Did you see that picture of W. riding around in a decked-out, red-white-and-blue dune buggy down on the border? Apparently he was trying to look like a tough-guy, protecting us from illegal immigrants. Instead, he looked like some goofy cartoon character. It was perfect symbolism, though, because the Republican leadership has been running in circles on the immigration issue, trying to juggle their right-wing, lock-’em-out, anti-immigrant absolutism—while also trying to dance the two-step with their big business backers who happen to profit from the cheap labor of destitute Latino laborers. So, on the one hand, these clowns want to militarize the Mexican border (including erecting a monstrous, three-tiered fence to keep Mexicans out), but on the other hand they want a bracero-style program to keep the cheap labor flowing into our country.
Then, just when you thought their political posturing couldn’t get any goofier than Bush in a dune buggy, they came up with a truly silly act of hyperactive xenophobia: They passed a resolution declaring that English is the “national language” of the USA. Wow—that’ll show those immigrants! Not since the House decreed in 2003 that french fries should be renamed “freedom fries” has Congress demonstrated such ludicrous loopiness and embarrassing ineptitude.
Their “speak English” bill is a hoot, for it requires more thorough testing to prove English language proficiency. Yet the very goofballs pushing this wouldn’t know proper English if it smacked ’em in the mouth. W. is the mumble-mouth who routinely says things like, “Rarely is the question asked—is our children learning?”
Forget remembering the Alamo. With this new law, our Texas war cry will have to be “Remember the Cottonwood!”
While senators brag that they’re building a big wall on the Mexican border to keep out immigrants, they’ve quietly bored a gaping loophole in the law to let hundreds of thousands of low-income foreign workers enter our country and take some of our most essential professional positions. A little-known provision pushed by the giant hospital chains will throw open our borders to foreign nurses, allowing the hospital industry to recruit low-paid nurses from the Philippines, India, China, and Africa. These foreign nurses make under $2,000 a year back home and can easily be lured here to take less than the going rate of American professionals. Already some 14,000 nurses from abroad are given work visas to enter the United States each year, but the Senate bill, carried by Kansas Republican Sam Brownback, simply removes the cap on these visas. Not only does this corporate-sponsored approach drain medical pros from countries that desperately need them. It also guts the middle-class pay structure and opportunities for homegrown nursing professionals.
The hospital lobby wails that there’s a nursing shortage here, so there’s no choice but to go outside our borders. Hogwash. There’s a shortage because hospitals won’t pay what this highly professional job warrants—and because Congress refuses to provide the funding needed to educate more American nurses. Last year alone, some 150,000 qualified applicants were rejected by nursing schools because of inadequate facilities and a lack of faculty.
What we have here is raw corporate greed in action, writing bad immigration policy to gain cheap foreign labor. Instead, let’s invest in domestic nursing programs that’ll build America’s middle class and improve the quality of our health care.
For more information on this matter, call the American Nurses Association: 1-800-274-4262.
HOW BIG IS IT?
Here in Austin, we were thrilled to learn recently that the University of Texas will no longer suffer the humiliation of having a football scoreboard that’s a mere 70-feet wide by 40-feet high. Our state’s flagship academic institution is soon to be Numero Uno—scoreboard-wise. Our current, dinky, $3.5 million scoreboard is 10-years old, for godsake, and, embarrassingly, it’s outsized by those at Ohio State and even Arkansas! Luckily, we have bold university leaders with the vision to see the big picture. So this year, UT will triple the size of its scoreboard, giving us a whopping, 134-foot by 55-foot, high-definition, LED visual in the south end zone. That’s 7,370 square feet—bigger than a basketball court—and the biggest scoreboard in the world. We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1! The chief advantage of this $8 million project is that fans in the stadium will be able to see the game on this monster screen, just as if they were at home watching on TV. Plus, the scoreboard and new sound system will be able to give the crowd a full dose of commercials throughout the game—just like television. That’s not all the good news from our educational leaders, either. UT officials also announced that they will spend $150 million next year to reconfigure the north end zone, adding luxury suites and seats to face our big new scoreboard. “It’s going to be pretty special,” says one official. Never mind that UT’s football players have one of the worst graduation rates in the country—and never mind that some of UT’s academic needs are going unfunded—our football fans will be able to see the players on the world’s biggest scoreboard. After all, isn’t that what higher education is about?
Jim Hightower is a speaker and author. To order his books or schedule him for a speech, visit www.jimhightower.com. To subscribe to his newsletter, the Hightower Lowdown, call toll-free 1-866-271-4900.