Between 1940 and 1960 the percentage of black families living in poverty declined by 40 points as blacks increased their years of education and migrated from poorer rural areas to more prosperous urban environs in the South and North. No welfare program has ever come close to replicating that rate of black advancement, which predates affirmative action programs that often receive credit for creating the black middle class. Moreover, what we experienced in the wake of the Great Society interventions was slower progress or outright retrogression. Black labor-force participation rates fell, black unemployment rates rose, and the black nuclear family disintegrated. In 1960 fewer than 25% of black children were being raised by a single mother; within four decades, it was more than half.
Unfortunately, there are two crucial aspects to this issue which the WSJ doesn’t address. First, it doesn’t go to the root of the confusion by debunking the idea that there’s a “failure” in the labor market that is evidenced by the fact that when workers are asked if they would like to get paid leave benefits, without ever being told at what cost they would get it, most workers say they would love to. Yet not all workers receive paid leave. This reality is no more evidence of market failure than is pointing to poll that shows that most Americans would be happy to receive a Tesla for free if given to them and calling the reality that most of these Americans do not have a Tesla a market failure.
The market is a process of exchange through which order emerges, not a static snapshot or outcome of exchange. And so the market shouldn’t be judged by comparing the outcomes of exchange at a certain point in time to the outcomes desired by policy makers or pundits. The fact is in most cases, there is simply a gap between what people think the world should look like and what the world really looks like given the necessity of making tradeoffs.
His key argument is as simple as it is powerful: immigration control cannot possibly end at an airport’s security check. Controlling (“governing”) immigration means imposing restrictions upon natives too. They will be less “at ease” in their hiring people or buying things from strangers whose legal status they would not otherwise be interested in knowing. It also means a further increase in red tape and in requiring documents from people, exacerbating an unfortunate trend in contemporary nation states. Kukathas points to a simple and yet often forgotten fact: immigration control means controlling more those who are not immigrants. It means, for example, checking on factories to make sure every worker is documented; to make sure that families are not employing a maid who does not have a regular permit to stay in that country; et cetera.
Although teaching economics to [Bernie] Sanders is akin to tutoring a typhoon, [Gregg] Easterbrook notes that U.S. manufacturing employment, which peaked in 1979, had fallen by 5 million before Chinese imports became significant in 2001. And, “Research conducted by economists at Ball State University in Indiana and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology” shows this net impact of trade with China: “The United States lost about 1.5 million manufacturing jobs — hardly inconsequential, but well less than the minus 5 million manufacturing employment that happened entirely for American domestic reasons.” These reasons include technology-driven productivity improvements and the rise of the knowledge economy.