The Las Vegas Valley Water District has a motto, designed to remind us that each of us has the responsibility to conserve water. “It’s A Desert Out There.” The casual visitor to Las Vegas, had he been here last week, might have shaken his head incredulously at that slogan as we had a three day substantial rainfall. It reminded me of being back in Chicago.
The rain continued for long periods of time throughout the day, would pause for perhaps ten minutes and then resume. Because of the precipitation and the ominous and gloomy clouds which brought it, I decided to skip Gracie’s normal evening sojourn to the Dog Park and walk her through the neighborhood instead. At least we could scurry home quickly should the downpour resume.
While Gracie is one quarter Golden Retriever, apparently the gene that accompanies fondness for water is missing from her DNA. True, she does love to hit the fountain of the lawn sprinklers for a refreshing drink, but the stuff that falls from the skies doesn’t, in her estimation, have the same appeal. Perhaps that is because the lawn sprinklers are a regular and predictable phenomenon – and rain is such a sporadic event.
In any case, we were meandering around the block and I happened to notice that, without exception, every home had a door mat at the front door. And interestingly, most of those doormats had the word “Welcome” on them. Gracie and I are the exception. Our doormat says, “Please Wipe Your Paws.” But for some reason, looking at these doormats caused me to think about both the issue of immigration and the allegations of police oppression which have become so rampant in some sectors of the media.
The United States accepts over a million people a year who want to immigrate to the country – more people than the rest of the countries of the world combined. The process of gaining legal status here is onerous and rather Byzantine – but apparently enough people worldwide are willing to endure both the wait and the process to ensure that a continuous stream of newcomers arrives on American shores every year.
These people have a somewhat different view of life in America than some of us who are here legally by reason of birth. I mean, who in his right mind would want to go to the trouble and expense of moving to a country where there was a high probability that when he got there he would be “oppressed” by those in law enforcement? Basic logic would suggest that would be a place to avoid rather than one to which a person would seek admittance.
Now just because a person has a good heart and is welcoming to friends and guests, it does not follow that his kindliness would extend to everyone who presented himself at his door. Most of us would probably call 911 if we saw a hooded man, brandishing a gun, rather than welcoming that person in for tea. And while most of us who are here as a result of immigration reflect on our own and our forebears’ experience in coming to America and want to extend that same courtesy to others who are similarly motivated, that does not imply that we want to do so in an indiscriminate manner and open the door to anyone who presents himself.
If we look at the historical waves of immigration that occurred in America, we need to put in perspective that while we gratefully welcomed low wage people in the first and early part of the country’s second century, that in large measure reflected that the country and its infrastructure were under construction and needed those workers to build railroads and dig ditches for sewers. Their arrival did not displace workers who were already here. But the infrastructure, notwithstanding its deteriorating condition, and the railroads have been built. No such need exists today.
Our manufacturing sector has greatly diminished and Wall St. no longer waits with baited breath to hear the U. S. Steel quarterly report as it did in the 1950’s. Rather, the financial markets are moved by whether or not Google or Apple made their number for the most recent three month period. Of the thirty stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average , only nine are purely involved in manufacturing and of those, two manufacture drugs. The other twenty-one companies are primarily involved in providing services.
The problem with a stagnant, albeit slightly improving economy, is that those Americans who are at the bottom of the economic barrel face increased competition from illegal aliens (or if you prefer “undocumented people”) and nowhere is this more evident than within the inner city communities predominantly occupied by blacks. That, at least in part, explains why the rate of unemployment among blacks consistently runs twice the “official” rate of unemployment – and among young black men runs twice that, nearing twenty-five percent.
If we truly want to face the issue of why there is unrest and despondency among certain groups of our population, racism is a convenient but dishonest explanation. Let’s face it – the automobile dealer who is selling Ferraris doesn’t really care about the race of the person who buys his vehicle – and cares even less how that person obtained the cash to close the deal. It isn’t a matter of race – rather it’s a matter of economics. And the economic outlook for those in our inner cities is very bleak.
Riots and lootings solve nothing but in fact create additional problems for the business owners who are directly affected and potentially can lead to the arrest and incarceration of those who participate. In truth, some of those who participate are simply out for ill-gotten gain – and any excuse will do to set them and their malicious intentions in motion. Others probably have a sense of their own helplessness but see no path to extricate themselves from it. And then there are some ideologues who believe that America is the most racist, despicable country in the world.
To those in the third category, remember that once there was a Berlin Wall – designed to keep the citizens of East Berlin from making their way to freedom. America has no such barrier in place to prevent any willing person from leaving. And there are countries which apparently are willing to give anyone, irrespective of background, an opportunity to start over.
The recent committal of five more Guantanamo detainees to Uruguay suggests that country might provide a more nurturing venue for them to spend the remainder of their lives. And given the generous way in which our federal government spends taxpayer dollars, there’s probably a program in place to help facilitate their change of address. Take advantage of the opportunity – please.
Via con Dios.