Mickey Kaus (who does great coverage of the immigration battle) pointed out a foolish thing Senator Ted Kennedy (D Mass) had to say about the price of labor for plucking chickens.
"I would like the chicken pluckers to pay $10 or $15 an hour. They do not do it. They are not going to do it. Who are you trying to kid? Who is the Senator from North Dakota trying to fool?
These are the realities, the economic realities. No one has fought for increasing the minimum wage more than I have. But you have got realities that employers are not going to pay it."
The way to raise the wages of chicken pluckers is to reduce the supply of low skilled laborers.
Remember when the Democrats were the party that wanted to restrict the supply of labor in order to drive up wages? That's what unions do. Nowadays, the upper class Democrats appear to be more worried about getting cheap gardeners, cheap nannies, and cheap maids. Plus, the Democrats have allied themselves with the owners of capital to drive down the value of labor versus capital. Mickey wonders if Ted supports the import of cheap laborers to break strikes and unions.
Weren't Democrats (especially liberal Democrats) the people who wanted chicken pluckers--and others doing lousy jobs at the bottom of the pyramid--to be paid $10 an hour? Yet here we have the putative lion of liberalism declaring this modest goal (less than $3/hour above the new scheduled minimum wage) to be impossible. Employers just won't do it! They'll hire illegals instead. But what if the flow of illegals is curtailed--something Kennedy's immigration bill promises to do. Why not see if a tight labor market can boost wages above the new $7.25 minimum--instead of caving and providing employers with cheap temporary "guest workers" from abroad? If chicken pluckers organized and their union went on strike demanding $10 an hour, would Kennedy ask them who they were "trying to kid" (and support breaking the strike with "temporary" employees)? They told us in the '60s that Kennedy was the tool of the bourgeoisie!
Maybe Ted Kennedy just isn't capable of logical consistency in his thinking? Maybe long chains of cause and effect (those involving more than 2 steps) are just beyond his ken?
I say we should look a lot more at track records of people who advocate policies. For example, George W. Bush has been so wrong on Iraq regime change, Iraqi democracy, Palestinian democracy, and assorted other subjects that discounting his advice of the "just trust me" sort seems very wise. Similarly, when Ted Kennedy spouts obvious nonsense about the unskilled labor market while advocating for a massive illegal alien amnesty it is very useful to remember how monumentally wrong Ted Kennedy was about the 1965 labor law revision.
In 1965, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., was chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and Naturalization.
He ushered through the Senate the immigration policy of President Lyndon B. Johnson, stating Feb. 10, 1965:
"I want to comment on ... what the bill will not do. First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same. ..."
"Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset. ... Contrary to the charges in some quarters, [this bill] will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area. ..."
"Thirdly, the bill will not permit the entry of subversive persons, criminals, illiterates or those with contagious disease. ... As I noted a moment ago, no immigrant visa will be issued to a person who is likely to become a public charge. ..."
His enormous wrongness goes on beyond my excerpt. This is a man whose position we should listen to in order to find out what not to do. Ted's for it? You should probably oppose it. Ted and Dubya are both for it? Rarely do indicators line up so strongly to tell you to march in the opposite direction.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2007 June 21 08:52 PM Immigration Economics|