Ignoring unintended consequencesof meddling in the labor market


Suddenly enforcing a ban on hiring of illegal immigrant labor in a time of full employment would hurt us more than it would them.

12 thoughts on “Ignoring unintended consequencesof meddling in the labor market

  1. If we abruptly started enforcing the ban on hiring immigrant labor without first making it much easier to come here as guest workers would have horrible repercussions on our economy.

    The few people who are still out of work are in no way capable of replacing the construction, farm and landscape labor we would be sending home.

    Does anyone really think that the laid off bank teller is going to go out and pick cabbage, or that the perfume girl from Nordstrom is going to pick up a hammer and start nailing shingles?

    We don’t need a wall to keep hardworking people out, we need them here, but we do need to be able to screen those coming in to exclude the criminals and non-workers from entry.

    Expanding the number of guest workers we welcome and gaining control of the border are not mutually exclusive, instead they go together very well.

    We need a wall with a big door.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Time lag is an important factor, but putting it aside I’m skeptical of the idea we need to import foreign labor to do jobs Americans won’t do. Both allowing and not-allowing foreign labor are state-based interventions in the marketplace.

      If there are jobs Americans won’t do, let them go undone. Markets will produce solutions to that puzzle as easily as they produce other solutions.

      I tend to think you could state as a general principle that people consume about equally as they produce. That’s the fundamental equilibrium toward which markets tend to move. But if true, that would mean that expanding the supply of labor — in the absence of other factors, like technology or regulatory gimmicks — doesn’t really get you anywhere.

      Which means, in turn, that the ultimate question is unavoidably a qualitative one: Do we want those people here?


      1. “Do we want those people here?”

        The fact is that “those people” are already here. And many, if not most, have been here for years, even decades.

        Particularly in the case of DACA. For those who are concerned about immigrants not being like us or affecting our culture, opposing DACA resolution is puzzling. Many if not most of them are more like us than us, except for actual birth location.

        “…people consume about equally as they produce.” I disagree. That is the definition of a subsistence economy.


          1. Your are arguing for an economy which does not export or expand.

            It that the ultimate goal of a nationalist viewpoint?


          2. RE: “Your are arguing for an economy which does not export or expand.”

            I don’t see how I’m making any such argument. I have merely pointed out there is no economic argument either for or against importing labor, since an import of labor also happens to be an import of consumption.


      2. “Do we want those people here?”

        Yes, as future citizens and contributors to my Social Security and as guest workers.

        Wealth is created when resources are raised to a higher value. When Brazilian workers took a pile of bricks and made the wall of my house, the wall had more value than the bricks and wealth was created. I paid them and they went away, but that wall is still here keeping the wind off of me. They went home but the wealth they created is still here.

        Wealth is not money. Money is how we exchange it. They took some money back to Brazil that I earned caring for patients, but the health of those patients is also still here.

        There is really no downside to people doing useful work and creating wealth here.

        The only people we don’t want here are those here to commit crimes and live off of our welfare state, but those who create net wealth are welcome.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “There is really no downside to people doing useful work and creating wealth here.”

          I’d say there is no upside, either, unless we can prevent the imported laborers from having Social Security or walls of their own.

          We can certainly do that, but I’m not proposing anything like that at all. I merely want it to be seen that the qualitative question (Do we want those people here?) is unavoidable. It is therefore a legitimate question.


          1. They will pay into Social Security when they are young and if they remain and become citizens, they will draw it when they are old, like anyone else.

            And yes, I want people who work and create wealth to be here, I just wish we could get them in trade for some who are here who won’t work.

            Working people, wherever they come from are not the problem, the welfare state that allows some to live here and not work is the problem.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. A point often overlooked is that the undocumented workers do pay into SS and Medicare as well as other taxes that are withheld or are involved with property, etc.

            SS administration has billions in an account for which there are no valid SS numbers.

            Employers cannot deduct labor costs from their taxes unless they have paid corresponding withholding taxes.


          3. RE: “Working people, wherever they come from are not the problem, the welfare state that allows some to live here and not work is the problem.”

            True enough.


  2. I agree with you. There is little reason we cannot screen and issue work visas to the vast majority of undocumented workers already here. If the incentive of a residency card 5 or 10 years down the road is offered, the screening would be a piece of cake. It would open up neighbors and co-workers to vouch for them, let employers off the hook for hiring them and improve wages and worker safety.

    In addition, DACA should be a no-brainer. Virtually all of them have been here so long that they know our culture, our neighborhoods, our schools and our language. Furthermore, most have jobs or even own businesses and have a pretty good work ethic. Even the hyper-nationalists can get along with them with minimal effort if we tell them they just have a good tan.

    My take on this, unfortunately, is that the GOP and its donor/constituents would lose cheap labor and a whipping boy for all our problems. Trump could not have been elected if the vision of millions of Spanish speaking rapists charging across the border was not played daily to his voters and the media.

    The hypocrisy of so many on the right is downright laughable. Anti-immigrants rant and rave while drinking OJ, eating cheap chicken, enjoying the benefits of affordable construction and paying for yard work under the table.



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