What do we owe the worst-off?

SKates comments on Andrew’s post about anti-Spanish language sentiment among anti-immigrationists (and why haven’t they found a name that’s pro-something or other?):

This policy in no way harms the quality of anyone’s life, nor does it judge anyone as lesser people. It does, however, ask people who are about to be gifted with alot of freebies/subsidized goods to make sure they offset the high cost of those goods as best they can. I don’t think that’s a terribly bad, and certainly not terribly racist, plan.

I’ve always found the supposition that the costs of immigration are higher than the value of the labor immigrants contribute to be suspicious. There’s a lot of free-riding going all over the place, but surely the biggest free-riders are the employers who don’t pay taxes and benefit from the direct and indirect market effects of illegal labor. An illegal immigrant gets irregular employment, for which he or she is paid below market wages, if at all, and has a fraught relationship with the state that combines occasional benefits with tremendous risks. A legal immigrant who pays his or her taxes will thus be contributing both to the labor pool, just like her illegal brethren, and to the funding-base of the so-called freebies he or she receives. Maybe we should call them ‘paysies’ in this situation… or, I dunno… ‘rights’?

The statistics I’ve seen suggest we’re quite lucky to be so close to such a motivated labor pool; our economic growth depends on this population of easily exploited workers. Who cares what language they speak?

One thought on “What do we owe the worst-off?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *