Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Devil's Highway

Ever since reading Blood Meridian and The Border Trilogy I've been rather fascinated with the Mexican borderlands. Luis Alberto Urrea came highly recommended from Ken Sanders book store, and for good reason. The Devil's Highway is a very well-written account of the tragic journey of a 26 person border crossing in the summer of 2001. It has opened my eyes to a hierarchy of human trafficking: gangs, Coyotes, guĂ­as, pollos, and la Migra.

The human struggle for survival can be an astonishing thing. In the midst of gummed up political rule (and in Mexico's case, corrupt and increasingly broken) the desperate desire for a better quality of life and more money has caused people to go through some pretty amazing ordeals. And often die in the process. Regardless of which side of issue you fall, it is humbling.

I've never been the run-the-wetbacks-out-on-a-rail type. Far from it. In fact, I think if we were to deport all of our illegal migrant workers we would see an economic collapse that would make the current crisis look rather appealing. Does that make illegal immigration okay? Absolutely not. Border security is a must, but the manner in which we create it, and deal with the current population of illegals in the U.S. isn't so black and white.

The book cites a 2003 study done by the prestigious Thunderbird School of Global Management:

Mexican immigrants paid nearly $600 million in federal taxes and sales taxes in 2002.
Mexican immigrants use about $250 million in social services such as Medicaid and food stamps.
Mexican immigrants account for another $31 million in uncompensated health care.

Surprise! An economic profit of $319 million.

Other reports estimate that undocumented immigrants contribute at least 300 billion to the United States GDP. And depending on who I talk to I get responses on the illegal immigration issue ranging from "Grant amnesty!" to "Round 'em up and ship 'em out!". Yet year after year the issue is buried under more bureaucracy and nothing happens. Stasis. But does anyone else think that if illegals were costing millions of dollars (instead of adding) we would have seen the fence go up a long time ago?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Maid to Order

Christy has been out of town for the last four days, and I got to spend almost every waking moment with Gus, single parent style. We did lots of boy stuff: wrestle, eat bratwursts and watch football, get tatoos, drink beer, bash in mailboxes with baseball bats, etc. We had a really good time, actually, but I became acutely aware of the personal sacrifices that Mom's make. I'm not just talking about watching the trailer to Madagascar 2 twenty times in a row. Full time parenting demands so much time, energy, emotion, patience, and passion. And it is very rewarding, but not too easy and I only did it for a few days knowing that things would turn back to normal come Monday. I hope that Christy feels balance. If not we/I need to make every effort to ensure that she does. As Gus was walking around the kitchen with a belly full of Werther's Original mints, a diaper full of poop (not so minty), a transparent bucket on his head, and some chocolate pie stuck to the bottom of his shoe, I started thinking about maids.

One for Me

One for Christy

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Something Worth Saving

It’s dark inside, all over inside me
Outside the blood irrigates that hillside
Growing grass

Grass that grows in churchyards everywhere
Washing fingers clean, break clean
Like bones were broken

If I could only
Make the tray a garden place
I’d bury it in pieces fit
For mouths to pluck it up like fruit
To fill not just this suit, and peel my past away

I’m scraping for a light down inside me
Some weighted thing, mine enough to handle
Something worth saving

If I could only
Make this tray a well so deep
It pulls away the lakes and seas
For mouths to drink it down and
Flood at last, the blood will drown my past away

I'll take you in my heart today, and hope that it's enough to save