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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 200 of the late Nobel-laureate economist Douglass North‘s 1961 paper “The United States in the International Economy, 1790-1950,” which is Chapter 7 of American Economic History (Seymour Harris, ed., 1961) (footnotes deleted; link added):

Immigration played by far the most important role of any external influence in United States economic development. It has been estimated that, had there been no immigration between 1870 and 1940, United States population would have been 102 million rather than 132 million, or almost a quarter less. Without any of the costs of rearing and training them, our labor force was augmented by almost a third during this period as a result of immigration. It therefore was an essential element in the changing factor proportions that made possible industrialization. The variety of skills and talents affected every aspect of our economic and social character. While in the short run immigration posed many problems for the United States, in the long run it was a vital contribution to economic growth and to the vitality of American political democracy.

DBx: In light of this historical reality, it‘s ironic that Oren Cass and his American Compass colleagues – who long for the government to restructure the American economy to create more manufacturing jobs – want to further restrict immigration.

To be clear, contrary to the belief of the people at American Compass – and, more generally, among folks in NatCon circles – there‘s nothing inherently superior about manufacturing jobs. We should no more lament the loss of jobs in manufacturing than our great-grandparents should have lamented the loss of jobs in agricutlure.

Also contrary to the suppositions of those with this fetish for more manufacturing jobs, if the government were to succeed in manufacturing more such jobs, not only would the average earnings of manufacturing workers be lower than are those earnings today, the average earnings of almost all ordinary American workers in all sectors – manufacturing, mining, agricultural, service – would be lower. Americans‘ standard of living would fall. And this standard of living would fall even further as a result of tighter restrictions on immigration, regardless of whatever impact such restrictions would have on the distribution of jobs across different economic sectors.

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