Les Misérables

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Christopher Carr

Christopher Carr does stuff and writes about stuff.

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  1. Avatar Art Deco
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    says:

    The implications of your argument are as follows:

    1. It is wrong to regulate transit across the border;
    2. The extant population of the United States have no legitimate interests at stake;
    3. Collectively, we should be willing and able to provide welfare services to anyone in this world of 7 bn people who ask.
    4. That your wife is an immigrant gives you some special insight.Report

    • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Art Deco
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      says:

      I would recommend you read the passage again to answer your own questions.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Christopher Carr
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        says:

        What is the word “again” doing there?Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Christopher Carr
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        says:

        No point in that. That is the logic of your argument. Own it, Buddy.Report

        • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Art Deco
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          says:

          You’re insisting that I am arguing something that I am not, simply because you do not like my argument.

          Contrary to your straw man, I am saying that the extant population of the United States has a responsibility to regulate traffic across the border in a manner that best serves all parties involved and that we are failing to do so.

          Foreign citizens who are not migrating to the United States are not discussed in the OP.

          Having gone through (and continuing to go through) the immigration process in two nations, I think I do have a special insight on this topic, which is why my opinion here is so strong: if I as a well-educated and privileged citizens struggle with immigration hurdles, surely those who are trying to enter our lowest class – immigrants – must struggle all the more.

          Is that a fair response?Report

            • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Art Deco
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              says:

              This response is pissy, even though you are aiming at pithy.Report

            • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
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              says:

              Hogwash. You may not like the response, but it’s entirely fair.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to J@m3z Aitch
                Ignored
                says:

                No, it is not.

                1. If you have a considered immigration policy, you have to have a mechanism of implementation. That will include the means to compel compliance with that policy. Without this compulsion, you do not have a policy (or you are defaulting to a policy determined by the many individual decisions of aspirant immigrants).

                2. You have your choice of penalties for non-compliance. That would be incarceration and corporal punishment. You can transport them over the border, but that will, all things considered, offer only a remedy and not a deterrent.

                3. People make choices given certain options. You enter a country unlawfully, you do not have the benefit of certain legal protections. That is to say, you are ‘marginalized’.

                4. Implicit in his complaint about ‘marginalization’ is that it is somehow dirty that they should not have the benefit of legal protection. That is to say, that there should be no distinction in status between those who respect the law and those who do not in the course of immigrating.

                5. Again, if respect for the law and disrespect for the law have the same consequences, the law is a nullity. The implication of that is that you have no considered immigration policy and do not regulate the traffic across the border.

                6. There is a world of hurt out there and vast differences in the quality of life from one locus to another. That is a motivator of migration, though it usually is insufficient in the absence of a social network in the host country.

                7. Residents of this country cannot in their individual or collective capacity do more than make small incremental gestures to ameliorate the trouble in the world.

                8. Importing a select few of the world’s distressed foreigners ameliorates the condition of those people and those among their proximate relations. It is not the only means there is to ameliorate conditions abroad.

                9. To say a society is more ‘diverse’ is to offer a descriptive statement and not a normative one. If a society is more diverse, that creates challenges which have to be negotiated. Those in the extant society generally benefit little from ‘diversity’.

                10. Before you can pronounce on the rights of the people, you have to understand who are the people.

                11. Citizens of Mexico are not stakeholders in this Republic. The degree to which you accommodate them is a matter of discretion.

                12. The social benefit from trade in factors of production (labor, in this case) flows predominantly to the new immigrant population. The benefit to the extant population is small and tends to be distributed northward.

                13. Rephrased, it is passably but not perfectly established (see Borjas) that immigration has unfortunate distributional effects and is injurious to the material interests of certain strata within the extant population.

                14. Walls are ugly and cops and courts cost money. So what? If these are the necessary means to enforce the law these are the means. Note that the New York City Police Department arrests about 340,000 people a year and the criminal courts of the five boroughs dispose of around 800,000 cases of all types. Activity on that scale would suffice to reduce net annual migration from overstaying visas to nil. The budget of the New York City Police department is about $4.9 bn. The federal government can readily afford that.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                The point wasn’t whether Chris’s argument was the better one, but whether his reply was fair, because that’s what he asked.

                As to your argument.

                1. Nowhere did Chris dispute that; in fact he talks about the U.S. having a responsibility to regulate immigration.
                2. Nowhere did Chris dispute that.
                3. Nowhere did Chris dispute that.
                4. Chris would probably agree with the first sentence, but not the second, which does not logically follow from the first (having some legal protection != “no” distinction in status between illegal and legal immigrants, as the latter could have significantly greater legal protection).
                5. Irrelevant, since it does not address anything Chris actually said.
                6. Pretty sure that fits perfectly well with Chris’s argument that folks are going to come anyway.
                7. Chris didn’t talk about solving the world’s troubles.
                8. Nowhere did Chris dispute that.
                9. Nowhere that I’ve noticed did Chris talk about diversity.
                10. Nowhere did Chris dispute that, although it’s not clear that it’s anything more than a truism, like, “before you can weigh the cat, you need to know what a cat is.”
                11. The first part fudges over the broad range of meanings of “stakeholder.” The second part is not something Chris disputed.
                12. I don’t think that’s something Chris disputed.
                13. Nowhere did Chris dispute that.
                14. Nowhere did Chris dispute any of that; he was talking about whether we needed different rules, not about what is required for enforcement of existing rules.

                So it looks to me like you’re not actually responding to what Chris wrote, as much as complaining that he didn’t address the issues that concern you. Given that you’re pretending to rebut him while actually addressing a different set of immigration issues, it’s pretty clear that it’s your response that’s not fair.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                says:

                Oh yes I am responding, and no, his reply was not responsive.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                No, you weren’t. I doubt you could even state his actual argument with any accuracy.

                The fact that Chris deigned to respond to your points below does not in fact mean they actually addressed anything he said above.

                Now, you’re obviously a self-satisfied little schmuck, unwilling to listen to anything but the hum of your own awesomeness, so further discussion with you is obviously pointless. You’ll not bother to listen and actively consider anything someone else has to say, but will look only to grind your own axe. That’s rather boring, and certainly you haven’t yet said anything particularly enlightening, so I’ll just mosey on to a better use of my time. Picking my teeth, perhaps, or watching reruns of Three’s Company.Report

              • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                1. What if you don’t have a considered immigration policy? What if you have some ineffective and self-contradictory kluge thrown together out of fear and nativism after 9/11?

                2. Do you really believe that we should go about incarcerating or deporting 4 – 10% of our own population? Is there a universe where that is not only cost effective but even feasible? Could we even do it if we harnessed our entire civilizational capacity? Wouldn’t more achievable goals like universal preschool, eradicating malaria, or reversing carbon emissions be a better use of an equivalent amount of resources? Rather than causing pain because some people did not properly file paperwork?

                3. How many undocumented immigrants do you think are even aware that what they’ve done is wrong? Have you ever been to a foreign country? If so, did you notice people looking strangely at you when you used your cell phone on the train or sneezed into your hand or failed to tip your train conductor? Do you think it would have been fair if you were incarcerated or deported for that?

                4. Again, how many people know the immigration law in their own country? What about a nearby country where people speak the same language? What about a nearby country with a different language?

                5. You’re exactly right here. If respect for the law and disrespect for the law have the same consequences then the law IS a nullity. The implication of that IS that you have no considered immigration policy and do not regulate the traffic across the border. Since the law IS a nullity, it’s not worth throwing more money and guns at enforcing it. Instead you should gather the relevant experts and draft a more sensible law to accomplish the same purpose. People are coming here anyways. We should welcome and include them for their sakes as well as our own. We certainly shouldn’t not allow them to work. That would be completely insane.

                6. Wouldn’t it be great it that social network were then integrated with the main network of the target nation instead of isolated?

                7. Perhaps (a bit defeatist I think), but there’s no reason why we have to actively oppose the rights of self-determination of others.

                8.Okay, but are you presuming that only the government gets to decide who can live here or not? I’d argue that it is the government’s role to minimize the harm that happens when two people or groups interact and not to control the interactions or who gets to play.

                9. The idea that members of the extant society do not benefit from immigration from diverse nations flies in the face of research consensus in this area.

                10. Okay, but I don’t think this point argues for or against anyone’s position here.

                11. Okay, but I think we should be more welcoming that we are. As it is, our own policies are excluding Mexican immigrants from meaningful participation in the American experiment.

                12. False.

                13. True. There are winners and losers with all social change. Just because losers exist doesn’t mean we should prevent all change from happening. There are certainly better ways to mitigate the negative effects of immigration than to prevent it altogether.

                14. Citation please. Also, your argument that we spend a lot of money enforcing laws in one place therefore we should spend a lot of money enforcing different laws in another place is not an argument at all.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Christopher Carr
                Ignored
                says:

                Memo to Aitch. These remarks actually are responsive (and concede my original point).

                —-

                Some of George Borjas articles on the subject of the material benefits of immigration (and how they are distributed amongst population strata) appeared in the Journal of Regional Science in the mid-1990s. I no longer have access to EconLit and GEOBASE, so I cannot get you the citations. There is a contrary view associated with Chad Sparber.

                That aside, the New York State Statistical Yearbook is available online, including the sections on police manpower and the disposition statistics of the New York State Courts. Generally, public budgets are available online as well.

                This country built 38,000 miles of Interstate Highways but you are telling me we are unable to build a 1,900 mile long wall along the Rio Grande. The conventional estimate for illegal immigration due to overstays of visas is 300,000. A common estimate of the share of immigrants of voluntarily return is a third, so you are talking along the lines of processing 200,000 violators a year to contain the problem in its dimensions. A police force with the wherewithal to do that can be hired for less than $3 bn per annum (including administrative and support personnel). A corps of border guards of appropriate dimensions with associated support personnel can be had for less. At this time, the two police forces we deploy for immigration enforcement have other duties (customs inspections &c.) and the executive has refused to build the infrastructure on the border mandated by law. At a time when farm subsidies chew up about $20 bn, the notion we cannot afford immigration enforcement cannot be taken seriously. It is learned helplessness, or effort proportionate to interest.

                The notion that we benefit from ‘diversity’ is a taste-preference and a posture of the professional-managerial bourgeoisie. The notion that it is somehow verified by research (as if normative statements were readily verifiable in that way) is rubbish. Still, look up some recent work by Robert Putnam. He did not come to his conclusions happily.

                You offer that people are unstoppably drawn to migrate here, apply for visas at American consulates or march across the Sonoran desert or put themselves in the hands of coyotes to do so, and are somehow unaware that ignoring the expiration date on the visa is unlawful and are unaware that the border guards are employed to guard the border and are unaware the chain-link fence with a warning sign is there for a reason. You said that, not me.

                The rest of your remarks amount to a complaint that there is public policy on this matter and that people might assert their interests as it “interferes with social change”. That’s what I said to begin with and you and this Aitch fellow tell me I have a reading comprehension issue. No, most people who grew up in this country and have never called any other place home are not down with the idea of America as the world’s youth hostel, no matter how much you fancy ‘social change’ to the detriment of us ‘losers’.Report

              • Avatar Gaelen in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                No one disputes that the US could physically build a border wall. The question is whether that is a good investment.

                “2. You have your choice of penalties for non-compliance. That would be incarceration and corporal punishment. You can transport them over the border, but that will, all things considered, offer only a remedy and not a deterrent.”

                It needs to be recognized how extreme this position is. Not only is it arguing for a massive increase in our criminal justice system, but also that incarceration or corporal punishment are ‘needed’ as penalties for our immigration law to be an effective policy.* From this and subsequent comments it is clear Art wants to go after many (if not all) illegal aliens in this country, and, further, that the US should incarcerating a significant (just guessing–ie. not really a deterrent if you not using it) number of these people as a deterrent.

                Your talking about some 10 to 15 million people, not just that our law enforcement have to find, arrest and deport, but that we are going to have to pay to incarcerate. At present we struggle to house the number of immigrants being deported, and your incarceration plan would mean lawyers (you are charging them with a crime after all), new prisons, and a massive new bureaucracy. Whether finding and deporting most illegal immigrants in this country is even possible is open for debate. Incarcerating them too . . . that’s ridiculous.**

                This quote, coupled with your comment above that we can contain the problem by building a wall and catching all subsequent visa overstays, are so completely foreign to me that I have trouble responding. As a jumping off point, there seemed to be some unfounded assumptions at play wrt your claim that increased enforcement would control the problem.

                Quickly (as this comment has gone on too long). The ability of a border fence to significantly limit the number of illegal entries to the US, or (more importantly) to limit the number of illegal immigrants in the country (almost half came here legally and overstayed), is dubious. Fences, tunnels, boats, to name three options for the enterprising immigrant, as well as an increase in legal migration and overstaying are but a few of the possible outcomes. So, will a fence make to harder to enter illegally? Sure. Will it have a significant effect on illegal immigration? Probably not. Then your numbers for rounding up those who overstay their visa’s may be correct, but again, there will probably be significantly more tourist and business visa’s. So up that number, then add to that money for prosecutors and (in your world) defense then attorney’s, the courts, and prisons. We already spend more on immigration enforcement than on other federal law enforcement agencies (18 billion compared to 14.4). Forget moral arguments, your claim that the fence and increased enforcement would not be a significant outlay of money is almost unbelievable.

                *If I remember correctly, crossing the border is a crime, while illegal presence is not (at least the first time).

                ** We currently spend 18 billion on immigration enforcement.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                Various federal agencies with a hand in immigration control have budgets which sum to about $28 bn. However, each of these agencies has mixed responsibilities, infrastructure is not present, and best practices are not present.

                I doubt with a fortified border you are going to have too many apprehensions per year. The state prison service in New York has an operating budget of $2.5 bn and a census of 63,000 inmates. You can see the executive summary here.

                http://www.doccs.ny.gov/Commissioner/Testimony/2012-13_Executive_Budget.html

                You take 200,000 people who have overstayed their visas and slap them with 80 days in jail and you have a census of 43,000 inmates.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                People can work out various technical means of evading a border wall. The point is to engineer the wall in such a way that the means are prohibitively costly and the number making use of them are not demographically important. People are walking across the border because it is a low-cost option. Raise the cost and some will give up and some will use other means. You have a police force to attend to the other means.

                Their are more and less optimal ways of deploying your forces. By way of example, the City of New York does not have an exceptionally dense police presence. The number of sworn officers per capita is perhaps 5% above the national mean for a metropolitan settlement, yet New York has a homicide rate which is precisely the national average in spite of facts on the ground which would lead you to expect much higher levels of disorder.

                I am not precisely sure why you all keep speaking of the stock of the problematic population. We have a large stock of crime prone youths as well, but we understand performance in this realm by looking at indicators which tell us over time whether collective management of social problems is improving or deteriorating. As long as the number of illegal aliens expelled exceeds arrivals, we are proceeding in the proper direction. We can, in that circumstance, implement policies which screen applicants for legal entry according to collective objectives.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                But building and guarding a sufficient wall ain’t free, especially if you lost below-minimum-wage labor. So the question becomes is it advantageous for is to do such. What do we gain and what do we lose?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                I’m with you Kazzy. Financial cost isn’t a trivial issue. I wish I knew more about economics but the calculus should really be a comparison between the cost/benefit of The Wall vs. the cost/benefit of … well … all the other policies.

                Building a wall strikes as very similar to making pot illegal. It’s just a money drain. All costs, no revenue.Report

              • Avatar trumwill mobile in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                Think stimulus! Jobs!Report

              • Avatar trumwill mobile in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                Though, to be more serious for a moment, I am still not a fan of a fence Because I do have doubts about is efficacy and expense, a well as eminent domain. But I am a believer of a more serious turns for the tat of amnesty, and I was informed last election that my preferred method (employment enforcement) was inhumane, immoral, and unamerican. So, a wall does at least have the benefit of providing jobs and will address certain concerns (and likely disabuse some folks of what they consider to be an obvious solution).Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                “The important thing is to build the wall. Complaints about its initial cost, maintenance cost, and ultimate effectiveness are just nay-saying to avoid admitting that it has to be built.”

                Shocking that this logic comes from the same folks who brought us the invasion of Iraq.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                Non sequitur.

                Given current highway maintenance budgets in New York and federal distributions for Interstate Maintenance, a passable guess at annual maintenance charges would be under a billion dollars. Given the construction cost the Interstate system in current dollars, a sunk cost in the range of $20 – $25 bn would be in order.

                I do not recall anyone on this board making an issue of the Energy Departments $50 bn loan portfolio or the $20 bn which are puked into farm subsidies each year.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                I do not recall anyone on this board making an issue of the Energy Departments $50 bn loan portfolio or the $20 bn which are puked into farm subsidies each year.

                You haven’t been paying much attention, then. Farm subsidies in particular have been criticized a lot around here.

                But just comparing costs of programs is a pretty meaningless thing unless there is agreement on the net value of that spending. The point here is that a lot of folks disagree with you about the net value of our spending on keeping certain people out of the country. For my part, I side with economists whose analyses shows that illegal immigration is a net plus for the U.S. economy, and stemming it would probably be a net drain on the economy.

                Why spend billions of dollars a year to hurt the economy?Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                See also here.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                And here.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                I am broadly familiar with the literature.

                1. A principle can be derived from a theoretical model. The conclusions of the theory are dependent on the the constructions of the model and the truth of the model is dependent on its correspondence with the world as it is.

                2. The theoretical construction can identify a true social phenomenon which is, however, of scant practical significance. Borjas research (ca. 1996) identified the benefit to the extant population of trade in factors of production as being worth (IIRC) about 0.1% of gross domestic product. In other words, with a moratorium on immigration, we would be largely uninjured.

                3. Again, Borjas: benefit to the natives is sensitive to the public benefits regime.

                4. Again, Borjas: benefit is a function of the sort of screens in place governing immigration. The unfortunate social statistics adhering to the Puerto Rican population are instructive here. Puerto Rico is a distinct society (they are sociological though not juridical immigrants) and Puerto Rican migrants have free rein to settle here (no screen) and full access to public benefits – the default preferences of the Democratic congressional caucus. The result has been a social disaster, and this migration stream has at its source Latin America’s most affluent society.

                5. Your screens only work if you enforce policy.

                6. And, again, economic analysis cannot capture the value of certain intangibles.

                7. Please recall Milton Friedman’s observation: you cannot have free immigration and the welfare state at the same time. Open borders advocates are often people who recognize no ethic of common provision nor any loyalty to any collectivity they did not manufacture from their consumer choices. (Yes, I do want Bryan Caplan to emigrate. I do not want anyone in my house not loyal to the house).Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                Open borders advocates are often people who recognize no … loyalty to any collectivity they did not manufacture from their consumer choices.

                You’re goddam right, I don’t! Fuck all this goddam nationalism–it’s a scourge, just brute tribalism writ large and given lots of emotionally manipulative symbols to fool us into believing it’s somehow more sophisticated and meaningful than just another Hatfield-McCoy feud.

                People want to come to my country because they like my country. I say let them in.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                You realize your use of the possessive doesn’t make any sense.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                Wrong. I like my country, even though I don’t think it’s perfect. I do have allegiance to it, but it is a chosen allegiance, not something imposed on me by some theoretical collective. So your attempt at dispossessing me is rejected–it’s my country, too, every bit as much as yours.

                Really you’re just doing exactly what I said, making another effort to distinguish “us” from “them,” and this time you’re trying to squeeze me out of the “us.” It’s sad and pathetic. Mere tribalism.Report

              • Avatar Gaelen in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                Art,

                Your taking something that many here, and most economists, feel is not serious economic problem and throwing significant amounts of money at it. Maybe most importantly, I think you are seriously underestimating how much it is going to cost to make 11 million people criminals.

                First, your use of 200,000 as the number of people we would be forced to arrest and incarcerate is a little strange. And saying that we can spend 3b* and contain the ‘problem’ seems like wishful thinking. I’ve already explained why I don’t think the wall or increased enforcement will do much to control illegal immigration (tourist visa’s aren’t that hard to get after all).** But that’s just the number of new arrivals (which would vary greatly based on the factors that actually effect illegal immigration), what about all those already here?

                If you make overstaying a visa a crime punishable by 80 days in jail/prison you have effectively made those 11 million people criminals. Just look at the war on drugs–these things tend to metastasize, especially when there is a large number of potential targets. You’ve taken an already over burdened system*** in which people present illegally are picked up (or not, based on discretionary factors and funding), held (or not, based on likelihood of return to court or ability to pay bond), given a hearing, and deported (or not, based on circumstances and applicable law), and removing at least some discretion on initial arrest, increasing the likelihood that the person will be held, increasing the cost of the hearing significantly, holding the person for 80 days, and then deporting. All because policy needs a penalty to enforce compliance (and apparently being held in our hellish immigration system and deported is not enough). And this is without taking into account that you want to increase deporting illegal immigration from the staggering rate we are deporting presently.

                TL/DR- Illegal immigration is not a significant problem, and prioritizing enforcement and criminalizing immigrants is an outlay that would certainly add to the increase of 46 billion dollars allocated to enforcement in the current immigration bill.

                *Plus 2.5b for prisons (actually more because the idea that we would only incarcerate 200k when there are 11 million illegals is patently ridiculous), and then more to allow the courts to handle the increased caseload, and then still more to hire defense attorney’s, and around 9 billion for 700 miles of fence or 20b to fence the whole thing, plus however much to for cameras, motion sensors, and drones to patrol that insanely long border, and alligators for the fire pits lining the wall . . . suffice to say the costs add up.

                **We significantly increased enforcement with no discernible effect over the last 15-20, in large part because they don’t impact the factors which lead people to illegally immigrate (source and destination country economic conditions, host country birth rates, etc.).

                ***So overburdened that immigration cases comprise 30-45% of appeals to federal appellate courts.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                Your taking something that many here, and most economists, feel is not serious economic problem and throwing significant amounts of money at it.

                What economists ‘feel’ or do not ‘feel’ is not important. Economists in my experience are usually loath to discuss normative questions and, in any case, bring their own social biases to these problems. Measurable benefits from trade in factors of production are small and there are social and political questions at stake that are outside the ken of economics as a discipline.
                Maybe most importantly, I think you are seriously underestimating how much it is going to cost to make 11 million people criminals.

                My back of the envelope calculations are derived from what working police departments and courts spend going about their daily labors. Unless you fancy there are complicated technical challenges in tracking illegal immigrants that do not apply in tracking ordinary hoodlums, I cannot see what the objections are.

                Just look at the war on drugs–these things tend to metastasize, especially when there is a large number of potential targets.

                What metastasis? Street drugs are a social problem and police, penal courts, and prisons devote about 20% of their manpower to containing the problem. That’s life in a world with large quanta of anomie and affluenza. It used to be worse than it is.

                You are taking current practice as a given. There is no need to give every advantage to lawfare artists and there is no need to have the Immigration and Customs Enforcement behave like the Keystone Kops. These are policy decisions. Verifying someone’s residency status is not that difficult if you keep proper records, which public bureaucracies are quite capable of doing if they are not execrably led as a matter of policy. A ten minute hearing, a few documents produced, eighty days in the cooler, and a trip across the border is all that is necessary.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                AD,

                If I’m understanding you correctly, you are attempting to have it both ways: we should provide practical disincentives to potential immigrants while ignoring the practical disincentives to doing so because of some broader calling.

                That doesn’t compute, for me at least.Report

              • Avatar Gaelen in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                Art,

                Your numbers are based 200k immigrants, which is in turn based on what? Absolutely nothing (ie. your conventional estimate of immigrants overstaying visa’s every year). But, as pointed out, this varies by year, and would increase significantly if we actually spent 20-30 Billion (and probably much more) to fence the border. The Fence also doesn’t solve the problem of illegal entry, which wasn’t included in your 200k figure.

                You’ve said, “let’s make 11 million people criminals,” but based your expected costs of enforcement on flawed calculations of the number people overstaying their visa’s every year. I mean your ‘proposal’ is incoherent. It’s like saying to ‘contain’ the problem of smoking we make cigarettes illegal, but judge enforcement costs on only arresting the new smokers, not the 44 million existing regular users.

                “What metastasis? Street drugs are a social problem and police, penal courts, and prisons devote about 20% of their manpower to containing the problem. ”

                So I’m guessing your basing that 20% number on the percent of the total prison population incarcerated for drug crimes (which is slightly under 20% in 2011, thank god). Having worked in court here in Kentucky, I would bet that the amount of time prosecutors and the police spent enforcing drug laws is far higher (ie. most people are given probation or conditional plea deal, not jail time). Now, we have an incarceration problem (note, not a crime problem, where are rates are similar to other countries, but rather a problem of locking up people for too damn long), so, especially after recent concerted effort to lessen the severity of drug laws, of course drugs offenses are not going to dominate our massive prison system. But we have imprisoned 31 million people on drug charges, we have basically the same usages rates as the 1980’s but imprison 500k in federal prison compared to 41k in 1985. Billions (maybe trillions) spent, countless lives destroyed, no real differences in usage rates. Yeah, I call that a cancer on the body politic.

                In sum, the current plan is a 46 billion dollar increase (granted some of that is one time costs) on the current 18 billion. You want to up this while criminalizing immigrants, but based the math on dealing with new immigrants under some incredibly generous assumptions. Color me unpersuaded.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                You keep confounding stock and flow.

                The estimate that 300,000 immigrate unlawfully via ignoring the expiration date on their visa is commonplace. I am sure there are a range of estimates. The source of the estimate that a third of immigrants voluntarily return home is the demographer E.P. Kraly. She spent the first leg of her career producing this estimate in co-operation with another demographer on the staff of the Census Bureau, so I tend to doubt it was a half-assed exercise. IIRC, she supplemented her academic publication with a small monograph on the subject with the title The Elusive Exodus.

                So, 200,000 is the net flow passing through consulates abroad and then ports of entry. I imagine you seal the border, some portion will attempt more conventional channels of entry. This is the rough dimension of your problem. And, again, you find local police and courts which process this sort of case load. The municipal courts in the City of New York disposed of 372,000 arrest cases and 466,000 summonses in 2010. They employ about 180 judges. When I worked for the Unified Court System, there were about 9 support staff for each judge, so that amounts to just south of 2,000 people. You are telling me the federal government is incapable of erecting a set of dedicated JP courts which employ 2,000 people?Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                And, again, since you are fixated on stocks, the following:

                I live in a country where there are around 17 million people at any one time given to dealing drugs or burgling houses or stealing cars or or robbing convenience stores or getting into p.o.s. bar-room brawls or p.o.s. road rage fights or raping random women or killing some neighbor who they fancy had treated them with disrespect. That’s life in the city. You hire cops and court employees and prison guards to contain the problem and clean up some of the mess because there is no alternative outside of the imagination of purveyors of social therapeutics. We enact penal codes which ‘criminalize’ 17 million people because alternatives are worse.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                One other point. The Appendix to the Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 2012/13 includes some tables issued on behalf of Customs and Border Protection. They allocate $3.6 bn to border patrol “between points of entry”. Not exactly breaking the bank with this line item.Report

              • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                Art, you wrote:

                “I live in a country where there are around 17 million people at any one time given to dealing drugs or burgling houses or stealing cars or or robbing convenience stores or getting into p.o.s. bar-room brawls or p.o.s. road rage fights or raping random women or killing some neighbor who they fancy had treated them with disrespect. That’s life in the city. You hire cops and court employees and prison guards to contain the problem and clean up some of the mess because there is no alternative outside of the imagination of purveyors of social therapeutics. We enact penal codes which ‘criminalize’ 17 million people because alternatives are worse.”

                Does this mean you equate overstaying a visa with rape and murder?Report

              • Avatar Gaelen in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                No Art, I’m not confounding stock and flow. You aren’t responding to what I have written. Criminalizing illegal immigrants, which is your plan, means that you have to account for ‘stock’ when figuring out how much it is going to cost.

                Immigration courts are administrative proceedings, and have no jurisdiction over criminal charges. At present they are criminally underfunded with huge caseloads. Under your plan we have to upgrade to a full Art I or Art III court with better resources, defense attorney’s etc. IJ’s already handle 400-500k cases a year, and you want to add criminal charges. You have to account for the ramifications of your policy (and this ignores the chilling effect on immigrant’s relationship with the police).

                On the 200k number. Why are we basing the size of the bureaucracy on the new violators and not the size of the whole population that you are targeting? As pointed out repeatedly, the policies you are advocating target the whole population. If every time an undocumented immigrant comes into contact with the state (local, state, and federal) they are picked up and processed (this seems to be what you advocate at 2:37), we need to think about how many more people are going to be coming through the system, not the average number of people overstaying a visa annually.

                Your second comment gets to why this is going to be a pointless discussion (I also echo Chris’ surprise that you seem to be equating rape, murder, and burglary with illegal immigration, at least in that they are both serious offenses). As discussed elsewhere on this thread, there is little economic harm from illegal immigration (and I think we can just agree to disagree about the social/cultural benefits and costs of our new neighbors). Said simply I have a fundamentally different take on the situation: one that acknowledges our partial responsibility for the drug violence in Mexico and other central American countries, that recognizes the immigrants motivation and desire for a better life, that sees the immigration system (ours) they need to come here legally as fundamentally broken, and which, as a consequence, would seek to legitimate the immigrants already here and reform said system to take into account the supply and demand for low skill workers.

                I also think you are severely overestimating the effect of the wall on both illegal entry and legal entry/overstaying.Report

              • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                @Gaelen:

                “You have to account for the ramifications of your policy”

                That’s how we got here in the first place. Immigration hawks continue to wax on and wax off about what is “right”, what is “just”, what is “fair” without taking into account the feasibility of forcing the nation to exist as they believe it should.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                Does this mean you equate overstaying a visa with rape and murder?

                No, any more than I equate burglary with murder. Illegal immigration and street crimes are social problems to be managed through the police power of the state. In both cases you have a stock of offenders who come to the attention of the authorities episodically. Those of us in the non-idiot population do not regard general law enforcement as a failure because the entire population of hoodlums does not disappear or is not at a discrete point in time behind bars. We ask if our infrastructure of coercion lead to improved metrics of public order or stable metrics at some tolerable level.

                With regard to the problem at hand, we have two inflows: one from people walking across the Rio Grande and one from people obtaining the necessary visa and then ignoring the expiration date. There are a number of factors which influence the respective dimensions of this inflow, but the dimensions are not unlimited and we have a civil infrastructure working right now in localities such as New York City which handles similar case loads. Reducing the net inflow to nil and gradually squeezing some of the pus out over a generation is not an impossible task nor a hideously expensive one. It will require a commitment to building effective institutions, which the New York City Police Department is and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement service is not. Mr. Gaelen prefers not to acknowledge any of this so is waving his hands and blowing smoke. The math is not that difficult and the published reports detailing actual public expenditures, case loads, and manpower are not difficult to locate either.

                You chaps would make better use of your time explicating why you have an emotional investment in what you do than in attempting to con me or con anyone else reading this.Report

              • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                Indulge me, Art.

                How would you rank the following in terms of serious problems to be solved:

                1. recreational marijuana use
                2. murder
                3. illegal immigration
                4. jaywalking
                5. rape
                6. online music piracy
                7. petty theft
                8. gang violence
                9. economic recession
                10. global terrorism
                11. cancer
                12. preventable industrial accidentsReport

              • Avatar Gaelen in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                We have a fundamental difference of opinion on the nature of this ‘problem,’ which I touched on above. And you still haven’t responded to why criminalizing all immigrants doesn’t overhaul our entire immigration system and makes it vastly more expensive.

                “Reducing the net inflow to nil and gradually squeezing some of the pus out over a generation is not an impossible task nor a hideously expensive one.”

                Your argument is that we will reduce “the net inflow to nil” by building a border wall and funding a service to deal with the 200k who overstay their visas.

                We are never, repeat never, going to be able to stop people from crossing the border, or overstaying their visas. The Senate bill is an extra 46 billion, and if our economy improves and the drug violence and instability in Mexico and Central America get worse, that’s not going to stop net inflows. So we disagree on the nature and extent of the problem; we disagree on whether your proposed solution would do much to stop net inflows; we disagree on how much criminalizing the immigration courts would cost. Most fundamentally, we disagree on whether this is a good use of tens of billions of dollars.

                Finally, being present illegally is not a crime (as much as you might want it to be), so stop comparing it to ACTUAL crimes where a person is targeting and harming a victim.

                Oh, and squeeze the pus, con you? No, fish you Art. I’m done.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                Preventable industrial accidents are not a problem. They are the result of a revealed preference for a certain amount of risk.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                We are never, repeat never, going to be able to stop people from crossing the border, or overstaying their visas.

                Gaelen, the problem here is that that is your postulate. And it is demonstrably untrue. Why you are invested in it, I do not know.

                Christopher Carr:

                1. Heck if I know.
                2. Here, there, and the next place, local police have managed to dissolve criminal gangs through collaring a critical mass of their members and seizing their property. Other than ‘gang violence’, not one thing on your list is a soluble problem. These are problems contained to the point where marginal cost equals perceived marginal benefit or (in the case of cancer) contained best anyone knows how.Report

              • Avatar Gaelen in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                Art, your arguing that we can reduce net inflow to zero by focusing on a wall and enforcement. History has shown that this is a problem that enforcement is not going to be able to stop. The fishing Korean DMZ doesn’t stop everyone from crossing, so good luck with our 2,000 mile border.

                And you haven’t convinced anyone that illegal immigration is a problem that demands increased enforcement (above the billions we already spend), or that your preferred policy is an efficient way to handle undocumented immigrants in or coming to this country.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                The logic of your argument is that each person inhibited from entry by a wall will make use of some other means to enter and that each additional increment in gross removals will be answered by an increase in gross successful entries. You do not at any point elucidate why these hypotheses should be so and yet I’m unconvincing.Report

              • Avatar Gaelen in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                No, I’m saying that it will not have a large effect, not that it will have no effect. And that the reduction in flow for the money spent is a poor investment.

                The US has been spending ever increasing amounts of money over the last 30 years to stop illegal immigration with little discernible impact. We’ve double, then tripled the amount of border agents, built walls, increased enforcement and deportation. All of which only made it more costly and dangerous to come. You want a cost effective way to lower illegal immigration, fund family planning services in the countries from which our illegal immigrants hail.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Gaelen
                Ignored
                says:

                the reduction in flow for the money spent is a poor investment.
                The US has been spending ever increasing amounts of money over the last 30 years to stop illegal immigration with little discernible impact.

                A concise history of almost every prohibition effort humans have ever tried.Report

              • Avatar Gaelen in reply to Gaelen
                Ignored
                says:

                But this one will work!Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Gaelen
                Ignored
                says:

                C’mon, Gaelan. They are heading across the desert and hiding out in box cars to avoid the consulates and visa inspectorates or to avoid the expense. As for the rest, there is nothing preventing us from building and maintaining fingerprint databases and exit-and entry tracking systems except this particular bureaucracy’s chronic ineffectuality, a problem with which both the Democratic Party and the Chamber-of-Commerce wing of the Republican Party are perfectly comfortable. If it be your contention that flows are entirely demand driven and will invariably overwhelm increases in police manpower and organizational improvements, you will have to argue around the remarkably unbalanced sourcing of illegal immigration.

                Again, Customs and Border Protection allocates about $3.6 bn to policing the border. The rest is devoted to customs inspection and the like. All of these agencies were derived from the old Immigration and Naturalization Service, which had a wretched institutional culture which lives on. Years ago, I came across an interview with a retired INS agent who was assigned to look for visa overstayers in New York City. They assigned seven (7) agents to that task in New York ca. 1990. The agency was not making a serious attempt to catch them; said agent also reported that improvements in the agency’s budget were allocated to hiring naturalization examiners.

                Look, 30 years ago you had a mess of characters in academic sociology departments and among the social welfare apparat who were arguing that there was nothing that could be done by administrative means about street crime then spent another mass of years half a generation later arguing that manifest improvements in public security were serendipitous. Arguments like these are not novel.Report

              • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Gaelen
                Ignored
                says:

                Art,

                Do you think the drop in street crime over the last thirty years is explained by increased law enforcement?Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Gaelen
                Ignored
                says:

                Improved law enforcement, which does have increased manpower as a requirement. And yes, I do. That is a perfectly commonsensical position to take. In New York City, the rapid decline in crime rates was abrupt, unexpected, and co-incident with a change in administrations.

                I have been assured by a research psychologist in the smuggest terms that Messrs. Giuliani and Bratton just happened to be there to take the credit. Said psychologist (who supervises shell-shocked veterans, despises the military, and has never worked in law enforcement or done a sociological study in his life) never did explain why the homicide rate in Buffalo and in Rochester is 3x that of New York City (given that it was nothing of the sort 30 years ago). Then there was the economist who offered a eugenic argument that the legalization of abortion weeded out the most disruptive population (not explaining why the decline in criminal behavior was abnormally concentrated in the wrong cohorts). And one of your crew offered a link the other day to an article by an employee of an advocacy group founded by Herbert Needleman offering that it was all a function of lead levels in people’s teeth, &c. I guess it is Dr. Needleman’s view that the crime explosion after 1960 would have been even worse if Latex paint hadn’t hit the market.

                Or maybe it is just that people who have no respect for cops and prison guards would prefer not to acknowledge that they do any useful work.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                You really don’t seem to understand the general failures of prohibition efforts. I heard a good interview with a guy in Mexico who facilitates illegal border crossings, for a fee, of course. His response to the wall was dismissive. We’ll just charge more to compensate for the increased risk, he said. People will pay it, as long as they have better opportunities in the U.S.

                People die crossing the border. Everyone knows it, and yet people still come. You think increased enforcement is going to be more of a deterrent than the very real risk of death? I don’t think you understand how humans actually respond to incentives.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to J@m3z Aitch
                Ignored
                says:

                He’ll charge more to do what? Hire tanks to knock the wall down? Hire hitmen to kill the border guards? A little skepticism of NPRs editorial line, please.

                People die from gunshot wounds living in inner city areas, too, yet they still rent apartments there and buy houses there. Everyone has their own set of actuarial calculations and their own risk tolerance and their own preference structures. What they do not have is the ability to walk through cement.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to J@m3z Aitch
                Ignored
                says:

                Knock the wall down, dig under it, buy off or blackmail border patrol agents.Report

              • Avatar Gaelen in reply to J@m3z Aitch
                Ignored
                says:

                Never underestimate human ingenuity Art. Getting around (or over or under) a wall just ain’t that hard.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to J@m3z Aitch
                Ignored
                says:

                You don’t understand. Sure, people have found ways around the current desert terrain, border guards, INS sweeps, I-9 requirements, etc, etc, but their creativity is now exhausted, and any further obstacles placed in their way will be insuperable.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch
                Ignored
                says:

                He’ll charge more to do what? Hire tanks to knock the wall down? Hire hitmen to kill the border guards? A little skepticism of NPRs editorial line, please.

                I’m sorry….you think I should be more skeptical of an interview with an actual guy who helps people cross the border, rather than be more skeptical of some random guy on the interwebz?

                Srly yr jkng.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to J@m3z Aitch
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m sorry….you think I should be more skeptical of an interview with an actual guy who helps people cross the border, rather than be more skeptical of some random guy on the interwebz?

                People do not generally trash their own business, and may not wish to acknowledge threats to it.

                Now, how many people did NPR interview before they found just the quotation they wanted?Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to J@m3z Aitch
                Ignored
                says:

                Knock the wall down, dig under it, buy off or blackmail border patrol agents.

                I am afraid one byproduct of the brazen world in which we live is that it is bloody difficult to blackmail anyone. Some portion of this world’s cops are corruptible, but in general they still manage to enforce the law as a rule if they are properly manned and deployed. It takes a certain amount of preparation and time as well as capital investment in heavy equipment (with a skilled operator) to knock down a sturdy piece of construction. With a federal police officer five or six hundred yards each side of you armed with a sniper rifle, seems a trifle imprudent.

                I get it. You can imagine work arounds. They have to be applicable with sufficient regularity to result in demographically consequential inflows.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to J@m3z Aitch
                Ignored
                says:

                Art’s logic:

                If we make the wall hard enough to get over, they’ll stop coming.

                The converse of that:

                If they keep getting over the wall, we’ll stop building it.

                Let’s see who gives up first.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to J@m3z Aitch
                Ignored
                says:

                NPR is a leftist conspiracy!

                Build a wall made of uranium and diamonds and put spikes on the top with the heads of people who tried to cross. Then install those weird worm things from the Tremors movies to make sure no one tunnels under. Then breed rabid attack cats and spread them all over the desert. Then cover the cats in poison and Ebola. Then hire low-wage, illegal Mexicans to patrol the border and get of the rabid, radioactive, Ebola infested, poisonous cats and tunnelling monsters.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch
                Ignored
                says:

                Now, how many people did NPR interview before they found just the quotation they wanted?

                I don’t know that it’s not true, so it must be true! Really now, base speculation is really among the lowest forms of argument.

                I am afraid one byproduct of the brazen world in which we live is that it is bloody difficult to blackmail anyone.

                Heh, I think I get you now. You’re a good guy, not someone who spends much time around the seamy side of life. I’m not knocking that. But anyone who peers much into the dark side knows that bribery is far easier than blackmail, because it’s a win-win for each side.

                Some portion of this world’s cops are corruptible,

                Some goodly portion of this world’s people are corruptible. And police work doesn’t disproportionately draw the most noble people. Being a policeman is stressful, and particularly so for good honest caring people. So simple application of the concept of self-selection bias leads to a prediction that among the ranks of the police are a higher proportion of not so good, not so honest, not so caring, people than among the general population. That doesn’t mean all cops are bad, but it does mean finding corruptible cops won’t necessarily be that hard.

                It takes a certain amount of preparation and time as well as capital investment in heavy equipment (with a skilled operator) to knock down a sturdy piece of construction.

                Nobody’s talked about knocking the wall down. That’s a strawman (also among the lowest forms of argument). We’re talking about going over (two girls climbed it in under 20 seconds) or under (tunnels are not uncommon–we’ve found some, but no serious analyst of border security thinks we have, or can, find them all).

                With a federal police officer five or six hundred yards each side of you armed with a sniper rifle, seems a trifle imprudent.

                OK, so we have a 2,000 mile border fence, which is 3,520,000 yards. Divide that by 600 yards, and we get 5,866 border guard stations. Each has to be manned 24 hours a day, so that’s three shifts, and we’ll need two men per shift so they can take their breaks without leaving their sector unwatched, so 5,866*3*2 = 35,200 guards. Each will work 5 day weeks, so we need guys for the weekends, too, so add another 40% (2/5), and we have 49,280 border patrol. Plus a few more to cover vacations and sick days, and we can reasonably round that to about 50,000 (if we set the posts 500 yards apart, that number increases to close to 60,000).

                We currently employ just over 21,000 border patrol agents, so that will require us to more than double their number. And of course if we assume that currently ICE tries to hire the best available, that means the new 28,000+ will be, on average, of lower quality than our current body of border patrol agents. Among other things, both the absolute increase in numbers and the average decline in quality mean the prospects for finding a bribable agent will increase.

                It can be done, sure. But is it a worthwhile endeavor? I get that you think so, but I sure as hell don’t see the cost-benefit analysis turning up positive.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch
                Ignored
                says:

                Then install those weird worm things from the Tremors movies

                I believe they’re called graboids.Report

              • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                Here’s a Penn and Teller episode where they build an actual wall and them hire some guys to go over, through, and around itL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFD1FIPH6nM

                It’s really not that tough. A wall is a money pit.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Christopher Carr
                Ignored
                says:

                You are offering me a comedy video as an argument?Report

              • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Christopher Carr
                Ignored
                says:

                Comedy is a useful device for mocking ideas that deserve to be mocked.

                The idea that putting a wall up in the middle of a desert will stop people who face real risks crossing that desert to make better lives for themselves deserves to be mocked. No one is going to risk their life traveling thousands of miles and then be stymied by a wall.

                We as a nation have more serious problems to solve than trying to prevent people who want to work hard and make a better life for themselves from doing so.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Christopher Carr
                Ignored
                says:

                Art, if two young women can reach the top of that fence in under 20 seconds, would you really expect it to be too difficult for, say, young men?

                Now, pretend you’re helping people cross the border. What do you do when you reach the top? Me, I’d tie a knotted rope to the top and have everyone else climb up and over. With a few ropes, you could have a sizable group over in just a few minutes. Have you ever been in the Southwest? There’s a whole lot of empty down there, and even if we doubled the border patrol we’d have areas where it would easily be many minutes between patrols.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Christopher Carr
                Ignored
                says:

                The man at the 4:23 mark is standing in front of a flimsy chain link fence about 12 feet high with no proximate armed guards. (That aside from the fact that comedy routines do not have as their purpose fair representation).

                I am told there are a subculture of young people who get their news from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Never met such a specimen.Report

  2. Avatar Pinky
    Ignored
    says:

    How is being here illegally not a federal crime?Report

    • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      Being here illegally is a civil – i.e. not criminal – infraction.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Christopher Carr
        Ignored
        says:

        That’s weird. Who is the injured party?Report

        • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Mike Schilling
          Ignored
          says:

          I’m not sure. Hopefully Burt or another lawyer can answer this, but I assume living here illegally is akin to being illegally parked somewhere.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Christopher Carr
            Ignored
            says:

            Who is the injured party when a willing worker crosses a picket line?Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              Every other worker.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
                Ignored
                says:

                It’s in that vein that people say that unskilled labor trying to make better lives for themselves and their families and their children and their babies are injuring the workers here.

                Indeed, perhaps even every worker here.

                I see the benefits of open borders outweighing the costs, mind… but I’m vaguely skilled labor. The costs are likely to be born by people who ain’t me and I’m likely to see the benefits of it.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Thing is, many those jobs go to places where union organisers are beaten and jailed outright.

                Other things being equal, sure, you might see the benefits of cheaper goods. You won’t see anyone arrested or beaten for trying to improve working conditions or wages. Well, come to think of it, if a factory full of garment workers collapses and kills a few hundred of them — those people’s lives are cheap. As long as it translates into costs borne by others, it’s all good, nu?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                I was talking about the benefits from open immigration, Blaise. Not the benefits from unions.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Refugees sort out into two categories: conflict and economic. In the last category, either you go to the job or the job comes to you.

                One of the more interesting and obscene parts of economic migration is the exploitation of the refugees by their own ethnic groups. The coyotes who bring the refugees across oblige them to carry bales of drugs. It’s terribly efficient. The Snake Head gangs routinely bring in women for forcible prostitution, again, it’s all quite profitable — a certain hideous quid pro quo: they get in the country and they must turn tricks, too.

                It is all of a piece. America got the 40 hour week and all those health and safety regs because of the trade unions. Now they’re disappearing and with them, we see Americans working more hours for less wages in increasingly difficult conditions.

                The number of people crossing from Mexico seems to be going down: there’s far less incentive to cross. People are actually leaving on their own: this isn’t the Land of Opportunity that once it was. For those who remain, we’re now a two-tier society: los indocumentados have hidden themselves well enough, aided and abetted by their exploiters.

                It’s all a big con, Jaybird. America’s hollowing out. The Congress can build their Hoops of Fire for all these folks to jump through like so many trained poodles, it won’t change anything. It’s all of a piece: the jobs go elsewhere, the refugees stop coming. Why should they come any more?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                If people prefer to preserve their jobs at the expense of some, is that irrational? If people prefer to preserve their jobs when it benefits some, is that irrational?

                If self-interest is rational, then I think the issue amounts to an argumentative stalemate.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Not irrational, just borderline immoral.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                If people want to expand a business in a way that poisons and kills others but turns a hefty profit, is that irrational?

                No, in fact it’s their duty to the stockholders.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                Is that supposed to be a rebuttal? I’m confused, because it reads that way, but doesn’t work that way.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                Some people are allowed to practice self-interest; others are not. It’s a complex world.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                If that’s really what you think Roger was saying, you’re wrong.

                And now you’re mixing up the issues of rationality and morality, which Roger was distinguishing between.

                Why don’t you take off your Anti-Libertarian Auto Knee-Jerk (TM) device? It wouldn’t mean you had to agree; it would just mean that you might avoid writing foolish things when you do.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                Perhaps you’ll explain what Roger was trying to say. We’ve all been here, times without number, James. At present, we seem to be on pretty good terms, or so I hope.

                But the Libertarians are in a cleft stick of their own making. The interests of one are best served by serving the interests of the many: no one person has sufficient power to make a difference. Crossing a picket line is playing Beggar Thy Neighbour. Employing an illegal alien is playing Beggar Thy Neighbour. In such a world we shall all be beggars.

                The Libertarians must at some point come to some sense of how others view their positions. Labelling some viewpoint as Rational does not make it rational.

                Either we are either members of a society, citizens of a nation — or we are not. With that membership come rights but that membership has dues and all who apply for membership must meet requirements and play by the rules. Want membership in American society? Get in line and apply for a goddamn visa, that’s how it works. I have stood in that line down at the Dirksen Federal Building for many, many hours and I’ve sponsored six such people. Those lines are long. The bureaucracy is tough but not impossible.

                I strongly dislike the tenor of this immigration conversation. Others manage to play by the rules. At present, large numbers of American employers are employing illegal immigrants. This phenomenon does harm those who play by the rules. How could it not harm those who play by the rules? Just because someone doesn’t like the rules doesn’t mean they aren’t valid, does it?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Roger
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                says:

                I’m making the same distinction; self-interest is always rational, but in a capitalist system (libertarianism is not the issue, which is one reason I haven’t used that word), the self-interest of capital is moral while the self-interest of labor is not. Funny how that works.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
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                says:

                I’ve said it a thousand times. Capitalism isn’t immoral. It’s amoral. It serves the interests of the owners. There’s no virtue to this position and no shame, either.

                But those who would demonise trade unions and get all huffy about the Evils of Socialism condemn themselves from their own mouths. They would would praise Ownership as a virtue might see their way clear to praising the power of capitalism to pull us all down the track to prosperity. They never get that far, of course.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Roger
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                says:

                A guy crossing a picket line strikes me as being about as morally interesting as a guy crossing a border and undercutting an American worker’s bid for any particular job.

                There is moral content there… but I don’t know that we (as a society) should use the force of the government to prevent it from happening.

                I understand absolutely why the guy is crossing the line. I understand absolutely why he’s hated for it. I understand absolutely why the guy might cross a border illegally. I understand absolutely why he’s resented.

                And if I were in the place of any one of those folks, I’d probably do the exact same thing. It depends on which group I feel solidarity with.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                Mike–the guy crossing the picket line is labor, too, and the necessary implication of Roger’s statement–regardless of whether he is correct or not–is that that particular laborer’s interests have moral weight.

                Blaise–On the surface, you seem to be inviting me to have a nice conversation. But since can’t resist the opportunity to set it up as yet another fight about libertarianism, even though I wasn’t even talking about that, I will decline.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
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                says:

                So, basically, Jaybird — this has nothing to do with reason and everything to do with self-interest. It has nothing to do with solidarity, that much is for sure.

                Mel Brooks: “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.” I’m sure you’ll tell me the guy who walked into the open sewer and died did so of his own free will, same as the scab who crosses a picket line or the coyote and the Snake Heads who force illegal immigrants into lives of essential slavery and prostitution.

                It sure must be nice, being a Libertarian. Some might say you guys don’t have consciences. I would defend you from such scurrilous and unkind accusations. You do have consciences. They only extend as far as your own reach, though. The plight of others is invariably their fault.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
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                says:

                The question remains unanswered: if people prefer to preserve their own jobs at the expense of others, knowing such a trade-off ultimately damages their own potential earning power, knowing it becomes a game of Beggar Thy Neighbour, there’s not even a borderline of immorality. It’s and amoral and ultimately self-defeating proposition.

                It’s demonstrably irrational: a group has power where an individual does not. That’s a fact. And it’s on this hill where the Libertarian doctrine ultimately fails. Some associations are not voluntary: actions have consequences beyond ourselves. Wishing this were not so is madness.

                Attempting to reduce this to a discussion about reason versus morals will never fly. Stillwater points this out, Mike points this out — look, James, nobody even mentioned Libertarianism until your Patellar Reflex kicked in. You’re bright enough to know that’s where the Libertarian philosophy fails, you saw it, you reacted. I’m not asking for a discussion on this subject, either. Reason and Morals have nothing to do with this issue. Consequences, consequences of our actions, our actions both collective and individual, that lies at the heart of this problem.

                America has always thrived on the basis of exploiting each new wave of immigrants to this country. Exploitation isn’t pejorative, it’s just the way capitalism works. If the workers can be exploited, that’s not volitional on their part. If they can’t see the damage done by crossing the picket line, playing Beggar Thy Neighbour, how many times must we iterate over the Prisoner’s Dilemma before we conclude mankind is just not a rational or even a particularly moral animal?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Well, it looks like a stalemate.

                I think Roger’s distinction is a good, and as James’ said, whether he’s right or wrong about it the distinction itself still holds as a valid one.

                Here’s my two cents: I think there are two conceptions of rationality being employed here. One is purely subjectively determined instrumental rationality; the other is a more objective and categorical rationality. Likewise, I think there’s two conceptions of morality being employed as well, a subjectively determined morality and an objectively determined one.

                Roger’s distinction relies on crossing between the subjective and objective, it seems to me. He’s claiming that a person who opposes scabs is acting subjectively instrumentally rationally but objectively categorically immorally.

                So here’s a question: is it possible to act rationally and immorally without engaging in a subjective/objective ambiguity? Can a person’s actions be both rational and immoral according to either standard without the claim devolving into incoherence? Eg: if a person is rational to prevent scabs from crossing the line, doesn’t that indicate that their actions are moral?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Roger
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                says:

                In that last sentence I’m trying to make a philosophical point – that rationality entails morality – rather than a psychological point.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Roger
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                says:

                So, Blaise, what’s the proper Libertarian response? Is it “Open Borders!” Is it “We need to keep American Jobs American?”

                To be perfectly honest, I thought that my position of “increased immigration has costs and benefits and I’ll see most of the benefits and none of the costs” was pretty aware of the various dynamics.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Roger
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                says:

                rationality entails morality

                The problem is that there are plenty of ways to stack “this thing is more important than that thing”. To bring morality into it seems to me to imply that someone ranking things differently is acting immorally… when it’s just as easy to conclude that they have different preferences (due to cultural issues, or taste issues, or time horizon issues, and the list goes on).

                I don’t know that morality clarifies things more than it muddies them.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
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                says:

                The proper response is to abandon Libertarianism. It’s as woefully incomplete as Marxism ever was — and for the same reasons. If the Libertarian doctrine of Voluntary Association is to mean anything in the real world, (and it surely does not) — the Libertarians would be the most vociferous supporters of trade unionism ever seen. That they are not shows the inherent self-contradiction of their philosophy.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Barring that?

                (And, for the record, we do support Trade Unions. Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, and so on. We just also look at stuff like Detroit and say that corporations should be allowed to fail if it comes to that. We oppose public sector unions, of course, but that’s a different kettle of fish. We also support the right of people to cross picket lines, though… so I suppose that might be seen as less than perfect support for Trade Unions, but what can you do?)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Jaybird, I appreciated that view of things right when you first said. I tend to feel the same way – to a certain extent, anyway, – and that’s why I wrote the response that started this thread.

                The only reason I’m focusing on morality in the above comment was because Roger brought it up and it’s actually a good point. But like my comment implied, I have some problems with invoking morality at this particular point … whatever people are disputing at this point.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Who are these amorphous (and entirely mythical) “we” who support trade unionism among the Libertarians? Not in the ranks of Cato Institute, my yardstick for Libertarian thought.

                As for public sector unions, who do you propose to negotiate for salary negotiations? You have essentially conceded the obvious: there is strength in numbers.

                No, the Libertarian’s conscience extends no farther than his own arm. Unless the shit rolls downhill onto him, he is perfectly content that it should roll onto others. I have often said Libertarians are defined by what they are Not, not by what they Are. Who are these pro-union Libertarians?Report

              • Avatar Johanna in reply to Roger
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                says:

                If the Libertarian doctrine of Voluntary Association is to mean anything in the real world, (and it surely does not)

                Yep. Definitely not looking for a real conversation.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Fuck. Not Johanna, J@m3z.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Who are these Pro-Union Libertarians? Questions, questions.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Roger
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                says:

                If CATO is your yardstick, I imagine it must be very frustrating to be stuck arguing libertarianism with me.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                No, the Libertarian’s conscience extends no farther than his own arm. Unless the shit rolls downhill onto him, he is perfectly content that it should roll onto others.

                Very very definitely not looking for a conversation.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Unless the shit rolls downhill onto him, he is perfectly content that it should roll onto others.

                Uhhh. I don’t think that’s a correct way to describe the libertarians you’re actually talking to on this board, BP. But that claim is platitudinous enough that it would apply to liberals as well, from a libertarian perspective at least.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Let what passes for Libertarian thought in print be put aside, for if any person call himself a Libertarian — all else must be discarded. That’s Voluntary Association for yez, I may be a Libertarian too, and not even know it yet!. That’s a terrifying thought.

                How did Firesign Theater put it?

                Many busy executives ask me, “What about the job displacement market program in the city of the future?” Well, count on us to be there, JIM, because, if we’re lucky tomorrow, we won’t have to deal with questions like yours ever again.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
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                says:

                if any person call himself a Libertarian — all else must be discarded

                And still not looking for an actual conversation.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
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                says:

                That would imply some answers might be forthcoming. Where are those pro-union Libertarians of which I am told? Perhaps, when that question is squared away, a conversation might be forthcoming.

                In the meantime, I do not expect, nor have I ever had, a meaningful conversation on the subject of what Libertarians believe — for it is patently obvious, after several years here, that the Libertarian believes nothing. It is true, he denies many things — but what he actually believes is an inscrutable mystery.

                Talk to someone else. George Carlin said he talked to himself because his were the only answers he could accept — and you accept no answers, or indeed, definitions beyond your own. When you have something by way of what Libertarians believe, do let me know. I won’t be holding my breath.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Roger
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                says:

                It’s kinda like asking whether Christians believe stuff. There are some that do and some that don’t. But to ask a Protestant for a document from the Pope (because he’s the only one with authority that you recognize as being authoritative) is to misunderstand Protestantism.

                There are Christians who have a doctrine called “Universal Priesthood”. This, essentially, means that there isn’t a layer between the unwashed masses and God/Jesus. We can go directly to Him instead of having to go through a priest.

                This is like that.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Let us suppose this is true, Jaybird, though it does not address the issue at hand, these mythical Libertarian union supporters of which I am told.

                A Christian has a creed. Mine is the Nicene Creed. I accept it for what it is and can be said to be a Christian on that basis. I believe something. I accept the saving work of Jesus Christ in my life. It changed me. It gives me hope. I approach life on that basis.

                The Libertarian Creed, where is it elucidated? What are its principles, what does it believe to be true about mankind and his relationship to the world? Is there a Jaybird variant, one you believe to the exclusion of other Libertarians? Can you furnish it for me, so I can work with something here?

                You may not have it both ways: either you are a Libertarian, which implies certain beliefs to the exclusion of others, or you are a Jaybirditarian, acceptable enough to me. The word Libertarian means nothing at present. I am a Libertarian, too, in that case. In which case, I’ll just lay off and we can all agree Libertarianism is a catch-all term with no definitional basis. Howzat? Works for me.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Well, the problem is that there are dozens of kinds of Libertarians. There are intellectual, analytical types. There are existential libertarians (waves hand). There are the economic types. There are those who came to Libertarianism via Ayn Rand. There are those who came to Libertarianism via a horrible interaction with the police or with the government. There are those who came to Libertarianism because Clinton was one hell of a Republican President and Dubya was one hell of a Democratic one.

                A creed that would catch all?

                If I cannot see how I (or someone like me) would have the right or the obligation to interfere with your life, I do not see how the government gets this same right or obligation… and without either the right or the obligation, the government shouldn’t.

                I imagine most Libertarians would purse their lips and say “yeah, that’s mostly almost right.”

                Heck, you can get to public education, a social safety net, and even laws from there!

                But you don’t get stuff like Prohibition, abortion bans, gay marriage bans, or forfeiture.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Roger
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                says:

                To bring us back around, you also get support for Unions (free speech! Peaceful assembly!) and, at the same time, support for people to cross a picket line.

                Oh, and open immigration.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Libertarians are all Jaybirditarians, or Hanleytarians. The formula is simple. Take a name, add -itarian to it and hey presto, you have a Libertarian. There’s no need for any intellectual or political congruence at all. I seem to have cracked the code here, folks. It is logically impossible to define a Libertarian, each Libertarian defines himself. How delightfully solipsistic! Saves on having to do any actual thinking — it’s actually Biblical, too. Judges 17: 6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

                There’s nothing to be said further on this subject. There are no Libertarians, plural. There is only one Libertarian at a time. And with each instance, the definition is entirely dependent upon the self-description of each such Libertarian. If this makes the definition of Libertarian a bit squishy, topological taffy can be stretched as far as you’d like. It’s strictly theoretical.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
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                says:

                You can’t have both. Either you are for the trade union’s right to strike, or you’re for the scab crossing the picket line. As I’ve said, Libertarian means nothing. It might be excused its self-referential justification if only it weren’t so self-contradictory.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Roger
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                says:

                It is logically impossible to define a Libertarian, each Libertarian defines himself.

                Well, first off, a while ago I said something on this board to the effect that a necessary condition on libertarianism is that NAP is either a first principle or logically entailed by other principles. ANd I think that’s right, actually. So I think it can be defined.

                Another thing is that Jaybird more or less defined libertarianism in terms in the above comment, and he did so in terms of the non-aggression principle. He even said that most or all libertarians would agree with it. In that sense, if he’s right (and he’d know better than I but I tend towards agreement with him) NAP actually is a (or the) central principle of libertarianism.

                So, saying that it has no definition isn’t quite right. In fact, it’s sorta the opposite of not quite right.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
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                says:

                The Non-Aggression Principle means nothing to a Libertarian, at least not to Rothbard, who’s danced around the problem for years. Put out the Ol’ Trolley Problem and the Libertarians will shatter like an icicle on the side walk.

                It’s all nonsense. If the Libertarians were even remotely consistent on what follows from the Non-Aggression Principle, I’d have some respect for them. They aren’t. They like civilisation when it suits their purposes.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
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                says:

                A Christian has a creed. Mine is the Nicene Creed.

                And others have other creeds, which is pretty much Jaybird’s point. Excellent.

                As to the rest, nearly everything you say about libertarianism is just stream-of-consciousness nonsense. Your questions have been answered repeatedly, and you repeatedly ignore those answers and pretend they haven’t been given.

                As far as unions go, Roger’s explained the extent to which he does and does not support unions at least 3 or 4 times. You didn’t listen then, so it’s hard to see a reason why anyone would bother to answer you, and have their answer ignored, yet again.

                Every time you approach the topic you shift immediately into hyper-aggressive mode, accuse people of things they don’t believe, and falsely claim they haven’t answered questions they have in fact answered before. What reason would any libertarian have for trying to engage you, when you clearly don’t want a conversation, but just want an excuse to rant at and about libertarians?

                That is to say, why would any of us want to have a conversation with someone who refuses to listen but doesn’t have anything worthwhile to say?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
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                says:

                When it becomes about me, I win the debate. I’ve pointed out the contradiction in supporting trade unions and supporting the right to cross a strike line. This is contradictory and you have provided no resolution.

                Nor have you come up with those Pro-Union Libertarians.

                Intellectual disgrace
                Stares from every human face,
                And the seas of pity lie
                Locked and frozen in each eye.

                Perhaps you’ve squared things up in your own mind, all those niggling little contradictions. But you’re lousy preachers, Libertarians.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Roger
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                says:

                “Who is the injured party when a willing worker crosses a picket line?”

                Riffing off Stillwater, I simply commented that it is rational yet borderline immoral “to preserve their jobs at the expense of some.”

                Mike then replied with some snarky comment that implied some of us support poisoning and killing in free enterprise. This is not worthy of a comment. He then clarifies that his argument is that some of us support self interest of capital but not labor.

                My point is that, in general, I do not support actions which benefit one at the expense of another. There are exceptions to this, exceptions which I hope to expand on some day in a post on the nature of HARM.

                The notable exception that this conversation is working around is the type of circumstantial harm that comes about by losing out on an opportunity for a positive sum, mutually voluntary exchange. Every time I choose to interact commercially, romantically or playfully with one person, I have by definition harmed every other person on the planet that wanted to trade, date or play with me. No violence… I simply refused to select them to benefit from cooperating with me.

                Societies have identified many areas of acceptable constructive competitions, where people compete to cooperate (trade, employ, date, play, etc). I strongly support the freedom of constructive competition, and I find attempts to limit this freedom and choice to be borderline immoral. I can defend rules envouraging constructive competition from utilitarian, selfish and altruistic perspectives.

                As James, noted, I do not believe capital qualifies for special treatment or exemptions.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
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                says:

                When it becomes about me, I win the debate.

                Go ahead and believe that if it makes you feel good about yourself. It’s all part and parcel of your on-going exercise of public self-gratification here.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Nor have you come up with those Pro-Union Libertarians.

                By the way, Blaise, here is a case in point of you either simply refuse to listen or just flat out lie. I specifically mentioned Roger, but you just continue pretending nobody’s ever answered your question.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Then how is your support for sweatshops in Bangladesh affected by the fact that union organizers there are jailed, tortured, and murdered? Likewise in other parts of the third world, which is unsurprising since it was the same here a hundred years ago.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Roger
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                says:

                SW,

                “I think there are two conceptions of rationality being employed here. One is purely subjectively determined instrumental rationality; the other is a more objective and categorical rationality. Likewise, I think there’s two conceptions of morality being employed as well, a subjectively determined morality and an objectively determined one.”

                This may indeed be the case. Personally, I do not “get” categorical rationality or morality. These are alien to the way I think, but may be closer to the mark for Jaybird??

                You and I certainly lean more toward instrumentalism. My morality might be more toward rule instrumentalism. I believe the goodness of a set of rules is in what type of results the rules can be expected to result in.

                I do believe subjective and objective cross and merge. As we have discussed in prior conversations, these words are only opposites in certain definitions, not others. Some actions can thus be both subjectively and objectively good, as long as we carefully define the words we are using.

                ” He’s claiming that a person who opposes scabs is acting subjectively instrumentally rationally but objectively categorically immorally.”

                I am claiming it is instrumentally rational. So is cheating in a prisoners dilemma. The meta rational action though is to design a system with rules so that neither party gains by cheating. I believe the higher level instrumental rationality and morality is to establish a system where everyone is free to apply for a job, and nobody is allowed to use force to prevent it.

                This moves the voluntary choice up a level, to what Buchanan would call the constitutional level, and what Rawls would call behind the veil. I am suggesting we would all be better off agreeing to play by a set of rules which allow freedom of interaction, and which prohibits forceable harm. Knowing that everyone would benefit from having all others play by the rules, but by cheating themselves, we agree that the only rational solution to the dilemma is if everyone plays by the rules, even ourselves. Dilemma solved. This is the optimal solution for the altruist, the egoist and the utilitarian.

                This is my answer to your question on the subjective/ objective ambiguity. It is possible to merge rationality, instrumentality, morality, non aggression and liberty.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Mike,

                We support market wages and voluntary employment opportunities. Nobody here defends imprisonment, torture and murder, currently or in the past. I am not sure how anyone can even accuse us of this.

                I assume you are trying to be funny.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
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                says:

                I gather, all things considered, I shall never get a resolution to this contradiction. Just more of this shrill and feeble whining about BlaiseP.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Roger
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                says:

                I’ve pointed out the contradiction in supporting trade unions and supporting the right to cross a strike line.

                I don’t see a contradiction here, Blaise, but admittedly a lot depends on how a person understands the concept of a labor union. Roger supports the right of workers to collectively bargain but not the right of unions to use force to achieve their goals. So he denies that unions have the right to prevent a scab from crossing the line.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                “You can’t have both. Either you are for the trade union’s right to strike, or you’re for the scab crossing the picket line.”

                Wait, what? Why? What is inconsistent about saying this group of people have the right to strike AND that guy over there has the right to seek employment in their place? Supporting the right to strike is not akin to guaranteeing the success of the strike.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Argh… Tag fail.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Roger
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                says:

                I am not sure anyone in this discussion has parsed the utility and posited status of unions according to their functions. Unions can function as mutual aid societies (operating credit unions and insurance pools and maintaining labor lawyers on retainer). However, after 1935, they were granted the authority to act as the exclusive agent for swatches of a company’s workforce and commercial companies were compelled to follow ‘fair labor practices’, including bargaining in ‘good faith’. Prior to 1935, the position of the union was often acquired and maintained through physical rough justice.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Scabs are just doing jobs that union workers won’t do.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
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                says:

                There is an obvious resolution to this problem: make labour part of the management process. Putting a few workers’ representatives on the board of directors is the usual route.

                Short of that, the contradiction has not been resolved. And everyone bloody well knows it. It’s as if I’ve encountered some Humpty-Dumpty Anti-Consequentialists, who make up meanings for words as they go along, denying the obvious. Screwing the workers out of their wages, forcing them to work longer hours for less money, child labour, a thousand indignities, petty and great — is this not Aggression? Not according to our friends the Libertarians.

                Let history show what happened before the trade union movement. And let the present times show what happens when they fail. We are now entering a new Age of Les Misérables, a two-tier society. That much is undeniable. And as when every other society degenerates to this state of affairs, there will be consequences of a particularly unpleasant and entirely predictable variety.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Any sentence containing the word “just” or “merely” might as well start with “Off the top of my head, having cut corners and not exactly thought this one through…”Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
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                says:

                On unions and the non-aggression principle, because I am sure there are people out there who are sincerely interested:

                1. Libertarians have no problem with voluntary associations, so they (at least should; I can’t speak for everyone) have no problem with voluntary unionization.

                2. Because of the non-aggression principle and voluntary associationalism, libertarians (should; repeat disclaimer) oppose both laws banning the formation of unions and and violence against union organizers.

                3. Collective bargaining can, at least theoretically, be conducted in a voluntary manner, if both the firm’s employees and the firm’s owners/managers agree.*

                Aside: So far, unionization and the non-aggression principle, or voluntary association, are non-conflicting for the libertarian.

                4. Mandated collective bargaining violates the non-aggression principle and voluntary association by imposing enforceable constraints on the firm’s owners’/managers’ voluntary associationalism.**

                5. It may well be that unions cannot exist under those conditions, as greginak suggests below. There is no doubt that unions suffer from a severe collective action problem.*** But libertarians treat that as an “oh, well,” issue, much as liberals treat the constraints on owners’ voluntary associationalism as an “oh, well,” issue. Libertarianism doesn’t require rejoicing in the slim chances for purely voluntary unionization (although no doubt you can find some less thoughtful libertarians who do), and in fact is compatible with some regret about that.

                6. Libertarians would suggest that if unions can’t manage to institute collective bargaining voluntarily, they should seek other means of providing value to their members. In the language of rational choice and interest group theory, they need to find selective benefits (limited to those who join), since unlike collective benefits (available to all, even non-joiners) they are immune from the collective action problem.

                7. Libertarians would disagree that crossing a picket line is an act of aggression to other labor, since the act is an offer (to the business) of a lower price (for labor). If that is aggression, then by extension it seems that a business lowering its price (which benefits consumers) is an act of aggression which harms other businesses. Therefor, price competition should be outlawed.**** At this point strict adherence to the non-aggression principle would lead to a ban on competitive markets. But that result is as flawed as the result of this math puzzle: it requires an error along the way. That is, an error, at least, in the view of libertarians–that offering labor at a lower price is an act of aggression. In fact, because offering greater value to one person is not an act of aggression towards another person, the non-aggression principle is not in conflict with being a scab.

                Now please notice that I am not arguing against liberals’ predictions of what the outcome would be in the absence of mandated collective bargaining. That’s an empirical question, outside the scope of my argument here.

                What I am arguing is that a libertarian position on unions is, contra a claim made above, entirely consistent with the non-aggression principle. Any claim to the contrary either relies on defining the offer of a lower price for one’s labor as an aggressive act towards other labor–which still leaves the libertarian position entirely consistent by the terms of its own, undeniably plausible, interpretation of that act–or on a failure to think through the logic of the libertarian position.

                So of course a person can disagree on several points here. And one can argue that even if the libertarian is correct about the non-aggression logic, the outcomes will be so bad, so violative of competing principles, that the non-aggression and voluntary association principles must be limited. I don’t think that’s unreasonable (of course I wouldn’t, since I don’t hold any principles as absolutes, to the best of my self-understanding).

                But I don’t think a person can correctly claim that there isn’t a plausible logic by which the non-aggression principle is consistent with opposition to mandated collective bargaining.

                And of course anyone who in the future happens to claim that no libertarian has answered this question is a liar.

                ______________
                * This may be unlikely to happen in the real world, as liberals will quickly point out, but I am speaking of libertarian theory here–what libertarians will/will not accept. The complaint that it’s not realistic, while true, is irrelevant. Imagine, for example, a peacenik-style liberal’s response to the idea of a military invasion that removed a brutal dictator, installed a functioning democracy, and killed no one–most would probably be quick to assert that, yes, that particular kind of military intervention is one they could support.

                **I understand that liberals are less concerned about that than libertarians, and that’s fine; I’m not arguing they’re wrong, just stating the libertarian position, and noting that–contra what one commenter suggests–it’s not contradictory to the non-aggression principle.

                ***Because of that it’s understandable why unions seek laws enforcing collective bargaining on firms, and why liberals support that, given their value commitments. Libertarians, of course, have a different, albeit overlapping, set of value commitments. So it’s unsurprising that the two groups end up with some differing policy preferences. It’d be pretty bizarre if they didn’t!

                ****And in fact, has at times been outlawed. But that was primarily a Depression/post-Depression thing, and for the most part liberals of the current generation don’t seem to be in favor of the practice.

                Liberals, I think, make a distinction between labor and capital here that libertarians do not make. Libertarians are inclined to treat all economic inputs as equally subject to competition,Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                1. In the real world, workers trade time for money and thus their wages are construed. Those wages are the result of a dialectic of power. The Libertarian seems to think all associations ought to be voluntary. The real world dictates otherwise.

                2. Libertarians should, but enough self-described Libertarians don’t for me to believe you’re a good-hearted man who sees enough reason to espouse such a position. But it’s far enough from Libertarian dogma for me to declare you a profound outlier. A Hanleytarian, a point I have made before.

                3. Collective bargaining in good faith is never voluntary. There’s contention for resources. Power, not good faith, dictates the terms of that struggle. I have proposed, time and again, that the USA follow the example of other nations, outlawing the closed union and obliging publicly-traded firms to put workers’ representatives on the boards of directors, thus eliminating the problem Marx outlined all those years ago. This point has been studiously ignored by all and sundry.

                4. See above @ 2 and 3. The problem and its solution are engrained in the amoral nature of power itself. Until the workers have representation on boards of directors, every attempt to solve this problem will come to no good end.

                5. You’re just repeating Point 4.

                6. Again, see my answer to Point 3.

                7. It might be said, with equal certitude, the scab is taking what’s on offer, not what he’s worth. Your continued use of Voluntary presumes other options are on offer. They aren’t. You take the job, you trade your time for money — or you don’t. In the real world, where there are more workers than jobs, it is a one-way proposition. Beggar Thy Neighbour is not a choice. That’s why unions collect dues, to insulate themselves from hardships during strikes.

                The Non-Aggression Principle is an intellectual dead end. It fails to account for anything in the real world, where force is required to maintain rights. In the face of even the most rudimentary principles of pragmatism, it fails completely.

                Dissecting Power away from Aggression is not a trivial exercise. I do not deny the ideology of Non-Aggression so much as complain of its incompleteness. Marxism suffers from the same incompleteness, the same fundamental failures arising from its axioms about human nature. Government must arise from the consent of the governed — but beyond that, man must be governed. The Libertarian must present a more balanced approach to power: there is no separating Political Power from Economic Power or Military Power. They are all of a piece.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                Not trying to be funny at all, just wondering how to reconcile a defense of sweatshops as a voluntary arrangement with the fact that local activity to improve working conditions is fought with state and private violence.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                Blaise,
                I wasn’t actually writing that to you, and as you’ve thoroughly persuaded me that it’s impossible to have a reasonable discussion with you on anything having to do with libertarianism, I didn’t waste time reading what you wrote.

                But since you apparently were responding to what I wrote, you are aware that I answered your question. So let’s please never again hear your lying about libertarians never answering. I fully anticipate that you will do some again at some point, and I fully intend to point out that you are lying about that again.

                I’ve had it up to the neck with you. I don’t care if you disagree with libertarianism, but flat out lying about we actual libertarians here at the League is a different issue–every time you accuse us of not answering questions, you are lying about us personally. I have no problem calling you out for lying about me, Roger, and others.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                Mike,

                What’s to reconcile? Fighting any voluntary association with violence, whether personal or state, is wrong.* Reconciling the two would require a very real contradiction.

                ___________________
                *That is, assuming you’re fighting the very existence of the organization or it’s purely voluntary activities. Fighting any violence committed by the organization–whether it’s unions tossing molotov cocktails into factories, factory owners hiring thugs to beat picketers, the Klan lynching people, a private college encroaching on neighboring property; a factory harming people with pollution, etc.–is, without a doubt, legitimate.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                I didn’t call union activity cheating. I called “using force to screw prospective employees out of a job” cheating. If the two terms are synonymous to you, then that says a lot more about your view of unions that it does about my view.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                Honestly, I’m not being that unclear. The present labor conditions in Bangladesh are not purely the result of voluntary, positive-sum transactions. They are also the result of violence perpetrated both by the state and by the garment industry to prevent union activity, i.e. to prevent workers from joining voluntary organizations. Yet, libertarian publications like Cato ignore this in favor of the usual assertions that all problems are solved by free trade. The Cato piece is correct that suspending Bangladesh from the GSP is purely symbolic and barely even that. But it doesn’t even mention the, shall we say, significant breach of the non-agression principle that anti-union violence represents. What conclusion should we draw from that? It’s quite clear that some voluntary, positive-sum interactions are more equakl than others.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m sure you have had it up to the neck with me, Hanley. It won’t save your positions. It won’t answer my inconvenient questions. It’s sheer laziness which keeps you from answering any of my questions, Little Prince. There’s another character who asked a lot of questions and never answered any.

                You call me out again instead of answering any of my questions, as if outrage was any substitute for honest answers. You’re perfectly incapable of such answers because you’re lost in your dogma. Goddamn Ron Swansons, every one of you Libertarians.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                it’s sheer laziness which keeps you from answering any of my questions

                Well, Blaise, I’m glad to see that you didn’t waste even a day, hardly an hour, before you went right back to lying.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                Mike,

                Are you blaming the labor conditions in Bangladesh on free trade? I’m not sure if that’s a correct reading of you or not, but if so, it ignores several things. One is that non-free trade countries usually have even worse working conditions; true prison camps. The second is that free trade isn’t presumed to create an instantly perfect world, but that it is a process. Countries that engage in free trade become more susceptible to pressure (non-violent pressure, let’s be serious about distinctions) from outside, and become wealthier which in the long run results in internal demands for improvement (ala ROC and ROK).

                I don’t know that anyone denies that there’s nasty collusion between firms and state in developing countries, and if you think libertarians are defending that, you’re reading them wrong, whether purposely or not. But what libertarians are arguing is that free trade is an important factor that leads to improvement, by creating the economic growth that moves people past mere subsistence living, so they have room in their lives to push for improvements in working conditions, basic guarantees of liberty, democracy, and so on.

                I know I’ve explained this before, so it’s a bit of a frustration to have to repeat it yet again. If you want to argue that we’re wrong, that’s one thing. But to pretend that this isn’t actually our position is, well, it’s not an indication that you’re interested in having an honest conversation here. Like Blaise, you seem to be interested in consistently misrepresenting our position.

                I guess I don’t get why it’s not sufficient to just argue that we’re wrong about something libertarians actually do say and believe, but necessary to misrepresent their positions almost every time you engage.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t know that anyone denies that there’s nasty collusion between firms and state in developing countries, and if you think libertarians are defending that, you’re reading them wrong, whether purposely or not.

                The Cato piece I linked doesn’t defend that; it doesn’t mention it at all. Is it a major concern of the folks who write at libertarian publications that I’ve somehow missed? Because it seem to me that something involving torture, murder, and the suppression of the rights of millions of people is at least as important as Kelo, so I have to wonder why one is a cause celebre and the other ignored.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                I’d think that relates to a lack of call to action on what to do about it. The solution For Kelo is straightforward. What do were call on our representatives to do with regard To Bangladesh?Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                Mike,

                Can we distinguish between “not a major concern” and “denies”? I understand why you would object to it not being a major focus of the article.

                But this article was just commenting on the likely effectiveness of the Obama policy response–it was about that response, not the collapse itself.

                And note that the article assumes the undesirability of Bangladeshi working conditions. It doesn’t pretend they’re not bad. But the article makes the same point I do; that ultimately improvement requires economic improvement.

                Now you can disagree with that, of course. But you’re either implying that the person made a claim they didn’t (that there’s no collusion between Bangladeshi corporations and government) or demanding that they write an article about the issue you want them to write about, implying that it’s illegitimate to write at all about Bangladesh working conditions without explicitly emphasizing that collusion. It might in fact be a better article with such an emphasis, but it’s certainly not a duty to include that, especially in what is clearly just an op-ed length piece (less than 500 words)) responding to a U.S. policy, not a fully developed analysis of Bangladeshi political economy.

                I think your concern about Bangladeshi working conditions is entirely legitimate, and I think it’s legitimate to be frustrated by libertarians whose concern is not as strong as yours. But I don’t see that you’ve made a legitimate critique of the article, because it doesn’t deny the role of firm/state collusion and violence, and even though it’s well worth writing about, it’s unreasonable to demand that any particular article be about that, and not other related issues.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                I’d think that relates to a lack of call to action on what to do about it.

                Another thing is that some actions/states of affairs lend themselves to a really obvious ideologically based criticism, while other states of affairs might present big problems for the ideology. So it’s better to avoid them.

                It’s the politics of ideology, I guess. Or just straight ahead politics.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                Anyone who thinks we’re engaged in Free Trade with Bangladesh, a county where trade unionism is a sham and a lie — is not living in the real world.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                Can we distinguish between “not a major concern” and “denies”?
                Sure: I’m complaining that the anti-union violence is not a major concern. I’ve never claimed that it was explicitly denied.

                And perhaps it is invalid to complain about that specific article, so I’ll ask to be pointed at the ones that do discuss it.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                I’d actually make a different distinction which i haven’t seen addressed. If enough people cross a picket line then the union is crushed, gone , kaput. It is pretty much a zero sum game. If people can or do cross picket lines then union can’t exist, which i what many people want of course. It’s naive or disingenuous to talk about people crossing picket lines without the obvious implications and as actual scabs have been used. If people cross the border to immigrate then there might be more competition for some jobs but nothing has been destroyed. It is much less zero sum, although certainly if you are out competed by an immigrant then it feels pretty zero sum to you.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                I was thinking about our Dexter when I was writing this stuff.

                He works with his hands and complains about the illegal immigrants taking jobs away from him.

                He pointed out that it’s easy for me to support open borders.

                And you know what? It *IS* easy for me to support open borders.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                So am i to understand that a fictional character was talking to you?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                Dexter is a popular mythological construct imbued with supernatural levels of political content. Invoking his name in an argument is usually decisive.

                What? Oh, that Dexter.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                *OUR* Dexter. The one who shows up in threads. He lives in the Southeast.

                Shows up here:
                https://ordinary-times.com/burtlikko/2012/08/birth-birthright-citizenship/Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                so i’m guessing then he isn’t a serial killer. which is good.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                As far as I can tell from comments, he seems like he doesn’t kill people.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                And if we had a commenter named Walter who lived in the Southwest, he probably wouldn’t cook meth. At least not after this summer.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                he probably wouldn’t cook meth

                In principle; but we can’t be certain.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                Glyph, if we had a commenter named Walter like the one I’m thinking of, he definitely wouldn’t cook meth, OK? Not that Walter. You can be certain of it. OK? So just back off my Walter.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                “If enough people cross a picket line then the union is crushed, gone , kaput. It is pretty much a zero sum game. If people can or do cross picket lines then union can’t exist, which i what many people want of course.”

                You can’t expect a positive sum outcome for all when some are pursuing such a destructive won lose course of action. In this case the union is pursuing a destructive, zero sum game. They are attempting to unfairly advantage themselves by using force to eliminate competition from less fortunate prospective employees. They are trying to reap the benefits of free enterprise while carving out an exemption of playing by the rules. In other words, they are trying to cheat at the game. Of course they coat this in a thin veneer of it being a struggle between them and the employer, but in essence it is about them cheating on other prospective employees. The nerve!

                Some employees may benefit from collective bargaining, or by having representatives of labor on the board. To the extent that they benefit by screwing over other prospective employees, they deserve to lose that “game.”Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                Empirical support for Roger’s claim that unions are harmful to some other labor here and here.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                I have a comment in moderation because of two links. Would someone kindly release it? (And feel free to delete this comment.) I thank whomever releases it for me.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                Let us suppose for a moment, Roger, in some happier world, workers were not pitted against owners and management. If business declined, workers and management would cope by various concessions, volunteering improvements and strategies whereby everyone could maintain their positions — in short, coping reasonably with the vagaries of the marketplace.

                But if business picked up, if the workers were more productive, if management was providing sound strategy resulting in an improved market position, there is no particular reason for management to issue rises to the workers. They’re no more valuable than they were before, individually, even if they’re producing more value for money.

                But there’s no Fairness in this proposition: business is all about profits and overhead. Coming from your mouth, the verb “screwing over” rings hollow: if workers are screwed, ficta voluptatis causa sint proxima veris == if you’re going to make an excuse, at least try to approximate the truth.

                Who do you propose to represent the workers in this Free and Fair Enterprise of which you speak? A trade union benefits those who join up and pay dues, as surely as investors profit from their investments. Your tinhorn damnation of trade unions is ridiculous.

                Don’t even bother attempting to use the word Fair. Fairness is what you think is fair.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                Thanks for the great links, James. I also really appreciate your elaboration above of the argument against coercion in employment.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                Blaise,

                Let it be noted that you are responding to Roger’s answer. So please remember this and do not make any more false accusations about never getting an answer from libertarians (getting an answer you don’t like, and don’t agree with, is not the same as not getting an answer). I am not going to get into anymore fruitless arguments about libertarianism itself, but I will ride your ass every time you lie about libertarians never giving you an answer.

                That may see to run afoul of the commenting policy, but what could be more afoul of the policy than to persistently lie about what others have said?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                Precisely my point. Union activity is declared ipso facto “cheating”, and arguing that places of work should not be death traps is called “coercion”. It leaves nothing to discuss.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                James,

                Though, based upon his well known past ungentlemanly transgressions, I will no longer read or respond to anything he writes.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                Mike,

                “Means” are always available for discussion. In the way you phrase your objection, all means are lumped together. Your implicit focus is on outcomes, so that if we disagree with a particular means you take it as opposition to the outcome.

                It’s like someone who opposes U.S. intervention in Syria being accused of being opposed to the replacement of Assad with a democratic regime. It’s not necessarily so; there’s just disagreement about what means are justified by that end.

                And in both cases, disagreement about means are justified. It just means people are giving different weights to different values. It’s more than fair to criticize someone for not giving enough weight to your favored values and too much weight to values you don’t favor, but it’s not so fair to imply that they oppose the outcome or any and all means to that outcome.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                Ungentlemanly? You wound me to the quick, sir. Do us both a favour, summon up the cerebral voltage, apply yourself — and one day you will say something worth responding to. For to this point, I have seen no evidence of it, yet hope springs eternal that one day I will find a Libertarian who can transcend his little goldfish bowl of doctrine. I would also relish the opportunity to find one who has actually read Ludwig von Mises. Whatever you are not, you silly man, you are neither a gentleman nor a student of Mises. He is worth reading and you are not.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Christopher Carr
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            says:

            I’m an immigration lawyer. Being an illegal immigrant is considered a civil rather than criminal violation because treating illegal immigrants as criminals would tax the resources of the Federal Government. In removal proceedings, immigrants may get a lawyer to represent them but the Federal Government doesn’t need to provide one. If being an illegal immigrant was a federal crime than the Sixth Amendment right to counsel would kick in. Since undocumented aliens are only considered civil violators, they don’t have to be locked up during the course of their proceedings which saves the federal government a lot of money to since they don’t have to cloth, house, and feed them. The fact that many undocumented aliens are children also makes treating them as criminals inconvenient from the government’s standpoint since juvenile rights would kick in.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
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          says:

          (Open borders guy here, for the record)

          There are things that are seen and things that are unseen. A massive influx of unskilled labor pushes down the price of unskilled labor.

          So, according to this argument, Citizens of the US who are unskilled labor.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Pinky
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      says:

      I think the issue is that federal crimes are generally more serious. They would entail sending guilty parties to federal prisons which tend to be for more hardcore and/or big time criminal.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Pinky
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      says:

      Being an illegal immigrant, as Chris noted, is considered a civil rather than criminal violation. Its akin to a restaurant not fully following all the health regulations rather than burglary.Report

  3. Avatar Burt Likko
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    says:

    I fundamentally agree with your point, Chris. Liberalization and not restriction of our immigration policy is the road that will lead us to a result more likely to be prosperous for all.

    A serious question: did you use loaded phrases like “the best way to prevent illegal immigrants from contributing to the economy” and “the best way to marginalize illegal immigrants” intentionally? It’s an interesting rhetorical device if so.

    So, bearing in mind that I come from a basic posture of wanting to open up our borders rather than close them, is it actually the case that undocumented workers are not competing with citizens for work? Agricultural work is not interesting to a lot of citizens, it is true, particularly for itinerant labor with only sporadic demand in specific localities, but in other industries? Professionally, I’ve seen a number of employers for whom a blend of citizens, green card holders, and undocumented compose their workforce — construction, food service, janitorial, domestic help, gardening. Maybe that’s just California where I live and counsel employers, but… I don’t think it’s just California. It’s not a frivolous claim that citizens and green card holders do indeed want these jobs and have to compete with undocumented workers for them, and that this does have a depressing effect on wages.

    Does this justify using the Army to transform the border into the equivalent of the Korean DMZ? Of course not. And I am firm in my conviction that a reasonable pathway to citizenship should be available to the undocumented among us — we’re so clearly better off with people in the system than outside of it, in nearly every way imaginable, that I have difficulty understanding why it’s even up for debate. (“But they’re criminals, they broke the law! We’re entitled to protect our borders! Other nations are mean to their illegal immigrants!” as if any of this had any utilitarian impact on our situation in the real world.)

    But that doesn’t mean we have to blind ourselves that undocumented workers are a meaningful factor in the labor market, that the labor they contribute is either free or without impact on the labor market as a whole. I’ve said for a long time that undocumented workers should be able to get documentation, albeit at a higher price than the people who have followed the rules, but not a price so much higher that they feel incentivized to continue to absent themselves from compliance with the law.Report

    • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      Burt, some great points. I agree that those problems exist. The problem of companies or individuals hiring undocumented workers in order to skirt minimum wage laws is particularly pernicious.

      However, I do not believe these are problems per se so much as they are problems that are exacerbated – or even created – by policy. If the incentives were structured for undocumented immigrants to participate in the economy in an open fashion, it would be a lot easier to ensure just and equitable results for all.

      And yes, my language in the piece was extremely loaded. This is one of few topics I have a strong and unequivocal opinion on.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      “did you use loaded phrases like the best way to prevent illegal immigrants from contributing to the economy” and “the best way to marginalize illegal immigrants” intentionally? …
      is it actually the case that undocumented workers are not competing with citizens for work

      Just to note, what he said and what you asked are not mutually exclusive outcomes. My wife just was outcompeted for a job, but that doesn’t mean the person who got it is not contributing to the economy. The legal/illegal distinction doesn’t really change that.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      In New York, the bulk of restaurant workers in certain types of restaurant establishments and many construction workers are immigrants, both documented and undocumented. Usually they work in the non-chain, non-franchize but not necessarily high class restaurants. Chinese immigrants tend to go into restaurant work, construction, or providing services to other Chinese immigrants. Hispanics tend towards the same plus gardening work and domestic service, which Chinese immigrants tend to avoid unless their employer is also Chinese.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      Burt,

      What I have been trying to figure out is the extent to which undocumented unskilled workers’ undocumented status itself may actually be a competitieve advantage for them in the unskilled labor market (in which I am more or less currently a participant for a lot of intents and purposes, i.e. I’ve seen the inside of some not-exactly-high-end food service establisgments over the last couple of years and may still see more). Essentially, might it make them able, by altering their incentives, to compete on price in a way that they might not be so inclined to do if their status were more secure. Another way to say this is that it might make them more prone to manipulation, not to say exploitation (of their legal status) by particular employers. If a legal status that allowed them to act openly as free economic agents were conferred upon them, might it not be the case that net competition in these markets might not be all that affected (would conferring status on people already here precipitate a massive influx of new labor that the economy wasn’t already drawing by its own force?), might this not actually decrease competition for particular jobs by improving the opportunity cost picture for a large segment of the low-skilled labor market? If employers are suddenly having to bid higher for a segment of low-skill workers who previously had artificially low asks, doesn’t that change the picture for the whole low-skill market, as the wage savings that an employer experienced by going the undocumented route now are lessened, making the wage range he’s willing to discuss with documented or citizen workers before defecting to the undocumented market somewhat more flexible? I.e. if before he could pay an undocumented worker just minimum wage (or less) because that worker had so little freedom to shop his labor, but now that worker commands, say $8.00 due to competing offers that he has, now from the employer’s view, where before the citizen worker’s ask for $9.00 wasn’t even considered and the jump to undocumented labor was automatic, now that the undocumented worker gets $8 instead of $7, it isn’t nearly so irrational to offer the citizen $8.50. Or even if it’s just $8 across the board, it still seems better or the citizen to be competing with a body of laborers who now command $8 when before they commanded $7 due to a legal artifact.

      That does assume that we’re talking roughly similar-sized undocumented (or, now newly documented) worker segments in the before and after. (I tend to think those sizes are determined much more by the demand for the labor than by the legal regime.) It also assumes that there will be broad participation in the new documentation system, and that’s the assumption I’m more worried about.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        (Burt, Chris, & others, I meant to address…)Report

      • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Definitely. You push something underground and bad things happen. You create a class of people who are afraid to seek justice under the law and injustices start to happen to them, whether those injustices are perpetrated by underworld kings or otherwise upstanding citizens.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Christopher Carr
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          says:

          Yep. Level the playing field.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Christopher Carr
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          says:

          Or worse, they find ways to seek justice through systems alternative to the governmental law enforcement and adjudication systems. One of the reasons organized crime syndicates thrive is that they use violence to mete out a rough form of “justice,” albeit one that favors their clients or themselves. One of the ways that such syndicates can gain support from the communities in which they exist is to discipline themselves according to a perceptible form of “justice”: you pay your taxes but you get protection; if you take from a protected person, then you have to give back; loans get enforced; etc.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Christopher Carr
          Ignored
          says:

          …As Chris says, the issue here is really more the rational behavior of more-or-less honest businessmen responding to others’ incentive structures which are influenced by law, not so much the problem of lawless power centers that maintain their own alternative enforcement operations. We could say that undocumented immigrants’ lessened bargaining power due to their legal status is an injustice, but I’m not sure the effect of that we are most concerned about is their pursuit of redress for that injustice through alternative avenues, so much as simply the immediate economic effect of their having that lower bargaining power (particularly employers’ response to that reality) for the rest of the labor market.Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
            Ignored
            says:

            …Perhaps the injustice is their lack of legal status to work (the right to migrate due to economic imperatives as a fundamental human right), and the alternative justice system in question is the just the widespread illegal employment of people without proper documentation, resulting in artificially low bargaining power for everyone trying to work in a given labor market segment. That’s what I was initially pointing to.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew
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              says:

              “artificially low”

              Part of the problem is the false consciousness of the illegally employed.Report

              • Avatar Turgid Jacobian in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                This reads incredibly uncharitably. Like you think that, “So what, undocumented “contract” cleaner with the broken ankle–we ain’t unlocking the doors of this Wal-Mart until 7am. You call the amublance, we all ICE,” is somehow acceptable?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Turgid Jacobian
                Ignored
                says:

                Does noticing a thing amount to support for it now?

                “Force equals mass times acceleration.”
                “Sounds to me like you like the idea of people dying.”Report

              • Avatar Turgid Jacobian in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                My apologies if I’m mistaken but it read to me like you were mocking the idea that an undocumented worker *could* be exploited.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Turgid Jacobian
                Ignored
                says:

                So you went for the most uncharitable reading? You certainly don’t need me here for that.

                Why not just write the rant you want to write and attribute the worst motives to anyone who disagrees with you? Just come out and *DO* that and you’ll feel a lot better.

                Hey, how’s this? “Everybody who hates Immigration is a racist!” “WAL-MART! MURKA! WHY DO I HAVE TO PRESS ONE FOR ENGLISH! SUPPORT THE TROOPS!”

                Ah, I feel better. Do you feel better?Report

              • Avatar Turgid Jacobian in reply to Turgid Jacobian
                Ignored
                says:

                A libertarian invoking “false consciousness” is like a unicorn, sorry. On the one hand, I’m sorry, on the other hand, I have all these fishes that I won’t be giving.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Turgid Jacobian
                Ignored
                says:

                I’ll go here again. This:

                So you went for the most uncharitable reading? You certainly don’t need me here for that.

                Why not just write the rant you want to write and attribute the worst motives to anyone who disagrees with you? Just come out and *DO* that and you’ll feel a lot better.

                … is BS as a response to a comment whose entire mode of communication is to be as cryptic as possible. It’s your game: be cryptic -> draw out confused responses -> jump on their lack of charity/assumptions (when assumptions are necessary to even attempt to construe the initial cryptic comment).

                It’s BS.Report

              • Avatar Cletus in reply to Turgid Jacobian
                Ignored
                says:

                I was going to comment on something I saw above but after reading this entire section I don’t think I will bother. There is some definitively ungentlemanly conduct here from a number of participants.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Turgid Jacobian
                Ignored
                says:

                BS as a response to a comment whose entire mode of communication is to be as cryptic as possible

                …as a response to a comment that was responding to a comment whose entire mode of communication is to be as cryptic as possible, was what I meant to say there, if it wasn’t clear.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Turgid Jacobian
                Ignored
                says:

                Cletus,

                If what you were going to say was actually on the topic that Burt was discussing and that I responded to before the discussion got sidetracked onto the pursuit of what were meant to be analogies for the purpose of examining underlying principles (but became the subject of dispute on their own terms to no useful purpose), I’d actually be very grateful if you still wanted to do that.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      I think there is a tendency to presume any person of South American descent working in a particular field is undocumented, which is hardly the case. I used to work in an Italian restaurant where the chef was Brazilian. Consequently, all of the kitchen staff were Brazilian because A) many of them he knew from his community and B) it cut down on language issues. And they were all here legally (I can’t speak to the individual status of each of the kitchen guys but I know the owner insisted on paying everyone above the table). However, to an outsider, you just saw a bunch of brown dudes speaking non-English working in food service and assumed, “Illegals.”Report

  4. Avatar Jonathan McLeod
    Ignored
    says:

    Great post, Chris.

    The rhetorical device that Burt points out is well-played and, really, quite forthright.Report

  5. Avatar Lyle
    Ignored
    says:

    With respect to illegal immigration from the south, no one is discussing what the effects of the long term fall in the total fertility rate in these countries will be. The TFR was 6 in the 1960s and is now 2.3 (total fertility rate is children born per woman over her life). As a result the basic supply of folks who might want to come to the US from these countries will be less than in the past. If you think about it the movement from rural areas to the cities in these countries combined with the high birth rate meant a lot of what could be regarded as surplus population. I wonder if the current drop in illegal immigration besides just the US economy, could be related to the drop in the total fertility rate.
    At any rate IMHO securing the border now might be akin to fixing the barn door after the horse has escaped from the barn.Report

  6. Avatar Lyle
    Ignored
    says:

    A second comment following from the first, this does suggest that the exit import visa tracking system is more important to get those who overstay legitimate visas as well as the e-verify system. More illegals will be overstayers relative to southern border crossers in the future. Combine this with bringing back the old alien registration system (every year you fill out a card with your location, failure to do that is a crime, as it was in the past)Report

    • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Lyle
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      says:

      I’d support alien registration provided it is not so burdensome as we are likely to make it. Judging by our present policy for legitimate immigration, we would likely make alien registration so burdensome as to encourage defection.Report

  7. Avatar damon
    Ignored
    says:

    One of the things I’m concerned about in the immigration bill is the employee verification system. It seems like another device to monitor people. That is worrisome.

    As to illegal’s, I’m all for immigration, but I don’t’ think we’ve really had a debate about it, nor has the public really weighed in. (I have some experience in this because I have family along the border and I’ve gone through dozens of checkpoints a long way from the border. Frankly, it smacks of a police state when you have to stop on the road so the federalies can check if you’re smuggling illegal’s.)

    My personal thoughts are that our policy should be to attract intelligent/ successful/ wealthy people to this country to invest in it and who intend to stay. If there is a need for unskilled workers, they can be let in on a temporary basis, and maybe some can be in a lottery to stay permanent IF we decide they are needed and it is in our interested to do so.

    But those who come into the country outside of these vehicles deserve to be deported. I’m also of the opinion that if you’re born by an illegal, citizenship isn’t immediately conveyed, thus we can deport whole families back to their place of origin. And I’m really not all that worried that folks here illegally are concerned about getting medical care and getting found out. We shouldn’t be paying for their medical care anyway.Report

    • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to damon
      Ignored
      says:

      The only other option is to watch them die in the streets. Which isn’t really an option at all is it?

      Since we’re paying for it anyways, the least we can do is help them be able to pay for it by allowing them to work.Report

      • Avatar damon in reply to Christopher Carr
        Ignored
        says:

        I was tempted to reply “that’s the typical statist response that if “the gov’t” doesn’t do something, blood will run in the streets, but let’s examine this a bit more than a cheeky reply.

        1) The medical providers could invoice those getting the care. Payment can and would be enforced through collections agencies, etc., just like with natives. However, the illegal have an out. They can go back home to avoid the collection agency. From the perspective of the natives, this is a win win. The illegal’s either pay the bill (win) or leave the country to avoid a crushing medical bill (win). Another disincentive for the group as a whole to remain.

        2) You are ignoring any charitable efforts that would spring up, either from illegal immigrant groups or natives, to tend to those who needed care and couldn’t afford it.

        No, let’s get back to “blood in the streets”. What would the likely impact of news reports of illegal immigrants not receiving free care, reports of immigrants skipping the country to avoid collection agencies, of being refused care, of them dying in the streets. Why, THEY MIGHT DECIDE TO LEAVE.

        Might just work. So, yes. It is an option. Depends upon how cold hearted you want to be.Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    For what it’s worth, my intention of bringing up unions (and picket line crossers) was not to start a debate on libertarianism or of unions for that matter.

    I was just trying to point out that a large influx of unskilled labor will have costs and these costs will mostly be paid by other unskilled laborers.

    I know that the comparison isn’t exact but there is a lot of overlap… and certainly when it comes to “with whom should I feel solidarity?” It’s not obvious to me that the answer is necessarily the immigrants who are coming here to make a better life for themselves and their children and their babies. (Though, granted, it’s also not obvious to me that the answer is necessarily The Beleaguered Unskilled American Worker who just wants to make a living wage for himself and his children and his babies.)

    When it comes to the issue of the unions, the argument seems to be that we need to feel solidarity with the union at the expense of the scabs (check that word out!) who want to cross the picket line.

    Why isn’t there similar solidarity for the citizen unskilled worker?Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      For what it’s worth, Jay, I’m glad you brought it up. It’s a really good point.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Everything has costs to someone. In general few people from any side ever really discuss them.

      Could feeling solidarity for the unskilled worker include wanting cheap college loans so they can get some skills, wanting uni medical care so they will be able to get to a doc since its the lowest paid/unskilled workers who often don’t get care through their employer or wanting OSHA to be a PITA to employers to keep workers safe

      Also i don’t know if its been noted already in this tread, but for most of us its easy to feel solidarity with immigrants since we are the children or grandchildren of immigrants.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Beyond a certain point, I’m beginning to question the efficacy of education. Which skills are needed? How can they be identified, to the point where we can apply Cheap College Loans to some cost/benefit equation? Wouldn’t it be better, perhaps, to have some sort of apprenticeship program for the unskilled?

        As for universal health care, once again, there’s no One Size Fits All solution. If we had the data sorted out by HCPCS codes and cost per procedure/incident, we could come to terms with the problem domain. There’s no competition at work for most of the health care biz: the same procedure in two different hospitals varies wildly. We’re lost in the Funhouse of Mirrors, saddling employers and employees with the burden of health care. It never used to be that way until WW2, when workers’ wages were frozen and the only way to give them a rise in benefits was to offer health care coverage. The health care market isn’t working: ask any physician about the Kafka-esque nightmare of getting paid. Insurance is bad and Medicare is worse.

        As for Feeling Solidarity for Immigrants, nobody hates the current crop of immigrants more than the previous crop of immigrants. That’s been true as long as we’ve been a nation.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Why isn’t there similar solidarity for the citizen unskilled worker?

      The answer is completely obvious to any but the most intensely self-deluded: it is from Karl Marx:

      The working men have no country. We cannot take away from them what they have not got.

      Citizen workers is a contradiction in terms. The worker goes to the job or the job to the worker. Capitalism knows no boundaries — it certainly observes none.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      FWIW, I did get that point, even though I participated in the thread that distracted from it.

      I think there is similar solidarity for the citizen unskilled worker, at least to some extent, that is very widespread. The “they took our jobs” meme resonates, even among a significant set of people who don’t really have to worry about their jobs getting took.

      It seems to me, though I could be way wrong, that this solidarity is the core motivation for opposition to illegal immigrants. Or at least one of the top few motivations.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      I was just trying to point out that a large influx of unskilled labor will have costs and these costs will mostly be paid by other unskilled laborers.

      I’d want to point out that if there is an operative assumption in this concern that the immigration reform proposal that just passed the Senate, or any other immigration reform law that might remotely probably be passed by the Congress in the next few years, would if implemented result in such a large influx, that is an assumption that very much remains to be borne out or not by events. It’s entirely possible that demand will continue to determine inflows and outflows of unskilled labor (while visa grants will tend to continue to determine flows of skilled labor) regardless of the laws that pass, and that the primary thing to be affected by whatever laws may pass will be those workers’ legal status, the process for establishing said status for the purpose of the initialization of each individual employment relationship, government accounting for their earnings for tax and other purposes, et cetera. There isn’t any necessary relationship between the passage of an immigration reform law that allows legal working status for the workers already here and an easier route to that status for people who want to be here and a resulting large influx/increase in the rate of flow of workers coming here to work. That assumes our current immigration regime prevents some significant number of people who want to do that now from doing it, and that relaxing that would allow some large number of those now being prevented from doing it to come and work. I don’t think that’s in evidence.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
        Ignored
        says:

        <>Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew
        Ignored
        says:

        When Shazbot asked for evidence, I provided this link from the United States Commission on Civil Rights:

        http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/IllegImmig_10-14-10_430pm.pdf

        Now, granted, that’s talking about illegal immigration and not immigration, but if the question is whether the immigration reform proposal will result in a greater influx of immigration than otherwise, I can only ask “what happened the last time immigration was reformed?”

        What happened after the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986?

        If undocumented immigration increased dramatically (and it did), I’d not mind an explanation for why this would totally be different than last time.

        It seems to me that the stuff that is in evidence is the report from the United States Commission on Civil Rights and the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and the aftermath of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.Report

        • Avatar dand in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          What happened after the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986?

          If undocumented immigration increased dramatically (and it did), I’d not mind an explanation for why this would totally be different than last time.

          undocumented immigration was on the upswing before 1986 it’s possible that the bill didn’t have any effect as the trend was already in place.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to dand
            Ignored
            says:

            I suppose that that’s possible.

            If this bill would also not have any effect, why bother passing it?Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              I listed a number of effects it might have. You seem to have eyes for only one, though.

              Don’t you consider it possible that the impetus for reform is other than a desire to increase the number of laborers in the United States? After all, the expressed reasons are, I think, nearly exclusively other than that.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
                Ignored
                says:

                Oops, I read that as a response to me. Apologies.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
                Ignored
                says:

                …I think it’s still on the point, though.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Michael Drew
                Ignored
                says:

                Given that among other things it includes guest worker visas and increasing the number of skilled-worker visas, is that last sentence accurate?

                Or am I wrong about there being an incease in the number of visas. Even if I am, though, that was among the things that proponents wanted, isn’t it?Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                You’re right. There’s an explicit aim to increase skilled-labor in-migration; my bad. This is limited to unskilled (by Jaybird’s initial statement of concern). I should have stuck with that.

                I wonder if Jaybird has the same concerns about costs borne by incumbent skilled laborers as a result of the expressed aim to increase skilled-labor immigration (at least in certain categories).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m an advocate of open borders, Mister Drew.

                I argue this position because of my acquaintance with Dexter who informed me that it was easy for me to say that I was a fan of open borders because my job wouldn’t be affected… and I realized that he was right.

                I remain an advocate of open borders… but I also do that keeping in mind that that is easy for me to say.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                What makes you think demand for workers in your market segment your won’t be affected?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, it’d probably be *AFFECTED*, but nowhere near as much as it affects people like Dexter.

                They always need Unix Admins. They always need security guys who know how to harden a system. They always need application specialists.

                The amount of immigration that would have an impact on me would also bring in enough additional consumption that I’d still be required. Perhaps at the phone company that would be providing that many more cell phones. Perhaps at the ISP that would be providing that much more bandwidth. I’d be okay.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                We don’t know who’s going to be affected more, or even how much any incumbent workers will be affected by a change in the law (as vice by immigrant labor). It’s all assumptions, including your consumption point – but also including the bare assumption that this will substantially affect immigration levels at all (in my view, particularly in the low-skill sector; it seems to me that the legal regime has much greater effect on the number of high-skill workers who immigrate). My impression is that about as many people as the economy dictates come in to do unskilled work regardless of the legal regime, and that the real issue that needs to be dealt with is the irrationality of that regime.

                As to taking on board others’ positions, can I just say that as admirable as that is, it’s hard to discuss these matters with someone who lets that create a kind of argumentative mini-me or mirror-twin. I’d suggest that the right way to take into account Dexter’s position is to make the adjustment to your own position to the extent it needs to be made, but still argue your view as your view. Don’t argue a different view from your actual view because Dexter is who he is. It makes it very hard to discuss the topic. If your view stays the same despite Dexter, own that. Say, “This might harm my friend Dexter, but here’s my view.” Don’t make all of us deal with views that you don’t even hold just because someone else is who he is. There are people all around us who are who they are (i.e. have skin in the game of the policies we discuss in various directions).

                …Or, not. Whatever.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                We don’t know who’s going to be affected more, or even how much any incumbent workers will be affected by a change in the law (as vice by immigrant labor).

                Perhaps not. To the extent that this law is similar to the half-dozen or so amnesties we’ve had since 1986, I think it’s a safe bet to say that the same things will happen as those times. Certainly to the point where I’m willing to say that it probably won’t affect me, or people like me, negatively. We’ll probably see benefits.

                Don’t make all of us deal with views that you don’t even hold just because someone else is who he is. It makes it very hard to discuss the topic.

                I come from a different tradition, I guess.

                If your view stays the same despite Dexter, own that.

                I said, days ago, I see the benefits of open borders outweighing the costs, mind… but I’m vaguely skilled labor. The costs are likely to be born by people who ain’t me and I’m likely to see the benefits of it.

                I’m an open borders guy. I’m under the impression that I’ve stated that ad nauseum. I remain one.

                But I’m also trying to keep in mind, as Dexter pointed out, that that’s easy for me to say.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                A quick thing before I call it a night. Jaybird and I are expressing our reservations on something we are generally in favor of. Jaybird is an open borders guy. I’m not, but I am in most contexts a pretty pro-immigration guy. But the consensus here is leaving out some of the objections and reservations that are legitimate. And so we’re left to make the argument because few else around here (except Art) will.

                Without someone voicing these views, there’d be nothing to discuss because this is one of those areas on which both the liberal wing and libertarian wing of this site agree. And Art kind of speaks a different language than the rest of us. And Dexter isn’t around at the moment.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Michael Drew
                Ignored
                says:

                I was under the impression that “(seasonal/temporary) guest workers” was sort of a tip at what we would consider “unskilled labor” (farm labor, etc.). I could be wrong about that.

                Jaybird has said in the past that even though he is personally somewhat threatened by skilled labor immigration, he is not that concerned about it. But if Jaybird is like myself in this regard, it feels different to say that “I am willing to accept the risks/costs without complaint” and saying that “he should accept the risks/costs without complaint.” Jaybird and I both have more reason to be optimistic that we won’t be left behind in the more general sense, than someone without the skillsets that we have. If that makes sense.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, again, this is why I did say “laborers” rather than “unskilled laborers” and is the key point I’m arguing, so perhaps I shouldn’t have backed off. How many of those seasonal visas will go to people who are already seasonal workers (without documentation), or would have been anyway? I don’t think we know, but my hunch is that any real resulting increase in the number of workers coming into the country to work will be at the margin, not the major influx Jaybird raises a concern about. And that if it doesn’t, that won’t mean it just failed to achieve its stated end.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                …Er, I guess that would still wall off the skilled side. In any case, that’s the question I’m raising.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                I think our understandings of the temporary/seasonal guest worker aspect of it differ. I think that those who are already here get put on the path to citizenship, for the most part. While those who get the TSGW are on a different track and are basically expected to return home. Two different groups. I could be wrong about that, but that was my impression.

                I’m perfectly willing to leave out the skilled workers if that is what you would prefer. I am not entirely convinced that it isn’t at least an aim of the current legislation to keep a flow of laborers coming over for farm work and other jobs “Americans won’t do.”

                Which I could be wrong about. I am just a bit skeptical that closing off the spigot for laborers is really in the cards here. I think that given the history, some skepticism – that maybe this is part of the overall process that has been unfolding for longer than I have been alive – here is warranted. (That said, a big part of me wonders if this whole debate isn’t moot due to Mexican and South American demographics and the significant decrease in illegal immigration that has already been occurring.)Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman
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                says:

                Right, but Will, someone who goes into the S/TGW program might well have come over to work seasonally *and undocumented* for five or ten previous years and would have for five or ten more years regardless of change in the law. And they still wouldn’t be someone who’s “already here” for the purposes of your comment. They’re expected to go home; just like they were expected to go home before (or, you know, not – whatever, since they’re already “illegal,” why not just get another illegal job. At least with the S/TGW status, they have some incentive to actually go home after that seasonal round, since if they do they won’t cross over into “illegal” status: might not be enough, but at least it’s an incentive in the right direction.)

                The key word in your comment is “keep”:

                “I am not entirely convinced that it isn’t at least an aim of the current legislation to keep a flow of laborers coming over for farm work and other jobs “Americans won’t do.”

                Yes, that is the aim. To keep that flow coming over, and to rationalize the legal situation around it. But not to dramatically increase it via change in legal regime in a way that would have a major negative effect on low-skill workers already here. That is likely only to happen if the economy dictates it, in which case, a) that increase won’t (I don’t believe) be significantly slowed by keeping a more restrictive immigration policy, meaning that the main policy loss would continue to be the loss of simply having a futile, irrational policy in place, and b) those who we might be worried would be “hurt” in that scenario will almost certainly experience it as a boon (and the more so if not competing with a group of workers whose insecure legal status likely make them even more likely to undercut them in their asking price than they would otherwise).

                Sorry that this comment is a little rambly.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
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                says:

                Michael,

                A lot of what you say is the process that I am referring to people objecting to. Which is to say, that it will be formalizing the process that people do object to. Not for a moment intending to seriously address the price that has already been paid by those coming over, nor addressing the future costs of more of the same.

                One could argue “But all of the negative effects are due to the fact that the process hasn’t been formalized” and if it were formalized – those employing the immigrants had to play by the same rules as those employing citizens – that the negative effects would be nullified, but I just don’t think it’s at all that simple. I think that when you enlarge the labor pool – especially in a down economy – you increase employer leverage period. The only question is whether that is compensated for in the overall by the benefits that the immigrants bring with them. (And there seems to be some disagreement over whether or not future immigration is addressed in the bill, which is another factor.)

                (I’m not going to be able to respond to your response to this, as I need to get to bed and tomorrow is a travel day.)Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman
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                says:

                …I keep forgetting to throw in my punchy bottom-line statement into these comments. It’s not that I’m saying I know what will or won’t result from any given immigration reform – I don’t know more than anyone else here. All I’m arguing against is the assumption as fact that any likely version of such a reform is very likely to result in, because it is intended to result in, or despite the fact that it’s not — will cause — a significant, market-altering increase in the real number of low-skilled workers competing for jobs in the U.S. It might happen that way, but it’s not something I would agree to as a baseline assumption about either what the law will result in or what it’s intended to result in.

                (High-skill immigration is a different matter, and you (WIll) make a good point about that, where the aim is indeed to increase immigration levels (but also, I think, to ease extensions of residencies) in certain categories at least. Incidentally, does anyone know of an estimate of how many of the 12 million or so undocumented (or insufficiently documented, i.e. working past visa expiration) residents we currently have in the country are what we would classify as high-skilled workers for the purposes of this discussion?)Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman
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                says:

                Will,

                No problem on the response. I’m glad I wrote the clarification I just wrote, because I haven’t been arguing against people’s frustration with immigration generally. Jaybird cites statistics that show that immigration hurts those with the lowest levels of skills and education (even if only modestly). That’s a real thing to be concerned about, and I don’t begrudge people disliking the idea of suddenly just making it legal and giving amnesty to those who have immigrated and worked illegally. My policy response to that is to simply say, with the full understanding that it might not please someone like Dexter, that to me what’s clear is that immigration across contiguous borders for work purposes is a problem that just doesn;t lend itself very well to policy, and that the imperative really is to identily the losses associated with an irrational policy response to aproblem that swamps our ability to change the basic reality, and try to accomodate reality. My experience working as a particularly low-skilled person even within an already-identified “low-skill” industry (food service) is that the fact of immigration is just flat-out good for all of – even me, who was less valuable to the company for the fact of there being some riduculously hard-working, damned-skilled-for-being-low-skilled workers there who were clearly immigrants one way or another. I was nominally harmed in an economic way by being lower on the totem pole than I might have been had they not been there, but the larger benefit was nonetheless clear to me: if nothing else, I’m not at all sure that the place would have been able to keep going without immigrant labor, which means I wouldn’t have been able to tag along. But that’s really not at all what I’m arguing here.

                What I’m saying is far more narrow, and I lay it out above – it’s just the point that the assumption that these immigration bills would cause a great increase in the actual number of people looking for low-skill jobs is really, truly just an assumption, and one that I think is at best very open to question and that is pending any evidence to support it. It’s not clear to me that that, as opposed to a rationalization and stabilization of the policy regime that responds to the basic reality on the ground, that such an increase is the aim of these policy proposals; and I am somewhere between just open-minded and mildly skeptical of any assertion that that (again, a great, market-shifting increase in the number of low-skilled laborers actually in the country – as opposed to one on the margins, perhaps) is likely to be among their effects. That’s the main suggestion I’m calling into question here. I don’t at all dismiss people’s concern about the effects of such a policy effect were it to come to pass; I just am rather dubious that these policy changes would have that effect. I think low-skill immigration levels are overwhelmingly determined by economic, not policy, factors, while I am somewhat unclear on that relationship in the high-skill sector (though I suspect that policy plays a greater role there, since in general I think high-skilled workers looking to emigrate have a better, and larger, set of alternatives to the particular one of migrating to the U.S., than low-skilled ones do, particularly those located in Latin America; also high-skilled workers may have more to lose if caught not following the law).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                From the USCCR report:

                Dr. Briggs emphasized that the distinguishing characteristic of the illegal immigrant population is that 81 percent of them are probably in the low-skill sector of the job market; about 57 percent of them are without a high school diploma, and 24 percent have only a high school diploma. Since they often come from poor countries, he said, the quality of their education is likely poor, and they frequently lack English language skills.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                @Jaybird: here’s a dirty little secret sorta confined to bilingual special ed (BSE) teachers: often as not, the children of these illegal immigrants are semilingual.

                Semilingual is doubleminus ungood. Their parents are functionally illiterate. If they’re from southern Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti and suchlike, they don’t even speak their own language, much less English, with any degree of proficiency. These kids end up in the BSE room. The BSE room becomes a dumping ground for problem kids, too.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                So that supports the basic assumption I’ve been operating from: that the large majority of the present illegal population is low-skilled, perhaps meaning that policy may have a (much?) greater effect on the propensity of any given high-skilled worker to actually migrate to the U.S., whatever she can currently do about the legal status of that migration, than it does on that of any given low-skilled worker (particularly, one would think, if they currently reside somewhere in Latin America), whatever their legal options for emigration might be.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                Here’s what sorts them out, Michael. So I was having some Guatemalan guys rebuild a wall for me in my restaurant. I went out for a few hours, came back and found they’d done essentially nothing. I roared at them: Vdes perezosos! Cada chapino motivado ya ha salido por los Estados Unidos! == Lazy bastards! Every motivated [Guatemalan] has already departed for the USA!

                We don’t always get the smart ones. We do get the motivated ones, the most desperate ones. They find a way. They always do.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman
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                says:

                Blaise,

                That is a very real downstream-cost problem associated with immigration that I have always had a hard time coming up with an answer to. But it remains a problem whether they are children of immigrant workers with zero legal status, or with a modicum of legality (as, in my experience, they do tend to end up in classrooms either way). The issue cycles back to whether some given policy might result in significantly more such kids ending up in American schools.

                This is not an effect, though, that has a direct impact on the market for people with Dexter’s skillset. And a policy option that it occurs to me might have among the larger effects of increasing the number of kids like this who end up in American schools would be that of simply enacting fully open borders. I wonder if The Real Jaybird would make an appearance to talk about how problems of providing services like education to people who would come here under an open borders regime, one that he has been at pains to say he supports, might be addressed. In the case of education, I imagine that involves privatization such that no institution who doesn’t choose to make it its business to educate such kids has to do so. But that’s just a guess; I’d be interested in hearing what the answer really is.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman
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                says:

                BP,

                A similar intuition is what I came to in the kitchen(s). The process of getting there to that place meant that we were benefitting from the weeding process that resulted from the necessity that an obstacle course be run just for the chance for that person to be there doing that job. And legal status seemed to me to be likely to be among the lesser obstacles therein. Granted, we live in Wisconsin (I still did when I worked there), which is significantly further north than San Antonio, but still. The result was that I thought it absurd that, if they were struggling with their legal status, that we would really want that to stand between that business and the excellent work they did for it. And I don’t think I have to give the disclaimer that it’s easy for me to say that. if not for them; I’d have been more valuable to them. But it’s still better that they were available – for the business and me.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m not sure we ought to try for the smartest ones. I prefer the most motivated ones. The smart ones should stay home, build up their own nations’ economies. Tech is no respecter of boundaries any more. All these antiquated, parochial attitudes about Preferable People, leaving out the humble and lowly, it’s un-American.

                This nation was populated by dirty, terrified Irishmen packed into the holds of ships, they made their way by dint of hard labour. The Vietnamese refugees who went to Louisiana and the Gulf and took over those shrimp boats and worked their asses off — shit, give me a Working Man any day in preference to some overeducated fop without any callouses on his hands. The black culture, emerging from centuries of second-class citizenship, hey, what about them? Women like working men. We gotta quit concentrating on Carpet Land get serious about importing Hard Workers. They’re the salvation of any nation.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                It isn’t so much a function of what we try for, I don’t think, at that end of things. But yes, I’d say that’s what I was describing, if it wasn’t clear: if not the cream, then still significantly skimmed product motivation-wise. It took significantly above-average motivation to just get there (or so I suspect), and that showed in the work.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
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                says:

                I wonder if The Real Jaybird would make an appearance to talk about how problems of providing services like education to people who would come here under an open borders regime, one that he has been at pains to say he supports, might be addressed.

                Erm, okay.

                The ESL ghetto is a wrong being perpetrated on Spanish-speaking kids that is worse than anything I could dream up even if I were going out of my way to harm Mexican (and other Central/South American) immigrants.

                When I went to school in Michigan, we didn’t have an ESL track. There was one kid who didn’t speak English too well and he was integrated into the classroom and the teacher told us “play with him anyway, help him get better at it” and he got better at English through such things as wanting to discuss the nuances of Voltron with the other kids.

                When I moved to New York, they had an ESL track. Interestingly enough, however, it only had Spanish-speakers in it. I had classes with Jamaican kids who grew up speaking the Patois but they were in the same classes as the native English speakers (granted, out of “General”, “Regents”, and “Honors”, they tended to be in “General” due to language issues but they weren’t in the ESL ghetto). The only kids in ESL were the Spanish-speaking kids. The Jamaican kids graduated with the English speakers. We never saw the ESL kids.

                I’d say that mastery of, at least, conversational English would be a requirement for success for these kids. Abandoning an ESL philosophy and picking up a “English Immersion” philosophy would probably do more to help them thrive in American culture than anything else.

                As for the petulant attitude that people who are living in the US illegally for the last X years shouldn’t have access to in-state tuition, that’s downright malicious. The kids with the skill and gumption to go to college are the ones we want going to college. They’re the ones most likely to be net benefits to such things as the tax rolls.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                As for the petulant attitude that people who are living in the US illegally for the last X years shouldn’t have access to in-state tuition, that’s downright malicious.

                Rubbish.Report

              • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                @Jaybird,

                The ESL ghetto doesn’t really exist anymore (at least in immigrant-loving Massachusetts, but that’s setting the bar kind of high : ) ). Immersion is the norm, supplemented by an ESL course that at most takes up a quarter of the day.

                There definitely is a small amount of the old hardline grammar-based approach advocates, but they are rapidly disappearing as evidence in favor of immersion and social-context-based learning piles up.

                In fact, I’d say unequivocally that the modern equivalent of the ESL ghetto is bilingual education.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Michael Drew
                Ignored
                says:

                It’s no contradiction to be for Open Borders and against illegal immigration. Case in point: starting back roughly in the era of WW2, America had the Bracero Program.

                These folks would come across the border and work their way north, picking produce, starting in the far south and ending up as far north as Michigan, picking apples and such. They’d go back for the winter, enjoy some time with their families and do it all over again. Worked out great for everyone.

                But then some goddamn Do Gooders got involved. Now I’m going to tell you a true story, I’ve actually seen the orchard where this story took place. This farmer had a really nice lawn area at the end of his orchard, big area, about an acre I guess. Every year, the migrant workers would come through and park their vehicles on the farm and camp on this lawn. There was a nice fire pit, he had picnic tables set up, a privy, clean running water out of a tap, even a washing area, all the needful stuff you’d want to see in nicer camp ground. It was only used a few days a year.

                The Do Gooders said this was entirely inadequate. They demanded the farmer put up housing for them, a dormitory. With beds. These workers already had bedding, they carry everything with them they’ll need for months of work. They’re like carnies, they’ve been at this for generations, they know the drill.

                We need a migrant worker visa — bad. The most iniquitous, the truly Kafka-esque aspect of what we’ve done with this satanic Great Wall we’re building on the Mexican border — these poor bastards can’t go home again. They’re trapped here. They paid thousands of dollars to get here, they almost died in the process. They might as well have been sent to the planet Mars.

                Migrant workers are as crucial to the American farm economy as the honeybee. We’re screwing up both ecologies.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                I totally agree. The other thing I’m concerned about is the way in which the legal status of those who currently do this work, in the cases where they lack the “proper” documentation, distorts the market in this kind of work. Are doing anything but screwing up the whole situation by not making it easy to legally to these jobs, no matter one’s nationality?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Erm, how could it not distort the market? I’ve thought about this issue for decades — the more we try to stamp it down, the more abusive the process becomes.

                And it’s not just here in the USA. In China, it’s illegal to migrate from one part of China to another without a hukou, an internal passport. Not everyone gets one, okay? So these poor devils come out of rural China, do all this work — completely on spec, with the promise of being paid, and then after as much as a year of work without being fucking paid, the employer doesn’t pay a dime. Well, that’s not true, strictly speaking, the employer pays a bribe to the local officals and gets the illegal worker arrested. And sent back to his remote province. Because he doesn’t have a hukou.

                These people are called Hungry Ghosts in China. Their children can’t go to regular schools. They are routinely abused and extorted by criminal gangs. You wouldn’t believe the shit which goes on in China, makes our system look like a model of probity and fair dealings.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Indeed. If you’re breaking the law you’ll probably take one of the first jobs that will help you conceal your status, not care so much about what wage you’re offered or whether it complies with the law; not cre so much about whether other aspects of your employment comply with the law; by-and-large, you have a greater downward-sucking effect on wages and prevailing employment conditions if you are there illegally than if you were there legally (in some way or form).

                That is The. Core. Point. I have been trying to make in this thread. The legitimate question is whether a scheme to improve the legal status of people like that will have the effect of increasing the real number of bodies now competing for jobs like those you (and others who are citizens) can do, by bringing in more immigrants (now with legal status?), so much as to significantly or even modestly worsen the prospects of a group of America’s most vulnerable current workers. It’s a legitimate question, but not one whose answer we should assume to be one thing or another. It may depend entirely on the particulars of the policy changes; it may actually not even do that, but rather be almost entirely determined by economics. What it is is that rare thing – a real, true, legitimate empirical question. We should be open to whatever the answer might be.

                And that is the best statement of the points I have tried to make in this thread that I can possibly offer. With that, I’m off to bed.Report

        • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          The issue is complicated and unresolved, IMO.

          The evidence cited comcludes this:

          “Evidence for negative effects of such competition ranged from modest to significant, according to the experts who testified, but even those experts who viewed the effects as modest overall found significant effects in occupations such as meatpacking and construction. The Commission views this topic as complex, and therefore makes no specific recommendations at this time. The Commission recommends generally, however, that the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other appropriate governmental agencies collect data concerning the presence of illegal workers in the U.S. workforce and on the employment and wage rate effects of such workers on low-skilled and low-wage workers of all races. ”

          That’s a pretty weak conclusion. Some evidence for a modest or moderate effect, in most industries, but more data needed.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Shazbot5
            Ignored
            says:

            “Evidence for negative effects of such competition ranged from modest to significant” is a weak conclusion?

            The sentence goes on to use the word “but” the way that I would use the word “and”:

            “according to the experts who testified, but even those experts who viewed the effects as modest overall found significant effects in occupations such as meatpacking and construction.”

            That’s a “pretty weak” conclusion, you say?

            Fair enough.

            Can you provide a report that provides stronger evidence than the evidence provided by this report? Because we disagree that the evidence is “pretty weak”.

            I’d settle for “modest to significant”.Report

        • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          Here is a good summary from a recent New Yorker

          “Intuitive as this may seem (more workers means fewer job opportunities and lower wages), actual evidence that immigration drives down wages is hard to find. On the contrary, a host of studies have found that immigration has actually boosted wages for native-born American workers as a whole, and that while immigration has had a negative impact on the wages of one group—men without a high-school education—that impact has been surprisingly small. Taken as a whole, in fact, the numbers clearly suggest that immigration reform would be a genuine boon to the U.S. economy.”

          Now, I actually think this is important. Workers without a high-school education should be given aid and more aid if we are going to not protect their jobs in trade pacts. But maybe the best way forward is to enter free trade and protect low-wage, low education workers via means other than putting up a wall banning immigrants.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Shazbot5
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            says:

            a host of studies have found that immigration has actually boosted wages for native-born American workers as a whole

            Does this unnamed New Yorker article provide sources for these studies?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              Oooh, I found the article.

              http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2013/02/immigration-reform-and-the-american-worker.html

              Here’s the paragraph that I found interesting (and I’ll bold the *REALLY* interesting parts):
              This helps explain why the economists Gianmarco Ottaviano and Giovanni Peri found that, between 1990 and 2004, immigration boosted the wages of most native-born workers, and why a recent study by Heidi Schierholz of the liberal Economic Policy Institute found that, between 1994 and 2007, immigration had a “small but positive” impact on the relative wages of Americans at all educational levels.

              Those dates are interesting dates to have picked for the sample, don’t you think?Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                It seems quite logical that the results would be more positive all-around during boom-times whereas during bust-times where there is more competition for jobs that having a whole bunch of extra workers would have a negative effect.

                (I sort of wish we had more genuine critics of immigration here. It sorta feels odd with you and I arguing this position, since neither of us are exactly immigration-skeptics. I am mostly coming from a place where I am in favor of bringing more people in – even “unskilled labor” – but also feeling like I am coming from a position of privilege on the matter that, say, Dexter doesn’t have.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                And clicking on the links in that story gets me to the following:

                The first was another New Yorker article that mentioned Gianmarco Ottaviano and Giovanni Peri and says this (I’m going to bold the interesting part):

                http://www.newyorker.com/talk/financial/2007/06/11/070611ta_talk_surowiecki

                According to a recent study by the economists Gianmarco Ottaviano and Giovanni Peri, between 1990 and 2004 immigration actually boosted the wages of most American workers; its only negative effect was a small one, on the wages of workers without a high-school diploma.

                Which is actually evidence for the point I’m arguing. Let’s see what the second study points out:

                http://www.epi.org/publication/bp255/

                This article interestingly points out immigration results in a small boost (like, .3%) in the wages for the native-born but in a 3.7% decrease in the pay for other immigrants. Here’s a quotation: In other words, any negative effects of new immigration over this period were felt largely by the workers who are the most substitutable for new immigrants—that is, earlier immigrants.

                So we get to ask whether a .3% increase during an economic boom qualifies as evidence that unskilled native-born workers won’t be harmed by an influx of unskilled workers during a period of economic malaise.

                I’d say the evidence for that is, at best, “pretty weak”.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Immigrants, illegal or not, still gotta eat. They buy clothes and get cheap cell phones and best of all they export cash. See, if all that cash started rolling around in America, inflation would get completely out of hand. But since it’s exported into other economies, it takes pressure off our own.

                The illegal immigrant is a consumer, too. When money starts out lowlowlow on the totem pole, a poor guy buying groceries, it has a beneficial effect on the economy as a whole. Pay a rich guy, he’ll put it in the bank, maybe he’ll invest it, maybe he’ll buy a fancy fly rod with it — but it won’t have the salutary effect of percolating all the way up from the bottom. That’s the most effective dollar in the economy, the M Zero Dollar, caysh monay. Every time the cash register rings, another fiscal angel earns his wings.

                And it’s that wonderful tintinnabulation of cash registers which keeps Americans employed. We’re still the world’s marketplace.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                But since it’s exported into other economies, it takes pressure off our own.

                This never occurred to me… I always saw remittances as a bit of a nuisance. Money spent there that could have been spent here.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                If the money stayed here — okay, as work is translated into money, it tends to stack up. More people making more money means prices tend to rise, reducing purchasing power of the existing money.

                But if the cash goes overseas, it creates a dependence on the American economy in two ways.

                First way: back in the day, I used to finance my way down to Guatemala by driving old school buses down there loaded up with auto parts. Sell ’em down there, live on the proceeds for a while, buy an airplane ticket back up to the States. But on the way, I’d drive through these villages with these brand new houses. The only people living in them were grandparents and grandchildren: the working age people were in the USA, earning money to build that house. Once they’d made their pile, they’d return to live in the house.

                Second way: overseas remittances are the most effective foreign aid program imaginable. Props up those economies, it’s just like water in the desert. Also creates demand for American products. And, for the truly cynical among us, it creates a powerful incentive for the enterprising young folks of those nations to bring their hard-working asses over here and achieve prestige in their own village by workin’ hard in America.

                Now to my way of thinking, having been through Mexico more times than was strictly good for anyone — there’s no excuse for Mexico’s poverty. It’s a poor nation because it’s run by morons and gonifs, usually both. Look at Canada, they somehow manage just fine. But our northerly neighbour nation is not run by morons or thieves. Concomitantly, we do not see Canadians sneaking over the border, overstaying their visas.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                there’s no excuse for Mexico’s poverty. It’s a poor nation because it’s run by morons and gonifs, usually both.

                Come again? Mexico has some problems which are Latin American signatures – malintegrated labor markets, severely skewed income distribution, and high crime rates. However, the aggregate level of affluence is about average for this world. Canadian affluence is very much the exception in this world, though there are a selection of countries in the post-War peoriod which have acquired Canadian affluence from impoverished points of origin (e.g. a selection of countries in the peripheral Far East and in the Caribbean, Israel, Mediterranean Europe, &c.).Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot5
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            says:

            There is plenty of evidence in my industry which concludes wages, but more particularly, hourly billing rates for consultants — have gone down. In my case, I have adapted by specialising to failure: picking up the pieces after the cheap talent has made a dog’s dinner of these projects. This keeps my rate high, but my hourly rate hasn’t gone up in at least five years.

            Wages are stagnant. I could go back to government consulting, the rates remain pretty good there but the politics stink to high heaven and I hate the work.

            H1-B talent is dirt cheap and worth every penny. I can’t tell you how many emails hit my inbox, looking for American talent to manage offshore or H1-B talent. It’s screwing up my industry. These guys’ resumes are full to brimming with lies and exaggerations. Often they’re copies of other peoples’ resumes: I found one bastard who’d copied my resume, whole and entire, without even removing the formatting: he’d just replaced my name with his.

            It’s not that offshore talent is incompetent, though often they are. There’s enough work for everyone these days, if you have the right skill set. I don’t mind working with junior talent: they’re easier to manage, since they haven’t acquired bad habits. And they won’t tell me war stories, complaining about how horrible things are here and how great they were back in the day: there were no good old days. Consulting demands a thick skin: you take life as you find it, you work within the constraints of the situation at hand.

            We aren’t going to correct America’s employment situation by importing talent from overseas. That’s crazy talk. Send the job there if need be. The Internet is good enough to support people being able to do a day’s work, check their code in and sleep in their own beds of nights. I’ll integrate it while they’re sleeping. Suits everyone to a T.

            Illegal immigration doesn’t happen in a vacuum. These people cross the border illegally — or overstay their visas — with a target in mind. In Elgin, Illinois, about half the working men from one village in Michoacan, Mexico are all there illegally — and they all know each other. That’s been the pattern of American immigration for generations. They come with a destination in mind. They come because there’s a support structure in place, brothers, sisters, neighbours whose parents and grandparents have known each other since before the conquistadors arrived. Same with the visa overstays, they enter into a demimonde of fellow illegals.

            All around us, taped to the windows in little tiendas right around the corner from you, little paper notices of births and deaths in villages thousands of miles away, festivals, celebrations of saint’s days, jobs opening up on local farms, employment agencies operating under cover. Surreptitious banking schemes, people selling cars, rooms for rent. America is now operating two completely separate societies. It can’t go on this way, any more than slavery could. Something’s got to give. And when it does, hell take the hindmost.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP
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              says:

              When one of the global conglomerates I worked for switched to outsourcing, I heard that downtimes went from a matter of minutes (when *I* was there, you had an email within 20 minutes telling you your server went down, whether it was back up, and here’s our theory as to what happened) to a matter of *DAYS*.

              I mean, sure, we had a datacenter in Mexico that was really a rack with a couple of servers in a janitor’s closet. I’m not talking about one of those servers going down and staying down for a weekend. I’m talking about servers in the GIANT DATACENTER. We used to be able to get up, grab a crash cart, and figure out what the heck was going on (9 times out of 10? faulty memory… I swear they rotated memory sticks instead of buying new ones…) and have an email ready in minutes.

              Singapore? They didn’t even acknowledge trouble tickets before at least a day had passed.

              We changed outsourcing companies a couple of times. (The one that bussed people in from Malaysia was even worse than the one in Singapore.)

              When we were in the process of switching to one in India (and training them to do our jobs), the Malays told us that the Indians were cheap but had no pride and no quality. I gave what sympathy I could… but, hell, I was on the same timeline as them.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Ecch, here’s my prediction. You’re probably not old enough to remember when people used to sneer at Japanese-made products. Chintzy, lo-rent stuff, the ditzy little cars with engines which belonged in motorcycles. Nobody thinks that way about Japanese-made products any more. We see echoes of that sort of talk about some Chinese-made products these days, shoddy workmanship, cheeky violations of intellectual property rights, knockoffs, crapola.

                Why did Japan’s quality improve? Their corporations got serious and upped the ante. They started listening to people like W Edwards Deming, a prophet with no honour here in the USA but plenty in Japan, where they issue the Deming Prize for quality. Workers and management never fought: they jumped into bed with each other and made great strides forward.

                Singapore is a special case, one you’ve outlined. I’ve worked with Singapore talent and those guys ‘n gals rock steady. Great coders. Maybe GE hired all the good ones.

                China? India? Malaysia? They won’t improve until they cut out all the parasitic middlemen, all those two-bit lying scum talent peddlers should be crucified and whipped for a good long while. They’re the ruination of the world. I can deal with ignorance, N00bs are no problem. I can cure ignorance. Most of the talent is more than willing to learn, enthusiastic, almost pathetically grateful for the opportunity.

                But there’s one mental/cultural/spiritual hurdle they’ve got to overcome: they get to the cubicle and sit in that chair — Jaybird, I watched a guy burst into tears of joy sitting down in that chair. They see that chair as the end of the road, the finish line, they’re finally Ackshul Fackshul Coders in the USA — and it’s only the starting line. They haven’t proven themselves yet. I don’t have any confidence in them yet. It’s about status and titles with them, not about the objective. It’s not about the deliverable — they’re used to a society where shit don’t work and they haven’t learned to be motivated by turnaround time on this stuff. It’s gotten so bad, I have to give this sermon to them all on arrival. It’s about the customer, it’s about the project, it’s not about you, H1-B dude. This is just the starting line. Now you gotta crouch down and get ready to run.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                The problem plaguing us was the “old man was the guy who had been there six months” problem. We had people who signed up, worked a few months, them ran off to one of the “living on a couple of dollars a day” parts of the country and lived in a house with servants.

                Perhaps the country’s closer enough to equilibrium that that doesn’t happen anymore.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        As I understand it, this bill includes a guest worker program. I’d be surprised if that has no positive effect at all on the number of people coming in here than working, even if I’m not sure amnesty itself will have much effect in that regard.

        But I think you have to look at the bigger picture. It’s not what this bill does or doesn’t do. It’s that this bill is a part of an overall process that does result in more people coming than otherwise might. Let them come illegally, let them work, legalize them, repeat process.

        In the eyes of many, we didn’t reach the point where we need amnesty and a pathway to citizenship due to oversight or government inefficacy. We reached it because the higher-ups wanted to reach it. They cannot get the number of legal immigrants they want, so they create a crisis for which the only solution is what we’re discussing now. And if everybody goes along, that will be exactly what will keep happening.

        I am not personally quite that cynical. I don’t think that things work in such a deliberate fashion. But I do think the broader strokes are there. And whether it’s intended or not, I can’t disagree with them that it’s the result of the combination of the alarm over large numbers of unauthorized residents met with the lack of alarm over their getting here and working in the first place.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
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          says:

          It’s that this bill is a part of an overall process that does result in more people coming than otherwise might.

          I’m of the opinion that if we had as many accountants, unix admins, doctors, lawyers, and other miscellaneous white collar upper middle class workers coming as unskilled workers (or, more precisely, in a proportion more or less equal to the proportion that existed, oh, when Clinton had his boom (why not?)) then we’d probably experience a net benefit as a society.

          But that’s not what’s happening. The current cap on H1-B visas? 65,000. I’m willing to bet that the white collar workers coming here illegally probably isn’t that high, given the nature of the jobs… for one, much of it is digital so it’s probably outsourced in the first place and, secondly, I don’t know how much black market white collar work is really available out there… you hear about stings at slaughterhouses or textile factories or construction… but I’ve never heard about a bust of undocumented accountants (maybe it’s happened… but you’d think that that would be something that would get a buttload of headlines).

          I don’t think that it’s a deliberate plan either… but the benefits of illegal (and undocumented) immigration (and, for that matter, large influxes of unskilled workers in the first place) are felt by powerful people with powerful lobbies and the costs are felt by schlubs. On top of that, the ideologies line up pretty well… libertarians like immigration because they like open borders. Businesses like immigration because they like cheap labor. Democrats like immigration because they like the voting tendencies of the immigrants once they’ve registered to vote. Heck, just look at a picture of most of the folks in opposition and the arguments against them just write themselves.

          Everything lines up perfectly and there’s no need for a conspiracy at all.Report

          • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Jaybird
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            says:

            This is a brilliant point.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            About a dozen years ago I went to one of those pre-election ideology-adjustment rallies here in Denver. Amy Goodman was the host and among the more memorable Others was a union organizer and a representative of Latinos talking about immigration policy. After we left I mentioned that the platform struck me as incoherent since the labor union position runs counter (historically, anyway) to the proposed open-immigration position.

            Man did I get beat up for pointing that out. Everyone thought I was attacking illegals and a more liberal policy around illegals. I thought I was just pointing out something which was pretty obvious: that the unions evolved out of a hostility to migrant workers taking “our” jobs.

            That doesn’t mean the two positions can’t be reconciled, of course. But I think the Democratic “big tent” on this issue has pushed lots of skilled and semi-skilled blue-collar workers over to the other side. I seem to recall that union voting patterns are increasingly moving towards the GOP.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            black market white collar work
            … quite a lot. but most of it is in Russia.Report

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