Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Burning Down The House

One of the reasons I no longer post much about politics and political issues is my growing sense that 1) doing so is utterly pointless except as a means of bloviating, and the reason for that is because 2) pretty much everyone on the bulk of the two sides has no intention of making statements or taking action because of any sort of actual evaluation of the evidence. A perfect example of this is the recent "controversy" over various aspects of what let's call the "Illegal Brown-ness" problem.

As they have for the past hundred years or so, people born in the nations of Central and northern South America are trying, and in many cases, succeeding in entering the United States. They do this for as many reasons as there are people; ambition, poverty, restlessness, greed, fear, hope, despair, foolishness, criminality, boredom...and in all probability a mixture of all or much of the above.

This is troublesome on several levels.

It is troublesome for their home countries, who often lose the very people that might help those nations grow; the people who are motivated by their existing conditions to do something about them rather than sitting around with their thumbs up their asses and their brains in neutal.

It is troublesome for the region, in that it increases disruption, secrecy, and chaos; among the migrants, in their native lands, the places they pass through, and their destination - where they are "illegal", by definition a challenge to the common law.

It is troublesome for the United States as it brings home the vast disparity in political stability and economic wealth between the migrants, their home countries and their destination. The northern part of the Western hemisphere is a geopolitical conundrum unlike anything I can think of in history; an incredibly wealthy, politically stable empire connected by an immense, nearly indefensible land border with an incredibly impoverished, politically volatile congeries of semi- and nearly-failed statelets with which the empire is not openly at war by attempting to either physically subjugate or suborn.

Not surprisingly, these troublesome conditions have produced a group of U.S. domestic political "solutions" that can be roughly divided by the hue of their proponents.

U.S. "conservatives" - or radical reactionaries, to give them the name befitting their actual politics and policies - being the party of the old, the white, and/or the wealthy lean towards punitive ideas that can be summed up as "wall 'em off, hunt 'em down, ship 'em back" since those walled, hunted, and shipped are presumed to be so overwhelmingly young, brownish, and poor that the sorts of people who make up the current GOP cannot imagine how any of that could ever harm them and the current ideology of the GOP can be summed up as "Fuck you, Jack, I've got mine!".

To me this is nonsensical, trying to hold back the incoming tide. The political and economic disparity is too great, the attraction of El Norte too strong, the deterrent of punishment too weak because the expense of actually walling/hunting/shipping would be astronomical if enacted.

U.S. liberals, being the party of who-the-fuck-can-figure-out-what but typically younger, browner, and poorer than the typical GOP constituent is kind of all over the shop about this but tends more towards accomodating at least some of these migrants with options; towards becoming citizens eventually, and up to that point reduced harrassment and pursuit for the crime of existing inside a country not of their birth.

To me this is craven, ignoring problems because that are "too hard" or wilful denial of the problems inherent in the existence of people who are in but not of a republic, residents but not citizens of a democratic state. First, because a polity that cannot control its own borders controls nothing else worthwhile. And, second, because the problem of allowing a large population of people in one's nation that exists outside the law and its formalities is that this group must work to eat, and, because it has no legal protections, will and does work for pittances. This, in turn, acts as a boat anchor for the wages and conditions of the rest of the society's working people. If I can replace you with someone who cannot and will not strike or otherwise protest when I abuse them for fear of being deported...where is your protection from my abuse?

I will admit right here; I don't have a "solution" for these problems simply because I think that the problems are too complex for "a solution" and I suspect that the solutions, assuming that there are any realistic ones, involve a level of difficulty and expense for the United States that I honestly doubt my nation and its citizens are willing to suffer. The last time I wrote about this - in 2010 - I said the same thing I said the time I'd written about it before, in 2007:
"Perhaps because (we) don't want to remind (ourselves) that governments who build walls between peoples often find themselves building walls and barriers against their own people. Or that even the most fearsome barrier can and will be overcome if the people trying to cross it are desperate enough and brave enough.

The real issue - the one Which Dare Not Speak Its Name - is that the institutional poverty, misgovernance and social maladjustment of most Latin American countries is so profound and so destructive that to address it would take every penny that the U.S. has spent on poorly planned foreign adventures and more. Much more.

So instead we get this idiotic argument that all we need to do is fence these little heatherns out and everything will be Good. God will once again be White and in His Heaven, the food will magically get harvested, processed, cooked and served by "Real Amurikans" (that is, legal citizens) who will suddenly, magically, want to work for the pittance we want to pay for these jobs to prevent our food, clothing and service costs from reflecting what it would cost to pay humans actually living wages to do these things.

As Hadrian himself might have said: Nam tua res agitur, paries cum proximus ardet.

It is your business when your neighbour's house is on fire."
What makes this frustrating is that I've been saying this same thing for seven years now. It made sense to me then, and it makes sense to me now, and from what I can tell not a fucking particle of that fucking sense has made its way into the public fucking debate on this fucking subject.

So here we are. Again. With people showing up on the southern border because their house is burning down, and our collective reaction is anger and hatred from one side and despair and resignation from the other, and nowhere to be seen is anyone willing to say what I've said above.

Or listen to me saying it.

So I might as well blog about fucking kittens.


Ael said...

I have also noticed this.

Our Prime Minister is one of the meanest leaders we have had. And yet, our media treats his nasty and ungenerous policies as normal common-sense positions.

I don't know why.

FDChief said...

I think the why is that the Right, both here and in your country, have spent the past 30-some years insisting that there are only "opinions", and that theirs are as valid as everyone who opposes them, regardless that their "opinions" are based on some bizarre combination of nonsense, wishful thinking, fantasy, and prejudices.

So people in the U.S. talking about stuff like single-payer healthcare and making corporations responsible for the social, economic, and environmental damage they do are "hippie wierdos" whilst people talking about letting people die for lack of medical care and making corporations legal persons are "thoughful".

Enough to piss y'off, innt?

Labrys/Syrbal said...

Also? The Republicans screaming are hypocrites. I've known a good many Republican business folks who HIRE those unwanted 'brown' people at cheap rates...which IS why they come, because their ARE jobs. Jobs, btw, that most white Americans do not want to do for the rather shitty wages offered.

My former boss, the guy who owned over 15, 000 beehives? He had mostly Mexican workers and he had a freaking kitten when Bush started talking immigration -- why how DARE a politician tell HIM who he could hire and if people - ANY people - wanted to work for his wages, how DARE the government tell them they could not? So, they talk out both sides of their crooked mouths. They want the cheap labor force, they just don't want their imported indentured servants to have any damned rights or privileges.

FDChief said...

That was one of my points, Labrys; that none of us - Republicans especially - want to talk about the real cost of "fixing" this problem.

Any real solution to the ills of the Latin countries would mean a drying up of the seemingly inexhaustible supply of cheap labor to the U.S. Suddenly businesses that can't automate - agribusiness, then, mostly - would be facing the the choices of going bust, paying a living wage, or trying to force citizens into virtual serfdom working for what they'd like to pay. None are particularly good choices for anyone involved...

There's just no really "good" answers here. The ones that might actually work will cost the heavens and the earth and take decades to succeed. And those that DON'T admit to costing that much and taking that time are bullshit, smoke, and mirrors and should be treated as such.

But aren't.

Lisa said...

Anger and hatred ... despair and resignation

If you're not vociferously celebrating one couplet, you're mired in the other. No matter the topic, those emotions seem to rise to the top.

Our "cream, as it were.