I've had several months to rethink my position on this issue after hearing from dozens of people last year who called me really bad names (like "Republican") for my suggestion that Bush's plan, including the establishment of a guest-worker program, goes against the tenets of the progressive liberalism under which I was raised.
However, I realize that I am more right than ever. Democrats might think they'd be doing people a favor and maybe sowing the seeds of a huge political majority a couple of generations down the road by throwing up the nation's hands and saying, "Aw, what the hell?"
In reality, their misguided attempts at dealing in what they consider realpolitik will instead play into the hands of the man who may well go down as the worst president of the past half-century.
Make no mistake about it: This call for a guest-worker program is not some manifestation of Bush's self-proclaimed "compassionate conservatism." It's a payoff to his rich buddies who will use this built-in underclass of human beings to get even richer. And in the meantime, an entirely new generation of people born in other countries will see that the United States can be counted on to declare amnesty every 20 years or so.
If the government wants to say, "We've got x million people living in this country who broke the law to get here, but let's just let 'em stay," to me, that shows a lack of resolve, but it wouldn't be close to being the worst thing my government has done in my lifetime. The guest-worker program, however, would be an abomination.
I've said it before: I was brought up to believe that liberals should help make people's lives better, not necessarily easier. But nowadays, if somebody can do a reasonable Iron Eyes Cody imitation and produce a tear, we're supposed to drop everything and say, "Give them whatever they want." Well, that's nuts.
Somewhere between the time that I was young and idealistic and now (still idealistic), liberalism morphed into a wayward philosophy, the litmus test for which is the blind embracing of every crackpot scheme that comes down the pike. That thinking cost us, as a nation, a quarter century of Ronald Reagans, Newt Gingriches and too many Bushes to even think about.
The liberal movement had its base in organized labor. These were hard-working, blue-collar people who staked out the middle class in America. They believed in fair play and discipline and hard work, and their strength of conviction led to an era of civil rights, workplace safety, educational opportunities and environmental protection. They passed these values on to their kids, who went off to college and got to live better lives than their parents had.
The average liberal today turns his nose up at labor. This guy works at a computer and moves stuff around by keystrokes. He's glad we have this brown underclass that does the real lifting. As long as Paco's washing dishes, we won't have to. I cringe at the phrase, "They do jobs that Americans won't do." Well, if they weren't here, then Americans would have to do those jobs, and we'd probably be better off as a nation.
(And before you say it: Yes, I do work at a computer. But as a teenager, I spent many a summer day picking lettuce in Imperial Valley. I worked construction, and when I was in high school, after basketball practice, I washed all the toilets in the school for $1.25 an hour. I had my share of crappy jobs, and I didn't need to import labor to do it for me.)
If you don't think mine is the liberal position, take a look at what's being said on the other side of the aisle. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal (not exactly a bastion of liberalism) told of the aftermath of an immigration raid on a chicken-processing plant in Georgia. After more than 75 percent of the 900 mostly Hispanic workers were rounded up, the company all of a sudden started running ads in the papers touting "increased wages," starting at $8 to $9 an hour, compared to the $5 or $6 the plant had been paying the illegals.
The article states that since the raid, "The plant has struggled with high turnover, lower productivity and pay disputes. The allure of compliant Latino workers willing to accept grueling conditions despite rock-bottom pay has proved a difficult habit for (the company) to shake, particularly because the local, native-born workers who replaced them are more likely to complain about working conditions and aggressively assert what they believe to be legal pay and workplace rights."
Can you imagine American workers demanding fair pay and work conditions? What's a poor corporation to do? Oh, I know: Support a guest-worker program.