Friday, November 16, 2012

Unsolicited advice to the Grand Old Party

Full disclosure: I have never voted in a Republican Primary. I have always voted in the Democratic Primary. I've lived in Chicago now for over 40 years, including all of the last 30. In between I lived in a distant Chicago suburb, which I call Boondockia. I went to high school there and attended college and law school in Chicago. I've always felt the Democratic Primary was more interesting than any contests the Republicans might have (sure, they might have one interesting race, now and then, but the real action was on the other side). In recent years, in this part of the world, the Democratic Primary has been the real election; the November general election is really a vestigial formality.

Because of this background, Republican strategists (if that's not an oxymoron) may be disinclined to hear anything I have to say. But I can only try.

The GOP is in thrall to the biggest of big businesses -- to Wall Street -- to the Fortune 100 -- to all the businesses too big to fail. Old news, right?

But, guess what? So are the Democrats.

How else do you explain zero prosecutions of Wall Street bankers for the housing collapse? You Republicans may protest that Democrats don't understand business, and maybe you're right. But they understand, and respect, Big. Bigness. Big Government. Big Business. Different sides of the same bad penny.

Republicans should bail on Big Business.

If I were in charge of the Republicans, I'd insist that my party was the party of Main Street, not Wall Street. The Democrats can have the superstar CEOs. I'm for the small businessmen, the startups, the shopkeepers -- not Walmart, but the little stores that are endangered because of Walmart and all the other big box, low wage, profit squeezing behemoths.

I'd demand a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Hey, Republicans! Come back, let me explain.

Illegal immigrants depress wages and take jobs away from American citizens. Big Business loves them. Why? I just told you -- they depress wages.

But Mexicans (for example) cross the border to find work, not to go on welfare. And they come with job offers in hand. A cousin, or a brother, or someone from the same hometown, can get the new illegal work in a restaurant, or factory, or in a cleaning service. These are not criminals. The ones who are hiring them are the criminals -- the ones who turn a blind eye to the citizenship status of their work force, especially when they are so big they can subcontract work to services without technically, necessarily knowing for certain sure that their contractors are staffed almost exclusively by illegals.

Anyone with a pencil can figure if it takes three people to clean the big box store each night, but the nightly cost per store charged by the cleaning service does not add up to three times minimum wage + benefits + supplies + profit margin, then the cleaning service is using illegals. Republicans need to demand prosecution of the Big Business execs who are hiring these contractors and the ones above them in the corporate food chain who sanction such obvious illegality. Get a couple of CEO superstars in a perp walk on the evening news and listen to the cheers from Main Street -- and from the threatened neighborhood business districts in big cities, too.

For illegals who've been here x years -- 10? 12? 8? the number is negotiable -- and who have kept out of trouble, find a way to let them become citizens. Pay a nominal fine, perhaps. But make them citizens because, then, Big Business can't exploit them any longer.

Still with me, Republicans? OK, next, insist that the minimum wage be increased.

No, I'm dead serious. I have one catch. The minimum wage needs to be split: Full-time students, or persons under 18, perhaps, or 21, can get paid (say) $4 an hour, but raise it to $10 or more for persons older.

We need to replace those illegals somehow, you know. Those illegals replaced American teenagers during my lifetime. Kids my age worked as busboys in restaurants, stock clerks in stores, delivering newspapers. There was a time (believe it or not kids, this is true) when Americans cut grass. Really. Nowadays middle class kids don't work at all at anything until they're nearly done with college -- and then they "intern." Intern is a word that now means 'you-work-for-free.' Working is like every other human skill; it has to be learned. Sane people will not hire persons with no concept of work to learn at $7.25 an hour ($8.25 in Illinois). Thus, interns.

We have urban areas where no one -- and certainly no males -- have any meaningful work experience, or even any prospect of work experience, ever. Ever wonder why gang life is attractive? Selling drugs? Getting shot at, going to jail? There's no viable alternative. Provide one, Republicans, and you might even create a viable two party system in American cities again. And there'll be no more of this whiny nonsense about Democrats winning because they give "gifts" to minorities. Gifts? The foreclosure rate spiked here in Chicago again this month, and in many places across the country. Unemployment is far higher in the inner cities -- urban voters got no 'gifts' -- but voters in the cities see no place else to go. No one is offering an alternative. Republicans, here is your alternative.

Stop embracing statism. How much mileage did the Democrats get this year from, "Osama bin Laden is dead! And General Motors is alive!" If Osama bin Laden is dead, why is the TSA still with us? The Republicans need to rail against pointless, needless security that inconveniences all and catches no one. (The underwear bomber was caught because his father turned him in, not because of airport security. The TSA confiscates nail clippers and cupcakes.)

The old joke is that Democrats want to regulate everything outside the bedroom, Republicans want to regulate nothing except what goes on in the bedroom. Neither position is acceptable. Yes, there are social issues that strongly divide us in this country. But the Democrats have successfully painted Republicans as a bunch of extremists on social issues because the Republicans themselves have made such a big deal on social issues. Drop it, guys. Jobs. Individual responsibility. Prosperity. These are the real issues. Leave social issues to the priests and rabbis and ministers and imams.

Republicans must demand regulation that curbs the rapacious evils of Big Business -- and leaves Main Street free to flourish. Break up the banks! Nothing should be too big to fail. The Democrats want to regulate everything; the Republicans should insist that regulation be reasonable and moderate. The Democrats don't care how onerous regulations are -- Big Business can always comply. But the Republicans can insist that the burden of regulation be lightened so that Main Street can comply. And the Republicans must insist that those who cheat -- Wall Street always cheats -- must be severely punished. Enforce the laws.

The Republicans don't have to take my advice, of course. But what other choice do they have? They are following the road taken by the Federalists and the Whigs before them... to extinction.


Anonymous said...

This is your best post by far! I think you wrote this with fire running through your veins. I agree with every word of it. There are even bigger issues with allowing big business or small to hire illegals in this country. It breeds abuse. Physical, mental abuse. If you are an illegal and you are here working for someone, they OWN you, 24/7. You aren't their employee you are their slave. It happens everyday and its in the news and for the most part Americans don't want to read, acknowledge and even accept it because you know, they are illegals so who cares? I care!

You're absolutely right the Republicans are driving themselves to extinction.This from someone who came from a home of republicans. They seem so far out of touch that I don't even know if they can recover. I think the Donald Trumps of the country and Wall street may own them.

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

gosh curmy! a fabulous post, wow!


smiles, bee