No Inequality In My Backyard

I’ve been meaning to write about the recent larger than expected (very pleasant surprise) anti-anti-immigration rallies and in particular yesterday’s idiotic column from Paul Krugman (which I won’t link to as it is behind NYT’s shortsighted “select” service), but I’ve been very busy and Bryan Caplan has better said what I think in fewer words than I would have used in Half Million Rally Against Anti-Foreign Bias, With Critics of Immigration Like This, Who Needs Advocates? and Are Low-Skilled Americans the Master Race?

The comments on these posts are full of idiots, but the estimable Chris Rasch works in one of my favorite links — the Manifesto for the Abolition of International Apartheid.

However, I cannot restrain myself from picking on Krugman’s “Unconfortable facts about immigration” column. Krugman, with emphasis added:

First, the net benefits to the U.S. economy from immigration, aside from the large gains to the immigrants themselves, are small

This from someone who professes to be concerned about inequality. What better way to decrease inequality than to allow very poor people to drastically increase their incomes, merely by living and working across a river or entirely imaginary border? Why shouldn’t someone born in Mexico have the opportunity to earn the same wages as someone born in the United States with identical skills?

If we substitute “born in [jurisdiction]” to “born with [race or gender]” the answer is obvious.

Basic decency requires that we provide immigrants, once they’re here, with essential health care, education for their children, and more.

Here Krugman lets it slip: on one side of an imaginary border, one is human and must be treated with basic decency, whatever one thinks that entails. On the other side of a border, one is subhuman.

Anyone who professes to care about inequality and does not call for complete freedom to move, live and work across jurisdiction borders is deluded by the fog of jurisdicitonism.

As I was writing this Matt McIntosh posted an excellent followup to Caplan, Privileged By Birthright?:

It’s long past time for cosmopolitans everywhere to mount a serious offense against the premise that location of birth is a morally relevant category.

I realized a while ago that one way to tell a true liberal (in the broad philosophical sense, not the narrow North American political sense) from a poseur is whether their moral circle extends to include as much moral consideration to those beyond their border as to those within it.

Indeed!

5 Responses

  1. James says:

    Yeah, I’m glad to see that Krugman has the right idea about net tax receivers when they come from abroad. I just wish he’d apply this newfound insight consistently and without regard to national origin.

  2. I see totally free trade in goods and services as a higher priority than unrestricted immigration. The west needs willing immigrants, not those compelled by poor prospects at home to leave their cultures and (in m any cases) families behind.

  3. [...] Long overdue reply to a comment (nearly identical comment, even older) left here by Ronnie Horesh: I see totally free trade in goods and services as a higher priority than unrestricted immigration. The west needs willing immigrants, not those compelled by poor prospects at home to leave their cultures and (in m any cases) families behind. [...]

  4. [...] I never understood the appeal of beginning chants with “Hey, ho”, but let’s get on with ending apartheid and destroying nationalism anyway. Atavistic prejudice, indeed. [...]

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