The Salmon Symptom: Hillary And The Democratic Party Abandon American Workers


Ah, it`s springtime here in Alaska. And a young Alaskan`s fancy turns to…. fish!

The salmon will soon be returning. And with those fish come tourists, jobs and fresh-caught salmon. Despite the disturbing news you may read about rising food prices and dwindling fish stocks in other parts of the world, last season was a banner year for us here in Alaska.[Pinks lift `07 salmon catch to a near record, By Laine Welch Anchorage Daily News, September 8th, 2007] And this year`s harvest promises to be no different.

Yes, life is sweet in the land of the midnight sun; Alaska`s state coffers swell with each new rise in oil prices, the fish are at record numbers and federal dollars keep flowing north. (Keep that up, by the way, thanks!)

What`s not to love? Well unfortunately we are in the same boat as you suckers (err I mean folks!) with regard to one thing: immigration. Alaska is part of the Union and so vulnerable to the same influx from the Third World.

Many of you outside Alaska seem to think we are immune from the ravages of America`s open border mayhem. But sadly, we get the same chaos.

I got to thinking about this and the venerable Alaskan fishing industry as I watched the unending Democrat primaries, and Hillary Clinton in particular. You might be asking, what on earth do Hillary and the Democrats have to do with fish in Alaska?

Well I`ll tell you. Every now and then Hillary likes to tell a little fish story. No, I`m not talking about the time she boasted to uniformed soldiers about dodging sniper fire. No, I`m not talking about the time she told some Kiwis she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary despite the fact she was born before he ascended Everest and became famous.

Ironically, Hillary`s fish story I am referring to is true. During a summer break from college, she worked up here in Valdez, Alaska (pronounced Vald-e-e-z) in a fish cannery.

She worked on the slime-line. The slime-line is some of the most unpleasant work you could imagine. Basically, the job is to rip the guts out of a salmon as fast as you can in order to do another, and another, and another for 12+ hours, everyday, 7 days a week, all summer.

The stench is overwhelming. After work the slime-line workers can look forward to some chow and then sleep. In their tents.

I would speculate Hillary brings her Alaskan summer hiatus up from time to time to highlight her relatively humble origins and sense of adventure. That is, she was not one of those rich girls with connections who got a prestigious internship during the summer like say—this girl.

When I first read about Hillary gutting fish, I thought: “What on earth was a Wellesley girl doing gutting fish for minimum wage? No American would ever do that job.”

Then it quickly occurred to me. This was before mass immigration had displaced Americans from whole industries, as humble as they were.

Back then, cannery work was relatively well-paid. Canneries would advertise for work at colleges boasting of adventure in Alaska and the like. Today they do no such thing. They advertise for foreign workers to depress labor costs. Today the cannery workforce is almost exclusively foreign and almost none speak English. Last year Alaska public radio did this story: International cannery workers crank through huge pink run in Cordova September 19, 2007

In the story, Bill Gilbert was reported to have worked in a cannery in 1967 for the equivalent of $19.55/hr in 2007 dollars. He was 15 years old at the time. Today he manages the cannery. Hillary likely received a similar wage in her summer of `69 up here. [Figure arrived at using BLS inflation calculator here.]

Today a worker doing the same thing gets minimum wage—$7.15/hr.

Mr. Gilbert goes on to explain that labor can be obtained from abroad, thereby depressing overall wages. He may have gotten $19.55/hr at 15 years old, but he`ll be damned if his workers see anything above $8/hr.

But not to worry, today`s workers got a little something extra last year. Due to record catches last year the foreign workers had to put in 18 hour days. So the town and industry got together and gave each worker a handsome bonus: a T-shirt for each and every worker thanking them for their hard work.

Charming. 18 hours a day, and they get a T-shirt as bonus—charming.

What is remarkable to me about this historical vignette is how emblematic it is of the way in which the Democratic Party has essentially abandoned its traditional role of attempting to minimize economic class distinctions.

Democrats no longer seriously attempts to introduce ostensibly racially-blind policies like the New Deal, or the Great Society. No, instead the Democratic party has evolved into a new animal where it seeks to: 1) shovel largesse into public institutions (e.g. academia, public sector unions, government workers, non-profits, etc) and 2) develop hyper-racially conscious non-white constituents to populate these aforementioned public sector institutions.

As such, none of the Democratic candidates had any interest in protecting the interests of private sector workers, like those cannery workers who do not fit into one of the aforementioned categories.

Likewise, Hillary is firmly in the open-immigration camp, as are all the major presidential candidates.

Does it ever occur to her that her $19.55/hr summer adventure is an anachronism—it could not be reprised today by an ambitious young co-ed slaving away through finals as you read this?

Sad?

Ryan Kennedy (email him) lives in Alaska. He has written us many letters, but this is his first article.