Post Apartheid

I endorse the Manifesto for the Abolition of International Apartheid and Open Borders.

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?


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.

Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

collected data for every documented case of from 1983-2003. In he makes a strong case that suicide terrorism is almost exclusively used to combat occupation where there is a religious difference between the occupiers and occupied (together these present an existential threat to the occupied community) and the occupier jurisdiction is a democracy (and therefore less likely to reply ruthlessly and more likely to grant concessions). Furthermore, suicide terrorism seems to be relatively effective under these conditions.

Pape also dismisses two sucicide terrorism myths. First, that it is an Islam-only phenomenon (the Hindu/Marxist Tamil Tigers account for the most cases). Second, that suicide terrorists are primarily poor, uneducated and fundamentalist (they tend to have above average education and opportunities for their communities and often show now fundamentalist commitment before volunteering — an act of extreme commitment to their community by well integrated members of the same).

Although Pape has amassed significant data in support of his analysis, suicide terrorism (largely suicide bombing) has effectively only existed for a little over two decades (though suicide attacks have occasionally been used for millennia, briefly covered in this book). Will suicide terrorism change, or continue in the same pattern? There are two obvious questions, neither of which Pape bothers to pose (though I read the book a few months ago, I could’ve missed or forgotten):

  • Will suicide terrorism continue to be effective? In other words, will democracies continue to respond with a combination of concession, coercion, and grandstanding? Alternatives include apolitical response (e.g., criminal investigation and prosecution) and ruthless response (i.e., annihilation of the terrorist’s community).
  • Given that suicide terrorism is effective, will it be taken up by other groups that perceive an existential threat, e.g., radical environmentalists?

It seems that suicide bombings in Iraq, only the first several of which are included in Pape’s data, fit the pattern Pape has described. Even when not directed against the occupiers, religious difference (Shia vs. Sunni) is involved, as is the potential for influencing the democratic occupiers.

Apart from advising democracies to not occupy jurisdictions with a different predominant religion, which flows obviously from his analysis, Pape’s recommendations are irrelevant at best (e.g., lock down U.S. jurisdiction borders), as Peter McCluskey observes in his review. Nick Szabo and Chris Hibbert have also recently reviewed the book.

SXSW: The Digital Ethnorati and the Excluded Ethnorati

Friday, March 16th, 2007

I attended The Digital Ethnorati panel because I noticed Mini Kahon, whose employer shares an office space with mine, on the program.

So who are the Ethnorati? As one slide put it, those who are colored+hip+wired, where hip translates to identifying as ethnorati ( was presented as an example of non-ethnorati, despite presumably qualifying as colored and clearly qualifying as wired — too establishment, contrasted with , who gets cool points for being political).

Another term introduced (to me) by the panel is “digital exclusion”, an attempted reframing of “digital divide”. I expect this term to gain far more traction than Ethnorati. The nice thing about “exclusion” is that it can’t be “bridged” merely by obtaining net access; rather power structures must change, as the power structures represented on the net are more or less the same as those represented off the net. So the lingo has great staying power and does excellent worldview fitting.

Digital ethnorati almost by definition are part of power networks (again, wired doesn’t just mean digital) — so how can the digitally (and otherwise) excluded connect or grow their own? In small part by learning to podcast and acquiring other “21st century skills.”

I drifted during the part of the panel presented by a representative of the “Center for 21st Century Skills” and a few high school students who participate in the program, until one of the students, videoconferenced in from Brazil, apparently started crying. I gather that student could no longer participate in the program because she had been deported from the U.S. Now there’s exclusion.

Nerd neanderthalism

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Tim Lee on geek protectionism:

I have to say that as a guy with a CS degree myself, I find it unseemly when computer geeks whine about unfair competition from foreigners who have the nerve to be willing to do their jobs for less pay than them. If there’s anything “unfair” about the world labor market, it’s the fact that there are millions of competent engineers who, due to the accident of birth and Western countries’ restrictive immigration policies, are not able to utilize their engineering talents to the fullest. It’s far more “unfair” to an Indian engineer to force him to stay in India, where programming jobs are few and far between, then it is to allow him into the United States and “force” an American engineer to compete with him on a level playing field.

Read the entire post, which makes lots of other good points.

Race and international apartheid

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

I usually do not mention race when framing immigration controls as the international equivalent of (former) South African Apartheid — race lies on the South African side of the analogy. But the case of those opposing unfettered ability of all to move, live and work anywhere on earth without respect to nationality is not helped by the fact that race and racism is part and parcel of controls on movement, residency and work, as explained by The Guardian’s Gary Younge in The west persists in using race to decide who can cross its borders:

[W]hen translated into sterling, the mean income of a black Canadian is almost double that of a white South African. Yet a black Canadian is four times more likely to be stopped than a white South African.

Via Mark Brady.

Beneficial brain drain enhanced by weak intellectual protectionism

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Modern research on “” indicates it is mostly beneficial, which comports with my intuition, repeated here:

Over the long term I’d bet brains are not zero sum — a brain drain really just means increased returns to education. Mobility means more people in the developing world will pursue higher education. Add to that increased flow of knowledge and capital to the developing world from migrants and concern over “brain drain” sounds very much like yet another disingenuous excuse for keeping the current system of inter-jurisdiction apartheid in place.

The International Migration of Knowledge Workers: When Is Brain Drain Beneficial? highlights another way brain drain benefits all. Abstract (emphasis added):

We consider the welfare effects of the emigration of workers who produce a public good (knowledge). We distinguish between the knowledge diversion and knowledge creation effects of such emigration, and show that the remaining residents of a country can gain from emigration, even when tastes for knowledge goods exhibit a kind of ‘home bias’. In contrast to existing models of beneficial brain drain (BBD), our results do not require agglomeration economies, education-related externalities, remittances, return migration, or an emigration “lottery”. Instead, they are driven purely by the public nature of knowledge goods, combined with differences in market size that induce greater knowledge creation by emigrants abroad than at home. BBD is even more likely in the presence of weak sending-country intellectual property rights (IPRs), or when source country IPR policy is endogenized.

Very cool.

Via Katherine Mangu-Ward.

Don’t let (potential) rioters set policy

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Via a comment from author Philippe Legrain, a positive Financial Times review (copy) of his book Immigratns: Your Country Needs Them. I want to comment on two short excerpts:

Workers raise their own – and the world’s – income levels by moving from a low-productivity job in a poor country to more productive employment in a rich one.

Which should be enough to win over any modern human (non-neanderthal) to open borders. The ethical argument for open borders is even better.

Policymakers must take account of the many voters who disagree with Legrain, even if this is based on ignorance and prejudice. It is surely better to admit 500,000 immigrants annually and have social peace than 1m and riots.

The reviewer would deny 500,000 people opportunity every year in order to maintain “social peace”. I say let the skinheads and fellow travellers riot — and bring them to justice for any crimes committed. Neanderthalic potential rioters must not be allowed to stall the elimination of apartheid.

A border wall is not one-sided

Monday, January 15th, 2007

Roderick Long:

A wall that can be used to keep people out can also be used to keep people in.

Do we really want to trust the U.S. government – meaning not only the present regime but all future U.S. regimes – with a tool of that nature?

Similar arguments have been made many times regarding handing over power to the security state, but this is the first I’ve heard it specifically applied to building jurisdiction border walls.

Meanwhile the proposed U.S.-Mexico border fence could cost $49 billion, 25 times forecasts last year (zero surprise). Perhaps waiving environmental rules for the fence will save a pittance while continuing the security state’s best tradition of degradation.

Russian neanderthal vanguard

Monday, January 15th, 2007

Tom Palmer points out new laws cracking down on immigrant employment in Russia with a post title comment “Lou Dobbsian Economics Put into Practice in Russia”.

Palmer’s post is accompanied with a picture of marching Russian neo-nazis — neo-communists? — skinheads in any case, with armbands that would be unambiguously nazi if not for a hammer and sickle where a swastika would be expected.

It’s probable that Russian politicians are balder in their anti-immigrant pronouncements and Russian police more brutal in their enforcement, but the laws don’t sound all that foreign.


President Vladimir Putin spoke of the need to defend the interests of the native population.

Markets – often a source of employment for Russia’s army of immigrant workers – were singled out.

“Markets” means open air retail, I gather, but delicious nonetheless. Longer BBC article here.


Russia introduced new laws on Monday that experts say are intended to plug a hole in the country’s labor market while discouraging foreigners from settling there permanently.

The laws, passed by parliament last year, are designed to streamline the red tape foreigners have to go through to live and work in Russia legally but will also reduce their numbers.

One change will implement a gradual ban on foreigners working as traders in outdoor markets where immigrants dominate, causing friction with ethnic Russians.

‘We want to get rid of illegal immigration,’ said Denis Soldatikov, a spokesman for the Federal Migration Service.

Television pictures on Monday showed rows of locked shops at a market in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok heavily dependant on traders from neighbouring China.

‘The move was harmful because it will undermine trade,’ Vitkovskaya said. ‘I only hope no one is going to abide by it.’

But deputy Federal Migration Service head Vyacheslav Postavnin disagreed, saying the markets will adjust.

‘There are Russians to be hired,’ he told Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily. ‘Market owners will make sure that their business continues.’

Whenever you hear similar from those closer to home think of the skinheads and look in the mirror.