Skip to comments.CA: Cost of illegal-immigrant labor exceeds benefits
Posted on 09/03/2004 8:39:45 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles recently announced that they would hire 3,000 new dockworkers for temporary jobs. Despite the common knowledge that the work is hard, there were more than a quarter of a million applicants. Indeed, so many people applied that those being hired were selected by a lottery system.
So what is the attraction? Simple: the pay and benefits. Initially, these jobs pay from $20.66 to $28 per hour and, better yet, those who are employed will have the opportunity to move on to permanent work and a possible six-figure income.
Suppose, for a moment, that these jobs didn't lead to annual pay of over $100,000, but instead only $60,000. It is still a good bet that people would be lining up around the block to apply. Even at $40,000 or less, there are many who would gladly take this work, considering that the average entry-level wage in Los Angeles County is $8.38.
There are many hard jobs, we are told, that Americans will not accept. This is raised as a justification for the hiring of illegal immigrants or in support of a "guest worker" program. For jobs washing dishes, or cars, or gardening or picking produce, often the pay is minimum wage or less. It is hard to determine what the typical pay is for some jobs because they are part of the underground economy where workers are paid in cash.
We are told by the same apologists for a system that encourages the employment of undocumented workers that the low wages help to keep prices down for consumers. But there is a hidden cost to taxpayers that they are hesitant to discuss.
No matter how one feels about minimum-wage laws or the underground economy, there is little disagreement that illegal immigrants, who make much less than Wal-Mart employees, are overwhelming public services in places like Los Angeles County. Property owners in the county are now paying an additional tax specifically to prop up the trauma care system, nearly half of whose clients are undocumented aliens.
Public services throughout the state are under pressure because low-paid illegal immigrants rely on these services -- including education -- in numbers proportionally greater than the general population. In short, it is the taxpayers who end up paying to subsidize the low-wage jobs of the undocumented.
Some suggested that without illegal immigrants, the nation would face a recession. But would we?
No one is suggesting that government mandate a six-figure income for dishwashers. But if we stopped importing an underclass willing to take starvation wages for hard or unpleasant work, market forces would force the pay rate up to a level American workers would accept. These wages would be declared for tax purposes and these wages would be spent here in the U.S. instead of being sent home, as is often the case with undocumented workers. The result would be more jobs and income for Americans while this "above- the-table" economic activity would produce additional revenue for government. Pressure on social services would decline.
Yes, without an illegal-immigrant labor force the price of a hamburger might go up a dime, but it is just as likely that the reduction in the tax burden would more than compensate for any increase in consumer prices.
Illegal immigrants may be devestating for taxpayers and for American workers, but by serving to depress wages, they are great for American employers. And that's the real reason that the government is encouraging illegal immigration. ;-)
Beautiful! But part of the reason is that dishwashing is beneath most Americans these days. That doesn't lessen your argument though.
Not only that but technology will be invented that will help decrease the need for the labor the invaders now perform, just like in Australia.
Better late than never, but probably too late to positively effect the situation.
when our economy crashes hard due to a burgeoning socialist system and failure to maintain a cultural stability, nothing will be "beneath" americans. I don't believe any job is now, either.
They are essential for a growing economy. Without immigrant labor (Irish, Jewish, Chinese, Polish, Indian, Mexican, German, Italian, etc...) our economy would have stagnated long ago. Legal or illegal, there's no difference. They come because we need them.
Don't be an economic girlie man.
Irish, Italians, Russian Jews and Chinese did it. Legal Mexican immigrants in the Southwest from Texas to So. Cal. Oh, and Blacks. But too many people now would rather be on welfare than work "menial" jobs for little more than they get on welfare, if not actually less.
bump the illegals out
Masive proper legal immigration and teenagers..... that right teenagers.... get those punks off the streets and in washing dishes.... (Boy I feel better after that!)
BINGO! Without illegals picking the lettuce, we always hear the threat of prices like $10-a-head, as if we HAD to buy it. The first time lettuce got too expensive, it would rot in the fields. The farmers would scream bloody murder. The following year some smart guys at an agricultural college would invent a lettuce-picking machine and the prices would go back to normal.
A side effect of slavery, whether in ancient times or in the pre-1861 U.S., was its smothering effect on innovation and invention. If you can always have cheap/slave labor, why invent labor-saving machinery?
I don't think that I offered any opinion on whether the interests of American employers (who benefit from hiring illegal aliens) deserve or do not deserve priority over the interests of American workers and American taxpayers (who pay the costs). ;-)
You have correctly identified the exploitation of illegals as slavery. All too many of the open borders crowd fail to see the immorality of the situation, not to mention the cultural and economic costs which are hidden from us.
Perhaps that lettuce will cost slighly more. Other costs which are lower will compensate. I trust the free market to handle it.
they should have just taxed tacos, instead
It is also telling that the illegals have excess income to send home, but they don't have money to pay their medical bills. We're getting shaken down by the illegals and their representatives in the California legislature.
>>>" They are essential for a growing economy."
as Milton Friedman said... you can't have massive, illegal immigration when you also hand out welfare.
Take a tour of the emergency rooms at the downtown hospitals of all large cities. You'll find the illegals gathered there for normal medical care. You'll also find a bankrupt hospital and taxpayers saddled with the result of your open immigration, libertarian economics.
Dishwashing and other service-related jobs weren't beneath Americans back in the days when welfare wasn't so readily available. People actually had to work for a living back in those days instead of sucking the government tit.
You describe east El-Lay well!
The two major political parties, especially the Republican party receive more donations from these law breakers business people so as to not crack down on their near slave-labor operations. Instead the tax-payer is stuck with the tax-burden of all this cheap labor they so richly enjoy.
I'm glad that gradually some in the media are starting to re-look at this situation and report on it thus helping to spread the word.
Actually, the labor cost of a head of lettuce is a small fraction of it's retail price. It's been shown that doubling farmworker wages would add about 15 cents to the price of a head of lettuce. The simple reason that agribusiness uses squat labor is due to the commodity nature of the business and the fact that since the labor is available, why buy machines? The machines you allege to be invented have already been invented, as far back as the '50s: tomato and lettuce pickers . But further refinement of them was quashed at U. of California in the early '70's at the insistence of the UFW to Jerry Brown and the CA Dems (i.e., the program was de-funded). Why? Because the UFW knew even then that farm work in California is nothing more than a make work program for Mexico.
And that's the short answer to everything: all of this is happening because Mexico has a stratospheric birth rate, with no economy to employ them. And never will, for a variety of reasons. But apparently no one in the respective governments wants rebellion in Mexico, which is exactly what SHOULD happen. So Mexico exports its population (it's the only thing they actually know how to make), and the U.S. accepts it, in the interests of political stability...in Mexico.
And guess which people get stuck with the ultimate costs.
That's the whole problem in a nutshell, and from listening to GW's speech last night, big government and big government spending is going to increase.
Welcome to socialism, comrades.
Of course it does. I was in the community hospital a while back. Emergency room was packed with people who spoke no english. The family arriving just before me had the children translating: They were in the er, because they had a cough. Apparently, they are too poor to to go the drug store and buy a box of cough syrup.
We have to end subsidizing these people. When you can walk all over an existing population, the walkers (illegals)have no respect for the walkees (citizens), or the government handing it to them.
That's only due to bad parenting.
But further refinement of them was quashed at U. of California in the early '70's at the insistence of the UFW to Jerry Brown and the CA Dems (i.e., the program was de-funded). Why? Because the UFW knew even then that farm work in California is nothing more than a make work program for Mexico.
More interesting info. I was up in Stockton in the early 70s when Chavez pulled the workers out on strike at the height of harvest season. The brains at U.C. Davis cames up with a mechanized asparagus cutter in three weeks(!). A reporter from Texas told me that Chavez was against importing illegals since it lowered the already-low farm wages. Don't know if he was in power at the time you mention - maybe he "saw the light" and stopped fighting. This looks like an area Arnold should look into.
During the NAFTA discussions I talked with a small farm machinery manufacturer who had a wall full of plaques for his inventions. One of 'em was to automatically peel the oranges for those you see in cans. That blew my mind until he told me about his machine to pluck stems and leaves from strawberries for God's sake.
Couldn't sell the machines as the Mexicans had 12 people to a table pulling them out by hand. He visited some of their sweat shops and one manager said that they actually paid only two or three of those people the 12c an hour wage. The others were kids and grandparents who worked for free - that was the deal if the parents wanted a job. The guy told him it would cost more to wash down his machine at the end of the day than to pay manual labor. No wonder they come up here.
Sounds like we have some pretty inventive people who are being suppressed by the farm labor organizations and the governments, state and federal, turn a blind eye to that situation also. Probably something Tancredo should start talking about to stir the pot even more.
I'll look; I was working from memory of another article that detailed the development of those machines.
The brains at U.C. Davis
That was from the program that I alluded to. It was state sponsored. It's true that Chavez was against illegal immigration (hell, Samuel Gompers and the Democratic party were some of the authors of the 1924 act for just that reason), but he was also against mechanization since he wanted to preserve the existing jobs. I believe that in the early 70's, the number of farmworkers was at an all time low, because the commodity crops of the time had been relatively optimized in terms of the planting/harvesting cycle. I may be wrong, but I believe that the growth of high value boutique crops like strawberries and asparagus is what has required so much new labor. I know that's the case here in Santa Cruz County.
But like you pointed out, even "high value" crops like strawberries could probably be mechanized. I don't know that the price would change all that much -- the weather and soil are probably the determining factor in the value.
I do know that using people instead of machines is a luddite ideology that only still exists in California farms and Chinese factories. And the Chinese are probably going to mechanize...don't know about California...
I'm not sure which part of my comment you were replying to, but I suspect its the social cost part. Last year I spent about 3 months going to a hospital every day in northern california. 1/3 to 1/2 of the people were either non-English speakers or limited English. Won't bother to point out their apparent ethnicity. I suspect you already know.
Has a good paragraph on how Chavez and Dems shut down UC Davis.
I have no problem with that. I'd rather pay the dime than spend dollars to support these people.
Mexico is an embarrasment to the American ideology. How is it possible that we preach free markets, democracy and freedom to the world while our neighbor and our 2nd closest trading partner has all these things and is one of the most corrupt nations on earth?
We're in a catch-22: If the Mexicans rebel, it likely will be to install socialism (see PRD, a bunch of Castro lovers) and to enter an era of protectionism.
Same here, not too long ago. As an added bonus, the Border Patrol had brought in a brand new illegal who had been injured along the border somewhere (if not in one of those smuggler SUV rollovers on I-8). If the ER personnel don't watch them closely, sometimes these mojados just take off running and escape from the hospital.
Scenarios like the one you described makes me more grateful than ever for my VA Hospital health care coverage (service connected disabilty). We have our over-crowding problems but everyone there speaks the common language of the land and are very patriotic and the staff are wonderful. It's nice to be among others who like myself fought and served our nation in time of its need. I just thought I give my thanks to a grateful nation.
As an aside. Unlike John Kerry who claimed to have been wounded three times (two scratches and one semi-serious wounding from what I've read) and getting himself three Purple Hearts for which he continuously brags about at every opportunity I was wounded three different times (all fairly seriously) but would only accept ONE Purple Heart. I guess it's how one is raised. And I didn't even need a camera to record it all either.
Kerrys case was almost as good as our company clerks two Purple Hearts. One for breaking his big toe when a box of supplies fell on it in his base office and the other for receiving a minor cut on his forehead when he got into a fight when he had been drinking at the BX cantina and this guy never saw a battlefield up close. He wrote up his own citations.
I'm in a suburb outside of Los Angeles. We are up to our armpits with these people. On the freeways where it would take 40 minutes to drive 40 miles, it now takes 2.5 hours to arrive at the same destination. It is as if their weekend amusements include getting on the freeway and sitting in the heavy traffic that used to only happen during certain rush hours.
Another early endorser of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Recall.
Speaking of early endorsers, I saw more of Pete Wilson on the limited TV broadcasts of the convention than I've seen of him for years! He's really lookin older these days!!!
lol, Good old 'Squeaky' Pete ... didn't he sign the largest tax increase ever back in the most recent glory days of the GOP ? only to see it followed by the gory days of davi$.
How the heck did Deuk do it anyway?
That five cents/gallon is still on the pump and it's goin right into the general fund which is now in debt to the tune of another Republican Governors promise that the credit card is torn up... WAIT! Didn't he just borrow five billion more to balance this latest budget???
Yawn... Voters and Taxpayers are so gullible!!!
Oh! And so are taxpayer organizations like Coupals and Pauli's CA Farm Bureau Federation!!! (snort!)
Partly because in most restaurants, machines actually wash the dishes. You don't need some cheap laborer with 8 kids going to school at $10,000 each per year who makes $4 an hour and can't afford health insurance or to pay his own doctor bills for his family.
Actually it would probably be nicer if it DIDN'T happen but the massive migration of people out of Mexico is actually leading to a lot of instability and making everything worse. If they stayed, they would be there to push for reforms but by leaving the reforms aren't going to happen and things are going into a downward spiral.
I wouldn't argue with that.
And the emergence of the welfare state, as janetgreen said above.
When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns
When low wages are outlawed, only outlaws will have low wages
Thus does the Minimum Wage contribute to flooding our society with immigrants in greater number than we can assimilate, who are discouraged from assimilation by their illegal status. That such a flood of illegal immigrants is forthcoming is a testament to the free, capitalist health of our nation.
To reduce illegal immigration, don't try to fight the natural, profit seeking response of a free capitalist economy with central immigration planning and enforcement. Instead just lower the Minimum Wage !!
It will have to be reduced substantially. The true cost of an illegal immigrant's labor is doubly reduced, first by not having to pay Minimum Wage, second by not have to pay benefits and withholding.