June 17, 2015
There are two kinds of commemorative days/weeks/months. There’s the nonprofit, “awareness” type, such as Black History Month or World Down Syndrome Day, intended to show solidarity for some cause. Then there’s the for-profit, commercial variety, like International Pickle Week or California Dried Plum Digestive Health Month, which are simply business marketing campaigns.
And then there’s the profit-seeking effort masquerading as cause-promotion. That’s what June’s Immigrant Heritage Month is.
Just as International Pickle Week was dreamed up by the Pickle Packers International trade association to sell more fermented cucumbers, Immigrant Heritage Month is a project that Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg dreamed up to hold down his labor costs by importing more cheap foreign labor. But at least the pickle people are up-front about their goals: They want to help their clients make more money by persuading people to buy more pickles. (More power to them — pickles are great.)
Immigrant Heritage Month is a project that Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg dreamed up to hold down his labor costs by importing more cheap foreign labor. Zuckerberg, on the other hand, is dressing up his unpopular business objectives with a sham commemoration. It doesn’t even make much sense; one can celebrate Mexican heritage or Armenian heritage or Irish heritage. But what is “immigrant heritage”? Certainly, immigrants themselves undergo a shared experience of adapting to a new country, but what distinctive heritage do their descendants inherit from it, especially since everybody’s ancestors came from somewhere else? The campaign is a counterfeit from beginning to end.
In his initial foray into rent-seeking through immigration policy, a PAC dubbed FWD.us, Zuckerberg was more forthright about his motivations. Established in the spring of 2013, in the middle of the Senate debate over Marco Rubio’s Gang of Eight bill, the PAC said it was “mobilizing the tech community in support of policies that keep the American Dream achievable in the 21st century, starting with comprehensive immigration reform.” Amid the boilerplate, the goal was plain: Give the tech industry easier access to cheap foreign labor. The list of supporters is a who’s who of Big Tech: Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Eric Schmidt, Max Levchin, Sean Parker, Drew Houston, Mark Pinkus, John Doerr, Reid Hoffman, and so on.
In short order, FWD.us fell flat in Washington. It spread money around like a drunken sailor on payday but completely failed to achieve any of the objectives for which it was founded. All of Silicon Valley’s billions couldn’t get Rubio’s amnesty/immigration-surge bill over the finish line. It didn’t help that Joe Green, Zuckerberg’s college pal who led FWD.us, was a clueless gaffe-machine — he once said that the tech industry wanted to hire more foreign workers because they were better than Americans. He was fired last fall.