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Tilting at Windmills

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April 7, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

TRADE vs. IMMIGRATION....Over at Max's place, Josh Bivens writes about immigration:

Immigration has recently joined international trade as one of the most controversial topics in American politics. For an economist, this isnt surprising. Economic theory predicts that the impacts of immigration and trade on the American economy are analytically equivalent: both increase total national income while causing redistribution that typically harms less-skilled natives.

Josh makes the point that the ideal answer is the same in both cases: let in both goods and workers, but make up the damage done to the working class via social policy: "The corporate class gets NAFTA, American workers should have gotten universal health care. The corporate class gets membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), American workers should have gotten labor law reform to help willing workers more easily form unions."

Read the whole thing. If you're in favor of free trade, why not liberal immigration policies too?

Kevin Drum 4:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (63)

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Comments

Bivens hits the nail on the head.

We need free trade and immigration to remain number one in the global economy.

The people hurt by those policies deserve assistance though.

Posted by: Rosey Palmer on April 7, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Please Kevin, at least give a little nod to the democrats arguing against the present spate of free trade agreements.

They're arguing that these agreements invariably protect the interests of capital and not so much workers rights or any of that. It's not free vs. unfree trade, it's how we decide to write the agreements governing trade. And that's the catch these agreements do little to promote economic growth.

Let's look at NAFTA. I and lots of supporters were wrong. And the critics right. Mexico immediately crashed and still has many more people in poverty now than it did in 1994. Clinton, in retrospect should have said "What a horible agreement I got from my predecessor!" and let it die.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 7, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

If you're in favor of free trade, why not liberal immigration policies too?

Because I don't give a rip about "people"? Or "social justice"? Because I'm interested in money only? Because I'm a cheap labor conservative and believe the exploitation of others is my right? Because I'm a jerk?

That help?

Posted by: cheap labor on April 7, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

And if you want to read their secret strategy sessions, just google it with various words mispelled. I've cracked the code!
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on April 7, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Because the reductio ab absurdam in both cases lead to fundamentally different results, at least if you believe in Malthus?

Posted by: mac on April 7, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

There are only two ways to rationalize the pro-free trade, anti-liberal immigration policies. First is plain old racism. Second is the argument about the extra costs associated with an increasing number of low-skill laborers: higher health care costs, higher crime associated with greater poverty levels, etc. Now, the chamber of commerce conservatives don't care about this because it's an externality for their businesses. The social conservatives don't care about this because they just want to keep them all out in the first place.

Thus the division among Republicans on immigration: they're not just divided on what to do; they're divided on what the goal is in the first place.

For liberals, the answer is simple: improve the safety net by increasing the availability of healthcare, anti-poverty programs, and crime prevention efforts.

Okay, "simple" isn't exactly the right way to describe it, but this is an issue where one can usually find similarity of purpose for liberals, even if we can't all agree on specific actions.

Posted by: jhupp on April 7, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

There's the free trade of the economics textbooks and "free trade" as practiced. The purpose of "free trade" as practiced is to maximize the return on capital. For that reason, investment dollars are free to flow wherever they get the most gain, but national borders block the movement of workers, and patent laws and IMF directives assure that the colonies will not compete with the colonizers.

But Sensible Liberals (many in journalism, the profession at least risk from outsourcing) fall for the rhetoric every time. Who could be against freedom, after all?

Posted by: Joe Buck on April 7, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: the ideal answer is the same in both cases: let in both goods and workers, but make up the damage done to the working class via social policy

Ah, the "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today" approach. Fix social policy first, and then we can talk. Otherwise you're dreaming, disingenuous, or being led down the garden path.

The corporate class gets NAFTA, American workers should have gotten universal health care.

What do Mexican workers get? Industrial wages falling since NAFTA. Great compromise.

If you're in favor of free trade

Are you suggesting that we implement free trade, or saying that we have it? If the latter, then you'll believe that the PATRIOT act is about patriotism.

Immigration has recently joined international trade as one of the most controversial topics in American politics.

More specifically, illegal immigration has been a hot topic. Little talk about the legal kind, as I suspect most people think our current policies aren't too bad. Surely Josh could have added the adjective "illegal" in order to clarify that the scope of the debate is considerably narrower.

Posted by: alex on April 7, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

But, will there be snacks?

Posted by: IOKIYAR on April 7, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

I did real the whole thing - and wished I had written those exact words. It would seem all 3 of us Angrybears having been making Josh's argument - but none of us quite so eloquently.

Posted by: pgl on April 7, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

More specifically, illegal immigration has been a hot topic.

Please. Even legal immigration (temp or otherwise) has become burdensome. Universities have been talking about this for years. A lot of talent is choosing not to stay in the U.S. because of policy and our ugly political environment.

Posted by: gq on April 7, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

If you're in favor of free trade, why not liberal immigration policies too?

Another classic example of conservative hypocrisy. True "free market" believers would want to increase the flow of labor as well as the flow of goods (and services) across international borders.

But if course the conservative anti-immigration stance is motivated by racism, not economics, so this isn't too surprising.

Posted by: David P on April 7, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Sorely missing in this analysis is the fact that trade agreements like NAFTA drive massive increases in illegal immigration in the first place.

David Sirota has a good piece on this.

Posted by: bc on April 7, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Most people in favor of liberalized trade are also in favor of liberalized immigration. I lnow I am.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on April 7, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Permitting free entry of third worlders into a first world country would certainly drive down the wages of domestic workers with fewer skills.

Added demands on governmental services would lead to either higher taxes or a less generous social policy.

To the extent that unionization efforts are successful, firms would restrict hiring (and raise wages), thereby leading to unemployment. (OTOH, unemployment would stay low if there remained a vibrant parallel nonunionized low wage sector.)

I am not aware of *any* 20th century first world country that has lifted restrictions on immigration.

Posted by: Measure for Measure on April 7, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Bivens: "The corporate class gets NAFTA, American workers should have gotten universal health care."

Right but instead: "The corporate class got NAFTA, American workers got SHAFTA." I think we need to recognize that in today's political world (where money buys everything, including politicians), that's the way it's going to happen.

The corporate class has money and the power it brings while American workers have what: the right to vote? Increasingly it seems that votes have far less power than money does. Does anyone see a change in that formulation anywhere on the horizon? I don't!

Posted by: Taobhan on April 7, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Samuel Knight: Let's look at NAFTA. I and lots of supporters were wrong. And the critics right. Mexico immediately crashed and still has many more people in poverty now than it did in 1994.

The 1994 currency crisis is not something I have generally seen laid at the feet of NAFTA. And I am skeptical of your second comment about poverty. Do you have data to back up your statements?

From the article I link to:
The 1994 economic crisis in Mexico was triggered by the sudden devaluation of the peso in the early days of the presidency of Ernesto Zedillo. [...] the result was that the peso crashed under a floating regime from four pesos to the dollar (with the previous increase of 15%) to 7.2 to the dollar in the space of a week.

See the article for the root causes of this; NAFTA is not notable among them.

From the World Bank:
The crisis of 1994-1995 was a setback for Mexico: between 1996 and 2002, extreme poverty decreased by 17 percentage points to 20 percent, only one percentage point below the level prior to the 1994 crisis.

In other words, the level of extreme poverty is now below the level in 1994.

Posted by: S Ra on April 7, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK
Read the whole thing. If you're in favor of free trade, why not liberal immigration policies too?

This is a good point, with reservations: "free trade" isn't really "free" trade without free migration.

But free trade isn't an unqualified good, either; the same controls to establish workable labor, environmental, etc., standards that are essential for free trade in general to be desirable are, if anything, more necessary when free migration is added to a free trade regime, otherwise, free trade enhanced with free migration still leads to a faster race to the bottom.

Easier trade plus stronger labor laws in one trading partner is a good way to drive jobs out of that trading partner. The only constraint is that the other trading partner might not have the same labor pool.

Adding free migration to the mix just makes one big labor pool, and removes that one drag on the jobs to the lower-standards partner.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 7, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Um... how about cuz the argument is ill-conceived and misinformed?

Misinformed, because unlike trade, immigration has only a minimal impact on the American economy.

As noted before, the National Academy of Sciences authoritatively concluded that the TOTAl impact of the foreign-born on the U.S. economy is only "as much as" $10 billion a year, in a $10 trillion economy. It's a dime to a hundred dollar bill.

Economists who don't know a dime from a C-note have a certain, er, perspective problem. (Trade is on the order of tens and twenties.)

Ill-conceived, because once you do have that elementary understanding, immigration is about CIVICS, not economics.

Just grok the sheer stupidity of this concept: "a reconstructed social contract that provides all workers (native or foreign-born) with labor protections and a baseline level of economic security, including guaranteed health and pension coverage..."

As opposed to a social contract that treats foreign-born workers DIFFERENTLY from those who were born here?

To the extent this guy has a point, it seems to be that illegal aliens ought to be part of the social contract, with guaranteed benefits: when others have made this argment, more sensible folks have observed that it is an idea so dumb only a Ph.D. could believe it: "We know they come for shitty jobs, so we will make the jobs better, and then they will stop coming."

Um... does this knucklehead even know what the word "immigrant" means in this country?

I remember briefing an oxymoron, a Japanese immigration official. When I got to the part about "Americanization", I could tell he wasn't buying it, so I asked him what he thought of the concept. He said, very slowly and thoughtfully, that it was simply a way of "getting rid of immigrants".

I was gobsmacked, one of those moments when I understood all the words and couldn't get what he meant. But finally we worked it out -- he figured that when an "immigrant" becomes an American, they're no longer an "immigrant".

Hey, he was Japanese. I couldn't move to Japan and become Japanese any more than I could climb a tree and become a pinecone, so it's understandable that he didn't get it.

What's Biven's excuse?

Immigrants are, always have been and (unless knuckleheads like him finally take over the country) always WILL be part of "all workers".

Golly, what a piece of work.

So he first doesn't get the scale of the (minimal) economic impact of immigration.

Second, he doesn't understand quite literally the first thing about "immigration", that "THEY" become "US".

Third, because he evidently doesn't understand it, he makes no distinctions within immigration, which is what drives the better-informed and more thoughtful opinions of the guys he scoffs at.

Most illegal immigration is low-wage, which means that when these guys bring their families, they cost more in taxpayer-provided services (education, hospitals, roads) than they pay in taxes.

Much legal "immigration", especially that which starts on non-immigrant visas, is high wage, and THOSE folks, entering after their primary and secondary education, tend to generate more in taxes than they cost in services.

That's the kinda thing that confuse somebody into a half-baked opinion -- but, again: the NAS covered all this ground.

The economic impact of immigration is NOT large (excepting for certain subsidy-seeking employers, who like all subsidized industries grow gradually more inefficient because of it). It has costs that are not shared equally -- but the trade analogy simply doesn't get you where this guy wants it to go.

Posted by: theAmericanist on April 7, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

What in the world does universal health care have to do with NAFTA? The guy is nuts, though I have not read is article.

Wait, let me answer. Since NAFTA allows American companies to move jobs into Mexico where they do not have to deal with healthcare, then yada yada yada.

So explain why forcing all Americans to pay for minimal government health insurance (or passing the buck to the wealthy) would help us compete in countries were no such rule exists? It doesn't. To connect the two in this way is absolutely nuts and represents the deficit in liberal political theory, it is inconsistent.

If the left wants to pursue this nonsense, then they should demand universal halthcare for all North American nations, or no free trade. This is at least consistent.

The problem is the same with WTO. If you want free trade then you have to have free trade unions. Push this point, at least it is consistent.

The problem with the left is plainly stupid constituents, a lot like the big government conservatives. They have no consistent theory, so they end up making lopsided, ad hoc law (from their perspective). The left needs consistency so their voters can check some policy against the theory and understand, yes, or no.

It is always the same stuff. "We need to nationalize this industry" Why that one and not the other? "Oh, because we have sex with Frenchmen"

"We need some goodies because our labor reform is not in World Trade" Screw your goodies, your payoff, get with the program up front.

"We need to import and care for the health of billions of poor" "We need stronger labor laws" "We need universal health care" "We need diversity" "We need race lind law" "We need the federal government in education" "The federal government educational law is making us stupid" All of this is inconsistent, one ruins the other.

Get a consistent theory. If it is international agreement, then get your side in the agreement up front. Is this a plot to make us all deranged trying to understand you guys? Or is it simply that folks who want goodies should get up a special interest group, the way the conservatives do it.

Posted by: Matt on April 7, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK
Sorely missing in this analysis is the fact that trade agreements like NAFTA drive massive increases in illegal immigration in the first place.

Integrating the rest of the market increases the incentives for people to move within that market. This only drives illegal immigration to the extent that barriers to legal migration aren't lowered along with barriers on other forms of legal commerce among the trading partners.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 7, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

I think most all of the comments understand the issues and it clearly has the potential to blow up the coalition cobbled together by the Republicans. On the one hand you have the well to do and capitalists who want to turn a blind eye to the racism of a good portion of the Republican base because the Republicans have done everything they can to help the rich at the expense of everyone else. These folks depend on free trade and unlimited immigration of cheap labor to increase their wealth. On the other hand are the folks who have adopted the Republican party because the Democrats are too cozy with the people they hate--people of color, gays, liberals, progressives, intellectuals, non christians etc--basically anyone who is different from them. They absolutely want immigration, legal or illegal stopped unless the immigrants are highly skilled, heterosexual, Christian northern Europeans. The democrats have the same problem in reverse, but they are not the party in power so they get a bit of a pass. The idea of having social programs deal with the "redistribution issue" is a non starter. While every civilized society should deal with the social fallout, this country has proven over and over again, that capitalism wins out over civilization. Free trade and unchecked immigration simply allows capital to exploit labor more efficiently. In the long run, the exploitation is not sustainable for two reasons: most importantly capitalists have to be able to sell their goods and services to make money--compare the wealth generated in the 20th century with that generated during feudal times. Serfs can not purchase much even at Wal-Mart prices. Second, absent a police state unchecked capitalism ultimately leads to social unrest. The old "pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered" concept. There must be a balance for the system to sustain itself. Unfortunately, in the long run we are all dead. It seems to me that a few things the Democrats could do that would be fully consistent with their other positions would be to tie any immigration legislation to a dramatic increase in the minimum wage. I also think that if China does not let the yuan rise and the dollar fall that we should levy appropriate tariffs free trade be damned. We should also adjust our payroll taxes so that employees and employers pay less at lower income levels than they do at higher income levels and take the top off FICA to make up the difference. We should increase, not decrease, the taxes paid on capital gains and dividend income after allowing a deduction of the whatever the average annual income of wage earners is for the prior year and we have to change the laws and enforcement to revirtalize unions IMHO

Posted by: terry on April 7, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

gq: Even legal immigration (temp or otherwise) has become burdensome.

By definition, "temporary immigration" is not immigration.

immigrate: to come into a country of which one is not a native for permanent residence

Universities have been talking about this for years.

Universities have been talking about student visas for years. By definition student visas are not immigration visas.

AFAIK none of the bills in Congress address student visas. Nor were they the subject of any recent protests.

Posted by: alex on April 7, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

"The first-best response to potential economic problems caused by immigration is the same: a reconstructed social contract that provides all workers (native or foreign-born) with labor protections and a baseline level of economic security, including guaranteed health and pension coverage"

Why does he not say the first-best response is for more progressive taxes and smaller government? Why is his leftist theory better than the party founder, Tom Jeferson?

And why just American workers? He supports the rights of the poor to enter this country, but damands no worker reform by trading partners in our trade agreements.

He claims that new immigrants from coming to the U.S. should be allowed to continue, but free trade curtailed because without protections for American workers. Just inconsistent. His policies would move the world's poor to Los Ageles where American workers support massive health and welfare costs.

A better idea. If you want to help the world's poor, then help them in their own country, do not make them travel to Los Angeles. We are only talking about Mexico, for chris sakes, why not just subsidize that country rather than move 40% of the population to Los Ageles.

Posted by: Matt on April 7, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

"I am not aware of *any* 20th century first world country that has lifted restrictions on immigration."

All members of the European Union have done so re the other countries in the Union.

Posted by: Cal Gal on April 7, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Alex makes a good point. We are talking about uncontrolled, illegal immigration.

You'll notice that free trade agreements are not just a postcard saying "no restrictions," but a large set of rules and agreements hundreds of pages long, regulating the flow of trade.

In the same way, the flow of labor needs to be regulated within reasonable bounds. What's wrong with that?

Any legislation that addresses illegal residents without addressing border control isn't going to do the job.

There's philosophical inconsistency on both sides. Many of those supporting unlimited undocumented labor are also bent out of shape about corporate outsourcing. And many who have no problems with moving capital all around the world want the border shut off.

In an ideal libertarian universe, without a welfare state, national issues, and countries with massive economic controls, you could have unlimited trade and movement across borders. We don't live in such a universe, and aren't likely to.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 7, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Bivens also says: "I have been wondering of late why elite opinion has been vociferous about keeping US borders open for goods, but, has been recently queasy about keeping it open for poor people.

Class Struggle.

As an UCLA undergrad in the 90s, I was bored to tears listening to endless lectures that interpeted all social problems through the lenses of marxist class analysis or Freudian neurotics. Well, as it turns out, the old bores were right. We are uneasy about the poorest mexican immigrants because of our american middle class fears and delusions. The real enemy is Bush and the theiving bunch that brought him to power (the true evil doers). But being powerless and afraid to face the truth of our reality, we'd rather villainize those who tranverse deserts in order to work as busboys and maids for our pampered asses. How can we begrudge someone who wants something better than poverty for themselves and their children.

Where's the moral sanity?

What would Jesus do?

Posted by: Hotspur on April 7, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

let's be clear about this:

some economic theories make these specific predictions about the effect that trade and immigration have on our economy.

i don't necessarily disagree with these conclusions, but we shouldn't pretend that "economic theory" is monolithic and that it is not, in fact, made up of a wide variety of competing schools of thought (regardless of how successful the mainstream has been in pretending otherwise).

Posted by: rufustfyrfly on April 7, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Sure I believe in free immigration. As long as the minimum wage is $12 an hour. At that rate, we'll see how many jobs there are that Americans don't want.

Posted by: Joe S. on April 7, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

sorry, completely off topic, but I cannot access Brad de Long's site. Is it my problem or is it everywhere?

Posted by: sara on April 7, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Finally, someone understands that labor ought to be treated as equally as capital. If finances, goods and services are free to flow to markets, then labor should be, also.

Over at Asia Times Online, there is a very good writer, Henry C. K. Liu, who has recently written several essays calling for a global labor cartel.

Posted by: Hostile on April 7, 2006 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

I kind of like Thomas Friedman's prescription: High Fences and Big Gates. His column on this was pretty good, and with the exception that I would prefer a barrier to a National ID, I pretty much agreed with it.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 7, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

Another classic example of conservative hypocrisy. True "free market" believers would want to increase the flow of labor as well as the flow of goods (and services) across international borders.

I too am disappointed in the Libertarians for not making this point.

Posted by: Hostile on April 7, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

"The corporate class gets NAFTA, American workers should have gotten universal health care..."

The costs of importing tens of millions of low-skill workers, who consume more in government service than they pay in taxes, would quickly overwhelm any such service.

The corporate class gets membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), American workers should have gotten labor law reform to help willing workers more easily form unions."

The correspondingly large pool of available labor would undo (and has undone) just about any attempt to unionize and the benefits of unions. The effects of this are seen in both right-to-work states and closed-shop states.

If you're in favor of free trade, why not liberal immigration policies too?

Do you not see the dehumanizing implication of this statement? And I say this as someone who is skeptical of free trade. Human beings are not inert things that you can ship around willy-nilly. A person is not a PC or a car. There are social consequences that come with importing large groups of people with low skills and who often don't even speak the language of the country they're coming to. In limited numbers, this can be managed and can even be a benefit. In overwhelming numbers it can be a disaster and lead to all sorts of problems, as is in fact happening now.

Posted by: Derek Copold on April 7, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK
Do you not see the dehumanizing implication of this statement?

No, its dehumanizing to say that people should be free to move their money and goods around, but not free to move themselves.

It is not dehumanizing to say that humans should be free to move themselves, or that labor should have the freedom to exploit open borders on the same terms as capital.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 7, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

I say we let them vote in the next election then send them home.But don't tell them there going home untill after they have voted for the party of Lincoln.

Posted by: Right minded on April 7, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Why should anyone tell me how much I have to pay my employee's If I want to pay some wet back 5 bucks a day that is my right.

Posted by: Right minded on April 7, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Me: "I am not aware of *any* 20th century first world country that has lifted restrictions on immigration."

----- All members of the European Union have done so re the other countries in the Union.

Good point Cal gal. A clarification: "I am not aware of *any* 20th century first world country that has lifted *all* restrictions on immigration."

Lifting restrictions on migration from countries with an income per head roughly equal to or higher than your own is an entirely separate issue.

Still, there is a nontrivial income gap between Spain/Portugal/Greece on the one hand, and the rest of the Western EU on the other. So the European experience is worthy of attention, though I believe that the US/Mexican wage gap is appreciably larger.

Posted by: Measure for Measure on April 7, 2006 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

--- sorry, completely off topic, but I cannot access Brad de Long's site. Is it my problem or is it everywhere?

Try this link:
http://delong.typepad.com/

The other one has been dead recently, in my experience.

Posted by: Measure for Measure on April 7, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Many of those supporting unlimited undocumented labor are also bent out of shape about corporate outsourcing.

There is no such person, at least in the First World.

Posted by: craigie on April 7, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Re:

"Josh makes the point that the ideal answer is the same in both cases: let in both goods and workers, but make up the damage done to the working class via social policy: "The corporate class gets NAFTA, American workers should have gotten universal health care. The corporate class gets membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), American workers should have gotten labor law reform to help willing workers more easily form unions."

I don't know whether to cry or fall down laughing. I can only suggest that instead of killing off all the lawyers, first we kill off all the "think tankers" particulary the ones under 50 who are all "theory" and no reflective experience.

In one corner we have the GOP multinational capitalist as a perfect world solution...in the other corner we have the "progressive" free trade open boarders 21st century hippie flower childs as the world solution.

It never ceases to amaze me how naive or stupid the "new' left can be....the "open world" they envision plays right into the "new' rights vision...a universe in which "Internationals" rule, where they are no borders, no soverign governing structures, a universal no man's land where the only rule is profit and production needs and all decisions are made according to that rule, where they have some universal workers union whose cases will be heard by who?..the WTO?..where they hand out only enough welfare to keep the workers working and the flower children chanting and celebrating their universal sameness.

If these "thinkers' are a example of the left's solutions to anything, then America is absolutely up shit's creek without a paddle.

Posted by: Carroll on April 7, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Measure for Measure: there is a nontrivial income gap between Spain/Portugal/Greece on the one hand, and the rest of the Western EU on the other. So the European experience is worthy of attention, though I believe that the US/Mexican wage gap is appreciably larger

Also, a lot of EU development money was poured into the "four poor" (Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland) when they joined the EU. Moreover, in contrast to NAFTA, the EU has common labor and environmental requirements.

With Eastern European countries joining, there are immigration restrictions in place for a number of years.

Posted by: alex on April 7, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

In case your wondering about Eastern bloc countries in the EU:

Apparently restrictions on migration from Poland et al are permitted until 2011.

http://migration.ucdavis.edu/MN/more.php?id=32_0_4_0
"The current 15 EU members may block freedom of movement for up to seven years, that is, until April 30, 2011. Germany and Austria, the countries closest to the new entrants, are most likely to block freedom of movement for the full period; the UK, Portugal and Ireland have suggested they may allow freedom of movement sooner- the UK will allow free movement as soon as Eastern European nations become EU members.

...Many migration researchers noted that, when Spain and Portugal joined the EU in 1986, their citizens had to wait seven years for freedom of movement rights in order to avoid a migration hump."

Posted by: Measure for Measure on April 7, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Crosspost!

Alex: Agreed. Furthermore, it could be argued that EU employment restrictions hit immigrants harder than natives. Still, further study done with proper care might be interesting.

Posted by: Measure for Measure on April 7, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Measure for Measure,

Some back-of-the-envelope calculations show that the disparity is greater for NAFTA, but not as great as I thought.

From http://www.euractiv.com/Article?tcmuri=tcm:29-117535-16&type=LinksDossier

the eight candidate countries with the lowest per capita income (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Malta) will have one fifth of the EU population but only 42 per cent of the per capita GDP

By contrast Mexico is 23% of the NAFTA population and has a per capita income that's about 30% of the NAFTA average.

Gini coefficient (measure of income inequality) is the kicker though.

Mexico 54.6
Poland 34.1
Czech R. 25.4
Hungary 24.4

So many Mexicans are much worse off than the averages would suggest.

Posted by: alex on April 7, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

craigie:

"Many of those supporting unlimited undocumented labor are also bent out of shape about corporate outsourcing."

There is no such person, at least in the First World.

Are you kidding me? You don't know any liberals who complain about corporate outsourcing who also think that illegal immigrants should be allowed into America largely unimpeded? Where do you live? Maybe you misunderstood me.

Kevin's statement at the end of his post can be easily reversed: "If you against free trade, why aren't you against liberal immigration policies?"

Posted by: tbrosz on April 7, 2006 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

I'm in favor of free trade and vastly liberalized immigration (basicly, I think we should let in anyone without a criminal record or major health problems as long as they pay a deposit to cover the cost of sending them home if necessary and an insurance premium to cover catastrophic illness and other problems - far cheaper than paying a coyote).

Of course, I'm a rightwinger with strong Libertarian leanings so that makes sense.

But why should the other side of the social contract be things like free universal health care for the lower class? That increases the cost of immigration to society because immigrants are more likely to need such benefits.

What about teaching people to fish instead of giving them a fish?

FIX THE SCHOOLS!!

I'd go for a pure Darwinian competition - set up a system so schools are funded based on skill improvements and graduates' earning power / college entrance rates; shut down failing schools and give successful ones their buildings, students, and funds (teachers and administrators would need to apply for jobs - if the new management doesn't want them they're out); and pretty much eliminate the distinction between private and public education - anyone could set up a government funded school and also charge top off fees if they wished.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on April 7, 2006 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Howard Hughes. What a guy. I grew up in Hawthorne CA not far from the land of El Segundo Oil Refineries, Airospace engine testing, and LAX. A lot of my neighbors worked for Hughes so we all talked about him a lot. He was a hero for us kids at the time.

I knew he was strange, but it wasn't until I read "Howard Hughes: His Life and Madness" by Barlett and Steele that I realized how strange this guy was. Wow. Talk about tin foil hats. Hughes was largely successful despite Howard Hughes. He had some strengths, but they rarely lined up with the needs of his company. He was just fortunate to have inherited a fortune from his father.

Bush, on the other hand, is not going to prove to be successful in spite of himself. I think the problem is that he doesn't have any strengths.

Posted by: T.R. Elliott on April 7, 2006 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Oops. Posted Howard Hughes comment in wrong thread. Pilot error.

Posted by: T.R. Elliott on April 7, 2006 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

No, its dehumanizing to say that people should be free to move their money and goods around, but not free to move themselves.

Okay, how many people you want we should send to your house? I mean who are you not to let them shack up with you?

It is not dehumanizing to say that humans should be free to move themselves, or that labor should have the freedom to exploit open borders on the same terms as capital.

No, that's not what happens. Open immigration allows capital exploit labor and dump the social costs on the American taxpayer. It says that our homes, neighborhoods and cities are nothing more than a large open job market.

Posted by: Derek Copold on April 7, 2006 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

T.R. Elliott:

So, one of your strengths is not attention span?

Posted by: Don P. on April 7, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: Are you kidding me? You don't know any liberals who complain about corporate outsourcing who also think that illegal immigrants should be allowed into America largely unimpeded?

No. And no, I don't know anyone of any political persuasion who thinks that illegal immigrants should be allowed into America unimpeded, largely or otherwise.

Maybe I live a sheltered life. But the people I know - and the people who post here - seem to make a distinction between illegal immigration, which is, you know, illegal, and the other kind.

Posted by: craigie on April 8, 2006 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

Well, if you are really in favour of immigration why not skilled migration?

But Kevin of Orange County doesn't want IT salaries competing with hard-working Indians.

Having unskilled salaries competing with illegal migrants is cool though. After all, he calls for a higher minimum wage so he's not an opressive capitalist. Although minimum wages are kinda stupid if you have illegal labour.

Posted by: mcA on April 8, 2006 at 3:40 AM | PERMALINK

No, its dehumanizing to say that people should be free to move their money and goods around, but not free to move themselves.

Okay, how many people you want we should send to your house? I mean who are you not to let them shack up with you?

Send them all. Our doors are open.

Posted by: Dorothy Day on April 8, 2006 at 3:50 AM | PERMALINK

Free trade in goods and services tends to make both sides rich.

Free "trade" in people tends to make people on both sides poor. (Check out the Chicago School of Economics on the subject.)

Look at the sending communities in Oaxaca and Jalisco, and compare 'em to the ones that don't send workers North. The sending communities have remittances, but no local economy, and the residents left behind are eager to go north themselves.

The communities that don't export their workers and import their wages are the ones that actually have local jobs.

LOL -- and, Dice: why DO you despise the sovereignty of "We, the People?"

Dice writes against the proposition: "people should be free to move their money and goods around, but not free to move themselves...."

Man, does even Dice HIMSELF take his opinions seriously? Does this clown really believe that anybody from anywhere in the world for any reason has a right to move to America uninvited, against our laws? We're not just a big space on the map, dude: we're a NATION, founded on God-given rights and the rule of law. (You may want to double check your legal education, they surely covered this in the brochure.)

And, puh-leeze, before somebody grumps about how all those 19th century immigrants came through Ellis Island "undocumented", by which they mean illegal: no, they didn't.

The 19th century rule was that it was the oceans, not the laws, which mostly limited immigration. The real key was that from 1790 until 1943 (with significant changes with the 14th amendment, etc.), there was a distinction between immigration and the racial basis for citizenship.

Folks who talk ignorantly about immigration in terms of economics are calling fo the return of that ugly rule, whether they know it or not.

Posted by: theAmericanist on April 8, 2006 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

Free trade in goods and services tends to make both sides rich.

No, in practice, it doesn't. In ideal economic theory where all the complications of the real world are assumed away, it tends to make both sides rich. In the real world, it tends to make the already rich, particularly major capitalists, in both partners richer, and tends to make the poor on both sides poorer, when implemented without common regulatory regimes; free trade within the EU or among states in the US works differently, but that involves a lot more policy to make that happen than "free trade" alone.

Free "trade" in people tends to make people on both sides poor.

No more than free movement of goods and capital does, and under the same circumstances that free movement of goods and capital does.

Look at the sending communities in Oaxaca and Jalisco, and compare 'em to the ones that don't send workers North.

There aren't any communities from the tip of the Yucatan to the Rio Grande, or anywhere else in Mexico, that don't send workers north, so there is nothing to compare.

LOL -- and, Dice: why DO you despise the sovereignty of "We, the People?"

Well, EAmeri, I don't.

Man, does even Dice HIMSELF take his opinions seriously? Does this clown really believe that anybody from anywhere in the world for any reason has a right to move to America uninvited, against our laws?

Neither my name nor my handle is Dice, EAmeri. Yes, I take my opinions seriously. No, I'm not a clown. No, I don't believe "anybody from anywhere in the world for any reason has a right to move to America uninvited against our laws", just as I don't believe that, e.g., "anybody from anywhere in teh world for any reason has a right to trade goods in America uninvited against our laws."

OTOH, I do think legal regimes that set up our laws to provide extraordinary freedom for the mobility of capital and goods and little for people are undesirable.

We're not just a big space on the map, dude: we're a NATION, founded on God-given rights and the rule of law.

Maybe you should quit acting like a fucking idiot and learn to recognize the difference between arguing about what the law ought to be and arguing that people ought to break the law.

Not, of course, that anything in the history of your posting here suggests that you are inclined to try that.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 8, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

You don't know any liberals who complain about corporate outsourcing who also think that illegal immigrants should be allowed into America largely unimpeded?

Nope, I don't. I do know a lot that believe that it should be easier to immigrate legally, in any degree from slight liberalization up to "there shouldn't be any such thing as 'illegal immigration' since all immigration should be legal".

But conservatives seem to have trouble distinguishing being for more legal freedom to immigrate and supporting illegal immigration. I'm not sure whether that is more because of stupidity or dishonesty among conservatives.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 8, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, I do realise that there are many aspects to all this....but do any economic analyses take into account the effect of the unregulated influx of immigrants on rents in urban areas, the major expense for most people, particularly middle to lower income people who can't afford to buy anymore?

Posted by: mja94116 on April 8, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

unregulated influx of immigrants

Why stop there. The unregulated influx of migrants within the borders impacts rents, too. Maybe we can Sovietize all movement of 'people.' For security and economic reasons.

Posted by: Hostile on April 8, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

If you don't want to be treated like somebody dumb enough to believe in your own opinions, you should, ya know, IMPROVE 'em, Dice.

F'r example, Dice sez: "There aren't any communities from the tip of the Yucatan to the Rio Grande, or anywhere else in Mexico, that don't send workers north, so there is nothing to compare."

Um, as it happens, the BiNational Study conducted in 1997 with official representatives of both the Mexican and U.S. governments examined the sending/not sending community issues, which have since been examined by Lindsay Lowell of Georgetown, the Migration Policy Institute, and the Pew Center for Hispanic Studies.

The conclusion of EVERY SINGLE STUDY has been that exporting your workers and importing their wages is a lousy ecoomic development strategy.

Got anything to ADD to the discussion, asshole? Or are you just advertising your ignorance to please your ego? (which would explain a lot)

Likewise, Dice had posted against what he considers, somehow, a contradiction, that "people should be free to move their money and goods around, but not free to move themselves...."

I noted that this was examined by the Chicago School of economics many years ago, which reached the conclusion that free trade in goods and services tends to make both sides rich, while free "trade" in people tends to make both sides poor.

So, Dice: this is what is known in argument as presenting a proposition, and citing evidence. What I had posted first, in the thread, and just above, in this post, is the argument. What I noted, the data that backs it up (the BiNational Study, the MPI and Pew reports, etc.) are the evidence.

They DO cover this super-secret technique in most schools, even in the study of law. Perhaps you can get a refund on your tuition?

Posted by: theAmericanist on April 8, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Don P writes: "So, one of your strengths is not attention span?"

Apparently so.

Posted by: T.R. Elliott on April 8, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Excuse me, but "increasing total national income" is not worth crap if it is divided up among more people IMHO. What effect does it have on the median or average *standard of living*, which doesn't cheat by multiplying income by number of persons. Sure, it helps to be "bigger" in power terms, but the phrase "national income" misdirects an individual's sense of the effect on him or herself.

Posted by: Neil' on April 8, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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