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May Day = Go to school and work day!
Photo © Andy Sternberg
Tomorrow, tens of thousands of Los Angeles residents will take to the streets to draw attention to the shoddy state of labor and immigration laws in the United States - for the fifth or sixth time in the last 6 months.
Call me shitty, but I am over it. It's an excuse for kids to skip school, and if you have to go through downtown to get to work, it's a real bitch. The first 4 times, I was willing to give people a pass, but in reality, the meaning is lost when it's just a bunch of kids looking for a reason to not be in school. It will take me 3 hours to go 15 miles to work tomorrow because of this nonsense, and that is not cool.
Oh, and guess what - the guy making $4 an hour cleaning the Wells Fargo tower bathrooms and I have something in common this day; we will both be happily reporting to work tomorrow morning as soon as we get through the mess that will be downtown tomorrow.
1) Go ahead and immigrate to LA, legally or illegally. The United States is a country made of immigrants, and it should stay that way. Our city provides ample opportunities for success to both US citizens and immigrants alike, and that is one of the coolest things about LA. People will always talk about how New York is so diverse, and it is indeed, but if you want a snapshot of what real opportunity is in the United States, there is no better example than Los Angeles. Almost everyone who comes here is chasing one dream or another, and that gives LA a level of diversity and desperation that is unmatched, for better or for worse.
2) Do NOT march 5 or 6 times a year to make your point, carrying Mexican flags, and threatening to take back the southwestern US for La Raza. Not happening. Go tear up Phoenix or San Antonio. No other city has shown so much love to the Mexican, Guatemalan, and El Salvadoran immigrants to the United States as has Los Angeles. There is a lot of progress to be made, but this is not the city to shit on.
3) I am an extreme, bleeding heart liberal, and so it is very odd to be on this side of this issue. I don't belong to a labor union, but I believe in their plight. The discrepancy between the rich and the poor in this country is atrocious and alas will not be dealt with by the federal government until late January 2009 at the very earliest. The disenfranchisement of immigrant laborers in LA is well illustrated by the dearth of effective lobbying and the marginal effectiveness of the city's elected representatives in shedding light on the issue. You have 500,000 people who will take to the streets? Get them to donate $5 each towards some decent lobbying, and you could have a team of heads beating up Capitol Hill around the clock for quite a while. The sad fact is that change happens more rapidly when you work from within the system. It is probably difficult to swallow, but that's the Truth. Demonstrate a couple of times a year with 500,000 - 1,000,000 people in order to make sure the people don't sleep on your cause. That sends a message. Pulling 20,000 kids out of LASD campuses and another 20,000 adults out of jobs that they have the luxury of ditching for the day does nothing but frustrate the commutes of the rest of the city's residents.
4) When I have to go into my boss and tell him that I am probably going to be significantly late to work tomorrow because of yet another march on downtown, that is the shits. Having a few thousand people storm city hall and walk up the 110 freeway is highly disruptive, but is totally ineffective at affecting public and political opinion about immigration policy. I fully defend my fellow Angelinos' right to express themselves under the protection of the First Amendment, but snarling traffic in downtown is not the way to get things done. Unfortunately, given the probable demographic of LAist, I am pretty sure that very few readers are even considering not going to work or school tomorrow. If you are one of the lucky few, though, allow me to suggest that you go to work and/or school tomorrow. You will be one day closer to the dream that is, I can assure you, uniquely American. If you do decide to march tomorrow, my blessings are with you, and my heart is with your cause. Just understand that your political statement is limited by your numbers, and that your largest effect is on other LA workers.
Tomorrow, I will not be honking my horn, wearing a Che Guevara shirt, or otherwise sympathizing with the folks who choose to march through downtown. Tomorrow, those individuals get the gasface because I am tired of it all.
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