Monday, December 03, 2007

Privatization's benefits


Citizenship ceremony, Los Angeles. Rick Friedman photo from the New York Times.

File this one under "strategic incompetence"* -- seemingly everyday corruption and maladministration that has, for our rulers, the happy by-product of impeding popular participation in elections and the legal system that protects employees.

Workers who help process millions of visa and citizenship applications for a federal immigration agency are getting pay reductions just as the agency is facing an enormous surge in those applications....

Immigration officials said the agency granted a contract to Stanley [Inc.], after competitive bidding last year, to manage mailroom and data entry work at the two centers, in an effort to speed handling of the vast paperwork of the applications. ...

Officials at the immigration agency said last week that they received 2.5 million applications for visas and for naturalization in July and August, more than double the applications in the same period last year. Many immigrants rushed to file applications before large fee increases took effect July 30, officials said. ...

[Employee Jeremy Murray] said he had worked at the Vermont center for more than six years sorting incoming applications, making $14.54 an hour. Starting Monday, he said, he will make $12.84 an hour and will no longer be able to work overtime. He will lose as much as $400 a month. ...

Mr. Murray said some of the guidelines for procedures he performed were 40 pages long. If applications are misfiled, he said, errors can take months or longer to fix.

New York Times,
December 2, 2007

No reason why clerical drones should be paid a living wage. And if (mostly) brown people can't get through the citizenship maze, they will remain in legal limbo with second class rights -- and they won't be voting. That's okay, they mostly become Democrats anyway.

*I first heard the term "strategic incompetence" from Salvadoran activists who were dealing with the failure of their right wing authorities to register large parts of the population prior to a general election.

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