04 February 2007

Free Movement of Labour

As for the economic impact on sending [i.e. labour/people exporting] countries, many now gain more from remittances than from official aid or inward investment. He [Mr Legrain] quotes approvingly a government minister from the Philippines who says: “Overseas employment has built more homes, sent more children of the poor to college and established more business enterprises than all the other programmes of the government put together.”


I would expect this includes foreign government programmes, i.e. foreign aid.

I myself do not go so far as to call for the free movement of labour.

But I do call for an adjustment of our outdated system in Australia.
...no nigger, no Chinaman, no lascar, no kanaka, no purveyor of cheap labour is an Australian.

- The Bulletin, 1887

The White Australia Policy has officially been removed, and its social backing has largely been suppressed. Racism is still widespread, but taboo. However it's sister policy, the policy of supporting an artificially high price for labour, although under pressure is alive and well, and politically popular. And so, perhaps, it should be. It is possible that our previous socialistic policy of artificially supporting the price of labour has had a bootstrapping effect - bringing distributed wealth that has been self-reinforcing.

One side effect of having a fiat high price of labour is that domestic help has become unaffordable for all but the most wealthy. This has largely not mattered because of the introduction of labour-saving devices. This has allowed women to enter the workforce, doubling the power of our society. Despite this entrance of 50% of the population into the workforce, unemployment is at a (for all intents and purposes) all-time low of about 4.8%.

Still, I am quite sure that most housework gets done by women. So women must come exhausted home from their jobs, pick up their children from their expensive daycare, cook dinner, wash up, and then look after their doddering old parents. This seems to me to be neither fair, nor clever, nor efficient.

What people, women, families need more than anything is affordable help.

Meanwhile, in impoverished countries around the world, very nice young women who would love nothing more than to get a job are denied any opportunity to do so...because there are no jobs. If they are lucky, they can get part time work as a waitress and get paid AUD 20.00 per month. AUD 20.00 per month also happens to be the price of their "free" poor-quality state-provided education.

These honest, hard working, good cooking young women would be delighted to work as domestics in Australia for board and a small wage. Imagine the improvements to your quality of life! Both mother and father earn $60,000 each per annum, but don't have to do any housework. Instead they can relax, recharge their batteries, enjoy sporting and cultural activities. Imagine the improvement to our quality of life!

The United States already does this, albeit surreptitiously. They are in a position where they are under political pressure to crack down on illegal immigrants, but can't because this would cause their society to collapse. Australia should learn from this: It would be far better to have an open, properly conducted, well-organised scheme.

It is time for us to review our prejudices. Such a scheme would not put one Australian out of work. It would give a tremendous opportunities to deserving people who don't have the good fortune to be born in Australia - it would be far more effective than any foreign aid. Yet it would not mean importing people who will later be a burden on our welfare system - we can simply send them home if that becomes necessary or desirable. But best of all, it will help Australians be more effective at work while enjoying their free time more.


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