Control of immigration (was: Multiculturalism)

John Hall
Mon, 22 Oct 2001 11:14:23 -0700

> Behalf Of Russell Turpin
> Speaking purely from market economic theory.

Actually, I don't think you got the theory right.

The primary beneficiary of restricted immigration is Western Labor, not
Western Capital.  You can see it when one of the first labor laws passed
in the US forbade companies from importing labor to break a strike.  You
can see it in the flap over high tech worker visas, with the business in
favor of importing them and the labor unions opposed.

The primary beneficiary of an artifically constrained labor market is
not Nike, it is unskilled American Labor that doesn't have to compete
with the worker from Vietnam on its home territory, or can enjoy a
safety net that would be impossible with free immigration.

Yes, the Vietnamese worker would be better off in LA.  That is why so
many of them try to go, and risk their lives doing so.  But the external
costs of moving such a worker to LA can be very high in the short run.
Cause enough cultural chaos and it can be very large in the long run,
too.  Moving workers to LA from Vietnam is an attempt to privately reap
the benefits of that move while sticking the surrounding community with
the costs.

To give an illustration of one of these costs, consider education.  The
education of this Vietnam workers first child would exceed the total
value of his labor, in all probability.

> And yes, of course, there are political issues that
> override this. The whole idea of democracy and free
> markets might not survive, if the west really were to
> allow open immigration. Even so, we might sense a
> litte more the tension between our free-market
> rhetoric, 

No, I don't think democracy and free markets would survive.

I think immigration controls are necessary.  I just think we have about
the worst choice of immigration controls possible.