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Nate
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"Libertarian" Economic Treatment of Labor? Immigrants stealing jobs!
Apr 8th, 2014 at 1:22am
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[TL;DR at the bottom]

Hello folks,

I just listened to this IQ2 debate.

http://www.npr.org/2013/11/04/243009466/should-anyone-be-able-to-take-a-job-anyw...

I think the panelists were fair particularly for the pro, Bryan Caplan on the opp teaches economics at George Mason University and cites Murray Rothbard and Milton Friedman as some of his main influences on his Wikipedia page. Just as a side note, the opp had one panelist which claimed to have never opened an economic textbook which was quite conspicuous at moments- at one point, he seemed to give the impression that he thought a high minimum wage could artificially boost wages for significant numbers of American workers, but that's neither here nor there.

The resolution of the debate was "Let anyone take a job anywhere." Essentially what was discussed was the common complaint typically heard from conservatives, "Mexicans are taking our jobs" but basically on steroids. Now instead of Mexicans the resolution was discussing immigrants from all over the world.

There's a lot someone with a lot of free market leanings like me might have to say about it. Most important for me were concepts such as comparative advantage and the division of labor. I often analogized in my head that someone complaining about immigrants taking our jobs is like someone who owns a garden for personal consumption complaining about a grocery store "stealing their labor."

My philosophy is basically that there's room for everybody, whenever a previously labor-necessary need was taken care of, we'd move on to lower needs which weren't previously fulfilled. When the light bulb was created, I thought as I watched this debate, it's not as if the 'candlemaker' jobs were lost into the black hole forever, labor just shifted.

So on the pro side, a lot of 'Bastiat' and 'Ricardian' thinking led me to be sympathetic to their point of view.

Still, the opposition indicated that if immigrants were allowed to move into the United States freely, that could push wages down because immigrants would accept much lower wages than most Americans.

Caplan (the libertarian economist) indicated that the government could subsidize those areas where American laborers had their wages decreased due to the influx of immigrants. That's certainly a better solution, but certainly not libertarian.

So on the one hand I have things like "The Candlemaker's Petition"  and concepts like comparative advantage going through my head which give me strong urges to think that immigrants ought to be able to come, but then again there is a common-sense notion that more immigrants will depress wages for low-skilled American laborers.

Anyone want to sort out my cognitive dissonance? Does anything have anything they can contribute which they think will help? OH! And are there any essays/books that deal with issues such as these that you could link to? Much thanks.

TL;DR: I watched a debate about immigrants coming into the United States and what sort of effect that would have on the American job market. On the one hand, notions such as comparative advantage or the division of labor urge me to favor immigration into the United States. On the other hand, this occurring on such a massive scale means that there's a common sense notion that this would depress low-skilled American wages. Does anyone have any relevant thoughts, and what are the best libertarian writings on subjects such as these that you would recommend?
  
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Josh
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Re: "Libertarian" Economic Treatment of Labor? Immigrants stealing jobs!
Reply #1 - Apr 8th, 2014 at 10:55am
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The "more population will lead to less jobs" hypothesis is laughable. So as the population has grown, less jobs have been available? Hmm.... this doesn't seem to reflect reality.
  

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Jeff
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Re: "Libertarian" Economic Treatment of Labor? Immigrants stealing jobs!
Reply #2 - Apr 8th, 2014 at 3:30pm
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cato.org

On the home page at the top left is a list of areas of research.

Everything you need to know about monetary and economic theory and policy.

Why is cato.org not a link? IDK
http://www.cato.org
OK, now I see.

  
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LibertariCAN
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Re: "Libertarian" Economic Treatment of Labor? Immigrants stealing jobs!
Reply #3 - Apr 8th, 2014 at 4:16pm
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Josh wrote on Apr 8th, 2014 at 10:55am:
The "more population will lead to less jobs" hypothesis is laughable. So as the population has grown, less jobs have been available? Hmm.... this doesn't seem to reflect reality.



Exactly.

This completely disregards economic concepts such as general expansion, the marginal product of labour, the marginal product of capital, etc.

The problem with discussions like this in politics is that they stem from false principles.
  

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Nate
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Re: "Libertarian" Economic Treatment of Labor? Immigrants stealing jobs!
Reply #4 - Apr 8th, 2014 at 9:57pm
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Josh wrote on Apr 8th, 2014 at 10:55am:
The "more population will lead to less jobs" hypothesis is laughable. So as the population has grown, less jobs have been available? Hmm.... this doesn't seem to reflect reality.


In all fairness, I don't think that was quite what the opp was arguing. They weren't saying there wouldn't be enough jobs; they were saying that most immigrants would be low-skilled and that would lead to a depression in low-skilled American laborer's wages.

I KNOW that's got to be wrong somehow, but I don't think their thinking was as flawed as that.
  
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Nate
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Re: "Libertarian" Economic Treatment of Labor? Immigrants stealing jobs!
Reply #5 - Apr 8th, 2014 at 9:59pm
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LibertariCAN wrote on Apr 8th, 2014 at 4:16pm:
Exactly.

This completely disregards economic concepts such as general expansion, the marginal product of labour, the marginal product of capital, etc.

The problem with discussions like this in politics is that they stem from false principles.


Would you mind elaborating on that? You have a massive influx of low-skilled immigrants into the US. Show me how those concepts result in wages for low-skilled Americans not going down.
  
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Re: "Libertarian" Economic Treatment of Labor? Immigrants stealing jobs!
Reply #6 - Apr 9th, 2014 at 9:43am
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Nate wrote on Apr 8th, 2014 at 9:59pm:
Would you mind elaborating on that? You have a massive influx of low-skilled immigrants into the US. Show me how those concepts result in wages for low-skilled Americans not going down.

Wages go up, wages go down, and there are lots of reasons for this. It's a general thing. Things change in the world, and, if they are allowed to, markets respond.

The question I raise is, does government control of the labor market work better, long term, than allowing a free market in labor?
Does government have some magic knowledge of what wages should be for low skilled workers, or of how many workers there should be?
  
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Re: "Libertarian" Economic Treatment of Labor? Immigrants stealing jobs!
Reply #7 - Apr 9th, 2014 at 10:49pm
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Jeff wrote on Apr 9th, 2014 at 9:43am:
The question I raise is, does government control of the labor market work better, long term, than allowing a free market in labor?


To play devil's advocate, sure. If the government prevents low-skilled immigrants from coming into the US, then that doesn't erode the low-skilled American laborer's wages.

Quote:
Does government have some magic knowledge of what wages should be for low skilled workers, or of how many workers there should be?


Nope.
  
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Re: "Libertarian" Economic Treatment of Labor? Immigrants stealing jobs!
Reply #8 - Apr 10th, 2014 at 10:41am
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Nate wrote on Apr 9th, 2014 at 10:49pm:
To play devil's advocate, sure. If the government prevents low-skilled immigrants from coming into the US, then that doesn't erode the low-skilled American laborer's wages.


That's incredibly narrow minded, and typical of how our government views economic 'problems', as if each identified 'problem' exists in an isolated vacuum.
If you think just a little bit, you'll realize that controlling immigration to support  the wages of low skilled Americans has unintended effects beyond the limited original objective.

  
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Re: "Libertarian" Economic Treatment of Labor? Immigrants stealing jobs!
Reply #9 - Apr 10th, 2014 at 3:07pm
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Jeff wrote on Apr 10th, 2014 at 10:41am:
That's incredibly narrow minded, and typical of how our government views economic 'problems', as if each identified 'problem' exists in an isolated vacuum.
If you think just a little bit, you'll realize that controlling immigration to support  the wages of low skilled Americans has unintended effects beyond the limited original objective.



From my observations our government doesn't address economic problems but instead addresses the symptoms of problems instead and that usually results in the problem becoming worse. I like using the following analogy.

A person with a brain tumor has headaches. Instead of treating the brain tumor our government treats the headache by providing aspirin which relieves the pain that is only a symptom. Because the tumor isn't treated the headaches become worse and they require a stronger, more expensive, pain reliever like morphine. That relieves the pain for a little while longer but eventually the patient still dies from the brain tumor that was never treated.

We see that in the government handling of problems associated with labor because the government is treating symptoms of the problems related to labor and not the problems themselves. Real wages for the vast majority of Americans are going down as the wealth is being funneled to the top 1% of Americans. Poverty is increasing daily and eventually it's going to become so bad that they average person will not be able to survive, period.

Both Democrats and Republicans oppose open immigration albeit for different reasons.

Democrats believe that open immigration will take "American" jobs but that is BS. Studies have shown that open immigration increases the number of jobs by about 400% for every immigrant filling a job position.

Republicans oppose immigration because it would be predominately Hispanic and lead to US citizenship for the immigrants that typically vote for Democrats because of Republican anti-Hispanic agenda such as opposition to immigration laws that would allow Hispanic immigration.

Libertarians typically endorse open immigration because it creates more generally higher paying domestic jobs and because immigrants pay more in taxes than they use in government services and benefits. 
  
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