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.
Cut off welfare after six months and see how fast those paying jobs are taken by americans.
Can we secure our borders? Si se puede!!
Illegal immigrants do take jobs Americans don't want. Prostitute. Sweat shop worker. Labor for less than the going rate. No benefits, no taxes withheld. It would be more efficient to put the employers behind bars than to try to round up all the illegals.
Ya know, my mother for years paid $60.00 to an illegal alien from Mexico to come and clean her house. She paid her in cash and the people who have house cleaning businesses who are legal Americans lose out on business. Not saying my mom was wrong cause I loved her housekeeper Maria, but this proves the point that Mexicans aren't taking jobs that Americans won't do,it is that Mexicans take less pay that legal American's can do.
It is time to seal the borders. America would be so much stronger if we would keep our borders closed to illegals!
The illegals are on welfare the bill that Senate passes should take away ALL welfare from them.
A. He has no clue - this is obvious B. He just doesn't care C. Both A & B
Another line that needs to stop, "we can't just deport all of the illegals, there are too many of them".
Bullshirt. Lets expand that line:
We can't arrest all the pot smokers, there are too many of them.
We can't arrest all the rapists, there are too many of them.
We can't arrest all the speeders, there are too many of them.
We can't arrest all the crack sellers, there are too many of them.
We can't arrest all the tax cheaters, there are too many of them.
I think you get my point.
Maybe it's time for us to play the race card?
"Illgal aliens are taking away the jobs blacks used to do."
Gads, that's racist. I sound like a frigging democrat....
"Cut off welfare after six months and see how fast those paying jobs are taken by americans"
Umm I see. Wishful thinking and fantasy and yet another Immigration thread given to the same old slef validating ranting instead of a SERIOUS discussion based on the Economics of the issue.
Good luck getting that thru either the local, the State or the Federal Govt.
"Ya know, my mother for years paid $60.00 to an illegal alien from Mexico to come and clean her house."
As I am hearing lately, I bet Maria paid her taxes on that and the other money she made, right? Right? Yea right!
I say we all go to Yuma and take McLame up on his offer for $50 an hour to pick lettuce!
I have worked construction in Tucson, Phoenix, Yuma, Bullhead City and Laughlin Nevada.. It's hot but I can do it, I was run out because of the illegals.
Don't you know silly? All of those good hard-working Americans who just gave up looking for work in this depressed Bush economy are just waiting to bust out of the gates to go to work under a Democrat Administration.
This is the worst Economy since Herbert Hoover, dammit! Didn't you listen to a thing John Kerry said last year?
$60 for how many hours of work?
Yep. The majority of murderers, thieves, pot smokers, speeders, rapists, crack sellers and tax thieves are never caught.
There are too many of them.
"Yep. The majority of murderers, thieves, pot smokers, speeders, rapists, crack sellers and tax thieves are never caught.
There are too many of them."
You get caught doing any one of those things and see where you end up! Thats my point.
Since Hawaii is pretty hard for Mexicans to sneak into, I wonder how it is they manage to harvest fruit and how any hotels and restaurants there can possibly survive.
Remember the old song from West Side Story?
I want to be in A-me-ri-ca
OK by me in A-me-ri-ca
Everything free in A-me-ri-ca
Color TV in A-me-ri-ca!
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