House Speaker Paul Ryan wants more immigrant laborers to milk cows in Wisconsin, even though Wisconsin farmers are already hiring U.S.-made robots to get the job done.
The give-away came late in a recent interview with the The Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein, when Ryan called for more migrants to milk Wisconsin cows.
What I’ve always believed is that you need to retool the legal system so that it fits the economy’s needs … transition our legal [immigration] system so that visas are given to what are needed for the economy. Do we have a shortage of dairy workers in western Wisconsin? Yes, we do.
But in his own part of Wisconsin, at least 40 farms have solved the labor problem by hiring robots to milk their cows.
Back in 2013, Ryan was also complaining about the a lack of dairy workers in Wisconsin. As Ryan told the National Journal in 2013:
“[Low-skilled immigrants] bring labor to our economy so jobs can get done. The dairy farmers in western Wisconsin are having a hard time finding anyone to help them produce their products, which are mostly cheese. If they can’t find workers, then they can’t produce, and we’ll end up importing.
Ryan even converted his 2013 argument about a labor shortage into an argument for cheap labor forever instead of labor-saving, productivity boosting machinery.
The flip side of the argument is: Just raise wages enough to attract people. But you raise wages too much in certain industries, then you’ll get rid of those industries, and we’ll just have to import.”
Dairy-milking machines are used at up to 70 percent of farms in some parts of Europe — but are only used in a few percent of U.S. farms, said Justin Segner, a Wisconsin-based salesman for a European robot-maker, Lely. “This is in its infancy in the United States,” he said, partly because the federal government imposes stringent food-safety regulations on the cow-milking machines, and also because federal policy favors the use of migrant laborers, he said.
Segner told Breitbart News that he’s a “huge fan” of Paul Ryan, adding he plans to invite Ryan to see the cow-milking machines in operation.
Lely’s cow-milking machines are assembled by American workers in Pella, Iowa.
Ryan’s suggestion that there is a shortage of high-skilled tech workers is a favorite talking point amongst business interests and Silicon Valley executives, who stand to profit from an influx of wage-cutting foreign workers. However, it is a talking point that tech labor market experts have thoroughly debunked. U.S. Census data shows there are more than 11 million Americans with degrees with Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) who lack e employment in these fields. In fact, U.S. schools are graduating two times more students with STEM degrees than are annually finding employment in their professions.
That sympathy for employers’ demand for cheap labor is part of Ryan’s long-standing libertarian worldview. For decades, he’s and other GOP leaders have believed that companies should be able to hire foreign workers when they’re not pleased with supply of American workers. This “any willing worker” view would condemn Americans and their grandchildren to an economy where salaries can’t rise above the poverty wages that are acceptable to the next African or Asian willing to fly into the country.
Ryan also justifies his support for migration by saying migrants are needed to fund retirement for a growing number of retired Americans:
Boomers are retiring, we’re going to need medical professions. We’re going to need nurses and doctors … even if we get everybody off of welfare into work … we’re still going to have population needs because of demographics in this country. [We’re facing] a 90 percent increase in the retirement population but only a 19 percent increase in the [working] population. So we are going to need people, we are going to need legal immigrants. That means in my mind, visas ought to be given based upon your contribution to society, your skill set that is needed in our economy that cannot, is not being filled by Americans.
Ryan’s focus on migrants is misguided, says Steve Camarota, the research director at the Center for Immigration Studies. Even the current flood of immigrants is making make very little difference to the number of workers, and the migrants nudge up the birth rate by only about 4 percent, he said. Moreover, immigrants get older, they retire and they consume a huge amount of taxpayers funds that could otherwise preserve Americans’ retirement programs, he said.
“The thing about immigrants is that they tend to be much poorer than natives … you can’t pay for the retirement programs with a lot of immigrants who consume a lot of entitlement programs, such as welfare,” he said.
Moreover, there’s no shortage of working-age Americans, Camarota said. “America’s problem is that we don’t have enough people of working age — our problem is that so many people of working age don’t work.”
The better fix, he said, is to increase the productivity of working Americans via better education, business practices and technology. “Productivity is obviously the ultimate solution” to the retirement problem, he said.
In fact, Segner told Breitbart News that older farmers in Wisconsin are postponing their retirement because their robots are taking over the never-ending task of milking the cows, two or three times a day, 365 days a year.
The fixation on cheap imported labor that is shared by Ryan and the business-backed wing of the GOP explains why Donald Trump won the 2016 nominee.
Trump got the nomination because because he says the immigration system should be tuned to help Americans before it help business executives, Wall Street stockholders, or foreigners. That’s the fundamental difference why Ryan’s allies — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — were cheerfully kicked to the curb during the 2016 GOP primary by Trump’s supporters.
In a recent Arizona speech, Trump promised to enact “new immigration controls to boost wages and to ensure that open jobs are offered to American workers first,” and to keep “immigration levels, measured by population share, within historical norms.” In the vice-presidential debate, Gov. Mike Pence said the immigration issue “really does begin with us reforming our immigration system and putting the interests, particularly the safety and security of the American people, first.”
Ryan is gradually learning from Trump’s success.
In his interview with Ryan, Brownstein insisted that polls show that most GOP supporters support amnesty, and then suggested Ryan should push GOP legislators to award “legal status” to the 11 million-plus cheap-labor illegal immigrants in the United States.
But Ryan actually waived away Brownstein’s immigrants-before-Americans agenda. “You’ve got to start with security,” Ryan replied.
The problem so many people have is there’s no faith or confidence we’ll actually secure our borders, that will actually have interior security, so the feeling is that we will do something on the legal side [to help business] but we won’t secure our border and that we’ll have the same problem 10 years down the road.
Brownstein pressed for a “package” mass-amnesty bill that is favored by his advertisers, by business groups and by Democrats, but Ryan didn’t budge.
What I don’t think works is a big comprehensive bill. Those always collapse under their own weight. i think it’s the wrong way to go. I think you stage reforms and they must begin with a confidence-building exercise that is critical for national security… — [s0] secure the border, [do] interior reinforcement…
In the day and age of heroin coming into our high schools and ISIS trying to penetrate southern border, you have got to deal with this … if we deal with that in a way that gives people the sense that we are actually securing our country, then I think attitudes will change across the country where people then are willing to embrace fixing our broken immigration system.
That new emphasis on proven border security before eventual amnesty is a big change for Ryan.
For decades, he’s sided with business interests which have worked with Democratic legislators to flood the country with tens of millions of lower-wage, lower-skilled, government-dependent immigrants. Ryan did nothing while those migrants pushed up to seven million blue-collar and white-collar working-age American men out of the job market — but now he’s reacting after seeing how GOP voters repaid the favor by pushing his immigration-touting GOP peers out of the primary race.
But Ryan still hasn’t accepted the reality that his party’s base — plus many independents and Democrats — really don’t want to be treated just as replaceable workers in an elite-run world economy.
Each year, 4 million Americans turn 18 years old and begin entering the workforce. But, each year, the federal government also imports 2 million foreign workers — legal immigrants, guest-workers, refugees and asylum seekers and illegal immigrants — to compete for jobs against Americans.
The inflow of professionals and blue-collar workers drives down the salaries of American white-collar and blue-collar workers while boosting income for investors and employers. The inflow also crowds the schools used by the children of lower-income Americans, sharply increases tax transfers from Americans to immigrants, reduces innovation and productivity, pushes many lower-skilled Americans out of the workforce, and enables large-scale violence by immigrant communities against Americans who do not live in protected neighborhoods.
Polls show that Americans don’t want to compete for jobs against cheap-labor immigrants, illegal or legal, and they don’t want to see their children forced into low-wage jobs alongside clannish groups of foreign-language migrants. Americans want to be nice to immigrants — but almost 90 percent says companies should hire Americans before importing more workers.