Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking at the National Conservatism Conference, NatCon3, in Miami. It was a personal political journey filled with twists and turns and for some I’m sure it’s hard to imagine how I’ve gone from a very well-known Progressive and former Executive Board member of the California Democratic Party, to a panelist at a conference hosted by the Edmund Burke Foundation.
Upon reflection, I don’t think my views have changed significantly, and especially when viewed against the perspective of the Overton Window. What’s considered progressive these days hasn’t moved more to the left, it’s moved to the crazy! In fact, I believe my Progressive brothers and sisters from the early 2000’s would have been intrigued by several NatCon3 speakers’ thoughts on globalization, personal liberty and building sound communities.
Among the plenary sessions and panels there was one keynote address that pretty much brought the house down. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis spoke about his state’s response to Covid, law and order, liberty and specific to immigration, these measures Florida is taking:
He also commented on the hypocrisy of lawmakers in sanctuary jurisdictions and his belief that those who advocate for such policies “should live with those consequences.” Three days later he made good on a December 2021 promise; flying 50 illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, one of the world’s wealthiest communities. For the woke media it was akin to scrubbing a fresh wound with steel wool.
DeSantis believes lawmakers must ask themselves, “how does immigration serve the people of the United States and the national interest?” And has gone on to state, “we are not globalists who believe foreigners have the right to come to our country and do whatever they want to do, it is what we think is the right thing to do.” He was clearly assailing the proponents of free trade and the cult of neoliberalism.
Further embellishing the point is Oren Cass, executive director of American Compass, who recently published his essay Searching for Capitalism in The Wreckage of Globalization:
"This system of mutual dependence between capital and labor, not mere “economic freedom,” is what Adam Smith so ably described. Globalization destroys it, instead urging the owners of mobile capital to forsake the interests of their fellow citizens and search for higher profits through labor arbitrage abroad. A democratic republic’s vast working and middle classes will rightly reject such an arrangement, forcing elites to choose between restoring capitalism by constraining capital or entrenching their own economic prerogatives by subordinating the democratic process. That’s as good a description as any of the precipice at which America now stands.”
And it’s not just the owners of mobile capital forsaking the interests of their fellow citizens and searching for higher profits through labor arbitrage abroad. It’s here, as well, with unbridled immigration (legal and illegal) that naturally forces down wages along with the barely constrained use of employment visas such as the H-1B, L-1 and optional practical training program.
Our current immigration predicament is best summed up by DeSantis in this one sentence “this idea of mass immigration whether it is illegal immigration or mass immigration through the legal process such as the diversity lottery or chain migration… is not conducive to assimilating people into American society.”
DeSantis is clearly a man of action, and those actions that have garnered him national attention and are not limited to his calling out the hypocrisy of other states’ lawmakers. Late last week, he announced nearly $30 million would be dedicated to support workforce development “in the Space Coast region as part of a groundbreaking, multi-agency initiative to support competitive industries in the area.” Initiatives like this are a siren’s call to the businesses that understand the critical role a skilled workforce plays in their long-term goals.
But before we can applaud the Initiative to Support Workforce Development act, we must make sure that this and other programs like it truly benefit Americans. According to Florida resident and tech worker activist Derrick Davis “this is a great initiative, but for it to be effective at creating science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers for U.S. citizens working in Florida, the program must stipulate that companies receiving these funds only use them to train and improve the skills of citizens and lawful permanent residents of the U.S. Moreover, none of these jobs can go to any employment visa holder such as someone here on an H-1B.”
Fortunately for Derrick and other Florida U.S. Tech Workers, there are several state legislators like Anthony Sabatini of the 32nd District who believe in putting America and its workers first. It is with programs such as DeSantis’ Initiative to Support Workforce Development that capitalists in search of increasingly productive workers will find both the workforce they need and the profits they seek all the while building a strong and resilient middle class right here in the good old US of A.
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