Monday, May 01, 2006

The High Cost of Cheap Lettuce

The May-Day Protests of Illegal Aliens (in at least one case without bothering to get the required permits) in our cities brings home a very stark reality. Our short-sighted greed for cheap labor is going to cost us. The universe seems designed so that the right thing to do is almost never the easy thing to do in the short run. There always seems to be some short term advantage to cheating. In the long run though, the right thing usually winds up being the easy thing as well. Those who take illicit shortcuts wind up lost.

We are lost. We are lost because we have taken illicit short cuts. We are lost because our leaders, business and political, got greedy and winked at illicit short cuts. And we passively bought our cheap lettuce, or fence, or chicken or whatever, and let them.

We now have tens of thousands of illegal aliens in our streets, all of whom want our benefits but not all of whom desire to assimilate into our culture. All of whom want changes in our laws, but if the changes they want in our laws don't come, they will break them anyway.

Yes, you saved money on your construction project because you hired illegal aliens. I know of a roofer whose family was in the business for thirty years who had to close his business down because he could not compete with an endless supply of illegal labor. The man would have spent the money he made in the community. The illegals wire it to Mexico.

Mexico's second largest source of foreign currency, second only to oil, is wire transfers from its citizens living abroad. They are sucking money out of this country as fast as they can make it. When the boom is over, they will go back home. That is after all the honest businessmen who tried to play by the rules got their throats cut by the competition who were willing to skirt the law. When the bottom falls out of our economy because of our short-term greed many of those protesting in our streets to stay here will just go back home and leave us to clean up the mess.

I lack time or space to delve into the increase in crime and other social problems when you take a subset of a country's population that is most likely to commit crimes- young men daring enough to sneak into another country against their laws- and move them to your neighborhood.

Decade after decade of disrespect for the law has produced a situation that is bad for all of us. It is unfair to the legal American citizens, and it is unfair and unjust to even some of the illegal aliens. Greed is sin. I know that is an old-fashioned concept, but ignoring spiritual truth is at least as dangerous as taking illicit short-cuts that cause us to lose our way.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How you color this as so black and white and then invoke spirituality into support for your position is beyond me.
I agree with most of the points you make, but your exagerataion and bathos makes me cringe to think that others see your view and may generalize conservatives at large because of it.
Get a logical argument, one that relies on facts and not sweeping generalizations, otherwise it is obvious you are a biased knucklhead of a man.

12:43 PM, May 01, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I am sorry that it is beyond you. As far as being biased, I suppose we all are. As far as being a knucklehead of a man, that is a sweeping generalization on your part!

3:22 PM, May 01, 2006  
Blogger kw's blog said...

Here are some facts about illegals in Arkansas.-

The INS estimated in February 2003 that the resident illegal alien population of Arkansas was 27,000 as of January 2000. That represents a rapid increase from earlier estimates, i.e., 4,400 illegal aliens in October 1992 and 5,400 in 1996.

Arkansas has received partial compensation under the federal State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) that was established in 1994 to compensate the states and local jurisdictions for incarceration of "undocumented," aliens who are serving time for a felony conviction or at least two misdemeanors.

The recent SCAAP amounts that Arkansas has received were:


The amount of SCAAP awards has been declining in both total distributions and even more as a share of the state’s expenses. In FY’99 the state received 38.6% of its costs. SCAAP data indicate that Arizona's illegal alien inmate population had nearly tripled from the 34.4 inmate years in FY'99 to 99 inmate years in FY'02.

Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, hospitals with emergency rooms are required to treat and stabilize patients with emergency medical needs regardless whether or not they are in the country legally or whether they are able to pay for the treatment. Congress in 2003 enacted an appropriation of $250 million per year (for 4 years) to help offset some of the costs due to use of this service by illegal aliens. This amount has been allocated among the states based upon estimates of the illegal alien population and data on the apprehension of illegal aliens in each state. This amount compensates only a fraction of the medical outlays. For Arkansas, the proposed payment in fiscal year 2004 is $643,867.

3:59 PM, May 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spiritually speaking, the Bible is very clear on how to treat aliens.

"The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:34).

Not to mention Jesus' words about how we treat the least members of society being how we treat him.

6:34 PM, May 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your misapplication of scripture was already dealt with in another thread..

I cannot conclude without noting that the editors used a scripture to support their position that it was immoral to deny illegal aliens any privilege or benefit to which our own citizens are entitled. That was Leviticus 19:33-34 which reads, “And if a stranger sojourns with thee in your land, you shall not vex him. 34 but the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

I am grateful that they bring the authority of scripture into this question, because I do believe that Scripture is God-inspired and the highest presentation of Divine moral truth available to man. Still, perfect truth may be imperfectly understood, especially when divorced from diligent study and the illumination of the Holy Spirit that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Without both these two things those same words that bring life can be used to promulgate error.

In this case the word “stranger” in the Hebrew (“gare”) has a primary translation of “guest”. Look it up in Strong’s Concordance for yourself. Leviticus 19 does not refer to people who entered the country illegally. Instead they were strangers like “ye were strangers in the land of Egypt”. The Hebrews were invited into Egypt by the legal government of that country. They were legal aliens. Further, the Children of Israel were ordered in Exodus 23:31-33 to drive out certain corrupting inhabitants of the land and keep them out (“they shall not dwell in thy land”). In other words, Israel had the right and duty to secure her borders. The idea that God wanted the Children of Israel forced to pay taxes to provide non-emergency medical care to any Canaanites who slipped back into the land is as farcical as the attempts of the Democrat-Gazette and certain of Senator Holt’s opponents to use Leviticus 19 as “proof” we are somehow less Christian because of our support for SB206. when poor people break the law they should get a pass? the best thing we could do for the poor in our society is deport the illegals that don't belong here. wages for low-skill jobs would increase dramatically.

8:10 PM, May 01, 2006  
Anonymous Harvey Edwards said...

It is simple as mud, This knucklehead was brought up believing that when something is illegal that you punish the action. If we refuse to be a nation of Laws then someone tell me the direction to the wild west..
I have spent a lifetime in defense of our constitution and the laws of our Country. This too is what our representatives are sworn by oath to do. Impeach anyone who will not defend his oath of office and start at the State level. I am not out to make buddies when our Countrys security is being played with by politicians who have deep pockets and a desire for the latino vote. I dont believe in this dangerous compomise.

8:53 PM, May 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing about the LG debate today?

8:54 PM, May 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mark,

Take an economics course. In it you will find all sorts of useful information that describe facts about low-skilled labor that you seem to ignore. Things like comparative advantage and structural unemployment.
I am trying hard not to mention that your horse in this race probably hasn't taken one of these college level courses, but our states economy demands a more thorough knowledge than what is being offered in your camp.

There is a reason why many homeschool parents have complicated topics taught at associations or tutors, they need to be facilitated by experts in the field. I used this example (one that should be near and dear to your heart) so that even if you say Holt taught himself, the depth of knowledge is probably lacking.

Caveat: I am strongly against the rate of immigration happening in our country, but your arguments are vapid.

10:23 PM, May 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please educate us, oh self-described wise one, on just how great it is that the lowest among us cheat the law and hire illegals while the honest among us go out of business.

Illustrate the advantage, oh mental giant, on how helpful it is that a significant segment of our population sends billions of dollars a year outside of our country.

5:03 AM, May 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And these are just a couple of economic factors. The cultural impact is even more detrimental.

5:22 AM, May 03, 2006  
Anonymous Mark Moore said...

I've had the courses. I have a coillege degree in Business Administration. And I know all about cost-shifting- which is what happens when companies lure an near infinite supply of low skill labor in, depress wages to the floor, and then let the taxpayers pick up the tab for their children's education and their government benefits. It is a sophisticated form of theft.

I also understand the economic impact when you bring in alien workers who send their money out of the country, depress wages to the floor, and turn your native working class into a new poverty class.

The people out there this is happening to understand it, even if they have never had a college class. The upper class person who is not threatened by this and wants cheap yardwork does not want to understand it regardless of how many college economics classes they have had.

6:20 AM, May 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for describing me in such grand terms. I would be pleased to enlighten you on the necessary benefits of immigration and or "sending jobs" to overseas.
First you have to understand David Ricardo's work on comparative advantage. Briefly it means that if countries produce the goods that they are best at, instead of trying to produce everything they need, and trade with other countries doing the same thing -the result is that the production possibilities are expanded and both countries can benefit (given that one counrty isn't completely dominant and monopolizes the increased production).
So, in the case of Mexico and the US, this example would play out to the US concentrating on high-skill jobs or ones that require a lot of capital, because that is what they are good at. While in Mexico there should be a concentration on low-skill labor jobs. Why should this be? Well since I am a mental giant I can tell you. High-skill jobs and capital intensive efforts produce better higher paying jobs that increases levels of aggregate expenditures corresponding to domestic income (that means our economy gets bigger and bigger). While in Mexico they have a stimulated economy as well, which is easy even though low-skill labor does not have the same rate of productivity as the work in the US. So what happens if Mexico's economy gets better, especially in low-skill labor? The incentives to travel to the US are diminished. The wages in Mexico go up, and the corresponding wages in America go down for low-skill labor.

Since I am the self described wise-one, I can tell you are thinking that I am avoiding the current influx of immigration. Au contrair monfraire, as stated above I am against the current level of immigration. But, we do need immigrant labor, in part because our pool of low-skill labor is dropping as our education level increases (thats a good thing). This leaves firms with the need to hire low-skill labor. "But thats killing Jimmy-Ray's chance for a job." Maybe so, but it ultimatly creates jobs for Bobbi-Sue and Barbara-Jane. And these jobs are not only created in greater proportion than the diminshing jobs, they are better jobs, more productive and better paying. This is called supply-side economics. A fellow by the name of Ronnie implemented this in the early 80's to great success. If you increase the supply, price level goes down while quantity does as well (beautiful).
There are short-term advantages to keeping out "them people", but the future growth and vitality of the economy will be better served by Republican economics not your socialistic/isolationist/protectionist hoopla.

On a different point, someone mentioned the egress of billions of dollars to other countries that was earned here. This is a problem because it shorts the flow of the money multiplier (i.e. you spend $100 and the person you pay it to spends $80, and then that person spends $62 and so on untill instead of $100 dollars under the mattress there is $500 stimulating the economy), but this is probably a temporary problem or at least one that will diminish once the labor markets achieve an equilibrium. It actually has a similar effect as the trade deficit has, instead of money being spent here and invigorating investment and productivity it does the same, just in another country.

Any questions?

11:48 AM, May 03, 2006  
Anonymous Mark Moore said...

Yes I have a question. How can someone who uses all of the four dollar words you use miss the point so badly? I know what comparative advantage is, and it is not directly to the problem of illegal immigration. When that labor comes up here it uses our infrastructure, our legal and moral codes, and out resources. A dozen years of economic data contradict your rosy cycle of the higher skill jobs staying here while the lower ones leave. Per-hour real wages have been dropping like a stone in this country. The jobs being created are lower end service jobs and government jobs.

You think the trade deficeit does not matter because it eventually gets invested back in America. I tell you what a wise man once said about trade deficeits: The money leaves as your servant and comes back as your master. The rest of the world will on day own us.

1:57 PM, May 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually a couple of those were $5 words because of inflation. And I didn't say the trade deficit was harmless at all, I just said that the exit of money will probably decrease. The trade deficit is a horrible mess.

5:32 PM, May 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please reference the journal articles that explain your point.

8:16 PM, May 03, 2006  
Anonymous Mark M said...

I liked that quip about the words going up because of inflation.

The trade deficeit is one source of money outflow, but illegal aliens living as spartanly as they can (except for whatever social benefits they can obtain) and sending the rest of their money back him is another source. It CAN'T be good for the local economy and a vague assurance that the money will one day find its way back to us is small comfort.

6:01 AM, May 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant "deficit" and "back HOME".

6:02 AM, May 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right, I didn't make the point that it wasn't. It is just not as big a factor as the the reduced price of factors of production that increases supply. You are talking about economic theory that was largly outdated as soon as Reagan took office, for Republicans. The aggregate increase in the economy is larger and more efficient with supply-side.

12:58 PM, May 04, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

"You are talking about economic theory that was largly outdated as soon as Reagan took office, for Republicans."

You mean the idea that deficits matter? That idea may not be in vogue right now, but it is hardly outdated. The United States is beginning the process of finding out what happens when you spend more than you have for years and buy more than you sell for years. They have used every trick in the book to put off the day of reconing, but it will come. It won't be pretty.

"The aggregate increase in the economy is larger and more efficient with supply-side."

No. No it is not. If I save $5.00 and hour by hiring an illegal (say $9.00 instead of $14.00) then I have $5.00 an hour more, but who would have had that money otherwise? My worker who would spend it all in my community.

The illegal lives off of $4.00 an hour and sends the rest home or uses it to buy stuff from "the home country" in the stores. The money flows out of our economy and into theirs.

The business that tries to compete using honest labor goes broke, putting that man out of work. Any of his employees not on welfare take jobs that pay less. All of that subtracts from our economy.

If ever the home country gets enough of an economy going to pay him the same wage, it is vamanos! They leave. When they come it causes major economic distuption, resulting in trama and ineffceincy, and when they leave the same thing happens over again. More likely though, graft and corruption will cause the money sent home to be used to enrich the already powerful rather than build a modern economy.

6:00 PM, May 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right, I know what you are saying. Like I have already said: THAT IS NOT THE POINT MARK! I agree that money not being invested in the economy is not helping us.
You really need a graph to understand this, but the point is that the immigrant gets paid $5 and sends it all to mexico. So we don't get much from him. But the employer gets a savings of $3 per hour AND increases his productivity and at lower costs to the consumers, which is key to a healthy economy.
I don't want immigrants to send their money overseas, but the increase of saving that leads to greater production levels out weighs the detrimental effect of shorting the money multiplier.

You think that I am disagreeing with your argument, I am not I am disagreeing with your conclusion. Your argument is right, its just a partial representation of the issue.

6:38 PM, May 04, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

So when a major load of the producers start doing that, who will be left to buy their products?

There is no "savings" to the economy as a whole. Greater "production" for business owner is cancelled out by lesser "production" of income by the workers. There are winners and losers, but the economy as a whole does not win.

If ALL of the business owners start cheating, then prices drop and none of THEM win, they just pay lower wages to people who send it home. The "winners" are the consumers in the short run. In the long run the workers and the consumers are the same people. If workers start losing so do consumers, so THAT cancels out.

If the illegals also consume more than their fair share of social services and law enforcement, and don't pay much property tax relative to the costs of their children's education, then we really lose. There is significant cost-shiting going on with the illegal alien economy. Business owners are getting the cheap labor, but shifting these social costs onto the backs of the tax-payer.

For all these reasons and more, I am going to stick to my conclusion that the loss of the money multiplier plus other costs outweighs any benefit from lower cost of production.

7:46 PM, May 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And that is why I know you are wrong, because your conclusion is contrary to economics.

By the way I haven't ever said that empoyers should cheat, I am just highlighting the fact that firms benefit, and by proxy the entire economy, from low-skill labor. You are mixing the culture argument and the economic argument and combining elements of different arguments and coming up with a trumped up conclusion.

Here are two examples of your argument:
1) 5+7=12
2) Cats are different than dogs
3) Ice cream is delicious
Conclusion- If you had 5 dogs near an ice cream cone you would have 12 cats hungry.


1) I don't think someone from a certain political party could manage different political party member's campaign.
2) Mark Moore spouts rhetoric often cloaked in the guise of constitutional/christian/republican words.
3) Holt uses campaign signs illegally.
Conclusion- I am going to vote for Huckabee for Lt. Governor.

You will notice that each of those premises are right or mostly right with a conclusion that I feel is right. But is that really a convincing argument? No and neither is yours.

9:31 PM, May 04, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I will be content to let the other readers look at the previous posts and decide whose argument is convincing or not.

2:39 PM, May 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope that they take into consideration that I am and economics major.

8:57 PM, May 05, 2006  
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