April 28, 2010
It Would Take A Miracle
Friends, Americans, countrymen, I bring you tidings of great joy - contrary to everything you hear in the media, to the cries of racism from the usual, loud quarters - we do not have an illegal immigration problem. Much less do we have a racism-against-hispanic-immigrants problem.
No, I'm not saying that there are no illegal immigrants in the country or that some people don't feel uppitty about brown-skinned folk who speak Spanish - or even those like me, olive skinned with a Portuguese accent. More on this later. I'm simply saying that this is not our main, or even an auxiliary problem.
Our problem is very simple. We have legislators who do not understand the nature or the limits of their power. Like King Canute commanding the sea, (only he was brighter and did it for a lesson in limits - his imitators are NOT that bright) they have tried to legislate over natural law. Whenever this happens the result is an ugly distortion and in this case one that is - if not killing this country - making everything - even the cherished welfare-state of our liberal friends - much more difficult.
What are you talking about, Sarah? What natural law have they legislated over? One that is as fundamental as the weather - and as chaotic. And one that can no more be forced to obey human command than the sea: economic law. In this case the law of supply and demand that governs minimum wage.
We do not have an illegal immigration problem. We have a minimum-wage-and-mandatory-social-security contribution problem.
Don't all rise up at once to tell me that without minimum wage people will be "exploited" - whatever that means. Sit down, shut up and listen.
Yeah, it's the oldest trick in the world for the government to mandate a minimum wage. No, I have no idea if they were doing it in Rome, but if they weren't it's the only bad economic idea Rome left untouched (monopolies, welfare.) It makes the legislators feel good for "providing" for the "poor", it gives them a boost in the polls with the economic illiterate, and it makes these ivory-tower legislators feel like they're the "working man's friend." I suspect that these people think it doesn't hurt anyone. Those people who are priced out of the market - their abilities are simply not worth a minimum wage of however much the government mandates - can be taken care of with Welfare. At least they're not being exploited, right? There is no Victorian mill owner, no "robber baron" twisting his moustaches and cackling at poor Timmy's father working into the wee hours for a pittance.
What they are doing, in fact, is keeping an entire group of young people out of the workstream. What they're also doing - because work that's dirty, brutal and unskilled still needs to be done - is paying American citizens to stay home and not learn anything about work and not climb the social ladder of achievement, while they bring in an entire uneducated, impoverished, desperate workforce to do those jobs and, by the way, to have their earnings completely outside the legal stream of the economy.
Legislators are not bringing in poor people from South of the border? The hell you say. Are they or are they not creating conditions under which work that must be done cannot be done under legislated economic conditions? Are they or are they not winking at the presence of poor, illiterate, unprotected workers who do it? Right. They're bringing them in by the million. It's called creating a demand that meets a supply. It's called how economics works around the obstruction in the stream created by stupid laws that cannot be obeyed.
And before you tell me - some of you will - that they could pay minimum wage and people can pay more for their lettuces, their strawberries, their boned chickens. Yeah. Okay. They could. Only - leaving alone for a moment that you cannot deny a business profits without destroying whole fields, that profit is not a dirty word but what makes the world go round (To the crack White House economic experts - can you hear me now?) - that is not how things work in this universe. I don't know where you come from, but in this universe, demand will be answered by supply and supply will try to meet demand, all in the interest of keeping food in the mouth and roof over head. And you cannot - you simply cannot, even if you put our entire national guard at the border and made "controlling immigration" the most serious business of the federal government - keep people in a poor and violent country from trying to improve their lives - or simply avoid death - by crossing an easy, relatively flat, unprotected (you can't protect it enough) border to met the labor-demand of the companies that - on the other side - are dying for workers who will perform for what these companies can afford to pay.
Short of building an artificial range of mountains between us and Mexico - and that won't be enough. In the late sixties and early seventies, Portuguese people in the same situation as Mexicans went over Spain into France to work illegally, over the Pyrenees (http://www.ask.com/wiki/Pyrenees?qsrc=3044) and braving all sorts of crime - these are the facts. And you cannot argue with facts.
Mexicans and other illegals are NOT coming North to do the work Americans won't do. They're coming North to do the work that Americans are forbidden by law from doing.
It is the worst of all worlds. Unless the intent of the legislators is to create a poor, needy, ignorant class that they can manipulate at will. I don't think so - oh, maybe some of them are doing it on purpose but as for the rest - they're not that smart. It's unintended consequence piled on unintended consequence.
And then we come to the crowning stupidity. If you oppose this situation, you're called a racist. Yes, even me. (And for those note before exposed to my rants, this is where I live: http://sarahahoyt.com/) Okay, let's make one thing clear once and forever: Hispanic is NOT a race. Hispanic is a culture. (And a culture not markedly different from the one I was raised in, for that matter. In fact, Portuguese fit in somewhere in the outer fringes of "Latin" people.) Nothing gets me more furious than confusing the two. Culture is a complex of language and LEARNED BEHAVIOR which is passed between generations by LEARNING. Race are inate characteristics. I'm getting really tired of explaining this to people - I've seen it with my own kids in school that the matter is (I think deliberately) obscured - but it's like this: if you're one of those celebrities who adopt babies from Africa, the baby will still look African. His/her hair, skin color, eyes, will all look exactly like the tribe the baby was adopted from. However, the baby - unless the celebrity puts on an untold effort, and even then - will grow into someone who knows more about Hollywood than about his native tribe and their customs. Race: inherited. Culture (including language) acquired.
So let's examine this "Hispanic" "race" - as far as government regulations go, it is based mostly or solely on last name. Oh, you can claim it for another generation based on a mother with a Latin last name, but that's it.
Okay. So, let's examine last names. My first middle name, Marques, is my grandmother's maiden name. Suppose I spelled it with a z instead of an s. Do you realize I've suddenly become "Hispanic"? Do you realize in fact that people who lived a few miles from my mountain dwelling ancestors a few centuries ago and who are in all likelihood several times over cousins (cousin marriage being a cultural thing) would be considered a different race based on... a consonant?
Or take my friend Sylvina Sbarro, whose parents emigrated from Italy to Argentina. If she chose to immigrate to the US, she'd now be "Hispanic" because she was born in Argentina while if her parents had taken a different boat, chosen to live with different relatives and landed in NYC forty some years ago, she'd now be "Italian-American."
This is nonsense. Races are not based on spelling or what boat someone took.
But it's not just the language, you say, it's skin color. Most Mexicans at least are some mix of Spanish and indigenous peoples. They're "brown people." People will be racist against them!
Oh, really? But not Italians, Greeks, Portuguese? Why not? If I work in my yard a few days in Summer, I can get considerably darker than any Mexican. In fact my not speaking (can read it, don't understand spoken) Spanish has caused much grief to countless hotel personnel who ASSUME I do. (I also get discounts at Greek restaurants, Italian delis and middle Eastern grocery stores, all unspoken. Live with it.) And my younger kid can get darker than Obama - not that this is very difficult - if he spends a couple of days outside. Do we get "racism"? Children, people discriminate against EVERYTHING. It's the way the human brain works. "My tribe/not my tribe." Of course some people treat us stupidly. Heck, a lot of people refuse to read my books because I'm female and therefore I must be writing about sparkly vampires and they don't want to read that. We won't even go into the people who refuse to read my books because I'm foreign born. (I'm sure there are a few.) So far we've managed without the government protecting us, though. And my husband (whose ancestor was a drummer boy in the revolutionary war) is more likely to get searched at airports than I am.
No, look, like blaming employers or illegal immigrants for the mess that stupid legislation causes, blaming 'racism' for opposing the mess and trying to control it is a ruse. A ruse that has been working all too well so far.
If we allow our little King Canute-wannabes to proceed unmolested on their deluded path, this "race" and "culture" conflation will allow them to raise two or three generations that will BELIEVE they need the government to hold their hands at every second. And then these mini-despots will have what any despot wants: a population of uneducated downtrodden, ready to vote for them; a group of people who, if they manage to work at all, have to work under the table. And who will pull the lever for their "protectors" and lend them "force" if needed.
I'm suggesting we do not allow the Canutelings to run around with the bit firmly between their teeth. They are not even responsible enough to be allowed to run around unless tightly watched.
I'm suggesting we start a movement to repeal minimum wage laws. Let our more liberal brethren and their blood-suffused hearts mandate some form of work-fare supplement to bring the earnings of those under it to the level of current minimum wage.
This workfare supplement will actually work against both those receiving it and the country, because those receiving it will have less incentive to climb up the ladder and leave the ridiculously low-paying jobs behind. It will also drain the country of money in redistributive taxes which will in turn take money from the economy and business and make it harder for businesses to pay better wages.
Never mind. I suppose I'll never be able to convince people at large that if there's no bottom to wages, they'll still find their own level at "what people are willing to work for." Mind you, during nineties boom, minimum wage was outstripped by what even a recent highschool graduate could make at our local McDonalds. But never mind that. We're not talking logic. Do gooders will feel a compulsive need to supplement the earnings of those making under some arbitrary amount they decide upon. Like the need for demand to have supply it is probably something we can't suppress.
So let the Canutelings legislate a supplement to wages under "x" but let people - in fact, require that non-profoundly disabled people, after some time -- take a job, any job they can perform (or at least provide proof they're trying to find such a job) as a condition of receiving aid. Oh, and do away with social security as a mandatory system, already. WE KNOW it's broke. The game is up. In fact, for my generation, it's always been up. We always knew we wouldn't get one thin dime back. (It is just another way of doubling the costs of hiring people and ensuring those evil capitalists don't twirl their moustaches and chuckle. Get over it. A little consensual moustache twirling is fine among friends.)
Once you do away with mandatory deductions and mandatory minimum wage, employers will hire legal workers simply because a worker who understands the language and has some clue as to the culture is easier to live with. Oh, and you don't need to dodge the law.
For the country, too, this is much better than paying welfare, and for the workers a much better deal than staying home and collecting a pay check because some of those workers will get tired of picking cabbages under the hot sun. They will find other jobs and move slowly up. Eventually, some percentage of them will be able to stand on their own two feet. A few of them will become wildly rich or invent something that will benefit us all. And talk of people being racist based on spelling or which route they took to get here will vanish. And the market distortion that has us importing masses of untrained people will vanish. And THEN we can discuss immigration reform and how to make it easier for us to allow the people who wish to come here to do so.
What this means is that my plan does not have a chance. It would take a miracle.
posted by Sarah on 04.28.10 at 04:14 PM
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