mouths- that’s a core class at Jane Hamsher U.
Just Some Fuckhead
Well, someone clearly needs to ask Rand Paul about this.
This is just a show. Necessary, but just a show.
A great many are not rich, but middle class business folk who pay cash for low wage manual labor. Three miles up my street is a neighborhood where dozens of laborers hang out each day to get hired.
There are places here in Houston were many times more guys hang out to be hired by Houstonians. Those good citizens also need to feel the heat and be dissuaded from hiring non citizens if you wish to shrink demand.
Second (or third) whoever upthread said that the best solution to the “illegal immigration” problem was to nail the employers.
The dirty little secret Americans turn resolutely away from is that if you actually had to pay living wages to the people who pick our food, we would be paying $9 a pound for tomatoes. So everyone makes believe that the “problem” is the immigrant. The same arses who scream bloody murder about the Meskins go to Walmart to buy their $.99 a pound potatoes.
And the best way to deal with the illegal drugs to to legalize them and cut out the middleman’s profit. But that would piss off all the people making money from “the war.”
It’s all kabuki, and everyone knows it.
@Just Some Fuckhead: Yes Fuckhead, the drug trade is a very big part of the reason there is overwhelming support for the Arizona law…what’s your point?
Nah….. Let’s just fuck with the poor folks who leave their families and risk their lives to come to the USA! and clean toilets. Your method produces a substandard ragegasm.
Fixed it for ya.
@Just Some Fuckhead: you wanna maybe also blockquote the sentence before that that says the law came to fruition after a rancher was supposedly shot and killed by a drug smuggler?
No, bet you wouldn’t since it would prove my point.
Last year Obama increased funding for border operations. For next year, he’s asked for $6B more funding in order to substantially increase the number of agents employed. My guess is that the $500M and 1200 guard troops is something of a downpayment on that request.
Why do you want to put your foot on the throat of free enterprise?
Looks like Rand Paul went on the Repugs new website today and gave some suggestions:
“Securing” the border is cosmetic. The flow of illegal aliens coming across the border was greater during the height of the housing boom. The problem now is that many of the jobs which used to provide work for those people who are already here dried up and blew away when the construction sector tanked in the wake of the housing bubble. Ditto for low paying jobs in the hospitality industry. The problem isn’t that hordes are pouring across and undefended border, it is that folks already here don’t have jobs.
NPR: Nearly Half of Illegal Immigrants Overstay Visas
From 2006 but it’s probably true today. Learn to love your new neighbors, cause they’re going to come one way or another. No fence, wall or military presence will change that.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
Dave Weigel offers an explanation, via Jon Kyl’s through-the-looking-glass worldview
Translation: the GOP let it be known they would filibuster any immigration laws until they could brag about having been tuff on illegal immigration. I don’t like it, but that’s the playing field we have.
Of course we have the power to stifle human smuggling. Just open up Ellis Island Southwest. Those folks want in and there is no reason to keep them out.
The only people who profit from the illegal immigrant debacle are the businessmen and women who want their cheap labor.
We should be documenting and admitting every damn person who wants to be part of our society and from there provide the path to naturalization, sort of like, I don’t know, the way we did for the great-grandparents of every other fucking American who claims no native tribal allegiance.
To be analytical about it, there’s not much of a downside to deploying some more troops (NG, are these Arizonans?) down on the border: The grunts get some duty time; Pres. Obama gets to look like he’s Doing Something, and local officialdom can’t complain much, since “getting tough” on illegal immigration is what they’ve been yawping about for years.
Of course, this shit is unlikely to actually DO much about illlegal border crossings; but at least it can inoculate the Administration against the more rabid of the criticism. As if that will make a difference….
@HumboldtBlue: I really agree with you. When I was in 8th grade I memorised the Emma Lazarus poem (“Give me your tired, your poor . . . “) and I’ve never had occasion in the intervening 55 years to challenge the principles therein.
I thought women were their own cheap labor.
@slag #52: I totally hate myself for this, and I’m going to have to turn in my DFH credentials, and I expect I’ll fry in hell — but that made me laugh.
Police departments used to try and cut down on the number of hookers on the streets by arresting the hookers. Someone finally wised up and realized that if you don’t want prostitutes on your street corners, you have to arrest the customers, not the hookers, because they’re the ones creating the demand.
Arrest the people creating the demand. It’s the only way to make a dent.
The most lasting effect of this is the eight or ten guys that will get heatstroke and spend the rest of their military careers having water bottles shoved in their faces.
Other than that, not so much.
Is this even good politics?
Latinos aren’t going to be crazy about this.
Wingnut nut-jobs would hate Obama and vote against him even if the O-man brought Reagan back from the dead. This won’t convince them of anything.
Independents will recognize that it won’t matter much.
I don’t get it. Is he going after the Dumb Independent vote?
Unfortunately by now he’s probably learned his lesson and would lie. Still, if he was willing to piss of the anti-immigrant crowd by stating in principal he opposes all restrictions on immigration, then I’d be willing to admit his extreme positions are entirely a result of rigid adherence to principles, and certainly not racist.
@BombIranForChrist: Actually, i think Latinos will like this…part of their problem is they’re mad the Arizona law passed because Mexicans are being stereotyped based on the criminals that smuggle drugs in the country…they’re gonna be thrilled if they’re targeted
Keep in mind Latinos don’t hate the Arizona law because they support illegal immigration, they hate it because it targets them.
Pundits have been nattering on about a so-called “populist political movement” but they’ve been using the ridiculous example of the astroturfed Tea Party dupes. That’s clearly not a populist poltical movement, since it’s largely organized by Fox News and funded by the Koch family.
But the upsurge of concern about illegal immigrants along the southwestern U.S. border feels like the real deal to me. This has all the earmarks of a true populist political movement:
 The elites of both parties hate the anti-illegal-immigrant movement in the American southwest, but it has enormous popular support in the southwest across party lines.
 The anti-illegal-immigrant movement in the American southwest has a clearly defined and narrow goal: adequate control of the border. Unlike the Tea Party or other nonsensical astroturfed movements, this one knows precisely what it wants.
 The anti-illegal-immigrant movement in the American southwest is based on a real problem that makes sense to most of the American people. A country has to control its borders. It’s not practical for a modern nation to allow millions of undocumented immigrants to surge across its border at will.
 Even people who vehemently disagree with the anti-illegal-immigrant movement recognize that something has to be done. The primary focus of debate in this case is not whether something must be done to secure the borders, but what must be done.
 The anti-illegal-immigrant movement in the American southwest is based on real pragmatic concerns about the deteriorating situation in Mexico. As drug violence skyrockets throughout Mexico, it threatens to leak across the borders, and this is a sensible problem that everyone has good reason to worry about, including the federal government.
 Unlike other astroturfed “movements,” the anti-illegal-immigrant movement in the American southwest has already forced local, state and federal governments to take action about the problem. And I predict that as it grows, the anti-illegal-immigrant movement will force the governments to take further action.
The status quo ante in the American southwest is already unacceptable, and with drug violence only getting worse in Mexico, the illegal immigrant situation in the American southwest threatens to deteriorate further.
Looks like a genuine populist political movement to me.
Teh hawt! /shallow
Maybe we also need a Coast Guard squadron or some Navy Seals. There are real pirates patrolling our coastal waters according to this Texas Newscast
Like all sociopaths, Mnemosyne resorts to personal attacks and smears because she is fundamentally ignorant. Lacking facts with which to debate, she must resort to name-calling and assertions that anyone who disagrees with her is mentally ill.
The plain and simple fact remains that if the federal government arrested the businesspeople who create demand for illegal immigrant labor by hiring undocumented workers, American industry would shut down.
Notice that I didn’t say “industry in the American southwest.” The problem of American businesses hiring undocumented workers is far larger than just the southwestern border states. In fact, big businesses from Texas to Vermont actively operate gigantic pipelines to smuggle in enormous numbers of undocumented workers eager to slave away for pennies per hour.
And these undocumented workers don’t just come from Mexico. They are drawn from Central and South America. Moreover, this is not some penny-ante ad hoc system — it’s highly organized and run by the largest corporations in America, including Tyson foods and the biggest fisheries and slaughterhouses in the U.S.
Let’s take a look at the documented facts, of which Mnemosyne remains so shockingly ignorant:
Two year FRONTLINE anniversary of an ICE raid on Guatamalan illegals working at a meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa, the largest immigration raid to date in U.S. history.
Notice the origin of the undocumented workers: Guatamala — not Mexico. And notice the location of the plant: Idaho. Not Austin or El Paso or San Diego. Idaho is not a border state. How on earth did so many hundreds of undocumented Guatamalans end up working in meat packing plant in Postville Idaho?
Because a giant corporation set up a smuggling operation to funnel undocumented workers from Central America into Idaho, that’s how. That’s the only reasonable explanation. Hundreds of undocumented Guatamalan illegals couldn’t possibly just happen to all coincidentally get together and decide independently to infiltrate across the Mexican border and then all independently just happen to wind up working at exactly the same meat packing plant in Idaho. That’s statistically absurd, like believing that 500 people won the lottery by chance all at once.
Now let’s take a look at some other facts of which Mnemoyne remins so appalllingly ignorant:
E-Verify misses half of illegal workers checked.
Why is that? Why does this highly touted electronic database miss so many undocumented workers?
The article provides the answer:
Where do hundreds of Guatamalans from villages without running water in Central America find state-of-the art identity papers with embossed holograms and valid social security numbers?
The only reasonable answer is that the giant corporations that funnel those illegal immigrants into Idaho and North Dakota and Vermont and Maine and Montana obtain databases of valid social security numbers and use them to provide fraudulent ID that passes the Homeland Security database checks because the SSNs and other information is obtained by identity theft from valid U.S. citizens.
Employing undocumented workers is big business. The largest corporations in America make billions by hiring undocumented workers. It makes sense that in a business that big and that profitable, there must be lots of money available for sophisticated identity fraud.
That’s how undocumented workers get valid SSN numbers and drivers licenses. They’re provided with them by the giant multinational corporation that pay them to work in meat packing plants filled with toxic chemicals like anhydrous ammonia.
Of course, Mnemosyne is so grotesquely ignorant that she’ll deny these documented facts and scream (as usual) that anyone who points out these facts is “mentally ill” and “off his meds” and “in need of therapy.”
Thus, the final piece of evidence in our little trip through the reality of modern American corporate labor practices:
U.S. businesses profiting from a slave labor force with illegal aliens.
The hard cold fact is that the rock bottom labor costs of third world workers has put enormous pressure on U.S. corporations. In order to compete, giant American corporations must find a way to match the 20-cent-per-hour pay rates of Chinese worker in Guandong or Guangzhi.
American corporations have done this by setting up covert pipeline to smuggle in vast numbers of undocumented workers from Mexico and Central America, provide them with valid SSNs and identity papers obtained by identity theft from legal American citizens, and put those undocumented workers to work in toxic environments at pay rates competitive with those Chinese slave labor workers in Guandong province.
If the U.S. government actually arrested employers that hired illegal immigrants en masse, all of American industry should shut down tomorrow. America would become a ghost town. Our slaughterhouses would close up, our chicken processing plants would shut down, our assembly lines would go dark, our light manufacturing plants would shutter, our maids and gardeners and cleaning crews and hotel staffs and fast food restaurant workers would disappear and all those businesses would be boarded up and shut down with big OUT OF BUSINESS signs on their boarded-up front doors.
America has gotten itself into a real Catch-22. We can’t continue to funnel millions of undocumented workers across the Mexican border because it’s destroying our society, but we can’t stop the race to the bottom in wages because American businesses must now compete with third world workers who are eager to slave away 14 hours a day for pennies per hour.
@mclaren: Umm, so what? If we can’t do things the right way we don’t fucking deserve to do them period. Let our labor costs go fucking insane, maybe then the oligarchs will figure out Henry Ford was right: it does you no fucking good to make something if no one can afford to buy it.
MC Threadkillah (aka DJ tl;dr) has joined the fray.
I don’t get why doing a purely political gesture like this is acceptable for illegal immigration (talk about a brown, oily mass pushing itself into the clean, white water! …aaaaaand I’m going to hell…….oh cmon, it was funny), but on the topic of the oil spill, people get shouted down with “WHAT IS HE SUPPOSED TO DO?!”
@Yutsano: Well, once again, it’s not that simple.
If we let our labor costs rise, America would suffer enormous balance of trade problems, and this would eventually force u to devalue the dollar.
This would have the effect of drastically increasing interest rates in America, which in turn would shove the already fragile house of cards misnamed the American banking system into collapse. U.S. banks are currently insolvent because of the gigantic losses they suffered from all those liar loans they made during the go-go 2000s, but they’re scraping along by paying down those bad loans the banks had to write off by making money off the difference twixt the very low rate the Treasury charges banks to borrow, and the higher rate that the banks charge on credit cards and overdraft fees, etc. Those outrageous 35% credit card interest rates and grotesquely unfair $50 overdraft fee right now are the only thing standing between the U.S. banking system and total default. (Banks sure as hell aren’t making money off new loans because, unfortunately, business is so depressed throughout America. Banks can make lots of money by loaning to small businesses in boom time, but in massive recessions like the one we’re in now, that’s not practical option.)
As much as I despise our corrupt incompetent banking system, it remains a fact that if the American banking system goes belly-up, liquidity dries up and the U.S. economy will seize up and die like a V-8 engine with sugar in the gas tank.
Unfortunately, we live in a complex global economy and it’s all connected. I wish we could fix things by doing something as simple as raising the minimum wage and paying Americans a living wage, but it’s just not that simple.
@mclaren: I live in a state with the highest minimum wage in the country. When the law was passed they screamed that our entire economy would completely fall apart and businesses would flee the state because of the outrageous labor costs. Guess what? It didn’t happen. Our state has a budget shortfall sure, but we took steps (including a tax increase) to address those issues, and our minimum wage is still right up there. So we’re a good lab for what happens when you actually pay folks enough to survive. In other words, the evidence does not support your claim.
@Yutsano: With respect, I think you’re mistaking the microeconomic situation in one state for the macroeconomic situation of global labor arbitrage.
An individual state raising its minimum wage is very different from an entire country having higher fixed labor costs than others.
Among the differences are these:
a) Individual states have interest rates set by the federal government, so a high minimum wage in one state doesn’t have knock-on effects of raising the Federal Reserve’s discount rate;
b) Individual states don’t have balance of payments problems with other states because they exist within a unified monetary regime, the U.S. dollar. America has to worry about a balance of payments problem because the rest of the world does not all use dollars as their reserve currency.
Withal, I agree with you that conservative claims that raising the minimum wage will destroy jobs have been disproven by current economic research. All I’m saying is that raising the minimum wage isn’t a magic bullet to solve the ongoing conundrum of global wage arbitrage.
Other than that, you’re making an excellent point about the minimum wage, one that more people should hear and recognize as valid.
Legalize drugs. Develop an open border policy. Problem solved.
Yes, it is that simple. You want to put smugglers out of business… take away the profits from their enterprise by driving the going prices down via open competition.
Hi, sweetheart! I missed you, too. Kiss kiss.
See, mclaren, this is exactly what I’ve been talking about. Every single one of your leftier-than-thou screeds leads to you taking the side of big business and the oligarchy. It’s really pretty astounding to have an ostensible leftist come here and tell us that we can’t possibly prosecute businesses that use illegal workers because it would be too hard on the businesses.
Either you’re insane or you’re a spoof troll. I’m starting to suspect the latter.
Wait, I thought we were supposed to want Obama to not do pointless things for show.
He could have pointed out that McCain lies all the time about border security. At the very least if he is going to do something about drug trafficking he could have sent the troops to the places where the drug traffickers are. The US border towns are quite safe (the Mexican border towns not so much) already due to the border patrol.
He could have decided to work on the demand side rather than the supply side, as trying to alter the supply side has been tried for what 40-50 years and hasn’t done much good, unless you own prison stock.
I think you may have just posted the first-ever Möbius comment.
@Mnemosyne: That would explain the long diversion into macroeconomic territory that sounded like Alan Greenspan was writing it. I stand by what I said though, the only way you get both cheap and plentiful labor is by breaking the law. If you don’t stop the demand the supply side of the equation won’t matter.
@mclaren: Exposing the economic value provided by illegal immigrants might not be such a bad thing for progressives, amirite?
Right now, conservatives bloviate about the costs of immigration without any mention of the benefits. Cracking down on businesses like Tyson would be good politics and lead to a fuller discussion of the immigration issue.
Illegal alien smuggling falls under the RICO Act – I’ll bet business would pay attention and stop hiring undocumented workers if a few meat-packing plants were seized, with management looking at multi-year minimum sentences and any aggrieved parties entitled to treble damages.
Like it would happen.
@danimal & smokescreen:
The economic value of organized illegal immigrant smuggling has been exposed. As witness the FRONTLINE special on PBS and many other stories. The problem remains that it’s one of those ugly issues our society prefers to ignore, so no matter how many exposes the press runs, people simply look the other way.
It’s much the same as what goes on whenever someone on this forum remarks that we need to wean America off their car and oil addiction. For eye-popping proof of America’s pathological and wildly out of control oil addiction, see this amazing chart.
The response on this forum to evidence showing America’s out of control oil addiction is name-calling: anyone who cites such evidence gets called a “troll,” a “fool,” an “idiot,” and we get the helpful addenda that “most people can’t bike to work” and “banning cars would shut down the U.S. economy.” In other words, most people just don’t to think about the problem. They don’t want to hear about it. They don’t want to deal with it. Most people in America, faced with chronic systemic unsustainabilities like our out-of-control military spending and our out-of-control oil addiction and our pathological corporate illegal labor smuggling, react by sticking their fingers in their ears and closing their eyes and chanting “NEENER NEENER NEENER, I CAN’T HEAR YOU! NEENER NEENER NEENER!”
Tim on another thread raised the only proper rejoinder to such silly head-in-the-sand behavior — namely, we need strong leadership from the top to change our society in such a way as to wean ourselves off our pathological oil addiction. It can be done. Technologically and socially, there’s no reason why using much less oil would break the laws of physics or require us to set up a Stalinist dictatorship. If you want to see tons of practical ideas for using less oil with at least as good a quality of life as America has right now, check out http://www.worldchanging.org.
Similarly, we need vivid forceful leadership from the top to promote change away from the too-big-to-fail corporate-centric ponziconomy America has developed. We also need to start working on moving away from capitalism, since it has clearly failed. For those of you who accuse me of being a Marxist (as has been done), bear in mind that there are more economic systems than a Soviet dictatorship or capitalist free-for-all laissez faire gladiator ring where everyone fights to the death and the last man standing gets eaten by lions. There are also more economic systems than socialism or anarcho-syndicalism, which usually get touted as “the only alternative” to cannibalistic crony capitalism or totalitarian communism.
For example, consider this restaurant where you pay whatever you want. It’s a non-profit organization. Compare with wikipedia, or credit unions, which are also non-profits, or the new still-nascent 802.11s mesh wifi protocol that entirely bypass traditional wifi providers, or the kiva micro-loan system for small businesses, also a non-profit setup.
In each case we’ve got a radical departure from capitalism because profit has been eliminated from the system. Yet it’s not communism either…and it’s not socialism or anarcho-syndicalism. Wikipedia and Kiva and that Panera restaurant are something new: free open source peer production, something we haven’t seen since the middle ages, when the entire community chipped in together to build cathedrals without expectation of profit.
The point here is that we need to change our economic system as a whole. The current economic system isn’t working in America. Tinkering around the edges by making this particular behavior illegal or punishing that specific pathology (encouraged by the ponziconomy’s basic structure) with especial severity is pointless. It won’t work, any more than putting a patch on one particular weak point of an overloaded boiler will keep the boiler from blowing up. As the pressure builds, other weak points will burst and eventually the entire structure blasts apart.
What’s encouraging is that we’re seeing massive ground-up efforts to change our current cannibalistic ponziconomy through America. We’re seeing it with website where you can upload CAD/CAM designs and get your design built out of wood or metal by numerical machine tools, we’re seeing it with crowdsourced medical diagnoses, we’re seeing it with micro-loan networks like Kiva, we’re seeing it with the urban farming movement, we’re seeing it with the Maker movement associated with MAKE magazine and boing-boing.net, and with state-by-state movements to change to universal payer medical care systems. These movements view capitalism as a form of damage and route around it. They bypass the traditional debate between communism and capitalism by removing profit from the economic system without eliminating private property, and without requiring central planning.
I think that’s what we ultimately need to solve this issue of global labor arbitrage. You can compare me to Alan Greenspan all you want, but the fact remains that global labor arbitrage and currency devaluation and international balance of payments deficits are real problems with real consequences in the real world. You can’t eliminate these kinds of problems by sneering “that sounds like Alan Greenspan” or ignoring these macroeconomic effects. People like Greenspan and Geithner and Summers aren’t evil or stupid — they’re smart people trapped in a massively pathological economic system. To change the grotesquely ugly effects of our pathological ponziconomy, we must change the structure of our economy. Incentives give rise to these sick destructive behaviors like organized corporate smuggling of undocumented immigrants and a global race to the bottom with working class wages. IF you want to get rid of the sick destructive behaviors, you must change the incentives. The alternative — trying to legislate human behavior out of existence — was tried in the Soviet Union. It didn’t work. Trying to regulate a pathological crony capitalist ponziconomy has also been tried, and that hasn’t worked either. If you try to limit by law the profit of thieving oligopolies to some fixed percentage, say 10% per year, the thieving oligopolies will simply steal ten times as much per year to keep their profits high. If you punish antisocial theft and environmental devastation with extreme penalties (say, public firing squads of the CEO and board of directors), the other corporate sharks will merely become much more clever to insure they won’t get caught — and those who do get caught will judge it the price of making billions, just as drug dealers do.
My point here is that the war against pathological capitalist behavior is a lot like the war against drugs: you can’t win these fights by tougher legislation or harsher regulation or more savage punishment. You can only win these kinds of social battles by changing the entire incentive system. In the case of the War on Drugs, by legalizing drugs, and in the case of a crony capitalist ponziconomy, by stripping the profit motive out of the system and moving to something different from capitalism (but not communism or socialism).
It’s particularly disappointing that we’re not getting any leadership at all from Obama on these issues. Ground-up movements are great, but, as with the civil rights movement in the sixties, it sure helps if the people on top are pushing along with the grass roots instead of pushing against ’em.
African-Americans have an appalling unemployment rate still compared to other groups. Poor whites aren’t faring much better either. . But thanks to the Klan, few black people now live in the areas that are served by agribusiness and have moved to the city. The meat packing places are in Idaho, the workforce is in LA, or Houston, or some other urbanized place. One would think that it would be worth it to pay transportation and dormitory costs, but that negates the other advantage of illegal immigration: the inability to unionize or ask for fair treatment, or to leave when aggrieved, or the lack of a national group that would advocate for their rights.
Yes, lettuce might go up to $5 a pound if we hired locals, but on the other hand, America needs to increase domestic food production anyway, and people would garden (and home gardening of food could be as profitable as pot) at those prices. We could reclaim some unused farmland at those prices, and provide long-needed jobs for people.
I buy local from a farmer’s market from time to time, and the quality is superior and well as the flavor. Higher prices might mean some real jobs for people who need them badly.
This is hyperbole, mclaren. I don’t live near a slaughterhouse, but we have a chicken processor, a huge canning operation, and light manufacturing galore, and locals work there. I know them. Landscaping services and cleaning ladies? I know them too.
The reason your hyperbole is wrong-headed and unfair is a lot of the locals who work at these places are Hispanic. Increasingly Hispanic. They weren’t brought on buses from South America. They’re overwhelmingly of Mexican descent, and most of them have a Texas connection, if you ask them. They moved here because they know other Hispanics here, so they have somewhere to live while they find a job. The family connections are amazing. It’s like a web.
Lumping them all in a vast corporate conspiracy makes it difficult for them. I recognize you’re trying to make a point, but what about all the legal Hispanics working at these places? You understand that that’s their big fear, right? That they’ll be profiled and reviled and have assumptions made about their legality?
Wait…according to you, people suggesting that the President take a stand or make a more public statement defining what the government can, cannot, should, and will do to make BP plug the leak is stupid and pointless. However, the President taking an action, which as you say, will not “accomplish anything except maybe ease some fears”, makes complete sense and is the only logical response? Are you suggesting that the government should be in the business of easing the fears of Arizonans, but the Gulf Coasters can go F themselves?
Either pointless political action is pointless or it serves some purpose. Try to maintain some consistency please.
This National Guard call up should succeed in getting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords re-elected.
@Rick Taylor: Will Wilkinson for one.