Debating Immigration (While Not Forgetting Obamacare)

The Uninvited

The Uninvited

One of the screen plays hoping to distract from Obamacare will be the upcoming and much ballyhooed ‘immigration reform,’ a joint program of Democrats (votes) and Republicans (cheap labor). This has opposition on both sides, from unions unhappy with non-member competition for jobs on the Left and from Tea Party types on the Right. But on both sides, those who want it are generally larger contributors than are those who don’t, so the plan won’t die. “Money,” as California’s Jesse Unruh famously put it, “is the mothers’ milk of politics.”

The money is needed among other things, to appeal to voters. And voters are also the taxpayers who subsidize the ever-growing number of illegal immigrants. The politicians have to walk a careful path in this. So far, they have had their cake with relatively open borders and growing subsidies while enjoying it too with lots of new voters and cheap labor plus voter apathy. But Latin America’s population is approaching twice that of the U.S. with a much lower living standard; how many of those people can the U.S. take on?

So far, the Republican House has been dragging its feet on immigration while the Democrats in the Senate are raring to go, along with some Republicans. One non-raring Senator has said that only the House is protecting American labor from these competitors for jobs. This reflects the fact that the hot issue, besides openness of borders, is handing legal residence-amnesty-to millions of presently illegal U.S. residents, tossing them onto the legal job market. And that is House Speaker Boehner’s desire, along with the Dems.

So the politicians want money and votes; what should the country want? American industry and its well-paid workforce have been shrinking as foreigners have become better competitors. The U.S. can’t absorb all or even any significant part of Latin America’s poor. That says, immigration must be limited. The proper subject for public debate then seems to be: What are the appropriate limits? But neither party allows that; showing that their motives are something other than the public weal.

Immigration, like an unwanted bee at a picnic, is going to hang around until something happens. America, reflecting both government policy and economics, has a degrading job market and that will continue for the foreseeable future. But it will remain much more rewarding than Latin America and will continue to attract foreign workers.

The American politicians are trapped between the voters watching their economic positions declining as world competition equalizes living standards on one side and their employers who have to compete in an ever more competitive world on the other.

The Left has decided that world economics is a zero-sum game; for the poor to have more, the rich must have less; they are the new Malthusians. The Right has not made a case against this and it pervades American public policy.


Historical fact contradicts it; after Malthus predicted that agriculture could not keep up with human reproduction, we had the ‘green revolution’ that made the prediction silly. Our technology continues to open new opportunities and tumble old barriers and will go on doing that…so long as we support it. Electing leaders who have already given up as we have been doing, won’t get us there.


How many uneducated, non-English speaking workers from  alien cultures are good for America? The debate is long overdue… but we don’t want to forget Obamacare while we’re having it…




About Jack Curtis

Suspicious of government, doubtful of economics, fond of figure skating (but the off-ice part, not so much)
This entry was posted in Affordable Care Act, Immigration, Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Debating Immigration (While Not Forgetting Obamacare)

  1. NEO says:

    Yeah, that food thing. When I was a kid, the best farmers on the best land worked very hard to get 60 Bu/A with corn, now the average is 200 Bu/A on mediocre land.

    The thing is, in a relatively free market, as Adam Smith tells us, we don’t know where we are going, something will happen but nobody knows. See Ag, see railroads, see steel, see the internet.

    And in the last analysis, that’s why the free market wins, you can’t, by definition, plan for unknown unknowns.

  2. Very wise and thoughtful words, here.
    It’s this refusal by politicians (of both sides) to enter into any meaningful debate that has characterised the immigration issue in Europe for decades, and this only fosters deep resentment which eventually bursts out in the firm of extremism.
    The Germans are so oppressed by political correctness that the neo Nazi movement is gaining rapid ground.
    Traditional right-wing voters in the UK are defecting to UKIP in their droves.
    France and Holland regularly elect fascist members of parliament and unilaterally tighten the agreed EU laws restricting immigration when it suits them.
    The fact this issue is so delicate is the very reason that constructive debate is so necessary.

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