Saturday, February 17, 2007

About vision

View of the Lake
Originally uploaded by jhhymas.
Today to the library with a screening, with filmmaker John Carlos Frey, of the video Invisible Mexicans of Deer Canyon. In northern San Diego County undocumented workers live in shacks or under tarps in the brush. They get water from an irrigation spigot, hang washed clothing on the bushes to dry and worship at a shrine (later demolished) in the canyon where Catholic volunteers and a priest bring food and analgesics every Sunday. Mostly men, they are hired for gardening, construction and field work. They send money home to Mexico.
From such beginnings, favelas are born. The public health consequences alone mean that such settlements cannot be fostered. I would suggest that "cheap" labor is not so greatly needed that Americans cannot pay the people who perform it a living wage sufficient to pay for shelter and other necessities. One problem is that, if there is a much "cheaper" alternative, employers will not offer adequate pay. Driven by economic stressors, a great number of people are drawn from Mexico and Central America toward this work. This helps to keep the wages low. I also believe that a nation that cannot perform much of its own physical work will create a bloated and weak class of people who will fail in other essential moral ways. It is a problem that needs to be attacked on many fronts, not just by blaming the workers/victims of the system. One thing that still needs to be addressed is overpopulation. In the Seventies, we used to hear about this all the time; now, thinking about the "population bomb" seems out of fashion. We need some strong leaders, determined social will and some absolutely clear thought. Where will either come from????

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