Big Government and Big Business

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The current issue of The American Conservative has a pleasant surprise. I am a huge fan of AmCon’s foreign policy coverage. Witness for example this issue’s Buchanan piece, the cover story by Justin Raimondo “Out of Iraq, Into Darfur?” (not currently online) and Charles Pena’s Iran: Gulf War III. I have mixed feelings about their immigration coverage. But nothing makes my stomach sink and fills me with dread more than turning the page and seeing Economics in large italic letters in the upper corner. If I can bring myself to read those articles at all then I usually finish by thinking, “Where do they find these people?”

What a wonderful surprise then to find this under Economics in the current issue: “Not So Sweet: How Big Sugar made slaves out of guest workers” by Timothy P. Carney. Here is an article that deals with economics and even immigration in a way that a libertarian can’t help but cheer on. Carney takes aim at one of the Libertarian Most Wanted Corporate Welfare Queens: the Sugar Lobby. He explains how FDR’s New Deal allowed Sugar companies to get what they couldn’t get on the free market: Workers doing hazardous, hot, difficult and tedious work for cheap. As he points out: “danger, monotony, and difficulty are not sufficient to make a job unfillable… employers… are forced to make the jobs attractive… [with] good pay or other bonuses.”

But with the help of FDR’s guest-worker program these companies found a way to have their cake and eat it too. Carney details how gov’t picked up the transportation costs of these workers but more egregiously gave the employers amazing power over their employees: “A typical employer in a free market has only the power to stop paying his worker or possibly sue him if he doesn’t perform promised services. But under guest-worker programs, the employer gains the power of deportation.” Now here is a true sweat shop situation that libertarians can strongly oppose.

I note that Tim Carney’s Big Gov’t/Big Business project was mentioned here before. I look forward to his coming book with anticipation: The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money.

Finally, as if this excellent article wasn’t enough there is also a piece in this issue from John Zmirak on the great Austrian economist Wilhelm Ropke (not currently online). If only every issue of AmCon could be like this one!

8:44 am on June 3, 2006