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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

The Economic Benefits of Mass Deportations

A propos the link left by reader el, I have to say that I find the deportation enthusiasm so frustrating because I don’t understand what it is people think they will achieve. Let’s say it’s possible to remove the 12 million illegal Juanitos from the country and move 12,000,000 native Johnnies to take their jobs. let’s even assume that Johnny will want to take the job picking strawberries at $8 an hour that Juanito was doing for $5, although I can’t imagine what the hell might motivate Johnny to do such a thing instead of claiming disability and food stamps. 

But OK, whatever, let’s say we achieved this huge swap, in spite of the enormous cost and the human suffering entailed. And I don’t mean the suffering of Juanitos and Pepitas because who cares about them. I mean the hardship caused by moving half of West Virginia and a third of Ohio to the fields of California and the hotel chains of Florida. What is precisely that we will have achieved? Moving millions of first-world people to a third-world life style without an attendant third-world motivation and reasons to lead this life? Yippee. That will certainly bring tons of happiness to everybody involved.

Johnny and Jackie will never bust their chops bussing tables and living in barracks like Juanito and Pepita do. This is not because anybody is better or worse but simply because a first-world person has different motivations, goals and ways of managing life than a third-world person. Johnny needs help building his life up. He doesn’t need to be knocked down into a space that will be freed up for him by deporting Juanito. 

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18 thoughts on “The Economic Benefits of Mass Deportations

  1. Deportation is more of symbolic politics. The idiots who chose to squandered educational opportunities are blaming their economic misfortune on immigrants. They want deportations. Like the ancient Romans and their circuses, Trump will give then what they want — even though the people who want it will be no better off as a result.

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  2. matt on said:

    Well the obvious answer is they wouldn’t take jobs for $8 an hour. They probably would for say $20 an hour. From a macro standpoint our economy could handle this. Obviously individual businesses predicated on the $5-8 an hour labor would be severely disrupted or perhaps bankrupted. That is one major reason big business (traditional republican funder) is often with the left on immigration.

    You can move these numbers around however you want, but lets do a basic exercise. Not all 12 million are working, so lets assume 2/3 are (pretty close to the adult employment ratio of ~60% in the country). So that is 8 million jobs. Many taking these jobs aren’t making $0 right now, lets assume they go from making $10 an hour to $20 an hour. Assuming 2000 hours a year, that would be $20k more per year. $20k more per year times 8 million is 160 billion, less than 1% of of GDP (GDP is around $19 trillion).

    There are a million moving parts that make this 5 minute analysis not comprehensive, but going from making $10 – $20 an hour is the difference of beign a government ward (especially if you have kids) to having dignity. $40k is a good job in most of the country. Two married doing that are now up to $80k. WIth a cost of only 1% of GDP clearly there is some wiggle room and potential for benefit.

    Now we are never going to remove 12 million people, but to say that there is no economic potential is highly distorted without going through the analysis I suggested.

    A much more formalized analysis can be fround from HARVARD (quite the conservative bastion..obviously I jest) from immigration professor George Borjas who puts the impact of illegal and some low skill legal immigration on the order of $495 billion a year for lower income americans. He is contentious for sure, but a highly credentialed economist. Point being your analysis doesn’t fully or fairly represent at least the case put forward by many on the side of how low skilled immigration has destroyed many lives and communities. Hope this analysis helps better represent that view.

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    • Yes, Harvard and Yale are deeply conservative. I’m not sure where the weird sarcasm comes from.

      As for the rest, yes, absolutely, it’s the $80,000 per year jobs that the unemployed Rust Belters want. Who will want to pay these salaries for no-skill jobs is another mystery. Just like it’s a mystery who will get them off opioids, gaming and TV and get them to show up for a job. All you are saying is a fantasy with no basis in reality. Getting people who’ve been out of work for a while into a job is extremely hard. Doing it on a mass basis is downright impossible.

      “Hope this analysis helps better represent that view.”

      One more condescending comment like this, and I’ll ban you for good. Please remember who I am and who you are and control yourself. These ridiculous outbursts of childish vanity are completely idiotic.

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    • I have found that most people aren’t even reliable for $25/hour unless they’re trained professionals, who don’t need these kinds of jobs.

      Also, I think that raising the wage that much (there’s a reason the movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 is not trying to move it still higher) would really disrupt production and consumption patterns.

      The bottom line is that unless we want to destabilize the economy we need low wage and precarious workers — we always have (viz. slavery); my bet is that without the indocumentados we’ll have prison labor doing this work.

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      • The owner of the salon I keep writing about finally gave up on trying to find a receptionist and decided to automate the job away. This is not a horrible, exploitative workplace. It’s a very nice, homey operation. But she hasn’t been able to find anybody for years.

        My sister has the same problem in Montréal, so it’s not an issue of a small town vs a large city.

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        • Shakti on said:

          The owner of the salon I keep writing about finally gave up on trying to find a receptionist and decided to automate the job away

          What made that particular job unattractive or hard to fill? Because the resorts here have had no problem filling those kinds of jobs (one resort advertised that the minimum wage they had was $10/hr) and my salon has always had a receptionist who puts appointments in the computer and calls people.

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          • The salary is, of course, not huge because no qualifications are required. Young people in that group want a large salary, little work and to be a huge center of attention all the time.

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        • And it’s not explicable via food stamps and other aid, because there is so little of that. And people are willing to be baristas, so far as I can tell.

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      • Shakti on said:

        we always have (viz. slavery); my bet is that without the indocumentados we’ll have prison labor doing this work.
        Private prison stocks have gone up massively since election day. Also, here’s a blog post which speaks very positively about deportation as
        an economic stimulus.

        I’m sure many people see nothing wrong with
        this either.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Shakti on said:

    A much more formalized analysis can be fround(sp) from HARVARD (quite the conservative bastion..obviously I jest) from immigration professor George Borjas who puts the impact of illegal and some low skill legal immigration on the order of $495 billion a year for lower income americans. He is contentious for sure, but a highly credentialed economist.
    She literally linked to that essay by Borjas in the NYT. I really don’t understand why you’re arguing from authority or background about why his argument is good to Clarissa, of all people. Further anyone who benefited from a “dry land” immigration policy has nothing to say to me or anyone about illegal immigration or any skill immigration based on their background. “Welcome to America, you get a green card within a year” has no credibility. It’s preposterous this concern about “low skill workers” coming from him. “I was a no skill worker (because I was a child) and now I’m a high skilled worker (because I’m an economist)!” Pfft.

    Also no credibility? “My great-whatever was an immigrant. He followed the rules! As soon as they figured out he didn’t have syphilis and wasn’t insane they said welcome to America! ”

    Immigration is a boogey man people fixate on in order to avoid looking at their own labor practices.

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    • “Immigration is a boogey man people fixate on in order to avoid looking at their own labor practices.”

      • Yes, absolutely. It’s also a psychological mechanism to avoid talking about what really worries people. And what I’m trying to do is to bring out the real concerns that are buried under this heap of fantasies about deporting Mexicans.

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  4. Technically, he is talking about making those jobs pay 20/hour. Someone may actually be tempted to move from WV to FL for that. The question is – why does he believe that the employers will be willing to absorb the increased cost of labor and not just close their businesses? Suppose they pass the cost on to the clients… Then the clients will consume less. Or will consume more outside of the US (in the case of the hotels… there are many nice destinations in the Caribbean…) Some US businesses will still close in the end.
    Any while it may work for the hotels in some way I cannot imagine, introducing 20$ wages to agriculture in California will only work if it is accompanied by a ban on foreign food. Or a de facto ban, via high customs duties…
    One can force the population of the US to purchase US-made goods by protectionist policies, but how one is planning on forcing the rest of the world to prefer American if the alternatives will be much cheaper? By military force? Opium-wars style diplomacy? Or just blindly gambling on US being the dominant economy forever? Well, if the US pisses too many countries off, these countries will be justified in pooling their resources to fend the US off. Economically and perhaps even militarily… Russian anti-aircraft missile industry will definitely not mind getting a boost…

    On the other hand, I do not believe that “Moving millions of first-world people to a third-world life style” can somehow be avoided. (At least as long as we do not question the basics of the globalized free-market system.) And as someone said, if something cannot be avoided, perhaps it should be managed.

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    • “Someone may actually be tempted to move from WV to FL for that.”

      • Somebody, yes. Millions of people? Even thousands? Absolutely not.

      “On the other hand, I do not believe that “Moving millions of first-world people to a third-world life style” can somehow be avoided.”

      • Guaranteed basic income (in the US, in the form of food stamps and disability payments) does that. Several of the women I tried to hire as nannies are a good example. They are on this form of GBI. They have cars, they dress nicely. They seem excited about the idea of an additional $20 per hour (for which they don’t have to move anywhere, work in a field, or give up the welfare) for a few days but then they fade away. The hassle of getting out of the house and going somewhere at set times is just not worth it. And this is just one example. There is a hundred more.

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  5. I agree that the idea of mass deportations is not workable and is generally terrible. But on the other hand, a steady steam of new Juanitos and Pepitas who bust their humps for little money while living in third world conditions so that Americans can pay as little as possible for their new trinkets is not a viable social model (unless your aiming for neo-feudalism).

    One of the fatal flaws of the US system has always been the desire to pamper the middleand upper classes on the underpaid stoop labor of the enslaved, disenfranchised or simply poor. Low skill “undocumented” immigration is just one more way of trying to sustain that model.

    Citizen discontent (justified in your opinion or not) and automation are going to mean fewer Juanitos and Pepitas (working) in the future one way or another. The question is do they stay and become wards of the state or return to their countries.

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  6. Shakti on said:

    This is all kind of a red herring. The median household income of a Trump voter is 72,000, about $16,000 higher than the national average. The average national “money doesn’t buy you more day to day happiness” income level is something like $75,000. This translates to a pay bump of about $3000, which is like a $1.50 an hour (assuming 2000 hours/year, ha ha) or about a 4% raise. Or you split it between two people working full time in a household, it’s two percent for each person, which is “meh” and “doesn’t keep pace with current pace of inflation.”

    To put that in perspective,

    At best, the most stellar employees are getting a 5 percent raise, only slightly more than their average colleagues, who in 2016 can expect a 3.1 percent bump—if that

    That’s not the kind of income bump that even encourages a wild hedonic initial bump in happiness.

    These people aren’t looking to pick strawberries & work in hotels and aren’t competing with low skilled workers.

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    • The $72,000 Trump voters have it in for immigrants like me, N, reader Stringer Bell, etc. Hunting down Mexican busboys is just for entertainment. Nobody really thinks it’s practical.

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