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U.S. Business Itching to Import Cheap Labor
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Adroitly, President Trump has optimized outcomes for the American Worker. His is a labor market like no other.

Long overdue in the U.S., a labor market is one in which firms compete for workers, rather than workers competing for jobs.

“For the first time since data began to be collected in 2000, there are more job openings than there are unemployed workers.” By the Economist’s telling (Jul 12th 2018), “Fully 5.8 million more Americans are in work than in December of 2015.”

Best of all, workers are happier than they’ve been for a long time.

Not so business. For American business, it’s never enough.

Big or small, business is focused on elephantine-like expansion.

Big and small, business is nattering about labor shortages: “Ninety percent of small businesses which are hiring or trying to hire workers report that there are few or no qualified applicants, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.”

With blaring headlines, the megaphones in the financial press are amplifying a message of dissatisfaction:

“The shortage is reaching a ‘critical point’ … A lack of applicants for blue-collar jobs such as trucking and construction has received particular scrutiny, as have states like Iowa where the unemployment rate is especially low (it is just 2.7 percent in the Hawkeye state).”

August 31 saw President Trump sign an executive order meant to further boost small businesses. These will be permitted “to band together to offer 401(k)s.”

Again, nice, but not enough. It never is. A businessman present piped up about “a very tight labor market … causing us a little bit of a problem.”

Contrast this gimme-more-forever-more attitude, with the patriotic perspective of your average Trump supporter: “I’m willing to take my lumps for the good of the country,” a farmer told broadcaster Laura Ingraham. “The Scottish in me says to the death.”

Look, a labor market allows wages to rise and productivity to grow, for unprofitable firms will soon fold when they find they can’t pay enough to attract workers. Scarce resources—labor and capital—are then “put to better use.”

More crucially, wage gains accrue “to the poorest workers.” As the neoliberal, Trump-hating Economist notes, “Full-time employees at the 10th percentile of the income distribution are earning almost 4 percent more than a year ago.”

Beware; the good times may be short-lived. Trump’s response was Pavlovian. He promised the bitchin businessman to “start looking at, very seriously, merit-based immigration. We have to do it, because we need people.” Read: We don’t have enough fabulous people among a labor force 160-million strong.

This is the conditioned response corporate America has come to expect from Power. Business wants the world as its labor market, because? Fill in the blanks, dear reader.

For its part, government cares a great deal about outsized sectional interests and GDP (gross domestic product) numbers, as churned out by number-crunchers.

But, surely prosperity is about per capita growth as well, and—dare I say? —the wealth and health of local communities?

We know that multinationals—stateless corporations; “global beasts with vast balance-sheets”—are preoccupied with increasing value for shareholders. However, that and training American talent are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

What’s so wrong with making fellow Americans part of the success story? This may slow economic growth, but may increase its sustainability; make it the kind of growth around which authentic, organic communities can coalesce.

And what’s wrong with doing well enough with the labor available in the country? Or, with a view to training American talent? Or, with a mind to paying more for local labor?

As it stands, business is permitted to petition The State to import the world at a price heavily subsidized by disenfranchised American taxpayers.

By extension, the attitude of business toward economic growth is rooted not in healthy, community-based practices (stateside and abroad), but in some aberrant economic gigantism; in an economic elephantiasis undergirded by greed.

Fair enough: Small business wants to be big when it grows up. But let us not confuse the metastatic multinational, motivated by mammon alone, with a business whose growth is sustained by communities, as opposed to colonies of imported labor.


Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016) &. She’s on Twitter, Facebook,Gab & YouTube

• Category: Economics • Tags: Donald Trump, Immigration 
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  1. MarkinLA says:

    there are few or no qualified applicants

    Yeah, it must take years to learn how to put lettuce, cheese, tomatos and sauce on a burger.

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
    , @anonymous
  2. More than 90 million Americans of working age are not counted in the workforce. While many of those have reason to not want to be in the workforce, there must surely be several millions of persons ready, willing, and able to work but whom are treated as discouraged workers and not counted because they have given up after repeatedly by told they are not “qualified” for one reason or another. As this article suggests, the problem is not a lack of qualified bodies on offer, since a little training could fix that in many cases, but instead is almost certainly a lack of qualified bodies not willing to take employment at wages below a market-clearing wage or employers not willing to hire at or above a market clearing wage; couple that with politicos willing to grease the skids to speed the entry of cheap labour to lower the market clearing wage and you get an overall debasement of the US workforce.

    • Agree: Digital Samizdat
  3. TheOldOne says:

    I’m afraid this isn’t acceptable LIBERTARIAN talk.

  4. Look, a labor market allows wages to rise and productivity to grow, for unprofitable firms will soon fold when they find they can’t pay enough to attract workers. Scarce resources—labor and capital—are then “put to better use.”

    Yes and thank you. If your so-called business cannot pay a living wage you should put it out of its misery.

  5. And yet men are still not returning to the work force in the numbers you would expect. Most of the job gains are going to women.

    We also have millions of American men locked up in prison. And increasingly, those are white males who are being locked up – close to 5 million white men. We prefer to import new Americans rather than take the money and time to try and integrate our own American citizens into the workforce.

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  6. DanC says:

    The goal of most US businesses has always been to arbitrage the wages expected by US workers against the low wage expectations of foreign workers.

    Whether they do it by setting up foreign subsidiaries and making their products there … or bring the foreign workers here and pay them subsistence wages … they can then force concessions from Americans and drive wages down.

  7. Looking at that picture of 5 guys picking lettuce is a reminder that businesses are using low-wage human labor to avoid the inevitable: modernizing their capital equipment.

  8. @Bragadocious

    That would cost money. The price of lettuce would go up, maybe 5 cents per head. We can’t have that.

    People might stop buying lettuce, eating salads, switching to twinkies, getting fat, then obese.

    This would lead to serious health problems requiring medical treatments, new drugs to combat fat, a new government Department of Weight Reduction, USDOWR.

    Billions would become necessary in the war on fat. A czar would need to be appointed. Just like the war on drugs.

    See why it’s necessary that we not make a wave. sarc/off

  9. Wow. Ths is libertarian heresy. Stick it to the Chicago School, Ilana.

  10. @Peter Akuleyev

    “According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 2,220,300 adults were incarcerated in US federal and state prisons, and county jails in 2013 – about 0.91% of adults (1 in 110) in the U.S. resident population. Additionally, 4,751,400 adults in 2013 (1 in 51) were on probation or on parole.”

    Did you have a cite on the most jobs going to women? The labor force participation rate is still low, and a lot of people, men especially, are discouraged.

  11. @MarkinLA

    The other point being, even for more complex jobs a modicum of training will get people up to speed. The perception is that training workers is a sucker’s bet, because they’ll take the training and go elsewhere. In reality, workers who’ve been invested in by employers are more loyal, so the training investment lowers employee churn costs.

    The employers who believe that trained employees will screw them and move elsewhere are projecting: they have no interest in creating a growth culture, and figure they’ll just exploit. No wonder they want immigrants without rights to wok for them.

  12. TG says:

    Karl Marx got many things wrong, but he got one thing right. The history of civilization is the history of class war.

    Once organized agriculture developed, there were two kinds of people. Land owners, who want more workers than are needed, and workers, who want more land than is needed.

    There is not, and never has been a ‘labor shortage,’ the very idea is a lie. No society in all of recorded history has ‘run out’ of workers. Sometimes workers are in limited demand relative to the supply, and wages rise and profits fall – but the work always gets done.

    Until recently, in America if you advertised for farm workers for a dollar an hour and no benefits, even without a minimum wage law you’d get no takers. So there is a ‘shortage’ of agricultural workers. But food is abundant. Meanwhile in Bangladesh, there is no ‘shortage’ of 50 cents an hour farm labor, and chronic malnutrition is widespread. So you see, you need a labor ‘shortage’ to make sure that enough food is grown! But of course that’s absurd, because the very idea of a labor ‘shortage’ is absurd. Labor is valuable or it is cheap, it’s as simple as that.

    • Replies: @obwandiyag
    , @anonymous
  13. @Bragadocious

    Mechanized lettuce-harvesters rotting in the fields!

  14. “U.S. Business Itching to Import Cheap Labor”

    For a long time I thought it was that simple.

    “Israel lobby itching to commit White genocide” is more like it.

    • Replies: @Nadir
  15. Anybody see any concrete action to re-employ/re-train those 90+ million U6 idle Americans? I thought there was a White House council on that. Seems like one or more of the Trump kids was headlining the media events for it.

  16. Nadir says:
    @Pat Kittle

    “Israel lobby itching to commit White genocide” is more like it.

    What utter nonsense. What interest does the “Israel lobby” have in white genocide, given that blacks, Hispanics and especially Muslims are substantially more anti-Semitic and anti-Israel than whites?

    I bet you believe in “wars for Israel” too, eh? Then how do you explain our overthrowing the only Arab regime to have a peace treaty with Israel, the Mubarak regime in Egypt, in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood? And what does Israel care about women’s rights in Afghanistan, or a free-market economy in Iraq? What a joke. These are not wars for Israel, but for liberalism. Just like the displacement of whites.

    • Replies: @Pat Kittle
  17. @Nadir

    You Israeli hasbara trolls like to use non-Jewish sounding screen names and avatars.

    We goyim are supposed to be fooled.

    I’ll give you some free advice, (((shyster))) — tell your superiors to assign you a more gullible website. We see right througth (((your kind))) here.

    Have a nice day!

  18. Exactly! Clueless liberals are doing their masters’ bidding when they get all wrought up about immigration. And they don’t even know it. They actually think that rich people oppose immigration. How stupid can you get? As those raving right-wingers Marx and Sanders put it so eloquently “Immigration is a scam to lower wages and prevent unionization.”

  19. @TG

    No idea what you are talking about. But Marx opposed immigration because it suppressed wages.

  20. @Bragadocious

    Mmm. Can’t wait to taste THAT lettuce.

  21. See?! Just for a few moments, Trump is flocking over Big Business. Just like we said he would. The influence of rivers of shiny ancient coins will of course kibosh that.

  22. anonymous[404] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    “Yeah, it must take years to learn how to put lettuce, cheese, tomatos and sauce on a burger.”

    Yeah, not to mention spell tomatoes right.

    The real problem is the public education system, where far-left teachers focus on their political themes while deliberately not educating kids in even the basics of reading, math, writing, and responsibility.

    I had a talk with a McDonald’s manager who says she has become very selective in hiring because many workers lose her hundreds in an hour by contaminating the lettuce, messing up simple orders, yelling or getting snarky at customers, and worse. He was blunt: Many workers aren’t worth ‘minus $15 an hour’ because of these behaviors.

    She had some real doozy stories about kids with social sciences college degrees who think every rule is racist or capitalist oppression and doing simple math is harassment. No wonder they hate McDonald’s: The first time they met reality.

  23. anonymous[404] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    The only class war is between the intelligent and ignoramus-lovers like Marx. Civilization is the slow rise of the intelligent battling witch doctors, barbarian bullies, and economic-political crackpots. Socialism is the crazy economics of faith-based feudalism in secular guise.

    The examples you cite are the result of backfiring socialist nostrums, starting with land expropriation.

    The number of workers on wages is irrelevant in the sense the OP means. The shortage problem is caused by regulation including the production by the socialist public school teachers of incompetent people who can’t do basics so they blame capitalism.

    As a libertarian I’m all for peaceful people emigrating, but importing anti-US socialist and Islamo-Fascist workers from abroad instead of attacking the structural problems created by the far-left at home that bring shortages of competent workers ( employers confront people with college degrees who can’t do basic math and have bad work habits that lose money), will solve: nothing.

  24. Franz says:

    The only class war is between the intelligent and ignoramus-lovers like Marx. Civilization is the slow rise of the intelligent battling witch doctors, barbarian bullies, and economic-political crackpots. Socialism is the crazy economics of faith-based feudalism in secular guise.

    History is slightly more ambiguous than that.

    Actual “civilization” in the original sense – living cities or adapting behaviors and discipline consistent with same – is only possible when any distinct group of people use their common desire enough to divide the work of the world equitably among themselves.

    Ben Franklin told Europeans that the US Colonies did not need gold-backed currency because they had their own “good faith and productivity” to back the Colonial chits instead. Ben did not say the Colonials were geniuses. He noted that all, brilliant and stupid, were mainly law-abiding and agreed on a fixed set of rules to prevent both starvation and constant dislocation.

    Those of us who used to vote Libertarian know the rules well enough, we just can’t see what’s difficult about maintaining the balance Ben Franklin knew well enough and the modern LP can’t wrap their heads around.

    Marx was much like a modern (small “l”) libertarian: He lusted after Free Trade. But at least he knew it wasn’t good, it was a solvent for destroying nations and preparing the ground for the revolution.

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