Free Markets, Cheap Labor, And Government Money
June 09, 2007, 06:54 PM
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Jacob Sullum of Reason Magazine has a post in which he says that

In the debate over the immigration bill, left-liberal Democrats are emerging as champions of the free market. [ What Is the Way a Market-Based Capitalist Economy Works Best?| June 6, 2007]

This should make him more suspicious than it does. He quotes former immigration lawyer, now California Congresswomen Zoe Lofgren in the New York Times:

But Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat who is chairwoman of the Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, said she had found no one in her Silicon Valley district who thought it was a good idea.

�The point system is like the Soviet Union,� Ms. Lofgren said. �The government is saying, in effect, �We have a five-year plan for the economy, and we will decide with this point system what mix of skills is needed.’ That is not the way a market-based capitalist economy works best.�A Point System for Immigrants Incites Passions, New York Times

Sullum goes on to say

Lofgren is right, but I'm not sure she's willing to follow this reasoning to its logical conclusion, which is not somewhat more flexible central planning but a system in which employers and consumers decide which skills are needed. If only we had a catchy name for that.

The political point here is that Democrats, and here I include both Lofgren and the New York Times, want to import more poor people. They like poor people, who vote Democratic, and they feel that they're being charitable in admitting them. The point system is intended to select people who will be net taxpayers—engineers, computer people, business owners.

Of course, all this does is displace a better class of people, but it doesn't add to the welfare rolls.

But if "employers and consumers" want to import a poor person, they're volunteering to add to other people's tax burden. It's rent-seeking by employers, and imported voter-seeking by Democrats, and that's why it's legitimate for the government to interfere in the market—because it's a market in tax dollars.