2014 April 03 Thursday
Coalition For Cheap Skilled And Unskilled Labor Splitting Up?

Big business, especially in Silicon Valley, wants a big expansion of the H1-B program in order to lower the costs of hiring engineers. So they've entered into an alliance with the Democrats who want a far larger increase in unskilled workers who vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Big money is trying to get the skilled labor immigration expansion passed by itself in the House of Representatives.

On the bright side, if they succeed most of the internet billionaires won't stick around to lobby for a huge expansion of unskilled labor. They do not use it much. But this is not likely to pass because Democrats in the Senate want that huge surge in the size of the lower class that will guarantee a turn of America into a one party state which they think they will run. So I do not think big money is going to be allowed to leave their coalition with the supporters of mass unskilled labor immigration.

But the Gang of Eight bill stipulates selective increases in minimum wages for agricultural workers. Doesn't this defeat the purpose of immigration amnesty for the wealthy large produce farmers?

The nervous tech types aren't the only weak links in the comprehensive immigration reform chain. For example, the Gang of Eight bill contains long passages of excruciatingly detailed text laying out pay rates to the penny negotiated by union and agricultural interests. It stipulates, for example, that produce graders and sorters will be paid $9.84 an hour in 2016, equipment operators $11.58 in 2015, and nursery and greenhouse workers $9.64 in 2016. And much more.

Why not just raise farm labor rates to $15 per hour and suddenly millions more people will want to do the work.

The US Senate reminds me of the Roman Senate. Though the Roman Senators got even cheaper labor, slave labor, and they didn't let the slaves vote.

I do not view the American Republic as fixable.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2014 April 03 07:31 PM 

WJ said at April 3, 2014 9:34 PM:

From the article: "If the tech people got what they wanted, would they and their millions of dollars really stick around to fight hard for the rest of comprehensive reform? Passing an H-1B bill would be an excellent way to split the fragile pro-reform coalition."

That's not the way you bargain. Compromise isn't where you get half a loaf and I get nothing. Compromise is where I get something I want in exchange for you getting something you want. Silicon Valley wants more H-1Bs? OK - then they need to support real border security and/or reduced legal immigration in other areas, like family reunification or refugees.

We need to shatter this coalition by making them work against each other. And we have no reason not to play hardball: the Democrats are about to lose the Senate.

(Of course all this assumes that Republican pols are negotiating on behalf of Republican voters rather than their donors, and that's a mighty damn generous assumption.)

James Bowery said at April 3, 2014 11:46 PM:

Slave labor is not cheaper. The iron law of wages has historically meant that you had to pay laborers enough to reproduce themselves. However, now it means laborers sterilize themselves causing a demographic collapse that can only be filled by automation or by race replacement mass immigration. If the employers were forced to take on employees as slaves and keep their population up via reproduction, they'd scream bloody murder.

bob sykes said at April 4, 2014 5:13 AM:

Mexican colonization of the Southwest will continue regardless of what Silicon Valley does or doesn't do. Eventually, the coalition will collapse because the Mexicans will have seized control of the Democrat party and will expel liberals like Pelosi and blacks and Asians from leadership roles. The resulting regional Mexicrat party will support the national Democrat party on issues that benefit Mexicans, but will go their own way on others. Think of the Dixiecrats or yore. Among the issues the Mexicrats will not support are black civil rights and affirmative action for blacks and gay rights. Mexicans despise both groups and have no obligations to either. Environmentalists will also be on the outside, and a roll back of environmentalist regulations will probably occur as they hurt the incomes of the Mexican working class. Since the University of California (as opposed to the California State system) is seen as benefiting Asians and Jews, support for the UC system is likely to decline. In fact, just about everything the SWPL crowd wants will likely disappear.

JB said at April 5, 2014 11:45 PM:

They've been saying that we have 11 or 12 million illegal immigrants in this country for the last 20 years of so, the real figure is probably double that or more, with tens of millions of legal immigrants as well. If they can't induce a sufficient number of immigrants (and natives as well) from this vast pool of labor to do farm work, how many will it take? Apparently the answer is enough to make the economy collapse to the point where being a medieval serf in the field is attractive.

Mike Street Station said at April 7, 2014 8:07 AM:

In theory, passing an H1-B reform bill, particularly with the Republicans looking like they will take the senate, should entice the tech money to drop the comprehensive immigration bill since they only cared about getting their skilled workers anyway. The problem, as it is so much of the time, is the Republicans. Some House Republicans put together a stand alone H1-B bill last year, that went no where. I don't think it even got a vote in the House. There are too many Republicans who want the comprehensive immigration bill, and the amnesty to go with it. It's a shame. If Republicans would unite around just an H1-B bill, it's likely they could win this, but too many, including the leadership, have already been bought off.

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