Friday, July 18, 2008

Re: LJ's comments on open borders

This is in response to LJ's comment about open borders that I'll quote here because there's so much good stuff in it that it should be a post:

love johnson said...
IMHO, there isn't anything more boring or a total beating than trying to read a book about economics. They are always too complicated and while the theories always sound great, the practical applications never seem to work out.

That being said, please explain how opening the borders would make the labor market operate more "freely"? My understanding is that illegal immigrants drive down wages, so wouldn't MORE cheap labor, whether legal or illegal, drive wages down more? One always hears the arguement that these workers are doing jobs that we Americans won't. I've never agreed with that - it's that Americans won't do them because the pay is too low to sustain an average standard of living that we are accustomed to, not the specific job itself.

What I do find interesting about your question about Republican philosophy and free markets is how fluid their philosophy seems to be. Killing prisoners is fine, abortions are not. Let the free market / capitalism dictate what happens, but if cerain business's or industries fail, then it's OK to bale them out. They hate "judicial activism", but only when the case goes against their beliefs (recall the Schiavo case). They claim they want to keep the government out of our lives ("small government"), but want the government to intrude into the sex lives of Americans, to increase the profile of religion (but only Christianity) in public schools and public buildings.

I realise that I'm WAY in over my head with any economic discusion. That's why I'd rather let someone else read the book and explain it to me! :)

Scooter will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that government regulation by definition is an unwelcome restraint on the operation of a free market economy. In the case of labor, our immigration policy limits the number of people who can come to the U.S. and work, and therefore it's a constraint on the available supply of labor, and therefore, as LJ says, it keep wages higher than they would otherwise be (and results in a higher cost to manufacture goods). Free marketeers think that's a bad thing, I believe, which is why you'd expect them to object to restrictions on immigration. I believe (without having read the book and relying on what little I gleaned from the Colbert Report interview) that Jason Riley makes the case that if you're all about the free market, then you should also want unrestricted immigration.

Don't you just hate it when your xenophobia cuts into your profits?

Hear, hear, about the schizophrenia in Republican philosophy in recent decades. But, I grant, our side can be inconsistent too as I'm sure Michael or Scooter will point out.

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