A World of Monopolists — THAT'S the Ticket!

by Don Boudreaux on January 30, 2009

in Seen and Unseen

Here's a letter that I sent recently to the Baltimore Sun:

C. Paul Mendez wants to protect American workers from competition
with a moratorium on immigration (Letters, Jan. 28).  Why stop there? 
Why not also impose moratoria on worker training and on technological
advances?  After all, improved worker skills and more highly developed
production techniques increase worker productivity.  The result is that
any given amount of output is produced using fewer workers.  So worker
training and technological advances, no less than immigrants, also
compete with many existing workers.

In truth, any such moratoria
are moratoria on sources of economic growth – never wise moves at any
time, but especially not during times such as these when investors are
especially leery of committing funds to long-term projects.

Donald J. Boudreaux

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Methinks January 30, 2009 at 10:56 am


MWG January 30, 2009 at 11:29 am

Bing! Again. Don, you are sharp as a tack.

SteveO January 30, 2009 at 11:33 am

Indeed. One of the best concise but brilliant posts in the history of this blog.

Martin Brock January 30, 2009 at 11:53 am

Restricting immigration at any time offends liberty. Restricting it at this time the U.S. is insane. More liberal immigration, particularly for skilled workers, could both support growth at as many skilled baby boomers retire and durably strengthen the market for our excess housing, while any strengthening of this market by the "stimulus" package must inevitably subside with the "stimulus".

andrew January 30, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Didn't Hoover do something like that restricting immigration, specifically Mexican immigration? Maybe I'm wrong since everyone knows he was so laissez-faire.

dave smith January 30, 2009 at 12:29 pm

I get really upset when someone has a baby. That kid might take my kid's job someday.

BoscoH January 30, 2009 at 1:00 pm

And we should close the universities, or at least impose a moratorium on graduations. It's one thing to lose blue collar jobs, but these graduates compete for our white collar jobs, often at lower cost since they don't have families, houses, BMWs, and Laker season tickets.

dg lesvic January 30, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Prof Boudreaux,

Even though I have said much the same thing myself, I didn't get your point until the second or third reading of it. I have no doubt that with the luxury of a little more time you would have come up with a better presentation of it. So this is not to find fault with you, without whom we all here would have been lost, and to whom we are all so very, very grateful.

But your followers here are the second smartest people on Earth, and the problem ultimately is to lead the third and fourth smartest. And it may be that the smartest are not the ones to do it, that the second must lead the third, and the third the fourth.

So, while it's your job to lead us, perhaps it's ours to lead the rest, to forge the red hot irons of rhetoric out of your cool and subtle logic.

John Dewey January 30, 2009 at 1:36 pm

andrew: "Didn't Hoover do something like that restricting immigration, specifically Mexican immigration?"

Thanks for mentioning this, Andrew.

Hoover did much more than just restrict immigration. Between 300,000 and 400,000 persons of Mexican descent were physically and harshly deported in the early 1930's. It's impossible to know how many, but it has been proven that some were U.S. citizens and legal immigrants with work visas. Few if any were allowed immigration hearings. Those who were forced to leave – usually at gunpoint – were allowed to take few possessions. Immigration "officers" simply removed them from their American homes and dumped them across the border.

Wikipedia briefly describes the Mexican Repatriation of the depression years, and includes the 2005 apology made by the state of California:

The state of California passed the Apology Act for the 1930s Mexican Repatriation Program in 2005, officially recognizing the 'nconstitutional removal and coerced emigration of United States citizens and legal residents of Mexican descent'and apologizing to residents of California 'for the fundamental violations of their basic civil liberties and constitutional rights committed during the period of illegal deportation and coerced emigration'"

Clara January 30, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Pitch-perfect letter. Just the right stark terms needed to wake up the protectionist fools.

dg lesvic January 30, 2009 at 9:42 pm

I spoke in haste, implying that Prof Boudreaux's writing was not suitable for the masses. While I did have trouble with this last piece of his, generally his writing is very simple and clear, and that is always the most effective, in any company.

Sorry about that.

Gil January 30, 2009 at 10:24 pm

It's interesting some presume immigrants = Mexican. Could it be it's presumed Mexican migrants always equal hard workers? Perhaps you'd be concerned about immigration if the proposed migrants hailed from a war-torn part of Africa where they believe in 'big man' politics which involves very strong government and violent crackdown on dissenters.

vidyohs January 31, 2009 at 11:31 am


No matter how many times you are dragged to the brickwall of wisdom and truth, and have your little head banged on it, you will not see, you are incapable of seeing.

What Don said above, is that immigration is not the problem, government is.

That is the essence of what Don said, the underlying and real theme.

Reading is one thing, my pet, comprehending what you read is another. Practice reading comprehension, it will open up a whole world of truth and wisdom to you.

Now your assignment, Gilhuahua, is to begin investigating just how the government has made itself the problem that has lead to the massive injustice and stupidity of how the USA treats immigration and immirgrants.

The government offences against reason and logic are numerous and clear. Look for them. (I'll give you a hint and it can be found in my previous post on a recent thread in which I addressed the topic of culling the gene pool in answer to your foolish comment. Start there and work your way outward.) Perhaps in your investigation you will also come to comprehend why socialism is such a really really shitty religion.

feeblemind January 31, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Yeah. Let's bring in tens of millions more immigrants, and when they vote let's see if they vote for markets or socialism.

Gil January 31, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Uh huh, vidyohsgoose. My first "hey yeah" moment toward Libertarian views on immigration is when a commenter pointed out(American) Libertarians constantly view immigrants as 'hispanic' – in other words, they see all immigrants as hard working, low paid helpers coming from down south. What of the immigrants from around the world who have no intentions of being good l'il Libertarians and will happily vote for larger government and more welfare?

Oh yeah "it's the government's fault" and all. Maybe it's the NIMBY situation that's raising its head. You, vidyohsgoose, would only allow enough immigrants for your needs then tell the rest to "keep on moving". So you have a 'closed door' immigration policy and expect the government to have an 'open door' policy . . .

dg lesvic February 1, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Prof Bourdreaux,

This fromt another blog:

"Best Thought for the Weekend — Don Boudreaux's Letter to the Editor Edition of the Plea to Read Hayek
31 January 2009

Adam Davidson, National Public Radio

Dear Adam:

I enjoyed your and Alex Blumberg's January 29th report on the resurgence of Keynesian economics. In your list of anti-Keynesian schools of thought, though, you missed an important group of scholars: the Austrian economists, whose most prominent exponent was F.A. Hayek. Unlike Keynesians and monetarists, Austrians reject the idea that recessions are due chiefly to aggregate demand being too low. Instead, Austrians focus on the time it takes to correct any misdirections of resources caused by distortions in the complex pattern of individual prices."

Mama mia! Is that how you're going to reach the masses?

Are you losing it? Most of your letters are wonderful. But this one was awful.

vidyohs February 1, 2009 at 5:55 pm


Wrong answers, wrong thoughts,and most expected, of course. You aren't even close to understanding why the government is the problem vis-a-vis immigration.

I expected no better of you.

Gil February 1, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Oh do tell vidyohsgoose, do tell. Apparently you want to keep your views hidden so you can't risk being criticised. You want Mexican immigrants knocking at your front door trying to make an offer as to why they should hire you whilst you make sure ex-Somalian warlords immigrants keep looking elsewhere. In other words you believe as to what the immigration policy should be – let landholders decide not the government as they don't have business deciding anything.

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