Right up until the Civil War, America had a wonderful economic engine: slavery. The ultimate in cheap labor, workers were treated as equipment — no need to pay them salaries — just list them as depreciating assets that will need replacing at some point. Industrialization eventually made actual machines cheaper than slaves, making the end of slavery an economic inevitability that was pre-empted by the Civil War, but ever since then there have been factors in our society to bring back the economic benefits (real or perceived) of slavery.
Various and sundry groups have been conscripted to take the place of slaves. Former slaves were quite popular for exploiting. Also in the late 19th century, Chinese immigrants (“coolies”) were brought over to perform the heavy manual labor in the West, mainly in building the railroads. In fact, most immigrants started out as cheap laborers, until their skills in English and other areas developed to the point where they could move upward in social and economic status.
Nowadays, though, we have managed to almost perfectly re-create the institution of slavery. We have a nice permanent underclass that can be exploited with little fear of the law intervening and ruining a good thing.
It’s a perfectly symbiotic relationship. The employers want cheap labor, and the aliens want jobs. They don’t mind getting paid less than legal workers, because they don’t have to pay taxes or deal with withholding. The employer doesn’t have to follow all the rules governing the treatment of workers and workplace safety and whatnot, because the workers have more to lose if the authorities get involved than the employer does. So the aliens are almost as good as slaves.
Indeed, in some ways they’re better. They aren’t owned by the business, so the employer doesn’t have to worry about them “depreciating” as they grow older. Also, they represent a small investment; if an alien runs away, the business doesn’t have to buy a new one, just let the word out that they’re hiring, and not looking too closely at documents.
It isn’t just businesses that are exploiting illegal aliens. It’s the criminal element, too. We’ve already had one serial killer who targeted illegal aliens, knowing that they would be far less likely to go to (or cooperate with) the police. We’ve had numerous horror stories of those who smuggle aliens into the US exploiting, assaulting, or even killing their human cargo when they become inconvenient, have used up their financial benefits, or for simple kicks. (This story is merely the latest I’ve seen — an illegal alien is paid to transport other illegal aliens across the country keeps his last passenger, a teenaged girl, to rape in the hopes she won’t dare report the crime.)
And much like the institution of slavery, there are plenty of people ready to serve as apologists for the slavers. Just like the “it’s best for the darkies, and they loves their massas” tripe of the antebellum South, we have those who want to champion the “rights” and tout the “nobility” of the illegal aliens. While some are content to simply conflate the illegal aliens with those who have obeyed the laws, gotten inline, filled out the paperwork, and in general demonstrated their commitment to respect our country, our laws, and our ways, some have gone into full-blown champions of the “rights” of illegals to be illegal — such as the Dallas Morning News, which decided that the “Texan of the Year” should be those who are not, legally, Texans.
I’ve never taken any formal business classes, but one thing I do know a little bit about is the classic “cost-benefit analysis.” It’s a simple theory: to make the best decision, translate the pluses and minuses into something measurable — like money — and take the one that pays the best (or costs the least, should it come out negative).
It’s tough to quantify the benefits and costs of illegal aliens, but it’s abundantly clear that the costs of having them is extremely steep:
1) The general cheapening and degradation of respect for our laws in general.
2) The social cost of having a permanent underclass, a whole section of strata that most people can freely look down upon.
3) The ready supply of victims for those looking to exploit people who are too afraid to go to the authorities.
4) The erosion of wages, as legitimate businesses find they have to compete with rivals who use low-paid illegal aliens to undercut their more honest rivals.
5) The creation of whole underground industries, economies, and cultures, where official documents are forged and bartered; identities stolen and sold wholesale; and goods and services are bought and sold without appropriate taxation, just to name a few.
5A) The existence of these resources provide a ready way for our nation’s enemies to enter our nation and move about freely to cause us harm.
(There really isn’t any way to accurately measure how many illegal aliens are in the United States right now. I’ve seen guesstimates ranging from 8 to 20 million, with 12 million being the most common number I’ve seen. So I’ll go with that one.)
No, there really isn’t a way to deport all 12 million illegal aliens. But we can — if we try — bring it down to a more manageable number. Arizona’s already doing one thing that works, by going after those who employ and exploit illegal aliens, destroying the profits to be made by this modern-day slavery.
Yes, we’re going to get rid of a lot of otherwise-honest, hard-working, sincere people who just want to make a better life for themselves. But that’s not our problem.
We have the most open immigration policy in the world, the most open the world has ever seen. And we ought to make it even easier to come here legally, to assimilate, to not only pursue the American Dream, but become a part of it. But we must not continue to spit in the faces of those immigrants who have followed the rules and obeyed the laws and, in general, done it right and shown respect for our ways.
We need to follow Arizona’s example on a national basis. We need to make it far harder, far more expensive to come here illegally than to do so legally. We need to strengthen our borders. We need to make it harder — and more legally hazardous — to forge documents and steal identities. And most importantly, we need to make it very expensive to skip over Americans and legal aliens and instead rely on these new slaves.
Speaking financially, politically, and morally, we cannot afford to do less.