The Gardener of Eden

September 29, 2006 | By | 3 Replies More

I know who Mrs. Cain was.  We don’t talk about her or her family much, but things just wouldn’t have been paradise without her or them.

She was one of the many illegal immigrants in Paradise that did the actual work of tending the Garden of Eden–you know, the hoeing, planting, weeding, landscaping.  And later, when Adam and his family needed a new roof on the hovel or new siding, it was Mrs. Cain’s family that put it all up, underpaid of course to keep costs down.  When Cain took a fancy to one of the comely daughters with the exotic foreign accent and Abel went all homeland on him, the altercation…

Well.  That’s one explanation.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, in 2000 there were between seven and eight million illegal immigrants in the United States.  Growth of that population is roughly half a million a year.  INS estimates–for the use of Congress to pound pulpits with–about eleven million today.

We, according to Congress, have to Do Something about this.  We’ve had to for a long time and nothing effective has ever been done.  How come?

The CIS site has some useful material debunking popular myths.  They don’t come here to get on welfare, they don’t come here to get free medical attention.  They come here for jobs.  Always have.  And the biggest magnet is that there are jobs for them.  So we occasionally hear about new laws to target businesses that hire illegals. 

But the problem never goes away.  In one of the only lucid policy initiatives Bush came up with, was the suggestion that we admit the situation, issue guest worker visas, and bring it all out in the open.  Publicly, a lot of people hate that idea because “It will take jobs away from Americans.”

They say that with a straight face.

Here is the thing that no one I’ve heard yet will actually talk about.  Why are Americans not filling those jobs?  Why will businesses hire illegals, with the concommitant risks, rather than Americans?  Is it that there are no Americans to take such jobs?

The actual phrase ought to be:  “We can’t find Americans to fill those jobs at the wages we wish to pay.” 

No one says that.  They never finish the sentence.

And who, (he asks rhetorically) is the We who do not wish to pay those wages?

Pretty much all of us.

The low price of vegetables and fruits at the supermarket are kept low because of poorly paid illegal workers.  The siding on your house doesn’t cost twice as much because, industry wide, a lot labor is being done (underpaid) by illegals.  Menial factory jobs keep a variety of material costs low because Americans aren’t in them getting paid $12.00 an hour.

We, the United States, subsidize paradise on the labor of undocumented workers who work for a hell of lot less than resident Americans would accept.

And that’s the problem.  We don’t want to pay to fix it.  Everything would cost more if we did.

So we use this as a campaign issue, an issue to get exercised over, to vent about, and play a blame game. 

But if we enacted laws that dictated minimum wages per job and enforced them, Americans would probably fill those jobs, and force out the illegals now doing them.

But then it wouldn’t be paradise anymore–it would cost too much.


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Category: American Culture, Consumerism, Culture, Current Events, Economy, Law, Politics

About the Author ()

Mark is a writer and musician living in the St. Louis area. He hit puberty at the peak of the Sixties and came of age just as it was all coming to a close with the end of the Vietnam War. He was annoyed when bellbottoms went out of style, but he got over it.

Comments (3)

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  1. hogiemo says:

    We have federal and state minimum wage laws to protect workers from exploitation. Recently, the Congress failed to raise the US minimum wage because the raise was linked legislatively to a permanent repeal of the estate tax.

    As for the rest, we have choices to make as consumers like boycotting Wal*Mart because it imports 10% of all imports in the US from China which has murdered 1.2 million Tibetans, imprisoned persons for their religious beliefs and subjected such prisoners to prison slavery to manufacture goods sold in America and to forced organ donation.

    I believe we have an obligation as citizens to hold corporations and our elected representatives (they aren't the same people, President Bush and Republicans!) accountable. To that end, I declare that I will start a non-profit organization with the express purpose of educating the public about abuses of power and privilege, regardless of partisan concerns. The new organization will stand for people and, for the world in which we all live.

    If we choose, we may have the world which our children inherit be a place which reflects justice and peace.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    I haven't researched this at all, but I do have to wonder how hard we are working to make certain that workers are legally in America. After all, businesses are obligated to pay social security taxes on behalf of all workers. If the worker doesn't have a SSN, to whom are these businesses paying those taxes? I suspect that our federal government speaks out of both sides of its mouth–how else would it be that millions of undocumented workers are here. The Government publicly SAYS that undocumented workers should not be here. Simultaneously, it seems not to be using much effort to require businesses to investigate the credentials of its workers before hiring them.

    It's not the our government is turning its eye for the benefit of the workers (industrious people, as you suggest). It would be for the benefit of the businesses that hire them. It is for the reasons you suggest that the system plods along in this two-faced way. I agree with you that we ought to put everything on the table and make clear decisions about what we are going to do about undocumented workers and their families. I don't see such a conversation happening any time soon, for the same reason that we don't have honest conversations regarding most things: an utterly corrupt system for financing elections.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    Erich mentioned social security taxes and how the government "seems not to be using much effort to require businesses to investigate the credentials of its workers before hiring them." Indeed, one reason why so little effort is put into finding illegal immigrants is that many of them have invalid social security numbers that cause employers to pay social security taxes on their behalf…and the Social Security Administration is happy to accept those taxes knowing that the beneficiaries will never collect.

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