Sunday, March 26, 2006

Guest Worker Program

My brother and I were having an interesting discussion on immigration politics when the topic of the guest worker program came up, and my brother pronounced it dead-on-arrival. That's now new, but his reasoning certainly was. Employers using a guest worker permit would have to pay their workers a minimum wage, and he postulates that real wages are so far below the mandated state limit than a widespread use of a guest worker program would send price shocks through the economy, and many a company or farm would collapse under the burden.

Workers being paid such low wages isn't an indication of a perfect system, but politicians eyeing elections later this year seem unwary of their ability to screw things up big time. Even if a guest worker program does come through, we will need discussion of how we will transition the higher costs into the economy at large. And God forbid, the opponents of immigration succeed, they need to be able to explain where corporations and small businesses and especially farms are going to find labor at the costs they can afford.

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