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The Academic-Man’s Burden

Here’s a letter that I sent this morning to the New York Times:

Responding to a study that finds that low-wage workers routinely remain in jobs at which their employers violate employment regulations such as the minimum-wage, Gary Chaison argues that “Only through comprehensive ‘rights training’ can we truly empower workers to demand their rights at work” (Letters, September 8).

Prof. Chaison’s claim is implausible.  Seventy percent of the workers in that study are immigrants, and four in seven of these are ‘illegal.’  These people are far from being unaware, passive drones.  They left their native lands – presumably without any “rights training” – to find better jobs in the United States.  There’s no reason to suppose that the work conditions and pay they now receive (although deemed inadequate by politicians and academics) are not the best that are available to them given their skill levels and legal status.

Donald J. Boudreaux