Thursday, June 20, 2013

Labor and immigration

I've been reading Charles and Mary Beard's delightful book The Rise of American Civilization.  One of the passages I came across yesterday caught my attention in lieu of the debate--or, rather, lack of debate--over Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

In case such obstacles were surmounted, one equally perplexing remained to plague the labor organizer, namely, the practice of importing laborers in armies bound by contract to specified employers, coupled with the reduction of the ocean fare by competing steamship companies which kept the tide of immigration at its flood.  When a union successfully organized a craft and struck, either against a wage cut or in favor of an increase, it was comparatively easy for the employer to cable to Europe for a new supply of workers and have them on the spot within a fortnight, if indeed a shipload of competent workers, bought by the latest steamer, did not stand at the moment on the docks in New York waiting for jobs.  That a trade union movement was able to get under way at all is a marvel. (Vol. II, p. 216)

Although a continuous supply of cheap labor acts to depress wages, the chief beneficiaries have been so effective at castigating immigration skeptics as inveterate racists that no one seems to have noticed this rather obvious fact. It would be much more honest to admit that the purpose of the bill is to ensure that corporate profits continue to climb, but our elites are not quite that brazen.

It may not meet the criteria of libertarian purists, but the old method of restricting immigration so as to drive up wages for men--who can then afford to marry children and pay for them--seems vastly preferable to the present policy of awarding women for becoming pregnant out of wedlock.  This system, moreover, reduces the pool of marriageable men, which further exacerbates the illegitimacy crisis. 

It would be difficult to come up with a more convoluted series of incentives.  One begins to suspect that the elites not only don't like ordinary Americans, they frankly despise them.

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