Thursday, December 18, 2008

Immigrants Add Jobs

Ah, the perennial debate about whether immigrants take away jobs: The Guardian

For the last time, the answer is "No." But no matter how many numbers are publicized or gathered, the human being is a visual animal. That means if some different-looking fella is mowing your neighbor's lawn, he's going to be noticed much more than anyone else, even if three more natives are hired at the local hardware store down the street.

The more interesting question is whether immigrants drive down wages in certain industries. I think generally speaking, they would, only because of the simple fact that more people entering any industry create more competition, which leads to lower prices. In ordinary times, people like more competition, because it led to lower prices. Now, it's a problem because people see increasing unemployment and need to find a scapegoat. Of course, they don't blame out-of-control government spending, ill-advised international adventures, or underfunded entitlement programs. Nah, it's much easier to blame that different-looking fella who talks funny.

I'm not sure this visual bias will ever change, but perhaps schools should be more effective in teaching students how the Irish, Germans, Italians, and Chinese were treated when they first arrived in America, and how they were all blamed each time an economic crisis arose.

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