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Tilting at Windmills

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November 29, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

AN EXTRA PENNY....Tom Tancredo last night:

I reject the idea categorically that there are jobs that, quote, "no American will take." I reject it....Am I going to feel sorry if a business has to increase its wages in order for somebody in this country to make a good living? No, I don't feel sorry about that, and I won't apologize for it for a moment.

Eric Schlosser, today, on the penny-per-pound raise that Florida tomato pickers got in 2005:

Burger King, whose headquarters are in Florida, has adamantly refused to pay the extra penny — and its refusal has encouraged tomato growers to cancel the deals already struck with Taco Bell and McDonald's.

This month the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, representing 90 percent of the state's growers, announced that it will not allow any of its members to collect the extra penny for farm workers. Reggie Brown, the executive vice president of the group, described the surcharge for poor migrants as "pretty much near un-American."

Welcome to the real world, Rep. Tancredo. Your move.

Kevin Drum 1:53 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (55)

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Comments

Well, "pretty much unamerican" does sum it up nicely.

I await means-testing for voting rights with anticipation.

Posted by: craigie on November 29, 2007 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

Yet another reason to become a macrobiotic locavore, and embrace slow food.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 29, 2007 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I don't eat fast food but rarely, in any case; I'm sure I'll get e-mail campaign requests, but you can't boycott someplace you already don't eat at.

And, yes, Tom, welcome to the real world.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on November 29, 2007 at 2:26 AM | PERMALINK

Damn. Last time I eat at burger king. And I am their target audience.

Posted by: Adam on November 29, 2007 at 3:03 AM | PERMALINK

Burger King has to have it their way.

Let the boycott begin.

Burger King Corporation
5505 Blue Lagoon Drive
Miami, Florida 33126

Corporate Headquarters - 305-378-3000
Consumer Relations - 305-378-3535

Posted by: Apollo 13 on November 29, 2007 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure what your point is here, Kevin. Tancredo's obviously 100% right. Growers can get away with paying terrible wages because of the near-endless supply of illegal immigrants willing to work for almost nothing. High labor supply means that the market wage is almost nothing, and it's hard to enforce higher wages. But if, as Tancredo wanted, we reduced the supply of immigrant labor, then wages would go up Burger King or no Burger King. There wouldn't be enough people willing to work for cheap.

Are you saying that Tancredo should focus on enforcing labor protections and fighting collusion among businesses? (From the article it sounds like the FTGE is engaging in blatantly anticompetitive collusive behavior, so I'd actually have to assume that the article isn't telling the story quite right -- otherwise they'd be prosecuted, I think even under the Bush Justice Department).

Posted by: Alex F on November 29, 2007 at 3:15 AM | PERMALINK

This month the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, representing 90 percent of the state's growers, announced that it will not allow any of its members to collect the extra penny for farm workers.

CLICK THE LINK. ALWAYS CLICK THE LINK. Kevin Drum deliberately neglects to point out paying the extra penny would violate state antitrust, labor and racketeering laws. How can liberals justify breaking the law and committing crimes? The ends does not justify the means and nothing can justify committing a crime no matter how worthy the goal.

www.nytimes.com/2007/11/29/opinion/29schlosser.html?hp

"Now the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange has threatened a fine of $100,000 for any grower who accepts an extra penny per pound for migrant wages. The organization claims that such a surcharge would violate "federal and state laws related to antitrust, labor and racketeering.""

Posted by: Al on November 29, 2007 at 4:05 AM | PERMALINK

"The organization claims that such a surcharge would violate "federal and state laws related to antitrust, labor and racketeering."

Key word: CLAIMS. Just because "The Organization" claims something doesn't make it a fact.

Did you miss some text on your cut and paste? The next sentence:

"It (Florida Tomato Growers Exch) has not explained how that extra penny would break those laws; nor has it explained why other surcharges routinely imposed by the growers (for things like higher fuel costs) are perfectly legal."

and here's someone in a news article who claims its The Organization that may be the ones violating the law.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/business/24farm.html?

"Several antitrust experts say the growers association may be the one violating antitrust laws by banning its members’ participation."

“This exchange is limiting one way in which these growers can compete for the business of these major fast-food contracts,” said Stephen F. Ross, a Pennsylvania State University law professor.

Posted by: lellis on November 29, 2007 at 5:06 AM | PERMALINK

Al-
you mean paying higher wages when requested by a purchaser is a violation of "federal and state laws related to antitrust, labor and racketeering?" Sort of like accurately labelling your beef as hormone free is deceptive advertising which should be forbidden, because by accurately telling a purchaser what is in their food it creates a disadvantage to those that use hormones in their meat production?

So much for free market economics - Al is a corporate welfare queen with an ability to dance with facts.

In this case, my applause is thunderous. It is not how well corporate welfare works when seeing pigs standing on two legs, it is the fact that they get it at all while talking about the free market which is worthy of applause. The talk about racketeering is just the sort of cherry on top which makes a certain audience

Posted by: not_scottbot on November 29, 2007 at 5:40 AM | PERMALINK

...squeal.

Posted by: not_scottbot on November 29, 2007 at 5:41 AM | PERMALINK

I am starting to thing there is a vast clinton conspiracy - she even plants questions at Republican debates!

Typical liberals - saying they are "undecided" when they are actually working for campaigns. Open minded is a catch phrase in the world of progressives; minds are made up way in advance.

Now back to your regulalry scheduled Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Posted by: orwell on November 29, 2007 at 6:45 AM | PERMALINK

This is my first time on the comments and you seem to get a lot of trolls. Anyway, I do not understand your point. The fact that one fast-food company is not granting a raise means that higher wages do not increase the labor supply? Splain please.

Posted by: Moral Panicker on November 29, 2007 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

Tancredo on the issues

Voted NO on increasing minimum wage to $7.25.

Increase the federal minimum wage to:
$5.85 an hour, beginning on the 60th day after enactment;
$6.55 an hour, beginning 12 months after that 60th day; and
$7.25 an hour, beginning 24 months after that 60th day.
Proponents support voting YES because:
We have waited for over 10 years to have a clean vote on the minimum wage for the poorest workers in this country Low-wage workers had their wages frozen in time, from 10 years ago, but when they go to the supermarket, the food prices are higher; when they put gasoline in the car, the gasoline prices are higher; when they pay the utility bills, the utility bills are higher; when their kids get sick, the medical bills are higher. All of those things are higher. They are living in 2007, but in their wages they are living in 1997.

Opponents support voting NO because:
This bill is marked more by what is not in the bill than what is in it. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They create two-thirds of our Nation's new jobs, and they represent 98% of the new businesses in the US. What protection does this bill provide them? None whatsoever.
We can do better. In the interest of sending the President a final measure that provides consideration for small businesses and their workers, the very men and women who are responsible for our economy's recent growth and strength, we must do better.

Posted by: bakho on November 29, 2007 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

When the government supplies a workforce, as it does by tolerating the illegal hiring of workers, that is a subsidy.

When the workers accept jobs at submarket wages and working conditions, that is a BIG subsidy.

When the workers depend for their future employment and extra-economic prospects, e.g., voting, on government action that is directly affected by the choices made by their employers, that is a HUGE subsidy, on the order of magnitude of wage and price controls.

What part of this is unclear to you, Kevin?

The National Academy of Sciences concluded ten years ago that the actual economic impact of immigration is relatively low -- "as much as $10 billion" in a trillion dollar economy. (For the innumerate, this is the equivalent of a dime on the sidewalk when you have a 50, two 20s, a five, three ones, six quarters, two dimes, three nickels and fifteen pennies in your baggy pockets. You MIGHT reach down to pick it up at your feet, but you wouldn't cross the street to do it.)

So stop arguing bullshit economics, willya?

The REAL immigration issues are civic: it's about CITIZENSHIP, which depends on the rule of law.

If you don't know that by now, Kevin, you are more responsible than Tancredo for outlawing and exiling AMERICAN families.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 29, 2007 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

Tancredo may not be your or my choice for President, but.... he's right.

I'll note that "Hollywood" is currently absolutely refusing to give the writers even 1 penny of DVD sales.

Refusing to give employees a raise is nothing new, and in this case Burger King is aided and abetted by the eager and ready supply.

Kevin, check out the complaints by good liberals, and good liberal professors against H1-B Visa abuse. It's the same argument. I also reject the idea that there are jobs American's won't take. There are wages that Americans can't afford to take, not jobs.

Posted by: jerry on November 29, 2007 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

THIS is the epitome of bad progressive posing -- anger over illegal immigration is legitimate. It's patriotic. Ending illegal immigration is PRECISELY the way to defend legal immigration.

But progressives are too goddam self-righteous and lazy to bother learning about it.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 29, 2007 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

If companies like Burger King were fined out the wazoo (and you know how painful that is!) for hiring illegal immigrants -- in other words, if the price of hiring them more than outweighed the savings -- they'd stop doing it, and then they'd have to pay a living wage to their workers. I agree with Alex -- the Burger King case pretty much proves Tancredo's point. As long as you have an enormous supply of workers willing to do the job for practically nothing, and who have no recourse if they're mistreated or underpaid, this will be the result. And the only way to stop the flow of illegal immigrants is to make it much more difficult and expensive for companies to take them on.

Posted by: sullijan on November 29, 2007 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Americanist, please define "illegal immigrant".

Posted by: Brautigan on November 29, 2007 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

The simple question to ask all these illegal immigrant absolutists is "How much do you want to pay for food?"
If farmers must pay decent wages to unionized workers
If meat packers and slaughterhouses are again staffed with unionized workers
If resturants had to pay enough to have legal kitchen workers
And if everyone along the distribution system was a "legal" worker who could get paid a competitive rate and or organize
How much more would it cost us to eat? How many resturants farms, grocery stores would go out of business?

The purist may claim they don't care, it is the principle of the matter, though these also are from the same ones who scream at any tax hike. When we quit exploiting immigrant labor, the rise in prices will be greater than any tax hike in history.

Which side are you on?

Posted by: Martin on November 29, 2007 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

What a bunch of feckless bullshit. Most of the workers who pick tomatos are legal migrant workers. AND A PENNY APOUND! Are fucking kidding me. Whats that boil down to about a twentieth of a cent for each slice. That will surely put booger king out of business.

Posted by: Gandalf on November 29, 2007 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

The illegal immigration issue is something that divides people in unusual ways: It separates the "cheap labor" conservatives from the xenophobic conservatives, and it separates the pro-labor liberals from the pro-sanctuary, welcome-to-all liberals. It's nice to have a wedge issue bite the Republicans for a change, but it doesn't have simple answers.

As vile as he may be in many ways, Tancredo's point about wages is completely correct. The jobs that "no American will do" are really jobs that Americans would willingly do for more money.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on November 29, 2007 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

I also reject the idea that there are jobs American's won't take. -jerry at 8:46 AM

Yep. I agree with everything you said. When I lived out in the sticks back in the late '70s a lot of the locals were relocating to Oklahoma to work on oil rigs instead of the family farm to make better money. Rigging work is a lot more arduous than the farming work they were doing, but the money was good.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on November 29, 2007 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Now the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange has threatened a fine of $100,000 for any grower who accepts an extra penny per pound for migrant wages. The organization claims that such a surcharge would violate "federal and state laws related to antitrust, labor and racketeering."

Once again, I'm struck by the canny rhetoric of Fake Al. Like the toad he's imitating, he uses quote mining, fully aware that the next sentence in the article says, "It has not explained how that extra penny would break those laws; nor has it explained why other surcharges routinely imposed by the growers (for things like higher fuel costs) are perfectly legal."

I think Fake Al's efforts are pretty "'round the barn twice" kind of things, but once you get the hang of the fact that he's mocking the bizarre argumentation of the Right, it's funny stuff.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on November 29, 2007 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Wow! you mean Americans wont work for 30 cents an hour?

The reality is that Burger King would do what they would have to do, and pay the damned extra money. Without access to American markets, Burger King would lose 1/3rd of their profits. Paying farmers and workers more would not eat through 1/3rd of their profits, therefore they would raise wages.

Lets stop pretending we don't have real leverage here. These companies would do what they had to to stay in this market. If that would mean raising wages, they would. We're the third most populous nation on the planet. some day, we're going to be the most populous nation on the planet. More than 1/2 of our nation is not occupied, and we can sustain our present rate of growth for centuries. China and India can't. We are already the worlds most lucrative market, and that won't likely ever change. China can't sustain it's current growth in economic terms either, it will plateau soon enough. You might think that that is bad economics, mostly for ideological reasons, but we have that kind of leverage and we could use it the same way China uses it's own leverage to force companies to do morally and ideologically reprehensible things. We'd just be using it to actually help people. God forbid.

Posted by: Soullite on November 29, 2007 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

You know... We can keep food cheap if we want to even while paying extra wages. It's called a subsidy, and the government gives billions worth away to corporations without ever getting anything back for it. They help business pay rent, they help them pay their utilities, they give them tax breaks for no reason whatsoever... This isn't rocket science. Maintaining current prices while raising wages wouldn't be very expensive, and you would recoup some of that money in increased taxable income.

amazing how the shills of these corporations forget entirely that food can be kept cheap artificially the same way their costs of doing business are made artificially cheap. However, to help people is a sin to them, while helping corporations is a sign of sainthood.

Posted by: Soullite on November 29, 2007 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

And a lot of these subsidies are what keeps unhealthy food cheap compared to healthy food.

Posted by: jerry on November 29, 2007 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK
THIS is the epitome of bad progressive posing -- anger over illegal immigration is legitimate.

Anger over illegal immigration is legitimate exactly to the extent that present immigration laws are appropriate. By way of analogy, if a law is passed banning the practice of Lutheranism without a state license that issued based on a limited quotas that are issued in limited quantities each year, that doesn't magically make anger over "illegal Lutheranism" legitimate.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 29, 2007 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, but I don't get the point.

If we got rid of these migrant workers, tomato growers would either have to pay Americans enough to pick crops or go out of business. So what if they go out of business? We have had tens of thousands of manufacturing businesses go under and the PC loonies don't complain about that.

1. Subsidizing businesses with cheap illegal alien labor (WSJ socialism) is far and away the most expensive method of subsidizing non-competitive businesses, because taxpayers have to shoulder the cost of jackpot babies, obstetrics, infrastructure, education, etc., for illegal garbage.

2. If we are going to subsidize businesses with illegal alien labor, we should start with high end businesses like manufacturing, not turn this country into a third world economy of car detailing, cuidado de ninos, non-competitive stoop labor farms, etc.

3. Supporting illegal aliens is supporting corruption. You like corruption?

Posted by: Luther on November 29, 2007 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Al: "How can liberals justify breaking the law and committing crimes?"

Blow it out your ass, numbnuts.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, & currently in Chicago on November 29, 2007 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

The jobs that "no American will do" are really jobs that Americans would willingly do for more money.

This is only trivially true; the right question is, will Americans do the job at such a wage that the price increase and resultant drop in demand doesn't put the business out of business.

If the job is permanent and within a conventional commuting distance, citizens can probably be found to do the work at a wage the business can sustain. But migrant farm labor? Those are seasonal jobs, demanding a nomadic lifestyle. I would think it's not actually a bad job for a kid with a frame-pack and a body that recovers relatively well from repetitive stress, to do for a couple of years: see the country, make some money. But you would never be able to replace the people who do the job now with just kids. Most likely those farm operations would be fully mechanized, including bio-engineered crops that can be harvested without damage by machines.

Maybe that would be a good thing, I don't know. But while probably most employers of illegal aliens are simply exploiting their status (including, sadly, the Florida tomato growers), not all of them are. Some really don't have any other practical option.

Posted by: kth on November 29, 2007 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: "By way of analogy, if a law is passed banning the practice of Lutheranism without a state license ..."

But is applicable only to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the evangelical megachurches would rush in to compete for recently disenfranchised LCMSers, thus demonstrating conclusively for everyone that God loves the free market system above all else.

I'm sorry -- I couldn't resist.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, & currently in Chicago on November 29, 2007 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Luther: "Supporting illegal aliens is supporting corruption. You like corruption?"

No, Luther, I don't like corruption.

But to be perfectly honest, I also don't really care for people who bitch ad nauseum about the problem of undocumented immigration, yet neither offer any realistic solutions of their own, nor accept practical proposals from others as a starting point for a very worthwhile discussion.

If you have something reality-based to offer that can help resolve the problem, I'm all ears. Otherwise, you know what you can do with your political platitudes, don't you?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, & currently in Chicago on November 29, 2007 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

On a lighter, but related, note: Bloomberg reports that despite the fact that shareholder equity overall is down $74 billion, Wall Street bonuses are expected to hit $38 billion this year, an all-time record. On the other hand, in Illinois recently, 25,000 and 15,000 people applied at two Wal-Mart stores in the Chicago area.

More sweet victories in the class-war! And tax-cuts, too! All hail the Gooper Triumph!

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on November 29, 2007 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

I still favor the idea of adding a 10 cent federal fee for each share of stock traded in the US. 1.5 - 2.0 billion shares traded 5 days each week. That was 1 cent until someone pointed out that it was too low. There must be illegal immigrants trading stock, too.

Posted by: slanted tom on November 29, 2007 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

The first European immigrants at Jamestown and Plymouth did not obtain legal permission to settle in the Western Hemisphere from the people who were already here. These Europeans started the illegal immigration precedent and then created arbitrary lines on pieces of paper, that people call borders and frontiers, along with an illegitimate legal system that denies the rights of Native Western Hemisphere people to migrate within the geographical area that their ancestors originally settled.

Europeans have come to the Western Hemisphere and denied the basic human right of freedom of movement to its indigenous peoples. Now we have to listen to European immigrant descendants like Rep. Tancredo and his racist supporters discuss how terriblle it is that these indigenous people are illegally here in the land they acquired through illegal immigration, war and genocide. Native Western Hemisphere people do not illegally inhabit the Western Hemisphere, but Europeans and their descendants are here illegally by their own standards. European descendants' racism and economic privilege prevents them from recognizing their illegitimacy to judge the migration of others. Unfortunately, I am unable to find a way to communicate to the racists of America the immorality of their position on migration, and am worried the genocide of the past will become a solution to the present.

A new Juan Crow regime is currently being implemented across the nation. Law enforcement officials and politicians are using the latent racism of European descendants to legalize discrimination of Native Western Hemisphere peoples for political gain. This cannot be good, and may lead to even worse crimes against human beings for the cause of an antiquated nationalism.

Posted by: Brojo on November 29, 2007 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

"Economy has strong showing in summer" My question is where? In Bushs warped brain?

Posted by: Al on November 29, 2007 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

This is what America has become, and maybe what it always was: a predatory capitalist sinkhole where a few rich pirates benefit and everybody else gets screwed. A mafia state with Soviet-style elections and a corporate media. Money is all that matters. All the talk about morals and ethics and Christianity and family values is for children, tourists and suckers. What really counts is screwing people over for a percentage.

Posted by: Speed on November 29, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Martin says: "How much do you want to pay for food?"

Actually, studies show that prices would only go up a few pennies on veggies, so you might want to rethink your argument.

As for Kevin Drum, I really don't know what his point is, but whatever it is he's wrong. His support for IllegalImmigration through the years plays a role in enabling activity such as that which he decries.

Posted by: The annoying LonewackoDotCom on November 29, 2007 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

I think the per stock sale tax is brilliant.

If you need migrant workers there is still no reason they need to be illegal. We've long had discussions of bracero programs.

If companies go out of business, we have a name for that. It's called capitalism. It's called the invisible hand. It's called the reason why investors receive higher rates of return for their riskier investments than bond owners.

Note: the constitution conspicuously does not guarantee either specific businesses or business models.

Note: it's long past time to redo Santa Clara vs. Southern Pacific.

Posted by: jerry on November 29, 2007 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

It is well known migrant labor has been abused for many decades. Our politicians would rather protect the businesses that exploit this labor instead of creating the kinds of wage and work place safety regulations that would improve their quality of life. That many migrant laborers are now Hispanic creates a racist cover for politicians and their supporters to ignore wage and occupational regulations and create laws that institutionalize discrimination instead.

For the past ten or so years I have purchased much of my produce at a farmers market, usually from pesticide free growers. Recently, to save money and maximize my food budget, I have been going to a store that specializes in produce, saving about $20 a week. I am going to have to stop that. The savings are not insignificant for me, but I realize that they come at others' expense and benefit those I do not wish to engage in commerce with.

Posted by: Brojo on November 29, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: if a law is passed banning the practice of Lutheranism without a state license that issued based on a limited quotas that are issued in limited quantities each year, that doesn't magically make anger over "illegal Lutheranism" legitimate.

IANALOALS, but I'll opine that that would be a violation of the 1st Amendment. By contrast, I'm unaware of any part of the Constitution that forbids the federal government from imposing immigration limits. Please enlighten me if I am in error.

Posted by: alex on November 29, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Reggie Brown is right, fair wages is un-American, GREED is very much American. We do have right to work laws in the South, that is why southern states like Mississippi are doing so well. Just travel by car and you will see the wealth in all the run-down little villages, towns and cities. Oh and there is NOLA.

Nothing better for the economy than low wages.

Posted by: Renate on November 29, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Growers will pay more if they cannot conspire to keep wages low. Of course that should be treated as a crime, but Bush appears to think that any crimes committed against workers don't count.

Posted by: freelunch on November 29, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Brautigan asks: "Americanist, please define "illegal immigrant"."

There are basically two broad categories that count here, what are known as "EWIs" and "overstayers".

EWIs "enter without inspection". That is, they sneak across the border.

"Overstayers" enter on legal visas that are generally time-limited or conditional in some other way, and then don't leave when the law requires: thus, overstayers.

It gets a bit polemical and rhetorical, but to avoid the kind of stooopid shit that excites Dice: "no human being is illegal" is true, but useless. (A burglar isn't an illegal human being, they're a human being who has committed a crime. Likewise, someone living here illegally isn't necessarily a bad person, but they ARE breaking the law: and that matters.)

You simply can't make sense about, well, anything, if you won't make distinctions: LEGAL immigrants are people we WANT. (Psst -- that's why they're legal.) If you don't believe that, you're either stoooopid or anti-American or both. In this country, "We, the People" write the laws through our elected Representatives. So it isn't some horseshit Lou Dobbs polling thing that defines who "We, the People" want: it's the LAW.

Under the law, the Rule (with lots of exceptions) is that legal immigrants are INVITED -- individually, by name: US citizens invite spouses, kids, parents and siblings; legal permanent residents invite spouses and kids; employers sponsor workers and their families for PERMANENT residency. That's it. Anybody who talks about the immigration of 'cousins', or other crap is either ignorant or lying.

(You can talk as if "immigrant" means ANYBODY who comes here from someplace else, but that gets pretty amorphous in a hurry: a guy born in Montana can be said to be an "immigrant" in Massachusetts, but that's the sorta crap thinking that has earned Dice his reputation for stooopidity. Someone born in Puerto Rico is NEVER an "immigrant" to the United States, f'r instance.)

So what makes a legal immigrant is that they're invited. (Except the various lotteries, e.g., Donnelly and Morrison visas.)

Refugees and political asylees also get green cards, but since that is a different dynamic it's better to leave 'em out of most immigration discussions: they're not invited, exactly, for foreign policy and other considerations they are folks we won't turn away.

Folks with TEMPORARY permission to live here aren't "immigrants", either, in any meaningful sense. (Note to Dice: this is an example of a distinction WITH a difference -- the H-1B, f'r instance is a "non-immigrant visa". "Immigrant", and "non-immigrant" -- see how this distinction thing works?)

"Illegal immigrants" are folks we do NOT want living here. (Psst -- that's why they are illegal.)

Those distinctions matter (despite stooopid folks like Dice), because the difference between people we want, and people we don't, is how to change the law to reflect what "We, the People" want it to DO.

There are roughly 3 million people living permanently and illegally in the US who are people we WANT, measured by the very direct meaning of the law: they have US citizens or legal permanent residents who have filed family petitions for their immigration.

So why are they here illegally?

Because the dirty little secret of the Congression politics of immigration is that they promise more than they deliver, and try to manage by backlog. It doesnt' work -- husbands and wives WILL sleep in the same country, yanno. (This also heads off the other stooopid direction somebody like Dice tries to take a discussion, cuz some temporary residents can become permanent ones: but as noted, Congress promises a LOT more of this than it delivers, with the result that those who obey the law and make a commitment to the US are treated much worse than those who have not.)

Confronted with this failure, Congress tries to make exceptions, rather than rules that work. But a system made up of more exceptions than functioning rules cannot make meaningful distinctions. (Which is doubtless why baby lawyers like Dice love it: they get paid.)

So the distinction between "legal" and "illegal" matters, if only because CITIZENSHIP depends on the rule of law.

Thus -- "EWIs" are people who entered the US uninvited, without inspection. "Overstayers" are people who entered legally, but didn't leave as agreed.

There are some in both categories (mostly the latter) who are demonstrably people "We, the People" WANT here, because roughly 3 million people now living here illegally have valid immigration visas available to 'em -- just not now, nor in any accessible way. (long story, that.) So many folks obey Matthew 19:6 rather than the law.

But the bullshit idea that there is no meaningful distinction between "legal" and "illegal", Brautigan, is a MUCH more effective barrier to justice than an asshole like Tancredo.

Does that answer your question?

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 29, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK
IANALOALS, but I'll opine that that would be a violation of the 1st Amendment.

You're missing the point of the analogy. The point is the existence of a law doesn't make anger at violation of the law justified if the law itself is not appropriate. (Yes, a law that is unconstitutional, is, even if it is not struck down, categorically inappropriate, as would one that restricts religion in the way the hypothetical one did even if the first amendment weren't around to express that such laws were inappropriate—that's the whole reason that example was chosen.)

Anger at violation of law is appropriate in direct proportion to the appropriateness of the law. Calling anger at immigration that is illegal under the present regime categorically legitimate is, ipso facto, an endorsement of the current immigration regime as good policy except to the effect that enforcement is incomplete.

Now, that's fine, if our resident lobbyist Paul "theAmericanist" Donnelly meant to endorse the present regime. He seems rather inconsistent on this, on the one hand saying things like "You simply can't make sense about, well, anything, if you won't make distinctions: LEGAL immigrants are people we WANT" which express that the status quo law is optimally attuned to "our" (for some value of "our") desires, while at the same time saying things like "Confronted with this failure, Congress tries to make exceptions, rather than rules that work", which suggest exactly the opposite.

But then meandering, contradictory, and self-important rants are more Donnelly's style than coherent arguments supporting any particular point.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 29, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

As often observed, Dice has been educated beyond his intelligence, viz, "Yes, a law that is unconstitutional, is, even if it is not struck down, categorically inappropriate, as would one that restricts religion in the way the hypothetical one did even if the first amendment weren't around to express that such laws were inappropriate—that's the whole reason that example was chosen."

A single sentence with no less then TWELVE half-formed thoughts in it. Did it make as much as sense as:

Q. Define illegal?

A. EWIs and overstays.

Look, folks: Dice doesn't understand this, but for a different reason than Kevin's misunderstanding that isn't worth exploring. Coach a basketball team, and you'll realize you can't teach tall; argue with Dice, and you'll find you can't get past stooooopid.

Brautigan: did I answer your question? Was it clear?

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 29, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Was it clear?"

As mud.

Posted by: Calton Bolick on November 29, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

But is applicable only to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the evangelical megachurches would rush in to compete for recently disenfranchised LCMSers, thus demonstrating conclusively for everyone that God loves the free market system above all else.

I'm sorry -- I couldn't resist.
Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, & currently in Chicago

Okay. But where do you stand on Wisconsin Synod and AELC?

Freezing your Hawaiian-transplant butt off in "real" weather? Huh, haole?

Posted by: JeffII on November 29, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

I don't want theAmericanist living here. Is he now an illegal resident?

Posted by: Bob G on November 29, 2007 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Bob G, however inadvertently, asks an intelligent and significant question: "I don't want theAmericanist living here. Is he now an illegal resident?"

No. These are the reasons.

1) I was born in the US, which under the 14th amendment makes me a US citizen. It doesn't matter if you like me, agree with me on politics or music or Dice's self-evident stoooopidity: this is a COMMUNITY, and what distinguishes a community from a club, is that the members of a community cannot exclude other members.

When did recognizing THAT become something progressives poked fun at? I sorta like that we repealed Dred Scott, but I guess Bob G likes the Bush administration's return to "ideological exclusion", huh?

BUT --

2) Suppose I was foreign-born, instead. How could I have wound up living here?

As noted, I could be here illegally -- either because I entered the US without inspection (which means sneaking across the border outside of the ports of entry that have all those guards and lines and whatnot), OR because I entered with a legal visa that allowed me to live here temporarily, and yet I did not leave.

(There is actually a third broad category of 'illegal', who are folks who were STILL legal -- but not citizens -- when they were convicted of crimes that can revoke their permission to stay, but it's neither comparatively large nor a particularly significant #.)

OR -- I could have been born a foreigner, and BECOME an American, through LEGAL immigration.

That's because the ONLY way to BECOME an American, is through the LAW.

This is also what has always made us America, in fact: I couldn't move to Japan and become Japanese, any more than I can climb a tree and become a pine cone. But anyone who is INVITED -- as US citizens invite spouses, kids, parents and siblings; and green card holders invite spouses and kids; and employers sponsor workers for immigrant visas -- can come HERE, and become an American.

There are a handful of other countries that do something similar (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Argentina pretty much covers it: the UK's immigration policy is mostly the echo of the Empire, and Israel, the darker resonance of the Holocaust), but none on the scale, nor for so long, much less in such an essential manner, as we do. THEY become US -- and who WE are, as in "We, the People", changes and expands to include 'em.

That doesn't DILUTE -- it RENEWS what has always made us America.

But it depends on the rule of LAW, cuz that is ultimately the expression of self-government.

So no, Bob G: I couldn't fucking care less if you don't like me, and no, cuz you don't, doesn't make me an illegal resident.

Being so fucking stooopid as to make the analogy to people who enter this country uninvited, in violation of our laws, is PRECISELY what keeps those laws from making sense.

Step right up, cuz you're part of it:

It is OPPONENTS of ALL immigration, who first insisted (after the last increase in annual immigration in 1990) that the distinction between legal and illegal does not matter.

In case you haven't noticed, that side has been winning precisely because knuckleheads like you talk about immigration in essentially the same way the bad guys do: making no distinction between legal and illegal DEGRADES, it does not elevate, legal immigrants and the value of citizenship.

It's a long list, folks: the welfare ban on non-citizens, that made naturalization a defensive act, and defined it as the route to public assistance rather than a voluntary, patriotic choice; the various atrocities of the 1996 law, like the 3 and 10 year ban on people married to US citizens and LEGAL immigrants who obey their marriage vows instead of US law (the Congress passed the '96 atrocities INSTEAD of delivering what they'd promised to legal immigrants, because of idjiots like you, Bob: the distinction between people we want and people we don't MATTERS); the way the Senate debated 'comprehensive' reform that meant an agonizing process for 'amnesty', AND replacing Ellis Island with a guest worker model, AND gutting family immigration AND replacing employer-based immigration with a bullshit point system.

How much more proof would you need that the idea that LEGAL is good, and ILLEGAL is bad, means something?

Or, yanno, you could stick strings of a dozen half-baked thoughts in a sentence.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 29, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

What got me was the claim about protecting our food supply with subsidies... And on the other hand we're paying illegal laborers to harvest actual food crops.

If it's so important to have subsidies, why aren't the subsidies going to the workers?

The answer, of course, is then they would have to realize their subsidies don't actually go to 'farmers'.

Posted by: Crissa on November 29, 2007 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody but me think that the fact that this trade organization can levy a $100,000 fine on any member who decides to charge a bit more for labor ought to violate state antitrust, labor and racketeering laws?

How are they not explicitly behaving as the tomato mafia here?

Posted by: jefff on November 29, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

From the florida tomato growers exchange website (http://www.floridatomatogrowers.org/):
"The Florida Tomato Growers Exchange is an agricultural cooperative of Florida tomato growers who operate as socially accountable farm employers by participating in comprehensive programs that certify employment, health, housing and safety practices. The industry is strongly committed to supporting long-term solutions that improve the lives of their employees."

I think I have to laugh.

Posted by: jefff on November 29, 2007 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK
A single sentence with no less then TWELVE half-formed thoughts in it.

Strangely, you can't point to even one thing that is a "half-formed" thought. OTOH, this is about par for the course of your vague, handwaving insults offered in lieu of argument.

Did it make as much as sense as:

Q. Define illegal?

A. EWIs and overstays.

Who cares? It wasn't offered as an alternative to that particular statement of yours, so why would you try to compare them? Your "arguments" here are nothing but irrelevancies.

Look, folks: Dice doesn't understand this, but for a different reason than Kevin's misunderstanding that isn't worth exploring. Coach a basketball team, and you'll realize you can't teach tall; argue with Dice, and you'll find you can't get past stooooopid.

Lots of people argue with me here, productively. You don't, but the problem there is specific to you, not general.

Though I suggest you have, in your last clause in the above-quoted piece, inadvertently identified the specific problem you are facing in your attempts.

I was born in the US, which under the 14th amendment makes me a US citizen.

Sure, that's status quo law.

It doesn't matter if you like me, agree with me on politics or music or Dice's self-evident stoooopidity: this is a COMMUNITY, and what distinguishes a community from a club, is that the members of a community cannot exclude other members.

That's a novel definition, though plenty of real communities can and do allow the general membership to expel members. Just inventing new, peculiar definitions without offering any justification as reasons for things doesn't do anything.

OR -- I could have been born a foreigner, and BECOME an American, through LEGAL immigration.

That's because the ONLY way to BECOME an American, is through the LAW.

Yes, the only way to attain any legal status (whether citizenship or otherwise) is through the law. This is trivially true.

But it doesn't support any particular argument about what the law allowing that should be.

This is also what has always made us America, in fact: I couldn't move to Japan and become Japanese, any more than I can climb a tree and become a pine cone.

The Japanese naturalization process has more intrusive documentation requirements and more focus on practical acculturation and less on testing knowledge of history, etc., when compared to the US naturalization process. And certainly the entry requirements are different, as well. But it is certainly possible to move to Japan and become Japanese.

Whether you personally could or would do so is, of course, another question, but certainly the generalization you hoped to suggest with your statement above is incorrect.


But anyone who is INVITED -- as US citizens invite spouses, kids, parents and siblings; and green card holders invite spouses and kids; and employers sponsor workers for immigrant visas -- can come HERE, and become an American.

Anyone who is invited by the US government can, and some of those government invitation (but not all) are conditional on a particular relationship and invitation by a particular US citizen or resident. But certainly not everyone invited by an American person can move here and become an American, and certainly no amount of your histrionics on this issue does anything to demonstrate that the details of the current rules governing who may come here and in what quantities is appropriate and desirable.

Without that demonstration, your equation of "legal" with "wanted" and "illegal" with "unwanted" is not true in any meaningful sense.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 30, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Dice: honest, you're really too stooooopid to breathe. Does somebody pump your chest for you?

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 30, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK
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