In the 3 or so years that I’ve written this blog, I have restricted my comments almost entirely to the day-to-day issues related to expats living abroad. Today’s post, however, goes in a different direction and is surely going to generate some opposing comments as well as losing a number of subscriptions. Fine! Bring it! I’m prepared for that as the subject deals with U.S. politics, a deeply divisive issue these days.
The recent and inaccurate immigration comments by notorious blow-hole, Donald Trump, have stirred the flames of racial discontent, particular among those who are surface dwellers, those who rarely look below the thin crust on any issue.
Some folks are ready to pounce at the first scent of any perceived infringement of their oft-misunderstood “rights” and misguided, under-informed beliefs. Whether the issue is equal pay for equal work, a woman’s right to choose, marriage equality or immigration, the far-right has a host of word-warriors; typically spewing passionate and inaccurate statements on most issues and misusing both the Bible and the U.S. constitution in attempts to support their positions. To my great dismay, these folks gather together and breed!
To be fair, it’s tough to find truth these days with all media outlets, both liberal and conservative, owned by those with huge incentives to misinform the masses for the benefit of those whose interests they truly represent. And when you belong to a group that, in unison, chants the same crap to the same rhythm, you make your money by swimming with the rest of the school.
Money has always been able to purchase lies and package them as truth and there will always be consumers for nicely-wrapped lies dropped on your doorstep (at no charge) via television. It takes some effort to find truth these days and most simply don’t want to take the time! It’s much easier just to be spoon-fed and swallow!
I lived in Florida for 10+ years before moving to Ecuador and for much of that time, I lived in orange grove country, the beautiful, gently rolling area around Dade City and Zephyrhills north and east of Tampa.
Florida is not only about silver heads driving 20 mph below the speed limit, sandy beaches and Disney World. Florida’s economy heavily relies upon a huge agricultural industry providing mega tons of fruits and vegetables to the marketplace. Stick with me, here!
Florida, Georgia, Alabama and other southern states whose laws reflect hostility toward minorities and immigrants (particularly undocumented workers) are hiding a big dirty secret.
You see, without these undocumented workers doing the thankless, low-paying and back-breaking work of harvesting crops, thousands of tons tomatoes and melons would rot in the fields and millions of tons of citrus fruit would drop to the ground and dry up, of no use to anyone. The loss to the economy would be staggering.
The truth is that virtually no U.S. citizens want the backbreaking field work readily accepted by migrant farm workers. It is a brutal existence, under the best of circumstances.
In early 2010, as now-governor Rick Scott was campaigning in Florida, I was invited to a luncheon with a group of some 30 of the area’s top business leaders. These were grove owners with millions of acres, collectively. These were the large packing house owners, retail chain moguls, and auto dealers. Some men owned large shopping centers and vast tracks of land under commercial or residential development.
This was a room filled with multi-millionaires and I certainly did not belong there!!!! I had received a rather cryptic invitation and had no idea this was to be a closed-door session with Rick Scott, a man I loathed who had already been convicted of overseeing the nation’s largest EVER Medicare fraud scheme. I was essentially trapped and decided to make the best of it. I considered it reconnaissance for my team!
Scott was there to ask for money, influence and votes and was direct in his comments. After all, these were his people. Security was provided by the Florida Highway Patrol. Reporters and a small group of protestors were held across the road, unable to get close. His appearance, although supposedly kept secret, had apparently been leaked.
It was an informal setting, a discussion with questions coming from the group of potential donors seeking Scott’s promises. It wasn’t long before one of the grove owners brought up the subject of illegal immigration. It wasn’t what I had expected. He asked Scott to tone down his critical rhetoric on illegal immigrants which is always a party favorite.
“The truth is,” the wealthy grove owner said “that we cannot harvest our crops without them. I would lose millions of dollars in my own groves if I couldn’t use the illegals every year.”
To which Scott replied, “We have to walk a tightrope on this issue. I know how much you rely on those folks but unfortunately, not everyone in Florida is in the farming business. They see these people as a drain on our resources and they don’t understand the importance they play in our economy.” Scott continued, “You know how it is. Sometimes you say things that you know will be a problem down the road and you just have to deal with those things later. Help me get elected and I’ll continue to do all that I can to help you.”
The above quotes from Rick Scott are not exact quotes but honestly represent the basic elements of his statements that day. I will tell lies to the masses and deal with it later. You know how it is.
I had spent nearly five years working closely with state politicians. I was already full to the brim with disgust and despair and his comments made me want to vomit! I left the room and walked across the street joining Scott’s protest group. Although I now live in Mexico, I maintain strong connections to Florida and vote, absentee, in every election.
I will never have enough money to purchase politicians as America’s corporations now regularly do. Therefore, I cannot purchase the laws that would make my life better nor the lives of those in my tribe. I watch with horror as attempt after attempt successfully chips away at the lives of middle class America. The battles are no longer fought at the ballot box where folks like you and I execute our most powerful right as a citizen. Our “most powerful” right has become greatly diminished over the years. Now, governing battles are fought in the back rooms of corporate America where lobbyists collect large fees for drafting the legislation that serves, not our best interests as citizens, but the best interests of major corporations.
I often hear from those who cannot believe the reports of low-level corruption here in Mexico and in other places in South and Central America. Yes, it is true. Corruption exists in many countries in Latin America but I find it amusing that those living in the U.S. worry about me paying five bucks to a traffic cop when their total lives have been auctioned to the highest bidder in the states.
I am not one of those who is anti-USA. In fact, I remain a staunch supporter. I’m more like a worried parent. A terribly worried parent! The one power that is supposed to provide me with the ability to influence our government…the right to vote…now feels much less powerful than I believe the founders imagined. So what to do about this? Remove money from politics. Repeal Citizens United. That’s a start. Here, take a look at this short video. About 2 minutes, I think.
And to those who now want to unsubscribe, adios!