We could solve the illegal problem and employment without hate or bigotry…

September 2, 2016

Heard a report yesterday that border crossings into the U.S. from Mexico are actually on a downward trend — and I took that to mean including illegal crossings, but come to think of it, if they are illegal and successful then how are they counted? But anyway, I still think the so-called illegal problem is overrated.

And I also think it would be relatively easy to solve. Go after the employers who draw them in. Everyone knows this, so why is it not done? I imagine because there are vested interests in cheap labor or at least cheaper labor. The Republican Party in particular is hypocritical about the whole thing. On the one hand it calls for immigration reform and stopping illegals (and I have no problem with using the term “illegals”) but on the other hand it fights anything that would have to do with enforcement. I think I am correct in saying that. And I imagine the vested interests in cheap labor hold sway within the Democratic Party, as well. That’s why no immigration reform.

I’m not saying anything new, anyone who has read my blog posts for some time would notice, but for anyone who has not, my memory is that all those dirty, low-paying jobs “white people” won’t or “cannot do” were actually once performed by “white people”. But along came Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and welfare-type programs were expanded so those people no longer had to toil at such work. Now I am not saying that is all bad. I kind of resent employers who think people ought to be obligated to be trapped into their low-paying, no benefit work, as if they were slaves. But I am also saying that some of the incentive to get out there and hustle was lost.

The solution to all of this is to enforce laws against hiring illegals (more cost effective than trying to round up people, many of whom who have been here for years and now have deep roots) and to come up with policies that promote home-grown industries, and possibly a re-do of some trade deals.

There may be some need to tighten restrictions on aid to people who could work but choose not to. But an expansion of real opportunities should be the priority.

And while I am at it — why not go back to trade training in high school. Trades have modernized but they are not gone. And young people of high school age, heck even 8th grade age, need to be counseled into thinking of their future. They still need to determine whether they need to work with their hands or their minds and in today’s world it is probably both.

You know folks, all this can be done without hate or bigotry.

p.s.

I referred to illegals (Mexicans coming over the border illegally) and white people but failed to address black people. I have heard the complaint among black people in the inner cities that they in particular suffer from the competition for labor that illegals represent. I don’t doubt that. I knew a black guy who said he had a hard time getting a job unloading trucks because the places he went to just seemed to hire Latinos. But he did finally get the job, and said it was fairly good pay. Good pay is always relative. And again, people of all races and colors do all kinds of work and are quite capable. It’s a matter of custom and whatever is happening now. You knew that I know. I’m just saying…

p.s. ps.

While I am at it, I have noticed during my past two decades of truck driving that it is a field open to everyone, regardless of race or sex and so on…

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Employers would pay more if cheap labor was not available, but then mechanization also becomes more attractive too…

August 27, 2011

BLOGGER’S NOTE:

The following is both a re-posting and a kind of hybrid post of one I did on this site and one I did on another site a day or so ago, but I am interested in the subject of whether there are jobs out there for people to do and whether some of those jobs are being taken by illegal aliens and whether anyone really wants those jobs, and what is practical in the job department:

I think when or if relatively cheap labor is not available employers will pay more for labor, but mechanization also becomes more attractive then too.

Watching the Mexican laborers (citizens some or all, immigration status, I don’t know and don’t care) hard at work the other day as my truck trailer full of potatoes to be processed was being unloaded, I was talking to another driver and we both agreed that unemployed people drawing assistance ought to have to check out these jobs.

Actually I have been there, done that myself once upon a time, or maybe more than once — not at the potato processing plant, but in the strawberry plant harvesting business, and elsewhere, to include harvesting worms out of ponds for tropical fish feed — and these were minimum wage or slightly above jobs.

Just a thought.

This scenario occurs to me: so there are no workers from south of the border to do low-paid or relatively low-paid labor. The government has now severely restricted various programs for the out of work. So out-of-work non-south-of-the-border people go to work at these jobs. Since they are so low paid and since many of them are seasonal, the government may well begin subsidizing them. But at least U.S. citizens will have some work. Also, mark my words, where it becomes impractical to find cheap labor, plants will turn to even more mechanization.

I have watched first hand a robot machine that stacks pallets of potato boxes quite nicely.

Okay, I originally posted this with the headline “There are jobs out there”, and maybe just by itself that was a bit misleading. There’s really a lot more to all of that, and of course low-end jobs that I was referring to don’t offer much hope and may not even be practical.

The key to getting jobs, as anyone would know, is having skill or skills at something or preferably many things. Young people need to know this and plan their lives accordingly. They don’t necessarily need to go to conventional college, but they need to do something. For the rest of us, we just have to do what we can do (I mean I attended the conventional four years of college, not all at once, and I drive a truck and am happy as can be to have a job at 62).

I do not think it has turned out to be practical to have the government through its various social programs be the guarantor of a certain standard of living for us all, that is not to say the government should not be there to help. Of course it should — otherwise what is it for? But we all have to take on personal responsibility.

Once upon a time, labor unions went with the attitude that labor is labor and management is management and it was solely up to management to makes things work economically so businesses could stay in business, but labor had to be guaranteed a certain standard of living. While I do think that employers do have a certain social responsibility, in the practical world they have to do what they have to do to stay in business. Labor has to do what it can to make itself worthy the cost. In this world of rapidly changing technology that can be a real challenge.

I could see in the not-to-distant future a situation in which the majority of people in the world have nothing to do thanks to technology. Now that will be a problem. We will have no practical way of distributing the tokens we call money. But that day has not come — even though it seems like it almost.

Right now the major economies of the West subsidize their low-end labor to some degree. They also subsidize or support many of those who do no work at all.

This is starting to bankrupt these economies.

One of the big problems in the United States is that not only do we not have enough jobs to go around (well that is debatable if we have illegal aliens filling many jobs), we have for decades now been encouraging young people to just take it easy, don’t make any decisions too soon, maybe go to college and find yourself, and so on (the smart and/or motivated ones don’t take this path). Well that doesn’t work so well. But this has led to what at times seems like a food stamp/welfare nation.

But even with all this, the fact is we need more jobs. That should be the number-one effort of the president and congress. Forget foreign wars and intrigue and forget prohibiting homosexuals from getting married, and mind your own business about women’s reproductive rights.

P.s.

But when I say forget foreign wars, I do no mean forget about defense and things happening around the globe that could affect our defense. The development of nuclear weapons by outlaw nations, such as Iran, cannot be ignored. But it is not practical, especially in the economic sense, either that the U.S. be in a perpetual state of war.


Feeding economic monster endangers workers…

October 31, 2008

(Copyright 2008)

The WALTHER REPORT

By Tony Walther

It’s not always fun to be an American worker. Often business sees you as bothersome overhead and does anything it can to get rid of you, such as outsourcing or shipping your work overseas.

In the space of a day in my hometown newspaper (online edition) I ran across two disturbing items, the first via a feature that lets me pick up news from other newspapers from around the country (actually not a bad thing and it kind of goes along with the evolving role of newspapers and the move toward online editions I wrote about in my last blog).  An item from the Anderson, S.C. Independent-Mail caught my eye because I once edited the Anderson, Ca. Valley Post and we did a story in conjunction with the Anderson, S.C. paper (but that’s another subject I’ll get to below), and because it had to do with workers being laid off.

To quickly summarize, some 250 workers in that area of South Carolina who had made towels will no longer have jobs because their company sold out to a company out of the neighboring state of Georgia and much of that company’s towel production has been moved to Pakistan (you know, the country that is our ally, but is believed to host Osama bin Laden).

And here in my hometown in Northern California, the forever-changing-ownership downtown hospital, currently called Shasta Regional Hospital, once more has changed hands and the new owner after assuring all one day that no changes would be noticed by the patients announced the next that everyone on the staff is fired, but can apply for whatever jobs are left.

It’s no secret that patients have indeed noticed changes there over the past year or more. Heck I was a cancer patient there several times over the past year. While I have rave reviews for the nursing staff and others there, I can say they are definitely short handed. And the hospital’s effort at housekeeping was, well, not good. My wife had to make my bed several times and they never did clean the bathroom. And over the past several weeks I was told by two different doctors in town that the hospital was cutting back on staff and supplies, I suppose in anticipation of selling out.

So here we have dedicated hard working medical personnel whom so many depend upon (I know the feeling personally as a patient) and they are simply told, you now have no job, but maybe we will have a new opening for you, or maybe not. Also, a union at the hospital claims it is a move to break the union contract – and that seems likely.

As I have blogged before, I am not a union person, having only been a union member for about a year one time and in a passive manner. But I have worked for someone all my life, so I empathize with working people.

The problem in South Carolina for the towel factory workers is that a 102-year-old company sold out to one that only cares about how to make a product in the cheapest manner and nothing about the country in which it operates. Patriotic Americans fight in the Middle East so we can ship our jobs over there!

But the made in America issue gets tricky. Things can be made in America, but by companies based overseas. I don’t see a particular problem with that. Strangely enough, an example of that came to me out of the Anderson, S.C. newspaper, which also had a story about an area employer expanding its workforce by 152. The company hiring the new workers is based in Hong Kong and is actually shifting some of its production from China to South Carolina. The company makes various products, to include chain saws and generators. So, who says our workers are not competitive?

The hospital situation in my home town here in the northern end of California’s Sacramento Valley is the effect of privatization of the health care system (along with poor management). I sometimes feel that health care would be better off in the not-for-profit sector, with some, or possibly many, exceptions, to include individual doctors, as opposed to hospitals. The profit motive does not always provide the best service when it comes to health care (the motive is profit, not care, and sick people are in no condition to shop around and there is not much choice anyway in many cases).

The goal of the health care system should be to provide the best care for the patients, not how much the bandages can be sold for (just look at the markup on your hospital bill).

Back to the issue of American jobs lost to overseas competition: I am aware of the history that suggests that trade barriers is what created or exacerbated the Great Depression. Well, even I don’t think dropping out of the global market is the solution to our current financial crisis or unemployment problem. But I do think there needs to be more of a priority within government to create incentives to expand U.S. jobs and to re-industrialize America. We just need to find a way to become more competitive. I would suggest competing by producing quality. And I would suggest concentrating on programs that get people into paying jobs. Actually I think many of the secondary schools and junior colleges are doing a great job. In some cases the programs they provide need to be better utilized and in many cases those programs may need additional and/or more stable funding.

And back to the health care issue. We do have a second hospital in our city. It is run by Catholic Healthcare West. I believe it is in somewhat better shape than the other one, but it has its own financial challenges. It recently split up its cancer treatment program, in some cases requiring it to transfer patients across town to another facility for radiation treatments. The split may have made financial sense for the hospital, but it is a burden to some patients and some staff at the hospital. I do give the Catholic-run hospital credit for providing stability in their operations for many years, as opposed to the instability of the downtown hospital. And, by the way, one of my doctors suggested to me that our city is big enough to support two hospitals.

I should add, the troubled downtown hospital (Shasta Regional) gained some notoriety from a couple of its former surgeons who performed needless heart surgeries to line their own pockets and the coffers of the hospital with the apparent tacit approval of some of the unscrupulous members of that hospital’s former management. Certainly that was an example of the profit-motive gone awry.

Please don’t conclude that I look at the world as workers vs. management, or the proletariat vs. the capitalists. No, I don’t. In the United States of America we have our brand of ideology that combines elements and various political approaches. But it is based on individual freedom, the ability to choose one’s own destiny, and the ability of the individual to succeed. In some cases the individual succeeds as an employee and in other cases as an employer or even both at the same time. But I think as a nation we may have been forced to stray from providing ourselves with all of that freedom and success in an effort to feed some monster called the “economy”, which has turned out to really be the interests of the greedy. The forces of greed and quick profits have turned us too much away from being the producers of high quality goods and more towards consumers of things made elsewhere.

P.s. That connection between Anderson, Ca., and Anderson, S.C. that I referred to earlier had to do with a severe drought in the Southeast back in the early 1980s (I believe they have been undergoing one this past year or so too). Some farmers in Anderson, Ca. sent donated hay for cattle feed to farmers in Anderson, S.C. , kind of an example of Americans working together, rather than fighting among themselves. United we stand, divided we…..

———-

Correction: In a previously-posted draft of the exact same blog you have just read I incorrectly wrote that the Catholic-run hospital in my city was a for-profit business. I corrected that in this draft. It is a non-profit, run by Catholic Healthcare West. I regret the error.