By Elvira Arellano
I would like to ask President Obama what he is doing with my investments. You see, I worked in the United States for ten years. In fact most of the families in my pueblo in Michoacán had at least one person – and sometimes three or four family members – who have gone to the north to work. Every week when we received our paycheck, we looked at the taxes that were taken out for social security and Medicare. Since we had no papers, we knew we could never benefit from these programs to which we contributed. In fact, the 7 to 8 million undocumented workers that have been working and paying into social security and Medicare in any given year over the last twenty years have contributed billions of dollars, keeping these programs solvent for the citizens of the United States.
So how is President Obama doing with our “investment”? From all reports, the President has agreed to work with the Tea Party Republicans to cut these programs in order to reduce the staggering national debt. This sounds familiar to us in Mexico and Latin America. When our countries had tough economic times and were having trouble paying our debts to U.S. banks, the U.S. demanded that we cut our social programs. They said we had mismanaged our economies and that we must now stop taking care of our old people and our children and pay them the banks their money.
You see, from the U.S. point of view, they had made an investment and they wanted to get a very if return. We were labeled bad managers and corrupt spend thrifts who were not very smart – not as smart as our neighbors to the north. Well it seems the chickens have come home to roost! The U.S. Congress has to raise the debt ceiling by August 4th or declare bankruptcy. The Tea Party Republicans and President Obama are demanding that the government cut social security and Medicare to help pay off the debt. The President wants the rich to pay a little more in taxes, so he has a disagreement with the Tea Party, but they both agree about cutting Medicare and social security.
What the U.S. leaders are saying – who all by the way have nice jobs, good pensions and complete health insurance – is that the people of the U.S. have been living beyond their means and now must sacrifice to keep the country going. I think the problem is that they have been living off the labor of other people and have squeezed them so hard that there is not enough left to support their lifestyle. If you are so preoccupied with taking all you can get from poor and working people, like the undocumented, then you keep them from having enough to contribute to economy.
In spite of the way they mistreated us, denying us all rights, we worked hard, paid taxes, started and ran successful businesses. If the undocumented are given legalization, the economists say they will be able to generate billions of dollars in the economy. We work hard, live from our own labor and could help the U.S. to recover – if we were given rights like other people.
I remember carrying my supplies into the big airplanes to clean the seats for the next set of passengers and then driving my broken down old car home. That was my job. You see, the undocumented know how to live within our means, while supporting Medicare and social security for other people! The U.S. did not, however, value my work enough to give me my papers and that is the problem that is coming home to roost.
U.S. corporations have been living off their “investments” in Mexico and Latin America for years, just as they have benefitted from the underpaid labor of the undocumented. They have overthrown governments to insure their corporations could continue to make huge profits and then called us “banana republics”, incapable of managing our own affairs. When nations like little Cuba, or Venezuela with its oil, stood up to them successfully, they called them dictatorships and moved to undermine them.
The U.S. economy is in trouble because of what Wall Street gangsters did to people trying to buy their homes and because of the trillions it spends making war. Most importantly, it is in trouble because it is built on taking advantage of people. It is a bully economy, Mr. President. A nation built on taking unfair advantage of people will not last because it does not allow people to contribute to their full potential.
Perhaps the people looking forward to Medicare and social security know what it means when a President breaks his promise. Sorry – but the undocumented did our part to help you! Mr. President, you are not doing a very good job with my investment!