More Proof

I while back I noted how the claim that there were jobs “Americans wouldn’t do” was false. Apparently my general theory that migrant workers are largely unnecessary to the functioning of an economy has more proof, this time from Russia via John Derbyshire:

You notice a trace or more of Asia in the features among workers in the lowest occupations. I suppose some are remnants of the Mongolian peoples who once ruled much of the country; some are part-aboriginal like our room cleaner; and many come from the Muslim Stans of Central Asia.

Does this tell us that there are Jobs Russians Won’t Do? I doubt it. There are plenty of fair, blue-eyed Russians down there among the Kyrgyz and Buryats doing the drudge work. The overwhelming impression in central Moscow is of a city populated almost entirely by Russians. I have not had the opportunity to call any major firm or government office in Moscow, but I feel fairly sure that if I did, I would not be instructed to press “1” for Russian.

To see how striking all this is, imagine yourself wandering around central London, Manhattan, Los Angeles, or even—more rapidly this past few years, it seems—Washington, DC.

Once you strip away all the market distortions, particularly wage floors and lax immigration policies, you’ll see quite clearly that natives, as a group, are willing to take any every job available. Federal policies have a distortive effect, to be sure. For example, the education bubble likely reinforces the current generation’s distaste for manual labor. Also, welfare encourages people to avoid marginal jobs, which are also generally distasteful. And I’ve already harped on the effects of weak immigration policy coupled with minimum wage. But, strip away these things and you no longer need immigrant labor to keep the economy afloat. Anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant, stupid, or a liar.

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