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(no subject)
2012
unknownj
I'm watching the coverage of the by-election in Glasgow, it's quite neat..

There was a woman who was talking about why she was considering voting for the BNP. She talked about her husband, who was made redundant from his job in the building trade "because of immigrants".

To clarify, he was told to take a pay cut from £12 per hour down to £6 per hour, or face redundancy, because the company was able to get people in to do the work for half the price.

Now for starters, hi entitlement issues, so nice to see you here.. I mean seriously, does he have a right to be paid what he wants? Why stop at £12 per hour? Why not demand £24 per hour, after all, apparently it's his choice, apparently...?

But that aside, it's the building trade. It's been absolutely hammered by the recession because of the particular impact on the housing market, and the drying up of the formerly lucrative house building industry. The problem with boom/bust is that industries going through a boom will invariably over-value themselves, and grow beyond the correct size. When the inevitable contraction comes, it's all the more damaging because of the difference between the inflated size of the industry, and the correct size of that industry. So in construction, the industry grew, and when it contracted, jobs were going to be lost, it's just how it is.

Now as that industry grew, it required migrant workers to support that growth. The levels of prosperity that we experienced were supported by migrant workers, who gave the construction industry the ability to respond to the increasing demand with increasing supply. Take out the migrant workers, and you kill the ability of the industry to boom when conditions are right. The industry stagnates, holds the rest of the economy back, and ultimately might just self-destruct.

So without those migrant workers making the industry viable in the first place, would the guy still have a job? Would his company have been able to keep operating at an acceptable level?

But are migrant workers even the problem? It looks like he was priced out of his job by people willing to work more cheaply. Does that have to be immigrants? If his job is at risk when somebody is prepared to undercut his pay, and migrant workers are able to survive off a lower level of pay, why can't "natives" do likewise? After all, we're in a recession - surely people are willing to lower their standards when it comes to looking for jobs, right? So couldn't natives be pricing him out of his job anyway?

This "dey tuk uhr jaaabs!" attitude just doesn't make sense. If a person, any person, can live in the UK and accept a low wage, immigrant or otherwise, then this will always threaten those who want to live in the UK and who won't accept a low wage, and can't make themselves worth the extra money. If you're to believe the hype, immigrants are creating an environment in which graduates can't get janitorial jobs. Well wait, if graduates are willing to accept janitorial jobs, presumably on low wages, then what hope do existing janitors have? A janitor who wants to make £12 per hour is going to get priced out by a graduate who'll accept £6 per hour just to have a job. No immigration required - it's market forces which are screwing those who would try to sell their services above the market value.

But that being said, the construction industry is an interesting one...

See, if you build cars, and you demand a high wage, and the government somehow prohibits immigrants from taking those jobs and undercutting the pay, then the manufacturer can just move their production facilities offshore and produce their cars in a cheaper country, where they can get cheap labour. In general, the manufacturing industry doesn't permit any sort of hostage taking in that sense, because the companies can just manufacture elsewhere, where the pay guarantees don't exist.

But construction? You could get all protective of that, tell immigrants that they may not come here and work in it. Our construction industry loses its ability to compete with those of other nations, but that's fine, because it's not really competing with them anyway - it's not like you can get some French builders in to construct your house, because hey, we're not letting the foreigners do it. And okay, so it creates an artificially high price for construction, but that money goes to the pay of the workers, and therefore back into the economy, so does it really hurt?

Instinctively, I'm pretty sure that it's a really f'king stupid idea. But off the top of my head, I can't quite perceive the negative consequences. House prices would go up, but what's new there? There has to be a killer argument against it, but I'd have to think a bit harder to work out exactly what it is....

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