Monday, May 01, 2006
Immigrants take jobs that Americans already here will not do; or so President Bush says.
President Bush says, "there are millions of them." That is why he wants to re-label illegal immigrants as "guest workers."
He must know something we don't. Americans do all sorts of unpleasant jobs. We slaughter hogs, vacuum pit toilets, hold umbrellas to shade Michael Jackson from the sun. We pick up road kill, guard mass murderers, and inseminate cows. Some very nasty work?
I suspect what the president means when he says there are all sorts of jobs Americans will not do is that there are jobs that Americans don't want for the pay being offered.
That's the crux of the whole immigration debate. Businesses large and small want immigrants so they don't have to pay people decent wages or benefits. And with a nearly endless supply of abjectly poor potential immigrants that can be imported at will in order to suppress labor shortages for even the most hard to fill positions (and so suppress the natural tendency for undesirable or specialized employees to bid up their wages), the natural flow of a free market for labor is distorted in favor of the owners of capital.
The aim of a guest worker program wouldn't be to fill open jobs. It would be to establish a permanent, low-cost, benefit-free underclass of workers who allow business owners to make more money.
That is how I see it.
So what about the Democrats? Well they think that most immigrants will end up voting for them and so they think the more the merrier.
Doing the job for less than Americans will is the immigrant's comparative advantage. And the fact that an employer obviously prefers labor as cheap as he can get it is no more profound than the fact that consumers want goods as cheap as they can get them. Ceteris Parabus anyway.
The natural flow of the market would seem better served by open borders and the freedom to associate without arbitrary political boundaries.