Saturday, February 25, 2017

Weaning Us Off Slave Labor

It seems that everywhere my husband and I travel we see that there is a class of people that are used as "slave labor".  

In China the Mongols live in slum housing along the ditch bank, no schools are provided for their children and they fill the labor pool doing the menial and dirty work. In India the unclean caste were and maybe still are taking away the human waste. In the Middle East people from The Philippines, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan flow into the country to operate restaurants, work as servants and do all those jobs no self respecting citizen of those countries would do.

In the United States we have used the black people and are now using the legal and illegal immigrant from VietNam and Mexico. I see them in the back rooms of restaurants and nail salons. In Portland, for example, a prominent local restaurant owner was charged the harboring illegal residents in his 5 Star Chinese establishment.

I have heard nail salon owners tell their workers to stay is not safe. Seasonal labor provides the cheap workers that pick our crops and work in processing sheds. When Border Patrol raids those places, workers flee in every direction.

We are indeed totally and absolutely dependent on these people to maintain our way of life. Without them I suppose prices are going to go up because, like the Middle East, no self respecting US citizen wants to do what these people have been doing for so many years. Even the homeless or welfare recipient would not or could not do what our illegals do day after day. It is a hard, dirty and demeaning way of life.

But how do we wean ourselves off of our need for people that have to work for so little because they have so much to hide? Because that is what we are going to need to do if all of the "illegals" are sent home.

I think that we will have to give up a lot of service and begin to pay the "real price" required when a US citizen is employed. All of that money that illegals using illegal SS numbers that pours into Social Security and is never take out will go away. Who knows how that is going to affect SS retirement incomes in years to come.

And that is only the tip  of the iceberg.

I often ask "what part of illegal didn't they get?" I too get angry when I hear people talk about how long it took them to get a green card when others are coming into our country under the fence. Yet I can be a pragmatist too. The reality is we are addicted to and alway have been addicted to slave labor. Today it just comes with a different name.

So there you have it. Any thoughts?



  1. Very insightful post Barb. I think the key to this is where you said there are jobs that Americans don't want to do so we indirectly entice immigrants to come in an take them. What if the guy doing the dishes in your restaurant made $25/hr? Would Americans want that job then? Maybe it is the low pay and not particularly the job itself.

    To work my way through college years ago I worked four summers in a factory environment. The job was totally numbing to me. Drilling the same hole in the same part for 8 hours a day! But, the pay enabled me to make enough to pay tuition. I think doing dishes would be more stimulation but all those who voted for the"Current Oval Office Occupant" want him to bring back all those factory jobs. Fat chance of that as a big majority of them have been replaced by robots and rightly so.

    One of the fundamental problems with America is that soon, if not now, we will simply no longer need 40 hours of work a week from all our citizens. How about a 25 hour week? A shorter work week with increased wages would solve all this. Maybe I should be saving all these deep thoughts for my blog... (ha)..

    Good post for getting my brain working this Sunday Morning..

    1. I like the idea that a shorter work week might help us get going in a new world economy. The only problem I see is the American people's addiction to a high life style. Even the lower middle class is living beyond their means today. Hopefully, the whole thing doesn't come crashing down.

      Unfortunately, those people that elected Trump are the ones that will suffer the most. It happened during the Reagan administration when the homeless appeared under bridges and in the bushes. Sigh! (Reagan didn't beleive in mental illness and the Vietnam vets were left to suffer. I don't suppose that Trump believes in mental illness either.)


  2. Well, remember, America was built on slave labor, not just the black slaves, but the Irish who built the canals, the Chinese who built the railroads, etc., etc. Like a lot of kids, I did some pretty bad manual labor in my day, as a teenager, and it actually taught me a few things. Maybe that's the only "fair" way to do it, when people can do these jobs while also developing skills or getting an education. But is it going to happen anytime soon? Unfortunately, I doubt it.

    1. Not anytime at all probably. In Oregon children used to pick strawberries in the fields but it has been banned because child labor is a form of slave labor too. They still do that in the China and it is not a pretty thing. Still, it seems to me that teens can do a lot if they are given the chance and motivation to do so. We will see.

  3. I hope everyone is ready for the prices on their vegetables and dairy products to skyrocket. Strawberries must be picked by hand. Whenever you eat your strawberry jam, chocolate dipped strawberries, or strawberry shortcake, give some thought to the fact that a person squatted or bent down and picked each of those berries, berry by berry. That worker was paid by the bushel that they picked, a couple of berries at a time, not by the hour. I recently read that bell peppers are also very tender and must be picked by hand, too easily cut or bruised for machines to harvest. Those are just examples of two crops that are currently dependent upon undocumented workers. Most fruit and vegetables are at some point dependent upon undocumented workers. The undocumented workers are exposed daily to a poisonous potpourri of pesticides, herbicides, and other agricultural chemicals. If told the truth, most US workers would refuse to work where they would be exposed to such a load of chemicals. I don't imagine a lot of applicants from our general population to be applying for those jobs, unless they are paid much higher wages. Who would suggest to their husband, wife, son, daughter, "Why don't you get a job hand picking fruits and vegetables. You'll be outdoors all day and with all of the bending and lifting you'll be working on your fitness. Just be sure to cover your face and nose and wear gloves to avoid all of those pesky chemicals. You may want to limit your intake of liquids,'s a long way across the field to the Johnny on the Spots."

    I wasn't aware until last week that there are many undocumented workers working in the dairy industry, too. I heard it on an agricultural report. It was reported that milk products are expected to increase in price by 45 percent as the undocumented workers are disappeared.
    People's yards and gardens may be a little bleaker looking in the future too. Many low wage undocumented workers are employed working at propagating and caring for the beautiful flowers and plants we all buy in the spring. That is in the area where I live, maybe other places are different.

    I have read comments in various places that mentioned such ideas as maybe high school students could do those jobs. The agricultural work is done in daytime, so are the students going to work during the day and schools are going to have night classes for them? I doubt it.

    I am wondering if those in power are planning on using forced prison labor to start doing the work that is currently done by undocumented labor. That is the one segment of our population that they could pay even less money to get work done.

    I think we all better enjoy our dairy products, fruits and vegetables, and pretty flower baskets for Mother's Day while we can. There may come a day when good food will only be available to the rich. I wish people would pay attention, think past the politicians' rhetoric, get real about who will be doing this work when undocumented workers are no longer here, and figure out some realistic, doable solutions to our immigration problems.

    1. This is all true people. Susie has cited a lot of places I did not mention. Is there a solution because I would like to hear it. When to top this problem with a possibility the China may also be shut out you can see what might happen. Everyone that depends on Walmart is going to be in for a shock.

  4. My husband moved potato pipe when he was young. He also worked survey crews and road crews. My brother served tables. My sister worked in a gym and cleaned the toilets. I hand addressed hundreds of envelopes. My niece does nails in her house. My uncle, who died in the street from being an alcoholic, bussed tables most of his working life. My good friend worked in a sewing shop in Maine and made shirts for LL Bean. The Amish in my area still harvest almost all of the crops by hand.
    These can ALL be done by US legal labor (citizen, green cards, work permits). It is going to cost us more- much more. If people feel the minimum wage should be at least $15 an hour (which I totally agree with)---then no one should be paid less. Which means we have to pay more. It is simply reality. Maybe we will simply be satisfied with one basket of strawberries instead of three when we go to the store? Maybe our clothes will last longer in the end? Silicon Valley is screaming because they just made the H1Bvisa pay double---making the wages the same as their US counterparts. Surprise! Yes, Susie, we have to figure out a way, because paying people starvation wages is simply unAmerican and, for me, unChristian.
    People call me unChristian because I support a tighter border. Why? I took water to the boarder and left it in the desert for those who thought they were going to have a better life by being illegal. I was sickened by the sex trafficking of the minors who made it over with no one on the other side. I was tired of seeing my students live in a one room house with ten to fifteen people because they were not paid enough for the crops. There has to be a way to have legal workers. We have a system, now we need to make it WORK!

    1. Amen!

      However, I do think that more thought needs to be give to how we are deporting people. When children are involved I get a little uneasy.

      The law that allow women to enter the country even for a visit and then have a baby here will give that child citizenship in the USA is troubling. I do not think other countries do that. That situation needs to be taken care of and it is a start.

      And could it be that illegals could leave the country and wait in line with everyone else for a green card? What a thought.

      Still we need to be prepared to pay more for goods which is as it should be.

  5. Have you seen the short, A day with out a Mexican? It just shows they are not taking away jobs because most of the whites would not do them. I look in my neighborhood and almost all of the landscapers and roofers are Hispanic. Some work for companies, some have their own.


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