Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Underside of Paradise

I've mentioned before, somewhat in passing, that there is very probably a significant number of "guest workers" doing the scut work in this town. Not all of them are illegal. Not all of them are paid below-minimum wages. Many of them do quality work, are reliable and diligent, and don't cause any trouble. And they all contribute to keeping wages paid in Key West lower than they would be if the workers weren't here. Supply and demand. Change either one and a balance point shifts. More workers willing to accept lower wages, less demand for wage increases. Fewer such workers available in face of a constant or growing demand, wages go up.

What angers me about the conditions described in the Citizen article, though, is that some of the workers are being exploited by unscrupulous people who are getting away with it.

The article points out that there's a difference between immigrant smuggling and immigrant trafficking. I hadn't considered that before. While there might be some technical differences, it seems to me all part of a whole cloth made up of equal parts of hunger and greed. The current system appears not to be working, and so far nobody has a better idea that they can sell. We're now trying vigilante posses on the border in Arizona. The government doesn't much care for that, but hasn't so far tried to prevent it.

Click on the title to read the Citizen article in full. Nice job, Stacey Rodriquez.

P.S. The raids on the clothing stores on Duval Street on Thursday were supposed to have included an immigration component. There was nothing in the paper to indicate what, if anything, was found.

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