Bryan Caplan  

"Bloggers As Illegal Immigrants": What Does Borjas' Analogy Really Show?

Brooks vs. Caplan... What a Difference a Month Make...

I just came across a particularly bizarre Borjas post, entitled "Bloggers as Illegal Immigrants":

It is not uncommon to see a Journalist (with a capital J) launch into a diatribe against bloggers and sometimes even call for regulations to stop "citizen journalists" from spreading the news...

It doesn't cost all that much to become a citizen journalist: a computer and your own time is about all it takes for you to start reporting your view of the world to whoever wants to read it.

The laws of supply and demand suggest that the rewards to being a Journalist would drop because anyone can now start reporting news and opinionating a la Paul Krugman or Maureen Dowd. It's as if the Journalistic profession has received its own influx of illegal immigrants--increasing competition, lowering rewards, and creating havoc along the way.

Maybe now the Journalists will learn how those workers affected by immigration have long felt.

I've previously chastised Borjas for failing to do what economists do best: go "beyond the obvious losers of trade to all of the less-obvious - but equally human - winners." But now he's making things too easy for me. Let's see, besides the obvious losses to journalists, who gains from blogging?

1. Consumers of news
2. Bloggers!

If Borjas had written this post for a newsletter for journalists, I could at least understand why he might expect a receptive audience. By why on earth would blog readers find this a persuasive anti-immigration argument? Frankly, Borjas has produced a great argument in favor of immigration: If shutting down the blogosphere to protect journalists is crazy, so is keeping out illegal immigrants to protect low-skilled workers.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (5 to date)
greenish writes:

In fact, while reading your post I kept thinking "I don't see what's so bizarre - it's a wonderful analogy!" Amazing how much of an argument is left between the lines, that I read the opposite of what he wrote.

MattS writes:

I'm with greenish. I thought it was satire.

8 writes:

A better example would be if the NYTimes suddenly allowed anyone to write for them, and conservatives started taking all the positions. Then the liberals would feel like they'd lost more than just their jobs.

TGGP writes:

I agree, that's a lousy argument.

JSBolton writes:

There is no good reason to faux-diagnose opponents of mass illegal immigration as "crazy", and if that is what has to be done rhetorically, doesn't it have to mean that there isn't any rational argument for allowing large numbers in on net public subsidy.
The analogy breaks down completely when one compares an influx of bloggers into 'internet journalism', to an influx of immigrants into a welfare society.
Bloggers as such, cannot increase the level of aggression on professional journalists-as-a-class; nor can they do so on the net taxpayers of the internet non-country.
Immigrants have children and enroll them in public schools and other expensive programs, while paying most often, nowhere near the level of taxes which could compensate for this.
Blogs do not give birth to little blogs which then consume net public subsidy, much less find professional journalists and attack them physically.
Blogs do not contract diseases and present themselves for free treatment at state-funded facilities.
An analogy to outsourcing however, could work a lot better, and then there would still be questions of parasitization, or free-riding as economists call it.

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top