Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Chuck Semiinformed vs. Carl Concerned By Chuck McGlawn 11/30/2011
A recent poll taken by New York Times/CBS News poll, revealed that an overwhelming 74 percent of the American people, one of whom is Carl Concerned believe that illegal immigrants weakened the US economy, while there was only 17 percent who said they strengthened it. One must ask; why is there this lopsided result? Especially when over 95% of the people that should and would know, the economist who literally study this subject say, report that illegal immigration strengthens the economy. And they could be an even greater benefit to our economy, if while they are looking for work, they didn’t have to constantly “look over their shoulders”.
How did we get to these contradictory results? A brief history is in order.
My history will glimpse the past through to lens of the free market system. This teaches that whenever government involves itself in any enterprise, distortions will be the norm. It is as true today, just as it was in years between 1850 and 1880 when the US Government was subsidizing the construction of railroads in the west. Now if the demand for the railroad is spawned by a free market signal, the ability to pay the “going wage” would have been there. However, the US subsidization of railroad expansion and the huge profits to be made at the government trough created a bubble in the demand for labor, 55,000 migrant workers were hurriedlybrought into the former Mexican territories to fill that demand.
Immigration really picked up in 1910 with the Mexican Revolution; over 50,000 Mexican workers immigrated to the United States every year looking for jobs, and our leaders welcomed them as long as there was a need for them-they proved particularly useful during World War I.
It seemed whenever the United States found a reason to close the door on Mexican immigration, a historic event would force them to reopen that door. Such was the case when the United States entered World War II. Domestic labor was either in uniform or siphoned from all areas of US industry and poured into the support of the war efforts. The Bracero Treaty (1942 and 1964) reopened the borders for legal immigration of Mexican laborers to work temporarily on contract to US growers and ranchers. The Mexican work force was critical in developing the economy and prosperity of the United States. Impoverished Mexicans traveled north to work as braceros. It was mainly by the Mexican hands that America became the most lush agricultural center in the world.
The overall effect may be positive, but its costs and benefits are distributed unevenly. David Card, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley notes that savings to meatpacking plants in Nebraska, agribusinesses in California’s Central Valley translate into lower prices at the store, but consumers never make that immigrant/lower prices connection?
Native low-skilled workers suffer most from the competition of foreign labor. According to a study by George Borjas, a Harvard economist, immigration has reduced the wages of American high-school dropouts by 9 percent between 1980 and 2000. Among high-skilled, better-educated employees, however, opposition was strongest in states with both high numbers of immigrants and relatively generous social services. That opposition appeared to soften when that fiscal burden decreased, as occurred with welfare reform in the 1990s, which curbed immigrants’ access to certain benefits.
Distorting the effect of immigration on the US Economy is no difficult task. All it requires is an uninformed populace, (no shortage there.) and a problem. The uninformed have a tendency to blame their current problems on the current “Devil” There are many “Devils” simply because there are many problems. If the problem is inflation the “Devil” is the Federal Reserve System. If problem is the outsourcing of jobs then the “Devil” is greed. However, if your problem is the current recession, low wages and high unemployment your “Devil” is probably Illegal Immigration. The results: up pops a Cottage Industry of forwarding e-mails, and You-Tube videos about some isolated stories about the horrors of immigration. Some of the stories you get are the truth, some are half-truths and some are outright fabrications. Many if not most are the effects observed in an isolated place by a single individual that may have an agenda and he may see things and report his observations in a way that supports that agenda.
This leads to such e-mails as Joe Legal vs. Jose Illegal, which is a complete distortion, at a frightening level of competence.
The premise of Joe Legal vs. Jose Illegal is incorrect. According to Mark Kirkorian, the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (See below)“Most illegal immigrants work ON THE BOOKS (Emphasis added) They have given a fake or a stolen Social Security number…” This means they are paying the same Income Taxes that Joe Legal pays, with no hope of getting a refund check if they overpay. This also means that they are paying the same Social Security Taxes as Joe Legal. [Other illegals also work ON THE BOOKS when they apply for and get ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) This group volunteers to pay Income and Social Security taxes.
[The Center for Immigration Studies is an organization that not only vigorously opposes illegal immigration they oppose the high level of legal immigration. On their web site they admit that, “The data collected by the Center during the past quarter-century has led many of our researchers to conclude that current, high levels of immigration are making it harder to achieve such important national objectives as better public schools, a cleaner environment, homeland security, and a living wage for every native-born and immigrant worker.”]
Then I read, Why Americans (Wrongly) Think Illegal Immigrants Hurt The Economy ByArian Campo-Flores (Not an economist) I understood almost all of what he said, including, “…the consensus among most economists is that immigration, both legal and illegal, provides a small net boost to the economy.
Before I go on, let me say that I believe Carl is concerned. I further believe that Carl believes that illegal immigration is a drain on our economy. But alas Carl has had too much propaganda and not enough cause and effect. I believe Carl has had too many undocumented anti-illegal immigration e-mails and not enough objective studies.
Carl Concerned accused me of only giving the positive side of the illegal immigration story, and if I was to be objective I would have to give both sides. Please note, gentle reader who is giving both sides and who is being subjective? When most economist say immigration, both legal and illegal is a NET GAIN to the US economy, that takes in both sides. However when Carl says California alone spends $20 Billion educating the kids of illegals, he does not cover the other side. He is not told that many of the children of illegals were born in the US, making them Citizens. He does not say that embedded in the rent that illegals pay for their apartment or house is money the landlord collects and pays to the State for property taxes, and that half of the property tax goes to support government schools.
The only documented numbers he gave were: the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) wrote in its Feb. 2011 article said, "Illegal immigration costs U.S. taxpayers about $113 billion a year at the federal, state and local level… The annual outlay that illegal aliens cost U.S. taxpayers is an average amount per native-headed household of $1,117... Education for the children of illegal aliens constitutes the single largest cost to taxpayers, at an annual price tag of nearly $52 billion...
When I asked if I showed the flaw in those statistics would he favor a more open border policy? He declined, just like he declined when he challenged me to name even one modern nation that had an open border policy. When I challenged him to agree with more open borders if I could name more than three, he declined.
Let me say it again, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) wrote in its Feb. 2011 article said, "Illegal immigration costs U.S. taxpayers about $113 billion a year at the federal, state and local level… The annual outlay that illegal aliens cost U.S. taxpayers is an average amount per native-headed household of $1,117... Education for the children of illegal aliens constitutes the single largest cost to taxpayers, at an annual price tag of nearly $52 billion... Let me leave it open ended. Does any of the readers see even one of at least four flaw in that statement. And Carl, If I can show four flaws will you be in favor of more open borders????????