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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Samuelson on Immigration

Robert J. Samuelson:

Guest workers would mainly legalize today's vast inflows of illegal immigrants, with the same consequence: We'd be importing poverty. This isn't because these immigrants aren't hardworking; many are. Nor is it because they don't assimilate; many do. But they generally don't go home, assimilation is slow and the ranks of the poor are constantly replenished...

The most lunatic notion is that admitting more poor Latino workers would ease the labor market strains of retiring baby boomers. The two aren't close substitutes for each other...

It's a myth that the U.S. economy "needs" more poor immigrants...

Hardly anyone thinks that most illegal immigrants will leave.

Regular visitors to this humble blog know that I tend to disagree with Samuelson's arguments on the issue of immigration reform, but these are the kinds of arguments that we need to address if our elected representatives are going to craft a comprehensive and fair solution to the immigration problem.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most lunatic notion is that admitting more poor Latino workers would ease the labor market strains of retiring baby boomers. The two aren't close substitutes for each other...

Just for grins, I'd like to see somebody refute this particular argument. Illegals contribute about $6 billion to the Federal Treasury, mainly in the form of Social Security and Medicare withholdings and consume about $16 billion in services at the Federal level. I'd love to see somebody explain how a $10 billion net annual drain on the treasury will solve our social security (or any other) problem.

3/22/2006 1:56 PM  
Blogger HispaniCon said...

Nobody is arguing that an illegal immigrant can take the place of a retiring baby boomer. So, Samuelson's point is a red herring. What is indisputable is that millions of immigrants who will never get a penny in social security benefits are paying billions of dollars into the social security system and bolstering the surplus. Workers are retiring at a faster rate than new workers are coming into the labor force. Absent the influx of immigrant labor (legal and illegal), the social security fund would run out of money more quickly because current trends fall short of replacement. Why not get rid of the current black market in labor and shore up the social security system by legalizing and taxing the billions of dollars that are now being transferred "under that table"?

3/22/2006 4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no "social security surplus". It is an accounting trick. All money whether it is payroll tax or income tax goes into the general fund. All social security benefits are paid out of the general fund. There is only one pot of money.

Illegal immigrants take $10 billion more out of the general fund then they pay into it.

If the illegals were made legal, then they would be eligible for many more social benefits and while they would indeed pay more taxes, their costs to taxpayers would skyrocket. Instead of costing us a net $10 billion annually the net cost would climb to $30 billion annually.

Among other things they would be able to eventually collect Social Security so that contribution which the illegal immigrant advocates like to cite (see your previous post) would evaporate. The Social Security System is structured as a wealth transfer system where poor contributors receive far more than they ever contribute. In the past, illegal immigrants who have been amnestied have been able to get credit for the money they paid in while illegally using fake and fraudulent numbers. I have seen nothing in current legislation that corrects this travesty which rewards crime.

And then, if they were legal many would qualify for the EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) which is welfare disguised as a tax refund. Rather than actually paying taxes they would file a tax return and get back a refund larger than the amounts withheld from their checks. (Lots of illegals are currently committing identity fraud using the social security numbers of their anchor children and getting the EITC currently).

The facts are pretty clear. Poor people are a cost to taxpayers. That seems obvious and irrefutable given our social welfare state. Poor illegals are somewhat less expensive then poor citizens because they are eligible for less benefits. If we turn illegals into citizens it will be a bad deal for taxpayers. There is no way that increasing our numbers of poor citizens are going to fix social security or any other problem in America because THEY COST MORE THAN THEY CONTRIBUTE.

Our current high levels of immigration are a wealth transfer system from the poor and the middleclass to the immigrants and the rich. The poor get lower wages, the middleclass get higher taxes and the rich get fat profits. We should stop importing third world poverty. A tight labor market would drive up wages for our current poor citizens and less would need benefits from taxpayers. Middleclass taxpayers would have a lower tax burden and our poor would have a higher standard of living. The only losers would be the immigrants who have no claim on our country's wealth and the rich who can take care of themselves.

The High Cost of Cheap Labor

3/22/2006 6:47 PM  
Anonymous Rolo said...

Where are you getting the 10 billion figure from?
Are there government records supporting this figure?
Why stop with illegal immigrants,
we can get rid of all the poor and eliminate all of America's problems.

3/24/2006 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are you getting the 10 billion figure from?


Read the attached link at the bottom of my post. The numbers are well documented. Remember that the $10 billion net cost number is only at the Federal Level. At the State level, they cost taxpayers tens of billions more. Californians alone get stuck with about another $10 billion.

Why stop with illegal immigrants,
we can get rid of all the poor and eliminate all of America's problems.


We have been fighting a "War on Poverty" since I was a kid and I have personally had thousands of dollars confiscated (taxed) from me and handed out to poor people. I would not mind this so much if we were actually winning the war and we actually have made substantial progress elevating a good percentage of blacks into the middleclass. But we just keep importing an endless stream of new poor people so it is a lost cause. These new people depress wages and threaten to pull the lower end of our middleclass back into poverty. I am against that. A tight labor market with a shortage of workers is the best solution to poverty. That means less immigrants.

3/27/2006 8:40 AM  

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