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Sen. McCain on Jobs No American Citizens Want, Even at $50/Hour:

The comments to one of my posts pointed to this claim by Sen. McCain:

[Speaking to the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department, McCain took] questions, including a pointed one on his immigration plan.

McCain responded by saying immigrants were taking jobs nobody else wanted. He offered anybody in the crowd $50 an hour to pick lettuce in Arizona.

Shouts of protest rose from the crowd, with some accepting McCain's job offer.

"I'll take it!" one man shouted.

McCain insisted none of them would do such menial labor for a complete season. "You can't do it, my friends."

How can this assertion of his possibly be right? Fifty dollars an hour is $100,000 per year. I suspect the lettuce-picking season is shorter than a year, but it's still $50,000 per six months, assuming a 40 hour/week pace. It's possible that no-one in that particular crowd would think this is a good deal; among other things, they already had jobs that likely pay pretty well, and perhaps most of them were older and not terribly fit (McCain saw the crowd and I didn't). But surely there must be some substantial number of current American citizens who would be quite willing to engage even in highly strenuous physical labor for an annualized wage of $100,000 per year, no? Even if 99% of all Americans would be unwilling or unable to do the job, the remaining 1% should be plenty to fill those hypothetical jobs.

Now perhaps Sen. McCain should have just chosen a lower number; maybe his claim would have been plausible at that number, though I'm not sure. But it seems odd that he would choose a number that is so clearly out of place for his argument — that he would seemingly deliberately engage in such pretty patent overstatement.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Sen. McCain on Jobs No American Citizens Want, Even at $50/Hour:
  2. More on "Jobs Americans Won't Do":
  3. Response to "Jobs Americans Won't Do":
  4. Jobs Americans Won't Do:
Michael Stack (mail):
Sen. McCain was incredibly obtuse to believe that American citizens wouldn't pick lettuce for $50/hr. You were absolutely correct Prof. Volokh in your earlier post. In a free market, Americans don't have to do dirty work for cheap pay, and if they don't, employers would have to raise their pay in order to get the work done. So, to make such a blanket statement was completely ridiculous.
4.12.2006 2:18am
Thief (mail) (www):
He just inadvertently proved the entire point of the restrictionist side: there is no such thing as a "Job Americans Won't Do," only jobs that Americans would do if they were paid enough.

Heck, $50,000 and 6 months vacation is $10,000 and 5 1/2 months more than I make now.
4.12.2006 2:20am
bindare4u (mail):
We used to allow our kids to make money in harvest season. It helped the farmers and taught teens the value of a dollar. Now, because of child labor laws we bring in illegals instead. Go figure.
4.12.2006 2:21am
Harry Eagar (mail):
When he said 'couldn't,' he knew what he was talking about. As a newspaper reporter (who picked a few vegetables in my youth), I had the chance to watch some city boys try to earn high wages (not $50/hr but, with benefits, equivalent to at least $25-30) by picking pineapples. They could not do it.

They physically wimped out. It's tough.
4.12.2006 2:26am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
I definatly think many of you are realy underestimating the difficulty and unpleasentness of manual harvesting. I seem to remember that lettuse is particularly bad with back problems quickly developing.

Look if you are a US citizen in the states who is fit and sane enough to take a job picking lettuce you won't starve. You can get food stamps and other government aid. More importantly if you are fit enough to pick lettuce and willing to relocate to arizona for a job that only lasts half a year and disciplined enough to keep at the job almost certainly you can get some other job in the US. Sure, some people really are unemployed and can't get jobs but they are probably unwilling to move across the country at the drop of a hat and take intermitent (though well paying) work picking lettuce. Thus it stands to reason that no one who could actually do the job (physically and psychologically) simply won't take it because they have better options.

Also I suspect that picking lettuce doesn't offer constant employment even for the time you suggest. Either it occurs over something like one month or less or it involves intermitent labour (can't get hired for the whole time).

Thus to take such a job someone in the US would have to be totally unable to get another job since the lettuce picking wouldn't be enough to sustain them for the year but wouldn't be compatible with any other job they are likely to get.
4.12.2006 2:54am
Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick (www):
LogicN, even if the season were only 3 months - and that seems a reasonable number - then at $50/hr, a person could earn $25,000. Compare that to the $28,236 a starting teacher in AZ could make (in 2005, anyway) for 9 months worth of work. (That $28k equates out to about $18/hr, for those of you keeping track.) I leave you to draw your own conclusions about being able to live off of $25k, or $28k for that matter, per year.

Now, sure, some people aren't goign to be cut out for physical, menial labor. I'd even imagine, as Harry basically says, that people who grew up in suburbia with white collar parents are going to be less cut out for such jobs. But this doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of people who wouldn't be willing to give it a shot, much less actually be capable of doing the job.

Frankly, I'm confused as to how anyone in their right mind could possibly think that there would be trouble getting Americans to pick lettuce for $50/hr. There are Americans who work in dangerous, uncomfortable steel mills for less than that; there are Americans who work in fast food for $6/hr, for goodness' sake.
4.12.2006 3:27am
Splunge (mail):
Ah? So McCain's audience couldn't pick lettuce like a pro the first day they started, even for $50/hour? So what? Keep at any manual labor, and anyone at all will toughen up and clever up soon enough. Obviously the human body and mind adapts to continuous strenuous labor by getting stronger and more coordinated.

In fact a moment's thought reveals that nearly anyone, even a fat 45-year-old newspaper reporter with lily-white hands, could, if he began picking lettuce and kept at it succeed in doing so as well as the most sun-baked, whipcord-tough farm laborer (which of course he'd be turning into). This is, by definition, not rocket science, and a job that requires less in the way of natural God-given talent it would be hard to imagine.

Does ol' Senator McClueless realize the logical implication of what he's asserting here? Namely, that there's something in Hispanic DNA that gives them an inherent and insurmountable genetic superiority in the lettuce-picking field. No white folks can do their jobs, Senator McSilly says, 'cause they're just born lettuce-pickers. Good grief.
4.12.2006 3:57am
The Real Bill (mail):
I guess McCain has simply lost touch with reality. I guess DC will do that to some folks. Growing up poor, I did menial, backbreaking work a number of times. It was hard, but I needed the money--about $4 per hour in the eighties. I don't need the money as much now, but I'd pick lettuce for $50 per hour any day of the week.
4.12.2006 4:35am
Fishbane (mail):
This is just silly.

*waves hand*

I have, in fact, picked lettuce. And yes, it sucked. I was paid, at the time, I think $22/day. That was basically dawn to dusk, but we had breaks, and my boss was not unreasonable. Later, I graduated into tobacco, which was higher risk, but made more. There were two phases - harvest and curing. Harvest was somewhat different from lettuce or tomatoes, except in the mechanics, but OK. Curing was different. That involves hanging harvested plants in tobacco barns - large structures that are essentially nothing but drying racks, vertically aligned, with a series of beams one both climbs and places plant matter on. Climbing those things is scary. The first day I did it, I nearly fell when nicotine poisoning from the plants made me sick. A coworker caught me and tied me off to a bridge, until they could get more folks up to lower me down. I started smoking that summer in order to build up a tolerance (I finally quit smoking a few years ago). None of the local farmers payed minimum wage to workers like me, but I didn't pay taxes on that income, either. In some ways, at the time, I thought that was fair: They were cheating, so why shouldn't I? But then I went to school.

I share my trashy, farmer background only to note that McCain is talking, bluntly, rank crap.

I've been lucky: I run a company now, am established in NYC, and not only am I stable, but I'm going to go to law school, and the company I own stands a decent chance of still being here when I get out. I hope to run the company again after I'm done. We'll see.

To say that people wouldn't take jobs at $50/hr demeans not only those who want to come to our country, but it demeans people like me, who did, frankly, shit work to get leverage. I'm omitting my experiences in food service, hotel service and the temp worker gig for brevity.

Um, John, am I not an American?

As an alternative to accepting my narrative, I invite Senator McCain to advertise whatever jobs he's talking about at $50/hr, and see what happens. I think that would be a nice reality show, in fact.
4.12.2006 5:11am
Guest44 (mail):
The "jobs Americans won't do" meme is shocking in many ways. It's false, bad economics, and (I think) racist. What's even more surprising is the way the use of the term breaks through party lines. You have Bush, McCain, and Moran throwing it around, while you have others arguing fiercely against it and the ideas that underlie it. There's something different going on here than normal party politics. I hope it shakes the parties up and realigns them to some extent.
4.12.2006 5:34am
SKlein:
Surely he meant $50/day, which might well be the going rate.
4.12.2006 6:52am
Frank Drackmann (mail):
I agree, its $50/10-12 hr day.
4.12.2006 7:50am
davod (mail):
I agree with Guest44. The "jobs Americans won't do" theme is shocking. More than shocking. It is reprehensible.

It presupposes that everyone has a choice about what work they can do. Not everyone has the ability to move through the education system, get a degree and more, and get the job they want.

There is, I would suggest, a sizeable number (At least in the millions) of people who do not have it in them to get a workable degree and get a "good" job. Are we to deny them work.

A lot of the work done by illegal aliens is work that could be done by these people. Jobs you or I may not like but jobs that paid a living wage. Most of the jobs done by illegals are not farm jobs but jobs in metropolitan areas. The service industries and building trades come to mind. Costs may go up if legals were hired but the costs would be applied to those who benefit from the work.

Two additional points:

1. The marchers are asking for citizenship. Not a Green Card (after which you have wait to five years before appplying to be a citizen) but citizenship. The Senate bill is considering this.

2. I cannot understand why either political party is supporting the argument to legalize illegal aliens. Do they really think the illegals are going to be voting for black and white faces when they get the vote.
4.12.2006 8:08am
davod (mail):
Frank:

Please do not put words in Mr. McCains mouth.
4.12.2006 8:10am
Mr. T.:
I agree with most of you that what McCain said was disgraceful. So there is dirty, difficult work to be done. The only option is to import poor people and treat them like slaves? Logicnazi may be right about the conditions and the economic vagaries of lettuce picking, but that only means that the conditions need to change. We did it with mine and factory safety. I like cheap groceries too, but not at the price of widespread exploitation...
4.12.2006 8:27am
Sailorcurt (mail) (www):
I grew up working in the fields. I've planted and picked tomatos, De-tasselled and De-rogued seed corn, put up tobacco etc. etc. etc.

My memory is a bit hazy but I don't recall making anywhere near $50 per hour and I don't make anywhere near that now for significantly easier work.

Please, send me an application...not only am I willing, I know for a fact that I'm capable of the type of work he's talking about. I did it for years.
4.12.2006 9:01am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Here in milwaukee they pay someone (union guy at the water treatment plant I think) a premium rate to scoop condoms out of the sewage with a net.

I think they could find someone to pick lettuce...
4.12.2006 9:10am
Glenn W Bowen (mail):
I've done jobs like that at fifty dollars a day.
4.12.2006 9:43am
Huh:
So who's going to buy this lettuce picked by lawyers and teamsters at $50/hour?

Just wondering.
4.12.2006 10:25am
anonymous coward:
Maybe we could sell our lawyer-picked protectionist lettuce at red state Whole Foods.

(Of course--and I'm sure this point has been made on earlier threads--the real reason that some employers want immigrants, legal or illegal, is that they regard them as better, or at least more docile, workers than Americans they can get for a similar price. Americans are more likely to assert their rights, argue, etc.)
4.12.2006 10:38am
DK:
No one here has disproved McCain's basic point: that many, perhaps most Americans couldn't make it through a lettuce season. Note that everyone who has posted to say "yes, I've done it" started doing it when they were young. That doesn't mean that a 35-year-old white collar guy who has spent his entire life in a city could start doing it -- it just means that if you learn to do manual farm labor when you are young, you can do it later in life.

Lettuce picking is similar to playing football. Could I have learned to do it when I was 14? Yes. Are there people older than me who are still doing it professionally? Yes. Could I learn it now, in my thirties? Not a chance. I don't have the bone structure or endurance, and my learning curve would be much tougher than a 14 year old's learning curve. I'd probably be injured badly enough to miss the rest of the season before I developed the strength and stamina necessary.

It is a myth than manual labor is "unskilled". It is just a different kind of skill which is easy to learn when you are young, much harder to learn later.
4.12.2006 10:39am
Cala:
$50/hour isn't going to happen. But a living wage would probably increase your produce costs by about 2-3 cents, since labor isn't the only factor driving price.

http://migration.ucdavis.edu/rmn/more.php?id=1092_0_5_0
4.12.2006 10:45am
Bob Leibowitz (mail) (www):
MCain has neve fished the Gulf of Alaska or the North Atlantic. Picking lettuce sounds safer and easier to me!
4.12.2006 10:53am
Cala:
DK, not quite. Presumably $50/hour lettuce in McCain Fantasy Land would be picked not by 35-year-old lawyers, but by 18-year-old college students, or 20-year-old laborers. There seem to be enough young unemployed people who might take those jobs. (After all, when all the commenters were picking produce, it seems they were surrounded by other young people.)

It seems the point of the comment was the subtext: "Downtrodden brown immigrants will do jobs that blacks are too lazy to do and whites are too good to do." It plays into the rationalizing racism of a populace ('Hey, we're not doing anything wrong, Americans wouldn't take the jobs anyway...'). I thought McCain was above that.
4.12.2006 10:54am
Houston Lawyer:
I agree that a lot of farm work used to be done by teenage boys. When I was in high school, I lived in town so I had a job paying $1.50 an hour. The farm boys hauled hay and were generally paid $.05 per bail. Hauling hay (square bales) is hot and unpleasant work, but these guys made considerably more money than I did. I believe the absence of readily available labor has resulted in the predominance of the round bales, which are designed to be moved by tractor.
4.12.2006 10:59am
LawyerJ:
Aren't we forgetting something? Even assuming that there is a wage at which you could find Americans willing to do almost anything, can the market bear that wage? Would anyone here be willing to pay for a Caesar salad made with $50/man hour lettuce? Surely not.

So yes, raise the wage high enough, and even Professor Volokh might give up his sinecure for healthy days in California's sunny lettuce fields. But surely that's a world only an economist, with her convenient ability to assume away reality, could love.
4.12.2006 11:01am
AppSocRes (mail):
McCain may have been exaggerating, but based on what I've seen of union people, the ones who offered to take him up on his offer would have lasted a maximum of an hour doing stoop labor before EMTs would have been needed. Exaggeration on both sides, but McCain's basic point still stands.

In the 1930s Eric Blair/George Orwell pointed out that the one of the first orders of business in establishing a just world was to equalize incomes across national boundaries. Capitalism and open borders seem to be doing a much better job of this than socialism ever did. Interestingly, the left is screaming with just as much anguish as the right about cross-national income equalization.
4.12.2006 11:10am
Cala:
It'd probably work out to around an extra $0.75 a head of lettuce. (You'd have to factor in the percentage of labor costs in the total cost of produce.) That's going to $50 an hour. People who scare you with talk of $300 salads make about as much sense as people postulating $50 an hour for farmwork.
4.12.2006 11:11am
Thief (mail) (www):

So yes, raise the wage high enough, and even Professor Volokh might give up his sinecure for healthy days in California's sunny lettuce fields. But surely that's a world only an economist, with her convenient ability to assume away reality, could love.


Is anyone going to pay $50 for labor to harvest lettuce? Of course not. (You'd start to see American citizens and resident aliens taking the work soon after the wages started creeping up, or worst-case scenario, mechanized harvesting will become the preferred and much more economically viable alternative long before the wages reach $50/hr.) The only value of the $50/hr. lettuce picker scenario is as a reductio ad absurdum, but one which proves the defects of the JAWD meme.

And as far as the whole "living wage" thing goes, it seems to me that the industries where people are demanding "living wages" (janitorial, agricultural, and other unskilled labor) are the same sectors that are coming to be increasingly dominated by illegal, therefore unprotected and compliant labor. If the living wage people were intellectually serious (i.e. actually studied some economics and business instead of "social justice" theory and Chomsky's scribblings) they'd be wanting an end to illegal immigration too. That way, unskilled workers would have much more bargaining power, and the corporations would actually have a true economic incentive to increase wages, and would be much more liklely to oblige.
4.12.2006 11:37am
Hans Bader (mail):
When my trilingual wife first came to America as a LEGAL alien, the only job she could get with her particular visa was with an third-world embassy that paid her about $7 an hour.

She would have jumped at the chance to pick lettuce for $50 an hour.

$50 an hour is somewhat more than I am paid. Back when I was working at a non-profit law firm and paid still less than I am now, I would have been willing to pick lettuce for $50 an hour for a couple weeks a year on my use-or-lose vacation. (It's not as if I could have afforded to go anywhere on my vacation anyway. Before my vacation became use-or-lose, I cashed it out rather than using it).

The cost of taxpayer-funded social services for illegal immigrants and their kids exceeds the economic benefit of the cheap labor they provide to business and the wealthy.

In Arlington, Virginia's Ballston neighborhood, in an apartment complex where we nearly rented, the recipients of subsidized housing appear to be primarily illegal aliens and their families. And the users of food stamps in the immigrant-oriented stores where my wife shops in Northern Virginia are disproportionately monolingual Spanish speakers, and thus probably illegal immigrants.

(My wife can chat with these food stamp users only in Spanish, not English, since they don't speak English well. I imagine they receive the food stamps because they have given birth in the U.S. after illegally immigrating, and thus have U.S. citizen children (all children born in the U.S. are deemed citizens under currentl legal interpretations). The immigrants we know who speak both Spanish and English well are all here legally).
4.12.2006 11:48am
Ray (mail):
First of all, illegal immigration is not doing a majority of America's menial labor. Perhaps in many of the larger metropolitan areas, but in Evansville, IN or DesMoines, Iowa, the landscaping is still done by the locals.

And the teenagers scraping the grease out of 400degree chicken friers at KFC; they'd take that $50/hr.

And lastly, how politically obtuse to stand in front of a bunch of blue collar union types, and tell them they "can't" do something.
4.12.2006 12:22pm
The Brain:
I'm 28, and I would gladly work at hard labor for 50$/hour. As someone else posted, even if you only worked half the year, you would take home 50K. Sure its hard work, but I frankly need the exercise. I think those people making the claim that city bread desk jockys wouldn't be able to handle such a job are mistaken.

What McCain proved was that people will do almost anything if the money is right. There are no "Jobs that Americans wont do" there are "Jobs that don't pay enough to offset their suck factor."

Why does it pay so much to be a garbage man? Or sewer cleaner? Hazardous or difficult jobs cost more because people don't want to do them. It takes more money for them to risk bad smells or dangerous environments. I worked as a hazmat guy for a year while I was looking for a engineering job. Hazmat pays well for you to sit in a bunny suit and scrub things with bleach, but the turnover is high.

Mexicans and other illegals work these hard jobs cheaply because for them the alternative is to go home and not get paid. They depress the wages so that Americans, who have other options, choose not to do that job at that pay level. That is the crux of the problem. If you want Americans to do that job, you have to pay them enough. People don't want to pay that much, so they hire illegals.

If McCain was serious about fixing the problem, he would stop illegal immigration. Then those same back breaking crappy jobs would pay more to the LEGAL employees due to simple economics.
4.12.2006 12:27pm
Charlie Quidnunc (mail) (www):
It can't be $50 an hour. They are paid by the bushell anyway, not the hour. And they harvest a different field every day or two, moving to a new location every time. And they suffer the health effects of working in dirt. And they know that if they complain, they risk being deported. It's not just the wages, it's the way the wages are paid. Piece workers can make decent money in deplorable conditions if they are superhuman workers, which many of them are.
4.12.2006 12:34pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
McCain was presumably describing a hypothetical -- EVEN if paid $50/hr, Americans wouldn't do it. Which is bunkum. That sounds like pretty nice pay to me!

The real point being that Americans won't do it for what is really paid, which is probably a small fraction of that.
4.12.2006 12:52pm
pp (mail):
I think that an important aspect many of you are missing is the structure of the picking crews. They are paid 1) by "piece" and 2) though a labor contractor. Hourly wage may be paid by the farmer to the "jefe" but he pays by the piece in this example by the box.
By the way fifty an hour is not realistic even for the fastest worker assuming they were paid without the bosses skim off the top. Although fifty a day seems unfortuantely low. Most of the workers will do 12-15 an hour and picking crew does a six hour day because you can't pick most crops in the afternoon heat.
4.12.2006 12:53pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Mr. McCain is forgetting that we have a military where a mid-level enlisted person makes about $2,000 per month, and exposes him or her self to substantially more risk than a lettuce-picker. Yet Americans keep lining up to do that job, hardships and all, for a whole lot less than $50/hour.
4.12.2006 1:08pm
Mongoose388:
McCain and everyone on this board have missed several points.
1) Americans won't do these jobs for the incredibly low wages illegals accept.
2) Legal immigration is as bad as illegal immigration. Look at the welfare rates and education levels of legal immigrants. They are not all H1b visas being passed out.
3) What do we do with the influx of new illegal immigrants the day afte we legalize current illegals?
4) What does this say to legal immigrants that have followed the law?
5) Who is going to screen ID's and evidence of the current illegals getting amnesty to prove they merit it? They get forged documents now. How are we going to prove they aren't fraudulent?
6) Why no outcry about Canada's current wave of deportation of illegal aliens? (moostly of European extraction)?
4.12.2006 1:10pm
Mongoose388:
That liberal bastion known as Canada deports illegals with only days notice.
4.12.2006 1:13pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):

McCain and everyone on this board have missed several points.
1) Americans won't do these jobs for the incredibly low wages illegals accept.

You are joking, right? Did you actually read the thread, or are you just presuming your vast intellectual superiority off-hand?
4.12.2006 1:13pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Hmm... a bit of math. Assuming four heads picked per minute, paying the pickers the princely sum of $50/hr would only increase the cost of a head by under a quarter.

I'd assume the real limiter would be -- at such pay, it'd be worthwhile to invent an automated picker, as they use for grain and cotton. Wonder why no one's come up with a simple tool that would enable a person to sever the stem while standing up (or have they?). A narrow bladed shover, with the last foot or so of blade angled steeply, and an area on the back to receive a kick. A guy in front to wield that, one behind to pick up the result, and they alternate to give the latter's back a rest. Or give the second guy a scoop.
4.12.2006 1:14pm
Gordo:
Lawyer3 hit the nail on the head. Lettuce picked at $50 per hour would be lettuce that quickly becomes too expensive for a lot of Americans to eat. And then the lettuce market shrinks and we need a lot fewer of those $50 per hour lettuce pickers. And, as long as it is not iceberg lettuce (which has little nutritional value), Americans eat less healthy foods and become even less physically able to pick lettuce in the first place.

Cala, where do you get your 75 cents per head figure? And even 75 cents per head would be enough to radically shrink the lettuce market anyway.

The outburst against McCain, at that meeting, and on this thread, is nothing more than a resurgence of that long-standing American curse, the "Know-Nothing" party.
4.12.2006 1:18pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):

Lawyer3 hit the nail on the head. Lettuce picked at $50 per hour would be lettuce that quickly becomes too expensive for a lot of Americans to eat. And then the lettuce market shrinks and we need a lot fewer of those $50 per hour lettuce pickers.

This provides a context that the hypo doesn't need. Obviously no one will pay $50 for a lettuce picker, because of how much people pay to buy lettuce retail. That's not the point. The point is that McCain said that Americans wouldnt pick lettuce for $50/hour even if they were offered, which is patently ridiculous - many Americans do much harder jobs for much less.
4.12.2006 1:26pm
Gordo:
I'll acknowledge that McCain was wrong, although lettuce picking is pretty tough work on the back.

But those bashing McCain are using his misfired argument to discount all of their opposition. A time-honored tactic used by all sides in political debates, but one not aimed toward getting to the truth of the matter. What's the counter to my argument and Lawyer3's argument, other than "it doesn't add much to the price anyway?"
4.12.2006 1:29pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
With McCains history of melanoma, his doctor should order a Brain CT. Melanoma has a tendency to spread there.
4.12.2006 1:50pm
anonymouse2 (mail):
The notion that native born Americans or naturalized American citizens won't do back breaking labor for $50/hr is simply false.

Time to look at what longshoremen do, folks. That work is back breaking. That work is dangerous, dirty, and difficult. And they make $50 an hour--why? Because unions were able to win them that pay, and because the people willing to do it are somewhat rare but not nonexistent.
4.12.2006 1:55pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Most illegals don't pick lettuce. Many of them have physically undemanding jobs, like nanny or taxi driver.

McCain was right about lettuce. Most Americans couldn't do it, even if they would.

But you cannot extrapolate stoop labor to the general question of illegal labor, as McCain is trying to do.

The effects of illegal labor are all bad, except for the illegals themselves, who come from hellholes where if you were lucky enough to pick lettuce, you'd probably be paid in lettuce.

If there are 12M illegals, let's say 8M are employed at something. That's about 5% of the entire work force, but the effects of cheap illegal immigrant labor are disproportionately in the lower paid, lower skill sector. Let's say the bottom quartile.

Migrant workers don't work 2K hours/year, but to keep the numbers simple, let's assume they do.

For every Guatemalan peasant making $50/day (without benefits), four native workers who are in equivalent jobs are also dragged down to $50/day. (Whatever the actual figures are; at the bottom, it's well under $50/day.)

If the going rate for native labor, without immigrant competition, would be $70/day, it doesn't take very sophisticated math to see that immigrants take more out of our economy than they put in -- even not counting any subsidies like food stamps. (If the numbers are $50 and $70, then immigrant labor goes negative when illegal labor reaches about one-sixth of the labor pool in the affected sector. You can do a spreadsheet for any suite of possibles you like.)

Of course, if the jobs being affected are fungible, then if you remove illegal cheap labor and the going wage rate rises, then the jobs will move overseas. Depending on the job mix, the overall economy might be damaged. On the other hands, those jobs are probably going overseas anyway, if they haven't already. The going wage for work in an American television assembly factory is $0/hr.

Lettuce is sorta fungible. You can import lettuce from Mexico (at a certain extra, unstated cost in disease), but jobs as nannies or installing drywall are not going overseas.

The US economy would not collapse without illegal immigrant labor. It would not even notice their absence. For one thing, if the immigrants were all gone, we would quickly find out which, if any, jobs that really need doing could not be recruited from native labor -- the market would set the wage rate -- and we would then adjust our legal immigration policy to allow in the necessary labor.

This ain't rocket science, or shouldn't be.
4.12.2006 2:18pm
Jeek:
What's the counter to my argument and Lawyer3's argument, other than "it doesn't add much to the price anyway?"

Was lettuce unaffordable back in the days when native labor picked it? Have we seen a precipitate drop in the price of lettuce in the past 10 years? Is the benefit of employing immigrant labor being passed on to the consumer, or is it being pocketed by intermediaries?
4.12.2006 2:47pm
eponymous coward (mail):
I've done the same sort of work illegal immigrants get hired for (yard work, farm work, light construction) at considerably less than $50 an hour. A friend went up to the Bering Strait to work on trawlers, which is AWFUL work (8 hours on, 8 off, nasty physical labor, crappy weather a lot of the time), and while he made a chunk of change, it wasn't $50/hours even by today's standards.

So I call BS on Senator McCain, too.
4.12.2006 2:48pm
Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick (www):
Anyone who says anything about $300 salads is clearly missing the point here.

McCain's 1st argument: There are jobs that no American would do.

McCain's 2nd argument: Even for $50/hr, no American would pick lettuce.

Response of many people: We are Americans, and we would pick lettuce for $50/hr.

Conclusion: McCain's 2nd argument is clearly wrong. There are Americans who would pick lettuce for $50/hr. (In reality, there are probably Americans who do it for whatever the real wage actually is.) McCain's 1st argument is not disproved - perhaps no American would take the job of "eating nuclear waste" or "sleeping on a bed of ultra-poisonous scorpions" - but the implication seems to be that there is no realistic job that an American wouldn't do for the right amount of money.

In any case, the whole $300 salad argument is a red herring. Sure, it's unlikely that people would be unwilling to pay $300 for salads - but that has nothing to do with whether people would pick lettuce for $50/hr. The two claims are wholly unrelated; just because no one would ever pay people $50/hr to pick lettuce doesn't mean that people wouldn't pick lettuce for $50/hr if they had the opportunity.

I'll leave others to point out the inherent (and ridiculous) ethnocentrism of the "there are jobs no American would do" argument. I would imagine (although I have no evidence) there are a lot of jobless American people who live in shelters and eat once a day that would be very happy indeed to pick lettuce at all, much less for $50/hr. Seriously.
4.12.2006 2:52pm
sbron:
I do not understand the attitude of the political
left in all of this. First, they complain that
there are not enough Latino doctors, engineers,
college professors and professionals in general.
But then the left (as well as open-borders nuts like
McCain) says we need to import vast numbers of
Latinos to do menial labor. So given a continuing
influx of poorly-educated Latinos, how can they ever
be represented at parity in the professions?
4.12.2006 3:20pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I'll leave others to point out the inherent (and ridiculous) ethnocentrism of the "there are jobs no American would do" argument. I would imagine (although I have no evidence) there are a lot of jobless American people who live in shelters and eat once a day that would be very happy indeed to pick lettuce at all, much less for $50/hr. Seriously.
Seriously, if that were the case, they wouldn't be living in shelters. They'd be working. (And why are these shelters only feeding them once per day, anyway?)
4.12.2006 3:31pm
Challenge:
"Most illegals don't pick lettuce. Many of them have physically undemanding jobs, like nanny or taxi driver."

This is precisely correct. In another thread, the repeated invocation of the stereotypical farm laborer irked me enough to check on the figures. The best numbers I could find were from CIS. Only 258,000 jobs of a total 5.8 million were in farming--that's around 5%.

The other 95% are employed in jobs that Americans perform every day--construction, food service, building maintenance and cleaning, etc.

Scroll to table 10 here to look at the table for yourself. Do these sound like jobs that "American won't do"?
4.12.2006 3:33pm
George Gregg (mail):
A few people in this thread have hit it right. A lot of the rest of the responses seem to be completely oblivious to the economic reality of hard labor, though.

I'm a ninth generation Scots-Irish immigrant. My family has been farming and mining in the New World since before the Revolutionary War. That involved backbreaking labor, picking cotton and so forth, to make below poverty level wages in the Deep South.

There's no question whether Americans would break their backs picking crops for even a low wage. Some have done so for hundreds of years.

There are very good reasons to support comprehensive immigration reform, but the canard that "Americans won't do these jobs" is just silly. And the argument that "Americans won't do these jobs at a particular price point" ignores the hidden costs of getting cheaper produce from illegal labor.

(Disclaimer: when I was young, Dad did us all the blessed service of moving into town to take a factory job to get more regular work. So I was personally spared the labor of cotton picking. But my siblings, parents, uncles and aunts all did this as a simple fact of life. And that wasn't to earn a wage four times the poverty level, either. Grisham's "A Painted House" is a pretty good read to get an insight into what this kind of life was like.)
4.12.2006 3:43pm
Gordo:
The argument made by Harry Eagar (aside from his vicious "disease" comment), that lettuce could actually be grown in Mexico and imported here, makes some sense.

Unfortunately, the same "know-nothings" currently sounding the alarm about illegal immigrants tend to be the same people who ignore economics and history (re: Smoot-Hawley) and want economic protectionism.

So the price of American purity will be expensive lettuce. Which means Americans won't eat as much lettuce. Which means that American farms and the lettuce jobs paying $50 per hour won't exist. And Americans will have fewer (and less healthy) culinary choices.
4.12.2006 4:02pm
msk (mail):
Which overpaid focus-group-maven tested the phrase "Jobs Americans just won't do," and told members of Congress to start relying on it?

This slogan is a wad of chewing gum stuck to most U.S. politicians' shoes now.
4.12.2006 4:13pm
scepticalrepub:
McCain was not addressing this comment to the average American, he was addressing it to the very well paid, well perked union delegates of the AFL-CIO. I believe he was correct in saying none of that group would do it for a full season, because they are accustomed to a $50 an hour lifestyle for a tiny fraction of the hardships.
4.12.2006 4:20pm
Broncos:
This reminds me a lot of Bush 41 wondering about the price of milk. Either that, or it's a verbal gaffe that McCain didn't catch/was too embarrassed to admit. Hopefully the latter... I can't believe that he would really think that nobody would pick lettuce for $50/hr. (or that there would be a lettuce industry remaining in the US after they started paying $50/hr.)
4.12.2006 4:24pm
Challenge:
Gordo,

Yup anybody who disagress with your open borders anarchocapitalism is an unenlightened bigot. Anybody who wants to crack down on illegal immigration is a modern know-nothing? Anybody who believes America is more than a jobs market is a troglodyte? Well, let me tell you, Gordo, this message of yours is going to go over about as well as McCain's statement.

If this was really about maximizing economic output and our economic competitiveness, we wouldn't be importing poverty, we'd be importing brains. But this isn't about the well-being of the country--economic or social--this is about perceived Democratic political advantage and Republicans catering to business interests.
4.12.2006 4:30pm
Challenge:
"So the price of American purity will be expensive lettuce. Which means Americans won't eat as much lettuce. Which means that American farms and the lettuce jobs paying $50 per hour won't exist. And Americans will have fewer (and less healthy) culinary choices."

The current temporary worker program is sufficient to meet these jobs. What don't you understand about the fact that 95% of illegals aren't doing this sort of work?
4.12.2006 4:34pm
ahummel:
Reading this comment from the Senator reminded me of a very dangerous, very difficult job that white americans do do for a significant amount of money: Alaskan crab fishing, as so well portrayed in the Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch." Apparently, enough money can be a motivating factor.
4.12.2006 4:53pm
neutral:
"So the price of American purity will be expensive lettuce. Which means Americans won't eat as much lettuce. Which means that American farms and the lettuce jobs paying $50 per hour won't exist. And Americans will have fewer (and less healthy) culinary choices."

Oh, how much will it go up, Gordo? First of all, when dust settles, would you agree that going rate for lettuce picking will not actually go all the way up to $50/hr? Please. Then even if we assume generous $20/hr, how much will it amount to per lettuce head, less than a quarter? You would not even notice price increase by the time lettuce reaches store - there are so many other factors causing price volatility.
4.12.2006 5:18pm
Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick (www):
I guess this whole post has been totally threadjacked.

What the price of lettuce would be if people made $50/hr picking it is completely unrelated to McCain's comment... Really, truly, honestly - it doesn't.
4.12.2006 5:24pm
dfslk (mail):
Maybe McCain should throw this into his stump speech when he runs for president. Really, the coal miners, fishermen, meatpackers, poultry processors, garbage collectors, and construction workers in the swing states would love to hear it. Or maybe the private fighting insurgents on the streets of Iraq will want to hear about how Americans simply don't want to do tough, dangerous, physically intensive jobs. Everyone loves the straight talk express!
4.12.2006 5:40pm
spencere (mail):
The cost of farm labor in the typical consumer spending package on fruit and vegetables is about 6% and the average farm wage is just short of $9/hour. So going to $50 is about a five fold increase which would increase the costs of fruit and vegetables by about 30%.
4.12.2006 6:06pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
What the price of lettuce would be if people made $50/hr picking it is completely unrelated to McCain's comment... Really, truly, honestly - it doesn't.


It actually does if one extrapolates from Senator McCain's argument that if you paid $50/hr for picking lettuce rather than the much lower wages paid to illegal aliens to do the same work that "no American would do that job" because it would make the cost of lettuce so high that the job would vanish and be replaced by either mechanization or imported lettuce.
4.12.2006 6:25pm
Gordo:
Niiick: I can understand that you want to demagogue (used as a verb) McCain's comment for all it is worth, so any attempt to get at the real issue here is to be shunned at all costs.

Sorry to burst your bubble.
4.12.2006 6:38pm
Gordo:
Challenge:

Well then, let's look at the price impact upon some of the other jobs illegal aliens are doing:

Food Service: The price of your fast food just went up. You go out to eat less. You spend more of your leisure time slaving away in the kitchen. And there go all of those better paying restaurant jobs held by native (with a small "n") Americans.

House Cleaning and Gardening: You can no longer afford it. So you have to do it yourself. Say "bye bye" to some of your leisure time, or live with a filthy house. And there go all of those better paying domestic services jobs held by native Americans.

Get the picture?
4.12.2006 6:43pm
Gordo:
Challenge: In response to your first comment:

I happen to agree that our borders should be better sealed to prevent future illegal immigrants (and even more unsavory characters) from infiltrating our borders.

Where I quibble with the "know-nothings" is on the issue of amnesty-legal immigration-guest workers. I think McCain's Senate Bill had the right idea on the amnesty issue for longer term illegals. I think we should increase our quotas for legal immigration. And I think reinstituting a guest worker program will allow us to continue to enjoy the fruits of cheap labor, while allowing those who want to provide that labor but eventually return to their native lands to do so.

I find the House Bill's emphasis on throwing illegal immigrants into jail while letting their employers off to be rank demagogic stupidity of the first order. Any bill that stiffens our borders must also stiffen penalties against employers who willingly or negligently hire illegal immigrants to be effective.
4.12.2006 6:48pm
Gordo:
Immigration has served this nation well since its founding. What would make the current wave of immigration different?

1. There are too many of them.

The absolute numbers of foreign-born in the U.S. are higher now than they have ever been.
We the People

19.8 million in 1990 vs. 10.4 million in 1900 and the previous high of 14.3 million in 1930. However, the 7.9% of current foreign born are a little more than half the percentage during the early part of the 20th century, a high of 14.8% in 1930. Does anyone other than a nativist, bigot, anti-papist, or anti-semite argue that the waves of immigration to this country 100 years ago have been a net negative?

2. The ones here now don't assimilate.

This is primarily aimed at Mexican-Americans, although with the ease of global communication and transportation it is an allegation that can be levelled at all recent immigrant groups. However, it isn't true.
Migration information

79% of first-generation Mexican-American children speak English well. By the third generation 72% of Hispanic immigrants are monolingual. And it's not Spanish they are speaking.

3. Recent immigrants have different skin color.

Very few openly admit this. But one has to wonder.

4. It's no longer a culture where I feel comfortable.

This is an understandable issue, especially in places like California. But native Americans have felt this way for over 200 years as waves of immigration have come to this country. And all those immigrants have assimilated and added great cultural wealth. Only the most hardened DAR member would deny this.
4.12.2006 7:12pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Gordo, that's your opinion that referring to 'disease' accompanying Mexican lettuce is 'vicious.' Whether my remark was vicious or not, the disease is real enough, and several outbreaks have recently been traced back to Mexican fields where sanitation does not meet American standards.

American standards are none too high, in the view of the government, which is busily imposing extensive hygienic regulations that will raise the price of food far more than paying native labor to pick it would.
4.12.2006 8:21pm
bluecollarguy:
Challenge,

"f this was really about maximizing economic output and our economic competitiveness, we wouldn't be importing poverty, we'd be importing brains."

Actually American immigration policy limits the importation of "brains". H1-B visas are capped at 65,000 per year. No such limits for the impoverished or uneducated.
4.12.2006 9:28pm
Charles Iragui:
Japan has essentially no economic immigration. Its economy functions well (any problems it's had are not related to labor shortages). Japan imports relatively little. Unless one believes that Americans are more fastidious than Japanese, the argument that there are jobs that cannot otherwise be filled is false.
4.13.2006 1:49am
Harry Eagar (mail):
anonymouse2, I missed your example of longshoremen earlier. It's a terrible example.

It's true that longshoremen make $50/hr (and more), but no active longshoreman has ever worked hard. Containers, which came in during the '60s (this month is the 50th anniversary of the voyage of the first containership), turned longshore work into a wussy job. It's just truck driving now, and not even challenging truck driving.
4.13.2006 2:50am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Whether McCain meant $50/day or $50/hour is mostly irrelevant. He and other politicians will say virtually anything, no matter how stupid, to justify their position on immigration, both legal and illegal. First McCain and other politicians are afraid alienating the Latino voter. Second, the Republicans want immigration to lower wages, while the Democrats want immigration because they see them as a future source of votes. The net result of these political forces has produced the current stalemate on immigration reform. Not only will politicians like McCain make stupid remarks, they will lie if necessary. For example, the entire H1-b non-immigrant visa program is based on a continuing lie: the US has a shortage of programmers and engineers. The US actually has always had a surplus (even in the late 1990s) of programmers and engineers. The program is designed to lower wages, and it does that very effectively. Employers actually prefer H1-bs to Americans, even at the same wage, because they are more docile. The Democrats should in theory oppose H1-b, but they don't because they don't want to appear to be anti-immigrant in any sense. So don't be surprised if you hear the most ridiculous assertions about the jobs Americans won't do.
4.13.2006 9:39am
Jeek:
This is an understandable issue, especially in places like California. But native Americans have felt this way for over 200 years as waves of immigration have come to this country. And all those immigrants have assimilated and added great cultural wealth. Only the most hardened DAR member would deny this.

I assume by "native American" here you mean only "Americans of European descent confronting later waves of European immigration". From the perspective of indigenous Native Americans, these "waves of immigration" over the past 300 years were not "immigration" at all, they were invasions. The indigenes would have repelled them if they could, despite all the "wealth" that the Europeans brought (and from the indigenous perspective, was all the disease and death the Europeans brought with them justified because the Europeans also brought great cultural and material wealth?).

Moreover, the "immigrants" did not assimilate into the indigenous culture, the immigrants forced the indigenes to assimilate into their culture, when they did not exterminate them outright.

A horde of invaders who forced the natives to assimilate into the invader culture, hmmmm, not a very pleasing analogy for today. But even if we accept your analogy in the way it was intended, it fails the "so what?" test. If the current residents of America wish to exclude further immigration for "misguided" cultural reasons - or indeed for any reason - they certainly have an inarguable right to do so.
4.13.2006 9:50am
Cold Warrior:
Wow, that McCain comment is still getting people all worked up.

I have to admit that it reveals a very common ignorance about the nature of itinerant agricultural work.

The reality is this:

1. It is taxing manual labor, involving a lot of stooping (and depending on the season, exposure to blazing heat), and very poor sanitary conditions.

2. It is quite poorly compensated. Those who've followed previous comments will know, however, that the going rate for cotton pickers in Texas is $6.75/hour.

3. Therefore, these are tough jobs, and they're pretty tough to fill with Americans -- particularly those with families, since the nature of migratory farm work is that it is, well, migratory, and that doesn't fit in too well with school schedules.

4. Lettuce picking (to be precise, "lettuce cutting" -- I've seen more than one criminal case involving "Assault with a Deadly Weapon, to wit: Lettuce Knife") is a pretty short season. But again, the nature of migratory farmwork is that when lettuce cutting season ends, some other season is beginning. I haven't lived in the irrigated valleys of California for some time, but if I remember correctly the normal rotation goes something like this: cutting asparagus in the early spring in central and northern California, cutting lettuce in the Imperial Valley in late spring/early summer, then moving north to cut lettuce in areas with shorter growing seasons, then perhaps picking strawberries or some such thing in the central coastal valleys, then maybe picking cotton or even fruit, then ...

5. Taking a few months off, which used to mean going back to Mexico and returning (generally) illegally. Tighter border controls have made this harder/more expensive to do. By the way, this also means: "collecting unemployment" -- at least during the period of time you remain in the United States.

So, to be blunt, the job is: tough, physically demanding, low-paying, but offering huge blocks of time off. The fact that the "job" exists for only a few weeks in any given place makes it difficult to fill. But "filled" it is. When immigrant (legal - H visa, etc. -- or illegal) labor isn't around, it gets done by others. In Idaho, school kids used to get time off in potato harvesting season. I don't know if they still do. When you can't employ the same person to travel from place-to-place as the seasons dictate, you wind up using local labor (school kids in Idaho) to do the job, and most young people can handle it quite easily because -- after all -- the season is so short.
4.13.2006 11:50am
Gordo:
Charles Iragui wants us to be like Japan. Japanese culture is one of the most xenophobic and racist in today's world - its last major eruption was called "World War II." It's perhaps telling that someone would want us to adopt that model for the U.S.

Meanwhile Jeek, after giving us a jeremiad on Native (with a capital N) Americans, tells us that we don't have to follow the immigrant assmilating path that has made the U.S. the greatest nation of modern timss - that instead we can turn xenophobic and isolationist if we damn well please. He is, of course, correct - we can certainly do this.

The proper political term for proponents of this idea was first coined in the 1850's.

"Know-nothings."
4.13.2006 12:46pm
Jeek:
Sigh... a variation of Godwin's Law is that in any online discussion of immigration, the probability that someone will be called a racist or a xenophobe approaches one. It appears that we cannot even have an honest debate about immigration, because one side or the other will take refuge in lame "arguments" of this sort.

If any opposition to 100% open borders and unlimited immigration is xenophobic, Know Nothing, and illegitimate, so be it. If it is xenophobic, Know Nothing, and illegitimate to assert that America, like every other nation, has the right and the duty to control its borders and to determine the number and type of immigrants who enter, then so be it. (Indeed, compared to the United States, almost every other nation than America is "xenophobic and isolationist". Shame on them for not understanding that the road to prosperity is through the importation of massive numbers of poorly-paid helots.)

Since I Know Nothing, perhaps you can educate me. Precisely what level of immigration is required to ensure that we remain the "greatest nation of modern times"? There are hundreds of millions of potential immigrants in Latin America alone, and billions more in Asia and Africa. Where do you draw the line, and why? How do you tell when we have not enough, too many, just right?
4.13.2006 3:16pm
Gordo:
Jeek, if you will hold your nose and look at one of my earlier posts, you will find that, in terms of percentage of population, we have far fewer foreign-born residents in this country than we did in the early 20th century - slightly more than half the percentage of those times. So we are not being flooded with immigrants - current immigration levels are easily assimilable, based upon our own national history. You will also, if you look at my previous post, note that the stereotype that Spanish speaking immigrants and their descendants are not learning English is demonstrably bogus.

As for the illegality of those immigrants, I have no problem with tightening our borders, including continuous fencing, and I have no problem with strong and persistent enforcement of laws against employers who hire illegal aliens either knowingly or negligently. Where I differ with the current anti-immigration hysteria is that I don't think it is wise, necessary, or economically sound to try to find 11 million individuals and throw them all into jail, and I don't think it is wise to shut off or greatly curtail legal immigration. I think the President is right on the mark with his guest worker program as well.

As for my allegations of racism or xenophobia, they are amply demonstrated by past history. The anti-immigrant backlash of the 19th century can be fairly and accurately described as overwhelmingly anti-catholic and anti-semitic. Today's backlash has more than a whiff of racism against the non-European immigrants coming, along with a new religious bigotry against Muslims.

So in answer to your final question, my know-nothing friend, we should have a generous (but not unlimited) allowance for legal immigrants into this nation of ours, the precise number to be left to reasonable policy analysis. We should reject the multi-culturalists and promote the assimilation policies for immigrants that have served our nation so well in the past. We should crack down on additional illegal immigration with a two-pronged attack on physical border security and on employers who hire illegal aliens. And for the unique situation of Mexican workers, we should have a guest worker program.
4.13.2006 3:53pm
Challenge:
"Jeek, if you will hold your nose and look at one of my earlier posts, you will find that, in terms of percentage of population, we have far fewer foreign-born residents in this country than we did in the early 20th century - slightly more than half the percentage of those times."

And why is that (your numbers are wrong, but I'll get to that shortly)? Because we restricted legal (and illegal) immigration quite severely for about 40 years, from the 1920s to the 1960s. Today we are approaching the levels of foreign born that we did at the first of the last century, indeed we may have even surpassed this as we are unsure of the precise numbers currently in the US. The highest percent of foreign born in the 20th century occurred around 1910, with 14.7%. Currently we have around 12.1%, if the numbers are not grossly underestimating this. If we aren't already in excess to the early 20th century peak, we will be soon.

Now even if we accept that immigration was good for the country 100 years ago, why would it be good for it today? There was no welfare, no social security, and the immigration was from diverse countries (linguistically and culturally). The situation today is not at all analogous for what should be obvious reasons. Today, we are importing poverty, placing incredible strain on public education and government revenue, and the cultural and linguistic character of our immigrants is increasingly monolithic. Why does this matter? Because the larger an immigrant group is the less likely they are to assimilate, as it becomes easier and easier to retain one's language and cultural identity.

Moreover, the immigration of the past was cyclical as well as diverse. Mexican immigration, because of its proximity and quality of life, is bound to be a source of millions of impoverished immigrants for many decades if we allow it.

I think we can agree that the numbers of immigrants we should accept is pragmatically limited by how quickly we can assimilate and absorb new peoples into the American culture. And it's my firm opinion that we have already exceeded these levels.

I am pro-immigration, but I'm for the kind of immigration that will strengthen rather than weaken this country. I am for immigration that is in our national interest. Why would we choose the poor when we could choose the wealthy? Why would we choose the uneducated when we could choose the educated? Why choose those likely to be a welfare burden when we can choose those who are likely not to be? Why choose those without English skills when we can choose those with English proficiency? Why choose the high school dropouts when we can choose the best and the brightest? Why choose those who are more likely to commit violent crime when we can choose those who are less likely? Why choose immigrants who will contribute the least to GDP instead of those who can contribute the most? Why weaken America when we can strengthen it?
4.13.2006 5:02pm
Jeek:
What Challenge said.
4.14.2006 10:41am
TLB (mail) (www):
"Jobs Americans won't do" is a code word for "jobs people like us won't do" and "jobs we can't get those Americans to do cheaply and compliantly enough".
4.15.2006 8:48pm
Charles Iragui:
Gordo,

I am currently doing a semester abroad program in Japan. One of my classes is US Immigration Law. The reasoning I made was a matter of logic, not prejudice, and naturally jumps to mind while here.

You are correct that Japanese culture has been ethnically exclusionary. I was not proposing that we adopt their immigration policies but simply pointing out, as this posting asked us to, that this particular argument in the immigration debate is an economic fallacy.
4.16.2006 11:03pm