Some who oppose immigration appeal to immutable poor labor quality as a reason against easing U.S. immigration policy. For instance, in the comments to an earlier post on immigration, The Utilitarian writes:
North African immigrants in the E.U. exploit the welfare states at much higher rates, commit more crime, underperform in education, do badly economically, etc. Some of these problems are exacerbated by bad policy, e.g. rigid labor laws that boost unemployment, but the basic issue is differences in ability and attitudes tied to cultural markers for tribal feelings.
Even Roissy floats the hypothesis:
Hypothetically speaking, if average human population group differences in aptitude, temperament, personality and decision-making exist and are immutable over generational timespans, and those group average differences are greater when the population groups being compared are larger (i.e. ethnicity versus race), would anything change about principal economic theories and concepts (e.g. free trade, externalities, free movement of labor…
The most important element of these arguments involves the means of plunder–which is to say, democratic institutions. The thought is that the misguided enfranchised poor will vote for redistributive policies. These policies will then suck the soul out of any wealth producing economy. But even if we assume that labor quality is immutable, how is this an argument against immigration? Isn’t it instead an argument against a system that provides the means of plunder?
Furthermore, what historical examples demonstrate that labor quality is immutable? If the quality of labor among immigrants increased in the past–witness the first 200 years of American growth–then why wouldn’t it continue in the future?
…so Leno should have been to Obama. Alas! My favorite Leno interview:
The brain drain from philosophy couldn’t be demonstrated better than on this BloggingHeads: Tyler is clearly the more competent philosopher, the more playful, the more far ranging…and yet, he’s an economist. Singer comes across as dull as a public monument and as silent. Also, I love Cowen’s argumentative strategies, his chess moves, pushing Singer to accept certain points, leaving them, moving other pieces, then coming back to the earlier steps to settle the checkmate. Compare this debate with the debate Cowen had with Robin Hanson, where his arguments are more tepid, confused, speculative. Cowen likes to play Devil’s Advocate with his GMU colleagues, but it’s fairly certain he’s much better when he truly disagrees with his oppenent.
Jason Kottke presents a how to guide for learning how to forge a David Foster Wallace sentence. It’s a primer written by James Tanner. From soup to nuts! You can do it, too! My favorite gobbit:
Adjectival phrases: lots of them. (Note: apprx. 50% will include the word ‘little’):
It’s obvious someone helped with the script, but Mario did the choreography and most of the puppet work — his little S-shaped arms and curved fingers are perfect for the standard big-headed political puppets — and it was, without question, his little square shoes on the pedal, the camera mounted on a tripod, mops and dull-gray janitorial buckets moved out of frame.
A Finnish computer programmer has had his finger replaced with a USB drive.
Call me cynical and predisposed to conspiracy, but I find the current outrage expressed by Obama and his administration over AIG a bit…Machiavellean. First, on Sunday, his technocrat underlings express frustration on the talk show circuit. We have Larry Summers saying that the AIG bonuses have to go through, lest we disrupt the rule of law. Then, from stage left, the New York Times runs a story about how angry the administration is with the scheduled payments, and further, how they fear a “populist” backlash. Finally, for today’s third act, the ultimate deus ex machina saves the day–forget the contracts! Obama has ordered his boy wonder, Geithner to block the bonuses.
Mass-hole health care–without decreasing the cost of care or increasing its subsidy–will not be sustainable in 5 to 10 years.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is killing its print edition.