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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Mr. Straight Talk?

I will confess that I voted for John McCain in the 2000 Republican primary in Michigan. Ours is a state that allows cross-over voting, and I did it because I really, truly feared a Bush presidency. (And I was right to do so.)

McCain was conservative, but a reasonable conservative, and a bit of maverick. No more. He is now pandering to the Bush demographic (end-timers and corporatists). For example, take this meeting he had recently:
Sen. John McCain threatened on Tuesday to cut short a speech to union leaders who booed his immigration views and later challenged his statements on organized labor and the Iraq war.

"If you like, I will leave," McCain told the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department, pivoting briefly from the lectern. He returned to the microphone after the crowd quieted.
. . .
Later, the senator outlined his position on the Senate immigration debate, saying tougher border enforcement must be accompanied by guest-worker provisions that give illegal immigrants a legal path toward citizenship.

Murmurs from the crowd turned to booing. "Pay a decent wage!" one audience member shouted.

"I've heard that statement before," McCain said before threatening to leave.
. . .
But he took more questions, including a pointed one on his immigration plan.

McCain responded by saying immigrants were taking jobs nobody else wanted. He offered anybody in the crowd $50 an hour to pick lettuce in Arizona.

Shouts of protest rose from the crowd, with some accepting McCain's job offer.

"I'll take it!" one man shouted.

McCain insisted none of them would do such menial labor for a complete season. "You can't do it, my friends."

Some in the crowd said they didn't appreciate McCain questioning their work ethic.

"I was impressed with his comedy routine and ability to tap dance without music. But I was impressed with nothing else about him," said John Wasniewski of Milwaukee. "He's supposed to be Mr. Straight Talk?"
The problem is not that Americans won't do certain jobs, it's that they are not paid enough to do those jobs. There is not a shortage of workers, there is a reluctance on the part of many employers to pay a living wage.

If a reasonable wage were paid, there would be no shortage of farms workers, or workers in any other of those jobs that the Republicans claim "Americans don't want." It's not that Americans don't want the jobs, it's just that they expect to get paid for doing them.

They want to work full time, and be able to support their family on the pay. Is that so unreasonable?


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