David R. Henderson  

The New Colossus, Vivek Wadhwa Version

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Watching co-blogger Bryan Caplan's debate on immigration and seeing Vivek Wadhwa's performance, and then reading his post-debate comment to Bryan, I asked myself: If Wadhwa were in the position of poet Emma Lazarus, how might he have written her famous poem, "The New Colossus," which is at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Here's my attempt:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty Wadhwa with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and his name
Advocate of Exiles. From his beacon-hand
Glows world-wide scorn; his wild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your desperate poor!" cries he
With loud lips. "Give me your young, your skilled,
Your engineers yearning to make more money,
The elite of your teeming shore.
For the rest of you: get lost!


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CATEGORIES: Labor Market



COMMENTS (11 to date)
NZ writes:

Imagine some jocular jocks playing a game of pickup basketball. One team is beating the other team badly. Buoyed by his success, one of the guys on the winning team taunts the other team: "You guys are holding your heads up as if you have nothing to be ashamed about! Go on, we'll take your three worst players and STILL beat you!" He doesn't expect the other team to actually oblige him; it's just a way to brag.

I think that's more like what Lazarus's poem was saying.

Jody writes:

The liberaltarian movement is fun an all, but Lazarus was a socialist in all-but name.

Which kind of makes this an ad-hominen response, but it still seems odd to me to think that holding up a socialistic paean to shame libertarians and conservatives would be an effective tactic...

Of course, this post may only be intended towards Wadhwa and I don't know his politics...

Pajser writes:

Henderson, you're known for your benevolent and non-bitter style, but this time you didn't resisted.

Obviously, skimming of the human capital from already poor countries cannot help them. However, the effect of the open borders is similar: left on their own, half of the young PhD's and much lesser ratio of their illiterate, old and sick citizens will migrate to USA or EU.

Pajser writes:

However, I must admit that libertarian policy regarding migrations is more moral than dominant "accept the best and reject others."


Bostonian writes:

I don't see why unskilled immigrants would find the Republican message of self-reliance (at least relative to the Democrats) more appealing than the Democrats' message, and election results indicate that they do not. Why should I welcome people who will eventually vote themselves my income and/or property? It is strange that libertarians should be puzzled by the desire of U.S. residents to keep what is theirs.

Jeff writes:

I think these particular libertarians are simply failing to think through the likely ramifications of the policies they support. Which is ironic, because libertarians often (correctly) accuse liberals and conservatives of exactly the same thing.

Andrew_FL writes:

The reference to the poem someone slapped onto the Statue of Liberty many years after it's construction to appropriate it's symbolic meaning strikes me as intellectually dishonest. I would think you'd be better than that but I suppose any argument that can be mustered must be a good one.

Finch writes:

"Give me your young, your skilled,
Your engineers yearning to make more money,
The elite of your teeming shore."

Like in that vile tyranny of Canada...

David R. Henderson writes:

@Bostonian,
It is strange that libertarians should be puzzled by the desire of U.S. residents to keep what is theirs.
I'm not at all puzzled. Indeed, I have expressed my own concerns about this. I don't think Bryan is puzzled either. My poem was to express what I think Wadhwa's views are. Maybe it happened in Q&A, but in the 75 minutes of the debate I watched, I didn't see him once express the concern you have about voting.

Kyle Walter writes:

Henderson I think you're on your way to a Nobel Prize...in Literature!

Andrew_FL writes:
Indeed, I have expressed my own concerns about this.

That's reassuring to hear. Personally I agree on the principles of the argument but it's the practice in reality I am skeptical of.

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