Friday, June 15, 2012

Continuing to discuss the high skill immigrant issue with Noah...

...he doesn't like my capital goods imports comparison - for some good reasons and some less good reasons.

OK, let's stick with immigrants.

I'm having some work done on my house now, a lot of it by immigrants. As far as I can tell they've done a great job and I like having this kind of talent living in the U.S.. I want more of these immigrants here. In fact, they just dropped off the shingles on my roof yesterday which means they're coming to replace it in a couple days. Maybe if Congress passes a low skill immigrant bill quickly enough I can get a new bidding war on my roof replacement from fresh immigrants with these skills. The point is this - nobody denies that home repair work is good for society, and these mutually beneficial exchanges I'm making with these immigrants benefit them as well. Plus they live near where I live which means I get a lot of great ethnic restaurants to boot. It's win-win (win-win-win...).

Who wouldn't want to make a special effort to bring in more low skill immigrants?

Plus throughout American history low skill immigrants have built America. They built the railroads. They built our bridges. They settled the continent (a lot more Scottish immigrants settled the Shennandoah than built steel empires, if you want to know the contribution of most Scottish immigrants)

This is what Noah and Adam's argument boils down to, but is this really a good argument for specifically going after the liberalization of low skill immigrant flows?

Noah and Adam do have good arguments - but insofar as they have good arguments they only really have good arguments for liberalizing immigration in general.

They do have the point about it being more politically palatable. That might be an argument for a politician to get a bill through, but it's not personally enough for me to endorse an idea as inherently a good idea. Plus, since science and engineering labor markets are prone to gluts because of the low substitutability of their skills, the mere political palatability of this seems like it could do more harm than good.

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