Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Selling out our neighbors for the good of strangers and consumerism : Immigrant residential construction Labor is Scab Labor,

and those immigrant residential construction workers don't cease being scab labor just because over the years they've for all practical purposes permanently displaced most of the native workers who had the jobs the scabs now hold.

What this immigrant scab labor has done is transform the entire industry from one that once paid native workers a living wage to one that now pays below survival wages while catering to consumerism.

These immigrant scabs have changed the dynamics of our local work force driving down wages while in turn driving up consumer expectations. Just as similarly offshoring has driven down our wages while in turn driving up consumer expectations.

Consumerism sought low wages for manufactured goods and services that can't be offshored, and scabs were the answer. The market dynamic caused by immigrant labor is the opposite of what it should be.

A right ordered market would be lower consumer expectations supporting higher wages. Which in turn would cause a larger middle class.

What we have instead is pressure on the middle class from below as well as from above forcing the middle class into the lower class.

And needless to say, the intellectual class distributists get it wrong as usual, finding solidarity at the expense of a duty. Which still makes them better than the libertarians who like Rand consider selfishness to be a virtue and as a result see common cause with the scabs. But I digress.

When a man crosses a trade union picket line the die is cast that a living wage will not be paid. That is what scabs do. Similarly, when immigrants came here and accepted wages far below an american living wage, that die was likewise cast; the industry was transformed.

The local cultural living wage is not the same as an immigrant living wage because their culture lets them live at a much lower rate of pay. Multiple families in a single house and similar expectations and so forth all reduce their living wage requirement.

As a result some argue that the immigrants are not scab labor but a natural adjustment in the market satisfying a need where both the consumer and the laborer benefit because the consumer gets what he wants, i.e. a bigger house with lots of goodies, and the laborer gets what he wants, i.e. a living wage according to his cultural expectations.

The same argument can be, and is made, in favor of scab labor over trade union labor.

Further, to make such an argument is to subordinate a higher good to a lower good. Any given society has a duty to protect its own citizens from harm caused by strangers. Immigrants are strangers, and our duty to take in strangers does not subordinate our prior duty to our families.

Societies are a cohesive whole grounded in cultural unity. A unity with bonds and duties.

The typical online Catholic writers wring their hands over the exploitation of the scabs while speaking of worker solidarity. In contrast, the natives I know who work in the field directly effected by scab labor see those laborers for what they are, interlopers taking away their living wage jobs. They understand what trade union workers understand, scab labor harms them, harms their families and should be treated accordingly.

The demand made by these writers that we take in these stranger interlopers has had the direct consequence of subordinating the natural good, i.e. the good of their neighbors to whom those writers owe a duty to protect, in favor of an unnatural good, i.e. the good of these strangers.

To paraphrase Robert Frost : A typical online Catholic writer is a man too broadminded to take his neighbors side against a stranger.

The typical online Catholic writers are safe enough from scab labor market dynamics, just as most secular pundits are equally insulated from the harm caused by their hand wringings. But the working poor and middle class are not insulated. And that is where the grievance is coming from.

Change for the better may perhaps come when those who are currently insulated and benefiting from below living wage labor likewise find themselves expendable to some substandard third world wage earner. Just as attorneys and doctors are just now finding out that much of their research and lab work can also be offshored.



  1. It becomes remarkably easy to love one's neighbor when the term can be applied so narrowly and scientifically.

    1. We are called to love those who harm us, but that does not mean we deny or trivialize the harm caused. Nor does it mean that we forego our duty to protect our families from those who cause them harm.

  2. But, were we all not immigrants once? I would say, make employers pay a living wage, both to newcomers and "natives." Then, they would not have a reason to hire only newcomers. Also, then if any newcomers fitted in, they could better their position. Since we are killing off our own children at a huge rate, it is only the Hispanic immigrants who are keeping us at replacement levels. It will either be the Hispanics or the Muslims.

    Also, as far as illegal immigrants, instead of going after the poor workers, why not go after the employers? Just imagine the effect of an evening news TV program showing lines of business owners in chains. Problem Solved!