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Too Cheap To Afford

Down in Georgia, they recently passed a tough new illegal alien law that mimics, in some way, the infamous Arizona law. And after passing said law, the state has seen an exodus of illegal aliens -- that has led to some rather uncomfortable consequences.

(Hat tip: Doug Mataconis)

As I read the stories, something seemed oddly... familiar to the complaints. Southern farmers complaining that they can't economically harvest their crops with regular farm laborers; they need them dark-skinned folks who don't demand minimum wage and compliance with all those other labor regulations to get the crops in so we can all benefit from the cheap labor.

And once again, we see the Democrats are siding with the farmers' rights to keep their cheap labor force and not have to bother with labor laws regarding wages, working conditions, safety, and the like.

Hey, folks, come on down to Dixie, where we're gonna party like it's 1859!

This case in Georgia illustrates one of the most insidious and contemptible aspects of the illegal alien issue, one that is often overlooked. The continuing tolerance and outright support of an illegal alien workforce is little more than a cleaned-up, updated, and sanitized version of slavery.

Oh, sure, the illegal aliens are treated better than slaves. They actually get paid. They can quit any time they like. But they certainly can't demand the same rights enjoyed by real workers, legal workers -- they can be exploited freely, because they know that if they report abuses to the authorities, they can be deported.

Yes, we Americans like our cheap products. But the same people who talk about the benefits of having this cheap labor force never mention that it comes at a price -- one that most folks don't want to see.

Every illegal alien working for, say, three bucks an hour is doing the work an unemployed American could do, for a minimum of $7.25 an hour.

And those cheap goods? They stay so cheap because they are the product of a conspiracy of lawbreakers. Illegal aliens, who flout our immigration laws. Employers, who flout our labor laws. And liberal activists, who treat those lawbreakers as heroes.

And here's another cost: imagine you're a farmer who actually does follow the laws and only employs Americans and legal aliens. You are competing with people who don't play by the rules, and consequently have much lower overhead to produce their crops. What's your incentive to not fire them all and bring in illegals, to level the playing field? Or, at least, threaten to do so and drive your workforce to work that much harder?

I don't see any such incentives. In fact, any farmer who chooses to not use illegal labor is, in my eyes, a fool -- it's a huge financial gain for very little risk.

And every now and then, when enough people wake up for a moment and say "hey, these laws are on the books, and they're there for a reason" and pass a law like Georgia did, then we see the full, true costs of the labor laws and minimum wage hikes when not countered by lawbreaking. Then we see just what the full costs of these well-intentioned bits of social engineering are -- as we pay them, in full.

But back to Georgia. They need to repeal that law, posthaste. We need them darkies back in the fields, doin' the work no honest white man (or real American of any color) would do for that kind of money. Because it just ain't right that we should have to pay the full price of our idealism, as expressed in our laws.

We fought a war over that once before, and mebbe it's time we did so agin.


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Comments (20)

Ah, Jay Tea, master of iron... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Ah, Jay Tea, master of irony.

You're right, though, it's in situations such as this that one sees the true costs of economic distortions caused by government interference.

Liberals appear not to grasp that, say, increasing the minimum wage merely shifts costs and therefore prices upward, much like an incoming tide lifts all boats. So when the market re-equilibrates, everyone who still has a job is in the relative position he was before. The losers are those whose labor isn't worth as much as the minimum wage, and who are therefore out on their asses. (Of course, most of these are high school students, not family breadwinners, but there are some exceptions.)

Just for fun, ask a liberal what the minimum wage should be, and then how he arrives at the figure. If he's honest (!), he'll admit he just pulled a number out of his ass. Then ask why the minimum wage shouldn't be, say, $50/hr. He'll say that the labor of unskilled workers isn't worth that much ("to potential employers" is implied).

So at some unspecified figure in between the current minimum wage and $50/hr. the criterion shifts from what liberals think someone should be paid to what potential employers think.

Gotta love the cognitive dissonance.

Jay Tea, your second to las... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea, your second to last paragraph is just begging to be Dowdified to reinforce the narrative that Conservatives are racist. I think you should edit that one out, because sometimes being sarcastic can ruin a perfectly good argument, as the attention gets directed to a snarky throw away line.

Georgia doesn't have 11,000... (Below threshold)

Georgia doesn't have 11,000 able bodied persons on welfare? Seems like a win-win. Illegals leave the state and welfare recipients work for their benefits and maybe even learn some work ethic and get an incentive to get a better job and get off welfare.

I've never rated a "Jay Tea... (Below threshold)

I've never rated a "Jay Tea" post as negatively as this one. For such a good writer as a general rule, in this case he doesn't need the hyperbole to conclude his argument, nor the gratuitous swipe at the South.

The left has always been ab... (Below threshold)
Jim m:

The left has always been about keeping minorities, especially blacks, down. That's why welfare trapped millions in poverty, and why we cannot allow real school choice. The left knows that if they let minorities rise out of their dependent state that they won't vote with the dems any more.

exactly right. It's modern... (Below threshold)

exactly right. It's modern day slavery. Those are jobs Americans ARE NOT ALLOWED to do for under minimum wage.

Like a lot of issues (well, just about all of them) the democrats (and RINOs) support, if you would only put just another few minutes of thought into it, you could not be or vote democrat.

Um. I didn't take it as a g... (Below threshold)
Jim m:

Um. I didn't take it as a gratuitous swipe at the south but as a swipe at the stereotype that the left continuously fosters yet lives out themselves in their innermost thoughts. You'll notice that it's the south that is actually trying to do the right thing and it is the left that wants to keep exploiting minorities illegally.

I call bull&*%$ on the enti... (Below threshold)

I call bull&*%$ on the entire story.

Having worked in Immigration for 15 years now, I can tell you that many of those "illegal" aliens picking crops in the fields are actually legal aliens. They have work visa's and they have Lawful Permanent Resident cards.

You'll find more illegal aliens working as a cook for your local fast food restaurant than yuo will working on a farm.

Working on a farm is hard work, but many of these guys make pretty good wages doing so. At elast compared to back home, and, they make enough that not only do they support themselves here, but they send large amounts of those dollars back home to family.

Don't believe the BS. Georgia farmers will do just fine without illegal's.

I'm not so sure about their fast food restaurants, though.

Baggi, correct me if I am w... (Below threshold)

Baggi, correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't it during Eisenhower's adminiistration that they set up the farm workers program so they can enter the country to pick the harvest and then go back? That seems more than fair and logical. So the left's argument as well as the farmers is BS. ww

Anyone want to know the rea... (Below threshold)

Anyone want to know the real start of the current economic crisis? It started when Reid/Pelosi raised the minimum wages on the first day of the 110th Congress. Then the banking fiasco was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Nil manufacturing jobs, and... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Nil manufacturing jobs, and now crops rot in the fields because of neglect; no one will pick them at any hourly wage, minimum, or double the minimum.

This was the perfect, electioneering tea party issue that won Deal his governorship in 2010, when he swerved to the right, now the unanticipated consequences.

His remedy to use convicts working on the farms, is not faring any better. Even our ´all-American´ convicts have grown soft, and won´t work the fields. We are screwed.

Can´t we import some Chinese workers, maybe Georgia could become a Chinese economic-free zone or perhaps, Deal could arrest the fleeing Guatemalans and Mexicans and order, dragoon them, (or implore them) to return to the fields, rather than flee the state?

The worker’s flight has so far cost Georgia farms over $300 million in lost revenues and could reach over $1 billion if the loss of labor is not stopped. The President of the Georgia Agribusiness Council warned that without the necessary labor, crops will rot in the fields and loss of revenue will spiral out of control, costing everyone in the state.

Earlier in the month, Governor Deal proposed a new system of farm labor, relying in prison probationers and Georgia convicts to fill the 11,000 new farm vacancies. Officials were optimistic that the state’s 100,000 probationers, many of whom have difficulty finding work, would leap at the opportunity. However, the results of this new system have been poor so far. Dick Minor, the President of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and owner of a Georgia farm, reports that many probationers quit after a single day of work, with many leaving after thirty minutes. Those that stayed were not as efficient as many of the Mexican and Guatemalan workers Minor typically employs.

Information on the full cos... (Below threshold)
dunce :

Information on the full costs of these illegal aliens is suppressed. How many are in state prison, how much is spent on schools for their children, how much state paid health care for them costs, how much are auto insurace rates increased for illegal alien car theft and auto accidents, what is the value in dollars of the people killed by illegal aliens?

Farm work used to be exempt... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

Farm work used to be exempt from minimum wage laws. For good reason. Of course, there is good reason not to have a minimum wage at all, but that's a different argument.

The question isn't "are there legal Americans unemployed who could do the work," because this sort of work is exactly what was in mind when the phrase "jobs Americans won't do" came into being. American unskilled workers just won't get out and work hard for 10-12 hours a day, period. Ask any contractor, if you can find one still in business.

Before recession hit construction, contractors would pull up outside the box stores (Home Depot, Loew's) and pick up day laborers, nearly all of whom were illegal, and all of whom were Hispanic. Even when unemployment was high, you didn't see non-Hispanic Americans waiting to do construction labor.

I love the suggestion that Georgia put its welfare recipients to work on the farms. Hilarious. A real knee-slapper.

Steve How about ma... (Below threshold)
retired military:


How about making the people (who are healthy enough) on welfare and unemployment pick the crops to continue getting their benefits?

Even if they work an hour a day it is better than just giving them money for nothing and umm might actually give them an incentive to get a better job.

Gosh, I don't get the b*tch... (Below threshold)

Gosh, I don't get the b*tching about food rotting in the fields. I thought we Americans were all chubby-tubbies who need to lose weight.

/ sarc

Seriously, though, if the price of food is being artificially depressed by cheap, illegal labor, then that suggests a market correction. No, I don't want to pay more for food (which I already am, thanks to government policy that turns corn into lousy fuel and otherwise raises the price of energy), but I'm pretty sure that we aren't going to starve just because farmers can't get illegals to pick lettuce.

For another view of the impact that government interference has on food and farm labor, I suggest the 1940 motion picture The Grapes of Wrath. Is that what we want? Desperate people being paid a pittance to work on farms with the full approval (if not active connivance) of government, knowing that they have no legal recourse if they are abused or cheated?

Those cheap products do not... (Below threshold)

Those cheap products do not stay cheap because of illegal aliens. Many farmers use minimum wage or higher employees and are still able to make enough profit to remain in business. Thus, those cheap laborers are doing one of two things, lining the pockets of criminal employers or allowing criminal employers of poorly run farms to remain in business. No, it is not keeping prices down, it is just lining the pockets of the selfish, greedy and immoral.

How about this one: Slightl... (Below threshold)

How about this one: Slightly more than 20% of all of America's farm workers are criminal aliens. (By whatever other name)

The Department of Agriculture has a budget of (off the top of my head) around One Hundred and Thirty Billion Dollars - more than the total American farm income.

Almost all of the Ag Budget goes to some form of welfare and/or subsidy, including that it pays for that percentage of America's farm produce that cannot be sold and that after sitting about a while in massive monument-to-waste mountains is usually disposed of around the globe by USAID etceteras, in the process severely negatively impacting and/or destroying the Agricultural Export incomes of the Aid-repient states and nations and of many of our produce-exporting friends and allies. (Canada and Australia, EG)

How much of America's output is Department of Agriculture "financed" waste? Slightly more than 20%.

One hundred per cent, that is, of the amount produced by the thus USDA incited, encouraged and facilitaed criminal-alien farm-worker (By whatever other name) population.

Go figger.

retiredmilitary. I agree wi... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

retiredmilitary. I agree with you, and I disagree with mainstream Democtats; where feasible, welfare should´t be considered an entitlement, but workfare should be substituded for it.

There's "the way things sho... (Below threshold)

There's "the way things should be" and the way things are. Argue with the reality of any given situation and you lose. Every. Time.

Migrant farm workers, illegal or documented, are simply an integral part of agriculture in the United States. Have been for as long as I can remember.

Is it "right?" Nope. Is it the way things are? Yep. Can we change it without hurting everyone involved? Well, Georgia couldn't.

Here's a solution for farme... (Below threshold)

Here's a solution for farmers who don't employ illegals: put "harvested by legal labor" stickers on your fruit. Then let the market decide.

It'll be the new "Made In America" sticker.






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