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Thursday, July 24, 2008

With Friends Like These (Part I)...

Honestly, I don't know why we bother.I've been listening to a lot of the local 'Progressive' radio station since we moved up here to Madison. Partially this is due to my insatiable craving for political news and information, but it's just as largely being driven by the fact that Madison lacks a single listenable contemporary radio station (or even, from what I can tell, a better-than-average classic rock station). Seriously. It's pretty awful up here. I thought I had it bad in Indiana.... oy.

But what Madison lacks in music, it seemed to make up for in talk radio; we have a dedicated left-wing talk station. That should kill a lot of drive-time, right?

Actually, yes. In particular I love the Stephanie Miller show, which is on in the mornings when I drive the roommate to work, or ride with her so I can take the car for the day. It's good enough I actually listen to it outside of the car, something I never do with radio. Rachel Maddow's show in the evenings is solid, but it's just a good lefty news program, and not on at a time that I'm typically in the car, so I rarely catch it.

The other stuff though...

I keep having to give up on these guys for being, well, colossal morons. First up is Thom Hartmann, who has a show that airs here in Madison in the late afternoon. Hartmann is almost a bad caricature of the mild-spoken ex-Hippy. Every show seems to revolve around some kooky, feel-good alternative social theory and how it applies to the world today, and how, naturally enough, it's better than the existing models and, if implemented, would lead to sunshine, lollipops, happiness, rainbows and the like.

Seems harmless enough, right?

I put the radio on as I went to pick up the roommate on Wednesday, and good old mild-mannered Thom was having an actual argument with a right-wing troll who had called in to attempt to pigeonhole him on immigration issues. The right-winger had the usual 'I hate Brown People' approach to the topic, as you might expect, and was trying to cast Thom as an irredeemable leftist.

That was all part of the usual song and dance; hardly surprising. What was surprising was Hartmann's response; the problem with immigration, in fact, IS that the lousy brown people are taking all of our jobs!

Seriously. First, Hartmann went off on a fairly deranged rant about how the 'Visa Program' was letting a bunch of 'Philipino nurses' and 'Indian engineers' into the country, where they took skilled American jobs.

Hartmann thinks this is unforgivable, and he has a simple solution: Don't let them in. Slash the program (btw, he's referring to the H1-B skilled guest worker program; he didn't seem to know the name of the type of Visa he hates so while on the air) and build a bunch of colleges!

Ok.... at this point, you might well be asking yourself if Thom Hartmann is aware of how long it takes to establish a college, erect the structures, employ the staff, recruit the students, and then, of course, educate them in a full course of study. It takes an already established university *years* to get a new degree granting program underway -- it's a complete mystery how Hartmann thinks a slew of all-new, dedicated colleges will be formed, overnight, to service the fields he leaves drastically short of workers (or so he believes -- see actual figures on H1-B Visas below). Even if the schools did open in a day, there would still be the matter of recruiting a student body, educating them, and placing them in jobs, which will take further years, assuming, of course, that American students even want to earn these degrees, take these jobs, etc.

Hartmann estimates, furiously, that 'a million' people a year enter America a year to steal the high-skilled jobs from poor, long-suffering Americans. A million!

Well... not so much.
The Department of Homeland Security approved about 132,000 H-1B visas in 2004 and 117,000 in 2005.
Source: Wikipedia

Ok, so Hartmann has exaggerated the scope of the 'problem'... by an ORDER OF MAGNITUDE. Still, 100k jobs, that's a lot of work going to foreigners, right?

Not so much.
These days, the economy must add from 150,000 to 200,000 jobs every month to keep the unemployment rate from rising, economists say.
Source: The New York Times (2003)

So, he's talking about fewer jobs being taken, in total, *annually*, than the number of new jobs that have to be created, in a single month, just to keep pace with the number of additional people entering the job market.

This is an urgent problem for Mr. Hartmann. I wonder why...

Let's return to the groups isolated for derision by Mr. Hartmann: Indian engineers and Philippino nurses.

In fact, while people from India do make up 25% of the H1-B Visa population, Europeans make up 27%. The Phillipines, as a country, aren't even in the top ten. India is number 1, sure. Who's Number 2? The United Kingdom. Number 3? Canada!

Source: Wikipedia (from Yearbook of US Immigration Statistics, 2005, Department of Homeland Security)

Funny how Thom doesn't pick on those pesky Eurotrash and Maple-huggers taking our jobs, isn't it. Instead, he focuses on... dark-skinned brown people.


It gets better though; he has a plan to deal with the illegal immigration issue too.

See, when Thom lived in Germany, he had to go through a draconian process to become a legal guest worker. It took, he said, three months, and without the state-issued ID it was more or less impossible to get a job in Germany.

Hartmann wants to do the same thing for America... to prevent those illegals from taking our jobs.

Think about it. Hartmann's solution to illegal immigration is to put all undocumented immigrants out of work.

Sigh. Where to begin with this crap...

There are millions of illegal immigrants in this country. How many is, of course, impossible to precisely pin down. Estimates range from 8-20 million; middle of the road figures peg it at about 12 million.
The Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, estimates 11.5 million to 12 million "unauthorized migrants" live in the US today. It bases its numbers on the "Current Population Survey," a monthly assessment of about 50,000 households jointly conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau.
Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Thom Hartmann wants to make this entire population unemployable, forever. Presumably this means he wants to throw them out of the country; either that, or make them into Soylent Green.

But, you say, wouldn't throwing illegal immigrants out of the country en masse cause massive human suffering and economic devastation?

Yes. Yes it would.
The tiny northeast town was home to the nation's largest kosher meatpacker, which recently lost nearly half of its work force after a huge raid by immigration officials. The raid sent shockwaves through the town, which has served as a multicultural model.

Aaron Rubashkin, an Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn, founded Agriprocessors in the town 20 years ago. The plant was turning out about half of the nation's kosher beef and chicken.

Slaughter operations are now down to one shift instead of three as the company scrambles for replacement workers. It is expected that many of them will be Mexican-Americans from Texas.

The plant brought diversity and prosperity to a town with three central streets and no stoplights. But after the raid, many here are wondering if the future of the town is in jeopardy. Some 2,300 people lived in Postville before the raid; about half of them were Hispanic
Source: NPR

This was one single raid. How many illegal immigrants did they detain for deportation based on this devastated town?


389 out of 12 million. What did that look like, that drop out of the bucket, that teaspoon out of the ocean?
Washington, D.C. - Sister Kathy Thill of Waterloo said she feels like a stranger in her own country in the wake of a May 12 immigration raid in tiny Postville.

The Catholic nun has assisted immigrant families there following the detainment of 389 workers at the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant.

She is a member of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas who works with Latino families in Iowa.

"I am also a United States citizen who grew up believing that this is a democratic country in which the dignity of all people is respected and their rights protected," she said Tuesday at a news conference here, surrounded by members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

"This is not the country I experienced this past week."


The tension spreads beyond the Hispanic communities, she said.

Driving to Postville on Friday with a car full of donations, she said she got a call warning of possible checkpoints between Waterloo and Postville, and she wondered what might happen to her for delivering supplies.

"I suddenly felt like I was in a strange country," she said. "I didn't feel free."

The future of America, as presented by one Thom Hartmann.

389 down; 11,999,611 to go.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

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