[W]hile immigration may have raised overall income slightly, many of the worst-off native-born Americans are hurt by immigration -- especially immigration from Mexico. Because Mexican immigrants have much less education than the average U.S. worker, they increase the supply of less-skilled labor, driving down the wages of the worst-paid Americans. The most authoritative recent study of this effect, by George Borjas and Lawrence Katz of Harvard, estimates that U.S. high school dropouts would earn as much as 8 percent more if it weren't for Mexican immigration.
That's why it's intellectually dishonest to say, as President Bush does, that immigrants do ''jobs that Americans will not do.'' The willingness of Americans to do a job depends on how much that job pays -- and the reason some jobs pay too little to attract native-born Americans is competition from poorly paid immigrants.
P.S.: Yglesias suggests it's "baffling" that I oppose "comprehensive" reform on the grounds that it will increase income inequality given that (in his characterization) I'm "the author of a book about why we shouldn't care about income inequality." That's a reasonable challenge to raise--I'll defend my position on inequality later. But I'm not talking about inequality here. I'm talking about wages at the bottom, and whether Democrats are going to endorse something that makes them significantly, measurably worse. 2:42 A.M.
**** Alert: Non-Immigration Item****
Where's the Zip? My Slate colleague Daniel Gross writes a whole piece on how the Bush administration is blocking the Whole Foods/Wild Oats merger "to punish political opponents." But what political opponent? Is the target "liberals," on the grounds that the clientele of both chains are probably 95% Democratic? That's a pretty diffuse method of punishment--"Vote Republican or pay through the nose for sprouted wheat!" At other times, Gross makes it sound as if Bush is punishing some more specific enemy--yet the only victim he identifies is Daniel Gross of Slate, whose Connecticut town might be deprived of a Whole Foods outlet. This is paranoid. Maybe the Bushies are clean on this one. ... I mean, it's not as if Wild Oats' biggest shareholder is Bill Clinton's business partner and bachelor buddy who's also busy trying to buy up seemingly every available media property in advance of Hillary's 2008 run, right? ... Right?10:37 P.M.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
K-Lo has an update on what is expected to happen to the immigration bill next week in the Senate. It seems that Harry Reid has figured out a way to run the place like the House. But it's not completely clear that there are 60 votes for cloture, and room for public pressure to change swing Senators' minds--or at least their votes. ... P.S.: See also Right Wing News' insider report, which notes why the key vote will be cloture--because the final vote will be familiar fool-the-yahoos Kabuki:
[T]he cloture vote to end debate will be the "real" vote on the bill because if debate is closed off, the bill is sure to pass. Then, what will happen is that the votes for the bill will be counted, and a few senators who are afraid that their election prospects will be jeopardized by a "yes" vote, will be allowed to vote against the bill. This enables those senators to tell their constituents that they voted against the bill, but it will still allow them to collect campaign contributions from lobbyists who have a better understanding of how things work, and know that the bill couldn't have been passed without their support. [E.A.]
I'm not sure this old trick works post-Web. Too many constituents are onto it. ... More Kabuki Check: Interestingly, Hawkins' source still thinks Reid still "would prefer to see this bill go away," and that "a lot" of Senators are voting for "a bad bill" with the hope and expectation that the House will kill it. ... 12:37 P.M.
Friday, June 15, 2007