Monday, March 27, 2006

Monday 27th March

A new week and another piece having a go, albeit a mild one, at Paul Krugman. Not this time because Tim disagrees with him, but because he doesn't believe Krugman should think like this.

Basically Tim's argument is this:

1. Krugman is a liberal and believes in income and wealth redistribution. Krugman is an internationalist so should be indifferent between Americans and foreigners.
2. Mexican immigrants gain more from working in the United States than poor Americans lose from lower wages and less jobs because Mexican immigrants are working in the United States.
3. Point 2 is therefore income redistribution.
4. Krugman should therefore like it.

I can't say I agree with point 1. There are many reasons why one might place more weight on the welfare of poor Americans than potential immigrants. Even if you don't feel any particular emotional link to other citizens of your own country, there are obvious practical issues, most of which stem from the fact that newly unemployed/poor 'native' citizens aren't going to be deported.

Having said this, Krugman's column is a bit of a shocker. It would have gained from a line at the start of the effect of "If I was to make a case against immigration, this is how I would do it". The estimates he uses on the costs to lowly-educated 'native' Americans are the ones at the high-end of the range studies have found. He doesn't suggest other means by which the impact of immigation could be improved. But this isn't KrugmanWatch, so I'll shut up.

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