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It's All About The Benjamins

Right up until the Civil War, America had a wonderful economic engine: slavery. The ultimate in cheap labor, workers were treated as equipment -- no need to pay them salaries -- just list them as depreciating assets that will need replacing at some point. Industrialization eventually made actual machines cheaper than slaves, making the end of slavery an economic inevitability that was pre-empted by the Civil War, but ever since then there have been factors in our society to bring back the economic benefits (real or perceived) of slavery.

Various and sundry groups have been conscripted to take the place of slaves. Former slaves were quite popular for exploiting. Also in the late 19th century, Chinese immigrants ("coolies") were brought over to perform the heavy manual labor in the West, mainly in building the railroads. In fact, most immigrants started out as cheap laborers, until their skills in English and other areas developed to the point where they could move upward in social and economic status.

Nowadays, though, we have managed to almost perfectly re-create the institution of slavery. We have a nice permanent underclass that can be exploited with little fear of the law intervening and ruining a good thing.

Illegal aliens.

It's a perfectly symbiotic relationship. The employers want cheap labor, and the aliens want jobs. They don't mind getting paid less than legal workers, because they don't have to pay taxes or deal with withholding. The employer doesn't have to follow all the rules governing the treatment of workers and workplace safety and whatnot, because the workers have more to lose if the authorities get involved than the employer does. So the aliens are almost as good as slaves.

Indeed, in some ways they're better. They aren't owned by the business, so the employer doesn't have to worry about them "depreciating" as they grow older. Also, they represent a small investment; if an alien runs away, the business doesn't have to buy a new one, just let the word out that they're hiring, and not looking too closely at documents.

It isn't just businesses that are exploiting illegal aliens. It's the criminal element, too. We've already had one serial killer who targeted illegal aliens, knowing that they would be far less likely to go to (or cooperate with) the police. We've had numerous horror stories of those who smuggle aliens into the US exploiting, assaulting, or even killing their human cargo when they become inconvenient, have used up their financial benefits, or for simple kicks. (This story is merely the latest I've seen -- an illegal alien is paid to transport other illegal aliens across the country keeps his last passenger, a teenaged girl, to rape in the hopes she won't dare report the crime.)

And much like the institution of slavery, there are plenty of people ready to serve as apologists for the slavers. Just like the "it's best for the darkies, and they loves their massas" tripe of the antebellum South, we have those who want to champion the "rights" and tout the "nobility" of the illegal aliens. While some are content to simply conflate the illegal aliens with those who have obeyed the laws, gotten inline, filled out the paperwork, and in general demonstrated their commitment to respect our country, our laws, and our ways, some have gone into full-blown champions of the "rights" of illegals to be illegal -- such as the Dallas Morning News, which decided that the "Texan of the Year" should be those who are not, legally, Texans.

I've never taken any formal business classes, but one thing I do know a little bit about is the classic "cost-benefit analysis." It's a simple theory: to make the best decision, translate the pluses and minuses into something measurable -- like money -- and take the one that pays the best (or costs the least, should it come out negative).

It's tough to quantify the benefits and costs of illegal aliens, but it's abundantly clear that the costs of having them is extremely steep:

1) The general cheapening and degradation of respect for our laws in general.

2) The social cost of having a permanent underclass, a whole section of strata that most people can freely look down upon.

3) The ready supply of victims for those looking to exploit people who are too afraid to go to the authorities.

4) The erosion of wages, as legitimate businesses find they have to compete with rivals who use low-paid illegal aliens to undercut their more honest rivals.

5) The creation of whole underground industries, economies, and cultures, where official documents are forged and bartered; identities stolen and sold wholesale; and goods and services are bought and sold without appropriate taxation, just to name a few.

5A) The existence of these resources provide a ready way for our nation's enemies to enter our nation and move about freely to cause us harm.

(There really isn't any way to accurately measure how many illegal aliens are in the United States right now. I've seen guesstimates ranging from 8 to 20 million, with 12 million being the most common number I've seen. So I'll go with that one.)

No, there really isn't a way to deport all 12 million illegal aliens. But we can -- if we try -- bring it down to a more manageable number. Arizona's already doing one thing that works, by going after those who employ and exploit illegal aliens, destroying the profits to be made by this modern-day slavery.

Yes, we're going to get rid of a lot of otherwise-honest, hard-working, sincere people who just want to make a better life for themselves. But that's not our problem.

We have the most open immigration policy in the world, the most open the world has ever seen. And we ought to make it even easier to come here legally, to assimilate, to not only pursue the American Dream, but become a part of it. But we must not continue to spit in the faces of those immigrants who have followed the rules and obeyed the laws and, in general, done it right and shown respect for our ways.

We need to follow Arizona's example on a national basis. We need to make it far harder, far more expensive to come here illegally than to do so legally. We need to strengthen our borders. We need to make it harder -- and more legally hazardous -- to forge documents and steal identities. And most importantly, we need to make it very expensive to skip over Americans and legal aliens and instead rely on these new slaves.

Speaking financially, politically, and morally, we cannot afford to do less.


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Comments (14)

Excellent comparison and br... (Below threshold)
epador:

Excellent comparison and bringing the metaphor into focus as reality. Especially the apologists. BUT we seem to fall short when it comes to abolitionists as a movement that hasn't quite caught on - still in the early days when they're more likely to be tarred and feathered than gather a large appreciative crowd.

Right up to the Civi... (Below threshold)
Jeff:


Right up to the Civil War ? How many slaves were working in Northern factories or farms ? 0
So for half of the country slavery was not an economic 'advantage'.
The post was spot on ... I'd love to see more about the "self deportation" that seems to be occuring where enforcement has stepped up.

If business is benef... (Below threshold)


If business is benefiting so much from this new "slavery" arrangement, how is it that business interests are among the leaders in advocating reforms which would legalize the illegal workers, bringing them under the laws?

Do people really act against their own economic interests in such ways?

Shucks, we never l'arnt that in them fancy formal bidness and eckernomics courses . . .

Additionally, Jay, we could... (Below threshold)

Additionally, Jay, we could begin to prosecute those illegals who break other laws while they are here illegally. And Jim, not all business interests are among the leaders in advocating reforms to bring them under the law. Some will benefit keeping them illegal and some will benefit granting amnesty bringing them under a legal umbrella. I bet if one were to take a semi-close look there would be a benefit to the position each assumes.

"So for half of the country... (Below threshold)
yo:

"So for half of the country slavery was not an economic 'advantage'."

Sure it was.

Anyone who bought southern raised cotton, or tobacco (for starters), gained an economic advantage from slavery.

I hadn't read about Arizona... (Below threshold)

I hadn't read about Arizona's new law - that totally rocks. How did smart people get into the legislature in AZ? Why can't we repeat that feat in other states???

The Arizona law was a voter... (Below threshold)
tweell:

The Arizona law was a voter proposition that bypassed the legislature entirely. The 'Ninety Dwarves' had done nothing or worse, the governor found loopholes around previous propositions, and illegals kept coming. This law was put together by some smart folks and passed by frustrated citizens.
Do not expect your elected officials to take the lead on this issue, money talks louder than voters and there is billions made off of illegal labor. Referendums and propositions, with enough donations to pay for the inevitable and indeterminable court challenges, are the way we took.

Good post Jay....you cut ou... (Below threshold)
Nessus:

Good post Jay....you cut out the superfluouse side issues and cut to the core. This situation is dangerously close to slavery.

It is wrong on many, many levels - the sheer illegality of it all. The identity theft going on, with fake social security numbers, driver licenses, driving without a license and no English skills, getting paid in cash under the table, the erosion of English language in our society and the pushing of Spanish just about everywhere, etc.

Even if we ended and deported all illegals today (12 million figure is surely low, the government has used that figure for a good five years now), we still would be the most welcoming nation towards immigration in the world. We accept more legal immigrants each year than the rest of the world combined, each and every year.

Mexico needs to reform itself politically and economically - not export tens of millions of it's peasants into our nation.

Having said that, I am one of those who feels our "open borders pallooza" should direct us to lower legal immigration for several years as a means to sort of "balance out" the influx. This is consistent with US immigration history, for we had low levels of immigration from 1925 to 1965. Guess who championed the effort to increase immigration in '65?

Ted "the swimmer" Kennedy.

In the pile of humanity som... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

In the pile of humanity some group has to be on the bottom, some group on the top, and the rest of us in the middle somewhere. The illegal alien "system" works with a wink wink here and a wink wink there from business and government types who are closer to the top of the pile and want to clime higher, yet most of us benefit one way or another.

If we really wanted to get rid of the illegal alien "system" there are two solutions. One, we could open our boarders and just cease to exist as a nation (a new goal for liberals), or two, privatize enforcement as I have laid out in detail on Wizbang many times before. With a privatized enforcement system most of the 12 or 20 million illegal aliens would self-deport, and such a system can be humane if properly designed (that means no politicians involved).

The real problem with deploying a privatized enforcement system is knowing what group is going to move down to the bottom of the pile. I suspect it will be the elderly once the expense of social security exceeds the income from social security taxes, and that's just a few years away. Even if you believe the nonsense about the government IOU's being paid back to social security, that means higher taxes to raise that money. At some point working people are going to rebel and retirement benefits will have to be cut substantially.

If you're planing on being old one day you should support the illegal alien system. We need young healthy people coming to the U.S. to work and pay taxes into the social security system. A system they will never be allowed to benefit from. The riggers of crossing the boarder keep the old and infirmed from making their way to the U.S., and being illegal keeps them from voting, forming unions, or complaining too loudly about working conditions. Remember, it's an all volunteer work force and they can leave anytime they want. The illegal alien system is vital for the social security ponzi scheme to continue working.

Jay, yes their is a valid c... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

Jay, yes their is a valid comparison between slavery and the current immigration situation.
Just as slave owners did not recognize their slaves as human beings, neither do the greedy employers of today recognize illegal immigrants as human beings.

The great divide in the Republican party is between the regular Joe/Joan who see illegal immigrants as taking jobs and getting too many benefits vs. The Chamber of Commerce/Corporations
who use them to drive down cost and increase profit.

by the way...which Republican President Candidate has consistently held your view toward immigration for more than 7 years now that Tancredo has dropped out?

Jay, you covered some thing... (Below threshold)
kieth:

Jay, you covered some things there that few commentators do. You follow the money. Excellent piece.

I get very tired of reading... (Below threshold)
OLDPUPPYMAX:

I get very tired of reading that it is "impossible to deport 12 million illegals".
Remove these people from welfare rolls, cut out the free housing, food and medical care and fine or imprison employers caught with illegals workers and huge numbers will "deport" themselves.
But all of that notwithstanding, the US has made a living accomplishing that which weaklings, naysayers and failed European nanny states have deemed impossible. We have become far too willing to blithely echo the defeatist sentiments of these America-hating losers. Ronald Reagan showed that pride in the worlds greatest and freest nation was far from something to be ashamed of. We must rekindle that spirit.

Mac Lorry - you are mistake... (Below threshold)
Nessus:

Mac Lorry - you are mistaken if you believe the US needs tens of millions of poor, under-educated illegal aliens. See the Heritage Foundation's study back last spring.

Even, I repeat, even if we allowed more people into this country (legally and illegally), it would not make a serious dent in the social security "crisis".

Secondly, most Americans do not benefit from illegal immigration, in fact, it's a drain on Americans - higher taxes, lowered standards in school, higher health care costs due to emergency rooms full of illegal amigos.

Mac Lorry - with all due respect, you cite many cliches, falsehoods and half-truths.

Illegal immigration is simple to understand: It's a subsidy, nothing more. The taxpayer subsidized firm's desire for endless cheap labor. Nothing more. Then the public is propagandized to believe that "we're all immigrants", "we're a nation of immigrants" and other half-truth cliches like that.

Every nation on earth is a nation of immigrants. Everyone on earth is either an immigrant or the descendent of immigrants but that has little to do with whether or not we should be a nation of laws, much less a nation anymore at all.

Amazing... nogo managed to ... (Below threshold)

Amazing... nogo managed to talk in complete sentences AND get something half right.

On the flip side, the Democrats see illegal aliens as vote generators, and sell down the river some of their strongest traditional constituencies -- unions and blue-collar workers -- in their rush to pander to those they think see no difference between legal and illegal aliens. In fact, one could argue that they care more about catering to those who can not vote than honest Americans and legal aliens who work hard and play by the rules and pay their taxes. Indeed, politicicians like Ted Kennedy (who's TWICE led the charge to major immigration "reform" laws that have been disastrous for this nation) spit in the faces of those who have come here legally.

Nogo, there are factions on BOTH SIDES that are convinced that having illegal aliens here is to their benefit. To paint this as a problem of one party is as ass-hatted as... well, you.

J.




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