Politics: April 2009 Archives

I'm reading Naked Airport: A Cultural History of the World's Most Revolutionary Structure by Alastair Gordon. As Gordon discusses about the expansion of early American aviation businesses into Latin America, he quotes early Pan Am exec Sanford Kauffman on his experiences working in Honduras:

"Kauffman had been at his post for only a few weeks when a revolution broke out in Honduras. Rebels were flying old biplanes and dropping bombs onto his airfield. Kauffman telegraphed Miami headquarters and informed his superiors that PAA [Pan America Airways] planes should not attempt to land but should fly directly on to San Salvador. When the local manager of the United Fruit Company inquired why the mail plane hadn't arrived that day, Kauffman told him about the aerial bombardment. The manager replied: 'Why didn't you come in and let me know? We're controlling the revolution, and I'll simply tell them to stop bombing you.' United Fruit had put the president into power in the first place, but when the president hiked the tax on bananas, the company thought it best to have him replaced. 'There's a general who would love to be president,' explain the agent, 'so we're supplying him with funds to buy ammunition and equipment, [and] he'll be the next one.' Kauffman got the message and reopened the airport the next day."

There's more discussion of this fun little corporate imperial anecdote in Kauffman's book, Pan Am Pioneer, in the "Stationed In Honduras" chapter.

Microsopic view of smallpox

Image via Wikipedia

Apparently, some conservative commentators are worried that swine flu may have made its way to the US due to movement by undocumented Mexican immigrants. For once, they're right.

Well, maybe not strictly right, in this specific case, given that a significant number of cases in the US involve vacationing presumably-documented Americans.

But our nativists certainly have the right historical instincts, recalling as they do how undocumented immigrants accidentally brought epidemic disease to the Americas, causing the deaths of millions of previously-unexposed non-resistant indigenous people.

And when out nativists put forth the theory that swine flu is being secretly spread by Al Qaeda, they're remembering the stories of deliberate infection of Native Americans. (Which, it turns out, was a very limited cause, if at all, compared to the larger story. But who knows--maybe the baddies are responsible this time.)

Who says we've lost our sense of historical memory?

NY Times immigration and jobs explorer map

I've been enjoying playing with "Immigration and Jobs: Where U.S. Workers Come From," an interactive feature in The New York Times, based on the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. It lets you select countries of birth and see the most common occupations for those immigrants, or choose occupations, and see which country's immigrants have the highest numbers in that sector.

I was particularly interested in seeing what professions are overwhelmingly and uniquely linked to certain national origins--a function of immigration trends, labor markets, geography, and chance. These included:

  • Mexico: sales-related professions; clerical and administrative staff; policemen and other protective workers; most hospitality, maintenance, and personal service professions; all construction, manufacturing, and other labor
  • Philippines: nurses
  • India: computer software developers, doctors
  • Vietnam: hairdressers

Some breakdowns by occupation...

Top origins of foreign-born managers and administrators

  1. Mexico
  2. India
  3. Britain
  4. Canada
  5. Germany

Top origins of foreign-born accountants and other financial specialists

  1. Philippines
  2. China
  3. India
  4. Mexico
  5. North and South Korea

Top origins of foreign-born hairdressers and other grooming services

  1. Vietnam
  2. Mexico
  3. North and South Korea
  4. Dominican Republic
  5. China

And some breakdowns by country of birth...

Top 5 occupations for those born in India

  1. Computer software developers
  2. Managers and administrators
  3. Scientists and quantitative analysts
  4. Sales-related occupations
  5. Engineers and architects

Top 5 occupations for those born in Germany

  1. Clerical and administrative staff
  2. Managers and administrators
  3. Sales-related occupations
  4. Teachers
  5. Mechanics and equipment repairers

Top 5 occupations for those born in Mexico

  1. Skilled construction workers
  2. Industrial equipment operators
  3. Cooks and other food preparers
  4. Construction laborers
  5. Clerical and administrative staff

More at The New York Times interactive tool.

(via Partha S. Banerjee)


Anirvan Chatterjee is a San Francisco Bay Area tech geek and bibliophile.


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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from April 2009.

Politics: February 2009 is the previous archive.

Politics: May 2009 is the next archive.

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