#153 What Do the Words Mean? (2006)

All Rights Reserved © 2006 Thomas W. Day

George W. Bush often likes to talk about "jobs Americans won't take."  What does that mean?  It's not like we have an in-control unemployment statistic.  While the government sponsored number jabbers about single-digit unemployment, government makes a serious effort to quickly classify out-of-work-workers as "unemployable."  After a few months of job hunting, a worker is switched from unemployed to unemployable.  He or she might be putting in hundreds of hours looking for work, retraining to earn skills that will enhance the opportunity if one should arise, networking and doing everything humanly possible to find a living wage job, but that person is unemployable as far as the statistics are concerned. 

There are millions of people in this unemployable bracket.  There are millions more who have, in fact, given up.  And, of course, there are at least 12 million illegal immigrants who are perfectly willing to take these jobs.  The jobs Americans don't want.  They will risk their lives to cross our massively porous boarders, with little impediment from the INS or our ridiculously misnamed Homeland Security Agency. 

You gotta ask yourself, "why don't we want these jobs?"  I can answer that for a good number of Americans. 

First, those jobs don't pay a living wage.  The best of these jobs are called "McJobs" and for good reason.  They are minimum or less-than-minimum wage jobs without benefits, security, reasonable working conditions, or any redeeming quality.  The businesses that "create" these jobs ought to be ashamed of themselves.  Most of these companies have collections of useless executives, drawing monstrous salaries with benefits that would stagger Arabian princes.  But they can't find the cash to pay a working wage to the few people who actually do work.

The employers, if you will give them that much credibility, constantly complain that they can't keep workers on the job, but they don't make the slightest effort to do the things that any decent human would do to reward fair labor.  So, they're "forced" to hire illegals.  If you don't believe me, take a job with one of these companies for a week, or just read Nickel and Dimed and experience another middle class American's experience as a minimum wage earner.  You'll find that Wal-Mart, McDonald's, and a host of substantial corporations are barely more than slaveowners. 

If that's the case for giant international corporations, with mountains of resources, multi-millionaire executives and multi-billionaire owners, and hundreds of thousands of wealthy investors, what's life like for "unwanted jobholders" of small companies?  If you haven't noticed, OSHA hasn't exactly been an active part of the business world for the last decade or two. Employee protection is about as far from the current national concern as serious exploration of alternative energy.  Minimum wage employees are at the bottom of that low priority.  Illegal employees are far below that standard.

Probably more than any other reason these jobs go wanting for employees is the employers.  The people hiring for this kind of job, jobs that "Americans don't want," are the worst of the worst.  These employers are arrogant, ignorant, unstable, incapable, and short-tempered. They are unconcerned with their employee's safety, job satisfaction, security, or any other characteristic that might be common to a quality job and a competent employer.  If this pack of low-brow aristocrats could beat the crap out of their employees to get a little more productivity, they would.

Not that long ago, a group of these folks testified regarding the difficulty, not in finding employees, but in paying them the going wage.  I heard scumbag after scumbag talk about how awful it was that they had to pay roofers up to $100,000 per year.  Their attitude was that it was unfair that rich, powerful, well-connected men like themselves were unreasonably inconvenienced by being asked to pay that much money to skilled, high-risk employees.  If these douche bags were paying ten times that amount to pro baseball players they wouldn't think twice about the cost.  But paying a fair salary to a lowly roofer, someone whose career could be cut short by knee injuries, falls, or any number of industrial mishaps, is an "unreasonable" hardship.  Have I mentioned how much I like Aerosmith's "Eat the Rich?"

The kind of employers who desperately "need" illegal labor are packing plants, industrial agricultural facilities, barely-legal-themselves non-union smokestack industries, fast food restaurants, and below-the-tax-line small service businesses.  No one willingly works for any of these businesses--not because the work is demeaning, particularly hazardous or difficult--but because these companies are universally mismanaged by vicious bastards who would own slaves, and abuse them, if they could get away with it.  If all of these companies, as they exist today, vanished from the country, they would be replaced with better managed substitutes in minimal time.  If this kind of work paid a living wage and was performed in an employee-respectful business, there would be no shortage of Americans who would want to do these jobs. 

Not only are these the jobs Americans don't want, they are jobs only unwilling hostages will take for the salary these vile bastards will pay and in the unreasonable conditions they will be asked to work.  Personally, I'd like to see Bush and Cheney put in a couple of years doing this kind of work (any kind of work, actually) and, then, if they still want to drive the price of labor down, import sub-skilled labor, and talk about unwilling American laborers, I'll be amazed.  If they knew there was a good chance that they'd have to go back to those jobs again, I know they'd care a lot more about why Americans shun those jobs.  But we don't have to worry about Bush or Cheney ever actually working for a living, do we?  They are the aristocratic elite.  The folks the rest of us labor to support.  They'll never have to work and they'll never comprehend what working for a living is like when the work doesn't support living.

April 2006

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