Illegal Immigration and its Effects on the USA Dynamic

Part Two – Wage Depression versus the Minimum Wage

by Phil Manning                                                                                                                            guest author

It is my intention to write a series of articles outlining my views concerning the damage illegal immigration does to the US economy, social network, infrastructure, and ultimately our national interests.  In Part One I addressed how I believe an unstable southern neighbor bordering our southern region adversely affects our national interests.  Here now are my thoughts on illegal immigration starting with the effects on the US wages scales and thoughts on the current national discussion on the minimum wage requirements.

For purposes of discussion it is generally postulated from most sources that there are 10 to 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States.  Therefore, for ease of discussion I will take the middle ground and use 11 million as the general number for reference.  Given that the US has 11 million low skill and uneducated illegal immigrants in our midst, why are we surprised that wages have been stagnant for the last 20 years? This fact has been reported by numerous federal agencies and recently by the President in his State of the Union speech (28 Jan 2014).  Labor is a commodity that has intrinsic value based on quality, supply, demand, and requirements.  As a commodity a person’s labor is valued by their education, skill, experience, and need within the geographic specific labor market place.   Mathematical formulas can and are devised to establish wages based on these factors as any human resources professional will tell you who has done labor market surveys.

In allowing illegal immigration to occur on the scale of 11 million people within a country of roughly 300 million and a legal citizen work force of 90 million, we are accepting the impact low paid illegal workers have on the wages of all citizens of working age.  Illegal low paid labor depresses the wages for all of us.  Some would contend that this cannot be “for all of us” but I counter that when my wages are based on fair market value for the goods and services I can acquire with those wages then artificially low costs drive wages down.  If I had to pay more for fairly produced goods and services that were higher than they currently are then I would be paid more based on market analysis.  Not only would I pay more for fair labor market goods and services but the taxes associated with higher acquisition costs and wages would also conversely increase.

Of more significant note is that low-cost illegal labor more directly affects our own legal lower wage workers.  This effect does not discriminate by race or ethnicity – US citizens of all backgrounds are affected.  It was related to me by a trusted source in the construction business, that during the housing boom year that ended in or about 2006 (depending on your location), that in the Colorado Springs, Colorado area most house construction framers were illegal immigrants.  Construction framers perform the task of installing the structural frames once a foundation is laid and prior to installation of external and internal walls.  At that time illegal immigrants working as framers were being paid six to seven dollars an hour with no benefits or tax withholding (i.e.; direct cash payments).  Prior to the use of illegal immigrant framers in construction legal workers were being paid $15 to 16 an hour with benefits and tax withholding.  These legal workers were certainly not being overpaid in this economic boom time but they were legally and gainfully employed for relatively low skill manual labor.  As competition increased to unsustainable levels construction contractors turned to illegal immigrants to cut costs and the direct ‘losers” were legal citizens or workers.

In addition, low-cost illegal labor hurts other parts of our legal working class and entry-level workers.  Check the statistics on employment status of our urban poor, particularly minorities, and you find what should be a highly publicized catastrophe, where mostly black and Hispanic people such as young males have no work or potential opportunities.  Here in Colorado Springs the urban minority young male unemployment rate is 52% and it is worse in much large urban areas.  In effect we have imported a large poverty population further impoverishing our own citizens on the lower end of the socio-economic scale.  Why?

I would add here that many Americans believe that illegal immigrants take jobs that we do not want to do or are too manually difficult making them undesirable.  Further, many Americans believe most illegal immigrants are working in farm fields performing back-breaking manual labor.  The last 2010 census found that evidence indicated that only one out of every 20 agricultural jobs was being performed by an illegal immigrant.  I would add that illegal labor affects our entry labor workers such as teenagers and young adults who would normally be performing low skilled jobs as they completed their education and job training, and learned the personal values of making their way economically.

The following is an actual life event of a close and long time personal friend named Ron Cuthrell.  This man was born in raised in the small Iowa farm town of Cherokee where the major employer was a chicken processing plant owned by Tyson, a large chicken processing company with numerous nationwide plants.  Ron, a high school graduate went to work for Tyson and joined the Iowa Army National Guard serving several years during the Viet Nam War.  He married, started a family, and through hard work and developed skills moved up at Tyson through the years until being promoted to foreman making $15 an hour working 40 to 50 hours per week.  He acquired a home valued at $100K and a mortgage with a $50K balance.  Life was good and fulfilling for Ron and his family.  Then, without warning, Tyson announced the plant was closing and it was shuttered in a matter of weeks.  The town of Cherokee was devastated in a variety of ways and Ron went from having a long time job to being unemployed and his home value plummeted to equal his mortgage with his earned equity gone.  A few months after the plant closing Ron was contacted by Tyson and offered his old position back at the re-opening plant but at half the pay he had been receiving.  He along with most of his co-workers refused Tyson’s offer.  In rapid succession cheap apartment buildings were constructed followed by the arrival of bus loads of Spanish-speaking people to man the plant.

Tyson successfully challenged formal protests of unfair labor practices and “legally stonewalled” the process for years.  Unfortunately the federal authorities never took much interest in addressing the problem.  Life as Ron and his neighbors had known, changed drastically and never returned.  Ron uprooted his family, where they had lived for generations, and moved to Arizona eventually finding gainful employment after a couple of painful years.  As for the plant, it was eventually closed many years later after competitors filed complaints and federal authorities finally took action against Tyson’s illegal labor force.

Bottom-line:  Illegal immigrant labor takes jobs from those least able of our own citizens at costs at which they cannot compete.

At this time in the political discourse there is a lot of discussion to increase the federal minimum wage.  By the lack of effective action to control illegal immigration our governments (federal, state, and local) have directly contributed to our rates of unemployment particularly among the working poor.  It is astounding to the author that having contributed to one of the leading causes of unemployment among the working lower classes our government is discussing raising the minimum wage from$7.75 to $10.10.  If the minimum wage is raised, our federal government is making our unemployment situation worse by making the illegal labor force even more attractive to unscrupulous employers.

In conclusion we must demand from our federal government to control our borders, turn back the illegal immigrant labor force, and thus restore our legal citizen labor market to a healthy and sustainable status.

Author’s bio:  Phil Manning is a retired Air Force officer who has been stationed in Central America and traveled throughout South and Central America.  His experience has included providing and overseeing military security cooperation efforts in Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.  He currently holds a Department of Defense Top Secret security clearance as a civilian contractor in Colorado Springs, CO where he works as a project manager and has supported DOD, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Air Force Space Command, US Northern Command, NORAD, and Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

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Illegal Immigration and its Effects on the USA Dynamic

Part One – US National Interests

by Phil Manning                                                                                                                            guest author

It is my intention to write a series of articles outlining my views concerning the damage illegal immigration does to the US economy, social network, infrastructure, and ultimately our national interests.  During the last two decades there has been (and continues daily) a clamor in our news media and political classes about illegal immigration.  Most of this clamor is merely exclaimed in mini sound bites or headlines that do not fully express any real understanding of the issue of uncontrolled illegal immigration but merely suit the agenda of the postulating entity.  Here now are my thoughts on illegal immigration starting with the effects on the US national interests.

My contention is that it is in our national interest to have a stable ally on our southern border much as we do on our northern border.  By stability I mean in the sense that these countries on our borders enjoy representative government, viable and sustainable economic institutions, social and cultural values consistent with Judeo-Christian mores, and a legal system that protects the rights of citizenship.  Our northern neighbor meets these criteria and contributes to our national interests as we do to theirs.  Our northern border is unguarded while having a reasonable amount of control while supporting the sovereignty of both countries.  The same cannot be said for our southern neighbor as it is a country racked by violence, corruption, inadequate use and management of its resources and its government does not reach a reasonable level of representation for the majority of its citizens.

Some may question why Mexico’s internal dysfunction is of concern to the average American?  To this I would contend that if we had a more stable neighbor in Mexico our illegal immigration problem would not be as significant if their citizens were getting their economic, political, and social needs met.

Consider the free access of trade US and Canadian citizens have with each other, our mutual dependence in economic trade, national defense issues, law enforcement, and our comfortable tolerance of our individual cultural differences.  In plain language we generally appreciate each other and maintain a vibrant relationship with consistent mutual respect.  “We get along well”.  In order to support this opinion I will submit some facts not generally known outside the homeland security community.  Roughly half of the ship borne container trade arriving in the east of the US comes up the Saint Lawrence Sea Way and is off loaded in Canada, checked for security and customs compliance, and then transshipped by rail into the US.  In which countries could this occur considering all that it entails in terms of laws, regulations, and economics?  The case could be made that this is how the European Union operates.  However, our situation is unique in that the U.S. and Canadian relationship spans more than a century of cooperation.  Furthermore, the U.S. and Canada benefit greatly by being neighbors considering how intertwined their automotive and energy industries are.

Another important fact in the special US/Canada relationship is our mutual national security defense partnership.  Outside of the defense community few Americans know or cannot fully appreciate the fact that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) exists and how close the cooperation is between the US and Canada.  The commander of NORAD is always an American military officer of four star rank and the deputy is always a Canadian of three star rank having command authority to include over US military personnel.  During the 9/11 attack the US NORAD commander (General Eberhart) was away from the Colorado Springs based headquarters (and conversely the command center at Cheyenne Mountain Command Center).  As notifications of the attack came into NORAD Lieutenant General Findley (Canadian) presided over the Command Center and with full and recognized authority directed the aerospace response to the attack.  The bottom-line was that a Canadian military officer led the combined response by ordering the launch of US Air Force interceptor aircraft, as well as Canadian Armed Force’s interceptors, and had the authority to issue shoot down actions by US Air Force fighter aircraft.  It was LtGen Findley who ordered the diversion of international arriving aircraft during the chaotic hours that day into Canadian airfields both as a precaution against further attacks and to prevent the possibility of an inadvertent shoot down on a non-threat airliner.  In the after action reviews General Findley was lauded for his extraordinary cool decision-making and leadership. 

Let’s now consider our southern border neighbor and our relationship with Mexico.  We have a partially guarded border with inadequate control that has resulted in significant problems of security and law enforcement (particularly for US communities near the border) and daily regulatory problems involving trade.  It is a given that many of these trade regulatory problems are related to illegal traffic of narcotics and our efforts to control this crime but can also be traced to the regulatory imbalance between our transportation systems – both trucking and railroad.  And then there is the crime endemic to Mexico.  According to a Mexican government study in 2012, 15% of Mexicans report having been a victim of crime in the past year, a figure which among countries is only higher in South Africa.  In 2010 Mexico’s homicide rate was 18 per 100,000 inhabitants; the world average is 6.9 per 100,000 inhabitants.  Drug-traffic and narco-related activities are a major concern in Mexico.  Mexico’s drug war has left over 60,000 dead and perhaps another 20,000 missing in a nation of roughly 115 million inhabitants.  The Mexican drug cartels have as many as 100,000 members.  By contrast the USA homicide rate, as documented by the Center for Disease Control in 2011, is 3.7 per 100,000 inhabitants.  I cannot dispute that the US appetite for illegal narcotics contributes to this criminal catastrophe but placing fault without effectively dealing with the crisis is of little value.

Consider Mexico’s political, economic, and social situations.  Historically modern Mexico has been ridden with corrupt and inept political parties that have never addressed real governance and rule of law.  I cannot point to a single country with a perfect political system, certainly not ours, but in contrast Mexico’s is more dysfunctional than most in the industrialized world.  Economically Mexico has substantial natural resources in energy and agriculture but has mostly failed to capitalize in these areas due to inadequate transportation infrastructure development (modern road, rail, and port systems), corruption and mismanagement in the state-owned energy sector.  On a positive note it is expected that in 2014 Mexico will successfully revise their constitution allowing foreign investment in their energy sector once again that will lead to greater growth and exploitation of their oil industry.  Corruption at all levels of Mexico society is systemic and saps untold wealth while providing nothing but a continual “no win” situation for the average citizen.  Socially generational poverty has resulted in a permanent large underclass steeped in despair and who for many their only hope is to “head north”.

Cooperation for national defense between the US and Mexico is improving but languished for many decades in mistrust by the Mexican armed forces and a sense of unabated US frustration.  It may seem like a sick joke but the primary defense plans of the Mexican Army are still centered on reacting to an US invasion from the north.  We can no longer view the 1916 Mexican-American War as the underlying cause considering that the US invasion was an incursion to counter cross border bandit attacks on the US.  These bandit attacks were conducted by Mexican elements to instigate our involvement in the then modern Mexican revolution.  The US Northern Command, which has area of responsibility for North America, has made great efforts in reaching out to the Mexican military over the past seven years with some success but there is still much to be done.  Primarily the Mexican Navy has proven to be the most agreeable to cooperation while it will probably take a generation before Mexican distrust begins to subside.  My military experience working with foreign allies’ notes that the Mexican armed forces are far from being remotely modern and equipped but because the US has a lot of experience in nation building, which includes military and security development, we can assist them.

In closing I point to the need for the US in addressing illegal immigration to review what is in our best interests having a stable and secure neighbor on our southern border.  We must review our past relationship and develop a strategy to influence Mexico to address their problems that lead to the US being a solution for many of their citizen’s problems.  As to the argument that we the US should not meddle in other country’s affairs I say that a reasoned and clearly articulated strategy that is in our best interest and addresses our neighbor’s values and interests is a better course of action.

Author’s bio:  Phil Manning is a retired Air Force officer who has been stationed in Central America and traveled throughout South and Central America.  His experience has included providing and overseeing military security cooperation efforts in Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.  He currently holds a Department of Defense Top Secret security clearance as a civilian contractor in Colorado Springs, CO where he works as a project manager and has supported DOD, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Air Force Space Command, US Northern Command, NORAD, and Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

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Life in a Small-town, U.S.A.

Though I walkMy home-town…

Ahead of me in line today at the gas station there was this little old lady named Doris renting a movie. She asks the clerk, “How long?”

The very polite clerk says, “I don’t know ma’am, let me take a look.”

First, the clerk checks the back of the video box. Then he looks through a three-ring binder. Then he calls the manager over. Then the owner comes over, because you know, by now a big crowd has gathered.

Ten minutes later they get on the Internet and find the answer.

“121 minutes!” cries the manager triumphantly, literally holding the video up for all to see.

Doris says, “121 minutes? I thought I’d have at least until tomorrow to return it!”

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Merry Christmas to All…

He Sees You

We woke up this morning wondering, “What headlines might be scattered across the Internet if Santa Clause were really real?”

NEW YORK, NY:  Cops nab Santa for possession of marijuana found in a routine stop-and-frisk.  Jolly Old St. Nick claims he, “Found it on a roof-top, ho, ho, ho.”

WASHINGTON, DC:  Santa charged with international drug trafficking over possession charge in New York.  North Pole seized under federal forfeiture laws.  Hundreds of elves turned out into the snow.  Mrs. Clause cries, “Where will we go?  What we will do?  Who’s going to feed all of these d— elves?”

CHICAGO, IL:  Santa wounded, three reindeer slain in drive-by shooting.  Rudolph in critical condition.  Local activists claim the shooting was a “luminous-proboscis” motivated hate crime.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN:  Flash mob robs Santa’s sleigh while he’s checking to see who’s naughty or nice.  Santa laments, “What kind of people would steal toys from the children of the world?”

LOS ANGELES, CA:  Santa sleigh-jacked! Witnesses report Santa dragged from his sleigh by four youths and beaten with a brick.  Noted Hollywood celebrity claims it was Santa’s fault for wearing gang colors.

SAN FRANCISCO:  Santa goes down the wrong chimney, finally understands the modern meaning of the phrase, “Gay Apparel.”

PHOENIX, AZ:  Agents for the Border Patrol took into custody a jolly old fat man in a red suit last night.  INS to begin deportation proceedings immediately.  Democrats plead for amnesty hoping to lock in the “Elf Vote.”

HOLLYWOOD, CA:  On a rooftop in the Hollywood Hills late last night, activists for the animal-rights organization PETA smeared fake reindeer feces on Santa.  A spokesperson for the group stated, “We are not going to sit idly by while some mythological figure exploits animals that don’t really exist.”

…And to All a Good Night

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Dan Quayle, Barrack Obama and Poverty in America

by John Baker,                                                                                                                                      guest author

Dan Quayle

In 1992, more than 20 years ago, then Vice President Dan Quayle warned us against the growing issue of unwed motherhood, as celebrated at the time in the CBS comedy series Murphy Brown.  As I recall, he was skewered by Hollywood and the left leaning media as a buffoon…a right wing mental light weight who was out of touch with modern society.

Fast forward 21 years…

Over this year’s Thanksgiving Holiday, I picked up my niece’s college economics text-book and began to thumb through it to see what B.S. the leftist professors were pushing on today’s impressionable youth.  To my surprise, there was a discussion on poverty in America and its drivers.  Unwed motherhood was referenced as one of the highest correlative factors as it relates to poverty in the United States.  It went on to say that there has been a 10 fold increase in unwed motherhood in this country since the 1960s and that we had 15 times the rate of unwed motherhood as Japan.

Obama

Earlier this week, in a likely attempt to distract attention from the disastrous roll-out of his imploding healthcare law, President Obama made a speech concerning the widening income disparity in the USA.  He described it as the “defining challenge of our time”.  On this issue, I am in complete agreement.  I believe that the problem is so acute, that it will eventually bring great, if not fatal harm to our country if we fail to take immediate and effective action to reverse the current trend.

However, I do differ with the President concerning the causes of, and solutions to income disparity.  His approach, as always, is to chastise the financially successful; entrepreneurs, business owners, corporate executives, etc., for their greedy ways and to push for more income re-distribution.  It is the same old tired and flawed song sung by socialists throughout history.  No mention of freeing the capitalist system from the government’s shackles of excessive taxes and regulation which would enable economic growth.  No mention of a government-run education system that isn’t keeping pace with the changing job opportunity landscape in the country or the dramatic rise in single parent families and the resulting impact on poverty.

Later in the week I read an analysis presented in “The Federalist” which supports Dan Quayle’s concerns with unwed motherhood.

Child Poverty

Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Poverty by 82 Percent!

Chart retrieved from:

http://thefederalist.com/2013/12/05/obamas-shallow-inequality-speech-presidency-might/

In retrospect, maybe Dan Quayle wasn’t such an ignorant out of touch right-wing buffoon after all.  Given the perspective provided by the intervening two decades, he looks more like a visionary prophet than a buffoon to me.

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The Politics of Division

By Dr. S. Bryan Martin

If “united we stand” is a great American slogan, then “divided they must be” is the slogan of the crafty politician.

Americans are united by many traditions.  The traditions that unite are those that deal with liberty, freedom, general pride in our country and its history, as well as our political system.  Those things that tend to divide are political party affiliation, religion, gender, race, age, education and regional cultures.  These lists are by no means complete, but I have provided enough examples to prove a point.  We Americans are united and divided on several issues and circumstances.

Not many words can incite as much negative emotion in our society these days than the word, “politics.”  Of course, this is nothing new.  One of our long-held traditions in the United States is the general dislike of politics and of politicians.  You could almost say that this dislike of all things political is one thing which unites us as Americans.  Liberals and conservatives alike will most probably agree on one thing at all times, politics and politicians are a great disappointment.

In the business world, one way to deal with individuals that have different lifestyles, beliefs, preferences, as well as various levels of purchasing power is to segment the market.  Market segmentation is nothing new to the business or political domains.  One of the best ways to separate individuals and order them into manageable groups is to implement a strategy that will effectively segment the market.  In order to take advantage of the various segments, the savvy business marketer needs to develop different messages to reach the various and diverse segments, or target populations.  Dividing the market into segments tends to help business at the expense of the consumer.  Fortunately for the business, the consumer has no idea that they have been controlled or manipulated.

Dividing the voting populace into various groups helps the politician at the expense of the voter.  The market (voters) must be segmented into groups in order for the politician (or political party) to perfect and craft a message that is more likely to attract and persuade individuals in these various groups to move and vote in a coordinated way.  Both major American parties do this, so stop yourself if you are thinking of those evil Conservatives or those bleeding heart Liberals.  Remember, politicians like it when you are willing to lie to yourself, especially if you end up voting their way.

One great American tradition that has been purchased at great price by so many is that of liberty.  This liberty includes freedom to think what you want, freedom to believe what you want and most of all, freedom of speech.  And although most of us know deep down that our neighbors, friends and family will never want to take any of these liberties away from us or do us harm, politicians are more often than not, guilty of trying to get us to think so.

Let’s face it; in order for politicians to divide us and segment us into groups, they must craft a message that gets us to separate into groups voluntarily.  They do this by pitting one group against the other.  The rich against the poor, one race against the other, male against female, etc.  You name it, there’s no end to the various points of contention on which they can divide the public into groups.  Once the groups are divided, the politician provides solutions to protect you or your group from the bad people who are part of the other groups.  And of course, the politician tops it all off with declaring any point of contention to be a crisis of biblical magnitude that only they (or members of their special group) can fix.

There is nothing wrong about individual “free” Americans having opposing and diverse opinions from one another.  This is actually good, especially if we truly wish to preserve a diverse and civil society.  A society which abides by and cherishes the rule of law, a society that treats every man or woman equal under the law.

But what can we do as Americans to resist this market segmentation, the division that the politician wishes to inflict on our society in order to achieve political gain?  First, we need to realize that this phenomenon exists and that political movements tend to use this strategy to win elections and to control people.  Armed with the knowledge that division favors the politician at the expense of the individual, we can choose not to be easily swayed.

What makes us easy targets for the unscrupulous politician?  Being a one issue voter!!  This is the easiest way for a politician to divide the public.  If you believe very strongly on one issue and have decided that is where you will draw your line in the sand,  it is more likely that you will follow a politician or political movement that although supports your one issue, will work against you in many other areas.  I am not saying that it may not be wise and correct to have that one issue that defines how you vote, but it better be a good one and you should give it a lot of thought.

The best advice that I can provide would be for each of us to think through all the important political and social issues of our day and resist the efforts of the politician to get us to think less of our friends and neighbors.  They are people just like you that have their own thoughts, ideas and beliefs.  Think twice before you support a political cause that would attempt to unnecessarily limit personal freedoms of other good law-abiding citizens.

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