NPR’s latest criticism of the Affordable Care Act is–I shit ye not–that it threatens to get growers and farm labor contractors into trouble for illegal hiring practices. There’s no making this shit up. Subjected to any sort of thought, it’s beyond parody. A bunch of crooks whose standard business practices revolve around the habitual commission of federal crimes including perjury, subornation of perjury, pension fraud, tax fraud, and alternation and forgery of government-issued identity documents have gone on the record on a nationally broadcast radio program to bellyache about the possibility that they’ll suffer civil suits for unfair labor practices or administrative penalties from the IRS.
This is total lawlessness. In a society that was not lawless, these people would be too ashamed and frightened of exposure to go on the record with their garbage complaints about how the damned regulatory state is threatening their ability to habitually break labor laws with impunity. These scandals are really about labor, i.e., economics, no matter how frequently they’re misrepresented as concerning immigration, i.e., culture. A cohort of foreigners illegally present in the United States would have little capacity to distort the US labor market if it were consistently denied employment on account of its not having work authorization, a form of discrimination that is not only legal but mandated under federal law. Instead management preferentially hires illegal immigrants in many industries, especially agriculture.
The wetback hordes aren’t the real illegals in this arrangement. They never have been. No shit they aren’t supposed to be here, and it’s bad news for the native working class that they are, but Americans who conspire to orchestrate the wholesale violation of US law for the purpose of blacklisting the native working class in favor of foreign scab labor occupy a much more destructive quantum of criminality than any peasant in exile who’s just trying to feed his family and keep a corrugated iron roof over their heads. They’re trying desperately to play a game that has been stacked by people orders of magnitude above their pay grade, and so is Po’ Yanqui. Shadow elements have spent thirty or forty years deliberately muddying the waters on immigration with contradictory messages, doublespeak, guilt trips, and outright lies. To wit: we’re a nation of immigrants, but also a nation of laws, except for the laws against immigration which we will not actually enforce, except at those times when we arbitrarily enforce them, maybe with tactics fit for the Syrian secret police, and we want you, Mr. Beaner, to be a valued member of our community, but not an uppity one like the damned Negroes have become.
It never ends. By this point, a great many Americans are under the mistaken, but carefully crafted, impression that Cesar Chavez was down as shit with his undocumented brothers, not eager to rat them out to la Migra because he saw no other option to improve the condition of the Southwest’s native farm laborers. No one would guess that he and his family were demographically Okies, dispossessed from their Jeffersonian smallholding in Arizona during the Depression and forced to hit the road in search of work in California. There’s a good chance that I’m less fed up with illegal immigrants on the ground than Chavez was; it’s hard to say for sure, but he wasn’t a gullible bleeding heart pushover about them, because they were being given jobs that rightfully belonged to him and his as US citizens. Here were all these Americans who were desperately trying to earn a meager living doing backbreaking grunt labor, and they were being forced to compete against foreigners who were willing to be herded naked into bullpens at the border for group physical exams.
The framing of this labor market clash in crude ethnic terms is one of the dirtiest tricks pulled on the American public over the last half century. Chavez was advocating for an overwhelmingly Chicano workforce–that is, US citizens, ethnicity notwithstanding–against an unacculturated horde of foreign reserve labor that management was not ashamed to work halfway to death and then abandon to an early old age of utter destitution. That both sides of this clash had ancestral ties to Mexico was irrelevant. That’s like saying that Yankee yeomen in New England should be thrilled to be overrun by hordes of cockney indentured servants depressing their wages, destabilizing the civic order, and otherwise introducing chaos into their lives because Whitey. The myth of 100% solidarity within La Raza has been very thoughtfully and deviously cultivated by classy crackers, culturally White Latinos, and barrio-accented fringe courtiers in academic veal pens as a way to distract the little people from bread-and-butter agitation. These propagandists make a show of claiming to respect and admire Latino culture, the implication being that the rest of us who don’t want our jobs being reserved for foreign scab labor do not, even as they do not actually partake of this honorable foreign culture that they so ostentatiously love. I.e., one doesn’t find them crowding the check-cashing joints in Woodburn every Friday, that kind of thing. It’s barfworthy, and as good a time as any to periodically note that bitch I’ve worked with Mexican peasants.
Latin identity can be conveniently used for post-hoc catfishing, too. A few years ago, a cop named John Hatfield made the news for whaling a black robbery suspect on the head with his Maglite after a footchase and then getting his visibly white ass fired from the LAPD for excessive force. The whole scene was a chaotic mess involving a suspect who was believed to be armed and dangerous; we aren’t talking Sgt. Evans kicking a guy in the stomach here. The darkly amusing thing that happened in the midst of this controversy, though, was that news outlets made a point of mentioning that Hatfield, a very white LAPD cop with a very White Coastal California accent, was Latino. Or, per Kirk Siegler’s sense of racial consciousness and George Rivera’s sense of political ambition, they (or (((THEY))) (?)) may have referred to him as Hispanic; I forget which.
Geraldo! I told you to keep an eye on your relatives, (((GERALD))).
No, [(((GERALD)))/2]. They always go halfway on the Guyland. But yes, hola Señor Caballero Juan Hatfieldo del Departmento de Policía de la Ciudad de Los Ángeles de fuck me, that’s too many words to copy out right now. After all, I slept at a rest area last night. In a Valley town that’s probably, like, 90% Latino, but I’m not looking that up, either.
Back to (((NPR))). Scott Simon (again, (((/2))) ), but not from Long Island, which is just as well–this essay is turning into a more ridiculous mess than I ever intended, but Scott Simon is ultimate senpai, and David “Big Sexy” Greene is all right. One of the don’t go chasing waterfalls chicks called him that on air and made him blush. How does something so smooth happen to someone so White? Trying to explain these mysteries using words is madness, especially on four hours’ sleep, but homegirl isn’t the only one who hearts white boys. But there’s white, and then there’s snow blindness White, and the exceptions that prove the rule and make NPR tolerable don’t call the shots around there. That’s why Chicago Senpai has to cut short mutually enjoyable chats with monks about music and theology and every other edifying thing under the sun that might keep him up past his bedtime (there are some odd hours to be had in that business) in order to talk to some dipshit about how Buzz Bissinger enjoys leather and Bruce Jenner enjoys having boobs, not merely being one. He has to go through the motions to keep his job.
One result is that the public continues to be blessed with Saturday morning #SPORTS, so the redeeming value is there. With all the house voice borgs, it’s all Shawshank, no redemption. NPR is a fucking psych ward. They now advertise All Things Considered and Here and Now on Morning Edition, and Morning Edition on All Things Considered. It isn’t enough to listen to NPR; one must spend breaks in the programming listening to homilies about the virtue of listening to other NPR news shows, and–wait for it, just wait–maybe some Peter Sagal, who presides over a broadcast equivalent of Panda Express, momentary deliciousness followed by disgust at one’s own gluttony and sloth. It’s a neverending nightmare of recursive self-satisfaction. Then they pester you for money. If you’re still hovering around the radio past ten local time on Saturday morning, or past daybreak on Sunday, get your ass out of the house already. Gawd.
The house voice wants us to know that the gubbyment is screwing over innocent small businessmen who aren’t doing anything wrong, just committing serial perjury and fraud in order to hire scab labor, and that undocumented immigrants in the Grapes of Wrath valleys don’t Got Insurance (TM). #GetTalking. There was some inadvertent levity (yup, definitely inadvertent) in the series of lengthy comments about how farm workers can’t afford health insurance premiums. Ya think, Sherlock? A guy who’s trying to support a family of five on one job picking table grapes can’t afford to joyously tithe first-fruits unto Kaiser; Mr. Wonka will surely be impressed by this story. There was an additional round of absurd humor in the handwringing speculation about how growers and contractors don’t really want their field hands signing up for the insurance because they put the form to decline coverage on top and the forms to enroll underneath. More than a few of the field hands they’re supposedly pressuring in this fashion are too illiterate to sign their own names. These people probably ask, okay, which paper do I mark to say I don’t want this insurance because I have no money for the employee contribution? The top one? Okay. Oh, it’s actually underneath? Okay. I’ll mark that one then. It figures that NPR is accusing employers who tacitly admit to being habitual perjurers of trying to pressure employees who walked through the Sonora Desert and outfoxed the Border Patrol into not paying 9.5% of their income towards bare-bone health insurance by reshuffling a stack of papers.
I won’t believe that the totally Mexican guy NPR found to complain about this prompting in Spanish is not also fluent in English until I’ve talked to him for a few minutes. There’s quite a bit of bilingualism around Fresno, you know. There are people who can talk like El Chapo in one sentence and Pete Wilson the next. If they’re needed to play Pedro Huilsoñez on the radio, they’ll play Pedro Huilsoñez. I’m not saying that this happened, but I’m certainly not saying that it didn’t happen.
Don’t get me wrong, though: NPR is still better than Alta California drivetime radio. I can’t imagine how awful those shrieking ads for DUI attorneys and payday lenders would be if I were fluent in Spanish. They’re barely tolerable as language immersion lessons. Juan Hatfieldo as an example of Hispanic culture may be embarrassing, but Maglite-to-the-temple truth, it’s hard to turn on the radio around Fresno and not hear worse.
Come to think of it, Hatfield would be an excellent addition to my longstanding fantasy sports-grade plan to unite Stephanie Lazarus, Robert Conrad Acosta, Johannes Mehserle, and Keith “My Staaahhhhr” Herrera as the Artists Formerly Known as the Police. They’ll be the Whitest Hall and Oates cover band ever. Kwesi “Pardon the Shock” Millington could be added to the ensemble in full dress reds and still not elevate the group into the second quartile of NPR ridiculousness.
Imagine the Village People, but self-serious in perpetuity. No, I’m not talking about formerly sworn jailbirds reduced to song anymore. I’m talking about the dipshits who use federal appropriations to fund their fund drives. I’ve come up with some batshit crazy plans in my time, but I’ll never equal that.