Posts Tagged ‘Society’

Can’t Solve What You Don’t Understand: Illegal Immigration

Monday, February 1st, 2010

I can say from personal experience that few people know anything significant about the American immigration system, and the general attitude I face very closely resembles the attitude drilled into soldiers: dehumanize your opponent to make tough decisions easier. Undocumented immigrants are painted as villainous scums, subjected to treatment and situations we reserve for murderers and child molesters. Our current immigration system, and the treatment of those in immigration court and detention, is broken at best and inhuman at worst. And every day, Americans clamor for immigration change, the vast majority of who make baseless, board accusation with little to no proof, and sit happily in their ignorance. With the giant claims of grandeur next to “ignorance is bliss”, any real American should be outraged. Immigration is not a simple issue, and solving the problem of undocumented immigrants is not as simple as “throw them out”.

People need to understand is that most undocumented immigrants are not immoral people, and definitely not “Mexicans stealing American jobs”. They are the same as anyone else: many, if not most, are parents who want to support their families, to keep their families alive. Many are people who enter legally and due to the red tape of our immigration system, end up falling out of status. Many are enticed by the ever-present call of the “American Dream” and feel it is their last hope. So why do these people enter or stay in the country illegally? Because America is better from where they come. Americans take special pride in painting the United States as the best country in the world, but seem surprised that people will do anything necessary in order to come here. While it doesn’t justify entering or staying in the country illegally, it sounds like a five year old talking about how great their toy is, but if anyone tries to touch or play with it without their permission, they’ll tell on them. Many people who enter illegally do so because they have no other choice; they come from countries where they’ve lost their jobs or make so little they can’t support even a small family, either case in no small part thanks to multinational corporate exploitation. Those that enter illegally gather whatever they can hold, and make a dangerous trip across the border to a country they know little about, where they don’t speak the native tongue and are often if not always harassed by locals, reduced to doing arduous labor or demeaning jobs that, face it, most Americans are too pompous to do themselves. It makes us feel better to say “illegals are stealing American jobs”, but it’s been a long time since making money in America has been about hard work. These days it seems to be about suing someone for your own mistakes. But none the less, these people come over in hopes that by coming to America, they or at least their children will have a better life. They put up with little money, tiny apartments, abuse, and a myriad of other issues none of us can imagine, and each day risk that they’ll be returned to where they come from, no better if not worse off. Its the companies who exploit these workers, paying them just enough to get along, much less then an American would have to be paid (minimum wage), so they can cut corners and make a higher return. Good ol’ American capitalism: do what it takes to reduce cost and maximize profit, be it exploit workers in other countries or exploit undocumented immigrants right here at home. If the jobs weren’t available, there wouldn’t be much keeping or bringing more undocumented immigrants here. We choose to blame undocumented immigrants for taking jobs, but how often do we accost those hiring jobs?

I’m sure people are wondering, why don’t they just come over legally? First, the immigration system in the US is very convoluted. It requires a certain amount of starting capital to simply get a visa. For those who can scrounge up the money, there is the issue of time. A limited number of visas of various types are given out each year, and are granted based on where you’re coming from, your skill set, if you have a job waiting, etc. If you’re thinking that an under-skilled worker coming into the States would just be a hindrance on society, I would ask: what are we doing about all the people in the US now who are under-skilled, and more important, unwilling to work? I’d contend that an under-skilled worker who’s willing to work is better then someone capable but unwilling. Many of these immigrants also have families they need to support. Ask yourself, if you could not support your own family in your current situation, and you found you could work under the table at a factory as long as no one knew you were there, would you do it? Would you let your personal morality to stand in the way of feeding your children?

Americans can blame immigrants for our problems as much as we want, but it won’t make it any more true then saying our national debt problems are because of one political party or the other. The problem is complex and deep and won’t be solved simply by deporting people, enacting tougher punishments, or building a giant wall. Deporting immigrants will not stop new ones from coming in, and will do little more then build ill will against America. Currently, immigration holding facilities are often worse then prisons, for a crime which at best compares to a store robbery. Families are split up, people are treated terribly, and immigration court is a mockery of our system of law. We treat hardened criminals with more respect. A giant wall will not stop people from digging under, punching holes, or finding other way around it, and really, just serves as an eyesore and an environmental disaster.

With all this, mind you, I am not a supporter of open borders with the world as it is now. Countries need immigration laws to maintain populations and services, and for a balanced to exist among various countries. If borders were open, people would flock to well off countries, depriving poor countries of needed human resources, and over flooding richer countries, also bringing them down. Instead, I believe in a fair immigration system. Understanding people and connecting with them goes much further to solve a problem then an iron gauntlet. We need to control the current undocumented population, enact strict laws punishing the companies hiring them, and put smart controls on the border. If we aren’t going to grant those here amnesty, we should at least hold true to our ideals and give them an opportunity to present their case. It would help improve our image as a understanding country run by laws, not emotions. If we don’t eliminate the under-the-table jobs available here, there will always be reason for immigrants to try to enter here illegally, knowing they’ll have a better life then where they came. And as for smart controls, while I have a few ideas, I’m certain if we can spend $3 billion fighting wars we don’t need to be fighting, or at least to the level we currently are, we can find a few million to come up with something effective. At the least, we can be human.

Social-schism

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

USSR IconographySince Obama came into office, it seems like all we hear from members of the right is that he is leading us to Socialism. And each time I hear it, the first things that pop into my mind are, is that a bad thing, and that’s different from now, how? For some reason, socialism is equated to communism, both seen as pure evil, and I think we have the cold war to blame for that.

I think its important to note what communism is. As posted in the Wikipedia article on communism, “Communism is a socioeconomic structure and political ideology that promotes the establishment of an egalitarian, classless, stateless society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property in general.” Of course, the reason the US had so much trouble with the idea of communism is that our economy had become based on the idea of capitalism. We believe that those who can make money make it, and if you can’t, too bad; they believed no one should be left behind. But in truth, communism is not socialism. Communism believes that no one should own sources of income, and that it be run communally; socialism advocates that the government should oversee sources of income, and help lead these groups. Communism is politics; it distributes resources and goods to that which needs it. Socialism is economics; it places everyone on equal footing, to succeed or fail based on their own merits.

And this is where I see a large dose of hypocrisy. First of all, Americans need to get it out of our heads that we’re in some progressive, socially advanced nation. Regan once referred to America as a “shining city on a hill”, probably from John Winthrop, believing that America was a beacon of hope for the world, in terms of our resolve, strength, and ideals; that’s no longer the case. If you compare the US to countries like China or Saudi Arabia, I’d argue yes, we are socially advanced. If you compare the US to countries like the UK or Germany, we’re very conservative. In my research, I spoke to a number of people from various countries in Europe, and they all agreed to the following: our liberals are like their conservatives. Some people I spoke to said that if their politicians even said “God” in any public statements, they’d never get reelected, if they avoided the incoming impeachments. We can’t elect a man who isn’t a “true” believer. The idea that we’re advanced because we’re rich is also a fallacy. America has been holding on to stagnant ideas for decades, enveloped in this idea that we’ve continued to progress. In fact, America was the start of the fall of the global economy, started by sheer arrogance.

Another dose of hypocrisy goes straight to the members of the right claiming Obama is leading America to socialism. I wonder how many of them supported the first bailout of Wall Street. I wonder how many of them would have supported the bailout if it was their company or a company that financed them. A government bailout is as socialist as it gets. Not to mention all the other programs the government fiances such as welfare, medicare, and unemployment that are social programs. America already has socialist elements, but they are mere shadows of competent programs. America has dipped its feet in the pool of socialism, but doesn’t have the nerve to jump in, but is now too comfortable to step out.

In contrast, we see European countries, not founded on principles of freedom, equal rights, and religious independence being the more socially advanced. While Americans complain about “high taxes” and constantly demand cuts, many Europeans have higher taxes then we do, and in exchange, have much better welfare programs, higher literacy rates, and more then a few face lower unemployment rates. They have state funded or mandated medical programs, meaning everyone has access to the basic medical care everyone should have the right to. They have programs so when you lose your job, you aren’t wondering if tomorrow you and your family will be on the streets. In effect, the policies give everyone a chance to be someone, and don’t fault them for situations beyond their control. Is it your fault if your bank makes some stupid decisions and you lose money? Is it your fault if your company decides to go for profit and randomly cuts you from the line? Is it your fault if your apartment catches on fire because the person living below you decides that lighting a fire indoors is a good idea, and your insurance won’t cover it?

America tends to be a very solitary society, while providing this false notion of comradery. We talk all about the American future, and how we need to work together to overcome the world’s evil, yet we can’t come together as a country to solve what should be important issues like healthcare, homelessness, the energy crisis. I’m not saying they’re easy to solve, but they should be at the top of our list. Socialism isn’t the enemy… in truth, a lot of American ideals and moralities are socialist in nature. A path to socialism will make our country stronger, if we can control socialist ideas to work for our nation. We’ll never be socialists… America is too deep rooted in the idea of personal freedom to be very socialist, but we can finally adhere to the ideas the “Christian” ideals the right always talks about: helping our neighbors, helping the most downtrodden of us, giving everyone a chance. Socialism is the true “no one left behind”, the real “everyone’s equal”. We can truly be the “shining city on the hill”; we can be the beacon for the advancement of the world, socially, culturally, and economically. Though honestly, it’ll take more then socialism for that… but that’s a discussion for another day.

Being Male is Chauvanist?

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while… honestly, I thought no one was reading this, and also, sometimes life sucks. But I notice people have been commenting, so I figured I’d get back at it, hopefully consistently.


Something I learned relatively quickly in college was this: apparently my Y chromosomes is apparently an offense to (some) women. Now, I’m not trying to paint a wide stroke here, but lets take some background. First, I was raised in a relatively religious household, and a large part of Jainism is the idea to treat everyone the same and to treat everyone kindly. Like most other old religions, Jainism does cast females in a lower light then males, but in all reality, I find females more religious then males, so specially in modern context, the history doesn’t matter. So for me as a kid, I didn’t see any point in differentiating the sexes, but the idea of chivalry seemed to fit right in with my Jain upbringing. I like to treat everyone with respect, even those who have done me wrong. I tend to be nice even to people who’ve hurt me. It doesn’t mean I’ve never been mean to those people too… I’m no saint. But the important part is how this developed my view on women. I’m that guy who’ll rush ahead a bit to open a door for a woman. I do it for anyone, but I might not rush for a guy. I pretty much always at least to try to pay for dinner when I go out with a female friend, specially if its someone I’m interested in. I don’t think they can’t pay, and if they really insist on it, I always give in. I might not have been the best boyfriend, but I don’t think either of the two girls I’ve been in a relationship with up to now can deny I tried to treat them right.

My alma mater used to consist of five main colleges, one of which was Douglass College, a prominent women’s-only college in the US. Over the last 3 years, there’s been a lot of restructuring at the University, merging the five colleges into one consolidated university. This was met with a lot of reluctance, specially from Douglass College. Now, all five of the colleges have a very rich heritage; Rutgers College was one of the first colleges in America. But of all five, Douglass students argued the loudest. Douglass College used to be a separate organization, but due to funding, ease, and I’m sure a hundred other reasons, it joined the State University of New Jersey, with the goals to lead and empower women, admirable goals for sure. But a group within the college, whom I can only describe as feminists, were completely against the idea of a consolidation. They insisted that if a consolidation was to take place, the other four colleges should merge, and Douglass remain independent. Now mind you, the role Douglass plays both for its goals and its politics was important to the University, and all attempts would be (and have be) made to preserve the history, goals, and programs provided. These girls just wouldn’t see it. I was all in support of their wanting to protect their school… had someone told me the School of Engineering would be merged (and in some cases, it seemed to come close), I would have been as fervent at it. I think popular feminism is as extreme as the religious right, but its a choice someone makes, and I was in support of their main goals, albeit being one of the students involved in the merger. My support vanished very quickly though when one day I was heading to support one of their rallies, and upon arriving, girls started shouting at me, with words like, “chauvinist”, “jerk”, and you can imagine they got worse. I pretty much decided there that I really didn’t find the cause worth supporting. In the next few months, I continued to push the merger, and the University continued to protect the goals and programs of Douglass, but it was merged in. I didn’t really care if they stayed separate anymore.

What’s the point of this long-winded story you ask? Just upset that some girls called me a “chauvinist”? Nah. In fact, I understand why they were upset. But here is my view on female rights, at least from what I’ve seen. And I fully expect to be chastised for some of this… girls I know have stopped talking to me over it. Males and females are definitely not equal in the US, let alone in the world, but I honestly think what holds them back now is not “the man” but themselves. Sure, I’m again talking about a lot of women who don’t fall into the category, but I see it just like different religions or cultures. You can’t have a small radical group you do nothing about then complain that they’re the ones who are at fault. It seems that feminists want to be proudly different but the same. Now note, I didn’t say “equal” because they don’t seem to paint a picture of equality. Equality implies to me that two groups are at the same level. Feminists feel so oppressed that simply my genetic structure is enough to offend them.

Take for example, the ongoing argument about women in the workplace. I’m far from being the ideal guy to talk about this; I have conflicting feelings about gender roles in situations like a marriage, work, etc. When I get married, I have no issue with my wife working, but I think if we have kids, one of us will have to leave our job. I’m a workaholic, so I can’t imagine leaving my job, but if my wife doesn’t really doesn’t want to, I’ll do it. The issue I have is women who will have a kid then head back to work in a few weeks, leaving kids to nanny’s, artificial milk, etc. No matter how equal men and women get, men and women will never be equal. Biologically, its impossible. No matter what you do, there are simple differences in genetics, biology, and hormones. Hormonally, women are better suited to be nurturing. Its not that guys don’t care, its not how we’re structured. Same way, males tend to be more aggressive then females. Now, someone could argue that this is all just excuses, and in a way it is. We are more then our animal instincts, but end of the day my point is this:

We’re not the same, get over it.

Use your differences for you. Dressing in masculine clothes doesn’t get you further in a job. Proving you can do anything a guy can do doesn’t make you equal. Using your differences, not flaunting them, pulls you ahead. I told my girlfriend this at one point, I’ll treat you like a princess or an equal. I can’t treat you special and treat you no differently then anyone else. As an Indian, I either get to be treated as a minority, or I get to be treated as an equal. Any time I’ve made it clear I’m separate, I’ve earned jeering looks and hostility from others. Fine, males and females aren’t equal yet. Most guys will agree, specially guys who wish it weren’t the case. But every time you try to step over us in the name of gender equality, I really don’t care how hard you get trampled.