Two sides of the amnesty coin: Brainware and economy

by Danny de Gracia and Kaitlin Hamilton

Two sides to the Amnesty coin
Two sides to the Amnesty coin
HAWAII, January 8, 2015 – As discussion continues on Capitol Hill over the impact of amnesty for America’s culture and national security, immigration is the single most pressing crisis for the new Republican-led Congress and President Obama to address in 2015.
More than twenty years ago, political scientists forecast the West would one day enter a brainware era in which the rapid exchange of information would transform Western economies. Nowhere is this more evident than in the fact that Americans of nearly all income levels, rich and poor alike, daily enjoy the use of their state of the art laptop computers, tablets, and cell phones (and now wristwatch computers) loaded with some of the most advanced software the world has ever seen – all of which are designed in the U.S. but manufactured offshore.
While the “there’s an app for that” culture of our modern brainware era has made life extremely convenient for U.S. consumers, it also brings a sharpened market demand for hyperspecialization. During the late 18th century, the beginnings of the American industrial revolution called for a high demand of unspecialized, eager labor to fill factory positions that would forge the rise of the world’s most developed state. High domestic demand for labor combined with international demand for American-manufactured products meant that immigration of any kind, legal or otherwise, was fuel for the fire of U.S. industry.
The old era of industry was marked by steel, fire and muscle shoveling coal or pumping oil to power America. By the end of the 19th century, the U.S. had already far surpassed the old European colonialist powers that had birthed the new world, with an industrial economy roughly thirteen times the size of Italy. By the 20th century, American industrial might reached such gargantuan proportions that even in spite of the Great Depression and a late war entry, the U.S. effectively defeated the Axis powers of WWII through volumetric military manufacturing alone.
As a testament to America’s former industrial might, during the years of 1939 to 1945, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan together produced some 196,227 military aircraft for the war effort. The U.S. by contrast built 303,695 aircraft alone, many of which were built by “Rose the Riveter”-type women working in the absence of American men fighting abroad.For much of America’s modern history, anyone seeking a job could find a job because of the high demand for basic labor. Today, the changing nature of technology combined with an intricate combination of labor laws, tax policies and international trade agreements means that industrial manufacturing has given way to a market dominated by information production.

As hyperspecialization of the workforce increases, the availability of jobs to U.S. workers in non-technical fields shrinks as a result of market unprofitability. Part of the reason late-born GenXers and Millennials have seen such difficulty in finding stable careers is due in large part to this economic paradigm shift.

In 1955, it was profitable for many companies (and government agencies) to have in-house hired landscapers, custodians, building security, file clerks, administrative/support staff, communications and marketing staff and numerous other positions. In 2015, most offices have replaced these unprofitable positions with outsourced third-party contractors, consultants or even computers.

According to the New York Times, today 33.5% of persons aged 25 to 29 hold college degrees, compared to only 21.9% in 1975. The Federal government’s massive subsidization of higher education has put millions of well-educated (yet heavily indebted) Americans in high-stakes competition for fewer jobs that pay less because of the changing demand for labor. As America’s traditional workforce shrinks, the areas that we project the most rapid growth for 2015 will be information, technology and healthcare.
Yet not everyone today can be a computer engineer, software programmer, geneticist or a mathematician making “black boxes” for investment firms – nor should they be, as retaining a diverse specialization in the workforce allows America to remain competent in skills that may not be “hot” today but are still necessary to run a country. The problem that arises when policymakers adopt open borders to millions of new immigrants or offer blanket amnesty to large numbers of illegals is that it makes the workforce that much more competitive for legalcitizens who have lived and worked in America all their life to find jobs.
Never mind the MLM unicorns that “build empires” with fitness drinks, the social media moguls, the sexy news network “contributors” and our personal favorite, professional politicians. If you’re an everyday, average American the job market and self-employed entrepreneurial prospects out there are already grim in 2015 without the added element of competing with a sudden influx of more citizens.
While liberals and libertarians are correct that open borders and compassionate immigration laws are the hallmark of any free society, their argument fails to factor the impact that such polices do not work in simultaneity with today’s command economy. America cannot have open borders and be a socialist government at the same time.In an unregulated market, profits are used by private companies to expand their production capability (hiring of labor, construction of buildings, purchase of equipment) and to create competitive products and services to beat out competitors (research and development, purchasing of rights to inventions, etc). In a command economy, profits are directed to legal compliance costs (purchase of licenses and special legal exemptions) and paying taxation and mandatory social fees over and above the high costs of business.

It is only natural to expect the modern U.S. market to respond to these conditions by manufacturing products that require minimal cost (such as digital content and information products), re-locating industry to geographic locations where the cost of production is cheaper and shrinking demand for domestic labor.

Internationally, the decline of American industry and jobs has heralded the rise of BRIC economies and flagged the relevance of the U.S. as a major power beyond the 21st century. The most “compassionate” thing that policymakers can do today is to curtail immigration and stringently enforce the borders against illegal entry until America’s economy can find an equilibrium that satisfies both consumer needs and labor demand for the existing population of legal citizens.
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