Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Wrong Side of the Border

There is a lot of angst about illegal aliens, or guest workers if you will, overrunning our borders and doing all kinds of bad things to the country like steal jobs, and speaking a foreign language.

And we have all kinds of proposed fixes, enforcement of current laws, new laws, border fences, more border guards, and my favorite: a national ID card followed by roving gangs of INS agents checking every one's papers.

Aside from the cost of all these measures, it seems unwise to get rid of 10 million workers when the labor market is tightening with 4.7% unemployment. I guess I have taken one economics course too many.

Well all these proposals are interesting. They may even have some modest effect (god help us if this really works). However, we are working on the wrong side of the border. We are pretending laws can defeat economics. Our current success with drug prohibition should put paid to that notion.

What is needed is to change Mexico. In fact we need to change Mexico in the same way we need to change Iraq. Honest government and a system that respects property rights. How do we get that in a country we only influence and do not control? I don't know. Perhaps it might be wise to ask some folks with actual real recent experience in Mexico for ideas. You know, some of them newcomers. Why not enlist their help in solving the problem instead of turning them into enemies?

I wrote a piece about four years back covering another aspect of this question:

Let's Close The Borders

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Justin Cummings said...

It's good to someone articulating from the perspective of reality.

If walls are as effective as promised, how is it that suicide bombers find there way into Israel?

I've often noted that migrant workers come because of opportunity. That opportunity outweighs any degree of enforcement we could imagine. They already risk death and extoration, whats one more barbed wire fence or a handful of armed soldiers to them? More risk certainly, but is it enough to outweight the eventuality they would face if they didnt try?

The only way to "secure" the flow of immigrants is to:

a) remove the opportunity
b) re-evaluate the law(s) that makes them illegal.
c) relocate the opportunity to south of the border.

Option 'a' can not happen unless we are willing to forego the effected industries to the eventuality that is option 'c.' Slowly or abruptly. Milk it for all it's worth, or salvage and eject while still above water.

Option 'b' is politically painful. It would force those that be to examine and affirm the rational behind the immigration and labor laws and make meaningful adjustments. Most notably the labor protectionism that distorts the market and the social services that were long ago recognized as being on lifesupport by becoming unsustainable.

Option 'c' is probably the least politically painful, but it costs us capital, and overall aggregate supply/demand, further exasperating the trade deficit.

Anonymous said...

..overrunning our borders and doing all kinds of bad things to the country like steal jobs, and speaking a foreign language

Hello M. Simon,

You forgot the fact that they do not purchase automobile insurance, do not vaccinate their families, are not required to pay lunch dues for their children in public schools and expect emergency health care whenever and wherever, and by the way, do not pay any taxes on the work they do here WHATSOEVER! How could they honestly pay taxes, payroll, income or property or otherwise to the IRS without A) SSN or B) TAXPAYER ID, while at the same time be "illegal aliens"?

I mean, if they are going to shut down the economy on Monday, why don't they pay income taxes at the very least? What they are talking about is sales tax - which is what every tourist in the world is subjected to here in the U.S. when they are here.

The fact is that they don't steal jobs, nor do they accept employment that Americans won't do - they would do it for nothing except to be here (legally or illegally). Since "Americans" are *(presumably) here legally, then they have the right to the jobs at a federally mandated minimum wage, as opposed to what illegal aliens will do for $4.00 per hour sans FICA, State tax where applicable, etc, etc, etc (i.e. what the rest of us do).

Call me a racist - go ahead, I double dog dare you. I currently sponsor a person who is trying to get legal citizenship. This shit is not easy, you can bet your ass that it is not. But when I hear a fellow American stating this bullshit - I've got to call you on it.

Justin, your a,b,c options are just too incoherent to even address, I'm sorry man, but they are just stretching it beyond what becoming a citizen of the United States represents and what is essentially a rational argument. These are impractical options. The laws are in place - it is the problem of the U.S. congress. They have to adjust funds for border and interior security to be able to at least get a handle on the current situation... far as jobs that Americans won't do, well, I can name one job that an illegal alien won't do - Minuteman.

To be fair to your c) option however, I did hear something on the news tonight that Mexico is about to try to legalize some illicit drugs - cocaine, pot, etc. Who knows, maybe this will create the opportuinity that you are talking about - but I doubt it.

p.s. have a good day.

M. Simon said...


Unless they are working in the black economy they are paying income taxes.

What they are mostly not doing is collecting refunds.

If they rent dwelling space they are paying real estate taxes.


And sure there are costs.

There are even costs for our own citizens.


So if this "get rid of illegals" program tanks the economy in the midst of a shooting war it is a good idea?

God save us from our friends.

Our enemies couldn't do us near as much damage.

The unemployment rate is 4.7%. The economy needs more workers. And a significant number of fools want to strangle the economy (labor shortages) in order to get rid of working people from the country?

Un effn believable.

The only way to put an end to this stupidity is to get Kerry to support it.

Emotion has overtaken sense.

And you thought it was only a lefty disease.

Justin Cummings said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.