Thursday, June 08, 2017

Foreigners for five-stars ...

A couple of days ago, I read this short story in the New Yorker.   It felt so real.  I could easily picture in my mind the characters portrayed there, and their circumstances and emotions.

I then read the interview with the author, Sherman Alexie.  He says:
This story began as a reaction to the Trump election, in general. But, in particular, I was angry that I could be thought of as being part of the “liberal élite.” Even inside the literary world, I did not follow an élite path. I am a poor, public-school kid who got lucky. The only non-minimum-wage job I’ve ever had is writing. And writing is a minimum-wage job for most writers. So, yeah, I grew up in poverty and worked as a doughnut maker, pizza man, dishwasher, secretary, and janitor.
We are all a bunch of angry people now expressing, in our own ways, our extreme displeasure with this president and his 63 million voters.  I rant in my blog, post on Facebook, and tweet, while Alexie channels his emotions via fiction.  I suppose there is nothing new in that fiction is often borne out of real life experiences; but, to understand it unfolding in real time is pretty darn new to me.
I wanted to honor the physical, emotional, and spiritual strength of a blue-collar worker—of a woman in the service industry. I also wanted to write about a poor white person who, contrary to societal assumptions, is a kind and empathetic person. I grew up with tons of poor white Christian conservatives, but I also knew, and know, a few poor white liberals. So, yeah, I enjoy being the Native American writing favorably about poor white liberals in the pages of The New Yorker.
I don't want to write about the story itself, other than remarking that it is about a maid in one of those cheap motels.  Those cheap motels, too, have a hard time with finding workers who will clean the rooms.  In addition to the wage, there is an important reason for why there is this problem: It is hard, menial work.

On top of this being hard and menial, add a layer of seasonality.  Of course, Americans are not lining up to do that work.  Which is why even trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla, hires foreigners to do the job.  Remember this post?

So, now we have a trump administration that is clamping tight the importing of workers.  And it is beginning to affect even the five-star hotels in resort destinations like Mackinac Island:
So at the Iroquois Hotel, a Victorian property on the waterfront where rooms command up to $1,200 a night, the owner is trying to figure out how to maintain its high standards without 30 Jamaican housekeepers. Other hotels are contemplating closing off whole sections. Even those who own the ubiquitous horses are wondering if they will have enough workers.
You remember that in my previous post on these visas, I referred to my experiences in Alaska?  Yes, problems there too: Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, says that a “short-term fix is urgently needed.”  Good luck on that, Senator!

All kinds of businesses, from Alaska to Maine to Texas, are now feeling the trump squeeze on the seasonal labor H2 visa.
Phil Harrington, the sous chef at Yankee Rebel Tavern, has been coming in at noon instead of 3 p.m. to make sure preparations are complete before dinner guests arrive.
“With the shortage of visas, it’s more stress on me and others who have to work longer hours to do more of the grunt work,” he said while chopping herbs, a task usually relegated to foreign workers. Patti Ann Moskwa, the owner and a fourth-generation restaurateur, has been washing dishes herself.
“This is a legal program to supplement American workers,” she said of the visas. “We aren’t taking jobs from anybody.”
I wonder how many of the people complaining voted for trump, who is the very source of the problem. I am sure that trump's Mar-a-Lago is able to get the visas it needs for its temporary workers.  And, I am equally sure that his 63 million voters don't care a shit!

Too bad I don't know how to channel into fiction my anger at trump and his voters!


Ramesh said...

I am starting to see that the GOP is going to get a shellacking in 2018. However much gerrymandering there may have been - witness the Georgia election which had no business being competitive - there is no way 63 million are going to vote again for Trump's side.

The Democrats may take a leaf out of the Labour Party in the UK. They got out the young vote. And they gained substantially.

The dynamics in 2018 will be very different from 2016.

Ramesh said...

Now that I have said it, start worrying about the loony left taking the upper hand. Corbyn won - can you imagine it. Have the young lost their heads ?? Has anybody read what Corbyn wants to do ?? Join Cuba and Venezuela !

Get ready to rave and rant against those who have felt the Bern !

Sriram Khé said...

Even way back, I told the friend that Hillary should have won in 2008. There was so much of a Bush/Iraq fatigue that she would have easily beat McCain/Palin. And then Obama as a candidate in 2016 would have blown trump away and Bernie would not have even been a candidate in the primaries.

Now, as I look at the world, I all the more wish that history had unfolded that way ...

And then I see Trudeau and Macron. Can you imagine the collective charisma of Obama, Trudeau, and Macron (which will be amply complemented by the practical "Mutti")

The problem is that the young people are far removed from the evils of communism and socialism. The wall fell in 1989--nearly 30 years ago. So, think about people even born in 1975. By the time these people came of age, the world was with only the US as a superpower, and then it has been 9/11, Iraq, and growing competition from China and India. So, to even a 40-year old American, there is no worry over a socialist hellhole!

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