I commenced my journey almost the same time yesterday as my arrival at my destination today (actually a little longer if the time to get to the airport is factored in). I was on my way from the bay area to a group of islands in the south Pacific collectively known as Fiji.
The plane arrived on the main island early this morning making it a 15 hour journey from the time I exited the door of my house to the moment I set foot on Fijian Land with at least half of the time confined to an airplane seat. Not a particularly comfortable state, but the unavoidable price to be paid if you want to get half way around the world in a reasonable amount of time. For the early explorers and the yankee traders as little as a hundred years ago, the same journey took many months if not years.
It’s hard to imagine the mind set of travalers in those days faced with such inordinate lenghts of time to reach their destinations contrasted with sitting on a plane with 450 other souls and hurtling through the air at 550 miles an hour while having very little by way of conversation with any of your fellow passengers.
Still I have not reached my real destination which is a small remote island in the Yasawah group to the north of the main island, Viti Levu. The boat I was to take there could not leave because of the meeting of two pressure points and the storm created as a result. With any luck perhaps tomorrow a departure, but maenwhile I am only encoutering the rain I was so anxious to leave behind.
Getting from one place to another these days creates vacuums of inactivity between the many modes of transport necessary to get you where you want to be. The way I prefer to occupy the the time in transit is to read a good book. The one I had was the next to last effort of Phillip Roth(meaning only the book he wrote before his latest effort)-presumeably he will continue his prolific output beyond his latest effort.
The main character, Zuckerman in many of his novels is having trouble coming to terms with the aging process, particularly the host of diminshing powers aging entails. Granted that the incontinence and impotency brought on by Z’s protrate cancer is no fun as well as the mind’s not being able to function at previously attained levels of prowess, I myself am not sure it has to be as bad as Roth and Z make it out to be.
It is off course the way one chararcter chooses to face the problem and certainly an entirely plausible reaction.
It’s just that I don’t think that physical and mental disabilities need necessarily induce such desperation in all cases.I have tried to impress on my own children that should I ever succumb to an altered state of consciousness such as would appear from something like Alzheimers that they themselves not give in to the sense of loss as to what was my former self. They should not frustrate themselves trying to ressurect the lost self that I once was and to whom they were accustomed to relating.
Their energy could be put to better use in fashioning new ways to relate to my new self. More difficult to be sure because it would require refashioning themselves as well. But I think the promise of a rewarding,even if totally different relationship, is preferable to endlwess regret about how things used to be.
While the occasion of Alzheimers or Dementia may require more radical transformations in behavior, the ordinary debilitation of the aging process should not.All I would urge is the acceptance of the natural loss of power that goes with aging and not allow yourself to be defeated by memories of former glory.
What is amazing is the never ending possibility of new experience even despite the onslought of advancing years. For example my second day in Fiji has made it much clearer that what first just appeared to be a heavey downpour is in fact a tropical storm or a minor hurricane if you will. The main street of Nadi, the capitol of the island, were flooded with up to three feet of water. The shops with main entrances at street level were flooded inside the doors not built to keep out all of the water streaming by. The main river flowing through the town was high and flowing rapidly with all manner of vegetation and debris in it. Where the water from the street flowed into the river, the current was particularly swift. I had to wonder what I was doing trying to wade across it to the high ground on the other side. It seemed like one slip in the swift current, leading to the even swifter current of the river would be a disaster of major proportions.
However all of these thoughts occurred to me only when I found myself in the middle of it all with only the alternatives of pushing forward or equally perilous go back.Even more puzzeling to me was my refusal of an offer of a native Fijian Crossing beside me to hold on to him. I could not decide whether the sight of women carrying small children thru these samel swift currents was reassuring or preposterous as a small child let loose in the current would not have had much of a chance of survival.
Not a bad adventure for my second day out in the world. I was thinking of the difference that leaving the familiarity of your home engenders. Especially as is to be expected you have done your most over the years to make your home as comfortable as possible and reflective of your own tastes and passions. Living for the most part basically alone as I have for many years has perhaps more than most has allowed me to control and shape my own environment. But once you step out the door of your own home all of the care you have expended on your own home goes by the boards. And the further afield you find yourself, the less control you have.
For one thing the language you ordinarily use to negotiate with the outside world will have changed completely making the simplest of tasks more complex and the possibility of misunderstanding exponentially higher. Food which in your own home is entirely in your own hands is mostly now given over to others to prepare. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and when you do lose the consequences can be quite discomforting. Personally I enjoy pursuing new tastes for the experience and potential pleasure that I will pretty much risk anything in their pursuit. I did however recently balk at the guinea pig with its little hooves intact served up to me on my plate last time in Peru. Besides the way you normally prepare your own food being left behind, so are all the other normalcies of sleeping, toilets, and a host of other habits that constittute daily living in your own place. Of course you can always minimze any foreign experience by choosing to stay in the chain hotels strewn all over the world these days where you can associate with people just like the ones you left behind. But then there is the mere challenge of surviving in foreign climes where the successful purchase of an orange can make you feel good.
Leave taking of your own home is one thing, but leave taking of your country is quite another matter. I find living in my own country quite unsettling since very little my own government does makes any sense to me. The bigger the government (federal) the less sense almost any significant action taken by them seems to make. Conversely most of time the smaller the government, the closer their actions taken seem a little more within comprehensible range. However even on this level there is plenty of room for disagreement and despair especially as concerns wasted resources and effort.
So it is nice to leave all that behindand find yourself in a place where government and waste are certainly not absent and make even make your own government not seem so bad by contrast. But they are not your own government, so you do not have the same sense of responsibility and involvement that you have with your own. Being spared the follies of your own government is refreshing to say the least, or perhaps just a relief. For sure you can spend the rest of your lifewandering the globe in search of good government and never encounter a single place where the average citizen would admit to satisfaction with the competence and integrity of their own government. One may well wonder how this attitude may be so common but it does not lessen the feeling of getting far away from your own can be a pleasent enough sensation.
Perhaps the etymological root of the word “vacation” is the phenomenon of your mind vacating itself from the myriad concerns that belong to your true and familiar place of being where there is always something vying for your attention so it can finally get done. So when that sensibility is left half a world behind, all of a sudden you find yourself with little or next to nothing to doOf course as often happens if you have managed to get yourself into a difficult situation with the various people and organizations you have depended upon not performing as expected it’s another story laeding to discomfort and anxiety far beyond any experience normally associated with your home base.
But if things are going according to plan, well you truly have nothing to do outside of choosing what and where you will next dine or sleep. Since most of the time these decisions require little thought, the mind is relatively at ease. Having nothing to do makes it easier in fact to do nothing. Most places will offer a variety of physical activity and entertainment peculiar to the location. But it is not as if you have to do anything except choose to participate or not.
Personally I am not that partial to guided activity, still often it is the fastest way to gain knwledge of an area and meet the other people along for the ride- a different experience from sitting on a jumbo jet with 450 other people and scarcely saying a word for ten hours. Vacating the mind from concerns of daily life in your native element can produce changed reactions to what may have been normal responses otherwise.
For example I am able to read in amuch more focused fashion and I am also much more at ease writingIt is not so surprising that with nothing particularly pressing on your mind that even sleeping becomes a more enjoyable past time.
I find myself in Fiji surrounded by a multitude of people of varying shapes and sizes as well as different hues. I have yet to be able to distinguish between micronesian, polynesian and melanesian origens. Whatever the remote cultural origens, the dominant trait that strikes me in modern times is mixture. It has always seemed to me the height of simplicity to identify with ancient bygone cultural origens or to claim pure bloodlines somehow constitute superiority.
When I’m in a mixed crowd of people born in various places, it soon becomes very clear that national origin is the least significant distinction that attracts or repels me from one individual or another. Despite their national origin some will be more kind, intelligent or plain interesting to me. Not the color of their skin but the content of their character so aptly phrased by Martin Luther King is what really matters. Language unfortunately can be the barrier that creates the gravitational pull toward your own countrymen and prevents the recognition and acknowledgement of strangers who actually conform to your own tastes of what constitutes good company.
I left the mainland on the 7th of January and have just now arrived at my destination on January 12-the Flying Fish Eco Resort all of the intervening time being taken by two days lost crossing the international date line and the rest by inclement weather preventing the Yasawah Flyer from leaving the port of Denerue. So finally this afternoon I was ushered into my traditionally made “burre” which was to be my home for the next several weeks. I was encouraged by the pristine clarity of the water upon disembarking from the small boat that took us to the island from the Flyer. But we were nonetheless greeted by a torrential downpore upon landing on the island itself. Hopefully the last burst of the hurricane causing so much damage to the area since my arrival 5 days ago. My burre thus far seems quite impervious to the rain remaining dry, snug and comfortable enough-a rather remarkable feat of traditional construction of heavey rafters supporting a thatched roof.
The mosquitoes seem thus far tolerable enough but I still have lathered myself with repellant and my host, Phillip has just presented me with one of those battery operated insect repelling devices. I look out my open window not ten yards to a Pacific ocean which even its storm induced unruly state appears to me quite different from the California Pacific where I normally live.
I am here basically for the warm water and sandy beached isolation, but there is something else quite pleasing about the prospect of living in my little house with book and paper and good reading waiting for me. I was able to download and print out two essays on the environment sent to me by my son deep into his graduate work at UC Santa Barbara. It was a stroke of good fortune to be able to get them just before leaving the main island as they promise to be good company for my prolonged stay. Unless my eyes are deceiving me I believe I am seeing the lights of fishing boats not far from the shore outside my window. I am told that men go out at night and spearfish from these boats certainly a method that ensures no overfishing in these waters.
So for the moment I am content being in this place. Food is of no concern as it will be prepared by the village people with whom I will eat. Hard to imagine the fare will be that exciting but hopefully nourishing enough. So far I am the lone guest here but I am informed that some type of expert on bananas from Germany is due in tomorrow. Two ladies disembarked with me but upon seeing the place in such a disheveled condition as a result of the tailend of the hurricane, they immediately turned around and left.
The weather is bound to turn for the better, but so far each day seems pretty much like the one before it-kind of dull grey with scattered rain of varying intensity and accompanying wind. Not exactly the type of weather calculated to raise one’s spirits.
Simerly my first day at the Flying Fish resort also seemed to hold little promise for the future. The natural beauty of the place disturbed by the storm and dampened by the rain produced a bit of a forlorn environment. Finanaces for the resort probably somewhat unstable to begin with, have been further challenged by the emergncies created by the storm. Just cleaning up will absorb a lot of energy that might well have been expended on inprovements instead.
My first night was interesting enough-a meal described as spinach cakes-locally grown spinach in a coconut dressing and breadfruit which I have always been curious a bout. It turned out to be aptly named having the chewy consistency of actual bread and little distinctive flavor in and of itself.
I ahd heard and read about the kava ceremony and was naturally curious about how the drug would affect me. A welcoming song was sung accompanied by some indifferent guitar music before we got down to the actual business of imbibing the stuff. It is a root which is crushed to a fine powder and then strained thru water before being passed around in small drinking gourds to the those participating. Many people spoke of a numbness in their gums but I myself felt no such sensation. Indeed after what must have been 6 to 8 bowl fulls of the kava, I really didn’t feel that much of anything unusual. The one thing that did turn out as predicted was an inordinate amount of peeing that night.
so went my first night and now I am about to test the waters on this side of the Pacific. I find it not so good yet as the effects of the storm have riled up the waters to murky. One thing around here that definitely requires getting used too is the mercurial quality of the weather. The changes from wind to rain to clear are so rapid as to allow no time for getting used to anyone kind. A soon as you prepare for the latest onslaught of poring rain, it changes to something else of unknown duration. some spells of weather will be longer and others shorter. One minute the waves in the lagoon lap gently on the shore 15 feet from the window of my burre and the next instant they have eaten away 10 feet of that distance and seem hungry for more.
Ordinarily I leave home to avoid the unpleasent winter months at Muir Beach. Here what I mistakenly took to be a mild rainy season brokered by many sunny days turned out to be a hurricane of major proportions near the date of my arrival. And what turned out to be “a” hrricane was actually the start of the hurricane “season”. although the weather can be confining , the saving grace is the warmth and mostly gentle quality of the rain. As long as it is not cold, I will like everyone else have to learn to live with it, if i Ever expect to emerge from the dry comfort of my burre. Even though I feel entitled to grouse a bit about the inhospital weather, I am quite comfortable in my burre and actually have more than enough to do. Writing is enjoyable and seems to flow easily enough. I’ve read two good novels by Roth and Updike and am grinding my way thru a very scholarly abstact on environmental policy. Naomi Klein’s first major work awaits perusal as well.
Conversations with my host, Phillipe and a newly arrived spiritually inclined young man leave something to be desired. the food has become decidely uninspired, but what I find most lacking at the moment is the lack of exercise. The present condition of the water doesn’t allow for snorkeling which I was heavily relying on.
I have my yoga and streching charts with me, but have as yet been unable to discipline myself enough to actually start in ernest. almost all of the day is spent alone with my thoughts in my burre which remains marvelously impervious to whatever weather is happening outside. I imagine a prisoner or a monk in their cells must experience some of what I am feeling though clearly my confinement will be of much less duration and that would make all the difference in the world. Basically it is about having very options in contrast to what is available in my own modern home or in an urban environment.
So little to choose from I suspected would induce an unusually high level of peace of mind and in some sense it did seem to do just that. But at the same time reccurent sameness chafes against the mind. It wants a challenge or two for some stimulation. Some surprise more than what our kitchen can come up with diminshed even further from the meagre supplies available due to the storm.
I am astonished by how much sleep is possible with so little activity from which to claim being tired. The sleep is enjoyable, the dreaming lighthearted and often the only excuse to emerge from the prone position is the call from the nearby kitchen that mealtime is upon us. Were I real prisoner or monk, I would probably end up attending more closely to my surroundings making small aesthetic improvements, or trying to fashion some manner of physical exercise indoors in lieu of being unable to get out.
Still to imagine that a large portion of the planets’ inhabitants live in the same limited circumstance gives one pause. Off course it is a matter of degree but by in large rural life in general is where not much happens differently from day to day. If the cerebral cortex develops by its encounters and incorporation of novelty, than it is small wonder why so much of the world’s population is driven to urban centers where everything resides that stimulate the imaginative faculty by its constantly changing nature. Not so much of a difference for children, where growing up in rural setting where there is comparatively more freedom and not so many playthings available, forces on them a larger measure of creativity in play and the natural environmentoffers endless wonder
Thank you Isaac for the perfect present for my sojourn here. I’m not referring to the wonderful journal with the photos that you gave me six years ago in which I am now writing, but to the two articles you emailed me and which I just managed to down load and print on the main island before leaving for the seclusion of my little island burre.
It would have been so much more difficult to appreciate Young’s article on public Policy and Natural resources in any other environment. No distractions whatsoever from the act of reading allows for a more facile penetration of the density in exposing the decision making process in its various settings. As a former student of political theory, it was a particular pleasure to read good well reasoned writing in a fine example of the essay form peculiar to this type of scholarship: to be reminded that
“governments are not integrated decision makers weighing well defined options and seeking to maximize social welfare in a stream of choices relating to natural resources or any other issue, rather governments are institutionalized arenas within which representatives of various interests or interest groups seek to promote and defend outcomes favorable to them, with the product of these (choices) interactions are the public choices that reflect a complex mixture of the preferences of the participants over the available options.”
More simply put when no one really knows with anything even merely approaching certainty what is best for the society as a whole, or if you will the general welfare, then “political allocation” or the art of compromise is what needs to govern.
I have no doubt about this being an accurate definition of the status quo with regard to the operation of the state. What I find problematic is giving equal weight to all interests and their ability to advance their cause. Not to take into account the ability to manipulate public opinion, the paramount role of campaign contributions, and the power of lobbyist in effect makes Young’s analysis purely academic
The exploitation of natural resources for private profit when they are in fact public property requires a degree of regulation that extends beyond the uncertain outcome of competing interests. I do not see why the concept of sustainability should not trump exploitation of resources. Why the idea of the public good should not carry more weight than that of the private good. Is it beyond the ream of human possibility that government cannot become “integrated decision makers” that are capable of weighing well defined options and be able to maximize social welfare from a stream of choices. I don’t see why it would be impossible for a government to do so if reforms were in place that reduced the influence of special interest money to grease the wheels of government to their appointed ends. Nowhere does Young’s essay discuss the actual role of government regulation vs. deregulation proponents.
Certainly there is ample reason to distrust government’s ability to regulate wisely, or to do anything beyond the results negotiated by interest groups imperfect though they may be. But whether this is a permanent government characteristic as Young seems to imply, or simply the way the present system works is at least open to debate.
Clearly overindulgence in the deregulation mode is recognized beyond a reasonable doubt to be at the root of current financial meltdowns. I am convinced that any history of business and industry in this country would clearly demonstrate the norm of them actively seeking govt. regulation, support and protection in their youthful, vulnerable early stages;and vigorously denouncing government inteference in their well established power later stages with no acknowledgement of the governments role in getting them where they are presently. The anethema of “socialism” is used to describe any attempt by government to curb corporate rapaciousness.
It is refereshing to be reminded of the role government agencies play as implementors of public policy. Especially when they are left to plug the holes in often deliberately weak efforts in framing the legislative policy
Why is this country committing slow suicide by refusing to recognize how cutting wood to cook with is destroying surrounding forest. With each passing day people are forced to go further and further to find and cut the wood to cook with. With each passing day more forest is consumed. Nothing could seem further from sustainable practice. But what is there to be done-people need to cook and are doing so in the only way available to them, the only way they know how to do it. There is a small gain with the introduction of the mud stove that burns the wood a little more efficiently-five out of 92 houses had them in Zolokere.
A good government might recognize the impending disaster for the dependence on firewood for cooking. But what could it then do to head off the obvious shotrage of firewood that has to lurking shortly down the road. Are gas, kerosene, electricity, solar actual options?
It would be sensible for poorer,underdeveloped countries to devote themselves entirely to approriate technology. Their needs are still at such an elementary level that approriate technology is most feasible. The need for “growth” is the engine designed for capitalist enterprise in the devloped world. For the underdevloped world to embark on that road is pure folly. For one there id too much of a headstart for them ever to succeed in catching up and for two if they ever did it would have taken the resources of two planets like our own to supply the necessities for their advancement to devloped material levels. But with the application of appropriate levels of technology they may be able to acheive a better more sustainable existence.
The problem is that governments in these countries as well as governments in the more developed countries operate as agencies more concerned with increasing individual wealth and their own survival rather than an agency concerned primarily with promoting the public interest.
Good bicycle paths and bicycle availability would make a world of difference to the people at large and be much easier to implement than asphalt roads and concern for automobiles.
Microcredit is an idea with a proven track record. Such a radical concept! Credit for the poor, who without it, are forced to borrow from moneylenders at usurious rates that virtually guarantee their grinding poverty for the rest of their lives.
Credit for the rich is the primary tool that enobles them to maintain and augment their privileged positions in the same way that lack of credit for the poor prevents any upward mobility on their part.
The village borehole which supports the village well broke on a wednesday. It is now saturday and people have been walking longer and longer distances to fill their five gallon containers and carry them back home. Even when the local borehole is functioning, carrying water from it to the house for domestic use takes a good chunk of time daily. The average household uses two or three 5 gallon buckets a day for cooking and bathing.
But why there are no holding tanks on high by the borehole pumped full with a gravity feed to centally located faucets spread throughout the village is another matter.
When we bathe there is a tub of water which we dip a cup into and then pour that initial cupful over ourselves to get wet.Then after lathering and washing more water is poured over yourself to rinse off. Pouring water over yourself in this matter is very inefficient since most of it bounces of you into the ground. Solar showers are the obvious answer and why their use is not more widespread is hard to understand. They could not be so expensive that manufacturing them in large scale production would be that burdensome. For that matter even a small watering can held over the head would distribute the water more efficiently.
Living in the village is a bit like watching a movie. You are not a real part of village life- a player in the various transactions and activitiy constantly going on a round you.
What is one to make of the man’s seemingly privileged position in this society. No domestic tasks are performed by men. They are in the fields and do construction, but the details of daily life are handled exclusively by women.
The dowry system seems rather one sided. You pay the family of the bride a set amount and walk away with your woman. It feels like by virtue of your payment she becomes your property. Divorce or separation is an option for the woman or the man but then the dowry can become an issue. In the one case I witnessed the man wanted a divorce claiming the wife was “rude”. If he gets it, she has to leave and go back to her family taking only her own possessions and he keeps the house. She takes the children and he forfeits the dowry. I’m not sure of the final outcome. She testified she did not want a divorce and that she still loved her husband. There was no advocate for either side only the oral testimony of the parties and their supporters before the village headman and a council of elders. Each village has a headman, then each group of villages of the same clan has a headman presiding over the whole group, then comes the sub chief and over them all the chief.
Women do not generally eat with men. Young women with older men does not seem to be an issue and is in fact common place.
Back to our broken borehole and my enquiries as to what is happening in what would seem in most communities to be a major emergency. I am told a rod or some part of the hydraulic pumping device is broken and can not be fixed. A spare part is necessary and it is necessary to collect money to purchase it. No one seems to know who is doing the collecting or when it will be accomplished. I am amazed by the lack of urgency that prevails.Thw women who are primary means of water transportation along with children just walk the extra distance and life goes on pretty much as usual.
The conventional wisdom has it that programs to provide clean water and sewage systems worldwide would cost roughly 37 billion dollars annualy: to cut world hunger in half, $24 billion; to provide reproductive healthcare for all women, $12 billion, to eradicate illiteracy,$5billion; and to provide immunization for every child in the deveoping world,$3 billion. Spending just$10 billion a year on a global HIV/AIDS program and $3 billion or so to control malaria in sub saharan Africa would save millions of lives.
All of these programs together add up to a little more than half of the $211 billion likely to be appropriated for the Iraq war by the end of 2004.
Then there is Paul Theroux’s contention shared by others with experience in foreign aid programs that some governments in Africa actually depended on underdevelopment to survive-bad schools, poor communication systems, a feeble press and a ragged population. The leaders needed poverty to obtain foreign aid, and needed a passive and uneducated populace to keep themselves in office for decades. A great education system in an open society would produce rivals, competitors, and an effective opposition to people who main objective was only to cling to power. It amounts to heresy to say such things in the countries where they take place, but nevertheless it was how it seemed to be.
In his book, “Lords of Poverty”, Graham Hancock, examines the power,prestige and corruption of the international aids business. His conclusions are seconded by Michael Marren in his book, “The Road to Hell: the Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity” While these writers are kinder to volunteers in disaster relief than to highly paid bureaucrats in institutional charities, both of them assert that all aid is self serving, large scale famines are welcome as a “growth opportunity” and that the advertising to stimulate donations for charities is little more than “hunger porn”.
“Here is a rule of thumb that you can safely apply wherever you may wander in the third world, Hancock writes: If a project is funded by foreigners, it will typically also be designed by foreigners, and implemented by foreigners using foreign equipment procured in foreign markets”.
I don’t know if I can even boil water for myself anymore. For the two months I have been living in this village, Gamma, a man, has been doing all the cooking, cleaning, and everything else connected usually to domestic chores. Gamma does what my mother used to do when I was a child and until I left home (and when ever I came back for a visit as an adult).
When one is not confronted with the daily maintainece tasks of feeding oneself or cleaning up, one is left with lots of free time. What you do with that free time I suppose may come to define who you are. Will you take advantage of that freedom to apply to apply yourself?
Immigration practice by those illegally attempting it and immigration policy by those responsible for creating it are constantly brought to public attention.
Most of the attention is given to the illegal immigration that takes place from south to north. Not much attention is given to the constantly increasing immigration from north to south. In fact it is scarcely considered immigration when it goes in that direction. Despite the fact that those coming down are spending the better part of the year on foreign soil, they are somehow not viewed as immigrants by themselves or their new neighbors.
Movement in both directions has vast economic consequences. Both in the north and in the south, the persons arriving from either directionenrich their destinations immeasurably.
South going north brings cheap labor which allows fields and factories to acheive much higher levels of productivity than they could ever hope for without it. Indeed at this point in time it is hard to imagine the economy of California(purportedly the eight largest in the world) being able to sustain itself without the influx of cheap immigrant labor.
While not as dramatic as flow nortward for jobs, the southward migration,much smaller in numbers,is also having considerable impact whereever it takes hold.
Here it is not the value attached to labor that makes the difference, but the value of the dollar as opposed to the local currency. Just as cheap labor in the northspurred economic growth, the influx of northern capital to the south has created a gold rush mentality in those areas affected by its presence. Capital in the south can accomplish at least twice as much in those areas affected as it can in the north.
Particularly in the area of construction of homes which is an area dear to the heart of the southern migrant. More often then not they are fleeing harsh northern winters, building second homes in the more congenial climate, and staying in them longer and longer. As they become more rooted in their new found communities, their presence and influence grows with the passage of time.
What I have been describing is the the current state of immigration practice and policy between the United States and Mexico. What always seems to be missing in any consideration of the role of immigration is the significant role it has played in the development of so many countries and in particular the United States. The colonies were populated by immigrants and since that time it is the perpetual flow of immigrants that has enabled the country to grow and prosper. Immigrants have always been willing to work harder and for less wages than the native population paving the way for entrepeneurs with capital to take advantage of vulnerability.
It is absurd for this country to decry the influx of illegal immigrants when they are bedrock on which the country has been built. True the earlier immigrants were by and large legal beacuse it was clearly understood how deperately they were needed to fill the empty spaces and build the infrastucture of the still undeveloped country.
Immigrants are among the best stock of their countries of origin where the lack of opportunity and often persecution for their beliefs ignited in them a passion for change in their circumstance. To make the decision to undertake a perilous journey to an unknown place, an unfamiliar culture, and a new language requires a good deal of courage. This country should honor its immigrant heritage without whose hard work for long hours and low wages, it would never have acheived the preeminence it has today. Instead of building walls and enhancing border security, it should be finding ways to accomodate the influx of new immigrants by allowing them to work in some sort of quasi legal status that insured their dignity, prevented their exploitation and allowed them to return to their country of origin once their employment ended.
Off course the best solution to the problem of illegal immigration is to help create the same range of opportunities in the immigrants country of origin- amuch more complicated task of rearranging the world in a more equitable fashion.