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Archive for November 22nd, 2014

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On Thursday, November 20, 2014, President Obama announced that he was taking executive action that will allow up to five million undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States. The president promised these immigrants that they will not be deported, that they can seek work legally in the United States, on certain conditions, such as paying taxes.

Much of the news media of the 1 percent are claiming this is good for the economy, that everybody will prosper because of the president’s action.

For example, a study released by the Center for American Progress says, “Once they (undocumented immigrants) attain legal status, immigrants will be able to contribute to the increased consumption of goods and services that boosts business sales and raises the earnings of all Americans. They will pay taxes on their higher wages and increase the gross state product (GSP). Additionally, immigrants will be able to use their new legal status by integrating their skill set and education into creating jobs and raising productivity.”

Common sense, however, tells us that once undocumented immigrants receive legal status, they will consume approximately what they consume today. It is possible that with higher wages they will consume more. That will be offset, however, because the rest of us will be consuming less, according to an analysis of a similar congressional measure by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). According to the CBO, everybody’s wages and job opportunities will decline with the deal, except for the newly legalized immigrants. That means the impact of immigration reform will have little, or no, or perhaps even negative, net impact on the consumption of goods and services. It could even result in a decline of GNP. How could the consumption of goods and services go up if everybody’s wages and salaries are going down? They can’t and so the claim by the Center for American Progress is patently wrong.

According to the CBO, a senate bill similar to President Obama’s executive action which failed in committee last year would have depressed wages of all workers for the next twelve years, “raise the unemployment rate,” and “result in higher interest rates.” Notice the corporate news media hasn’t reported these things to you.

The president’s action will also push the unemployment rate higher than it would otherwise be through 2031. Currently, the real unemployment is somewhere between 10 and 13 percent, which is higher than the official rate of 7 percent. The executive action will force more and more people to compete for a smaller number of jobs, and this will drive wages down.

According to the Pew Hispanic Research Center, 80 percent of undocumented immigrants work under the table, that is without paying income taxes. Most of these people are expected to move into better paying jobs in the legal job market, creating greater labor competition, and driving wages down.

This same process also occurred after the amnesty granted undocumented immigrants in December 1986. Real wages immediately began to plummet for the next six years and didn’t recover to their 1986 level until 11 years later. Check out the graph below from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. You’ll see a big dip in real wages for everybody beginning in December 1986.

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The CBO also reported, “Capital investment would rise primarily because the return that investors would earn on a given amount of investment would be higher under the legislation than under current law.” The rationale for this is given with economic jargon, but basically it boils down to this; lower wages will increase profit margins, and so members of the 1 percent will purchase more corporate stocks, bonds and politicians.

In other words, the president’s executive action ensures the 1 percent benefit by pushing down wages, salaries and other compensation and redistributing the difference between the old rates and the new lower rates into the hands of the 1 percent. Nice scam, but it gets worse.

The president’s action comes at a time of real declining average wages for all American citizens, and so things are now going to become worse for us. On top of this, the 1 percent has been stealing 95 percent of all income growth for the last four years. Now it might grow as high as 96 percent. We are in an economy heading for disaster.

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