Two clichés on immigration

Two statements are often heard, to justify ongoing massive immigration. One hears them spoken by everyone from talking heads to politicians to folks chatting at backyard barbecues. They are meant to “end the argument.” But I submit, they are not valid.

Cliché #1: We are a nation of immigrants.

This cliché betrays a lack of reflection on world history.

1. All the lands of the world were once unpopulated. They became peopled through “immigration.” Thus, every nation was originally a nation of immigrants. Nor does the case differ in that those primal lands were unsettled: the original settlements of most lands, at least in the West, have been readjusted countless times through conquest and/or migration. The USA is not fundamentally different in this respect; it’s just that our immigration was more recent on the stage of world history.

2. Even granting that we are a nation of immigrants, so what? Because my great-grandfather was an immigrant, I, and all my fellow countrymen, are obligated in 2007 to keep the floodgate open? Where is the major premise that this enthymeme is based on? It simply does not exist.

Cliché #2: Immigrants are needed to do the jobs Americans refuse to do.

When you unpack its meaning, this cliché is particularly vicious.

Translated into simple terms, this means only that not enough Americans are willing to clean other people’s toilets at minimum wage.

There is always work that needs to be done, and there are always people that are wiling to work. The equalizing of demand and supply for labor leads to a compromise in each party’s desire, known as the market labor rate. At a higher rate, there would be more supply then demand, which would lead to discounting and drive the price back down. At a lower rate, there would be a shortage, leading those that were shorted to bid the price back up. This is Economics 101.

Now, if that equilibrium rate for cleaning toilets would be $15 dollars per hour, that’s perfectly fine. That means that at $15, the number of people that are willing to pay for that service, rather than do it themselves, exactly equals the number of people willing to render the service at that rate.

So when they say, “Americans are not willing to do this work,” what they are really saying is, “they won’t do it at the rate I would be happy to pay.”

There is no shortage of labor willing to do any kind of work.

3 thoughts on “Two clichés on immigration

  1. In regard to your 2nd cliche, I don’t know how anyone could disagree.

    A Libertarian view of the immigration issue would go as follows: People can be viewed as consumers or producers. If they’re required to produce to live, people are then looked at as an asset rather than a liability.

    If on the other hand people are strictly or mostly consumers, that is, they detract from the prospertity of society because they consume what others produce by using the force and power of government to acquire what they should be acquiring by being producers, then people are viewed as a liability.

    Because of our entitlement society that of course is the boat that we’re in. Each illegal immigrant household pays about $10,000 annually in taxes, but consumes over $30,000 year in taxpayer funded benefits, in such things as Medicare, food stamps, housing, social services, medical care, and public education. The price for “cheap foreign labor” is a two trillion debt for the American worker.

    On another note, we have been aborting about 1.5 million babies a year since 1973. These aborted babies would have been entering the workforce in 1994, 13 years ago. This means we currently have about 20 million missing individuals who today would be productive citizens. It is perhaps no accident that this number matches the estimated total of our current illegal alien population. We have been systematically aborting our future as a nation, and it’s finally catching up with us.

  2. Yes, given our horrendous sins, why do we presume to ask God to bless us? And why do we expect good things always?

  3. Mr Kitchens — you make a very important point. Those that defend immigration on the basis of “free market” leave out the fact that that transaction involving immigrant labor is not brought about merely by the terms of a private contract involving two parties; in effect, the American worker is not only edged out of a job, but forced to subsidize the real (as opposed to nominal) labor cost of his immigrant replacement.

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