What follows is something I did not write 33 years ago, but could have.
Businessmen and businesswomen take “business trips,” often working wherever they go. Politicians and political activists travel and work at the same time . . . at least some of the time. Writers trek the world and write about the world they see, as well as worlds they don’t see.
So, we expect some people to be able to move about the planet and work.
But normal folk may not.
Every country has rules prohibiting “tourists” from working — that is, foreign folk on holiday, “merely traveling.” Apparently, governments want the benefit from foreigners visiting and spending money as consumers, but the added benefit of providing useful labor? That’s heavily regulated. You must get green cards, and, indeed, cards of all sorts of colors. These cards come down to one thing: One Must Not Work Without Permission.
The big issue heating up on America’s back burner, right now, is immigration reform. My conservative friends are very wary of any reform that might be proposed, because so many of them would “take it too easy” on “illegal immigrants.” My more liberal friends seem to be incoherent on the subject of foreign workers in this country, but nearly everyone seems to agree: “government” must “regulate” the flow of workers from “other countries.” We cannot have people wandering around making contracts to work! Why, that would be . . .
I’m not sure what. I don’t see anything wrong with it.
I guess the idea is “we” don’t want tourists to become residents, thus overstaying their welcome. “We” don’t want competitors with our labor force. “We” want to control the labor markets here.
Like you, I’ve heard (and made) many arguments about the costs and benefits associated with foreigners working in our country. I’ve seen statistics that suggest a variety of responses.
But the crucial thing, as near as I can make out, is the paranoia and fear involved in all the worry over someone “stealing” a job. All this is very contentious. And looking at the current labor climate (with hordes of ex-workers wiling away their hours and days and lives), it’s not always easy to see what would happen if more workers were to “invade” our shores.
And yet, I take a step back, and witness people traveling about the planet, and the idea that a government — any government! — should stop any two parties from agreeing on a wage contract, or some salaried position, seems outrageous to me.
Maybe what we should do is stop worrying about people working in our country, and worry about people not working in our country.
And maybe not rush to prohibit trades, but, instead, encourage them.
I’m not saying that there aren’t things to worry about. But fixating on the “taking” of “jobs” strikes me as the wrong fixation.