Thomas Sowell on "Immigration Taboos"
August 17, 2005, 04:04 AM
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— Nothing drives me crazier than people who claim to be free market fans ignoring Econ 101's main lesson — the Law of Supply and Demand — and saying "Immigrants just do jobs Americans won't do." It drives Sowell crazy too (via Mickey Kaus at Slate):

Immigration has joined the long list of subjects on which it is taboo to talk sense in plain English. At the heart of much confusion about immigration is the notion that we "need" immigrants — legal or illegal — to do work that Americans won't do.

What we "need" depends on what it costs and what we are willing to pay. If I were a billionaire, I might "need" my own private jet. But I can remember a time when my family didn't even "need" electricity.

Leaving prices out of the picture is probably the source of more fallacies in economics than any other single misconception. At current wages for low-level jobs and current levels of welfare, there are indeed many jobs that Americans will not take.

The fact that immigrants — and especially illegal immigrants — will take those jobs is the very reason the wage levels will not rise enough to attract Americans.

This is not rocket science. It is elementary supply and demand. Yet we continue to hear about the "need" for immigrants to do jobs that Americans will not do — even though these are all jobs that Americans have done for generations before mass illegal immigration became a way of life.

There is more to this issue than economics. The same mindless substitution of rhetoric for thinking that prevails on economic issues also prevails on other aspects of immigration.

Bombings in London, Madrid and the 9/11 terrorist attacks here are all part of the high price being paid today for decades of importing human time bombs from the Arab world. That in turn has been the fruit of an unwillingness to filter out people according to the countries they come from. [More]