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.
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.
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