By W.T. Wimpy Hiroto
(A fair warning to all faithful CR2S readers: Someone like me lives and breathes among you, free and unencumbered. Corral the children and hide the silver. But keep a fair and open mind. Empathy matters.)
While the world that we share remains in abject mourning over the sudden death of Michael Jackson, I am listening to Ella and Frank while pecking away at the keyboard. No disrespect meant nor intended. I never bought an Elvis or Elton record or album either. “Godfather II” was the last motion picture—that’s what they used to be called—I went to a theatre to see. Pinch me to see if I’m alive.
I just squeezed the last blob of Colgate from the tube I brought home from Keiro after my son’s death. Symbolic of nothing. Except, maybe, a reminder of days gone by and that toothpaste is not endless…
Had a conversation recently with an old friend regarding shopping at Cosco, Wal Mart and other like outlets. She—all my old friends are female—nonchalantly stated that she only buys toilet paper in bulk these days. Think about that one before you laugh and file away for future conversations. I decided to take inventory and found I have a whole slew of Ensure that I’ll never in a lifetime drink because I don’t like it’s taste; sweat suits I’ll never wear; miso, both red and white, that have been in the refrigerator for years. In drawing up a list of items I will not be in the market for any time soon, we’ll start with a house and car, followed by kitchen appliances. A weird no-no would be razor blades. Since switching to titanium I have a whole slew of Gillettes. You get the drift? My lady friend is making sure her abode is not cluttered with a whole lot of useless stuff upon her demise. Until further notice I guess I’ll add Japanese canned tsukemono to the list and not be overly concerned about having too many paper towels.
Of course the important and mundane is never too far away from being considered, dissected and discussed.
The State of California, as we remember it, will never be the same. To debate the impact of a $24 billion deficit is beyond the reach of us common folk. All we know for certain is the Governor and legislators do not have the answer. If the pundits agree a Constitutional Convention is untenable, so be it; repeal of Prop 13 would be a step forward towards taxrelief; the end of district gerrymandering is thankfully approaching.
But Repubs hold fast to no tax increases while Dems demand all safety nets remain in place. The state’s richest 1 percent paid 48 percent of the state’s 2007 income tax and the top 5 percent accounted for 68 percent. Expanding the upper echelon to 10 percent is obviously not the answer although always an appealing target of the not rich.
All-powerful unions control the legislators; lobbyists fill the void left by termed-out lawmakers. I – My – Me – Mine becomes an unbeatable quartet.
And then there is immigration.
Congress nor Lou Dobbs can agree on an acceptable solution. The construction of a wall separating the U.S. from Mexico is about as effective as the French Maginot Line was. Maybe it’s time to heed the bleating of an aging, undocumented nincompoop?
Inextricably tied into this debate is employment. CR2S has 56 years experience in the books [including education and service], starting as a 15-year-old farm laborer. [I match anyone in terms of longevity but admit to a distinct lack of quality.] So I qualify, methinks, as a one-man Think Tank.
Now let’s segue to the current problem of double digit unemployment in Southern California:
A simple question: Who determines what work an American has the right to refuse while on the unemployment rolls? Why? At the height of the state’s harvesting season, farm interests decry the lack of a viable bracero program and the tightening of immigration laws.
The solution is very simple.
If Mexicans can perform stoop labor under dire working conditions, why can’t the un- and under-employed? Why not gather up newly graduated high schoolers for one summer and introduce them to farm labor *topping sugar beets. Okay, I’ll settle for one weekend. (*The most arduous work ever foisted upon a human being. You’re on hands and knees with a hoe that has an 18 inch handle!) Would it be cruel and unusual punishment to send busloads of felons to the farms? Or able bodied homeless? Wife beaters, sex offenders, addicts and juvenile delinquents could be given one-and-one offers, one work day for one day less incarceration. We could make Bernie Madoff the convict bookkeeper.
The possibilities are endless . . .
W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.