Patterico's Pontifications

5/23/2007

What Do Illegal Immigrants Cost?

Filed under: General,Immigration — Patterico @ 6:08 am

This U.S. News and World Report piece (h/t DRJ) asks:

[W]hat do low-skilled immigrants cost America? Everything has its costs, of course. According to a new analysis by Robert Rector of the conservative Heritage Foundation, the average low-skilled immigrant household received $30,160 in direct benefits, means-tested benefits, education, and other services from all levels of government in 2004.

By contrast, low-skill immigrant households paid only $10,573 in taxes that year, meaning the average low-skill household had a fiscal deficit of $19,588. And what about retirement costs? Rector estimates that if all the current adult illegal immigrants in the United States were granted amnesty, the net retirement costs to government (benefits minus taxes) could be over $2.5 trillion.

A 2003 analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas concluded that while high-skilled immigration had “good economic effects”–it added to economic growth and helped government finances–low-skilled immigration was more of a mixed picture. “The economic benefits are there as well but have to be balanced against the fiscal impact, which is likely negative,” explained economist Pia Orrenius.

This piece from the Cato Institute responds:

It is certainly true that low-skilled workers do, on average, consume more in government services than they pay in taxes, especially at the state and local levels. But some of the estimates of that cost have been grossly exaggerated. Moreover, the value of an immigrant to American society should not be judged solely on his or her fiscal impact.

I find the Cato Institute piece highly unpersuasive. It tries to tell me that the estimated 1-2 million extra people in Los Angeles County don’t contribute to:

  • Increased traffic
  • Crowded hospitals
  • Increased crime
  • Overcrowded schools

How, you might ask, does the Cato Institute manage to reach this conclusion? It looks at things like rates, and concludes that (for example) the crime rate among illegals is low, so you can’t blame them for extra crime — or that they are generally healthy, so you can’t blame them for crowding the hospitals.

But this is a misleading way to look at it, because it ignores the fact that the absolute numbers are still going up, regardless of what the rates are — and we don’t have the infrastructure to accomodate the absolute numbers, which are having an impact on society.

Take prison space as an example. Let’s assume, hypothetically, that we have a 140,000 bed capacity in our prison system, but we have 170,000 prisoners, 35,000 of which are illegal immigrants. Even if it were true that illegals commit crimes at a lower rate than others, these numbers would still mean that with illegals, we have a capacity problem that could cost us billions to rectify — and without them, we’d have plenty of beds.

Studies like the Cato study ignore quality of life issues that result from an overabundance of people, and they also give short shrift to the strain on the infrastructure caused by millions of extra people. Of course they crowd the roads. Of course they crowd the hospitals. Of course they crowd the schools and the jails and the prisons. And of course there is a cost to all of this.

There are simply too damn many people — and the law is supposed to control the numbers to keep them in line with our capacity to handle them. Why doesn’t the Cato Institute talk about that?

69 Responses to “What Do Illegal Immigrants Cost?”

  1. the crime rate among illegals is low

    Holy crap. I know that CATO scholars are generally pro-drug-legalization; evidently, they also practice what they preach.

    The figure is around 20% – 30% of illegals from our Southern neighbor either arrive in the U.S. with a felony conviction, or will have one soon thereafter. Either renders them deportable, at least under the current racist regime. (Because if you support deportation of felonious illegals, it makes you a racist, per Hugh Hewitt and WH whispering campaign).

    Of course, I’m a glass half-empty kind of person. Others see it differently. For example, the National Immigration Forum stated proudly a while back that nearly 80% of undocumented aliens are not criminals. Um, okay, guess their glass is half full — with Tecate.

    Al Maviva (89d0b6)

  2. The correct way to look at it is a) whose wealth does subsistence-wage labor increase and 2) who bears the brunt of the cost of the illegals’ use of our infrastructure and safety net?

    On the first question, the employers and the larger the employer the larger his profit.

    On the second question, the lower half of income earners through regressive taxes such as sales taxes, real estate taxes, excise taxes and dozens of other taxes and fees which are imposed without regard to income level on everything we buy and use; and through the increased overhead of essential service providers — medical and utility mainly — who are obligated to provide these services regardless of ability to pay but need to pass on the cost to those who can pay. (Example: In Cook County, the gas company cannot deny heating gas to illegals regardless of whether they are creditworthy and cannot cut it off during the winter if they cannot pay.)

    If you believe that making the rich richer at the expense of the not so rich is a good thing, then illegal immigrants are of value to society as Cato says. If you believe that paying a fair wage so that the worker can afford to pay his way through life even though it decreases the boss’s profit margin is of greater value to society ….

    nk (835ea1)

  3. Wait, if the illegal immigrants who are working in LA now were forced to leave, wouldn’t most of your ‘crowding’ problems come back in the form of OTHER people who came in (from somewhere) to do the work that the illegal immigrants were doing?

    I would guess that even if every unemployed citizen in the LA area were to start working in the jobs that the illegal immigrants were doing, we’d still need a lot more bodies coming from somewhere. Those bodies would need transportation and would have kids who would need schools.

    And if the question is whether they pay enough for those services, then legalization would solve that by making them pay just like all other Americans in their same (albeit low) income brackets.

    I’m against the idea of legitimizing everyone who is here now and in favor of making it harder to be here illegally for a bunch of reasons (taking away the opportunities of citizenship from people who are poor and born here, punishing the millions of Europeans and Asians and Indians and others from further away than Central America who would have loved to come here but did not during the past 20 years because it was illegal), but crowding doesn’t seem to be a great reason.

    tom (612cba)

  4. Patterico, my last comment here was spam-filtered even though it did not have hypertext.

    nk (835ea1)

  5. the crime rate among illegals is low

    Putting aside the obvious irony (you know “crime” and “illegal”) and ignoring immigration related crime, can that really be true? I guess maybe the threat of expulsion looms large. Still, illegal immigrants are obviously lower income than average and I assume lower income people are more likely to commit and be prosecuted for crimes. So this would really surprise me.

    Crust (399898)

  6. The comment about illegals being healthy is obviously skewed. I have previously mentioned the problems of workers comp with laborers. Illegals are also disproportionately young. I hope their data for illness is corrected for age and I’ll bet it’s not. The county hospital is full of illegal aliens, many with complications of alcohol and trauma. Two thirds of the patients speak Spanish. Not all are illegal but I would estimate 2/3 are.

    Mike K (8398a0)

  7. I don’t think we have too many people. It may certainly be true that California is crowded but nationwide we have plenty of room. In fact, America will no doubt absorb another round of 10-20 million illegal immigrants when this or the next version of amnesty becomes law. However, America has too many illegal immigrants who contribute little to our economy. Low-skilled illegal immigrants are valuable only if they try to better themselves economically and intellectually by learning the language, getting a useful education, and working hard to move up the wage and success ladder.

    Illegal immigrants are generally hard workers but too many seem content to live second-class lives, speaking Spanish in segregated Mexican neighborhoods with marginal concern for education. They often live paycheck-to-paycheck and risk financial ruin if they lose a job or get sick. Too many immigrants are content with their lives, perhaps because even average workers are better off than workers in Mexico. In America, most can afford necessities and even luxuries like cell phones, big-screen TVs and new vehicles. In fact, we Americans have such good lifestyles that even lower-income people are able to view those items as necessities rather than luxuries.

    I don’t blame immigrants for wanting these things but I do blame them for not wanting more. In other words, I agree with Patterico’s earlier post that far too many immigrants are willing to rely on America’s generous social services system to make low-skill, low-paying jobs seem desirable.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  8. Why doesn’t the Cato Institute talk about that?

    I think it’s because they believe an economy must grow or die, and what better way to grow than to add demand and add cheap labor? I’m not an economist, but I would think some types of growth are good, some not so good. The cheap labor this go round, in addition to helping corporate America, also includes an off the books black market economy that unfairly burdens the law abiding middle class with sustaining it.

    In last year’s Annual Report to Congress, Olson identified “underreported income (and related self-employment tax) from the so called “cash economy” [as] probably the single largest component of the “tax gap.” Returning to the problem of underreporting in 2006 the report says that Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data indicate that 99-percent of income earned by wage earners is reported on a tax return, yet only about 43-percent of income earned by self-employed persons is reported.

    The Tax Gap

    Patricia (824fa1)

  9. DRJ, do you think that perhaps part of the reason many “illegal” immigrants seem “content to live second-class lives, speaking Spanish in segregated Mexican neighborhoods with marginal concern for education” is because the laws in our country effectively limit them to living on the margins?

    How is an “illegal” supposed to rise to a middle-class life? You’re right about one thing — they’re better off here than in Mexico. But you seem to be implying that their marginal lifestyles are a result of lack of ambition.

    They’ve risked death to cross a border, and live as an “illegal” every day just to make a few hundred bucks a month more than they would make otherwise. They’re very ambitious. They’re just unable to progress any further.

    Phil (427875)

  10. Patterico: “There are simply too damn many people”

    Remind me again, when did Patterico move to LA and start a family?

    m.croche (6c4bec)

  11. They are most definitely being exploited. And so is the majority of the population on their behalf. They produce wealth for their employers but society as a whole pays for their use of the infrastructure and safety net. Because they are not paid enough to pay their own way in society as other workers are. Illegal immigration benefits only those in a position to make a profit from what is practically slave labor.

    nk (835ea1)

  12. Ant no discussion at all of American economic policy.
    Were you pro NAFTA, Pat?

    AF (435cc9)

  13. In the end, I’m getting so tired of the debate over whether immigration is in fact beneficial or harmful, economically.

    What’s truly bizzare is how many people are strongly opposed to low-skill immigrants coming here to America work (where anyone can hire them). But they love the fact that they can buy cheap goods from big corporations, thanks to cheap overseas labor.

    In other words, they don’t mind the idea of cheap laborers being available overseas, where only big corporations can take advantage of them, by relocating/outsourcing.

    But they hate the idea of letting the cheap laborers come here, where anyone, even the lower-middle-class, can hire them.

    What a self-destructive double standard that is!

    Phil (427875)

  14. Hardly. The lower and even upper middle class doesn’t hire all that many people, so whatever benefit we get from cheap labor is from cheaper goods, whether they are manufactured here or abroad. If they are manufactured here, we get cheaper goods, offset in spades by a higher crime rate, more taxes for schools and other social services, etc. If they are manufactured abroad, we still get the cheaper goods, while absorbing none of the social costs.

    Xrlq (fd48fd)

  15. “DRJ, do you think that perhaps part of the reason many “illegal” immigrants seem “content to live second-class lives, speaking Spanish in segregated Mexican neighborhoods with marginal concern for education” is because the laws in our country effectively limit them to living on the margins?”

    Phil do you think that they are limited to the ‘margins’ simply because they are illegal? Maybe they should be legal instead?

    Lord Nazh (d282eb)

  16. Maybe we should just deport anyone making less than $100,000 a year regardless of where they were born, xrlq?

    alphie (015011)

  17. XRLQ: “The lower and even upper middle class doesn’t hire all that many people, so whatever benefit we get from cheap labor is from cheaper goods, whether they are manufactured here or abroad.”

    That doesn’t follow at all, even if it was true, which it’s not.

    The lower- an upper-middle class often won’t have full-time employees (although many, many do). But they “hire” labor all the time — every time they utilize a service, for example.

    Every time you eat at a restaurant you “hire” the waiter to serve you, and payment is in the form of a tip (it’s the most one-sided employment contract in our economy — at-will payment). Every time you eat at a restaurant, you hire everyone producing your meal, by paying a flat fee for the food. When you stay at a hotel you hire the staff; when you get your clothes dry-cleaned, you hire the workers in the back room. See where I’m going with this?

    In other words, we all benefit from cheap labor, be it through the consumption of goods or services.

    I recognize what you’re saying about the social cost of cheap labor in the U.S. as opposed to abroad — you want to put the cost of cheap labor on other countries, while sucking up the *benefits for certain people in our own country. That’s very noble of you; may I suggest slavery as the ultimate way to arbitrarly split the costs of cheap labor away from the benefits. Something tells me that acid-tounged XRLQ would be a brutal slave-master, quite happy with his entitled status as a born slave-owner.

    Phil (427875)

  18. Phil,

    Nothing prohibits illegal immigrants – and especially their children – from improving their language skills. At the very least, they can learn a smattering of English from watching TV. Immigrants (legal and illegal) can also improve their skills and prospects through education. K-12 education is mandatory and virtually every community has opportunities for adult remedial education, regardless of legal status. Some immigrants take advantage of these programs and improve their lot. Where I live, most don’t.

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  19. The problem with infrastructure isn’t immigration, but rather environmental impact reports and the ability of fringe groups to use same to block nearly anything for any reason.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  20. XRLQ–

    I assume that someone who has a maid or a gardener in twice a month isn’t “middle class” any more?

    And you ignore all indirect hiring in labor-intensive industries, from construction to farming to direct service.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  21. DRJ,

    When the main employment opportunities for illegals are in laborer positions that generally involve little to no communications skills, learning English would be a creative hobby, not a particularly effective way to improve your “lot in life.”

    For illegal immigrants, immediate social ties with close friends and family are far more important to employment and success than for you or I.

    You or I can get a job anywhere, from anyone. Immigrants generally get jobs through personal referrals. Developing and maintaining these close intra-community connections is how they survive. It’s been that way with immigrant communities throught U.S. history.

    That’s why they generally keep to themselves; they know where their opportunity comes from, and they nurture those connections.

    As for education, in the U.S. education generally takes many years to pay serious dividends, and is quite costly. What percentage of first-generation immigrants from any culture run out and get an education? I don’t think it’s very high.

    Phil (427875)

  22. Phil,

    Everything you say may be true but others managed to overcome those hurdles, often in just one generation. Do you believe economic status explains why some people are more likely to embrace and prevail in the difficult transition to a new life in America?

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  23. Even legal ones don’t cost much, if you play your cards right.

    Dan Collins (1e2e08)

  24. Voila!

    Dan Collins (1e2e08)

  25. Patrick–

    In those studies, what part did immigration law that prefers dependent immigration over worker immigration? It isn’t the low-skilled worker that is the burden, it’s the grandmother that the law allows him to bring in. “Household” means something else for 3rd world immigrants than it does to us.

    You cite retirement costs, but 1) a substantial portion of those are paid for by the worker. Do you mean $2.5 trillion saved if we rip them off? How much do we “save” if we simply repay their (forced) contributions with interest. And can I get in on that deal?

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  26. “In other words, we all benefit from cheap labor, be it through the consumption of goods or services.”

    “We all”? Now who’s arguing for slavery, Phil? “We all” benefit more from workers who get paid a fair wage and can participate in the general economy keeping in turn others employed and productive. Cheap labor does not guarantee you cheap or even honest prices. Not in a free market. The business will try to get every penny it can from the customer and maximize its profit. Competition does. And decent employers who pay an honest wage to their employees should not have to compete with the conscienceless ones who don’t.

    nk (835ea1)

  27. And decent employers who pay an honest wage to their employees should not have to compete with the conscienceless ones who don’t.

    Precisely.

    Employers who comply with Federal and state laws are at a competitive disadvantage with those who hire illegals. It is difficult if not impossible to quantify this and add it to the cost of our failure to enforce current immigration and labor laws.

    Stu707 (5b299c)

  28. Now who’s arguing for slavery, Phil? “We all” benefit more from workers who get paid a fair wage and can participate in the general economy keeping in turn others employed and productive. Cheap labor does not guarantee you cheap or even honest prices.

    Slavery is about coercion. I would argue that immigration laws are simply slavery turned on its head. What’s more coercive than telling people they cannot work at all in our country, and therefor they have to work for whatever dirt wages they can find in their own country?

    Instead of having “slaves” locked up inside our country, you corral them outside our country, in miserable conditions, and then send corporations there to hire them at dirt wages with no competition. Suddenly these slaves become “foreign labor.”

    Immigration restrictions do not create “fair” wages. They lock the laborers out of the “fair” market, and then allow privileged employers (the ones who can afford to outsource) to mine these isolated pockets of desperation, and get labor at wages they’d never get in a competitive environment.

    Decent employers who pay an honest wage to their employees should not have to compete with the conscienceless ones who don’t.

    I hear you, but that’s a problem created by the immigration restrictions, which make it illegal for the immigrant laborers to be here, not by immigration itself. Decent employers could hire cheap labor right along the “conscienceless” ones if immigration restrictions were relaxed/eliminated.

    Phil (427875)

  29. Remind me again, when did Patterico move to LA and start a family?

    Remind me again, since when was that illegal.

    Croche. Missing the point since, what? 2003?

    At least.

    Patterico (eeb415)

  30. Two points, please:
    1- “If all the illegals left, they would just be replaced by another group”
    Excuse me, what about the concept of learning to live within our means?
    2- Loosertarians run great spread-sheets, but how many of them know when to come in out of the rain? I think that their positions on drugs and international relations pretty much sums up their lack of appreciation for the real world.
    CODA:
    I think it would be marvelous if the proposed “Guest Worker” program was limited to just 535!

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  31. […] Patterico talks about another aspect of the problem from his perspective. Studies like the Cato study ignore quality of life issues that result from an overabundance of people, and they also give short shrift to the strain on the infrastructure caused by millions of extra people. Of course they crowd the roads. Of course they crowd the hospitals. Of course they crowd the schools and the jails and the prisons. And of course there is a cost to all of this. […]

    Americas North Shore Journal (006926)

  32. Did I miss the point?

    Legal low skilled immigration vs illegal – illegals get to pay taxes and get few benefits.

    I missed the part where illegals can sign up for welfare, social security – oh they get to pay those taxes but not get any of the payout

    Maybe I missed it

    Also the average soldiers household has the same demographics as the Heritage report fails to mention, single mothers too. We have all sorts of groups

    I gues the Heritage Foundation left out that 1/2 of America receives more Benefits than pays them.

    I was also curious where the 25% in taxes came from?

    EricPWJohnson (92aae0)

  33. Kevin Murphy #26,

    Here’s an October 2006 Robert Rector article published by The Heritage Foundation that addresses/supports your first point:

    “The current influx of poorly educated immigrants is the result of two factors: first, a legal immigration system that favors kinship ties over skills and education; and second, a permissive attitude toward illegal immigration that has led to lax border enforcement and non-enforcement of the laws that prohibit the employment of illegal immigrants. In recent years, these factors have produced an inflow of some ten and a half million immigrants who lack a high school education. In terms of increased poverty and expanded government expenditure, this importation of poorly educated immigrants has had roughly the same effect as the addition of ten and a half million native-born high school drop-outs.”

    As for your second point (and assuming I understand what you intended), an apparently substantial number of illegal immigrant workers are paid in cash and don’t pay taxes, so any money they eventually receive from Social Security is a loss.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  34. Kevin Murphy:

    I assume that someone who has a maid or a gardener in twice a month isn’t “middle class” any more?

    No, someone who hires an illegal alien as a maid or gardener twice a month doesn’t save anywhere near enough to come out ahead as a result of illegal immigration, once all the other costs are taken into account. Large manufacturers do, but they can operate on either side of the border.

    But don’t mind me, I’m just one of those Neanderthal slavedrivers who think there ought to be such a thing as an international border.

    Xrlq (7be83a)

  35. Phil,
    How do you support all these allegations that English doesn’t help immigrants, the social ties are more important than other ties, that they’re unable to progress?? Do you have ESP or something?

    BTW, we’re always talking about Hispanic illegals, but I am against all illegal immigration, including from the “good” minority communities, like Asians. They are successful, even those in the working class, and their kids as a whole do well in school (but I still want their illegal immigration stopped). But nobody’s keeping them down, right, so why keep blaming America for the lack of upward mobility of Hispanic immigrants and using it as some sort of rationale for encouraging even more?

    Patricia (824fa1)

  36. EricPWJohnson, the part you missed was the one where Rector was talking about illegals that would be amnestied under the proposed bill, not about illegals that are still illegal, ya big dope.

    CL (f6ecc4)

  37. BTW, we’re always talking about Hispanic illegals, but I am against all illegal immigration, including from the “good” minority communities, like Asians.

    That’s great, we agree — I’m against all illegal immigration, too.

    That’s why I strongly support eliminating illegal immigration, by eliminating the restrictive laws that make it illegal.

    Phil (427875)

  38. Since they’re all moving here, why don’t we simplify our lives and annex Mexico outright. Building and manning a fence between us and Guatemala has to be a lot cheaper, and it would be much easier for new twin cities such as San Diego/Tijuana to work out common problems without having to go through higher agencies.

    Alan Kellogg (6f1b56)

  39. That’s why I strongly support eliminating illegal immigration, by eliminating the restrictive laws that make it illegal.

    Well, that’s honest! That explains your prior ‘rationale’, which I questioned, as well.

    Patricia (824fa1)

  40. So I am to believe that in order to rescue the old Great Society from bankruptcy we need to import a newer Great Society of illegal low wage workers.

    Why call it amnesty when it’s really the Newest Great Society educated on Che.

    Why did America some fifty years ago have to follow European mistakes by importing the collectivist misery of Marxist serfdom?

    syn (7faf4d)

  41. If my honesty surprises you, perhaps you should try being as honest. Explain why you support laws that make it illegal for some people to work for a living in America not because they are unqualified or unwilling to work — just because they happen to have been born on the wrong side of a border.

    Phil (427875)

  42. Phil asks:

    “Explain why you support laws that make it illegal for some people to work for a living in America not because they are unqualified or unwilling to work — just because they happen to have been born on the wrong side of a border.”

    Because as long as the quaint notion of different countries still exist (e.g., until the New World Order starts), America is a nation and borders matter.

    Because we need to reinforce that we are Americans. Our nationality links us as citizens and helps us work toward common goals.

    Because, like locks on a house, our borders should be secure and protect us from those who want to harm us just because we are Americans.

    Because there are threats other than terrorism that should concern us, including protection from the importation of dangerous products and communicable diseases.

    Because it’s the law.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  43. Well said, DrJ.

    I would also add that there are many more criteria for being a good citizen…er, resident of a nation…er, area that being employed.

    Patricia (824fa1)

  44. A high crime rate loss of jobs and the loss of our national soventry we need to oppose this illegal imagration and oppose the NORTH AMERICAN UNION these politicians that support this are guilty of treason

    krazy kagu (f63577)

  45. DRJ, those are all excuses. They all sound great if you’re one of the privileged folks benefitting from immigration restrictions, but they make no rational sense.

    But hey, when you don’t want to admit that you just want to protect a privilige you were born into, and have never earned, any excuse starts to sound good, I guess.

    Patricia: “I would also add that there are many more criteria for being a good citizen…er, resident of a nation…er, area that being employed.”

    And how many of these “criteria” besides being born inside the border to we actually enforce against people who were born inside the border?

    I know plenty of people born inside the borders of this country who are nowhere near the “good residents” that many “illegals” are.

    Just be honest, all you anti-“illegal” immigration folks. You were born into privilege, here in America, just like a prince or a king or a bourgeois. You did nothing to earn that privilege, yet you feel entitled to it, because you’re used to it.

    You are just threatened by the fact that all of these folks who weren’t born into privilege like you are flooding in, and dilluting the privilege you have grown accustomed to.

    Silly excuses like “the terrorists will get in!” and “the diseases will get in!” and “all us Americans are SPECIAL, and all these illegals make us less special!” are all transparent excuses. Just admit it: your real reason for opposing immigration is “get away from this gravy train I’ve had since birth — it’s MINE!”

    Phil (427875)

  46. Save it for your next COMINTERN meeting, Phil.

    And …
    You were born into privilege, here in America, just like a prince or a king
    Damn right. To be an American is to be like a prince or a king and a rare privilege, indeed.

    nk (835ea1)

  47. Phil,

    Those weren’t excuses. They’re common sense.

    I do agree with you on one thing, however. I’m privileged, as are all Americans, to have been born in this country. Perhaps you feel otherwise but I don’t feel the need to apologize for the lucky circumstances of my birth. However, I will have to apologize if my generation takes action that jeopardizes the security and lifestyle we enjoy for future generations of Americans.

    As a result, I want to make the best decisions I can regarding our country’s resources and security for the benefit of current and future Americans, and I think unrestrained immigration is not good for America in today’s world. That may mean some who suffer in Mexico and other countries can’t come to America. I hope that they can use their drive and energies to stay in their home countries and change things for the better there. I also hope that America and Americans will continue to try to help them and their countries.

    Finally, just in case you were thinking of calling me an isolationist or a bigot, I have no desire to deport our current illegal immigrants (other than criminals) and I favor more rather than less immigration. I simply want to a better job of securing the border before we pass laws that start another wave of amnesty-seeking immigrants.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  48. Phil does have one point, though. Enforcing an international border is a lot like slavery, except for the part about owning people.

    Xrlq (cc49f8)

  49. Just be honest, all you anti-”illegal” immigration folks. You were born into privilege, here in America, just like a prince or a king or a bourgeois. You did nothing to earn that privilege, yet you feel entitled to it, because you’re used to it.

    I’ll be brutally honest. Your statements are ridiculous.
    Born into “privilege”? Are you speaking of the privilege of simple national citzenship? Or rather, of being wealthy, native-born americans? I think the latter–because mister, last time I looked this country has millions of underprivileged people, citizens, who are far from princes or princesses. it’s a lie and a myth that we’re all a bunch of rich spoiled brats in this country because we’re not a third world nation.
    Not everyone in the US is well off–and like the fact or not, part of the reason it’s hard to make a living for american citizens on the bottom rungs economically is the illegal immigration explosion of the last 20 years.

    And as for the “princely” and apparently–to you–snobbish/elitist/”anti-illegal” aspect of simply being born an American: I think the “natural-born” privilege of true citenship is just as princely, valued and highly guarded in every country in the world: France, Canada, Ireland, Sweden, the Galapagos Islands and most importantly, our intolerant, iresponsible, oligarchy-pleasing, border-guarding neighbor to the south–Mexico. Try crossing their border–one of the few places where a dollar really can buy more these days internationally–and buy property, or say, become a Mexican citizen. It’s impossible. And they have draconian measures in place against Central Americans who try to cross their border.

    Moto (e52c22)

  50. Phil,
    You finally revealed your true colors–I’m sure Howard Zinn would be proud–and tossed us a real softball. I wish you would tell me where all my privilege is, because I’m working my butt off and can barely keep up.

    (And Xrlq, LOL!)

    Patricia (824fa1)

  51. XRLQ, you know better than to distinquish between “owning” laborers and using state power to deny laborers the ability to freely negotiate for the value of their labor. It’s the same thing, just a matter of degree. Patricia, your laughter demonstrates your ignorance of what “ownership” really is.

    I wish you would tell me where all my privilege is, because I’m working my butt off and can barely keep up.

    Plenty of privileged people work their butts off. It’s not a privilege not to work, it’s a privilege to work for a very high relative wage, due to an artifically limited supply of labor.

    The privilege of being a U.S. citizen is that this country is overflowing with wealth, and has a low supply of labor, relative to the world as a whole. Thus people who have no skills to speak of end up making a lot more money as laborers then they would had they been born in any other country, simply because the supply of labor here is so small compared to the amount of wealth and demand for labor.

    Generally, only the people who are unable to do physical labor for some reason end up unemployed in the U.S.

    This is a privilege, and it’s a completely unproductive one. We enjoy this huge demand on our labor because we have locked out a huge number of eager laborers who would gladly do the work. Their unemployment appears to benefit us because it reduces the supply of labor.

    In essence, with restrictive immigration, the U.S. citizenry becomes a giant labor union, who’s primary function is to limit the supply of labor to jack up wages.

    But the reality is that this artificial shortage of labor is unproductive in the long term. Huge amounts of labor resources go unused, sitting just across the border; unnecessary amounts are spend on labor because of the artificially low supply. Ultimately, this results in extremely high costs for everything, so the additional wages don’t buy as much as we thought they would.
    And this artificial shortage of labor creates perverse incentives, because doing repetitive labor is just as valuable as doing something innovative.

    Phil (427875)

  52. “Generally, only the people who are unable to do physical labor for some reason end up unemployed in the U.S.”

    That’s my candidate for Most Naive Statement of the Year.

    Patterico (690482)

  53. Phil #52,

    So my parents, and all the prior generations who built our country, sacrificed their sweat and blood to provide good-paying jobs to the whole world, not just their children and grandchildren? America and all the good things in it are an inheritance that we hold in trust for ourselves and future generations and not a welfare entitlement that we must disburse to every other nation that has less. Let them do what we did to have what we do.

    Jesus. It’s hard to tell from your focus on productivity whether you’re a Marxist or one of the predators that Marx railed against. There is no intrinsic virtue in productive human labor. It is only a means not an end. That American workers need do one-tenth of the work to have a good standard of living that Chinese workers need to do in order to merely survive is a wonderful thing and something I want to preserve for my descendants.

    nk (835ea1)

  54. Patterico on Phil:

    “Generally, only the people who are unable to do physical labor for some reason end up unemployed in the U.S.”

    That’s my candidate for Most Naive Statement of the Year.

    Just a guess, but I suspect that Phil is a professional economist.

    Crust (399898)

  55. “born into privilege”

    Phil, your comment is disgusting.

    America prospers because we do not allow our government the opportunity to turn us into serfs for the state unlike the slaveowners just across our border.

    You should be ashamed of yourself for insulting generations of Americans who have labored, sacrificed, suffered and died for the opportunity to live in prosperity and freedom.

    I never invited anyone to come to this country to illegally work cheap labor, I have never hired illegal anyone to clean my home or garden my yard or pick my fruit. These people who cross our border illegally are driven here like cattle by their own government who profits off this collective slavery.

    If you have a problem with labor shortage in America why not go after National Organization of Women and all her vile creatures who have been systematically exterminating human beings so that the Feminist can kill everything good and decent in this world just to avoid having to clean her own toilet in which she shits.

    susan (7faf4d)

  56. Patterico, it wasn’t naive, just necessarily vague. “Unable to do physical labor for some reason” was intended to refer to, among other situations, that where the physical labor’s wages aren’t enough to justify accepting the employment based on the individual’s situation.

    There are a myriad of reasons for unemployment in America, but they do not include unavailability of jobs at wages that are extremely high relative to those just south of the border.

    People who are unemployed in America are almost always unemployed either because they choose not to work, or because the jobs that they want (in other words that will involve what they consider to be an acceptable lifestyle) are unavailable, not because they couldn’t get some job somewhere. The percentage of U.S. citizens who are unemployed because there is simply no job, anywhere, for them to do, is extremely small.

    NK, prior generations in this country didn’t work hard in order to create labor monopolies for their children. Don’t give me that tripe; again, you’re attempting to raise red-herrings. You like having a monopoly, and you want to keep competition out. Just admit it and drop the “I’m special because my parents were special” garbage.

    By defending your kids’ right to not work hard, you’re accomplishing nothing innovative, and you’re ultimately making things worse for your children, by coddling them and raising them to think they’re entitled to opportunities by birthright. They’ll believe and that innovation and creativity are less valuable than inheritance and privilege. Such societies crumble because they squander the wealth created by their forefathers.

    Phil (427875)

  57. “America prospers because we do not allow our government the opportunity to turn us into serfs for the state unlike the slaveowners just across our border.”

    America prospers because it is the slaveowner accross the border:

    BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombia’s chief prosecutor stood between the white plastic-sheathed remains of two dismembered teenage sisters. On the rust-colored dirt around him lay remains of nearly 60 newly unearthed victims of paramilitary death squads.
    Not just their killers but those who bankrolled them must be brought to justice, Mario Iguaran told reporters last week at the mass grave in the country’s eastern plains.
    “You can clearly see that they didn’t pay for security, but for blood,” Iguaran said.
    He spoke ahead of a trip to Washington this week to seek aid for his overburdened office and help obtain evidence against U.S.-based multinationals he’s investigating for allegedly financing the paramilitaries.
    Iguaran meets with U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Monday and Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Tuesday. With both, he is sure to talk about Chiquita Brands and the Alabama-based coal company Drummond Co. Inc.

    It used to be called the Monroe Doctrine. Look it up some time. That and The United Fruit Company.
    I live in an country of idiots.
    Pay some money and read Krugman
    He’s not bad today.

    AF (39a84c)

  58. Where does all the “wealth” come from, Phil? Why do I even ask–we’ve stolen it from the glorious workers of the world!

    So when we open the borders to every workers and we have a huge supply of labor, they will be free? Look to Bangladesh, or pre-civil war America, for an answer to that one. But maybe that’s what you are arguing for, unlimited cheap labor, with all their attendant human costs borne by the taxpayer. As we have said before, workers are more than units of energy. They use medical care, education, police and fire, roads and welfare. I pay for that, and I’m tired of it. For me the “primary function” of immigration controls is social engineering, not controlling the labor pool.

    Patricia (824fa1)

  59. Phil #57:

    The only societies which have crumpled in recent history are the ones who followed the nonsense you preach (and the survived pretty miserably before crumbling as well). And I am special because my parents and my fellow citizens’ parents were special. I am a proud American. Not some guilt-ridden, self-hating nebbish.

    nk (835ea1)

  60. Patricia, if immigrants cost the government too much, locking them out of the country just doesn’t make sense. Simply keeping people out of the society as a whole because you think they’ll be too poor to contribute their share is illogical.

    By the same logic, if you believe that current government entitlements to citizens are too costly, you could deport people in America who fell below a certain income threshold, so they wouldn’t suck up resources. Then you could continue to provide such entitlements to those pulling their weight. But why throw out the baby with the bathwater? Why not adjust the entitlements so that those who don’t pull their weight don’t consume so many resources?

    We’ve done that with welfare reform, we’re working on doing with with social security reform (imagine kicking the elderly out of the country because social security was getting too expensive).

    Immigrants aren’t forcing our government to give them anything — most are just here looking for work. If immigrants are costly, we need to figure out why we’re spending so much money on them, not just ban them from the country.

    Also, if some immigrants are exploiting ineffeciencies in our entitlement systems, we again need to adjust the entitlements, not kick them out of the country and keep the inefficient entitlements.

    Phil (427875)

  61. NK, you have the enviable ability to ignore rational criticism, and the courage to press on with mighty determination and conviction, no matter how ill-advised and doomed your course of action.

    This will never lead you astray. As long as you truly believe you are right, you will never be wrong.

    Phil (427875)

  62. Gee thanks, Phil. Likewise.

    nk (835ea1)

  63. Patterico #53 (quoting Phil #52):

    “Generally, only the people who are unable to do physical labor for some reason end up unemployed in the U.S.”

    That’s my candidate for Most Naive Statement of the Year.

    If you are taking nominations, I also nominate the last sentence of Phil’s comment #52:

    “And this artificial shortage of labor creates perverse incentives, because doing repetitive labor is just as valuable as doing something innovative.”

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  64. Most of the responses here seem to be about taking easy potshots, and creating straw-man arguments to try and avoid having a real discussion.

    Do anti-immigration folks really believe that it makes good economic sense to promote labor shortages, and prevent free trade? I thought this was a conservative blog. I feel like I’ve walked into a union hall here.

    Phil (427875)

  65. Phil #61:

    “Simply keeping people out of the society as a whole because you think they’ll be too poor to contribute their share is illogical.”

    I don’t want a more secure border because I think illegal immigrants will be too poor to contribute their share. Over the past 25 years, I’ve learned the hard way that they are too poor to contribute their share.

    I wasn’t happy but I was willing to see my local school taxes triple so we could educate the children of illegal immigrants, because I hoped their children would take advantage of our educational opportunities and make a meaningful contribution that their parents couldn’t make. Instead, the Hispanic drop-out rate in Texas high schools grows every year. Similarly, I accepted a ten-fold increase in my local hospital taxes to pay for illegal immigrants who use the hospital emergency room for routine medical care, because I want them and particularly their children to have decent medical care.

    However, after years of living with illegal immigrants who are satisfied with manual labor jobs for themselves and their children, I’ve had enough. I can barely earn enough money to pay for the social services that support my family without having to pay their share, too, and I know it will be an even heavier burden for my children. Your platitudes may be well-intentioned, Phil, but the reality is that “illegal immigration + social services” is a losing formula unless we get our borders under control.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  66. Phil #65,

    We can have free trade but that doesn’t mean we can’t have border control, too.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  67. Phil, seriously, you are illogical, and this is not a strawman or a cheap shot.

    First you say it’s illogical to keep people out who would be a net drain on the system, and then you fail to state what’s illogical about that; next you try to link that to deporting people who are using entitlements. It makes no sense–the country as a whole bestows or takes away benefits as social policy evolves and people have a choice to live here or go someplace better. If we ARE shrinking entitlements it’s because o/w the country would go broke and because welfare, for instance, does more harm than good to the people it “helps.”

    Then you say we should figure out why we are spending so much on illegals, but we know why: we offer it to them! If you can figure out a way to rationally deny education, medical care, WIC payments, use of fire and police, SsI for the elderly etc., to illegal immigrants here, without a police state, please explain.

    So which is it, do you want a massive welfare society, or do you want endless cheap labor? Oh wait, that’s what we have now. Something for the right and something for the left.

    And that’s it for me.

    Patricia (824fa1)

  68. The comment made by Phil in May 2007 is stupid. We take hundred of pictures of illegals crossing our borders. We take pictures of them climbing over a wall….sometimes running, sometimes walking, sometimes resting. Yeah they seem really afraid of danger and death!!! Get real! Why are we now bending every law, every rule, everything? Why these people? It is amazing to me to look up employment ads and see at least sixty percent are requiring us as Americans to speak another nations language to even apply for the job!!!! There are Americans losing their homes, while we find new ways of putting illegals in homes!!! And this sense of entitlement, where did it come from? They come up to us and ask “Do you speak Spanish?” We are in America!!!!!! My ancestors would not have survived if they had not learned English!!!! Enough already!!!!

    Kay (50976c)


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