Saturday, June 23

The Invisible Hand and the Immigration debate

The whole idea that the American economy would collapse without immigration labor is false. It goes against basic economic principles. If American farmers didn't have cheap immigrant labor, they would adjust and figure out a way to get the harvest in.

Case in point:

Vision Robotics, a San Diego company, is working on a pair of robots that would trundle through orchards plucking oranges, apples or other fruit from the trees. In a few years, troops of these machines could perform the tedious and labor-intensive task of fruit picking that currently employs thousands of migrant workers each season.

The robotic work has been funded entirely by agricultural associations, and pushed forward by the uncertainty surrounding the migrant labor force. Farmers are "very, very nervous about the availability and cost of labor in the near future," says Vision Robotics CEO Derek Morikawa.

Not that I have any problem with migrant labor or immigration for that matter--I don't. But I do have a problem with using false absolutes as arguments for amnesty. Business interests that are pushing for relaxation of our immigration laws, or of the enforcement of our laws, are simply pushing for the status quo. Everyone knows that there is little to no innovation in the status quo.

Not surprisingly, it was a Latino socialist who stood in the way of the development of these robots.

But it wasn't just technological challenges that held back previous attempts at building a mechanical harvester –- politics got involved, too. Cesar Chavez, the legendary leader of the United Farm Workers, began a campaign against mechanization back in 1978.

Chavez was outraged that the federal government was funding research and development on agricultural machines, but not spending any money to aid the farm workers who would be displaced. In the '80s, that simmering anger merged with a growing realization that the technology was nowhere near ready, and government funding dried up.

I don't think the federal government should be spending on either -- let the farmers invest in R&D, and let the local states and counties invest in job training for farm workers in need of new work.

My opinion: We should be investing more in helping Latin American countries fight corruption (carrot AND stick...) and develop their own economies so their entire male populations don't feel the desperate life-threatening need to immigrate to the US. Please understand -- I'm not angry at the immigrant; I'm angry at the corrupt politicians who are bleeding their countries to death for their own gain.

HT: Instapundit

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