Immigration

Memo to Presidential Hopefuls of Both Parties: Guest Worker Programs Are Not Indentured Servitude

Republicans have hit new lows on immigration, but neither party is averse to pandering

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Historically speaking, awfulness on immigration is neither party's sole province. But in this election cycle there is

Border Wall
Tony Webster Foter

no question that Republicans have set new lows from a libertarian perspective.

No candidate, Republican or Democrat, has a perfect record on this issue. Both sides pander to their respective bases. But at least Democratic candidates seem to be in a virtuous cycle toward more rational, humane and liberty-enhancing immigration policies. Republican candidates, on the other hand, are in a vicious downward spiral of ever more mean, insane and police-state expanding measures. Indeed, whereas Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are beating each other up for being insufficiently nice to immigrants in the past, Republicans are beating each other up for being insufficiently harsh.

During last night's Democratic debate, Sanders called out Clinton for derailing New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's efforts to provide drivers licenses to undocumented aliens and turning away unaccompanied minors from war-torn Latin American countries. Clinton, in turn, accused Sanders of voting against President George Bush's 2007 comprehensive immigration reform bill (that would have created a path to citizenship for undocumented aliens) and, weirdly, supporting Minutemen, border vigilantes who took it upon themselves to capture illegal border crossers, which Sanders angrily denounced as a "horrific" and "unfair" statement. Both pledged to end workplace raids and deportations of undocumented children and anyone without a criminal record.

By contrast, thanks to Donald Trump's viciousness, all the major Republican contenders are turning into border pitbulls. The person who has fallen the most on this issue (with no effect on his poll numbers that are falling even more rapidly) is Marco Rubio: Instead of proudly defending his participation in the Gang of Eight immigration bill — a flawed effort that would nevertheless have given some relief to the undocumented population — he has all but repudiated the bill. He is pledging now to push no reform effort till the border is hermetically sealed. And both he and Ted Cruz are vowing to match the Great Border Wall of Trump, brick for brick. Rubio may have fallen the most on immigration, but Cruz is arguably the worst, worse even than Trump.

He is trying to outdo Trump's plan to restore the notorious Eisenhower-era program called Operation Wetback that created special federal squads to round up millions of undocumented workers and throw them out of the country. "Of course we should deport them," he crows. "That's what ICE exists for." But he wouldn't just stop at that. He insists that, in contrast to Trump who'll let these workers back in legally, he'll permanently ban them from re-entering, even if that means separating them permanently from their American children and forever breaking families apart. (How is that for a God fearing, family-values conservative?) And then there is the matter of his support — actually, authorship — of the Expatriate Terrorist Act that would strip, without due process, Americans of their citizenship if they are suspected of supporting government-designated terrorist groups

But one wrong-headed trope that is becoming increasingly popular among both parties is that guest worker visas such as H-1Bs for high-skilled workers and H-2A/Bs for unskilled workers are akin to "servitude" (Bernie Sanders) or slavery (various right-wing restrictionists, including at the National Review) and therefore should be scrapped. But this is just pandering to working-class special interests dressed up as altruism for foreign workers.

There is no question that these guest worker programs are hugely flawed. The worst aspect of both the high skilled and low skilled guest visas is that they tether foreign workers to the employer who sponsored them. In the case of H-1B visas, this wasn't a huge deal till the mid-1990s when converting these visas to green cards took only a couple of years. Foreign techies would grin and bear it, even though they couldn't switch jobs without having to begin the process all over again and their spouses weren't allowed to work in the interim. Since then, thanks to country-based ceiling on green cards, a multi-decade backlog has developed for countries such as India and China that supply the vast majority of foreign techies. Since these folks can't take up better jobs, they become subject to exploitation and abuse by employers. Indian and Chinese techies routinely end up stuck in horrible, dead-end jobs for much of their peak productive years.

The situation is even worse for H-2 unskilled workers because they are on non-immigrant visas, which means that they can't apply for green cards. Hence, often they end up staying in the country illegally, which makes them even more subject to employer abuse.

In the case of H-1Bs, the logical and humane fix would be to affix these visas to employees not employers (which would make them portable across jobs) and to remove the annual country-cap on green cards to expedite the permanent residency process. Likewise, the solution to H-2 abuse would be to not only make these visas portable but also convert them to immigrant visas so that low skilled foreign workers too could apply for green cards, just like high-skilled workers.

But to equate these visas with slavery or servitude is to torture a metaphor till it loses all meaning. And to demand their elimination is to pile injustice on top of abuse and call it principle.

The essence of slavery is to expropriate a worker's labor against his will. This means reducing his work options to just one from which he can neither quit nor switch. But guest worker visas do the opposite of slavery: They give workers more options. And having more options, even bad and suboptimal ones, is always better than having fewer options. Indeed, the only reason that foreign workers would put up with a bad work situation in the United States given that they can always quit is that their alternatives at home are even worse.

By all means, well-meaning people interested in justice and liberty ought to push policies to empower these workers, improve the trade offs that they confront, so that they don't have to put up with abuse. But taking away their existing options is to offer a cure worse than the disease.

The jihad against guest worker programs is ultimately about labor protectionism — no matter how much Republicans and Democrats try and dress it up in the language of human rights.

NEXT: Cleveland Preps For GOP Convention by Ordering 2,000 Sets of Riot Gear

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  1. There is no question that these guest worker programs are hugely flawed. The worst aspect of both the high skilled and low skilled guest visas is that they tether foreign workers to the employer who sponsored them

    …almost like indentured servitude.

    Jesus. The first half of the article isn’t even about guest worker programs, the second half doesn’t substantiate the point being made and in fact contradicts it in the above quote, and the whole thing is poorly written throughout. When is Reason gonna fire Shikha and hire an undocumented immigrant who can write worth a damn to take her place?

    1. Oh please Reason please replace her with an illegal immigrant.

      1. My weakness is Latin women, after all.

        1. The dark hair and the accent do it every time

          1. Also the provocative dancing, delicious food, and calling me Papi.

            1. That sounds like a Cuban woman. I said Latin women, which can only mean Mexican women from good peninsular, mestizo, and indio stock.

              /casual Hispanic racism

      2. No kidding. However much money Dipshit is making, I’ll bet with a little effort we could find a replacement writer at like a third of her salary.

      3. Oh please Reason please replace her with an illegal immigrant.

        One who, in her own words, will be subject to your “exploitation and abuse”.

        Wouldn’t that be better?

      4. You can always count on Shikha for drivel supporting the invasion of America.

        I still say: We should shoot them as they cross the border.

    2. If they were indentured servants, they wouldn’t be allowed to go back to their home country if they wanted to.

      1. After their indenture is over, why not?

        1. Well after their indenture is over, they’re not indentured servants anymore, are they?

          My point is that they can leave at any time, so they don’t seem all that indentured to me to begin with.

          1. In early America, Indentured servants were brought over as cheap labor. Indentured servants were working off the cost of their transport from Europe. They weren’t trying to go back and it was too expensive to force them to go back if they didn’t work hard. So the authorities or their masters would physically punish them.

            Under the current program, immigrants are brought over as cheap labor. If you don’t keep working hard they send you back, because legally you can’t physically punish them.

            The two programs are pretty similar. That being said, I don’t necessarily object to indentured servitude. However, Shikha Dalmia’s argument is poor.

            1. The whole dynamic is different. You don’t owe money the employer that you must work off. You are able to walk away from the deal at any time and go home.

              I understand the situation and why people make the comparison, but the fact that you can walk away without owing anyone anything makes a massive difference.

            2. In early America, Indentured servants were brought over as cheap labor. Indentured servants were working off the cost of their transport from Europe.

              Not true of all indentured servants in the British Colonies.

              In the case of Ireland, England forcibly exported a lot of prisoners as they sought to depopulate Ireland, particularly targeting the more uppity Irish. I’m not sure if this practice extended to captives from other countries, but these Irish indentured servants were not voluntarily trading years of labor for a ride to the New World, they were property for a term of years.

              Whether you want to call them indentured servants or slaves is labeling. The fact is nothing was voluntary about the control they were subjected to.

              1. The British also did this to many Scots.

    3. That’s actually one reason the media doesn’t seem upset by immigrants taking their jobs, because by and large, immigrants don’t have the English skills to be reporters.

      As Ms. Dalmia illustrates, and she’s better than most, but her writing is pretty awful.

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  2. If you want to praise Democrats for favoring your preferred policies, fine, but let’s not pretend that there’s anything virtuous or humane about it. They want the votes, end of story. Same reasoning as the Labor Party in Britain – the only difference is that the LP eventually admitted it.

    1. The people weren’t voting the right way and so the government chose to elect a new people.

      1. Perhaps they can pick a Madgascarian candidate, they’ll get brown points to lend weight to that author’s hobby horse and we’ll get to hear all about the political happenings in Madagascar from time to time.

        1. Did you hear, someone registered a lemur to run for office.

        2. Oops. Wrong thread, wrong MetalBard comment. All you MetalBard posts look alike to me.

        3. And still it’s almost relevant to this post. I meant to do that.

          1. It’s within the margin of error for non sequiteur, so I didn’t notice.

            1. The reference to an author did me in.

  3. Both pledged to end workplace raids and deportations of undocumented children and anyone without a criminal record.

    What’s the long game here for Democrats? On the one hand, they’re certainly right to not turn away desperate people running from war-torn countries. On the other hand, they are bought and paid for by Union interests who tend to be very skeptical of things like guest-worker programs. The workplace raids they pledge to end are often seen as punishment for businesses that are hiring cheap labor. That language is often wrapped up in ‘exploitation’ themes, but the reality is, they’re not paying union dues. I could see Democrats going either way on immigration at some point.

    1. The Democrats will do what they always do: preach high-minded paens to the choir when they’re in the public spotlight and what is most convenient to them when it comes to the grimy footwork of bureaucracy. Every once in a while a true believer like Sanders will pop up out of the woodwork to fuck things up, but that’s not supposed to happen.

      1. but that’s not supposed to happen.

        We have SuperDelegates to handle these messy situations.

        1. It’s interesting how the Democratic Party apparatus functions in a way almost antithetical to their populist, pandering “party of the masses” type of message. And I don’t know that I’ve ever heard one rank-and-file Democrat complain about their party like a great many Republicans do.

          1. Eh, they complain. They just don’t do it much when they think non-Democrats are listening. Of course, they will still vote for Democrats almost always anyway.

            Really, the party dynamics are not that different, it’s just that you see them differently when you get closer to one side or the other.

            1. Yep. So some sanders supporters were crowing that Sanders won independents by a wide margin in michigan. I pointed out these independents are likely democrat voters anyway and not general election independents who don’t really care about party primaries.

            2. The Democrat apparatus is heavily directed by Top. Men. As Paul mentioned, one aspect of this system is their “superdelegates” which hands a great deal of nominating power to party elites and the already elected cabal of Democrat politicians, by first taking it out of the hands of their base. Their rules strongly disfavor insurgent candidates. When the GOP has presidential primary, there’s twelve assholes on stage, and another 6-8 second tier assholes on a smaller stage somewhere. When the Democrats are nominating a candidate, they’ve got a small handful of potential assholes between whom there is no real competition and no mobility between tiers.

              1. Yeah, the primary process is different, that much is true. Honestly, it’s amazing the Democrats even have primaries, since I’m not entirely convinced that the actual nominee isn’t decided in a smoke-filled room.

                However, I was talking more about the membership and fellow travelers of the parties, not the leadership.

      2. Sanders does present some awkward conversations for the democrats. Trying to tie democrat success to the economy while sanders is out preaching oligarchy, middle class destruction, false unemployment numbers.

    2. On the one hand, they’re certainly right to not turn away desperate people running from war-torn countries.

      Not when letting those desperate people in impacts my freedom.

      The world is full of desperate people trying to improve their lot in life. Doesn’t mean we are obligated to give away our freedom to help them.

  4. I’m not sure that H1-B and H2-B are “indentured servitude” but they certainly provide market distorting advantages to companies who obtain the visas both in negotiating wages and against competitors who cannot obtain such visas.

    Also, I’m not sure that answering a follow up question in the case of Cruz is “crowing” in regards to “that’s what ICE is for”.

    While I think that everyone would benefit from less restrictive immigration and labor regulations, I think it is at least as bad to have government agents enforcing regulations at whim, whether it be their own or the President’s, and that is what is happening.

    Finally, stop demonizing people for lobbying for their interest, and it is definitely in the interest of lower skilled workers to want the current law to be enforced as it is written. That 3 of the 4 candidates are talking openly about that is probably a good indicator that something beyond racism is driving the issue.

    1. stop demonizing people for lobbying for their interest

      Not sure why this sentiment seems to have become such a “thing” here lately. I mean, it’s in my interest for other people to be oppressed, but that doesn’t make it okay for me to lobby for that.

      1. Why is it in your interest for people to be oppressed? That is odd.

        1. It’s not odd at all. It’s what just about everyone wants. How much better would my life be if laws were tailored for my benefit, regardless of the cost to others?

          1. What kind of oppression are you looking for here? Yikes.

          2. How is ” it is definitely in the interest of lower skilled workers to want the current law to be enforced as it is written” an example of oppression?

            Change the law then.

            1. Immigration laws are a violation of freedom of association.

              Change the law then.

              Oh ok. I’ll get right on that.

              1. Don’t really disagree but one can’t have open borders and a large welfare state unless you are looking for a collapse.

                1. And almost an hour later, I got what I came for.

                  1. Haha i saw below. What do you mean? Do you disagree or agree?

                2. One can’t have free trade and the welfare state.

                  One can’t have access to legal weed drugs and the welfare state.

                  One can’t have free markets and the welfare state.

                  1. Not sure what you are getting at but those things aren’t really related.

                    If you offer free college, free food stamps, free healthcare, more social security, free public school, free daycare with open borders…that will attract people. Part of being a nation is managing your own resources since there is a scarcity of resources.

                    Please help me out…how can one develop a bernie sanders style welfare state while simultaneously wanting open borders. Do you think this is a good idea?

                    1. My point being, you can make an argument against any libertarian viewpoint base on “teh welfare state”.

                      “We can’t legalize drugs or people will stil around all day smoking weed and snorting cocaine while the government pays for their food.”

                      “Please help me out…how can one develop a bernie sanders style welfare state while simultaneously wanting open borders. Do you think this is a good idea?”

                      Ah, but now your moving the goal post. We’re talking about immigration in the context of the current welfare state, are we not?

                    2. I am not moving the goal post….a welfare state is a welfare state. I am trying to determine your thinking on the topic….what if it is in the context of the Bernie Sanders welfare state? Does that change your position?

                    3. Dammit, my original response seems to have been destroyed by squirrels in the Uruguayan airport lounge. Here I go again.

                      I would submit that the welfare state of Cuba and Venezuela is very different from the welfare state in Germany.

                      My own view is that I believe in freedom including the right to free association and movement.

                      But if your going to argue from a utilitarian perspective as you are, at least show your homework.

                      Does the welfare benefits to immigrants either legal or illegal cost more than the economic value they generate?

                      Apple, Google and Intel are all a result of US immigration, both in terms of their founders and the thousands of immigrants and US citizens they employ. Apple and Google are currently the two largest companies in the world. Do I need to go into detail regarding the value generated from Intel? And I thought of these three examples in like 3 seconds.

                      In terms of the type of immigrants I think we’re actually discussing, those from central and South America i think it’s safe to assume the large portions of the construction industry and service industry would collapse if any of the current repub and dem candidates had their way.

                      In terms of Sanders’ welfare state, I think teh IMMIGRANTZ! would be the least of our problems if his socialist wet dreams were every actually realized.

                    4. Why would that be the least of our problems if his dreams are realized? Do you think human nature is radically different than that of immigrants?

                    5. Aren’t you moving the goal posts now? I have never said anything regarding legal immigrants or getting rid of those illegals as that isn’t possible. The topic in this sub paragraph at hand is open borders with respect to context of the welfare state.

                      You are using those examples as justification for something entirely different. Honestly it sounds like the prog DARPA computer chip and internet argument.

                    6. So simply get rid of the welfare state. Funny how that’s always the last reform though.

              2. I was unaware that the U.S. Constitution applied to foreign nationals Jordan. Please, expound on that very interesting topic.

                1. I was unaware that libertarians only believed in the rights like free association in the context of the US constitution.

                  1. Well, MWG, if a person doesn’t want to talk about the Bill of Rights perhaps they shouldn’t bring it up?

                    1. The bill of rights is NOT the constitution and the right to free association, free movement, and ANY natural right for that matter, exist and can be discussed (as is being done here) independent of the founding US documents.

                    2. Who established these natural rights? These are subjective are they not?

                    3. I take it then that you are insisting that these Rights contained in the Bill of Rights should be universally applied to everyone and every country then. That should be a lot of war on our part! For Freedom!

                      Or are you suggesting that we should allow unfettered immigration and access to our social safety net without any consideration of their ability to add into said system instead of a net drain on it? I only wonder at that because it doesn’t sound much different than what I would expect to hear from a tax and spend progressive rather than a libertarian. Certainly, people should be free to come to the United States but unlike things such as access to drugs there is a very real and obvious reason not to allow it.

                      Also, last I checked systems like welfare and social security don’t have a whole lot, if anything, to do with free markets. Those funds must come from somewhere, to be sure. You would need to go through far fewer mental gymnastics if you just admitted that the entire idea of social safety nets in their current form are simply antithetical to libertarian ideals. Your disconnect is coming from trying to fit both into the same box.

                    4. Well said BYODB.

                    5. That’s awesome. Your the first person ever to compare me to a progressive and I’ve been here for years.

                      You’re fucking idiot who seems to lack reading comprehension. Where in any of my comments did I suggest the US impose freedom abroad?

                      My view on individual rights, a basic tenant of libertarianism, is that those rights should be protected within the borders of the US. If the government is going to infringe on those right, the burden is on them to explain why, not peaceful individuals seeking work, and the burden is higher than, “yur jerb! of welfarez!” if you think that’s mental gymnastics, I don’t know what else to tell you other than enjoy your miserable pants shitting life.

                    6. You specifically said that everyone and not just US citizens have these natural rights. Obviously not all countries agree.

                    7. You call me a fucking idiot when you’re suggesting that foreign nationals have the same natural rights enshrined within our Bill of Rights despite the fact that they are foreign nationals and not in fact Citizens of the United States. Ergo, lawfully, they do not have the freedom to associate here. That seems obvious from a current law standpoint.

                      I think I’m understanding what you say perfectly. Perhaps you just are not saying what you mean, but I think it’s fairly obvious that universal application of the Bill of Rights, while nice in theory, is impractical in the extreme for so many reasons that I literally don’t have the time in the day to expound on it. The #1 reason being that would need to use coercive force to make the world agree on that point, which is clearly not libertarian.

                      I think you just wanted to be snide, so that’s probably more of a response than you deserve.

      2. Did I miss the part where someone was lobbying for another person to be oppressed?

        1. Lobbying for the current law to be enforced as written is lobbying for oppression.

          1. Wouldn’t this mean no laws then?

            1. Um…that’s the idea.

              1. So you are saying if someone burns down my house and i want them put on trial, i am being oppressive?

                1. Immigrants are coming here to burn down your house? Funny. Where do I sign up?

                  1. What? Where did i say anything of the sort? Above the poster said the idea was to have no laws.

                2. If you mean “put on trial by the state,” then yes, because you’d be stealing from me to pay for it.

                  1. Hmm ok. Do you have another way of putting people on trial?

                    1. Anarchist political philosophers have floated a variety of private court systems and other private justice solutions.

                    2. How would that work exactly?

                    3. That would be a form of government as they are enforcing laws… no?

                  2. If i lobbied the Supreme court to protect the 2nd Amendment in the case of Heller or the right to free speech in Citizens united….that would be oppression to you?

            2. It would mean no laws against victimless “crimes”.

              1. Who would be the victims in a situation of say Hillary’s emails?

                1. Her bosses (i.e. taxpayers). I have a right to know what my stolen money is being used for.

                  1. Ok i agree but how were you a victim here? The emails are released and you can read them.

                    According to the poster above, you putting hillary on trial would be oppression to me since it is done by the state. Do you agree with this?

                    1. Simple breach of trust rarely rises to the level of initiatory force (aggression) which warrants the response of criminal law. Generally the appropriate response is simply a denial of any further trust. Shunning works, too.

          2. How is enforcement of immigration laws “oppressing” anyone? Unless you are operating under the first principle that there is no such thing as a nation-state with the power to regulate who can and cannot enter its geographical borders? If that’s the case (and I respect your position), we’re just chewing sawdust.

            1. That is my position, yes.

              1. Then no need to chew sawdust, even with such a lovely and worst person such as yourself. 😉

            2. The right to free movement and association.

              The government certainly has the power to impede those rights (as they do with most rights at this point), but it better have a better reason than, “they’ll take yur jerbz”.

              1. Do you think a bernie sanders type society with open borders is sustainable?

                With healthcare single-payer, we know countries with their own citizens are subject to rationing and long wait times.

              2. I’m once again confounded. Where does it say the U.S. Constitution applies to foreign nationals? Be specific.

                1. Where did anyone make that argumen?

                  1. You did when you started referencing the Bill of Rights, but it’s become clear that isn’t actually what you’re talking about.

                    1. Nobody here is talking about the Bill of Rights or the constitution, unless you believe the right to free association and movement never existed prior to the founding of the US.

                    2. But that is subjective is not? You think freedom of association and movement is a natural right…obviously other people don’t

                      Since i have the natural right of movement…does that mean i can just enter your property? If not that restricts my movement like having borders.

                    3. Natural rights, as I see them, are those that exist independent of government coercion. I think association and movement fit those.

                      You have no right to enter my property and you have no right to tell me who I can invite into it either. The country is not analogous private property as I don’t believe in involuntary collectivism.

                    4. Those natural rights are your opinion.

                      How did you establish your right to the property in the first place? Can i just claim land as mine? What makes you entitled to a certain piece of land while i am not? This requires others respecting others that it is your property.

      3. Do you think any lobbying is ok?

        1. I don’t see what would be wrong with lobbying for the repeal of most laws.

        2. Not when someone is lobbying to impede your rights.

          1. How were these rights established in the first place?

            1. Well, if you believe in rights as they’re understood by libertarians, our rights aren’t “established”. They exist independent of government.

              I can’t believe this needs to be explained on a libertarian website. This is basic shit.

              1. Forget it MWG, it’s Tulpatown.

                1. Wait, it Tornado Tulpa!?

                  Fuck.

                  1. I’ve been suspecting it for a few days and at this point I’m willing to make the call.

                    1. Ah you get confronted with uncomfortable questions and the constant retort is: “it must be tulpa”

              2. That comes awfully close to proclaiming they come from God. Your rights are not required by the laws of physics. The universe doesn’t give a shit about them. A tiger isn’t going to respect NAP. All rights require sufficient njmbers of ppl to voluntarily respect them, so to argue that they exist in any meaningful way outside that is the reason I found philosophy 1001 so tedious at the end.

                1. This.

                2. i agree with this to a point. As an atheist I don’t believe our rights come from god. On the other hand, I believe the only justification for government, is to protect those rights which I believe exist independent of it – a paradox, I know 😉 – and any government that goes beyond that, is illegitimate.

                  1. The thing is you want rights independent of government coercion but at the same time want government to protect those rights which were established by your own opinion.

      4. Because we are not “keeping ” them oppressed. Unless you mean the permanently poor mostly male (but plenty of women also) underclass of Americans who consistently get shafted by the way immigration and labor laws get enforced. Until the government and its agents commit to following their own guidelines, all of our good ideas are a fantasy. But hey keep calling them racists for pointing out that the government and cronyism are conspiring to keep them from employment opportunities that they could compete for.

        1. I don’t know that they’re racists, but they seem to be slavers.

      5. I mean, it’s in my interest for other people to be oppressed, but that doesn’t make it okay for me to lobby for that.

        If you’re lobbying for open borders, you’re lobbying for Americans to be more oppressed by a permanent Democratic majority.

    2. I’m not sure that H1-B and H2-B are “indentured servitude”

      I’m not expert, but the green card doctors I have hired have consistently run into problems when switching employers. Its can be a nightmare. Far from indentured servitude, but when your employer says “If I fire you, you get deported. Now, are you coming in this weekend or not?”, I’m sure it feels that way.

      1. I think it clearly is the case that it gives leverage to the employer. In my opinion that leverage prevents most employer sponsored visa guest workers from earning and working at a prevailing wage. I would even call it undue.

    3. While I think that everyone would benefit from less restrictive immigration and labor regulations

      Not unless you think all Americans would benefit from a permanent Democratic ruling majority.

  5. In before WELFARE STATE

    1. In Welfare State, in befores you!

  6. Indentured servitude is legal under the 13th amendment, because it is voluntary. We need more indentured servants.

    1. Yeah, I was going to point out: “wait, what’s the problem with indentured servitude, again?”

      Really, the only objection is that it’s basically impossible for Americans to indenture themselves.

      1. I would argue that even though the amendment discusses citizens, it is probably illegal for anyone under the jurisdiction of the US Constitution to indenture themselves.

        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.

          No distinction between citizens and non-citizens.

          1. But that is involuntary servitude, not indentured servitude.

            I don’t see a prohibition on indentured servitude.

      2. I would argue that even though the amendment discusses citizens, it is probably illegal for anyone under the jurisdiction of the US Constitution to indenture themselves.

        1. The Amendment says involuntary servitude.

          1. And the courts have largely said there’s no constitutional right to contract and many always look for ways to nullify them as against public policy. I think it’s messy no matter how you slice it.

            1. It is true that the courts fucked it all up, but if we look at the text, there is both a right to contract (Article I, Section 10) and thus a commensurate right to indenture oneself provided that it is not involuntary.

        2. 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 distinctly outlaws only involuntary servitude. A time-limited indenture voluntarily entered into would pass constitutional muster. (Slavery being a status from which there is no escape and different from indentured servitude, even when both were being practiced side by side.)

          1. Completely agree on its face. But you watch how quickly a binding contract for services gets nullified by a court (or preempted by legislation) under the grounds of unequal bargaining power.

            1. *looks at old military enlistment papers*

              Dang….27.5 years too late.

              1. Silly, Swiss. Logical and equal application of a principle to private AND government entities?!

                1. Of course, I effed up and re-uped…a lot.

      3. I think there’s a natural law case to be made that an indentured servitude contract is contradictory and therefore invalid. The idea being that you can’t simply forfeit your human agency by making a contract to surrender that agency because at the moment you decide to leave that servitude, you’re demonstrating human agency or asserting your right to it. So in that theory, you have a right to surrender your free will by contract, but the contract loses it’s force at the exact moment you decide to assert your free will. Now perhaps you could enforce penalties of some kind by breaching the contract, but the penalty could be to hold you in involuntary servitude.

        I’d be interested to know what Stephan Kinsella says about this.

    2. I would beef about my servitude….but the fondue ration is superb.

  7. http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_new…..rkers?lite

    About 50 people who the alliance said included employees and community supporters staged a protest outside one of Cheung’s stores Wednesday in nearby Camp Hill.

    The National Guestworkers Alliance said 14 student workers, who are from Argentina, Peru, Chile, Malaysia and other countries in Latin America and Asia, paid $3,000 apiece to be hosted by Cheung Enterprises under J-1 temporary work visas. In return, it said, Cheung Enterprises treated them as “cheap, exploitable workers.”

    It claimed the workers were promised 40 hours of work a week but were scheduled capriciously ? some for as few as four hours a week, others for as long as 25 hours in a single shift.

    The NGA said Cheung Enterprises forced them to live up to eight to an apartment in substandard housing that he owned, charging rent that “brought their weekly net pay down far below” Pennsylvania’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

    1. The NGA said Cheung Enterprises forced them to live up to eight to an apartment in substandard housing that he owned, charging rent that “brought their weekly net pay down far below” Pennsylvania’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

      As opposed to the abundant rent-free living conditions?

      1. The part where they fire you and ship you back home if you find a better deal is troublesome.

        1. I would not disagree per se, but as far as I am understanding the nature of the debate, the alternative being proposed is to never even allow them into the country in the first place.

          1. The alternative being proposed isn’t about the foreigners, it’s about not allowing your neighbors to have slaves.

      2. Yea that peaked my interest too…on its face i don’t agree with the practices above if true. But paying rent is now part of the wage calculation? That makes no sense

        1. It is entirely possible that the practices in question are specifically done to effectively circumvent the minimum wage law, in which case the calculation of “effective wage = nominal wage ? rent” is intellectually defensible.

          However, all that really shows is that the nominal minimum wage is untenable.

          1. Good point.

  8. Dalmia, the picture which you have alt-texted as “the great wall of Trump” is a fence. You do know the difference between a wall and a fence, correct?

    1. A wall is a type of butterly and a fence buys product that “fell off the back of a truck”.

    2. Walls are built to support a load and fences are not?

      1. What about non-load bearing walls I knock down to get that open floor plan I want smart guy?

        1. Just because they aren’t carrying any load in your house doesn’t mean they aren’t built in such a way that they couldn’t. I wouldn’t change your roofline without having an engineer look at it. (And not me, I earned a gentleman’s B is Statics. If you need help with your ‘still or wort chiller, I can do that.)

  9. So: the two Democrats are calling each other out for being bad on immigration based on their actual records, while cynically lying about how they will be much much better, while the Republicans are going full retard, possibly even believing the words out of their pieholes, but will then not do everything they promise because it would be unrealistically break the bank expensive?

    1. Looks like.

    2. Replace the word “immigration” with pretty much any other issue, and your assessment is still accurate.

  10. When did Bernie become pro-immigration? At least at the start of the campaign, he was against it because it took jobs from hard working Americans.

    1. I don’t think Bernie can remember that long ago.

    2. It was a koch brothers right wing conspiracy if i recall to make americans poorer…just last may i believe

  11. On Cruz: “…he’ll permanently ban them from re-entering, even if that means separating them permanently from their American children and forever breaking families apart. (How is that for a God fearing, family-values conservative?)”

    Dalmia makes it sound like these children are being stolen from their parents. FFS, people make choices all the time between economic opportunities and personal ones. Is it entirely outside the realm of belief that these families can live together in the nation of their parents’ legal citizenship? (excepting the issue of political asylum/war/etc.) Why is the default assumption “they must live in the United States together no matter what because ZOMG you fucking heartless animals!”

    1. Also, I wonder about that permanent ban. Can’t they just apply for a green card like everyone else?

      I guess its fine to inconvenience me, the actual citizen, who had to make several trips to an embassy 4 hours away, fill out reams of paper, and spend a small fortune to get my wife a green card, but certain people should get special privileges because they vote the correct way.

  12. “separating them permanently from their American children and forever breaking families apart.”

    The children can go with their parents. I assume Mexico allows foreign born children of Mexican citizens to get Mexican citizenship.

    Then when they are back, they can apply for a green card based on their kid and do all the paperwork everyone else has to do, including showing income, housing, etc.

    Oh, that’s not fun? Then change the law for everyone and stop with these special deals.

    1. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and that law does not deserve enforcement simply because it exists.

      Those two premises are sufficient to render your contribution moot.

      1. “the law”*, not “that law”. I was making a general statement.

      2. Nor does utilitariansim. Stop taking my money and you can do what you want. Until then your rights don’t trump mine.

    2. Then change the law for everyone and stop with these special deals.

      In particular, don’t reward people for breaking the law.

  13. “The person who has fallen the most on this issue (with no effect on his poll numbers that are falling even more rapidly) is Marco Rubio: Instead of proudly defending his participation in the Gang of Eight immigration bill ? a flawed effort that would nevertheless have given some relief to the undocumented population ? he has all but repudiated the bill.”

    Oh, you mean the guy that was elected by the Tea Party who promised repeatedly and expressly to be 100% against amnesty or naturalization? Who’du’thunkit!

  14. ALlow me to log my ritual protest against the euphemism “undocumented immigrant”.

    An undocumented immigrant is one who left his green card at home. An illegal immigrant is one who has no green card.

    Euphemisms are used to obscure inconvenient realities. People really should avoid them.

    1. “An undocumented immigrant is one who left his green card at home.”

      That’s actually NOT the definition.

      http://www.merriam-webster.com…..documented

      1. Umm, seems to me that, if you leave your green card at home, you in fact, do not have the official documents that are needed to enter, live in, or work in a country legally, etc.

        I can be undocumented (I don’t have my paper with me) without being illegal (I don’t have the paper at all). Different situations should be described differently.

        My point being, that the euphemism is intended to elide the fact that these people are breaking our laws, and making it seem as though its a paperwork mixup. I despise euphemisms, because they are intended to mislead.

  15. Memo to Presidential Hopefuls of Both Parties: Guest Worker Programs Are Not Indentured Servitude

    boy is this a bunch of libertarian BULLSHIT.
    Anyone making that statement above knows nothing about it.

    I’m an IT manager and in current and pass have had H1Bs. Many of these guys are my friends. This is indentured Servitude.

    One Guys with MBA in Fiance and strong knowledge of financial products would not be working for me doing Business Analyst and support monkey work if he simply had his greencard.

    The Indian consultants we’ve converted to fulltime get 50k less than an Indian (or anyone of any race) with the same skills with a greencard or citizen.

    These guys can’t quit a job easily. If laid off, they can be deported in as little as a month..

    It’s not fun being an H1B Alien.

    1. There I go again supporting interests that are not in my best interest.

      You make the slave labor go away and salaries for IT people in USA will no longer stagnate.

      1. The H1B guys will make $25k more and citizens/residents will make $15k less. I work in the same field and I’m okay with that. Its harder for the H2-B guys.

      2. There I go again supporting interests that are not in my best interest.

        Yes, what is in the best interest of an H-1B visa holder is being denied a visa so that you can get paid more.

    2. If laid off, they can be deported in as little as a month..

      How much do you have to pay to lay them off and have them deported?

    3. You’re a pretty awful boss not fighting for your ppl then. And here I thought you cared. Guess you’re one of the greedy ones.

      I’ve always paid visa hires the same as domestic.

  16. How can you have a “Libertarian” society surrounded by “authoritarian” societies?

    1. A bigger stick?

      1. You’d think a group with so few women would already have that part covered

  17. THIS wriiter is an open borders anarchist

    TRUMP the “OUTSTANDING” – illegal aliens you want to give a “Merit System” have…

    Before an illegal alien receives his/her first paycheck or cash payment, they have committed some 26 Federal, State and Local laws.

    1. They conspire to cross the border illegally. (1 count)
    2. They hire a coyote or are provided passage by a Drug Cartel in exchange for guided passage into the USA. (1 count)
    3. They cross the Border with a coyote and in many cases smuggle drugs. (1 count)
    4. They travel, illegally, to their destination or to a destination determined by their “smuggler.” (1 count)
    5. They obtain fraudulent documents via identity theft, or via manufactured documents?.driver license, green card, social security card, birth certificate (each count a felony). (4 counts)
    6. They look for work using these documents. (1 count)
    7. They fill out work documents falsely, i.e., Federal and State IRS forms, SSN forms, Immigration forms, Workers comp. forms (each a separate felony. (6 counts)
    8. They drive on our roads without a legal license, registration, insurance. (3 counts)

    1. 9. They get paid via check or under the table, thus conspiring with the employer to defraud the government(s) via the use of false documents. (2 counts)
      10. They open bank accounts via the use of false documents in violation of Federal Law and the Patriot Act. (2 counts)
      11. They obtain housing via the use of false documents. (1 count)
      12. They obtain a car or truck via the use of false documents. (1 count)
      13. They obtain healthcare via the use of false documents. (1 count)
      14. They secure public service benefits via the use of false documents ? food, housing, healthcare, etc. (3 + counts)

      At a minimum this list shows that they commit at least 28 crimes of identity theft, conspiracy, obtaining false documents making false statements, fraud, violation of Federal and State and Local laws, etc.

      AND THE LIST GOES ON.

      The above list correctly demonstrates that they are not simply in violation of our laws just for crossing the Border, they are in violation for multiple misdemeanor and criminal acts in just a very short period of time and they continue to compound their violations via the passage of time, via falsification of documents, false statements, perjury and the list goes on.

      1. I see ~25 counts of the government exceeding its authority under the Constitution. What’s the criminal penalty for that?

        1. At least a GS-15 pension.

        2. Yeah, arguments like this make me almost want an open border policy (almost, but not quite). The word criminal is a pejorative not because laws are holy, but because we have some residual word association from an era when most (most, not all, before someone points out the various sex laws) laws forbade evil. These days most laws are regulatory, so breaking them does not make one evil.

          That said free immigration can only work if the melting pot is working and people are assimilating. The Democrats have been too successful at promoting identity politics for this to work now.

  18. Since these folks can’t take up better jobs, they become subject to exploitation and abuse by employers. Indian and Chinese techies routinely end up stuck in horrible, dead-end jobs for much of their peak productive years.

    So they’re tied to a single employer, and subject to exploitation and abuse.

    But to equate these visas with slavery or servitude is to torture a metaphor till it loses all meaning.

    The essence of slavery is to expropriate a worker’s labor against his will. This means reducing his work options to just one from which he can neither quit nor switch. But guest worker visas do the opposite of slavery: They give workers more options.

    Oh sure, from the worker’s perspective, *given his legal status*, they prefer the job. Of course, just because a slave might prefer being a house slave over a field slave, that doesn’t mean his work is not being expropriated.

    1. But from the employer’s perspective, he has workers that are subject to, in your own words, “exploitation and abuse”, because of their legal status. He has indentured servants.

      This is particularly relevant to the discussion about their effects on the labor market. Employer’s prefer employees that are subject to “exploitation and abuse” over ones who are not. To ones that are legally tied to them and can’t go to another employer. The endless pretense that not only are the laws of supply and demand magically suspended in the case of expanding the labor supply through H1Bs, but that they remain magically suspended in the face of the ability to import *indentured servants*, doesn’t withstand a second of honest evaluation.

      From *my* perspective, I don’t want to live in a society where my neighbors have indentured servants. Nor do I wish to be any *more* of an indentured servant to the human ranchers that run the government than I currently am.

      Your solution is to bring in more cattle, and give them the same rights I have as cattle. My problem with that is that the numbers show that the new cattle are generally more intent on giving the human ranchers that control me more and more power over me. No thanks.

      Vote Bovine Liberation Front 2016!

  19. The theme of this year’s election is economic populism. The defenders of free trade are now reduced to libertarians and certain hardcore free market conservatives. Foreign guest worker visas are despised by the comme mting community at Breitbart and CNN alike.

    I defend foreign guest workers as a matter of economic liberty. If you can automate or resort to the internet cut down on cost, I don’t see why you can’t hire foreign workers. The government laid out the parameters. and it’s not anyone’s fault for “exploiting” any of its features. Foreign workers are legal. We’re all find with “legal” folks, right?

    But as far as elections go, going libertarian on this issue will get you nowhere. Not when voters can see a laid off Disney IT worker breaking down on camera explaining how he had to train his replacement. Anyone can tell pollsters they’re libertarian or “oppose big government” in the abstract. In reality, typical Americans will support policies that support their interest.

    1. We’re all find with “legal” folks, right?

      No, that’s to mistake the issue. Immigration policy is public policy, in which all citizens have an interest.

      For your issue of guest workers, you can hire plenty of foreign workers in foreign countries. You can hire foreign workers here that are here legally as part of our immigration policy.

      What should that policy be?

      Employers desire to bring in guest workers for their interests. Employees desire to keep them out for theirs. And general citizens have their own interests in the people allowed into the country, and the terms by which they can be controlled by other citizens.

      What we’re seeing is that many citizens are now saying they don’t find a lot of current immigration in their interest, and in particular, they don’t find illegal immigration that seeks to skirt the controls they would place on immigration in their interests.

      Admittedly, this does not fit the Anarchotopia paradigm, but neither does reality. In reality, there are states and citizens of those states, and the citizens expect the states to control the borders, and they expect that control to be exercised in *their* interests, and not in the interests of foreigners.

      I think most people see a context to a government of, by, and for the people – the people being referred to are the citizens who instituted that government and are subject to it. They want their governments to be of, by, and for *them*, not foreigners.

  20. In the case of H-1Bs, the logical and humane fix would be to affix these visas to employees not employers (which would make them portable across jobs)

    H-1B visas are effectively already portable: you can get a new job with a new employer and get the visa approved all without your old employer knowing about it. I’ve changed jobs on an H-1B and it’s not a big deal.

    The only reason H-1Bs aren’t even more easily portable than that is because the same people who complain about H-1Bs being “indentured servitude” don’t trust employees to change jobs on their own; that is, they want the DHS to have the option of rejecting a change of employment if it doesn’t meet with their protectionist preferences.

    The only “indentured servitude” associated with H-1Bs is associated with government, not employers.

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