Don’t get *too* optimistic, there


Abby Brockman strikes me is a bit too optimistic despite catching a critical detail in this scoop: The United States’ border patrol agencies are bleeding out employees faster than they can hire. However, it’s not because the employees in question are having crises of conscience--it’s because the conditions in which they work are shitty.

Trump has ordered the agency to add 5,000 agents to beef up patrols and surveillance in advance of his proposed border wall. But its current 19,000-strong force is already 2,000 shy of a target set during the Obama administration.

Officials said tough screening, especially a lie-detector test, rejected many qualified candidates, and that tough conditions such as living in remote, rugged areas prompted more than 1,000 agents to quit every year.

“Some people just don’t want to live there,” said Randolph “Tex” Alles, acting deputy commissioner of CBP, a 60,000-strong agency that includes Border Patrol. “Hiring challenges are not new. Attracting and recruiting high quality individuals is a challenge for us.”

I wish I could claim optimism and say more people are becoming aware of the imperialist functions required by a state like the USA and consider said functions morally unconscionable, but those functions typically attract the bullies and sociopaths anyways. Boredom definitely strikes me as a much likelier culprit than the sudden discovery of a moral compass.

As ever, authoritarians give us a glimpse into their mindset with delightful(?) Freudian slips: (emphasis mine)

Tony Crowder, the executive director of Air and Marine Operations, told the Guardian his agency was struggling to retain and recruit enough pilots.

Commercial airlines were luring pilots who in some cases were expected to work in remote areas and participate in arrests. “They pay more and it’s a different type of work.”

Another problem is the attitude of young people, especially those for whom 9/11 is distant history. “They have a different view of public service. I don’t want to indict an entire generation but it’s harder to sell self-sacrifice for the common good.

I would argue the reverse, Mr. Crowder. Millenials are more likely to accept that the brown people you’re abusing count as part of the “common good.” To say nothing of how the Mexicans and South Americans brutalized by your practices had sweet fuck all to do with 9/11. That my generation is less willing to blindly accept authority is in my estimate a virtue we must desperately cling to. By the time we’re your age, the coastal cities will be flooded and we’ll need to start electing politicians governments who can think farther ahead than 4 years.

-Shiv

Comments

  1. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Two of your thoughts seem in tension Shiv. First:

    I wish I could claim optimism and say more people are becoming aware of the imperialist functions required by a state like the USA and consider said functions morally unconscionable, but those functions typically attract the bullies and sociopaths anyways. Boredom definitely strikes me as a much likelier culprit than the sudden discovery of a moral compass.

    Second:

    I would argue the reverse, Mr. Crowder. Millenials are more likely to accept that the brown people you’re abusing count as part of the “common good.”

    But I wonder, can’t both be true? Many times we accept jobs that we think will do more good than they actually do. We might be willing to sacrifice for the common good as long as we’re actually doing good, but after perceiving what the job actually is, after meeting the people affected and after seeing the details of the policies that are enforced, and after witnessing the consequences, what reason is there to stay?

    A number of reasons. Union jobs aren’t easy to come by. Frequently it’s not that easy to job search when you live far away from any employers. Then there is simple, human inertia.

    Maybe they get bored. Maybe they say in exit interviews that they don’t like living where they’re living. That’s probably all true and probably also had a direct impact in any decision to leave their jobs. But if they thought they were actually serving the common good, I think that they’d be a lot more likely to tolerate the remote areas in which they are forced to live. Video games are everywhere. Netflix is everywhere. Even if you’re remote from restaurants that make a good spring roll, you’re probably close to some amazing countryside. If you’re physically healthy (and you probably are, given that you have this job) you can go hiking, fossil hunting, kayaking, mountain biking, whatever.

    No, I think that the reason you see people saying in exit interviews, “it’s the remote location” or “I’m bored” is that those are the parts of the reasons you can safely say to an employer without fucking up your reference. Imagine if you said, “yeah, I’m leaving to go take another job, but even if this employer doesn’t call you up asking about me, it’s likely that at least one future employer will. So I want it on record, as I’m leaving, that I’ve seen your operation from the inside and what I see isn’t working for the common good. It’s evil. Concentrated evil. Unadulterated evil. You suck and your ‘common good’ speech is a fucking lie. Have a nice day. Oh, and I’m still in town for the next two weeks. You wanna get a drink some night, just to pass the time?”

    In a world where you don’t take jobs for life, but bounce between jobs every several years, “I was bored,” and “the work is too remote” are safe to say.

    Sacrificing for the common good is one thing. Sacrificing for the system so the system can be the system whether it hurts people or not? That’s something else. I do think that people know the difference. Maybe I’d like people to speak out more frequently, more loudly. Maybe I’d like it if the exit interviews allowed for more honesty. But I don’t think that just because these are the answers recorded by persons in power that these are the whole of the answers.

    Anyway. I agree with you. Your statements seem to be in conflict, but I actually do think that there is a resolution possible between the two.

  2. Siobhan says

    As always, excellent contribution Crip.

    But I wonder, can’t both be true? Many times we accept jobs that we think will do more good than they actually do. We might be willing to sacrifice for the common good as long as we’re actually doing good, but after perceiving what the job actually is, after meeting the people affected and after seeing the details of the policies that are enforced, and after witnessing the consequences, what reason is there to stay?

    A number of reasons. Union jobs aren’t easy to come by. Frequently it’s not that easy to job search when you live far away from any employers. Then there is simple, human inertia.

    At risk of meandering into the gaseous swamp of linguistic nihilism, my disagreement might be hinging on the definition of “good”–a moral prescription I’ve seldom had much satisfaction trying to iron out. All I would ask in response: Is it “good” if someone is actually aware of the impact of their job but continues to do it out of mere inertia and comfort? I would find that it is not, but then again, I’m loosely a consequentialist. :P There are some circumstances where I’d be more sympathetic–a soldier in the midst of his deployment having his “eureka!” will unlikely be allowed to go home immediately–but there are also many more circumstances where inaction itself is a choice with moral consequences. It is also true that the “official” story, in this case the shitty working conditions, are indeed a product of preserving career bridges as you say. I did overlook that. I suppose then the problem is whether it is possible at all to separate the true reasons that the Border Patrol is having retention difficulties.

    You are right in that I have been implicitly separating “millenials” from “authoritarians”–the French election may well be the nail in the coffin for that particular prejudice, given Le Fascist’s popularity among my generation. I don’t have a good defense for this perception and will reconsider it. Perhaps I am just desperately afraid of what the world will continue to deal with if we (Royal “We”) continue to be convinced by conmen every few decades, as if we are terminally incapable of remembering what happened the last time we threw our lot in with an ideological huckster.

  3. says

    I don’t want to indict an entire generation but it’s harder to sell self-sacrifice for the common good.

    You mean, you have to actually argue for your policies, rather than just waving a flag around? How dreadful.

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