Hyphen Lynks: New Year Woo Hoo

January 4, 2009

Yeah, I’m excited but, four days in, the euphoria has kinda worn off.
Now what? We don’t have a lot of moving forward news yet this year. Everybody’s waiting for the inauguration, and kinda ignoring the bullshit Bush is pulling last minute. This includes:

  • Rules weakening the Family and Medical Leave Act, making it harder for workers to take time off work for family, doctors appointments and such, as well as cutting funding to vision and dental through Medicaid;
  • And, not least, some new, hypocritical bullshit rules that lower farm worker wages and protections and make it easier for farming concerns to hire undocumented foreign workers. This sucks for American farm laborers because it reduces wages and conditions below current levels, which are already too low for American workers to accept; it sucks for undocumented foreign workers because it brings them in below living wage and increases all kinds of occupational hazards to them — and also tends to funnel them towards these slave-wage jobs since they can get into the system that way. The only folks who benefit are agri-biz bosses, who get to pay less, spend less on benefits, and fire anyone who complains. 

This is — really, truly — Bush’s last word on undocumented immigration: he doesn’t give a shit about immigration; he knows as well as the rest of us do that the US requires a steady stream of both working class and middle class immigrants to make up our population shortfall and to provide the taxes necessary to support the retiring Baby Boomer generation. He’s been at the forefront of manipulating working class public opinion against undocumented immigration to ride in on fear-elections. But when it comes down to it, his real interests are in making it possible for employers to ignore the American worker and exploit the unprotected immigrant to the utmost. Let’s have no more silliness about “illegal immigrants;” their legality resides clearly in the convenience of agribusiness.

It's the hoarse last gasping of a bad era. And these are only the direct last ditch efforts. We've still got years to go on Bush-era APA-affecting hangovers, like:

  • Nine Muslim passengers being thrown offa plane, including three children ranging from 2 to 7 years old, because some dipwad overheard one young man and his wife wondering which seats on the plane were the safest. The family was Indian American, born and raised and, in a beautiful symbolic moment, were boarding at Reagan International Airport. Happy New Year, Desis! No "yes we can" for you!
  • The Korean American Cleaners Association has filed a petition asking California's Air Resources Board to back down from the phase-out of perchloroethylene in dry cleaning because the timing could drive many dry cleaners out of business. On the other hand, this is a nasty little toxin, and efforts to phase out its use have been underway since 1993, with a renewed effort launched in 2003. Damned if you do, poisoned if you don't.
  • The economic downturn has caused a breach in the tight-knit L.A. Iranian Jewish community. One of the crash victims was Namco Capital, Inc, an Iranian Jewish American bank that was forced into bankruptcy by creditors on Christmas week. An attempt to resolve the crisis the way they did in Iran -- by collecting a volunteer group of community leaders to devise a payback plan -- broke down when an attorney representing less wealthy creditors perceived Namco head Ezri Namvar's plan as being geared toward placating wealthy investors, and not protecting the life savings of community members. Perhaps Namvar had just assimilated into Bush era United States. How was he to know that yes, we could? The damage was already done before election day.
  • This NYT article suggests that it's not American voracious consumption patterns that caused the housing crash, but rather the Chinese habit of saving! Yes, you heard right! Because those durn Chinese tend to save their cash, we can borrow from them at low interest rates to fuel our spending sprees -- even to the tune of spending what we'll never have. So their continence inflated our bubble even more, causing our incontinence to explode when someone lit a match! In fact: "China, some economists say, lulled American consumers, and their leaders, into complacency about their spendthrift ways." It's all their fault! You know what? I betcha it's even a conspiracy! They deliberately didn't spend their money and saved it and lent it out to us at low rates and lulled us and kept their currency weak and stimulated their own industry, knowing that our bubble would eventually burst, and then they could swoop in and steal our land! It's a conspiracy! Yellow Peril! Yellow Peril! Because of course, with the Chinese on the case, there's no way we could have slowed our own consumption of natural resources and pumped government money into green business, thereby creating a second, growth economy the Chinese couldn't compete with avoided the slings and arrows of their inscrutable Oriental shrewdosity! I say we bomb 'em!
  • The destruction of publishing in the wake of our economic meltdown has claimed AsianWeek. Harry has already reported on this here so I won't go into detail. I'll just say that I've been very much on the record with my criticism of AsianWeek. It was not always a good paper, and it was not always influential the way the article I linked to says it was. But it was the only one we had: the only English-language, attempt at pan-ethnic, attempt at national focus newspaper the Asian American community had. It was only a family like the Fangs that could support such an effort, and now that their economic model has failed, the prospects for another, better paper are dim. But maybe, in the same way that the loss of A. Magazine galvanized us to create Hyphen, perhaps the death of AW will convince some group of naive twentysomethings to give away their social lives and get print smudges on their fingers. If they do, let's hope they do a good job, and I, for one, will be first in line to give 'em props.

That's the boo hoo for the week, my lovelies. I might have sumpin' happier for you next week, but in the meantime, let's contemplate our uselessness in the world, and how we might spend the next four years mitigating it. Party.