The economy that is New Brunswick (that’s Canada, not New Jersey)

Middle and high school students to process lobster after temporary foreign worker ban

With lobster processing set to begin Sunday, desperate New Brunswick seafood plants are turning to high school and even middle school students to fill the gap left by temporary foreign workers.

The decision by the Higgs government to block foreign workers amid the coronavirus pandemic has left processors in the province saying they have only about half the workforce they need, while counterparts in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are ready to go “full tilt.”

“[The province] pulled the rug from under our feet,” said Russel Jacob, owner of Westmorland Fisheries in Cap Pele…

Middle school students must have permission from their parents and will make about $13 an hour.

High school students will be paid about $15 an hour.

Jacob expects they will not perform nearly as well as the experienced foreign workers.

Here is the full story, via Eric Hendry.

My initial point of course was one about the value of immigrants.  But might it also be said that a significant chunk of the rising unemployment in New Brunswick is voluntary?  Admittedly not everyone is sufficiently able-bodied to perform the work, but if junior high school students can do it…that means that many of the unemployed adults are simply unwilling to take these jobs?  Is one allowed to say that these days?  It doesn’t have to mean the government should do nothing about the broader economic crisis.

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Such as pointing out that middle school students working is only a problem if it means that adults aren't.

I was actually hoping that we could repeal child labor laws in the West. Get these kids grinding, it’s good to work.

A lot of the gen Z kids need to get bloodied a bit so they can get better prepared for life in the coming workforce.

Obviously their wokepocalypse-safe space college with grade inflation isn’t going to do much for them in the real world.

The age of middle school students in New Brunswick is between 12 and 14, between grades 6 and 8. Not many boomers got bloodied a bit so they got better prepared for life in the coming workforce when they were 13.

I'm too young to be a Boomer, but I was working full time for my father doing construction work every summer from 14 on. It's how I paid for my car at 15 and the insurance to operate it.

The "value of immigrants" is to the employer. The costs of immigrants is to the tax payer.

The math is simple. Does a Low Skilled immigrants household pay less in taxes than the median tax payer. If yes, then they are a drain on the budget.

Yes, and to make the math even more convincing, consider the cost per year of K12 education is around $12K nationally. To educate two kids costs $240,000.

If an unskilled immigrant comes and puts two kids through K12, they will cost the US $240,000. If they are earning a median income, they will pay roughly 3% effective tax rate on federal income tax. At $55K/year, that's 45 years of earning and $2.5M earned. 3% of that is 75K. If 1/3 of your income goes to taxable goods, then local sales tax (let's say 8%) on that $2.5M is $66K.

So, your average unskilled immigrant doesn't even cover the K12 education cost. Now factor in subsidies for housing, health care, etc.

It's fine that not all groups don't pull their full weight. But the idea that immigrants that come and work hard for a lifetime and are a net adder to the economy is wrong. They are a net drain.

CA is spending about $3-4B/year educating kids here illegally. They are facing a $54B budget shortfall due to the virus. Even in good times, CA didn't have enough money to clear trees from 100 year old power lines.

Immigration is great as long as the economics work out. If they don't, you need to be very careful to ensure those are you bringing in will be net contributors.

Isn't the point of education generally that the student pays it off over their lifetime in taxes? Otherwise by your logic it would also be bad to have too many kids.

Fair enough but why not have the employer pay it off they are the ones benefiting from the cheap labor. Let the employer pay a surcharge to hire immigrants of $60,000 a year.

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There is SO much Tyler in this post

He finally finds a business he can sympathize with... and of course it’s one that relies on foreign workers.

He think this story shows the value of immigrants... when they are packed into a factory for low wages producing a wildly overpriced seafood for the rich

He thinks temporary workers are “immigrants.”

He is baffled why adult professionals don’t want to work in a freaking seafood factory.

He is aghast that “middle schoolers” are working. Even in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, 8th graders can work, and 6th graders can work on farms.

He actually thinks he’s being brave to observe that if you pay people to be unemployed, people will stay unemployed.

This is a satire website. I am certain of it.

Not satire, just the musings of a sheltered Outer Party "libertarian" who has the excess comfort to virtue-signal.

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Boy, did you misread his argument.

If you think the fish packers are making a ton of money, think again. They aren't selling "wildly overpriced seafood to the rich", they're selling to other industry vendors who in turn make their money by separating the fish by quality to other destinations.

Some goes to animal processors for dog food, some to fill "Chicken of the Sea" tuna cans, some to McDonalds for Filet-o-Fish and maybe a tiny bit to fancy restaurants, which don't generally sell raw fish either. They sell it after paying what it takes to prepare and serve the fish. Those fancy diners are paying for that more than they are for the fish itself.

Fish-packing deals with *all* the above grades of fish which is why it doesn't pay very well, the margins are pretty tight as it is. What he was pointing out is that this has led to a perverse distortion in this labor market segment:

1) Non-immigrant adults aren't available because this sort of work pays less than unemployment checks do.
2) Unskilled immigrants as a group aren't particularly valuable either but they're better than middle-school students.
3) But now immigrants aren't available either so the call has gone out for the students.

None of this is baffling at all, it's just a perverse result.

This makes me think that we should restructure unemployment.

Something more along the lines of:
a) Full unemployment for 2 weeks
b) 75% unemployment provided you are provably working for somebody for at least 20 hours a week up to the normal limit
c) 50% unemployment for 2 weeks to the normal limit (if you aren't working at least 20 hours a week)

It would incentivize people to take an immediate pay cut and get over the anguish of taking a lower class job quickly. They still probably make more money and they can keep their hours low enough to have time to look for a replacement job.

We shouldn't encourage people to take immediate pay cuts. It's best for everyone that people work in the jobs that match their skills and experience. Settling for a lesser job and being paid less when you could have found an equivalent job to your old one if you'd only had enough time to look is bad.

Burdening the unemployed with working part time or off hours so they can keep looking for the job they really want after just two weeks is putting way too much stress on them. It's not like unemployment is 100% of what you were making.

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Why did you list dog food three times?

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Could be the typical thing where if you're a suddenly unemployed, say, computer programmer, nobody wants to employ you in a minimum-wage job because they know you're only seeing it as a short-term option and will quit as soon as you can get a job that's (even slightly more) in your field.

yes, whereas these middle school kids are in it for life

Sorry, I should have refined my argument.

Continuing with our hypothetical computer programmer, even if she's applying for say two months of seasonal work in a fish-processing plant, there's still a clear mismatch between her and the potential employer's preferences with regards to the duration of the work. Unless she miraculously gets a new job as a programmer right after the end of the two months, the employer faces the risk that she'll:

a) find a programming job and quit mere days after starting, or;
b) not find a programming job, and thus have a desire for ongoing work

Much easier to employ a temporary worker, or indeed a middle schooler for whom it will be a fun and probably character-building interlude. That's not to apportion moral blame to anyone involved; there's just a mismatch of desires that is inherent to the misallocation of labor in this case.

I agree with your example here, though I think the underlying concern, which bothers some of us more than others, is the layabouts who are not female computer programmers, who take gov handouts rather than do an honest day's work.

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Canadian East Coast typically has a higher unemployment rate than the rest of the country. So it's something else

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My initial point of course was one about the value of immigrants.
----
If they are so valuable, they should stay home.

The need for immigration is an illusion created when economies of scale cannot be expanded beyond the current market. Markov and Marx first discovered the problem. Flat earthers never do. The question to ask: If more people is good, then why not leave the people where they come from so they can do good there?

Someone is a flat earther here, likely Caplan.

"If more people is good, then why not leave the people where they come from so they can do good there?"

Because the lobsters are in New Brunswick. Next question.

Who is picking potatoes back home?

The same farmers as always? Using the same equipment as always? Unlike meat or seafood, potatoes are handled in a fully mechanized way, from planting to harvesting. Asking who is picking the potatoes is like asking who is picking the wheat, especially in areas like the Maritimes, where potatoes are a major crop (especially in PEI).

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Machines: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.potatopro.com/news/2016/potato-farmers-kenya-turn-mechanization-meet-rapidly-increasing-demand%3famp

And that isn't just a tongue in cheek response. As agricultural technology has improved, the same amount of labor produces a lot more crops, and demand hasn't gone up as much. So labor goes to other industries.

And notice that this has usually meant labor has to move: huge numbers of people have migrated from rural areas to cities as they have moved out of agriculture and into industrial production and services.

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Knee-jerk analysis of a complex and evolving economic issue. Isn't that something universities train people out of? Or maybe if there is no market for complex understanding, students can emigrate and pick lobster meat. (Oh my, where is my morning coffee?)

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Your perspective is backwards: no one is "moving" immigrants and so the idea of "leaving" them where they previous were makes no sense; immigrants are voluntarily choosing to go from one place to another. What you are really saying is, we should stop them from moving voluntarily. But people aren't public property whose location governments can just decide.

Also note there is no stopping point to your argument. If it is beneficial to bar people from moving countries to keep their "value" where it is, then why isn't the same true for regions? Should we intern everyone to their hometown? If not, why not? I suspect whatever you say will be some version of what I say below, and it will apply to migration across countries too.

To steelman your argument, I'll assume what you are really saying is that if labor moves from an origin country to a destination country, it makes the labor cheaper at the destination but more expensive at the origin, so what is gained? But, as the previous comment points out, fundamentally there will always be some mismatch problems with other factors of production. Lobsters can't move, so for any production process involving harvesting lobsters, the other factors will have to go to them. Even in a very simple economy with only one final good that is produced with labor, capital, and land and no economies of scale, the land can't move and so the labor and the capital will have to go to the land. The point is that the "value" of the capital is different depending on where it is, and what it can be combined with. The same amount of capital generates more output when you combine it with the optimal amount of land, and so it is worth more. The same goes for labor.

The actual economy does have economies of scale in many products, including external economies of scale (realized within an industry at a particular location, regardless of firm) that mean the whole enterprise can't just pick up and move somewhere else. It also has millions of specialized products. Labor will have a higher value where it can be combined with these other factors than in places where it can't. Moreover, labor isn't a single undifferentiated thing. Different people will have different aptitudes, and there is no magic force that causes these to be exactly geographically distributed at birth where they have the highest value. There is thus always going to need to be some movement to reach the most efficient level of production.

Add then on top of these issues that policy often further restricts the movement of other factors. Capital cannot flow totally freely between countries, which means labor has to come to the capital. Social institutions, both public and private, also have trouble doing so, which in turn means labor and capital go where the institutions are. These are of course fixable problems if countries would allow free movement of capital and develop fantastic institutions that support commerce, and that would definitely reduce some of the volume of immigration, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

Boy, it's a good thing all people around the world are completely fungible and don't retain any genetic traits or cultural values when they cross a border or your argument would look just as naïve as Tyler's. Let them eat lobster...

Not the argument of OP, who was arguing about the surplus value of labor, or related to Tyler's point, which is about what jobs Canadians seem to want to do. You are making a completely different non-economic argument -- "they'll ruin the place". I disagree and think history bears that out, but it really has nothing to do with the thread.

You're the one who said "people aren't public property whose location governments can just decide".

Not only is that unrelated to OP's or Tyler's argument, it's also wrong—one group's government or nation isn't the "public property" of a second group, to use your terminology.

It is, in fact, up to the people in a nation to decide who else, if anyone, is allowed in that nation. No one has a right to immigrate to PEI to process lobster unless the people of PEI (which is distinct from the owners of the fisheries) want them there. Whether they ruin the place or make it better is irrelevant.

While I also disagree with that general proposition to the extent that you mean it through majority vote and not freedom of association, that's not what I was saying. I was reacting to the OP using the language "leave the people where they come from" that sounded like someone was actively moving these people from one place to another, as opposed to the people themselves voluntarily deciding that's what they wanted to do.

It depends on your definition of "actively". To focus on the US, even if you discount the NGOs who make a mission of picking up migrants from Latin America and transporting them to the US-Mexico border, there are still plenty of treasonous elements within our country who are acting to maximize the number of immigrants to the US.

Note that this is distinct from removing barriers to immigration or otherwise allowing market conditions to dictate it. As noted above, automation means our demand for immigrant workers ought to drop shortly, if it isn't already, and (at least in Canada) there's a pool of teenagers able and/or willing to pick up the slack.

Instead, the voluntary decisions you refer to are facilitated by our treason lobby. It's in the fishery owners' best interests, for example, to maximize the number of potential fishery workers in the country whether they have a sufficient labor pool or not. It's simple supply/demand. If the workers are apathetic to unions, poor working conditions, benefits, etc. (as the specific class of immigrants we encourage are), all the better.

Unfortunately this interest coincides with our leftist politicians who not only benefit from the lobbying funds but also realize that the same class of immigrants who are more tolerant of poor working conditions and pay are also tolerant of corruption and open to bribes via socialistic welfare packages. So they, too, are going to do everything in their power to maximize immigration to the US whether the "free market" demands it or not.

This all of course leads to the freedom of association bit, in which any assertion today that the people of the US ought to decide who is allowed to come to the US (much less the people whose families have historically lived in the US before the treason lobby kicked into gear) is unacceptably xenophobic and racist. The aforementioned politicians, of course, are looking forward to a time when the immigrants themselves have the majority vote, at which point the issue will be settled.

You may argue that these are all still voluntary decisions on the part of the immigrants themselves but it's hardly sane to close your eyes and pretend this is just the free market at work. There are clearly incentives to immigrate to the US beyond gainful employment and even beyond the desirability of the society itself, to the point where it is subsidized (from a market perspective). I would certainly say there are people "actively" moving others to the US, and the West in general, whether they involve voluntary decisions by immigrants or not.

Yet again we find ourselves coming to the conclusion that libertarianism and worship of the free market is an inherently unserious and naive position. It's another reason why we'll be evicting the libertarian collaborators from the country along with the leftist traitors.

"It's another reason why we'll be evicting the libertarian collaborators from the country along with the leftist traitors."

If this kind of knuckle-dragging incel power fantasy is your unironic viewpoint then you should consider focusing your mental energy on something better suited to your intelligence and temperament, such as collecting anime figurines.

Is this the best response you have? Incels? Anime? You should start packing your bags.

Your weird fantasies are never going to happen, sweetie. You’re not going to seize power and kick out the people you don’t like. You’re just going to keep leaving idiot comments on MR until the stress of never getting laid gives you a heart attack.

Your comments are unoriginal and not at all entertaining. I think you will be kicked out just for that.

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This is a very good reply, and I'm going to add "steelman" into my vocabulary.

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Dan Culley, thank you for the excellent response.

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Because not every immigrant laborer wants to miss out on living and working with 21st century capital as opposed to 19th.....

If Marx was right, then the size of the market wouldn’t increase profitability.....

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Interestingly, we do seem to try to encourage people to exist in one region or another. The de facto subsidization of low-skill workers to remain in the Bay Area, where we call "poverty rate" to be $119,000 a year comes to mind, where people making that much just about anywhere else would live like kings and queens.

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Those seem like reasonably high wages, and they might be close to the market equilibrium and optimum.

But with almost 9% unemployment, why aren't adults jumping for those jobs? I think a good guess is that the working conditions are lousy, and made worse by the threat of catching the coronavirus in an inadequately shielded and protected workplace.

It's not clear to me that extending the employment margin to include children is a good idea ... although if school is out, maybe it is the best use of their time.

But the major alternative, which employers seem to avoid at all costs, is to offer a higher wage to adult workers and to improve their workplace conditions. Voila, they'd get job applicants aplenty.

In Oregon at least, it took the pandemic to induce the major grocery stores to add $2 per hour of "hazard pay" to their workers' wages, and to install clear plastic shields, provide masks and gloves, increase physical space between workers, etc. to increase workplace safety.

Are the sea food processors sending cars, buses to pickup workers and move them 50-100km twice a day?

Seasonal workers generally leave family behind for these jobs and live in packed group housing. Migrants following the crops might move their family every few weeks and even kids work the fields, kids of parents working farm jobs exempt from most labor laws and wage laws. Truancy is illegal, but most schools want to ignore the law due to the hassle of kids constantly changing schools.

In any cases, seasonal and migrant workers live in generally crappy quarters near the work arranged by the employer/broker. Pigs, chickens living in cleaner quarters because keeping animals healthy is more important than workers.

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Shock and horror: “many of the unemployed adults are simply unwilling to take these jobs?” And why should they? Apart from the many specific reasons why people might not be able to take up these particular jobs, are people who work for a living not entitled to make choices about the kind of work they do? It is called a labour market after all. As in other markets, then, if you cannot get people to do the job at $15 an hour then you have to offer more — and/or improve conditions of work. Isn’t that how markets are supposed to work? You like immigrant labour because it is vulnerable and desperate and not able to negotiate decent wages and working conditions from a position of strength. It is, in other words, a way of rejigging the market in favour of the employer. And working people understand how immigrant labour is often used in this way. It’s the constant refrain they hear as their wages decline and conditions worsen. Zero-hours contracts and subsistence wages? “If you don’t want to do it then we can find people who will.” Well now, for a time, the situation has changed. Not liberty and the free market but compulsion to work is in the air.

Or it could be that the job sucks, the margins are tight and it is what it is.

I always love the labor types that argue that there is always some pot of gold just around the corner if they just raise wages and improve working conditions....

I’m gonna guess that if the employer is resorting to cheap, ineffectual child labor they probably already tried the carrot(high wages) with the domestic work force or there is no margin to offer the carrot.

Then maybe growing food in Canada/The US is too expensive, and the business deserves to go under?

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Yeah, that's how markets work. If I think food is too expensive - I just don't buy it, till they make it cheaper. Isn't that how markets are supposed to work?

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It's not a free market when the government is "hiring" people to sit around and do nothing for marginally less than your affordable wage.

It's actually worse than the competition implied in a free market, because not only can the government raise their wages (or "wages") at will, it's you and your workers who bear the cost of that.

I am in the UK so I can’t speak to how unemployment benefits are funded in the USA, or anywhere else. But here people who work pay national insurance and taxes. If they are unemployed they get some of their investment back. To say government is “hiring” the unemployed is a misuse of language. In the UK successive governments have made it very difficult to get support when you are unemployed. People who like to preach about the idle profligate poor have very rarely experienced the indignities, the insecurities, the poverty and the isolation of unemployment.

Payroll taxes are still taxes. It's not an "investment" if you can't control if or how much you invest (to say nothing of the abysmal returns). The fact is that the government can decide they want to pay more or extended benefits at any time and the people who front the cash are the workers. I'm sorry your communist government has brainwashed you into believing otherwise. Parliament was a mistake, long live the Queen.

My communist government? Which British government would that be? Parliament was a mistake? What does that mean? How am I brainwashed? About what? Nothing you say makes any sense.

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New Brunswick is a success story, with zero Covid deaths (out of a population of about 780,000). But by that very fact, they've painted themselves into a corner. They can't even open up to tourists and visitors from other Canadian provinces, let alone foreign workers.

Paging Jacinta Ardern.

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Wow - a quick google reveals an unemployment rate of 13.2% (over 15, both sexes) and a 21.1% unemployment rate of ages 15-24.
https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200508/t004a-eng.htm
I guess if you are getting paid to stay at home then there is no incentive to work...

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Lobster fisherman have a high on-the-job mortality rate. Probably higher if you're a kid who'd rather be on their phone.

I think it's just jobs in the processing factory

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I want to know what carrier they're using if they get service out in the ocean.

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"Is one allowed to say that these days?"

I think you can say that these days. I don't think you can just stop there, though. You need to think about what the jobs are like, in terms of pay and conditions, and the decline of labour share and blue collar work over the last few decades.

Not just pay and conditions either. There's much more dignity in going overseas to work for relatively high pay than there is working a dead end poorly paid job in your own country.

If Canadians could go overseas to take jobs like these at the same (relative) rate as foreign workers, I'm sure many would.

Further, lots of well educated and well off westerners have worked similar jobs when they were younger and enjoyed the experience. That's not the same.

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Terms like “child labor” and attitudes like “everyone should go to college” are past due for a re-evaluation. All the Wal-Mart greeters have retired. Children have traditionally been wellspring of cheap labor. Everything old is new.

We've closed the schools and sent our kids to work, saving both money and the economy. The new Canada is awesome!! I can't see any problems with this plan!

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Most employers require you to list all your work experience on your CV. You're not allowed to leave holes. (I mean you're allowed to but they will automatically discard your CV.) Most employers would probably prefer to hire the candidate who did not spend a few months processing lobsters. This is not because of any law, that's just what most large employers do. If working in lobsters A is going to harm my chances of finding a job in my career then formally I have a choice but it is such a cruddy one that I think it is fair to call it "involuntary unemployment".

As an employer, I can definitely say you’re wrong. If you list things in your resume you did as a teenager, you probably won’t get a job for me, but I don’t exclude candidates who’s resume starts at college degree. Not sure what country your from, but a 10 page document called a CV (academic resume) in the US would be auto filtered out of results I see for resumes.

Hi Nigel, I see I wasn't clear enough. I wasn't referring to the youngsters. I mean if in 2020 I'm a computer programmer or a nurse and the last job I list on my resume is in lobsters it may harm my chances of getting a job as a programmer or a nurse. And I'm not allowed to just leave my last few months blank. I have to affirmatively state that I was employed at X or that I was not employed. That may be wrong too but that's what I meant - very recent job history.

In my experience hiring for smaller organizations that aren't famous and are not inundated with top-shelf candidates, these places are often desperate for qualified people. Job-seekers often assume they have to look perfect on paper to get called back but the reality is that if you have some unique, in-high-demand skill or experience, a few months processing lobsters is probably not going to damage your chances with a sane employer.

Well that is very true, but if you have to avoid lobsters in order to find a job with a larger, more famous organization that isn't desperate, that doesn't make your unemployment really "voluntary" the way I would use that term in everyday discourse.

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Jeepers, haven't you guys ever written a resume?

"May 2020-June 20201 - Embedded Enrichment Experience - Westmoreland Fisheries: Participated in continuous quality assessment, providing manual throughput of nominally high-end consumer product, in ongoing, structured team-based initiative, supplying multi-use non-industrial biological component for sales and distribution in Canada and worldwide."

Then at the interview:

E: So for almost a year you worked for a fisheries company. What did you do exactly?

C: We took a raw product and upgraded it...

E: No really, what did you do?

C: I had a box of elastic bands, small ones, and I had to put one on each of the lobster's pincers.

E: How many a day?

C: Oh, quite a few. A few tons a day.

E: Did they bite, um, pinch you?

C: Regularly at first.

E: Ok. We have a position in Marketing. But we are looking for someone to sort out production in xxx. You might find the lobsters easier to deal with. Are you up to it?

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Processing lobsters looks a hell of a lot better on any resume than sitting at home and collecting an unemployment check.

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Just to give a different perspective: this is a pandemic for us (and a mild one to boot) but a holocaust for the lobsters, which, by the way, live to age 40 and are monogamous. Just something to consider next time you throw a live one into a pot of boiling water.

Anatomically, lobsters don't have a brain. No brain, no pain!

I suspect that very little is actually known about the possibility of pain sensation within a dispersed nervous system, regardless what assumptions and conclusions are being made in seemingly objective scientific studies. While maintaining agnosticism in an absolute sense, I find the likelihood of pain capacity high, based on the following, which I believe are attributes of lobsters:

1) a sophisticated ability to detect a single mate and to sustain that connection monogamously for a lifespan of decades;

2) an apparent, from what I read here --
https://theconversation.com/psychologist-jordan-peterson-says-lobsters-help-to-explain-why-human-hierarchies-exist-do-they-90489
--ability of lobsters to maintain social hierarchies;

c) the nature of the response of the lobster in boiling water; since temperatures that high do not exist in the evolutionary environment of lobsters (with the exception of underwater thermal vents, which no lobster could enter into and survive; plus even peripheral exposure to such vents is probably very rare and thus a trivial evolutionary influence), my sense is that the vigorous response to boiling water likely indicates a higher-level processing that might well include pain-experiencing capacity;

d) the centralized motor functions of the claws, and the relatively centralized sensory functions of the antennae, suggest highly unitary neural processing capacities, even if such capacities are anatomically dispersed; and if those neural capacities are in fact focal, that is, proximate to the claws or antennae, one then must assume a sophisticated communication network within the body to allow for integrated responses and motor commands that are relevant to the entire organism qua unitary organism. Either way, one arrives at the conclusion of a functionally unitary, though anatomically dispersed, brain.

I find it hard to explain any of these attributes -- and I suspect other such such attributes would be evident if I knew more about lobsters -- on the simplistic "no brain, no pain" assumption. A dispersed nervous system that is capable of carrying out the above functions may well have the capacity to experience pain, which, of course, has great survival value, in that it allows for more flexible patterns of response to both beneficial and averse stimuli, and thus would be expected to develop relatively early in the evolutionary process.

I suspect that most conclusions that run counter to the argument I am making here are ultimately based on the specious assumption that "if they're not like us in gross anatomical terms, they can't experience in any way similar to those that we do." In fact, this assumption practically leads to the conclusion that most forms of life on the planet are effectively, in the most important respects, inanimate; that their responses are fully automatic, with no awareness, and thus are not fundamentally different from the movements of a rock that is falling to the ground under the influence of gravity.

I am not saying that every worm, gnat, or microbe is sentient, but I am suggesting that the capacity for relatively sophisticated sentience and pain-experiencing may occur at levels of evolutionary development that are lower than those often assumed.

Consider this simple thought experiment: Take a human brain, which is bi-hemispheric, and extend the corpus callosum, the pathways that connect the hemispheres; then implant one hemisphere into the belly; then split those two separated hemispheres further -- adding a corpus callosum at each split -- and do that a couple of more times. Where does that leave you?

Certainly, something important will change, due to the increased signaling time down the longer connecting fibers, but why would you assume that basic functions like some form of sentience and certainly pain reception would be fundamentally altered? And that is in a human being -- an organism that is, of course, much larger than a lobster. In a small animal such as a lobster, where the distances, and hence the delay in signal transmission, would be short, the dispersion may be largely irrelevant. In fact, given the small size of the animal, the distance between most nodes in the nervous system may actually be comparable to, or even less than, the distance traversed by the human corpus callosum. Signaling time may not be an issue, and the entire notion that an organism does not have a unitary anatomical brain may have little bearing on the functional capacity of the nervous system.

Certainly, if one wants to adopt a position, a la Ayn Rand, that -- as a matter of definition -- animals can't have rights, because values and rights are definitionally related to human survival, you are welcome to it; but be aware that defining such "rights" out of existence does not address the more fundamental questions, which have to with have to do with one's ethics, with one's willingness to inflict pain on sentient beings for what are relatively trivial reasons.

There are certainly complex issues here; how can one even build a house if excavating the basement and laying the foundation will kill many creatures, including mammals? But that is just what such issues are, and should be recognize as: complex. It is a logically serious and I believe unethical mistake to try to alleviate this complexity by either (a) poor scientific inference from the underlying facts or (b) the construction of ethical schemes that define the problem out of existence.

As an aside, I'll note that I do see value in many of Rand's ideas, and I am broadly sympathetic to her pro-human emphasis. Human survival is important, and I am not speaking of survival in a dirt-floored hut. However, I believe the framework Rand ultimately derives regarding the question of "rights" is arbitrary, rooted in speciest assumptions, and can lead to great and unnecessary suffering of sentient beings.

Rand herself to some extent felt trapped by her own definitional strategy: in Atlas Shrugged. Around the time the "nursemaid" dies in (if I recall) Roark's arms, Rand makes a remarkable and sympathetic comment about the suffering of animals; and she also stated, in another context, that she wished she could find a way to bring consideration of animals into an ethical framework, but that reason would not allow it. I believe she was mistaken in her assumptions about the limitation of reason in this regard.

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LOL. This is why you go to school to get a real job. So you don't compete with 15 year olds who could do your job for cheaper. I bet those blue collar workers feel real dumb now.

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Dang, it's too bad that lobster processing is A Job Americans Just Won't Do™ or else we could stop immigration here and allow our youth to make a decent wage and gain job experience too. Pretty crazy that Canadian teens have such a higher work ethic than American teens that they don't have to worry so much about lobsters rotting in the fields if they don't have a steady stream of immigrants.

At $13/hr, that buys you a pack of quilted toilet paper or two N95 masks at today's prices. Not worth it. Let Pedro process the crustaceans. If you're an American you make more on unemployment anyways.

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At $13/hr, that buys you a pack of quilted toilet paper or two N95 masks at today's prices. Not worth it. Let Pedro process the crustaceans. If you're an American you're paid more on unemployment anyways.

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If we encouraged young people to take those jobs - and perhaps, use all their book learning at American public schools to "advocate" for themselves in the way of working conditions and wages the way all other identity groups are actively encouraged to advocate, even to consider advocacy a worthy career, especially the college kids (and that's supposed to be admirable, they even win prizes for it!) - well, I don't know if they would stick with it forever, but we might find out if there are jobs people will do when those jobs are not virtually assigned to a particular ethnic group, with the native-born in the odd position of being the aliens, suspected - accused - of laziness and discontent a priori.

Everybody is supposed to manifest discontent - it's practically the national pastime - except for labor. Our host urges us not to be "complacent".

People like to speak of the "tribal" nature of things with regard to the relatively unimportant sphere of politics. The labor market being segmented in a "tribal" way seems to me a very post-American notion.

There is no one under 30 living in the zip code where I live, that works on any of the many houses abuilding. A few young people with such an interest might go to A&M and get a degree in construction. It would take a young person with unusual strength of character to walk up to a building site, and inquire about a job from the on-site foreman of a crew of immigrants who typically have little English. I can't imagine what the experience would be like after that - I am certain it has never happened locally. "Well, that's because they didn't want the job." Didn't want the job even though it is clear the men who work on those sites are having a pretty good time with each other, laughing, if their boss is good-natured, and has hired the right number of men to to do the job. Didn't want the job even though to build something tangible is often invoked as the ultimate achievement for a man, leading to lots of weekend DIYers? Didn't want the job even though he's heard that his father or grandfather did that work when young, suggesting it might be within his capabilities too? Didn't want the job because unused to working 10 or eleven hour days, sometimes six days a week ... Well, yeah, hard to be hardened to something that forms no part of legal labor practices, and thus the jobs that young person might likely have had before.

There is so much circularity to all this. And the one starting axiom - the price of the lobster must not change.

I'm reminded of a library book I read a decade or so ago, maybe longer. A young woman journalist in the mode of ... well, I've forgotten that woman's name too, she used to write about work and workers, with a feminist tilt, famous at one point ... anyhoo, she went off to get a job among the agricultural laborers in California, so she could get a book out of them. She figured, I suppose, that it wouldn't be too hard to get one of these jobs since no one wanted them. In fact, getting her foot in the door turned out to form a significant part of the story. It was far from easy to "break in" or even to know whom to talk to. It's not like the jobs were posted anywhere. You got the job by being a member of the family of someone who already worked there, or part of their social network. Indeed, there was one group where even speaking Spanish - I believe she had some Spanish - would not help you, because the people working in those fields spoke another of the Mexican languages.

And yes, the work was back-breakingly hard, but certainly made no easier by not being part of the community.

I suppose her book made little splash because what are you going to do with the information that the work is hard and ill-rewarded compared to easier jobs? That's all by design, and there is ultimately nothing for activists to do, lest the system be called into question.

It's not like trans rights or something real like that.

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Such stories, particularly with the "immigrant labor" angle, always make we wonder.

The population with IQs between 80 and 100 is about the same as the population with IQs between 100 and 120. The 80-100 group are not going to learn to code.

What exactly are they supposed to do in our brave new world of automation, globalized manufacturing, and high immigration?

Vote for Democrats.

Holding out hope there is still a chance we reestablish a culture of hard work and financial independence. Not sure about the 80s but the 99s could probably debone a chicken or pick a peach. My port could use a pressure wash.

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"The population with IQs between 80 and 100 is about the same as the population with IQs between 100 and 120. The 80-100 group are not going to learn to code."

This is one of the issues with "job retraining" programs. Economists always want to assume that job losses from global trade will go away with a marginal amount of job training. This is of course bonkers. You aren't going re-train 45 year old men with a 90 IQ with any degree of success. Their expertise is in the job they are losing and odds are those jobs are disappearing everywhere. They'll end up as a truck driver or as some mundane low end low pay job until they can take early retirement.

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UBI. Negative income tax. Georgian land tax. Lots of good potential solutions.

One solution that doesn't seem to be popular among the establishments of both the left and right but is rather obvious to most non-Americans is to allow stronger labor protection, labor laws, and labor unions. Why so-called liberals and libertarians hate to see a prosperous labor class is beyond me.

rather obvious to most non-Americans is to allow stronger labor protection, labor laws, and labor unions. "

American's already have strong labor laws. We don't want to become Europe (or a University) where the existing entrenched labor is well protected and the marginal labor (temps, adjunct professors) has no path for upward mobility.

Also, American labor is already paid better than European labor. Those 3,000 Square foot houses on a half acre lawn, ski boats and 2.5 cars don't come for nothing.

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This is a problem throughout the region. They can't hired local because it's often back breaking work that does not pay a livable wage (if you can find one, try renting a one bedroom apartment on PEI on minimum wage). Most of these jobs also require a significant commute which further cuts into the costs of employment.

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I'm from New Brunswick. The populace is car dependent and in poor health. University graduates leave because there is no connection between academic success and employment opportunities. It's who you know and what language your ancestors spoke.

For those who stay, disability or child tax benefit is seen as a better option than tedious shift work in a plant.

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In Toronto, Lobsters are being sold for $12 each, I assume because restaurants drive much of the demand which has now dried up. So maybe a drop in supply wouldn’t be the worst thing. Are we expecting a surge in Lobster demand?

I’ll bet the demand isn’t from North America but from Asian countries that have reopened. The majority of the high value demand has always been from Asia even before the pandemic.

Good point, looks like the US and China are the top export markets.

https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.cbc.ca/amp/1.5443266

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Migrant labor has historically been a huge vector for infectious disease spread. Certainly the migrant workers I treat, even the legal ones, are vastly more likely to have infectious diseases. After all, they typically live in densely packed housing, have limited health care, and often have poor hygiene habits relative to developed world norms.

Borders and localism are your friends when it comes to pandemics. Frankly, we should be taxing migrant employers to offset the costs they contribute to pandemic risk. Maybe that means that the price of lobster rises, maybe that means they join the 20th century and invest in more mechanization.

Of all the times to seek out migrant flows, during a pandemic has got to be one of the dumbest.

You think its dumb but you think it should also be allowed but taxed? It's not dumb at all when there's a lot of essential work to be done. If citizens and their children don't want to do the job (I don't blame them) then it is quite rational to let those that want to do the job to step in.

There are a lot of dumb things I would allow but discourage. I think it is dumb for people to drink anything more than a glass or two of alcohol in a sitting. But I also realize that the political will for even mild temperance is not there so I favor taxing booze to pay back society for the ills it causes.

Likewise, I think it is idiotic to delay "elective" brain surgery for meningiomas but to allow surgical pregnancy terminations to proceed with business as usual. Again, I realize the political reality and figure it would be best to have some mechanism for triaging them to limit the PPE burden back over the last month.

So yeah, I am a realist. I do not advocate for lockdown until we reach New Zealand levels of viral control. That is not politically viable at the buy-in rate we need for lockdown to be effective. I however do support some compromise restrictions, hopefully mostly voluntary, so we can avoid another couple of months where we burn a trillion dollars because the populace is scared of dying.

And it stands to reason. If something risky is important, it would make sense to pay more for it. If the price of lobster increases, then so be it. Saving what maybe a couple of million dollars, tops, at the risk of another outbreak and a lockdown of 2 weeks is just not an efficient tradeoff.

Frankly, I think it is long past time for us to just auction off half the foreign worker visas. If they are that important to the economy, we can see how much is actually being paid. If we randomly give half the applying firms visas via the old manner we can even measure the actual impact on getting the visas. As is I just see a lot of poorly evidenced pleading that this labor importation is a net benefit of large amount. Fine, let's measure it directly in the market.

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Maybe it's the owner/s of the lobster concern who won't do his job for less. I don't see why this formula should always and only be applied to labor.

If the owners of the lobster concern doesn't get a return then no lobsters at all. Labor is a cost, among many others.

Then no lobsters. Leave them in the ocean for a time when your country is prosperous enough to afford to retrieve them.

Why is "retrieve them now because I want to eat them and will pay for immigrant-caught lobsters" not strictly superior to your proposal?

Your lobsters, plus your contributions to pay people not to process the lobsters so that others may be imported to do it more cheaply. All because you were prone to sticker shock with lobsters.

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https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/16/politics/white-house-cdc-tension-birx-coronavirus-tracking/index.html

Tensions rise between the White House and CDC as Birx critiques virus tracking
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The CDC regulations have a lot to to with separating policy from bad presidents. Corrupt presidents are and were a common occurrence.

Independent agencies were intended to fix this. It is not the regulatory states, it is out unstable government that is the problem, us, our ignorance of how this government works.
How many of us want a corrupt kleptomaniac president interfering in agencies? We should be thankful that the agencies have their own independence, even if they are inflexible.

https://thehill.com/homenews/sunday-talk-shows/498194-navarro-cdc-really-let-the-country-down-with-the-testing
Navarro: CDC 'really let the country down with the testing'
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No, the CDC is protecting us from Navarro. The last thing we need is another of the presidents klepto friends interfering with CDC, and I will take all the sriffness in the CDC we need to prevent that.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa/no-spike-in-coronavirus-in-places-reopening-u-s-health-secretary-says-idUSKBN22T0HN
No spike in coronavirus in places reopening, U.S. health secretary says
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Another of the kleptomaniacs lying profusely. Are we getting a clue about why we have these strict agencies?

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Somewhat similar story in Europe - migrant workers from Eastern Europe are needed for seasonal jobs (including in the UK, which technically isn't in the EU anymore) :
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/11/covid-19-crisis-stokes-european-tensions-over-migrant-labour
Lots of discussions and tensions, but populists are mostly keeping quiet, since it looks like, wihout the cheap labor force, the crops will just rot on the fields:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/17/british-workers-reject-fruit-picking-jobs-as-romanians-flown-in-coronavirus

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We looked to move to Nova Scotia at one time. I had a job lined up. We went to look around, and the job was 9 months a year and 3 months on unemployment insurance. I said that I think I could find something year round, and the reaction was 'why would you'.

This was before the restructuring of the 90's where unemployment insurance was changed from a seasonal job subsidy (we called the skiers around here the UI Ski Team), to a temporary fill in between jobs.

One of the complications right now for employers looking to reopen their businesses is how to spread the hours so that workers would not be disqualified from receiving the available benefits.

The trick here is to not take the next step into judgement. People are responding rationally to incentives.

Aim your judgement against those who promote these programs. They are working as designed.

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Children have low overhead. Most junior high school and high school students don't have to pay rent, buy food, pay medical expenses and so on. This is seasonal work and poorly paid by Canadian standards. When you have a substantial portion of your economy relying on people willing to live six to a cardboard box under a highway overpass, anyone who can avoid the work will. Even a poorly paid non-seasonal job is better, and you can afford a twelve month lease, even if you have to share.

Employers have been relying on transient seasonal workers arbitraging their home country's lower living costs and their employee's marginal legal status. Basically, they've been buying FTEs for less than the cost of producing an FTE. Work or starve, the policy advocated in this post, is unsustainable in any free society. If you want an FTE, you should have to pay for it. Lobster is clearly underpriced.

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This is happening in the US as well. Unemployment benefits are too high at the moment, for reasons we've all discussed, so people who might want to work at grocery stores or hardware stores are happy to stay home.

But high schoolers can't collect unemployment checks, so probably 30% of my students who aren't allowed to go to school are working full-time jobs.

In general, areas with high unskilled immigration have lousy teen employment. Our area became too expensive for that population about 5 years ago, and teen employment has exploded as a result.

Much better to give young kids a job than import foreign labor. Immigrants, as someone said, are only valuable for their cheap labor, and only to the employers.

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Interesting reading with this recent post:
https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2020/05/what-happened-to-male-youth-movements.html

What happened to male youth movements? We continuously bring in a bunch of immigrants to undercut them. Very interesting natural experiment when that flow is cut off!

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Send the New Brunswick kids down to regular Brunswick to make bowling balls.

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Why the hell would anyone work a miserable job that pays maybe $2.5k a month, when they can collect ~$4000 a month for staying home and watching tv? Is there really anything else that needs to be said?

Where can you get $4000/mo in unemployment benefits?

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This is seasonal work. Local residents (who would be within commuting distance of this work) need income year-round. It doesn't make sense for them to take these jobs. Tyler has discussed before the lack of mobility of the US workforce... therefore you need skilled immigrants seasonal workers (skilled because they can do the work much faster than novices.

It is the same problem for fruit and vegetable pickers, with the presumably additional problem that often farms are far from where people live. They therefore need to stay on the farm for the duration.

I was thinking about the migrant ag workers. You (evidently) need a population that you intentionally treat differentially (e.g. loopholes that obviate minimum wage laws, relaxation of rules regarding children enrolling in school, no doubt many other small freedoms from labor law). You need people who live and work as a family unit, in a pre-modern sort of way. The folks that do that work seem in every way the right people for the job as designed - how could anyone deny it?

But by some process of part-for-the-whole, that group has come to be equated, by the cynical and the idealistic both, with all immigrants - and with all sorts of jobs that share no such peculiarities.

Would we now assert that motels can really only be owned and operated profitably by Indians, because, at least for a time, they seemed to own all the motels in America, and to make them work financially, living and working on the property, perhaps suggesting that the only way to do so was with the flexibility re wages provided by employing family members?

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My one concern about making sex work legal is concern governments will use a lack of doing it for money as an excuse to withhold welfare. After all, if you're not selling your body for money, your unemployment is voluntary. Maybe refusal to sell meth should count as voluntary unemployment as well? It may be illegal, but it's paying work.

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