In the Wall Street Journal‘s "Washington Wire" column (subscription required) this morning, John Harwood reports that minimum wage is, again, going to "emerge as [an] election-year flashpoint."
Apparently, Democrats are not satisified with their efforts (in coordination with several Republicans) to hurt American job prospects by enacting an amnesty/guest-worker program that will legalize the 12 million illegal aliens who are already here and devastate the American workforce. Of course, pro-amnesty/guest-worker Kool-Aid drinkers will tell you that illegals — excuse me, "undocumented immigrants" — are doing jobs Americans won’t do.
But consider what Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, wrote for Human Events on that point:
A related problem with guestworker programs is that they subvert the republican virtues that underlie a free society by promoting a master-servant environment. This is what the talk of “jobs Americans won’t do” is really about–it’s not that our nimble and inventive free market cannot respond to evanescent labor shortages, but rather that certain jobs are considered by lawmakers to be beneath the dignity of an American, and therefore foreigners must be procured to do the work. Improbable as it is that something could be beneath the dignity of a politician, such a perspective moves us dangerously in the direction of Saudi Arabia, a society few Americans would want to emulate.
The good news is that this anti-republican view of work has not yet taken root in the United States; a new study by my Center for Immigration Studies finds that native-born Americans make up the overwhelming majority of workers in virtually all occupations; in only three of the hundreds upon hundreds of occupations classified by the Census Bureau do the foreign-born make up even a bare majority of workers. In other words, there is no job that Americans won’t do.
The bad news is that the mass importation of cheap foreign labor already seems to be undermining our commitment to the virtue of work, a process which can only be accelerated by a guestworker program. The same report found that, as immigration has increased, native-born low-skilled workers (those most directly affected by foreign-labor programs) are increasingly dropping out of the labor force, and the tendency seems most pronounced among teenagers.
So, after pushing to keep native-born Americans from working in low-skilled jobs — jobs they certainly wouldn’t do unless they were actually paid a wage the market would bear (unfortunately, hiring illegals (a.k.a. cheating) has perverted the job market that determines wages) — Democrats are ready to price out portions of the rest of the work-force that haven’t taken it in the shorts because of the illegal workforce.
Harwood’s reporting reveals that the Bush Administration might not be as helpful on the minimum wage issue as we conservatives hope they might be:
Treasury Secretary Snow’s remarks on income inequality fuel debate. "We’ll engage with" advocates of an increase, he says, while cautioning against pricing some workers out of [the] labor market. …
Commerce Secretary Gutierrez also signals openness to an increase if Congress pursues the issue "thoughtfully … and not emotionally." With Bush and Republicans politically weakened, Democratic Sen. Kennedy plans to push for [a] floor vote this spring on an increase to $7.25 [up from $5.15 per hour].
Interesting. Years ago, we were told to fear the "great sucking sound" of jobs going to Mexico because of NAFTA. Turns out we need to be more afraid of our own elected officials giving away American jobs right here within the borders of the U.S.