Corporate Minders at Netroots Nation
Netroots Nation is a great idea, but it already has corporate minders. For example, US Rep. Zoe Lofgren is part of the panel for the Keynote session on Immigration Reform.
Visitors to authoritarian countries like North Korea and the old East Germany often had to endure government employees who pretended to be tour guides, but acted much more like aggressive shepherds to prevent the visitor from real contact with ordinary people away from what the government wanted the visitors to see.
Including US Rep. Zoe Lofgren on an Immigration Reform panel is like including US Attorney General Eric Holder or DOJ Criminal Chief Lanny Breuer on a panel about Wall Street Reform, or including US Senator John McCain on a panel to negotiate peace in Syria. Rep. Lofgren has been one of the strongest advocates for H-1B visas which is the real objective for immigration reform: cheaper skilled labor and more coercive workplaces for US technology companies.
Last week, “This American Life” included a segment on “Science teacher Jason Pittman, who teaches pre-school through sixth grade at a school in Fairfax County, Virginia….” He spent the last ten years teaching science to young children, receiving lots of awards, and groveling for funding to support his position. He finally decided to stop teaching even though he loves teaching children and the children love his teaching. If the US Congress and US corporations really did care about a shortage of graduates from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), they would be falling over each other to fund teachers like Jason Pittman. Instead, we learn that the hysterics about a STEM shortage is entirely about a race to cheaper labor and more coercive workplaces.
Even Bloomberg notices “Top Democrats Ready to Oppose Views to Save Immigration.”
Senators Richard Durbin and Charles Schumer, with long records of supporting labor unions, gay rights and gun restrictions, are ready to vote against these constituencies to win passage of an immigration law.
Netroots Nation will not discuss these other questions because corporate minders will keep them on task, staying on the topic of corporate goals. We’ll hear lots of sympathetic stories about hard working immigrant families and about bright DREAM Act Youth, but not about H-1B visas. I sympathize with these families and the youth, but H-1B visas won’t help them. H-1B visas have nothing to do with the stories we will see.
Instead, we might read about all those high skill workers we need to grow our economy. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Oracle, and Microsoft want us to believe these H-1B visas are necessary to provide immigration reform for the Mexican families and DREAM Act Youth. If we don’t believe, then we must be racist xenophobes. It’s a lot like when Detroit could not install seat belts, could not reduce polluting emissions, and could not improve gas mileage because it would cost good union jobs. The United Auto Workers and other unions would back up arguments from their companies and put lots of pressure on their congressional delegations. Didn’t we all hear recently about how the Keystone XL pipeline would create lots of union jobs? Ask whether the new report from the Congressional Budget Office about Immigration Reform even considered the number of middle class US workers that would be displaced by the tsunami of legal H-1B immigrants.
I wish some reporters and bloggers would unembed themselves at Netroots Nation so they can ask better questions.