31 May 2006

Mexican Immigrants

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I’m getting old, so I get up early. And I’m currently living in California (“the fiery furnace”), featuring the Mediterranean style of climate, where nights are cool, mornings are pleasant, and afternoons are hot as hell. The Bay area has about the same population as New York City, and prime time parking is a problem. So, all in all, I like to run as many errands as possible first thing in the morning.

When I roll down the hill onto El Camino Real, the local main drag (whose name reflects the fact that the first settlers of significant portions of today’s United States did not, in fact, arrive via the Mayflower) around 6:30 AM Pacific Time, there is nobody up and about, but my elderly self, and the Mexican guys who work at the car wash, who can be seen crossing over to McD’s to get their modest breakfasts, before starting a long day of car polishing and cleaning.

I get my car washed and waxed at the place they work. It costs $30 for the whole treatment, and it takes time, but we Anglos fill our own gas tanks, give the keys to Mexican attendant, then sit comfortably at umbrella-ed cafe tables sipping lattes, and enjoying balmy Pacific breezes, while large crews of Mexican workers clean, wax, and polish our cars to perfection.

Nobody but desperate, sincere, and strongly motivated immigrants is ever going to do that kind of unpleasant work at low enough wages to make the service possible. Yeah, you might get Americans to do it for $100 an hour, but nobody is going to pay for multi-hundred dollar car washes.

Close the borders, throw them all out, and we’ll all be washing our own cars. Just as we’ll all be cleaning our own houses, not eating out (after restaurants with $100 an hour dishwashers and busboys) become prohibitively expensive and close, and renting small apartments (since you can’t get cheap construction labor, and house prices have sky-rocketed out of reach). Food will be kind of pricey too, once we have to pay the kind of money it takes to motivate the native-born Great Unwashed to do anything. Who do you think picks the lettuce? Who do you think works in the slaughterhouses?

At the bottom of the foothill of the Santa Cruz Mountains I currently reside upon, there is a strip mall with an inexpensive restaurant, where I sometimes drop in for a burger and a pitcher of beer. Several recent weekend evenings (when my wife was out of town on business), I drove down there for dinner, and on Friday and Saturday nights at 7 and 8 o’clock, I saw Mexican workmen hammering and sawing away, well after normal working hours on weekend evenings, fixing up a storefront for a new restaurant. When I see men working hard at 7 and 8 o’clock at night, pulling double shifts on weekend evenings, I am impressed at the character of those men. You won’t find many cars in the nearby parking lots of Oracle or Electronic Arts (where the work produces a lot less perspiration and a lot higher pay) at equivalent hours.

Most illegal aliens come here and work hard. Most of them try to do a decent job, which is more than you can say for lots of people native born. They pay taxes, and they are Roman Catholics with strong family values. When I look at those illegal alien Mexican workers, I see the kind of people who work for a living, who are sooner or later going to vote Republican.

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