But wait—with so many Americans unemployed, why not hire locals
instead of shipping in labor from abroad? That’s exactly what
Colorado farmer John Harold tried to do last year. “It didn’t take
me six hours to realize I’d made a heck of a mistake,” he later
told The New York Times. “Six hours was enough,” the paper
reported, “for the first wave of local workers to quit. Some simply
never came back [after lunch] and gave no reason. Twenty-five of
them said specifically, according to farm records, that the work
was too hard.”
At least in terms of illegals, and probably in terms of all immigrants, the “libertarian” notion here seems to be to import third world workers (and the consequent lower costs) to a first world America.
Let’s consider what would likely happen if libs like these got their immigration wishes – entirely open borders to all immigrants – for Christmas:
For starters, competition for menial, untrained labor would skyrocket as millions of unskilled aliens migrated to the US for work and “a better life.”But what is the most rapidly shrinking portion of our labor economy? Unskilled labor, of course. So, not only would millions of currently employeed unskilled (including millions of immigrants, legal and other wise, already here) be thrown out of work and onto various government doles – millions of new immigrants would also end up there for lack of work. Another aspect of “untrained labor” is this: Much work that now requires a college degree is essential the same type of work that simple literacy was more than sufficient to perform in the past – most clerical labor would be that sort of thing. Which would mean that much government labor, currently serving as a respectable form of welfare for many “underprivileged” minorities, would also be crushed by the competition, throwing hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of city, state, and federal employees, into unemployment and penury.
And it wouldn’t be just the lettuce pickers and DMV clerks affected:
The H1-B visa program for highly trained workers would be null, opening all of America’s high tech labor pool to crushing competition from immigrant employees with high level educations, training, and experience. Millions of Americans with six figure salaries would abruptly find themselves unemployable at those pay scales, not to mention the new college grads pouring into the market saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt.
Plainly stated, a large increase in immigration will suppress the wages of those native-born workers in direct labor market competition with immigrants. The economic forces behind this proposition are best illustrated with a simple model of the overall economy. Suppose for the moment that all workers in the economy are exactly the same in that employers can perfectly substitute one employee for another. Assume further that this “perfect substitutability” extends to the ability of employers to substitute an immigrant worker for a native worker. We will also assume that the stock of productive capital (machinery, plant, and equipment used in the production of goods and services) is fixed. Under these conditions, an increase in immigration increases national output, lowers the wages and employment of native workers as well as aggregate wage and salary income, and increases total income accruing to the owners of capital.
Now, the “pure Libertarian” point of view might regard all of this as a net good.
Which is yet another reason why “pure libertarianism” has never been tried as a governing model anywhere in the world. Not successfully, at least.