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Sunday, May 15

US-Mexico-Immigration: Lettuce not quibble

"Pundita, re your last two posts about illegals and the war on terror. Do you want to see lettuce go to five bucks a head? Then keep it up. The Yuma lettuce grower's association just told the border patrol in western Arizona to back away from some of the checkpoints because the growers don't have enough illegals to harvest the lettuce.

I think you're one of those people who are cursed with foresight. You would never have gotten on the Titanic. You would have counted the lifeboats and said, "No way." I'd bet $100 you never stepped foot in the World Trade Center. I bet you said, "Too high."

To use your favorite expression, that's not how things work down here on earth. First we crash into the iceberg, then we go back to the drawing board."
[Signed] Caesar in San Francisco

Dear Caesar:
What you mean "we" kemosabe? A popular thesis is that the dinosaurs were wiped out by atmospheric conditions brought on by a meteor or asteroid hit. But then how come the possum survived the same conditions? I always listen carefully to Charlotte--the possum member of my team--because her clan memory goes back over 70 million years. That clan of critters survived virtually unchanged all those years. And they survived living with the dinosaurs.

Popov once tried to lure Charlotte into a taxi by opening a box of lemon Krispy Kremes and eating one donut after another in front of her. Incidentally, this is my enemies: utter ruthlessness. She stood there and watched him eat all the donuts in the box. When I asked why she put herself through that, she replied, "I needed the box."

After he threw the box out of the taxi and took off, she collected the box. As a bonus she got pieces of Krispy Kremes left in the box. She reported that toward the end he wasn't able to finish each donut.

Wildlife have a good grasp of the concept of boundaries, even though the highly abstract concept of "nation" tends to elude them. So when I asked the possum for her fix on the illegals situation, she reminded me of a couple reports I'd mentioned to her a few years back:

Many villages in Mexico are now virtual ghost towns because Mexicans have left to work in the USA. There's not enough Mexicans left to farm and harvest crops in these villages. And the people left in the villages don't want to do the hard farm work because they can collect more from remittances sent by relatives working in the US.

I've spoken with Americans from Pennsylvania and Ohio who tell me there's no work to be had in their regions because all the plants were shipped offshore. These people were losing their mortgages because they couldn't make the payments. They were living on the dole; their unemployment checks had run out a long time before.

Charlotte asked why the jobless Americans don't take up residence in the deserted Mexican villages and support themselves by doing farming.

When you stop and think it through, she has a point. Gringos are welcome in Mexico up to a certain line, which has to do with spending dollars and making jobs for Mexicans. But I doubt the Mexican government is big on the homesteader concept.

Yet that would be a solution, wouldn't it? If hundreds of thousands of broke Americans in the Rust Belt are willing to homestead in Mexico--where's the beef? If Mexicans and US employers don't feel they're really committing a crime by working here illegally, this view should be a two-way street.

Actually, the pay in Mexico that many Mexicans are snubbing for pay here in the USA works out to more money than many Americans are subsisting on right now.

And what about all the broke and starving Africans, Haitians, and so on, who are coming here to work? Many of these people have a serious hard luck story. So, if there's plenty of land and jobs going unfilled in Mexico because so many Mexicans want to live and work here--why can't the Mexican government liberalize their immigration policy? Show a little more compassion toward the truly downtrodden of the world? And actually, Mexico is paradise to people who are fleeing, say, North Korea and Burma.

To put this another way, the Mexican government is full of hot air, and so are the Americans who make a living off advocating for Mexican illegals. They all know that their arguments don't hold up to logic or the American standard of compassion.

If an industry is built on breaking important laws and exploiting the very poorest, that's not business, is it? It's organized crime. For that reason I don't eat lettuce, unless it's locally grown--in Maryland or Viginina--and I know the farmers. And no, they don't charge five bucks for a head of lettuce.

You would win the bet but it wasn't the height of the twin towers that troubled me. It's that the higher you go, the more precautions you should take and this wasn't done. They cut up those towers for offices in the same way they cut up much lower buildings. It seemed to me they needed a lot more exits for such tall structures.

However, that's not why I never entered the towers. It's because I considered them unlucky. When I was a little kid I visited San Xavier del Bac, in Arizona. My mother told me to notice that one of the towers wasn't finished. She told me that the Indians who built the church for a Catholic priest refused to add the final touch.

She said they told the priest that humans can get on the wrong side of the gods when they build something very grand that reaches to the heavens. They explained you should always leave something unfinished, to show the sky gods that you're not trying to take their place.

Pundita doesn't know whether that's the real story behind the unfinished tower but it made a deep impression.

For links to other Pundita essays on Mexico, US-Mexico relations, immigration from Mexico and the Mexico-US border situation/war on terror, see Mexico Desk.

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