We've talked before about the "Restaurant Rationale" that is the main reason many journalists are unthinking supporters of illegal immigration. Professional writers generally don't make much money, but they do eat out a lot, so they feel that America's de facto open door policy is justified because it means lower wages for the busboys at their favorite restaurants and thus lower tabs for themselves.
Besides the "Restaurant Rationale," there's also the "Arugula Argument." It goes something like this, "Sure, America wouldn't need so many illegal alien farmworkers if we all went back to eating corn on the cob and white bread made from Midwestern grains harvested by giant combines, but I like arugula salads, and those kind of sophisticated vegetables can only be harvested by hand."
So, I was struck when I opened the new November issue of Discover magazine (not online yet), and the last page featured a photo of a massive arugula harvester!
"Greens Machine: Ten years ago, fragile leafy plants like arugula and baby spinach could only be harvested by hand. Today a single machine can collect 40,000 pounds a day, and bagged salad has become a $2.6 industry.
"Trim Reaper: This harvester, built by Valley Fabrication and owned by Earthbound Farm in San Juan Bautista, California, can do the work of 35 skilled laborers. The reaper is 20 feet long and 12 feet wide and ... sells for more than $100,000."
The article goes on to describe the ingenious mechanisms that allow one driver to replace 35 stoop laborers. But, in truth, nothing on the harvester sounds like it couldn't have been built years earlier—if the cost of labor had been high enough to make it profitable.
But, by allowing in so many illegal aliens, this country diminishes the incentives to create labor-saving productivity-enhancing devices like this harvester.
One of the heartening things about the immigration debate (there are some) is the number of articulate voices that are emerging locally—often, tellingly, from outside the journalism trade. Lawyer Tom Ashcraft writes a column for the Charlotte Observer, here on the scandal of states like North Carolina that even after 9/11 make it easy for illegals to get driver's licenses.
Acting on a hot tip from a tall, glamorous lawyer in the District of Columbia, I found this story about American industry's crying need for visas. Or rather, its crying need to suck up to foreign countries, despite their unacceptable attitudes and customs.
The Alaska Journal of Commerce explains why these jobs can't go to Americans:
First, Japanese consumers are extremely loyal to domestic products. Burke uses rice as an example. It's much easier and less costly to grow rice in countries with large scale agriculture. Japan grows rice less efficiently on small family farms, producing a more expensive product. Yet Japan imports very little rice from other countries and prefers its own product. This is the case with roe as well. Japanese companies may buy roe from Alaska fishermen, but they process it into a roe product themselves. It's not likely that Japanese consumers would accept an American made roe product in the marketplace.
By Raina Clark , July 12, 2004, Alaska Journal of Commerce Online
There are anti-boycott laws designed to punish American companies that agree to commit "discrimination against other persons based on race, religion, sex, national origin or nationality." I wonder if they can be made to fit this case.