Feliz Navidad


The life of an immigrant in this country cannot be anything close to wondrous or perfect.  You are working in a lot of instances for “slave wages” and you cannot complain, you cannot fight back, you have to take it, you are here, unfortunately illegally and therefore, it is in your best interest to be quiet.

So you work hard, you save, you put back some for the end of the year, and then when you do get to go home, predators from the Mexican government are waiting to take it away from you.  So sad, a downright tragedy.

Heavily laden with Christmas gifts, thousands of migrant workers have begun the journey from the U.S. to their home villages.  Now you would think that Mexico would “welcome these people with open arms” as they are helpful in keeping the Mexican economy going all year long, when they send home, regular as clockwork, monies from the United States.  You would think Mexico would be welcoming these people with a warm, friendly smile.

But what often awaits them at the border, is exactly the opposite.

The sad truth is Mexico violates all the rules of hospitality” and officials routinely extort money from returning workers.  Knowing that anyone coming for the U.S. is going to be carrying money and gifts, border guards, customs officials and traffic cops “seize just about every opportunity to search and relieve these people of their goods.”

It has gotten so bad that many of the returning immigrants, expecting to be rousted at the border, have started to carry “extra” items that they are willing to surrender to the crooked cops and officials.  Bringing with them extra electronic gadgets and trinkets to bribe their way in, hoping the toys they bought for their children will be spared.

Migrants who remain in the United States are sending home less money.  Across Mexico, migrant remittances dropped 6.5% in the third quarter of 2007 from $6.33 billion dollars, to $5.92 billion.  In the same period of this year, the stipend was considerably short, hard times south of the border, hard times to the north.  The effect has been amplified in poor towns that rely heavily on money from immigrants who are working abroad.

Times are tough for an immigrant and when things do kick back into gear, and the economy rebounds, they still face the treacherous journey back to the United States.  Despite all the problems that life here presents and the difficulty of getting back across the border they will come back.  Maybe things will be better next year, and when you are sitting on nothing … anything up north, looks a lot better than what it is that you have.

Now in a perfect world, it would be so much better if the officials of this country (Mexico), helped these returning people and gave them a hand up, in the true spirit of Christmas, instead of harassment and extortion.  With the economy plummeting here in the U.S. and in Mexico, it seems that we could all use a little Holiday Spirit this year.

On ‘both sides” of the fence.


Related: Sneak Into America (audio)

Brad & Jolie Phone Home

President-elect Barack Obama this week announced plans to launch the largest public works program in a half-century.  In the hope of creating millions of jobs and stimulating the sinking U.S. economy.

The new federal program that mirrors Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Dwight Eisenhower’s massive project to create the federal highway system, will hire workers to rebuild the nations’ crumbing highways and bridges, renovate aging schools, extend high-speed Internet throughout the country.

Here comes another $500-$700 billion from the pot of gold at the end of the Washington rainbow. Well, at least he is not reading Harry Potter now, he has moved on to something more substantial.

No matter how the money is spent, this public works special isn’t going to be enough to save this floundering economy.  Consumption and business investment are for the most parts in a “free fall” and no matter how many roads you build or the people you hire, it isn’t going to change it.

What amazes me, is the very people that caused most of these massive problems, are now the people that we turn to in order to save us.  Must be that time of the year, or maybe, just perhaps it is me?  Christmas is a time when kids tell Santa Claus what they want and adults pay for it.  Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want and their kids pay for it.

Almost comical in some respects.  So tell me … Are you laughing?

Word just out of the Washington area today.  The White House press agency is stating that for the remainder of his term President Bush will only be visiting impoverished countries in Africa and certain villages in the Amazon forest.  The reason given was those people do not wear shoes.

Lousy Tree Huggers … No really …. Lousy Tree Huggers.

Environmental outrage, after a furious “green” group notified Polish authorities that a rapacious logging  company was cutting down their trees in a nature preserve.  Investigators determined that the 20 trees in question had been felled by beavers.  Save The Whales … Collect the whole set.

Staying busy in retirement

Rajo Devi of India became a mother for the first time at the age of 70.  Her doctor said she is the oldest person to give birth after invitro fertilization.  Just think, when her child graduates high school, she will only be, what 87?  So what are the benefits of having a child at this advanced age?  Well, look at it from this perspective, soon they will BOTH be in diapers at the same time.

In God’s Hands

You hear about the little boy that wandered away from his babysitter this week, he and his puppies just walked off and had to spend the night in the sub-freezing cold alone.  He was found the next day, sitting next to a tree, all of the dogs snuggled up to him, and they say that their warmth was what kept the boy from freezing too death.  Truly a Christmas miracle, eh?

Caffeine Wars

McDonalds is taking some Seattle, Java Jabs at Starbucks.  They are running billboard signs all over the Seattle area that simply state “$4 is dumb.”  Which is in essence telling folks that are paying that much for espresso, they are crazy, especially when Big Mac sells their brand for $1.99 per cup.  So both are selling “coffee” (nothing fancy, just the brewed stuff) for about the same price.

What do you want folks, the best price or the experience?

It is up to you.

Okay, they are doing it again.  We now have a new generation to track, and a totally new name for them.  This is the first time I have seen this one.  Millennial, these are people born between 1980 -1990.  Pepsi is now targeting them as an audience because survey’s show that they are optimistic about 2009, that some 95% agree that it is important to “maintain a positive outlook on life.”

Let’s see, if you were born in 1980 that would make you what?  28 years old.  Yeah, I was pretty optimistic when I was 28, little jingle in my pocket, had a new car, woke up with a woody in the morning and a smile on my face.  Correct me if I am wrong, but “millennial” means a thousand years, Pepsi is in for a little surprise.  Nothing lasts that long, not even the rocks.

Friends Don’t Send Fruitcakes To Unemployed Autoworkers.

Couple of emails on the fruitcake deal and the autoworkers.  Fruitcake just cannot get any respect.  The much mocked dessert ranked last in an online survey of snacks.  Just 11% of some 3,500 adults surveyed expect to eat any of it over the holidays, it even falls behind “trail mix” (12%) and we all know how good that is!  And then there is the obvious question …. Do you really have to ask why Fruitcake is at the bottom of the list?

As for the automobile people, if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, then it is probably a Chevy.

Loooooooooooong Distance Charges May Apply

brad-pitt-angelina-jolieBrad Pitt has taken up “spirit channeling” to cope with his midlife crisis.  So being married to one of the most beautiful women in the world isn’t all it is cut out to be apparently.

The actor who recently turned 45 is not only seeking spiritual counsel from religious leaders, including the Dalai Lama, but has taken up the practice of “deep-trance channeling” in hopes of getting life advice from the dead.”

Jolie is worried that “Brad’s new mystical bent could harm his public image.  Angie is afraid that if he tries to bring it into the mainstream, people will really think he’s gone off the deep end.” Last I heard she was trying to find the current phone number for Tom Cruise.

Sunday being a slow day and not much going down, I turned everything off, unplugged the telephone, slunk back into my office (the master’s lair) and began to mediate.  I thought to myself “if Brad can do it, then by gosh, so can I.

Now I have to admit, at first I was a little bit skeptical and somewhat worried, “I mean the last thing I want to conjure up, or channel into my life is my Ex-Wife” so I was somewhat timid in the beginning.

But after a determined amount of time, things began to happen and then I found myself speaking to my channeled spirit.  His name was Siddartha Gautama who achieved his nirvana while meditating beneath a a Bodhi tree in India and became the Buddha, or “enlightened one.”  And he shared with me the benefit of all his years of wandering around the country of India, throughout Asia, living skimpily and sharing his wisdom.

Some of which he did give to me:  “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” And then he mentioned in passing that Shirley McClaine also said hello.  In all honesty, in the long run, I don’t believe it works.

The long run after all, is a misleading guide to current affairs.  In the long run, we all end up dead, and I haven’t heard of anyone coming back from that here lately.  I will believe that when Pat Boone gets a number one selling CD.

All and all, the visit was entirely too short, before I knew it the experience was unfolding before my eyes and then it was just as sudden as it began, I found it ending.  He said to me, “Is there anything that you should desire of me concerning the after life?” and I thought long and hard, and then asked, “Will I need a change of underwear?” and he was gone … Just like that.

What we think we become.

(I think I am done?)