Random posts on all sorts of things designed to inform and provoke.
I, like most people, love going to my local big box store and buying things at incredibly low prices. Rarely though do I think about why those prices are so low and how can foreign workers produce goods at such low prices – which is even more incredible when one adds shipping costs to the selling price. Every US citizen believes that our foreign workers (OFWs)*, i.e. those working in our factories, are second to none in terms of skills and productivity. We are consistently told that the reason why their foreign workers (TFWs) beat OFWs is because of our environmental regulations and unionized rules and that without them OFWs would easily beat TFWs.
I don’t doubt our rules and regulations are moving jobs to places like China, India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam, but let’s think of the impact of these rules and regulations. If you had a choice, and no familial connection to these countries, would you leave the US and move to China, India, Bangladesh, or Vietnam? These may be very nice places but there is a reason why people hesitatingly drink bottled water over there while willingly drinking tap water over here. People aspire to migrate to the US because of our quality of life and that doesn’t happen automatically but through the implementation of rules and regulations.
Now, let’s imagine a world where every country imposes and implements the same rules and regulations, that the playing field is normalized and it all comes down to worker productivity – would OFWs still continue to lag behind TFWs? While this is hypothetical since the underlying assumption is obviously not true, there is some precedence for this kind of exercise – the Bush Administration’s justification for the war on Iraq for example – so it can be done. So, if we conducted this exercise, I’d argue that TFWs would still kick OFWs to the curb.
Why is that? When OFWs first come to this country they are productive and motivated but after some time of living here their productivity declines sharply. This is not their fault as there are so many distractions in the US, from hot women to a multitude of entertainment options to the great outdoors that it’s practically impossible for OFWs to just focus on the job.
Now, if we stopped imposing rules and regulations then the society would go to rot, the great outdoors wouldn’t be so great and the hot looking women would disappear – this would leave nothing for OFWs to do but work and then our productivity would increase – but then Americans wouldn’t want to live here so the US would just turn into China, India, Bangladesh, or Vietnam.
* Some will argue that there are some native-born American citizens who actually do work in manufacturing jobs but since there are so few of them, I am totally discounting this demographic.