Wednesday, May 03, 2006


It is a tribute to the political sophistication of the monied elite that employers can brazenly violate labor laws without incurring liberal wrath. In almost any context, a brutal assault on the working class would provoke vigilant opposition from progressives. However, the business community has learned the disarming effect of playing the race card, and now the mainstream media equates opposing illegal immigration with fostering ethnic bigotry. Business is reaping the windfall profits of camouflaging corporate predation as inclusiveness.

This Machiavellian construct represents a quantum public relations leap forward for the reprobates of Wall Street. Gone are the days when ham handed businesspeople justified gouging American workers by claiming that laborers were merely insignificant peons. As the story now goes, American workers must be gouged due to humanitarian regard for Third World migrants. It is the siren song that seduces the keepers of the multicultural flame.

I don't use terms like working class, exploitation and monied elite, but plenty of other people do. Because I spent my entire working life as one of those much-maligned "managers" of the business world, I have a more informed take on economics and social policy. Analysts advancing the notion of an altruistic world in which institutions have human qualities such as compassion, fairness or principles that trump profits are living in a world of fantasy. The world of business knows that anything that gets in the way of profits and competition is counterproductive. Noble ideas such as equality, fairness, compassion, and all the rest have can be put to the same risk-benefit metric as quality controls and worker productivity, and in the end a boundary can be established beyond which institutional interests will always trump individual concerns, no matter how desparate those concerns may be.

Every well-publicized example of corporate largesse is subsidized by a solid but well-hidden foundation of indifference to individual concerns that make possible another dramatic public-relations triumph.

Having got that off my chest, I now link to a thought-provoking essay pointing out how today's immigrant population has become a vital part of corporate profits. David Podkin is an articulate Progressive writer, working from Make Them Accoutable Dot Com, a site I just came across which strikes me as a Mother Jones wannabe with Kos tendencies. The problem I have with voices from the extremes is that they leave no room for discussion in their pronouncements. In a sincere attempt to counter a point they tend to smear the messenger so badly that the message is no longer the point. It isn't necessaary to call the president a "corporate concubine" to drive home the point that he favors business interests.

This piece is shot through with that kind of vitriol, but it makes an excellent overall point: business benefits from great numbers of immigrants. As a result, business leaders are conflicted about whether they really want to lose a large and growing population of potential workers who continue to feed their labor needs.

If those who want to "send them home" take a deep breath and think for a quiet moment, they might recall a lot of complaining about American jobs moving to other countries. What seems to be happening with immigration is that the people are coming to the jobs rather than the other way around. I might be missing something, but if those workers are willing and able to do the work, and are made part of the system, paying Social Security and income taxes, the result is far better for the economy than trying to aritificially put people into those same jobs that are either unwilling or unable to move across one or two states to be empoloyed.

Last I heard, the unemployment rate was officially less than five percent. Subtract undocumented workers, do some more math, and ask: Where do we find people to take these jobs? No matter what the rate of pay, the numbers just don't work.

Now add back the "higher wages" that replacement legal citizens will expect to earn, and see what happens. Ever heard of the connection between wages and prices? That is a sure formula for the return of runaway inflation.

Now put on your boots and other protective gear and go read. Buried in this essay are some valuable thoughts:

The argument made by corporate sophists is that there are some jobs Americans refuse to do. Left unsaid is that those jobs offer noncompetitive wages or provide insufferable working conditions or both. The problem is solved by requiring business to honor market forces and obey the law. The grape grower who refuses to pay the going rate should witness his crops rot in the field. The manufacturer who creates a treacherous workplace should be incarcerated. Absent accountability, employers have found that hiring illegal aliens provides carte blanche to circumvent labor standards.

There are many victims in the illegal immigration saga, foremost among them blue collar American workers who are besieged from all sides. The right wing disdainfully views them as mere fodder for the corporate juggernaut. The left wing empathizes with employees’ angst while sacrificing their interests at the altar of political correctness. Trapped in a thirty-five year trend of falling real wages, working class Americans are steadily losing ground. To make matters worse, whenever workers bemoan the pernicious effects of illegal immigration they are smeared as being nativist, as though demanding a fair wage in exchange for hard work somehow reveals malice.

Mexican migrants are also victims. Business lures them here so they can be cheated and used as scapegoats. Undocumented workers are often denied the pay they have earned, subjected to racial animus, housed in squalid conditions, and physically abused. When persecuted they have no recourse, which makes them the ideal employees. While the corporatists and their dupes promote illegal immigration as being some sort of civil rights struggle, they have never advocated a plan insuring that everyone who is working in America will be protected by law. The serial amnesties (of which McCain-Kennedy is the most recent) merely guarantee that corporations can perpetually victimize undocumented laborers.

The Democratic Party is another victim, albeit in a poetically just way. The party’s decline has coincided with its ongoing betrayal of the working class. Democrats began their excruciating electoral descent precisely at the moment they decided to embrace centrist economic policies, which is a euphemism for romancing the mercantile aristocracy. The erstwhile champions of the underdog should be assailing the corporate brigands who exploit workers. Holding management accountable is what a labor party does, but for decades the United States has been without a relevant labor party.

The winners in the illegal immigration struggle are major corporations and their favorite political acolytes. For robber barons the status quo provides an ideal scenario in which they bleed their employees while generating societal strife that can be demagogued by Republican politicians. The GOP cannot win when Americans vote based on economic self-interest, so it is essential that the electorate vote its resentments. By destroying this nation’s working class and benefiting politically from the fallout, Corporate America is achieving a tour de force of malevolence.


Red Stater said...

For moron david podvin go to

Anonymous said...

Thsnks for visiting.
Perhaps you meant to write "more on" instead of "moron" but I got the point.
I did, in fact, check out the site. I called it wrong when I said the writing "Progressive." It is more in a category of its own not easy to peg. Snarky-Red comes closer to the mark, but there is a lot of clear thinking going on.
I would still advise the curious reader to pull on a good pair of boots first but go ahead an check it out.