Monday, August 22, 2005

Jobs that no one wants

One common statement in the debate about immigrant labor is that immigrants do the jobs that no-one else wants. In most cases the commentators are referring to argicultural jobs.

This idea of jobs that no-one wants is really interesting. There are very few jobs in this world that people really, really want to do. For the most part, we have to do things that we don't want to do to make ends meet.

Refusal to do particular jobs generally has more to do with bad working conditions and low pay than simple pride.

I happen do believe in the free market. If there was not an available crop of immigrant labor to fill argicultural jobs, working conditions and pay would probably increase to the point where the jobs were desirable.

Anyway, the question du jour is: "What would the agricultural system in the US look like without a large pool of exploitable labor just to the south?"

My guess is that the big farms would have to start scrambling to raise wages and working conditions enough to attract Americans back to the farm.

The one really exciting thing is that as the price for farm labor increases, we might start seeing the emergence of new businesses to provide agricultural support and we might see a resurgeance of the independent small farm.

I do not hold the idea that argicultural work is repulsive to the human spirit. The human race grew up on the farm. It is only in the last century that we transformed from a primarily agicultural society to our big modern cities.

In the last century, big commercial farms were able to exploit immigrant labor to undercut prices and drive small farms out of business. It is possible that the loss of access to exploitable labor would lead in a reverse direction...back to more independently owned farms.

In a free market, there really is no such thing as a job that no-one wants. There are untenable business plans. The massive farms that depend on cheap illegal labor for survival would be untenable in a society that does not have such easily exploitable labor. The untenable big farms would likely fail. Small independent farms would resurge.

The "jobs no-one wants" is a complete hoax. The fact that we have a large exploitable class of illegal immigrants that represses wages is the real problem.

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