Until the lion learns to write all the stories will glorify the hunter. This is a Kenyan proverb that I heard from Mr. Raila Odinga1 former Kenyan Prime Minister. This is the US election time and a chance for all politicians to bash the immigrants. They blame unemployment, underemployment, rise in cost of living everthing on immigrants. In this post I will show good US politicians are when it comes to protecting American workers. I have been in this country 10 years as an immigrant. I have lived under 2 US presidents (should have been 3 but Obama got reelected). I thought it is time for me to write a post to show that the problems faced in this country are not because of immigrants.

How many paid vacation days can an employee in US have as per government mandate? Ans: Zero 2

Now the politicians have to answer if this has anything to do with immigrants. The government gives more focus to Capital and Technology and least focus to labor. Look at the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership[8]. It was negotiated like a conspiracy where public had no access to the agreement until it was fully negotiated. If you check the text of the document you can see that Market access has 67 pages, Intellectual Property has 74 pages and labour has 13 pages. Is any politician going to answer why labor was given least importance? I will write a new post on TPP Labor agreement clauses soon.

What do you think is the reason for American workers being displaced by immigrants? Ans: High education fee and high student loan interest rate.
I am not going to deny that American workers are losing their jobs to immigrants but it is not as big as the politicians tout. This displacement is happening because of exploitative policies of the government. Years ago my American coworker, exactly of my age and I had a frank discussion to understand how immigrants are able to work for less wages than American counterparts. Here I have to state few things. The government has imposed minimum wages for skilled immigrants for various jobs. These wages appear to be higher than the wages of average American workers. At the end of the deep discussion we found out that the reason that my American coworker was less favorable in market had nothing to do with skills, attitude or productivity. It was his student loan that put him in a less favorable position in the market. He was not fortunate enough to get full federal student loan and he has to take a loan from a predatory private lender. All he wanted was an extra $1000 per month in his salary to pay his student loan which I didn’t have because my country subsidized eductation so much that my fees was $300 per year for a 4 year college degree in a private college. The current fees stands at $1600 per year in private colleges in my state. He was less favorable when compared to immigrants from other developed countries like UK, Germany and France. These countries have wisely subsized the education very well to make it more affordable.
How is that in America someone can get a car loan from a private lender at less than 2.5% rate and a home loan less than 5% but not a student loan less than 5%? Which is more important to the society car or house or education?

The politicians in this country are reducing the public education spending and this is very badly affecting today’s youth and it is becoming a major cause for under-employment. Look at the text from University of Texas Austin website.

“In the early 1970s the state paid for nearly 85 percent of the cost of running the educational side of The University of Texas at Austin. Today, the state-appropriated fraction of the total budget for UT Austin is below 20 percent.”

University of Texas, Austin3

Everyone knows that jobs in developed countries are getting outsourced to developing countries because of cheap labor? How did the cheap labor concept come into existence? Ans: IMF

I vividly remember how IMF humiliated India when I was 10 years old. Whenever IMF bails out any developing country the first clause in the bail out is to devalue the country’s currency and open up countries market for foreign businesses. The main reason to devalue currency is that companies in US can now buy companies in India cheaply and acquire assets to run their offshore operations to maximize the shareholder value. What roles does US plays in IMF? This may be a shock some people. IMF, one of the Unholy Trinity4 works different from WTO. Unlike WTO which has one country one vote, IMF voting works on the amount of money given to IMF by countries. For any resolution to pass 86% of weighted votes have be in favour5. Guess the catch here. US has voting share of 16.74% votes so US has to give an yes vote to pass any resolution to IMF. Do you think that US politicians can remove devaluation clause in IMF bail outs so that cheap labor concept goes away? Here is the quote about IMF from a Costa Rican leader.

“The representative of the Fund arrived at my office [in Januar 1982]… and took out his little sheet of paper: in a personal and private meeting… and he began to say that what was needed here was the suppression of public services… that we have to sacrifice education, popular nutrition… close hospital services… So I said to him: one moment, the only thing that is going to close here are the doors of this country to the likes of you because you lack respect… for national sovereignty – so much so that you are going to leave within 48 hours.”

Rodrigo Carazo, Former President of Costa Rica6

To all US politicians, I am not so stupid like Christopher Columbus to cross the Atlantic without knowing what’s on the other side. Don’t blame others for your incompetency and corrupt ideas. Don’t just protect American workers, empower them. I can go on and on about the bogus speeches by politicians about protecting American workers. The proverb “There is always light at the end of the tunnel” comes to my mind but the only problem is that the tunnel gets longer and darker as days go by in this country.

Finally to be fair and point out what is the biggest mistake that people made, which has put the current society in a miserable state. One of the “Seven pillars of Western Wisdom”7 is Individualism. Ironic that the Seven pillars of the Western Wisdom was written by an Asian, Dean of LKY School of Public Policy Mr.Kishore Mahbubani. The society in America failed to keep the individualism under check. It glorified its entreprenuers so much so that their honest politicians didn’t get a voice. As always “God Bless America”.

Credits and References

  • 1 – http://wws.princeton.edu/news-and-events/events/item/awakening-african-lion-raila-odinga-continents-transformations-and
  • 2 – https://www.facebook.com/RBReich/photos/a.404595876219681.103599.142474049098533/1033451546667441/
  • 3 – http://www.utexas.edu/tuition/costs.html
  • 4 – Book – Unholy Trinity: The IMF, World Bank and WTO by Richard Peet
  • 5 – https://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/memdir/members.aspx
  • 6 – Book -The history of Costa Rica by Ivan Molina, Steven Palmer
  • 7 – Book – The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World by Kishore Mahbubani
  • 8 – http://tpp.mfat.govt.nz/text