"We're Not Drug Dealing, We're Selling Curry"

Britain is phasing into a points-based immigration system that heavily favors educated workers, leaving unskilled workers from outside the European Union with no legal way in. Officials say unskilled jobs can be filled by Europeans, but Polish immigrants aren't doing much for the struggling curry business:

Thousands of curry restaurant workers gathered in London yesterday to demand that the government relaxes new immigration rules to avert a financial catastrophe caused by crippling staff shortages in the £3.5bn industry.

As demonstrators carrying placards demanding "Save Currynomics" surrounded the base of Nelson's Column, Muzammil Ali, who has run the Jewel in the Crown curry house in Swindon for 21 years, said he lacked skilled and unskilled workers. "This law will make staff shortages a very big problem for us," he said.

Shabul Muhth said his two restaurants in Kent had been raided at around 6.30pm on Friday and Saturday nights, the peak time for his business. Around 18 uniformed officers arrived on each occasion and closed the restaurant, he said.

"They didn't find anything but it spoilt business for those nights." No action was taken against the restaurant, he added. Muhth said he would not mind if raids were conducted on quiet nights, such as Sundays and Mondays, and officers came in plain clothes and "spoke nicely" to staff. "Come in like a gentleman," he said. "We're not drug dealing, we're selling curry."

The obvious government response would be to award more points to South Asians skilled in the culinary arts. But other industries will complain of shortages, and that leaves the government constantly monitoring every aspect of the economy in an attempt to predict the supply of labor. Australia updates its points system every six months; in April of 2007 it was trying to address a chronic shortage of hairdressers

The currynomics update comes via Swati Pandey.

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  • Episiarch||

    I thought Indians got Commonwealth privileges when moving to the UK, like Australians?

  • ||

    I don't know. I remember the wackiness as Hong Kong and Macao were about to be turned over to China. Citizens of Macao could move to Britain, via colonial allowance to Portugal and European Community allowance to Britain. Citizens of Hong Kong weren't allowed that first step and were hung out to dry.

  • ||

    Muhth said he would not mind if raids were conducted on quiet nights, such as Sundays and Mondays, and officers came in plain clothes and "spoke nicely" to staff. "Come in like a gentleman," he said. "We're not drug dealing, we're selling curry."

    Way to go, man. He doesn't mind his authoritarianism, he just wants it to happen nicely, and on quiet nights.

    But those druggies? Yeah, they deserve flashbang grenades and ill treatment.

  • Episiarch||

    It's the limey way, A_R.

  • The Democratic Republican||

    whew...glad we got this one in...haven't had my fill of the immigration topic this week....

  • ||

    No offense but it's f-in fast food.

    Hear in So Cal we have a cheap chinese restaurant on every corner. They may be owned by an Asian, often Vietnamese or Cambodian, though they serve round eye special Chinese. The cooks in the back are almost always hispanic. If I can teach a Mexican to make Orange Chicken, I'm sure I can teach an Ethiopian Refugee to make Tandoori Chicken.

    Is there some genetic predisposition that prevents a pasty white fat british teenager from making Tandoori chicken? I think not.

    The reality is these business for a variety of reasons want cheap labor. I don't blame them, the larger question is, is importing large quantities of cheap,uneducated labor good for a society?

    I would argue that in terms of immigration that countries that wish to have a RISING standard of living for the vast majority of its citizens think long and hard about their immigration policy. I am not arguing that we or the British should slam the door shut, but instead the flow of immigrants into a country should be such that it doesn't put downward pressure on wages.

    For example, I had a cousin who use to hang drywall. In the early 1980s the job paid about $15.00 an hour, by the early nineties it had dropped to $8.00. Are there benefits to this decline in wages? Sure, but to completely ignore the costs is bad not just for individual drywall hangers but for the overall economy as well.

    Regards

    Joe Dokes

  • ||

    whew...glad we got this one in...haven't had my fill of the immigration topic this week....

    But we have yet to see the argument that India doesn't have any special provision to admit immigrants who cook English food, so why should England have any special provision to admit immigrants who cook Indian food.

  • Hobo||

    As I recall India accepted quite a number of illegal English immigrants for a few hundred years. And now England can't accept a few more curry chefs in return? What happened to that English sense of fair play they always talk about?

  • ||

    I thought Indians got Commonwealth privileges when moving to the UK, like Australians?



    There are no "Commonwealth privileges" anymore.

  • ||

    the flow of immigrants into a country should be such that it doesn't put downward pressure on wages.

    The flow of immigrants into a country doesn't put downward pressure on wages, except for the wages of high school dropouts. The vast majority of the native population see their wages rise.

    A job that can be done by a high school dropout who doesn't speak English is not worth $15.00 per hour in early 1980s dollars. Paying such an unnecessarily high drywall hanging wage costs the buyers of those buildings more than it should, results in fewer buildings being built and bought, and is a consistent drag on the economy.

    I would argue that in terms of immigration that countries that wish to have a RISING standard of living for the vast majority of its citizens think long and hard about their immigration policy.

    Yes they should think long and hard, because no country in the world has an immigration policy as liberal as it should be. The bottom line is that free migration is a recipe for rising standard of living for the vast majority of a country's citizens.

  • ||

    Is there some genetic predisposition that prevents a pasty white fat british teenager from making Tandoori chicken?

    How is that in any way relevant? Those teens won't take the jobs, and England won't let in the unskilled workers it takes to fill them.

    is importing large quantities of cheap,uneducated labor good for a society?

    I'm constantly amazed at the idea that the right of free movement and free association has to be subjugated to bigots who think that America (or England) is too good for the "peasant type".

    Odds are your family was broke and relatively poor and uneducated when they came here. Oh yeah, and they didn't speak English, I'd bet, either.

    instead the flow of immigrants into a country should be such that it doesn't put downward pressure on wages.

    Now we get to it...it's all about economic and social control. God forbid that the brown people come and "TAKE OUR JERBS" and we stop getting outrageous wages for low-skill tasks (like hanging drywall)...oh no no no...we have to make sure that no one's wages ever drop ever.

    Low wages = lower costs. How is a drop in wages for one sector, which thereby results in lower costs for ALL consumers, not a "net plus" for "society"?

    Immigration hawks are all about racism or economic protectionism. Everything else is just a pseudointellectual smokescreen.

  • ||

    A job that can be done by a high school dropout who doesn't speak English is not worth $15.00 per hour in early 1980s dollars.

    Amen...my napkin econ tells me that's almost 60K in 2008 dollars. 60,000...to hang drywall? You think that's optimal, Joe?

  • Episiarch||

    60,000...to hang drywall? You think that's optimal, Joe?

    It is to the guy hanging drywall. Was it really your "friend", Joe Dopes?

  • ||

    Muhth said he would not mind if raids were conducted on quiet nights, such as Sundays and Mondays, and officers came in plain clothes and "spoke nicely" to staff.

    This is a bit off-topic, but it goes nicely with the "No Knock/Dynamic Entry" meme that goes around here.

    I wonder why Law Enforcement never, when in possession of a search warrant, stakes the place out, then calls,"We have a search warrant, we'll be over there in about an hour, please be ready to show us around" I mean, if it's a meth lab or a large drug dealing operation, destroying the evidence probably won't be effective, moving it will be impractical (especially if law enforcement is waiting) and it can be made clear that any attempts to resist the lawful order will be defeated.
    It won't work for certain kinds of crime where records can be easily deleted, but it'd be almost as disruptive as smashing the place up for other kinds of crime, plus, nobody gets shot.

  • ||

    My understanding is that drywalling is a dirty, nasty, unpleasant, physically challenging job where skill and attention to detail can make a pretty noticeable difference if you don't cut corners. I think people with good reputations get paid for it in the construction business.

  • stuartl||

    The obvious government response would be to award more points to South Asians skilled in the culinary arts. But other industries will complain of shortages, and that leaves the government constantly monitoring every aspect of the economy in an attempt to predict the supply of labor.

    Isn't the obvious government response based on campaign contributions?

  • Bemused||

    The bottom line is that free migration is a recipe for rising standard of living for the vast majority of a country's citizens.

    Really?

  • ||

    Yes, really. Did you not read that article?

    The contribution of immigration to the Gross Native Product was small, but it was positive.

    This lines up with findings in the US, where the most anti-immigration economist who is any good on the topic finds that immigrants boost native wages an average of 0.1%.

    I'll grant that the economic impact on the native population may be small. In the long run, after capital and labor have smoothed out across the borders, it may even be a wash. But it definitely is not negative.

    And if you include any rational consideration of the economic impact on the immigrants themselves, free migration provides truly massive increases in wealth and livelihood.

  • ||

    This lines up with findings in the US, where the most anti-immigration economist who is any good on the topic finds that immigrants boost native wages an average of 0.1%.

    ...per 10% increase in population due to immigration.

  • anon||

    If you have a staff shortage you're not paying enough.

  • ||

    The choice is not usually between paying an immigrant less to do some job and paying a native more to do that job. The choice is between paying an immigrant less to do some job and not having anyone do that job.

    The former is better for the economy than the latter.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Back in December and January, the casino I work at was so short on housekeeping(all amigos), that rooms had to be taken out of circulation. I say bring on the amigos.

  • Bemused||

    And if you include any rational consideration of the economic impact on the immigrants themselves, free migration provides truly massive increases in wealth and livelihood.

    A consideration of the economic impact on the immigrants themselves is by definition not rational. The legitimate responsibility of governments are the interests of their own citizens. I'm not paying taxes for my government to be looking after the interests of foreign nationals! If the economic impact of immigration is, as you acknowledge, generally a wash with regard to the general population, but detrimental with regard to the 13% of the poorest Americans, that's still 13% too many! A government pursuing a policy detrimental to the interests of it's own citizens could only be construed to be derelict in it's duties, to say the least.

  • ||

    A policy that is "detrimental" to 13% of the population while being a wash for the general population is a benefit to 87% of the population.

    Your argument can be used without alteration against outsourcing of labor, free trade, and even automation, all of which have a nominal detrimental impact on the unskilled poor while benefiting everybody else as well as the economy as a whole. Do you really want to go there?

  • Bemused||

    Your argument can be used without alteration against outsourcing of labor, free trade, and even automation, all of which have a nominal detrimental impact on the unskilled poor while benefiting everybody else as well as the economy as a whole. Do you really want to go there?

    I'll happily go there! In this case, the benefit to the 87% is marginal, and by a very large margin that 87% has expressed a preference to forgoing that marginal benefit in the interests of limiting immigration. So perhaps they recognize a benefit to restricting immigration that isn't easily quantifiable by standard economics?

    A comparison of the benefits of automation with the benefits of immigration is ridiculous. The net economic benefits of immigration are marginal enough to still be a matter of some dispute. I don't think the net economic benefits of cars, computers and heavy industry still are.

  • ||

    A consideration of the economic impact on the immigrants themselves is by definition not rational. The legitimate responsibility of governments are the interests of their own citizens.

    Ah yes. We all remember the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson...

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all citizens are created equal, that they are endowed by their Government with certain unalienable Interests, that among these are a Good Job, a High Wage and Happiness.

    That to secure these interests, Governments are instituted among Citizens, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, ...

  • ||

    So perhaps they recognize a benefit to restricting immigration that isn't easily quantifiable by standard economics?

    Very well. I was going after the low hanging fruit left by Joe Dukes, who posited that the economic impact on natives was a reason to oppose immigration.

    I do not contend that a positive economic impact on the native population is a reason to support immigration. I contend that a nonnegative economic impact on the native population is not a reason to oppose immigration.

  • ||

    ...Joe Dukes...

    Joe Dokes... sorry.

  • ||

    My understanding is that drywalling is a dirty, nasty, unpleasant, physically challenging job where skill and attention to detail can make a pretty noticeable difference if you don't cut corners. I think people with good reputations get paid for it in the construction business.



    The dirty, nasty, unpleasant secret is that often times the illegal Mexican's skill and attention to detail is greater than that of the native-born American. The thing that is rarely mentioned on either side of the debate because it infuriates the nativist crowd, is that many businesses would *PAY EXTRA* to hire a Mexican, because too many Americans have lost their work ethic. Many of those illegal Mexicans are simply more skilled, work harder, and are less trouble (i.e. won't sue if someone discusses the previous night's Seinfield episode), than their American counterparts, and will get the job over the American at any price.

    So saying "You have nothing to fear if you are a better carpenter than the Mexican" isn't a reassurance to many American workers.

  • Bemused||

    Ah yes. We all remember the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson...

    We'd also do well to remember that Jefferson was addressing the King of England at a time when kings were believed to rule by divine right. An assertion of equality was a negation of the assumption that God had invested any inherent authority in any sovereign.

    Considering he went on to found a government that permitted slavery, and restricted the right to vote to landed males, I don't think he meant "equality" in the way you'd like to believe that he did.

  • ||

    In what way did he mean "unalienable Rights?"

  • ||

    Bemused - that is the most tortured and dishonest reading of The Declaration I have ever seen. Congrats on stooping to new lows just to keep out people who look different from you.

  • Bemused||

    Bemused - that is the most tortured and dishonest reading of The Declaration I have ever seen.

    Considering it's also the reading that's most consistent with how it was actually implemented by the people who wrote it, perhaps you'd like to explain why it's tortured and dishonest.

  • ||

    Now, my countrymen, if you have been taught doctrines conflicting with the great landmarks of the Declaration of Independence; if you have listened to suggestions which would take away from its grandeur, and mutilate the fair symmetry of its proportions; if you have been inclined to believe that all men are not created equal in those inalienable rights enumerated by our chart of liberty, let me entreat you to come back. Return to the fountain whose waters spring close by the blood of the Revolution. Think nothing of me - take no thought for the political fate of any man whomsoever - but come back to the truths that are in the Declaration of Independence. You may do anything with me you choose, if you will but heed these sacred principles. You may not only defeat me for the Senate, but you may take me and put me to death. While pretending no indifference to earthly honors, I do claim to be actuated in this contest by something higher than an anxiety for office. I charge you to drop every paltry and insignificant thought for any man's success. It is nothing; I am nothing; Judge Douglas is nothing. But do not destroy that immortal emblem of Humanity - the Declaration of American Independence.



    Abraham Lincoln, August 17, 1858

  • Bemused||

    Abraham Lincoln, August 17, 1858

    So you're rebutting my interpretation with a speech from a president who had no formal education in constitutional law (or much of anything else), and whose ignorance of and disregard for the founding documents of this country are virtually canonical among libertarians?

    Getting desperate, are we?

  • ||

    Yes, the fact that Lincoln's was the first good quotation from someone high in government well after the founders gave me some pause too. But I coped with it. Lincoln's notions of government powers are suspect, but his notions of individual rights are solid.

    It is of course extremely difficult to refute such a wildly inaccurate reading as yours. Since no one ever has needed to refute it before, I have little source material to go on.

    But I must say, you could open a new field of Constitutional law all by yourself. "Original intent" is not what the words meant to the people who wrote them or read them. It's the surreptitious government powers that would be permitted to the people who wrote them because the words could be bent that way. We tell the public that the words mean one thing that the public likes, but then we use an entirely different meaning to do whatever we want!

    Are you Antonin Scalia?

  • VM||

    Bemused:

    you're silly.

  • economist||

    I would say that I am sort of like Lincoln in that I don't see particular ideas about the form of government (federalism, democracy, etc.) as sacred if they harm individual rights. However, unlike Lincoln I think that true federalism would be less dangerous to individual rights than centralism (is that the right term?).

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