Sunday, 1 November 2015

Immigrant dreams

           You really have to wonder about Donald Trump and his views on immigration. I’m not even talking about his scabrous, hate-filled opinion of Mexican immigrants. (Like most who have worked in the bar/entertainment business I admire and respect Mexicans – in particular their work ethic and generosity of spirit.)

            No I’m talking about the economic boon that immigrants (both legal and otherwise) provide to the US.

            And by the way, a very hearty farewell to Governor Walker of Wisconsin! I can’t say he’ll be missed – anyone who builds his resume on eviscerating labor unions has little interest in preserving a very challenged American middle-class.

However, the good governor did provide one of the great comic moments of this campaign by suggesting that a wall be built the length of the Canadian border. I was never quite sure who we were keeping out – ISIS or the Blue Jays?

Mr. Trump may be a very successful entertainer, and I’m told the golf courses that bear his name are top class, but doesn’t he understand that with the US population rapidly aging and work force participation tumbling, immigrants are essential to help expand the economy.

Right now there’s a shortage of workers in the building trades – particularly in Arizona and Southern California. Many Mexican workers went home during the Great Recession and show little sign of returning.

A healthy housing market is synonymous with a thriving economy and lack of skilled labor in this important field is contributing to the sluggish recovery. Like it or lump it, we’re dependent on foreign labor.

Should there be a general immigration amnesty. From a purely economic point of view – yes! Imagine the benefits of adding over 11 million undocumented people to the tax rolls.

Most credible schemes for legalizing the undocumented also demand that back taxes be paid; imagine the enormous benefit to the country’s finances on both a state and federal level.

I know there’s a pervasive fear that the undocumented are putting huge pressure on schools and social services. This does happen. But we are a civilized nation that strives to educate and care for all children. The alternative is a huge permanent uneducated lower class that would be even a worse drain on society and the economy.

And what of our own undocumented Irish people? Having been one myself I know what it’s like to fear a telephone call in the night informing you of the illness or death of a relative. To know you can’t risk returning home and offering support is a cruel thing.

It’s always stunning to hear a person of Irish descent rave on in a Know-Nothing manner about “these people” who should be repatriated, when only generations ago their own forebears were derided and insulted by nativist politicians.

And what of the Republican Party and its near paranoiac fear of “big government? Has the GOP forgotten that its greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, won the Civil War and abolished slavery only by harnessing and expanding the might of the Federal Government to suppress “states rights?”

            The GOP’s patrician leader, Teddy Roosevelt considered it his patriotic duty to trust-bust the railroads and other monopolies with the help of the federal government. While its war hero, General Dwight Eisenhower, built a system of national highways and bridges that not only unified the country but led to a generation of economic expansion.

            One need hardly mention that the same highways and bridges are slowly falling apart because of the reluctance of many Republican legislators to borrow money at current minimal rates, not to mention that this common sense action would create jobs and speed up economic recovery.

            It’s time for Republican voters to demand credible economic plans from their remaining candidates.

Of course many have enjoyed the previous two xenophobic, militaristic reality shows also known as Republican debates; but many more tremble at the thought of any of these participants getting elected and implementing their corporate trickle down economic policies.

            As for Mr. Trump, since he seems short of ideas on how to implement his nativist policies, how about marching the eleven million undocumented north instead of south – there’s a lot of empty space up there in Canada.

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