Monday, April 11, 2011

Letter From a Progressive

Publicly I don't care to comment.

Between you and I, I have very strong feelings on the subject.

I have known, worked with, and been good friends with illegal aliens; primarily from Mexico and Central America. They are generally good people who are trying to make their lives better. I understand why they're doing what they're doing. Our LEGAL immigration system is problematic and difficult; completely at odds with the days our ancestors came over on a boat and signed the book at Ellis Island. You can't do that anymore, and America is not as welcoming as it was when our great-great-great grandparents came.

All that being said, THE LAW IS THE LAW. These people are criminals. Period.

Let's say you fly to Mexico on vacation, and decide to stay and start working on some fishing charter boat in Cabo San Lucas, and have been there, working and earning money for a couple months. You get in a fender bender... the Mexican cops will cart your ass to jail. Not because they're corrupt and unscrupulous... that's Mexican immigration law. In fact, that's the law pretty much anywhere in the world. You come on a tourist visa, when it expires, you're a criminal who will be jailed until your consulate arranges for your deportation. Anywhere in the world... anywhere.

Not in America.

Wages: there are two arguments. One -- illegal immigrants are doing jobs that Americans refuse to do or would never accept the extremely low pay. PARTIALLY true. Two -- if we paid Americans to do menial jobs, costs of goods and services would skyrocket. Nonsense.

In economics, there's something called "wage pressure". If a group of workers is earning $10/hr and they can't pay the bills, they find another job. That's wage pressure. Eventually, ANY business can't afford the constant turnover of people leaving for better pay, and the business has to offer higher wages to keep their peeps. THAT IS CAPITALISM at work, in favor of workers. The cost of that company's goods or services go up to pay for that wage increase, but it's spread over all their customers, so it doesn't create a wage spiral as so many people claim it does. This process creates a stable standard of living for the bottom end of wage earners.

Here's what's happening in America for the past 25 years or so:
illegal immigrants slowly increased their numbers from the 1980s, to the point where there is NO WAGE PRESSURE. There is always another worker (unskilled, doesn't speak English, fraudulent documents) who is willing to work for absolute minimum wage. Without documentation, many employers can get workers to accept less than minimum wage, because both parties are already breaking the law. It's a form of blackmail that hurts the worker who accepts the devil's bargain, and it hurts the LEGAL IMMIGRANT or American citizen who needed the job. That creates WAGE EROSION. Now the workers in the semi-skilled jobs have a large group of underskilled workers willing to accept true minimum wage to do their jobs. These workers on the next rung up will never get a raise because there's a line of illegal immigrants waiting to take that job. No wage pressure, and we all suffer, right up the economic food chain.

Standard of Living: If we're all American citizens and we all share a common language and we all stand on equal legal footing, it eliminates the devil's bargain of exploitation of illegal immigrants. Employers are forced to bring their wages up to a level at which people are willing and able to make a living filling that position. We all want to improve ourselves and find the next better job on the ladder so we can increase our STANDARD OF LIVING.

Unfortunately, here's the problem with illegal immigrants; the standard of living they are willing to accept is much, much, much lower than the vast majority of legal American citizens. Sure, there are trailer trash, homeless people, scumbags, and freaks, but most legal American citizens born and raised within our borders (with parents who did not arrive illegally), work at the process of self-improvement; if for no other reason than to get a bigger TV or a more dependable car.

When a person living in squalor in the backcountry of rural Mexico decides she can make a living in los Estados Unidos, and sneaks across the border... two things happen. One: she becomes a criminal. Two: she is exposed to an average standard of living that is so astronomically out of reach in her home town, that she is capable of accepting living conditions you and I would never imagine. She can have a roof over her head, a shower every morning, dozens of television stations, varieties of food she could never imagine (let alone afford) in her tiny, disconnected home town in the impoverished heart of the Yucatan. All she has to do is share the household with four, or six, or 10 other people to make it economically feasible. She washes dishes, she finds a nanny job, she does maid work for an American small business owner who has no choice but to hire an illegal worker for minimum wage or less... because her competition is BREAKING THE LAW WITHOUT ANY REPERCUSSIONS.

To compete, this normally law-abiding small business owner is forced to break the law as well or lose her means of income. The honest American business person becomes the criminal and the enabler of the whole vicious cycle, because the pool of illegal workers is there, and one of her competitors can't resist the temptation to make a profit or just stay afloat by making the devil's bargain. And the cycle repeats, and amplifies, and metastasizes. Our kids can't get summer jobs and learn the value of work because there's a 30-year-old man who doesn't speak English who begs the hamburger joint to hire him as a dishwasher for $5 an hour. And we wonder why modern American youth seems to be idle and mysteriously disenfranchised.

These are the reasons that every other country on Earth is incredibly strict about illegal immigration and foreign labor. No other developed country will tolerate it because it has such a debilitating effect on unemployment and wages... of CITIZENS.

This is all economics... dispassionate and simple. The problem is people confuse sympathy for people who want a better life with the science and administration our national fiscal and social policies. The devil's bargain has to be stopped for everyone's benefit.

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