Jasper Smith

Commentary on politics, economics, culture and sports.

Stopping roofers and landcapers

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I base much of my argument on how to deal with illegal immigration on feasibility. I simply don’t think it’s feasible to stop illegal immigration via an enforcement only approach, and thus far the evidence overwhelmingly says I’m correct. I therefore prefer to bring some order to the situation. I take the same position with respect to other economics-driven phenomena like drugs: legalization, regulation and taxation is the way to go. I’m not a big fan of black markets.

The evidence suggests there’s a simple imbalance of supply and demand with respect to our labor markets: natural population growth and legal immigration undersupply America’s needs by a half million or so mostly low-skilled workers a year. The market naturally meets this need, despite the law’s lack of recognition. If one is concerned as I am about national security, one is convinced the most sensible approach is to screen, fingerprint, bond, background check and credential these workers — and spend our finite border security dollars trying to stop terrorists. Stopping roofers and landscapers just isn’t a high priority for me.

I’m also candidly disdainful of the arguments of the Samuel Huntingtons of the world. The country has many problems to be sure, but I just don’t see what any of them have to do with immigration, legal or not. The big picture is that the immigration boom — especially that over the last quarter century — has coincided with an economic boom, with America’s victory in the Cold War, and with markedly improved socioeconomic indicis (falling crime, increased educational attainment, a leveling off of drug use, decreases in out of wedlock births, environmental improvements, urban renewal, etc.). About the only problem that is even tangentially related to immigration is wage stagnation, and even Borjas concedes the evidence at best (or worst) points to an extremely modest dampening of wages for an extremely modest portion of the workforce.

I simply continue to be unable to grasp the “crisis” that others seem to be convinced has been visited upon us by all those brown people. And I therefore naturally turn a very skeptical eye toward — and demand rigorous cost benefit analysis — of any scheme designed to stop illegal immigration via an enforcement only approach. Especially when there are only so many dollars to go around, and especially when there exist, you know, actual terrorists who undoubtedly would like to violate our borders to commit actual murder.


Written by Jasper

June 7, 2007 at 8:20 pm

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