Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo
Extremeskins

We Don't Need 'Guest Workers' (Washington Post Editorial)


Fergasun

Recommended Posts

Great article on the Guest Worker program so many of our Senators want. It uses facts instead of the emotion both sides like to use. I'll echo his question: Why do staunch opponents of poverty and inequality (liberals), support a program that worsens poverty and inequality?

Why we Don't need 'Guest Workers' (Robert Samuelson)

Economist Philip Martin of the University of California likes to tell a story about the state's tomato industry. In the early 1960s, growers relied on seasonal Mexican laborers, brought in under the government's "bracero" program. The Mexicans picked the tomatoes that were then processed into ketchup and other products. In 1964 Congress killed the program despite growers' warnings that its abolition would doom their industry. What happened? Well, plant scientists developed oblong tomatoes that could be harvested by machine. Since then, California's tomato output has risen fivefold.

...

Guest workers would mainly legalize today's vast inflows of illegal immigrants, with the same consequence: We'd be importing poverty. This isn't because these immigrants aren't hardworking; many are. Nor is it because they don't assimilate; many do. But they generally don't go home, assimilation is slow and the ranks of the poor are constantly replenished. Since 1980 the number of Hispanics with incomes below the government's poverty line (about $19,300 in 2004 for a family of four) has risen 162 percent. Over the same period, the number of non-Hispanic whites in poverty rose 3 percent and the number of blacks, 9.5 percent. What we have now -- and would with guest workers -- is a conscious policy of creating poverty in the United States while relieving it in Mexico. By and large, this is a bad bargain for the United States. It stresses local schools, hospitals and housing; it feeds social tensions (witness the Minutemen). To be sure, some Americans get cheap housecleaning or landscaping services. But if more mowed their own lawns or did their own laundry, it wouldn't be a tragedy.

The most lunatic notion is that admitting more poor Latino workers would ease the labor market strains of retiring baby boomers. The two aren't close substitutes for each other. Among immigrant Mexican and Central American workers in 2004, only 7 percent had a college degree and nearly 60 percent lacked a high school diploma, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Among native-born U.S. workers, 32 percent had a college degree and only 6 percent did not have a high school diploma. Far from softening the social problems of an aging society, more poor immigrants might aggravate them by pitting older retirees against younger Hispanics for limited government benefits.

It's a myth that the U.S. economy "needs" more poor immigrants. The illegal immigrants already here represent only about 4.9 percent of the labor force, the Pew Hispanic Center reports. In no major occupation are they a majority. They're 36 percent of insulation workers, 28 percent of drywall installers and 20 percent of cooks. They're drawn here by wage differences, not labor "shortages." In 2004, the median hourly wage in Mexico was $1.86, compared with $9 for Mexicans working in the United States, said Rakesh Kochhar of Pew. With high labor turnover in the jobs they take, most new illegal immigrants can get work by accepting wages slightly below prevailing levels.

...

The number of native high school dropouts with jobs declined by 1.3 million from 2000 to 2005, estimates Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors less immigration. Some lost jobs to immigrants. Unemployment remains high for some groups (9.3 percent for African Americans, 12.7 percent for white teenagers).

Business organizations understandably support guest worker programs. They like cheap labor and ignore the social consequences. What's more perplexing is why liberals, staunch opponents of poverty and inequality, support a program that worsens poverty and inequality. Poor immigrant workers hurt the wages of unskilled Americans. The only question is how much. Studies suggest a range "from negligible to an earnings reduction of almost 10 percent," according to the CBO.

It's said that having guest workers is better than having poor illegal immigrants. With legal status, they'd have rights and protections. They'd have more peace of mind and face less exploitation by employers. This would be convincing if its premise were incontestable: that we can't control our southern border. But that's unproved. We've never tried a policy of real barriers and strict enforcement against companies that hire illegal immigrants. Until that's shown to be ineffective, we shouldn't adopt guest worker programs that don't solve serious social problems -- but add to them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

eh, your article is just as bad. for example: "To be sure, some Americans get cheap housecleaning or landscaping services. But if more mowed their own lawns or did their own laundry, it wouldn't be a tragedy."

This isn't really an argument. I think it misunderstands some key ideas of economics like comparative advantage, ideas that are at the cornerstone of the globalization idea. If your argumentative strategy is to ignore the points presented by the other side than you'll win everytime.

Also consider: "In 1964 Congress killed the program despite growers' warnings that its abolition would doom their industry. What happened? Well, plant scientists developed oblong tomatoes that could be harvested by machine. Since then, California's tomato output has risen fivefold."

This ignores several issues. For example, is there any reason to believe that the tomato output was not increased do to increased demand? Was the development of oblong tomoatoes likely to have occured regardless? I'm not going to say this guy is making stuff up, but it's not a legitimate argument. It's a watered down opinion piece.

I think there are important questions to ask about illegal immigration esspecially as it relates to entitlements. On one hand they can be entitlement consumers placing a burden on the system. At the other end, they are in general members of the labor force, and illegal immigration helps keep america younger demographically, a large economic boon. The question is the balance achieved. Nothing in this article gets to the subtleties of those questions. so we might as well just fear monger in the other threads.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is dumbest editorial I've read in a while. Case and point using this as an argument.

Some lost jobs to immigrants. Unemployment remains high for some groups (9.3 percent for African Americans, 12.7 percent for white teenagers).

Did he really just say white teenagers are going to lose jobs to immigrants?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great article on the Guest Worker program so many of our Senators want. It uses facts instead of the emotion both sides like to use. I'll echo his question: Why do staunch opponents of poverty and inequality (liberals), support a program that worsens poverty and inequality?

Come on, this is so simple it's almost funny....

The people you're talking about aren't opponents of poverty and inequality. If they were, they'd be major proponents of Capitalism, instead of the Socialist Welfare State that they seem to prefer.

They see poverty, inequality and these immigrant/minority populations as people who "need their help". Of course that help is acquired by stealing monies from you, me, and every other actual working American through the enormously bloated tax and federal spending systems. The more people these people can classify as "poor", "underprivledged", "minority", "handicapped", etc... the more money they can steal from the rest of us and the closer we can get to the Socialist utopia they have wet dreams about every night as they sleep.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No. He said white teenagers ARE losing jobs to immigrants.

Or the flip side... white teenagers are too busy playing XBox to work.

If you can afford an x-box it's silly for you to work as a teenager. You should be studying in school and working at internships. An x-box doesn't belong in a discussion about jobs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i do know someone--i wouldn't call him white, but he was native born--that didn't get a job at the grocery store i used to work at. who, might you ask, were these positions going to? pakistanians.

It's "Pakistanis," not "Pakistanians." And why is this relevant? The vast majority of immigrants from South Asia are legal. Your acquaintance didn't get a job because someone else, who was probably here legally, got the job. What's the matter with that?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From Bush's press conference of last week:

Q Mr. President, on immigration, yesterday you answered a question from a woman and said, the tough question here is what happens to somebody who has been here since 1987. Will you accept a bill that allows those who have been here a long time to remain in the country permanently --

THE PRESIDENT: I also said that -- let me make sure, Steve, that you -- first of all, I'm impressed that you're actually paying attention to it. The people I saw in the press pool weren't. They were, like, Elisabeth was half-asleep -- (laughter) -- yes, you were. (Laughter.)

Q No, I wasn't.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Well, the person next to you was. (Laughter.) They were dozing off. I could see them watching their watches, kind of wondering how long he's going to blow on for. Let's get him out of here so we can go get lunch, is what they were thinking. (Laughter.) So at least you paid attention. Thanks.

I also went on to say that people who have been here need to get in line, like everybody else who is in line legally. My point is that if we were -- first of all, whatever is passed should not say "amnesty." In my judgment, amnesty would be the wrong course of action. We have a way toward legality, in terms of citizenship. In other words, there's a difference between someone who is here legally working and someone who is a citizen. And that's part of the -- I maybe didn't make that distinction perfectly clear.

This is going to be a -- this could be a fractious debate, and I hope it's not. Immigration is a very difficult issue for a lot of members, as you know. It's an emotional issue. And it's one that, if not conducted properly, will send signals that I don't think will befit the nation's history and traditions.

My view is, is that border security starts with a good, solid strategy along the border, itself -- in other words, Border Patrol agents, technology, the capacity to pass information quickly so that Border Patrol agents will be more likely to intercept somebody coming across the border illegally. There needs to be enforcement mechanisms that don't discourage the Border Patrol agents. They work hard, they get somebody coming in from country X; the person says, check back in with us in 30 days -- they don't. In other words, they end up in society. That has created some despondency -- not despondency -- it's got to discourage people who are working hard to do their job down there and realize the fruits of their labor is being undermined by a policy that, on the one hand, releases people, kind of, into society, and on the other, doesn't have enough beds to hold people so that we can repatriate them back to their countries. Chertoff has announced the fact that we're getting rid of this catch-and-release program.

Thirdly, there has to be enforcement, employer enforcement of rules and regulations. The problem there, of course, is that people are showing up with forged documents. I mentioned this onion picker that I met yesterday -- onion grower -- who is worried about labor to pick his onions. But he's not -- I don't think he's in a position to be able to determine whether or not what looks like a valid Social Security card, or whatever they show, is valid or not -- which leads to the fact there's a whole industry that has sprung up around moving laborers to jobs that Americans won't do.

It's kind of -- when you make something illegal that people want, there's a way around it, around the rules and regulations. And so you've got people, coyotes stuffing people in the back of 18-wheelers, or smuggling them across 105-degree desert heat. You've got forgers and tunnel-diggers. You've got a whole industry aimed at using people as a commodity. And it's wrong and it needs to be -- we need to do something about it. And the best way to do something about it is to say that if you're -- if an American won't do a job and you can find somebody who will do the job, they ought to be allowed to do it legally, on a temporary basis.

One of the issues I did talk about -- the man asked me the question about, don't let people get ahead of the line. So I made that clear. But one of the issues is going to be to deal with somebody whose family has been here for a while, raised a family. And that will be an interesting -- interesting debate. My answer is, that person shouldn't get automatic citizenship.

First of all, there's no such thing as an argument on immigration that isn't based on emotions from the president hiimself.

Second, the president also said himself that immigrants do jobs that Americans won't do. I find it pretty hard to believe that anyone would argue this anyway.

Third, what the president is saying, is that we need to siffen the borders and citizenship laws. An immigrant shouldn't be able to gain auto-matic citizenship just because they work here, but they should be able to work here legally if we need them.

The president seems to disagree that America doesn't need "Guest Workers." The whole idea seems rediculous to me since our economy was created on the back-bone of cheap labor. (Notice how I referred to Bush as the President so my whole point isn't negated because no one respects what Bush has to say.... :D )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's "Pakistanis," not "Pakistanians." And why is this relevant? The vast majority of immigrants from South Asia are legal. Your acquaintance didn't get a job because someone else, who was probably here legally, got the job. What's the matter with that?

that refutes the whole "the jobs they are taking are just jobs americans won't."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The unemployment rate is near what would be considered "full employment" for the US. Yet we still have MILLIONS of illegals WORKING in the country. That tells me that there is a demand for that labor. That demand is being met and fueling american business.

What exactly is the motivation to damage our economy by cutting a major source of labor to American business? IMO the crucial problem is security - knowing who is coming in and out. That is why the guest worker program is such a great idea. Keep the labor supply strong - but document the people. Brilliant! (that's right I'm siding with Bush).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

that refutes the whole "the jobs they are taking are just jobs americans won't."

When it comes to jobs, a legal immigrant has the same status as a citizen. In fact, I don't even know if the Pakistanis you're referring to were citizens or immigrants. At any rate, I'm pretty sure it's not relevant to the illegal-immigrant issue, unless you are aware that they were here illegally.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The unemployment rate is near what would be considered "full employment" for the US. Yet we still have MILLIONS of illegals WORKING in the country. That tells me that there is a demand for that labor. That demand is being met and fueling american business.

This is where we differ. What that "full employment" with millions of illegals working here tells me that we have a great number of positions that should be opening up for the lazy SOB's out there on welfare, unemployment, etc.... Once we get the illegals out of the country, the next step (in my mind) is to tell these people sucking on the tit of social welfare.... "There are your jobs. Take them or get cut off from ALL government aid."

Nice. Simple. Easy. Common Sense. Therefore it would never even be thought of by anyone with a government job.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What that "full employment" with millions of illegals working here tells me that we have a great number of positions that should be opening up for the lazy SOB's out there on welfare, unemployment, etc....

Out of curiosity, have you studied macroeconomics at all? This view seems radically different from what most economists--both conservative and liberal--agree on when it comes to talking about a "healthy" degree of employment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is where we differ. What that "full employment" with millions of illegals working here tells me that we have a great number of positions that should be opening up for the lazy SOB's out there on welfare, unemployment, etc.... Once we get the illegals out of the country, the next step (in my mind) is to tell these people sucking on the tit of social welfare.... "There are your jobs. Take them or get cut off from ALL government aid."

Nice. Simple. Easy. Common Sense. Therefore it would never even be thought of by anyone with a government job.

Yaaargg lets go whittle us some hispaniard beatin sticks. We'll getsum out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What exactly is the motivation to damage our economy by cutting a major source of labor to American business?

xenophobia and economic ignorance

The notion that immigration ( be it legal or illegal) hurts the economy is frankly insane. The economy is not a zero sum game

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Out of curiosity, have you studied macroeconomics at all? This view seems radically different from what most economists--both conservative and liberal--agree on when it comes to talking about a "healthy" degree of employment.

No I have not studdied macroeconomics. Nor do I have the slightest inclination to. So far as I am concerned, I couldn't care any less what the level of unemployment is. My concern is the number of people STEALING MONEY FROM MY PAYCHECK!!!!!!! I couldn't care any less whether they're working on not, so long as the government isn't giving them MY MONEY!!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No I have not studdied macroeconomics. Nor do I have the slightest inclination to. So far as I am concerned, I couldn't care any less what the level of unemployment is. My concern is the number of people STEALING MONEY FROM MY PAYCHECK!!!!!!! I couldn't care any less whether they're working on not, so long as the government isn't giving them MY MONEY!!!!

Then your beef should be with the welfare state ( and those who support it), not the immigrant.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yaaargg lets go whittle us some hispaniard beatin sticks. We'll getsum out.

It's not a "hispanic" thing in my mind. It's an illegal immigrant thing. I don't care where they're from, but if they're not here legally I want them GONE, and not given another opportunity to come back.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Then your beef should be with the welfare state ( and those who support it), not the immigrant.

Oh, it is. However, any man, woman or child GUTLESS enough to take money from the government is JUST AS BAD as the government that has STOLEN my money and given it to them.

I would rather starve to death on a street corner than take ANY federal, state or local welfare monies. In fact I've twice been eligible to get federal unemployment benefits and declined to enroll in the program for just that reason.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...