Sunday, February 11, 2007

Following our lead?

"I don't want my 17-year-old son to have to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas."

That's Karl Rove talking about immigration reform, according to
The National Review. Whew.

OK, the CNMI is not mentioned directly. But in giving Rove the slam he deserves for that one, Mark Krikorian did say "It would do all that, of course, but most importantly it would change the very nature of our society for the worse, creating whole occupations deemed to be unfit for respectable Americans, for which little brown people have to be imported from abroad."

Bad choice of words, but the sentiments are good and that's what's happened here.

I accepted employment applications at the CNMI Personnel Office a few times, just helping out because I worked in the same office.

One young man told me that what he really wanted was a supervisory position. This with a high school diploma and no experience. It immediately became one of my favorite jokes. The second time that happened I stopped telling the story. I tried to provide them with a reality check, because obviously no one had told them about the working world.

There may have been changes in recent years, but a percentage of labor fees used to be earmarked for vocational education at Northern Marianas College. On paper, using those fees to develop local skilled labor is a great idea.

In practice, the majority of students were aliens. Any local student who did graduate was dumped into the marketplace to compete with a practically endless line of more experienced foreign workers willing to work for the bare minimum wage.

The choices became: line up for government work, do something else, join the military, or go to one of the states. Most people I talked to chose one of the last two options.

We've had several maids over the years, and let them all go for basically the same reason. The kids acted like bosses, and they didn't know the difference between a maid and a servant. 'Make me a sandwich' and 'get me a glass of water' drive me crazy when they come from a healthy person. Most normal people can at least find their way from the table to the sink with a dirty plate.

BTW: I picked fruit at that age, and Rove pissed me off. Of course, even back 'in the day' I was working alongside Chicanos and Mexicans, Cholos and Indios. (Be very careful how you say cholo)

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