I have a confession to make – I am not the sympathetic liberal you think I am. Rather, I am a typical American businessman.
I was born to a middle class family and never worked for anything in my life. Growing up, I was well fed, clothed, and had access to clean drinking water and medical attention.
When the time came, I was able to get a nice education. My teachers were all college graduates and knowledgeable about the subjects they taught. When I graduated, I was able to read and write proficiently enough to function in society.
After high school, I went to college, where I majored in business. Though it was a bit of a strain, my parents managed to pay my tuition for four-and-a-half years. I held a job, but it was mostly for booze and Chipotle money.
I finished my schooling and decided to open a restaurant. I took out loans, bought all the equipment and rented out a place. I got the thumbs up from the health department, so all I needed was a staff. Since I was still in a college town, I knew I could find help. Using fliers and old contacts, I managed to put together a staff.
The first couple of months were rough. Business was good, but operating costs were so high I could not make a profit. As bills piled up, I started to get discouraged. It looked like I had as much chance for success as the Rockies have of winning the World Series.
Most of my expenses came from labor. For how much I was paying my student workers, they did not work very hard. Most of them were more interested in chatting with one another than doing anything productive. Also, they were a pain to schedule. They always needed days off, and working around their classes was a headache. Finally, I got fed up and stopped being so accommodating. As a result, I lost half of my staff.
That’s when a young man named Miguel applied. He wanted to work in the kitchen, so the fact that he did not speak English very well was not a problem. I hired him, and it was the best decision I ever made.
He came in on time, never complained about working overtime, and, best of all, worked for cheap. The only problem was he was here illegally, and it made payroll a bit tricky. I needed a Social Security Number, so, after much coercion, I convinced him to purchase one.
When I needed new employees, rather than put a “help wanted” ad up, I just asked Miguel if he knew anybody who wanted to work. He always found somebody.
Now, almost my entire staff is composed of illegal aliens. The restaurant is doing really well, and I do not really need the cheap labor, but I am not about to change things. If I hire students again, I will have to pay them more, and that would cut into my profit.
Occasionally, someone comes asking questions about the legal status of my workers. I go the Tancredo route and tell them I do not have the time to double check the status of every employee. Sometimes they dig deep enough that I have to fire someone to keep myself out of trouble.
I will never stop hiring undocumented workers, however, because the federal government has given me an incentive to do so. Why would I pay the minimum wage and give breaks and benefits when I can hire immigrants to work longer, harder and for less? I can break other labor laws, too, because an illegal immigrant will not report me. It is economics, my friends. Unless laws change making it costlier to use undocumented manpower, there is no incentive for change. Who wants to pay for labor when it is available for next to free?
Sean Reed is a junior political science major. His column appears every Wednesday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.