Immigrant versus Citizen Employment
In Friday's American Thinker, Thomas Lifson drew three valid conclusions from the recent study disclosing that the nation's total net employment gain so far during the 21st century has gone exclusively to immigrants, "while native-born Americans have suffered a decline in the numbers employed." Here’s one additional conclusion: we're complementing the American welfare state by recruiting workers from the world's failed nations – and, in the process, setting ourselves up to also become a failed nation.
Why does an America that each year spends over 6% of its entire gross domestic product on welfare transfer payments need to recruit replacement workers from failed nations – particularly when the replacement workers themselves merely increase America's overall welfare burden? Why does America need to import tens of millions of low-wage and unskilled workers when America has 47 million citizens on food stamps, 11 million citizens on social security disability, a real (and chronic) citizen unemployment rate approaching 15% (contra the official 6.5%), a citizen labor participation rate lower than it was 3.5 decades ago, and an accumulated welfare cost since Lyndon Johnson higher than America's entire national debt (now $17.5 trillion, with no end in sight)?
The answer – while perverse – is actually fairly simple: because this sort of spending depresses American wages. But why would America want to pursue an immigration and border-control policy that depresses American wages? The answer to that depends on to which of America's two national political parties the nation's ruling class belongs.
The Democratic Party wants to depress American wages because the party's welfare constituency is the voter margin by which it maintains its national political power. The Republican Party wants to depress American wages because the party's business constituency is the money margin by which it maintains its national political power. Depressed American wages mean more votes for Democratic politicians and more money for Republican politicians. Democratic politicians buy citizen votes at the margin with welfare dollars; Republican politicians buy citizen votes at the margin with business dollars.
Yes, those tens of millions of illegal aliens will, one way or another, eventually become tens of millions of more citizen voters for the Democratic Party. But both parties presently depend in different ways on the same thing: depressing the wages of America's unskilled citizen workers.
To be fair, Democratic politicians buying votes with government transfer payments constitute the most proximate part of this American political sin. But what else besides importing worker replacements can Republican politicians do after the government transfer payments have removed tens of millions of unskilled citizens from the American work force? And after all, paying immigrants lower wages for jobs American citizens don't want to do is a better short-term deal for business than paying American welfare recipients enough to make them want to do the jobs illegal aliens are now doing in their stead.
In a free market, the cost of labor is (like everything else) consistent with both the supply of labor and the demand for labor. But the labor market (like much else) in America is no longer free. Government transfer payments have, for entirely political reasons, removed from America's supply of unskilled citizen labor a value approaching something like $1 trillion a year. But there's always an American demand for unskilled labor (no matter how much America destroys its balance of payments and debases its currency by importing goods from wage slaves in totalitarian states like China). Ergo, America must import a supply of unskilled labor with a value considerably less than anything like $1 trillion a year (because America pays 20 or 30 million illegal aliens less than the wages for which America's citizen welfare recipients would otherwise be willing to work).
Absent force majeure, questions like the following will never require answering because, in reality, modern American politics includes no effective opposition party. Nevertheless, ask yourself what would happen if there were tomorrow no longer any government transfer payments for American citizens capable of working but unwilling to do so. After much initial smoke in the streets, this would happen: what were previously America's citizen welfare recipients would start competing with illegal aliens to mow American lawns, repair American roofs, wash American dishes, clean American hotels, sling American hash, haul American garbage, pluck American chickens, pick American vegetables, etc. And immediately afterward, they would become America's most vocal anti-immigration lobby, once they realized that tens of millions of illegal aliens (with no end anywhere in sight) were depressing their wages.
Or ask yourself the same question in a different way. What would happen if, tomorrow, illegal aliens were no longer able to work in America (i.e., if America's ruling class actually enforced its present immigration laws)? After, once again, much initial smoke in American streets, the illegal aliens would find their way back to the failed nations whence they came (even if America's citizens had to buy their plane tickets home for them), and wages for all the jobs which American citizens don't want to do would increase until American citizens did want to do them and would do them (particularly if there were no longer any government transfer payments allowing them to avoid doing anything at all but looking for trouble and voting for the Democratic Party).
Last but not least, just one more question. Which of the following will, in the fullness of time, create the most actual fire in America's streets: (1) an end to government transfer payments in America, (2) an end to illegal aliens working in America, or (3) a bankrupt America with a debased currency and a corrupted Constitution? Keep in mind that number 3 is no longer able to sufficiently rob a broken middle class or print enough money to allow tens of millions of American citizens to continue not doing the American work for which America has imported tens of millions of illegal aliens, all while adding to America's unsustainable welfare burden?
The smell of smoke is already in America's streets. And the only adult American question is how best to limit the ultimate fire. America's ruling class knows this but by and large doesn't care. That's the governing equivalent of psychopathy. In the long run, $10 fast food burgers are a much cheaper deal for America than importing tens of millions of illegal aliens to do the jobs government transfer payments pay American citizens not to do. There's no such thing as a free lunch, but paying more for a burger when you want one is better than burning the restaurant down and going hungry.