A little fact-facing about labor pools

October 25, 2007 § 13 Comments

It isn’t altruism or Christian charity or the desire to treat all men equally that fuels big business’ backing of open immigration policies. Businessmen admit this in whispers among themselves all the time, and every now and then one of them lets it slip in public. Once in a great while one even has the — I don’t know if the word is ‘audacity’ or ‘foolishness’ – to propose a policy which makes this impossible to ignore.

I’ll add that it isn’t just the price-point of wages which incents business to support as much open immigration of unskilled labor as possible. It isn’t as though there isn’t enough unskilled labor right here, in the form of our own countrymen. It is just that in addition to being relatively more expensive than immigrant labor in terms of direct wages, these countrymen of ours are also – though one has to be delicate in how one says this, ironically in order to avoid a charge of racism for having the audacity to consider the possibility that our own countrymen are employable even though they are not white – objectively more difficult to employ, leading to greater expense and uncertainty, two things which American capitalism is designed to ruthlessly minimize.

I’ll emphasize, though, that this latter labor pool consists of those who are already our neighbors and countrymen, to whom as an objective matter we have a greater obligation than we do to men from other lands. “Jobs that Americans won’t do” is at least in part code for “jobs it is easier and less expensive to hire unskilled immigrants to do than it is to hire inner city Blacks to do”. (Oddly, the Time article misses the elephant in the room entirely).

Business isn’t the only faction in favor of open immigration, of course, though without business as bedfellow it seems unlikely that the push for ever more open immigration would be politically practical. And I’m sure plenty of businessmen tell themselves bedtime stories about family values and the Rio Grande. But don’t kid yourself about what is fueling the boilers in the engine room, and don’t kid yourself that you have no indigent countrymen who are harmed by the wedge that more pliable and easily employable immigrant labor drives between these countrymen of yours and escape from conditions which make Dickens look like a peaceful oasis.

(Cross-posted at What’s Wrong With The World)

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§ 13 Responses to A little fact-facing about labor pools

  • Rodak says:

    Nobody’s going to touch this one. Unless, of course, Bill Cosby finds your blog…

  • Anonymous says:

    Motivations are irrelevant, except to God. I’d rather have a good policy set forth by those without altruistic impluses than vice-versa.It’s a prudential judgment whether the suffering of our countrymen is to the extent that it allows us to ignore greater suffering elsewhere.

  • JohnMcG says:

    You may be right that open immigration is fueled by business interests rather than concern for the poor in Latin America, but it is also the case that a lot of opposition to same sex marriage is fueled by bigotry rather than concern for the institution of marriageand opposition to abortion is fueled by sexism (likely less so now than before) rather than respect for unborn life.It’s also true that a good part of the fuel for opposition to open borders is anti-Hispanic bigotry.That doesn’t make any of those causes wrong, so I would challenge the relevance of pointing out the unsavory bedfellows of the cause. It smacks of something Andrew Sullivan would do (See, this is what motivates these Christianists, which is why it’s so important that they be stopped.)

  • zippy says:

    It is a larger issue than just motivations though. Actors who would make policy in favor of open borders are, objectively, throwing American blacks to the dogs.

  • zippy says:

    John: you may (though I don’t want to presume) appreciate a comment I made in the thread at W4, to bring balance to my last comment:<>I see this as primary (perhaps not unsurprisingly) because I see moral underpinnings as primary in every question of public policy. As a country we are like the man who cheats on his wife while volunteering at the soup kitchen. From my perspective (ever in the mode of making friends of everyone) a lot of the immigration opposition on the Right appears morally akin to avoiding the soup kitchen in order to take on a second mistress.<>

  • Rodak says:

    “Actors who would make policy in favor of open borders are, objectively, throwing American blacks to the dogs.”One could just as easily say that the policy would give American blacks greater incentive to stay in school, join the Marines, go to college, join the middle class.

  • JohnMcG says:

    I join the W4 commenters in not quite following the second mistress analogy.And from a Christian perspective, I’m not so certain that “countrymen” is a valid basis for a preferential claim. If I’m running a farm in Southern Califronia, why should I favor the person from Boston rathern than Mexico?But perhaps that’s a distinction between public policy and private decision making. The relationship between US policy and US citizens is analogous to parent and child. The parent must act in a way in the interests of his family first. In allocating our family’s budget, I must prioritize feeding my own children over the starving kids overseas.That this decision may sentence kids overseas to hunger is irrelevant; our budget must be examined with respect to its imact on my children first.

  • JohnMcG says:

    Read the explanation of what you’re saying — in essence we have screwed up our domestic house, and are now using our screwed up domestic house as an excuse not to help others.Kind of like killing your parents, then begging for the court’s mercy because you’re an orphan. In this case, we’ve crippled our parents, and then we say that we can’t possibly go to jail for it because we have disabled parents who depend on us.

  • Rodak says:

    “…our budget must be examined with respect to its imact on my children first.”John–I pretty much agree with what you’ve said. But with reference to the above, I’m not sure what you mean by “impact.” If your children are on the margin of subsistence, and you without any surplus wealth, this is certainly the case.If, however, as is the case with most Americans, your kids are getting all that they need and then quite a lot more, I think that the above is not true.I think that my kids don’t deserve to have everything they want, while other kids go hungry. And when I try to rationalize why they do, it always boils down to nothing more than they are deserving *because they are MY kids* and for no better reason.

  • zippy says:

    <>But perhaps that’s a distinction between public policy and private decision making. The relationship between US policy and US citizens is analogous to parent and child. The parent must act in a way in the interests of his family first. In allocating our family’s budget, I must prioritize feeding my own children over the starving kids overseas.<> […] <>Read the explanation of what you’re saying — in essence we have screwed up our domestic house, and are now using our screwed up domestic house as an excuse not to help others.<>Yes, very good. Basically the argument – and it is a good argument, the argument that makes me anti-open-immigration – is that the public authority’s first moral priority is to our own countrymen, and that indiscriminate large-scale immigration (here I do not distinguish between legal and illegal) is harmful to the common good. Implicit though is that we actually intend to, you know, make our own countrymen a priority and see to the common good inside our own house. If a man really ought to be spending less time at the soup kitchen across town and more of his energy on the particular duties which are his as a matter of Providence, it may be wrong for him to be spending all that time at the soup kitchen or, even more radically, to move the soup kitchen into his own house. But the anti-immigrationism with which I tend to share the policy view is remarkably silent on anything other than giving up on this whole soup kitchen business.The analogies are still strained, I’m afraid. But the elephant in the room that I think needs to be talked about candidly is what large scale third world immigration does to the prognosis for the ‘Hood. I’m not sure any of the stock arguments for or against come out looking very good in that light.

  • Aethelfrith says:

    This is reminiscent of how the Byzantine Emperors chose Varangians (Anglo-Saxons, Norsemen, Russians) as their personal guard because they couldn’t trust their own citizens to do the job. Note that the difference here is that they weren’t discriminating against the Empire’s underclass, but actual Romans themselves.

  • […] becomes so important to some kinds of liberals: once again the impulse is to just make other people and their problems go away, so the free and equal superman can live his life in […]

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