False Scarcity

This makes a good case for more open immigration, but let’s also back this up a step.

http://fortune.com/2017/08/08/immigration-worker-shortage-rotting-crops/

(This is by now, an older article. But it’s a good launching point for the discussion.)

We have crop loss because we can’t get outside immigrant labor into the U.S. because of the ridiculously xenophobic immigration debate we’re having. And by “debate” I really mean “blockade”.

The farming industry is addicted to cheap labor that we can only import. Arguably, the farm workers deserve a higher wage than they get. But the eventual consumer market can’t bear that increase, no part along that chain can beat that increase. Why? Food prices, were they to see that kind of an increase, would exceed what stagnant wages for most in the U.S. could afford.

The argument that we need more Americans to have these jobs is partly not viable because many Americans actually couldn’t even afford to take those jobs without shedding much of the expense they routinely owe.

And, of course, the economy has grown steadily, so all that income that could be used to pay for added wages and higher food costs has gone “somewhere”. (We know damn well where…)

Of course, if wages for those jobs were to rise, that would make them even more attractive to immigrants. But this isn’t actually a problem (for anyone who doesn’t inherently have any issue with immigrants). The more people that are interested in participating in the U.S., the larger an economic power it becomes. If they earn more, they pay more taxes, and so on. Eventually there would be enough that yet more businesses start and are able to sustain themselves, as well as existing businesses expanding. It’s not trivial, it does take time to absorb new people, but by and large people see to this themselves over time if allowed to participate fully.

But none of that can happen unless the chokehold on wealth is released. Right now, it’s going to so few individuals that this artificial scarcity for wages creates artificial scarcity for both jobs that pay well and for labor cheap enough to maintain a viable food supply line. And when this keeps happening, and people continue to misattribute the cause as immigration, we end up with food unharvested and threatening to increase prices, regardless.

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