The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Immigration, sacred conservatism, and jubilant self-strangulation

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Have you noticed that “trickle-down” trickles up? Decades removed from Reagan himself, the American rich are vastly richer, the rest of us, on average, are about the same or less well off. Zealots may say conservative economic moves just haven’t been radical enough. But shouldn’t good medicine help a bit, even in medium gulps?

There may be a link between the current immigration crisis and this legacy. Here are some excerpts from a thought-provoking essay well worth reading at DailyKos:

Currently undocumented immigrants flood over the borders daily risking their lives, and sometimes losing them, in order to find work and security in the United States….

Americans of all political stripes are concerned about this situation and there is great division on exactly how to solve the problem. Some have advocated a tightening of security and closing of the porous border as a solution. Others have promoted a method to regulate and legitimize the flow of the undocumented.

But there is one thing missing in both of these strategies. Neither contains any analysis of why this problem exists, and more importantly, why at this time in our history this influx of new immigrants is causing such great concern for the American people. …

The number of immigrants has not really changed … The number of new immigrants who come today, both entering through proper channels and the undocumented, is no greater as a percentage of population than at many other times during our history. …

Why today do we find it so hard to absorb these new immigrants? Why at a time in our history, when we have never been richer as a nation and more educated as a population, do we find these new immigrants putting such great stresses on our society?Perhaps we need to look at some of the changes that have taken place over the last twenty-five or so years to find the answer . …

At one time, a family could live comfortably on the income of one earner, but today it takes two just to make ends meet. A guaranteed pension for retirement is no longer the norm. A union card no longer guarantees a lifetime of job security. Health insurance costs have become an overwhelming concern for both workers and employers and forty five million Americans in fact go without any. A job with one of the nation’s largest companies no longer means yearly raises and increased benefits; in fact it doesn’t even guarantee job security. … It is also no wonder that [working-class Americans] are ready to lash out against those they feel they must now compete against. …

Who is responsible for this situation?

The answer is simple … the economic and social policies of those who claim to be Conservatives that favor an elite class of the economically privileged over the vast majority of Americans. Of course, many working class Americans might scoff at this idea. … But in practice … Conservatives have used this philosophy to consolidate economic and political power in the hands of the few at the expense of the many. They have turned the ideals of fair play and Christian charity upside down and transformed them into grotesque parodies.

They have taken two hundred years of struggle to raise the standard of living for the average American and thrown it to the winds, all in the name of “fiscal responsibility” and “smaller government.” All along being neither fiscally responsible nor providing smaller government.

And on he goes to list those wind-withered losses.

It’s puzzling to me. Middle-class people are so often worse off than before conservatism’s reign, yet have become the cheerleaders for the very dogmas that caused their decline. It’s as if someone has so baptized conservatism with an aura of righteousness that many in the middle gladly and earnestly rejoice as their own wealth re-distributes upward, and the poor collapse (heaven helping us—in the sacred name of Small Government—to limit our succor to them, so as not to contribute to the irresistible attractiveness of the life of poverty).

To consider the changes of the last 20 years that may have brought about this happy self-strangulation—and how they’ve caused new fear and loathing of immigration—read here.

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Written by Monte

November 11, 2007 at 6:22 pm

One Response

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  1. As always, you’re spot on with this.

    While I’ve learned from Jessica what a mess our current welfare system is, I still think to be a compassionate country we need to better support (but not enable) the poor. We need new programs that encourage self-reliance but that don’t put folks on the street. Especially since we are involved in a protracted conflict (even after we manage to extricate ourselves from Iraq, terrorism is still a real threat), we need to activate rather than further suppress our underclass. And I mean get them working, not fighting in uniform as bomb fodder.


    November 12, 2007 at 1:44 pm

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