April 3rd, 2006

Much Ado Update

Well, we've had a couple of good performances. Not word-perfect, which I find personally annoying (particularly when it's me--), but good lively enjoyable shows. Those freinds who came showed signs of genuine pleasure in the performances, so I guess we can be pleased with our efforts.

The Emperor has no Plan.

The combinatation of a number of items in the news in the last week or so underscores the extent to which the invasion of Iraq has become the biggest cluster f*ck in United States foreign and military policy history. The first was Bush's widely quoted remark that it would be up to 'future' Presidents and Iraqi governments to determine if and when there would be zero US troop strength in Iraq. Now, admittedly, it might be argued that future plans for Mideast security might entail something like a permanent US base there as we have in some of our other allied states, but it's pretty clear from the context that wasn't what was meant. Also, in the same week, Rumsfeld was reported as saying (and this is slight paraphrase)that he "would not speculate" as to when troop withdrawals might begin, referring back tot he mantra that commanders on the ground over there would make that decision. Conclusion: they have no plan for pacification of Iraq, they have no clue, they have no idea. It's all gone so far wrong from their cloud-cookoo-land fantasy of glorious liberation they are just going to hang on until the end of Bush's reign and then dump it on the unfortunate successor. (And right now, I'm sticking by my speculation that by that time they will have stolen everything they desire so they'll be happy to hand over a ruined country and failed war to Hillary Clinton--).

Meanwhile, I've heard some very credible reports from journalists and others recently back from Bagdad that the situation there makes Beruit at the height of the Lebanese civil war look good. It has become a city made up of tribal and neighborhood compounds walled and wired off and armed against their neighbors and any strangers, and safe for no one.

Immigration Situation

On the one hand, it's mildly amusing to see Bush and Company one again hoist of their own petard. Their continuing program to insure social and political control by inspiring xenophobic paranoia has once again collided with the goal of maximizing corporate profits by deleting government regulation. In this case, the 'fear the stranger' drumbeat about our porous borders and the relative ease for illegals (including potential terrorists) to enter the country stands fair to impact all those businesses that decrease labor costs by hiring "undocumented workers."

Our problem, in part, is this: unlike industries like manufacturing, service jobs in hotel, restaurant, janitorial, and common labor can't be outsourced to third world countries with cheap labor. The "solution" is to bring the third world here to do the work as cheaply as possible. This has the vicious result that US workers, who are already involved in financial commitmemts they can't readily set aside, can't afford to compete for these jobs. Further, many can't even find work in these fields. I know a bright young man who's been looking for work in our area for months. He's 'got a job' at a local Burger Fink, part-time, and the most they'll give him is eight hours a week! This hardly counts as employment.

My rather contrarian approach is this: I do not think we need guest workers. Illegal immigrants have (often) entered the country unlawfully, remained here unlawfully, and are working unlawfully. I would argue that all they are entitled to here is a swift and humane deportation to their place of origin. I would like to see minimum wage laws boosted and a law making it illegal to employ multiple part-time workers when the same work could be done by a full-time employee. In order to make this possible, we would need a sensible national medical plan so that small employers could afford the benefits. (One reason this probably won't happen, because a national medical plan gores the ox of the big medical industry--). So what if a burger or a hotel room costs a little more? Our economy is running on too many consenual illusions as it is, and it would be better in the long run if we were to gradually rationalize our system.