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By “Mark Andrew Dwyer”


January 28, 2007


[An article written for Canada Free Press][1]




Are illegal Mexican "migrants" just willing to work and contribute to the economy, or are they stealing the American dream? And if the latter is true then what exactly and how much of it are they stealing? It turns out that a clear-cut answer to these questions may be found in quite unexpected place: Marx's economic theory of surplus value. I claim that the “migrants” pre-empt, or steal, if you will, a share of the surplus value that they are not entitled to, in the amount of roughly 25,000 dollars per "migrant" worker a year on the average.


Imagine that you leave in a sparsely populated country some 150 years ago or so, and you just invented how to turn the energy carried by the nearby river into electricity. So you design and build your little hydroelectric power plant, a laborious task that took you some four years or 10,000 hours of hard work, and now you have a utility that with no work or cost, except for a little maintenance, is generating free electric energy that is worth, say, one dollar per hour, or at least, that much you collect from the neighbors who use your electricity.


When you sit back at the end of the day, you try to figure out if your work, money, and initiative that you put in your little enterprise were worth the trouble. Let's see. If you paid yourself the prevailing wage of one dollar a day while building your power plant, you would have to spend 1,500 dollars for labor. The materials that you had to purchase were, say 500 dollars. That adds to 2,000 dollars for the construction of your power plant.


If you run your plant 20 hours a day, leaving four hours a day for routine maintenance, in just 100 days the charges that you collect for the electricity it supplies will pay for your cost of construction, and from this point on, you will be making a net profit 19 dollars a day (20 dollars you collect from the neighbors while paying yourself the prevailing wage of one dollar a day for maintenance), or some 7,000 dollars a year, quite a handsome income at that time. And your neighbors will enjoy cheap and plentiful electricity that would make their work lighter and lives more enjoyable.


Where did these seven grand come from? According to Marx, it's the surplus value, which he defined as the difference between the sales price of the product (in this case, electricity per hour) and the cost of its production (in this case, the cost of material, capital, if any, and labor, the latter determined as the cost of recreation, that is, food, drink, clothing, shelter, entertainment, child rearing, etc., that the workers must pay for in order to be able to work and procreate). In our case, the seven grand a year, after the initial 100 days of operation, was the surplus value that your enterprise was generating. And since Marx claimed that the surplus value belongs to the workers1, you as the only worker are justly entitled to it. As a result, you are making now 20 dollars a day (the cost of your labor plus the surplus value, we assume here for simplicity that your plant never needs any additional investment or spare parts), twenty times more than everyone else in the neighborhood. Whoa!


Now, suppose that a "migrant" comes along and offers you his work as a maintenance guy in your power plant so that you can go fishing, instead. But when you propose him the wage that is prevailing where he came from, one dollar a day, that is, he demands that you pay him 20 dollars, and a college professor, quoting Marx and his theory of economy, supports his demand, arguing that your "migrant" laborer is entitled to one dollar a day wage plus the surplus value of 19 dollars a day, which adds, indeed to 20 dollars a day. Your "migrant" may be even willing to negotiate with you and take a "loss" of 15 dollars a day and work for you for "substandard" pay of just five bucks a day. Does he have any moral or factual base to expect you to pay him that much?


Obviously, he does not. He was not the one who made the invention, without which his work would be worth just a dollar a day, never mind any up front investment of capital and labor, so there is no good reason, except, perhaps, for your altruism and generosity, to pay him more than that. The situation would have been quite different if, say, your former teacher who taught you physics and engineering in your school years applied for a job at your power plant. Then it might be just right to split with him the surplus value that your plant produces and pay him, say eight dollars a day. You might do the same for your poor neighbor who used to watch after your property when you were away, but why should you give something for nothing to a stranger who had no part or role in your entrepreneurial success? Although you certainly can, you don’t have to and most likely, you will not. And if the “migrant” doesn’t like it, he is free to go back to where he came from.


In American 12 trillion economy that generates humongous surplus value (in the range of trillions dollars a year), that surplus value is split, albeit on non-equal parts, between the investors, the entrepreneurs, the inventors, and the workers, for an average of about 25,000 dollars a year (a rough estimate obtained from dividing the total annual surplus value by the estimated number of full time equivalent persons that are eligible for their share in that value). One may consider that amount a benefit of membership in the American society, or a dividend of ingenuity and work of past generations of Americans that built this country, its infrastructure, and its economy, and contributed to progress in science and technology without which practically none of today’s economic miracles would have been possible.


And that 25,000 dollars per worker surplus value is exactly what is at stake when a Mexican "migrant" illegally jumps the American border in order to "do the job that Americans are unwilling to" (or he says so). Should this "migrant" stay and work in Mexico, where the workers do not participate in sharing the surplus value, he would make less than five dollars a day, or about 1,300 dollars a year, most of which amount he would have to spend on recreation (food, clothing, shelter, etc.). While in the U.S., he will make ten, twenty, or thirty times more than that or up to 40,000 dollars or so a year, instead. Taking into account that the cost of recreation2 (but also the living standard) is much higher in the U.S. than in Mexico, he will end up with about 25,000 dollars a year of disposable income – “his” share in the surplus value that he has no right to claim3 being an alien who is not entitled to the dividends resulting from building this country and its economy.


If this is not stealing then nothing is.


Here is more bad news. A big share of this stolen amount is used to influence what the American economy is delivering to its customers and the American government is doing for its people. Have you had any problems with buying American (non-super spicy, that is) food in a convenience store or a fast food restaurant, or finding American (as opposed to Mexican) music on the radio? Are you irritated by having to read bi-lingual (English and Spanish) instructions how to cook your pizza (probably, already spicy as hell) or install a landscaping light? Is your nearby Ross or Marshall’s full of flashy, colorful merchandise that pleases tastes of Mexicans but not yours? Do noisy street merchants that sell smelly food and products of dubious quality and value bother you? Are you concerned with ethno-centric “Latino” organizations and politicians that vigorously push for changes that you disapprove? Well, this is how the above mentioned 25,000 dollars per laborer work, remaking America to the liking of “migrants”. And when money talks, … even the President is listening. 



Notes . 1Not that I agree with Marx that all the surplus value belongs to the workers, although one may argue that in the U.S. some part of it belongs to those workers that are part of the American society (“national community” or “the people” as the Supreme Court once phrased it) and deserve to participate in American dream. Here, I let Marx get away with his obviously invalid claim in order to not give leftist ideologues that consider any deviation from Marx’s teaching a heresy an easy excuse to dismiss my simple hydroelectric power plant example. In any case, if the American employers are sharing the surplus value with their workers, as they usually do, then they owe that share to the American workers, but not to Mexican migrants.


2The cost of “free” social benefits, like free health care in emergency rooms, subsidized housing, practically free education, etc., with little or no income taxes paid, should be subtracted from the cost of recreation and added to the actual amount of the surplus value stolen by the “migrants” from the American society. Oddly enough, many opponents of mass “migration” perceive this former amount as the only one that the “migrants” actually steal from the Americans, neglecting the latter (the share in the surplus value, that is) which is a raw of magnitude higher than the former. As a result, even the most vocal critics of mass Mexican “migration” into America seem to underestimate its actual cost by a factor of ten (rough estimate).


3But he does claim as if the “migrants” had launched a successful Bolshevik-style revolution in the U.S., after which the surplus value has been given away to the international proletariat.



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[1] Stealing the American Dream

By Mark Andrew Dwyer

Tuesday, January 30, 2007




Past commentary (January 2, 2006): THE CUCKOO CHICKS



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