Saturday, January 10, 2004

Bush and Immigration

I have not read the new Bush immigration policy, so won't comment about it in particular. Instead, Catallaxy Files has a reasonable post outlining the main objections on the left ("it will bring down local wages!") and the right ("I don't like fur-ners!").

Philip Greenspun has a post arguing that the US's economic success is because it attracts smart immigrants. I believe that the US does well because it is meritocratic, and that happens to attract people with merit but not opportunity who were born in countries without that type of mobility.

I will add that I've heard people say how Draconian US INS regulations became since 9/11, and while they have become worse, the truth is that they were pretty Draconian before. The US immigration system is an insane hodge-podge of conflicting and asinine rules that clearly betray 1) the extremely muddled and conflicted thinking regarding immigrants in the US and 2) lack of bureaucratic accountability in general. The rules stunk long before Bush was elected, they became worse post-9/11, and they may or may not be less asinine now

U Chicago economist and Nobel Prize-winner Gary Becker cut through the immigration hoopla and proposed a simple auction of slots. The price could be paid out of salary, a system that would attract people who had the most to gain by moving to the US (ie. had many years of high earning potential in front of them). This is a rational position, but it will never happen, because people are deeply conflicted on the topic of immigration.

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