Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...


Sunday, March 28, 2004  

This week's New Yorker takes a close look at Bush's America--Cameron County in South Texas. If you have much human decency, it's not an easy read.

From her own improvisatory childhood, Lupita knew the tricks of low-budget householding: when even Wal-Mart is out of your price range, secondhand clothes can be purchased by the pound, the pallet, or the bale; the Port of Brownsville contains enough fresh crabs for three days’ dinner, if you have a bit of raw chicken and some string to fish them out. But, as the fall of 2003 progressed, her unemployment and health benefits had expired, her 401(k) from the textile factory had been cashed out, and she was still selling lunches. The state workforce commission had predicted that twenty-five medical-assistant jobs would open in Cameron County in 2003, but it would be difficult to secure one. In one class of laid-off textile workers alone, eighty-five people had been trained for the profession.

Other Cameron Park job-seekers sustained their hopes by lighting “miracle candles” sold in local grocery stores—candles emblazoned with messages like “Select Me for the Company” or “Increase the Wages Offered.”

In George Bush's Texas (and now America), the poor and politically weak offer opportunity. It's from their meager pocketbooks thta fantastic fortunes can built.

The hundred-and-fifty-three-year-old Fruit of the Loom company, owned by Warren Buffett’s Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway, had just announced that its Cameron County factory would close by the end of the year. Much of its production would be shifted to Honduras....

Fruit of the Loom had chosen a few veteran laborers to go, briefly, to Honduras to train the cheaper workers who would replace them. Some of the others would board the meat- and poultry-industry buses that idled outside the county employment office, luring those sufficiently desperate to take short-term slaughterhouse jobs in the Ozarks. But, as Fruit of the Loom’s cutting machines and bleaching vats were cranked up on pallet jacks, loaded onto flatbeds, and hauled to the Port of Brownsville, many of the company’s workers pocketed a month’s severance and filed into Mario’s van. They applied for unemployment assistance equal to roughly half their former wages, took aptitude tests, and studied the twenty training brochures that were taped to the van’s walls.

And:

When she sold a plot, she negotiated the mortgage-payment terms and schedules, without the involvement of banks, in an arrangement known as “seller-take-back.” In a state where seventy-one per cent of the residents don’t have a checking account, let alone good credit, seller-take-back is a crucial niche in the real-estate market....

To house her family, María, in 1992, had bought a tiny lot from Elida Greenwood. The price was nine thousand dollars, with a twelve-per-cent interest rate.

Remember folks, he's a compassionate conservative.

posted by Jeff | 7:57 AM |
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