Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Double the Minimum Wage for Illegal Aliens?

That’s the modest proposal of Free Frank Warner. Frank wants NLT reaction to his ingenious argument--one he thinks everyone should like. Give him some. Frank is a national greatness liberal, and Senator Lieberman should certainly hire him.

Discussions - 12 Comments

"It would help foreigners who are here illegally to pay for the medical coverage, education and retirement security that, because of their illegal status, they aren’t entitled to from the U.S. government." I was under the impression that they were not getting these benefits because they are not here legally. Why should we start handing out medical coverage, eduction, and retirement to illegals when many Americans don’t even get these things at what some would call an "adequate" level. Personally, I don’t like the idea at all. It would move the country closer to socialism rather than away from it. Social Security is already in a heep of trouble because of the fact that there are too many people receiving the benefits and not enough money in the system (but more so because it is dependent on the government, rather than on the individual). Adding more people to the system (and illegals, at that), receiving the benefits, would only make the inevitable plunge into economic chaos deeper.

"It would help foreigners who are here illegally to pay for legal advice on their illegal status and on how they might comply with all U.S. laws."

If they are illegal why should they have legal advice... They should probably become legal in this country before they are able to receive the rights of American citizens. The legal advice I would give them: if you want to be an American citizen, become one legally, through the process that we all accept. Once that happens, we will accept you in our country more, and you might even merit a job which pays a livable amount of money.

This is just plain ridiculous. First of all, he is rewarding illegals with more pay than Americans. Second, that money would be awarded on what basis? Certainly not merit. Obviously not the simple coincidence of where the person was born? If the person merits the pay increase (based on being a legal immigrant, as well as overall job ability), then by all means give him the pay increase. If the person was born in the U.S., then pay him a wage which is based on his abilities at his job. Don’t double his pay simply because he is illegal. This seems like a way to reward those who break the law; by paying them more. This is quite possibly one of the worst ideas I have heard of.

"It would encourage employers to check thoroughly whether their employees are illegal immigrants." If this is actually true, then it might actually be a way to prevent further illegal immigration. If a potential employer finds his potential employee to be illegal, then he can be reported to the proper authorities ASAP.

Here’s ">">http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/15/AR2007011500967.html"> another example of the use of economic ideas to get things right: how to deal more effectively with the drug trade in Afghanistan.

Sorry, the only thing which was supposed to be italicized in that third paragraph was citizen.

Well, Peter Lawler did refer to this as a Swiftian "modest proposal."

First things first: My proposal is based on the premise that we Americans are much more serious about enforcing our minimum wage laws than we are about enforcing our laws against hiring illegal immigrants.

If employers knew they’d eventually face back wages and penalties for paying illegal immigrants the U.S. citizens’ lower minimum wage, they’d do more checking into whom they hire.

If employers are willing to hire illegal immigrants and pay the doubled minimum wage, those employers certainly would have to have a good economic reason for the hiring.

To answer Young Ashbrook’s points:

This is not socialism at all. Perhaps I didn’t make it clear, but I was suggesting that illegal immigrants pay for their own medical coverage, education and retirement security – totally outside U.S. government programs. Their higher minimum wage would help them afford that.

Why should they have legal advice if they are here illegally? That question answers itself.

How would the doubled minimum wage be awarded? Employers would have the free market decision to hire or not to hire. That’s not “rewarding illegals” with more pay than Americans. That’s rewarding workers who have the skills an employer is willing to pay at least $14.50 an hour for. It is pure merit.

This is a modest proposal on one level. But unlike Swift, I’m not proposing we devour the helpless. I propose that, in place of our ad hoc immigration system that assumes most new immigrants will grovel and crawl their first 20 years here, we use economics to assure all immigrants arrive with a running start.

Too much was read into "modest proposal." There was a little irony there, but nothing that implied eating the young. Frank is clearly against that, as controversial as that stand might be.

Of course the effect of such legislation would be to reduce the hiring of illegals to virtually nil, and might therefore go a long way in solving the problem. However, the measure will never pass because most people don’t understand that the destruction of jobs is the inevitable consequence of any raising of the minimum wage. The average voter will interpret it as "Young Ashbrook" does--as a benefit which greedy business executives should be forced to dole out.

John Moser’s drive just went over the fence.

You guys have got it all wrong... the key is to lower the minimum wage for Americans to $3.00 an hour.

Well, I agree with John Moser too. And it’s an idea that doesn’t have legs both because it might work and because it would be too instructive a lesson about the real history and function of minimum wage legislation. So it’s "a modest proposal" precisely because thinking about exposes our hyprocisy etc.

Just one more thing. In answering Young Ashbrook’s complaint that a 200 percent minimum wage for illegal aliens would have nothing to do with “merit,” I oversimplified.

I said an employer who hired illegal immigrants at the double minimum wage would have to have a good economic reason for the hiring, and that each employer would make a “free market decision,” based on what the worker’s skills merit.

That was too narrow an answer. Employers obviously would not be bound strictly by market forces in hiring anyone. They could hire illegal immigrants simply because they feel like it, possibly because they’re feeling altruistic. In any case, the hiring decision would be taken freely.

When altruism drives American employers to hire illegal immigrants, the responsible thing to do would be to pay them at least the $14.50 an hour to assure the workers and their families a decent place to live, and to leave them a little extra cash for health care, education and retirement savings.

Employers are human, at least some are. Naturally, they want more income than expenses, but merchants don’t live on free markets alone. They also make free decisions that make no economic sense, and sometimes, those choices are the best of all.

An interesting proposal. I actually like Steve Thomas’s linked proposal in comment 1. I don’t think I like FreeFrank Warner proposal...largely for ideological reasons. I think employers should be free to hire anyone at any price the two parties can agree upon. A whole lot of work that illegals currently do would not get done or would get done at a higher price...otherwise. If the economy is doing well(as I agree it is) one reason that inflation is also not rampant,(Why Keynes appears to be wrong) is basically the cheap labor provided by illegals.(So it should be called the Bush Economy! due to a phenomenon that Karl Marx might have called the "industrial reserve army"...all the more reason for liberals to hate him!(Bush that is...not Marx:)) On the other hand almost everything Frank Warner says makes sense on a certain level. I especially like his closing comment in 11. Employers are not purely market driven...Human motives being human there is a lot of room for loose wiring (Mike Caro’s term) so questions concerning the economy do not boil down cleanly on Analytics alone. On the other hand it is possible that employers would still hire Illegals even on economic grounds. Most Illegals are harder working... In addition to this we might get something of a Henry Ford type of result out of paying illegals more...but this is a general argument for a higher minimum wage, that isn’t specific to his proposal. All in all Dr. Moser appears correct in 7.

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