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April 08, 2019

Charlie Gasparino: Trump's Border Control Efforts Are, Get This, Spurring Wage Growth

The people who claim to be All About Economics suddenly pretend to not understand what happens when you're constantly increasing supply (low-skilled workers being added willy-nilly into the American labor pool, both legally and illegally) and don't increase demand (the need for low-skilled workers).

Indeed, due to automation and efficiency gains, as well as off-loading all low-skilled labor jobs which can be done in low-wage countries like China to low wage countries like China, demand for low-skill labor is decreasing.

So, what happens? Well the people who are All About Economics won't say so because they have a religious mania to import as many low-skilled foreign workers into the country for no very good reason, but what happens is that the wages of Americans fall. The low-skilled American workers' wages fall the most, but there's a knock-on effect where the wages of moderately skilled workers fall too.

This is a major driver of the 30 year stagnation in American wages and the attendant social anxiety and class animosity in the country. Which in turn is a driver of such social evils such as higher divorce rates, lower marriage rats, lower childbirth rates, lower intact family rates, and higher rates of depression, drug abuse, and suicide.

America has long been a country marked by optimism and faith in the future, but after 30 years of the future coming and passing without delivering much by way of material gains in terms of worker wages (and, in fact, some degree of reduction in worker wages), that optimism and faith in the future may be getting wobbly.

Hope is a productivity- and mood-boosting drug, like caffeine, but that drug has been largely off the market the past 20 years.

But with Trump pushing for a more zestful enforcement of the border, the supply of labor provided by (often illegal) foreign workers has fallen, and American wages are increasing -- all without direct market interventions like increasing the minimum wage.

It has long been Mickey Kaus' contention that the increasing prosperity of workers in the 90s was due to the relatively (relatively!) low-ish migration during the Clinton years (combined with an increase in demand for labor due to a hot economy). This is why Kaus, a paleoliberal, has always been an immigration hawk.

Indeed, this is why NeverTrump soyboomer David Frum has long championed immigration restrictivism as well.

It's not just about money, either: Conservatives have long believed that there is a strong correlation between industriousness and the other virtues and social good. Higher industriousness -- a good work ethic, and work enough to go around -- leads, nigh inexorably, to a host of social goods, such as increased orderliness, increased charity, increased social trust in strangers, as well as great gains in marriage, marital stability, and childbirth.

And what happens to a people who do not have enough work? Or who do not feel that the benefits from working are adequate? They develop an ethic of anti-industriousness, which leads to all the common social woes: dependency, drug abuse, out-of-wedlock childbirth, low marriage rates and low marital stability.

It amuses me that people would call the immigration-restrictivist position "racist." Because, I have to ask, if you don't explain the high rates of drug abuse, out-of-wedlock births, etc., in the inner city minority populations as being a consequence of the anti-industriousness ethic (itself caused by low opportunities for gainful work), then how would you explain it?

It seems to me you'd have no other choice but to explain it by a series of actually racist claims about the low moral and ethical character about populations who are failing to thrive in America.

I don't believe that; I think industriousness and the other moral virtues are strongly correlated, and decline in industriousness rapidly leads to a decline in most of the rest of the virtues.

And when people don't believe in the benefits of industriousness, industriousness declines. They become cynical about working and cynical about the American way in general, and that leads to an anti-industriousness ethic and a self-destructive counter-culture which scorns American idealism about prosperity.

And I don't think whites have any special resistance to this effect.

And of course, American blacks and Latinos are the most harmed by competition from cheaper (often illegal) foreign workers.

What lessons is the current regime teaching them? Work hard, buy into the system -- and then get replaced by a guy whose I-9 form is still moist from forged ink?

So I do believe that if you put millions and millions more whites out of work and on the dole, they will follow the exact same trajectory that inner city populations often do.

Of course, there's little argument about that; we already see this happening a lot. Hillbilly Elegy and Coming Apart are all about this -- and this isn't a new thing. We're into the second, third generation of this phenomenon in some economically distressed areas populated by what was once the white working class.

Wouldn't it be best to avoid adding tens of millions of new entrants into the socially-dysfunctional underclass?

And wouldn't it also be best to avoid kicking low-skilled working class black and Latinos off the labor rolls, lest they, too, begin adopting the toxic (and yet rational, under some circumstances) counter-culture of cynicism and scorn about working that underclass black and Latinos tend to have?

Why someone would be eager to expand the phenomenon of worklessness leading to a host of social pathologies, including violent criminality, which in turn harms the parts of society otherwise blissfully immune to being laid off due to displacement by foreign imported labor, is beyond me.

Nevertheless, she persisted:

Weekly Standard editor-at-large Bill Kristol said Tuesday afternoon that the white working class should be replaced by immigrants as they have become "decadent, lazy" and "spoiled."

"Look, to be totally honest, if things are so bad as you say with the white working class, don't you want to get new Americans in?" Kristol told author Charles Murray during an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute titled "It Came Apart: Wha'ís Next for a Fractured Culture." Murray recently wrote a book, entitled "Coming Apart," which focuses on the cultural separation between the wealthiest and most educated white Americans and the poorest and least educated white Americans.


"You can make a case that America has been great because every -- I think John Adams said this -- basically if you are in free society, a capitalist society, after two or three generations of hard work everyone becomes kind of decadent, lazy, spoiled -- whatever," Kristol said.

Has it ever occurred to him that a diminishment in work ethic can be caused by a fairly-rational observation that the benefits of a work ethnic have declined in the past 20 years, and working harder to compete with an ever-increasing pool of just-arrived foreign imports begins to strike some people as a chump's game?

And that, perhaps -- in line with the MARKET! BASED! PRINCIPLES! he allegedly believes in -- an increase in the appreciation of the value of working hard could lead to, well, working harder? And being more virtuous in other areas as well?

That is to say, if the diminishment of the American work ethic can be caused (at least partly) by the reduction of the benefits of working (which is in line with MARKET! BASED! PRINCIPLES!), then it stands to reason the American work ethic can equally be increased by a boost to the benefits of working.

But nah -- the cure to declining industriousness and virtue due to joblessness and wage stagnation caused by an ever-increasing pool of foreign workers (many of them illegal) is just MOAR foreign workers.

And what's the plan for the Americans displaced by these foreign workers?

Just welfare? Welfare forever? And the more (out of wedlock) kids you have, the higher your welfare check?

Well! That should work out just fine. It's certainly worked when we've tried it before!

Again, unless you believe that there is something inherently inferior about inner city black and Latino communities that cause greatly elevated drug use, criminality rates, out-of-wedlock births and low marriage rates -- which would be racist, and the NeoCon Virtue-Signalers can't possibly be racist -- then you must accept the unavoidable conclusion that greatly expanding the worklessness-to-welfare regime to include tens and tens of millions more Americans will lead to the exact same problems it caused in the majority-minority cohorts it's already been tried in.

So -- maybe give Work a chance?

Even mild Milquetoast NeverTrump Chump Mitt Romney is making noises in support of border enforcement -- and a "fence" across the southern border.

Here's a quote from his appearance on Face the Nation with Chuck Todd:

"We can't have millions upon millions of people flooding into our country without a border thatís secure, without ICE making sure the people that are here illegally are sent back," he said, referencing the nickname for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

"This is a winning issue I think for Republicans. But more importantly, itís a winning issue for Americans to say, 'We have to have the sovereignty of our nation.'"

He calls for a "fence" (not a wall) across the southern border, too. Video at the link (to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, alas).

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posted by Ace of Spades at 02:49 PM

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