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A Democratic Reader Is Frustrated by His Party`s Reluctance to Address Immigration
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March 29, 2006, 05:00 AM
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From: Doug Cannon

Re: Edwin S. Rubenstein`s Column: The Physics of Teacher Shortages

Regarding the so-called shortage of skilled labor, I think the problem goes beyond a need for the rationalization of pay scales.

In order for a job market to work efficiently, one needs to have good information. And at present, despite modern technology, there is a dearth of job information.

For example, how would a laid-off tech worker find math and science teaching jobs? In large part, the reason for this anomaly lies within employers` desire for an inefficient labor market that allows those with better information (the employers) take advantage of the inefficiency.

In concrete terms, this means America needs a national labor database. Jobs would be posted so Americans could either apply for them or obtain the necessary training the job requires.

Any work visas granted to foreign workers, particularly for those jobs that are not transportable across borders (e.g., teaching, restaurants and construction), must be subject to rigorous standards.

If such a system is to maintain its integrity, a Congressional oversight committee must review any positions for which American employees cannot be found.

For example, was the job description manipulated in order to ensure that no Americans could fill the position, and did the compensation and safety realities meet American standards? This vetting process also would give entrepreneurs an opportunity to lobby for innovative solutions, e.g., technology that reduces safety risk and thus attracts American workers.

To work fairly, employers would need to revive their traditional relationship with trade schools and universities, where students of all ages would respond to career realities assuming they have the right information.

Today`s American labor market is highly inefficient. Employers are turning America into a third world country.

By driving America into poverty, the American business community will eventually bankrupt itself. Business leaders need to understand that societies with the highest wealth also have the highest labor costs. Increasing productivity through innovation, rather than through oversupply in the labor market, is the heart and soul of economics.

Traditional economics calls for "more bread, less sweat," not "more bread, more sweat." As a Democrat, I bristle at the notion that immigration reform is a right-wing issue — it`s not — and furthermore, I`m frustrated by my party`s reluctance to address an issue that brings so much hardship upon the American worker.

Sadly, it`s not the American worker that needs to crack the books and learn new skills. It`s the American manager.