March 29, 2006

Immigration Issues.

This is a very nice article by Thomas Sowell on the real issues that are hidden behind the mainstream debate on immigration policy.

Most of the arguments for not enforcing our immigration laws are exercises in frivolous rhetoric and slippery sophistry, rather than serious arguments that will stand up under scrutiny.

How often have we heard that illegal immigrants “take jobs that Americans will not do”? What is missing in this argument is what is crucial in any economic argument: price.

Americans will not take many jobs at their current pay levels — and those pay levels will not rise so long as poverty-stricken immigrants are willing to take those jobs.

If Mexican journalists were flooding into the United States and taking jobs as reporters and editors at half the pay being earned by American reporters and editors, maybe people in the media would understand why the argument about “taking jobs that Americans don't want” is such nonsense.

Another variation on the same theme is that we “need” the millions of illegal aliens already in the United States. “Need” is another word that blithely ignores prices.

If jet planes were on sale for a thousand dollars each, I would probably “need” a couple of them — an extra one to fly when the first one needed repair or maintenance. But since these planes cost millions of dollars, I don't even “need” one.

There is no fixed amount of “need,” independently of prices, whether with planes or workers.

None of the rhetoric and sophistry that we hear about immigration deals with the plain and ugly reality: Politicians are afraid of losing the Hispanic vote and businesses want cheap labor.


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