Bryan Caplan  

Builders' Rights?

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More Unhappiness... Good for Whom?...

When I scoffed at the idea that we should help low-skilled Americans by keeping out and deporting immigrants, some angry folks retorted: "We Americans built this country! That makes it ours, and entitles us to keep them out."

Which makes me wonder: Since Latin Americans are industriously rebuilding New Orleans, does that make the city rightfully theirs?

I think not. But it is yet another reason to show immigrants respect and appreciation.


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COMMENTS (5 to date)
JohnJ writes:

Depends on your definition of "build", I suppose. After all, it's about the person who's doing the sacrificing. In this case, the federal government (among others) are paying for the labor and materials that are rebuilding N.O. In this sense, labor is just another commodity, and one could just as easily say, "New Orleans should belong to the bricks that went into it."
Just a thought. Certainly not an insult to those who are laboring.

Charles Cox writes:

It's a tough sell for me to see any good reason to deport illegal immigrants. Like it or not, if they provide the low-wage end of the factor market, and my read is that removing them will not only decrease total labor availability (and possibly disparately so in certain industries leading to production shortages), but will also raise the average wage per worker, forcing companies to consider even more aggressive outsourcing strategies to remain solvent.

I think - big deal if more "Americans" get jobs; not only are they low-paying jobs, but there'll be fewer of those jobs altogether.

If the goal is to be fair, as I hear people saying (i.e. "we built this country, we should own it"), is it fair to lower total availability of jobs just to be able to redirect them to Americans temporarily until they can continue to be outsourced?

I don't consider building in some kind of nation-specific job security to be competitive with global labor markets.

Tim O writes:

You could have also replied, "Who built this country?"

Tyler Cowen: "Just as Chinese immigrants worked on the railroads out West, Irish immigrant laborers built much of the Erie Canal, and Italian immigrants put together much of the New York subway system, so will Latinos rebuild New Orleans."

Uriah Heep writes:

They are low wage workers because they ARE illegal.
If Bryan had his way and let an infinite amount in and made them legal...those low-wage workers would be unionizing faster than Jimmy Hoffa.

Martin writes:

Interesting thesis; however, at the time the Italians were building the New York subway it would be highly unlikely that remittances from Italians working in the USA comprised 14% of Italy's GDP. Of course I don't have the exact data; but it would be interesting to find out, given that the last figure I have for El Salvador's GDP is that remittances from the USA comprised 14% of the total, without any assistance from the activities of MS-13.

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