What is up with Econolog?

I read Econolog on a regular basis. I have always found it thoughtful and interesting. I feel I have learned much because of it.

So, I imagine my surprise when reading a new post on it called Are Low-Skilled Americans the Master Race written by Brian Caplan which starts out with a Type M argument suggesting Americans opposed to illegal immigration are perhaps proto-fascists.

Here are my questions for Bryan Kaplan that he I hope he answers to clarify his position (I wish I had run the spell checker before posting to his site though):

1) Do you see any significant difference between the nature of illegal immigration vs. legal immigration?

2) Do you see any significant difference of effect on the nature of the US society between immigrants being assimilated into the American nation and those that choose not assimilate (and institutions that support the non-assimilation)?

3) Do you think there are cost differences to US society between legal and illegal immigrants (e.g. crime/legal system costs, benefit transfers) that are significant?

4) Do you consider there to be any national security effects by illegal immigration that are significant?

5) Does the 8% number you cite refer to legal or illegal immigrants?

6) Do you consider the 8% number to be valid, or would other labor saving products/ processes be substituted if cheap labor was not available (didn't I read that on this blog in another post in the last few weeks)?

Brian's view could be best expressed charitably as a some type of transnational amorality, meaning the US should not look after its own interests because they are no more important then the interest of any other nation-state or peoples (the same with socio-political values, national security and established borders).

I find it interesting that he complains that legal American citizens and resident who are supposedly competing with illegal immigrants are special interest to be called out:

Economists are used to rolling their eyes when people object to better policies on the grounds that some special interest will suffer from the change. It's time to cross the final frontier, and start rolling our eyes when the special interest is low-skilled Americans.

Apparently illegal immigrants are not a special interest to be resisted. I suspect the cost of illegals, the cost to American nationality of immigrants not being assimilated, and national security costs did not figure into his calculation.

My problem with libertarianism has always been on National Security and international relations issues. I am attracted to libertarian positions on most things social and economic. The libertarian National Security views of pacifism, open boarders, opposition to American Patriotic sentiment among others have always left me cold. My point of view has always been that of an American Citizen, not that of a member of an elite that is above national identities and systems.We can open boarders when the world (is nations and peoples) are essentially to my liking: democratic, capitalistic, and peaceful.


I especially liked the comments of Dobeln and JohnJ at the original post.

JohnJ wrote:

The world is not a nice place, and it certainly isn't fair. The vast majority of people who have ever lived have died. Tell me that's fair. Most of them died never knowing the freedoms that we as Americans have today. I'm not advocating forgetting about all the people who were not lucky enough to be born American. We have to approach the implementation of these ideals in a way that will work in the real world. And it will not work by having unregulated borders.

The best way to help people is to help them where they live. We need to remove terrorist-sponsoring mass-murdering tyrants from power and establish democracies so that people can choose how they want to live. We need to compel governments that oppress their people, either through failed economic policies (Venezuela, Bolivia, Russia) or through human rights violations (Cuba, Iran, North Korea) to adopt better policies. The Berlin Wall was built to keep people IN. That's because the place sucked so much that people would flee. Our country is so great that people are risking everything in the hope to get here.

One Response

  1. I read back through the original post and my questions had never been answered.

    Kaplan’s argument was basically if you are an American opposed to unlimited immigration of any kind you are stupid, beholden to special interests, most likely a racists and clearly not as enlightenment as he is.

    I still read that blog most for Kling.

    Kaplan’s PoV is pretty consistent – that of a Transnational Elite unconcerned with the USA’s USAness. As an elite, I imagine down deeps he expects to survive and thrive no matter what happens to the rest of stoopid-racists-non-enlightened Amerikans.

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