Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Coming Full Circle

I think I'm becoming interested in the Civil War again- it only took 30+ years for that to happen.

Spin it ANY way you like, but...

...nobody smokes "occasionally."

You either do, or you don't.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

One more reason why I have the best dad in the world.

My Dad, who has been living with Parkinson's Disease (and the problems that go with it) for well over a decade, has been in a rehabilitation center (and before that, the hospital) for over a month.

Today our family went to see him so that he could be part of a belated Mother's Day celebration for my Mom and my sister in-law and my brother's birthday (which is this this Tuesday) celebration.

My only goal for the visit was to make my Dad happy- as usual, he was one step ahead of me.

The minute he saw me he held eye-contact with me, put one of his hands over the same area on his body where I just had surgery and gave me a "thumbs up" gesture with his other hand-

He wanted to make sure that I was okay.

With a Dad like that, how could I not be?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'm long overdue for a rant...

I was reading a news article today about a speech President Obama gave in Texas about immigration and it got me to thinking about something that's been on my mind for a long time.

Let me begin by saying I'm no expert and I'm sure that there are things I'm overlooking, but at the same time, I'm no dope. I'm pretty pragmatic, I know my history (how rare is that becoming!?), I have a finely-tuned B.S. detector, and I'm fairly good and finding solutions to tricky problems- not ones that fix everything, but ones that fix most of the big things.

First of all, I think the whole idea that illegal immigration is a serious problem is, to my mind, a "straw man" used by people who have other agendas and that some- maybe most- of those agendas are pretty nasty.

Second, and speaking of straw men, the idea that illegal immigrants are not taking anybody's jobs is a crock. If there were current U.S. citizens who were willing to do these same jobs they wouldn't be available for illegal immigrants to take them- would they? I know, I know, people don't take these jobs because they don't pay enough, but that's still a choice not to take the job- the job still exits. If you don't want to pick vegetables in the Salinas Valley because the work is too hard and the pay is too low, that's fine, don't. But you can't then complain that people from Mexico or Central America or the Philippines or wherever, "take our jobs"- especially while you're chowing down on your organic micro-green salad.

Third, and here's another phony argument, "the country is too crowded!!" Really? Take a look at the map at the top of this post. Granted, the "empty space" might not be "prime real estate," but there's plenty of it and our history is all about the pioneer spirit, exploring, adapting, making something out of nothing- right?

Fourth, "but what will they eat!?" "We don't have the resources!!" 40% of the food produced in the U.S. is thrown away- 40%!! Thrown away!! Seriously, you can look it up!!

Fifth, and I'm starting to feel like I've collected enough straw to fill a barn, there is the complaint that illegal immigrants "live off the state/rest of us" because they don't pay taxes. Except that they do! In the states that have them, they pay sales tax, property tax, excise tax, etc., and they would pay state/federal income taxes too if they weren't afraid of being deported for being here illegally! Think about this: I grew up in New Hampshire which has no sales or income tax, if I had stayed there for the rest of my life and rented an abode rather than buying one the entire time there is a good chance that I would pay less in state and federal taxes than an illegal immigrant in most states.

Sixth, there was no federal law regulating immigration into what is now the United States until 1875 (Chy Lung v. Freeman is the relevant case- if you're interested). This brings up two points. 1) That free immigration to the "U.S."- it couldn't be "illegal" if there was no law!- worked just fine from c.1600-1875. The only "bad immigration" that took place during this period was slavery and some forms of indentured servitude- and those types are wrong whether they were legal or not. 2) Almost every U.S. immigration law, regardless of how it has been "presented" to the public since 1875 has had as its basis- first explicitly, now implicitly- racism, regionalism, religious bias, or some other despicable notion. Is this, by any measurement, progress? Is it even moral?

Finally, and most importantly to me, I truly believe that the single thing that makes this country so wonderful is that we receive a constant infusion of people who want to be here. People who will leave everyone and everything they know behind to be here. People who will risk their lives to get here. All of these people provide- welcome or not- a kick in the ass to so-called "natives" who have become complacent. Some of these people will live real-life Horatio Alger stories, some will be deadbeats and a drain on society, but the vast, VAST majority will simply be sold citizens who make a positive contribution to American society. Those are pretty good odds and the net result is a more vibrant and productive society. Mull this over the next time you're stuffing a taco, bahn mi, or slice of pizza into your face.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

That's a pretty good description of my ancestors- probably yours too. Maybe we should remember that and try a little harder to live up to those words.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Why am I not shocked?

Since I've been out of work due to my surgery only one person has contacted me- and that was my boss wanting to know when I'd be back at work.

As for the other people I work with...really? Not a call? Text? Email? Facebook message?

Okay then.