Sarah and Gwen: the Two-Headed Monster

This blog is about everything involving Lexington, KY or anything else we feel like yapping about.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Illegal Immigration is a Question of Supply and Demand

I have been reluctant to enter the discussion on the status of illegal Mexican immigrants. I don't believe building a wall across our southern border is a solution. Do we simply accept the influx of illegals until the standard of living between Mexico and the United States equalizes? If so, we are in a downward spiral that will rob the nation of the benefits Mexicans are coming here to gain. Must we impoverish the United States before we find a solution? I don't think Americans will stand for seeing their way of life evaporate. Somewhere in between these - "THE WALL", and bankrupt social services - is a breakpoint. Many of the Border States are reaching that breakpoint, and demanding we, as a nation, do something, anything, to stop the strain illegal immigration is placing on their resources. The problem is one of supply and demand. Mexico has a large supply of hungry young people willing to risk everything for the chance of a better life. The U.S. has a large supply of greedy citizens eager to line their pockets by hiring illegals at below minimum wage. It is not a new problem.

For instance, as an Irish-American, I am well aware of how many of the Irish were refused entry into the United States. Some of the rejected Irish came through Canada, entering illegally and working jobs that most Americans wouldn't consider at the wage offered. They worked under conditions that were near slavery, and in some instances worse (slaves were considered valuable property; the Irish were not). Without those immigrants, Chicago might still have standing swamps. The canals would not have been built, coal and steel production would have dropped substantially, and Kentucky's miles of stacked stone walls would not exist. The Irish worked, and often died, in the coal mines and mud pits. As a result, their children and their children's children grew up as citizens. Generations of Irish contributed a lot to the fabric of the nation. We are still here and still productive.

With the Mexicans, the problem is not with the people involved or with their value to our society. Nobody questions the fact that Mexican workers are doing jobs that are difficult, dangerous, and poorly paid. They share the dream of a better life, the same that brought most of our own families to America. They work in much the same way that our families worked to give us the lives we enjoy. I am sure the Mexican illegals, their children, and their children's children will continue to be productive members of society. I am also sure they are being as exploited as previous immigrant groups.

They are also being used by businesses to exploit the legal workers. Those of us who are workers, instead of business owners, also face the problem of having employers use illegal workers to avoid paying fair wages, to cut benefits, and push familes closer to the poverty level. There is no question that illegal, undocumented workers keep wages down for all of us.

So what do we do? I cannot fault the Mexican worker who is facing enormous dangers to try to provide a better life for his family. I cannot fault the American worker who does not want to be forced to compete with labor that will sleep in shacks or truck beds to make $50 picking oranges for twelve hours. Because the Mexican worker is underpaid and undocumented, he has no benefits. He cannot afford to pay for his healthcare, for the education of his children, or any of the other services he uses. The state growing the oranges he picks cannot afford to pay those benefits for him, and those unwilling to pay a living wage are likewise unwilling to pay to keep him alive.

The illegal immigrant is expendable; thousands of others are just across the border willing to take his place. Poverty is a powerful motivation. Laws, no matter how well intentioned, will not stop this problem until we address the issue at its root. The fault is clearly at the door of those who hire illegals instead of paying the wages necessary to keep documented workers. We cannot stop the flood across the border until we stop the demand for them here. The Bush administration is not helping with the current plan. It has done nothing to dry up demand. Bush's waiving of minimum wage laws for the rebuilding of New Orleans added encouragement to the practice of hiring illegals.

Forget "THE WALL", people, and turn your attention to the demand end of the problem.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Important Dates for Voters

Please keep the following dates in mind. Your vote is important.

April 17, 2006 -- The last day to register to vote in this year's primary.

May 16, 2006 -- The primary election, from 6 AM to 6 PM.

October 9, 2006 -- The last day to register for the general election.

November 7, 2006 -- The general election, from 6 AM to 6 PM.

If you are not registered, April 17 is coming up fast. Register! It is a simple process. Fill out a voter registration card today. The Fayette County Clerk's office, local political parties, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, The Fayette County Democratic Women's Group, and both UK and Transylvania Universities are passing out voter registration cards. If you don't know where or how to contact any of these folks, send me an email from this site and I will help you get registered.

It is not just a right, voting is the responsibility of every citizen.

I often use this blog to talk about what a mess our elected officials have made. They didn’t do this alone. It is our job to hold them accountable. We must vote them out of office, give new people a chance, and keep replacing the ones who do not do the job they have taken on until we have a government that works for us. We must also look for people who take the responsibility of good government seriously, recruit them as political candidates and support them in the effort to clean up the local, state, and federal government. We have been failing, and have the government we deserve. It is no better or worse than the citizens empowering it.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

What is Fletcher Cheering About?

Our governor seems to be in a state of bliss at the prospect of having a new budget passed this legislative season. Why the unbridled joy? The last time I looked, it was a legal mandate that the legislature pass a budget. Has the morass in Frankfort become such a pervasive part of Kentucky life that press conferences are necessary to boast about elected officials doing the most basic part of their jobs? If so, it is a dismal commentary of the state of our commonwealth.

Fletcher has unleashed the hounds of greed, pandering, and corruption upon the citizenry. We are not yet sure what the final version will be, but the budget Fletcher is boasting about holds a healthy dose of that favorite Republican tactic, "borrowing and spending", for new construction projects, including more than $65 million for Republican strongholds in Northern Kentucky. Similar versions of the 18 billion dollar package have passed both houses and, if the details can be worked out in committee, will saddle the state with a hefty amount of new debt over the next few years.

Republicans have led the state government down a path of pandering, graft, corruption, and greed. Fletcher's hiring practices, his attempts to raid education funding, and his efforts to thwart justice should rate impeachment. Yet, the governor is confident of gaining a second term. It is time to send a message to Frankfort. Let's make a few changes. For those of us living in the 88th, we can start by tossing out Governor Ernie Fletcher, Representative Bill Farmer, and Senator Alice Forgy Kerr.

Passing a budget in the current climate may be cause for a sigh of relief, but not a major celebration. The current Frankfort crowd is entrenched in the failures and unbridled corruption of Fletcher's administration. The glad-hand politicking which has tarnished "White Knight" Ernie Fletcher's administration has been supported by the Republican lackeys currently sitting both houses. This time around, let's kick them both out and have a fresh start.