Political Economy is a systematic attack on protectionist policy. It is the last logical plea of a dying man urging people to look past what we believe to be the effect to what the actual effect is.
“A day without a Mexican” perfectly illustrates our economic and social dependence on the Hispanic population. It provides many of the protectionist arguments against immigration including, but not limited to, political forces, racial prejudice, and ignorant economic beliefs.
Many people falsely believe that illegal immigrants are damaging to our economy because they take away jobs from other Americans. This is the apparent effect of immigration. Because of this ignorant belief, politicians rally behind workers who are in danger of losing their jobs to immigrants and feed off of their votes by increasing regulation on immigration.
The unseen effect of immigration is that the influx in additional labor in a certain industry causes wages to decrease in that industry. Yes the owner reaps a temporary benefit from this decrease in wages, but his abnormal profit is driven down by new firms entering the market. New firms entering the market then results in the price of the commodity being driven down and that translates into savings for everyone. Additionally, more people entering our economy translates into more consumption, which leads to further stimulation. To justify restrictions on immigration on economic grounds is just as foolish as saying that we shouldn’t allow any new inventions that make labor easier or faster which means no more computers, pens, or shovels because these things take away “American” jobs.
If Bastiat lived in this day and was faced with the issue of illegal immigration, I’m sure he would have responded the same way as he did with protectionists against machines by condemning their cries as “ignorant prejudice” (30)because of the unseen benefits that immigrants provide for our economy.
Public policy fails when it attempts to satisfy what is seen without considering what is not seen. Its failure is further perpetuated by its inability to help others see.