If it’s true that illegal immigrants are taking away jobs that Americans would otherwise do, then it would logically follow that as enforcement measures (finally) go into place, businesses would replace the deported with all those legal citizens who were just waiting for their opportunities. They’d just about beat down the doors to get at those jobs.
All the employers have to do is pay the hard-working Americans a decent wage (the thinking goes), and folks would just line right up to take those jobs. So what’s this?
DENVER – It may not be too long before Pueblo County residents start seeing inmates from state prisons working area farms.
Rep. Dorothy Butcher, D-Pueblo, has managed to work out, at least in principle, a new program that would call on the Colorado Department of Corrections to supply inmates to work area farms.
It seems that farmers in the Pueblo County area are having some problems finding workers, in spite of offering up to $9.60/hr… and things are bad enough that crops either rotted in the fields last fall, some farmers are planning to plant less (or not at all) — or they’re going out of business altogether.
Who’da thunk it? (Ahem. The farmers woulda thunk it.)
The proposal, though, exposes some very strange thinking:
Farmers are grousing about how tough life is now that immigration policy is sporadically enforced. I hope they weren’t under the impression that using illegal immigrants to pick tomatoes was legal before last year.
Though you do have to begrudgingly admire a farmer who not only has the chutzpah to complain that he can’t break the law anymore … but actually goes out and finds a state representative to help circumvent the market price for labor by unearthing some poor schmoes willing to work for the same low price.
If a business struggles to find employees at a certain pay rate, don’t they offer more dough? And if paying that amount puts a company in the red, doesn’t the owner come to the conclusion that the business is no longer viable?
If you’re a farmer, I suppose, you just ask for more subsidies.
One doesn’t have to dig very deeply into this story to see that these farmers have, in fact, been offering more “dough”… and the mind boggles at such high-handed dismissal of the business owners. Evidently, the farmers’ choices are: 1. offer more money (they did), and if there are no takers, then 2. go out of business… with the ad hoc subsidy smack tacked on for good measure.
Along with the snarky peel me a grape and while you’re at it, get some of those prisoners to come open my Guiness, though, is the equating of prisoners working to slavery. Even Polimom’s very good blog-friend Ed T went there:
Maybe the folks in Colorado don’t study American History in school, but if they did they need to go back and refresh their memories, because we have tried such a program before: it was that “peculiar institution“, also known as slavery.
With all due respect, I don’t agree at all that prison work programs are the equivalent of slavery. They are voluntary, and while the “wage” of $ .60 / hour is unbelievably low to outside eyes, it’s pretty standard pay for an inmate — and it’s not the cost to the employers.
In fact, the Pueblo County prototype isn’t novel. Lots of states have work programs, generally under the heading of “Prison Industries” (or some variant). State DOC’s have contracted with employers for a very long time.
It’s a standard concept, not a backdoor approach to slavery.
Not only that, but if the government can’t get itself off its partisan fence and pass some comprehensive immigration reform legislation, we’re going to see more of this — in many industries.
Of course, the alternative is that all those crop-pickin’ Americans get themselves moving and take those jobs themselves — because the work does have to get done. By somebody…