FOUNDED: February 9, 2001
|09-14-2007, 11:36 AM||#1|
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: At SouthernMoss' side forever!
The REAL Immigration Problem
Here is an interesting item about the real problem with immigration. It is a long, but very useful, read.
It's an illegal employer problem
September 14, 2007
By Thom Hartmann
Contractor buddies of the Bush administration and their cronies are salivating at the idea of a massively expensive "Berlin Wall" style "fence" across the U.S. border with Mexico. But it's a total waste of time and money, because it's addressing a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. Every time the media – or a Democrat – uses the phrase "illegal immigration" they are promoting one of Karl Rove's most potent Republican Party frames.
The reality is that we don't have an "illegal immigration" problem in America. We have an "illegal employer" problem.
Yet it's almost never mentioned in the mainstream media, because to point it out could slightly reduce the profits and CEO salaries of many of America's largest multi-state and multinational corporations – who both own the media and contribute heavily to conservative politicians. Republicans would prefer that the "criminals" covered in the press are working people, and that corporate and CEO criminals not get discussed.
As the Busby/Bilray contest in California showed, "illegal immigration" is a red-hot issue for American voters. The Democrat Busby was way ahead until she committed a faux pas before a group of Latinos, leading to (false) media reports (particularly on right-wing talk radio) that she was encouraging illegal immigrants to vote for her in the upcoming election. Her Republican opponent seized on this and hammered the district with ads for the last few days of the campaign (while voting machines curiously went home at night with some of the poll workers), and now a Republican lobbyist has taken the seat of a Republican congressman convicted of illegal deals with Republican lobbyists.
Encouraging a rapid increase in the workforce by encouraging companies to hire non-citizens is one of the three most potent tools conservatives since Ronald Reagan have used to convert the American middle class into the American working poor. (The other two are destroying the governmental protections that keep labor unions viable, and ending tariffs while promoting trade deals like NAFTA/WTO/GATT that export manufacturing jobs.)
As David Ricardo pointed out with his "Iron Law of Labor" (published in his 1814 treatise "On Labor"), when labor markets are tight, wages go up. When labor markets are awash in workers willing to work at the bottom of the pay scale, unskilled and semi-skilled wages overall will decrease to what Ricardo referred to as "subsistence" levels.
Two years later, in 1816, Ricardo pointed out in his "On Profits" that when the cost of labor goes down, the result usually isn't a decrease in product prices, but, instead, an increase in corporate and CEO profits. (This is because the marketplace sets prices, but the cost of labor helps set profits. For example, when Nike began manufacturing shoes in Third World countries with labor costs below U.S. labor costs, it didn't lead to $15 Nikes – their price held, and even increased, because the market would bear it. Instead, that reduction in labor costs led to Nike CEO Phil Knight becoming a multi-billionaire.)
Republicans understand this very, very well, although they never talk about it. Democrats seem not to have read Ricardo, although the average American gets it at a gut level.
Thus, Americans are concerned that a "flood of illegal immigrants" coming primarily across our southern border is, to paraphrase Lou Dobbs, "wiping out the American middle class." And there is considerable truth to it, as part of the three-part campaign mentioned earlier.
But Dobbs and his fellow Republicans say the solution is to "secure our border" with a fence like that used by East Germany, but that stretches a distance about the same as that from Washington, D.C., to Chicago. It'll be a multi-billion-dollar boon to Halliburton and Bechtel, who will undoubtedly get the construction and maintenance contracts, but it won't stop illegal immigration. (Instead, people will legally come in on tourist and other visas, and not leave when their visas expire.)
The fact is that we had an open border with Mexico for several centuries, and "illegal immigration" was never a serious problem. Before Reagan's presidency, an estimated million or so people a year came into the U.S. from Mexico – and the same number, more or less, left the U.S. for Mexico at the end of the agricultural harvest season. Very few stayed, because there weren't jobs for them.
Non-citizens didn't have access to the non-agricultural U.S. job market, in large part because of the power of U.S. labor unions (before Reagan 25 percent of the workforce was unionized; today the private workforce is about 7 percent unionized), and because companies were unwilling to risk having non-tax-deductible labor expenses on their books by hiring undocumented workers without valid Social Security numbers.
But Reagan put an end to that. His 1986 amnesty program, combined with his aggressive war on organized labor (begun in 1981), in effect told both employers and non-citizens that there would be few penalties and many rewards to increasing the U.S. labor pool (and thus driving down wages) with undocumented immigrants. A million people a year continued to come across our southern border, but they stopped returning to Latin America every fall because instead of seasonal work they were able to find permanent jobs.
The magnet drawing them? Illegal employers.
Yet in the American media, illegal employers are almost never mentioned.
Lou Dobbs, the most visible media champion of this issue, always starts his discussion of the issue with a basic syllogism – 1. Our border is porous. 2. People are coming across our porous border and diluting our labor markets, driving down U.S. wages. 3. Therefore we must make the border less porous.
Lou's syllogism, however, ignores the real problem, the magnet drawing people to risk life and limb to illegally enter this country – illegal employers. Our borders have always been porous (and even with a "fence" will still allow through "tourists" by the millions), but we've never had a problem like this before.
And it's not just because poverty has increased in Mexico – today, about half of Mexico lives on less than $2 a day, but 50 years ago half of Mexico also lived on the equivalent of $2 today. Our trade and agricultural policies are harmful to Mexican farmers (and must be changed!), but we were nearly as predatory 50 years ago (remember the rubber and fruit companies, particularly in Central America?).
Yet 50 years ago we didn't have an "illegal immigration" problem, because back then we didn't have a conservative "illegal employer" problem.
As the Washington Post noted in an article by Hsu and Lydersen on June 19, 2006:
Between 1999 and 2003, work-site enforcement operations were scaled back 95 percent by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which subsequently was merged into the Homeland Security Department. The number of employers prosecuted for unlawfully employing immigrants dropped from 182 in 1999 to four in 2003, and fines collected declined from $3.6 million to $212,000, according to federal statistics.
In 1999, the United States initiated fines against 417 companies. In 2004, it issued fine notices to three."
The hiring crimes of illegal employers are being ignored by the law, and rewarded by the economic systems of the nation.
Proof that this simple reality is ignored in our media (much to the delight of Republicans) is everywhere you look. For example, check out a series of national polls on illegal immigration done over the past year at www.pollingreport.com/immigration.htm. A typical poll question is like this one from an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted in June, 2006:
When it comes to the immigration bill, the Senate and the House of Representatives disagree with one another about what should be done on the issue of illegal immigration.
Many in the House of Representatives favor strengthening security at the borders, including building a 700-mile fence along the border with Mexico to help keep illegal immigrants from entering the United States, and they favor deporting immigrants who are already in the United States illegally.
Many in the Senate favor strengthening security at the borders, including building a 375-mile fence along the border with Mexico to help keep illegal immigrants from entering the United States, and they favor a guest worker program to allow illegal immigrants who have jobs and who have been here for more than two years to remain in the United States.
"Which of these approaches would you prefer?
The question: "Or would you prefer companies that employ undocumented workers be severely fined or put out of business?" wasn't even asked. The word "employer" appears nowhere in any of the questions in that poll. Nor is it in the CBS News immigration poll. Or in the Associated Press immigration poll. Or in the Fox News immigration poll.
Only the CNN poll asked the question: "Would you favor increasing penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants?" Two-thirds of Americans, of all party affiliations, said, "Yes," but it went virtually unreported in mainstream media coverage.
"Illegal immigration" is really about "illegal employers." As long as Democrats argue it on the basis of "illegal immigration" they'll lose, even when they're right. Instead, they need to be talking about "illegal employers."
Politically, it's not a civil rights issue, it's a jobs issue, as working Americans keep telling pollsters over and over again.
"Mass deportations" and "fences" are hysterics and false choices. Start penalizing "illegal employers" and non-citizens without a Social Security number will leave the country on their own. And they won't have to confront death trying to cross the desert back into Mexico – Mexican citizens can simply walk back into Mexico across the border at any legal border crossing (as about a million did every year for over a century).
Tax law requires that an employer must verify the Social Security number of their employees in order to document, and thus deduct, the expense of their labor. This is a simple task, and some companies, like AMC Theatres, are already doing it.
For example, Cameron Barr wrote in The Washington Post on April 30, 2006, that: "At one area multiplex owned by AMC, the Rio 18 in Gaithersburg, 11 employees 'decided to resign' this month after they could not rectify discrepancies that arose during the screening, said Melanie Bell, a spokeswoman for AMC Entertainment Inc., which is based in Kansas City, Mo. She said such screening is a routine procedure that the company conducts across the United States."
Not wanting to be an illegal employer, the Post noted that AMC "has long submitted lists of its employees' Social Security numbers to the Social Security Administration for review. If discrepancies arise, she [company spokeswoman Bell] said in an e-mailed response to questions, 'we require the worker to provide their original Social Security card within 3 days or to immediately contact the local SSA office.' She said the process is part of payroll tax verification and occurs after hiring."
Easy, simple, cheap, painless. No fence required. No mass deportations necessary. No need for Homeland Security to get involved. When jobs are not available, most undocumented workers will simply leave the country (as they always did before), or begin the normal process to obtain citizenship that millions (including my own sister-in-law – this hits many of us close to home) go through each year.
Republicans, however, are not going to allow a discussion of "illegal employers."
Instead, they will continue to hammer the issue of "illegal immigrants," and tie that political albatross around the necks of Democrats (who seem all too willing to accept it).
Nobody is talking about the real problem here – the illegal employers.
Hopefully one day soon a dialogue like this fictitious one may ensue on, for example, "Face The Nation":
[Bob Schieffer] Senator, do you really think the solution to the illegal immigration problem in America is to offer amnesty instead of building a fence?
[Senator Stabenow] Bob, I think you've been drinking some of Karl Rove's Kool-Aid. Illegal immigrants aren't the cause of undocumented workers driving down wages in this country. It's caused by illegal employers. We need to do something about these corporate criminals.
[Bob Schieffer (baffled)] Illegal employers? But what about the illegal aliens?
[Senator Stabenow] Bob, the aliens wouldn't be here if they didn't think they could get a job. Of course, we need to clean up U.S. agricultural subsidies and trade policies that are causing human suffering in our neighboring countries, but to truly protect the pay standards of workers here in the United States we need to crack down on the illegal employers. They're the magnets that are drawing people in from all over the world, many of whom come in as tourists and then overstay because they get illegal jobs. And these illegal employers are breaking the law – both immigration laws and IRS laws. I suggest that we need to tighten up these laws against illegal employers, adding huge fines for first offenses, jail time for CEOs for second offenses, and the corporate death penalty – dissolve their charters to operate – for repeat offenders.
[Bob Schieffer (stammering)] The, the, er, did you say "corporate death penalty"? You mean against companies?
[Senator Stabenow] Better companies die than human beings. These illegal employers, in their quest for ever-cheaper labor, are drawing people to cross our borders in ways that cause many people to die in the deserts of the southwest. These people were executed, for all practical purposes, by the policies of a few greedy and lawbreaking American companies. When companies are repeat offenders, they should be dissolved, their assets sold to reimburse their shareholders, and let other, more ethical companies pick up the slack. We used to do this all the time in America when companies behaved badly. Up until the 1880s, an average of around 2000 companies a year got the corporate death sentence in the US.
[Bob Schieffer (bug-eyed)] But what about the illegal immigration problem?
[Senator Stabenow (patting Schieffer's hand)] It's OK, Bob. You shouldn't listen so much to those Republicans. There isn't really much of an illegal immigration problem – it's an illegal employer problem. When we clear up the illegal employer problem in this country, we'll be back like we were before Reagan started allowing employers to behave illegally. When non-citizens can't get a job, most of them will go home, as they always have in the past. We don't need a fence, we don't need amnesty, we don't need mass roundups or deportations, and we for sure don't need guest workers. We have as many unemployed citizens in this nation as there are illegal immigrants – in my state of Michigan, for example, Flint and Detroit have massive unemployment since Reagan and his corporate cronies declared war on working people. When we get rid of illegal employers, that's one step in helping the job market tighten up so that legal employers will have to pay a living wage to attract legal citizens to work. That and rational labor and trade policies, and we can begin to restore our middle class and put our cities back together.
[Bob Schieffer (nodding)] It makes sense, senator. An "illegal employer problem." Who would have thought of that?
[Senator Stabenow (smiling)] Well, Bob, the Republicans thought about it, back in the 1980s. But they thought it was a good idea. Which is why we have this mess today. Get rid of the illegal employers – toss a few CEOs into jail and shut down the outlaw companies – and the rest of this part of the problem will be easy and inexpensive to fix.
© 2007 WorldNetDaily
Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show carried on the Air America Radio network and Sirius. His most recent books include "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection," "We The People: A Call To Take Back America," "What Would Jefferson Do?" and "Ultimate Sacrifice." His next book, due out this autumn, is "Screwed: The Undeclared War on the Middle Class and What We Can Do About It."
The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.
The only criminal class native to the United States is Congress.
|09-14-2007, 11:58 PM||#2|
Advanced Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Bay Point, Kali..aka Gun Point
Re: The REAL Immigration Problem
Yep, Illegal Employers are a real problem.
A bad day @ the Range, is better than a good day @ work.
|09-15-2007, 09:44 AM||#3|
Advanced Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: El Salvador, Central America.
Re: The REAL Immigration Problem
Looking from this side of the issue, I've always tought that way.
SI VIS PACEM, PARABELLUM.
|09-15-2007, 02:02 PM||#4|
Advanced Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: South Central Texas
Re: The REAL Immigration Problem
simple- no jobs - no illegal aliens (also no welfare would help)
Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives."
--John Adams, letter to Benjamin Rush, April 18, 1808
|09-15-2007, 02:45 PM||#5|
Advanced Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Location: Location
Re: The REAL Immigration Problem
Hmmm, the need for "guest workers" may very well become a problem as they ARE needed for agricultural harvest, ect, under this plan, or any plan that drove non citizens out of this country.
So it needs to be backed up...
I do love the idea, I also like the idea of "illegal landlords", but what we need is tougher welfare policies... I'm sick of seeing these perfectly healthy (too healthy?) people who simply will not hold down a job because the government is supporting them...Oh they'll work, just long enough to stock the fridge with beer, then the excuses start.
No workie, no eatie!
I don't mind my tax dollars going to anyone who is crippled or cant work for other reasons, but these able bodied losers are "crippling" me.
I strongly believe that with these 2 or 3 policies in place, we would see more Americans getting off the freaking couch and going to work, and more immigrants seeking citizenship legally.
America needs these workers! America needs these workers!
I'm sick of hearing that...Yes we do, but do people really think "these workers" are going to run back to Mexico, curl up in a corner somewhere and suck their thumbs? Hell no...They've tasted this life and they wont be happy anywhere else, there would be a FLOOD of immigrants seeking legal citizenship as soon as we ran them out, at a rate that we would have a hard time finding classrooms to hold them...That's my belief. They may be mad as hell right now at these proposals, and madder still once made into law, but after the harsh reality set in, they would be back with their hats in their hands.
Our greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us, but our emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there.