The South's 'Original Sin'

02.21.13 3:45 PM ET

A Hispanic migrant laborer works on planting tobacco May 4, 2009 in Vander, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Michael Lind warns of the spread to the whole United States of a distinctly Southern labor model.

Tight labor markets are anathema to Southern employers. They want loose labor markets that create a buyer’s market in wage labor. That is why, at a time of mass unemployment among low-skilled workers in the U.S., most of the calls for expanding unskilled immigration in the form of “guest worker” programs are coming from Southern and Southwestern politicians. Guest workers — that is, indentured servants bound to a single employer and unable to quit — are the ideal workers, from a neo-Confederate perspective. They are cheap and unfree.