Control of immigration (was: Multiculturalism)

Clay Shirky
Mon, 22 Oct 2001 07:58:28 -0400 (EDT)

> 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. 

Distortions always have winners and losers. Both effects can be caused
by this distortion.

I'll leave the Nike example to Russell, but as to...

> 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.

Who gets to decide what's unreasonable? Plainly not me, right? This is
like the EU saying its banana tariffs don't impose an unreasonable
burden without consulting the people affected. 

And I love the passive construction, so useful for hiding effort. My
project "would get done" only if I dedided to do it, and I would only
decide to do it after surveying the costs. As anyone who has dealt
with H1bs from either side of the coin can tell you its not like
running to the post office for more stamps, nor is managing a remote
team a cakewalk either. There are real costs for either scenario.

Immigration laws are like any tax -- they impose a burden, and the
size of that burden will affect the projects that get done, in the
same way that banana tariffs lower banana consumption. There does not
exist a barrier to trade which produces solely good effects with no

> 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, that's because I was making a joke. Whenever any free market
advocate starts talking about being Pope of something and issuing
edicts, you can pretty much assume they are not making a serious
proposal. I was looking for the same thing Russell was looking for,
namely some way to dramatize that immigration is a trade issue, but
not often treated as one.