I’m seeing more and more variations of this argument lately, especially on American sites:
World immigration is a direct response to abortion throughout Europe and North America. Workers from poorer countries are always going to come to replace our lack of labor due to abortion here.
Abortion and birth control are the culprits, not immigrants wanting to work. So, blame ourselves. We cannot have our cake and eat it, too.
Talk about a reductio ad absurdum. The labor shortages that immigrants generally address are in the menial service sector and the low-paid agriculture and factory sectors. These are stressful and often dangerous jobs which have few benefits over and above the wages made, and which don’t allow families which depend on them any surplus to build social capital (via saving for their children’s education) without extraordinary sacrifice. This is hugely difficult, and the immigrant families that do it anyway are admirable in their tenacity. Nobody wants to have these jobs if they could have better ones, whether they are native citizens or immigrants.
If there are more native-born citizens, the economy will expand due to their consumption demands, and none of them will want to work menial jobs unless they have no other options. So there will still be gaps for immigrants to fill, always, in the hope that their children will have a more financially secure life than they do and won’t have to work menial jobs either.
Of course, there is one way to ensure that an increase in native-born citizens doesn’t result in an increase in either the blue-collar or white-collar middle class who raise their children to refuse menial jobs unless absolutely desparate – implement social policies which squeeze the middle class like the last decades of Chicago School/Monetarism/Economic Rationalism policies have done. Push more and more families out of the financial security of the middle class and watch your supply of workers willing to take on menial, stressful and dangerous work grow!
The tried and true way to get the voters to accept this reversal of the last few generations of social expectations is to provide them with a fear that gets the adrenaline surging more than a fear of future financial insecurity. Bring on the latest FUD bogeyman: this time it’s immigration (with a dash of especially Islamophobic scaremongering about possible terrorists in their midst). And what’s the cure? Sure, be tougher on immigration, but somehow the magical cure also always involves some tax cuts for the CEO class, tax cuts which squeeze the middle class tighter, bloat the corporate welfare from the government even more obscenely, and increase financial insecurity for the masses generally.
Some of you may have already seen this graph, which I found on Club Troppo, and which Nick found via Kevin Drum on the Washington Monthly. The figures for Australia are not so stark as they are for the States, but the pattern is similiar. As Kevin puts it:
the total share of national income going to the super-rich has more than doubled over that time. The merely well off have also gotten a slightly bigger piece of the pie, while everyone else has funded this free-for-all. “Everyone else,” in this case, means 90% of the country. Our share of national income has gone down in order to make sure that virtually all the fruits of economic growth over the past four decades could go to the well-off, the rich, and the super-duper-rich.
There’s a very good reason that the economic right screech and moan about anyone daring to discuss income disparity as engaging in “class warfare” rhetoric. They don’t want the masses to catch on that they have been indulging in class warfare at the expense (as always) of the lower classes but also increasingly at the expense of the middle classes as well for the last three decades. They don’t want people to realise that their policies are making it harder and harder for social mobility to take place through the traditional path of working hard, saving, and educating your children: if these trends continue we’ll be lucky if our children can have the same financial security with two-white-collar-income families that their great-grandparents did with a single solid blue-collar income.
Don’t let the real culprits distract you with noises about abortion and immigration.