The New Slavery

Outrageous Ann does have a point here:

I’m astounded that debate [on illegal immigrants] has sunk so low that I need to type the following words, but: No law is ever enforced 100 percent.

We can’t catch all rapists, so why not grant amnesty to rapists? Surely no one wants thousands of rapists living in the shadows! How about discrimination laws? Insider trading laws? Do you expect Bush to round up everyone who goes over the speed limit? Of course we can’t do that. We can’t even catch all murderers. What we need is “comprehensive murder reform.” It’s not “amnesty” — we’ll ask them to pay a small fine.

…The great bounty of cheap labor by unskilled immigrants isn’t going to hardworking Americans who hang drywall or clean hotel rooms — and who are having trouble getting jobs, now that they’re forced to compete with the vast influx of unskilled workers who don’t pay taxes.

The people who make arguments about “jobs Americans won’t do” are never in a line of work where unskilled immigrants can compete with them. Liberals love to strike generous, humanitarian poses with other people’s lives.

Something tells me the immigration debate would be different if we were importing millions of politicians or Hollywood agents. You lose your job, while I keep my job at the Endeavor agency, my Senate seat, my professorship, my editorial position or my presidency. (And I get a maid!)

The only beneficiaries of these famed hardworking immigrants — unlike you lazy Americans — are the wealthy, who want the cheap labor while making the rest of us chip in for the immigrants’ schooling, food and health care.

These great lovers of the downtrodden — the downtrodden trimming their hedges — pretend to believe that their gardeners’ children will be graduating from Harvard and curing cancer someday, but (1) they don’t believe that; and (2) if it happened, they’d lose their gardeners.

Not to worry, Marie Antoinettes! According to “Alien Nation” author Peter Brimelow, “There is recent evidence that, even after four generations, fewer than 10 percent of Mexicans have post-high school degrees, as opposed to nearly half of non-Mexican-Americans.” So you’ll always have the maid. As New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said, our golf fairways would suffer without illegal immigrants: “You and I both play golf; who takes care of the greens and the fairways on your golf course?”

We fought a civil war to force Democrats to give up on slavery 150 years ago. They’ve become so desperate for servants that now they’re importing an underclass to wash their clothes and pick their vegetables. This vast class of unskilled immigrants is the left’s new form of slavery.

Amazingly, the ultra-liberal Paul Krugman, in his New York Times column today, seems to agree with Outrageous Ann:

There’s a highly technical controversy going on among economists about the effects of recent immigration on wages. However that dispute turns out, it’s clear that the earlier wave of immigration increased inequality and depressed the wages of the less skilled. For example, a recent study by Jeffrey Williamson, a Harvard economic historian, suggests that in 1913 the real wages of unskilled U.S. workers were around 10 percent lower than they would have been without mass immigration. But the straight economics was the least of it. Much more important was the way immigration diluted democracy.

In 1910, almost 14 percent of voting-age males in the United States were non-naturalized immigrants. (Women didn’t get the vote until 1920.) Add in the disenfranchised blacks of the Jim Crow South, and what you had in America was a sort of minor-key apartheid system, with about a quarter of the population — in general, the poorest and most in need of help — denied any political voice.

That dilution of democracy helped prevent any effective response to the excesses and injustices of the Gilded Age, because those who might have demanded that politicians support labor rights, progressive taxation and a basic social safety net didn’t have the right to vote. Conversely, the restrictions on immigration imposed in the 1920s had the unintended effect of paving the way for the New Deal and sustaining its achievements, by creating a fully enfranchised working class.

But now we’re living in the second Gilded Age. And as before, one of the things making antiworker, unequalizing policies politically possible is the fact that millions of the worst-paid workers in this country can’t vote. What progressives should care about, above all, is that immigration reform stop our drift into a new system of de facto apartheid.

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