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Bordering on Slavery

By       Message H John Fisher     Permalink
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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H2 8/11/14

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We continue to face a crisis on our borders. Regardless of everything the government has done, nothing appears to staunch the flow of illegal immigrants -- many of them children motivated by the mistaken belief that anyone here might care about the fact that they are seeking to avoid having to face the choice of joining a drug cartel or being shot.

As many patriotic Americans have so eloquently pointed out with signs held high at many demonstrations, this is not our problem!

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Yet still they come.

Although others question whether we should turn away this latest group of refugees, none of those bleeding hearts has put forth a viable plan for addressing this problem.

Clearly, there are economic issues involved. Would this influx of new immigrants compete with American workers for the substandard-wage jobs they so keenly desire? Since it appears to be a given that the rapacity of a federal government whose taxes suck the lifeblood from our economy is the only thing blocking a return to the economic utopia we enjoyed during the nineteenth century, many might object to the need to further tax us in order to support people who have quite literally walked away from the possibility of gainful employment in the narco-trafficking that is among the major industries of their homelands!

These are valid questions that must be answered if we are to consider admitting this new flood of refugees.

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And there is also the cultural question. They are not us. How do we protect our Anglo-Saxon heritage against an influx of immigrants for whom English is not the primary language -- something so unique that we have only encountered it on fifty or sixty previous occasions?

On the surface, all this may appear to present an insoluble quandary. Yet we need only look back to an earlier era in our nation's history to find a viable solution for integrating a vast influx of population into our country's workforce; and that is slavery. Certainly, none can question the role that that institution played in the creation of our country. Nit-pickers might point out that the situation is different, in that slaves admittedly may not have come to the country on an entirely voluntary basis, while the refugees willingly present themselves at our border. If thought is given, however, one would quickly see that this ultimately reduces to nothing more than a potential savings in transportation costs.

The real problem is that the racism of the old Confederacy has given slavery a bad name. There is an understandingly negative connotation associated with the term. Realistically speaking, we will probably need to replace it with something that is more cheerful, modern and positive. (Parenthetically, it's interesting to note that much the same thing happened with the term "fascism" as a result of its appropriation by the Nazis -- even though as a system of government, it remains widely favored and much practiced today; although few of those doing so are comfortable calling it by its true name.)

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Be that as it may, were one to subtract the legacy of the middle passage from slavery, there would appear to be much to recommend it to the job creators of our economy; and at the same time, it would create a mechanism by which those who illegally cross our borders might at last find a safe and lasting haven.

So first of all, let us deal with the name. Rather than speaking of slaves, I would modestly suggest that we use the term Voluntary Permanent Guest Workers, or VPGWs for short. Rather than undergoing an arcane and lengthy visa process or waiting fruitlessly for congress to pass some imagined amnesty, those who are now thought of as illegal immigrants could instantly achieve VPGW status by simply presenting themselves at any US border. Rather than wasting tax dollars on policing our borders, we could establish "Welcoming Stations" where new VPGWs would be met by friendly "Expeditors" who would bundle them as they arrived and ship them off to their new "Permanent Host Entities," or PHAs -- a more friendly term than "owner." Since the PHAs would pay the Expeditors a "Welcoming Fee" as stipend for each VPGW shipped to them, the new entry system would cause no drain on the taxpayer -- rather, it would shift the entire process to the private sector, which, as everyone knows, is almost always more efficient than a bloated federal bureaucracy.

Whether single individual or multinational corporation, the PHE would be responsible for providing the VPGW with food and shelter in return for providing whatever labor he, she or it might require. The exact nature of the labor required of the VPGW would, of course, be left solely to the PHE, as anything else would be imposing the hand of government on private affairs. As the VPGW/PHE relationship would be one of life-long mutual commitment, it is possible that changing work requirements -- or even the declining labor capacity of an aging VPGW -- might undercut the financial viability of supporting a particular VPGW. In such a situation, however, the PHE could recover his or her investment by transferring the services of the VPGE to another PHE in return for a small "Servicing Fee." The trade in obsolescent VPGWs would, of course, function at no cost to the government. If not set at a level so excessive that it would discourage free trade, the sales tax on these transactions might even come to provide an important new stream of revenue for state and local governments.

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Furthermore, we would no longer need to worry about how to accommodate the undocumented in our schools. Pesky problems such as education requirements -- or even child labor laws (remember that many potential VPGWs are children) -- would, by definition, not apply to VPGWs.

Surely those who object to our present immigration system would find no fault in such a benign and mutually beneficial alternative.

A VPGW program would provide an important boost to our economy. If properly directed, the influx of VPGWs would make it possible for us to once again dream large. Where would the transcontinental railways be today were it not for the labor of countless Chinese and Irish immigrants who were arguably VPGWs in practice, if not in theory? And it would also allow us to dream small. Think of the joy of being the first family on the block to have your very own VPGW to mind your children and clean your toilets.

Although some might fear that VPGWs would take away American jobs, history has shown us that the jobs performed by the indentured are the jobs that no American desires. Freeing Americans from jobs they don't feel like doing gives them the gift of only doing the things they care about. Think of the potential cultural benefits that might be derived from creating a whole new leisure class! As the vast Cultural Heritage of the "Old South" has shown us, we have been made far richer by the songs of Stephen Foster -- and I'm sure that there are other contributions of the antebellum south that would occur to me if I were given time!

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John Fisher is actively involved in equal measures with neurofeedback, landlord/tenant law, fair housing issues, neuroethics and his family. He writes, consults, and teaches on the first three, and is equally poorly credentialed on all five. He (more...)

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