by David Remer Polictical News & Analysis
President Bush announced this week a program that would grant legal working status to illegal immigrants now in this country. However, he insists this is not an amnesty. Sounds like doublespeak to me. Amnesty Definitions:
Noun 1. amnesty - a period during which offenders are exempt from punishment
2. amnesty - a warrant granting release from punishment for an offense
3. amnesty - the formal act of liberating someone
Verb 1. amnesty - grant a pardon to (a group of people)
OK, perhaps the President just misspoke, yet again. But, this President's habit of misspeaking reminds me of Will Rogers, the famous comedian of the 1st half of the 20th century who is still oft quoted today. Will Rogers played a shy bumbling ol' cowboy who would spin a lasso while speaking of things like politics in a Texan drawl kind of accent. Roger's whole persona came across as not educated, non assertive, honest kind of plain folk. What came out of his mouth however, was shrewdly calculated, surgically aimed critique of current events and politics worthy of a Harvard Ph.D.
It took me awhile to accept the fact that "Dubya" was not dim, uneducated, or bumbling. It took me awhile to recognize that he is a very calculating, shrewd, and very bright man capable of being responsible for his actions, his words, and the consequences of them. Therefore, I do not believe he misspoke. I am now convinced he follows the Orwellian political speech described as 'doublespeak'. He is in fact declaring amnesty for illegals, and he knows it will not sit well with the right wing of his party if it is called amnesty, so he denies that it is amnesty, trusting in the dim wittedness of the right wing of his party to accept that on its face, because 'Dubya' is an honest guy, right?
There are many beneficiaries of Dubya's non-amnesty amnesty. First there are the illegals themselves. They will no longer have to fear being arrested, jailed, and or deported provided they break no other American laws. Under Dubya's plan, they will be able to save from their low wages and invest those savings, and when they return to their country of origin, they can take those savings, tax free, with them. Anyone else see a flaw in this line of thinking? I see a few and most have to do with American tax payers subsidizing industries that use green card labor. But, I will get to that shortly.
If these new Green Card holders are able to save, will they? Currently, a great many send their savings back to their families to help increase their family's standard of living in their homeland. The Green Card holder will have to choose between depriving their family for three years of savings he/she is now sending back in order to benefit from the tax free bundle to take home. Also, the tax free bundle of savings can become a form of blackmail. It is very likely a Green Card holder who is saving for the tax free bundle, will lose at the very least, their tax free status if they are accused and found guilty of stealing from the employer, fighting on the job, or just plain refusing to be abused by the foreman or boss. It will only take a few such incidents to take place for the grapevine to spread the news that saving instead of sending home their savings as they are earned is a very, very bad idea.
Then there are the employers in Agri-business, motel chains, janitorial service companies and a host of others who do not want to see a minimum wage increase in this country, do not want to provide benefits to employees, do not want to pay an American standard living wage, do not want to be subject to current laws against employers who hire illegal workers, and who are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to find American employees willing to work so hard for so little. Businesses are going to reap huge rewards from this proposal if it is passed.
But the biggest beneficiary is Dubya himself. He needs the ethnic vote in America if he is to win in 2004. Since attempts to make inroads to the Black vote have largely failed and they are not immigrants by and large, this proposal is designed to cater mainly to the Latino American voters who represent the interests of split families between America and South/Central America and Mexico. This proposal shores up Dubya's votes from the many businesses that depend on the 100's of thousands of illegal workers to keep the costs of operations down, and profitability up. Finally, this proposal shore's up his damaged image as a 'compassionate' conservative, in relieving the stress and fears of so many poor and frightened illegal workers.
Who is likely to lose from this proposal? For every choice there is a cost, often referred to as opportunity cost. In choosing one direction, one loses the opportunities to have gone in other directions. There are 100's of millions of losers if this proposal is enacted by Congress. Those 100's of millions will be American tax payers, millions of poverty level and lower middle class American workers. How do these losses work?
First, the administration of documenting a huge number of illegals and granting them Green Cards will be one cost. Then setting up an accountability system that will track their employers, their address, their length of stay in the U.S., and processing their eviction/citizen notices at the end of their stay is going to cost a millions. Now this proposal, if honest, would ask the employer beneficiaries of the program to pay for the administration of the program, since they will directly benefit from the program. But, there is every indication from Dubya, that all tax payers of America will pick up this tab.
Second, this program does nothing to stem the tide of illegals coming in the country with one notable exception. By filling legitimate low paying jobs with Green Card workers, there will be some deterrent to illegals hoping to land legitimate employment by crossing over the border illegally. However, it does nothing to stem the tide of those crossing over to acquire black market jobs, nor does this bill stop a single terrorist, or other undesirable from entering the country through the sieves we call borders.
The biggest losers however, will be low to moderate wage American workers. Dubya had two choices regarding the kind of jobs that are going unfilled or to illegal workers, because of low wages and hard or dangerous work. To continue to fill these jobs with immigrant labor was one and he has announced this is his choice.
Alternatively, to raise the minimum wage or let supply and demand dictate higher wages to draw American workers into those jobs, were two other choices. Raising the minimum wage would have benefited millions of American workers and stimulated the economy due to those wage earners increased purchases resulting from the wage increase. However, this choice would have resulted in offending some of his key supporters, corporations and business owners.
If Dubya had chosen to fence our borders and stop illegal immigration, supply and demand forces would have dictated increased wages and/or benefits offered by employers who now use illegals, to attract American citizen workers. Of course, the consequence of the latter is that some of those businesses would have shut down, since the profit margin would have dropped had they been forced to increase wages. Again, an offense to some of Bush's key supporters.
Dubya's plan does nothing to control our borders and thus reduce the terrorist threat to our nation. His plan does nothing for American workers struggling in low paying jobs and it increases the taxes that will have to paid by those workers to administer his 'not an amnesty amnesty and to pay for a homeland defense system which does not protect our borders. Dubya's no amnesty amnesty does however give the illusion of compassion while leashing wage growth for American workers. Dubya's plan does increase profitability for Archer-Daniels, wine and produce growers in California and a host of other corporations and businesses, and thus pays back some of his key supporters for their campaign support. I must admit, anyone capable of mastering doublespeak as well as Dubya has, is no dummy. I must give our President credit there.