Do Americans understand that the old shell game is being played today? Maybe some of us.
For those younger than this ancient writer, I should explain that the shell game (also known as thimblerig, three shells and a pea, and the Old Army Game) is offered to the unsuspecting marks as a gamble. But the operator—i.e. politician—is really playing a confidence game—a fraud.
It is a famous swindle also known as a "short con" because it is quick and easy to pull off.
If this doesn't remind you of today's con's on so many issues, you ain't awake—or are deep into a forbidden substance!
Current example: jobs. Lots of pols are talking about creating more jobs these days. It's the mantra of every politician from both parties.
But anyone who reads beyond the comic strips knows that this Great Recession is not going away anytime soon.
So to promise jobs when there aren't going to be many—certainly not in the amounts implied—reminds me of the old three-pea shell game.
And the operator always has shills to urge on the unwary. Like the March 10 "Summit on Jobs and America's Future", which, according to a mailing I recently received, will feature speakers such as "AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Keith Ellison, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, green jobs visionary Van Jones, Wisconsin protest leader from Citizen Action Robert Kraig, social justice champion Angela Glover Blackwell and leading pollster Celinda Lake."
They promise to "wake up Washington and force the focus back on what America is really looking for".
"Americans aren't looking for more austerity. They have enough of it right now.
Americans aren't scapegoating unions. They're mad at Wall Street for wrecking the economy.
"Americans want solutions to the immediate jobs crisis and plans to take control of our economic future. Tens of thousands in Wisconsin are standing up, fighting back and taking control of their economic future. The next step is to come to Washington and take control of the national debate.
"Click here to RSVP for "The Summit On Jobs & America's Future," March 10 in Washington, DC.
"Join us, and help wake up Washington".
Even though I am a Democrat, I have to say: Oh, please!
"Wake up" indeed—to the needless, endless, mindless importation of aliens to take jobs, not make jobs, completely unmentioned by the conference organizers.
In short, folks, understand that these power players, the big companies, some unions, the ethnic and religious lobbyists, all abet the majority of your Congress and certainly the White House in playing the shell game not only with jobs, but with their spending, with just about everything you can think of.
Of course, we all have a stake in working together to get America back to work.
But we know that those 7.5 million jobs that fled overseas before and during our 2008 downturn are not coming back. We know that we are in debt to a level never before attained. And we know that neither party is planning any cutting that will truly bring governmental expenses in line with income.
Against this tapestry of looming disaster, the bleating for "jobs, jobs, jobs" really rings hollow.
Here we are, allowing over 1 million immigrants to come here yearly on various kinds of visas. Further, we are overlooking the hundreds of thousands coming here illegally every year, mostly across our Southern border. And our government is at the same time doing nothing about the 12-plus million illegal aliens already living in the US—unless there is blatant criminal activity and often not even then: aliens are frequently recidivist offenders, let off for reasons unimaginable!
Folks, these aliens, both legal and illegal, are taking jobs Americans will do, can do, want to do, and should do.
That we allowed uncounted millions more aliens and the children they bore while here to augment our population since 1965 is in retrospect an inexcusable tragedy.
We had it made. If we had continued reasonable amount of immigration, say 300,000 a year in line with levels between 1925 and 1965, that would have met our needs nicely—and left native-born American wage earners so much better off.
Now, as this travesty continues, the call by our elected leaders for "jobs, jobs, jobs" rings so phony that even the hard-of-hearing liberals who think every border should be opened to must have doubts.
But no, there are always some who don't get it, can't get it, won't get it, will never get it.
These Job Summitteers remind me of Phineas Taylor Barnum (July 5, 1810-April 7, 1891). Like our modern day elected officials, P.T. who lived to be my age—80!—gave the 19th Century public a constant dose of shameless hucksterism, peerless spectacle, and everything in between—enough entertainment to earn the title "master showman" a dozen times over. In choosing Barnum as one of the 100 most important people of the millennium, LIFE magazine dubbed him "the patron saint of promoters"
In 1841, Barnum purchased Scudder's American Museum on Broadway in New York City. He exhibited some 500,000 natural and artificial curiosities from every corner of the globe, and kept traffic moving through the museum with a sign that read "This way to the egress"—"egress", of course, was another word for exit, and Barnum's patrons would have to pay another quarter to re-enter the Museum!
Well, the egress from Mexico means our own citizens have to take lower wages—where they can get jobs at all.
There needs to be a moratorium on immigration. Yes, a stop. A dead stop.
Until we decide who should come, how many, and under what circumstances, let's just stop—and ignore the Job Summit shell game.
Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.