Jon Coupal- Columnist
is an attorney and president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers
Association -- California's largest taxpayer organization with
offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento. [go to website] [go
to Coupal index]
Taxpayers Are Willing to Work Hard
Overwhelmed by illegal immigrants?...
[Jon Coupal] 9/10/04
The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles recently announced that
they would hire 3,000 new dockworkers for temporary jobs. Despite
the common knowledge that the work is hard, there are more than
a quarter million applicants. Indeed, so many people have applied
that those being hired are being selected by a lottery system.
So what is the attraction? Simple -- the pay and benefits. Initially,
these jobs pay from $20.66 to $28 per hour and, better yet, those
who are employed will have the opportunity to move on to permanent
work and a possible six-figure income.
Suppose for a moment that these jobs didn't lead to annual pay
of over a hundred thousand dollars but instead only $60,000.
It is still a good bet that people would be lining up around
the block to apply. Even at $40,000 or less, there are many who
would gladly take this work, considering that the average entry-level
wage in Los Angeles County is $8.38.
many hard jobs we are told that Americans will not accept.
This is raised as a justification for the
hiring of illegal
immigrants or in support of a "guest worker" program.
For jobs washing dishes, or cars, or gardening or picking produce,
often the pay is minimum wage or less. It is hard to determine
what the typical pay is for some jobs because they are part of
the underground economy where workers are paid in cash.
We are told by the same apologists for a system that encourages
the employment of undocumented workers that the low wages help
to keep prices down for consumers. But there is a hidden cost
to taxpayers that they are hesitant to discuss.
No matter how one feels about minimum wage laws or the underground
economy, there is little disagreement that illegal immigrants,
who make much less than Wal-Mart employees, are overwhelming
public services in places like Los Angeles County. Property owners
in the county are now paying an additional tax specifically to
prop up the trauma care system, nearly half of whose clients
are undocumented aliens.
Public services throughout the state are under pressure because
low-paid illegal immigrants rely on these services -- including
education -- in numbers proportionally greater than the general
population. In short, it is the taxpayers who end up paying to
subsidize the low wage jobs of the undocumented.
A recent television show suggested that without illegal immigrants,
the nation would face a recession. But would we?
No one is
suggesting that government mandate a six figure income for
dishwashers. But if we stopped importing
an underclass willing
to take starvation wages for hard or unpleasant work, market
forces would force the pay rate up to a level American workers
would accept. These wages would be declared for tax purposes
and these wages would be spent here in the U.S. instead of being
sent home, as is often the case with undocumented workers. The
result would be more jobs and income for Americans while this "above
the table" economic activity would produce additional revenue
for government. Pressure on social services would decline.
Yes, without an illegal immigrant labor force the price of a
hamburger might go up a dime, but it is just as likely that the
reduction in the tax burden would more than compensate for any
increase in consumer prices. CRO
2004 Howard Jarvis Taxpayers association