Illegal Immigration: Symptoms vs Root Causes

300px History of US federal minimum wage increases.svg  Illegal Immigration: Symptoms vs Root Causes

A history of minimum wage increases

Illegal immigration is a somewhat of a heated topic in America.  I say somewhat because while it is true it is debated emotionally on the main stream media, it is much different outside of this environment.  Generally speaking people who pay taxes agree that it makes little sense to allow millions of people to cross unchecked into America, especially under the current conditions and actions (or lack thereof) of government.

Contrary to what the establishment media would have you believe, the problem people have with illegal immigration is not that new people are entering our country. Nor is it a matter of fearing a new culture.  These are intellectual lazy, baseless accusations that do not hold water.  Most people’s list of concerns look much different from what the mainstream media alleges.

The Common Concerns Regarding Illegal Immigration.

  1. It is illegal –   America was meant to be a land of laws and not men. Currently the laws of the land are being ignored by our government for the sake of political expedience and to drive forward agendas.  That being said, people expect equal application of law despite race, religion, wealth, position, influence and so on. This may be dismissed as naive by the media pundits, politicians and intelligentsia.  However, it is a principal and that is no small thing to many people of this country.  Also, the blatant policy of ignoring existing laws punishes and undermines the good people who seek to enter the country lawfully.  Once again, the government is punishing those who seek to do things properly and reward those who act poorly and  irresponsibly.  What kind of message does this send?
  2. The welfare state – Illegal immigrants come to America for various reasons.  Some of these people come to seek employment and make a living in a new place.  Others do not. In fact, in too many cases it is quite the opposite. Our government has extended a whole menu of subsidies, handouts and welfare programs to people here illegally.  Obviously, this puts an undue burden on those whose paychecks are made smaller by taxes to pay for these various programs and handouts.  Of course, this is done in the name of various politically correct social issues and in the name of compassion. However, politicians rarely bring up compassion when it comes to the people from whom they are confiscating earnings for their uncontrolled spending.   The welfare state is valid and urgent concern.
  3. Illegal immigrants are “taking American jobs” – This is a concern of many. It is a much misunderstood and touchy subject. Illegal immigrants are working for wages lower than Americans traditionally work for.  Either the illegal immigrant or the business owner is blamed for this.  Although both inflame the situation by violating #1 on the list above, the major blame should not fall on these parties.
  4. Violence -  Before one jumps to any conclusions, in no way do I assert that all illegal immigrants are violent.  Hardly.  However, one would simply be fooling oneself if he or she did not agree that there does exist a substantial amount of violence having to do with the border and crossing the border.   Violence is obviously a problem and measures need to be taken to reduce it.

The welfare state, violence and even anger of those who feel illegal immigrants are “taking our jobs” are all just symptoms.  All of these things are effects, not causes.  What America needs to do is focus on the root causes.

The necessary and proper actions may not be popular among party-line Democrats or Republicans. However, the Democrats and Republicans are wrong. If one challenges himself to think about what would alleviate the problems and concerns with illegal immigration, he might find himself accepting the ideas that will be shared.

The Solutions to Alleviate the Troubling Symptoms Associated with Illegal Immigration

Eliminate the subsidies, handouts and welfare programs to people here illegally.

This is simple.  You always get more of what you subsidize. If we build the incentive to come to America illegally and become part of the welfare state, that’s what we will get.  Again, those who are arbitrarily (or maybe not) receiving money from our so-called compassionate federal government are only one side of the equation.  On the other side are those productive, responsible people who work hard to earn a living only to have the government taking ever more from them only to give it to those who reside here illegally and producing / contributing nothing.

Eliminate minimum wage laws & reduce taxes on business.

Regardless of what people want to believe, the reason businesses hire illegal immigrants is that the free market demands it.  This may sound like a tough pill to swallow, but it is true.  Over time, the government has restricted the ability of businesses to operate effectively and efficiently.  Sure, there are examples one can bring up to try to explain how government has been good for business. In these cases, the government did what does. It taxes, regulates and legislates.  It does so in favor of the few at the expense of the many. Most times, the large corporation with an army of lobbyists will influence regulation to pass helping themselves and harming their competition. There is nothing natural or healthy about this practice. It destroy free markets (and therefore a piece of freedom) and stifles the power of the consumer (you).

The minimum wage laws do precisely opposite of what they are intended to do.  Politicians looking to be perceived as a champion of the working class often use minimum wage as political tool.  That may be its only effective use.  In essence, minimum wage laws hurt those unskilled laborers who politicians claim to be protecting. They do so by limiting them from competing against high skilled laborers and capital. What does this mean?

With the “help” of minimum wage laws, many jobs and opportunities that used to exist have been eliminated because these laws have priced them out of the market. Sound economists like Peter Schiff have outlined this in detail and listed many examples of how minimum wage laws destroy jobs and burden the businesses with unneeded costs resulting in lower quality products / services by way of elimination of jobs.  For instance, Peter Schiff poses the questions, why do people always get voice mail when you call businesses?  Why are there no ushers at movies?  Why did full services gas stations become self serve? Minimum wage priced theses jobs out of existence.

The whole idea of arbitrarily raising wages in the name of fairness is a juvenile fantasy. It simply doesn’t work. Let’s say you have a job that needs to be done and you pay $5 per hour to 2 unskilled employees ($10 /hour).  A skilled worker may cost $12 per hour so it makes sense to hire the unskilled workers. Then politicians push the minimum wage up to $7 per hour ($14 / hour).   Therefore, the government has created a situation where the cost of unskilled workers makes no sense.  Under the new minimum wage law, it only makes sense to eliminate the unskilled positions ($14/ hr) in favor of the skilled ($12/hr).

The government over time has also increased taxes on business to a point that cost increases have made it more and more difficult to operate a business profitably.  Again, money is taken from business to fund the uncontrolled spending of government.  This money goes to stimulus packages, social security, Obamacare and the piles of other programs and departments of our growing government.  So, as the person drives by the newly hired crew working on a shiny new  government building she might think that her tax money is going to good use.  Maybe not.

Instead, think of how much more productive that money may have been used if it were used by a private business to create a new technology, a time saving product, a valuable service or fill any of a number consumer demands that would create a profit. With the profit, these businesses could hire more people to beget more profit. This creates jobs. This creates higher productive capabilities. Higher production creates a large supply of goods. The large supply of goods means lowers prices. This means more people can afford high quality products at lower prices. This means a higher standard of living and a healthyier economy.

In the case of the government, money is confiscated to create jobs that fill little to no needs efficiently or create profit.  Because profit isn’t a concern to continue operating government programs, there is no incentive to watch costs or operate efficiently.  When these government programs inevitably operate poorly, people and businesses alike are taxed even more to keep these government institutions alive. They literally create no wealth. They cannot truly create a job. Each non-productive government job that does not create wealth (and that is every government job) equals one or more productive private sector jobs that will not contribute to the productive economy building cycle.  Although it sounds harsh, the government is literally a wealth destruction machine.

If taxes were reduce and minimum wage laws eliminated, the market would respond positively.  We would find wages gravitating to their natural levels and more jobs would be created. In addition, it would also reduce the need for businesses to hire illegal immigrants.

End The War on Drugs

Violence related to illegal immigration is predominantly associated with illegal drug trades.Yes, there are acts of violence outside of the drug trade, but by and large the violence is tied to drugs. So, what can we do about it?  End the war on drugs.

Prohibition doesn’t work. Never has. It certainly hasn’t worked in any manner with the war on drugs.

Actually, the war on drugs has been a colossal failure. If anything, the government prohibition on drugs has caused substantial damage and helped increase acts of violence, especially along the southern border of the United States.

The first reaction of most people, especially party line Democrats and Republicans is to reject this proposed solution fervently. The next reaction is to assume one who suggests ending the war on drugs is a drug user himself. They generally follow a simple pattern of thought regarding this. Drugs are bad.  So make drugs illegal. We will teach those who do drugs or sell drugs to those that want drugs a lesson.

This knee jerk reaction has allowed the government to continue with this abysmal failure of a program for far too long. In addition, it has only provided the perfect atmosphere for violence.

Here’s what happens when governments institute prohibition laws:

  • Making the drug illegal automatically shrinks supply because most people do not want to risk going to jail for long periods of time for selling drugs.   However, demand for consumption of the drug does not shrink just because a group of politicians made the drug illegal.  When you have a high demand for a product and a limited supply you get high prices.   With high prices comes the opportunity for huge profits.
  • This new environment created by the law offers huge wealth. Since it is illegal to engage in this prohibited trade, it attracts those who would be willing to risk jail time, injury or death to engage in this risky environment. In short, it attracts enterprising criminals an opportunity to start new illegal business ventures.  Prohibition creates a black market for the very thing it outlaws.
  • This black market will be run by criminals who will be getting increasingly wealthy the longer they can evade the law and protect themselves.   Since the drug trade is illegal and punished with long jail sentences, these criminals have nothing to lose and everything to gain by protecting their illegal businesses by any means necessary. That’s exactly what happens.  This is exactly how the creation of the Al Capones  and Pablo Escobars of the world are enabled by government.

Let’s apply this to the example of illegal immigration. It is no secret that the drug traders are sending huge amounts of marijuana and other drugs across the border with illegal immigrants, often connected to drug cartels and gangs.   The demand for drugs by Americans remains high, so the drugs will continue to be supplied by someone. Again, since it is illegal it is the criminal organizations who provide the drugs.

Now imagine that marijuana became completely legal to use, grow and trade.  What would that do?  First, it would end the government created tight control over marijuana that the crime organizations have.  Others would begin opening legal marijuana businesses.  So, the people who want it now have more options from whom to buy. With the greater supply and competition comes lower prices.  With lower natural market prices, the businesses of the crime organizations are less attractive. Where one once made 100 for a unit of marijuana, the natural market price after prohibition would be greatly reduced…maybe $20.

This allows people to shop with reputable people with the lowest prices for quality goods.   This means the incentive or need to do violence is eliminated.  The end of prohibition discourages criminal violence in a variety of ways. So, it is clear that the prohibition law itself is the cause of the violence.

One objection to the proposition of ending the war on drugs remains.  Some say that drugs are unhealthy and damaging to people so making them legal is encouraging the behavior.  This is not so.

Alcohol is a drug. It was once subject to prohibition laws. It went through the exact cycle outlined. It resulted in high prices and violence.   However, bootleggers made piles of money because people still wanted their whiskey, beer and other alcohol.  People continued to spend despite the law.

The simple truth is that you cannot legislate morality. You cannot keep every individual from behaving in a way that is self destructive. Nobody enjoys seeing people harm themselves with self destructive habits like drug addictions. However, laws exist to protect people against injury or harm from others, not oneself.

The war on drugs has not stopped people from purchasing them at all.  This is clear evidence of the above statement.

Interesting enough, in some countries that have made drugs legal the numbers of those who use them significantly decline.

It is clear that ending the war on drugs would reduce immensely the violence that exists from the drug trade associated with illegal immigration.  What’s more, the incentive to come here illegally with drugs would be little to none.  Lower prices caused by increased availability, competition, safety and choice would take away all of the reasons the crime organizations wanted to get into drug trades to begin with. Why buy from a gang at $40 when you can buy from a clean, friendly local shop for $10?

Eliminate the Root Causes & Alleviate the Problems Regarding Illegal Immigration

  • End the welfare state associated with illegal immigrants. End the incentive. Stop the free lunches and handouts to the nonproductive at the expense of the productive.
  • End minimum wage laws.  Wages will level out to more natural market levels.
  • End the war on drugs. It will keep the jails from filling up and take away the incentive for the use of violence.

Taking these actions would take away the incentive for crossing our borders illegally.  If job markets operated in a healthy manner, if  illegal immigrants weren’t granted subsidies and if the tight criminal control of drug markets were opened up…why would one come to America illegally?

In fact, it these steps were taken there would be no reason (except the lengthy and burdensome govt process) not to just come to America legally.

Eliminate the root causes. Alleviate problems.