Control of immigration (was: Multiculturalism)

Paul Prescod paulp@ActiveState.com
Sun, 21 Oct 2001 21:10:03 -0700


Clay Shirky wrote:
> 
> ...
>
> Say I am a businessman, and I am working on the next generation
> Shirky-o-mizer, which requires a port from my current EDBIC-based
> files to Oracle 9i. I have the ideal team for the project, 4 guys who
> work as a team in Hyderbad.

Russell was saying how labour laws were a boon to the employer (his
example was Nike). You claim here that it is a problem for employers. I
think both of you are overstating the case. 

Nike's profits would not be hurt through labour mobility. Nike will
always go where there is cheap labour and there will always be cheap
labour somewhere. So labour laws neither hurt nor help Nike.

Computer companies have little trouble bringing over the right people
they need to work a project or employing them from afar. So labour laws
do not impose an unreasonable burden on employers (in at least that
field). Your Shirky-o-mizer project would get done either using H1Bs or
offshore employment.

>...
> In an open market, I would only consider the needs of the project in
> deciding whether to move the capital to the labor or vice-versa.
> Immigration laws prevent me from doing that, so the relationship
> between labor laws and capital is the same as, say, the relationship
> between farm subsidies and capital. Immigration laws are plainly a
> restriction on trade.

There are all sorts of exemptions in international trade laws. Freedom
to trade is a good thing, not the most important thing. Sanctions
against terrorist-harbouring countries are also a restraint on trade.
Cultural grants (e.g. to poets) are a form of subsidy.

According to your "fast/slow" principle, a country should either be in
favour of unrestricted trade (including terrorist-harbouring countries,
and excluding grants to poets) or accept restrictions across the board.
You haven't really responded to my allegation that by linking capital
and labour mobility you are cutting off your nose (freer trade) to spite
your face (freer labour movement).

 Paul Prescod