John Krull: Ron DeSantis’ foolish flight

Many people have criticized Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for flying nearly 50 asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

DeSantis did so, he said, as a protest against what he considers the misguided immigration policies of President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

That didn’t satisfy DeSantis’ critics.

They have lambasted the callousness of the Florida governor’s stunt. They said it is just plain wrong to use people desperate for physical safety from oppressive regimes, better lives for themselves and their families or both as political pawns.

Other critics have pointed out that DeSantis and his allies may have broken a fair number of laws with this stunt. Already, one class-action lawsuit has been filed against the governor and more may follow. He may have exposed both himself and the taxpayers of Florida to considerable liability by conjuring up a political trick aimed at revving up his party’s base for the November elections.

These are valid criticisms.

DeSantis definitely has been cruel and, in possibly creating exposure for himself and his state, has been more careless in matters of legality than one normally would expect of a Harvard Law School graduate.

No one, though, has focused on just how plain, flat-out dumb DeSantis’ maneuver was and is.

Not long ago, I moderated a panel discussion focused on local economic and business challenges. One of the panelists was a businessman of impeccable conservative and Republican pedigree.

He said that the biggest challenge confronting his company was finding people to work. He lamented what he considered the foolishness of his own party when it came to immigration policy.

He said he didn’t understand why there was so much talk about building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. We should be building, he said, bus stations and airline terminals to fly people willing and eager to work to places desperate for labor.

He’s right.

The reality is that we’re at the beginning of a worldwide labor shortage economists have been warning us about for more than a decade. This shortage will peak in 2030 and grow more severe every year between now and then.

Savvy countries and savvy states—those with governors of more acute sensibilities than DeSantis apparently possesses—have recognized this new challenging reality and begun recruiting workers wherever they can.

This may shatter some illusions on both the left and the right, but I suspect many of the leaders who have established so-called “sanctuary” cities and states didn’t do so simply for moral or ideological reasons. They likely also want more workers to come to their communities. This will result in fewer delays in service and fewer hiccups in the supply chains.

Politicians often cloak acts of naked self-interest in the garb of altruism.

What Ron DeSantis and his leading competitor in the pandering sweepstakes—Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who also has shipped immigrants to other cities to score political points—really are saying is that they don’t want people who want to work to come to their states. They’re willing to accept slow service and clogged supply chains if that is the cost of persecuting people who don’t look like them.

DeSantis, Abbott and their wannabe emulators around the country think that an appealing climate and low taxes will be enough to attract workers to their states.

Maybe in the past that was the case.

But this labor shortage is going to change a lot of things. Before long, states across this country will be scrambling harder and harder to find good labor.

The ones willing to pay good wages and not punish people for no good reason will have a leg up.

And the states run by guys like Ron DeSantis?

Not so much.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. The opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the views of Franklin College. Send comments to [email protected]