Friday, March 31, 2006

"Libertarians for slave labor?"

I admit to a little residual prejudice against allegedly "libertarian" Republican politicians. Most of the alleged "libertarians" in Congress voted for the anti-libertarian war on Iraq. Of the 22 members of (real libertarian) Ron Paul's "Liberty Study Committee," only two voted with Paul as much as 60% of the time, versus 30-odd Democrats who vote with him 70% or more of the time (see Logan Ferree's scorecard over at Freedom Democrats).

Still, there are boundaries outside which I assumed that "libertarians" -- even Republican ones -- would hesitate to stray. Using slave labor to keep American wages down, for example. One of the foremost examples of congressional "libertarian Republicans" proved me wrong yesterday:

Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, dismissed arguments made by President Bush and business leaders who say the United States needs a pool of foreign workers. He said businesses should be more creative in their efforts to find help and suggested that employers turn to the prison population to fill jobs in agriculture and elsewhere.

"Let the prisoners pick the fruits," Mr. Rohrabacher said. "We can do it without bringing in millions of foreigners."

Just to make sure that the Times wasn't pulling my leg or anything, I did a little Googling and found another quote in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (among other sources):

"The millions of young men who are prisoners in our country can pick the fruit and vegetables," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California.

Lest ye mistakenly assume that Rohrabacher had any other purpose than distorting the labor market, here's another snippet from the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin:

"We do not need more people from foreign countries coming in and taking American jobs -- even jobs in the fields," he said. "I say, let prisoners pick the fruits. Let's not bid down the wages of American workers."

Remember, somewhere between a third and half of the prisoners Rohrabacher is referring to are political prisoners, in for disagreeing with Big Brother on what substances may be bought, sold or consumed, or for failing to cough up the protection racket fee ("tax"), etc. Of course, I oppose slave labor in any case, but when we include the political dimension it becomes clear that we're talking truly Stalinist stuff here.

Call me contrarian, but I don't see how using slave labor by political prisoners to keep wages artificially low (slaves get paid less than either migrant workers or the Americans who won't do the jobs at the wages offered -- but who will raise holy hell if they have to pay more for their iceberg lettuce) is any more "libertarian" than ... than ... well, than sealing the borders to keep wages artificially high (which is why Rohrabacher says he wants to keep furriners out of "his" country). I am, however, continuing to see that if you scratch the paint on a "libertarian Republican," you'll usually find a standard-issue big-government demagogue underneath.

Addendum, minutes after post: It just occurred to me how similar this piecemeal "reform" argument is to the French situation (see the MLL's letter of solidarity on Brad Spangler's blog, especially the comment/argument section) -- at some point you have to realize that the state's "solutions" to "problems" will always raise more "problems" of their own, usually worse than the original "problems" they were purporting to address and inevitably "requiring" ever more absurd and anti-liberty "solutions" in turn.

Technorati Tags: ,, , , , , , ,
IceRocket Tags: ,, , , , , , ,

blog comments powered by Disqus
Three Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide
Some graphics and styles ported from a previous theme by Jenny Giannopoulou