Monday, May 21, 2007

Political Calculus: Cheap Labor + Cheap Votes = Amnesty

From: Cheap labor + cheap votes = political cave-in (HT: Instapundit):
That bipartisan immigration “reform” bill, crafted during secret negotiations led by President Bush, Sen. Edward Kennedy and Sen. John McCain, combines a Republican desire for cheap labor with a Democratic vision of cheap votes. The result is a stubborn refusal to halt illegal immigration, one of the most serious problems facing the United States. By granting legal status to millions of illegal immigrants, this legislative chimera would make securing our borders even harder than it is now...
Politicians in search of cheap labor should instead think out-of-the-box and look towards innovation and brain power:
...Oddly, the people who warn that without millions of cheap, unskilled Mexican laborers, this country would face economic disaster are pro-business libertarians. They believe in the power of the market to handle anything — except a slightly tighter labor market for unskilled workers. But the free market would inevitably adjust, with higher wages or technological innovation.

Take agriculture. Phillip Martin, an economist at the University of California, Davis, has demolished the argument that a crackdown on illegals would ruin it, or be a hardship to consumers. Most farming — livestock, grains, etc. — doesn't heavily rely on hired workers. Only about 20 percent of the farm sector does, chiefly those areas involving fresh fruit and vegetables.

The average "consumer unit" in the U.S. spends $7 a week on fresh fruit and vegetables, less than is spent on alcohol, according to Martin. On a $1 head of lettuce, the farm worker gets about 6 or 7 cents, roughly 1/15th of the retail price. Even a big run-up in the cost of labor can't hit the consumer very hard...

One can argue that cheap labor is keeping U.S.-based agriculture from further automating and reducing it's labor content...That cheap labor is providing a disincentive to fund further research and development that reduces the labor content in agriculture. Along with the Homeland Security benefits of halting illegal immigration, we could see an increase in good ole' fashion American ingenuity that would lessen our dependency on cheap labor. Our future would see more innovations like trunk shaker machines, robotic fruit pickers, sheep shearing robots, satellite controlled harvesters and Flexible agricultural automation.


Anonymous Jeremiah Arn said...

I think you are a little confused, or at least the quotes you choose to pull are from confused people. Libertarians are not pro-business. That's Republicans. Libertarians are pro-person - if you want to be in business, we support you. But big business today involves a tremendous amount of unfair advantages such as corporate welfare, subsidies, trade advantages, and other efforts that incline the playing field to big political contributors.
Regarding the immigration issue, Libertarians don't believe a valid function of government is to control the flow of ideas, capital, or people. Government is a servant of the people in a certain area. We should welcome all people who mind their own business and work hard. Anything else is an elitist or statist position that infringes on the inalienable rights of everyday people.

May 22, 2007 at 8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Capitalism (business) is one of many supporting means to the end of libertarianism.

With regard to immigration, I support everything you said with the one proviso that national sovereignty be respected through established law. We should welcome all people that respect our laws.

May 23, 2007 at 11:54 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home