Friday, November 11, 2005

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I thought the problem was too many workers

Exactly one week ago I blogged about the inflow of Hispanic workers -- including illegal immigrants -- into New Orleans. The implication in the stories cited in that post was that these workers were crowding out employment opportunities for locals.

So imagine my surprise when Gary Rivlin reports in the New York Times that this is basically a crock of s**t:

Burger King is offering a $6,000 signing bonus to anyone who agrees to work for a year at one of its New Orleans outlets. Rally's, a local restaurant chain, has nearly doubled its pay for new employees to $10 an hour.

On any given day, contractors and business owners pass out fliers in downtown New Orleans promising $17 to $20 an hour, plus benefits, for people willing to swing a sledgehammer or cart away stinking debris from homes and businesses devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Canal Street, once a crowded boulevard of commerce, now resembles a sparsely populated open-air job fair.

Ten weeks after Katrina, government officials and business leaders worry that a scarcity of able-bodied workers is hampering the area's recovery....

Virtually every New Orleans business confronts the same conundrum: In a city without a functioning school system and with vast stretches that are still uninhabitable, where will they find the employees they need to begin the long recovery? Everyone from bank presidents to restaurant owners to the Port of New Orleans are approaching the task like a nurse in an emergency room performing triage on patients based on the most immediate need....

Like other businesses, Bollinger Shipyards has dispatched emissaries to shelters around the South, looking for displaced residents willing to return. For the moment, though, evacuees who are living free in a hotel or in a subsidized apartment while collecting a stipend from the Federal Emergency Management Agency may not have the same pressing need to return to the stricken city as they might otherwise. Bollinger employees made 20 or so trips, but they did not sign up a single evacuee. Mr. Bollinger has yet to bump up his pay scale but he said that raises were inevitable.

posted by Dan on 11.11.05 at 02:48 PM


I posted several comments in the earlier thread, and I'd strongly advise that people take a look at the links, particularly this and this.

What you've got now is the Bush administration moving workers out of New Orleans into government-funded housing in distant states, including Utah and Massachusetts. And, they aren't exactly proceeding at breakneck speed to get housing built near New Orleans.

Note that both of those are pointed out in the NYT article. And, while the NYT doesn't mention it, it's a bit difficult for someone who's living in Utah on the government dole to then make their way back to their hometown and get a job in a place with limited housing for workers.

And, it's even more difficult because some of those people have become dependent on government funds over the years or even generations.

Should we abandon them, or resettle them to be warehoused in other states? Or, should we get them to work rebuilding their own city?

Let's look at what the Bush administration has done: they've given the greenlight to contractors to hire illegal aliens. (The only ICE bust of illegal aliens was because they were working on a Air Force base, about the only workplace enforcement they do.) And, some of those illegal aliens will be working indirectly for the feds, thus they'll be getting federal money. Then, they'll be sending a chunk of that federal money home to Mexico.

It's positively Rube Goldbergian in its anti-Americanism and corruption. We're paying Americans not to work, and we're paying illegal aliens from Mexico to do the jobs that those Americans should be doing.

To add insult to injury, some libertarian/"conservative" types then accuse New Orleans residents of being lazy, clearly prefering the citizens of another country over our own citizens. Those same people, when presented with corporatism, call it a "free market".

Here's a more American plan: president Bush goes against his nature and decides that illegal aliens shouldn't get these jobs. Then, he does whatever he needs to do to get former New Orleans residents - or at least other Americans - to go there and rebuild it.

If he doesn't do that, this is going to end up looking to millions of people like a forced resettlement and warehousing program. Bush will have made one of Louis Farrakhan's conspiracy theoris come true.

See also Fox offer to send Mexican laborers spurned.

Anyone who supports the current situation or anything that involves illegal aliens being allowed to do this work really has not thought all of this through.

posted by: Illegal immigration news on 11.11.05 at 02:48 PM [permalink]

Hey Dan, even a PhD should be able to figure out that until there is housing the residents can not really return.

Illegals will take anything they can get and live wherever they are put.

The Bush administration could not organize a two car funeral. Ditto for the Governor of LA and the Mayor of NOLA.

posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 11.11.05 at 02:48 PM [permalink]

What happened to those empty cruise ships FEMA contracted for? Last I read, they were pretty empty. I doubt transportation back to LA is a deal breaker. If the employers are willing to pay bonuses and higher pay, I doubt they would have a problem with a bus ticket.

posted by: buzz on 11.11.05 at 02:48 PM [permalink]

I doubt transportation back to LA is a deal breaker. If the employers are willing to pay bonuses and higher pay, I doubt they would have a problem with a bus ticket.

When what happens in New Orleans is written up in history books as a massive failure of a Republican administration, I'm sure that and similar attempts to apologize for their (most likely intentional) failures will get a nice footnote.

posted by: Illegal immigration news on 11.11.05 at 02:48 PM [permalink]

I think you forgot to mention that that Burger King bonus is paid in gift certificates.

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