Arnold Kling  

Trading or Sharing?

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Richard Rodriguez writes,

The contribution of illegal lives is never counted—never—as praise or admiration or courage or virtue of any kind. It is as though America, having benefited from illegal labor, pretends that the transaction was one of middle-class benevolence. Mexicans should be thankful for a month of cheerless eight-hour shifts, standing there waiting for the old lady to get off the commode. The odd thing is that they are thankful!

I think that what economists can contribute to the immigration debate is that we can remind people of the difference between sharing and trading. When we hire somebody, we are not sharing. We are trading.

Also, see Julian Simon's 1995 analysis of immigration.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (6 to date)
drtaxsacto writes:

The Economic Consequences of Immigration) was one of Simon's last books. And like almost all of what he did this one presented a lot of data on the consequences of immigration (which are almost uniformly positive). Simon was a gem, a rare resource who cared about data and genuinely wanted to advance the field with care.

Kent Gatewood writes:

Any chance that with massive immigration, I'll end up like Rhodesian and South African farmers?
My goods confiscated and no place to go.

Lord writes:

Or commiting a crime?

Martin Kelly writes:

Professor Caplan,

You are of course, absolutely correct. At all times and under all circumstances, hiring is a trade, a contract, and not a share.

However, a universal feature of all contracts is that they require to be conducted on particular terms. It must always be at least an implied term of such a contract that both parties possess the capacity to negotiate those terms.

If an immigrant does not possess the legal right of residence then they are automatically incapable of such negoiation.

John S Bolton writes:

Simon's interpretation of data relative to whether immigrants are net taxpayers is highly misleading, outdated and intellectually dishonest. For a scholar with access to all sorts of data, this is a complete disgrace.
Huddle's estimates are closer to the truth, even though they do not include the full cost of educating immigrants' minor children.
Updating Huddle's estimate of this years' net public subsidy of post-1980 cohorts of foreign-born to current price levels, gives a net cost of hundreds of billions to the net taxpayer.
The increase of aggression on the net taxpayer through waiving-in of low-quality immigrants, especially the illegals, is a monstrously treacherous betrayal, which the people are becoming ever more irate over.
Viciously dishonest scholars try to cover up this aggression, but reality can't just be swept under the rug.
One can pretend that the work of illegals is worth vastly more than the market offers, but that dishonestly leaves out of account the increased desirability of the jobs, and the lower demand for that labor, which would obtain if we did raise the pay as the attempted revaluation of that labor's value suggests.

Dennis Mangan writes:

The idea that "contribution of illegal lives is never counted—never—as praise or admiration or courage or virtue of any kind" is hilarious. From the president to the California governor to the MSM, illegal aliens are constantly praised as courageous, hard-working people who just want a chance at a better life. Publicly-speaking out against the illegal invasion of the U.S. requires courage: have you ever seen how Tom Tancredo is treated in the media? Illegals and their American abettors truly ought to be grateful that the government turns a blind eye to their undermining of the American polity.

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