Posted 146 days ago
There were a couple pieces that really stood out to me in this essay. That immigrants have been less likely to "access medical care during the pandemic" is a scary thought. Not only would be terrifying to live in that circumstance, it affects all of society in that public health is a public concern. Lee obviously indicates this is a crucial point to address, but not the only one we need to keep our eye on. She provides some raw facts:
What we know is that the pandemic lockdown precipitated an economic catastrophe, one that disproportionately affected workers, who lost jobs in the tens of millions in the first months of the shutdown (estimates of job loss between March and June of 2020 range from 20 to 40 million — somewhere between 12 percent and 24 percent of the total civilian labor force).
The stock market dropped at this moment, but rebounded must faster than the return of jobs. Lee points out further:
Nearly 10 percent of service-sector jobs — the category in which offshoring is most difficult to achieve — were eliminated without any long-term effect on the valuation of the stock markets.
Within Lee's ultimate argument, that immigration is crucial factor to the progress and propserity of the working-class, it is curious to see that the loss of these jobs didn't affect capital. What Lee is trying to say, I think, is that these jobs do not have the bargaining power that she would hope for because they cannot "halt" capital. But I think that maybe the truth is slightly different: the stock market shifted into a bubble of tech-based companies that weathered the pandemic nicely. I don't think that it ulitmately reflects the importance of the service-sector jobs in the economy. Intuitively, yes, it would be more natural to see a decline in the stock market proportional to the loss of jobs in some way, but the stock market itself allows of senseless bubbles (that will ultimately correct overtime) because people pursue the shiny things that might make them money in the short-term. I don't think we can extrapolate too much from the stock market during the pandemic, other than it was somewhat irrational.
Also, she suggests that the Left should try to organize immigrants that work in the fulfillment and logistic industry (surely looking directly at Amazon and some of its competitors). Whereas yes, this would be a nice goal, I don't think it's a reasonable one to pursue in the current climate. If I were an immigrant coming into the US in the given climate, I would want to keep my head down and secure a decent paying job, which is the reason I left my country in the first place. I think assuming that immigrants in need of work will join labor organizations is a flawed one. They are well aware of the current American attitude towards unions and organizations and the like, and don't want to lose their jobs or immigration status by violating any contracts with employers. The first step, I believe, is to push the adminstration to change the public discourse (like Lee points out) and then to make sure there are safety nets in place for immigrants (legal or illegal) to join organized labor movements without suffering any side-effects criminally or for losing jobs. Trying to organize first, before the safety net is in place, would be a losing battle I think and a precarious one for people already in precarious situations.