Twelve Years, No Progress

This is the text of a column I wrote for the April 12, 2007 edition of the Glenville Democrat, a newspaper for which I was a guest columnist at the time. (I had been an actual columnist for the paper between 2002 and 2005.) I’m not sure what the title of the column was.

If nothing else, reading this proved to me that not much has changed in this country over the last dozen years.

In his editorial last week, Weston Democrat publisher/editor Bob Billeter had some interesting things to say about the problem of illegal immigrants in the United States.

Well, all right. He tried to have some interesting things to say, but was hindered by a seemingly uncontrollable urge to spout nonsense.

Thus, I’ll have to formulate my reaction in the same way.

Granted, he had some valid points, such as: This immigration is causing a serious crime problem. . .

The thing is, he went on to say  . . . the more serious problem is a political one (emphasis mine). The country, it appears, is about equally divided between the two major political parties. The millions of illegals are likely to decide the national elections for years to come when they become voters. The huge influx of Hispanic voters will upset the political balance in this country and put it on a left wing swing. 

While the rhyme at the end of that line is a nice touch, I have to say this sounds like an unpatriotic rail against the democratic system to me.

“When they become voters,” the illegals will no longer be illegal immigrants, but fully vested citizens of this nation. When one gains U.S. citizenship, one also gains the right to vote in U.S. elections. And every person has the right to vote for his own best interest. Though it has not always been so, the Democratic party of the last 60 or so years is definitely more concerned for the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses mentioned upon the Statue of Liberty. (Maybe the GOP would be more interested if instead of tired, poor and huddled, these immigrants were dressed in maid uniforms and gardeners’ overalls as soon as they arrived.)

Basically, Billeter is afraid that if newly naturalized citizens of this country are in need of some help and compassion, they’ll run to the Democrats for these things. As a result, Billeter seems to argue, this arrangement will destroy the country by tipping the political balance far away from Republicans.

But let’s be honest: “political balance” here is shorthand for “a better scenario for the survival of soul-destroying GOP ideology.” If more Hispanics gain the vote and decide against voting for Republican candidates, only the “political balance” will be destroyed, not the country. This is because the “destruction” of political balance will be wrought merely by the principles on which this country is founded and has thrived and has invaded foreign countries to ensure for others around the world: democratic elections.

Another nightmare for Billeter is the old “taxes are gonna go through the roof if the Democrats take over (a feat which will be carried off by the growing Hispanic population)”:

Income taxes and other taxes will be increased. Look for higher inheritance taxes so that survivors of those who have accumulated considerable assets during their lifetimes will be forced to give up much of them. Liberals call it sharing the wealth. People who have worked hard, sacrificed, lived sensibly and modestly and planned ahead while others boozed and partied and blew their money will call it legal robbery.

Put it this light, I must say that I, too, though an avowed liberal, am against the inheritance tax. In fact, I think instead of being taxed, all inherited money should be gathered after funeral services for the people who actually earned the money, and burned in a huge bonfire. This will ensure that the people who stand to inherit it – but who didn’t work for it in coal mines and auto factories and textile mills – will not only avoid being unfairly taxed; they’ll also avoid the not-unlikely trap of boozing and partying and blowing the hard-earned money of their ascendants.

Now let’s make sure we’ve mentioned everything the huge, non-white population of illegal immigrants can be blamed for: Crime wave? Check. Higher taxes? Check. Class warfare? Uh, well…What does Bob say?

This class warfare is the real danger that is ahead for our country. It may destroy us . . .

Okay. Place a check beside the class warfare box. That’s covered, too.

More and more, the “have nots” are going to demand their share of what the “haves” have. Whether they deserve it or are entitled to it or whether it is ethical to demand it will not be important.

First of all, how convenient – and bone-headed – to create a delineation between “haves” and “have nots” which casts the “haves” in the role of white-hatted heroes who are ceaselessly beleaguered and undermined by the villainous, mustache-twirling “have nots.”

Maybe, instead, we should look at Billeter’s use of the phrase “class warfare.” Those are interesting words, especially coming from someone who seems to espouse so many beliefs shared by people who will puff up with pride that in America, we live in a “classless society.” (A phrase borrowed, of course, from Communist Manifesto co-author, Karl Marx, but used when convenient to illustrate the fact that we live in “the land of opportunity. [For plutocrats, we mean.]”)

Let’s be honest, though. To a mindset like Billeter’s, our society will always be touted as classless when everyone stays in his or her place and doesn’t try to start or join a labor union (see: references to socialism [below]). We’re a classless society so long as nobody complains about our taxes being handed over as subsidies to help in the expansion of corporations like Wal-Mart. We’re classless when folks stay quiet about funding a bloody Middle Eastern debacle the majority of Americans don’t support.

But class warfare can be declared the very instant the “have nots” call the “haves” on the crap they sling around from time to time about bootstraps and hard work and the American Dream.

And this class warfare – what’s it all about? What does it mean for the country?

According to Billeter, All of this, of course, indicates a society that has lost its sense of justice. And a society without a sense of justice will not survive.

Of course, Bob. It’s so simple when you say it like that.

And, anyway, I’ve never sensed that Justice is a blindfolded woman holding a pair of scales in one hand and a sword in the other. No, in my mind, Justice is always a very white, well-manicured business owner who’s about to lay off 3,400 workers because their seniority has ensured that they’re “getting paid too much.”

Also, Justice has bug-eyes – in the front and in the back of his head.

Seriously, though, can’t we concede that there’s never been a dearth of class warfare in this country? Bob?

We have always had a mixture of rich and poor in our society. But for generations our countrymen accepted this. If they were poor, they opposed socialism for they had a strong belief that their children might achieve the American dream.

Really? They accepted it for generations? So the coal wars in southern West Virginia during the 1920s were about – what? Bathroom breaks? And, if they were so “accepting” of their lot, why were all those miners during the 1903-05 Colorado labor wars threatened by the National Guard (called in as a favor to mine owners from their pal the Governor)?

If poor people of generations past opposed “socialism” (read: labor unions) it was because they feared losing their poorly paying jobs, or because they feared being beaten or killed by thugs on the payrolls of “the haves” to protect their largess – wealth acquired through the hard, sometimes deadly, work of shamefully underpaid “have nots.”

Billeter was right about one thing: it’s all about politics. If “illegal immigrants” continue coming into the country without detection to be hired for slave wages by huge corporations, nobody on the right side of the political aisle is going to care, no matter how many crimes illegals commit.

As long as illegal immigrants are helping big business maintain a fat profit margin, nobody really cares how they crossed the border, least of all the party of Big Business Enablers.

And if illegal immigrants sneaked into this country swearing allegiance to the Republican party once they became naturalized, the fence being built along the border of Mexico and the United States would be torn down before Halliburton could even enter a bid on the job.