Saturday, May 7, 2011

The new robber barons

The New Robber Barons

Back at the turn of the 19th century a key problem with American society were the “Robber Barons”. They were bad because while their business made them immense fortunes they didn’t share their economic prosperity with their workers.

These people didn’t actually steal from their workers but by using a variety of tactics they managed to keep wages low, hours long, and benefits non-existent. Many of their tactics were based on the ability of their wealth and political connections to bring government in on their side in disputes with workers.

Looking at the bloated greedy unions that we have today in places like Wisconsin it’s often hard to remember that unions were founded to fight the evil of corporate tyranny. Over 100 years ago unions were a moral necessity because workers had to band together to be treated fairly.

Even today there is a need to counterbalance corporate power in the job arena. Clearly though the battle has shifted. Today no reasonable conservative or liberal, CEO or worker disagrees with the concept that workers have a right to share in the wealth they generate through their labor.

The argument has shifted to what a fair settlement is. Clearly the companies owners are putting money at risk in order to provide jobs for the workers so the stockholders deserve a return on their investment. Similarly the stock holders recognize that without the labor of the workers there would be no company and hence the workers deserve a fair wage. Because people are far from perfect there is no unanimity on what constitutes a fair shake for both parties. But the overall societal consensus has changed dramatically. Most workers and owners, but not all, share the same assumption that it isn’t fair to exploit either group.

In our enlightened times liberals are eager to point out the evils of the “Robber Barons”. They tend to associate the “Robber Barons” with conservatives but in reality the “Robber Barons” were often liberals on matters other than how much workers should be paid. But it is clear that liberals rejoice, as do most conservatives, that the age of the “Robber Baron” has passed.

Sadly however a new generation of “Robber Barons” has arisen and unlike their predecessors they do actually rob to get their wealth. Who are these new exploiters of the workers? They are none other than the liberals who support illegal immigration.

Like their predecessors in the “Robber Baron” era modern illegals are poorly paid and expected to work long hours without benefits. Like their predecessors they are kept in line by selective enforcement of the law brought about by the political clout of their employers.

Who are these modern “Robber Barons”? They’re the folk that say that illegals should get free medical care, at the expense of hard working Americans. They’re the ones that say that illegals don’t take jobs away from Americans. They’re the ones who say that we need cheap labor to maintain the American standard of living. They’re the Democrats and the liberals who claim to support illegals but who in fact work hard to ensure that illegals provide cheap labor.

We all agree that an illegal shouldn’t be denied medical care and allowed to die just because they are illegal. But liberals contend that the rest of America should foot the bill for the medical care of illegals, all medical care for as long as the illegals are in America. Obama included 15 million illegals when he said how many people in America don’t have health care.

But the real reason liberals support society paying for illegals medical care is that is spreads the burden around. Liberals couldn’t get cheap labor to work on their houses or to be their servants if the workers had to charge enough to cover their medical expenses. Before you cite Meg Whitman as a case of a conservative using cheap illegals remember that she paid her maid roughly $40,000 a year, hardly an exploitive wage. But even if conservatives do exploit illegals it is still wrong.

It’s a common and unsubstantiated myth that illegals only take jobs Americans won’t. If you look at any job field where illegals are common,-- yard work, maintenance crews etc--you’ll find that many Americans are doing the exact same jobs. What is true is that many Americans wouldn’t do the jobs illegals do for the wages illegals are willing to accept.

Illegals can accept lower wages than Americans for a number of reasons. They don’t have to pay income taxes, social security taxes, or medicare taxes. They don’t have to pay for medical insurance. They don’t have to conform to a variety of other regulations that drive up the cost of living of Americans.

Illegals are also cheaper because employers can pay them more poorly because if an illegal complains the employer can call in the INS. These modern “Robber Barons” are exploiting the illegals just as their predecessors exploited Americans at the turn of the 20th century. Don’t be fooled; all of the political efforts to protect illegals isn’t based on a humanitarian instinct but on the desire to have cheap exploitable labor. Times may have changed but the desire to exploit others hasn’t gone away.

If we didn’t allow the exploitation of immigrants then our standard of living would go down a bit. No one would starve and it would be the rich, who employee illegals, not the poor who would suffer most. We’d have to pay Americans, or guest laborers, fair salaries that would drive up the cost of goods. But that’s exactly what we had to do when America got rid of the original “Robber Barons”.

While liberals constantly attack conservatives for not caring about illegals it’s the liberals whose very political move serves to maintain illegals as an exploitable class useful to provide votes and cheap labor. It’s time to treat foreigners who want to work in American fairly through some sort of guest worker program. It’s time to stop having all Americans subsidize the rich by paying for the societal costs of illegal immigrants. It’s time to stop allowing free medical care for illegals to make medical insurance unaffordable for the lower middle class. It’s time to stop forcing the Americans with the least job skills, who are disproportionately minorities, to compete with illegals who don’t have to pay taxes or their medical bills and who are willing to live in poverty because American poverty is better than a middle class life where they came from.

American is a huge and very diverse family held together by a common commitment to our fellow citizens. It’s not right that a few rich folks can get richer by exploiting both illegals and American workers. It’s time for America to take a stand and quit exploiting foreigners in order to maintain an artificially high standard of living.

1 comment:

mtts28 said...

Hmmmmm. Very well put, Tom! I never thought of it in that way before. Food for thought for sure.