Questions on Unz

Ron Unz’s piece on immigration is still making the rounds. I haven’t read it yet, since it’s long. Chuck summarizes it nicely here.

In short, Unz is – apparently – recommending an increase in the minimum wage to stem the tide of immigrants.

I have two questions:

1) what reason do we have to believe that absurdly high minimum wage laws would be enforced any more than current immigration laws are enforced?

2) Unz may not be a full-fledged HBDer, but he’s writing for a race-realist audience. What then does he think a very high minimum wage will do to blacks? It seems to me that elite liberals favor higher minimum wages to ensure that many blacks don’t work at all, thus creating dependencies that are exploitable. Even if we grant that a very high minimum wage would solve the immigration problem, it seems pretty obvious that it would create some additional problems.

Does Unz answer these questions?

5 Responses to Questions on Unz

  1. G.L. Piggy says:


    thanks for the link.

    One note: the true power of this minimum wage proposal would be the eradication of inducements for immigrants to want to come here in the first place. He also says that since immigrants have very few non-economic ties to this country, unbinding the one tie they do have would push a lot of illegals back across the border.

    1. I think employers would pay whatever wage they are forced to pay. They do it now @ $7.15. Marginally, they’ll just hire fewer workers, lay people off, move towards automation, or go out of business.

    Unz argues that there isn’t a clear-cut solution to this problem. The economic inequality b/w the U.S. and Mexico ensures that Mexicans will do a lot to get over here. So he resorts to a dual-headed approach: higher minimum wage laws mixed with increased punishment of employers who are found to be employing illegals. Unz suggests prison terms for employers.

    There are two problems with that: why stop at just those two measures? Unz thinks that the minimum wage is palatable because progressives would like to see it, therefore it doesn’t look like a hard line stance against immigration. But cracking down on employers might have a similar impact as building a fence or deporting, etc. Granted, cracking down on employers rather than the illegals themselves might mute any ethnic tension that might arise from anti-immigration policies. People often prefer to punish the drug pusher rather than the druggie.

    But the minimum wage by itself would probably do a lot to curb immigration. It will push some employment underground, but the net effect would decrease immigration.

    2. In a link provided by Alex Tabarrok, he points out that minimum wage laws (and unions) were vehicles by which unskilled i.e. black labor was priced out of the market. This legacy of the minimum wage should be brought up any time progressives harp on living wages.

    Unz doesn’t answer that specific question though, and its one that I wondered about too. He says that Hispanics now do jobs that blacks and teens used to do, but he ignores that by taking away the jobs that Hispanics moved into by raising the minimum wage, he takes away the jobs that those blacks and teens used to hold.

    I guess he’s assuming (probably rightly so) that the country will benefit on net. Blacks and teens and single moms may be pushed out of work, but the money spent on social welfare for them would be offset by the money not spent on gov’t expenditures for illegals ($20,000 in education for their kids per year, etc).

    Problem with all of that is that it takes away crucial work experience that these people need in order to get better jobs in the future.

  2. jult52 says:

    I agree that the negative effects on lower-skilled native (that is, non-immigrant) workers are not explored in the piece and that is the key weakness of the proposal.

    Two more observations:
    1) The leftwing blogs I read seem to moving towards a position that there will be an insufficient demand for labor in the future and that we will as a result need to create a massive welfare state for the unemployable. This thought – which doesn’t address the obvious objections to such an arrangement (i.e. soocial dysfunction from above-poverty-level permanent joblessness) may be feeding into the proposal indirectly.
    2) I have been seeing unconfirmed reports of massive outmigration back to Latin America, spurred on by the US great recession. This whole problem may bbe very 2006.

  3. Matt Weber says:

    Unz says, sensibly enough, that immigration restriction fails not because of left-wing propaganda but because of business interests who want the cheap labor. But then you have an obvious problem–his solution is eliminating the cheap labor by another means (minimum wage), but why would business be unable to defeat this measure if they can defeat immigration restriction so handily? Unz brings this up, but just handwaves it away. Apparently the Power of Democracy will suddenly arise and force the business interests to go along. I think he puts a lot of stock in a minimum wage appealing to liberals, which might be true, but for every 2 liberals you gain you lose 3 conservatives or libertarians who are concerned about the economic effects of a huge minimum wage increase.

    A real plan for immigration restriction involves

    1: a fence — Unz handwaves this as well, saying that at best it would only stop 50% of the illegals. 50% is a lot.
    2: Workplace enforcement — Unz is for this
    3. A guest worker program — Unz didn’t address this. A lot of rightists hate this, but you may as well consider it the price of fixing illegal immigration.
    4. Paying illegals to go home — Unz is for this as well. It would obviously have to be done after the fence is operational.

    Of course this is just illegal immigration…legal immigration is a much hairier issue.

    • Matt Weber says:

      Oh, about Unz and blacks, I think he has given up on them. Unz may not be a racialist, but he’s noticed that the decent blacks have already moved past the menial labor jobs and the rest are largely unfit for anything other than what they’re doing. This is a long term problem, but I don’t think Unz has any more of an idea what to do about it than anyone else.

      • G.L. Piggy says:

        that’s the impression i get too. it’s like the relative we all have who is pretty much impossible to deal with on so many levels that everyone just throws up their hands and says “That’s just Uncle Jim”. it seems to be a given that blacks are just there and that they will always be a problem that we’re forced to deal with. we’ll just have to build around them, I guess.

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