February 26, 2018

Trump calls for massive cheap-labor immigration; How Bernie can steal issue without making it about ethnicity

Last month Trump openly stated in an interview with the WSJ that only immigrants would be hired at the manufacturing plants that are "coming back" to America. An earlier post covered this announcement in the context of the Foxconn plant to be opened in Wisconsin, and a follow-up post discussed the case of Apple as well. These would be at least tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of jobs going to immigrants, and that's just getting started.

Foxconn already operates plants in the US, and they hire only a handful of Americans -- the vast majority are immigrants, whether those who are brought in legally on guest-worker visas by the company, or illegals who make themselves scare during the repeated raids on the plant by ICE. Apple is one of the largest exploiters of the H-1B visa system.

Trump defended the replacement of American workers with foreigners by siding with big business, saying "I don’t want to make it so tough that [companies] can’t come back in." What exactly would "make it so tough" for companies to come back in? Hiring Americans at American wages, rather than bringing in boatloads of immigrants who will undercut our wages and lower our standard of living.

This is the same BS appeal we always hear from GOP politicians and the manufacturing companies who control them -- our profits would go down if we had to raise wages and incomes for workers. That's absolutely true, as the two sides are locked in a class war, with owners trying to impoverish workers in order to enrich themselves. If Americans won't lower themselves to working for $5 an hour, then those ungrateful scum will just have to be replaced with foreigners from poor countries who will be only too eager to snatch up that $5 an hour job.

In case you thought that was a fluke statement during a single interview, Trump made the pro-cheap-labor immigration case even more forcefully during his remarks at CPAC last weekend. After describing the violent carnage that Muslim immigration leads to, he contrasts that to his ideal system, where relatively more peaceful immigrants take our jobs without also blowing us up:

We’ve got to change our way.  Merit system.  I want merit system.  Because you know what’s happening?  All of these companies are coming into our country.  They’re all coming into our country.  And when they come in, we need people that are going to work.  I’m telling you, we need workers now.  We need workers.  (Applause.)

He keeps saying that "we need people" at these new plants, and that those people absolutely cannot be Americans. It's not as though the labor force participation rate has been plummeting for years, continuing downward under Trump, with estimates that a large chunk of these displaced workers may never re-enter the labor force.

That's especially been true for those in the mid-skill level that used to make up the large middle class, who have seen the greatest hollowing-out thanks to corporate executives and managers giving these jobs to cheap foreigners, whether through off-shoring the plant or by giving them to immigrants in this country.

With record highs of prime working-age men out of the labor force, that ought to be the first place companies turn to when they're building new plants in this country. But those men won't work for $5 an hour, so the greedy corporations refuse to offer them the job, and give it to cheap immigrants instead.

The no-longer-populist president continues:

We have to have great people come into our — I want people to come into our country.  And I want people that are going to help us.  And I don’t want people that are going to come in and be accepting all of the gifts of our country for the next 50 years and contribute nothing.  I don’t want that, and you don’t want that.

I want people that are going to help and people that are going to work for Chrysler, who is now moving from Mexico into Michigan, and so many other — and Apple, by the way.  (Applause.)  And Foxconn up in Wisconsin.  They’re going to need 25,000 workers.  I want people that can come in, and get to work and work hard.  Even if it means a learning period — that’s fine.

But I want people that are going to come in and work.  And I want people that love us and look at security.  And they want you to be safe, and they want to be safe.  I want great people coming into this country.  I don’t want people coming in the way they do now, because I want people that contribute.

It's quite a rhetorical feat to get a Republican audience to applaud their own demographic replacement simply by rephrasing the hot-button term "immigrants" with the sterilized circumlocution "people that are going to come in".

And now we can add Chrysler to the list of companies guaranteed to shut out Americans and only hire cheap immigrants when they "come back," along with the already known cases of Foxconn and Apple.

That line about "a learning period" suggests that these immigrants may not even be already trained for the job, and must be trained here. That's one excuse the greedy managers use to not hire Americans who've been out of the labor force for awhile -- they don't have the necessary skills. So then train them, and do paid training. But if the point is profits over people, they would rather train unskilled workers who will end up costing them less in wages because they're cheap foreigners.

Trump has not only swallowed, but is now endlessly regurgitating the Chamber of Commerce talking point about cheap immigrants "contributing to our economy" by displacing American workers through undercutting their wages. Some contribution. But if the only goal is to prop up the concentrated wealth and power of corporations, then this is indeed just the contribution they've been looking for from immigration.

The only quibble Trump adds is that these hordes of immigrants should not be the type who will blow us up during our morning commute. Other than that, the borders are wide open, folks, and come on in to replace the American population by working for pennies on the dollar.

That means Trump plans to continue demographically replacing and impoverishing Americans with Chinese, Indians, and Mexicans, rather than the more violent types from El Salvador, Pakistan, and Uganda. That's all that's different in the "merit-based" systems of Australia and Canada.

It's bad enough that he's cucking for big business over the working class, but to also make it so pro-globalist and anti-American is even worse. He was elected to be a populist and nationalist, not a corporate globalist. (None of the recent GOP proposals would have reduced immigration until 10 years -- i.e., never, given all that would happen in the meantime.)

Those appeals may have drawn applause from the CPAC crowd, who are GOP partisans and members of Trump's personality cult, but they will fall on deaf ears in the white working-class Rust Belt households that flipped the election in his favor. He can kiss Michigan good-bye after saying that Chrysler is coming back, but oh by the way, only Mexican immigrants will be working there -- and living there, and sending their kids to school there!

Off-shoring may hollow out middle-class incomes, but the silver lining compared to cheap-labor immigration is that it keeps the foreign job thieves out of our country. Ramping up the guest-worker programs by orders of magnitude will not only continue the trend of falling real wages, it will jack up housing prices in America (unlike if the foreigners steal our jobs in their own country), and it will disrupt local schools and neighborhoods. Social trust will plummet even further with rising diversity (the Putnam Effect), and before long it will no longer be possible to Make America Great Again.

Conservative media is unsurprisingly failing to cover these developments in the labor-and-immigration nexus that was so central to Trump's upset victory. They don't care about the working class, and like phony culture warriors Ted Cruz and Mick Mulvaney, are happy to wave in hordes of immigrants on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce and its demands for endless cheap foreign workers.

So far, aside from me, the only people starting to notice are the hardliners who won't stand for propping up the failed status quo for yet another GOP administration. Here's Mickey Kaus from the Left, which got re-tweeted by Ann Coulter from the Right:

Can the Bernie-style populists steal this issue from Trump? They're in a bind because they want to improve American workers' wages, but they also don't want to come off as "anti-immigration" in the cultural domain.

Their base is the white working class who only care about economic issues, not the identity politics of immigrants. And African-Americans don't care about foreigners either. Closing the borders would not affect African-Americans, the other base of the Democrat party, but rather the illegal Hispanics and Asians, who don't bother voting, and would-be immigrants who are not even in our country yet, let alone voting for Democrats.

The corporate Democrats can stuff as many Mexican and Chinese immigrants as they want to in the deep-blue immigrant havens of California and New Jersey -- and that wouldn't have changed a thing in the last election. There are no immigrants in the Rust Belt, since the job environment has been declining rather than rising. The Democrats need to win back the white working class and the disaffected African-Americans in the Midwest who don't want to see Democrats favoring foreigners over Americans.

Aside from the electoral base, the elite sectors of the economy that control the party do not rely on cheap labor like the sectors that control the GOP do. The Democrat sectors are informational and scale up easily without a similar rise in the size of their workforce. Republican sectors are material, and must pay for more man-hours in order to expand their operations, making them highly sensitive to the cost of labor.

Wall Street banks, Silicon Valley tech firms, and mass media monopolies will not suffer at all if the cost of labor goes up -- they hardly employ anyone as it is. They are already flirting with the idea of "universal basic income" in order to pacify the growingly discontent masses. But we don't want $500 a month -- we want $5,000 a month.

Rather than pay for that themselves, these Democrat sectors can force their rival sectors (manufacturing especially) to pay for it through wages going to Americans, once those good-paying manufacturing jobs are brought back to this country. The informational sectors can do this by using their Democrat party as the vehicle for raising tariffs and tightening labor markets via sealing off the immigration release valve.

Some bunch of elites are going to have to pay the costs of pacifying the populist rebellion -- the Democrats might as well get out in front of it, and throw all the costs onto the Republican sectors of the economy. Not only do they avoid becoming the target, they get praised by the mob as heroes and rescuers.

So in addition to raising tariffs, the solution for the Bernie reformers and revolutionaries is to call for a radical up-ending of the status quo on immigration, by demanding a moratorium -- but framing it entirely as a class and economics issue. They can avoid discussing the quality of immigrants, and the ethnic connotations that will raise, by treating it entirely as a matter of quantity, whereby this country is already overly stuffed in its labor and housing markets, to Dickensian levels of squalor.

"We wish no harm toward the would-be immigrants, but this country is already fuckin' full, and we already have so many Americans struggling just to make ends meet." That's the only way to square the circle on immigration without raising the topic of race and ethnicity. Give citizenship to the DACA people, but make the remaining illegals who came here willingly up for deportation.

In addition to not offending the identity politics voters, it will resonate with the labor and environmental voters, who have been tuning out the do-nothing Democrats for some time now. Both groups want to see the population stabilize or even shrink somewhat, in order to raise the standard of living for workers, and to alleviate the over-burdening of natural resources and ecosystems by today's mammoth population size.

As a concrete first step, the Bernie crowd should be demanding that any new plants that open in America should be staffed at least 95% by Americans, not guest workers. For companies that violate this pro-American stance, call for their tax breaks to be rescinded, for fines to be paid for perpetrating a fraud on the American public, and for all manner of tactics to gum up the works at the plant site -- protests, sit-ins, blocking traffic on the company road, and so on.

Lord knows the unorganized MAGA people won't be disrupting an immigrant-only workplace, especially if like Foxconn it has the official blessing of their leader. That would require organization, like a labor union picketing the site.

It would be the perfect way to get the message out that, "you thought the Republican party under Trump was going to 'bring back good jobs to America,' but they're still at it, giving them to cheap immigrant workers instead." It would accelerate the break-up of the GOP coalition in its zombie-Reagan form, and send large numbers of non-partisan Trump voters over to the Bernie side -- not temporarily, but permanently, given how futile the "re-alignment" of the GOP has proven to be.

Just as voters could not rely on a Democrat like Carter to undo his party's New Deal paradigm as promised, neither can voters rely on a Republican like Trump to undo his party's corporate globalist paradigm as promised. When it comes time for fundamental change, first the weary voters give one last chance to the party that started the whole mess, hoping for major change from within -- then when that inevitably fails from institutional inertia, they throw their weight behind the rival party, where the true transformation of a party takes place.


  1. The Bernie people's class analysis would also help to focus on what the real enemy is -- the elites who are bringing in the immigrants to exploit for profit, not the mostly powerless immigrants themselves.

    If you don't want demographic replacement, focus on who is the cause -- as Trump used to hint on the campaign trail, it's not the foreigners but our own sell-out elites.

    "I don't blame China for taking advantage of us -- I blame our leaders for allowing this country to get raped by China."

    We didn't used to have mass immigration, so something changed, and it was the elites deciding to no longer protect the commoners, but to pit them against hordes of cheap immigrants to lower wages and boost profits.

    It was not the immigrants themselves who overwhelmed our borders -- they've always wanted to come in by the boatload. They needed our sell-out elites to unlock the gates and throw them wide open.

    And since our elites are white, focusing on them as the source of the problem also prevents the discussion from touching on ethnicity in the list of problems.

  2. With trade deficits continuing to get much worse, they could rig the numbers simply by re-shoring the off-shored plants -- while still employing cheap foreigners, who will now be immigrants here.

    That way the corporations get to keep their low labor costs, and the GOP gets to brag about narrowing the trade deficit somewhat, since that stuff is being produced here and exported from here, or at least no longer being imported from the off-shore country.

    None of that benefits the American people or nation, and is just a statistical trick, but it is the kind of thing that the globalists would try in order to keep the Trump voters from getting angry about record widening trade deficits.

    They'll get away with it, too, if no one bothers looking at the data or reporting on it.


  3. Vox bloggers notice the cheerleading for cheap labor immigration in the CPAC speech (at the end):


    That leaves only those who are fixated on Trump's persona as out of the loop -- whether they're fanboys or hysterics.

    Anyone focusing on what's actually going on, whether they're Left Right or Center, is noticing how much the former hardliner has cucked on immigration and working-class populism.

  4. So Bernie wins with your ideas and then runs into Stonewall Matthis
    What then?

  5. Tariffs finally -- nice. This is when the GOP coalition begins to break down for good. Everyone in the party, and in the cabinet, are bitterly opposed.

    Assuming this thing goes into effect, it'll be Trump's Jimmy Carter moment of deregulating the transportation sector. It'll cripple the GOP, and lead a Bernie style Dem to pick up the baton from Trump, just as Reagan picked up the deregulation baton from Carter, who killed off his own party's coalition.

    Side note: I keep pointing out that tariffs do not affect consumer prices much because of competition -- if you jack up your prices to consumers, in order to maintain your old profit margins in the face of higher costs, you get out-competed by rivals who don't jack them up as much. At equilibrium, consumer prices remain roughly where they were.

    Now it's reflected in the plunging stock market. If tariffs were simply a tax on consumers (of products made with now-more-expensive steel), due to manufacturers raising prices in response to higher costs of raw materials -- then their profits would stay the same, and their stock values would not change much. All of the change in costs would be off-loaded onto the consumers.

    The fact that stock prices are plunging shows that they will be borne more by the manufacturers listed in the Dow than by the end-consumers. Higher costs = lower profits, the inverse of the prevailing trend of the past 40 years, where lower costs = higher profits.

    Consumer prices don't get screwed so much by changing costs of production, assuming there's decent competition among producers. If not, then break them up into smaller and more numerous firms.


You MUST enter a nickname with the "Name/URL" option if you're not signed in. We can't follow who is saying what if everyone is "Anonymous."