Immigration (Legal or Otherwise) Does Not Drive Down Wages

This post is the first part of a series to debunk the myths that have arisen around the immigration debate. Today's fiction is that we must keep immigration numbers low and deport those who come here illegally because to allow them in drives down wages, and that these immigrants also "steal our jobs."

Conservatives are (or should be) familiar with the arguments against the minimum wage. Here are a couple helpful links:

Stossel: minimum wage hurts the poor.

Joint Congressional Economic Committee Report on the Minimum Wage

The short of it is, raising minimum wage kills new job growth and forces layoffs, then individuals with jobs are left to work harder, trying to do the work of more than one person. This is a solid argument against having any minimum wage. Artificially high wages destroy jobs, slow growth and are generally disruptive to businesses and the economy.

But the minimum wage is not the only way to create artificially high wages. Union-controlled industries often drive wage scales up. For example, some American car companies add $1,600 to the cost of every vehicle just to pay for their union retirees' health and pensions. This has kept the auto industry shrinking, and even worse, costs the individuals who choose to buy one of these vehicles thousands of dollars more in unnecessary support to the privileged union workers.

How does this relate to immigration? Proving they have no real grasp of economics, Conservative leaders constantly tell us about the evils of unions and how detrimental it is to raise the minimum wage; however, they do not tell their listeners and constituents that the same economic principles apply to immigration. When conservatives gleefully tell you that your wages will go up if we slow immigration, they fail to mention the other side of the story.

Imagine you're one of these "American workers" for whom the Conservatives toil endlessly to protect from the evil Latinos, who come here and make you poor. Imagine the Conservatives got their way and there was strict immigration control. Now, as a construction worker, your wages go up by a few dollars an hour. But when you go to spend those dollars, you realize that those dollars will buy you less.

Produce prices go up noticeably. You thought that with your wage increase you could afford to hire people to talk care of your lawn, but their prices have all gone up considerably. That leaky roof of yours may have to be put off another month or two or more. Many small, local businesses shut their doors, putting not just unskilled workers but managers, administrators, secretaries and owners out of work. The cost of dining out increases dramatically. The growth of the companies that survive slows considerably.

You  get the picture. For every job whose wages go up, you have a corresponding economic impact that effects everyone. Businesses may not be able to offer services cheap enough to stay competitive. Those that can, must raise their prices, meaning more wealth from the nation is spent on those things - meaning less is spent on others. The effects reverberate across the economy in a very negative way.

So, to Conservatives out there: are you serious about wanting the economy put back on track, or are you serious about keeping brown people out?

Comments (0)

Post a Comment