Timmy Elsewhere

At the GI.

Immigration doesn\’t damage native\’s wage.

14 thoughts on “Timmy Elsewhere”

  1. That immigrants only serve to depress eachothers wages is not, in itself, a good thing though. This is because low wages are supplemented by state benefits, so the taxpayer ends up shouldering an increased burden. In any evaluation, we need to take into account all of the costs and all of the productivity.

  2. “low wages are supplemented by state benefits, so the taxpayer ends up shouldering an increased burden”

    Only if the immigrants in question have kids in the UK, which most of the Eastern European contingent appear not to. I’m fairly sure someone childless and on minimum wage gets precisely nowt from the taxpayer, barring disability etc…

  3. Monty:

    You are correct, of course. But, instead of being supportable argument for restrictionism, it’s an argument against meddling by the state in a process by which economic conditions of all improve

    The tendency of all to improve their conditions by peaceful interaction of production and trade is natural and, moreover, irresistable. Long ago, it had been observed that, where men and goods cannot cross borders, armies will.

    The tendency is simply that of a constant pressure toward the exploitation of every portion of the earth, its resources, and its people to the maximum realizable benefit of all. The minimization of want and misery (and their exploitation for the benefit of political demagogues) demands nothing less than the old ideal of “laissez-faire, laissez passer.” All other arguments (such as yours or the ones in the cited piece) are (what we call) “whistling past the graveyard.”

    If you want peace, movement toward the ideal is the absolutely necessary corollary. That is because ALL measures designed to improve or stabilize present conditions by interference will fail in their objective, at which point a greater or lesser interference is again presented for choice.
    No choice exists except that leading toward laissez-faire and totalitarianism.

  4. “ALL measures designed to improve or stabilize present conditions by interference will fail in their objective”

    remind me, what were the disastrous social consequences of the basic state pension?

  5. correction, 2nd par: irresistible

    correction, final par: change “that leading toward” to “between.”

  6. With great respect Mr W, from my personal experience “immigration doesn’t damage native’s wage” is complete & utter bollocks.
    I’ve been involved in the building industry for the past few years. As soon as the legendary Polish plumber arrived the wages for skilled trades came under pressure but it was at the unskilled end of the labour market that the pain was really felt.
    On the opposite side of the road in London where I’ve been working, there’s a developer refurbing a pair of townhouses. Most of the guys working on it are Russians. He’s paying them £25-£30 a day. (I know this for a fact because I borrowed a couple for a day to clear some rubbish, paid them the £60 I pay my own lads & they acted like they’d struck gold.) He can do this because they’re sleeping on mattresses on site & cooking in a kitchen he’s set up in a shed on the roof. Strangely enough, neither Health & Safety nor Environmental Health seem to be particularly bothered although I can think of a couple of dozen regulations that this takes a cart & horses through off the top of my head.
    Now, I appreciate that our lads can’t be expected to work for that sort of money. By the time they’d paid their own rents, food & a three zone Travel Card they’d be a hundred quid into negative earnings. And notice that nobody’s mentioned tax or National Insurance here, let alone sick or holiday schemes. We’re all pretending they don’t exist, right?
    What I’d prefer to be doing is paying our lads a lot more money by using mechanical handling equipment & other technical solutions to make them more productive. Then we all benefit. The maths says that hiring plant for more than 8 weeks & I might as well have bought it, so what I should be doing is borrowing the money to do just that. What I have done is got out of the business all together. I’m gone & will soon be enjoying the sun in your part of the world & the 3 lads I employed are looking for work.
    It just wasn’t worth the risk. If I’m having trouble competing against a guy hiring Russians @ £25 a day what happens when the next one uses Turks @ £15? Should I find some Somalis who’ll graft for £10 & provide their own goat?
    Of course the stock answer is that we need to increase our skills. But why should we? One of my lads is a shit hot semi-pro musician. Maybe one day he’ll crack it and make the big time. Until then he does a crap job so he can afford to play music. When I met her, my girlfriend was serving in a coffee shop on a take home of £170 a week. Her room & fares alone accounted for £120 of that so her overtime let her eat. It was great of her to take the trouble to cross most of Europe so we could meet but I can’t help remembering that, when I started out in life, her job was what actresses & artists were doing whilst they learned to act & paint. I even did it myself for a bit for much the same reason. Nobody I knew then ever needed to consider signing on but neither were they interested in a career in catering. It was just a job that you drifted in & out of whilst you learnt about life.

    Although I think the market’s a wonderful economic tool, do we really need a market in cultures as well? There’s a level at which the cultures of Dacca & Mogadishu & Tirana are more competitive than our’s. It’s at the level of dog eat dog. Do we really want that?

  7. pj is right. I see the same in the USA. Construction trade wages have plummeted in the southwestern USA because of illegal Mexican immigrants working for what they can get, paid in cash.

  8. I take PJ’s point but I’ve met plenty of tradesmen who’d rather be paid in cash so that it stays off the books. You can’t avoid the taxman one way and then cry out when the problems of competition arise because others avoid him too.

    It does hit on the important point that this competition can be a good thing (there are more consumers of construction than producers so more benefit from cheaper construction costs than lose from it) but the competition within the industry must be on fair terms, i.e. within the law. That isn’t something we always see with immigration and it is a problem.

    I think Tim’s point is that in the larger market, immigrants don’t depress wages, but PJ’s is that within certain markets, especially the grey economy, they definitely do. They both seem valid to me.

  9. PJ and ZT

    I won’t argue with you; the things you say are true enough, in general. What I will say is that, if your sentiments have their way in an increasing fashion, you can look forward to more international tensions and war, including retreat by various nations to positions of economic self-sufficiency and domestic totalitarianism.

    People work to better their conditions. People move to where the work they’re able to do can better their conditions. Only under conditions of numerical inferiority or physical weakness will they agree to a position insuring their continued poverty. Reverse the situation and you’d likely do exactly the same.

    The major justification for those expressing such views (as you’ve expressed) are “This is our country,” “We were here first.” And, while those are quite true, they are only true in a relative sense. It’s the country of him who’s got it and can hold onto it; and those in current possession are probably just the last in a long line of usurpers, no matter how legitimate the claim. You can stake out land and even occupations domestically and secure both through force; but, if them’s the rules, you shouldn’t be surprised when some come along with nerve, determination, and the numbers to take up the challenge of “over my dead body.”

    This is not conflict engendered by race or culture–it’s fueled simply by the contention of some that they’re entitled to restrict the ability of others to compete peacefully for whatever’s on offer for efforts of a particular kind–exactly the same sentiments motivating the anti-industrial Luddites.

    History does not “repeat itself.” But the same mistakes, repeated, usually have similar (and unwished-for) result.

  10. “Only if the immigrants in question have kids in the UK, which most of the Eastern European contingent appear not to.”

  11. “Only if the immigrants in question have kids in the UK, which most of the Eastern European contingent appear not to.”

    We have a much higher population of Bangladeshi immigrants, who have very high unemployment and fertility rates. Compared to that demographic, I suspect eastern Europeans will be a short lived blip.

  12. gene b: “People work to better their conditions. ” I agree with you. If I were a poor Mexican watching my family go hungry I’d try to get into the USA too, and accept what wages I could get. This is not a simple problem. We’ve got to find some solution between “open borders” and “retreat by various nations to positions of economic self-sufficiency and domestic totalitarianism.”

  13. ZT:

    The single greatest obstacle to coming to grips with the types of problems under discussion is the existence and tenacity of domestic socialism,
    i.e., the welfare state.

    At least, in the absence of a welfare state and entitlements of every sort underwriteen by the taxpaying productive sector, the incentive for immigration is reduced to just those who are willing and able to contribute like any other honest guy. This is especially important in the case of the more typical, low-wage immigrants because, as a pragmatic matter, those “at the bottom” are more easily seduced into dependency when the difference between earning one’s way and jumping through the hoops necessary to begin collecting “benefits” is relatively small. Of course, a similar condition is presented by the indigineous low-wage workers facing the same essential choice. In their case, they are co-opted into a “political action” bloc consisting primarily of two groups: 1.) they, the presently lowest-wage-capable workers to whom the benefits available without working closely approximate the wages they’d otherwise earn; and, 2.0 the medium-wage workers to whom those below represent what they believe to be their closest competitors. The latter are a group who can be counted on to favor whatever will protect their particular advantage, such as minimum-wage laws (which, if effective, bar from the workforce those presently incapable of production at the minimum wage rate) and unions, which restrict entry into their ranks by threats of violence or sabotage (called “collective bargaining.”)

    The waste, inefficiency, and moral corruption inseparable from every `aspect of socialist practice is simply staggering–and that is an observation that is true of the very least socialized of the developed nations.

    I’ve identified the chief problem to which the original one (immigration conflict) is related. But I have no cure–or even plan for improvement. It is possible, over time, to change mens’ minds but the processes through which peoples’ political personae are formed are dominated by those who are not only almost completely ignorant of fundamental economics but are themselves ardent supporters of almost every socialist panacea imaginable and suffused throughout with a “politics of envy.”

    The only optimistic thing of which I can think to say is that it doesn’t have to stay that way–but it most likely will.

  14. ZT:

    I forgot to include another debilitating result of the welfare vs. work bloc described above. And that is, by their combination they will at all times favor inroads, primarily by punitive taxation, on the incomes and wealth at higher levels. The rationale for those at the lowest rung is merely improvement of an idle lifestyle; the higher group, however, is keenly interested in such improvement as a means for reinforcing the tendency whereby their own position and wage height are more secure from competition.

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