Compassionate Immigration Policy

January 24, 2008    By: Blake @ 8:40 pm   Category: Life

The Church leaders urged Utah legislators to bring compassion back to the discussion of illegal immigration. What does that mean? I’m going to suggest what I consider to be a fairly obvious resolution to the immigration problem that is also compassionate by my lights. It is also fairly certain to actually work!

Let’s begin with the obvious. We can count on Hispanics to continue to flood across the U.S. borders as long as there is no work in Mexico and jobs are plentiful in the U.S. We can count on it because Hispanics will do what all good and decent people do — they provide for their families. They look for a better life for their children. Of course there are those illegal immigrants who who aren’t good and decent who come to traffic in drugs and commit crimes. But they are only a small fraction of the many immigrants who have sought to made the U.S. their home.

We can also count on unscrupulous employers to continue to exploit a source of cheap labor by paying unfair wages and avoiding benefits that they would otherwise pay for legal workers. Americans benefit economically from cheap labor by lower costs. However, the big problem is not the Hispanics who are only doing what good and decent people do for the most part. The problem is unscrupulous employers in the U.S. These employers benefit by reaping greater profits. They also foist onto the rest of the American public costs which they don’t have to carry for health care, auto insurance, schools, employer matching and other costs of legitimate employment. Health care insurance, schools, and other kinds of insurance costs are in crisis in the U.S. It is difficult for residents to get emergency health care because the hospitals must provide emergency care to illegal aliens whether they can afford it or not. The cost to educate children of illegal aliens in already overcrowded classrooms is billions of dollars. The cost of car insurance is much higher because those who have such insurance must cover the expenses of those who don’t have any care insurance.

All of these additional costs are avoided by employers who hire illegal aliens. These are costs that are usually picked up by employers that have been foisted onto the rest of the legal citizens in the U.S. by employers who avoid these costs and reap greater profits. So the rest of the population pays for these employers to reap handsome profits in the fast food, construction and domestic service industries primarily. The fact is that it is not difficult to know where illegal aliens work. Any construction site would be an easy target for the INS. It is also rather clearly unfair to allow one segment of the population to reap benefits and profits at the expense of the rest the population.

The solution? Heavy fines on U.S. employers to make it too costly to hire aliens illegally together with an auditing arm of the Federal Government that rivals the IRS. That would begin to solve the problem fairly quickly. No jobs, no illegal aliens. It’s really that simple. However, it must also be balanced by the fact that the U.S. economy needs the labor and diligence of immigrants, Hispanics and others, who have flooded the borders. It is imperative to have a program that allows for liberal access of employers to immigrant labor. A program that allows a matching of labor work visas is essential. The employers must also be required to pay a fair wage, benefits and insurance and an additional taxes for schools for each child of every family on a work visa. Of course the price of services will go up to compensate for the fair wage and the actual cost of doing business. However, who can argue that a fair wage shouldn’t be paid and the costs of foreign labor to society fairly reflected?

Let’s recognize the immigrants, primarily Hispanics but also others, who have come to the U.S. for the hardworking and very wonderful people that they are — for the most part. Let’s insist that employers pay a fair wage and provide essential insurance and taxes for schools so that those who don’t profit from unfairly cheap labor don’t pick up an unfair share of the burden. We don’t need to ship Hispanics back to Mexico or build fences along the borders; we merely need to control what is motivating them to come to the U.S. in the first place. Of course we need secure borders to insure that criminals and terrorists don’t enter the United Stated, but that doesn’t require us to keep Hispanics who want to work out. It means that we need to put adequate resources into policing employers who hire illegal aliens and providing adequate opportunities for employers to identify and hire aliens who want to work legally.

155 Comments »

  1. I think you are making okay points. It would be nice to have references for a couple of the claims, namely: the estimated increase in education costs, the wages of the workers, the profits kept by the employers that should go towards health care etc, that the INS does not go to construction sites, that emergency rooms are full of these workers.

    The other reference i would like is something on the effect that paying fair wages will have on the cost of goods from agri centers (like California) for the grocery store going public; what is the economic impact of that action and how does it compare the the current cost of our way of doing things?

    Anyway, I am glad you are writing about it, because I haven’t done a damn thing about it, except maybe watch them work while I am speeding down the road….

    Comment by derek — January 24, 2008 @ 9:50 pm

  2. Let’s insist that employers pay a fair wage and provide essential insurance and taxes for schools so that those who don’t profit from unfairly cheap labor don’t pick up an unfair share of the burden.

    There is already a program that does this at least for farm laborers. It was a huge pain for us as far as bureaucracy especially as most farmers were already paying fair wages, providing decent housing, etc., and it was touch and go whether the paperwork would be approved in time to get the crops planted. The abusive situations are usually found on the big corporate farms, not the smaller family run ones.

    In practice H-2A sometimes hurt the seasonal workers because if any random unemployed person came into the job service office, they would send them out to take the place of an H-2A worker who would have to go home for the day.
    Actually they often only had to leave for part of the day because the people job service sent usually had no experience or interest in that kind of work and rarely lasted more than a few hours.

    Sorry for rambling, but if I have a point, it is that penalizing employers is not the simple answer it appears to be.

    Comment by C Jones — January 24, 2008 @ 10:20 pm

  3. Since we have people who read this Blog, but not the Trib. Here is what Blake is talking about in regards to Church leaders urging compassion. Elder Ballard spoke with legislators and said we need not vilify illegal immigrants.

    Comment by Matt W. — January 24, 2008 @ 10:57 pm

  4. Derek: For the increase in education costs, see here: http://www.fairus.org/site/PageServer?pagename=research_researchf6ad

    Health care costs here: http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2005/12/26/170334.shtml

    and also here: http://www.jpands.org/vol10no1/cosman.pdf

    A general study on the costs can be found here: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2007/12/17/daily19.html

    Comment by Blake — January 24, 2008 @ 11:41 pm

  5. One problem you didn’t address Blake is the large number of illegals who simply get false IDs and work the high paying jobs here. So I think what you outline won’t solve things. (Although I agree many complaining about being unable to get American labour often are just paying too little)

    Comment by clark — January 25, 2008 @ 12:08 am

  6. Clark makes a very good point. I own a business where we hire immigrant labor. (We document all of them, but it is likely that some have ID’s that have been forged.) We pay all of our employees competitive wages. None of it happens under the table. I have not come across any other employers who pay under the table. I am sure that it happens, but my guess is that it is a minority of employers who do so.

    However, I do not agree with the idea that employers just need to pay more to attract American labor. How much more do we need to pay someone to do a job he/she does not want to do? During 13 years of running my business, I have tried to use Americans, but several years ago I just gave up. They never lasted more that a couple of weeks before they would quit or do something that would require us to fire them. In other words, they were a big pain in the ass. Frankly, if I had to use 100% American labor, I would shut the business down and do something else. It would not be worth the turmoil. The immigrants come to work reliably, do what they are told, and are grateful for the work. I have some that I have been with me for 7 years. Personally, I am grateful they are here, because it has allowed me to have and run my business. How much longer that will last, I do not know. I guess we will see.

    Comment by Huck Finn — January 25, 2008 @ 12:36 am

  7. Clark,

    The government has an online web-based system called E-Verify that allows employers to check to see if an ID is legitimate or not.

    In some states (Arizona, for example) use of this system is now mandatory. Utah on the other hand has a remarkably lax attitude towards illegal immigration. Illegal immigrants qualify for in-state tuition that citizens from other states do not qualify for. That is crazy. So is granting driving privilege cards to people who could technically be deported on the spot.

    It is in the interest of every state that residents obey the laws. When states and localities like Utah basically thumb their nose at federal law, people tend to conclude that perhaps obeying Utah’s laws isn’t so important, because Utah legislators are hypocrites who endorse and subsidize the violation of federal laws.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 25, 2008 @ 12:46 am

  8. HF,

    It is illegal for employers to discriminate against non-citizens with lawful permanent resident status or employment authorization documents. If they are better workers, more power to them.

    As far as the quality of workers go, it is irrational for an employer to fight the market, provided he or she obeys the law. Legal low skill immigrants may very well dominate certain fields for a long time to come. If there was very low immigration, market conditions would adjust. Americans did all of these jobs that “Americans won’t do” prior to 1965.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 25, 2008 @ 1:51 am

  9. This sounds like a viable solution to me. Discouraging illegal immigrants from immigrating here by diminishing the incentive in the first place is a good idea. However, I am always reluctant in advocating making government bigger than it already is. When do we start trimming?

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — January 25, 2008 @ 8:18 am

  10. Craig: I share your concern about a large and costly government program. I really think that less government is almost always better. In this case, I just don’t see another solution. But given that the cost to education and health care is literally in the billions of dollars, a department to oversee and audit worker visas and to audit false IDs (which solves in part Clark’s problem) would provide a cost-effective solution.

    Huck: The problem is that your “competitive wage” is already below what the market demands if you cannot keep Americans. In fact, referring to a “competitive wage” in a market with depressed wages due to the competition from illegal aliens is to miss the entire point of what a fair wage looks like. However, I’m glad that you document all of your employees even if you know or suspect that many of the IDs are are a sham. I would suggest a standard of diligence by employers that requires them to check an ID database for documented aliens to verify the validity of the ID. Otherwise, we’re just playing the false ID game.

    Clark: A national ID registry would go a long way to solve the problem. I’m not Pollyanna thinking that all dishonesty can be weeded out. However, we can at least find a workable solution — which is something we don’t have now.

    Mark: I also don’t buy the “Americans won’t do it” line. But the fact is that Americans are not doing it, immigrant labor is. I’m always stunned to hear employers claim that all of their work force is legal, but when the INS comes around there is a major exodus of labor. I’m not saying Huck isn’t on the up and up, but the 12-16 million illegal aliens are working somewhere!

    Comment by Blake — January 25, 2008 @ 8:34 am

  11. A program that allows a matching of labor work visas is essential. The employers must also be required to pay a fair wage, benefits and insurance and an additional taxes for schools for each child of every family on a work visa.

    There’s no way the government can match labor needs through Soviet-style centralized planning. We need to let supply meet demand through a free market.

    A “fair wage” is whatever the market bears. So if people are willing to work for $2 an hour and no fringe benefits, then that’s a fair wage.

    The economically optimal solution is to grant instant American citizenship to anyone in the world who demands it.

    Comment by California Condor — January 25, 2008 @ 8:48 am

  12. Just because you can count on people doing illegal things it doesn’t make it acceptable, worthy of compassion or OK. You can count of people stealing, but that doesn’t make it right.
    THe obvious needs to be done: mass deportation and closing the border. Not more justifications for allow people to abuse the United States.

    Comment by Don — January 25, 2008 @ 9:12 am

  13. Huck Finn is telling you from actual real-life experience that there are jobs that Americans won’t do for any price. I agree, also from real-life experience. And where I live at least, it’s not about a “fair wage”.

    Saying that American’s did it all pre-1965 doesn’t apply. I don’t know what business he is in but pre-1965 farms were much smaller then modern ones, and the labor mainly came from the farmer and his children.

    No one I know hires immigrants because of that status, they hire them because they will do the work. The wages in our area are comparable to manufacturing jobs, and better than entry level jobs. The seasonal nature of Ag jobs is a factor- most Americans need a year round income. And there’s no way around the fact that ag jobs are hard physical work. Do you think farmers can pay their employees like steel workers without sending the price of food so high that the minimum wage workers wouldn’t be able to eat?

    Comment by C Jones — January 25, 2008 @ 9:18 am

  14. The employers must also be required to pay a fair wage, benefits and insurance and an additional taxes for schools for each child of every family on a work visa.

    I’m largely with California Condor on this one, although I will stipulate a minimum wage. But most undocumented workers are getting at least minimum wage anyway. And why should employers be required to provide benefits to immigrant workers when they are not required to do so for natives? Similarly, why should they pay an extra tax for school for immigrant children but not for the children of their native employees?

    One point that needs to be recognized is that the federal government’s fiscal situation is improved by illegal immigration but that of state and local governments is made worse. Undocumented workers frequently pay into the Social Security and Medicare systems, but never claim any benefits. Likewise, they pay income taxes, but receive relatively few services provided by the federal government. For example, their presence does not require a larger Army, Navy or Air Force. The only major exception is Medicaid–the cost of which is shared with state governments.

    Most of the public services consumed by undocumented workers are provided by state and local governments, particularly education (and the rest of Medicaid). So part of the solution should be some impact aid from the feds to state and local governments.

    Comment by Last Lemming — January 25, 2008 @ 9:34 am

  15. I like my teenage son’s comment on the way home from a meeting last night: If we’d just put into Mexican economic development what we’ve spent in Iraq, the problem would be solved.

    Comment by JrL — January 25, 2008 @ 10:34 am

  16. The government has an online web-based system called E-Verify that allows employers to check to see if an ID is legitimate or not.

    It’s a joke and doesn’t work for the vast majority of fake IDs. At best it weeds out the less than $100 IDs if employers are careful.

    Huck Finn is telling you from actual real-life experience that there are jobs that Americans won’t do for any price. I agree, also from real-life experience. And where I live at least, it’s not about a “fair wage”.

    There are a few. But in general it’s that Americans want more money for these types of jobs than folks are willing to pay. The question then becomes whether anyone would be willing to pay the amount an American would demand. (Say, for a lot of farm jobs)

    So don’t get me wrong, I think we need a workers program simply because there are many jobs it’s not economical to hire Americans. But this has all sorts of implications as I think Europe’s own immigrant woes have shown.

    Just because you can count on people doing illegal things it doesn’t make it acceptable, worthy of compassion or OK. You can count of people stealing, but that doesn’t make it right.

    But by the same measure just because something is illegal doesn’t make it wrong. (Or significantly wrong) Think being late on your taxes, speeding, spitting in public, etc.

    Put an other way ethics and legalities are often not the same. Some things that are legal are very immoral and some things that are illegal aren’t particularly immoral. (I don’t particularly feel bad about doing 75 up to Salt Lake even though it’s 20 mph over the limit)

    Comment by Clark — January 25, 2008 @ 10:41 am

  17. My comments seem to be caught in some sort of filter. It is hard to tell.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 25, 2008 @ 10:51 am

  18. California Condor, the real problem with the free market you suggest is that you’ll end up “ghettoizing” all Americans who, for whatever reason, don’t have a lot of skills. Are you really willing to have all people with fewer skills or intelligent become effectively third world citizens? Don’t we have more responsibility to fellow citizens than to others nationalities?

    Even if you feel we don’t, are you willing to live with the social costs and the inevitable backlash?

    Comment by Clark — January 25, 2008 @ 10:58 am

  19. Clark,

    How do the manufacturers of fake IDs get the information into a federal government database?

    The only way I know of to evade the system is to steal someone else’s identity (e.g. name and social security number of a U.S. citizen).

    To deal with that problem the government has started adding photo information to the system as well. The federal government could easily mandate that states submit photo information from drivers licenses.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 25, 2008 @ 11:10 am

  20. That’s exactly what they do Mark.

    Comment by Clark — January 25, 2008 @ 11:30 am

  21. Huck, C Jones and a few others: You wouldn’t think about making derrogatory, overbroad generalizations about the working habits of Mexicans. Why do you do so about Americans?

    Comment by JimD — January 25, 2008 @ 11:33 am

  22. JimD, nobody is slamming American workers here, and reading it that way is a stretch.

    Comment by C Jones — January 25, 2008 @ 11:41 am

  23. Clark,

    The long term plan for E-Verify is to integrate with state DMV photo databases (it already includes federal photos). A “looks like” match is not enough. The photo supplied must be an exact match to the photo of record, making identity theft very difficult when a official photo is available.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 25, 2008 @ 12:04 pm

  24. 1) How about dimantling the welfare/warfare state. That in and of itself would remove all sorts of perverted incentives people have to immigrating here.
    2) In a truly free market, the just price or wage is the agreed upon wage between employer and employee. There is no force or coersion involved. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to accept it. Califonia Condor is right.
    3) I hate the idea of government getting more and more involved in the regulation of employers(the true agents of growth) and being the watchdogs of the business class. The last thing we need is government agents(hiring police, if you will) storming businesses and shutting them down or issuing massive fines because an illegal may have been hired. It sounds like a Declaration of Independence grievance to me: “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance”. First of all this is a slap in the face of the freedom of association. Second, this is economic fascism.
    4) Jobs and wealth are not a zero-sum game. Persons who come here to work at these ‘low-level’ jobs free the rest of us up to do other work. They don’t steal jobs. There is always and everywhere work to be done. I mean, are we all really so wanting and eager for illegals to leave so we can fill their positions in the job market?

    Comment by ajax — January 25, 2008 @ 12:11 pm

  25. I think there are a couple of dynamics that are being missed.
    Back in 1965 the US economy was based on manufacturing jobs. Jobs that paid a good living wage. Since then we have made the transition to a service based economy, which produces jobs that are more or less, not living wage jobs. To add fuel to the fire, our standard of living has risen dramatically. I remember when it was a treat to go to McDonalds, now people go to McDonalds (or other coffee or fast food establishments) on a daily basis. Plus, many go out to eat at night, and have their gym memberships, and their big houses, and their expensive cars that they have someone wash for them. We are spoiled. Our lifestyle demands a much larger service sector. And we as consumers dictate what we are willing to pay for those services. And we do want those services!! Which means that employers have to find people to perform those jobs at a price that we are willing to pay.

    Mark — If I were to higher strictly American labor and pay them the wage that you believe will attract them, two things will happen.
    First, I will price myself out of the market. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have my business produce a profit. (Assuming that my competition continues to higher less expensive labor.)

    Second, (assuming the market as whole follows your advice) the price of the services that we all enjoy will go up, taking more of our money. There are all kinds of economic implications if that happens. Remember, we live in a “Costco” world now, where everyone wants things cheap. Value is no longer king, price is king. When we, as a society, are willing to start paying more, then maybe things will change. From what I gather, most people believe the onus is on the employer to solve the problem, but I see it differently. The consumer is driving what the market place offers, not the employers. The expectations of the consumer need to change before there can be real change.

    Frankly, I do believe things are going to change. I am not sure how or when, but I do believe it is coming. Don’t get me wrong, I am not for the open borders that we have now. I too want to see this problem solved. As much as I dislike McCain, I do believe his approach to the problem was more thoughtful (but wrong) than the shrill rhetoric that is coming from the right wing. (I am Republican.) Needless to say, it is going to be interesting how this all gets solved.

    And for what it’s worth, Mark, I already pay significantly higher wages than my competitors, and it still has not brought the American laborer to my door seeking work.

    Comment by Huck Finn — January 25, 2008 @ 12:13 pm

  26. Huck,

    No one is suggesting you raise your wages above market rates. This is a debate about government immigration policy. The policy makes the market here [by controlling the supply of low skill labor], not individual employers.

    It is worth noting, by the way, that the net fiscal deficit for each low skill household is about $20,000 per year. The economic savings from immigrants lower wages are miniscule in comparison.

    See Robert Rector, “The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Households to the U.S. Taxpayer”, Heritage Foundation, 2004.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 25, 2008 @ 12:21 pm

  27. C Jones,

    Huck Finn is telling you from actual real-life experience that there are jobs that Americans won’t do for any price.

    His real-life experience did not show that Americans won’t do the job for any price, it showed that he had trouble getting reliable people for the current price. Thus, it doesn’t speak to the principal disagreement you are supposedly addressing in that statement.

    Comment by Jacob J — January 25, 2008 @ 12:39 pm

  28. Mark
    I believe that it is just more complicated than that. The consumer makes the market. The policy affects the market, but in the end, what we consume, and at what price, is up to us, not the government. Granted government can, and I think will, ultimately reduce the supply of low skill labor, but I don’t think most Americans will like paying more for their Big Macs. There are many implications to this government policy that, I fear, most people have not considered.

    (I will read the article you noted in your comment. It is quite long, so I will come back to this thread later.)

    Comment by Huck Finn — January 25, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

  29. Mark: The long term plan for E-Verify is to integrate with state DMV photo databases (it already includes federal photos). A “looks like” match is not enough. The photo supplied must be an exact match to the photo of record, making identity theft very difficult when a official photo is available.

    Great. Call me when it works. I have little faith in the federal government’s ability to set up databases. (Inexplicably so – the technology isn’t hard. Yet the immigration department still isn’t computerized!)

    I have very little faith in the government providing an easy to use verification scheme for ID. Further government (both parties) seems quite content to then put the responsibility and punishment on small business for dealing with identification.

    Now if the government has an actual functional system I’ll change my tune.

    Comment by Clark — January 25, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

  30. Ajax: How about dimantling the welfare/warfare state. That in and of itself would remove all sorts of perverted incentives people have to immigrating here.

    There’s not much of a welfare state here. If that were the issue we’d expect far more illegals up in Canada.

    The closest one can point to is the law that one has to provide medical care in hospitals. I’m not sure how to deal with that. It would be unconscionable to deny care to say an accident victim.

    Ajax In a truly free market, the just price or wage is the agreed upon wage between employer and employee. There is no force or coersion involved. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to accept it. Califonia Condor is right.

    To have such a free market requires regulation otherwise there are simply too many ways to rig the system. Thus you have the paradox that to have a system without force requires force.

    While I’m a conservative and thus want a minimum of regulations I’m realistic enough to know that the Libertarian nirvana is yet more utopian wishful thinking.

    Comment by Clark — January 25, 2008 @ 12:58 pm

  31. Huck,

    Immigration policy (including lax enforcement of existing laws) affects wages through the labor supply. Consumer demand is relatively static by comparison.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 25, 2008 @ 12:59 pm

  32. Yeah Jacob J, I know that was worded wrong as soon as I posted it. And I’m not trying to put words in Huck’s mouth. I just think that you can’t talk about this at all if you can’t recognize that there are lots of jobs where it is not economical to hire Americans whose needs and expectations are different.

    Comment by C Jones — January 25, 2008 @ 12:59 pm

  33. Mark
    You are simply denying the forces of supply and demand and how inflation affects them. It is basic economics. Consumer demand fluctuates according to many factors, principal among them is price. From our perspective, the illegal immigrants are here for one basic reason, we consumers demand that they be here, and we demonstrate this by how much we are willing to pay for goods and services.

    Comment by Huck Finn — January 25, 2008 @ 1:21 pm

  34. Clark,

    The claim that the United States does not operate a massive welfare state defies credulity. The federal government alone consumes ~20% of the gross domestic product, a number which is projected to double over the next fifty years. Low skill households pay relatively little in the way of taxes (about $10,000 per year, direct and indirect), yet government outlays for each are about $30,000 per year.

    That means that each low skill household has a net cost to the rest of us (by way of higher taxes) of about $20,000 per year. There is only so much of that kind of the welfare we can afford.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 25, 2008 @ 1:27 pm

  35. @Mark D.,

    I’d say that a low-skilled Household provides a lot more than $20,000 per year in value to our economy.

    Comment by California Condor — January 25, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

  36. Huck,

    From an economic perspective, that is ridiculous. A higher supply of low skill labor pushes wages down due to competition in the labor market. Consumers have nothing to do with it. If the artificially high supply of such labor goes down, wages will rise.

    Your claim that consumer demand is so elastic that these markets would cease to exist if the labor supply were not artificially inflated is untenable. Most low skill labor is in fields that have relatively inelastic demand. Agriculture for example. How else do food prices double from time to time without people starving to death?

    Comment by Mark D. — January 25, 2008 @ 1:35 pm

  37. C Jones, I think many of us recognize there are jobs like that. (A lot of farming jobs for instance) I think the problem is the assumption that all jobs should be like that. For instance construction is hard work. (I’ve done it and know) Yet Americans were willing to do it for a certain wage. Yet with immigration taking so many of those jobs being willing to work at a lower wage fewer Americans are willing to accept the wages in question. The question then becomes is that fair? We aren’t talking, after all, about huge disparities. But let’s say it reduces wages by 1/3 suddenly those jobs won’t let Americans have the standard of living they demand. Which increases the pressure on other jobs.

    The other big issue that I mentioned and no one responded to is whether we really want a two tier system with very rich who are ‘capable’ (or lucky) with skills and then a deep lower class. Because with a true free system with no limits on immigration that’s what we’d have.

    Comment by Clark — January 25, 2008 @ 1:43 pm

  38. California Condor,

    The average low skill household earns about $30,000 per year. But they only pay a total of $10,000 in taxes while the government spends about $30,000 on them. That means each one has a net fiscal cost to the rest of us of about $20,000 per year.

    The idea that the economic benefit (by way of lower wages) of such a household is greater than the $20,000 required just to break even is unsupportable. The wage difference is hardly a fraction of that amount.

    Or to put it another way, with the benefit of so many low skill households, why isn’t Mexico rolling in the dough? Would it be a net economic advantage if we eliminated post-secondary education?

    Comment by Mark D. — January 25, 2008 @ 2:28 pm

  39. Mark
    I never said the markets would cease to exist, I only said that they would change and that the American consumer will have to, at some point, face up to that.

    Additionally, I never said that the size of the labor pool does not affect wages. I only said that demand affects it as well. And I agree with you that a large pool of labor will bring labor costs down. (Unless you live in Oregon, like I do, where the minimum wage goes up every year. It is now at $7.90 and hour in Oregon.) But you cannot deny that demand plays a big role as well. And it is my assertion that we Americans demand cheap labor as demonstrated by how we consume.

    Clark makes some very good points. My industry (janitorial) is much different from the construction industry. There I think the dynamics are very clear. Cheaper labor builds cheaper houses. People want cheaper houses. Builders higher cheaper labor. Clark is right, a true free system does require limits, or else we would end up with the economic polarization he alluded to.
    I am on your side Mark, I want to deal with this issue. I just want us to be thoughtful about it.

    Comment by Huck Finn — January 25, 2008 @ 2:31 pm

  40. Clark, I admit that my ag industry bias is personal, but I also think that where our food comes from has become largely invisible to most of us. Even the local rural high schools here are filled with government workers kids. And the percentage of immigrant labor in the ag industry is very high, so I think it applies here. I could say a lot more, but that would involve a bigger threadjack then even I am willing to start!

    Ayway, my idea of a compassionate solution doesn’t involve creating more government jobs that then rely on business owners to act as an unpaid police force to maintain those jobs.

    I would like to see amnesty for those people already here who have employers to vouch for them. And some way for them to work towards citizenship without being penalized.

    And aren’t we already the top tier of a two tier economy at least as far as North and South America are concerned? True compassion may involve some sacrifice on our part as to keeping up our expected standard of living.
    I am very interested to hear your response to your own question?

    Comment by C Jones — January 25, 2008 @ 2:38 pm

  41. Clark, the biggest threat to the middle class is not immigration, but inflation. The Federal Reserve has primed the pumps and created thru easy credit policies several bubbles (tech and housing). The artifically low interest rates send false signals thru the economy and are the origin of mass mal-investment and speculation. This creation of credit and money has the effect of rising prices which effectivly destroys hard working americans and their savings. It was only a generation or two ago that one income was sufficient for a household, now both parents find that they must work just to make ends meet. Don’t believe the the offical gov’t inflation numbers, which exclude food and energy prices and are running 2-3 times higher than the official rate. One trip to the grocery store and gas station verifies reality. This is the great destroyer of the middle class.
    btw-Libertarianism is not a nirvana but a political philosophy that seeks to maximize freedom without infringing on the rights of others. I’d prefer to call it Classical Liberalism tho.

    Comment by ajax — January 25, 2008 @ 3:02 pm

  42. Ajax: The greatest destroyer of the middle class is that just less than 1/2 of the number of workers who used to make less than $100,000 have moved into the next bracket and now make between $100,000 and $200,000 a year.

    Comment by Blake — January 25, 2008 @ 3:06 pm

  43. Blake, I mostly agree with you proposed solution. My question is what comes first, the financial punishment of employers or the your proposed policy changes and border enforcement?

    Comment by Huck Finn — January 25, 2008 @ 3:46 pm

  44. C Jones: And aren’t we already the top tier of a two tier economy at least as far as North and South America are concerned? True compassion may involve some sacrifice on our part as to keeping up our expected standard of living.
    I am very interested to hear your response to your own question?

    Certainly. However is that the way to judge? That is should we judge as if borders weren’t there? The problem in most other nations is pretty much government institutions as much as the people. So comparing the US to the rest of the world is a tad unfair. (In many ways both pro and anti)

    I’m all for some sacrifice which will then boost the economies of these other nations. However there have to be limits. Further, as I’ve said, there needs to be fairness. I think that Mexico is treated unfairly in many way. Further there needs to be order – so I favor a guest worker permit program to ensure that certain industries such as the farm labour can get workers without it being a free for all.

    Ajax: Clark, the biggest threat to the middle class is not immigration, but inflation.

    The biggest threat to the middle class is the continuation of middle class jobs. Both immigration and inflation affect that. But there are other factors as well. (i.e. training, access to credit, government programs favoring businesses to hire middle class workers, etc.)

    I’m not in the least saying immigration is the only threat. Far from it. But I think we have to acknowledge that the double wammy of immigration and globalization have put tremendous pressures on the middle-class. I’m a free trader so I don’t advocate, the way some on both the right and the left do, a closed borders mentality. However as we lose these jobs that offered less skilled workers and less educated workers a place to work and be in the middle class then we risk some huge social upheaval.

    Regarding Libertarianism, I call it a false utopia because the claims of Libertarians regarding what their principles would accomplish is usually rather disconnected from reality. (IMO) i.e. wishful thinking. Now if some as a political philosophy think it the right thing even if it caused massive problems for the nation that’s fine. Just be up front about it. (Some are, I’ll admit – but to the degree they are then Libertarianism becomes rather less attractive to those watching the debates)

    Comment by Clark — January 25, 2008 @ 3:49 pm

  45. I don’t think it wishful thinking that if the gov’t intervened less in our lives, we’d be better off. That’s a traditional conservative/libertarian/classical liberal belief.

    Comment by ajax — January 25, 2008 @ 4:13 pm

  46. @Mark D.

    A house full of Mexican illegals adds a tremendous amount of value to the economy because its inhabitants are willing to wash cars, cut grass, build houses, serve food, and clean toilets for LOW LOW wages. A houseful of Mexicans probably saves our economy far more than $20,000 per year in lower wages.

    Low wages are a good thing. They make your life better.

    Thus, we should open the borders. Our closed borders are artificially restricting the free market.

    Comment by California Condor — January 25, 2008 @ 4:30 pm

  47. Ajax, I completely agree. The question is where should they intervene less and where should they intervene more?

    Comment by Clark — January 25, 2008 @ 5:03 pm

  48. I agree with many of the ideas Blake presents. I do disagree that this is an immigration problem. It seems to me that the problem is to match non-resident workers with employers who need the services of the non-resident workers. And, to do this in such a way as to not impact the legal processes already at work with regards to legal immagration.

    The E-Verify approach seems to me to be bass ackwards. We don’t want to know who are not citizens but who are non-resident workers. I share Clarke’s pessimism about government programs but the states run a pretty good id program with driver’s licenses. Here we are talking about a license by which non-resident workers can work in the US. It is not even that actually. It is an ID which shows that one is qualified to be in a legal pool from which employers may request their services. Nothing happens until employers request services from those in this legal pool. This way workers do not have to cross illegally into the US to search for work. They are called into the US to fill a need. Once the job is done they go back into this legal pool and become available for work. After a certain amount of time without a job, they go back across the US border.

    Current illegal workers would become registered as non-resident workers. Their employer simply registers this worker as a non-resident worker. It can be as simple as scanning their ID when they begin work and scanning their IDs when the work is finished. All that an employer would need is a scanner to scan the ID and an ability to upload that into an government database for non-resident workers. As long as they have work they can remain in the US legally but are not immigrants. To remain in the US they must have a job or apply for immigration. This way illegals can remain and work in the US but as non-resident workers rather than US citizens.

    Good grief, this is not rocket science. Businesses deal with database problems much more difficult than this. It could work through the states and their unemployment offices (with compensation) Or, it could be contracted to private business.

    Rich

    Comment by Rich K — January 25, 2008 @ 9:07 pm

  49. Rich K.,

    I. Fourteen states grant drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. Unless you are advocating that we have a come one come all immigration policy, checking drivers licenses alone is useless. It does not confirm employment eligibility under current law. Generally speaking, you need something that confirms identity plus something that confirms employment eligibility.

    A valid drivers license is adequate for the former, but for the latter you need a social security card, a green card, an employment authorization document or proof of U.S. citizenship. This has been the law since 1985. See the instructions for Form I-9 for details.

    II. We already have a “non-resident” work program. The government issues green cards and employment authorization documents to non-citizens that authorize them to work in the United States. Such workers have passports with valid visas and all the legal permissions that illegal immigrants do not.

    There may be an argument for those programs to be expanded, but tweaking the legal immigration system is relatively pointless given the massive fraud occuring coincident with illegal immigration.

    That is why there is a general conservative consensus that the first order of business is to secure the border and better enforce the laws we have now, by both physical and technological means. Once the system is operating as legislated again, we can have a better idea of what the proper legal levels should be.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 25, 2008 @ 9:52 pm

  50. The non-resident work program is a joke unfortunately. Reagan’s heart was in the right place but what ended up in legislation just isn’t workable right now in terms of getting Mexican workers to people who want them and avoiding the problems of permanency.

    Like pretty much everything related to immigration it’s a mess and needs a pretty major overhaul. Something congress has shown not particular inclination to do. (Understandable given the polarized nature of the issue – hopefully a President with less baggage and more political capital than Bush can fix things)

    Comment by clark — January 25, 2008 @ 10:48 pm

  51. Mark D.

    1. I was not suggesting using drivers licenses as an ID program. It was simply mentioned as an example of the successful use of ID databases. If we can create successful license databases for drivers, why not a successful database for non-resident workers?

    2. I’m aware of the green card program but this is run in conjunction with immigration. Our problem is not an immigration problem. Set up a separate program to oversee a digital database of non-resident workers.

    Clark

    Our ability to successfully run such a program is immeasurably better now than when Reagan was president. Since this program is not a path to citizenship there is no need for it to be administered by Immigration. Start afresh and don’t handicap it with the baggage of Immigration.

    This seems to be a win-win situation. Foreign workers can come here and work legally and those already here can keep their jobs without amnesty.

    Rich

    Comment by Rich K — January 26, 2008 @ 1:42 pm

  52. CC: A house full of Mexican illegals adds a tremendous amount of value to the economy because its inhabitants are willing to wash cars, cut grass, build houses, serve food, and clean toilets for LOW LOW wages. A houseful of Mexicans probably saves our economy far more than $20,000 per year in lower wages.

    First, this is just old fashioned exploitation by any other name. Second, you don’t save an economy anything by paying less for services than the services would reasonably demand on the market were the illegals able to sue at law to enforce their rights. Third, it is against the law to pay LOW, LOW wages — or any wages — to illegal aliens and we ought to enforce these laws.

    Comment by Blake — January 26, 2008 @ 1:56 pm

  53. Rich K.,

    I agree that there is no serious technological obstacle to making an effective database. However, in order to work properly it must include information about American citizens as well.

    Such a database does exist now (it is called E-Verify), but it does not include photo information for citizens, so identity theft is a major problem. The easy way to fix that problem is for Congress to require that states share DMV database information with the federal government and import the drivers license images into the existing database, matching by name and social security number. Congress would also need to make electronic new hire verification mandatory, the way it is now in Arizona.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 26, 2008 @ 4:15 pm

  54. Don: THe obvious needs to be done: mass deportation and closing the border. Not more justifications for allow people to abuse the United States.

    Hehe. This suggestion always makes me chuckle.

    So let’s imagine that we agreed to round up all 12 million undocumented immigrants and deport them and tell them to “get to the back of the line” in their country over the next 3-6 months. What would be the result? Here is my guess:

    The US economy would tumble into a massive recession — or perhaps even depression almost immediately. Inflation would skyrocket. Companies would fold left and right (causing gobs of white collar management jobs to disappear).

    So the federal government would be forced to make the reportedly hideously slow and and inefficient immigration “line” an efficient expressway to get as many of those workers as they could back here as soon as possible (presumably legally this time).

    So who knows — maybe such an extreme plan would work out in the end. But if that is what would eventually happen why not skip the whole economy imploding part and just figure out a way to make the people here legal now. Sure — I can buy the “secure the borders” part. But mass deportations is a laughably bad solution. Whenever Romney makes hardline comments about immigration and hints at mass deportations I am embarrassed for him. It’s just crazy talk.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 27, 2008 @ 12:05 am

  55. Romney is not proposing that we round up and deport twelve million people. That is enormously impractical for a long list of reasons. The primary dispute is whether to grant illegal immigrants amnesty and U.S. citizenship.

    Romney is saying that illegal immigrants who want to become citizens should be required to leave (i.e. quit breaking the law) and “get in the back of the line”. A simple matter of fairness.

    Other than that, he supports a series of measures to better enforce border security and current immigration laws. Nothing will happen overnight – gradual attrition is more like it.

    It is worth noting that granting 12 million immigrants U.S. citizenship would cost taxpayers $2.6 trillion dollars just for retirement benefits. That is the cost over and above the sum total of taxes paid by the immigrants themselves. See here.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 27, 2008 @ 1:49 am

  56. Mark D.,

    What is the functional difference between “rounding up and deporting people” and requiring people to “leave (i.e. quit breaking the law) and “get in the back of the line””? Sounds like the same thing to me.

    And aren’t there other solutions besides granting citizenship to all 12 million of these undocumented immigrants? What about green cards or resident alien status? I am not well versed in the nuances and laws and options regarding immigration but I’m pretty sure there is middle ground between “become a citizen” and “leave/get deported”.

    Don’t get me wrong — I am generally pulling for Romney. I think he has a leg up when it comes to the economy because of his skill set and experience outside of Washington. This immigration thing just happens to be the position of his I find most untenable and repulsive. Does he have a workable plan on this subject at all or is he just using occasional cruel rhetoric to pander to the hardcore weirdos on the far right?

    Comment by Geoff J — January 27, 2008 @ 9:14 am

  57. I agree with Geoff that mass deportation or even requiring people to leave are not really workable.
    We also have to keep in mind that not all UI’s (undocumented immigrants–I like this term Geoff) want to become citizens.

    It is illegal for employers to discriminate against people they hire by requiring those who appear to be any certain nationality to “prove” that their papers are legal. So they are in a bind– can’t discriminate, but be sure not to hire anyone with false papers. . .

    So what if, instead of fining employers on top of depriving them of their work force, when they were found to have UI’s who want to stay here and become citizens the employer is then required to sponsor them in some way. Maybe pay for things like background checks for criminal activity, or ESL classes, or legal fees.

    Wouldn’t that solve most of the concerns Blake mentioned like paying taxes, health care costs, etc? And as more UI’s became citizens, wouldn’t wages rise?
    As far as those who are only here seasonally, or who don’t want to become citizens, some kind of e-verify system might work, but I think it would have to be state based. Another (intrusive, privacy-reducing) mandatory national ID system would have to include all of us if it wasn’t to be discriminatory, and that just give me bad vibes.

    Comment by C Jones — January 27, 2008 @ 12:01 pm

  58. Geoff,

    The difference is the qualifier “if they want to become a citizen”.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 27, 2008 @ 12:19 pm

  59. Fine Mark. So what about the 11.99 million who would likely be satisfied with permanent resident status? What’s the solution for them? Has Romney suggested any solution on that front or is he just pandering to the hateful extremists on the far right?

    If it is not clear, I think this “leave the country and get to the end of the line” rhetoric is ludicrous.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 27, 2008 @ 12:37 pm

  60. Same deal for them – you have to become a permanent resident before applying for citizenship anyway.

    Please explain how the current immigration laws are “hateful”.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 27, 2008 @ 12:50 pm

  61. Mark,
    Easy, they rob human dignity by driving all this immigrant’s work underground, tear up families so people can “wait their turn”, all because the numbers we allow in is completely and totally inadequate. Until we fix this flaw, we will have a loathed, illegal alien underclass with no recognized rights.

    Comment by Doc — January 27, 2008 @ 1:09 pm

  62. Mark,

    I never called the laws themselves hateful. But I think the current laws are a decent launching point for hateful people in the US. I also think our current immigration laws/policies are woefully unable to deal with the economic forces at work in recent decades. I also think Doc has some good points #61.

    So I take it from your responses that no one in the “get to the back of the line” crowd (read: “mass deportations crowd”, despite your undefended assertions to the contrary in #55), including Romney, has any decent real-world plan whatsoever regarding how to carry out their hair-brained deportation ideas without plunging the US economy into a depression. Lovely.

    As I said, I like a lot of things about Romney but this immigration position of his seems embarrassingly lame.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 27, 2008 @ 4:21 pm

  63. Geoff,

    So let’s imagine that we agreed to round up all 12 million undocumented immigrants and deport them and tell them to “get to the back of the line” in their country over the next 3-6 months. What would be the result? Here is my guess:

    If we’re going to imagine it, shouldn’t we at least try to imagine a scenario that could happen in the real world. There is no way we could “round up” all the illegal immigrants and deport them at the same time. If such a scheme was every actually implemented (which I seriously doubt) it would happen gradually as a natural consequence of what it takes to find and deport people. So, the plunge into recession or depression seems a bit melodramatic. We could bring in legal immigrants at the same rate we deport them if we want.

    Furthermore, you seem to be suggesting that the only consequence of deporting illegal immigrants would be the dire economic ones whereas those who favor cracking down on immigration could just as easily spin up the imaginary scenario with hospitals all over the country opening back up and car insurance rates diving, etc. Your scenario seems just as much a cartoon as that description would be.

    Comment by Jacob J — January 27, 2008 @ 7:34 pm

  64. Jacob,

    Regarding the “real world scenario” you proposed: Let’s say the plan was to make the borders nearly impenetrable (another topic entirely of course) and then to round up and deport 10,000 undocumented immigrants per month while replacing them with 10,000 green card holders from “the line”. At that rate we’d have the “replacement project” completed in a mere 100 years!

    So I guess I’m saying I also seriously doubt such a plan is remotely plausible in the real world.

    you seem to be suggesting that the only consequence of deporting illegal immigrants would be the dire economic ones

    What wonderful consequences do you think would result from a mas deportation plan? Do you think it could possibly result in positive economic consequences for the US? If so, how?

    Comment by Geoff J — January 27, 2008 @ 8:30 pm

  65. Geoff,

    What wonderful consequences do you think would result…

    I listed two examples in my previous comment, but it is very simple to come up with more, just look at what people complain about with regard to illegal immigration and flip them around. So, to quote from Blake’s post:

    They also foist onto the rest of the American public costs which they don’t have to carry for health care, auto insurance, schools, employer matching and other costs of legitimate employment. Health care insurance, schools, and other kinds of insurance costs are in crisis in the U.S. It is difficult for residents to get emergency health care because the hospitals must provide emergency care to illegal aliens whether they can afford it or not. The cost to educate children of illegal aliens in already overcrowded classrooms is billions of dollars. The cost of car insurance is much higher because those who have such insurance must cover the expenses of those who don’t have any care insurance.

    Obviously, if that argument is correct then there would be benefits to our economy if we deported illegal immigrants.

    Your point about deporting 10,000 a month is okay although you are picking 10,000 out of a hat (why not 100,000, then you could be done in 10 years). But to get to the heart of the matter, the key for people who oppose amnesty (e.g. Romney) is that we don’t reward the people for coming here illegally. As a matter of ecomonics (you will get more of what you reward), it makes good sense to insure that illegals are not rewarded for breaking immigration laws.

    We don’t need to deport all the illegals to make sure that those who have followed our immigration laws do not have the illegals cut in line. All we have to do is say they must get in the back of the line if they want to become legal. The question then arises: What if illegals want to repent and apply for legal immigration? This is the question I think people are addressing when they talk about having the person return to their country of origin. I don’t know that it is practical to demand that, but I agree with the desire to dis-incentivize illegal immigration. Reagan’s amnesty (and of course the Congress’ failure to live up to their promise of border control in return for the amnesty) is the reason we have such a disaster today.

    Comment by Jacob J — January 27, 2008 @ 9:17 pm

  66. I understand the idea about incentives. But I think it is just not practical to worry about the crappy border control issues in decades past. It seems to me that if people agree that we should control immigration then a lot of money must be spent on a massive fence to the South and a massively beefed up INS (taxpayers footing the bill as ever of course). Then some method to give all undocumented aliens here a chance to get a green card (with fees I assume) would make sense. Yes, that might be seen as a reward for illegal border crossing before the increased security but we would just have to swallow our pride and basically say “we used to suck at border security but now don’t”.

    Look, the main reasons given now for deportation are usually economic. The argument is that undocumented immigrants are costing us all money. If that is the argument then the solution ought to focus on costing all of us less money right? I personally believe mass deportations would cost all of us a lot more than other solutions. Documenting them all and having them pay taxes is a better solution.

    So if we did spend all kinds of money to dramatically beef up border security the next question ought to be “how do we deal with these 12 million workers who are already here in the least expensive way?” Reagan probably had it right with amnesty — the problem was that nobody bothered to close the borders effectively.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 27, 2008 @ 9:55 pm

  67. Geoff,

    You seem to think that the only alternative to amnesty is mass deportations. That is not true.
    Neither Romney nor any other candidate is proposing mass deportations. Why do you insist on putting words in his mouth?

    Comment by Mark D. — January 27, 2008 @ 10:25 pm

  68. What do you think he means when he says that all illegal immigrants should get to the end of the line Mark? Is there a way to get to the end of the line without leaving the country first (either voluntarily or by being deported)?

    Comment by Geoff J — January 27, 2008 @ 10:43 pm

  69. It is also worth noting that an expanded border fence would easily pay for itself. An illegal immigrant household has a net cost to the U.S. taxpayer of about $3,700 per year. If granted amnesty, that cost increases to about $20,000 per year. That is over and above any taxes the immigrants pay.

    It would cost about $2.2 billion dollars to build a fence. The current enhanced section in the San Diego area cut apprehensions by a factor of twenty. About 700,000 illegal immigrants immigrate across the border each year, or the equivalent of about 175,000 households, raising the tax burden on other taxpayers by $647 million per year. The expanded border fence would thus pay for itself in less than three years, and produce a net savings of several billion dollars a year after that.

    On the other hand, if we granted amnesty to all the illegal immigrants currently here, the net cost over and above the amount of taxes the immigrants themselves would pay is on the order of $3.9 trillion dollars, enough money to build more than a million 700 mile border fences.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 27, 2008 @ 10:44 pm

  70. Geoff,

    The key word is voluntary. If illegal immigrants find it difficult to get new jobs due to improvements in the E-Verify system for example, they have an incentive to leave of their own free will.

    Even if there is no net outflow, slowing the historically unprecedented inflow would be a good thing for two main reasons – we are in serious danger of balkanization and we will go bankrupt extending the current welfare state to an arbitrary number of low skill newcomers.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 27, 2008 @ 10:53 pm

  71. Mark,

    I just don’t buy most of your numbers at all. The $20,000 number per head is lovely for scare tactics but as I mentioned earlier, I think the cost of not having those workers here would be far greater. And I am highly skeptical of the 700,000 number as well. I have known many undocumented aliens from Mexico over the years (I’m from San Diego and live in Arizona now) and many of these hard working folks return home to Mexico every few years to visit or care for family then return so they can make a living and send some money back home to keep everyone fed. So how many of those 700,000 are actually new immigrants and how many are just returning after a visit?

    What solution do you have in mind Mark? What is the best way to handle thing in your opinion? Do you like the mass deportation idea? If not then what? (As I said, I can buy the idea of better border control but what of these 12 million people who are deeply integrated into our economy now?)

    Comment by Geoff J — January 27, 2008 @ 10:54 pm

  72. Doc,

    The underclass character of illegal immigrant households is self inflicted. It is not like people in Latin America are starving to death. The illegal immigrants in this country chose to get ahead by breaking the law.

    Your recommendation entails an open borders policy, which would either mean the end of the current welfare state (progressive taxation, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, public education, and so on) or public bankruptcy and economic ruin.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 27, 2008 @ 11:11 pm

  73. The underclass character of illegal immigrant households is self inflicted

    So much for “a compassionate immigration policy”. WWJD?

    Comment by Geoff J — January 27, 2008 @ 11:16 pm

  74. Geoff,

    Of course I don’t like the mass deportation idea. Neither does anyone else with their head screwed on straight. It is nothing but a scare tactic.

    I think we should build an adequate border fence, better enforce current employment laws, and take other similar measures to slow the net inflow and encourage current illegal immigrants to leave and apply through normal channels if they wish.

    The ~$20,000 number by the way is the net cost to U.S. taxpayers of any citizen low skill household. The math is very simple – the government spends about $32,000 per year on them, they earn about $30,000 per year and pay about $10,000 in taxes. The deficit is $22,000 per year.

    As I said, we could easily tolerate any level of immigration on an economic basis by ending progressive taxation, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and public education.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 27, 2008 @ 11:20 pm

  75. Geoff,

    Suppose Jesus was a married man with a wife and ten children. Meanwhile his neighbor was doing a very poor job of raising his family of ten, so poorly that some of his neighbor’s children beg to come live with Jesus’ family. What would Jesus do?

    Would he offer to adopt some of his neighbors children? Or would he perhaps try to help his neighbor to do a better job raising them?

    Comment by Mark D. — January 27, 2008 @ 11:26 pm

  76. Geoff,

    but we would just have to swallow our pride and basically say “we used to suck at border security but now don’t”.

    As long as we can actually not suck at border security anymore I think this would go a long way and your suggestion above would be a viable strategy.

    Comment by Jacob J — January 27, 2008 @ 11:41 pm

  77. Mark,

    We are agreeing on the border security thing. But you still haven’t explained what you would do with all 12 million undocumented immigrants here now. You agree deporting them all is a bad idea (perhaps contra Romney and his “end of the line” rhetoric) so do you agree with me that after we secure the borders some variation of amnesty/fast-green-cards is the best bet?

    The deficit is $22,000 per year.

    As Twain said “damned lies and statistics”. What would the cost be to the economy to have these workers not be available? If it were as simple as you are implying then deporting all 12 million would be a no-brainer wouldn’t it? $20,000 per year would be a bargain if the alternative is $200,000 per year due to an economic depression after all.

    so poorly that some of his neighbor’s children beg to come live with Jesus’ family. What would Jesus do?

    Feed and clothe them. Duh. And he would offer to help his neighbor do a better job as well.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 28, 2008 @ 12:25 am

  78. The fact that it is simply pragmatically impossible to deport 12 million IA’s shows that we must have a different strategy. In fact, it is very difficult to have a government program that identifies all IAs except at the point where they enter society — work. It is feasible to ID those who apply for jobs by having employers do it. When we put enough pressure on employers to stop playing the “I didn’t know they were IAs” game by putting a healthy auditing and enforcement program in place with stiff penalties for violation, then we won’t need to stop IAs from entering and we won’t need to deport them. With no jobs available except through legal means, they won’t come and they will go back on their own. Further, there will be enough pressure to go through legal channels that legal immigration will greatly increase through expanded work programs. It is the only feasible solution, and that is why I suggested it. What we have now won’t work. Other programs won’t work. Given the costs of IAs to taxpayers right now and the windfall to employers who hire them, it is both a compassionately fair solution and the only really workable solution.

    Comment by Blake — January 28, 2008 @ 8:18 am

  79. I think your solution has a lot of merit Blake.

    The weakness lies in the idea that there is a “windfall to employers who hire them”. The question is who is really benefiting from that windfall? If it were just a bunch of cigar-chomping fat rich guys most of us wouldn’t feel bad about pulling the rug out from under those companies. But I suspect that the windfall is mostly enjoyed by the following groups:

    1. Millions of US citizens who hold administrative and management jobs at the companies who hire the UI’s to do things like build houses, landscape, clean up, work at the fast food franchise, bus tables, etc. If the 12 million immigrants go away so do the jobs of the millions of citizens who work for companies that depend on them.
    2. US consumers in general who benefit from less expensive prices on most everything they buy due to lower costs of doing business for those companies.

    What I am saying is that I suspect these 12 million workers are inextricably part of our economy now. Removing them via deportation or your plan would be like removing a vital organ from a body. It would cause more damage than good.

    You may be right that the border is not the answer. And your solution may be better overall with regard to the ongoing inflow issue. A hybrid solution might be to implement a system you have in mind but lose this untenable “get to the end of the line” notion entirely and make it easy for those who are already here to stay here legally but make it hard for any new UI’s to get jobs in the future (via the tracking you recommend). In other words, we could grant relatively easy green cards to those in the economy now but make those not here use the line or not be able to work here.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 28, 2008 @ 9:13 am

  80. Blake,
    So in order to implement your plan are you suggesting a national ID registry? Or is what your suggesting possible with our current Social Security IDs? I highly doubt your going to convince anyone to implement a national ID registry. How would you get around this? Or how would you convince the American people to implement such a registry?
    If your simply going to use the Social Security IDs already issued, then your plan sounds a lot like Romney’s. However, would your plan weed out Illegal Immigrants, or would it just proliferate fake social security IDs?

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — January 28, 2008 @ 10:27 am

  81. Geoff,

    If you are going to keep claiming that Romney is promoting mass deportation, please provide some actual evidence.

    The claim that the marginal benefit to American consumers in terms of reduced prices is worth more than two thirds of the actual wages paid to illegal immigrants is unsustainable. Most IIs work using forged documents. They function in the economy just like other low skill laborers.

    It is hard to imagine wages in low skill fields rising more than twenty or thirty percent in real terms if IIs gradually left the country (see below). That might drive real prices in certain fields (fast food for example) up a whole ten or fifteen percent. The real price of most goods and services might rise two or three percent.

    It is worth remembering that artifically low wages in many fields are hardly a boon for legal low skill workers. They are the ones who are most directly impacted by low skill immigration. Real wages of high school dropouts in California have fallen 17% over the past twenty five years.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 28, 2008 @ 11:01 am

  82. Craig A.,

    For this and other reasons, it is extremely likely that we will have a national ID registry within a decade. There is no other way to stop high levels of identity theft or easily detect forged identification.

    The government makes a big deal out of checking licenses at airports, for example. That is almost pointless when high quality forgeries can be had for $500 or less.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 28, 2008 @ 11:10 am

  83. Mark,

    I have repeated my evidence on Romney’s mass deportation hints numerous times: I clearly heard Romney say in recent national debates that he thinks all undocumented immigrants need to get to the back of the immigration line. That means they must leave the country. That means mass deportations. Which part of that do you deny?

    As for your other comments, I have no idea what your point is, but it seems like you are mostly claiming that those 12 million workers are not inextricably fused to the US economy. I just don’t believe that claim.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 28, 2008 @ 11:33 am

  84. Geoff,

    In answer to your question. I am not a fan of deporting non-criminals on the spot. However, less severe policies depend on the ability to reliably identify forged identification.

    Assuming that we had a system to reliably detect illegal immigrants (such as an expanded E-Verify), one reasonable alternative might be to quasi-legalize them and place them under a different tax schedule. Say thirty percent flat rate, no exemptions or deductions.

    That would cover a large part of the additional costs to schools, hospitals, etc. and would be a lot better than living in fear of being deported. Those that wanted preferred tax treatment could apply to immigrate legally under the system that Congress has established.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 28, 2008 @ 11:33 am

  85. Geoff,

    Mass deportation means the government attempts to track illegal immigrants down, arrest them, and re-patriate them to their country of origin in large numbers.

    “Get in the back of the line”, on the other hand means nothing more than we are not going to give illegal immigrants special treatment compared to applicants for legal immigration. i.e. if they want to be here legally, they have to leave and go through the same procedures as anyone else.

    That is neither “mass” nor is it “deportation”. It is more like “status quo”.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 28, 2008 @ 11:41 am

  86. Mark,

    A tracking and taxation plan for the 12 million workers already here seems to be the best solution to me as well. But I will note that there is no “go home to your country and get to the back of the line” component to that plan. That has been my point all along here.

    Whether we call it mass deportation or back of the line — the net effect of shooing those 12 million workers away from the US is equally undesirable. Neither is a plausible solution economically and that is my beef with Romney spouting such nonsense. He seems to be pandering to economic idiots when he says such things. I expect better of him is all.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 28, 2008 @ 12:06 pm

  87. Geoff,
    If this plan makes it impossible for illegal aliens to attain employment in the United States, then aren’t we effectively deporting them? Wouldn’t it then be a “get home to your own country” plan? Or are you suggesting we allow them to stay within the borders of the United States and get citizenship priority over those who have chosen to legally immigrate to this country? It seems the only plan that is compatible with justice is one which requires the illegal immigrants to return to their place of legal citizenship and then go through the process of immigrating legally. I don’t think this means that they are put in the back of the line, but have equal footing with others who are immigrating legally. This may place a heavy burden on the individual illegally immigrants, but such a burden has never been an excuse to fail to uphold the law of the land.

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — January 28, 2008 @ 12:22 pm

  88. Geoff,

    I was just defending Romney’s position against the suggestion that he wants to round up illegal immigrants en masse and put them on buses for the border. I have no idea whether he would agree with differential taxation for those here or not.

    In my opinion, priority one should be the construction of an effective border fence, priority two an effective identity verification system. Once that is done, grandfathering all existing illegal immigrants might not be such a bad idea.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 28, 2008 @ 12:47 pm

  89. Craig: Or are you suggesting we allow them to stay within the borders of the United States and get citizenship priority over those who have chosen to legally immigrate to this country?

    Yep, that’s what I’m suggesting. I think the US people would prefer a little injustice like that than to create the massive hemorrhaging in the US economy (and thus causing massive inflation, business implosions, etc.) that losing those 12 million workers would cause. See my #66. I’m saying it is too late — our economy is absolutely dependent on those workers now. So it seems the best bet is we cut our losses with them and focus on the inflow.

    In other words, I very much agree with Mark’s last sentence about stopping the inflow and then grandfathering the 12 million here into the country via green cards or something.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 28, 2008 @ 1:03 pm

  90. Geoff,
    I understand your rationale for grandfathering the currently illegal immigrants. I think that this is a compromise that the United States might just have to make, but ideally I think it is bad form rewarding criminal behavior. I would only be willing to concede to such a compromise if there was strong enforcement put in place to keep the massive illegal immigration from happening again. Blake’s plan is one such enforcement technique that may make that possible. Absent such a plan though, grandfathering the current illegal immigrants is asking for more of the same.

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — January 28, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

  91. Blake

    First, this is just old fashioned exploitation by any other name. Second, you don’t save an economy anything by paying less for services than the services would reasonably demand on the market were the illegals able to sue at law to enforce their rights. Third, it is against the law to pay LOW, LOW wages — or any wages — to illegal aliens and we ought to enforce these laws.

    If no one is forcing them to do it, it’s not “exploitation.” It’s a job.

    If a Mexican will cut your grass for $30 less than a white person will do it, then you save $30. This is a good thing. The less money you spend to get what you want, the better your life is.

    We ought to grant illegals immigrants instant American citizenship. The law is flawed. The law is severely hampering the labor market.

    Do yourself a favor and study up a bit on supply and demand curves.

    Comment by California Condor — January 28, 2008 @ 1:30 pm

  92. CC,
    Most economists I’m aware of will tell you that economics (including supply-demand curves) are descriptive, not normative. Some will go further and tell you that a pure market approach is the most moral/best/other positive descriptor approach. But it is not inherent that the market produces the best results. It could be that, for the sake of community or basic human decency or externality or other hard-to-monetize reason, we (as a community) decide that the market produces a result we don’t like, we change it.

    That is to say, the market is working toward greatest market efficiency, which is not necessarily the same thing as the result that is best for the community. So before you get condescending, it might be worth proving (or at least arguing) that the market result is the best result, instead of just assuming it.

    Comment by Sam B. — January 28, 2008 @ 2:01 pm

  93. That is to say, the market is working toward greatest market efficiency, which is not necessarily the same thing as the result that is best for the community.

    Amen Sam B. Well said. Especially in a thread titled “a compassionate immigration policy”. Taken too far, arguments like the ones CC is making start sounding suspiciously like Korihor’s arguments:

    17 And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 28, 2008 @ 2:16 pm

  94. @ Sam B.

    What situation is preferable?

    A. Your hamburger costs $5.

    B. Your hamburger costs $10.

    Comment by California Condor — January 28, 2008 @ 2:20 pm

  95. @ Geoff J

    The best thing for the community is capitalism. That maximizes output.

    Comment by California Condor — January 28, 2008 @ 2:24 pm

  96. California Condor,
    Wow, and I thought I was an Adam Smith fan! I think your capitalism is a little extreme though. It’s hard to argue that unregulated capitalism is best for the community. More times than not, capitalism takes no thought for the marrow.

    Also, your dichotomy between the $10 hamburger and the $5 dollar hamburger fails to take into account the human component. Should we choose paying less for the hamburger when the only viable way of achieving that result is exploiting another human being? You assume that we are free to take a job or leave it, but the reality is none of us are free to work or not, we must all eat, and therefore we must all work. If the only jobs to be had are ones that exploit us for our labor while placing a meager piece of bread in our mouth then we are not free to choose that job, we must take it (or else starve, but I don’t think that’s a viable option for anyone).

    Wow, I hardly ever have to argue from this position, but your a little extreme California Condor.

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — January 28, 2008 @ 3:04 pm

  97. @ Craig Atkinson,

    How do you define “exploiting”?

    Comment by California Condor — January 28, 2008 @ 3:17 pm

  98. Here’s a nice definition CC:

    2 : to make use of meanly or unfairly for one’s own advantage [exploiting migrant farm workers]

    Comment by Geoff J — January 28, 2008 @ 4:03 pm

  99. @Geoff J.

    That definition could be as broad or as narrow as you want. Some people think it might not be fair that their office only has one bathroom.

    As long as someone has the freedom to quit a job instantly, it is “fair.”

    Comment by California Condor — January 28, 2008 @ 4:09 pm

  100. Whatever you say CC. If would feel good about telling some poor migrant worker that you’ll pay him 2$ per hour for hard labor when you know his choice at that moment is to accept your offer or starve then I’d say you are a severely scummy human being. But I doubt you’d press your advantage like that in the name of free markets…

    What you are advocating does indeed seem to be Korihor’s doctrine. Where is the human compassion in your cold “free market” schemes? Truly unrestrained free markets have no qualms whatsoever with grinding the face of the poor. The problem is that Jesus Christ has a big problem with it.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 28, 2008 @ 4:20 pm

  101. Geoff J,

    The most compassionate thing a person could do is lift the restrictions that hamper free markets.

    If you force employers to pay minimum wages, you are limiting their ability to hire workers. So a homeless person who could be earning $2 an hour wiping off tables at a McDonald’s is left roaming the streets and diving into dumpsters for food.

    People who restrict employers with minimum wages are the real “scummy” people, since they are reducing the condition of human beings. Less food and clothing is produced as a result, and the cost of obtaining the goods that are produced are higher.

    Jesus Christ wants us to feed his sheep.

    Comment by California Condor — January 28, 2008 @ 4:38 pm

  102. Where’s the exploitation? Immigrants are flooding to our country because they WANT to work here. The alternative for them is worse. The hiring is completely voluntary. The farmers are not going to Mexico, rounding up persons against their will and making them work. They are showing up in droves and pleading for work.
    btw- all capitalism means is the exercise of free agency in our economic lives which for all of us is every day. We are free to buy, sell, trade produce, own, etc. In so doing responsible individuals save and invest, thus providing the foundation for further growth, ie the necessary capital. The term caplitalism was coined by Karl Marx, who hoped to use the term to help denigrate private property and free enterprise. Thus capitalism is the bastardized term for free enterprise. Free enterprise is just that, the freedom to choose. The whole system is based on voluntary associations, contracts and the like. There is no force involved. The alternative is coersion. Where is the injustice of the master who pays the agreed upon wage? Hmmm…kind of sounds like a parable. For some freedom and liberty are tough to swallow. The alternative to me seems much worse. Efficiency is not the issue for caplitalism. The issue is allowing persons to live their own lives and make their own choices. (And this might mean – gasp – allowing persons to enter into employment of their choosing at an agreed upon wage). This does though lead to an aggregate efficiency of the allocation of resources as million and millions of decisions are made on a micro-scale. The disaster comes when decisions are moved more and more to a central planning board who make decisions for everybody. Not only is that inefficient, it is immoral.

    Suggested readings:
    Actual Ethics – James Otteson
    Economics for Real People – Gene Callahan
    Economics in One Lesson – Henry Hazlitt
    The Church and the Market – Thomas Woods Jr
    How Capitalism Saved America – Thomas DiLorenzo
    The Law – Frederic Bastiat

    Comment by ajax — January 28, 2008 @ 5:13 pm

  103. Ajax,
    that’s a very compelling line of reasoning. I’d be intersted to hear someone savyer than I respond to it.

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — January 28, 2008 @ 5:33 pm

  104. How could I forget one of my favorites: A Humane Economy – Wilhelm Ropke:

    “I champion an economic order ruled by free prices and markets…the only economic order compatible with human freedom.”

    Comment by ajax — January 28, 2008 @ 5:48 pm

  105. I. The primary reason that illegal labor takes on an exploitative character is that it is illegal. Employers who know that their employess are illegal can treat them worse than those who can apply to the government for redress.
    That is not a good thing.

    II. There are valid considerations in public policy beyond material prosperity. Peace and harmony for example. If we allow immigrants with a foreign language and culture in faster than they can naturally assimilate, we risk permanent division and discord. Not a healthy situation.

    I would gladly pay twenty percent more for a hamburger to avoid political, cultural, and linguistic balkanization.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 28, 2008 @ 6:21 pm

  106. Mark D.,

    I. We need to change the laws and grant instant American citizenship to everyone who is here “illegal.” The law is flawed.

    II. People in the United States should have the freedom to speak whatever language they please. There is nothing sacred about the English language. People should have the right to have any sort of “culture” they want.

    Your comments seem to betray an underlying racism.

    Comment by California Condor — January 28, 2008 @ 6:43 pm

  107. CC,

    And your comments an underlying stupidity.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 28, 2008 @ 6:58 pm

  108. CC,

    I have news for you man, race and culture are not the same thing. Nor did I express a preference for one culture above another (as reasonable as it might be to – say – prefer the American civil culture over say a culture where large numbers agree that the penalty for converting to another religion should be death, or a culture that makes no distinction between church and state, or a culture that has no heritage of limited government, let alone wacko libertarianism.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 28, 2008 @ 7:17 pm

  109. Mark D.,

    no heritage of limited government

    I agree that limited government is good. Government should not have the right to resist people from living in the country in which they want to live. Government should not have the right to force people to speak a certain language.

    Comment by California Condor — January 28, 2008 @ 7:24 pm

  110. CC,

    It is entirely rational for the government to have one primary language in its schools, and have one official language for all its records and documents. Among other things, gratuitous multilingualism is a waste of money that injures most the people it purports to help. Limited ability in English is a prescription for the ghetto.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 28, 2008 @ 7:38 pm

  111. Mark D

    I. I am still having trouble with the word exploit. Is ‘Jose Rodriguez’ being expolited by accepting a job in America which he couldn’t otherwise get in Mexico? Three chears for American farmers who provide such jobs. Am I being exploited because ‘Jose Rodriguez’ has essentially made it impossible for me to work as a farm laborer? Hardly.

    II. I agree that there are other considerations beyond material prosperity. But I think this is largely overblown. As long as we are able to keep a constiutional republic, respect for individual liberty and the bill of rights, it really doesn’t matter. The problem is, your average American has just as hard a time as understanding that than your average foreigner.

    Geoff
    Regarding Korihor: First and foremost, Korihor rejected Christ and the Atonement. What Korihor says about the management of the creature, etc, is correct. We do all fair according to our own managment, talents, education and skills. But this is the end all of Korihors philosophy. To him, a destitute person on the brink of starvation deserves his fate and should not receive outside help. But as followers of Christ, we do our very best to work outside of and beyond the market(which is just), to help individuals reach there divine potential. We tithe, pay fast offerings, serve, home teach, lift up, bear one anothers burdens all beacuse WE DO beleive in Christ. Korihor rejects Christ, and thus rejects the charitable labors of Christs followers. The management of the creature is EVERYTHING and the ONLY THING to him. We accept Christ and beleive there is much more to life than the management of the creature, in fact we believe in helping others become better managers themselves.

    Comment by ajax — January 28, 2008 @ 7:43 pm

  112. Geoff: What I am saying is that I suspect these 12 million workers are inextricably part of our economy now. Removing them via deportation or your plan would be like removing a vital organ from a body. It would cause more damage than good.

    I’m afraid you misunderstand. I’m not suggesting that we remove them. I suggesting that we provide legal means for them to work. I also suspect that you are right that we all benefit from increased economies when we allow IAs to be hired. We would also benefit in the same way from slave labor.

    There is still a huge wind-fall to employers from not paying benefits, employer matching (most construction and farms jobs are under the table) and insurance. Construction company owners have reaped HUGE profits over the past two decades largely at the expense of the rest of the public and the workers that they exploit. These employers who benefit disproportionately and foist off to the rest of us to pay for education, health and other insurances and taxes ought to bear the brunt of their illegal hiring.

    Craig Atkinson: So in order to implement your plan are you suggesting a national ID registry?

    I’m not suggesting anything that we don’t already have in spades. The social security number, tax filing numbers, drivers’ licenses, student numbers, voter registration numbers are all government ID numbering systems that we use. The Church uses a similar member number systems. We can find a workable solution to IDs for IAs to turn them into legal workers.

    Look, once again I suggest that my suggestion is the only workable system. We won’t have to deport anyone. We won’t have to build a fence. All of this talk about the market system ignores that fair wages are not being paid now because the illegal status of aliens depresses what they can reasonably demand in terms of wages and benefits. So those of you who think that just allowing continued exploitation is OK don’t grasp market economics.

    Comment by Blake — January 28, 2008 @ 7:47 pm

  113. Blake
    How is a voluntary agreement between two parties exploitation? What is agreed upon is just.
    It seems to me that the real exploited class is the American taxpayer who is being fleeced by the government to pay for all these free programs most of which shouldn’t be in existence in the first place. Your idea of a free market means adding another layer of gov’t bureacracy. Nice. The overregulated market and welfare state is the problem, not the immigrants. Removing these perverse incentives would go a long way to reducing costs. I see no need for gov’t to round up all illegals to ID them or force the ‘exploiting employers’ to keep tabs. Remove welfare incentives, allow continued voluntary hiring, and deport immediately all illegal criminals.

    Comment by ajax — January 28, 2008 @ 8:56 pm

  114. ajax,

    I agree that generally speaking the wages reached in a free market are optimal and just for all concerned, and that – for example – minimum wage laws are counterproductive because they price certain low skill workers out of the market.

    However, the mere fact of illegality tends to lower wages and working conditions (e.g. occupational safety and health precautions) below what they otherwise would be if the workers were legal. Voluntary or not, that is a prima facie definition of labor exploitation.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 28, 2008 @ 10:22 pm

  115. Ajax,
    aren’t you ignoring the fact that there is a disparity in bargaining power between the employer and the employee? How can you say there is a freedom of contract between the parties when the employer has the employee over a barrel, so to speak?

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — January 28, 2008 @ 10:26 pm

  116. Ajax (#102): Where’s the exploitation?

    You seem to have misread the thread Ajax. The conversation was about the type of exploitation that would likely occur if there were no regulations whatsoever on the markets.

    This rest of your comment is very interesting and all, but I don’t think anyone here is arguing against the notion free enterprise.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 28, 2008 @ 10:37 pm

  117. Blake: I’m not suggesting that we remove them.

    But aren’t you suggesting we make it virtually impossible for those 12 million people to get jobs here so they will have to leave? My point is that their leaving or no longer filling the jobs they currently fill would be a very bad thing for our economy. (If you are talking about amnesty of some kind I have misunderstood your position).

    Construction company owners have reaped HUGE profits over the past two decades largely at the expense of the rest of the public and the workers that they exploit.

    This is true. But millions of other Americans made a living as a result of these conditions as well. Contractors of all kinds, real estate folks, manufacturers, banks and finance companies, etc, etc. A massive economic ecology is built around the construction industry so again, the notion that cigar-chomping fat cats are the only beneficiaries of the relatively low cost of immigrant workers (though I am not convinced that they get paid below minimum wage in most cases) is simply unsustainable. Further, if your goal is to penalize the fat cats mostly there are other methods to squeeze them that would not leave these 12 million useful and already-integrated workers out of work and thus the US economy much worse off than we are with them working.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 28, 2008 @ 10:49 pm

  118. Ajax: How is a voluntary agreement between two parties exploitation? What is agreed upon is just.

    Apparently you are not aware of the anti-trust laws and why inability to bargain and compete arises in predatory capitalist economies.

    Geoff: My point is that their leaving or no longer filling the jobs they currently fill would be a very bad thing for our economy.

    You’re ignoring the expanded worker program I advocated. WE want legal workers who have been properly documented who are not exploited and whose employers don’t get a free ride from providing benefits, matching taxes and so forth. My proposal is the only way to accomplish that. By penalizing employers heavily if they violate the law, we are merely enforcing the law. There won’t be mass displacement if we create such work visas — and such visas ought to be made available to those already here whose employers agree to sponsor them. Problem solved.

    Do we grant amnesty? We don’t have to. Let’s give work visas even to those IAs already here. We don’t have to deport because those who cannot find work will return home. That is, a glut of illegal workers will not further depress wages and eat up valuable resources.

    Notice the terms I’m using. Fair wages. Glut of illegal workers. We don’t want to avoid paying fair wages and we don’t want a glut of workers to unfairly reduce prices. Yes, we all benefit from low wage labor. Those of us who aren’t low wage would benefit even more from slave labor; that that is no reason to avoid basic fairness and human dignity. Remember, we’re looking for a compassionate system that actually works — and so far I believe my proposal is the only one that meets the essential criteria.

    Comment by Blake — January 29, 2008 @ 7:42 am

  119. Ahh, you are right Blake. I had not grasped that part of your plan.

    Can you help me understand what “A program that allows a matching of labor work visas is essential” means? What does that process look like in your plan? Do employers fill out paper work, pay fees, what? I really like the concept but I am having trouble figuring our what it would look like in practice.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 29, 2008 @ 8:44 am

  120. Geoff: What I have in mind is an expansion of an existing system with some tweaking. Employers can apply and also designate positions and wages paid. They can designate specific IAs if they choose. Those planning to enter legally can match with positions via an electronic data bank and video interview system (it’s called Skype). It will be a simple matter of obtaining a work visa — a system used widely already in the U.S. and Europe but greatly expanded and funded by an employer tax.

    Comment by Blake — January 29, 2008 @ 10:03 am

  121. I have not read every post here, so if I say something that has already been said, I apologize.

    I agree that we do not really need more laws to fix the problem. Just enforce the existing ones. And of course fix our borders so they are not so porous. A fence? Maybe, it seems to work fairly well for Israel.

    Because of the politics involved, the problem has become a huge mess, not easily fixed. I would equate this to a cancer that in order to remove it, will risk the health of the rest of the body. Not a good thing.

    Does it need to be fixed? Either we are a nation governed by the rule of law, or we are not. I think it needs to be fixed for the same reasons that have already been expressed.

    Perhaps one way that might help, would be to confiscate the vehicles of the illegals. I believe it is already possible to impound the car of someone if it used in the commission of a crime. It could be sold at a public auction and the money used to off set the expenses of their being here.

    If we make it harder to come here than it is worth, I think they would stop coming.

    Are they being exploited? Maybe. But I believe the markets are free enough so as to make exploitation not as easy as it could be in a country not so free.

    For instance, we owned a restaurant for a few years. The work force (white and Indian here) that work in such an industry are not well educated or they have become dysfunctional for some reason. Usually they are alcoholics, and cannot hold a better paying job.

    The only way the market conditions would not have worked to make sure my employees were paid the highest wage, is if I had an agreement with the other restaurants here in this little town to fix the wages at a wage that was really under what the market would bear.

    First, that is against the law, and second, the business is so competitive, it would never happen anyway. Generally speaking, I believe the same conditions apply for farm labor as well as the construction industry. So I do not believe those workers are being taken advantage of. As has already been pointed out, they would not come here if they were not bettering themselves.

    Is there some way we can help Mexico build a better economy so they can stay in their own country and make a decent living?

    Comment by CEF — January 29, 2008 @ 10:40 am

  122. Blake
    Antitrust laws have nothing to do with the ability to bargain. Here’s a brief history:
    http://www.mises.org/article.aspx?Id=331&month=14

    Craig
    I’ve never been over a barrel so to speak when hired, and I know of no one who has
    http://www.mises.org/story/1602

    Geoff
    Exploitation is more likely to occur with increased gov’t intervention and pandering to special interests. There is a difference between market enrepreneurs who rely soley on themselves to meet consumer demand, and political entrepreneuers who use the power of the state to gain advantages over the competition. That is where the exploitation comes in. Sorry no link for you :-)

    Comment by ajax — January 29, 2008 @ 12:13 pm

  123. Geeting back on topic, economist David Henderson once suggested that immigration was great in 1900 when there were no welfare benefits but the issue was clouded now by those immigrants who may be coming to cash in on the magnanimous welfare state. He did not use this to argue for immigration restriction though but argued for a residency requirement of, say, 20 years. Only once the residency requirement was complete would an immigrant be eligible for welfare (including gov’t schools!), citizenship and voting. He argues that very few people are going to immigrate for welfare benefits that are 20 years away.

    Comment by ajax — January 29, 2008 @ 1:45 pm

  124. Ajax: Having taught antitrust law it comes as a surprise to me that you would make such a statement that bespeaks only ignorance on your part. Section 1 of the Sherman Act is entirely aimed at uneven bargaining power because of monopoly power. Your refusal to recognize exploitation is mystifying to me.

    Comment by Blake — January 29, 2008 @ 3:39 pm

  125. Oh and I thought that antitrust laws were about preventing monopoly and encouraging competition. My bad. Again, the key to all of this is the difference between market entreprenuers and political entrepreneuers. The real exploiters are those who use the power of the state for competitive advantage. Those are the true robber barons.
    Again, I don’t care if its a mom and pop store or Microsoft, a wage voluntarily agreed upon and entered into is just, and not exploitation.

    Comment by ajax — January 29, 2008 @ 5:45 pm

  126. ajax,

    So let’s say a destitute 19 year old girl meets a cigar chomping fat cat in your free market utopia. Fat cat knows that the girl will die of undernourishment within a week without some help. So he offers her a deal: “If you will become my slave I will keep you alive and give you food and shelter”. She realizes that if she says no she will die so she agrees to the deal.

    That wage is voluntarily agreed upon — according to you it is entirely “just” right?

    Comment by Geoff J — January 29, 2008 @ 7:09 pm

  127. Ajax: It seems to me that you’ve got to answer Geoff. Your view would make both slavery and prostitution just okee dockey because they are freely agreed, right? How about children working in mines for 12 hours a day. OK with that too? How about someone who agrees to a contract with a gun pointed to their head? Still, it is an agreement with open choices, tho one of them isn’t very good. Ok with that? How about working at wages way below what is paid to Ameicans because one is illegal and cannot sue at law to feed one’s family? You’re clearly OK with that, aren’t you?

    Comment by Blake — January 29, 2008 @ 8:26 pm

  128. Free market Utopia. I never said that. The free market is just that, you and me leaving our house in the morning and engaging in peaceful voluntary exchange with others. Utopia? Hardly. We are fully aware of the weaknesses of man. Slavery is a violation, by law, of liberty. In other words, it is against the law, and rightly so. I never argued for anarchy, a society of no laws. There should be laws and they should be just, and obviously anti-slavery laws fit into that category. The man would rightly be a criminal. The man, or cigar chomping fat cat(an obviously distorted capitalist stereotype if there ever was one) is faced with the same decision we all face when confronted with the less fortunate. The choice is no different if it were a temple recommend carrying member of the church. If we don’t do anything, are we unjust? No not really. Maybe vicious. But that is no crime. But, we have accepted the Korihor doctrine. Or we can help be offering her food, clothing, shelter, work. This is the doctrine of Christ. This IS the choice the fat cat or member of the church faces.
    Prostitution – it should be legalized, as it is a non-criminal activity. This would have the effect of moving the activity from our streets and into the whorehouses on private property where they belong. They would also now be allowed legal redress under the law.
    Child Labor – in the early stages of the industrial revolution, when the productivity of labor was hopelessly low, parents naturally thought of their children as contributors to the families well-being. But this is not new, whether on the farm of factory, children were always considered economic resources. But with the industrial revolution, the only thing that changed was the location. With industrialism came capital accumulation and higher labor productivity, and eventually getting children out of the job market altogether. Without the children’s participation, the family could suffer terrible privation, most often resulting in the lack of food. When industrialization starts, it does not immediately turn from agrarian society into a machine, SUV, big screen society. The process is painstakingly slow, which requires much saving, investing and capital accumulation. In the beginning, there are not a lot of resources, not a lot of machines, and it takes many hands to survive. But as capital accumulates, and the productivity of labor has risen sufficiently, the labor of fewer is sufficient to perform the same amount of work as before. Children become less and less needed to contribute, to where we are today – children not working and instead being educated for the first 2 decades of their lives. Children have been working since the beginning of time, first in the fields, then in factories, and now, well now I wish they would work more. It is capitalism that finally took children out of the workplace. In poor countries, legislation to outlaw child labor often results in children seeking illegal employment where conditions are sure to be far worse, like child prostitution or the children sex trade.
    Someone who agrees to a contract with a gun to his head – c’mon that is hardly a peaceful voluntary agreement that I have been promoting.
    Working at low wages – these people are willing to risk life and limb to work at these wages. The alternative is worse. It is not the employers job to determine each employee’s needs and then pay accordingly. Prices of all factors of production are determined by the millions of decisions made daily in the market place. Even in the United Order, the determination of the individual’s needs are not made by the employer, but by the individual and his bishop, who then draw from the surplus. It is a function that properly resides outside the market.
    Does this all mean that I support prostitution and child labor? No. But I do acknowledge a reality, the intervention of which can result in worse consequences.
    Remember, the law of unintended consequences and the broken window fallacy.
    Sorry for the longwindedness.

    Comment by ajax — January 30, 2008 @ 12:21 am

  129. Ajax: I certainly don’t want to live in the world of uncontrolled greed and exploitation that you promote as just okey dokee. I think that anyone who seeks a compassionate immigration policy will see that what you suggest is not only not compassionate, it is deplorable.

    Comment by Blake — January 30, 2008 @ 6:52 am

  130. ajax: Slavery is a violation, by law

    And herein lies the fatal flaw of your arguments here. Slavery is against the law. Paying less than minimum wage is against the law also. So which is it? Do you want rule of law or not?

    It seems to me that what you are arguing boils down to “I want laws to forbid only the free market activities I personally am opposed to.” The problem is that in a democracy there are more votes than just yours.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 30, 2008 @ 9:24 am

  131. It seems like the only compassionate ones are the hard working american farmers/businesspersons who actually offer immigrants jobs. They can’t get work in Mexico, and the politicians here want to price them out of the market by setting minimum wages, which could have the undesirable effect of destoying american farms who must increasing compete in a global market. Hooray for these people who hire individuals that nobody else will.
    Uh, we already live in a world of greed and exploitation. We are all greedy to some extent. I’d much rather live in a world of greedy CEO’s who have no power whatsoever to tell us what to do, what to buy, were to work etc., who command no armies and navies and whos whole purpose is to create products that make our lifes better, and doing all this at – gasp – a profit which is nothing more than recouping your costs and then some. These are people who want to turn 2 talents into 4 and 5 into 10. I’d much rather live in this world, than greedy politicians who have ultimate power to affect everyone. Omnipotent governments are the ones responsible for the death and misery of millions throughout history, not persons who are desirous to freely conduct business on the open market.

    Comment by ajax — January 30, 2008 @ 9:34 am

  132. So you are saying that Hispanics or Mexicans want to come to the US for jobs? THEN WHY DON’T THEY COME THE LEGAL WHY? WHY IS SO HARD FOR THEM? If they can’t pass the test then we don’t need them here.

    Comment by Cameron — January 30, 2008 @ 10:04 am

  133. Sorry… I ment to say “THE LEGAL WAY?” ^

    Comment by Cameron — January 30, 2008 @ 10:07 am

  134. Sorry for what is probably another cringe-inducing dumb comment but I can’t get any smarter if I don’t ask questions…
    Blake, you have been pretty clear about your overall position when it comes to those who employ undocumented immigrants.

    We can also count on unscrupulous employers to continue to exploit

    employers to reap handsome profits in the fast food, construction and domestic service industries primarily

    employers to stop playing the “I didn’t know they were IAs” game

    a cigar chomping fat cat

    You mention fast food, construction, and domestic services, and I would add agriculture to the list of those who hire UI’s. The picture you paint seems to be of selfish entities gaining massive profits on the backs of exploited workers. This is a scary view, and one that induces sympathy for your position.

    My experience is very limited, but what I see in reality seems somewhat different. Is it the Marriotts who are exploiting their workers, or the guy from the local chamber of commerce who owns 2 or 3 local motels? Is it Cargill who is taking advantage, or is it the guy with a thousand acres whose kids move the sprinkler pipes right along with the other workers?
    I’m not completely against what you propose, but how do your assumptions about all employers as exploiters leave room for how your proposal would affect small independant business owners with small profit margins that could be put out of business by big fines and loss of employees?

    Comment by C Jones — January 30, 2008 @ 10:55 am

  135. Geoff #130
    Illegal? yes. Unjust? no. It is the gov’t that creates this ‘undergound’ activity by passing minimum wage statues and a variety of other business-unfriendly legislation. The underground activity literally becomes unenforcable, unless you advocate a gargantuan police state, which I doubt. Wages are determined by the market, not politicians.
    http://www.mises.org/etexts/underground.pdf

    Comment by ajax — January 30, 2008 @ 1:53 pm

  136. Ajax,

    You have completely failed to explain where the line between just and unjust lies when it comes to wages. AS far as I can tell, you think just is whatever you feel like calling just — is that right? If not, then what is the minimum just wage for hard labor? You say slavery is unjust, but that US current minimum wage is also unjust. What is a just minimum wage in your mind?

    Comment by Geoff J — January 30, 2008 @ 2:57 pm

  137. It’s not whatever I feel like calling just, it is whatever the two parties voluntarily and mutually agree upon. Whether it is $1/hr, $10/hr or $100/hr or dental work, or repairing a fence or whatever the terms of service and payment are.
    A just minimum wage is 0. By setting a min wage of say $10, your are in one fell swoop making it illegal for anybody who is willing to work for less than the min. Think of it – gov’t making it illegal to work. This increases unemployment and entrance into the underground economy.

    I feel this conversation is becoming circular. Its been a fun discussion tho, thanks.

    Comment by ajax — January 30, 2008 @ 4:52 pm

  138. Geoff,
    For the sake of conversation, where would you draw the line between the just and the unjust? Isn’t any line we draw ultimately arbitrary? Couldn’t someone consistently hold the belief that slavery is unjust, but no minimum wage law is just? For example, we could justify our law against slavery on the grounds that giving away our freedom is the one choice we won’t allow someone to make, while accepting a job below minimum wage is not a decision to give up our freedom, so we will allow individuals to enter into contracts where the terms of employment are below what we would consider minimum wage. What standard would we otherwise use to draw a line between what is just and unjust?

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — January 30, 2008 @ 5:34 pm

  139. C. Jones: My experience is very limited, but what I see in reality seems somewhat different. Is it the Marriotts who are exploiting their workers, or the guy from the local chamber of commerce who owns 2 or 3 local motels? Is it Cargill who is taking advantage, or is it the guy with a thousand acres whose kids move the sprinkler pipes right along with the other workers?

    All of the above.

    Ajax: I’m convinced that you are basically heartless. What you imagine is about as far from the United Order and actually caring for people that I can imagine. When bargaining positions are not equal, or are vastly disparate, the government must take action to facilitate transactions. Take a look at the problems in the Russian economy under the Czars where the landholders charged exorbitant prices for land and millions starved to death as a result. Sheer capitalism can be brutal and inhumane.

    Comment by Blake — January 30, 2008 @ 6:59 pm

  140. Amen Blake. Ajax seems to be pining away for a system that will engender the worst kinds of abuses and cruelty.

    Ajax: In our democracy we have generally decided that we should not allow abuses based on the disparities in bargaining positions to be legal. That is why we have things like a minimum wage — to protect the weak among us from abuse by those who have bargaining power over them. As a Mormon I would have thought you understood this tendency toward abuse and selfishness and cruelty among people. See this verse in D&C 121:

    39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

    It is a good thing that the American people are not going to tolerate all kinds of worker abuse.

    Craig: I don’t think our current system in the US is unjust so that is good enough for me.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 30, 2008 @ 10:09 pm

  141. Geoff,
    Thata’s not very philosophically satisfying.

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — January 31, 2008 @ 10:00 am

  142. In defense of ajax, it seems like his arguments have mostly been ignored in favor of pot shots and straw men. Ajax does not appear to me to be heartless, and he has already addressed the point about disparities in bargaining positions but his answer has not been engaged.

    Geoff, slavery is not a free market activity, so that entire line of argument is a red herring.

    Blake, free markets deal with unequal bargaining positions through competition for resources. It works in my industry and in yours, so why is it heartless when we let it work in another?

    Comment by Jacob J — January 31, 2008 @ 3:15 pm

  143. The point Jacob, is that free markets without limits are a very very bad thing because “the nature and disposition of almost all men”. Ajax and California Condor seem to be ignoring that real-world fact.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 31, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

  144. I do not remember who said it, but I do not think that anyone would argue other wise, (I do not think that Ajax has) that capitalism without compassion would work. But with the laws that we have to try and correct such weaknesses that are inherit within it, I think it works pretty well.

    It would be interesting to see a response to this; if a mandatory minimum wage is a good thing, then why don’t we just make all of the poor wealthy by passing a minimum wage of, say, $100.00 dollars an hour. If there is something wrong with that, why would not the same thing be wrong with any mandatory minimum wage, only on a smaller level? Could one say that a small cancer is okay, but a large one is not?

    Perhaps my reasoning is wrong, I have been known to be guilty of that. :)

    Comment by CEF — January 31, 2008 @ 3:42 pm

  145. Geoff,

    Fine, I get your point about the nature and disposition of almost all men, but that scripture refers to the fact that when they are given authority they begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. You have been using the slavery example repeatedly but it is not an example of a free market without limits, it is an example of an unfree market (people taken by force and put into subjection against their wills). As ajax has been pointing out repeatedly, the free market is based on people freely choosing to interact in ways that are mutually beneficial. So, that makes the D&C 121 quote pretty irrelevant to the question of whether we should restrict the ways in which people freely do business with one another. Put one of them in authority over the other and I am with you on D&C 121.

    Comment by Jacob J — January 31, 2008 @ 3:49 pm

  146. Jacob,

    See my slavery hypothetical example in #126. That is unrestrained free markets at work, not “people taken by force and put into subjection against their wills”.

    Ajax tried to have his cake and eat it too by falling back on “slavery is against the law”. He can’t have it both ways though — not if he wants totally unregulated free markets.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 31, 2008 @ 4:36 pm

  147. Jacob: It seems to me that slavery can be agreed to freely. I can agree to work for no pay and just room and keep just — that was what the slaveholders provided for their slaves before the Civil War. So I don’t think that Geoff’s particular example is inappropriate.

    Comment by Blake — January 31, 2008 @ 5:29 pm

  148. Geoff,

    Your #126 is contrived and bogus. We have all kinds of ways to make sure that the destitute girl in your hypothetical gets food and shelter without signing up to be a slave and none of them have anything to do with a minimum wage. Furthermore, your contrived example gives her a free decision to give up her freedom from that time forth, which is not an example of the free market at work. You are having to smuggle in subjection under the guise of free choice to get to the conclusion you want. In the same way that a genie must make a rule that you can’t use one of your three wishes on more wishes, I think it is fair to say that freely-choosing-to-give-up-your-freedom-forever is a special case which does not speak to free choices in general.

    I agree that the “slavery is illegal” argument is weak if it is meant to dodge the issue of why slavery should be illegal while less-than-minimum-wage wages should not be. However, the point might be simply that slavery is fundamentally different than questions of free market. For example, if you asked ajax if people should be able to hire hit men in his ideal free market, I would expect him to point out that murder is illegal. That is not a dodge, it is pointing out that the free market doesn’t suggest every kind of activity be legalized (slavery, murder, etc.). Those things are illegal for reasons unrelated to the free market.

    Comment by Jacob J — January 31, 2008 @ 6:18 pm

  149. Blake,

    Finally hit send and now I see you made a comment about slavery as well. Feel free to tell me where I am going wrong in #148 with Geoff.

    Comment by Jacob J — January 31, 2008 @ 6:20 pm

  150. Jacob,

    If there were absolutely no regulations on a free market then a person could choose to give up her liberty (i.e. freely sign a lifetime slavery contract) in order to avoid imminent death from starvation.

    What exactly are you arguing for here? That totally unrestrained and unregulated free markets are indeed a desirable thing in America? If not then what?

    Comment by Geoff J — January 31, 2008 @ 6:30 pm

  151. Blake (#147),

    That is not an accurate comparison. Slavery is where one person is deprived of his freedom and placed under the indefinite arbitrary control of another.

    What you describe is correctly called servitude. An indentured servant might have living conditions comparable to a slave, but provided his term of service is not indefinite, his actual condition is in no way comparable. Indentured servants enter the state voluntarily, with consideration, and for a limited time.

    The case of working for market wages where one may quit at any time isn’t even close. We have a word for people whose wages are unusually low. It is called poverty. That is not the fault of the employer provided the employment is above board and in a competitive market – it is inevitably a consequence of low or no marketable skills.

    Comment by Mark D. — January 31, 2008 @ 6:42 pm

  152. Geoff,

    I am arguing that your slavery example is a total red herring and avoids taking on the actual issue at hand. The central hang-up with ajax’s comments seems to revolve around the minimum wage, so why not discuss that rather than this bogus parallel with freely chosen slavery. As you said in #116:

    The conversation was about the type of exploitation that would likely occur if there were no regulations whatsoever on the markets. (emphasis in original)

    Are you really trying to tell me if we did away with the minimum wage your scenario represents the exploitations which would likely occur?

    Now, I don’t agree with everything ajax said but it seemed to me he was getting beaten with this charge of being heartlessly in favor of exploitation when I don’t think that was his position at all. So I decided to jump in and help fend off a few of the arguments I thought were off base.

    To be more clear about my own position, I agree with Clark that force is required to keep things free, so there is no such thing as a totally unrestrained and unregulated free market. I agree with Blake that the middle class has largely disappeared by becoming too wealthy to be considered middle-class. (Also I agree with his main premise in the post that we should crack down on the hiring of illegal workers.) I agree with you that deporting everyone is not a viable option. I agree with Mark that this is not really being proposed by anyone. Finally, I fear that if CC sticks around we will have to do what BCC did awhile back and start deleting comments that start with @

    Comment by Jacob J — January 31, 2008 @ 7:00 pm

  153. Jacob,

    You seem to be missing the point of the argument here. It was never only about minimum wage. The argument was over the idea that any transaction freely entered into is accurately called “just”. ( ajax claimed “a wage voluntarily agreed upon and entered into is just, and not exploitation.” #125) It is an absurd argument to make and I was just pointing that out in #126.

    So if ajax wants to specifically argue that the US would be better off with no minimum wage he is free to make such arguments. But so far he has gone way past that into totally untenable territory. You came charging in defending much safer ideas than the sweeping assertions he was spouting.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 31, 2008 @ 7:21 pm

  154. Okay, I freely admit that I am thick headed, so please explain to me how a person that is free to look for and accept work anywhere he can, and chooses to work for an employer at a wage that he (the worker) deems acceptable, is somehow wrong?

    The slave thing is not ever close to the above, because the salve is not free to look for employment elsewhere and bargain for his wage. In other words, it is more like working for a monopoly where there is no competition and wages are held artificially low. In this case, no payment at all.

    This is how a minimum wage works in this little town. The only people we paid the minimum wage to were high school students. And most of the time, they were over paid at that. We hired some people that if I could have, I would have paid them more than I did, because they were worth more. But, you can only get so much for a hamburger in this little town, period. When the minimum wage goes to over seven dollars an hour, then one of at least two things will happen here. Most people that work here will either bring their lunch with them causing less people eating in the restaurants, that could cause some restaurants to go out of business, which would cause higher unemployment. Or the following might happen.

    The people that work here, will ask for higher wages so they can afford to continue eating what used to be a five dollar meal, but is now seven dollars. I think that is called inflation. The people that suffer the most during inflation are the poor people, the same ones you are trying to help with mandatory minimum wages.

    Perhaps my example of $100.00 dollar an hour minimum wage is so stupid that it does not even deserve a response, but I really would like to see why it does not work. I am throwing this out to anyone or everyone. Thanks for you patience. :)

    Comment by CEF — February 1, 2008 @ 9:54 am

  155. Mark D. Perhaps I’m missing some point about slavery, but what you’re missing is that slavery can be freely entered by agreement even if it cannot be freely exited by agreement. You’ve missed the dialectic of the discussion. If you think that someone barely making ends meet feeding their small children can quit at any time, then I suggest that you don’t grasp the reality of poverty.

    Comment by Blake — February 1, 2008 @ 11:14 am

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