Mass immigration amid mass inflation? How to keep low-wage workers low
Very short stories from the US border (now everywhere)
Uzbek Uber-cowboys on the Rio Grande?
One day in Chicago I was late for a plane and forced to use Uber. As the son of a man who used to drive a taxi - this shouldn’t happen.
Unfortunately, Uber is now like Wal-Mart in the US: you should fight in favor of medallion-paying taxis, but there are times when their lack of availability simply makes it impossible or too expensive. The same goes for Wal-Mart: 20 years ago you could try to avoid them, but now in smaller towns Wal-Mart is simply all there is, and you are so broke that their cheaper prices are a must, not a luxury.
My Uber driver turned out to be from Uzbekistan, and he had arrived just three months earlier via the Mexican border.
He utilised a Russian-to-English voice translator on his smartphone to communicate, asking me if I was in a hurry. I was, but I told him not to speed - he’s an illegal. If stopped by police he almost certainly wouldn’t be deported, but there is a hefty fine for not having a driver’s license.
He asked if I was a Muslim, and even if I wasn’t I still would have given him that big tip - for being such a good addition to the US: he can hardly speak English but is already working, and is clearly quite concerned about good customer service!
When Uzbeks are crossing the Rio Grande, it’s safe to say the US border is indeed wide open.
An intimate hotel room for 16
Around the corner from my office downtown there has been a surprising increase in the number of seemingly-poor Latinos hanging around. Turns out that that a shabby hotel nearby has made a deal with the City of Chicago to house refugees.
I met someone who gave me the full scoop:
This person had also met with the City of Chicago’s government employees about providing housing for migrants. The problem was: the City wanted to pack them in 16 per room! Four would be the normal maximum, if one assumes human decency and fire hazard statutes are followed.
This person ultimately declined to accept the migrants. Their main concern was the neighbourhood: when people are packed in like that they are going to feel disrespected, of course. They’ll also be under a lot of tension, and they’ll want to be out of their crowded room and even on the blustery street. Disrespected people may not feel like respecting their surroundings, and this person said he wasn’t going to risk the well-being of a neighbourhood full of people and places dear to him.
Contrarily, the hotel near my office apparently took in the migrants because the owner was likely to either use the money to totally refurbish the hotel after they left, or would just sell the attractive downtown property and let it be demolished. This owner was reportedly nervous about possible damage done to his property, due to such overcrowding, but at least the City is paying his bills in this difficult post-Covid tourist environment.
What is the primary leftist problem here? The problem is that the City is trying to house migrants on the cheap: Sixteen to a room is unacceptable to the migrants and to the neighbourhood. It reflects achieving the absolute minimum: keeping Chicagoans and tourists from seeing the sight of homeless children literally stuck frozen to the street amid notoriously brutal winter weather.
It should be remembered that achieving the absolute minimum of social services is the stated goal of liberal democracy and not just today’s “neoliberalism”.
When 16 to a room is the alleged solution it is clear that the government has no real plan, is allotting insufficient funds and has no real commitment to uplifting those who are surely the poorest and least privileged people currently living in the US.
Is there money for migrants in Chicago? Absolutely, because Chicago is the global center of stolen farmer earnings and useless, profiteering middlemen: its GDP is ranked #8 among global cities.
Is much of this money misappropriated by the federal government to make wars, and does much of this money go insufficiently taxed at the top? Absolutely, but when neither the city, state or nation is stepping in to stop human warehousing the problem is ultimately with capitalist liberal democracy itself.
The real reason the border is open? Keeping wages down amid high inflation
When there is high inflation workers will demand higher wages to keep pace, of course - otherwise they are effectively taking a pay cut.
However, bringing in small nations of low-wage workers to increase job competition is a common capitalist tactic to suppress wages for especially the lowest-skilled workers.
Keeping the bottom under your thumb is important, if you’re a capitalist: When the lowest-skilled workers get a bump in pay, it inevitably will cause economic ripples which produce demands for higher wages by the more skilled tiers.
This national reality even works on a geopolitical scale: Why on earth is it so important for the US to control impoverished Haiti and Honduras? It’s because they set the low-wage floor for the Western hemisphere. Should they get a bump in pay it will ripple from the Yukon to Tierra del Fuego, and capitalist profiteers don’t want that.
The arrival of so many low-skilled workers is a way to ensure that existing low-skilled workers in the US - citizens or not - are pressured to not demand higher wages despite the record inflation. Keeping wages stagnant is one key way to keep inflation from getting even worse (and it also keeps profits high).
This is all textbook, but you don’t ever read about it.
The economics articles are right-wing and don’t want to admit the crimes and collusions of capitalism; the immigration articles don’t want to be accused of being right-wing by pointing out the negatives of immigration.
A perfect example of all these realities is the way Germany took in 500,000 Syrians during 2015-16. This had nothing to do with Germany’s moral support for Muslims - of course that was the propaganda campaign - but everything to do with the fact that Germany had just successfully forced France and the rest of the Eurozone to accept a deeply despised right-wing rollback to their labor codes, which were based on their “Hartz employment reforms”. With all of the Eurozone now effectively on Hartz-ed, Germany thus needed a way to keep costs down (wage demands down) in order to maintain their competitive dominance within the bloc: voila the influx of Syrians.
The economic aspects of the mass migration to the US listed above are far more compelling than an often-alleged political aspect: swaying the election.
It’s true that in the US the last 3 elections have been decided by 4.5% or less, and an average of around 5 million votes (yes, Obama was that unpopular by his second term). So it seems to make sense for Democrats to let in illegals who one assumes will then vote Democrat.
However, these illegals can’t possibly shift the 2024 election - illegals can’t vote, after all. They couldn’t even be citizens until the 2032 election at the earliest.
Anyway, I don’t think being the party which facilitated mass migration is the voter-corrupting equivalent of the rampant pre-WWII “poll taxes”.
Democracy across America was a corrupt joke for so many decades after the Civil War because monied interests (from gangsters to industrialists to incumbent corrupt politicians) could literally “buy” a vote just by paying the other person’s $1 or $2 “poll tax” (a tax required to file a vote) along with a $1 bribe to the poor and desperate voter. To put it in modern terms: would you pay about $75 of your hard-earned money to file a vote for the likes of Hillary Clinton? It took the 24th amendment to the Constitution to end poll taxes in 1964, a major victory against censitary (property) discrimination, which composes one of the three great modern political discriminations, along with racism and sexism.The increase of voter integrity at all levels in the US since the elimination of poll taxes is obviously enormous; the decades of astounding voter corruption in the US amid concurrent peer examples like the USSR is equally enormous.
Anyway #2: Democrats aren’t even the non-White magnet they used to be. Democrats are most definitely the “war party” in the age of Trumpism, and with the rise of California’s Silicon Valley they are at least equally the “global finance” party as well.
So mass migration is primarily being allowed to keep wages down amid record economic catastrophe - not to win elections in 2032. Per my last article - When corporate profits force 53% of inflation the rats are fleeing Western-style democracy - I wonder if US elites even believe the US will be around in 2032. I know for certain that liberal democrats certainly cannot plan that far ahead.
One last note: Yes, there has been a spike in the number of illegal entries in the US since 2021, but when you broaden out the view and compare it since 1980 it’s actually not that very much more; roughly 25% more than other peaks, like in 1986 or between 1996-2001. The larger point is: the southern US border has been effectively wide open for four decades.
Of course, it goes without saying in my writing - but is included in every PressTV report on the subject: the root cause of the migration crisis is absolutely the destabilising and pernicious influence of Washington’s imperialist meddling in Latin America.
The last word on the immigration subject should go to Marx:
Marx wrote about how English imperialism forced Ireland’s surplus labor to England, which forced down both English wages and the moral position of English workers. Two hostile camps of proletariat workers were created, with the English worker actually coming to identify with the English aristocrats and capitalists on a nationalist basis, thus becoming their tool twice over. The problem is not, of course, the migrant workers themselves - it is the capitalist system which manipulates them.
Only by switching to socialist-inspired morality can the problems of immigration be solved, and by solved I mean: nobody has to sleep 16 to a room.
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His latest book is France's Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West's Best Values. He is also the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese. Any reposting or republication of any of my articles is approved and appreciated. He tweets at @RaminMazaheri2 and writes at substack.com/@raminmazaheri