Wednesday, April 12, 2006

One Immigration "Solution"

David, over at Blue Mass. Group, offers this obvious (his words, not mine) solution to the illegal immigration "problem" (his scare quotes, not mine) we're facing in our country today. Someday, I might register at his site for the purpose of posting comments there. But, until then, I'll make do over here, thanks.

Suffice to say, David and I will have to agree to (thankfully) disagree on this one.

Hey Republicans - want to REALLY fix the immigration "problem"?

I haven't followed the current immigration debate all that closely. But as I understand it, the basic issue is that there are a lot of people here illegally, and those people are perceived to be (depending on your point of view) (a) taking jobs from legal residents and simultaneously driving down wages for everyone, or (b) doing jobs that are necessary to the economy but that legal residents don't want because they are too low-paying.

As to item (a), illegals are driving down the wages on these jobs, because they're willing to work "under the table" for a lot more than they'd earn back home, but a lot less than what an American would earn in that same job. Even if they present the employer with "documentation", that employer can still pay them reduced wages (no taxes, worker's comp, etc.) and pocket the savings.

What's the illegal going to do? Turn his employer (and himself) in to the authorities to face charges?

As to item (b), see above. Eliminate the illegal work force, those people most willing to work for crap wages, and the market will dictate that normal wages be restored to these positions, bringing more American workers back into the workplace.

Seems to me there's an obvious strategy that the Republicans who want to be "tough on immigration" could adopt, and they'd draw a lot of Democratic support in doing it: raise the minimum wage - a lot. Like to ten bucks an hour. And enforce it across the board - to farm jobs, restaurant jobs, the whole nine yards.

"Like to ten bucks an hour", eh?

OK, here's how, like, unworkable that would be.

Say you own a business, and have three types of employees working for you: unskilled labor, skilled labor, and middle management. Their wages are $7, $10, and $15/hour, respectively. You bump the minimum wage up to $10 and hour and suddenly the guys whose job it was to restock the toilet paper dispensers are now making as much as the guy who runs your assembly line.

You think that's going to go over well with your higher-paid, skilled workers? Maybe in liberal fantasyland, but not here on earth. Your assembly line workers are going to do one of two things: demand a commensurate raise in pay or find another employee who needs a bunch of $10/hour toliet paper roll changers.

And, the fact that they're more skilled than the toilet paper roll changers of the world means they'll be hired ahead of them to fill these positions, so the employers can get more for their money.

Why, it's almost as if the poorest of the working class, the unskilled laborers could be the ones most adversely affected by this. Who knew?

Or, on the other hand, you might choose to follow the guiding "progressive" principle of "social justice", and give them all a 43% raise, just like you were forced to do for the toilet paper guys. Now, they're all making $14.30 an hour, nearly as much as their supervisors.

You think the supervisors are going to be OK with that?

So now, as a result of trying to make everyone happy in the wake of the minimum wage hike, your entire payroll has just gone up 43 percent. Are you now expected to eat that cost, or is it reasonable to assume that the price you charge for your products or services will go up to reflect the increase in your operating costs?

Alternately, you could lay off all your toilet paper guys and hire a vanload of illegals to replace them, paying them $4 and hour under the table to offset the incresased costs elsewhere on your payroll. And, why not? No one in Congress seems all that interested in cracking down on employers who do this.

But, hey, why stop at $10 an hour? Why not $20? Or better yet, $75! Come on, think about it. It's Ted Kennedy's wet dream. No more poor people!!! More Democrat campaign contributors! Yippee!!! You did it! You ended poverty!

What's that? Those rolls of toilet paper now costs $4.00 each? And that new toilet you need for your employee's restroom costs $650? That's one costly dump, dude.

Yet the same people will tell us we can't get rid of the illegal alien workforce, because the cost of lettuce will go up if we can't pay the illegals shit wages to pick it. Say, who's up for a quick game of LeFtY LoGiC?

A. If the free market makes something happen, it must be a bad thing.

B. If the government can accomplish the same thing by force, it's "progressive".

That should make those jobs a whole lot more attractive to legal residents, which should make it much easier for businesses to hire legal residents to do them, which should in turn greatly decrease the attractiveness of coming to the U.S. illegally.

Just how in the name of Satan's little sister will that DECREASE the attractiveness of these jobs to the illegal alien population? If the illegal alien population is as much the "economic backbone" of this country, as some would have us believe (Senator Kennedy, please call your office), then that tells me there's a helluva lot of people out there either working "under the table" or with fraudulent documentation (good thing Senator Kennedy doesn't seem to care too much for prosecuting individuals for identity fraud these days).

If they're working for reduced wages under the table, the employer can now pay them $6 an hour instead of the $4 an hour they were paying them before, and still end up saving money compared to paying Americans the new $10 an hour minimum.

If they're working with phony papers, then they'll possibly just end up getting the $10 an hour that an American could, assuming the employers are acting ethically and not short-changing them (see above).

Does anybody honestly think that either of these groups of people will stop sneaking across the border to work here illegally if we tell them that they're all getting massive pay hikes?

Put down the Donovan record and step slowly away from the bong.

Problem solved!

Again, that depends on your definition of the word "solved".

Of course, it will never happen.

Well, thank God for small favors.

Some of the very same Republicans who decry the minimum wage as a disastrous interference with the operation of the free market are the ones now banging the drum about the supposed threat of illegal immigration.

Um...yes, and yes. Your point being.....?

Well, guess what, the market's a bitch, and it doesn't take sides on ideological battles.

I'll keep that in in mind the next time I'm unclogging my $650 toilet with my $90 plunger, sold to me by a $75 and hour Wal-Mart employee.

The job market in the U.S. is a big part of why there are so many illegal immigrants here. Silly bills proposing building a thousand-mile fence will do a lot less to solve this "problem" than cranking up the minimum wage.

Well, the fence is a pretty damn good starting point.

Just so long as we deduct the cost of building it from any future foreign aid we plan on sending to Mexico. Mexican President Vicente Fox would surely approve of such a plan to keep all the guns from the United States from flooding his country. Right?

After that's done, we can go after the employers who are paying the illegals under the table or knowingly accepting fradulent work papers. Then round up all the "undocumented" aliens using phony documentation (social security numbers, driver's licenses, green cards, etc.), charge them with felony identity theft, and waive their prison sentences in exchange for a one-way ticket home.

Sorry, but if you have the means and motivation to obtain fraudulent work papers and enter the country illegally, then you have the means and ability to fill out the proper paperwork and wait in line like those folks currently looking to come here LEGALLY.

Hey, I see here that State Senator Jarrett Barrios is quite the self-proclaimed champion in the fight against identity fraud here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Surely he'll support me in this effort. Right?

But, raising the minimum wage as a "solution" to illegal immigration in this country? My economics background might consist solely of my having taken Econ. 101 (Pass/Fail) while drinking heavily in my senior year of college, but I'm not buying it.