January 27, 2014

Arrest and Mistreatment of Dr.Devyani Khobragade: Long-term consequences


A few long-term consequences may be predicted:

1. Yes, foreign diplomats will be “sensitized” to the need to follow the letter of American state law in employing domestic assistants, whether imported or local. This outcome could have been achieved through far less sensational or clumsy means.

2. Most diplomats will decide not to hire anyone of the sort. Their children will either stay back, or they will get grandparents to accompany them. The net loss is to the American tax base, and probably to the quality of upbringing that these children will experience, a loss blamed on America, creating resentment against America.

3. Many foreign missions will simply choose to replace the domestic assistant headcount with other designations covered by full diplomatic immunity. The population of undeclared and declared foreign secret agents, media experts and trade coordinators in America may thus be expected to rise, and with it, foreign influence.

4. The arrangement to deposit part of the US-earned wages directly to savings in the home country, will be abandoned, and the assistants left to fend for themselves in saving for their families.

5. Families all over the USA will recoil from the reports of this incident, and from any plans to hire domestic help if they can in any way avoid it. News reports already cite the extreme difficulty that many Americans have in finding enough hours at the wages that they can command, to make ends meet. This will be aggravated. Childcare quality will also suffer.

6. Any prospects of “live-in” domestic workers will be greatly reduced, since those benefits are not counted in hourly wages. Workers will be forced to commute long hours, and pay for their own quality of life. Childcare quality will suffer.

7. Governments all over the world will re-examine the operations of the US Embassy and Consulates in their countries, for tax evasion, visa fraud, giving out trafficking visas illegally, and various other nefarious activities. The credibility of the United States has been crippled by the revelations from the American Embassy School.

8. Employers will respond to extortionary pressures  by cutting back the hours of hourly-paid employees to stay within their own fixed budgets, with negative results all round.  Dictating both an hourly wage and a regular guaranteed number of hours per week for these workers is going to fail in most cases. Further, categorizing any call on live-in workers beyond a fixed working day as overtime, when they have probably been idle most of the day, will only destroy prospects for live-in arrangements.  Children may now be subjected to different “specialists” coming for a couple of hours a day, instead of a caring, beloved person whom they remember as “aunty”  through their early years.

9. In 2011, American farmworkers, grocery store cashiers, park attendants etc earned around $1600 per month,  averaging around $9.3 per hour, from which they had to pay all expenses and taxes.What I do not see is the prospect of childcare/ domestic worker monthly income rising above that earned by these workers.  Perhaps the market for childcare/cooking robots will rise rapidly, if those robots can be imported from China to help the present administration destroy yet another caring human service in the USA?


Anonymous said...

America will only be comfortable with client states like SAudi arabia,Haiti and Taiwan. On the whole a brilliant take on the whole issue

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