The Axis Of Amnesty`s Ideology Of Cheap Labor

During an early Senate debate over
the guest worker program in the Kennedy-Bush-McCain

Axis of Amnesty
bill, ABC News

reported
:

"Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., took the Senate floor in
opposition to his Democratic colleague and, red-faced
and gesticulating toward [Sen. Byron] Dorgan, defended
the

guest worker program
, yelling, `The idea that you
can have a secure border and close it completely is
something that has never happened before and will not
happen now`. … The Senate`s `liberal lion` continued to
howl at Dorgan, demanding, `I would like the

chicken pluckers
to pay $10.15 — or $15 an hour.
They don`t do it, and they`re not going to do it. Who`s
the — who are you trying to kid?`"

[By Jake
Tapper and Z. Byron Wolf, May 22, 2007, via


Mickey Kaus
]

Dorgan replied:

"Let me stand up and say a word on behalf of chicken
pluckers. They`ll never get $15 an hour as long as we
bring in cheap labor through the back door to

pluck chickens
."

While Sen. Dorgan might have

economic logic
and simple logical coherence on his
side, Sen. Kennedy`s sputtering is characteristic of
elite opinion in the 21st Century. Even “liberal
lions”
have internalized the reigning cheap labor
ideology—the new

Iron Law of Wages
that assumes that the American
economy requires an ever-expanding supply

of poorly-paid imported chicken pluckers.

In this mindset, America is always
about to run out of some badly paid but strangely
crucial set of workers unless we can get more
immigrants. Last year, for instance, it wasn`t chicken
pluckers the New York Times was worried we didn`t
have enough off, it was

pear pickers
.

Of course, nobody ever mentions the
Econ 101 alternative of raising pay until supply equals
demand.

Senator Kennedy is echoing, oddly
enough, the fatalistic conventional wisdom of Dickensian
England—the doctrinaire assumption that cheap labor is
essential, and that the inexorable grinding of the
dismal laws of economic science determine wages as
immutably as the

orbit of Mercury
is fixed by Newton`s Law of
Gravity.

The main difference: while Sen.
Kennedy assumes the need for unskilled immigrant
workers, the early Victorians were convinced of the
necessity of uneducated child laborers.

We don`t think of the British as
being terribly ideological. But during the second
quarter of the 19th Century, their justifiable national
pride in developing economics for once overwhelmed the
vaunted British common sense. A dogma based on a crude
interpretation of the works of

Malthus
and

Ricardo
presumed that low wages were crucial to
profits, just like the

sophomoric economics
of today`s open borders crowd.

Back then, the ruling class didn`t
fulminate over plucking chickens but over sweeping
chimneys.

Consider the fates of the

little boys,
from age four on up, who were widely
employed by master chimney sweeps to clamber up inside
long flues and knock down the soot, at horrific cost to
their health. Paul Johnson writes in A History of the English People
(p.285), "often they were forced up by the use of
long pricks, and by applying wisps of flaming straw to
their feet. They suffered from

a variety of occupational diseases
and many died
from suffocation."

The ruling ideology of the age
assumed that, as regrettable as this might be, the

laws of economics
required it.

After all, how else would chimneys
ever get swept?

The first bill banning the
employment of children under eight from chimney sweeping
passed

Parliament in 1788
. But,

like many immigration laws in America today
, it was
ignored. So was the

1834 act.

Then, the greatest reformer of the
Victorian Era, Anthony Ashley Cooper, the

seventh Earl of Shaftesbury,
began his almost
endless crusade to abolish child labor inside chimneys.
Like

William Wilberforce
, the victor over the slave
trade,

Shaftesbury
was a Tory, an evangelical Anglican, and
a relentless parliamentarian.

In 1840, Shaftesbury carried a bill
to regulate child chimney sweeps over
resistance
that can only be called fanatical
"
, in Johnson`s
words.

It also was not enforced.

Three more of Shaftesbury`s bills
failed in Parliament in the 1850s. He succeeded in 1864,
but the legislation proved ineffective "due to a
general conspiracy of local authorities, magistrates,
police, judges, juries, and the public to frustrate the
law. Boys continued to die…"
including a
seven-year-old who suffocated in a flue in 1873.

Shaftesbury finally succeeded in
passing effective legislation in 1875.

And, of course, that winter
everyone in Britain froze to death due to clogged
chimneys.

Oh, wait … sorry, that was in

Bizarro
Britain, where the reigning interpretations
of economics actually applied. Rather like in

Senator Kennedy`s Abnormal America,
where nobody
will be able to afford to eat chicken without the
Liberal Lion`s amnesty and guest worker programs.

In the real Britain, however, the

master chimney sweeps
quickly found

other ways to clean chimneys
.

And, equally, Americans will not
starve if they are deprived a

continuous influx of uneducated foreigners.

What we`ve learned since the early
Victorian Era is that the world works in ways more
responsive to intelligent effort than was imagined by
Thomas Malthus:

In contrast to

Dickensian England,
with its

Scrooge
-like obsession with cheap labor, Americans
traditionally enjoyed

high wages
because the country was underpopulated
relative to its natural resources. This inspired
American entrepreneurs to invest in

labor-saving innovations
, which, in a virtuous
cycle, allowed even higher wages to be paid.

The most famous example: Henry Ford

doubling his workers` salaries in 1914
after
inventing the moving assembly line.

In the long run, the cheap labor
obsession

debilitated the English economy.
After the brilliant
innovations of the early Industrial Revolution, the

English textile industry
tended to stagnate. Paul
Johnson explains:


"Factories paid higher wages than domestic industries;
all the same, they were very low, chiefly because most
of the

factory hands were women and children.
Low wages
kept home consumer demand down; worse still, they
removed the chief incentive to replace primitive
machinery by the systematic adoption of new technology."

And then there was the long run
impact on Britain`s economic culture:

“State
limitations of human exploitation came too late, and
were too ineffective, to make the quest for productivity
a virtue; the English did not discover it until the
twentieth century, by which time the trade union
movement had constructed

powerful defenses
against it."

Victorian Scroogeonomics helped
engender its own nemesis. It drove the

British working class
far to the left of the
American working class, leading to both the

nationalization of major industries in the 1940s
and
a

hatred
of

productivity improvements
among unions,

exemplified
in the 1959 Peter Sellers` movie

I`m All Right, Jack.
The effects on the U.K.
economy were disastrous. As late as the mid-1980s,
Margaret Thatcher had to fight a

fierce battle
for

control of the economy
against the

Stalinist
boss of the large coal miner`s union,
Arthur Scargill.

It wasn`t surprising that the
decisive battle between Thatcherism and the left came in
the mines. In the U.S. a century ago,

miners` strikes
featured extraordinary levels of

violence
on both sides.

Going underground
together

bonds miners
like soldiers going into battle
together, providing their unions with more solidarity.
Mining was always radicalizing because working
conditions were so harsh, as Ali G (
Borat
creator

Sacha Baron Cohen`s
first character) realized during
a visit to
a Welsh coal mine:

Ali G: Check dis. I is now in a coal mine which is
where the Wales people used to live, underground.
Millions of years ago miners lived under here before
they became human beings.

Miner: They never lived here, they just worked here.

Ali G: They worked in `ere?

What a crap job.

In the U.S., however, miners became
less and less a force for radicalism as the success of

John L. Lewis,


boss of the United Mine Workers of America

1920-1960, at

winning higher pay
lowered both their leftism and
their numbers.

Lewis acknowledged that he was
driving miners` wages up so high that his union would be
much smaller in the next generation. But if his members
were paid enough today, they could afford to educate
their kids to do something less miserable with their
lives by the time the bosses had figured out how to do
without them.

The often-brutal saga of

mining in America
has thus had a happy ending that
would have astonished and frustrated

Joe Hill
. Today, mining is a small, reasonably
well-paid profession. [VDARE.com
note:
Of course, modern mine owners have started


talking   about the American work ethic
,
and


trying to import miners

from the Ukraine.]

Of course, technological
improvements tend to eliminate uncomplicated jobs. That
means that what a healthy economy really needs is not
unskilled immigrants but a work force with improving
human capital. Yet that`s exactly what we`re

not getting
by importing so many of Sen. Kennedy`s
chicken pluckers to keep down the chicken plucking wage.

As the great
management guru

Peter Drucker
pointed out

in 2004
:

 

"But the immigrants have a mismatch of skills: They
are qualified for yesterday`s jobs, which are the kinds
of jobs that are going away."

Yesterday`s job`s, yesterday`s
workers, and yesterday`s dogmas. That`s the future Sen.
Kennedy is offering us.

[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and

movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.
His website

www.iSteve.blogspot.com
features his daily
blog.]