The Rubio Misfire: When Conservative Principles - Ain't

Senator Rubio took on an ambitious task in his recent RedState post:  Applying Conservative Principles to Immigration

I don’t believe Senator Rubio achieved what he set out to do.

This piece was clearly positioned to reinforce his conservative bona fides and provide a measured argument for his position. Instead, Senator Rubio has employed rhetorical elisons, misdirection, and unfortunately, outright misstatements to advance his end.   These tactics are not conservative, and are far from principled.  They will, however draw comparisons of Senator Rubio’s choice on this issue to the continuing strategies of Barack Obama.  This is somewhat unfair – the President, unlike the Senator, lives his entire political life within that corrupt triad, and is irredeemable.  But the use of such corrosive methods demands a strong response, regardless – so some examples of the Senator’s misfires below:

Rhetorical elisons: One will search Senator Rubio’s post in vain, for the word “illegal” or phrase “illegal alien”. Instead we have ” human beings living in the United States without the proper immigration documents” or “those who are here now without documents”.

Senator Rubio  – this is unacceptable. These aren’t folks who were given the wrong forms at the DMV, or who misplaced their papers in a move. These are *aliens*, living here *illegally*. Your buy-in to the Orwellian language project of the left is damning to your case (you can’t fix a problem by misidentifying it) and frankly, damages you. It is the Steve Jobs/Barack Obama conceit writ small; the idea that with charm and a smile of sufficient wattage, you can sell the sizzle, and hide the fact that the steak is, in reality, pink slime.

Misdirection: Senator Rubio states: “The problem is that, in a free market, the cost of production is always passed on to the consumer….The same is true for labor costs. There is a price point at which our farmers simply won’t do business because they will not be able to offer products at an affordable price.”

The Senator here ignores the great leveler of similar issues throughout the 20th century – technological innovation. Several studies have found that agricultural mechanization stalled around 1980 in the United States, due to 2 factors – an anti-mechanization policy pursued by the federal government, and the large population of illegal immigrants willing to do the work at a lower capital cost. Consider the advances in robotics and microprocessors in the last 33 years; and the rush that would occur to fill the mechanization space by ADM and other manufacturers, without this large pool of cheap, illegal farmworkers. With that context, Senator Rubio’s histrionic about ‘farmers forced out of business’ is risible.

Finally, and most seriously, outright misstatements: Senator Rubio claims thus: “For example, our technology sector creates roughly 120,000 computer engineering jobs a year, but our universities only graduate about 40,000 students a year in that field. The long term answer, of course, is to get more American students to graduate in this field. But the immediate problem is that, in the absence of an immigration system where these workers can be brought here, these jobs are sent overseas to them.”

I happen to work in this sector, and within the industry, and corporate accounting departments everywhere,  this assertion is widely known to be flatly untrue. There are tens of thousands of qualified American computer engineers that are unemployed, and Senator, they are going to stay unemployed – because the drive for globalization and lowered costs dictates that course of action. The reason those jobs are being sent overseas has nothing to do with STEM graduation rates. It has everything to do with the reality that I can pay a senior Unix or network engineer, based in Hyderabad, $45K in US dollars, to do a job that would cost my firm $135K in total comp (salary + benefits), for an equivalent skill American hire. Bringing an immigrant to the US, and paying him the prevailing US wage, kills that cost case, and bluntly, your argument.

In conclusion – the Senator’s arguments present a baffling dissonance with regards to his stated objective.  Or, in the words of another conservative phenom who early promise faded, this paen to ‘Conservative Principles’ seems just another unfortunate attempt  ‘to put lipstick on a pig’.

You’re better than this, Senator Rubio.