Democrats & Liberals Archives

Membership Has Its Privileges

America can use more hard workers. If a person is willing to earn their keep and become part of the community, we should grant them full citizenship, rather than go the Guest-Worker route. Europe’s current problems with their muslim community stem from just such programs, where cheap foreign labor is imported to get around the expense of domestic labor, and full citizenship is withheld from most.

The Results are what we have seen occur already in their communities. Strife, radicalism, all that fun stuff. When you invite somebody over, work them hard, and you reward them appropriately, they identify with you, extend their loyalties to you. If you deny them their rewards, deny them full citizenship, you them in a position where the relationship is not one between equals, but between masters and slaves, ruling class and serfs.

Which is to say, the use of second class citizens has been done before, and the results have been grimly consistent. We're still recovering from our previous experiments in cheap labor. One such experiment nearly ended the union. Enforced inequality encourages radicalism, as well. It's no coincidence that Communism, Socialism, and Marxism all rose up and grew strong in lands where aristocracies, colonialists, and feudal societies once held sway. When one person can say to another, you work for your bread, and I'll eat it, (to paraphrase Lincoln), then the politics of social warfare take on righteousness and an intoxicating attraction to those marginalized.

America does not need a new class of second-class citizens, especially in a time where our enemies exploit such societies elsewhere. It does not need people working to line the pockets of those who cannot manage businesses paying employees what the market demands in our country.

What America needs to do is reward work, and the initiative to become American. Be hot or cold on immigration, and be prepared to back return or assimilation. Do not take the lukewarm course of second class citizenry.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at March 27, 2006 9:19 AM
Comments
Comment #136076

Stephen,

You make an excellent point. I hadn’t actually thought of the situation in the terms of “master and slave” but it certainly could fit. While I have no personal knowledge of it, I believe there have been documented cases of illegals basically being treated nearly like slaves. Then again I may be confusing facts with an old Charles Bronson movie or something.

Now, while I understand there truly is a problem, a silly thought I haven’t been able to shake is what I can only call “the need to hate” or at least the need to blame. In election year 2004 the target was gay marriage because it threatens the relationship between a man and a woman. Now what’s the new threat? Illegal immigrants taking our jobs, costing us more in welfare and law enforcement costs, etc?

Anyway this is one of those issues where the truly liberal side of me shines through. Quite simply I do believe I’m my brothers keeper. I just can’t see following through with any action that results in the suffering of others, but, that aside, Bush is actually “partly” right on this issue. Walls and fences will only result in different means being used to cross the border.

The best plan I’ve seen put forward to date is the “McCain-Kennedy-Kolbe-Flake-Gutierrez Bill”. I’ve not yet been able to find the full text of the bill in but there is a summary here:

http://kennedy.senate.gov/~kennedy/statements/05/05/2005512A04.html

I think it’s at least a start. It certainly sounds more humane than many of the proposals I’ve heard.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at March 27, 2006 12:14 PM
Comment #136078

Stephen

This is one area where I agree with the Democrats, mostly. This country was built by hard-working immigrants (including my own grandparents) who asked for nothing more than a chance for a better life with both the rights of, and the legal recognition as, an American citizen. I don’t think we’ve reached the saturation point where we can no longer welcome such people to our shores (or across our borders). But assimilation, to me at least, is a mandatory requirement. Unfortunately, many (if not most) of the people coming here today, especially from Mexico, have chosen to live separate from the American culture and language. They have, in essence, recreated their former homeland, a country within a country, if you will. If they want to live the American dream, they must accept and become part of the American culture. That doesn’t mean giving up their own culture or language. It just means being more. But all of this does not mean we do not have a right to control our borders and determine who comes and who does not come. Simply sneaking into the country does not warrant citizenship.

Posted by: Bill M. at March 27, 2006 12:16 PM
Comment #136085

Bill M.-
We should give the ones already here amnesty, conditional on their registration. Assimilation will take care of itself, if people do not feel the need to remain under the radar, among those who will not betray them.

Loyalty starts with equality and interdependence. The more we can encourage them to depend on us as we depend on them, the more we can count on them to respect and preserve our culture.

After the Amnesty, we should make the rules strict about entry, but I believe we should relax some of the laws that favor middle to upper-class immigration over that of the poor. The balance has to be struck in terms of permeability between letting as many people immigrate as desire it, and keeping out as many troublemakers, terrorists, and loafers as possible.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 27, 2006 12:39 PM
Comment #136098

Stephen

I don’t like the term “upper-class.” It smacks of snobbery. But I do agree preference should be given to people with skills, education and/or special training. It works in Australia.

Your last sentence is my chief concern. Many of these troublemakers, terrorists and loafers are already here. Tracking them down has been a problem because those “countries within a country” I spoke of protect them. And we’re still left with the huge problem of keeping them out to begin with. If not a fence or wall, what then?

Posted by: Bill M. at March 27, 2006 1:14 PM
Comment #136103

Stephen,

I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m glad to hear this viewpoint being extolled on the top of the pages in this forum rather than in the responses.

Posted by: Rob at March 27, 2006 1:31 PM
Comment #136105

Stephen:

I agree! Having guest workers goes against American principles.

One of the biggest practical reasons for a guest worker program is that business wants cheap labor. Businessmen get to make more money. But the big result is that wages for everyone are pulled downward. All workers eventually lose.

A guest worker program is unAmerican.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at March 27, 2006 1:35 PM
Comment #136106

Stephen
If they do not wish to become Americans, then are they not just guests?
Granting citizenship to those who have no desire to become Americans and who only want our money and benefits is not the way to go.
Citizenship also has its privileges. Privileges not all deserve.

Posted by: kctim at March 27, 2006 1:38 PM
Comment #136116

I think this sends the wrong message as well. Do we want those outside the US to think that all they have to do is illegally sneek in here, and we will turn a blind eye and legally let them stay?

This is sheer lunacy.

Stephen, you said:
“When you invite somebody over”

Who invited them over?
If some employer did, arrest them…fine them…heavily…($100k per offence)

If it was family, go through the right channels.
If we do not like the channels, change the laws.

Amnesty would be a travesty…

Posted by: Cliff at March 27, 2006 2:50 PM
Comment #136126

Stephen-

I think you are way off base on this one. There are some serious issues here that “guest worker” programs or amnesty or whatever else may be put forward do not deal with.

First of all, illegal aliens are criminals! They have broken the law by entering this country illegally. Therefore, they are already one step over the line. Second, they are here for one reason: money. It is common knowledge in other countries, especially south of us, that once you get into the Estados Unidos, things look very good indeed. Free health care, education, food, and, work if you want it.

The 12-20 million illegals in this country are proving to be quite a drain on the social services. Ask folks in California or Texas, or Arizona about the effect illegals have. Yes, they work and some pay taxes, with a fake Social Security card, but many do not. Yet our courts have decided they have a right to the same or better social services than citizens. That’s just plain wrong.

There is a solution that no one has the guts to propose: any one claiming social services must be able to prove either citizenship or a legal right to be in this country. Anyone seeking employment must do the same. Employers found to be hiring illegals will be fined 25,000 dollars per illegal per day. Anyone registering for school must also prove their right to be here. No one will be given a driver’s license, Social Security card, or be allowed to register to vote unless they prove citizenship. These measures are not racist or discriminatory. They are common sense. And if we don’t do something to stem the tide of illegals, we will pay for it in a few short years.

Also, for those of you who are crying about the way we treat illegals, I suggest you sneak into Mexico and try to register to vote, or go to school, or go to work, or protest your treatment. I am sure you will have a better appreciation for the U.S.A.

Posted by: John Back at March 27, 2006 3:25 PM
Comment #136162

“do not want to become Americans.”

They are Americans.

I was waiting to see this topic on this blog. Now we get to see the real racist come out. Here in California we had a Republican Governor that tried to play the race/immigrant bashing card. It worked at first. He got re-elected. Ever since this has been a blue,blue state. Go ahead you hateful bastards, try it nationally.You are not going to find many decent folks willing to refuse a 5 year old a chance to learn to read or recieve immunization.

We can expect big problems with any guest worker program Bush concocts. One big flaw already in the works is how these workers will be allowed to enter. An Employer will call for a set number of workers to fill jobs. If a worker decides after they are here to join a union,look for a better job or even complain about unsafe conditions,bam,he is on the bus home.
He keeps talking about jobs” Americans” won’t do. There is no such thing,of course. There are jobs we won’t do for dirt pay.

Remember when NAFTA was supposed to create decent jobs in Mexico to help with immigration. High time to re-write that and all trade agreements to insure that foriegn workers can recieve decent pay. Maybe that way they could buy stuff from us too.

Posted by: BillS at March 27, 2006 6:13 PM
Comment #136175

Bill M.-
I’m sorry if my choice of words offends you, but the underlying sentiment is true: The system is constructed to favor immigration from the middle class and higher.

As for Physical barriers, they would probably cost a lot of money, and people would think their way around it pretty quickly. Additionally, stop and think about how much money and resources it would take to construct a fence on that scale, and to man it with guards to defend it.

My solution to the problem is to encourage these communities within communities to open up, by making citizenship, conditional on gainful employment, more attainable. Instead of wasting time and resources trying to crack these buds open, we should let them blossom on their own, given the right conditions. Or to put it less poetic, it’s the triumph of an ounce of honey over a gallon of vinegar.

kctim-

America can use more hard workers. If a person is willing to earn their keep and become part of the community, we should grant them full citizenship, rather than go the Guest-Worker route.

I have no problem with making gainful employment and hard work conditions of American Citizenship. I do have a problem with rewarding such work with a lukewarm response like Guest-Worker Status.

You think we have it bad with terrorists and loafers and radicals? Go to Europe. Marvel at the magnificence of their guest-worker programs. Yeah, give people enough money to encourage them to leave the dirt poverty of home behind, but not enough to leave the slums you leave them in behind. Encourage them to stay, but keep them in doubt of their continued status. What Europe’s social experiment has ended in is a legacy of poverty, isolation, radicalism, and non-assimilation.

Cliff-
The amnesty I suggest is one time, and followed by much stricter regulation of border traffic. Combining the carrot of full citizenship to more, and the stick of less tolerance for illegal immigration AND those who encourage it within America, I think we can both honor America’s promise to the downtrodden of the world, and the promise of security to ourselves.

John Back-
The problem with not providing services to indigent illegals is more than just a financial one, its an ethical and an epidemiological problem. Assuming illegals remain in certain number, not treating them means we create a health threat in our midst, a population for strains of viruses and other diseases to replicate without much interference.

Additionally, just how appropriate do you think it is for an ER doctor to check for a green card or proof of citizenship before taking in an emergency case? Even if that person did do that, how ethical would it be to leave a patient untreated?

The way to deal with illegal immigration is through a combination of methods meant to remove its raison d’etre, and better enforce the laws on the borders and in our communities. The siren call of cheap labor is making it easier for a dishonest few to make it uncompetitive to not use illegal immigrants. If we cracked down on those people, then we could reduce the demand for below market labor.

I really think you miss our concern here. We’ve been telling you guys that this is a problem, and Bush’s only response has been to propose giving the imprimatur of legality to the very economic behavior that’s been causing the problem. I think it’s time you folks realize that the only practical approach is to abolish this watered down version of slave labor, and reward those who truly do wish to be hard-working Americans with that which they are willing to strive for.

Don’t mistake my position for one of permissiveness. The Amnesty is merely to clear the deck of all the debris of the failed immigration policies, and to encourage immigrants to make themselves known to us, and start the process. Those who want to remain undercover, who don’t want to go through the trouble of becoming citizens will have to endure the crackdowns that follow, and will see the opportunities for more illegal employment dwindle.

Bush’s offering similar amnesty, but with legal immigration years more down the line, and years of second-class existence to endure in the meantime. I’d rather these people be earning what an American earns, and by their hard work attaining enough prosperity to give them roots in the American community. Letting them be treated as low paid help for years on end only encourages them to remain in squalor, and to raise their children in such conditions. That will do little to encourage assimilation.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 27, 2006 7:07 PM
Comment #136178

First of all this America used to belong to the Indians and White people came in a took it away from them. And then it was founded on slavery.
Look if were going to get attacked it’s going to happen one way or another. And if anyone thinks that kicking all the mexicans out is going to change anything yeah it will your enemy will be right next door instead of over seas. Bush needs to deal with one problem at a time and he needs to put the focus where it belongs.

Posted by: Monique at March 27, 2006 7:14 PM
Comment #136190

The people who griped about the Berlin Wall want to build a 700 mile long Arizona Wall. How about a Canadian wall on the northern border? Nobody is proposing that. People only complain about Latin American and Middle Eastern immigrants.

These people come here to work, open businesses, and provide services, especially to the wealthiest segment of society. Those people will not hire our own citizens who might have criminal records, substance abuse problems, or expect to get benefits like vacations, sick days, or Social Security.

If free trade and globalization was actually working, more people would want to stay south of the border, where the weather is warm.

Posted by: ohrealy at March 27, 2006 7:47 PM
Comment #136192

Stephen

You are assuming there will be an ER that is open. Check with hospitals in the three states I mentioned and find out how many have closed their ERs due to a financial drain caused by having to treat indigent patients. CNN did a piece on the problem a couple of months ago and the number of closed ERs was staggering. What happened is another example of what can happen when judges get involved in social policy. Mandating that illegals were entitled to free hospital care meant that hospitals spent millions of dolars with no hope of reimbursement. There is a humanitarian concern here, but if the word filtered back that the U.S. is no longer the land of the free handout, that restrictions have been imposed and enforced, I think a good number of those considering the illegal route just might think twice.

Along with this would be a loosening of the immigration restrictions so that we would allow more folks in. This would serve two purposes: one, it would cut down on illegals, and two, it would give back a lot of the control over our borders that we don’t have now. An added benefit would be some extra tax money coming in from documented workers.

Posted by: John Back at March 27, 2006 7:52 PM
Comment #136200

Jack
Siteing ER closings because of idigent care cost is an arguement for national healthcare,not an arguement about immigration. Would you rather have bodies lying on the street,sick people spreading desease.These people have already faced extreme hazards just getting here. More die every year crossing than died crossing the Berlin Wall. Not having an ER they can go too is not likely to stop them. They are trying to take care of their famlies. Would it stop you?

Hah,go ahead and build that wall. It will not change things and I bet the contractors that build it hire immigrant labor to build it.

Posted by: BillS at March 27, 2006 8:47 PM
Comment #136216

BillS….JohnB is right about the E.R.s…..and if you don’t live in one of those border states, you don’t have an up close and personal idea about any of this. As a 40+ year resident of California, I do. And it has always been the Mexican illegals that are the biggest number to come across, but we had the VietNamese, the Ukranian, Middle Easterners…..all here and sucking us dry. They came in through Mexico, illegaly, hungry, sick and poor. First stop…the welfare offices, hospitals, food banks. Funny thing though, they had enough $ on them to buy up all the Winchell doughnuts and 7-11’s. And another thing JB is right about , is the health care situation……would you believe that the insurance companies are offering incentives to their insured to go down and get care, and treatment in Mexico, because their Dr’s and hospitals are doing nothing…..they’re empty… Go figure !!! The situation is out of control !! and must be stopped.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at March 27, 2006 9:38 PM
Comment #136242

I can’t help but wonder if anyone took time to read the summary of the McCain, Kennedy bill. To me one of the most important parts is:

“TITLE V: Promoting Circular Migration Patterns • Requires foreign countries to enter into migration agreements with the U.S. that help control the flow of their citizens to jobs in the U.S., with emphasis on encouraging the re-integration of citizens returning home • Encourages the U.S. government to partner with Mexico to promote economic opportunity back home and reduce the pressure to immigrate to the U.S. • Encourages the U.S. government to partner with Mexico on health care access so that the U.S. is not unfairly impacted with the costs of administering health care to Mexican nationals.”

I’m just curious what plan would everyone prefer? How many billion$ would be appropriate to close a border and build more prisons vs. spending the same or less to create a strong and healthy allegiance. After all, even if we did build a wall and truly secure all entry points (which is impossible), and we arrested, detained, and deported all illegals (how many cops and detainee centers would that take), how long would it be before we found an enemy equally as ominous as Al-Quieda living right next door?

I don’t know, maybe we’ll just have to blow everyone else all to hell so we can be happy, safe, and secure.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at March 27, 2006 11:05 PM
Comment #136252

///
I am opposed to spending anything to build a prison anywhere. Prisons, Walls, and Deportations, in what country? This is the USA or EEUU, not the USSR or CCCP.
///

Posted by: ohrealy at March 27, 2006 11:56 PM
Comment #136278


One problem noone dares bring up for fear of not being pc is the enviromental one. As an enviromentalist myself and a non-breeder, (also an Californian.) I am concerned about the number of offspring produced by Mexican families and other Central and South Americans and it’s effect on the overpopulation in this country. Being mostly catholic, many are against abortion or sometimes even birth control. This is the ethnic population that is the fastest growing in this country. And it does not help that our Welfare system has it’s ‘perks’ and ‘rewards, For each child you have , more money is recieved. That alone offers an incentive to breed. In their own poverty stricken countries, breeding must be self-regulated by families , otherwise starvation would result. But not in the USA.

It has been estimated that if immigration continues at the rate it is currently going that by the year 2050, America’s population will have swollen to such an uncomfortable proportion that our quality of life will be greatly diminished.
Add to that the sheer facts shown in poll after poll of many illegal aliens commiting crimes and filling and prisons and you have a recipe for disaster.

I recall as a child a park in California (name will be witheld), that was once clean and flourishing. THat same park today is full of grafitti, trash, condoms floating in the rivers and every manner of debris resulting from too many people, mostly of mexican descent piknicking there.
THis is not a racial evaluation, just a realistic one. Too many people, regardless of race is not good for the planet.

You can be Pc all you want now. It’s your children and the earth herself that will pay the price in the future.


Eve

Posted by: Eve at March 28, 2006 1:58 AM
Comment #136316

SD
“You think we have it bad with terrorists and loafers and radicals?”

Um, not really. I think we have it bad with people ILLEGALY entering our country and wasting our tax revenue on them.

“Go to Europe”

I have. Lived in Europe for almost 8 years and would never choose to live over there or to make my country mirror theirs.

BillS
“They are Americans”

Illegally entering our country does not automatically make one an American.

“I was waiting to see this topic on this blog. Now we get to see the real racist come out”

Ah, the race card. I knew it wouldn’t take long for somebody to use that.
America first does not make one a racist and breaking the law makes them criminals.
They want to be a “member?” Then we should at least expect them to follow the rules.

“First of all this America used to belong to the Indians and White people came in a took it away from them”

Yeah, public schools sure are paying off.
The evil white man won, the Indians lost and the greatest nation on earth was created. End of story.
You can waste your time, feel guilty about it and continue to do nothing about it if you want.
I’ll keep on being proud to be an American.

“As an enviromentalist myself and a non-breeder, (also an Californian.)”

Now theres a shock.

Posted by: kctim at March 28, 2006 9:58 AM
Comment #136342

“America can use more hard workers. If a person is willing to earn their keep and become part of the community, we should grant them full citizenship, rather than go the Guest-Worker route”

Stephen, assuming your reference here is the undocumented/illegal immigrant, what about the reverse situation? What about the “Americans” who are too lazy to work, unwilling to work and/or become part of the community? Are they not the root cause of why “America can use more hard workers, etc.”

Given a choice, I think most people would opt to have the contributor (in this case the illegal guy). Unfortunately, too often that good old American spirit sings out in favor of getting rid of these immigrants, they don’t belong here, they are taking jobs from us, etc.

I would not be opposed, and I do not think it un-American to say that I would like to see discussion on a risk-reward system involving the illegal immigrant and the legal (but otherwise non-productive American)

Posted by: steve smith at March 28, 2006 11:41 AM
Comment #136346

Employers that resist raising the minimum wage, promote the guest worker bill, and / or do not pay a living wage (at least $15. per hour) are extremely greedy, or, … more or less admitting that they are incompetent and cannot make a profit without cheating their employees by paying an inadequate slave like wage.
IMO, … If a business cannot afford to pay a living wage, they should not be in business.

Posted by: HereticSpeaks at March 28, 2006 11:45 AM
Comment #136350

Heretic-

Your argument is a good one, only slightly outside reality. The local gas station cannot afford to pay $15 an hour for it’s help. Neither can most of the mom&pop grocery stores.. There simply is not enough revenue to support such a figure.

I guess this means that all these small businesses should go out of business? What happens then?

Also, in the case of larger businesses, if there were a level playing field with our foriegn competitors, it might work. But as long as our companies are in competition with companies that pay $15 a day to make the same product, it won’t happen. Just economic reality.

Posted by: John back at March 28, 2006 12:10 PM
Comment #136405

What makes you think a person can’t live on less than $15/hour? It just requires a bit more responsibility in managing your money.

Where I live I can live on:
$200 food (if you don’t have a massive appetite, you can spend even less)
$600 for an apartment (less if you get a room-mate)
$100 for utilities
$50 for internet
$70 for cell phone
$200 for gas (if I moved closer I would save a lot, also left over for month is saved to cover months where gas prices go up)
$70 for my health and dental insurance
$100 for car insurance (can’t wait till I’m 25)
save the rest of your money

that adds up to 16,680/year which would mean $8.34/hour full time with 2 weeks off during the year, but I would say you need more than that, around $10/hour so you have about $3000 discretionary income to save and use on unexpected expenses, maybe better apartment or insurance, and some to use on entertainment.

maybe in california you need $15/hour, but that is why such things should be governed at state/county levels and not federal level.

Posted by: SirisC at March 28, 2006 3:11 PM
Comment #136431

Heretic,

$15/hr is an annual income of $31,200 for 2080 hours of work during a year. Are we really getting that fat and happy as a country that we are now defining a living wage as something about 3x the povery levels for individuals and 1.5x the poverty level for a family of 4?

Posted by: Rob at March 28, 2006 4:41 PM
Comment #136439

“It just requires a bit more responsibility in managing your money”

Therein lies the problem.
We are not responsible enough or smart enough to do it ourselves.
We need the govt to do it for us.
Shame on you for even suggesting any different.

Posted by: kctim at March 28, 2006 5:15 PM
Comment #136470

Steve Smith-
I think a lot of conservatives out there, and folks on the right could do themselves a huge favor if they would actually read The Wealth of Nations.

He’d tell you that the market puts upward pressure on wages. People have to charge a certain amount to cover their bills and everything, in order to survive, in order to prosper. Your illegal immigrant and your underpaid American both represent drains on the system, because not enough money goes to them to cover their needs. The cheapness of the employer is what puts a strain on our economy. They’re making money at our expense by using illegal aliens, and underpaying folks.

By looking the other way, or later on establishing the Guest-worker program, we institutionalize what is essentially a subsidy for cheapskate labor practices, punishing those willing to pay enough to their workers for their workers to stand on their own two feet.

Now, if a person is willing to go cheap on the workers, its likely they look to cut corners in other ways, too, if not because they seek the advantage of that, then because they have to do things that way in order to compete.

That encourages shoddy workmanship. That pushes additional expenses on to home and business owners. undocumented status also makes it difficult for those who work on the homes to blow the whistle on these folks.

In short, the only people who come out of this more prosperous are the homebuilders unscrupulous or weak enough to do things this way. It’s the quick and easy way of reducing costs, but ultimately, it costs everybody else more in the end.

So what do want, as an American, people being paid an honest day’s wages for an honest day’s work, or somebody using low-cost labor and sticking everybody else with the bill?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 28, 2006 7:36 PM
Comment #136605

When you increase the minimum wage or, establish a new platform of hourly wages, you actually drive up all wages across the board. This is most true in increasing the minimum.

If the minimum wage were $15/hour and, assuming American made goods, all of us would be naked, far fewer of us would own any electronic products, shopping would be almost exclusively on line, health costs/care would be unacceptable and so on.

The manageablility of such an earnings structure would require a management tier of folks at both the private and political level that would need education hardly attainable due to cost and availability.

Posted by: steve smith at March 29, 2006 10:26 AM
Comment #136624

Steve Smith: Why are you so certain that it is the labor alone affecting the price of these items? All these higher salaries, stock options, overpriced insurance plans, and Golden Parachutes have to be paid for with something. Maybe the real thing raising prices for American goods is American management.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 29, 2006 11:44 AM
Comment #136699

Stephen,

I know your scenario would be convienant, but managment compensation at the highest levels is generally a drop in a bucket when compared to minimal increases for benefits or wages for workers.

Let’s take an outrageous example. A CEO and his chief cronies get a $100 million bonus for doing nothing. They company has 50,000 employees working for them. The same amount of money would be spent if the average worker got a $1/ hour increase in wages and benefits. It may be egregiously wrong-headed and stupid, but still would not have the same effect as a large company’s average wage and benefit increases for their employees.

Posted by: Rob at March 29, 2006 3:25 PM
Comment #136722

If they have 50,000 employees, then such a case may not be so unusual. I’ve heard of individuals getting tens of millions of dollars to quit.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 29, 2006 4:58 PM
Comment #136810

Maybe not, but the point remains the same.

Executive salaries may make good fodder for the envy and blame game, but they are usually a drop in the bucket when it comes to impact on the company.

I’m with those shareholder advocates that think that rewarding execs with fortunes for poor performance is a bad idea from a business standpoint.

But in terms of the overall economy, it means very little. We are talking about a class of executives that is probably smaller than the highly paid athletes in the major sports nevermind the minor ones and the entertainment industry.

Posted by: Rob at March 30, 2006 9:34 AM
Comment #136895

Rob-
What you say might be true. But why would, and why shouldn’t people resent how employers treat them nowadays? We don’t have the job security we once did. Our salaries have not expanded in pace with theirs. People will inevitably envy those who garner great advantages without doing much to earn them.

You should consider that the costs that people save in labor come back around to haunt us, as money flows out of the economy, and as people are forced to rely on government assistance to meet their needs. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and what the boss saves by keeping wages low, we may lose in terms of keeping our economy sound.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 30, 2006 2:14 PM
Comment #136910

Stephen,

I’m not a psychologist so I have no stake in the game as to whether or not people should feel resentful or envious of management other than I doubt it can’t be particularly helpful of healthy to harbor such feelings.

But I personally can’t hold any ill will to executives trying to improve the bottom line of their companies. That’s what they are there for. I’m not fond of it when they are rewarded for doing a crappy job any more than I am when a the SS for the Red Sox gets $6 million to head .200. However, like the SS, do that long enough as a CEO and your paycheck will get a lot smaller fast.

Outside of the manufacturing sector, I can’t believe that labor costs have dropped that much. Those in the manufacturing sector have seen a significant hit, but they did in the late 70’s when automation came in as well. Should we now legistlate that cars have to be 100% hand made 1 at a time again? That would certainly require a lot more labor and drive up wages.

Keeping wages low is part of a sound economy strategy. The market dictates what the right prices is for a carpenter, a pipe fitter, and a guy that can do an oil change. Need more of them, they get paid more. Need fewer, and the get paid less. Pay too much for labor, and your competitor whether they are from the next town or around the world will ensure that you can’t put anyone to work.

These are microeconomic decisions that you are trying to affect to solve macroeconomic problems.

For example, my Dad owns a construction company has about 50 people working for him. He would love to pay those people more. But if he raised all of their wages as little as $2.50/ hour, he’d make nothing. Even just a $1 raise would cut his salary in half. Btw, that’s $2.50 all in. Subtract the employers side of SSN, Medicare, etc. it would be less than $2.00 in real money to the employees.

The reality is that there is relatively little elasticity in worker wages without affecting the bottom line. While because there is only a handful of execs, there is much more. Thus, we see big news stories with those execs getting big money. It’s not nearly as big news when Lockheed agrees to a .50 pay hike for their employees.

Posted by: Rob at March 30, 2006 2:59 PM
Comment #137100

I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that keeping oneself in business is a privilege and not a right of the market. Low wages, likewise, are not a right of the employers, but are conditional upon people being willing to seek employment at that price. Employment with you has to be worth the time and resources it takes to be employed by you. Adam Smith wrote about this in The Wealth of Nations. He even went on to say that the market would encourage higher wages for certain dangerous, dirty, and disreputable jobs than would otherwise exist.

The cost of food, transportation to and from work, and other elements puts a floor in the market as to how low people are willing to go on these matters. At some point, it’s just not worth an employee’s while to be employed at that price. Additionally, the drain on resources caused by the use of this low-wage labor, in the form of entitlements and services gained under indigent status acts as a sort of tax on the rest of us for all this. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

My proposals, my thoughts are aimed at using the market in a different way: lower the price of being a citizen, raise the price of being illegal. Let those who want to be citzens now get in line, and jump through all the hoops to measure their commitment to becoming American. Let those who don’t want to be citizens either register and get work visas, or take a ride home.

Increase the personnel, resources, and efficiency of our immigration enforcement agencies, and put stiff penalties on those who knowingly employ illegal aliens. Let those who unknowingly do so get off only on the condition that they make a good faith effort in cooperating with the investigation.

Decrease the financial burden on those coming to this country. Allow those willing to work hard an easier time of getting on the track to citizenship. Immigration has caused anxiety before in this country, and we have become better for our immigrants. I think we should once again open our arms and our doors. We should just be prepared to punish those who abuse our hospitality with just as much commitment.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 31, 2006 11:46 AM
Comment #137138

Stephen,

I agree with you wholeheartedly that as a nation we are better for the presence of immigrants. We should be encouraging more legal immigration. I’m not as sure about punishing the illegals though. It smacks a little of beating up on the weak. I do believe that employing illegals should be subject to the same restrictions as employing legal workers. They must abide the minimum wage, pay the employers share of social security and medicare, and ensure a safe work environment.

Your point about the privilidge of staying in business as well. However, you have to be willing to admit the converse as well. Higher wages are not a privilidge of the market either. As you pointed out above, Smith was making the point that the market determines wages.

Your point about the price point at which it is no longer advantageous for a person to work is interesting as well. That floor is artificially present. It is established by government services that a person of indigent status can attain. If you are in favor of increasing entitlements, you increase that floor at which people are willing to consider work versus government assistance. It makes an argument for minimal assitance for the abled-bodied something that Clinton did with Welfare Reform. So if anything the floor should be falling not rasing, right?

The other side of that is that it is not a requirement to stay in business either. Just like there is a price floor for workers at which point there is no reason to go to work, there is one for employers as well. This one is not artificially set though. It is determined by the opportunity costs. Back to my father’s example, if his workers unionized and demanded higer wages that would make the company unable to compete. His solution to the problem would be simple, close the doors, go home, and put his money in low risk stocks, take a job as a manager in a larger firm. Possibly less money in the short-term, but in the long-run a lot less risk of losing it all. The end result for the workers, they’re looking for new jobs in a market that has one less employer, and probably looking at lower wages.

The market at work. It is not the idealized version that you often claim Jack or I are representing, but a very real version with real consequences that result from decisions.

Posted by: Rob at March 31, 2006 1:47 PM
Comment #137161

When I spoke of the floor, I mean that there’s a certain about that the prices of other things determine. The price of food, gas, electricity, home, motor vehicle, etc, all represent the necessary means a person needs in order to survive, to be a functioning member of society. This floor varies from place to place.

What doesn’t vary is the need for a person to earn enough to satisfy those needs.

In terms of punishment for illegals, getting kicked out is my idea of a good punishment, simple as that. On the flipside, I also want it to be easier to become a citizen, so that a person of lesser means doesn’t feel it to be more profitable to come in undocumented. Carrot and Stick. All the rest is as you say: same wage, same benefits. If you can’t run your business under those rules, why then maybe you weren’t meant to run a business at all.

Ultimately, this is about satisfying two needs in our country: the need for immigrants to become part of the community as a whole, and the need for our nation to be secure, the movements of foreigners watched closely.

I want a system that works, and for more reason than just the fact that it passively allows what’s happening now to occur. Bush’s plan, as you already realize does not deal with the real entitlement burden these people put on us when they are underpaid.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 31, 2006 4:11 PM
Comment #137308

Stephen,

You said, “Bush’s plan, as you already realize does not deal with the real entitlement burden these people put on us when they are underpaid.”

I’m not sure that I do realize that. I just did some searching and couldn’t find anywhere that says that Guest Workers won’t be subject to the minimum wage laws. Do you have a link to someplace that says this? If so, you’ve got me on this one, I’m against it.

If not, it’s a more philosophical question about whether having a new immigration strategy is a good thing for America. I’m probably still against but not for economic reasons.

Posted by: Rob at April 1, 2006 3:36 PM
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