Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Social Justice & Wages

It is unfortunate that the social justice aspect of the Catholic Church often goes ignored in today's soundbyte culture. Selling controversy is so much more successful for media's bottom line than actually investigating problems. Living in New Orleans and having a family with ties to Loyola University New Orleans keeps me up to date on social justice research I might not have come across.

Such as this Just South article on wage theft from the Jesuit Social Research Institue.

The report speaks for itself, but can also be applied to many other issues facing the country. Look at this through almost any problem facing our nation today, and you see where it fits into the puzzle.

For example, if you ever wanted to know the issues at the root of the illegal immigration situation, they are all spelled out in this report. Unscrupulous employers prefered illegals not because "they do work Americans won't" or because other demographics "refused to work hard," but because their legal standing makes them easier targets for exploitation.

This report also ties into the health care crisis and reasons for the recession.

Wage depression at this economic level reduces buying power and savings abilities of workers, and allows unscrupulous employers to appear more productive. That appearance leads to corruption of both individuals and business values. I can only imagine how this plays out in the bidding process for government contracts.

As far as health care is concerned, eliminating thousands in wages to workers at this economic level increases demands on ERs due to lack of preventative medicine.

This isn't the only puzzle piece, and fixing it won't be a silver bullet, but working against wage theft will be a big part of the solution as we rebuild our economy on a reality-based model.

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3 comments:

DADvocate said...

Unscrupulous employers prefered illegals not because "they do work Americans won't" or because other demographics "refused to work hard," but because their legal standing makes them easier targets for exploitation.

Exactly. 15 years ago I would do a little farm work on the side. Now immigrants, illegal and some legal, will do the same work for half of what I was paid. Those who refuse to enforce immigration laws deprive American workers of jobs and enable the exploitation of illegal immigrants.

Huck said...

Yeah, there's exploitation, which could easily be fixed by a sensible legalization process. But, staying away from that minefield, let me just note that there are many employers who hire such workers and treat them well, paying them at or above the going wage rate for citizens. And they do this because they are simply better workers in a competitive working environment.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I agree that there are many employers who do not exploit their illegal workers in the ways I described.

Based on my personal experience, however, I would have to place those "good" employers in the deep minority on this issue. Our system has always gravitated towards cheap labor and exploitation of the weakest. Not as a whole, of course, but things are set up to reward exploitation rather than moral and legal behaviors.