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.
Yep. It's just a fantasy. The Powers That Be would never allow the kind of leader who could pull off a program like that to reach the Big Chair. He'd end up discredited or dead.
It's over. We're boned.
I'm just glad I know Spanish already.
LOL! That is excellent fuzzy logic.
I do have to hand it to you, your arguments are far better than those of the free traitors. And I am not joking.
And of course, what happens to all of the illegal fruit pickers when the industry automates?
Another excellent point. You are so very smart!
Tell your boss (GWB) that. ;)
I should have been more clear.
Thank you. Now I only wish I could remember why I wanted to know! ;)
I totally agree. I think ALL conservatives can agree on increased border security. And NO amnesty, meaning granting "line-jumper" benefits of any kind. Everything else is details and semantics.
I'll drop what I am doing right now and go... In a heart beat.
I suppose you're what they call a moderate? :)
Welfare and The Great Society was implemented by LBJ to stop a Civil War in the 1960's. Blacks were already burning down the cities in the US. The same would happen again without welfare.
I agree. Having real border security, no rewards for illegal aliens, and enforce employment laws is the solution.
All this talk of compromise makes it seem like compromise is an end in itself. When in fact, it is a means to an end.
the only problem, half the illegals don't work and only 2-3% of illegals work in agriculture... see Rush for info
McCain had the arrogance to proclaim that Americans won't work for $50/hr. I am an attorney and never made $50/hr in my life. I came close in 2002, my last year before retirement.
What an idiot.
The go into the streets demanding amnesty.
In FL about a decade back, there was freeze which made some legislators give them unemployment during the down time "for humnanitarian reasons". When the freeze passed the illegals did not go back to the fields. They were making more with unemployment.
When you don't hire illegals the crime rate will jump.
History lovers, what does that tell us about this amnesty debate.
It tells me this nation is scr*wed. If true, we have already raised the white flag.
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