Saturday, March 11, 2017

As Usual, Dilbert is a Source of Wisdom

Not Dilbert of course but his author, Scott Adams:
But here’s the interesting part. If you want to address income inequality, what is one of the best ways to do it? Answer: Limit immigration. That means higher wages for American citizens and lower profits for the top 1% who want cheap labor.
I saw a factoid yesterday that illegal immigration from Mexico is way down lately, presumably in anticipation of the Trump administration being tough. That’s an indicator of rising wages to come. I suppose the top 1% can pass along the higher costs to some extent. But the jobless guy who gets a job won’t be too unhappy that his food is 10% more expensive. He still comes out ahead. And if the employer gets a Trump tax cut, she doesn’t need to pass along as much of the higher wage expense to consumers.
This is a point that I have repeatedly made: There isn't much labor in food.  Replacing illegals with those legally present will doubtless increase wages because of reduced labor supply, but how much labor goes into your Big Mac?  At most a minute or two.  A raise in worker pay of $2/hour is thus 6 cents more.  Of course, increased wages reduce the number of workers dependent on the government.  More expensive Big Macs will likely reduce demand, improving health.


  1. If you're going to be pro-equality, then let in poor foreigners.

  2. There is a lot of labor in food production.

    Agriculture is very dependent on cheap immigrant labor. (Not grain production, but fruit, vegetables, and dairy. Yes, dairy. Bernie Sanders was a major backer of the Hsomething-something program which allows farmers to bring in "temporary" immigrant workers - as a payoff to dairy operators in Vermont.)

    So is meatpacking. I've read that meatpacking companies in the Middle West have imported so many Mexican workers that towns in Iowa and Nebraska are 20% hispanic, many if not most of them illegals. Also that the meatpacking industry lobbies fiercely against e-Verify and other measures to prevent employment of illegals.

  3. Rick, I hear this a lot. But when a laborer picks a tomato, puts it in a box, then pits the box in a truck, how much time? Each tomato is 15 seconds to pick, maybe 30 seconds to grade for color and ripeness and then box. Putting that whole box of 30-40 tomatoes on the truck is perhaps a minute. So there is likely less than a minute per tomato of picking. There is some labor at other parts of the year, but not hours per tomato.

    Dairy farmers here in Idaho led the charge for illegal alien labor because they are terrified of paying more than minimum wage for labor.