Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Jobs Americans Won't Do

I know I said I didn't have time to blog today and I don't but I was just watching Neil Cavuto on FOX News while I was eating lunch and his guest said something that caught my ear. I missed the beginning of the segment but the gist of the piece was that Cavuto was claiming that ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids were good for American workers based on a new study that just came out. Now I didn't catch the name of the study so I can't address it here but Cavuto offered up this softball comment to his guest at the end of the segment, "Alright but the argument is that American workers won't take the jobs that illegals had and do, you find at least judging by this, to be specious."

And here was his guest's reply, "Yes, that is an argument frequently made, that American workers won't do these jobs so these industries must be allowed to depend upon an unauthorized illegal work force. We not only found that to be not true but the Congressional Research Service found it not to be true. They said that Americans will not do jobs if they're poorly paid and they have to operate under miserable conditions. They said that if these industries would improve the pay and the conditions American workers would do these jobs."

Full disclosure: I've known many illegal immigrants who were in this country to work and they are some of the hardest working people you'll ever meet; every one of them had at least two jobs and many of them had three. Also, I am a big supporter of worker's rights and would never advocate unsafe working conditions nor unfair wages. That said, it seems to me that people like Cavuto who are anti-illegal immigrant in their sympathies while also pro-laissez-faire capitalism want to have their cake and eat it too.

Now as I said, if these jobs are paying unfair wages or have unsafe working conditions then one would assume that the federal government would step in and enforce the specific laws that are being broken. But if we are to assume that everything about these jobs is above board then it's safe to say that American workers will indeed not do these jobs. Example: an illegal Mexican worker goes to a dish washing job that pays six dollars an hour in which he has a steady stream of dirty plates coming at him for a six hour period with the minimum amount of breaks allowed by law. That's a shit job no matter how you look at it (well OK, compared to not working at all in Mexico it's actually not so bad).

Now I come along as a legal American worker and say, "Hey, I'll do that Mexican's job as long as you pay me forty dollars an hour, increase the number and duration of my breaks and set a limit on how many dishes I have to clean per hour." We're both still washing dishes for a living but it's hardly the same job and that's the point: if you're going to allow the Invisible Hand of the free market to determine what a job should entail and how much that job should pay you are going to consistently have millions of jobs that Americans simply will not do. Yes, you can make just about any job desirable to almost any American if you pay enough money and make the working conditions comfortable and easy enough but as I said, it is then hardly the same job and people like Cavuto who ignore this fact are being either ignorant or dishonest when discussing this issue.


AmPowerBlog said...

It would be $40 an hour, but wages might be higher. This would help legal immigrants as well ...

Also, check out, Aging Charles Manson: Reflections

JBW said...

Don, your comment makes little sense and your link to yourself, while an interesting story, is hardly relevant to my post. I'll leave the comment up this time but in the future I'll delete any other self-serving, off-topic comments you leave here.

JoeBama "Truth 101" Kelly said...

I think Don's struggling for viewers since my banishment. Sorry. Off topic.

Anonymous said...

That's what I've never understood. In this argument over, "jobs Americans won't do" the right come off as populists. They take the evil businessmen to task for low pay, unsafe working conditions, whatever. But then, you suggest a nickel hike in the minimum wage or a minimal amount of regulation to ensure workplace safety and you're imposing harsh conditions that will put these brave entrepreneurs into chapter 7.

Please pardon me if I don't link to my blog here.

JBW said...

It's racist hypocrisy DLB, plain and simple. And if you don't have a random post about Charlie Manson to link to, then please don't.