Monday, April 5, 2010

More on immigration

My US Economic History class has arrived at the issue of immigration and the student reaction seems consistent with rhetoric on this fundamental issue. I just finished a set of lectures by Deepak Lal, Unintended Consequences: The Impact of Factor Endowments, Culture, and Politics on Long-Run Economic Performance. The immigration debate rolled around my head throughout my reading of this excellent collection of essays and I kept thinking that Hayek would have pointed out that a policy effort to restrict immigration would be based upon centralized information and decision making. So, this policy falls victim, as to most grand government policies designed to restrict liberty, to the knowledge problem. So, as the government imposes a trade off on US society - less freedom for more security (I assume that the government rationale for limited labor mobility has to do with security in some form - economic, political, physical.)

So, I am in the odd (and uncomfortable position) of perhaps agreeing with Thomas Friedman. I did not read his recent editorial (in fact, I have not read much of the man since The World is Flat), but he was referenced in a provocative posting - Immigration is Key to Entrepreneurial Economy.

The blogger speculates that the "problem" of immigration may be self correcting, if the government continues the "war on immigration". He writes:

The primary reason that we see so many immigrants pursue entrepreneurship is that they are opportunity focused - surveys reveal that this is what drives many of them to leave for new a new country. I have to wonder how attractive the US will look in a few years after our mad dash to socialism is fully in force.

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