A question, recently fairly asked of me, went a little something like this: Do I think it's fair for immigrant workers to stay away from their jobs en masse, thus betraying an employer who was nice enough to give them a job in the first place?
I suppose I can see the point of view. A workforce is hired by a business owner, and there is the basic presumption that said workforce is going to show up on time, dutifully, for work when they are asked. The dismissive answer is, well, you know, it is a BOYCOTT. It's meant to be a symbolic imposition to prove a larger point. There are other ways to prove the point I suppose, but they lack the short, sharp, shock of a boycott. Nevertheless, if we are talking about basic schoolyard concept of "fairness", the boycott seems to harm a party that has acted in good faith.
The problems, as far as reasoning goes, is that everything tends to break down once you've left the concept of schoolyard fairness. This is the real world, I'm afraid, and it's not designed around the idea of fairness. For example, it's stupid to think of an employer as someone who is "nice enough to give someone a job." I've been hired to do any number of things in my life, and at no point was I ever hired out of "niceness", and, personally, I think only foolish employers do. You get hired because you have got the skillz to pay the billz and the dollars line up right compensation-wise. Any other consideration that might be tangentially in play is just the stuff that people like to think so they can sleep at night.
When we hear politicos debate the future of immigrants, illegal and otherwise, you'll hear a lot of highly quotable talk about the loss of American jobs and the lack of border security. This stuff is just the sideshow. The core of the issue is all straight-up, bloodless economics. It is, I'm a afraid, a no-feeling zone, where your pathos and angst might get you a churro if you happen to be carrying $5.99. And when you examine this boycott in simple economic terms, frankly, my great supply of sympathy for the employers starts drying up like the sands of Sudan.
Here's the thing: we have been told that immigrants, illegal and otherwise, are in America "doing the work that other people won't do." Bush, who seems to want to forge some sort of all-things-for-all-people piece of mamby-pambyism, issues this phrase straight from his word hole. Now, of course, this applies a thick layer of frictionless gloss over the reality of the situation, which is that it's not entirely true that these "other people" "won't" do "the work," exactly. It's that they won't do "the work" for thruppence and a thank you.
The "other people" want to get paid, you see, but we got some employers out there that figure that there's got to be a way out of paying top dollar, and bennies to boot. And that's where this population of immigrant workers come in, "doing the work that other people" want to get paid a few dollars more to do.
But let's remember: no one has a gun to these employers' heads. This is America and they do have a choice. And the owners of the businesses that were impacted negatively by the boycott today made their choice unfettered and in the clear light of day. And by making that choice, they saved money. A lot of money. The difference between the compensatory demands of "other people" and the immigrants that were hired went right onto the balance sheet, they went right to the profit margin, they went right into the employers pockets.
The point is, the choice to not hire the "other people" amounted to money saved. Flash forward to today. Employer comes up to the DCeiver, and the following conversation takes place:
Employer: Woe is me! My workforce didn't show up for work today! I had to close! It's not fair!
DCeiver: Oh, my! Tears as large as yours should be sufficient to move a stone to shudder in sorrow! But, my good man, I'm sorry to say to say that I cannot offer you my sympathy!
Employer: What? Prithee, why not! Bereft of my workforce, I am losing mad ducats with each passing hour! Surely you can see why I am so beweep.
DCeiver: My dear shopkeep! Because of your workforce, you have saved money hand over foot!
DCeiver: Well, pray tell, where did all that money go?
See what I mean? Sorry, employers of immigrants, but I don't feel your pain. There are ramifications for buying on the cheap, I'm afraid. The money you saved?
Yeah, you should have saved it.