Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Byron Dorgan Defines Fiction

North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan thinks he knows what fiction is. According to the anti-Immigration Reform Bill politico, it's a fiction that the jobs to be filled in the temporary worker program are jobs that Americans aren't willing to do.

There's no lettuce farms in North Dakota. They don't grow peaches or apples. Senator Dorgan would never hear from irate farmers, who know what the real fiction is. American people are not lining up, desperately in search of employment as fruit pickers. Down in Florida, it's a fiction to believe that Americans would jump at the chance to weed strawberry beds in the hot sun. It's a fiction to believe that Americans would take these jobs if immigrants did not.

The proposed guest worker program would depress wages, according to Mr. Dorgan. The wages that get depressed are in the low skill, back breaking, daily grind and misery sorts of jobs, and it's hard to imagine that the typical American would accept such employment at any price. The citizens who replaced the deported Hispanic workers in a southern chicken processing plant didn't last long, and the money was good. Better than the alternative, to be sure, which was unemployment and even less money on the dole, but in the end, welfare became more desirable than life on a chicken processing line.

Would Americans take jobs picking fruit and vegetables if the money was right? That's a story for the economists to write. But if the cost of growing, picking and packing food increased, the cost of food in the market would follow, and it's no fiction that Senator Dorgan would be hearing from his constituents when the price of a salad reached the sky-high cost of a prime steak, or an apple became an extravagance.

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