NPR, showing a remarkably illiberal bent lately and having previously surprised me with its expose’ on accelerating disability rolls, has now done it again by revealing the core reason for the undocumented worker problem. The story comes from an anonymous building contractor in Texas who explains that there are two basic ways for him and his competitors to acquire and pay workers:
1. Hire them by the hour, often at union wages and with overtime when appropriate, and also pay workman’s comp taxes, payroll taxes, and unemployment taxes.
2. Hire them as subcontractors to complete specific work and pay no taxes, leaving that to whomever organizes the group. Workers in such groups typically make less than $10 an hour.
For the relatively-rare work that requires strict specifications and high quality, number 1. is used, but for most work, work that is routine and less-skilled like framing, sheetrock and taping, it’s number 2. The contractor, who chose anonymity out of fear of notice by the IRS, says he’s sure that 90% of the workers are undocumented Hispanics, many of whom have been working for him for years. However, his conscience is clear, he said, because that’s the system he has and if he tried to do it properly, his competitors wouldn’t and his business would quickly founder.
That the problem would be so simple is just astounding. Clearly, one solution would seem to be to make subcontracting illegal, at least in the building trades, but that would have enormous ramifications. Sub-contracting is common business practice and managers and owners would likely rebel en masse. This is political hypocrisy but it is also reality. Just as big Ag has grown dependent on illegals for harvesting many crops, the building industry is also invested and I’m sure the chicken plants and other processing fields have as well. (Makes me wonder, can nursing homes do this with cleaning companies and the like?)
When conservatives rail at the immigration problem they are turning a hypocritical blind eye to the real problem. They want the profits that dirt-cheap labor brings but they disdain that these people should share in our social safety net. It’s all about the money, and always has been.
The NPR article is at this link. It is part two of a short two-part article and you may also be interested in part one. Just follow that link or click on the one in the first sentence of the part two item.
- Of Wetbacks, Illegals and Undocumented Workers (riehlworldview.com)