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April 11, 2009



Is Kaus really this stupid? Hmm... why would any immigrants come to America, legally or otherwise? Oh, that's right, it's because of free-market pressures, you know, supply and demand. If immigrants are coming to America, you can be sure there is a good market reason for it. But, oh no!, won't they compete for our jobs?! If non-native speakers from a different culture with less education, less resources, and less help from society can out compete you for a job, maybe you should find a different line of work. Or better yet, maybe you should be industrious and employ these bargain-basement workers yourself!

If this crisis has taught us anything, it's that the economies of the world are tightly integrated and co-dependent. When analysing the effect of immigration, one has to look at the bigger picture and not at anecdotal or localized effects. Immigration is vital to allow people to go where they're needed, and to find the situations that are best for them. People do not hurt the global economy by moving between countries. Countries hurt the global economy through protectionist policies that limit the free and open distribution of human capital, creating market distortions in the process. Protectionism, even job protectionism, is good for no one.

Kaus is a classic protectionist, and his argument is morally repugnant.

Nathan Smith

Well, I agree that Kaus's argument is morally repugnant, but I don't think it's stupid. It probably is true that some Americans lose out to competition with immigrants, though most gain, and it's probably true, too, that those who lose out are disproportionately among the worst off. This could be remedied through the tax-and-transfer system... which is one reason why I liked the "stimulus" rebate last year, because it set a worthwhile precedent of the government helping people in less-wasteful ways by just giving people checks. Kaus's argument is morally repugnant because he places inappropriately low value on the welfare of the foreign-born.


It seems like a really bad/stupid argument to me. Sure, immigrants compete for jobs, but so do natives. Maybe we should stop teaching children so that they won't be able to compete for our jobs in the future? The whole line of reasoning betrays a lack of understanding of how capitalism and free markets work. Competition is a good thing. We need more competition, not less. If one is worried about class stratification/warfare or feels compassion for the lowest of the low, well, that's what charity is for. Free public services and the progressive tax code also help the needy. Fearmongering about immigrants competing for our jobs helps no one, and is a wretched thing to do. Kaus should be ashamed.

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