Illegals Don't Drive Down Our Wages

If they got paid more, that wouldn't make us richer

The Wage Competition Myth. Either illegal aliens working for less than minimum wage go South, or our wages go South, according to the myth. If an illegal works for $3 an hour picking oranges, how can a citizen keep his $8 an hour job picking them? Illegals working for low wages are therefore driving down citizen wages, according to the myth.

Then conversely, the best thing we could do to keep our wages high, is to start paying illegals $500 an hour. Right? If we start paying illegals like we do doctors and lawyers, that will make everyone richer, right? No, you say? But if paying them too low brings down our wages, then won't paying them too high raise our wages?

Hmmm. Why doesn't the myth make quite as much sense now?

Here is what the myth leaves out: if an illegal works for $3 an hour picking oranges, it may be that it will make it harder for a citizen to pick oranges for $8 an hour. But every worker is also a consumer. He has to fill his gas tank, and his belly, and pay for food and shelter, at the rates citizens charge. So every worker who comes here creates a new job for every one he takes, and the jobs they create are better than the ones they take to the extent their wages are low.

Are we grateful that doctors and lawyers charge so much, because that drives our wages up? No? Don't their high wages, for services we require, simply transfer our wealth to them?

Then why do we imagine the worst thing for our wages is for illegals to have low wages? When they work cheap for us, yet still pay what we charge them for the services they need from us, isn't that good for us? Isn't it us, taking advantage of them? Yet we accuse them of taking advantage of us, by working like slaves for us, making us rich!

This is not making us look good. It is not making us look smart, either. I wonder how much Southern slave owners blamed their slaves for driving down their cotton picking wages?

OK, you're not convinced. You still think the key to our prosperity is to pay lawyer's fees to orange pickers. OK, I am stillwilling to work with you.

Which scenario do you think most threatens to drive down wages because illegals will work for less:

a) the current situation, where illegals get fake IDís and take jobs at $5 an hour or less where their IDís wonít be scrutinized?

b) Bushís plan, where illegals will be able to work legally, so it will be safe to ask for $10 an hour Ė and indeed where guest workers will try hard to earn a pay raise because that will help them earn a Green Card (if one of the incentives proposed by Congress is adopted)? or

c) Malkinís plan, where illegals will be muscled out of jobs here and will go back to Mexico where they will work for an American factory making auto parts for $5 a day?

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