In her latest Wall Street Journal column, the great Mary Anastasia O’Grady explains that the countries that Donald Trump recently might have described as “shitholes” are indeed pretty awful places – which is precisely why so many people are trying to leave there and immigrate to America. A slice:
I’ve never met an immigrant delivering fast food on a bicycle in the middle of winter in New York City who wouldn’t rather be home in the village where he was born and raised—if it offered him a future. The most humanitarian thing people like Mr. [Cory] Booker could do is to support U.S. policies that encourage more Norways and fewer Haitis. That is to say, policies that promote open markets, limited government, low taxes and reliable legal systems.
The secret to this is not something that can be bottled and exported, and nation building has a dismal record. But rich countries like the U.S. might help if they would take a Hippocratic oath: First, do no harm.
Messrs. Haskel and Westlake enliven their book with anecdotes and reach some thought-provoking conclusions. They find that today’s much-debated inequality is increased dramatically by what occurs at high income levels and results partly from the growing importance of intangibles. Entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg built companies capitalized with intangibles and quickly became wealthy on the scalability of their assets. Managing or producing intangibles, the authors suggest, often requires more talent, and that talent has a price tag. The concentration of such companies in places like Silicon Valley sends property values upward, creating pockets of wealth far more opulent than the home bases of traditional factories.
J.W. Verret, a GMU colleague of mine from over in the law school – as well as a fellow native of south Louisiana – warns of legislation that raises the costs of starting new businesses in the United States.