Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Working Class

In the USA it's the illegal immigrants; the people who can't ask for more wages, can't negotiate for anything because their employers can have them deported at the drop of a hat. Anyone who's working legally is of a higher class, even the people just scraping along. The USA has over ten million people in this lower class. Most of what I hear about them is how awful they are, and how we have to make their lives even worse, so they'll leave and citizens can take over their jobs. That, interlarded with the fear that that if these people were paid and treated decently prices would rise. As if the people who hire them would ever obey labor laws or cut prices if they had any alternative! Oh, you hominids could make the border into a killing field, make a feast for us corvids. That would stop them from coming, probably. The people who ran Abu Ghraib and run Gitmo, they'd be happy to do it for you. And then they'd do it to you.

If you don't want more rule by criminals, it's time to start thinking about alternatives. If people are desperate enough to risk death to come here and work, they're not going to be stopped without crimes against humanity. If you reject crimes against humanity, then, maybe, let them work legally, and let the same laws that protect citizens protect migrants. At least, that would even the competition; citizens and non-citizens would be working under the same rules, and employers would have to honor the labor laws for all. At the same time, the USA could work to improve conditions in countries that send the migrants, so that we'd have a few visitors rather than the flood of refugees we've been seeing. Perhaps some other solution would be better. But don't go on like this.

The policy reasoning here is a lot thinner than my usual post. This is a hot-button issue that mainstream policy-makers want to sweep under the rug, so there's not a lot of high-quality popular policy analysis on this subject. A candidate who suggests that there's anything to do about undocumented aliens other than abuse them and send them away is probably going to lose an election. To even suggest that the policies we've got now are part of the problem scares many of us. Yet I have become convinced that alternatives exist which are both more compassionate and better economics. Caw!

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