Saturday, April 01, 2006

What's the matter with 44% of Americans?

Citing this Rasmussen poll, DallasBlog reports:
  • 65% of Americans think it's more important to restrict illegal immigration at the border than it is to expand legal opportunities for immigrants to have jobs.
  • 44% say illegal immigrants currently working in the US should be forced to leave, while 39% believe that illegal immigrants already in the US that have jobs should have a way to stay."
That's a huge number, 44%, who harbor fantasies about mass deportations. (The Pew Center says it's 53%.) I can't even think of an historic parallel for what such an event would look like: Some grim tale out of Stalinist Russia, perhaps, or a twisted, writ large version of Indonesian transmigration.

Forty-four friggin percent! (Why am I shocked? 29%
still think Saddam Hussein was involved with 9/11.) As I've said many times, I just don't get the harm and see many benefits from legalizing immigration levels high enough to meet US labor demand, indeed it's probably necessary for the future of the economy.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, those 44% are talking about forcibly deporting one out of every 20 American workers! Forget for a moment the human rights implications (though they'd certainly be unforgettable if that unhappy day ever arrived), a lot of people don't get the role of immigrant labor in redneck economics and how damaging it would be in the Southwest.


The guys at the day labor site aren't taking jobs from Americans. They're creating small businesses for the rednecks in pickup trucks hiring them each day. Housing, groceries, lots of the basics would get expensive really quick if you took away that labor pool. Sales taxes paid by immigrants support many public services they cannot legally access. When they pay rent, their landlord uses a portion to pay property taxes that support schools and public infrastructure.

Want higher taxes, more expensive motel rooms, bigger grocery bills, skyrocketing housing prices and an endless black hole of spending on a militarized border? Fine - pander to that 44%. Throw them a bone. But to do so will harm the economy more than it helps our security.

The whole, angry melange reminds me of Thomas Frank's analysis in What's the Matter with Kansas? of working class religious right activists who supported politicians based on social issues whose economic policies left them unemployed. Must 44% of Americans pay $20 for a bunch of grapes, $100 for a cheap motel, and $250,000 for a 1200-sq. foot home before coming to their senses? Will they even then, or would there be someone else to blame?

11 comments:

JasonSpalding said...

How ironic is it that those in government make the argument that illegal immigrants are just willing to do the jobs Americans don't want to do when the one job the government seems to be trying hard to avoid doing is dealing with illegal immigration.

thehim said...

How ironic is it that those in government make the argument that illegal immigrants are just willing to do the jobs Americans don't want to do when the one job the government seems to be trying hard to avoid doing is dealing with illegal immigration.

LOL! Maybe it makes since for Vicente Fox to do it himself.

thehim said...

er, sense, not since...

Texas Feller said...

I think the 44% view it as a moral issue. As a result, facts and practical implications have only limited power in the discussion. It's "us" vs "them".

Right Of Texas said...

I would have though the numbers would have been higher.

People are really angry even over the illusion that these people are taking jobs.

I agree that ANY caught doing illegal activities should be deported..but not all.

Ginafish said...

It's ludicrous for people to think that most of the illegal immigrants are "taking away jobs" from Americans.

These illegals are doing us a favor by being here! They work harder than most Americans I know. They don't care what the working conditions are as long as they make enough money to send some back to their family.

I don't see a lot of American's standing in line to pick fruit, lay bricks or finish concrete no matter what the temperature is, etc..

If America wants to pick a scapegoat, start getting mad about the people in India sitting at a desk, answering the customer service lines that Americans call, and then can't resolve their problems over language barriers. No, American's don't want tele-marketer or customer service jobs, but sitting at a cushy desk job? At least get mad about a job you might actually work.

I wonder what the geography is for those 44%. Do they live in a hole in the ground where they can't see what's really going on???

As for moral issues, Hello??? Didn't Jesus say to help the poor? Not kick them to the curb and let them fend for themselves?

Mike said...

Dude, perhaps, just perhaps, it's more complicated than you paint it.

Maybe the folks who are getting the real benefit out of the depressing force on low-skill wages aren't other low-skill workers. It's not exactly counter-intuitive, after all.

In other words, the folks getting the most benefit out of those cheap grapes are the guys owning the businesses and the guys living off their investments, NOT the low-skill worker. That paid less, or might not even have a job, and thus ain't buying a lot of those grapes, even cheap ones.

And for ginafish, it's basic economics. If employers wanted citizens to fill those jobs, they would raise wages until they got enough people to do it. It's not rocket science, after all. It amazes me how many liberals have been fooled into supporting this manipulation of the market by capital against labor.

Anonymous said...

Go visit Laredo, Texas and you might understand the wrath of the 44%.

Anonymous said...

"It amazes me how many liberals have been fooled into supporting this manipulation of the market by capital against labor."

Bingo. Every time I hear agitation about raising the minimum wage, providing universal health care, or sky-high unemployment among young black men, I look at the left's coalition and wonder what black leaders, union leaders, teachers, and advocates for the poor are doing marching under Mexican flags!

Sure, illegal immigrants "do jobs Americans won't do" -- because they depress wages! The minimum wage will raise itself if cheap, illegal labor is taken out of the system. That will increase costs, but since when is cutting profits for the "fat cats" something that Democrats opposed??

It's not the conservatives in Kansas who act in opposition to their own interests, it's the liberals who look down their noses at those Kansans, not seeing the beam in their own eyes.

Anonymous said...

actually, what the 44% (and probably more, really) that support the Sensenbrenner bill want to do is arrest, incarcerate (real, hard prison time for the felony offense), detain, and then deport the 11-20 million undocumented immigrants.

clearly, that is completely insane public policy, but why let reason get in the way of scapegoating immigrants?

thanks for covering this so well...

- bob

Sister Geoff said...

I am part of the 44%. Illegal laborers are not doing the jobs that we refuse to do, they are doing the jobs that we refuse to do for sub-poverty wages. Prior to the waves of illegal immigrants we did not starve, pay $35 a pound for grapes nor have buisness close down for want of labor and it is simple nonsense to say that the removal of the illegals will some how cause our economy to implode.

I do not support making illegal immigration a felony, as that would simply cause it to cost us more from yet more unneeded imprisonment, but I do support enforcing the law and deporting them.