Some Links

by Don Boudreaux on November 8, 2011

in Current Affairs, Immigration, Inequality, Myths and Fallacies, Trade, Video, Weblogs

My former student Caleb Brown narrates this wonderful three-and-a-half-minute-long video, from Cato, on the folly of that species of corporate welfare known as “anti-dumping regulation.

Mark Perry points us to yet more evidence that income mobility in America is real.

Speaking of which, see Michael Tanner’s essay on this question.

In a few days I’ll likely add my own post here at the Cafe on this matter of who, among living writers, is today’s Bastiat – and who is not.

Writing at FoxNews.com, my former student Alex Nowrasteh counsels conservatives to support more-open immigration.

Hearty congratulations to Damon Root and the other winners of the 2011 Hoiles Prizes for Journalism!

This month’s hot new feature article at EconLib is by Brian Strow on the economic position of firefighters.

Bob Higgs reports that the economic recovery in America remains anemic, at best.

Finally, here’s a 15-plus minute-long podcast that the good folks at the Heartland Institute did with me on trade.

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{ 44 comments }

Ken Royall November 8, 2011 at 10:53 pm

I have a question for those that support open immigration. If that was the law of the land and some humanitarian organization wanted to bring a few million starving Africans to the US, would that be OK with you? If not, why not?

If that IS OK with you I have another question. There are several hundred million people around the world who would love to come and live in the US, should we let them all in?

Don Boudreaux November 8, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Yes, and yes.

But do not be deceived that the equilibrium is one in which all the world’s poor wish to come to America. During the past few years, since the recession started, immigration to the U.S. has slowed down considerably.

vikingvista November 8, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Exactly. I would just add that if a few million of Africa’s poor had the means to get here, it would be a tremendous resource for Americans–rather the opposite of what is happening in Alabama where crops are now rotting for lack of field workers. I would only hope–for their sake–that most of those immigrants would succeed in violating America’s obscene labor laws, the way many Mexican migrant workers thankfully do today.

sethstorm November 9, 2011 at 8:31 pm

I hope that Alabama holds back the illegals and the farmers end up having to hire US citizens. If one has trouble, start making it more attractive to US citizens – as done in North Dakota.

No business has any excuse to get out of hiring citizens.

vikingvista November 9, 2011 at 11:02 pm

There never was a ban on hiring US citizens. Now there simply aren’t any workers. If you like the work and globally competitive wages, pack up and move there, I’m sure they’ll be glad to have you. Otherwise, I’m sure there are plenty of foreign firms willing to pick up the slack for the American consumer.

“No business has any excuse to get out of hiring citizens.”

Nobody else has any business telling a business who they can hire.

Edgewise November 9, 2011 at 11:36 pm

“….of what is happening in Alabama where crops are now rotting for lack of field workers.”

Yeah, of course; I mean, why mechanize–or, for that matter, pay more to hire citizens–when one can import slaves?

Doubtless, I’m curious to see what statistic(s) (or lie(s), or damn lie(s)…) will be cited to supposedly “prove” that American agribusiness is so @#$%ing *impoverished* that they can’t afford to invest in mechanization or automation (or, for that matter, a *well-paid* *dignified* non-servile citizen workforce?)

(Damn those pesky Reconstruction Amendments…)

vikingvista November 9, 2011 at 11:43 pm

“Yeah, of course; I mean, why mechanize–or, for that matter, pay more to hire citizens–when one can import slaves?”

Haven’t you heard? Slavery was banned some time ago. Maybe that’s why those Alabama workers were able to stop showing up for work. You think?

I’m sure mechanization was very profitable, but the owners of the farms don’t like profit, so they decided to go with manual labor. Yeah, you’re right.

But don’t worry. When the US firms go out of business, being unwilling to compete with foreign firms (thankfully for American consumers), you can sleep well knowing that Americans no longer have a labor option that they never wanted anyway, and that yet another crop of those hated American farm owners have abandoned the family business. Kind of gives you a warm feeling inside, doesn’t it?

vikingvista November 10, 2011 at 1:24 pm

“unable” not “unwilling”

MWG November 9, 2011 at 12:17 am

This.

The idea that millions would want to come to the US is not something people should fear. When people stop wanting to come to the US, then you’ll know we’ve really screwed things up.

Methinks1776 November 9, 2011 at 7:18 am

In the past, applications for H1B visas have exceeded the quota. Beginning in 2009, applications have declined…to the point that there are now twice as many visas available as there are applications to acquire one. You’d think they’d relax the idiocy to get one. You’d be wrong. I have a friend from Europe who was initially denied one because the petty bureaucrats who knew nothing about his profession judged he was “overqualified” for the job.

MWG November 9, 2011 at 11:50 am

Interesting anecdote. There’s been a net outflow of Brazilians since about 2009. Sad, but the US is no longer considered a land of opportunity compared to their home country. On a positive note, the US consulate seems to be approving tourist visas at a much higher rate than previously. It’s about f$&?ing time given that Brazilians spend more money than any other tourists in the US. My sister in law who was rejected twice because she “might get married and stay in the US” finally got approved.

Methinks1776 November 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I did not know that about Brazilians.

My sister in law who was rejected twice because she “might get married and stay in the US”

Here’s hoping!

sethstorm November 9, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Companies like captive / unfree labor. It’s cheaper.

If anything, the entire section that the H1-b is a part of should be removed. Those sections have caused too much fraud and waste as free US citizens are being passed up for captive Third Worlders.

vikingvista November 9, 2011 at 11:20 pm

“US citizens are being passed up”

What exactly did these millions of strangers, who happened to be born within the political borders observed by the US Federal government, do to earn your pro-citizen bigotry? Is accident of birth really such an impressive achievement to you?

sethstorm November 9, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Not at the cost of our existing base of US citizens, especially those that are unemployed.

vikingvista November 9, 2011 at 11:12 pm

You would be surprised at how lower capital costs, lower prices, and increased productivity can help unemployed US citizens. It is unfortunate that abusive US labor regulations stand in the way of such prosperity.

Dan J November 10, 2011 at 1:48 am

Reduce entitlements drastically and watch those jobs get filled by the lazy and snotty Americans. This issue gets me frustrated. Govt steals from productive folk, then give it to non-productive…. To remain non-productive and jobs go unfilled. All the while, the same receivers of stolen property claim they need it because they can’t get a job.
I can’t get a job because I dont have a car. And, I can’t get a car because I don’t have a job.
I don’t have money for the rent……. And out the door I went…… Say, bartender….. Come down heyre….. Watch u want? I want scotch, I want bourbon…. I want beeeeeerrr.
Stop meddling and distorting the market and many problems shall be solved.

Ken Royall November 9, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Thanks for your answer. I give you credit for consistency. Surely you realize that even with our current economic troubles our standard of living is the envy of the world especially compared to much of the third world. I would imagine several hundred million Chinese people, who are living on a few dollars per month, would find the US a more attractive place to live than where they are now. Individual freedom is a pretty big draw as well.

Given your answer, I do think you are being naive. You must understand that most of the people that would come here do not share your Libertarian views. A majority would be more than happy to vote for government benefits for themselves and there are plenty of vote-buying politicians who would facilitate that. The huge influx of Hispanics has demonstrated this. I don’t say this to denigrate them, it is just an empirical fact.

Comparing past immigration to the US and open immigration today is not helpful in my opinion. We are a different country today then we were then, our welfare state is enormous by comparison. Back in those days we also insisted in assimilation into American culture. That included learning the language. We are not doing that today and as a result we have balkanized areas that are made up of certain ethnic groups that are holding back assimilation.

If you think this is OK, then I suggest you visit LA County and then explain to me how a massive influx of un-assimilated, undereducated aliens has been a net benefit to that region of the country. The costs of educating the kids and providing public services is capsizing municipal budgets. Low income workers simply don’t pay enough taxes to support the amount of government services they consume. We already have a surplus of low skilled labor and these new arrivals will drive down wages and create more unemployment at the low end.

This would explain why many areas are instituting more stringent immigration enforcement mechanisms. Too often these efforts are written off as simple xenophobia, but that ignores the very valid concerns communities have regarding integrating large numbers of aliens. We don’t have an industrial revolution on the horizon to provide jobs and revenue like we did in the past, times have changed.

Jim November 10, 2011 at 7:27 am

In general, I am in favor of a much broader and open immigration policy. Worse, the familial strategy adopted some decades ago as opposed to profession, or even better, just open immigration seems beyond short sighted.

However, there are practical considerations given a welfare state already groaning under unfunded social nets which will reach 200%+ GDP by 2040 unless structural changes are made by a feckless federal government aided by an emotionally childish and generally stupid media. It is not interest payments that will kill us; debt roll-over will require 20%+ of global GDP.

What are those practical considerations, and what is their connection to the debt? Here are some unalterable facts:
1. Over 30% of immigrants end up on social assistance and welfare for the first generation. Language and cultural assimilation takes time.
2. Perhaps most damning to point number 1 is that our own licensing and zoning laws prevent new citizens from finding their own way; most of them do not have the resources to pay schools, lawyers and accountants before they begin their own taxi services, restaurants, hair cutting salons, etc. If we open borders, then we should also open our economy. In fact, we should do that anyway.
3. Has anyone spent any time in East Germany? Large swaths (whole towns) are abandoned, along with half built high-rises and other infrastructure projects started but not finished by the West German government in their attempt to upgrade the crumbling mess left by the Soviet empire (hey, is that Keynes stimulus gone awry?). They quit upgrading partly because of the cost and partly because East Germans fled to West Germany, where a significant number found a way to go on the dole. German union law does not allow varying wage rates, but there is a large black market now in Germany to give lower rates to East Germans; they don’t know how to work anymore.

Don’t get the wrong impression from the facts I cite. I am pointing out that our own western laws have both made our economy less adaptable AND increased the cost of living. Newcomers are denied the benefit of market prices and free access to industry to get a toehold. Our answer is to pay them to do nothing, which is debilitating, robs people of their pride, and prevents assimilation.

If we want more open borders, we should also clean up our own mess. And if we can not do it after a financial crisis when 20% of us are out of work, when would be a good time to do it? We are a long way from the 2 acres and a mule vista, and even the 1920s world is long gone. Finally, screwing around with stimulus dollars is like re-arranging the deck chairs.

I suggest an immigration bill that proposes a new more open policy, but that also destroys regulatory barriers to entry for workers, entrepreneurs and industry in general (like drilling for oil and fish farms).

I suggest the co-existence of those proposals in the same bill would be a good conversation starter; even the media would have a hard time avoiding its implications.

Krishnan November 9, 2011 at 12:53 pm

The decision to leave one’s homeland and familiar surroundings for the great unknown that is the US is not easy. Those that seek to come here know this can be a land of opportunity – and the best one in the world at that and yet they know that it will not be easy.

Like many you see these new immigrants as a problem – but not a solution. If anything, immigrants (legal and illegal) work to expand this economy – and the net effect is postive in so many ways. So, yea, let them in – and we will ALL be better off …

Darren November 9, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I figured we’ll need more taxpayers to fund my retirement. :)

sethstorm November 9, 2011 at 8:22 pm


The decision to leave one’s homeland and familiar surroundings for the great unknown that is the US is not easy. Those that seek to come here know this can be a land of opportunity – and the best one in the world at that and yet they know that it will not be easy.

The problem is that the illegal ones have less of a wish to assimilate, much less be legal.


Like many you see these new immigrants as a problem – but not a solution.

The illegal ones are not immigrants, but people with no legal reason to be here.

If anything, their immigration should be conditional on a positive impact towards existing US citizens – especially if hires those US citizens that are unemployed, and that the immigrant is deferential to said citizens. If not, then they represent a threat.

vikingvista November 9, 2011 at 11:36 pm

“The problem is that the illegal ones have less of a wish to assimilate,”

That’s their problem.

“…much less be legal.”

Thankfully for us, someone is willing to disobey destructive and offensive laws. God know I haven’t the nerve.

“no legal reason to be here”

Fortunately, the law doesn’t define right and wrong.

“If anything, their immigration should be conditional on a positive impact towards existing US citizens”

Working is a positive impact. Illegal immigrants are no more immune to punishment from the negative impact of real crimes, than are citizens. Therefore, this condition is automatically met.

“especially if hires those US citizens that are unemployed”

Does it matter if the lower cost of labor capital, and the lower cost of capital goods produced by that labor, allow firms to become profitable, expand or startup, and subsequently hire US citizens? No, I didn’t think so. Yours isn’t an economic argument after all, it’s an emotional appeal against non-citizens. If an illegal alien slighted you when you were young, now would be a good time to get over that.

“immigrant is deferential to said citizens”

Supposedly, “all men are created equal”. Ever hear of that?

kyle8 November 9, 2011 at 6:40 am

Don, I have loved hearing Caleb Brown for years now on Cato, Did not know he was one of your students though it does not surprise me.

kyle8 November 9, 2011 at 6:43 am

BTW I cannot agree with open immigration because you do not know how many criminals, terrorists, or people with communicable disease you are letting into your country. I agree with reform measures that would let more people in, but they should be processed.

Scott November 9, 2011 at 7:46 am

As I understand it open immigration can still be orderly, it is just not setting tight quotas on the number and kind of people who enter the country.

MWG November 9, 2011 at 11:56 am

This.

As someone who considers himself a fairly open borders kinda guy you can open the borders and still maintain order. Checking a potential immigrants background and requiring tests for diseases is something that is already required and need not be changed.

vikingvista November 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm

I see no value in it, but clearly mass legal immigration in the 19th and early 20th century (what some people call a period of “open borders”) occurred even while immigrants were being checked. So your point is reasonable.

However, regulation of borders is no different than regulation of anything else. Many of those who believe they will be turned away, and who simply don’t care about the laws, enter anyway. Individuals have an incentive to take care of their own health, and are more likely to pursue diagnosis and treatment if they are not facing deportation. Not to mention that the very travel to the US is something of a test of fitness.

Human beings are human beings, with all kids of problems and propensities. It is xenophobia that paints potential immigrants as disproportionately diseased or criminal. Even with open borders, the expense and stress of immigration makes just the opposite more likely.

vikingvista November 9, 2011 at 11:25 am

How many criminals, terrorists, or people with communicable diseases from outside of Kansas are entering Kansas? Shawnee County? Topeka city limits?

Funny, it turns out the US has its share of native born criminals. Terrorist not born here are given visas by the State Department and fly in first class. Borders have never protected against pandemics, mostly due to the fact that Americans themselves are allowed to travel. And foreign criminals simply don’t give a damn about border laws.

If you and others want to organize to try regulate or document the passage of people crossing some imaginary lines in the sand, for whatever strange reason, fine. But it is up to such organizations to keep up with the immigration patterns and give folks the incentive to both enter through your border crossings and support your endeavors.

If I think another methinks or Jose Perez meets my criteria for an employee, business partner, tenant, customer, or friend, it is my property and my life, and therefore your burden to persuade me that I am wrong or should reconsider.

kyle8 November 9, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Not a good analogy. We are stuck with our criminals because they are citizens, that does not mean that we have to import more of them.

This is a case where a correlation with free trade is not an exact one and you cannot use the same argument.

vikingvista November 9, 2011 at 2:09 pm

We are not importing criminals, we are allowing immigration. Why is it that you think the only people who want to come to America are disproportionately criminals? Do you have some evidence to back that up at least? How about some evidence to show that Federal border enforcement has significantly reduced US crime? Disease? Anything?

It’s a case where you fall for the rhetoric of border enforcement, which on its surface seems reasonable, but after a few minutes thought is clearly nonsense.

kyle8 November 9, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I never said anything about proportionality. All I said is that it would behoove us to check on who is coming in.

And there is plenty of evidence that some criminals have used our lack of border enforcement during the Bush years to commit crimes in the US and then move back to Mexico, then return to commit more crimes.

We have also had the return of diseases which were once eliminated in the US including resistant TB and rocky mountain spotted fever. They both came in with immigrants who were not screened.

Honestly I find it hard to understand the opposition to making sure we know who is within our borders. You are making an argument similar to a left winger, you are arguing on pure ideology now with no respect for practicality.

vikingvista November 9, 2011 at 4:46 pm

“I never said anything about proportionality. All I said is that it would behoove us to check on who is coming in.”

So, you think immigrants should be checked because you are afraid the crime rate would otherwise *decrease*? If you don’t think crime would increase, because immigrants during open borders are disproportionately criminals, then why would you care to even bother checking for criminals?

“And there is plenty of evidence that some criminals have used our lack of border enforcement during the Bush years to commit crimes in the US and then move back to Mexico, then return to commit more crimes.”

I think you miss the point of relevant evidence. There are (under our current system of government border restrictions) ALL kinds of people crossing the border (both ways), including criminals and diseased. The question is, what makes you think crime (or any other problems) would increase with open borders compared to regulated borders? There is no rational theoretical reason to believe so, so I presume your belief comes from some sort of data you ran into. Or else you passively adopt the status quo bias.

“We have also had the return of diseases which were once eliminated in the US including resistant TB and rocky mountain spotted fever. They both came in with immigrants who were not screened.”

First, let’s clear up some facts, regardless of relevance to the issue. RMSF is endemic in the US, with widely varying but low incidence since its discovery. Attributing a current rise to immigrants is pure scapegoating. MDR-TB is much more concentrated in countries that are the source of LEGAL, not illegal, immigration (with a US spread very much associated with HIV–also less common among illegals). If correlation is your argument, then you’d have to conclude that illegal immigration is safer than legal immigration (no more a valid conclusion than was yours).

But more to the point, imagine disease X originated in a foreign country. Imagine the US had open borders. Imagine an immigrant from that country brought the disease to the US. What makes you think that would properly be blamed on open borders? As we see today, regulated borders do a lousy job of keeping diseases out. What makes Americans safer from infectious diseases isn’t Federal regulation of borders. It’s an advanced health care industry and a population wealthy enough to support it (though to a lesser extent than standards of sanitation and hygiene).

“Honestly I find it hard to understand the opposition to making sure we know who is within our borders. You are making an argument similar to a left winger, you are arguing on pure ideology now with no respect for practicality.”

My opposition is to infringements upon liberty. It is ideological. I won’t rehash Russ’s series of posts, but suffice it to say, it is hypocritical for anyone to dismiss ideology.

From a practical perspective, the adverse consequences of Federal border regulation exceed any benefits, if any benefits can even be measured. The benefits are at best anecdotal. The costs include widespread violations of natural rights, higher labor and service costs, increased transportation costs, political opportunism, and lowered barriers to the growth of socialism.

vidyohs November 9, 2011 at 9:28 am

When one is aware of the facts of such as “anti-dumping” legislation, and then one hears others talk about fixing government, it just makes me knee-jerk into the old wisdom, “you can’t fix stupid”.

Jon Murphy November 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm

In response to the anti-dumping video:

Oh, the irony!

Jon Murphy November 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm

If I can address the issue Bob Higgs rose in his piece, the US economy recovery is anemic, but there are signs of hope:

1) Employment data for October was truly awesome: Nonfarm private employment rose by 883,000 jobs (NSA). September and August added jobs, two months when the economy typically loses jobs.

2) Nondefense Capital Goods New Orders (excl. aircraft), a typical leading indicator for business activity, has grown 9.1% from last September and stands at the highest monthly total in nearly 11 years.

3) US Industrial Production is growing at a year-over-year rate faster than the previous two recoveries.

It is important to keep in mind that we are coming from a deep recession, but these numbers, plus the leading indicators such as PMI and US LI, point to a healthy 2012 for the US!

That being said, don’t expect us to return to pre-recession growth levels any time soon, but be optimistic about the future.

khodge November 9, 2011 at 4:58 pm

The best news I keep hearing about employment (always presented as a bad thing in the press) is the drop in government employment.

Jon Murphy November 9, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Indeed!

Jon Murphy November 9, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I mean, in the last three months, the private sector has added almost 2 million jobs. And who says they’re not hiring?

Jon Murphy November 10, 2011 at 9:52 am

So far this year, private nonfarm employment has added 1.5 million jobs, and that including the loss of 2.9M in January and 1.3M in July.

sethstorm November 9, 2011 at 8:14 pm

No amnesty, whatsoever. The original one was a mistake, and the current one is a mistake. What is needed is more of Alabama’s kind of law where self-deportation happens out of fear. If there is trouble finding people to pick crops, make the compensation more attractive to legal US citizens, spend the cash on automation, or a mix of both.

If someone fears a deportation action, that’s the law being effective.

vikingvista November 10, 2011 at 2:01 am

“What is needed is more of Alabama’s kind of law where self-deportation happens out of fear.”

Ah yes, the beauty of state terror.

“If there is trouble finding people to pick crops, make the compensation more attractive to legal US citizens, spend the cash on automation, or a mix of both.”

As much as you adore the wonders of a command economy, you are in this case forced to live with the fact that people are perhaps too free for your liking. That means global competition, and the dissolution of noncompetitive enterprises. Foreign farms will simply export more produce to the US at very similar prices, while the US firms, thanks to your aversion to liberty and delight at state terror, simply go out of business.

Why you hate American farmers so much, I don’t know. But then your hatred of non-Americans and American consumers is no less mysterious.

Jim November 10, 2011 at 7:40 am

@ Mr. Michael Tanner’s post:

I appreciated the analysis he did on the 1%. They are not the people that stereotypes make them.

I am surprised that he didn’t make the point that the 1% are not monied, but power. As we move away from free markets, it is political power that becomes the 1%.

Who saved the big banks?
Who wrote the laws that allowed their rise and under-capitalization?
Who wrote the laws that allows willful obfuscation of financial statements? Who wrote the laws that allows crappy audits to hold no water?
Who wrote the laws that prevents the poor from starting a business?
Who wrote the laws that allows big business to use patents as a cudgel on their competition?
Who wrote the laws that caused health care and education costs to explode?

Why, the new 1% of course.

Invisible Backhand November 10, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Finally, here’s a 15-plus minute-long podcast that the good folks at the Heartland Institute did with me on trade.

The Heartland Institute’s Sourcewatch page is so long I’ll just give a partial table of contents:

Contents

1.3.1 A public charity, *barely*
1.3.2 A no-show in Illinois nonprofits database
1.4 Audience and products
1.4.1 Main audience is lawmakers

2 Ties
2.1 Ties to Tobacco
2.2 Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
3 Personnel
3.1 “Global warming experts”
4 Actions and policy
4.1 Disputing global warming
4.1.1 Heartland’s climate conferences
4.1.1.1 Conference funding
4.1.1.1.1 2009: Sponsors’ main funder is Scaife
4.2 Water policy
5 Funding
5.1 Foundation funders
5.2 Exxon funding
5.3 Secrecy on funding sources
5.4 Funding base
5.4.1 Diverse funding base, reports Heartland
5.4.1.1 Additional detail; funding source breakdown
5.4.2 Unbalanced; 35% to 58% of support from just one donor
5.4.3 Donations of software, source TBD
5.4.4 Corporate sponsorship options, and perks
5.4.4.1 Independent, or a lobby shop?
5.5 1999 funders internal data
6 Heartland funds flow to NZ, Intl Climate Science Coalitions
6.1 Likely this funding continues; but the orgs’ identities aren’t provided
7 Publications

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Heartland_Institute

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