Monday, December 15, 2008

Border Fence?

(Warning - this blog is among my "Swiftian" modest proposal type blogs)

As per the cartoon above - Aren't we all here illegally? It's like yelling "shotgun" or something, but as a nation we believe we should keep people from continuing to come here to try and find a better life even though that was the basis of how our modern society was founded (much to the dismay of the Native Americans who were here before us). But I want to quickly get to my point. I feel it isn't much of a stretch to state that many on the the right side of the political scale are for protectionism when it comes to immigration. A more extreme position has been to even identify and "round up" the millions of illegal immigrants currently living in the US and deport them (as if that were possible) but I'm not here to discuss that.

I'm going to take a tough "devil's advocate" position to defend in a recession (but thinking macro-scopically) - Doesn't this protectionism against immigration (either legal or illegal, which I will now call "pilgrim style") come from a fear of scarcity? As if there isn't enough to go around? That we need to block people out because they could be taking money from us either though "stealing jobs" or through public works projects and funds. I'm going to put that position against another "right side of the political scale" position of a free market economy.

What hit me this weekend when Dale showed me this cartoon, was that those on the right of the political scale who typically have a protectionism mindset on immigration are also generally on the side of a free market when it comes to the economy. Sooooo... why not just compete against immigrants for the resources - "free market" style. If it is so easy for "them" to steal "our jobs" then isn't that the free market at work? Besides isn't it a conservative position to take to say "everyone for themselves?" - yet we want government to help us keep "our jobs" and "our resources" and "our opportunities" just for the privileged of us who got here "Sooner".

In summary - my Devil's advocate position is to embrace an ever changing global world and remove artificial "protectionistic measures" and just compete for resources. This will drive the need for skilled labor, continuing education, and working hard. The best way to protect yourself is to make yourself move valuable to the economy through education, training, and work ethic. Besides - if someone wants to come to the US and is willing to work harder than some of our lazy, entitled teens, then our country will only be stronger for embracing the engines of the economy instead of fighting to protect the economic drains.


Dale said...

Yeah, it's unfortunate people think that people are "taking their jobs." It's not like you prevent someone from taking a job, then you get a job. The economy isn't a zero sum game... it either goes good for all or gets bad for all.

Karen said...

OK, i have to say it as a person on the right side of this subject. NO problem with people coming to the US. Bring them on. HOWEVER - make them come and become LEGAL citizens who PAY TAXES along with getting the jobs. Your comment: "Sooooo... why not just compete against immigrants for the resources - "free market" style." is right on - BECAUSE you say immigrants and not ILLEGAL immigrants.

I have a HUGE problem with people who are legal citizens not getting the resources they deserve because funding/support/economic injections/whatever are going to people who don't have (and i mean this when i say it) the right to be here.

your cartoon is funny because it's true. I'm not even saying immigrants (our ancestors or the present ones) need to learn English, i just want them to EARN the rights and privlidges the rest of us enjoy by going through the citizenship process.

Tom S. said...

Good points Karen. From an economics perspective - illegal immigrants who work in the US should have Social Security etc removed from their paycheck automatically with no hope of receiving either credit for it or payments in the future - so they could be increasing the available resources for current US citizens.

Now another mine-field subject is how do we address the can of worms of illegal immigrants here already?

Also my last point which is the whole point of why I wrote this goes to your line of "I have a HUGE problem with people who are legal citizens not getting the resources they deserve" when I believe that is echoed by many on the right when it comes to immigration and that is a "left-ish" theme (the fact that our people deserve anything from the gov't). So NET - if our citizens deserve anything - then that is a more "liberal" stance which could take us to - shouldn't our citizens deserve affordable healthcare (which in my mind means they are paying for it - not the gov't), affordable education, etc etc etc.

I'm not trying to say who's right - only that isn't it funny how intertwined political stances are - which is why any political label is likely worthless due to the spectrum of opinions involved.

Martha said...

If I can add on - I've worked with illegal immigrants at several jobs - all directly related to my degrees. Illegal immigrants may use up some resources, but who else is going to do hard labor work for less than $5 an hour, 80 hours a week, no overtime pay, no benefits, no days off? And the ones I've worked with are darn skilled, too. (keep in mind out here, minimum wage is ~$1/hr higher than in Ohio; prior to this year they were ~$2/hr higher than Ohio; so they're working for almost half the minimum wage))

If you argue they need to be paying taxes and such...well, look at the big picture. If they are then paid minimum wage and paying taxes, now that company's costs are going to SKYROCKET. Labor is an expensive % of cost, and the one that is most able to be adjusted. And who then has to pay that? Consumers. And are consumers willing to pay 1.5-2x the cost of their goods?
Hardly. Not when they're already dropping $60 per person on a meal. So then that company along with their legal employees are then out of a job and business.

You can't have it all ways. If you want costs low, accept that some people are willing to work for less money than others. And, sadly, they are sometimes the best workers - more dedicated, loyal, and they know they may have difficulties if they lose this job. What's an American gonna do if they lose this job? Eh, who cares, welfare will take care of them.

That being said, I believe large companies, due to economies of scale, should not knowingly hire illegal workers, and I know HUGE companies that do just that.