Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Immigration and 19th Century Robber-barons

I posted this 2 weeks ago, before the firestorm erupted and before some particularly silly things were written on progressive sites. I'll do a little updating and addressing of nonsense.

Like most of us, I'm a child of immigrants, a long while ago, pre-Revolution and pre-Civil War for the most part, but immigrants none the less. This country probably could not have survived without the inflow of immigrants through out the 19th and 20th centuries. There is, however, a difference between immigration and uncontrolled illegal entry.

There is the matter of just how dangerous some of the illegals are, whether simple criminality or terrorism makes little difference. Frankly, terrorists will figure out how to penetrate controlled borders. I am not making a case that all illegal entrents are dangerous, simply that an unacceptable portion are and we have enough of the home-grown variety. There certainly are unfortunate social program costs involved, a small slice of the pie becomes even smaller and student funding takes a hit.

Illegal hiring is another piece of the problem. We're not talking about grass cutting and stoop labor, but a whole range of blue collar jobs. Here's a concrete example from my own industry:
labor costs don't stop with wages, FICA takes 15.4% (half from employee-half from employer), Unemployment takes around 2-3%, Workman's Comp takes 22-30%, all totalling between 39-46% of wage. This means that a legal employee costs $1.39 to $1.49 per dollar of wage so a $10.00 per hour employee actually costs $14-15.00 per hour. An employer making an illegal hire has a $4-5.00 per hour per employee labor cost advantage. Try to make that work. If materials costs and time per job are equal where is the give? The employee's wage is where the hit occurs, cheats and thieves are cutting blue collar throats. It is not hard for the employer to verify for legal hiring. So maybe these cheats need to be penalized enough to make the practice very unattractive, like 1yr Prevailing Wage per incident as a fine. Or maybe some jail time to go along with it. The Federal govt virtually winks at this problem, there's some big money in illegal hiring...

If you're starting to think "code for racism" you can back that train up, one of three of my crew is Mexican-American, and I'd hire a green Martian who worked hard and did a good job and had legal paperwork. It's only a part of the reason blue collar wages are so seriously depressed, but it is significant and curable. Take a look at who's tolerating this and then take a look at money. Do I get angry about this? You bet, I work side by side with my guys and they do everything right, work hard and do a good job in all kinds of weather and it's a job that is statistically more dangerous than being a cop. The arguement that Americans won't take that kind of work falls apart in the face of my crew all being Americans.

Not one of my crew nor myself bear any responsibilty for the condition of any foreign country. Not one iota. But they will be made to bear the cost. Now if the stance of "bye-bye" seems hard hearted, maybe you need to consider how little we can afford sympathy until our plight is addressed. We are being "in-sourced" right out of work or wages. If I raise my per foot bid just enough to cover the cost of a motel room with 5 illegals in it, I'm done for. That would involve $1.50/hour raise for my crew. You can find a crew of 15 illegals on a job and call INS and their response is, " Ummmm, oh well..." Once they're past the entry point, nobody gives a rat's patoot.

Maybe you're a little conflicted on the illegality of the issue, so I'll make this point, if I take a little walk and come home, life is good, but if my little walk takes me into Mary Doe's house, uninvited, I'm going to face some rather ugly legal consequences. These folks have taken a little walk right into my house and are taking things, I don't like it. I don't have to like it and won't like it just to satisfy the "race" card. I don't care what language they say "hello" in or what color face is saying it, do it legally or get out. Americans go to jail for less serious offenses than invading a country and stealing services, how the heck is that condonable?

GWB and waldenbush are working real hard to take this country back to 19th Century robber barons conditions and the touchy-feely left is aiding and abetting the process on this issue. If you want to see how this crap works, take a real good look at Chicago at the turn of the Century, and look at a real history text. Well, I told you I wasn't politics as usual or just any Democrat, so if you feel mislead, not my fault.


todd barnhart said...

your situation points out what's really awful about this problem, Chuck. the workers who are here illegally are not here to steal jobs or take away from Americans; most of them just want to take care of their families. they want money for a home, school for the kids, a better life; i am positive most of them would love to return home -- if they had something decent to return to. shutting our borders does not fix the real problem, anymore than Reagan kicking the mentally ill out into the streets took care of that.

before we can deal with the problem of illegals in this country, we need to undo the century-plus of damage American capitalist imperialism has done to the countries these folks are coming from. we need to take strong actions, not against impoverished people trying to make a better life, but their governments and the multinational corporations that profit off both ends of the misery. i hate that you and the legal extranationals suffer from this problem, but the problem is not the illegals. they are just a symptom.

Chuck Butcher said...

Here's the deal, some people have made gawd awful amounts of money from the crushing of 3rd world labor. Some was US imperialism, yes, most is due to the corruption, racism, and plutocracy endemic to those countries. Show me a country that Spain, Portugal, or France has had a hand in that isn't a complete mess.

The consequences of illegal entry have been known all along, they took that risk to prosper (realitively), so now that there's 11 million it's fine?

The problem with trying to assign guilt and blame to the US is that the folks who never got anything out of it will get to pay and they not only don't want to, they shouldn't.

The motivations of the fleeing peasants is of little to no interest to the US labor that's getting smashed, and for 2 reasons, 1) they got no benefit 2) they're getting screwed by the "in-source". Heartlessly selfish? Well somebody is and is getting over real well.

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