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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 21, 2009 24 Menachem-Av 5769

Cheating the Least Among Us

By Suzanne Fields




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Colonial Williamsburg is proud of its tradesmen. You can see the carpenters walking out of the history books and down the cobblestone streets, ready to talk to visitors about how they hammered Williamsburg together, log by log, shingle by shingle, as if still in the 18th century.


These tradesmen built new homes, smokehouses, dairies, barns. They built additions and repaired old structures. Some were skilled carpenters and bricklayers, others were just learning, but together they raised rafters and roof beams, set door frames, laid floors with timber cut from nearby trees.


The colonial wages were paid to the original Williamsburg tradesmen in Spanish-milled dollars and doubloons (worth about $16). Money was minted in Mexico and called "pillar dollars" because of its image of two pillars flanking two globes reflecting the colonial version of a global economy.


But all that was a long time ago. Today, the picture for laborers who aren't in 18th century costume tells a different story. Many arrive from Mexico without money of any kind. Immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America are often the last hired and the most abused and exploited. Their daily pay is the equivalent to what a "pillar dollar" would be worth today.


In a boom economy, the rich — like Bernie Madoff — exploit the rich. Hurt hardest in the current recession are the illegal immigrants, mostly from Mexico, who are sometimes paid with checks that bounce. Their employers figure they won't complain because they're illegal and are afraid of being sent home. With many Americans and workers with green cards joining the ranks of the unemployed, such victims don't garner a lot of sympathy, but the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot uncovered a nest of nasty contractors taking cruel advantage during the recession of those at the bottom of the economic ladder — penny-ante Bernie Madoffs trading in human labor.


No matter what you think about illegal immigration, a scam is a scam. It lowers the morale of workers and the state of workmanship. "At the end of the day, any human being who works is entitled to pay, regardless whether they're documented or not," says Myra Creed, chairwoman of the Hispanic Advisory Committee in Newport News, Va.


Who can argue with that? In Washington and the suburbs, day workers line up for work on street corners, waiting for contractors to collect them for delivery to a day's work. It's a legitimate custom, and the employers are easy to identify. But in these parts of Virginia, hungry immigrants hear about jobs through informal networks spread by word of mouth. The vulnerable become even more vulnerable. Workers who threaten to report employers for cheating them say they're threatened with exposure, reported as illegal as though their status were unknown to the employers who hired them.


Typical is Edgar Cardenos, an illegal immigrant from Nicaragua who has been in this country for eight years. His wife is pregnant with their second daughter, who will, of course, be an American citizen by virtue of birth. He heard about an Outback Steakhouse in the neighborhood that was paying $15 to build an addition to the building. He hurried to the parking lot of the restaurant, saw a crew of men putting up dry wall, spackling seams, creating a new ceiling and installing exterior siding. He was told he could join them at $15 an hour. He put in two weeks' work and received a check for one week. The contractor promised the rest later. The first check bounced, the next one never arrived. The initial contractor said he hired a subcontractor and paid off at his end. He was two steps away from the crime. The subcontractor disappeared. Such employers are twice guilty — first for hiring illegals and then for cheating them of their pay.


This isn't a high-bucks Ponzi scheme, but low life cheating of human labor. Wendy Inge, director of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, told the Virginian-Pilot that when a worker complains, no one investigates his immigration status. Nevertheless, cheated laborers are afraid to complain lest they be sent home.


Cardenos has now applied for an income tax ID, though zero times zero, as any child learning his multiplication tables can tell you, is still zero. Cardenos does the kind of low-wage work that even in these tough times others don't want to do. He now works at two painting jobs, putting in 16 hours a day.


"It's very difficult to (work) where you don't get paid," says Cardenos. "I have a family to take care of."


Life is not fair — we all know that. Bernie Madoff is living the prison life, leaving his wife to survive on $6 million. But the recession is "unfairer" to some than to others.

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© 2006, Creators Syndicate, Suzanne Fields

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