≡ Menu

Quotation of the Day…

… is from Tyler Cowen’s March 16th, 2013, New York Times column, “A Profession With an Egalitarian Core“:

In any case, there is an overriding moral issue. Imagine that it is your professional duty to report a cost-benefit analysis of liberalizing immigration policy. You wouldn’t dream of producing a study that counted “men only” or “whites only,” at least not without specific, clearly stated reasons for dividing the data.

So why report cost-benefit results only for United States citizens or residents, as is sometimes done in analyses of both international trade and migration? The nation-state is a good practical institution, but it does not provide the final moral delineation of which people count and which do not. So commentators on trade and immigration should stress the cosmopolitan perspective, knowing that the practical imperatives of the nation-state will not be underrepresented in the ensuing debate.

DBx: To avoid fostering a misunderstanding that is widespread among protectionists, I add that the case for a policy of free trade in the home country does not depend on net gains enjoyed by foreigners outweighing net losses suffered by domestic citizens. The economic case for a policy of free trade has as part of its core the demonstration that a policy of free trade in the home country – even unilateral free trade – will almost certainly produce net gains even if the resulting gains of foreigners are completely ignored – that is, a policy of free trade in the home country is one that generates home-country gains greater than home-country losses. Put yet differently again, as trade is made freer in the home country, the result is net gains in the home country and not net losses. (Even deeper is the confusion of costs with losses: costs are not losses.)