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Anger at Spanish speaking workers in the US

02/07/2011
by

We have been asked several times by Mexicanos why Arizona (and other states now) is so angry at Spanish speaking workers in the United States.  They want to know why Nortes say that the unemployment rate, the economy, personal safety and drugs are the fault of illegal (and legal) workers.  We used to say "it’s complicated" or "it’s just a few people," but after much thought, that answer is flat wrong.

 

My belief, now after much reflection, is that people in The United States are scared.  There have been successive wars without resolution.  When was the last time the US won a war?  The economy is a bust.  The jobless rate is 4 or 5 times that of México and congress is not even willing to discuss the issue.  The government is made up of a bunch of clowns; politicians that are in it for the money and glory.  Care to guess how many Senators are millionaires?  There’s not a single statesman in the bunch.

 

Just 18 bills have become law through the first half of 2011, and of those 15 named a building after someone, temporarily extended expiring laws or appointed an official to the board of the Smithsonian Institution.1  Real people can’t run for federal office.  In 2008 it cost $710,000 to run for the house and $2.4 million to run for the Senate2.  To raise that kind of cash you have to be in someone’s pocket, especially for a job that only pays $193,4003.  The lobbyists are writing the laws that do pass and they, of course, are not looking out for “Joe Average.”

 

Millions of people are un or under-employed, living paycheck to paycheck with their houses in or near foreclosure.  Will they be able to make the next mortgage payment?  How many teachers are being laid off in their district?  Will they be the next to be laid off?  People need someone to blame.  They already blame congress; its approval rating is in the low 20s4 but because of the cost of running for federal office, voting doesn’t create any meaningful change.  So today they are blaming Latinos.

 

The US has always been a nation afraid of something.  They have been or are currently afraid of witches, the Irish, US citizens of Japanese ancestry, communists, shoe bombers, extraterrestrials and homosexuals.  These fears are being fueled by hate speech of shallow politicians and talk-show hosts looking to improve their ratings.  Even the major news outlets have become part of the game.  They are going for sensationalism in lieu of hard news to compete with the cable news outlets.  The people of the US are scared, very scared and scared people need a target, a focus for their fears.  The Latinos are being served up on a silver platter as a target for that fear.

 

1http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0611/58076.html

2http://www.opensecrets.org/bigpicture/stats.php

3 http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/congresspay.htm

4http://www.pollingreport.com/CongJob.htm

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. yucatango permalink
    02/07/2011 13:25

    I couldn’t agree more about American fear. It’s one of the reasons I left the US. It’s embarrassing and depressing to see people who are almost all descended from immigrants become afraid of immigrants — and of just about everything else. They see possible terrorists everywhere, happily give up privacy rights and the freedom to travel because they think it will make them “safe,” and elect people who believe that the entire world is a threat and there’s no limit to where we should drop bombs to “protect” us.

  2. 02/07/2011 20:44

    Barry, you really did nail it! I’ve thought about this too but I was not sure what was fueling it. It’s been 4 years since I’ve been in the US and that probably slowed down my awareness. However, when I read this I realized it is totally true and really sums up what I read in the press and see on the US networks. It’s sad. I’m glad I’m out of it.

  3. 02/07/2011 21:13

    It’s also bad for other Spanish speakers… go to the east coast and the Puerto Ricans, Dominicans as well as Mexicans and central american hispanics are treated like less than full citizens, even if they are!

  4. 02/07/2011 22:09

    Good Points all – and spot on!

    from my hero, “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering” – Yoda!

    Thanks for explaining it more s thoroughly!

    Debi

  5. Leslie permalink
    03/07/2011 09:29

    Well said.

    Leslie

  6. Cheryl permalink
    03/07/2011 18:25

    Thank you for this writing Barry. You quickly summed up one of my reasons for making the decision to move to Mexico. Everyone here that knows of this decision is “terrified” for me, afraid I will be kidnapped and murdered on the road or in the city or in my bed. whatever. I beat my brains out trying to explain to people that they should do their own research and not believe everything that they are told by the media or politicians. Americans (at least the USofA ones) are not nearly as free as we like to believe.

    Cheryl

  7. 04/07/2011 14:52

    Beautifully written! I didn’t realize how scared Americans really were until I lived outside the US. Just reading the news and reading different online forums is very eye-opening.

  8. tancho permalink
    04/07/2011 16:09

    But they can take solace in knowing what dress Paris Hilton is wearing, if or not she has had a bowel movement, but have no idea what the difference between trade deficit and discount shopping……

  9. 04/07/2011 17:54

    Thanks for this. I go back to the US for a week a year and every year I come back more depressed. I wonder too where are the inspiring leaders? Have they given up, too?

    Sometimes I think about this and feel that I have copped out a bit by leaving, that if I care I should stay and fight somehow. But then I realize that this is my only life and I don’t want to spend it being confrontational and angry. Mexico suits me much better.

    I added you to my blogroll, I don’t know how I had missed reading your blog before. Thanks so much!

  10. 04/07/2011 21:24

    Thanks. Good points; good post.

  11. 05/07/2011 07:22

    This is a good post… thank you Barry. But we also need to see that this same polarization and fear is also happening in our own back yards. Here in Merida this week, the uproar over the “tunnel” really has little to do with the damn thing. And it has a lot to do with politics. Both parties (PAN and PRI) are so afraid of the other one looking good that they will stamp on the initiatives on pure principal. I have heard a lot of protest of the change but have not heard one viable alternative… yet something has to be done about the trafic. The same thing is true with the backlash against Latinos in the USA. The politians think if they make immigrants look bad, the citizens will feel they look better by comparison. The bottom line? I believe we all need to take a good look in the mirror… figure out what is the right thing for us and then DO it… and stop blaming others.

  12. 06/07/2011 10:29

    I’m in total agreement with this post. Reading a post by Jonna that speaks to this issue, I was amazed at a few comments that treat the situation in the US as just being politics as usual. I wonder where those people live. In my 60+ years I have never seen such polarization and vitriol in our government and in the general population. I find it ironic that when we are terrorized, as in 9/11, or devastated by some natural disaster, we come together as a nation for a brief period, but refuse to compromise on economic issues that threaten the global monetary system. And the issue of immigrants? All of those people complaining loudest are descendants of people, who not in the too distant past, stepped foot on the shores of this country as immigrants looking for a better future.

  13. Elaine permalink
    12/07/2011 16:24

    I couldn’t agree more nor express it any better. My husband and I have been following very closely at what is happening in the USA for the past few years and are very concerned at the nonsensical politicing that is going on. You may ask what is it to us? What happens to you has an effect on us as well as the rest of the world however we are very close neighbours, so our concerns are probably greater.
    I wonder what can be done to improve the problems we see? I think changing the way elections are run in the US would be a great place to start. In Canada our election campaign runs for about six weeks so they aren’t nearly as costly or time consuming.. It seems that in the US your politicians are so busy raising money and campaigning that running the country has become almost obsolete and the money wasted colossal. Can’t anything be done to change this huge waste of time and money?
    We have been aware of your problems for some time as we visit the US often. We also meet so many Americans moving north of the 49th and have told us how happy they are to move to Canada. Canada has problems as well, no place is perfect, however thus far things just aren’t nearly as scary here as they are in the US.
    I am very concerned for the USA and I hope things improve so the whole country doesn’t go down in a veil of tears.
    Elaine in Canada

  14. YucatanMan permalink
    20/07/2011 21:39

    Kudos on a great, and very accurate in my opinion, statement.

    As a corollary, one of the biggest changes in recent years has been the abandonment of the middle class by the upper class. In the 1950s, 60s, 70s, the rich knew that keeping the middle class strong and healthy was good for profits overall. Since the 1980s or so, greed has taken over and the “watch out for everybody” attitude has vanished. The rich began to change the laws to benefit themselves.

    And as you point out, there may be one or two out of 100 US Senators who is not a multi-millionaire already. So, the politicians and the rich, today, are one and the same.

    So, today, in response to the greatest economic upheaval since the Great Depression, all Washington can do is think about the health of banks and Wall Street, while ignoring millions under water on their homes, main street businesses without customers or future prospects, unemployment at record levels that should make anyone shudder… and remaining at those levels for years!

    The unequal distribution of wealth in the USA is now worse than it was before the Great Depression. And before the Great Depression, the unequal distribution of wealth in the USA had been unequaled in history since the last years of the Roman Empire.

    The difference between the Great Depression and now is that there was determination to put the nation on a functional footing back then, starting with the poor and middle class. Today, Washington is only concerned with protecting the wealthy. Where will this end up…?

  15. Gene permalink
    17/10/2011 08:36

    Thanks Barry, you make very valid points. Here in Alabama, we have lost numerous friends who have left the state in fear. (I don’t blame them, but I miss them greatly.)
    That is why my partner and I are planning to retire to Merida as soon as possible. (Unless we win a lottery, that will be three years.)

    We will be in Merida in November. We would enjoy meeting you and Nancy.

    • Cheryl permalink
      17/10/2011 09:53

      Gene, that Alabama law is really causing chaos. I am from Alabama (now in Tennessee) and I have had to send copies of my birth certificate and my driver’s license and my passport to my ex husband so he can get a tag for his car. Yes, he should have taken my name off the title 8 years ago when we got divorced but stil… I was down there last week and my daughter spent at least 5 hours at DMV getting her driver’s license renewed and getting her car tag. Totally ridiculous. I was reading in the Montgomery paper that the “walk out” last Monday had 6 chicken processing plants closed down. Way to go. Hubby and I plan to be in Merida in November too. Looking for a place to spend at least the winter. Good luck on the lottery, especially in Bama. :>)

  16. 10/12/2011 12:52

    HI,
    I just ran across your blog this morning as a link from another blog. I am not sure if you still look at comments, as it has been quite a while since the this was posted, however, I felt compelled to answer.

    First I do believe that many Americans and legal aliens in the USA are scared, and rightfully so!

    They are scared for their jobs, their children, and their future.

    I find it interesting how you describe the employment situation in the USA, but yet you seem oblivious to the fact that not only does the USA allow somewhere about 1.5 million people into the country legally each year, with most of them coming from Mexico, and Central America, but over the years millions have come here Illegally. The last estimate I have seen was that there is about 12-20 million illegal aliens in the USA, most from Mexico and Central America.

    I cant believe how you dont see this as a detriment to the US economy! The price of labor is a function of supply and demand, with the huge over supply of labor in the USA, and no increase in demand, it is easy to see why wages and benefits paid to millions of workers in the USA is so low!

    One example I usually refer to is the packing house workers. If the wages of these workers had kept up with inflation from the late 60s, a time when the illegal alien workforce was still small, today packing house workers would be making around $20 per hour, instead they make about half that amount!

    Another issue is the confusing of legal aliens, and illegal aliens. Although, some people dont separate the two, most Americans do. They welcome those that come here legally. And then there is the issue of calling illegal aliens Illegal workers. Yes, there are many people who come here illegally, and are good workers, but there is also a large criminal element that comes here too. since President Obama has taken office, he has deported somewhere around 400,000 illegal aliens, who have criminal records in the USA, and I mean traffic tickets!

    One last point. You talk of how bad it is in the USA, but yet millions of people violate our laws, and put themselves in all kids of danger just to get here, so what does that say about the conditions in the countries they come from?

    Paul

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