August 28, 2007

A job Americans just won't do!

It dawns on Matthew Yglesias that if border enforcement succeeded in driving up wages for the unskilled, some jobs wouldn't be economical to do anymore. But, he doesn't go far enough:

An early scene in "The Man Who Would Be King" takes place in the office of an English colonial administrator in India. To stay cool, he had a big fan over his head flapped by a servant via a string attached to the sitting servant's toe. That's pretty awesome! If wages weren't so damn high here in America, I could have my own Untouchable toe-fanning servant too, instead of having to use my boring, totally unawesome electric fan. I could impress all my friends. (Well, maybe not the friends I already have, but if I had enough servants, I could assign some of them to get me new friends who would be impressed.)

Think of all the other hundreds of millions of jobs that could be created in America if wages fell to 19th Century Indian levels!

Of course, I couldn't actually afford to pay my toe-fanning flunky the full cost of what it would take for him and his family to live in America, but I believe the externalities of my servant's cost of living should be borne by the public at large, not by me. Thus, my worker's kids should get free schooling, the whole family should get free health care at the emergency room, his tenement should get fire and police protection, he should drive without car insurance, etc. Why shouldn't I cost shift my conveniences on to everybody else?


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

22 comments:

TabooTruth said...

People fail to realize that even if there are jobs for the Mexicans to do, those low wages represent the lack of economic value that the Mexicans create, and therefore the net liability that they are on the rest of the economy.

Mechanization would cost more for the businesses, but nothing to the public. It's the future either way.

Anonymous said...

And further, didn't the pre-Civil War South argue that without slavery (very low wage labor) the Southern agricultural economy could collapse?

Anonymous said...

The economic argument against mass immigration is the secondary argument.

The primary argument against mass immigration is that it will change the racial composition of the US.

How could the majority Euro-American population possibly be made better off if it is reduced to a smaller and smaller percentage of the US population as time passes?

Yet this is what the economic argument for mass immigration requires. This is complete nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Are you missing a link to Yglesias?

Anonymous said...

Steve, good point. It's not rocket science either. I can imagine some objections Yglesias might have, but I am sure they'd be easily crushed too.
The question I have is, at this point, why does the obvious still need to be debated? This is just orthodoxy, the same as various totalitarian countries have had. This is what free market orthodoxy looks like I guess.

Anonymous said...

Steve --

This is probably THE political struggle of the US and always has been.

Westerners want cheap land and expensive labor. Elite Easterners want cheap labor and expensive land.

Simple as that.

Mark said...

Mechanization would cost more for the businesses, but nothing to the public. It's the future either way.

Leading to one solution to problems that allegedly will be created by enforcing our laws: tax subsidies for capital investment, especially agriculture. We're already subsidizing Ag directly and indirectly (via their labor force). Why not use those subsidies to encourage mechanization.

And further, didn't the pre-Civil War South argue that without slavery (very low wage labor) the Southern agricultural economy could collapse?

Yes, they argued that - and yes, it did collapse. It didn't really recover until sometime after the invention of both air conditioning and the New Deal.

Westerners want cheap land and expensive labor. Elite Easterners want cheap labor and expensive land.

There is some truth to that, but as a Westerner myself I can tell you for certain that there are plenty of Westerners who want cheap labor and expensive land, too.

Stuart said...

“The primary argument against mass immigration is that it will change the racial composition of the US.”

This kind of honesty is refreshing.

Anonymous said...

A brush fire requires precise conditions to ignite: low humidity, high temp, wind velocity, etc. However, once the fire has reached a certain stage, the fire itself creates the very conditions which insure that it intensifies and proliferates.
Many of these menial jobs performed by Mexican nationals who have illegally entered this country are jobs created by the fact that there are so many Mexican nationals in this country illegally. Public (county) hospitals justify hiring illegals from Mexico because their patient load has skyrocketed over what it was 10 years ago. Yet, who are all these new patients occupying the beds in public hospitals? In L.A. county at least, they are overwhelmingly illegal aliens from Mexico. The Mestizo Mexican appetite for American fast food is well-known. The literally hundreds of chain fast food outlets which have proliferated in the San Fernando valley -- all of which would loudly protest that they simply must hire illegal aliens from Mexico in order to stay in business -- did not start popping up until the tidal wave of illegal Mexicans began arriving in Panorama City, Van Nuys, Reseda, etc, and lining up to eat three meals a day at these establishments.

David Davenport said...

Every cloud has a less diverse lining dept.:

" Construction job losses could top 1 million

Sun Aug 26, 2007 12:34PM EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Job losses in the construction sector could top 1 million if a housing downturn tips the economy into recession and tighter access to credit dampens business investment.

Strength in nonresidential construction may continue to offset a downturn in housing for now, but recent turmoil in credit markets suggests job losses may accelerate in the sector in the next few months. ...

http://www.reuters.com/article/ousiv/idUSN2636970820070826

Being an economic determinist, I suggest that George Jr. would have had more success with his amnesty bill if he had pushed it during the 2nd or 3td quarter of 2005, when the real estate market topped.

Undocumented workers doing jobs Americans won't do is going to turn into unemployed Hispanics wandering about the US looking for "refuge" cities with muy mo' de wefa-r-r-r-r-r.

David Davenport said...

And further, didn't the pre-Civil War South argue that without slavery (very low wage labor) the Southern agricultural economy could collapse?

Yes, they argued that - and yes, it did collapse. It didn't really recover until sometime after the invention of both air conditioning and the New Deal.


That's an old dispute in American history: was the profitability of slavery in decline circa 1860, before the Civil War started? Some hisotrians think so. Maybe Eugene Genovese's "Time on the Cross"?

Floccina said...

The problem is short run disequilibrium. A rapid change in the number of Mexicans would in the short run put certain farmers and restaurateurs in deep trouble. The farmers would whine and they have some serious political power (consider the farm bill).

Anonymous said...

I was watching a feature today on CNBC about how, since (Mexican slave) labor is getting more expensive, some farmers are turning to robots to pick their oranges, strawberries, etc.

The tone, of course, was "Gee whiz! What'll they think of next?", as if this sort of thing hasn't been happening for centuries (in those interludes when flows of cheap labor have been cut off). Still, I guess it's better than the usual "We're Doomed, I tell you! Doomed! If we can't pay people 3 dollars an hour to do jobs American won't do"...

Anonymous said...

I whole heartedly agree with the poster who observes that illegal immigration, once established feeds demands created by its existance. The large scale conversion of crop land to ornamental nursery production in Oregon is a case in point. Once it became apparent that low-wage labor was a new right for agriculture this industry exploded. Now of course they are whining that their livelyhoods are at risk due to the amnesty failing.

Anonymous said...

When were whites ever a clear majority in Texas or California? There were Zoot Suit Riots in Los Angeles back during WW2. The scales tipped in favor of whites for a while out West, but now they are tipping back a little bit.

That's a far cry from saying whites are going extinct. A walk through the streets of Boston or Lower Manhattan can clear up that misconception anytime. That's the Yankee stronghold, and it isn't going anywhere. It's even called "New England." Funny that.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the good old punkah wallah.

David Davenport said...

Union: Mexican Trucks Begin Crossing Border Saturday
Union Asks Court To Block Mexican Trucks

POSTED: 9:32 am PDT August 29, 2007
UPDATED: 8:05 pm PDT August 29, 2007


WASHINGTON -- The Teamsters Union said it has been told by officials in the Transportation Department's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that the first Mexican trucks will be coming across the border on Saturday.

The union said Wednesday it would ask a federal appeals courts to block the Bush administration's plan to begin allowing Mexican trucks to carry cargo anywhere in the United States.


Teamsters leaders said they planned to seek an emergency injunction Wednesday from the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

"What a slap in the face to American workers, opening the highways to dangerous trucks on Labor Day weekend, one of the busiest driving weekends of the year," said Teamsters President Jim Hoffa.

Joining the Teamsters in seeking the emergency stay were the Sierra Club and Public Citizen.

"Before providing unconditional access throughout the country to tens of thousands of big rigs we know little to nothing about, we must insure they meet safety and environmental standards," Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope said.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in a statement, said it was working closely with the department's inspector general "as his office completes an additional assessment of the program and we prepare a detailed response to that report."

The Bush administration said last week it would start the cross-border program once the Transportation Department's inspector general certifies safety and inspection plans.

Leslie Miller, a Teamsters spokeswoman, said attorneys for the federal truck safety agency advised the union's lawyers that they expect to get that certification on Friday. She said the Teamsters also were told by the agency attorneys that limited authority for trucks to begin crossing the border will be approved Saturday.

Supporters of the plan say letting more Mexican trucks on U.S. highways will save American consumers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Labor and driver-owner groups have been fighting the measure -- part of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement -- since it was first proposed, saying the program will erode highway safety and eliminate U.S. jobs.

A one-year demonstration project would allow 100 Mexican motor carriers full access to U.S. roads. It can begin as soon as the inspector general certifies that safety and inspection plans and facilities are sufficient to ensure the Mexican trucks are as safe as U.S. trucks.



http://www.nbcsandiego.com/politics/14003768/detail.html?rss=dgo&psp=news


Sierra Club? Is the bien pensant upper middle class finally waking up to the Mexican invasion?

essex said...

I whole heartedly agree with the poster who observes that illegal immigration, once established feeds demands created by its existance.

This is true of any population growth. More people means more services means more jobs. There's nothing unique in this respect about immigration, legal or otherwise.


The large scale conversion of crop land to ornamental nursery production in Oregon is a case in point. Once it became apparent that low-wage labor was a new right for agriculture this industry exploded. Now of course they are whining that their livelyhoods are at risk due to the amnesty failing.

Uh huh. Or maybe the rapid rise in prosperity among the richer half of the population led to a greater appetite for landscaped yards, while a population boom in Oregon meant that this trend had an especially big impact there.

If you're against immigration, say so, but don't try to couch your arguments in terms of legality, as though you would be thrilled if all these Mexicans were here legally; and don't blame every trend you dislike on illegal immigrants. Both tactics reduce your credibility.

Anonymous said...

Still, I guess it's better than the usual "We're Doomed, I tell you! Doomed! If we can't pay people 3 dollars an hour to do jobs American won't do"...

Steve did a column recently about the chimney sweep lobby in England that freaked out in exactly the same when prohibition against child labor gained momentum. What a great column that is! Perfect liberal cocktail party debate cluster bomb.

The typical businessman invests his ego in the bottom line. Anything that disturbs the established bottom line will be resisted in the strongest terms. I haven't listened to him in years but Rush Limbaugh used to talk about corporations being structurally amoral i.e. that morality must be imposed on them from outside forces. Society must keep doing forcing ethical standards on the business community or else they will quickly have us "employed" down in the sugar caves.

Anonymous said...

The primary argument against mass immigration is that it will change the racial composition of the US.

*****

Union: Mexican Trucks Begin Crossing Border Saturday

Union Asks Court To Block Mexican Trucks

*****

I hesitate to link to a story like this, but here goes:

'White power' chanted during immigration discussion at school
http://www.9news.com/news/top-article.aspx?storyid=76418

The original discussion thread for the story was here:

http://www.topix.net/forum/source/kusa/TIQK5CBJ57DT7MKAC

Apparently there were about 500 replies earlier this evening, but then the topix.net Admins moved in and deleted more than 400 of them.

There's a FreeRepublic discussion here [assuming Jim Robinson doesn't yank it]:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1889214/posts

Ugh.

Sometimes I worry that the race wars may be arriving even sooner than we realize.

Sigh.

SFG said...

A walk through the streets of Boston or Lower Manhattan can clear up that misconception anytime. That's the Yankee stronghold, and it isn't going anywhere. It's even called "New England." Funny that.
New York is part of New England? Wow. Maybe you should try telling the Bostonians that. While you're at it, wear a Yankee hat. I wouldn't worry too much, Boston has great hospitals. ;)

You do raise a good point, though. Black people don't like the cold. It's not too hard to figure out why from the evolutionary point of view ; Africa's pretty damn hot. Tall long bodies lose heat, and black skin isn't great at absorbing vitamin D. Minnesota's pretty pale too. Northerly states often have traditions of social democracy, and sometimes get away with it. Vermont is hippie-land but hasn't collapsed yet, and Massachusetts, despite all its lefty college professors, remains one of the wealthier states in the Union.

Westerners want cheap land and expensive labor. Elite Easterners want cheap labor and expensive land.
I think it's more of a elite-nonelite thing than a West-East thing. There are just more elites in the Northeast because of its origins as the oldest part of the country. But ask your average South Boston Irish guy or Long Island Italian how he feels about illegal immigration.

Anonymous said...

stuart:

At least as big an issue is that it will change the cultural composition of the country. Whether we import a huge new underclass because the immigrants can't study or won't study, what difference does it make? We still get a huge new underclass.