Here’s a quick and dirty fix for the US economy – instead of closing up the borders, why not open the gates to skilled migrant workers, and give them a free green card with every house purchased?
While his tongue was slightly in cheek, Gupta and many other Indian business people I spoke to this week were trying to make a point that sometimes non-Americans can make best: “Dear America, please remember how you got to be the wealthiest country in history. It wasn’t through protectionism, or state-owned banks or fearing free trade. No, the formula was very simple: build this really flexible, really open economy, tolerate creative destruction so dead capital is quickly redeployed to better ideas and companies, pour into it the most diverse, smart and energetic immigrants from every corner of the world and then stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat.”
We live in a technological age where every study shows that the more knowledge you have as a worker and the more knowledge workers you have as an economy, the faster your incomes will rise. Therefore, the centerpiece of our stimulus, the core driving principle, should be to stimulate everything that makes us smarter and attracts more smart people to our shores. That is the best way to create good jobs.
It’s easy to see why that piece is in the NYT’s op-ed column… but even so, it doesn’t sound like the craziest idea for ending the recession that I’ve heard in the last week. [via MarginalRevolution]; image by TheTruthAbout]
If you pay attention to the tabloid media in the US and the UK, you’ll be familiar with the idea that immigration is a terrible problem that must be stemmed at all cost, with hordes of desperate foreigners waiting beyond our borders to steal away scraps of our hard-earned prosperity and run our public services into the ground. [image by mockstar]
According to Fred Pearce of New Scientist, however, there’s another way of looking at the present system which doesn’t portray those of us in the richest nations as the victims: it’s a form of legitimised apartheid.
It has always struck me as odd that we are so keen to allow the flow of cash and goods across borders without let or hindrance, but try so hard to deny the same rights to people. That is both unfair and a denial of the free-market theories on which much of the world’s economy is built.
Surely if free trade and the free movement of capital is so good for an efficient global economy, then the same should apply to the free movement of labour?
I can’t see the fault in that logic. And for the apostles of the free market to deny it reeks to me of racism and xenophobia. Worse, the stench is disguised by a cheap perfume of do-gooding development theory and environmental hand-wringing.
Pearce goes on to suggest that strict border controls actually give us what we really want – economic disparity, and an easily cowed pool of illegal immigrant labour to do the jobs that no citizen will take for the money we’re willing to pay.
There are definitely some big holes in Pearce’s theory behind the rhetoric, but he’s also pointing at some rather uncomfortable truths. So here’s your challenge for the comments: argue against Pearce without falling back on arguments such as “why not make your own country as great as the one you want to move to”, and without making sweeping generalisations about people based on their race or nationality. Go!