Monday, October 1, 2012

He gets it for bacon, why not for high-skill labor?

Matt Yglesias understands that recent price increases do not indicate a "bacon shortage". Quite the opposite - it's the sort of market signal that ensures we keep the bacon coming.

So why can't he forthrightly say the same thing about high skill labor? It's true, I'm stretching this a little. The linked article does not come out and declare a high skill labor shortage. But it validates the idea that "we should hand out more work permits to high-skilled foreigners, particularly people with STEM degrees" and calls that one of the "nice things" that we can't have because we have a dysfunctional Congress.

I don't understand why insights people have about goods and services are often so hard for them to apply to labor. Yglesias is better than many on this issue. He is willing to say in some cases that low skill labor is as important as high skill labor. But then he does a 180 in posts like this and says that we should be "particularly" loosening up for high-skill STEM workers. So he gets the message right some of the time. But wouldn't it be nice to have an emphatic "there are no persistent STEM shortages" post just like his recent bacon post?


  1. I haven't clicked the links, but if the federal government limited how much bacon could enter the country, I would march on DC tomorrow.

    1. Aren't food prices increasing around the world, Daniel Kuehn? According to today's New York Times, there's a food crisis in Yemen because of rising food prices worldwide.

  2. If STEM workers pay more taxes, does that make them a public good?


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