Archive for March, 2010

Illegal Aliens and Job Loss

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

I had a fairly heated discussion with a man in an Auto Paint shop a few days ago.  We were both customers.  He was not from Arizona but expressed his disfavor with John McCain.  I am inclined to agree with that much, but his specific issue was what he called amnesty.  He did not like the idea of making it easy for someone who has come here illegally to become a citizen.  This topic could take many directions and cover a lot of pages with opinion.  But his specific concern was that “Mexican illegals were taking jobs from Americans” (by which I understood he meant US Citizens).

He stated that the number of unemployed “Americans” was equal to the number of Mexicans who are here illegally, implying that the only cause of lost jobs is illegal aliens.  While he stated numbers, he did not supply any source information.  His single biggest argument was that a factory near his place of residence was almost completely staffed by Mexicans, which was the reason that so many of the local “Americans” were out of a job.

We did not continue the conversation, for two reasons.  I was constrained for time and had to leave, and I found his bigotry so offensive that I did not wish to continue the discussion.  However as I have considered the issue, there are a number of thoughts that have come to mind.

Employers are required to verify that a new employee is legally able to accept employment, and to collect taxes and social security contributions from those employees.  If the Mexican employees are indeed in the country illegally there are two possibilities; first that the employer chose not to check the credentials of the new employee, and second that the credentials were forged, stolen or duplicated.  The employer is not likely to simply hire someone and just fail to report them as an employee, to do so means that he cannot claim the wages paid as a business expense, and it means that he could loose his whole business over breaking of IRS rules.  If the credentials are faked in any of several possible ways, then money will go to the government that will have no one claiming tax refunds against or social security benefits from it.  This is not a negative impact to either IRS or Social Security funds.

The employer wants to get the best possible work done for the lowest possible wage.  If the Mexican workers are willing to work for less, and do good work, then it is capitalism at work that is taking the jobs away from the “Americans” who feel entitled to the jobs.  And I have never heard an employer complain about the quality of work from Mexican workers.

It seems odd to me that the political party which is arguing that illegal workers are the cause of the unemployment, have nothing to say about the jobs lost to off-shore manufacturing under the name of US companies.  That is seen as capitalism at work, and any attempt to penalize those companies who do so as a liberal plot to socialize the government.  Yet when essentially the same thing happens on-shore, it is also a liberal plot if less expensive workers of a different race are allowed jobs replacing more expensive local workers.

I have to wonder when the conservative middle class will realize that they are loosing rather than gaining from the process of defending the corporate right to move jobs off shore while arguing that workers who are from neighboring countries are causing the downturn in employment.  Unfettered capitalism is as dangerous to humanity as is any other extreme economic or political structure.