Shipler describes people, places, poverty very well

David Shipler. Photo courtesy of Google Images.

I found it so interesting when Shipler wrote about Jimmy. Here is a man who has morals, a sense of what is ethical, a caring nerve in his body. He paid his workers a fair rate. He offers some of the Mexican workers houses, trailers, a part of his land, as a mutual relationship — ensuring that they stay and help him and him helping them out a little, to make sure they don’t have to live a wandering life, that they can have some ownership. He only does this for the workers that have remained for a while; he’s established some trust with them. The mutual relationship helps everyone and seems like it is not such a bad setup. It’s a very interesting concept that Jimmy provides and takes part in.

I also found it so interesting to see that many of the workers made fake social security and green cards. And the employers know they’re fake and the employees know they know they’re fake. It’s all part of the charade. And if the immigration agency finds out, they’re “usually content to deport the workers without going after the employers as well.” I find this completely unfair. If it’s illegal, then everyone involved should be charged something (if the workers are going to be deported the employers should be fined, because they willingly allowed the illegal workers to work).

But I do think something real needs to change here, not just temporary and minor changes, like Princen would say are taking place. If most of America’s crops are harvested and planted by illegal immigrants, we truly need them and our country could not function without them. So something is truly wrong if we want to deport them, because if we did deport all of them we couldn’t survive. So, in effect, they’re helping to keep America growing. As Shipler said, “They’re not Americans, but they are an essential part of America.”

“It’s really amazing, the bureaucracy — no matter where it is, it’s the same. It resists any kind of innovation, any kind of change.” I think this quote shows a neoliberal model of bureaucracy, of what Shipler is talking about. Bureaucracy is unwilling to change, is set in its ways, does have a lot of red tape and strict practices it enforces. Sometimes the change is necessary and would be better, but bureaucracy is against change. Bureaucracy is used to the way things are done, is content if money is coming in steadily, and is not interested in trying new things out for fear of it not working and for fear of the flow of money stopping or changing.

I found this passage very moving:

“You will be ineligible for government benefits except free school lunch programs, emergency Medicaid, immunizations, and treatment for communicable diseases. And you’ll suffer from less obvious inconveniences, such as the lack of a bank account, which will cost you in fees when you transfer money. In other words, American government and business gain financially from your inability to legalize your presence in the country.”

I really like how Shipler words this passage. He uses second person to put us, the readers, into the context of poverty, of low-earning jobs, of the people he writes about. The “you” is extremely powerful and helps to place me in a state of mind where I can understand this better.

I was also very interested in this quote:

“Protesting globalization is like protesting the monsoon season. What’s the point? The rain is going to come anyway, and it yields both hardship and benefit — destructive flooding that also produces enough water to grow rice. The best approach is to channel it, control it, prevent it from inundating the defenseless.”

At first I was completely against him. I thought, no, we have to protest or at least voice our different opinions about globalization. We can’t be kept silent and allow what we see as wrong to keep occurring or to occur. We have to voice our opinions and speak for those who don’t have a voice. If we don’t, things will continue and go on perhaps in unjust ways and ways that only benefit the wealthy and big businesses. But then I got to the end of Shipler’s quote and it made me think twice. He says we should channel, control, and prevent globalization from inundating the defenseless. I think this is an important view of globalization. It seems that Shipler believes that globalization may have some positive effects, but he knows it will also have some more negative ones. So he sees it important that we channel and control it and make sure it doesn’t put more burden on the poor and less well-off, and make sure it doesn’t effect them in a negative way. I like this, but I’m wondering what he would see as ways we could channel and control globalization.

Any ideas?

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