Pay Americans to work

Published: Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 12:10 a.m.

When President Bush announced his proposed immigration reforms, he premised them on the need for more immigrant workers. We need them, he said, to do the jobs that American workers don't want to do.

President Bush is simply wrong that Americans won't do society's hard, nasty jobs. If this champion of the free market would just allow it to work when it comes to farm labor and cleaning motel rooms and the like, there would be plenty of workers available.

There are many millions of unemployed workers in this country plus millions more so discouraged about finding decent-paying jobs that they no longer seek employment. Yes, it might mean paying them $8 or $12 or even $20 an hour for some of these hard, dirty jobs. But that's what the alleged "magic of the market" is all about, isn't it?

If white collar professionals who never get their hands dirty or venture out into the cold or heat, except to commute to work, earn $20 or $40 or $100 or $200 an hour, why shouldn't ordinary workers be better paid. Yes, society needs bankers and businessmen and lawyers, but it needs even more the common laborers, those who actually produce the necessities of life.

The issue of immigration should not be clouded with false arguments. Millions of American jobs, especially well-paying manufacturing ones, have already left this country. But some jobs, especially farm labor and in the service sector, cannot be exported.

Calling them "guest workers" and "undocumented workers" doesn't change the reality that employers simply want to cut their costs even if it's at the expense of American citizens. Capitalists should bite the bullet and be willing to pay workers what they deserve. Stop being hypocritical and pay them what the free market demands.

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