“We’ve got to enforce our border, go to enforce our laws. But there are people willing to do jobs Americans aren’t willing to do. Lots of Americans don’t want to pick cotton in 105 degrees, but there are people who want to put food on their family’s table, and are willing to do that.
We ought to be able to say thank you, and to welcome them. Have a plan in place that enables workers to do work Americans won’t do.
When there’s a populist sentiment it makes it harder to get that kind of issue resolved.”
George W. Bush, Speech in Dubai, February 8, 2018
George W. Bush in a speech in Dubai last week unintentionally helped explain why Donald Trump is President. My favorite living historian Victor Davis Hanson gives us the details:
While in Dubai, Bush criticized the Trump Administration’s lack of progress on immigration reform. Then he weirdly noted, “Americans don’t want to pick cotton at 105 degrees, but there are people who want to put food on their family’s tables and are willing to do that.”
Where to start when Republican elites confirm their own stereotypes?
First, Republicans should agree with Churchill’s dictum about the inadvisability of criticizing one’s government while in a foreign country: “When I am abroad I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the Government of my own country. I make up for lost time when I come home.” Bush repeatedly followed that guidance when he insisted that he would not attack Barack Obama—even at home. But not now.
Second, Bush is far more critical of Trump’s efforts to reach a compromise on DACA and border security than he was of Barack Obama’s illegal and politically expedient 2012 pre-reelection executive order nullifying immigration law and enforcement. Whether he intended it or not, Bush’s “woke” emergence as a megaphone after eight years of hibernation, confirms the impression that Republican elites were always much closer in spirit to their Democratic counterparts than they were to their own so-called grassroots conservative base. Translated, they mildly were displeased with the Obama agenda, but loathe Trump’s.
Third, how incoherent were Bush’s cotton-picking riffs! (He may not have realized it, but Bush put a 21st-century spin on 19th-century plantation owners’ pleas that they needed imported chattel African labor because American workers were neither acclimatized to heat nor inexpensive enough to pick cotton in scorching Southern temperatures). Bush substantiated the stereotype of crass corporate concern (note the inadvertent contempt in “willing to do that”) that trumps both the law and the idea of promoting the wages of U.S. entry-level workers—as well as general popular cluelessness about illegal immigration in general.
To wit, cotton picking (which I used to do as a child in the 1960s on my father’s small 40-acre cotton allotment) has been widely mechanized for over 50 years. And agriculture now only accounts for about 10-20 percent of illegal alien labor.
Mechanization has revolutionized farming, even in crops once deemed impossible to automate such as nuts, olives, raisins, and delicate Napa Valley wine grapes. New computerized and laser-calibrated breakthroughs will likely mean that even soft fruit and vegetables will soon be mechanically picked, matching ongoing labor reduction in weeding and irrigation.
More importantly, it was not just the Trump tax and deregulatory reforms that have fueled economic growth and prompted workers’ wages to rise, but also the substantial drop in illegal immigration. In the new psychological climate that’s followed, employers are beginning to believe it is no longer worth the risk to hire illegal aliens, as they scour the economy to find citizen workers (in the inner city, the red state postindustrial swath, and the barrio) and pay them more to reenter the workforce.
When the country has a 63 percent labor participation rate, there are more able-bodied workers than we assume, even as unemployment measured by traditional rubrics is about to fall below 4 percent.
The old Republican idea that illegal immigration is a good thing because noble foreign nationals work hard and cheaply for businesses in a way unemployed Americans “will not do” is not a sustainable factual, ethical, or political position. About half of illegal immigrant households use some sort of government assistance, for example.
Mechanization, automation, and higher wages for labor are the future of the American workforce. If we learned anything from the 2016 election it is that we should reject the calcified idea of corporate importation of inexpensive laborers from impoverished countries, profiting from their peak productive years, and then as they age, tire, and become ill, passing them on to the social welfare industry to rely on taxpayer-subsidized health, legal, and education services—even as firms seek out yet a new, young, and recyclable cohort from Mexico and Latin America.
Go here to read the rest. There are few policies that are more class driven in the US than immigration. Liberal elites want future voters. Republican elites, I cannot call them conservative, want cheap labor. All of these elites know that, in all likelihood, they and their offspring will not be directly affected by the criminal gangs that are always active among illegal aliens, that they will not have to wait for treatment in emergency rooms swamped with nonpaying illegal aliens, that they will not see their kids’ schools go downhill trying to educate the children of illegal aliens, that they will not lose their jobs as cheap illegal aliens are used in preference to higher paid Americans. In short, elites get what they want and the tab is paid for by the middle class and poor Americans. If Americans dare speak out about this they are condemned as racists and Nazis. It is not a wonder that Trump got elected, the wonder is that it did not happen long ago.
Oh, and on a personal note, when I was a teenager and in my early twenties I often did agricultural labor during the Summer, no matter how hot and humid it got, Central Illinois often gets very hot and humid indeed in the Summer, and I was glad to have the job. Bush insulted the American worker with either lies or sheer ignorance.