Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Cluelessness of the Bright Young Things

I posted this in the comments section over at The Washington Monthly. I repost it here because I want to think about it some more.

Despite the fact that the economic impact of immigration is zero for most people and minimal even for high school dropouts?

Are you that detached from reality? Or does the "most people" in your world just not include working people? My parents raised four kids (with my mom working sporadically and part-time) on my dad's construction pay. Their best friends raised their four kids on the salaries of a grocery checker and a milk delivery man. No more. We out here in workingland never know if this afternoon we'll find out our jobs have gone to Vietnam or been turned into the kind of jobs Americans won't do (in other words, jobs that don't pay a living wage).

When I went to college I worked 40 hours a week in a restaurant bussing tables for minimum wage. I made about $4 a day in tips. My take-home pay was enough to live on -- and I didn't live with my parents. I shared a two-bedroom apartment with another girl in a decent part of town. Who could do that on the minimum wage today? My pay was 1.72 an hour and the cheeseburgers we served were 85 cents, and there were fries with that. An equivalent burger would be $8.50 today, but the minimum wage is not $17.20.

The wage situation for working people is becoming untenable. You've got outsourcing sucking the jobs out of the country, and you've got illegals dragging the wages down for the jobs that remain.

Employers love it. They're doing fine. But this paradigm will end, one way or another. I don't think it's going to end with the minimum wage raised to $17 an hour or the United Food and Commercial Workers established at WalMart, or the federal government decreeing that a federal contracts must be done with American unionized labor.

It's going to end with all the money sucked out of circulation, housing prices crashing, regular people running out of money with nowhere to turn (thanks to the new bankruptcy laws) and realizing just about all at once that there is no hope. There will be fear and loathing and despair -- and then there will be rage.

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