Sunday, April 20, 2008

Trade and migration

Bryan Caplan argues that the USA should give every Haitian a Green Card:

Invite the world's most precious resource - human labor - to leave a dirt-based economy and get an entry-level job in the modern economy. It's called doing well while doing good. And unlike everything else the world has ever done for Haiti, it works.
Milton Friedman, in one of his TV series, explained why this might be problematic and what might be less so. I've shown this clip before, but hey - it's always good to listen to Uncle Milt:

1.05 minutes in:
Literally thousands of people cooperated to make this pencil, people who don't speak the same language, who practise different religions, who might hate one another if they ever met...
What makes them cooperate in the manufacture of a pencil is the price system, and trade.

Rageh Omaar has made a TV series called Immigration, the inconvenient truth. It's screening at the moment and this past week I overheard, then joined, a conversation about it between two people who work for me. The episode they were discussing featured the situation in the very racially mixed town of Leicester, where one of them grew up - on a council estate.

Omaar is controversial in this series, suggesting that there are problems in British society that have derived from immigration. Even so, the two people I heard talking were openly derisive of his approach, which was seen as a whitewash. The lad from Leicester grew up in a nightmare place of racially homogeneous gangs, constant fighting and racial bullying, and a level of open racial hatred that was unknown in the England of my youth. It is a shattered society in which the poorest have been condemned to live by the good intentions of those who do not have to.

I want to write about this properly but for the moment will comment that the most ardent supporters of open borders do not live in such places, do not expect to, and display what seems to me to be an open contempt for the interests, and rights of self-determination, of those who do.

Through trade, we can cooperate with people in other countries, enrich one another and even out imbalances of wealth, without destroying our own society or, at least, that part of it occupied by the poorest. It is not at all clear that we can achieve the same through open borders.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"in which the poorest have been condemned to live by the good intentions of those who do not have to": I see no reason to suppose that the intentions were good.