Saturday, September 04, 2010

Lower Wages? Hooray!

On the Dylan Ratigan Show on Friday, Robert Reich (video below, from msnbc. via explained that not only the business cycle, but also structural obstacles, have impeded recovery of the economy. Reich points out that the average male worker earns less now than he did 30 years ago, adjusted for inflation. (That may be true of the average worker, but here, Reich refers to the median male worker earning less, which is at least a little less damning.)

Guest host Cenk Uygur, who usually is progressive, clear-thinking, and entertaining (and what better name could there be than Cenk Uygur?), was a little off his game, asking (beginning at approximately 7:50) Reich "look, everybody wants increased wages. Who out there doesn't want wages to go higher?"

The answer had been revealed on that same network the previous day as Chris Matthews interviewed Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, and Maria Teresa Kumar MSNBC consultant and executive director of Voto Latino. The exchange included:

MATTHEWS: Maria Teresa, fill me in on beheadings. Is that an issue? I mean, it`s a serious issue, I`m not going to play it down. I want illegal immigration stopped. I want a legal system -- a liberal system, but I want it enforced.

So, I may not be with a lot of liberals on this, but I think we ought to have a system of guest workers, a system of liberal immigration. But I want it on paper.


MATTHEWS: I want the game to end. I want the cheap exploitation of labor to end. I don`t want anybody getting hired in this country under the table anymore. I want everybody getting Social Security, everybody paying taxes and getting the benefits of residence, legal residence, when they`re working here.

I don`t want any more game-playing by the Democrats or the businesspeople or anybody else, even the civil liberties people. Everybody is playing a game on this issue. That`s my setup to our conversation.

So, let`s have a serious conversation. There are no good guys in the suit. Everybody is playing a game. Tell me seriously where this is going to play politically this November. How is this issue going to cut, this illegal immigration issue?

KUMAR: I mean, I think, first of all, the Republicans are actually feeling leadership backing when it comes to immigration, sadly enough. And they`re using it by creating racial profiling. And that`s one of the reasons that Brewer bill was gutted by the federal court.

What needs to happen, and this is a prime opportunity for the Democrats really to space it is instead of cowering to the Republicans, they have to come up with a comprehensive (ph) solution.

And in fact, the comprehensive immigration reform bill that was recently offered, that does exactly what you`re saying, Chris. It`s incredibly tough on undocumented individuals. They have to pay taxes. They have to get to the back of the line. They have to secure the border, more than anything. And more importantly, there`s E-verify.

So, that means every single person in the United States --

MATTHEWS: I`m with you on that.

KUMAR: Right.

MATTHEWS: What`s your view? You have a different view.


MATTHEWS: But just to respond her. She says let`s do something on verification, no more illegal hiring. Let`s have some kind of border control. Let`s let people become Americans if they`re willing to pay the price and do it right.

What`s your alternative?

AGUILAR: I think you made the point. We need to strengthen border security, but at the same time, we need a guest worker program. The root of the problem here --

MATTHEWS: Who`s against that?

AGUILAR: The Democrats are.


AGUILAR: Because they`re controlled by the unions. The president of the AFL-CIO is going around the country saying that comprehensive -- that you cannot have comprehensive immigration reform with a guest worker program. They`re against it.

Obama, so far, has only mentioned employer sanctions and legalization. That`s not comprehensive -- without a guest worker program to facilitate the legal flow workers that our economy needs, we`re not going to solve this problem.

And guess what? Only Republicans are mentioning a guest worker program. Carly Fiorina (INAUDIBLE) --

MATTHEWS: OK. That`s part of the issue. Is -- let me get back to you so you can respond -- Maria.

KUMAR: I think, I mean, fundamentally, what the Republican Party, the only thing that you found with the 20 states that you mentioned that are introducing this tough on undocumented individuals is basically, you know, promoting racial profiling. Those are not solutions.

MATTHEWS: Why do -- respond to what he said, though. Respond to what he said. Part of the solution is, to me, clean up the system, no more games. No more under illegality, no more under the table, no more cheap hiring and exploitation of labor. No more ethnic game-playing by the Democrats.

Let me ask you this: Are you for guest worker program as part of the solution or not? He said you`re not?

KUMAR: No. I think, I mean, we have to have smart solutions. That`s part of the legislation.

MATTHEWS: No, but you`re not answering the question.

KUMAR: No, no, but I am, Chris. That`s part of -- that`s actually one of the -- that`s part of the project -- excuse me, part of the legislation that Schumer introduced was a guest worker program. Now, it`s also talking about making sure that you`re talking about E-verify.


KUMAR: No. Pardon?

AGUILAR: It`s a commission.

MATTHEWS: It`s a commission that does what?

AGUILAR: What they would create is a commission, another bureaucracy.

MATTHEWS: To do what?

AGUILAR: To determine how many people come in each year. In the Obama administration, he would appoint people with ties to the labor unions. Let the market determine how many people come in.


MATTHEWS: Who`s going to help this election, Maria Teresa?

KUMAR: Right now, it`s going to help the Republicans because the Latino vote right now doesn`t see any leadership from either the Republicans or the Democrats.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Maria Teresa Kumar, as always.

Alfonso Aguilar, nice to meet you.

AGUILAR: Thank you.

Here, Cenk, is the answer to your question: Alfonso Aguilar (including, presumably, his organization) is opposed to higher wages. We need to strengthen border security, but at the same time, we need a guest worker program. A guest worker program is designed to lower wages. That is its objective and that is why corporate America has always been partial to it. And the tipoff here is Aguilar's supplement: "we need to strengthen border security." He is telling the audience clearly: it's not as if we like immigrants- after all, we have to strengthen border security" (as the GOP continually emphasizes in response to President Obama tightening border security)- we just want the ones who are here to be under the thumb of employers.

Matthews has no clue. He begins by saying "So, I may not be with a lot of liberals on this, but I think we ought to have a system of guest workers, a system of liberal immigration," then a moment later incomprehensibly comments "I want the cheap exploitation of labor to end." In case the audience failed to understand that he is confused, Matthews later emphasizes "no more cheap hiring and exploitation of labor."

Exactly what is a guest-worker program? It is cheap hiring and exploitation of labor. That's the way it has worked (destructively) in Europe and that's the way it's intended to work here, as Aguilar made clear when he urged "the market (to) determine how many people come in." Aguilar also takes a shot at unions and Democrats, as any good Republican would.

It's not surprising, inasmuch as the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles includes on its board of directors one Grover Norquist, co-designer of the Contract On With America, founder of the K Street Project, and major supporter of the presidential bid of George W. Bush.

So be aware, Cenk. There are plenty of Republicans pushing for lower wages, Grover Norquist, Alfonso Aguilar, and many in the corporate sector among them.

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