Skip to main content

I agree with Mister Reich on many things, but the topic of immigration is definitely not one of them.

Robert Reich arguing for more immigrants: "The American population is aging rapidly. Forty years ago there were five workers for every retiree. Now there are three. If present trends continue, there will be only two workers for every retiree by the year 2030. No economy can survive on a ratio of 2 workers per retiree..."

Bud Meyers: "...and  no economy can survive with 3.1 unemployed workers for every one job opening. Now Mister Reich wants what --- 4 unemployed Americans for every one job opening?"

Does Mister Reich think (as the CBO has also argued) that additional people will create more "demand", forcing employers to hire more people? Modern technological production methods (automation and robotics), offshoring human labor with contract manufacturing to low-wage countries, importing high-IQ workers with H-1B visas, and forcing current workers to be ever more productive, has allowed our domestic business leaders / employers / job creators to do much more with far less, forgoing the hiring of millions of people already.

The 11.8 million unemployed Americans that are already currently jobless has NOT increased "demand" enough to a level that has boosted any significant new hiring (mostly temp jobs that pay low wages) --- and it hasn't for the past 5 years --- not since 2008.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, many Mexican immigrants are migrating back to Mexico in search of work --- and Virgil Bierschwale at Keep America at Work has noted that many Americans have sought out visas to find work in other countries (such as jobs teaching English).

So what makes Robert Reich think that by adding millions more to the U.S. labor pool will generate more job growth? How would giving away more work permits benefit 20 million Americans who are still unable to find full-time work? In reality, this could only drive down wages  much further. We don't have a labor shortage, we have a labor glut.

And immigrants aren't necessarily doing jobs that Americans won't do. Only about 5 percent work in agriculture; 7 million are working in construction, manufacturing, transportation, retail and service industry. The majority of these jobs are already being done by U.S. citizens.

From Economists View, Immigration, Class, & Ideology (about scapegoating immigrants for taking jobs) he writes, "The effects of immigration take place in a class-divided society. For those in power, the benefits - high profits - are quick and easy. But for those at the bottom end of the labor market, they are less pleasant."

One person commented: "Whether people are brought here, or jobs are sent overseas, the goal from the businesses point of view is to shed externalities, the human costs which accompany human life. They want the frosting without the cake. They want human intelligence and effort without paying the cumulative price of those people. [The] tactic only works if there are multitudes of people so badly off in their home nations that wage slavery in North America is luxurious by comparison."

Mister Reich says, "The American population is aging rapidly..." --- but it's not just Baby Boomers getting older --- it's also real population growth. Over that last 40 years alone, since I was a senior in high school in 1973, through immigration and natural population growth, the U.S. population has grown by 33% (by over 100 million people) --- from 212 million in 1973 to an estimated 316 million in 2013 (according the U.S. Census population clock).

Mike Hanauer commented on Mister Reich's theory:

I have been studying population and environmental issues for over 25 years and have come to believe that for the U.S., for other countries, and for the world – the most humane and environmental tact is to help people where they are – not to encourage them to migrate. Migration to the U.S. increases our own very unsustainable and growing population level with its devastating local and global environmental impacts, takes pressure off of source countries to deal with their own population growth problem, and draws away from those countries the very people who are most likely to be leaders in their native lands to help improve conditions. Some countries have asked us, in fact, to better enforce our laws to help them better their own conditions. Population is the great multiplier!

Let's just look at recent statistics: The population grew by 7.5 million over the past three years and 3 months  --- to 316.2 million as July 3013 from 308.7 million as of April 2010. Acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris just reported 6.8 million net new jobs were created over the previous 3 years 4 months. This alone (to me) indicates that job growth isn't keeping up with population growth.

Just to maintain the currently high unemployment rate, we would need to create 107,096 jobs a month (according to the Atlanta Fed's job calculator). Also read Robert Oak's post regarding job growth and population growth at the Economic Populist, where he puts all this in a different perspective, and says that job growth IS currently keeping up with natural population growth --- a population that's also been exponentially growing with past immigration. He explained to me that, just population growth alone doesn't fully explain the complex and complicated demographics involved in calculating job growth.

Last month we created 195,000 new jobs. According to the Atlanta Fed's job calculator, to get the unemployment rate down to the December 2007 pre-recession level of 4.7%, we would need to create 195,000 jobs every month for the next 52 months --- or 2.34 million jobs a year. (I don't know if the Atlanta Fed's job calculator includes new immigration.)

Over the last year our business leaders / employers / job creators created only 1.8 million net new jobs while we just had 3.4 million high school graduates in 2013 (and that's not even counting high school drop outs or new college graduates...or new immigrants that have yet to arrive here on new guestworker visas.

Mister Reich says, "There will be only two workers for every retiree by the year 2030." But I could guess that at the current rate of population growth vs. job growth, why should we be surprised if we eventually have only one worker for every five retirees? And that's not counting the disabled and long-term unemployed.

It's one thing to debate a resolution to resolve the dilemma of 11 million undocumented immigrants that are already living in this country. It's an entirely different issue to argue for "more of the same" and add more immigrants to an already over-saturated and under-paid labor market. Flooding the labor force will only dilute the job pool further. And more immigration (with natural population growth) will only exponentially grow the labor force that much more, where the demand for jobs will further overwhelm the number of jobs currently available.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Robert Reich attended Dartmouth College, graduating with an A.B. summa cum laude in 1968 and winning a Rhodes Scholarship to study Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford University...and then subsequently earned a J.D. from Yale Law School --- while Bud Meyers, on the other hand, is a high school drop out, who left in his senior year to work in a factory. But he still believes that 1+1 equals 2.

Albert Einstein on Economics and Employment

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of evil.

If two factories produce the same sort of goods, other things being equal, that factory will be able to produce them more cheaply which employs fewer workmen - i.e., makes the individual worker work as long and as hard as human nature permits.

From this it follows inevitably that, with methods of production as they are today, only a portion of the available labor can be used. While unreasonable demands are made on this portion, the remainder is automatically excluded from the process of production. This leads to a fall in sales and profits. Businesses go smash, which further increases unemployment and diminishes confidence in industrial concerns and therewith public participation in the mediating banks; finally the banks become insolvent through the sudden withdrawal of accounts and the wheels of industry therewith come to a complete standstill.

In each branch of industry the number of working hours per week ought so to be reduced by law that unemployment is systematically abolished. At the same time minimum wages must be fixed in such a way that the purchasing power of the workers keeps pace with production.

Further, in those industries which have become monopolistic in character through organization on the part of the producers, prices must be controlled by the state in order to keep the issue of capital within reasonable bounds and prevent artificial strangling of production and consumption.

In this way it might perhaps be possible to establish a proper balance between production and consumption without too great a limitation of free enterprise and at the same time to stop the intolerable tyranny of the owners of the means of production (land and machinery) over the wage-earners, in the widest sense of the term. (Albert Einstein, 1934)

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    If people won't go protest in the streets, then they'll end up sleeping on them instead.

    by Bud Meyers on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 02:04:12 PM PDT

  •  Tipped for this: (7+ / 0-)
    FULL DISCLOSURE: Robert Reich attended Dartmouth College, graduating with an A.B. summa cum laude in 1968 and winning a Rhodes Scholarship to study Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford University...and then subsequently earned a J.D. from Yale Law School --- while Bud Meyers, on the other hand, is a high school drop out, who left in his senior year to work in a factory.
  •  Since you have no idea what you're talking about (5+ / 0-)

    maybe you should stop talking about it. You don't present anything that disproves Reich's thesis. Your evidence consists of comments on HuffPo and some unrelated statistics.

    •  This crap sounds like the anti-immigrant blather (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      puakev, FG, YucatanMan

      of anti-immigrant FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), with their racist and white supremest roots.

      I just can't understand how someone (unless they're a troll or a right wing Republican) can come here to put down immigrants and immigration.

      Almost all non-right wing studies have shown that immigration is good for the economy and that immigrant workers will substantially pay for the retirement of the baby boomers.

      I would trust Robert Reich on this one.

      Leave the demonizing of immigrants and immigration to the Republicans.

    •  so citizens affected by policies... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IT Professional, Theoleman

      ... are not supposed to discuss them? only those with PhDs or those who have been granted "expert" status by the corporate media/academic/government industrial complex?

      I dont think that is a very democractic perspective.

      •  Well, when smb says that math is wrong it would (0+ / 0-)

        be nice to see how it is wrong. I don't see it here.

        •  in general yes, BUT.... (0+ / 0-)

          you dont need statistical models to demonstrate gravity. if you increase the supply of labor, that weakens the bargaining power of the existing workers. thats pretty straight forward and we ALL know it to be true in real life for just about every other human experience.

          if you want to prove that gravity does not apply to the labor supply, then it is up to you to demonstrate convincingly that there are other forces here at play that mitigate the expected effects, or even reverse it.

          so far, i have only seen two big studies taking a crack at this (i believe one out of Urban and one from one of the UC universities), and both were jokes. one argued that because counties that had more immigration did not have higher unemployment, it showed that immigration did not reduce employment. as if cavemen scientists at the dawn of time had not already described ecological fallacy and reverse causality. it would be laughable if those studies were not being used for evidence to further screw the american worker.

      •  Yes, if you don't toe the line and obey (0+ / 0-)

        you will get a donut.

        The immigration donut brigade does go around in various places.

        You cannot question the Truth that More IMmigration is better for you, comrade. And if you don't believe me, we will re-educate you.

  •  Immigrants who are already here are different (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    social liberal, IT Professional

    from immigrants trying to get in. We are not a 'growing' country, we are fully grown. Stuffing in more 'willing hands'
    makes no sense to me, they just give employers more power.

    •  but those immigrants tend to vote democratic (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Theoleman, WorkerInUSA

      which is why you will see a lot of very irrational defense for our anti-labor national immigration policies here.

      •  I don't support the pro-scab Democrats here (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        social liberal, NoGig

        We have millions of American workers without jobs. These are the people who Democrats USED to support.

        During the labor movement, the unions went on strike, and the bosses brought in scabs. Scabs were brought in to take the jobs of the union men and women. Today, the scabs are brought in from Mexico by Bob "Swift boat" Perry to provide cheap labor in Texas. And many morons here at DK support that shit. I sure as fuck do not.

        I've even seen some diaries which support contractors who use nothing but illegal labor displacing Americans! I was shocked. This is not the Democratic Party. This is the Karl Rove "Democratic Party,"  where cheap labor replaces American workers.  You can call it whatever you want, but I call it treaonous anti-American bullshit.

        And will the illegals vote Democratic after they become citizens? No one knows. They are not citizens yet, and when they are, it's "Hey Charlie, what have you done lately?"

        •  labor democrats vs latte democrats (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          thats really what it boils down to. for many here, being a democrat is a cultural thing. something they have in common with the other hipsters they hang out with at art openings and baby pilates class. but they definitely benefit from the cheap labor too. you would be shocked at the number of faculty at my university who have cleaning services, gardening services, dog walking services. these were luxuries of the upper class in the past. now the creative upper middle class can benefit too (until the whole thing implodes).

  •  Here's the problem with your main idea. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    puakev, FG, Theoleman, Dbug

    It is not immigration per se that drives down wages--it's illegal immigration.

    Undocumented workers for the most part work--but they can't claim the protection of laws requiring minimum wage, overtime, workplace safety, workers' comp insurance, Social Security contributions, etc. Thus they are cheaper to employ, and drive down wages (and working conditions) for all citizen and documented-alien workers who have to compete with them.

    Legalize all the undocumented workers, and suddenly they're not so cheap. Wages and working conditions go up not just for them, but for all the legit workers competing with them.

    But that means the products and services they produce become more expensive, right? Not necessarily. Corporate profits now are sky-high, which means employers can afford to pay more without passing the increased cost along to consumers.

    A lot of workers with higher pay = more demand, because those workers have more to spend on homes, cars, restaurant meals, etc. More demand = more jobs, not fewer.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 02:33:01 PM PDT

    •  You Might Want to Run That Past Some Unemployed (11+ / 0-)

      programmers. Businesses are letting large numbers of unemployed tech workers stay idle to bring in foreign workers legally.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 02:45:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's a good point. (5+ / 0-)

        I thought about addressing that in my original comment, and probably should have.

        The main problem with the H1B program is actually similar to the undocumented-immigrant problem: it gives the employer excessive leverage over the employee, thus driving down wages & conditions for everyone competing in that labor market.

        That's one of the reasons why "guest worker" programs are a bad idea. The other reason is that they're just undemocratic--they don't give the workers incentive to commit to the welfare of the community, educate themselves on issues, participate politically, etc.

        Any major bill on any issue, including immigration, will be a compromise among a lot of priorities. In an ideal world I'd eliminate guest worker visas and H1Bs and just substitute more unrestricted green cards. But the overriding evil here is the millions of undocumented workers. To get them a reasonable path to citizenship, I'd be willing to compromise (to some extent) on other issues.

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 03:09:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  compromises (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          are pretty tough when one side (the oligarchy) has so much power and labor has so little. i am pretty sure that any compromise that gets struck here would be like social security compromises: the little people get screwed.

          •  If the little people would vote...Bro. Mouzone. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            There are more poor people than rich people in the USA--which, despite everything, is a democracy. The rich wield more power because nearly all of them vote, in nearly every election.

            Large numbers of the poor either don't vote at all, or vote counter to their interests. FDR could do what he did because he had Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress throughout his Presidency, and for much of it he had enough Senate votes to break filibusters.

            We get what we vote for, or what we fail to vote against.

            Yes, I know about voter ID, voter roll purges, etc. Those are real, but they affect outcomes only at the margins. If the poor had turnout in % roughly comparable to the affluent, that would swamp all vote-suppression efforts.

            Yes, I know the Dems have been uninspiring. Tough. Better Democrats are there in the primaries; but turnout is especially low for primaries. As Brother Mouzone said:

            "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

            by HeyMikey on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 05:42:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  unrestricted green cards (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          We have HUGE UNEMPLOYMENT in college students. Unrestricted green cards DIRECTLY attacks US CITIZENS who went to college and got degrees. Just curious as to why you want to make it HARDER for students to get jobs?

    •  completely wrong (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Theoleman, NoGig

      in fact, i think the best way for academia to develop a more pro-labor perspective on this issue would be to grant a couple of million legal visas to foreign academics.

      you really think wages in academia wont reflect the increased supply of labor?

      of course, the top of their field academics wont feel it as much, but the rank and file would feel it almost immediately.

      •  Are you following? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The adjunct professor situation? Hundreds of thousands of US Ph.D.s who cannot get jobs due to oversupply? Post-docs that last 10 years instead of 2 like 10 years ago.

        The wages in academia for the run-of-the-mill Ph.D. have hit the dumper. I have a Ph.D. I have told my daughter, 22, to be extremely careful if she wishes to get an advanced degree.

        We do not need millions of academic scabs to make it harder for US Ph.D.s to get jobs.

        •  the usual divide and conquer BS (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Theodore J Pickle

          blame scapegoats rather than the corporate overlords who, over the last 40 years, have gradually turned higher education in America into a for-profit enterprise.

          Admitting lots of students into grad school became an easy way of getting cheap labor to teach undergraduate courses. Then they could proceed apace with the gradual elimination of tenure--which is the ultimate goal. And they will achieve this goal regardless of how many foreign academics there are.

          In the absence of the immigrant/citizen divide, they will exploit other divisions to pit the remaining workers against each other.

          People always think someone else is getting a better deal than they are--no matter how small the group is, it can always be divided into smaller groups that the overlords can more easily exploit.

          It's always easy to demonize immigrants, who are more vulnerable than citizens, rather than put the blame where it belongs.

          Mindless supply-siderism was stupid economic policy. It's equally stupid labor policy.

          If you shrink the labor pool, thinking you'll have more pie left over for the rest of the labor force, what makes you think the corporate overlords won't simply grab that extra pie for themselves? You believe in trickle-down, after 35 years of supply-side failure?

          You're either incredibly naive, or incredibly disingenuous. Either way, you're a tool of the 1%--witting or unwitting, it doesn't matter. You're doing their work for them.

          Anyhow, the structure of the academy is being fundamentally altered by the Internet. Many services provided by universities can now be provided online to larger numbers of people. The bricks-and-mortar university of the future will be very, very different from how it is now. Time to find a new model.

          "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

          by limpidglass on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 04:41:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  proof by association fallacy (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            so because the word "supply" is in "supply side economics" and in our argument that an infinite supply of labor results in lower bargaining power by workers, ergo both are one percenter lies?

            that has to be the shallowest argument i have seen in a long time.

        •  sorry if i was not clear (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NoGig, WorkerInUSA

          that was not a SERIOUS suggestion to import a million PhDs. i agree the situation is bad enough and worsening.

          i was just commenting on the smug, anti-blue collar attitude i see among many of my peers, who dont perceive immigration as a threat to labor at all because it has not affected them yet.

          •  Anti-blue collar - bingo (0+ / 0-)

            That is so true. Many "liberals" and "progressives" either disdain or actively dislike blue collar workers.

            Blue collar workers are no longer Democrats. That's because the Democratic Party is no longer the party of the working person. It is the party of the illegal and the gay, and that's about it. Around here, a diary about TG toilet use can get 100s of hits, but jobs for Americans? Nope, we don't do that at DK.

          •  I couldn't tell (0+ / 0-)

            I suspected as much, but couldn't tell

  •  More imigration would be good for social security. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Robert Reich is a neoliberal prick. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    social liberal, WorkerInUSA

    Present your valid concerns to him, and he'll suggest you get a Ph.D. and tenure at Berkeley like him.  Or if you're slummin', you can be Clinton's LabSec.

    These are the kinds of assholes who pass for liberals in the Democratic Party.

    •  as an academic at a large university (3+ / 0-)

      i can assure you that condescension is one of the key tools we use to secure our place in society. i am disgusted by how often i see colleagues use body language and chuckling to get out of answering legitimate questions.

    •  And the assholes who pass as college presidents (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OutcastsAndCastoffs, NoGig

      I quote:

      " Specifically, the presidents -- from Cornell University, Arizona State University, and Miami Dade College -- voiced their support for better ways to retain foreign students in the fields of science technology, engineering and math (STEM).

      "Too often, however, our ability to educate and our ability to innovate are frustrated by U.S. immigration laws," the presidents wrote in the letter. "We train many of the brightest minds of the world, only to have those students sent abroad to compete against us because our immigration laws do not provide a viable path for them to stay."

      This during an era in which adjunct faculty teach 70 % of classes in many universities due to oversupply, in which biological sciences postdocs last 10 years, in which hundreds of thousands of American STEM workers have had to train their own scab replacement?

  •  Thank you for a pro-labor diary!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA, IT Professional, NoGig

    Those are surprisingly few and far between here.

    To me, the most amazing thing about the globalization/open borders movement is the fact that those who are pushing for this change (the oligarchy) are ultimately dooming themselves in the long run. Eliminating the middle class may SEEM like a great idea in terms of political control and corporate profits, but that same middle class is the engine of economic growth and democracy in this country. Without that middle class, our current oligarchy (made up of capitalists and technocrats) will see itself replaced eventually by a new third-world style oligarchy: much more akin to a mafia.

    They are literally killing the goose that laid the golden eggs here!

  •  I think what you've said is pretty solid. (5+ / 0-)

    Increasing the supply of labor makes labor cheaper, unless labor is different from anything else in a supply and demand economy.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 05:48:57 PM PDT

  •  Globalization is the problem (0+ / 0-)

    ...and I don't see any way around it. As we all become more interconnected there will be an averaging, and since we're well above median income and standard of living any averaging will take us downward.

    Of course the ideal would be to raise the rest of the world to our (or European) standards, I just don't see any practical way to get there from here.

    •  The British experience (0+ / 0-)

      After the export of the cloth and fabric industry, the British had this experience. It was a rural depression of crushing poverty that lasted from about 1780 to about 1935.

      Admitting the number of new immigrants and legalizing the illegals will do that here. It's already doing that.

  •  Women in the Workforce (0+ / 0-)

    It's been 31 years since I last had to explain to someone that women's increased participation in the workforce did not result in an increase in unemployment.  I've forgotten much of what I argued, but it was something along the lines of the economy expanding with the result that the "breadwinners" didn't become unemployed.

    Was I wrong about that?

  •  BRILLIANT!!! (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you for speaking truth to power -- Congress seems only to hear the voice of money.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site