Here’s a tired and slightly stupid joke.
A prostitute approaches a man on the street and says “hey handsome, for two hundred bucks I’ll do anything you want”.
“Sounds like a deal”, the man happily replies. “Paint my house”.
I was reminded of this ancient piece of humor the other day when I was talking to a friend about the immigration issue. My friend, a staunch east coast conservative, feels very strongly (like much of America), that immigration is one of the biggest problems facing this country. However, when I really queried my pal about the issues that are impacting him personally, he seemed to have the opposite problem. He runs a landscaping business, and told me the biggest problem facing his business is his inability to get people to work for him. “I could really expand, and I can afford to pay pretty well”, he said glumly, “I just can’t find anyone that wants to work”.
Hmmm. I am having a similar issue. I have all kinds of work to be performed around my house. Painting, carpentry, gardening, handyman work. And I am willing to pay top dollar. However, I can’t find anyone trustworthy to take my money and do the work. And almost everyone I talk to has the same issue. We all lament that there is a complete lack of “workmen” out there that don’t mind a little physical labor, and can complete a job dependably.
(However, from what I see on Craigslist and those funny street corner newspapers, there do seem to be plenty of prostitutes plying their trade).
OK – short of convincing a hooker to clean my gutters and mow my lawn, what are my options?
I try to stay clear of politics as much as possible, and I also freely admit I don’t live in a region that is over run with immigrants – legal or illegal – so I am not completely qualified to comment. But all too often I see people making enormous issues out of what appear to be non-issues for them personally – and then ignoring the really big problems.
My friend lives in a community that has absolutely no immigration issues (except for the fact that he could use a few hard working immigrants to expand his business). He has never lost work or money to an immigrant. An immigrant has never committed a crime against him. Nobody is building a forty foot fence in his backyard, nor are his local schools being taught in various languages to accommodate immigrant students. His local healthcare system is not being over run by illegal visitors that cannot pay. Certainly all those conditions do exist in some communities around the country, and I understand their concerns, but not my friend’s.
However, my friend is helping foot the bill for an enormously expensive war that is devastating the country economically and socially, and ruining our standing abroad. He is also paying the price for governmental and corporate corruption that is shaking the foundations or our economic system. He suffers with the rest of us from an administration that has been too slow to address the potential impending collapse of our environment – and perhaps worldwide devastation as a result. And he is an unwitting citizen of a country with a government that has condoned torture and the removal of basic civil liberties guaranteed by our constitution.
But like much of America he isn’t all that worried about those issues.
We all have to be a little careful of political weasels that pray upon our irrational fears to deflect us from examining the big issues. Certainly a good immigration policy is good for America – but when I look at the long list of priorities, there are a few that top it.