Friday, January 27, 2017

The "What Would We Do Without Illegal Mexicans" Fallacy

The topic of immigration reform and enforcement is one that generates a lot of noise and not a lot of rational thought. What about the poor children, the families "ripped apart" (because of the illegal actions taken by the adults)?! Christians in America have a Gospel obligation to support illegal immigrants coming here and staying here (no we don't)!

Perhaps the most obscene lie we are told is that we absolutely need these Mexican and other illegal immigrants because they "do the jobs Americans won't do". If we didn't have illegals, who would pick our veggies and cut up steers in meatpacking plants and care for our landscaping and clean our offices? This is a great tactic, even if it is dishonest, because you get to suggest a greater work ethic for illegals and imply that current American citizens are too lazy to do certain jobs.

It is pretty clear that the U.S. does not suffer from a lack of low-skilled employable people to fill low-wage and less desirable jobs. While it is true that we are woefully unprepared to replace a lot of skilled trades jobs in the future thanks to the "everyone has to go to college and get a four year degree" nonsense, it is absolutely not true that there simply are not enough people to do the jobs that the illegal aliens do.

For example, under the gross incompetence and criminal malpractice of the Obama administration, we have seen a plummeting of the workforce participation rate. Granted some of this is due to a ballooning population of older Americans who are in retirement but by any measure there are just a lot of able-bodied Americans who are not in the workforce.

I wish this were because more mothers were staying home to raise their own children rather than subcontracting the often thankless task of parenting to others. It is not. There were tons of reports about a startling and dangerous trend that made the news in 2016. The New York Times published a story in October titled Millions of Men Are Missing From the Job Market.
Economists have long struggled to explain why a growing proportion of men in the prime of their lives are not employed or looking for work. A new study has found that nearly half of these men are on painkillers and many are disabled.

The working paper by Alan Krueger, a Princeton economist, casts light on this population, which grew during the recession that started in 2007. As of last month, 11.4 percent of men between the ages of 25 and 54 — or about seven million people — were not in the labor force, which means that they were not employed and were not seeking a job. This percentage has been rising for decades (it was less than 4 percent in the 1950s), but the trend accelerated in the last 20 years.
Think on that for a second. We have more than one out of every ten men of prime working age, between 25-54 which mostly eliminates college students and early retirees, some seven million men who are not doing anything and not trying to do anything. This is more significant than the unemployment rate which essentially covers people out of work but looking. These men are not even looking for work. That is an average of 140,000 per state. Many of these are probably on disability, and many of those legitimately so, but according to this report a lot are also hooked on painkillers.

So we have tens of millions of Americans of working age who are not working. I would be willing to bet that even when you allow for people who are legitimately disabled and those who work outside of the normal employment world and don't show up in the numbers, there are still millions of Americans out of work.

On the other hand, we have an explosion in the welfare state. It is without question that the number of Americans and the percentage of the population that are at least partially dependent on the government for some or all of their livelihood is growing. I would say it is also obvious that this is intentional but that is a different topic for a different day. According to a 2014 story from in 2014 over 100,000,000 Americans were receiving some form of welfare:
What did taxpayers give to the 109,631,000 — the 35.4 percent of the nation — getting welfare benefits at the end of 2012? 
82,679,000 of the welfare-takers lived in households where people were on Medicaid, said the Census Bureau. 51,471,000 were in households on food stamps. 22,526,000 were in the Women, Infants and Children program. 20,355,000 were in household on Supplemental Security Income. 13,267,000 lived in public housing or got housing subsidies. 5,442,000 got Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. 4,517,000 received other forms of federal cash assistance.
We have that many people who are on assistance of some sort but we are told that we need illegals because they do the jobs that "Americans won't do"? It makes sense that if people were not being provided with an incentive to not work they would be more willing to do jobs that illegals do because they wouldn't have much choice otherwise. People make choices all the time. If I am given the choice between a steak and ham sandwich, I am usually going to take the steak. If someone else is offered a choice between staying home to play video games while receiving government benefits or losing those benefits and having to earn a paycheck working in tough conditions in a meat packing plant, which do you think they will choose? I wouldn't choose that, for me work is part of my identity and I was raised to see work as something to be sought out, not avoided, but that is yet another example of what happens when we try to manage a nation using one set of principles (the European Protestant work ethic for example) when that nation has a large population that doesn't believe in such guiding principles.

So I don't care to hear that we need Mexicans to do work that American won't do. Americans will do those jobs if you take away the incentive for them to not do those jobs and in doing so they gain both valuable work experience as well as a sense of pride (hopefully). I know plenty of Americans who will do whatever they need to do to provide for their families. If I had no other choice I would cut up hogs or pick vegetables or clean office buildings if that is what I had to do to provide for my family, a sacred obligation and privilege I have as a father and husband. I would imagine that many other Americans who share a similar background would do the same.

We don't "need" illegal aliens to do the jobs Americans "won't do". We need to eliminate the means by which so many American seem to think that they can sit on the sidelines while the rest of us work to support them and while people violate our laws to work in their place. If the lower class constituency of the Democrats suddenly find themselves competing with illegals for jobs that they need to pay for rent, food and other necessities, I guarantee you the immigration conversation in this country would change dramatically.

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