Friday, November 24, 2006

More WSJ disingenuity on immigration

During the World Cup, the WSJ op/ed board had a piece snubbing the rabble for wanting sovereign borders in everyday life but was happy to have great immigrant athletes on various sports teams that they supported. A child is able to realize that accepting unfettered immigrant inundation and having control of who is allowed residency and who is not are not the same things, but the puerile piece pretended that they were. Irritated, I wrote:
With even more insouiciance than usual, the WSJ op/ed board treats immigration as an ecunemical good. Employing the standard non sequitur, the board uses the benefits of (extreme) merited immigration as an argument for universal open borders: ...

Many people do not like the free market in sports--the MLB's lack of a salary cap is part of the reason it is perpetually overshadowed by the always-competitive NFL. An international market for soccer players does not bode well for the prospects of teams from the third- and developing world. Although soccer is among the most simple and least cost-prohibitive sports in
the world, making it ubiquitous in poor nations, the World Cup has been dominated and will continue to be dominated by a Brazilian powerhouse (pulling the best from Latin America) and developed Europe (at least until the US gets serious about the game). Athletic brain-drain is bad news for aspiring developing and underdeveloped countries.

But for the nations doing the draining, the (short-term at least) benefit is obvious. Yet that is only an argument for a specific, exacting merited immigration, not immigration in general. Obviously French fans will benefit less from receiving ten thousand Islamic youths with marginal soccer skills than they will in receiving a single Zidane, although in the end even the latter situation may prove deleterious if French natives forego soccer altogether.
The same logic applies in the rest of industry. In the run-up to the midterm elections, candidates from both parties came out in favor of tougher immigration policies, more security, greater enforcement, and with sharp criticism for the Bush administration's failure to end the third-world immigration that is bankrupting cities across the Southwest, bringing back diseases thought to have been vanquished from the developed world, increasing criminality, depressing wages, and pulling scholastic performance downward. They did not call for an end to all immigration. Nonetheless, the op/ed board now produces this:
Titled "American Made: The Impact of Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Professionals on U.S. Competitiveness," the report found that "Over the past 15 years, immigrants have started 25 percent of U.S. public companies that were venture-backed." These businesses employ some 220,000 people in the U.S. and have a current market capitalization that "exceeds $500 billion, adding significant value to the American economy."

The authors surveyed smaller, private venture-backed companies as well and discovered that nearly half of the founders also were immigrants. Protectionists insist that immigrants "steal" jobs from native workers, but this survey found evidence that these newcomers are more likely to expand the job pool. "[A]lmost two-thirds (66 percent) of the immigrant founders of privately held venture-backed companies have started or intend to start more companies in the United States," according to the report.

And how many of these publicly-traded US companies were started by impoverished menial laborers crossing illegally through the southern border? I support the construction of a wall, harsher punitions for employers who have their cheap labor subsidized by the American taxpayer, and the ending of all entitlement benefits (including citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants born on US soil) for illegal residents. Further, I support a merit immigration system similar to those used in Canada, Australia, and increasingly in Europe, that grants residency based on a host of attributes including age, occupation, physical health, English language fluency, educational attainment, means, IQ, social beliefs, and the like.

The concern for what effect high performing immigrants have on natives is of legitimate concern. I'd like to see mandatory deposits being required that are returned after a certain number of years of residence in the US to entice those who benefit from US educational institutions to stay stateside after graduation. I'm also open to the idea of preference for natives given equal SAT and GRE scores (which already happens to some extent with schools that favor the children of alumni). But the issue of skilled immigration that creates wealth and raises the standard of living for natives is entirely separate from ending underclass immigration that creates an economic liability and depresses the standard of living for natives. If the WSJ op/ed board had any intellectual honesty, it would distinguish between the two. Of course, this is the same board that is blaming the GOP's defeat on those who supported an overwhelmingly popular position on immigration instead of blaming itself for supporting two incredibly unpopular ones--opposition to a minimum wage increase and support the Iraq war.

With a merit immigration system, the US would be able to leverage its high standard of living and enormous market to attract the global cream of the crop. With open borders, the US is letting market forces determine population movement. As the US is an elite entity as far as nations go, this is disastrous. The US will continue to be attractive until it no longer becomes advantageous for people to come here--in short, when the US is on par with the rest of the world (an average IQ of 90, purchasing power parity of just under $10,000, a life expectancy of 64 years, a literacy rate of 82%, etc). As an entity, the US should want to attract those who will make it healthier, wealthier, and more intelligent. The piece mentions Google as an example of a company having benefited from immigrants in the US. The US, like Google, can benefit as well, but only if it hires like Google--taking the best of the applications it receives, not if it gives a job to everyone who wants one.


Fat Knowledge said...

I'd like to see mandatory deposits being required that are returned after a certain number of years of residence in the US to entice those who benefit from US educational institutions to stay stateside after graduation.

From what I understand there are many graduates that are unable to get working visas to stay in the US. Seems like the easiest thing to do is to just raise the number of H1B visas the US gives out.

What is your take on Americans who go overseas to take jobs? You read a lot about mid and upper level American managers who are going to China or India these days.

Do you see it as a good thing, as they have new opportunities to better take advantage of their skills and are able to do what is most rewarding financially and personally to them?

Or do you see it as a bad thing, as some of the best and brightest are leaving the US and lowering the average IQ in the US? Would you support more stringent emigration laws to go along with your immigration proposals to decrease the number of high ability individuals that are able to leave?

JSBolton said...

There's another egalitarian equivocation, implying all border-crossers are the same.
Hitler was an illegal alien, all border-crossers are interchangeable as to moral worth; therfore all immigrants are equal in moral worth to Hitler!
Egalitarian premises generate no end of non sequitirs like that.
If you absolutely have to take the bad with the good, and never discriminate as if there could be inequalities of significance; why doesn't the WSJ have to take the bad with the good on their staff?
Are they allowed to get away with requiring degress or literacy for various positions?
Another fallacy they're trying to put over here is the false dilemma, of taking all without discrimination, or taking none.
It is not known that such are the alternatives, and indeed there is every indication that we have thousands of alternative possibilities between those two improbable and surreal poles.
If such immigrationism had rational arguments to use they would do so, and not give us obvious violations of logic, where better was to be expected.

al fin said...

I like the mandatory deposit idea--although it wouldn't work with illegals, unfortunately.

Every nation has the obligation to current citizens to exclude outsiders who will make life inside the country worse. There is nothing underhanded or immoral about that.

mping--I do not understand your analogy. Americans who go overseas to take temporary jobs virtually all come back and continue to contribute to the US. In fact, their experience overseas gives them unique skills with which to contribute. It is contribution to the US that c41 focuses on, and rightly so, as an american himself.

crush41 said...


Can you quantify the number of high-skilled emigrants? Outsourced jobs number less than a quarter of a million per annum, and I'd expect the emigration number to be even lower.

Regarding H1Bs: The backlog is enormous. The ball is in our court. The US has the ability to skim the very best and brightest and demand they bring certain things to the table (deposits, etc). Why do we allow an infinite number of visas for prospective university students (the most likely to benefit from taxpayer subsidized entities and then leave) while limiting those for businesses to 85,000 a year?


I think that's what infuriates all the more--the WSJ is so puerile and snide in its illogical arguments, like the dumb relative who relishes in his own ignorance while making all kinds of assertive statements without backing them up.


Right. Securing the border, enforcing punitions, and giving local law enforcement the right to detain illegals is separate from the merit immigration issue.

As you say, the American emigrant tends to be educated stateside, goes abroad, makes money and gains experience, and then comes back home. Quite the opposite of much of what the world does via the US.

nzconservative said...

Although I support limited skill based immigration, ethnicity is also an issue.

Due to population aging in Europe and East Asia most skilled immigrants are likely to come from India.

My concern with Indian Immigration is the Sub-continental extended family.

How do you know that a skilled Indian immigrants isn't going to bring in half a dozen unskilled relatives a few years down the track.

India also has a very irresponsible attitude to population growth, which increases the incentive for Indians to colonise other countries.

This needs to be factored into decisions about granting visas.

crush41 said...


I agree with you in principle, but the political atmosphere makes that nearly impossible (at least in the US). Smearing Indian society with the outsourcing attack might make it a little less 'radical', but I'm not optimistic.

Also, I'd like to see more research into ability/cognitive differences between the various 'castes' (I realize that's a somewhat antiquated term) within Indian society. For instance, What percentage of Brahmins are unskilled and uneducable? I'd imagine it's a relatively small percentage of the total Brahmin population.