Blaming the poor

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

Nearly 700 undocumented immigrants were detained for deportation at two Mississippi chicken slaughter plants last week. On Monday, the employer held a job fair to replace them. About 100 people from the area showed up to apply for a job paying $12 per hour, according to the Washington Post. They were mainly poor black men and women looking for something better than minimum wage. None of them resented the immigrants who were deported, they told the reporter, they’re just people trying to put food on the table like them. The black man knows what it’s like to have the boot on your throat.

It’s the people who never would apply for that job who resent the fact that immigrants were working in the plant.

Here, the meatpacking industry pays 30-50% more. Yet immigrants are blamed for holding back wages.

To set things straight: The people who want to deport the undocumented are the same people who wanted to bust the unions because they had too much power. Once busted, meatpackers were able to cut wages in half in the 1980s. The United Food and Commercial Workers is hamstrung by the dismantling of the National Labor Relations Act during the Reagan Administration. Since then, rural meatpacking communities have become weaker. Immigrants get blamed for taking jobs that resident citizens could have. But the jobs in Mississippi for poor people have always been exploitive. It’s a messed-up system: Put value on skills so no one wants to work in unskilled labor, recruit the unskilled to fill the jobs that Biff and Buffy who went off to college don’t want, exploit them, criminalize them, deport them, then complain about low wages brought by the great unwashed. The immigrants and poor black people do not set the wage. The boss does. He made sure the union went down. He made sure everyone thought that the Hygrade union man was getting paid too much. He convinced everyone that the union was stealing your paycheck. And now people complain that immigrants are ruining this country.

They didn’t break the unions, and they don’t set the wage. We want cheap food. Immigrants provide it, so we crucify them. Biff is learning arbitrage and hedging to be used later on livestock contracting.

We need a big change in this country.

Hot air

Claims that wind turbines harm human health are bunk. So it was somewhat reassuring that Gov. Kim Reynolds said this week that she supports the wind industry until data prove otherwise. She said she would listen to concerns of the misinformed who believe that blade flicker or sound harm us. The governor said she doesn’t have all the facts so she could not disavow contentions that wind power is somehow harmful.

The governor was asked about this by reporters after the Madison County Board of Health recommended that turbines be located at least 1.5 miles from a residence. Board Chairman Dr. Kevin De Regnier, a physician, said he voted against the recommendation because “I didn’t think the data was strong enough,” according to Radio Iowa.

Reynolds should know the facts about one of the most important industries in Iowa. She is right to say she supports the wind industry. But we need actual leadership. That starts with facts. The facts are that we have long experience with wind turbines in this neighborhood and there simply is nothing to the claim that they harm us. There is no evidence whatsoever. There is plenty of evidence that coal-fired power plants emit tons of carbon that are causing the planet to cook. The smog from fossil-fuel electricity is far more harmful than blade flicker (if it is harmful). Blade flicker is annoying, not deleterious to your health.

“The spread of misinformation about wind turbines can actually be the cause of the anxiety and discomfort people experience, which makes it even more important to ensure policymakers are using credible information sources,” said Angelisa Belden of the Iowa Environmental Council.

Sen. Chuck Grassley said President Trump’s claims that windmills cause cancer were “idiotic.” Expanding renewable energy in Iowa is under steady attack by turf grass groups funded by unknown sources. The governor should be a leader and defend science. She has a responsibility to stand up for the facts. Saying that she is with the wind industry while lending some credence to the naysayers makes her look weak and uninformed.

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