So the bipartisan Gang of 8 has proposed an immigration bill that would provide a “pathway to citizenship,” as they say, for many undocumented workers already in the country. To the extent it has some Republican support in the Senate, this represents a kind of reverse course. The November election, among other lessons, has conservatives revisiting their immigration views, in tone, at least, if not in substance. But, the gesture might not be as altruistic as it seems.
An interesting Congressional Weekly article discusses the boon, to the economy, alien legitimization might bring. A similar 1986 immigration act had the effect of raising wages of formerly undocumented workers by 15.1 percent. The Cato Institute has speculated that this present bill might add as much as $1.5 trillion to the gross domestic product over 10 years. But, critically, the article didn’t speculate as to whom specifically such benefits might actually inure — previously undocumented workers or the country as a whole.
So, does anyone recall why Emelio built you a fire pit last fall and not, let’s say, Jimbo Jones?
Nope, it wasn’t his outgoing personality.
No, I don’t believe you preferred his automated help desk.
Good thought but I don’t think hair product was dispositive.
What did you say? Speak up.
You say he was roughly 20% cheaper than Jimbo? Huh. Interesting.
[As an aside, my wife and I lived next to an actual Jimbo Jones during law school. Every time you tried to pet his terrier it would unexpectedly choke up a mouthful of pine cone apparently having been lodged in its throat for hours.]
All things being equal — with respect to cost and quality, I suspect that most people are picking the guy who looks like them and who employs a language whose grammar rules recommend placing the modifier in front of the object not the other way around. “A plane of the air!” Not racism just sort of human.
So, what is actually being lauded about the new bill, in the prospect of higher wages, might not ultimately benefit these newly legitimized workers. It would seem that if wages of these laborers equalize with the wages of those already in the marketplace it will just make for a more crowded marketplace. And, as already implied, non-English speaking laborers may not continue to be the workers of choice, once all else is equal. Moreover, and I’m not any kind of economics anything, but it seems that this likely glut of new workers will drive down, generally, the market value of wages for all such workers in any particular industry. I think that’s just called supply and demand.
So, there are a couple of possible outcomes when they make Emelio “official” and the price for the services he traditionally rendered goes up.
1. Less fire pits are going to be built, overall.
2. Less fire pits are going to be built by freshly legitimized Emelio but more by Jimbo Jones.
3. Less fire pits are going to be built by legitimized Emelio but more by Estevez, Emelio’s, let’s just say, “less legitimized” nephew newly over from the motherland.
See a pattern? No Emelio.
So, ironically, this “pathway to citizenship” is really a kind of primrose one. I’m not accusing anybody, but in a sense, certain Republicans could be seen as co-opting undocumented workers in this move. Illegal aliens presently get the work because they benefit from less overhead — no taxes or labor laws. Their cost of doing business is less. Legitimization, however, would get them all on the grid, so to speak, especially their wages.
There are a lot of reasons to provide opportunities for amnesty and legitimization to so many of the individuals who have come to our country, including moral, political, and, yes, financial ones. It certainly might be a boon to our economy.
Just maybe not theirs.
Performed by ipoetlaureate. Music produced by Sundance.
Today’s blong here:
DOUBLE BLONG DAY! I’ve reposted Outskirters, below, from off my last full length record, Prince With a Thousand Enemies, which is loosely themed on Richard Adams’ literary classic, Watership Down. The song, itself, concerns our mounting attitudes and hostilities towards immigration in this country and the hispanic community in general. So, I thought I’d pull it out for an encore. The album and song can be purchased here or on itunes. Actually, I meant to say should be bought at one of those two places.