Monday, March 17, 2008

He said it, not me !

Employers don't want UK labour. They want migrant Labour because its on offer and cheap. Its a deliberate strategy by the capitalists and the government to bring jobs down to the lowest pay possible so that white workers who over the last 50 years have fought and won good working conditions will have eventually no choice but to take the crap. Meanwhile employers make and will continue to make huge profits.


Labour Party and TGWU activist Ian at IansRedBlog.

As an ex-TGWU man myself, I don't think it's a deliberate capitalist strategy. It's just capital, as it will, taking advantage. That's what capitalism's about - finding new ways to do things that can make more profit.

Usually, that's beneficial. Our capitalist builds a better mousetrap and people beat a path to his door. He makes lots of dosh, we get better mousetraps and everyone's happy except the mice (and maybe a few cats rendered redundant by technology).

But we don't make mousetraps in the UK any more - they're made in China, where, confounding the hi-tech/hi-wage example of the previous 200 years, industry is hi-tech, low wage (although that may be a high wage in Chinese terms). The hi-wage UK is left with a people-intensive "service sector" in which the costs of the people increase faster than the cost of goods, because human productivity, say in hairdressing or nursing, cannot by the nature of the work increase as fast as industrial productivity.

But cheap world transport - and change in British culture - changes all that. Eamonn Butler's Adam Smith Primer tells us :

The workers’ best friends, Smith surmises, are rising national income and capital growth, because they bid up wages. A landlord with surplus revenue will hire more servants. A weaver or a shoemaker with surplus capital will hire assistants. In other words, the demand for labour rises when – and only when – national wealth rises. The ‘liberal reward of labour’ depends entirely on economic growth.


That scenario supposes a fixed (in the short term, anyway) supply of labour. What if our landlord, weaver or shoemaker could import an almost unlimited number of low-paid servants and assistants ? What if, on top of that, their low pay was topped up by government through a tax credit system - a system originally designed to take low-paid Britons out of poverty ?

If the wages are low enough there's no reason why even in a system of economic stasis or recession our landlord shouldn't hire more servants. There's also nothing to stop him sacking the servants he has and replacing them more cheaply from the almost unlimited pool of new labour.

What was stopping it in Adam Smith's day was the cost of transport, the absence of a government pledged to abolish child poverty (aka "subsidise an employers low wages from tax receipts") and the fact that the locals just wouldn't wear it. A load of foreigners coming in and taking our jobs ? No way !

Now transport's cheap, there's that lovely subsidy, and above all the moral and political objections to undercutting "our own people" (a phrase which immediately brands the utterer with the indelible scar of racism) have been totally marginalised and discredited. The trades unions, which instinctively understood the objections to cheap 'scab' (non-unionised) labour, now welcome the undercutting of an entire working class.

A good capitalist will naturally take advantage of this situation. No conspiracy necessary.

8 comments:

Lurker said...

Its absolute genius. The way those who would normally be defending the workforce against the worst depredations of capitalists are instead brought to heel by racism.

Bernard Matthews, Tesco etc never have to defend their policies of importing foreign workers en masse, their normal political enemies do it for them. And with a passion they could never summon up.

Quite staggeringly clever.

Dave said...

Yes very well put although radical captialists 'libertarians' have openly stated they want to use immmigration to bankrupt the country.

What would your ideal immigration policy be then Laban?

Laban said...

A moratorium for ten years while we attampt to integrate those alaready here (a big subject in itself), for starters.

wildgoose said...

I'm a Libertarian. I believe in Property Rights. That makes me a part-owner of all our nation's social and capital infrastructure and so the last thing I want is my property damaged by uncontrolled mass immigration.

You know you're winning the argument when your opponents put your beliefs in "scare quotes" and make ad hominem attacks that completely misrepresent your position.

And No, I obviously don't speak for all Libertarians - there are obviously those on the fringes that just want to see the Welfare State demolished by its own inconsistencies.

TDK said...

It's true that many libertarians believe immigration controls are wrong but they also believe that interventionism causes the problems that create mass migration. If we had no CAP and no rules preventing 3rd world countries processing food themselves, then they would grow wealthy from exports whilst we would benefit from cheaper food. In turn, a by product of that third world wealth would be the elimination of one of the pressures for migration.

That's far from the virtual conspiracy theory of 'libertarians' have openly stated they want to use immmigration to bankrupt the country. I don't expect you to be able to furnish proof of this claim but please try. Links are good.

thud said...

A ten year moratorium to assimilate plus a chance to get the native workforce off benefits would be ideal...not going to happen though.

Dave said...

I don't think they are real libertarians they are globalist bandit capitalists with a very simplistic view of the world, thats why I used quotes.

tdk, yes they believe immigration controls are wrong and for the very reasons Laban stated in his original post, an unlimited supply of labour enables them to force down wages and make more profits.


10 year moratorium sounds ok but really, on the scale of things its not that long is it?
I would say in order to avoid these culture problems, our immigration policy should be proportional to our birth-rate in order to try to obtain some demographic stability.
Harriet Harman was saying recently that employers should be allowed to discriminate against 'whites' to try to make the workforce better reflect the population, but due to constantly changing demographics because of mass immigration thats never going to happen.

James G. said...

Hi Laban,
A friend of mine is a union organiser/agitator. His specialty is organising immigrants. He's working for an American union, and the last time I saw him, he was over here in Blighty teaching the unions how to organise the African cleaners.

The impression I get from him, indirectly, is that the unions are looking to the new immigrants to help rebuild their flagging fortunes and keep their leaders in Bentleys. Much like the political parties.