Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Thirteenth Solution

The Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution says:

  • Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

  • Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The House bill wants to make illegal immigration a felony.

Many people have been saying “immigrants do work Americans won’t do.” (Leaving out, of course “at a price that is below market.”)

Gazing into my very cloudy Crystal Ball, I see a question. If a year of slavery was the sentence for illegally crossing the border, and the cheap employers could contract for the slave labor, would that satisfy the labor demand and discourage enough migration to satisfy every one?

Before you go too crazy on me, be aware that some of the immigrants in my family got their ticket from Ireland by volunteering for indentured servitude. Basically slavery with an expiration date.


Christopher Taylor said...

I don't think illegal immigration ought to be a felony, but your take on slavery is one I rarely see. The fact is, the United States constitution actually permits slavery: except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted and I think indentured servitude would be a great way to deal with a lot of different crimes, not just immigration.

We cram criminals in prison every day in this country for crimes that could be better served as a sentance of slavery: make people who steal or defraud work off their sentance in service of the community or the business they ripped off.

I won't go crazy on you. That's the best idea I've read all year. I'll be spreading this one around.

nk said...

We're not going to do that. Actually, the 13th Amendment is a very good illustration of the kinds of attitudes that existed 150 years ago. (Remember that the original Constitution of 1787 abolished the poorhouse). Even though they finally also abolished race-based slavery, indentureship and apprenticeship, they still did not think that slavery was all that bad for criminals. Hopefully, 500,000 Americans will not have to die in another Civil War to keep this clause of the Thirteenth Amendment from being given effect.

Richard said...

I actually don't believe you could find 500,000 people that thought it was abomination enough to be willing to die for it. While you can train young men to "run to the guns" you first have to train them that there is a greater cause than individual survival. Keeping criminals from "paying their debt" to society or, better still, to their victims isn't likely to be a cause to inspire those that are willing to risk their lives. (This is in relation to Christopher's criminals not the illegals.)

You might find some support for not including illegals, but with the Senate's inclusion of Davis-Bacon protections for "undocumented workers" there should be enough economic disincentive to cause them to be less of an economic threat unless they are much more productive that Union labor for the same wages.