Scott Walker the socialist (on immigration)

Last month, Scott Walker explained to conservative talk-show host Sean Hannity that immigration policy should be based, first and foremost, on “protecting American workers and American wages.”

The next president and the next Congress need to make decisions about a legal-immigration system that’s based on, first and foremost, on protecting American workers and American wages. It is a fundamentally lost issue by many in elected positions today, is what is this doing for American workers looking for jobs, what is this doing to wages, and we need to have that to be at the forefront of our discussion going forward.

Presumably, he means that immigration drives down wages and hurts Americans in low-wage jobs. At least, that’s what any intelligent person should take away from such comments. I suspect he’ll deny he said all this in the coming months.

But even so, I’m not content to believe this is his actual view. That’s changed a few times in past years. For all the good he’s done in Wisconsin, Walker’s sure panders hard when faced with the prospect of a presidential campaign.

All that aside, though, what frustrates me most about this has nothing to do with Walker himself, but with the blatant, ignorant stupidity of such a view—the idea that immigrants drive down wages and hurt lower-class Americans and that we need government to make sure this doesn’t happen.

I’ve written about all this before after David Brat made a similar argument last year. He was just as wrong. I’m not going to rehash my whole argument here (you should read it, though), but here’s a few quick questions for Walker:

  1. Why is it bad that immigrants drive down wages? Isn’t it good to have a flexible and diverse supply of labor?
  2. Socialists have, for a century, made the same argument you’re making. Are they wrong? Are you a socialist on immigration?
  3. Instead of limit immigration, why not raise minimum wage by a few dollars? It will have the same effect—it will keep wages high and make many illegal immigrants virtually unemployable.

In case anyone doesn’t get me, I’m not arguing in that third question that minimum wage is good. Minimum wage is bad (as I explained here), and I think Walker would at least lend lip service to that idea. I only frame the question that way to show that Walker is all confused.

In this vein, here’s a great meme I came across today. Pardon the French.

Louis C.K. on

A new piece, and a great interview

Here’s my new piece at on interest-sensitive investments — a handy little read, I hope, for anyone concerned about how an interest rate hike might affect their portfolio. Then again, I still stand by my prediction from last December: The Fed won’t raise interest rates in 2015. Inflation is just too low. In fact, I don’t think raising rates in 2015 was ever a serious possibility when rate-hike-talk began last fall.

Switching gears…

Here’s great interview with some great thoughts on immigration (and other things) from someone who could very well be the next President of the U.S. At the least, it’s encouraging to know that someone running for president actually believes his message is robust enough to convince millions of people (i.e. Republicans) that they are wrong on a big issue (immigration).

Jeb Bush speaks truth on immigration

“It just seems to me that maybe if you open up our doors in a fair way and unleashed the spirit of peoples’ hard work, Detroit could become in really short order, one of the great American cities again. Now it would look different, it wouldn’t be Polish…But it would be just as powerful, just as exciting, just as dynamic. And that’s what immigration does and to be fearful of this, it just seems bizarre to me.”-Jeb Bush

QOTD: Jeffrey Kluger

Want to know how far we’ve sunk? Here’s how far: There was never any chance at all that we would handle the crisis of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children running for their lives and arriving at our border with any maturity or grace at all. There was never a chance we’d take them in, get them fed and settled, and then consider sensibly how we can address the immigration-emigration mess on both sides of our border—and on our border—while working to send the kids safely home.

From Jeffrey Kluger, writing in TIME.

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!