Wednesday, April 12, 2006

It occurs to me, after several long hours worth of arguing the illegal immigration point in newsgroups and with family, that Americans are willing to spend several million dollars per year, if not more, playing a giant game of Flintstones with every country on the planet with a GNP lower than we have.

The rules of Flintstones are like this: THEY sneak across the border, by tunnel, truck, plane, boat, or on foot. We equip, train, and give benefits to a large group of border cops who then spend large numbers of man hours chasing down men and women who have come here to get jobs, man hours hauling them over the border, man hours on the paperwork to record all our efforts so it is above board, or at least so we can cover our asses properly. Then THEY come back at a later date and try all over again.

The game is named for the bit in the Flintstones credits where Fred puts out the saber tooth only to have it sneak in a window. It's kind of like gambling, because it's a losing proposition. We will never make any money on it. We've spent more than they put into the economy, hell, probably more than they've earned. We've probably spent more than we would make with the optimistic scenario that employers, forced by the lack of readily available cheap labor hire an American at minimum wage (with benefits) to fill the illegal’s place.

What will likely happen is that Americans will hire to fill those jobs under the table (neatly avoiding taxation), or they will fill the job with two part time positions, sans benefits.

Variations on the Flintstones include paying for and maintaining a huge structure all they way across a border that is broken by ocean on two sides and clear blue sky all the way above it.

The upcoming war on illegal immigration is two kinds of wrong: It is protectionist, which is anti-capitalist. It is protectionist because it is trying to artificially inflate the value of certain jobs by shimming American citizen's wages against the willingness of the citizens of other nations to do them for cheaper. It is stifling competition. Capitalism is all about the next guy trying to under cut you. If that's what the job is worth, that's what it's worth. In effect, because Americans have fallen in love with cheap goods (who wouldn't), we are trying to support a standard of living for Americans that we are unwilling to pay for

It is prohibition, which has never worked effectively in the history of mankind because it goes glaringly against human nature. You cannot really prevent human beings from doing something they want. It didn't work with alcohol, has never worked for drugs, sex work, and I predict it won't work for intellectual property theft, now that's it's a cheap enough process to steal ideas. All we've ever been left with in any of these situations are expensive, tax supported systems of enforcement which do little good.

Yeah, so what that they're here illegally? It's a dumb law. The answer is to let people who work in, and stop splitting hairs about how long they've been working, and return only criminals and the indigent. The last part is a distinctly non-liberal stance, I suppose, but the only one that I can rationalize in the face of a potentially infinite drain on social services. Someone else can argue that point. Mine is unpopular enough, as is.

Those that remain will pay taxes (unless American employers pay them under the table, like they do with many Americans), send money back to shim up their homeland in the face of corrupt governments who keep them poor at all costs, and sometimes they'll stay and add a productive tax paying career to the U.S. economy, all net gains. What's the option being passed in the legislative branch now? Jail, deportation, and constant enforcement. And they're all net losses.