Monday, March 24, 2008

Dignity of Labour

(illustration by Bernarda Shahn)
I have lost count of the times people have told me that America needs immigrants to do the jobs that are too dirty and menial for Americans. It is hard not to hear a tone of condescension in this observation. What I have noted is that some of these very important jobs held by large numbers of immigrants are poorly paid by American standards but well paid by the standards of developing countries.
Immigrants tend to come to our country and see an abundance of opportunity. I have found that people from countries that are poorer tend to be more frugal. They tend to repair rather than replace. I have noticed that a lot of very good appliance and computer repair people here in New York come from South America and the West Indies.
The South of Italy is rich in beauty but remains disadvantaged economically. A large percentage of America's Italian immigration was from Italy's south. Looking at the success of Italian Americans in America as well as their contributions to America's growth makes it clear that Italy's loss was our gain. Similarly, a beautiful yet impoverished Ireland has enriched this country immeasurably through immigration.
Legal immigration is an essential part of our identity as a nation. Without a regular stream of lawful new arrivals, America would not be America.
Inflation has shrunk the real value of U.S.wages. In large parts of the U.S., the dream of owning a home has become more and more elusive. Wages for physical labour should be attractive to those whose entire family lives in the U.S. Immigration should not be used as a tool to depress wages. If you believe in family values then value labour fairly. If you value labour fairly, then workers will be able to afford more time with their families.
Copyright 2008 by Magdeburger Joe Sphere: Related Content

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