Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

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The Jobs Americans Won‘t Do

John F. Rohe - June 23rd, 2005
Mexican President Vicente Fox has been scolded for declaring that Mexicans do jobs that “even blacks won’t do.” Curiously, nary a whimper is heard when President Bush insults all citizens by referring to “Jobs Americans Won’t Do.”
Before the Civil War, John C. Calhoun’s views on the equality of human beings were nurtured with a mint julep on the veranda of a southern plantation. This leading North Carolina senator, and presidential hopeful, had a splendid panoramic view of the jobs that Americans wouldn’t do. In spirited debates, Senator Calhoun became a voice for the South in perpetuating the institution
of slavery.
By 1860, however, Hinton Helper’s best selling book, “The Impending Crisis,“ demonstrated that slavery benefitted neither whites nor blacks. By spurning jobs that Americans won’t do, Southern whites became detrimentally dependent upon others. In the South, Hinton Helper observed: “We want Bibles, brooms, buckets and books, and we go to the North; ... we want toys, primers, school books, fashionable apparel, machinery, medicines, tombstones, and a thousand other things, and we go to the North for them all.”
When cotton was king, the South believed it could comfortably rise above the “jobs Americans won’t do.” The pretentious image was supported by an illusion. Hinton Helper’s book sold well in the North, but pervasive illiteracy among blacks and working class whites stifled book sales in slave trading states.
The slogan, “Jobs Americans won’t do,” has now emerged as the presidential mantra for importing more foreign labor. The leader of the free world offers an assurance that Americans have graduated to a better life. There is a curious appeal to self-referential pride in the slogan, but it comes with all the trappings of Calhoun’s mint juleped view from the veranda.
Who, actually, is unwilling to do “the jobs Americans won’t do”? Has picking up after ourselves fallen beneath our dignity? Has caring for others lost appeal? Are we no longer interested in cooking? Are our sons and daughters no longer willing to work their way through college? How do these jobs get done in areas with low-immigrant populations? Harry Truman once professed that no one should have to wash anyone else’s socks and underwear. Truman washed his own.
Who is claiming that we won’t do these jobs? Do they have contempt for calloused hands? Is the unemployed American refusing to do these jobs? Or is this appeal to our sense of dignity and pride actually a disguised corporate quest for cheap labor?

The illiterate slave driver’s disdainful view of inferior beings became a sad disillusion. Yet, this view is inherent in the President’s proclamation that the “jobs
Americans won’t do” will be
offered to the lowest bidder in a global job fair.
What is the President’s mental image of “jobs Americans won’t do”? He’s not claiming the jobs are unnecessary. Rather, he is pointing out that we need not perform them. Then who will? People looking different than us? Has the President been sipping mint juleps with Sen. Calhoun?
What are the jobs that
Americans won’t do? Doing laundry? Making beds? Milking cows? Picking up the garbage? If this is a job that only immigrants will do, then Los Angeles should be spotless, and trash should be gathering on the streets in low-immigrant northern communities.
In fact, Americans do these jobs. Americans do these jobs with pride. Americans have thrived on these jobs over the centuries. The Americans doing these jobs don’t look any different. They wear the face of America. They do not shrink from work. Americans just resist enslaved wages and indecent working
conditions. The soul of America is still found in our commitment to a work ethic. A presidential slogan to the contrary offends the soul of America.
If we hope to restore dignity to labor, then we need to honor it with a living wage. Flooding the job market with cheap labor forces a debate over the minimum wage. Congress has not repealed the law of supply and demand.
The “jobs Americans won’t do” adage seems innocuous on its face, but it carries a hefty price tag. Wordsworth reminds us that by “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.” By laying waste our powers, we become the enslaved, much like the disillusioned illiterate white Southerner of 1850.
The President’s slogan is an invitation to join him on Sen. Calhoun’s veranda. Mint julep anyone?

Petoskey attorney John F. Rohe is a member of the board of directors of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
 
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