In an interview on Fox News, presidential candidate Ben Carson argued in favor of an undocumented guest worker program for illegal immigrants. The basis for his reasoning was the $4 dollar tomato. It goes like this: Americans aren’t willing to pick tomatoes for the prevailing wage farmers are now paying illegal immigrants to pick tomatoes. If farmers paid Americans what they are willing to accept in wages to pick, tomatoes might cost as much as $4 a tomato.
Simply put: The benefit of breaking the immigration law, in this case, outweighs the cost of following the law.
This view comes from standing too close to the canvas. If Carson would take a few steps back and look at the big picture, he would see that the $4 dollar tomato is already here. Actually, it is probably closer to $20 a tomato.
When you go to the grocery store and buy a tomato, you only pay a portion of the price of that tomato at the checkout stand. These ‘guest’ workers that save us so much money on produce don’t cross the border in the AM and go back to Mexico in the PM. They stay, go to the doctor, have operations, get pregnant, send their kids to school, and get welfare and the EBT cards loaded up in the off-season.
The extra cost of supposedly cheap, affordable, produce is paid by consumers whether they eat tomatoes, or not. That money comes out of your paychecks, property taxes, and utility bills, either directly or indirectly, to cover all the above and also utilities, like internet connections and Obama phones for low income earners.
Carson also pointed to hospitality workers for an example of ‘guest’ workers doing jobs Americans would charge more money to perform. But if we are really getting away with cheating market forces, ignoring the real costs of goods and services these workers face outside the hotel, why are localities constantly adding and raising new bed taxes? And with the other taxes and fees, Americans are subsidizing the hospitality workers whether or not they book hotel rooms.
The question Carson is avoiding is whether we abide by the law and accept real market prices, along with less unemployment for Americans, and pay for produce at our own discretion; or continue as forced-subscribers to produce we don’t eat, and rooms we don’t stay in. Not to mention all the other problems that come with illegal immigration.