Friday, October 10, 2008

If I'm neither tough, nor idealistic, can I at least be cynical?

I used to think Americans were tough and idealistic. We take a hit and then get right back up and proclaim the American dream. But then I travelled to Israel. Those people are tough. In Chicago, the mobster's creed was "if he sends one of your guys to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue." In Israel, it's "if he sends one of your guys to the hospital, you send him to the morgue, his family to the streets, and several completely unrelated bystanders to the hospital." So America - not so tough, not so hard. Maybe not cuddly, but certainly not so hard. But we still had the claim to idealism, right?

Nope, because now I'm living in Denmark, the most idealistic country on the planet. They voted themselves the happiest people in the world because they live in Denmark, obviously, and Denmark is perfect and wonderful. It's like they're living in a Danny Kaye movie.

Denmark is so idealistic and, shall we just say, a lot naive, that they're pretty sure they only have 1,000 to 5,000 illegal immigrants in the entire country of 5.2 million people. The Danish Boy has been working hard on various stories around immigrants, both legal and otherwise. A year ago he went to Morocco to talk to immigrants preparing to cross the sea and illegally enter Europe. There were a lot of them and they were not about to give up and go home even though death or deportation was likely. Now Denmark may be a long way from Spain, but several of the immigrants the DB spoke to were talking about going up to Germany. Denmark is pretty close by. If there are no North African illegal immigrants in Denmark, I'll take up missionary work in deepest Africa (where I can tell them all about this great little country that doesn't believe in illegal immigrants). Meanwhile, the DB has located a number of au pair girls from the Philippines, who are working extra illegal under-the-table hours and some that have over stayed their visas. When he spoke to various ministers of parliament, one said she'd like to ask Danes to not hire illegal labor, because it's wrong, and one said that they should increase the minimum wage, because if the girls were making more money, they wouldn't want to go out and make more money.

Just about everyone he's spoken to insists there's no problem, because Denmark doesn't have illegal workers. That one researcher has shown that there may be between 1000 and 5000 comes a shock. I laugh because those numbers are seriously low but the interviewed MPs seem to think that those numbers are too high. The friendly MP who wants to ask Danes to hire legal help also thinks that these people would be caught very quickly by the government when they went to get health care or something. But I can tell you, having been here for quite some time with only questionable legality, you are not going to catch them. If I started working under-the-table and made enough money to pay the doctor fees for non-residents, no one would turn me in; Danes love cheap labor, doctors like getting paid cash, no one is going to run a check on me unless I do something stupid like hold up a 7-11 with a hand gun.

I also laugh at the Danish identity card, which I am sure any computer geek could crack and reproduce for illegal immigrants. This is one step beyond what my DB is willing to accept. He's sure that the CPR system is unbreakable. But if computer hackers can get into the CIA, the FBI, the Dept. Homeland Security, then what (other than the fact that these hackers may have never heard of Denmark) makes Danes think it's so perfect?

It's really a mind boggling notion - the CPR system is perfect because as far as they know, it's never failed. But Danes aren't looking to see if it might have, because they truly believe that the system is perfect and therefore it can't have failed.

I really wish I was a computer hacker and had a criminal mind and some black-market connections. I could make a small fortune selling identity cards to all the illegal immigrants that I know are out there.

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