Friday, 30 April 2010

A Week Of Immigration News Stories That Is Getting On My Nerves

In the same week that Arizona's new immigration law has been challenged in court by an Arizona policeman the British Prime Minister has had a tough week on the election campaign trail after speaking to a pensioner on the streets. It was all going as well as expected until she asked the question. “All these eastern Europeans what are coming in, where are they flocking from?” He intially handled the situation well by answering and then deflecting the question to another topic but forgot when he got into the relative saftey of the car about the mic attached to his suit where he said to his aides “That was a disaster. Should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that? She's just a sort of bigoted woman." Which inevitably lead to a pr disaster and grovelling apology over the following days.

But why? He was wrong to call the woman a 'sort of bigot' but I don't think he should have apologised for it. Instead he should have pointed out the fact that the vast majority of Eastern Europeans who come in the United Kingdom have done so legally as they come from countries that are part of the European Union and as a result have the right to live and work in any country in the EU including the UK and they have chosen to take up that option and we should for grateful for it.

I'm not entirely sure that the woman who posed the question is a bigot I just think she's ignorant of the facts and that she comes from a generation of hard working British people and all of a sudden over the past few years she sees a lot of foreigners in her neighboorhood. Having worked with Scottish and English people of my own generation I know that there are some hard workers out there, I also know there are too many that are willing to clock in and clock out at work doing the bare minimum to get by. I also know there are far too many Brits of my generation that don't want to work at all, especially not for the minimum wage conditions that Eastern Europeans are willing to work for. Having worked with both I would choose employing an eastern European worker over a Scottish one probably 8 times out of 10. Back home I had my own business and occasionally I looked into taking on some employees to help myself with the workload (this was before Poland became part of the EU). The first person I gave the job to didn't turn up for his first day, the second was a waste of space anytime I gave him something to do do the task I had set him unless I was watching over him and the third I couldn't get to stop using his phone when he was supposed to be helping me. I ended up deciding that I might as well continue working by myself. And I did so until I injured my back, and I stubbornly continued working until I did it some permanent damage partly because I come from a family that is hard working, my mother is a hard worker, and my grandfather worked into is 70s until 3 days before he died in his bed of pneumonia. Even today I still get a sore back if I am working on a repetitive action but I continue to work anyway, sadly that work ethic does not exist for every British person today.

After the European Union borders opened up allowing workers to work anywhere in the European Union I had the pleasure of working with some Polish people. I say pleasure because it was. They worked just as hard as me, they worked just as hard as my mother would. They came to work on time, worked hard throughout the day and were conscientious about everything they did. They worked jobs that few British people would want to do on crap wages, without any benefits, and they would pay their taxes and their national insurance and go home at night to a house usually shared with 5 or 6 oher Polish guys. Any spare money they had they would send home to Poland as quite often they would have left a wife and some children behind. A sacrifice I don't think I could make. Thats a work ethic and a scarifice that a pensioner who grew up in 40s or 50s Britain should be able to understand though. That's the kind of thing the Prime Minister should have talked about.

I am fed up reading about immigration as a bad thing whether its here in the States or in the news back home. Immigration built the United States. And Britain exported people and ideas all around the world its about time it tooks its fair share of immigrants in. Immigration should not be topic only voiced by the scared and the ignorant. When people move countries they aren't looking for handouts or benefits they want the chance to improve their lives. They want the opportunity to make something of their lives themselves. And by empowering them to do so they pay taxes just like any other worker and so they improve the country that they move to.

There has supposedly been an influx of around 3 million Polish workers in the UK over the last few years, that equals a lot of tax revenue. Where would the country be without that revenue right now, especially when you bear in mind the banking crisis of the last of the last 18 months? Personally I think the country would be right royally fucked! Excuse my language. Those European workers have done Britain a favour by choosing to come to the work in the country.

Same goes for all the latinos in Arizona, Utah or California or anywhere in the United States.

I don't buy the argument that Mexicans take jobs from hard working Americans. If a Mexican with poor English skills gets a job ahead of an American, there is either something wrong with the job or something wrong with the American's work ethic. And its about time people realised that. And its about time the people who write about immigration issues do so in a way that educates the ignorant. Not everyone who is ignorant is racist or a bigot, some just don't have the experience or the facts and just read the wrong articles, its about time journalists did their homework. They need to stop being on the side of the scared and actually think about the waitresses that serve them coffee in the morning or the nurse's assistant who cares for them after a sports injury or the builder that built their extension because that is the real story of immigration - hard working people who want to do right by themselves and the people they come into contact with.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

She's Going To Kill Me For This One

You would think my wife might have a spirit of adventure, after all there isn't too many Chilean/Scottish couples around and combining that passionate/stubborn concoction together was a risk. But when it comes to the great outdoors that spirit of adventure is lacking.

One reason for this is she likes her high heels and flip flops too much, sensible walking shoes are not really part of her wardrobe.

She's also a desert girl which means when I am struggling from what I think is high temperatures but willing to plow on she is complaining of being frío and wanting to return to the car.

Then of course there are inevitable obstacles along the way like a closed gate on a hiking path, I come from a country where the right to roam in the wilderness is well a right, she has lived too long in a country where the right to bear arms is a deterrent to trespassers. I could almost understand her reluctance to move forward when she was wearing the wrong shoes, and there were closed gates to cross. I can explain it away as being the Latina in her as she gingerly climbed the gate whilst checking from side to side looking for policemen or crazed latino hating gun totting landowners, but when she heard barks in the distance ahead and wanted to return the car in case there were wild dogs or wolves ahead and the barks came from this fella here I just had to share.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Utah is a beautiful State, its just a shame that Salt Lake Valley itself has been spoiled by endless advertising billboards, freeways, and ill considered permissible development, not to mention all those fast food eateries peppered throughout the valley that I probably am guilty of dining too often. I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to discover Salt Lake Valley before such development was allowed to take place because with the mountains to the East and to the West it certainly has the potential to be a lot more beautiful than much of it has become.

However it is fairly easy to get a picture of what Salt Lake Valley might have looked like about 150 years ago. It just takes a 66 mile drive out of the city and away from the freeway.

The weekend before last we took such a trip by making a point of visiting the Golden Spike National Historic Site. The site of the Golden Spike is the place where the Union and Central Pacific railroads joined their rails to make the first US transcontinental railroad in 1869. Anyone who has ever watched a Western should know the importance of the railroads in the shaping of the development and migration in the US, but its here (and I'm sure at many other points on the way) that you get to see how the land of the US shaped the railroads.

I'm sure as a land surveyor of the time before the railroads were built the undeveloped lands of the US screamed not only beauty but that of potential.

For the owners of the Central Pacific and Union railroads though it was nothing much more than an obstacle for a nice reward for whoever was able to complete the first transcontinental railroad. For the people who built it, mainly army veterans and Irish immigrants who worked for the Union Pacific railroad company and the Chinese immigrants who worked for Central Pacific it probably looked like something close to hell on earth or at the very least an impossible feat.

Although I can admire the way that such men managed to reshape the land to suit the purposes of their paymasters I for one am glad I was amongst their number.


Especially so when the railway station at Promontory Summit lasted less than 4 decades before being dismantled. The track seen there today was only relaid in 1969 to mark the centennial anniversary in 1969 and is actually only 1 and half miles long. Its actually original purpose has long had its day in the sun.

A finer more fitting monument for the work of the men might have been to leave the original track in place and have a working railroad on the site that so many muscles and backs toiled to build.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Why I Haven't Been Writing Much But Crap Lately

You might wonder why I haven't been writing as much lately. Well it seems that the online adverts for landscaping work took off. As soon as the weather turned for the better people started to phone up. The amount of interest from the adverts surprised even myself. I was expecting a slower but steadily increasing workload but no its really been gathering a head of steam the past few weeks. Last week was the best of the lot, I had enough work to make almost as much the wife, for the first time since I've been here. It felt good. I'm a man, I care about these things. We shouldn't but ego's are egos. I was thinking to myself a few more customers like this and I'll be making even more and then what happens, same week she's goes and gets herself a promotion and with it a pay rise, her second in a few short months I may add, to raise the bar again.

Ay, ay, ay - its enough to make me almost want to break into a Mexican song.

Seriously though, life is good. The only downside, most of the work seems to be coming in from the other side of the city, the side we just moved away from.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Blue Skies And Golden Light

It was probably just a few hours before that I said to the wife that I miss the golden orangy-yellow colours of the gorse bush in full bloom in the Scottish countryside when we went for a walk as the sun was starting to set when Utah did its best to replicate the golden hues with the light.

There might not be any rolling hills of green grass, there might not be any fields bordered with dry-stane walls, there might not be any flowering gorse bushes in the distance here suggesting that a Scottish summer is on the way, but even though none of that exists and this picture isn't all that interesting to look at the light at sunset on a night like this in Utah is pretty impressive.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

It's Shite Being Scottish!

As I sit here stuffing my face with a damn good chocolate chip cookie I feel the need to appease the wife. You see she's get a little peeved at the fact that there is something in every day that reminds her that she is with a Scottish husband.

It could be as something as simple as watching a movie that just happens to have a Scottish character/Scottish actor/Scottish director/Scottish accent/Scottish song in it. Or we could be fast forwarding the adverts on the dvr and just happen to see a Scots Korean in full kilted regalia advertising Starburst or a Latino wearing a kilt for a wedding advert. Or it can be coming across a new young patient at the pediatric dentistry office in which she works called William Wallace. The Scottish links are everywhere and I think she's a little bit jealous of the fact that no one ever says to her "I have Chilean ancestry." I think she's starting to think that she lives in a MacWorld, and not necessarily one with ipads and iphones.

However the slow domination of the world by Scots has been a slow and painful one. So I'm going to steal an idea from Trainspotting and start a new mini series called It's Shite Being Scottish.

The inspiration for this series came from when in the film Tommy took his friends to the Highlands with the intention of them enjoying the great outdoors by going on a hike. He gets off the train and says "Doesn't it make you proud to be Scottish." Renton replied with "It's shite being Scottish! We're the lowest of the low. The scum of the fucking Earth! The most wretched, miserable, servile, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some hate the English. I don't. They're just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers. Can't even find a decent culture to be colonized by! We're ruled by effete assholes. It's a shite state of affairs to be in, Tommy, and all the fresh air in the world won't make any fucking difference"

Now I don't necessarily go along with that but being Scottish isn't all that its cracked up to be and certainly hasn't been throughout history. There are plenty of blogs out there that show the nicer side of Scotland or being Scottish this series isn't going to show that picture. It probably won't be very regular, maybe once a week but more likely once a month but its going to show the not so great side of being Scottish.

Friday, 2 April 2010


I do not care where you live.

I do not care what car you drive. 

Or if the clothes you wear are this years must haves. I do not care if you have a trust fund that is unlimited or have minus seventy six cents in the bank. I do not care what phone you have. Or if you want the latest fad/gadget. I do not care if you have a facebook page or are jimmy nomates page. I will not be enticed by how many people you know or who you know, whether you are A list, B list, or I never heard of you list. I do not care what you look like.

I am only touched by the words that flow from your thoughts.

It's only that that keeps me coming back for more.

Wouldn't it be nice if life was like that a little bit more often?