Op-Ed

Borders are excuses for poor suckers like us, never for the rich

Isn’t it interesting how the world’s richest one percent have managed to convince most among us that the world’s poorest one percent are responsible for all of our problems?

Yes, billionaires like Donald Trump and his effete allies have pulled “the immigrant problem” out of the air precisely to paper over the fact that they and their cohorts are responsible for persistent low wages, withdrawal of worker benefits, destruction of unions, police brutality towards people of color, lack of decent health care, deteriorating infrastructure, underfunded schools, impoverishing student debt, disappearance of retirement prospects, a bloated military budget, the threat of nuclear war, climate change denial, voter suppression and a nationwide drug problem induced by Big Pharma.

That’s a short list of our real problems. And they’re not caused by immigrants.

Instead, however, the plutocrats would have us believe that the very refugees whose homes and jobs, schools and hospitals have been destroyed by their endless oil wars in the Middle East are somehow attacking the rest of us.

Similarly guilty, they say, are those fleeing the chaos and gang violence produced by U.S. counter-revolutionary wars waged in Central America throughout the 1980s — and by our recent support of a coup in Honduras.

The same for simple Mexican farmers displaced by NAFTA provisions favoring U.S. corn over locally produced maize; that’s what’s driven campesinos from their farms.

All of those just mentioned, along with their children, have been excluded from entry to the U.S. whose borders, our “leaders” tell us are somehow sacrosanct.

But borders are fictions the rich would have the rest of us worship, while they pay them no mind. The rich disrespect borders in two ways. One is questionably legal; the other is completely criminal.

Legal border crossings are claimed as a right by international corporations. According to its free-enterprise principles, Walmart, for example, has the right to set up shop wherever it wishes, regardless of any resulting impact on local merchants, farmers or suppliers.

Thus, capitalists claim license to cross into Mexico in pursuit of profit. They legalize their border crossing by signing agreements like NAFTA with their rich Mexican counterparts.

Meanwhile, workers (the second equally key factor in the capitalist equation) who are impoverished by “free trade” enjoy no similar entitlements. For them, the boundaries create a captive workforce and prevent workers from emigrating to wherever the availability of good wages dictates.

Workers across the planet intuitively recognize the double standard. So, they defiantly cross borders without permission. They won’t be stopped.

The other disrespect for borders on the part of the rich is more insidious. It takes the form of their own defiant transgression of international law by crossing borders to drop bombs on poor people wherever and whenever they wish, without formal declaration of war.

Let’s face it: in the so-called “war on terror,” borders have become completely meaningless for the rich. (Imagine if poor countries claimed that same right, considering the wealthy’s bombing raids and drone operations as “terrorism.”)

The point is that we Americans need to re-examine our attitudes towards borders and border walls. Borders, after all, are not sacred to the rich. Never have been. So why should rich corporatists expect workers and refugees from their destructive and illegal border crossings to respect boundaries the elite have violated so cavalierly?

No, in the eyes of Trump and his cronies, borders are for suckers and poor working stiffs like us, not for tycoons like them.

Trump, tear down that wall.

Reach Mike Rivage-Seul, retired Berea College professor, at Mike_Rivage-Seul @berea.edu.

  Comments