If you’re old enough to remember the song from which this column’s title comes, you’re my people. Ironically, Mark Lindsey and his group, Paul Revere and the Raiders, wrote that song with a different meaning than it has today.
Reading columns written in papers and hearing various rants on TV and radio about the new Arizona identification law, I am stunned at how ignorant some people really are about where this country is and where it is going.
Why, for example, do we need yet another immigration law that smacks of the Gestapo re-incarnate? We have scads of immigration laws on the books. This miscarriage from the Arizona Legislature and governor’s office is pure right-wing idiocy tinged with more than a little racism. Why don’t Arizonans just come out and say the word? In all fairness, though, there are big problems there, but they’re not of Mexican origin.
They are of American origin. Here’s what I mean:
Our ranchers, farmers, hoteliers and restaurant owners hire so-called illegal immigrants to do stoop labor and scut work at fractions of the legal minimum wage. They do this in virtually every state in the lower 48 and probably Alaska as well.
Why do these free enterprises flaunt the law so nakedly? And why aren’t our law enforcement people on them like white on rice? Why isn’t the Immigration and Naturalization Service running around the country with I-9 forms signing up these workers for legal status so they can pay taxes on their minimum wage jobs?
The simple answer is that the businessmen don’t want to contribute to unemployment tax pools and they enjoy the profits from low wages.
In addition, consumers don’t want to pay “legal” prices for groceries and services. Some people whine about the Obama Administration not “defending our borders." Well, when much of the National Guard is still in Iraq, and we don’t have the money to re-hire the INS people the Bush Administration laid off, it’s kind of tough to do what has to be done.
As usual, narrow-minded pundits see complex problems as having simple solutions. That is almost never the case.
More questions: Why don’t our high school and college kids flock to the fields and orchards during their off-times to earn college money or money for stuff being sold to them by the geniuses on Madison Avenue? Ironically, they’re in Mexico partying. Why aren’t our blue-eyed sons and daughters changing sheets and cleaning toilets in hotel rooms? Why aren’t middle-class and upper-middle class men and women who are out of work busing tables or washing dishes in restaurants to keep the wolf away from the door?
Why are drugs such a major part of so many lives in this country that they create one of the largest money-making industries in the world?
The Taliban is primarily funded by the poppy industry. Opium gets turned into heroin. Tons of marijuana and methamphetamine keep coming across our southern borders and into the lives of our children and adults on a regular basis. Did you ever see the look on the faces of drug enforcers when they’re asked what percentage of drugs we actually interdict? The most optimistic estimates are about half.
Drug-trafficking creates drug lords on both sides of the planet. Drug lords need guns to secure their businesses. The good old United States of America sells more firearms to more people in more countries than anybody else. It’s a multibillion-dollar enterprise, legal or not. Guns mean people get killed. Mortuaries in Juarez are doing a booming (forgive the pun) business because of OUR drug use.
WE are the cause of illegal immigration through our sorrowful enforcement of immigration laws and our lazy, elitist people who don’t want to get their hands dirty. WE are the cause of drugs and thugs and guns along our borders because our citizens feel it is more important to get high than to get employed. OUR citizens are escaping reality through dangerous and illegal drugs because they can afford it.
Some solutions are obvious. Others take more thought; like legalizing certain drugs and taxing and regulating the heck out of them. Instead of raising taxes, let’s slap a real sin tax on real sinners using sinful drugs to further degrade their sinful lives.
Let’s put our lazy, electronically deluged children in the fields and orchards and kitchens of America and give them a taste of real work with real sweat.
Maybe then, they won’t be so quick to point fingers at the hungry and the hopeless who will do almost anything, anywhere to feed their families. What a concept.
Also, last week’s column should have referred to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution instead of the 18th. I’m sure you will appreciate the difference between making it illegal to hold slaves and illegal to consume alcoholic beverages. My apologies.
Turner is a retired teacher and retired industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls.