Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Non-Momentary Lapse Of Reason

James Taranto:

In an op-ed in today's New York Times...Dukakis [writes]

If we are really serious about turning back the tide of illegal immigration, we should start by raising the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to something closer to $8. . . .

Millions of illegal immigrants work for minimum and even sub-minimum wages in workplaces that don't come close to meeting health and safety standards. It is nonsense to say, as President Bush did recently, that these jobs are filled by illegal immigrants because Americans won't do them. Before we had mass illegal immigration in this country, hotel beds were made, office floors were cleaned, restaurant dishes were washed and crops were picked--by Americans.

Americans will work at jobs that are risky, dirty or unpleasant so long as they provide decent wages and working conditions, especially if employers also provide health insurance. Plenty of Americans now work in such jobs, from mining coal to picking up garbage. The difference is they are paid a decent wage and provided benefits for their labor.

However, Americans won't work for peanuts, and these days the national minimum wage is less than peanuts.

This is illogical. If the problem is that illegal immigrants are willing to work at subminimum wages, raising the minimum wage is the opposite of a solution. It would only enhance their competitive advantage over native Americans and legal immigrants.

Yes. Why, if we raised the minimum wage to $10,000/hr, I'm sure that every single worker in the country would be working "above board" and not "under the table"! It's fool-proof!

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