Save Our Family Farms: Incarcerate Everyone

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It's hard to get very far in a debate over immigration reform without prompting the claim "but they broke the law"—the implication being that, hey, it's not the Mexicanness we object to, it's the violation of our infallible, divinely inspired, uniformly just immigration law. I can't take this argument seriously, but I'm wondering how the aversion to criminality squares with the continued switchover to labor from actual criminals:

Colorado started sending female inmates to harvest onions, corn, and melons this summer. Iowa is considering a similar program. In Arizona, inmates have been working for private agriculture businesses for almost 20 years. But with legislation signed this summer that would fine employers for knowingly hiring undocumented workers, more farmers are turning to the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) for help.

Although the ADC is considering innovative solutions – including satellite prisons – to fulfill companies' requests for inmate labor, prison officials agree that, in the end, the demand is too high.

I haven't heard James Sensenbrenner complain that we're condoning drug use by letting offenders harvest onions all day long. If immigrants agree to live in jail cells, can they continue to work?

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  1. If immigrants agree to live in jail cells, can they continue to work?

    i believe Dave W. asked this question perhaps a year ago – something about the limits of consent, etc.

  2. prison officials agree that, in the end, the demand is too high.

    Hey, abolitionism had its run.

  3. The more sinister aspect of all this is that if companies can use cheap prison (slave?) labor, it gives them incentive to lobby the government to keep locking people up.

    IMO, it should be federal law that no private company can profit from the use of inmate labor.

  4. Is this how the autobaun was built?

  5. watch, as dan t. says something that people would agree with if it came from anyone else.

  6. why the question mark after “slave”?

  7. why the question mark after “slave”?

    To indicate that I’m not exactly sure it’s the same thing as slave labor but some might argue that it is.

  8. pinches nose

    Looks shiftily from side to side…to see if anyone’s around

    makes slight gurgling sound, to suppress the vomit and says…

    Dan T. I agree with you 100%.

    passes out

    fade to black

  9. IMO, it should be federal law that no private company can profit from the use of inmate labor.

    Agreed. I don’t even think convict labor should be used for doing state work, like road clean-up or license-plate stamping. Prosecuting and punishing criminals should be one government program that ALWAYS runs at a financial loss, so that there’s no financial incentive to imprison people, only the incentive “This man is such a menace to society, it’s WORTH the high cost of incarceration to keep him off the streets.”

  10. Even Jennifer and I agree. Group hug!

  11. The more sinister aspect of all this is that if companies can use cheap prison (slave?) labor, it gives them incentive to lobby the government to keep locking people up.

    Kind of like the prison guard unions.

    IMO, it should be federal law that no private company can profit from the use of inmate labor.

    I actually agree with Dan T.

  12. Prison Labor! Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

    …you know that old trope about how Americans aren’t willing to do the work–well why don’t we just sentence them to do the work?!

    One question–if a prisoner is in the country illegally, should he be eligible for use as forced labor?

    By the way, I understand that enforcement* is making farm labor a huge problem nation wide, and that there are many states that are turning to prison labor. Still, prison labor doesn’t come anywhere close to making up for the shortfall, and farmers aren’t making up for it by raising salaries and hiring people away from other jobs…

    They’re just cutting back on the planting.

    *What happens to a farmer in debt if half his labor gets busted halfway through the harvest?

  13. This is just part of the inevitable transformation of our country from and agricultural, to and industrial, to a service and then to a prison based economy.

  14. “IMO, it should be federal law that no private company can profit from the use of inmate labor.”

    I would say that no one should force people to work, period.

    …but maybe inmates should be able to work if they want to, and they should get paid for what they do. Theoretically, if you’re getting paid for what you do, then the work you do must be profitable enough that the people you work for can afford to pay you.

    My understanding is that most prisoners want a job while they’re in prison. I’m not sure you can have too many jobs without prisoners doing something productive enough to be profitable.

  15. It has an easy answer, if you don’t like it obey the law. No punishment is too easy for violent predators like murders, rapists, robbers and drug users.

  16. My understanding is that most prisoners want a job while they’re in prison. I’m not sure you can have too many jobs without prisoners doing something productive enough to be profitable.

    I think we still can allow prisoners to do jobs related to the prison itself (kitchen duty, laundry, groundskeeping, etc.) These kinds of jobs are “profitable” in the sense that they create productive results and maybe save the state some money but they don’t create the incentive to lock more people up (it will still cost more to incarcerate someone than the value you’ll get from having them work in the prison).

  17. If immigrants agree to live in jail cells, can they continue to work?

    No no no. The have to keep their kids out of school and stay away from the Emergency Room.

  18. Jennifer,
    IIRC, you have the same stance regarding prison labor used in other countries(ahem, China) correct?

    Dan T.,
    Fully agree with you on the “Prisoners working for the Prison” bit, even so far as the old Texas State Prison method of harvesting some (most?) of their own food from state owned vegetable patches. But I feel you are correct that is should be illegal for a company or, heaven forbid, the state to “make” money from prison labor.

  19. Jennifer,
    I am of the mind that it should never profit the state to enforce the law. Thus everything from traffic fines to property seizures should be prohibited.

  20. I’m not expert on this, but my understanding is that there aren’t anywhere near enough of those kinds of prison service jobs–laundries, cafeterias, janitorial–to go around. My understanding is that having a job in most prisons is like an uncommon privilege that a lot of prisoners don’t get.

    Some of the excons I’ve heard are actually concerned about adjusting to life on the outside after being essentially sedentary for three and a half to five. I think that might be a reasonable concern.

    Conceptually, I don’t have any more of a problem with prisoners picking crops than I do with prisoners working for the state, making license plates and street signs. …and prison overcrowding is the issue most everywhere.

  21. Y’know, I was just flipping back through “The Gulag Archipeligo”…I bet some crazed leftist documentarian could make an interesting movie out of all this.

  22. Kerry Howley: you seem to have ignored or be unable to figure out that massive law-breaking is indicative of massive GovernmentCorruption. Not only do private companies (like banks) seek to profit from illegal activity, but so too does our FederalReserve.

    If you and all the other Reason contributors pool your intellectual resources – and perhaps bring in some interns to help – can you figure out just how extremely dangerous such widespread PublicAndPrivateCorruption is?

    Scroll all the way down on this list, if you need a clue: infoplease.com/ipa/A0781359.html

  23. Now that I think of it, I was sentenced to hard labor my freshman year in boarding school for sneaking out at night and trying to meet my girlfriend.

    I had to dig stumps out of the ground and slit wood with a sledge hammer and some spikes. No, that’s not as bad as being in prison and given hard labor, but it still sucked. Oh, and I couldn’t talk to any female students on campus for a month. …cruel and unusual punishment when you’re 15.

  24. To indicate that I’m not exactly sure it’s the same thing as slave labor but some might argue that it is.

    Well, to be sure, the Thirteenth Amendment does make an exception for involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime.

    But experience has shown that allowing private profit from prison labor has tended to lead to the very abuses of which you speak, Dan.

    So I join in the happy group hug of agreement on this issue.

    I do belive that some effort should be made to keep prisoners occupied at something useful. As Ken Shultz points out the problem for a lot of prisoners is the mind destroying ennui of incarceration.

  25. Ken,
    A contributing factor (tied in with overcrowding) is people who are in prison that really don’t need to be. Mandatory minimums for consensual (drug) crimes that far outstrip the sentence for 2nd degree murder are just one example of a “justice” system that has gone wonky.

  26. Hot damn,
    I finally figured out LoneWacko’s EnglishProblem. He is looking to ProfitHeavily by submitting all of his WordRunnings to the US PatentOffice. Once that is done he will license every CombinationWord to the AmericanPublic to fund a re-reconquista of OldMexico.

  27. Aren’t the same types who obsess over illegal immigration the ones who obsess over trade with China because of their “prison slave” labor?

  28. “…you seem to have ignored or be unable to figure out that massive law-breaking is indicative of massive GovernmentCorruption.”

    You seem to have ignored or been unable to figure out that turning to prison labor is a huge red flag indicating that without immigrant labor, a whole slew of jobs just wouldn’t get done.

  29. But experience has shown that allowing private profit from prison labor has tended to lead to the very abuses of which you speak, Dan.-Isaac Bartram

    No one has spoken up yet about the real alternative to all this, which is NO prisons under private law. Crimes should be torts, and private law would force restitution to the victims, not punishment by the state.

    Not only are these prisoners exploited by the state and the businesses, but the whole deal is paid for by the taxpayers, including the victims.

  30. Kerry Howley: you seem to have ignored or be unable to figure out that massive law-breaking is indicative of massive GovernmentCorruption.

    Actually, it’s more likely that massive lawbreaking is a result of the state trying to legislate what it cannot control. Legend has it that Canute the Great, King of England, drew weary of the silver tongues of his court. He went to the sea, stood in the waves, and ordered them to cease. Obviously, they didn’t, and his court finally quit their flattery.

    Anti-Mexicans are like Canute, albeit without any sense of irony. They stand in the Rio Grande, ordering a migration to stop, and actually expect it to happen. Like the North Sea, the Mexicans keep coming.

  31. If you don’t like it, you’re free to move to a country where felons are treated in ways more to your liking.

  32. private law would force restitution to the victims, not punishment by the state

    Anyone here opposed to this?

  33. IMO, it should be federal law that no private company can profit from the use of inmate labor.

    Whew. At least my public-private partnership is safe.

  34. If movies have taught us anything surely it is that prisoners should only be allowed to do these things:

    – Spend a night in the box
    – Play football against the guards
    – Act as librarian while making an escape tunnel behind a poster of Rita Hayworth
    – Consort with the warden’s wife and / or secretary
    – Have lesbian encounters
    – Resurrect dead mice with their magical powers
    – Adopt birds for companionship
    – Inadvertantly aid the Japanese war effort in Burma through a twisted sense of duty
    – Fling semen on Jodie Foster’s face
    – Help Ripley combat an Alien infestation
    – Escape from Alcatraz
    – Escape from Ile du Diable
    – Escape from New York (but not LA)
    – Participate in rodeos
    – Compete in egg eating competitions

    That is it. Picking onions is not allowed. Period. End of sentence.

  35. 13th. Amendment
    to the U.S. Constitution

    Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    It is within the law to allow slavery and involutary servitude if a person has been convicted of a crime. I guess you could say that the bottom line is: the more criminals, the higher the potential slave labor.

  36. “the more criminals, the higher the potential slave labor.”

    So pass a law making the punishment for illegal entry picking fruits and veggies for a year, lock up all the illegal immigrants and only let them out to pick fruits and veggies.

    When their term is up, deport them.

  37. harro KKKenKKK!

    yay. You’re hier again. How “nice” to see you.

    *prizes not fabulous

  38. I couldn’t get past:
    It’s hard to get very far in a debate over immigration reform without prompting the claim “but they broke the law” — the implication being that, hey, it’s not the Mexicanness we object to, it’s the violation of our infallible, divinely inspired, uniformly just immigration law.
    before I stopped taking this article seriously.

  39. Joshua Holmes: I haven’t been to your universe, but in ours it wouldn’t be that difficult to greatly reduce IllegalImmigration. The sticking point is that our leaders are, in a word, crooks.

    If our leaders weren’t crooks they would enforce the laws and there would be much less of it.

  40. “”IMO, it should be federal law that no private company can profit from the use of inmate labor.”””

    Dan T wins a thread?
    I’ve got to play lotto this week.

  41. If our leaders weren’t crooks they would enforce the laws and there would be much less of it.

    Umm, who is not enforcing what laws?

    So tell us, what is this simple plan to greatly reduce IllegalImmigration?

    Turning the country into a police state doesn’t count as an answer.

  42. How is protecting the border Turning the country into a police?

  43. Democracies don’t build walls, they tear them down.

    The wall built to keep them out, eventually becomes the wall to keep you in.

  44. “The wall built to keep them out, eventually becomes the wall to keep you in.”

    Complete and utter BS.

    But wait, maybe you can give some examples where this actually happened?

    The solution is 2000 miles of double concertina wire patrolled by all the border troops now in Korea and Germany and Japan.

  45. “The solution is 2000 miles of double concertina wire patrolled by all the border troops now in Korea and Germany and Japan.”

    And the purpose of this Fortress America edifice is to protect American farmers from the labor they need?

  46. And the purpose of this Fortress America edifice is to protect American farmers from the labor they need?

    They need? Says who?

  47. No, no no… I get it!

    The purpose of the Fortress America edifice is to protect people in the American prison system from people taking their jobs as crop pickers!

  48. The solution is 2000 miles of double concertina wire patrolled by all the border troops now in Korea and Germany and Japan.

    Since nearly half of illegal immigrants enter legally but overstay their visas, I am curious how the troops can use concertina wire to pursue them or what alternative magical tools you would have the troops use in the cities and streets of the country.

  49. KKKenKKK IS COMPLETE AND UTTER BS

    AND HE HAS AN UDDER!

    IT’S TRUE.

    I HAVE PICTURES.

    AND HE HAS A MAN-BACON BRICK HOUSE CABOOSE BADONK-A-DONK. (*which is hawt)

  50. Since nearly half of illegal immigrants enter legally but overstay their visas

    Ummm…use it on the more-than-half?

  51. “They need? Says who?”

    Says the farmers who are being forced to beg for prison labor.

    From the Article Howley linked above:

    “As states increasingly crack down on hiring undocumented workers, western farmers are looking at inmates to harvest their fields. Colorado started sending female inmates to harvest onions, corn, and melons this summer. Iowa is considering a similar program. In Arizona, inmates have been working for private agriculture businesses for almost 20 years. But with legislation signed this summer that would fine employers for knowingly hiring undocumented workers, more farmers are turning to the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) for help.

    “We are contacted almost daily by different companies needing labor,” says Bruce Farely, manager of the business development unit of Arizona Correctional Industries (ACI). ACI is a state labor program that holds contracts with government and private companies. “Maybe it was labor that was undocumented before, and they don’t want to take the risk anymore because of possible consequences, so they are looking to inmate labor as a possible alternative.”

    “If it weren’t for a steady flow of inmates year-round, says Jack Dixon, owner of LBJ, one of the largest watermelon farms in the western US, he’d have sold out long ago. Even so, last year 400 acres of his watermelons rotted on the ground – a $640,000 loss – because there weren’t enough harvesters.”

  52. As far as I’m concerned, the anti-immigration lobby owes Jack Dixon about $640,000.

  53. Ummm…use it on the more-than-half?

    Okay… sorry about that. I must use a different definition of ‘the’ from the one you use.

  54. I think they left out the words “really, really cheap”.

  55. I think they left out the words “really, really cheap”.

    Or, more likely, the word “willing”.

  56. “I think they left out the words “really, really cheap”.

    Is this a new revelation? …that farming requires cheap labor?

    We’ll leave off European history, you know why slavery was a big deal for agriculture, right?

    You know family farms used to have larger families than most of us do now, right?

    So farmers need cheap labor! …who knew?!

  57. So let them hire legal immigrants.

  58. And the best way to let them hire legal immigrants is…?

  59. Put said fence up and don’t let them in unless they come in legally so they can get said jobs.

  60. Why does coming across the border to get a job need to be illegal?

  61. Who said “coming across the border to get a job” is illegal?

  62. IMO, it should be federal law that no private company can profit from the use of inmate labor.

    Let’s try rephrasing this, Dan T.

    “IMO, it should be federal law that no private company can profit from the use of inmate labor offer inmates a chance to volunteer to get out of their prison cells and take their minds off being locked up by doing something productive, thereby benefiting both sides of this voluntary contractual relationship.

    Any other “libertarians” want to agree with Dan T. on this one?

  63. If you don’t think coming across for reasons like getting a job should be illegal, then why do you want a fence?

  64. It’s great to see “libertarians” arguing for MassiveSubsidies for LyingFarmers. And, yes, most of these types of articles are read are simply planted and you can find them stretching back for decades.

    Isaac Bartram, perhaps trying to be as dumb as a Reason contributor, says: Umm, who is not enforcing what laws?

    Umm, MichaelChertoff? GeorgeBush? If they really wanted to reduce IllegalImmigration, they’d make SSNVerification mandatory instead of the voluntary system that very few use. They’d also conduct stings and make them stick. They’d prosecute crooked employers with the same ferocity that they’ve shown towards BPAgents. And, they wouldn’t have lobbied to allow CrookedBanks to accept the MexicanIDCard that only IllegalAliens use. And, they’d stop the FDIC from working with the MexicanConsulate to give HomeLoansToIllegalAliens. Those are just some of the things they could do, or could have avoided doing.

  65. “Any other “libertarians” want to agree with Dan T. on this one?”

    I agreed with you on this. There were some libertarians who didn’t, and they look like they had some pretty good libertarian reasons.

    Read the thread, dude.

  66. I think Brian is confused. He seems to think that there are scads of legal immigrants and just sitting around waiting for a job picking watermelons. I hate to break it to you, but the overwhelming majority of legal immigrants and native born people are employed. The few that are not (4-6%) are not for various reasons, most of which are not due to a lack of jobs available to them. So, the options are a) force these unemployed people to work at gunpoint or b)locate another source of employees. Since the US has an immigration quota that discourages “unskilled” and migrant workers where do you suggest Americans find said labor?

  67. jh,

    As long as the employment is at market wages, the prisoner gets the entire wage to the degree he would outside prison, and the prison does not profit monetarily in any way, I would be happy to see prisoners employed privately.

  68. “It’s great to see “libertarians” arguing for MassiveSubsidies for LyingFarmers.”

    How do you know farmers are lying? What are they lying about?

    …and since when is letting Americans hire the employees of their choice a subsidy?

  69. Any other “libertarians” want to agree with Dan T. on this one?

    A-yup. I suggest you review the definition of “imprisonment” before you start talking about “voluntary contractual relationships”.

  70. Ken, you’re putting words in my mouth and being so illogical I can no longer continue with you.

    jh and TLB both have great posts though.

  71. I suggest you review the definition of “imprisonment” before you start talking about “voluntary contractual relationships”

    Between the prison and private company, it probably is voluntarily contractual.

  72. How did I put words in your mouth?

    I asked questions!

    What, you don’t really want a fence? You said you did. Do you or don’t you think it should be illegal to come here and look for a job?

    I can understand why you’d want a fence if you thought that coming here to look for a job should be illegal, but I don’t understand why you’d want a fence if you don’t think coming here to look for a job should be illegal–so I asked!

    Go ahead. I really would like to understand why you want a fence. I can see good libertarian reasons to want a fence–what’s yours?

  73. As a libertarian, I can behind a fence and guard posts every mile ala Hadrian’s Wall provided that everyone who showed up on the Mexican side looking for a job that passed a basic criminal background check was allowed into the US to work, and free to pass back to Mexico when the job was over.

  74. I think Brian is confused. He seems to think that there are scads of legal immigrants and just sitting around waiting for a job picking watermelons.

    No, I’m not confused by any means. I was actually being tongue-in-cheek, but if the government wasn’t so lax on illegal immigration, there would be a lot more legal immigrants to hire. It’s either the way “undocumented workers” came here or letting their visas running out that made them “illegal” – not the reasons they came here.

  75. oops, didn’t close the tag

  76. if the government wasn’t so lax on illegal immigration, there would be a lot more legal immigrants to hire.

    Quoted for befuddlement…

  77. I can get behind a fence, especially with Al Qaeda out there, to make sure people aren’t coming across a heavily traveled border with some kind of weaponized something or other to use against us. I think people should have to have some kind of identification showing that they don’t have a criminal record too, and I don’t think it’s a bad idea to see that they don’t have any communicable diseases.

    Otherwise, I think letting people back and forth across the border at will will likely make it so that the only people trudging through the desert are smugglers and criminals and bad dudes. …and I think clearing those deserts of illegal aliens–surely they’ll prefer a line to a coyote–will make it so much easier for the Border Patrol to find and thwart the bad guys in the desert.

    So a fence can help keep out the bad guys, especially if the people who just come here looking for a job are using border crossings and going through Immigration and Customs.

    I can see that. I see good arguments against a fence too. …with the suggestion that it might be largely ineffective against the bad guys way up at the top.

  78. Jennifer, IIRC, you have the same stance regarding prison labor used in other countries(ahem, China) correct?

    Yes.

    I am of the mind that it should never profit the state to enforce the law. Thus everything from traffic fines to property seizures should be prohibited.

    Agree with this too.

  79. Between the prison and private company, it probably is voluntarily contractual.

    Hrrm, I don’t seem to recall the prison being part of your contract. Let’s see:

    IMO, it should be federal law that no private company can offer inmates a chance to volunteer to get out of their prison cells and take their minds off being locked up by doing something productive, thereby benefiting both sides of this voluntary contractual relationship.

    Yes, your “voluntary contractual relationship” involved only the prisoner and a private company not the Prison but even then, the prisoner is not exactly in a “volunteer” position now is he?

    Let’s change the wording a tad shall we:

    IMO, it should be federal law that no private company can offer negros a chance to volunteer to get out of being whipped and take their minds off being enslaved by doing something productive, thereby benefiting both sides of this voluntary contractual relationship

    Who, exactly in that sentence is involved in a “voluntary” contract? Does that make it a bit more clear?

    How you feel about the use of slave labor aside, allowing the government (prisons in this case) to ‘profit’ by using force on its own people leads to corruption and overt use of that force.

    For a more clear cut example, look at asset forfeiture and “wrong door” drug busts or busts on low level users. Police perform these busts because a)it’s safe and b)they get to “profit” from the property of the suspect, in many cases without the suspect ever being charged or convicted of a crime. This leads to rampant abuses and accusations of “drug crime” even when no such crime could be proven in a court of law.

  80. … but if the government wasn’t so lax on illegal immigration, there would be a lot more legal immigrants to hire. It’s either the way “undocumented workers” came here or letting their visas running out that made them “illegal”

    So, your solution to having hard working “illegals” is not to offer them a way to become “legal” in the eyes of the law but rather to deport them and keep them out. Very interesting proposition. Tell me more.

  81. “It’s either the way “undocumented workers” came here or letting their visas running out that made them “illegal” – not the reasons they came here.”

    Getting a visa isn’t like getting a driver’s license. They only give out so many, and the demand is much greater than the supply. …and unless you’re a refugee, I don’t think they really care about why you’re here.

    In terms of people coming here and letting their visas expire, I don’t know if it’s still this way, but it used to be that it took so long for the government to process paper work, that for many people, even if they filed for various types of visas the day they got here, the government couldn’t process the application before their time ran out. I don’t blame the immigrants for that.

    Requiring people to return to their home country while their application is processed complicates matters too. Some of the demands seem unreasonable. This may be technically illegal, but some of it seems inline to me with going 60 mph in a 55 zone or jaywalking.

    If the government demands that somebody move back to Veracruz for a year while they process what amounts to a jaywalking ticket, I’m not going to support throwing them in prison if for whatever reason they don’t go. Working a job or paying rent or breathing air or just being here–none of that stuff by itself should be against the law.

  82. Remember that old song?

    “You’re not supposed to Be here.”

  83. Anyone who thinks building a fence is going to solve anything should sit down and watch the episode of Bullsh!t that deals with this very issue before they embarrass themselves any further.

  84. Quoted for befuddlement…

    What’s befuddling? The government set a precedent by not enforcing the immigration laws and now there’s some 10 million “undocumented workers.” Almost half of them have expired visas. The other half, we pretty much have no clue about – but a lot of people just want to keep the flood gates open.

  85. I say we imprison the farmers and let the immigrants run the prisons, using slave labor to build a fence along the Canadian border.

    Then we dig up H.L. Mencken, do some klaatu verata nichtu voodoo to bring him back to life and let him skull fuck the farmers while he points at Democrats saying “you’re next.” Then we bring back Thomas Paine and let him do whatever he wants to Republicans, just to be fair.

    And we open the borders. Fuck borders.

    Signed,

    Surly Surrealstein

  86. “The government set a precedent by not enforcing the immigration laws and now there’s some 10 million “undocumented workers.” Almost half of them have expired visas. The other half, we pretty much have no clue about – but a lot of people just want to keep the flood gates open.”

    Much of what you write sounds like your problem is that we don’t know who these people are and we don’t know whether some of them may be dangerous criminals, etc. and if they are, we don’t know where they are, etc. …and I think you’re going to find many of us in this thread are on board with much of that.

    …but then you write, “…but a lot of people just want to keep the flood gates open.” and it sounds like your problem isn’t with the quality of people, but the quantity. …and when I hear someone complain about the numbers of a certain type of people like that, it’s hard not to associate what you’re saying with what I usually hear people say. …uh, about that.

  87. If we insisted that everyone who came across our border was in some kind of reliable identification system that addressed the concerns I mentioned above, then I don’t see any reason why we should limit the number of people who can come here from Canada or Mexico.

  88. What’s befuddling?

    if the government wasn’t so lax on illegal immigration, there would be a lot more legal immigrants to hire.

    Two things are befuddling…

    First, what is this magical source of legal immigrants? All quotas of people who would do the work illegal immigrants usually do are way overdrawn. Where would the legal immigrants you speak of come from?

    Second, what is the mechanism by which illegal immigrants or lax enforcement of immigration law decreases the number of legal immigrants available to hire?

  89. but then you write, “…but a lot of people just want to keep the flood gates open.” and it sounds like your problem isn’t with the quality of people, but the quantity

    I don’t have a problem with how many immigrants come here from anywhere. All I’m saying is that laws still aren’t being enforced and there’s a lot of people unaccounted for still coming in. I know visas aren’t easy to get, I’m all for a guest worker program of some sort.

  90. I’m all for a guest worker program of some sort.

    How about a program of the sort: “If you want to work, be our guest.”

  91. How about a program of the sort: “If you want to work, be our guest.”

    Sure, with a background check and whatnot.

  92. as many as possible, by the tens of millions if necessary

  93. “All I’m saying is that laws still aren’t being enforced and there’s a lot of people unaccounted for still coming in. I know visas aren’t easy to get, I’m all for a guest worker program of some sort.”

    Then I think we’re more or less on the same page, at least on this issue.

    Call it a guest worker program or whatever, the fact is that all of them need to be identified in some way, if they’re going to be here. …and they are going to be here.

  94. It’s great to see “libertarians” arguing for MassiveSubsidies for LyingFarmers. And, yes, most of these types of articles are read are simply planted and you can find them stretching back for decades.

    It’s great to see you question the libertarianism of libertarians while Michelle Malkin is a fan of your blog. Care to explain what exactly is libertarian about supporting internment camps, TLB?

  95. I suggest you review the definition of “imprisonment” before you start talking about “voluntary contractual relationships”

    I’m not talking about forcing anyone to work for the private companies. I’m talking about prisoners choosing to work, and being under no compulsion to do so, because it’s less boring than sitting in their cell. Is it libertarian to say “Let’s deny the prisoners the chance to do jobs they want to do, and that by their own standards makes them better off, because we object to enterprising people earning money?”

    And yeah, I did read the comments upthread, and some perceptive and valid points were made, but I’ve also read that prisoners compete for these jobs, especially the jobs that allow them to get outside the prison walls, because their alternative uses of their time suck. If you can cite some reliable sources showing these jobs were generally done under subtle (or blatant) coercion, I’d change my mind about this.

  96. then they would technically be immigrants here legally, and the new precedent would be set.

    but I still wouldn’t mind digging up H.L. Mencken, do some klaatu verata nichtu voodoo to bring him back to life and let him skull fuck the farmers.

  97. Pulling them out of the underground economy is in everybody’s interest too. It’s harder to exploit someone here legally. You take away some hazy cover for the black market. I think it’s a win/win.

  98. Oh, wait, that should be InternmentCamps. LoL!

  99. Yeah jh, but then we get prisoners LIKING prison and WILLINGLY arrested…serious abuse of power. Then they’re like, man I like the job I had at the prison so I think I’ll get arrested again because I can’t get a good job here on the outside. Know what I mean?

    But seriously, I agree with what you’re saying. I’ve never been to prison but I’ve read Education of a Felon and it sounds like having jobs keeps some people from going off in prison.

  100. then they would technically be immigrants here legally, and the new precedent would be set.

    but I still wouldn’t mind digging up H.L. Mencken, do some klaatu verata nichtu voodoo to bring him back to life and let him skull fuck the farmers.

    A reanimated Mencken would likely skull fuck the Tancredo supporters right along with the farmers and the Beltway open-borders Libertarians, Brian.

  101. How you feel about the use of slave labor aside, allowing the government (prisons in this case) to ‘profit’ by using force on its own people leads to corruption and overt use of that force.

    I don’t agree with slave labor, and that is not what I’m talking about. I agree with MikeP that the state or prison system shouldn’t get a cut of the proceeds, since that obviously invites coercion. But I disagree with MikeP about letting the government interfere with the negotiations between the prospective employer and the prospective employee about the work and the compensation.

  102. “I can’t take this argument seriously”

    Then why the fuck should anyone even bother trying to “debate” you? Christ, talk about a signpost to a weak intellect.

  103. But I disagree with MikeP about letting the government interfere with the negotiations between the prospective employer and the prospective employee about the work and the compensation.

    I’m sorry if you took what I said as implying that. I didn’t mean to.

    When I said market rates, I meant market rates. When I said the prisoner gets the wage, he gets the paycheck. He is the employee of the private firm. There is no middleman. The workers are not farmed out by the prison. The prison acts as employment counselors and guards and nothing else.

  104. “It’s hard to get very far in a debate over immigration reform without prompting the claim “but they broke the law” — the implication being that, hey, it’s not the Mexicanness we object to, it’s the violation of our infallible, divinely inspired, uniformly just immigration law. I can’t take this argument seriously…”

    Ah, how refreshing. It is never too late in the debate to smear opponents of illegal immigration as bigots. Bravo.

  105. MikeP — Thanks for the clarification. I agree with your 8:15 post. The prison’s role should be limited to vetoing work arrangements that increase the chance of escapes or put the safety of other prisoners at risk — say, an offer to let prisoners grind and sharpen knives for a cutlery company.

    In response to kwix’s snarky post about negroes — I’ve had three jobs in a row where I was significantly underemployed on the job. I enjoyed the few hours each day where I had productive work to do, but having to sit around doing nothing, waiting for quitting time to roll around, drove me more than a little crazy. And that was with pleasant bosses, access to Reason.com and other websites to while away the time, and the ability to quit at any time. I can only imagine what it would be like to be incarcerated with not a damn thing to do all day long, surly guards, no computer access, and no prospect of leaving. I’d go nuts.

    Not everyone hates working. Some people hate being idle.

  106. “Anyone who thinks building a fence is going to solve anything should sit down and watch the episode of Bullsh!t that deals with this very issue before they embarrass themselves any further.”

    Yeah, it’s hard to build a fence that can’t be defeated. That’s why I propose concertina wire and border troops on patrol. Add a bunch of those robots with tazers maybe? Heck, I’d think that there’s more than enough people willing to run one of those robots via the internet – a first person shooter with live targets – I love it.

    PS. IZ THAD YOU STRONG BAD? HARRO?

  107. Care to explain what exactly is libertarian about supporting internment camps, TLB?

    I’m sure TLB will give us an answer about the same time he tell us all what he has against basic English grammar (e.g. proper use of capitalization and spacing.)

  108. “but I’m wondering how the aversion to criminality squares with the continued switchover to labor from actual criminals: ”

    Let me see if I can explain this to you. See, these “actual criminals” are doing this work as part of an actual sentence in conjunction with time in an actual prison to which they were sent after being tried by an actual prosecutor before an actual judge and an actual jury.
    It would seem this strange aversion to criminals comes about when other criminals break certain laws, let us use, oh, I don’t know, immigration laws as example, yet for some odd reason, not only are they not punished, they are actually shielded by some individuals and communities even rewarded in some cases with certain benefits. For some fucked-up reason, certain insane people actually object to this. Fuck, a true intellectual, and not a lazy one who doesn’t want to defend her argument against opposing viewpoints, would just automatically dismiss such objections as naked racism.

  109. OH NO, IT’S KKKenKKK KKKOMING TO KKKILL ME!

  110. “Care to explain what exactly is libertarian about supporting internment camps, TLB?”

    Yeah, these are the exact same as interment camps, except this work is being done by “actual criminals” and not the non-criminals that were actually put in internment camps. Because, evidently, committing a crime and having to work while in prison as part of your punishment is the exact same as incarcerating the innocent.

  111. Because, evidently, committing a crime and having to work while in prison as part of your punishment is the exact same as incarcerating the innocent.

    Actually, if you read what people actually wrote here, you’d see that those of us who oppose the use of prison labor are not concerned so much with the idea of prisoners having to work, as with the idea of the state having financial incentives to take away people’s freedom.

  112. You know, I think I addressed this some time ago:

    thoreau | May 17, 2006, 11:05pm | #
    Hey, I’ve got a great idea: If we’re going to crack down on illegals and arrest them, we shouldn’t just send them to some prison cell and let them live off the taxpayers. We should make them earn their keep: Have them do construction work, pick crops, wash dishes, and so forth.

    Oh, wait…

  113. So it seems to boil down to a concern that the people who run the penal system might strike a deal with profiteers and that that might grow into some kind of direct relationship between the amount of money profiteers can make and the number of incarcerated people…

    I’m sensitive to that, and I tend to make points by analogy. I guess it’s just the way I think, and that’s gotten me in trouble around here in just the past 24 hours, but here goes:

    It’s like parental notification in regards to abortion in a way. One of the arguments I’ve heard against parental notification is the fear that some parents, when they hear their daughter got pregnant or had it taken care of, might abuse their children.

    Well there’s a law against that. When we find parents who’ve abused their children, we should punish them harshly. To me, that doesn’t mean the government should effectively cut all parents out of the loop.

    Another example might be subprime loans–as I’ve said before, yeah, the existence of easy credit means some people will take on more debt than they can handle and maybe hurt themselves badly. …but to me, that doesn’t mean easy credit shouldn’t be available to those who can handle it.

    The War on Drugs comes to mind this way. I have little doubt but that if marijuana was legal, that that would bring some people harm. …but that doesn’t mean the government should make decisions for everybody. The second amendment comest to mind too.

    It’s an interesting dividing line. On one side, there’s the concern that profiteers will hurt the little guy. On the other, there’s the concern that the little guy won’t get opportunities that he might have otherwise. …there’s an assumption that people should be allowed the opportunity to accept such risks on an individual basis.

    I just don’t want the government to protect me from risks I choose to take on myself. …where some of you, in the spirit of the idea that the government’s only legitimate purpose is to protect people’s rights, I’m sure, seem to want the government to protect these prisoners from profiteers. Maybe it’s just a personality thing?

    I can’t think of a situation in which I’d want the government to make decisions about what’s best for me–I always want to make those decisions for myself. I imagine myself as a prisoner, and I think I’d be even more adamant about making decisions for myself. …like I said, maybe it’s just a personality thing.

  114. One question–if a prisoner is in the country illegally, should he be eligible for use as forced labor?

    First, I will admit that I did not read the whole thread, so this comment might be redundant. The “forced labor’ part of the quote seems to reflect the thinking here.

    I doubt these prisoners are forced to work in the fields. I would bet that it is entirely voluntary, i.e. you can get out of your cell for 8 or 10 hours per day and work in the fields, or you can sit in your cell.

  115. I am of the mind that it should never profit the state to enforce the law. Thus everything from traffic fines to property seizures should be prohibited.

    Warren,

    I sort of agree, with a minor change. I think fines are OK. After all, where is the deterrent effect with no punishment. But, I think that all fines paid, and property seized should be rebated to the tax payers. That way, you still have the deterrent effect and you don’t turn the police forces into criminal enterprises.

  116. I think that all fines paid, and property seized should be rebated to the tax payers. That way, you still have the deterrent effect and you don’t turn the police forces into criminal enterprises.

    That instead led to the infamous $3,000 traffic fines in Virginia. Traffic tickets are more about revenue than public safety.

  117. It’s hard to get very far in a debate over immigration reform without prompting the claim “but they broke the law” — the implication being that, hey, it’s not the Mexicanness we object to, it’s the violation of our infallible, divinely inspired, uniformly just immigration law.

    Kerry, in essence you are calling all who object to illegal immigration, racists. Many commenters on H&R do the same thing. When you frame the debate from the opening statement in such an uncivil way, it is very difficult to have a rational discussion. There are many reasons to object to a massive flow of poor immigrants, none related to race. To me this shows a robot-like response on your part; almost like a parrot in a cage that croaks out filthy language because its neurons are programmed to form those sounds, not realizing that those listening cringe at the inappropriate sounds, however ignorant the source.

  118. “That instead led to the infamous $3,000 traffic fines in Virginia. Traffic tickets are more about revenue than public safety.”

    Were those fines to be rebated to the taxpayers of Virginia?

  119. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with denouncing anti-immigrant racists. I read it the way she wrote it, and I think, hey, if the shoe fits, wear it.

    If she’d written, “- hey, it’s not the free market aspects we object to…”, I wouldn’t fault her for not mentioning the racists.

    Why should she have to call out every anti-immigrant bias on the list by name?

  120. Ken,

    I don’t know if I understand your point.

    “I read it the way she wrote it, and I think, hey, if the shoe fits, wear it.”

    Are you saying that those who object to illegal immigration are racists?

  121. No, I’m saying the racists who object to illegal immigration are racists.

    …and she can speak for herself, but the way I read it, that’s what she’s saying too.

  122. The way I read it, she’s just giving an example–insert whatever reason you like.

    — the implication being that, hey, it’s not the [loss of jobs] we object to, it’s the violation of our infallible, divinely inspired, uniformly just immigration law.

    — the implication being that, hey, it’s not the [tax payer funded benefits] we object to, it’s the violation of our infallible, divinely inspired, uniformly just immigration law.

    — the implication being that, hey, it’s not the [school overcrowding] we object to, it’s the violation of our infallible, divinely inspired, uniformly just immigration law.

    Take your pick. She just picked one example.

    For all I know, Howley thinks that every single person who’s against illegal immigration is a racist–but we can’t tell that from what she wrote here. If you see people calling you a racist everywhere you go for being against illegal immigration, then that probably says more about society at large or you personally than it does about anything Howley wrote here.

    …and no, I’m not calling you a racist.

  123. “No, I’m saying the racists who object to illegal immigration are racists.”

    I don’t see how anybody can read her statement and come away thinking what she meant was anything other than a blanket implication that everybody who is against illegal immigration is a racist. It is name calling, pure and simple. It poisons the debate. Anybody who objects to illegal immigration just rolls their eyes and wonders, why bother talking to these idiots?

    This is not to say that there are no racists amongst the anti-immigrant types, certainly there are. Of course there are plenty of racists amongst the pro-immigrant types as well.

  124. Ken-

    I don’t really have anything against giving inmates a chance to be productive. In fact, I’m in favor of it. My concern is that a profitable relationship between prisons and companies friendly to the state will increase the institutional incentives to keep the prison population large.

    Of course, we also have a public sector version of that, via the large and powerful prison guard unions.

    I realize that there might not be enough work inside prison to keep everybody there busy, but part of that could be remedied by reducing the prison population via drug reform.

    In the end, I think the biggest problem here is the size of the prison population due to the drug war. Solve that, and we’ll probably have a clearer view of how to solve the remaining issues.

  125. “My concern is that a profitable relationship between prisons and companies friendly to the state will increase the institutional incentives to keep the prison population large.”

    How is this different from, say, the argument that the profit motive makes guns less expensive and hence more readily available?

    Maybe somebody can show me some statistics that suggest that the availability of guns doesn’t necessarily increase the rate of violent crime–but that isn’t the point. The point is that even if it does, an individual’s liberty to do as he or she sees fit is more important to me than the negative consequences of protecting the people at large from their own choices.

    …and that’s pretty much a universal for me.

    I’m under the impression that you don’t think the government should make decisions for people about handguns. If I were a prisoner, I wouldn’t want the government making the decision about who I could work for–I’d want to make that decision myself. …even if it meant that other people might be harmed by illegal employer/law enforcement collusion.

    In other words, the possibility that someone might commit a crime isn’t enough in my book to restrict someone’s freedom of choice, generally speaking. (No, I’m not sure that you should be able to pick up a surface to air missle at Wal*Mart.)

  126. Kerry, in essence you are calling all who object to illegal immigration, racists.

    This is extremely silly. The bogus argument about criminality is supposed to posit a relevant difference between illegal immigrants and other people seeking work: One set of people is defined as criminal. This is meant to distance the debate from the most obvious set of differences: One set of people does not hold American passports. Almost no one believes that all laws are worth following just by virtue of being laws, and I take the objection to be question-begging; the issue is whether the law is just, not whether it has been ignored.

    So yes, I think the criminality argument is generally made in bad faith. That in no way implies that I think the people making this argument are racists. Many, if not most, people consider the right to provide economic services on American soil exclusive to those lucky enough to be born on American soil. I don’t think this is just. But I certainly don’t think it’s racist, and no one here has come close to implying that it is.

  127. I think since “but they broke the law!” is such a lame reason for being anti-illegal immigrant that people assume it isn’t the real reason, or the whole reason, and it leaves people to speculate about the real reason, and racism is a good possibility.

    For instance, you can be against any immigration, legal or otherwise, if it brings in a large group of people from a radically incompatible political culture (South American style Marxist-Bolivarian revolutionary
    types or radical Muslims are good examples) and you might get a respectful hearing, but this post is specifically about those who say that their main problem with illegal immigrants is that they are *illegal*. If they really believe that, then they must also regard all other laws as being equally worthy of respect and complete obedience, whether it’s a law against buying alcohol on a Sunday (in Georgia) or a law against murder. No distinctions, they are all *laws*. Most libertarian-leaning people would regard that as a highly suspect way of thinking.

  128. “So yes, I think the criminality argument is generally made in bad faith. That in no way implies that I think the people making this argument are racists.”

    I tend to agree with your interpretation of the “criminality argument”, although the immigrants who followed the rules must feel like chumps as they watch these amnesty proposals batted around in the congress for the 10 to 20 million who did not follow the rules.

    Why did you toss out the “Mexicanness” remark? Surely, an intelligent woman who makes her living as a journalist would not say something like that without realizing the obvious implication.

  129. I am of the mind that it should never profit the state to enforce the law. Thus everything from traffic fines to property seizures should be prohibited.

    If you don’t have traffic fines, how are you going to enforce traffic laws short of imprisoning people for even the slightest offense?

    In a more libertarian society, traffic fines would, like any other service provided by the government, be used to pay for an actual service provided, i.e., paying for someone to enforce traffic laws designed to reduce the risk of one person harming another by driving at an unsafe speed, driving drunk, etc. And, those services would be open to private competition, which would quickly drive the government out of business in most instances and replace them with private entities operating private toll roads patrolled by rule enforcement agents who don’t dare p**s off customers by stopping and fining them unless those customers are behaving in such a way as to cause other customers to switch to a competitor with better protection against obnoxious and dangerous drivers.

  130. (No, I’m not sure that you should be able to pick up a surface to air missle at Wal*Mart.)

    I agree that you shouldn’t pick up a surface to air misslle from WalMart. The ones from Costco would be much better quality and less likely to explode upon launch and kill you. 😉

  131. “So yes, I think the criminality argument is generally made in bad faith. That in no way implies that I think the people making this argument are racists.”

    I make this argument frequently, and in extremely good faith. The U.S. should have much more legal immigration, and zero illegal immigration, for a wide variety of reasons. Baffling why anyone would disagree, for any reason.

  132. I don’t see that companies could influence the state to keep prison populations abnormally large if the law itself was streamlined and written in such a way that only violent offenders would be given jail time – the rest could work through restitution schemes. It would strike me as absurd that companies would seek to collude with the state to advance more murderers and rapists.

    Secondly, I don’t get why the idea of prisoners working productively is so offensive to so many here. It’s better that than being total drains on the economy.

  133. “I make this argument frequently, and in extremely good faith. The U.S. should have much more legal immigration, and zero illegal immigration, for a wide variety of reasons. Baffling why anyone would disagree, for any reason.”

    I think the issue’s become so charged that people have a hard time talking about it–kinda like the abortion issue.

    I was guilty of that a few posts ago–I thought that because somebody wanted to build a fence that he must think everyone who comes here looking for a job should be turned away. …but he didn’t think that at all–I think I was wrong about that.

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