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In our post-modern (or post-post-modern?) age, we are supposedly transcending the material certainties of the past. The virtual world of the Internet is replacing the “real,” material world, as theory asks us to question the very notion of reality. Yet that virtual world turns out to rely heavily on some distinctly old systems and realities, including the physical labor of those who produce, care for, and provide the goods and services for the post-industrial information economy.

As it happens, this increasingly invisible, underground economy of muscles and sweat, blood and effort intersects in the most intimate ways with those who enjoy the benefits of the virtual world. Of course, our connection to that virtual world comes through physical devices, and each of them follows a commodity chain that begins with the mining of rare earth elements and ends at a toxic disposal or recycling site, usually somewhere in the Third World.

Closer to home, too, the incontrovertible realities of our physical lives depend on labor — often that of undocumented immigrants — invisible but far from virtual, that makes apparently endless mundane daily routines possible.

Even the most ethereal of post-modern cosmopolitans, for instance, eat food. In twenty-first-century America, as anthropologist Steve Striffler has pointed out, “to find a meal that has not at some point passed through the hands of Mexican immigrants is a difficult task.” Medical anthropologist Seth Holmes adds, “It is likely that the last hands to hold the blueberries, strawberries, peaches, asparagus, or lettuce before you pick them up in your local grocery store belong to Latin American migrant laborers.”

The same is true of the newspaper. The invisible links between two mutually incomprehensible worlds were revealed to many in the Boston area at the end of December when the Boston Globe, the city’s major newspaper, made what its executives apparently believed would be a minor change. They contracted out its subscriber delivery service to a new company.

Isn’t newspaper delivery part of the old economy and so consigned to the dustbin of history by online news access? It turns out that a couple of hundred thousand people in the Boston area — and 56% of newspaper readers nationwide — still prefer to read their news in what some dismissively call the “dead tree format.” In addition, despite major ad shrinkage, much of the revenue that allows newspapers to offer online content still comes overwhelmingly from in-print ads.

The Globe presented the change as a clean, technical move, nothing more than a new contractor providing newspaper delivery for a lower cost. But like so many other invisible services that grease the wheels of daily life, that deceptively simple task is in fact provided thanks to grueling, exploited labor performed by some of society’s most marginalized workers, many of them immigrants and undocumented.

In this respect, newspaper delivery shares characteristics with other forms of labor that link the privileged with the exploited. This is especially true in Boston, recently named the most unequal city in the country. Some of the most dangerous, insecure, and unpleasant jobs with the lowest pay and a general lack of benefits provide key goods and services for citizens who undoubtedly believe that they never interact with immigrants or receive any benefits from them.

In fact, immigrant workers harvest, process, and prepare food; they provide home health care; they manicure hands and lawns. In other words, the system connects some of the most intimate aspects of our daily lives with workers whose very existence is then erased or demonized in the public sphere. And all of this happens because these workers are regularly rendered silent and invisible.

Reporters Heroically Deliver the Paper

To get that “dead tree” item from the printer to your doorstep requires hundreds of human workers willing to leave home in the middle of the night, 365 days a year, regardless of the weather and the driving conditions (a serious issue in New England). They must drive to a distribution center to receive, fold, and package the papers, load them in their own car, and spend several hours racing through dark streets to finish their route before dawn. Although they pay for their own gas, insurance, and car maintenance, the low piece rate that these “independent contractors” receive per-paper-delivered barely allows them to reach the minimum wage. Many of them are immigrants.

The Globe’s workers remained invisible to much of the public until December 28th when the paper replaced its long-time delivery contractor with Long Beach-based ACI Media Group. Droves of workers were laid off from the previous company when it lost its Globe contract, and ACI promised to cut costs for delivery by paying its newly hired workers less and making them work more under significantly worse conditions. As a result, ACI had trouble attracting workers and those they did hire began to quit en masse when confronted with the degrading new working conditions. Thousands of papers went undelivered, day after day. When subscriber complaints flooded in, the media began to take notice. But most of the journalists covering the developing story preferred to look everywhere except at the workers themselves in trying to explain what happened.

Subscribers may be aware of their paper carriers because they catch a glimpse of them or hear them in the early morning, or they may take seriously those envelopes that the carriers regularly leave, hoping for tips to bolster their meager income. Apparently, however, the Globe’s own reporters never thought to consider how the newspaper arrived at subscribers’ homes until the system went into crisis.

A week into the quagmire, the Globe mobilized its reporters and other staff to help deliver the Sunday paper. If anyone outside the Boston area heard about the issue, it was undoubtedly because of this unprecedented action. Under the headline “Boston Globe Employees Help Deliver Papers on Sunday,” for instance, the New York Times noted that 200 of them “stayed up all night,” having brought their own “flashlight and a GPS,” and that they “assembled and bagged thousands of newspapers and stacked them in their cars.” On NPR, Renee Montagne chimed in, reporting that “before dawn on Sunday morning, dozens of the Globe‘s reporters and editors fanned out and delivered the papers themselves. They carried flashlights and GPS.”

As one of those reporters told the Times, “You’re following instructions about whether people want it directly on their porch or hidden somewhere, so you have to walk up to the house and drop it where they wanted it.” CNN Money explained that “first, the volunteers had to bag the papers,” and provided a photograph to prove that such a remarkable act had indeed happened. All of this coverage tacitly offered up the same message: reporters had heroically crossed the lines of race, status, and class! How amazing!

Clearly, this foray into the world of immigrant labor proved startling for those reporters. Columnist Marcela García called it “an unbelievably eye-opening experience.” Columnist Shirley Leung wrote, “We have an old saying in newsrooms: Putting out the paper is a daily miracle. I used to think that was just about filing your story on deadline, but I’ve come to appreciate how it’s the whole package from keyboard to doorstep.”

Columnist Joan Vennochi, after spending the night delivering papers, lamented the suffering of the “victims” of the Globe’s decision — by which, of course, she meant the subscribers. After a humorous description of his own amateur attempt to follow a morning delivery route, reporter Kevin Cullen concluded casually that “whatever they pay the delivery people, it’s not enough, and it’s more than a little depressing to think this debacle has been brought about by a desire to pay them even less.”

“Whatever they pay the delivery people…” Curiously, in the first two weeks of reporting on the crisis, no news source seemed able to find out how much the new company was actually paying. The Columbia Journalism Review reported widespread speculation “that the labor shortage stems from ACI offering lower pay rates than other carriers. But ACI and Globe management have both denied that claim.” Apparently it never occurred to CJR reporter David Uberti to ask a worker!

Press coverage made it clear that newspapers live in, and speak to, a world of privilege. It was assumed, for instance, that readers shared the utter ignorance of reporters when it came to the work (and the workers) involved in physically transporting newspapers to their doorsteps. They were, in other words, to enjoy unlimited access to “information” about the world that “matters” — and complete ignorance when it came to the mundane details that lay behind that access.

Only one of the journalists who participated in that Sunday delivery extravaganza, columnist Marcela García, who frequently covers immigrant and Latino issues, even thought to focus her attention on the workers who actually did the same job every day. “Reporters delivering their own work — that’s a story,” she wrote. “But off camera, and working side by side with us as we assembled the Sunday paper, were the people who are there every night, making not much more than minimum wage… Part of the subtext of the crisis the Globe has faced for the past week is that our new delivery vendor can’t seem to find enough people willing and able to do the grueling work.”

At her blog, García recorded one of her colleagues saying, “Wow, I can’t believe something like this had to happen for us to learn about these workers and their conditions .” She was evidently one of the few reporters willing to talk with some of the actual workers that Sunday morning when the Globestaff mobilized to help with the delivery. Or perhaps she was one of the few able to. While 35% of Boston’s inhabitants speak a language other than English and the city is now “majority minority,” the paper’s journalists, unlike its delivery workers, remain overwhelmingly white and English speaking.

The Vanishing Workers

That Tuesday, January 5th, publisher John Henry offered a public apology — to subscribers, of course, not to the workers with the old carrier who, because of his actions, had lost their jobs, or the ones with the new carrier who had seen their working conditions and pay undermined. Henry did emphasize that a major reason for switching carriers was ACI’s promise of substantially cheaper service. Clearly, he felt it unnecessary to mention that these savings would be realized on the backs of the delivery workers. “Until Globe staffers embarked on an effort to save more than 20,000 subscribers from missing their Sunday paper,” Henry wrote, “we had underestimated what it would take to make this change.” He then offered a post-modern, post-material explanation for the problem: the new company’s routing software had proven insufficient for the job!

On January 9th, almost two weeks after the delivery crisis began, an exposé by reporter Michael Levenson finally brought the issue of “long hours, little pay, no vacation for delivery drivers” out of the shadows. He described the “grueling nocturnal marathon for low-income workers who toil almost invisibly on the edge of the economy.” The next day, when 15 workers delivered a letter of protest to the new carrier and walked off the job, reporter Dan Adams explained their demands and actually quoted Lynn Worker Center organizer Julio Ruiz.

On January 13th, the Globe published a lead editorial challenging management and bringing labor issues to the fore in a significant way. It recognized that “drivers get no vacation, and lack worker protections. That’s despite the fact that packaging papers into plastic bags, in the middle of the night, can be grueling work.” The editorial called on the state attorney general and federal authorities to investigate the delivery business, including implicitly the accusation leveled by workers that their employers misclassify them as “independent contractors” in order to avoid paying the wages or offering the labor protections they deserve.

In other words, the organizing and protesting of the workers — and the experiences of the reporters as one-day delivery people — helped briefly open a window between the world of those who write and read the news and the world of the exploited labor that transports it from the former to the latter.

Yet the window didn’t last long. A Globe postmortem by Mark Arsenault on January 16th returned to a purely technological explanation of the problem in summing up the three-week debacle. “The root of the delivery mayhem,” he wrote, “lies in something so simple that nobody gave it much thought until it was too late: sensible paper routes.” Once again, software and routing lay at the heart of the matter, while workers and working conditions conveniently vanished.

If newspaper writers and readers are effectively isolated from the world of the workers who deliver the paper, that divide goes both ways. One immigrant worker who spoke to García — in Spanish — was a Guatemalan who had taken on a second paper route during the crisis. He worked from one at night to eight in the morning and requested to be identified by a pseudonym. “I asked him if he ever reads the Globe,” García reported. “He looked up and stared back at me as if I was saying something crazy. And he just laughed.”

Our infatuation with virtual modernity should not blind us to the exploitative systems of labor that undergird our world from our front doorsteps to distant parts of the planet. As the Globe’s delivery crisis made clear, the present system relies on ignorance and on the invisibility of the labor of mostly immigrant, often undocumented workers. The Globe’s delivery breakdown offered a brief look at just one way in which the worlds of business, journalism, and readers rely on such workers. And the local and national coverage revealed just how unusual it is for those who own, manage, write, and read newspapers to see this underside of our information economy.

So when you next pick up your paper and read the latest blast by Donald Trump against undocumented immigrants, remember: the odds are you can only do so because an undocumented worker brought it to your doorstep.

Aviva Chomsky’s most recent book is Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal. She is professor of history and coordinator of Latin American studies at Salem State University in Massachusetts.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Economics • Tags: American Media, Immigration, Low Wages 
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  1. The more you can demonize them, the more you can exploit them.

    Reducing illegal immigration might actually make it possible to reverse exploitation of workers. A flood of labor can do nothing but reduce wages in a free economy.

    • Replies: @cynthia curran
  2. Wally says: • Website

    Solution: the “undocumented” could simply go home and stop being “exploited”.

    • Replies: @Biff
  3. Discard says:

    Before all these people were imported, Americans did all this work. They are not needed; they are merely convenient for the Haves.

  4. Aviva Chomsky identifies a problem familiar to anyone who has ever been on a union picket line. How do you apportion out your anger between the bosses and the ‘scabs?’

    The bosses in this example are the politicians and corprorate bosses as per usual and the scabs are the immigrant workers. The union is supposed to be America.

    The right has been for the bosses. The left has been for the scabs (two sides of the same coin) but Trump is for the union, Ttump is for America.

    Now Aviva Chonsky is correct to point out that the scabs work hard and blah blah blah but ultimately they are undermining the union and empowering the bosses. That is what defines them in this scenario. That is why they are imported. If the union is not to be bust then the scab workers must be kept out.

    If this language is too ugly and inhuman for Aviva Chomsky then it is as it has always been. The priestly class were always protected from the rough and tumble of working life so that they could push the ideology of those in charge. To the worker, to the American, on the ground, scab/immigrant labour not only directly disempowers them and cuts their wages but increases living costs, eats union dues and breaks the bonds of culture, history and tradition which hold the union together in the first place.

    They make it so the bosses will never need to feel loyalty to the workers again. Not real loyalty anyway. Not the type people will live and die for, the type that really can exist in a real, grounded nation. Though, I am sure, platitudes will always be mouthed.

    Aviva flies free with her helicopter altruism. A self-actualised being living off cheap labour and cheap pieties. While Americans face an increasingly precarious future in an alienated and atomised society.

  5. Journalists ought to be worried as their jobs slowly disappearing as print is replaced with digital broadsheets. Currently 85 percent of the US population has access to internet. In Northern and Western Europe 90-99 percent of the population has access to internet. In United states 28 percent has a fixed broadband subscription. It low among Western countries which polling from 30 up 80 percent. However, in United States about 74 percent of Americans has a mobile cellular subscription. It is still low compared to Scandinavia, Australia and Asia but internationally high. What is more important is the number of SmartPhones.

    Currently, about half of United States owns a Smartphone which is fairly high although lower than in Western and Northern Europe. Internet is also cheaper and significantly faster in Europe than in United States. Cheap available ultra-rapid Broadband, SmartPhones and laptop computers is a currently killing printed media, cable television and movie theaters in Scandinavia. More so – it is become very difficult for Scandinavian Media Houses to make money on digital media as consumers will not pay for something they can freely read, listen or see somewhere else on the internet.

    Corporation will rather buy ads from Google or Facebook than from Scandinavian, British or German traditional newspapers. If Northern Europe would kill Public Service and government aid to traditional media most of it would be out of business within a few years. In the same time the Alternative Right has been extremely professional using Newsfeeds, blogs and commentating aggregators. In United States you see the rise of internet New Sites Huffington Post which has been adopted by the rightwing such as Breitbart. Breitbart don’t create news. They comment and select articles from MSM – making their site highly popular as it is highly populist.

    In United States freedom of speech is still protect but in Northern Europe (read: Germany, Sweden and United Kingdom) the media elites and politician try to push laws banning anonymity, free speech and media not in line with mainstream politics. United States is the largest English speaking country so there is still a market but American media may be only one or two decades from the “media death” which is currently taking place in Europe. Journalists ought to be worried as their jobs are disappearing.

  6. Kyle a says:

    Back in the days,delivering the newspaper was a job that kids performed.most newspapers had afternoon delivery times. Perhaps returning to that format would bring the kids back out,pedaling on bikes and missing my front porch. Just like fast food. Low skilled, no English speaking adults have displaced kids and then we’re supposed to be livid because they can’t earn a decent living? Maybe they’re no t supposed to.

  7. Kyle a says:

    We are the victims. The tax payers that is.

  8. Hubbub says:

    The delivery of a newspaper is no excuse for unregulated, unmitigated immigration. Get real. Illegal immigration is a national problem, not a remedy. Next, we’ll read that unfettered immigration is necessary to keep our law institutions fully staffed and gainfully employed.

  9. @This Is Our Home

    A dead-on comment. Thanks for saying all this clearly and concisely.

  10. TG says:

    Fine until the last bit: so without illegal immigrants there will be no papers delivered or food grown etc? What rot.

    There is not, has never been, nor never can be, a labor shortage. Without cheap foreign labor, everything that needs to be done will be done – just as it was before 1970 – only wages for the many will be higher and profits for the few will be lower. There may be some temporary issues with adjustment, as our economy has become addicted to cheap labor, but if we limit the growth of the labor supply, sooner or later the marketplace will make wages and working conditions go up.

  11. @This Is Our Home

    I just commented a minute ago, but wanted to say further.

    I watched Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima last night after the Super Bowl. There’s a line in there that illustrates the point you’re making when you say, “Not real loyalty anyway. Not the type people will live and die for, the type that really can exist in a real, grounded nation.”

    The Japanese officer is giveing a last ditch inspiration speech to his loyal soldiers. He arouses their will by reminding them that some day in the future, the Japanese people will remember the sacrifice they were being called upon to make here and would honor them for it. That their sacrifice would live in the memory of the Japanese people for as long as there is a Japanese people.

    And the thought immediately occurred to me, “How could an American leader use this tactic today? In light of the replacement of American people, the current rage to tear down statues of our former heroes etc?”

    Of course, they can’t and couldn’t. So how will our leaders motivate our citizens to make the ultimate sacrifice? People aren’t so stupid as not to perceive their own self interest when it involves a life or death decision.

    Probably, we will be driven forward by party commissars aiming pistols at our backs and threatening to shoot us if we don’t advance. This is not a viable plan. If there’s one lesson we learned from the behaviorists, it’s that negative reinforcement doesn’t hold up over the long haul as a functioning motivator for the desired behavior.

    • Replies: @This Is Our Home
    , @AndrewR
  12. Lupa says:

    I find it so fascinating, how the Left and leftists (including Aviva Chomsky) are so incredibly passionate about the fate of foreign workers – moreso if they’ve entered a nation illegally.

    The Left USED to talk about overpopulation in the Third World and intact borders, without beating around the bush.

    Chomsky, however, doesn’t give a damn about American workers – it’s evidently more important to her to protect Latin American workers – people who not only break laws entering the country, but also dump salaries. If she did give a damn, she wouldn’t finish off her article by criticizing Trump – the only candidate who (however flawed he may be) even DISCUSSES the idea of toughening up on immigration, which is the source of all these problems.

    It’s a complete joke – the left is reduced to endless squabbles about identity politics. Meanwhile any sympathy they ever had for American workers and their plight, has been replaced by shallow pity for what used to be the bane of unions: illegal workers.
    There’s not a single force anymore, opposing globalism, except for conservatives.

  13. MarkinLA says:

    Nobody needs cheap manual labor. A ditch-witch and a few gallons of gas can do more trenching in a day than a couple of Mexicans. The problem is the fence contractor only needs to hire the illegals when he has a contract. The machine costs too much to own and getting it from the rental yards is more time consuming than just picking up a Mexican in front of Home Depot.

    They are replacing telephone poles in my mom’s neighborhood. It took a crew of three hours to dig out a new hole for the replacement pole. They decided to just replace another one reusing the old position. It took them 30 minutes with a giant hydrojet and vacuum to dig and suck the mud out to free the old pole. The new pole was just put in place and some new dirt fill added. The machine took up half the size of a commercial trailer due to the mud storage tank.

    Most people know nothing about the machines that would be in widespread use if not for cheap illegal labor.

  14. Chomsky is undoubtedly too young to remember when this work was done by native-born kids seeking to make a little extra money for themselves or their families. Native-born Americans of all ages are still fully capable of doing all the work that illegals have stolen from them if greedy and ruthless employers like thge Glob no longer have access to cheap illegal labor and have to pay a sufficient wage to incentivize the native-born. Either that or the employers will have to invest in automation – hopefully made in the USA – to do the job. Why hasn’t the Glob asked Amazon about that company’s plans for drone delivery? This is all basic economics; something lefties have a lot of trouble with, as is now being demonstrated for the umpteenth time in Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina. The next time Chomsky bites into a Maine potato she might contemplate the fact that the vast majority of the work needed to harvest this crop is done by native-born, Maine teenagers. Americans will not shirk work if they are appropriately rewarded. Employers will not exploit illegal labor if they are appropriately punished.

  15. @Threecranes

    And the thought immediately occurred to me, “How could an American leader use this tactic today? In light of the replacement of American people, the current rage to tear down statues of our former heroes etc?”

    Nor does it only apply to war, but to all collective action for posterity. Essentially, with no stake in the future, people will do little to build or protect it.

    Just imagine a significant group of Americans collecting together to start something like the construction of a medieval cathedral. They took centuries, sometimes. It is unimaginable.

    There are also much more timely aims which are becoming just as hard to agree upon.

    These include infrastructure spending, debt reduction, interest rate rises (the monetary equivalent of saying that the future has value) and I hate to say it, because I am global warming agnostic, but the lack of meaningful movement on this issue is as much a symptom of the closing of our society’s future as anything else.

    Our whole outlook is reduced and shrunk. Nothing but the most vacuous political discourse can remain. Either Trump wins, Le Pen wins and we reverse all of this or it will be everyone and their families out for themselves. Everything which the left traditionally cared about will become entirely irrelevant, if it already hasn’t.

    Thanks new left…

    • Replies: @Threecranes
  16. @MarkinLA

    And if there is a single indice of first world status for a nation’s economy it is productivity per capita. No other statistic reveals the wealth of a nation and its people as well.

  17. iSteveFan says:

    Most people know nothing about the machines that would be in widespread use if not for cheap illegal labor.

    The ubiquitous Bobcat skid steer loader was developed in the 1950s during an immigration restriction period in which labor was scarce. Had we been flooded with cheap labor then, it is doubtful this machine would have come into being. Labor scarcity leads to technological innovation as employers find ways to make labor more productive. Opening the gates to cheap labor actually harms innovation as it reduces the need for employers to find cost saving alternatives.

  18. @Jus' Sayin'...

    How young is she?
    Wikipedia: Aviva Chomsky is an American teacher, historian, author and activist. She is a professor of History and the Coordinator of Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies at the Salem State University in Massachusetts.
    Born: April 20, 1957 (age 58). She is daughter of Noam Chomsky.
    Her grandfather is described in Wikipedia:
    With sorrow I (IffU) realized then (21 years ago),
    that my arrival to my work in the USA
    diminished the median of salaries
    of USA specialists of my specialty and my level.
    I am grateful to my boss then , who was able
    to provide green-card type entrance visa
    for me and my family of 4 (me including).
    His organization was growing then, and still grows now.
    I (humbly) share the opinions
    of Steve Sailer and John Derbyshire on immigration.

    • Replies: @Jus' Sayin'...
  19. SF says:

    Noam Chomsky’s daughter makes some good points, but she is unable to come to grips with the obvious solution. We need to deport illegal aliens and not let any more in.

  20. Biff says:
    @This Is Our Home

    You’re forgeting about the scabs in foreign countries where the American jobs got shipped too. Why don’t you complain about them for a while.

    • Replies: @This Is Our Home
  21. Biff says:

    Solution: the “undocumented” could simply go home and stop being “exploited”.

    Where are you going to go to stop being “exploited”?

    • Replies: @Olorin
  22. @Biff

    You’re forgeting about the scabs in foreign countries where the American jobs got shipped too. Why don’t you complain about them for a while.

    They’re less of a problem. They don’t receive instant equal membership of a club which it took, in my country’s case, thousands of years to build. There are other reasons too.

    So while outsourcing a problem, I prefer to concentrate on the biggest and most pressing issue for the moment.

    Why are you desperate to see us distracted?

  23. @Immigrant from former USSR

    Thanks for the info. You are right and I was wrong: Chomsky should remember the days when kids were newspaper boys and later newspaper girls, although most of the latter had trouble lugging around the sack of papers one needed to carry to make the job worthwhile. Perhaps in the privileged neighborhoods in which Chomsky was raised, local kids were too pampered for this kind of labor.

    BTW, her current job tells one all one needs to know.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    , @AndrewR
  24. Olorin says:

    I’m already there.

    My ancestors didn’t create it as an open-door house party for every last poster child of Emma Lazarus cat-lady milk-leaking-teat bleeding-heartism, but as an HBD experiment and laboratory for a very specific population genetics pool.

    That genetic pool and the republic it created has invented and shared enormous gains and comforts to all of humanity. Everyone–EVERYONE–wants its benefits, no matter how much they bitch about how horrible exploitive racist it is.

    It will not continue to deliver these gains and comforts when it is genome-mongrelized out of existence.

    As for “exploitation,” only weaker, stupider people worry about that. Stronger, more intelligent people have other things to do with their attention than play football for tenure with such things, as second generation Universicrat Aviva Chomsky does.

    But there is a lot of money to be made and power to be accrued, bleeding out over the “exploited.” This histrionic outpouring is the only thing produced by the most powerful in society–the government-academic-media industry, which, e.g., looks at a collapsing urban infrastructure and sees only the parasites who made it that way, and only as victims for selling more inches of blog or ads.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  25. @This Is Our Home

    There’s nothing to add, you’ve thrown another strike.

  26. If payments for welfare and unemployment weren’t so high, and disability so easy to defraud, we’d have Americans who would do these jobs.

  27. @Olorin

    Emma Lazarus was far from a cat lady. She was a spoiled rich brat who summered in Newport.

  28. @Jus' Sayin'...

    Perhaps in the privileged neighborhoods in which Chomsky was raised, local kids were too pampered for this kind of labor.

    I had a friend who, in his teens in the 1970s, delivered the Post to some of the swankiest addresses in the District of Columbia. When collection day came, often the person at the door asked if he could pay at a later date.

    My friend quietly gaped at the digs before him, then asked, “I see. You want me to float you a loan.”

    They almost always paid up on the spot.

  29. I do not care too much about undocumented immigrants and the labor they choose. If they do not find the pay or working conditions to their liking they can (like any free man) move on until they do find a suitable position, or make their own. I do not caqre about the Boston Globe, or their delivery difficulties. I do wonder how their current delivery routine (as a percentage of gross income and compared woth overall dependable service) compares to the days when boys on bikes used to do most of the home delivery.

    more than 4 years ago, I carried the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press as a carrier. I bought the rights to a delivery area, and was responsible for all delivery, collections, and disbursement. Seems to me I had about 70 daily customers, and 90 on Sundays. It further seems that I made about 30 dollars a week or so, if my collections were successful. Yes, I did learn a thing or two about extending credit to people of character. I ate some bad debt, and learned when I did.

    We were encouraged by the News and Free Press to think of ourselves as independent businessmen. The subscribers were encouraged to remember that we (the carriers) were the ones who suffered if they did not pay. We were free to deliver well and seek tips. It was a great way to make a few bucks, and taught me the habit of getting up early and going to work every day. Interacting with the older boys at the paper station was a valuable set of lessons in pecking order, tobacco, and a number of other more worldly instructions.

    Were the Free Press and News spending more to keep us delivering than is now spent on illegal immigrants managed by others? Could that old paperboy model even work in todays world? I wonder. And I am sorry that this way to earn a few dollars and learn some invaluable lessons is gone.

    • Replies: @AndrewR
  30. Svigor says:

    I wonder how foreign unskilled labor is treated in Israel. How Palestinian labor is treated in the occupied territories.

    The media doesn’t seem very interested in that subject, either.


    Libertarians and pseudo-libertarians are always going on about “free competition.” “Oh, you just don’t want to have to compete.”

    Hmm. How about torches and pitchforks for the oligarchs? That sounds like free competition to me. Oh, you mean the oligarchs can’t compete with mob violence? Pity.

    Oligarchs usually rejoin with something about “rule of law.”

    The Law of the Jungle is a law, too.

    • Replies: @Karl
  31. Not that long ago, newspaper boys delivered newspapers. They have been pushed aside by illegal alien adults who are hungrier and more desperate. It is amazing but some people prefer it that way.

  32. @MarkinLA

    Yes, but those machines cannot ever vote for a Democrat once they have been given amnesty.

  33. Karl says:

    >> I wonder how foreign unskilled labor is treated in Israel. How Palestinian labor is treated in the occupied territories.

    those who actually want to know – go there and take a look.

    those who actually want to run their mouths – don’t.

  34. @Fran Macadam

    People here are obsessed with illegal immigrants even the Mexico government shown that more of their people comeback now since they have less relatives in the US. About 10 years almost all cooks for illegal immigrants its gradually changing. Mexicans are like the Italians Mexico gains slightly in terms of economics like foreign companies setting up plants Trump even wants a guest worker scheme for them to comeback once he deports them. There are a lot more illegal immigrants in Texas than Mississippi but usually you can get a better paying job in Texas. Just fine the companies for hiring them and deport some. So, there are other factors why wages are low than illegal immigrants, Texas is 38 percent Latino while Mississippi is only 4 percent.

    • Replies: @This Is Our Home
  35. @cynthia curran

    There are a lot more illegal immigrants in Texas than Mississippi but usually you can get a better paying job in Texas.

    Yes, immigrants tend to want to go where the wages are.

    People here are obsessed with illegal immigrants even the Mexico government shown that more of their people comeback now since they have less relatives in the US.

    98 percent of the world’s population does not live in Mexico. About 80 percent of that would inprove their lifestyle were they to move to America. That is something like 5 billion people.

    When you have something valuable do you want your government to force you to potentially share it with 5 billion people? Or least can you not understand why Americans might like their country and might not want it to become something else? Or even might you just sympathise with the fact that membership of a club eith no entry standards swiftly becomes worthless and poor Americans don’t want one of their biggest assets to depreciate to nothing.

    About 10 years almost all cooks for illegal immigrants its gradually changing.

    Yes, this happens when illegals are made legal and hey presto the American population is replaced. Good bye Beach Boys hello Neo-America.

  36. AndrewR says:

    Not to be pedantic but I might as well use my psychology education for public good :p

    “Negative reinforcement” has a real definition and is commonly misused. Reinforcement is by definition something that is desireable. The ‘”negative” refers to removing something. So negative reinforcement would be, for instance, removing an undesireable restriction or stimulus.

  37. AndrewR says:
    @Jus' Sayin'...

    It’s highly commendable for you to own up to your error but googling her would have taken only a few seconds and informed you that she is not at all too young to remember the days of which you speak. A nanogram of prevention can be worth a megaton of cure…

  38. AndrewR says:
    @Brian Reilly

    You wrote “4 years ago” but it sounds like you’re talking about four decades ago.

  39. ***grueling, exploited labor performed by some of society’s most marginalized workers, many of them immigrants and undocumented.***

    Which is why Unions used to be opposed to immigration as it hurt their wages and bargaining power. The Black Republican Caucus endorsed Donald Trump because they are well aware the illegal immigration hurts US blue collar workers, where a significant portion of the black population are competing for jobs.

    One of the fundamental roles of government is to protect its citizens. Illegal immigrants are non-citizens who are taking work from citizens and lowering wages. Therefore any responsible government should take steps to deport them.

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