Archive for June, 2007

Apartheid culture

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Will Wilkinson nicely sums up one response to those who argue that out of jurisdiction movers will destroy the neighborhoodculture:

[O]pponents of liberal migration and labor policies too often confuse dynamic cultural change for cultural erosion. I more afraid that fat, tenured Americans will become too risk averse and insurance-minded than that hungry, entrepreneurial new entrants will undermine the very institutions they came to benefit from. Why not think that, on the one hand, our institutions transform newcomers culturally more than they transform our institutions, while, on the other hand, newcomers keep our institutions vital and growth-minded, rather than moribund and insurance-mided?

Copyright as censorship

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

Google Public Policy Blog on Censorship as trade barrier:

Some forms of censorship are entirely justifiable: the worldwide prohibitions on child pornography and copyright infringement, for example.

Yes it is called justified here, but copyright is too seldom called censorship, regardless of how obvious that is.

Others, however, are overbroad and unwarranted. When a government blocks the entire YouTube service due to a handful of user-generated videos that violate local sensibilities –- despite our willingness to IP-block illegal videos from that country –- it affects us as a non-tariff trade barrier.

I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, adding classes of trade barriers simply provides an excuse for “retaliatory” protectionism. Autonomous liberalization does the most good, and I suspect that’s as true of free speech as any other area. On the other hand, this is great to the extent free speech is actually promoted, either as intended or by crowding out pro-censorship (strong copyright) from the U.S. trade negotiation agenda.

Balancing responsibility with free speech

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

The censor’s slither:

Let me say that I believe in freedom of speech, but it has to be balanced with responsibility.

I believe in responsibility, but it has to be balanced with free speech. Unexpurgated, offensive speech. The alternative is stagnation and stupidity.

I am no fan of honorifics, but congratulations to .


Sunday, June 10th, 2007

is a hot topic of late. I haven’t had time to write about it, so here’s a linkdump as I close tabs.

Iraqis who can are leaving Iraq, but they face severe restrictions on living and working elsewhere in the region, and the U.S. is only accepting a trickle. Tragedies abound in this NYT magazine piece, almost all worsened by anti-immigrant policies.

Landlords are beginning to be drafted to uphold apartheid in the U.S., following increased anti-employment raids.

Immigration up, unemployment down in Spain.

How much of a jerk do you have to be to oppose immigration? has been linked by many, but read if you haven’t:

Both Alex Tabarrok and Dani Rodrik have come out in favor of immigration into US on the basis that the relevant “moral community” one should consider is the world and not just the US natives. It might be the case that immigration from Mexico into US lowers the wages of the unskilled workers here (the extent of this effect is subject to some controversy, see the previous post on Ottaviano and Peri). However, the increase in the migrants’ wages is so large that support for immigration is still justified.

This kind of argument provokes the expected response from the expected folks, roughly along the lines that we should care more about native workers – the citizens – then the migrants – the non-citizens. Ok. But how much more? Let’s put on our annoying-economist hat and consider the question; if you consider a foreign national to be only 1/2 a human being (alright, alright, only 1/2 as “important”) as a native citizen, are you justified in opposing immigration? After all, it takes a real jerk to argue that foreign people’s welfare should not count at all. Suppose the foreigners are only 1/10th as important? Surely, if natives’ welfare counts for ten times as much as that of foreigners, we would be justified in banning immigration since it may adversely affect the wages of the unskilled in US? Well, let’s see…

Nathan Smith’s freedom of migration category has lots of good stuff.

CNN needs to fire Lou Dobbs.

Philippe Legrain’s Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them will be available in the U.S. June 21.

Should we end global apartheid? in today’s NYT magazine:

Indeed, Pritchett attacks the primacy of nationality itself, treating it as an atavistic prejudice. Modern moral theory rejects discrimination based on other conditions of birth. If we do not bar people from jobs because they were born female, why bar them because they were born in Nepal? The name John Rawls appears on only a single page of “Let Their People Come,” but Pritchett is taking Rawlsian philosophy to new lengths. If a just social order, as Rawls theorized, is one we would embrace behind a “veil of ignorance” — without knowing what traits we possess — a world that uses the trait of nationality to exclude the neediest workers from the richest job markets is deeply unjust. (Rawls himself thought his theory did not apply across national borders.) Pritchett’s Harvard students rallied against all kinds of evils, he writes, but “I never heard the chants, ‘Hey, ho, restrictions on labor mobility have to go.’ ”

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.

Speaking of which, I am not fond of the term immigration, which gives special status to political borders. Migration is better. I prefer moving or relocation, regardless of distance or jurisdictions involved.

Essential Of Life

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Killing bad products is essential to the health of a product line. “Bad” might mean defective, poor fit, or even merely unpopular.

So I’m happy that Creative Commons is retiring two little used licenses.