Minor Thoughts from me to you

More Immigration Economics

Jenna is worried about the effects of immigrants on our social services:

Mexico is a very destitute country, especially when compared to the United States. With completely open, unfettered borders, we would become, as I said before, the bassinet of the world, handing out our social dollars to those who are not citizens of our country. While I am not an isolationist, we must be autonomous.

Joe also argues that with open borders, the immigration flow will subside, as the workforce market becomes saturated. That too I disagree with. With open borders, cheap labor will become the preferred choice, and American citizens will see their jobs vanish. As well, while the illegal immigrants are taking American jobs at an ever increased rate, immigration will never subside. Once they hear not of our saturated job market, but of our strong social net and welfare dollars, they will quickly enter the United States to take advantage of this. Instead of moving away from socialism, as Joe prefers, we would move towards it, with multitudes more people living on the taxpayers' buck.

There's so much I disagree with here, that I'm not sure where to start. Jenna argues that an influx of cheap labor will destroy American jobs. This is a common idea, but a wrong one. Many of Mexico's immigrants are unskilled. As such, they're hardly likely to be taking the jobs of American software engineers, pharmacists, doctors, professors, or the jobs of anyone else working in skilled professions. Many, many Americans are in no danger of competition from Mexican immigrants.

Additionally, cheap labor doesn't destroy jobs, it creates them. How many times have conservatives bemoaned the labor market in Madison -- so weighed down by regulations and government edicts that labor is too expensive to hire? General Motors is on the verge of bankruptcy thanks to labor unions making labor too expensive. As a result, General Motors is shedding jobs as fast as possible in an effort to save money and remain open for business. Ford is facing similar problems. Good, hard working American workers are losing their jobs because their labor is too expensive for their employer to keep.

Cheap labor allows existing business to create new jobs, offering new services to the public. Cheap labor allows new businesses to spring into existence, creating wealth where none existed before. As cheap laborers become skilled laborers, demand for their services will increase. Their wages will rise. As a result, we'll have a new company where none existed before. The employees of that company will be constantly increasing their skills and abilities and their wages will rise commensurately.

Jenna proposes a vision where every company hires the cheapest labor possible. Why? What company in their right mind would do that? An unskilled carpenter may have a low salary, but he offers little expertise and ability to his employer. Employers will always have room for both skilled and unskilled labor, for both cheap and expensive labor. No company can long exist while employing only cheap, unskilled labors. No laborer will long work for a company offering only low wages and no benefits. They'll either leave for another employer or take their skills and become their own employer.

This is basic Economics 101. For someone who describes herself as an economic libertarian, I'm surprised to see Jenna repeating such Marxist ideas.

Secondly, We don't need immigrants to bring socialist ideas to our shores -- Teddy Kennedy, John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, Jesse Jackson, and Russ Feingold are doing that already. It's true that immigrants use social services at a slightly higher rate than the native-born population does. Should we punish them for taking advantage of what's offered or should we focus our energies on the politicians who continually dip into our pockets?

Why assume that every immigrant will vote in favor of more welfare? The ones that actually make the journey to the United States -- across the desert sands of the southwest -- are hardly the laziest of Mexico's workers. Some immigrants will vote for a higher welfare state, some will vote for more freedom just like native Americans. The good news is that immigrants start their own businesses at a much higher rate than native Americans do. Given that small business owners generally vote for smaller government, I see reasons for optimism.

After all, why do immigrants migrate to America? They migrate because they have few opportunities for success in their native land. Mexico is not poor because its people are stupid, lazy, or illiterate. Mexico is poor because its political, legal, and social institutions prevent people from using their human capital to generate wealth. Immigrants migrate to America because America gives them the opportunity to succeed, when their native land won't. Given those conditions, how likely are they to support policies that would turn America into an imitation of Mexico?

This entry was tagged. Immigration Policy