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Alabama Republicans power play yields rotted fruit

October 15, 2011

I wanted to title this post something like “Alabama’s Republicans shoot themselves in the foot with immigration bill” (H.B.56) but I realized that is premature. It might turn out that they shoot ALL of us in the foot.

First of all H.B.56 was a Republican invention. It’s purpose was – well – to rid Alabama of Hispanic immigrants who were draining state and local services and taking laborer jobs from local citizens. Unintended consequences? Farmers report that their immigrant workers failed to appear for harvest. As a result some farmers report that about half their crops will rot on the ground – never make it to market. But what about the local citizens who needed jobs? It turns out that those stout-hearted folks didn’t last in the fields through the hot day. Americans aren’t made of tough stuff anymore – at least not for $9 an hour. Result – the price of produce will increase accordingly in markets around the country. Price increases thanks to quick thinking Republicans in Alabama.

More local consequences… When immigrants learned of the new law they vacated their homes and neighborhoods for parts unknown leaving the merchants they patronized without customers. Clearing the streets of unwanted immigrants has “somehow” taken down local storekeepers as well. Have quick-thinking Alabaman Republicans taken on the new role of “small business-killers”? Probably – since more and more evidence is pointing that way. But it was unintentional. Unless there was some conspiracy among… whoevers. We’ll hold that thought.

I guess they thought that the immigrant population would hang around to see how strictly the law would be enforced. I guess the Republican lawmakers thought they could get the crops brought in before the deportations started.

Pero los americanos son imprevisibles. After all, America has had laws before that were weakly enforced. Maybe this would be one of them. We could stay and earn more money before we go. But then again – those underplayed laws are Federal and HB56 is an Alabama State law. And this State law is a product of Republican disdain for current Democratic Administration weak enforcement of the Fed laws. So locals are bound to make as big a show of machismo as they can, just to show what CAN be accomplished when Republican toughness is applied. Pack up the kids, Rosa. We’re not hanging around for the policia. Vayamos.

Truth is, I don’t think the lawmakers thought at all about what this law would do. They just wanted to make the Feds look bad – soft on immigration, as it were.

It turns out that Alabamans were so eager to show “those” Democrats and “that guy in the White House” that Republicans in Alabama know how to solve a problem that they got overzealous about the solution and – well – showed us ALL how they solve problems. By creating other ones.

Here’s the thing. Republicans, especially the ultra conservative “Teas” are so adamant about beating Obama that they will screw up ANYTHING in order to trip him up. They will sacrifice the country’s credit rating, terrorize big businesses into paralysis, send produce prices to record highs, starve out local small businesses by scaring customers out of town, keep the harvest from taking place to bankrupt farmers, even keep the Federal Government from collecting taxes. All in attempt to make Obama look bad. Funny thing is – no one is fooled into thinking its Obama’s doing. (I take that back. Some people ARE being fooled. And that’s not funny as much as it is pathetic.)

But back to most recent example of this in Alabama. After decades of inviting in cheap, seasonal immigrant labor to keep the price of produce down and keep the agribusiness growing, rabid Republicans realized that we “suddenly” had an undocumented immigrant “problem”. The hard line was to kick them out. The soft line was to grant them citizenship. The wise move would have been something in the middle. Unfortunately there are hard-liners steering the Congress and State Houses. And “everything-we-hate-about-cheap-labor-and-illegal-immigrants” was amplified over the “reasons-we-need-cheap-labor-performed-by-illegal-immigrants”. I mean – really drowned it out. Even those ideas about how the free market will solve problems, and entrepreneurs are the engine of our economy, and other Republican “ideals” got drowned out by those damn – OTHER Republicans. Simultaneously they rebelled against the indecision and inaction of the last few Federal Legislative decades.

And so the People (at least THOSE people) got what they wanted. Well Alabama – be careful what you wish for.

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