Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Note to Arizona: Being Mean and Stupid Has Awful Consequences

Some people think I'm too hard on Republicans. I can't imagine why. I point out the predictable consequences of Republican economic and social policy for Arizona. That seems fair enough. If I show a little irritation now and then, maybe it's because I've had enough.

Republican social and economic policies result in laws that are having disastrous consequences for us all--locally, nationally, and internationally. The fact that these disasters were predictable makes these policies stupid--unarguably. That's the very definition of "stupid."

The fact that they are also (predictably) causing or will cause severe pain for all of us at physical, economic, emotional, spiritual, mental, and psychic levels makes them mean, vile, and brutish.

That they target some of us for special destruction and pillaging makes them bigoted as well.

Surely most Arizonans are taking notes for November about the consequences of Republican social and economic policy at every level.

Two examples of many from what's going on here at home.

I just noted that the 31 GOP and 2 Democratic hyenas roiling beneath the Copper dome to wreck the lives of self-supporting, tax-paying, and hard-working gays and lesbians just means that the rest of you will have to pick up the tab for our lawsuits and lost health insurance. Etc.

Trust me. This will happen if you continue to follow the scent of the hyena nearest you and vote to ban "all the benefits incident to marriage" in the reprised gay-bashing proposition en route to us in November.

Many besides me, however, have noted the horrific results of Arpaio's midnight sweeps and AZ laws aimed at Hispanic immigrants--like the brilliant employer sanctions law.

The thing is, these measures are making life a very hell for all Hispanics in our state. However, the exodus of documented and undocumented Hispanics sick of living in fear, sick of harassment, and no longer willing to face a prolonged economic tsunami isn't "just" hurting Hispanics. That would be sufficient reason to vote out every Republican in AZ government. But it's also causing serious labor shortfalls and losses in three of the state's largest economic sectors: agribusiness, construction, and entertainment.

True, national Republican social and economic policies, like Iraq and the oil crisis, and RepubliCons' refusal to oversee and regulate their Enron-style mortgage lending and credit businesses (this is called "free trade") have big roles in all these disasters.

But as Arizona Hispanics--documented and undocumented--walk away from decling home values and vengeful legislators--and why not?--we are seeing serious additions to to an already alarming foreclosure rate. This means big headaches for, like, Del Webb, Pulte, and Diamond Ventures, and it means vanishing jobs in construction, building supply, and in every trade related to keeping you inside four walls.

And then there are the empty rentals, the closing mom-and-pop mercados, zapaterias, and llanterias, and that whole train of lost jobs. Not to mention lost revenues for our gas stations, supermarkets, K-Marts, and all the rest. AND the consequent trashed tax base and trashed school budgets that come when good jobs, hard workers, and decent taxpayers go away.

Well, hey. The New York Times today is confirming all that, AND bearing the great glad tidings that this train of catastrophes is a national thing. The demographic that was doing so well before Bush, that was contributing so much to the US economy is being trashed. That would be US Hispanics.

Read it and weep.

The economic downturn unfolding across the United States is imposing a particularly punishing toll on Hispanics, a group that was among the primary beneficiaries of the expansion in recent years. What had been a story of broad and steady advances has given way to growing joblessness, diminishing paychecks and lost homes.

The boom in American housing generated millions of new jobs for those willing to engage in physically demanding tasks, from factory work churning out floorboards, carpeting and upholstery, to landscaping, roofing and janitorial services. Latinos occupied widening swaths of these trades and filled large numbers of relatively high-paying construction jobs.

As a great influx of Latino immigrants spread beyond the initial entryways of the Southwest into smaller cities and towns across the South and the Midwest, many found employment doing much of the unpleasant work shunned by those with better prospects.

But now significant portions of this work are disappearing. What were once the fastest-growing areas of the nation, including states with expanding Hispanic populations like Florida, California, Georgia and Nevada, are often bearing the brunt of the pain.

I could point out that there is a reason why the "Golden Rule" is what it is. It isn't just about playing nice. It's about Karma. When we treat each other like garbage, there are consequences. "What goes around comes around."

If the last eight years haven't proved that rule, I shudder to think what it will take for us to get the message.