Tuesday, February 24, 2004

David Brooks: Not a total retard

I'm an avid reader of the New York Times editorial page and my favorite conservative writer there is David Brooks. Though he sometimes lowers himself to spinning the standard conservative talking points, I was relieved this morning to find that Brooks had written a very thoughtful article.

Unlike some rightist crazies Brooks is willing to look at the evidence about Latinos. Being first generation Italian myself, I’m sensitive to the issue of how immigrants are perceived. I’ve read sickening articles that ran in the very same New York Times 100 years ago, denouncing the brown wave of Italian immigrants and see parallels with how Latinos are portrayed by conservatives today. Nowadays, the anti-immigration laws the conservatives could only dream of then are the law of the land, so anti-immigrant conservatives can dress up their xenophobia as a simple desire for punishing law-breakers.

A lot of the “they’re talking away our jobs” rhetoric you find on the anti-imm right-wing sites is reminiscent of the anti-scab talk they criticize Unions for. Of all the unexplainable logical contradictions these conservatives hold, this is the most glaring. Allow me to step through it:

  1. Closed shops (shops where the only people allowed in are the ones that join the Union and maintain its standards) are bad because they prevent competition. Competition is good because it makes for cheaper products.
  2. Closed borders (borders where the only people allowed in have similarly high standards of living) are good because they prevent competition. Competition is bad because it makes for lower wages.

In general, I’m against barriers to economic competition like collective bargaining. So theoretically, I’m against Closed shops and Closed borders. Problem is, big businesses are already collectively bargaining. If you don’t like the pay you are making at Wal-Mart it’s not like you can threaten to work at some other position in the same Wal-Mart. All the jobs they offer are being controlled by the same entity and I see no problem organizing back. This is why I hold 1 and 2 to be false. I have yet to see any convincing arguments from anti-immigrant conservatives as to why they simultaneously hold 1 and 2 to be true. My guess is, that they just… well… they just don’t like mariachi music and that’s that.

Now, nobody is arguing that we throw the borders open and let every malcontent and ne’er-do-well in. But what I am suggesting is that we go back to the old system of immigration our land had for nigh 200 years: if you are able-bodied and can contribute to society, then you can be granted citizenship. I would probably favor something like Bush’s plan with the major change of allow working non-citizens in good standing a fast track to citizenship. But as it stands now, Bush’s plan is just a fancy indentured servitude that doesn’t ever end.


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