Skip to comments.Can We Please Stop Using This Argument?
Posted on 04/10/2006 6:45:04 PM PDT by B-Chan
Can We Please Stop Using This Argument?
People can rationally come to different conclusions on what should be done about the presence of millions of illegal aliens in the United States, but as that matter is debated, we should at least try to avoid some of the most obviously absurd arguments.
I therefore propose that we, as a nation, retire the "Illegal aliens take jobs Americans won't do/don't want" argument.
This is patent nonsense.
Anybody using this argument either has no grasp of economics or is being disingenuous due to the presence of an ulterior motive. (Them's yer two choices, so take yer pick, Mr. Bush.)
To see the absurdity of this argument, let's cast it in its starkest form: Food.
Before we do that, though, let me issue
THE BIG RED DISCLAIMER: The following treatment has nothing to do with ethnicity. It has to do with economics. In what follows I will talk about two groups of people--illegal aliens (whatever their ethnicity) and Americans (whatever their ethnicity). The fact that most (but by no means all) of the illegal aliens in this country are Latino in origin is irrelevant to the economic principles involved, as is the fact that many Americans are also of Latino origin. If you need to, swap the terms "America" and "Americans" for those of a random country somewhere else on the planet. The economic principles apply no matter where you are.
Now . . .
It is often noted that illegal aliens play a large role in the construction, landscaping, and domestic service industries, but nice buildings, nice landscapes, and nice domestic services are luxuries. Our most pressing survival-related need is for food, and so the "Jobs Americans won't do" argument can be cast most starkly if we look at the role of illegal aliens in the agricultural industry.
Suppose that all of the illegal aliens working in the agricultural industry decided to quit their jobs. What would happen to the U.S.?
Will we be seeing headlines in the New York Times like this one? . . .
Americans are not going to starve themselves to death because they "won't do" the job of harvesting the food.
Americans have been harvesting food ever since there have been Americans (otherwise they would have all starved long ago), so they are certainly capable of it.
Why, then, are so many illegal aliens taking the place of Americans in the agricultural industry?
Because they come from a different economic background and are willing to do the jobs for less.
The effect of illegal aliens in the agricultural industry is not that they do work that otherwise wouldn't get done. It's that they depress the wages in the agricultural industry to the point that such jobs are unattractive to Americans.
It's that whole supply-and-demand thing.
When you've got a greater supply of something than you have demand for it, the price will go down. If manufacturers make loads of DVD players and start to outstrip the demand for DVD players then the price of DVD players will go down as part of competition for customers.
Same thing happens in labor markets.
If the supply of agricultural workers outstrips the demand for agricultural workers then the wages attached to such jobs will go down as part of competition for employment. When the wages are depressed past a certain point, some of the workers will say, "Y'know, I could do better in a different industry" and they decide at that point that they "won't do" the agricultural jobs at the depressed wages being offered for those jobs.
But what happens if the labor pool shrinks? What happens if all the illegal aliens decide to quit?
When the supply of agricultural workers shrinks so that it no longer outstrips the demand for agricultural workers and employers start raising wages in order to attract the workers they need, and the work gets done.
Trust me, Americans are not going to starve themselves to death if they have no illegal aliens to harvest food.
What will happen instead is that the wages offered for such jobs will rise, Americans will start valuing such jobs more as a result (instead of looking down on them), and they will start doing them. The food will get harvested, and when it is sold to the public the added labor costs will be passed on to consumers in the form of a modest increase in food prices.
But there will be no massive wave of starvation in the U.S.
Something similar applies to the jobs in other industries that currently have high levels of involvement by illegal aliens. If the supply-and-demand situations of those industries were readjusted then Americans would be attracted to jobs in them as well, and the work would still get done. People might economize in some areas (e.g., taking care of the kids yourself instead of hiring an illegal alien to serve as a nanny), but we won't see headlines like:
That one's a non-starter, Mr. President.
P.S. BTW, Mr. President, do you realize how arrogant and insulting you are being when you use the "Jobs Americans won't do" argument?
This argument can be parsed one of two ways: (1) "Such jobs are beneath us as Americans, so we need to import foreigners to do these lowly tasks for us" or (2) "I preside over a nation of such hopelessly spoiled brats that we need to just cave in to their juvenile refusal to do such jobs."
The first is arrogant and insulting to people from other countries. The second is arrogant and insulting to Americans.
Since it can be parsed both ways, the argument is arrogant and insulting no matter what your nationality.
Excellent point. The clerks dispensing welfare checks in San Diego once complained that they made less than the welfare loafers to whom they were distributing the checks. Where is the incentive to work if welfare pays more than you can earn performing honest labor? That is the root of the problem.
The whole "doing the jobs Americans won't do" is, as far as I am concerned, a slap in the face to honest Americans.
When I was a kid I threw bales of hay around, tons of the stuff, for a measly buck and a quarter an hour. I babysat, I pumped gas, I worked for a hardware store as a furnace installer apprentice. I worked for a moving company.
And as far as immigrants doing those jobs, what is really being said here? Can't immigrants be doctors? Or can't they work on Wall street doing financials?
Is it the role and permanent destiny of immigrants to scrub toilets?
People can come to America, but I don't like the idea of treating them as some kind of lower class. That's not the American way, but it sure sounds like what some are proposing.
In your post 7, you asked:
"So just strictly on ECONOMICS, not who is right or who is wrong, where do we get the replacement workers to fill the Illegals jobs after they are deported?"
In my post 42, I suggested several possible answers to your question:
"Maybe we'll find that some of these jobs aren't needed. Maybe we'll find that the shortage of workers will create the incentive to find a better way to do some things. Maybe we'll find that increasing the number of legal immigrants is a good idea. Maybe the birth rate will increase because of the better opportunities available."
In post 77, you imply that I am advocating a position based on "data". I have done no such thing.
Your original post suggests that deportation of illegals will cause a problem. My response is that it might not. My response furthers the author's idea that supply and demand will operate and no catastrophe will occur.
We have looked the other way for a long while as the illegals came in. What did we do? Nothing, except rewards with amnesty.
Internally, our nation has been held up at gunpoint. We can continue the policy of keeping those hands up or else the government can return the United States back into a nation of laws.
Are we a nation of courage or apathy. Or are we beyond apathy and have become a dependant nation.
The great civilizations in the world have all passed through a series of stages from their birth to their death. Historians have listed these in ten stages:
The first stage moves from bondage to spiritual faith. The second from spiritual faith to great courage. The third stage moves from great courage to liberty. The fourth stage moves from liberty to abundance. The fifth stage moves from abundance to selfishness. The sixth stage moves from selfishness to complacency. The seventh stage moves from complacency to apathy. The eighth stage moves from apathy to moral decay. The ninth stage moves from moral decay to dependence. And the tenth and last stage moves from dependence to bondage.
I agree with him. Unfortunately, not everyone understands economics. Further, many think of this question as a zero sum game, which it is not.
Illegals make the pie bigger, not smaller.
has anybody used this argument? If everything we eat - ie, fresh fruit and veggies, comes from caracos, uruaguay, manila, mexico (of course), and on and on -- and everything we buy mostly, comes from the remaining two thirds of the world ... why do we need people to pick our veggies or make us things?
Oh. Forgot, the corpo's use some (a handful comparatively, for construction work....
I am sure Maria was/is a nice lady. But she wasn't doing a job that Americans won't do. :)
And if it holds true in the case of modern agriculture (though in many cases, such as tree crops, it cannot) -- the jobs Americans won't do are going to become jobs that nobody gets. I believe I mentioned that above....
IOW, there's no point whining about jobs taken by illegals that will be automated once the illegals go away....
"Good arguments. It's a shame nobody's listening in D.C."
I've often wondered if any of the powers that be in D.C. monitor Free Republic. Anyone have a clue?
Actually, I think there are jobs where the pay/workload do not balance, so people will tend to avoid those jobs.
If you want me to dig a ditch with a shovel in clay muck for $5.25 an hour, I'm gonna look for work elsewhere if there is another job that pays the same with a lesser workload.
Digging ditches in clay muck is extremely hard work.
"Illegals make the pie bigger, not smaller."
Can you prove this? (In simple terms, if possible).
Even if the pie is bigger, are legal citizens better off?
Talk to my economics professor @ OSU. He'll tell you otherwise.
Illegals make the pie bigger, not smaller.
Very simplistic view.
We got rid of much of our manufacturing and still do so today. Ok, so our economy is distribution and consumer/service based - fine. Why then would we lower wages resulting in less consumer spending? Lower wages is the silver bullet to grow our economy?
Do you know why the 90s were so great. It was not because of taxes Clinton raised taxes and the economy still grew. They were so great partly because there were high paying jobs that were created, money flowed through the economy, government revenues increased, the deficit decreased.
We have an 8 trillion dollar debt and a $350 billion payment on the debts interest every year. If our country is heading to lower wages, who will pay for it except the rich? All the government entitlements and huge military budget for the GWOT, who will pay for it? It wont be those who work 50 hours a week and make $7.50 an hour and get their health insurance covered by the government (tax payer expense). We want hard working people making a decent earning with benefits, so they can fuel our economy, pay taxes, and don't have to depend on the government for entitlements.
More low-paid workers = bigger pie? The only people happy with that are the free traitors and socialist Dems.
Not only that, Latino Americans (legal and illegal) send tens of billions of dollars every year south of the border to help their family. Add that to your equation.
Funny thing here in southern CA, the illegal aliens who are doing these jobs are on welfare. That's why having anchor babies is so important to them. If you make such low wages, plus send money back to your home country, who takes care of you and your children? The American citizens do. I hear people say all of the time that illegals aren't on welfare. Well, their children are.
I read an article on the American Thinker website. The writer said that the follow-up question should be, " How many can we deport and how soon can we get started on that number?". His point was that open-border folks always say that you have to deport ALL of them at once or none at all. He stated that this is not a problem that happened overnight and it won't be solved overnight.
Of course, the work of tomatoes is largely automated now, so it's not particularly productive to worry about whether illegals or machines are doing the work -- in both cases Americans aren't doing it.
There are illegal aliens willing to do it for $5.25 an hour. Don't forget they'll want government entitlements. They'll send a part of their income back to their real home (a foreign country). ETC. ETC. ETC.
So long as they'll eventually vote Democrat after they have been given amnesty. And so long as the free traitors can make a small fortune by paying them so low... then all is right with the world. According to the elites.
BS! LBJ took the easy way out, and we are going to pay for his disastrous programs for generations to come. It set a terrible precedent. LBJ did more damage to this country than Clinton and Carter combined, and that's saying something.
I've always said to my husband," What does that have to do with anything? Is that in the Constitution? Does this mean the anyone from anywhere has a right to dictate our immigration policy?" Incredible
The employers are not the problem. Washington refuses to enforce existing labor and immigration laws, and the high taxes/regulations imposed on business are causing some of them to seek illegals, unfortunately.
The author overlooks a rather simple fact: that Americans wouldn't have a chance to do those jobs at American-sized wages, because American farmers can't afford to pay them that much. A lot of grocers "outsource" their produce; American farmers respond by "insourcing" less-expensive labor.
It's not so much a matter of American vs. Mexican labor, as it is a matter of American vs. imported produce. For example, American orchardists are stretched very thin trying to compete with cheap imported fruits. They can't compete if they have to increase their payrolls to meet American standards.
The author's snide remarks about economic knowledge are rather ironic, given his own apparent ignorance of the economic realities of why farmers hire illegals in the first place.
I don't really care what they'll do it for, why they'll do it, what they'll get, or what the government will do.
I'm simply addressing the point made: "There is some work that I will not do given too low a wage and given better alternatives at the same pay scale."
That said, I don't want illegal immigration, and I'd start with a high tech fence and with criminal penalties against employers who hire them.
But that doesn't mean I'll dig a ditch in clay muck for $5.25 an hour.
good comments...that was a well thought out post.
But the switch to mechanical harvesting is taking a heavy toll on the Mexican migrants who fill most of the state's lowest-paying farm jobs. With machines picking more crops, the need for field hands is falling sharply. Where 50 men once were needed to harvest a field of raisins, five now suffice.
"We're transferring rural poverty from Mexico to rural California," Martin of UC Davis said, "and we don't have a game plan to get out of it." The mechanization of the raisin harvest threatens to make the situation even worse.
State officials believe two or three migrants are currently competing for each of California's 400,000 to 500,000 seasonal farm jobs. If machines pick the raisins, agricultural experts say, labor demand will drop to a tenth of the 40,000 to 50,000 workers typically hired today.
Bush claimed '6 million had been deported since he took office'.
That is GROSS EXAGERATION" according to USA Today,based on numbers provided by ICE(Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
Why doesn't some one tell him the truth? He doesn't have a clue.
Go read the article you will see what I mean.
:)Easy Does It:)
Mexico Won't Stop Migrants
Mexican President Vicente Fox said his government will not take action to try to stem the tide of illegal entry from Mexico into the U.S. "Your Statue of Liberty says for us to send our 'wretched refuse' to America," said Fox. "That is what we're doing."
Fox said he is preparing to exile at least 24 drug traffickers to the United States. "These are among the most wretched of our refuse," said Fox. "America is welcome to them."
Fox said his government has strengthen enforcement on Mexico's southern border, where 240,000 Central American migrants attempting to illegally enter Mexico over the last year were turned back. "Many of these migrants were headed for the United States," said Fox. "The opportunity to illegally enter America rightfully belongs to Mexican nationals, not these interlopers. Reconquista is Mexico's destiny. We will reclaim the lands taken from us by American aggressors in 1848."
In related news, organizers of the 500,000-person protest march in Los Angeles vowed that their next move will be a boycott aimed at paralyzing the U.S. economy. An editorial in La Voz de Aztlan said the goal is to bring the U.S. economy to its knees in order to make Latinos who miss Mexico feel more at home in America. The editorial also demanded free tuition for Mexicans to attend California state colleges and universities as reparations for decades of discrimination and oppression.
read more at...
The ignorance in this post is deplorable. The "unemployment rate" refers to the "labor force" of about 151M, those "employed" or "unemployed". There are 77M "not in the labor force" but who potentially could come back into the labor force. Perhaps some of those 77M would be willing to come back into the labor force to replace displaced illegals? Maybe or maybe not. This is strictly about facts, not arguments. Let's keep our facts straight. For the real statistics, see http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm
I would like to make a shameless pitch for my book "Immigration Politics".
It just went into print and can be found at:
That's my response too! I was down in Florida on vacation and saw an article where they had a demonstration on "Shaker Trucks" to harvest the oranges. They've been in use a few years on various orchards. This year might be rough for them as so many trees lost their oranges during the hurricanes - the machines are more economical on trees full of fruit. In a typical year - the machines cost 50% that of human (illegals) labor. Yes - LESS! The marketer said something to the effect of "but changing the way things have been done for 40 years doesn't change overnight".
Don't recall if it was on FR or elsewhere that someone has developed a prototype of a mushroom picker. Digital cameras with compartive software to obtain the perfect sizes (better than human perception) and suction cups to gently pluck them. They are a bit slower - but can be run 24 hours a day!
Well that's the Farm Bureau argument that farmers might go belly up..what about auto makers, electronics manufacturers, tool manufacturers etc? Hey if they can't be competitive maybe they should go bye bye also? We are getting flooded with imports from lower labor cost countries, why not farm products? Why do they get special treatment? If the government says it is a necessary industry let the govt subsidise them directly (they already do) instead of sticking us with the bills for their underpaid workers.
Here is the Farm Burea's crying talking points, *they claim to be paying $9.50 an hour...
Cut off direct and indirectsubsidies to our drug-crazed and largely shiftless young urban male miscreants and see how many may shape up. Unemployment rates have never taken into account the underclass that won't work.
Excellent! It's one of those words I've heard and had a feel for what it meant, but never looked up. I'll add it to my vocabulary!
He misses the point, Americans who want jobs have jobs and they move up the job ladder. The jobs undone lack American workers because there aren't enough American workers.
The presently unemployed are largely unemployable. They chose to be uneducated, to take drugs and not to come to work.
An employer won't hire someone who costs more money than they are worth.
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" How many can we deport and how soon can we get started on that number?"
While all those thousands were on the busses yesterday, they should have just kept driving across the border and stopped in Mexico City. Last Stop!!
The more pressure we keep on Mexico, immigration-wise, the more reformers
inside of Mexico can be emboldened and empowered to scale back monopolists'
abuses down there which keep our own country flooded with economic refugees.
Here's an interesting new thread on new legal reform progress that finally
emerged in Mexico I think as a result of immigration reform's failure:
We can make a difference for our sake, and their's as well. Isn't it the
neighborly thing to do?
Americans DO lose jobs to illegal immigrants; the Somali, Hmong and other NEW, LEGAL immigrants. At the bottom of the rung of LEGAL immigrants, they do those jobs Americans who have been here longer do not do, legally. The illegal's come in and displace the legals because they will work longer for less, rather than follow labor laws. Disreputable and lazy employers hire the illegal's and displace the legals, who then go on welfare or unemployment.
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