James E. Miller writing in Taki's Magazine
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: There are some jobs Americans won’t do. Therefore, we need Third World labor to come pick up the slack.
If I had a nickel for every time I heard that line parroted in the press, I’d cover the yearly salary of all the migrant strawberry pickers in California.
Regrettably, the “jobs Americans won’t do” trope is treated like just another piece of locus communis.
Economists repeat it endlessly.
Big-business types love to deploy it (and collect the windfall profits from employing cut-rate labor).
Media moguls believe it.
Politicians, both Democrat and Republican, robotically repeat the claim, as if it were fed to them by the Chamber of Commerce.
* FOLKS... UNDERSTAND... THE MODERN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IS REALLY THE CHAMBER OF CRONY-CAPITALIST COMMERCE. I'M SORRY. IT'S THE SAD TRUTH.
This election cycle has brought new life to the issue of the Third World’s untrammeled access into the United States. But it hasn’t changed the conventional wisdom on the “jobs Americans won’t do” line. Nearly every candidate is in favor of guest-worker programs, which basically means providing an ample supply of cheap, fungible labor for business.
Even real estate magnate Donald Trump (say it ain’t so!) buys into the notion.
When challenged by Sen. Marco Rubio in a recent debate for hiring Mexicans to work at his Florida hotel, Trump defended the practice, claiming “people didn’t want to have part-time jobs” and that he “couldn’t get help in those hot, hot sections of Florida.”
Trump’s thinking is far from unique. Yet the idea that there are some jobs Americans are too proud to do is pure hokum. From a data perspective it doesn’t make sense. And from a purely rational view it doesn’t hold up, either.
First, the numbers. A 2013 study from the Center for Immigration Studies reports that only six out of the 472 civilian occupation categories in the U.S. are filled primarily by immigrants. That’s about 1% of the entire workforce. Professions normally thought of as immigrant-dominated, such as janitorial work and cleaning services, are actually staffed primarily by those native-born.
* Er... SORRY... BUT SINCE WE'RE IN LARGE PART TALKING THE "UNDERGROUND" OR "TRANSLUCENT AT BEST" ECONOMY... I WOULDN'T TRUST SUCH STATS.
Of course, you won’t hear those figures from someone like Senator Rubio, who, despite his criticism of Trump, justifies more immigration by saying there are some American workers who “can’t cut it.” (One wonders what the reaction would be if Rubio said that to an unemployed American. Would a laid-off blue-collar worker take kindly to being told that he can’t work with his hands as well as someone in this country illegally?)
* AND ONCE AGAIN I MUST INTERJECT A NOTE OF REALITY: WE'RE TALKING A WELFARE STATE (AMERICAN; WITH SOME INDIVIDUAL STATE OFFERING MORE "GENEROUS" WELFARE AND UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS THAN OTHERS), WHICH EXPLAINS WHY SO MANY AMERICANS CAN "AFFORD" NOT TO WORK AT "ANY JOB AVAILABLE" IF THEY DON'T "LIKE" THOSE JOBS.
Then there is the issue of reduced wages, which both progressives and free-market conservatives seem to believe is a great thing for competitiveness. We’re told that the industries illegals predominantly occupy pay little and that Americans aren’t willing to accept a pittance for taxing physical labor. Our countrymen have families to raise. They can’t afford to care for their children with a down-market wage.
But whoever said that jobs like plucking vegetables or folding towels were full-time positions?
Sure, they are low-skilled, unpleasant, and sometimes hard on the body. But they are not careers. These aren’t jobs meant to provide for 3.14 persons. Monotonous work pays little because it doesn’t require much abstract thinking or innovation. Thus, they are the perfect jobs for those first entering the working world.
As a teenager I worked at a theme park for $5.85 an hour. This was 2003, with the economy still recovering from the dot-com recession. As the years went by, I took on more roles and responsibilities. I was in charge of managing employees, counting cash, and making sure guests who paid $40 a pop to get into the park got their meal in reasonable time. But I also had to do a ton of dirty jobs, including cleaning Dumpsters, emptying grease pans, and sweeping up garbage in the hot sun. It was sucky work, no doubt. Yet it taught me discipline and the value of bettering myself for more remunerative employment.
When guys like Stan Eury rig the system and bring busloads of Mexicans for low-skilled, physically demanding drudgery, it denies that opportunity for natives to earn cash and improve their skills.
Paying migrant workers the most minimal of wages might be great for profit margins. But the elitist assumption baked into the “good for business” equation doesn’t take into account why illegal aliens can accept second-rate pay. Is it because they are that desperate for jobs? Or is it because they can afford to live in squalid conditions and work long hours for lousy pay as they don’t require permanent residence and plan on returning home eventually?
Maximizing profit on the backs of illegals is often done at the cost of turning away the native-born. It disrupts what Edmund Burke called the “little platoons” of society. That is, it sows discord into communities where members feel less valued than outsiders.
Now, I don’t mean to wax on romantically about the steadfast resolve of the American worker. It’s true that the lower working class has been rendered indolent and lazy with a combination of government welfare, easy availability of drugs, affordable, calorie-rich food, and cheap thrills. But the nation’s economic and political elite like having the masses placated by McDonald’s and Netflix. The less riffraff from the proles, the better.
The only way to get the lower and middle classes out of their stupor is to stop the flow of cheap migrant labor.
There is nothing demeaning about grunt work.
Labor is dignifying.
Nature’s benevolence doesn’t put food on the table. Man has to work for his rewards. Like St. Paul said, if you don’t work, you don’t eat. Americans should rid themselves of the notion that tedious, dirty work is "beneath them."
The sooner that happens, the sooner we start having a country again, and not an economic free-for-all.