I got published: David Brat’s Bad Immigration Logic

I got published today at The Freeman on David Brat’s bad immigration logic. I haven’t been published at The Freeman before, so that’s cool.

I’m sad to have to call Brat out on this issue, but facts are facts. He’s just dead wrong. And as an economics professor, he has no excuse. If, like he says, immigration really does create a lump of labor and unemployment, then a logical solution to solving existing unemployment is to simply raise the minimum working age and reduce the supply of labor. He, of course, would never advocate this. Why then advocate for immigration restrictions with the goal of constricting the supply of labor?

Cantor. And Brat’s wrong on immigration.

The New York Times Editorial Board laments the fall of Eric Cantor to “little-known resident of the distant extremes” David Brat. They’re no fans of Cantor, but Brat, they say, is even worse. Two thoughts on this piece.

1. Eric Cantor epitomizes corporatism. His top five donors this past year include Blackstone Group, Scoggin Capital Management, Goldman Sachs, Altria Group and Charmer Sunbelt Group. He’s a shill for Wall Street special interests…so much so that it almost goes without saying in this Politico article. He’s the archetype of politico “1 percenters”. I wonder if the New York Times knows this.

2. What’s so wrong with immigration? The article references some pledge going around among Tea Party types (like Brat) opposing not only attempts at amnesty, but even measures that increase legal immigration and increase the overall number of guest workers. Additionally, I found the following comment on Brat’s website:

“Adding millions of workers to the labor market will force wages to fall and jobs to be lost.”

Read that again. So more willing workers coming to America to feed their families means wages will fall and jobs will be lost. That’s assuming people continue to come to America when their prospects for employment here are virtually zero (bad assumption). It also assumes that the new workers will willingly work for less than those already here, which means more money left over for business owners to invest elsewhere (good assumption, and a good thing!).

Bad economic logic. But I don’t think most conservatives’ opposition to immigration has ever been about economic logic. It’s more about perceived culture erosion. Imagine if conservative-leaning, English-speaking Canadians were pouring into the United States to take advantage of our freer market conditions. Would conservatives be so quick to ship them out at every possible opportunity?

For example, according to this logic it makes sense to raise the minimum working age from 16 (or whatever) to 21. That way, the labor supply is limited and those annoying teens won’t be around to bid down wages!