Ohne Gastarbeiter, bitte.

Is there any actual advantage of a guest-worker program, other than to employers who get cheap, docile labor?

Matt Yglesias is right. There isn’t a single good reason &#8212 Hell, there isn’t even a single bad reason &#8212 for any liberal to support any “guest-worker” program.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

5 thoughts on “Ohne Gastarbeiter, bitte.”

  1. First, which post by MY are you refering to? There's no link here and so I'm not sure. Secondly, I disagree. Obviously there is no reason to support a guest-worker program if that means the same thing that existed in German. But, there's no reason to think that this is the only possible sort of Guest-worker program. (Already the fact that there is birthright citizenship mutes the worst parts of the German system in the US.) Since the realistitic alternatives to a guest-worker program are almost certainly worse for both the US and for potential workers, to refuse to have one seems too strong. The question is whether one can have such a program that doesn't violate basic liberal principles in the way that Germany's did. I believe this is possible. If so, this seems a reasonable step to me. It's too quick to rule it out all together, especially on the basis of a reference to the German experience (as suggested by your title) since that's not the only way to set up a guest-worker program, and since the US constitution already rules out the worst aspects of the German experience (i.e.- generations of 'guests' born in the country who are not and cannot become citizens.)

  2. Maybe you want "Keine Gastarbeiter" or "Nicht gastarbeiten".
    Anyway, yeah, I hate the idea of my country, which was life itself to my grandparents, using people and then disposing of them.

  3. I've added the link to Matt's post.
    The orginal headline, in what I'm reliably informed was hilarioulsy faulty German, has been changed. I hope it now says what I meant it to say: "Thank you, but no guestworkers [for me]," or "[I'll have mine] without guestworkers, please," rather than "No guestworkers!" or "No to guestworkers!" or "Guestworkers forbidden!"

  4. "Kaffee ohne Sahne, bitte" for example, means "Coffee without cream, please."
    Regardless, Guestworkers is not only a corrupt idea, but also an oxymoron. Indentured servants is a more accurate description.
    But the practice is already alive and well here in the good ol' USofA for citizens. WallMart and Microsoft both have used thousands of temp employees, some working for years with that status. Thus, the employer has a full-time worker with none of the reciprocal obligation of a benefits package. The worker is paid below prevailing wage, and is just out in the cold.
    Except, as the right would say, they can simply go get another job. Bastards.

  5. Some more questions:
    We already have, of course, guest worker programs in the US- H visas, which I suspect that at least a few of your colleagues at UCLA are on, are temporary work visas. They are actually much more onerous in many ways than the temporary work visas proposed by the McCain/Kennedy bill. Do you oppose these, too? I'd guess not. Similarly, student visas have most of the features that people find offensive in guest worker programs. Do you oppose these? Do you think that a student visa should give one the right to a green card, or should only be given to those we want to give green cards to? Again, I suspect not. The discussion of guest-worker programs is distorted by the obviously bad and unjust German situation. But, that's not the only option. It's at least somewhat irresponsible to not make this clear.
    You might also look at this ariticle by Howard Chang. I think it's still too negative on guest worker programs, but at least it's a reasonable discussion:
    Liberal Ideals and Political Feasibility: Guest-Worker Programs as Second-Best Policies, 27 N.C.J. INTL L. & COM. REG. 465

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