Class Bigots and Immigration

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism, citing Angry Bear, has a great post today about how nasty people are to each other in groups.  Specifically, all the hate directed against those who are recipients of social welfare programs.  For thinking people, it’s just not that simple.  Yes, there are people who abuse the system, and undoubtedly its existence encourages some level of abuse.  However, just as I don’t want to live with a bunch of uneducated people all around me, so I support public education, I also don’t want to have a bunch of desperate hobos out there starving and living on the street.  This is from a personal safety as well as humanitarian standpoint.  Just as with public education, the government’s execution of assistance programs leaves a LOT to be desired, and there must be much better market based ways of helping people who need a hand up.  I would like to see the whiners figure that one out and get it implemented.

I think this has a direct relationship to immigration, and many of the arguments used to block people from entering the US.  Alex Tabbarok discusses open borders, focusing on the facts of the crowding out effect:

There is almost no evidence of anything close to one-to-one crowding out by new immigrant arrivals to the job market in industrial countries. Most studies find that 10% growth in the immigrant “stock” changes natives’ earnings by between –2% and +2% (@Longhi, Nijkamp, and Poot 2005@, Fig 1; @Peri 2014@, Pg 1). Although serious questions can be raised about the reliability of most studies, the scarcity of evidence for great pessimism stands as a fact (emphasis added, AT)…. – See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/09/the-case-for-open-borders.html#sthash.AiPuGzVP.dpuf

Anecdotally, there are people who come here from foreign countries (notably India) on visas intended for high skill workers.  They then undercut the wages in the high skill industry, stay here for 5 or 10 or 20 years, and then return to their home country.  Their earnings (mainly) leave the US, and they take jobs from skilled American workers.  The studies cited do not see evidence of this on an average or widespread basis, but the point is it certainly occurs both in unskilled and highly skilled jobs, which then leads to the hate, because there is certainly no way to show that immigration caused a job to be created.   Regardless, it seems like the system we have in place now is entirely backward.  We encourage the temporary visitor (whether on a visa or illegal), but discourage those who would like to move here an assimilate.

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