When society bars business-people from making intelligent economic decisions arbitrage and unethical behavior will result. People respect illogical and unworkable legal decisions as much as they eagerly volunteer to drive new, electrical cars from Government Motors. They don’t. They run businesses that won’t. Businesses that try are frequently victims of their own code of honor and wind up in bankruptcy court.
I certainly don’t praise or respect contractors who knowingly and deliberately seek out illegal aliens to staff their crews, but I also don’t pretend this happens solely due to The Gold Man’s Greed. Three things conspired to help make the presence of non-US Citizens on Candidate Romney’s old ground crew a regrettable, but highly likely occurrence.
1) The US Federal Immigration Laws facilitate law-breaking and make honorable compliance a significant personal and economic burden.
2) The Federal Minimum Wage Laws and expensive personnel regulations impose hourly labor costs that are greater than the perceived economic value of many difficult, menial tasks that fall within the skill set of people who are under-educated and barely speak English.
3) The consumer base is unwilling to pay a price level for these tasks commensurate with what would make the legal workforce an affordable one to hire.
As a result of these convergent dumbness factors, the following outcomes are possible.
1) Businesses and contractors who typically do hard, sweaty outdoor work are unable to meet the wage requirements and find some other way to earn a buck. Mr. Romney is required to become more intimately acquainted with Mr. Lawn Boy.
2) Mr. Romney and all his neighbors express dismay that you just can’t find good help these days. They voluntarily pay people twice and three times as much as they previously did just to make sure good, happy All-American boys were out there busting tail and learning The Protestant Work Ethic.
3) And, oh yeah, behind door #3, we get 12 million illegal aliens waiting at strip malls all over America to be picked up for a day of low-wage, off-the-books piece work on some fine, upstanding citizen’s lawn.
Number three is frequently the situation we have right now. Rational people can either view this as a problem or a solution. If you place paramount importance on America being a nation of laws not men, this is a problem. If you believe that America is a nation where rational, entrepreneurial-minded people should be allowed to work hard and improve their lot, we have a solution. If you simultaneously hold both beliefs; Houston, we have a Fustercluck!
We have this fustercluck because well-meaning laws have been passed with insufficient comprehension of how they would interact with other well-meaning laws. Everyone has a heart, most of us even have brains, but nobody had the foresight to discern the synergetic impact on the labor market of poorly-managed borders, strong labor regulations and a generous minimum wage. A lot of decent people believe that neither of these situations, in and of themselves, represents anything wrong or iniquitous.
The resulting illegal immigration problem facilitated arbitrage by struggling, and ethically dubious business enterprises. They had to provide an affordable service to stay afloat, yet the required minimum wage and other employment costs of legally eligible hires made this task too difficult for their management abilities. The temptation to cut corners and pick up a fresh, new, untraceable crew of illegals every morning won out. The cheaters got cost base relief and could undercut the prices that were required to obey the prevailing employment laws.
Illegal aliens are now how the landscape work gets done in Modern America. This is part of how the U3 rate in the legal, registered work force stays plastered at 9% or higher. And just to make this completely clear, these illegals do not steal anyone’s jobs. At $20.00 an hour in labor costs, none of these jobs would exist. Very few consumers would pay the price level for menial, low-skill work that these costs would entail. Without a porous border and a badly-managed legal immigration policy, most of these illegals would be citizens (either in the US, or back home in El Salvador or Mexico).
So yes, Mr. Romney, we can’t have this while you are running for office. And yes, Governor Perry, it may have been a bit underhanded to nail this one to Candidate Romney’s forehead. However, both of these fine and upstanding gentlemen could use this debate as a teachable moment.
Imagine how much better and more enlightening the next GOP debate would be if both of these Great Americans walked into the room with competing solutions? It would be awesome if someone could at least try to fix the problems created by the negative synergy between immigration policy and chronic unemployment amongst the least skilled workers in Modern America? That embarrassing problem is my biggest objection to how Candidate Romney used to get the lawn mowed.