The Dennis Miller Show: John Bowe: Author, November 01, 2007
Dennis Miller: [Sings] Come to me my baby, let me quell your pain! Welcome! To the Dennis Miller Show I am the aforementioned Mr. Miller and returning this hour will be John Bowe, I asked Christian to get him back in around three weeks because I barely scratched the surface the last time we talked about his book, which I found heart-breaking, Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy, this is something we talked about a little in the first segment, I'm shocked that the party of kindness and inclusion--
David Weiss: [Laughs]
Dennis Miller: The Democrats, want nothing more than to bring these people in here illegally so that they can just be just abused for the rest of their lives. [Chuckles]
David Weiss: I wasn't laughing at the people--
Dennis Miller: No.
David Weiss: I'm laughing, of course, at your stinging sarcasm.
Dennis Miller: But you know, it's true, Sal.
David Weiss: Of course it is.
Dennis Miller: The Republicans are Satan because they want them to have to register to get in, but then, of course, they would be privy to all the rights therein. The Dems just wanna spear them through the border and get them immediately into the fields where they can earn three bucks an hour, because they care about them. So we'll talk to John about that. You'll find it hard to believe how many names are coming--and you know what? It is wrong of me to say Dems exclusively, I think its predominantly Dems because I think they want that voting bloc but there's a lot of Republicans on that side of it, too, including one George Bush, probably, in my book, I don't know what bug he's got going on about bringing these people in illegally but to me, it reads "unkind." Sorry, gotta disagree with you there, POTUS, think you're a great man, great war president, think history will serve you well; this one, I don't get you at all, my friend. All right! We'll find out about some of the major companies that utilize, in essence, modern day slave labor. That will air a little later, in the mean time give us a call, 866-509-RANT, 866-509-7268...
Dennis Miller: Welcome back, folks, to the Dennis Miller Show, we are joined now by the author John Bowe, he's the author of a book that I think's important, I would encourage you to read it, I know there's a human cry across the land now I am part of that, too, about letting people in too easily and and not having any, any sort of, you know, pun--punishment's too strong a word, but any sort of thing they have to answer to if they have jumped the line and stole a social security number, so I understand most of us are at that point, but I also think there's the other side once you peel that onion back once more, you know, it's not very, it's not very much to aspire to to have people in here be who pick our food and pay them nothing. He's written a book called Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy, this is John Bowe. John, welcome back to the show, my friend.
John Bowe: Hey, Dennis, thanks for having me back here.
Dennis Miller: Well, I thought we only scratched the surface last time and, really, I mean, I do make this drive, twice, three times a week where I'm going past these people in the fields and I often wonder about the back story, why don't you tell us, worst case scenario. When you first came on, I remember thinking this certainly adds to these Nike stories I hear overseas, although I understand they're cleaning up their act to some degree, you tell me right here in America, there's some workers locked up at night with no means to get out or even protest, correct?
John Bowe: People keep asking, wha--is this really slavery? And I have to make it very clear, I am not just talking about bad labor conditions or bad jobs, you know, the fact that life is unfair, and all of that kind of stuff. I'm talking about situations where people are raped or they have guns pointed at them, where a federal judge, gavel comes down and slavery, so federal court has found them guilty of slavery. So everybody knows farmworkers have it rough, they live to be 47 years old and die, usually from the pesticides, they make $7,500 a year but some of the cases I was writing about are the really rock-bottom ones from there. Imagine that lifestyle, imagine the worst case of that. And it ends up being where they don't get paid by their labor contractors.
Dennis Miller: Right, well--
John Bowe: And if you follow the money all the way up the food chain, you realize that these big companies like Tropicana, Burger King, Walmart, anybody who is buying tons and tons of vegetables or fruits, they sort of set the price. So they put the squeeze on the growers, everybody knows that farmer's always had it rough, and then the growers pass it down to the labor contractors, and of course at the bottom you have these guys who aren't really protected by the law, anymore.
Dennis Miller: Well, let's go through this food chain and see who--how each one of them is able to slough off culpability on to the next one. What do you think--and name those four companies again, I don't wanna isolate them but, I heard Walmart, I heard Tropicana, what's another one?
John Bowe: Ah, Burger King.
Dennis Miller: Alright, how are they able to get to bed at night, how do you think they tell themselves?
John Bowe: They tell themselves, "it's not our employee." So in the case of Tropicana, or really, any of these companies, they very much oversee who's piking what where when.
Dennis Miller: Right.
John Bowe: But they're buying it from a different company, that company's buying it from a different company, that company's buying it from a labor contractor, who's usually the same race, or, you know, he's from the same country as the workers.
Dennis Miller: Yes.
John Bowe: And then he's paying the workers. So no one, for example, if these guys are illegal aliens, no one's gonna go down except for the lowest guy on the totem pole, the labor contractor. The companies can just say, "oh! This doesn't have anything to do with us," it's the same thing you saw with Walmart before where it turns out the people who were cleaning the Walmarts, you know, were all illegal aliens, and they were all being stiffed on their wages. Now in the case of agriculture, you need to realize that ever since the end of slavery 1.0, they've found one way or another to do this. So it's not really the fact that these are illegal aliens that's important, it's the fact that this one industry especially has always not wanted to play by free market rules, they've always thought somehow making food was different from making cars, let's say, so they just don't wanna pay.
Dennis Miller: So it's like Tony sidles up to Sil and is like, "Sil, that situation needs to be taken care of," and Tony Soprano never wants to know the guy who actually does the deed--
John Bowe: Yeah, that's [inaudible] situation!
Dennis Miller: Because he wants to compartmentalize. Yeah. All right, where,what recourse does somebody in that field have at this point, and let me ask you this, if they choose to come here illegally, of their own volition--now obviously you bring up worst case scenarios when you bring up guns being pulled and people being raped, that's the heartbreak of any sort of human activity, this stuff happens but I'm saying, if you are here illegally--is that not one of the things that you preclude yourself from when you choose to come here illegally, is recourse when your labor conditions aren't right?
John Bowe: I mean you're asking them is it their fault that they get enslaved?
Dennis Miller: No, no, I'm asking you, once they've come here illegally, what recourse do they have, if any, answer that first, and if you say to me, "they have no recourse, Dennis," I'm then saying, "they have no recourse because they chose to come here illegally."
John Bowe: I think--the rules don't apply to--American labor laws, or laws against slavery apply to anybody on American soil, whether you've been kidnapped here, whether you're here legally, whether you're not here legally--
Dennis Miller: All right, that's a key point. I did not know that. So let's stipulate in America--by the way, we're talking to John Bowe, author of a great book, we'll just call it Nobodies, so we can get back to the conversation. That's an important point to me right now. American labor law does dictate that citizenry is not involved for these people to be, you know, protected by these laws.
John Bowe: But what makes it so hard, there are a lot of people, for example, the FBI and the Department of Justice who care about these cases and care about this issue but your talking about people, like, from southern Mexico, they don't even speak Spanish a lot of the time. For them to make the connection with six foot tall white people who speak the King's English and work from nine to five, you know, these workers don't have cell phones, they move around a lot, they're very hard to build a criminal case around.
Dennis Miller: Well, can the same things that they choose to do be called into play as our problem when [chuckles] when it doesn't serve them? You see what I'm saying, I think many of them make it deliberately hard, they live in--
John Bowe: [Inaudible]
Dennis Miller: They live in a shadow world. If we can't then locate them, whose--I'm of two minds on this. It breaks my heart, but I also knowing all this, the word isn't sent back to Mexico: "Listen, the headaches are immeasurable over here if you don't try to come here legally." Why is that word not heralded at the border?
John Bowe: Well, it's not like these guys are going to go report it to the Mexican media and it's going to be a big newspaper story. Also--
Dennis Miller: No, to their family members who are still to come, I'm saying, forget the media. Why aren't they passing it back down the food chain, "listen, it's not worth it to come here illegally."
John Bowe: Again, it's very hard for us to imagine their reality. If you're desperate enough, so that--you're so poor, you're so hungry, that you're going to go to this country, the land of the free and maybe there's only a one in 100, a one in 200 chance that you'll get enslaved, you're going to do it, it doesn't matter how horrible the worst case scenario is, you're hoping to end up with a better scenario. And you're that desperate that it's worth the gamble like that.
Dennis Miller: Mmm-hmm.
John Bowe: I mean, the larger point of the book is really about the fact that in our society, the rising gap between rich and poor is affecting life everywhere and it affects all parts of life, not just the rich or the poor, it affects everything. So we keep reading about these CEOs and these hedge fund guys who make, you know, bazillions of dollars a year and they're sort of turning into the new kings of our world. Well, no one is looking at what happens down at the bottom. And I'm telling you, there are new life forms and new things being created here that are pretty unsavory and don't really go along with the whole "land of the free" thing.
Dennis Miller: Well, listen, John, I feel the repair work is to be done at the bottom, I think it's a waste of time to think of guys in Greenwich, Connecticut, how can I get so much, some of their money. I really do, right now that's the American system we have. If you wanna put something in play as to here's what you can make in this country, I think you open up a whole other can of worms, my friend. I'll go back through history, I'll look a communism, I'll look at socialism and guess what, you think we have ugly problems now, you can't even imagine it, my friend. So don't worry about the guys at the top that much. There's some people that are going to get loaded in life--that's life. Let's try to make incrementally better for the people at the bottom. This is the Dennis Miller Show.
Dennis Miller: Welcome back, folks, Dennis Miller here. You know, Sal, I got a different vibe this time off John Bowe, it's interesting. And Christian, you remember I did say I don't feel I've gotten enough on this, let me talk to him again? The first time through, I got the champion of the proletariat and I was touched by it and also saddened that this exists, this time, though, we started to get to the B story and I'm not sure I was as comfy with the B story because I heard a couple code things in there, now first off, we have lawyers out there, hopefully they listen to this show, I need somebody in the legal field to call in and tell me, do in fact, American labor laws not specify that they apply to Americans, but rather anybody on this soil? I'd like to find that out first and, by the way, if a lawyer does call in, Christian, and tells ya he's gonna bill for a quarter hour, don't take it. Uh, the second thing, when I heard Greenwich, Connecticut, come out of his pie hole--I did hear that right? Or at least--no, I heard hedge fund managers--that sends off a bad alarm with me, you know, that's like I used to hear, you know, something would stop me in my tracks, I'd hear Halliburton and I'd think, "this person hasn't investigated this enough," if I asked him, I don't think they'd know what Halliburton was, and when I hear Big Oil, or big drug companies, I get that anti-globalist vibe, except they stop short of wanting to throw a trash can through a Banana Republic window but I got a different vibe off Bowe this in--you know, here's my theory when guys like that bring up hedge fund managers: how many million is enough and who determines that? Now if you're asking me that as a pragmatic, mathematical question, here's what I'd guesstimate in this time we live, how many million is enough? I think if you had ten million, free and clear, and I think there is an actual answer. You could live the life of creases, right, and never want for anything, would you? Just make some minimal investments, some spending. You know, people used to say a millionaire, you know, but, you know, there used to be that great, old TV show on, called The Millionaire, where you would sign checks for worthy people... Anyway, how many million is enough? Let's make a math answer: ten. But I don't know if a guy's worth a billion dollars, isn't it seem odd to go up to him and say, "We're cutting you off here?" [Laughs] I mean, isn't there always wizards who game the system because they're smarter than the rest of us?
David Weiss: They should be able to make as much as they can.
Dennis Miller: Yeah, I don't know that feigning ineptitude gets a country anywhere... Listen, do I think there's inequities in the world? Yes, the great Sam Kinison used to do the joke about move to the food. Yeah, I look at the world sometimes and I think, "wow, the schematic on this is weird." But I just don't--whenever I hear anybody say, "anybody who has a certain amount of money"--and I thought this when I was broke, too, by the way--that I should be able to go up to them and say, "you've got enough, I want some of yours," that seems, like, crazy to me.
David Weiss: That's socialism, you know, then communism.
Dennis Miller: Yeah, now if John Bowe wants to come on here and talk about people being locked up at night, yeah, I want the local cop to go up and make sure that lock's off and if that person's being just abused, and indeed we have a lawyer call in and flesh this thing out for us a little, I'd like to hear that. But this time, I must say, I took away from John Bowe a little more of agenda than I did the first time. The first time I took away a Tom Joad vibe and I thought, good for him. This time, eh, I wouldn't call it creepy, but I begin to get a glimpse, another facet in his nature. Anywho, we're waiting on that lawyer, in the interim, we'll take some other calls.
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