Immigration has joined the long list of subjects on which it is taboo to talk sense in plain English. At the heart of much confusion about immigration is the notion that we "need" immigrants -- legal or illegal -- to do work that Americans won't do.I agree, Immigration has become taboo, and that is a bad thing. The question I have is on the second part - "need".
What we "need" depends on what it costs and what we are willing to pay. If I were a billionaire, I might "need" my own private jet. But I can remember a time when my family didn't even "need" electricity.
Leaving prices out of the picture is probably the source of more fallacies in economics than any other single misconception. At current wages for low-level jobs and current levels of welfare, there are indeed many jobs that Americans will not take.
The fact that immigrants -- and especially illegal immigrants -- will take those jobs is the very reason the wage levels will not rise enough to attract Americans.
This is not rocket science. It is elementary supply and demand. Yet we continue to hear about the "need" for immigrants to do jobs that Americans will not do -- even though these are all jobs that Americans have done for generations before mass illegal immigration became a way of life.I agree the definition of need does depend on the question of price/cost. However I suggest that the question is not quite as straight forward as it is proposed. US unemployment is close to an all time low, US (legal) employment is at an all time high and the US economy is growing healthily - as Larry Kudlow notes at NRO:
[T]he total U.S. employment of 142 million workers stands at an all-time high. Since May 2003, non-farm payrolls have grown by 4 million, while the Labor Department’s household survey (which includes the self-employed) has surged by 4.5 million. The unemployment rate is 5 percent with real worker compensation growing by nearly 4 percent. Interest rates and core inflation are running at four-decade lows.If in such circumstances there are jobs which Americans are unwilling to do it is almost certainly because they can get more money to do something else. What it is not is a sign of an oversupply of labour or US citizens and legal immigrants pricing themselves out of the market (contrariwise it is precisely what we are seeing in much of Europe but unemployment there is something like twice the US rate and economic growth effectively non-existant). It is indeed an example of elementary supply and demand but in the opposite way to how Prof Sowell means it in that there is a demand that cannot at present be met by the supply of legal workers. If a supply of (presumably slightly higher priced) legal immigranst were available to perform these jobs and the (presumably cheaper) supply of illegals removed I predict that most of these - the janitorial, gardening and nannying ones - would remain because they provide services that really are needed, that is to say people are willing to spend money on them and see a benefit from so doing.
There is more to this issue than economics. The same mindless substitution of rhetoric for thinking that prevails on economic issues also prevails on other aspects of immigration.
Bombings in London, Madrid and the 9/11 terrorist attacks here are all part of the high price being paid today for decades of importing human time bombs from the Arab world. That in turn has been the fruit of an unwillingness to filter out people according to the countries they come from.
That squeamishness is still with us today, as shown by all the hand-wringing about "profiling" Middle Eastern airline passengers.Here we move back into semi-agreement. I think it is fair to say that most US residents see little threat of terrorism and the like from people named Juan so they probably ought to be encouraged to immigrate rather than people named Abdul. There may be a criminal impact - but I'm guessing that much (not all of course) of the crime is related to closed borders - that is to say either the illegal importation of labour or the illegal importation of drugs. It is worth looking at the choices facing those who decide to become illegal immigrants. Even with the winking at illegal immigration that goes on today, illegal residents find their life in the US to be considerably less straightforward than legal ones with problems renting housing, obtaining transportstion and redress in the event of any dispute, primarily because they cannot use the state provided courts etc. that are available to legal residents. It seems to me to be plausible that many of them would actually welcome paying official government taxes in order to take advantage of government services rather than effectively end up paying unofficial criminal gangs higher rates for lower levels of service.
No doubt most Middle Eastern airline passengers are not carrying any weapons or any bombs -- and wouldn't be, even if there were no airport security to go through. But it is also true that most of the time you will not be harmed by playing Russian roulette.
Europeans and Americans have for decades been playing Russian roulette with their loose immigration policies. The intelligentsia have told us that it would be wrong, and even racist, to set limits based on where the immigrants come from.
There are thousands of Americans who might still be alive if we had banned immigration from Saudi Arabia -- and perhaps that might be more important than the rhetoric of the intelligentsia.Well we have have semi-agreement here. The problem is not different races but different cultures, although it is controversial, it is surely necessary that we look at the cultural background of immigrants. However it is also true that in the US as it stands today, banning legal immigration from Saudi Arabia probably would not have saved all the lives since the potential terrorists would simply have travelled to Mexico and walked north (or to Canada and walked south). In an America where illegal immigrants were rare keeping tabs on them would be easier. As it is today there is an entire industry dedicated to providing the false documentation etc. needed by illegal immigrants. Removing the market for that industry would, I venture, make it a lot easier to track down the bad people, the potential terrorists and criminals because now they would stand out against the background instead of simply blending in with all the other illegals that are harmless and who provide labour to meet the demand for it.
The media and the intelligentsia love to say that most immigrants, from whatever group, are good people. But what "most" people from a given country are like is irrelevant.
If 85 percent of group A are fine people and 95 percent of group B are fine people, that means you are going to be importing three times as many undesirables when you let in people from Group A.
Citizen-of-the-world types are resistant to the idea of tightening our borders, and especially resistant to the idea of making a distinction between people from different countries. But the real problem is not their self-righteous fetishes but the fact that they have intimidated so many other people into silence.
In the current climate of political correctness it is taboo even to mention facts that go against the rosy picture of immigrants -- for example, the fact that Russia and Nigeria are always listed among the most corrupt countries on earth, and that Russian and Nigerian immigrants in the United States have already established patterns of crime well known to law enforcement but kept from the public by the mainstream media.The problem here is that the 95% good (or 85% or what ever) are going to provide a positive contribution to the USA. Sure some Russians that seek to enter the US do so intending to lead a life of crime but the vast majority do not, many of the researchers, programmers and other knowledge workers that help keep the US technically advanced come from Russia as do the entrepreneurs that provide the US and the world with new products and services. It is strongly in the interests of the USA to encourage such people to come to the US and work legally here rather than see their talents wasted by the lack of opportunity in their own land, a lack of opportunity which may indeed drive them to a life of crime. If the US opens its borders to more legal immigrants it will allow law enforcement resources to be diverted from the generally wasted scrutiny of the 99% of "good" illegals towards identifying the bad 1% and dealing with them. Moreover as I touched on above the law of supply and demand strikes again here; if the US makes legal employment easier it will remove the demand for illegal employment and the demand for services to support illegals and thus reduce the general level of crime.
Self-preservation used to be called the first law of nature. But today self-preservation has been superseded by a need to preserve the prevailing rhetoric and visions. Immigration is just one of the things we can no longer discuss rationally as a result.Fortunately I'm happy to agree 100% with the last. The US needs a rational debate about the costs and benefits of enforcing exisiting laws and immigration quotas properly compared to permitting more legal residents of all sorts. The current environment makes such rational debate impossible and skews entire communities and demographic groups towards tacit acceptance of criminal behaviour - witness this Lashawn Barber story.