Democratic Presidential Candidates: To Whom Should We Extend Your Compassion?

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Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

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312 Responses

  1. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    Jaybird’s right.
    The lump of labor fallacy does show up in the strangest places.

    The theory being put forward here is that trade is a win/lose proposition,that in order for a factory to be built in India, one cannot be built in Indiana.

    This is, obviously, the exact opposite of how trade is commonly described.

    It also contains other assumptions which need scrutiny.

    Is the reason Rahim is so poor simply because benevolent Western nations haven’t yet opened factories to employ him?

    There isn’t for example, a national and local economy which can produce jobs and consumer demand to build a robust middle class, or at least keep people from having to forage in trash heaps?

    It seems strange that if free trade is so self evidently superior as a way to lift all boats,that it should sold as a form of charity with appeals to our compassion rather than self interest.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      I think it’s not that such a local economy can’t occur, but that Western factories can help it occur faster.

      And let’s face it, if there is one constant refrain I hear from activists*, it’s that people need relief NOW!, so faster is better.

      *To be fair, the right wing does this too, but with regard to whatever their pet interest is today (abortion, crime, Starbucks, etc.)Report

    • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Which to my mind points to inequality. Trade enriches us in the US, but the benefits go disproportionately to a few people.

      Theoretically speaking, whenever there is an exchange, value is increased. That amount increaased is known as surplus. In the current environment, corporations claim most of the surplus from international trade, and that is funneled to a few people. Because those few people do better. Of course, this is framed as fitting and proper.

      Now, I’d be ok with free trade, if it were coupled with a robust social safety net. Maybe even UBI. It turns out that, putting this as your bargaining position gets you nowhere, because the two things are broken apart, and people stop listening after “I’m ok with free trade”.

      So, threatening protectionism as a bargaining chip seems like a better negotiating strategy. Why should we help the 1 percent grow richer and get nothing in return?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Doctor Jay says:

        Are *YOU* in the global top 1%?

        According to the Global Rich List, a website that brings awareness to worldwide income disparities, an income of $32,400 a year will allow you to make the cut. $32,400 amounts to roughly:

        28,614 euros
        2.307 million Indian rupees
        218,532 Chinese yuan

        Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to Doctor Jay says:

        Except that’s not actually true, trade liberalisation benefits everyone who buys a good. It’s the losses of free trade that tend to be concentrated.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Doctor Jay says:

        Trade enriches us in the US, but the benefits go disproportionately to a few people.

        Breathtakingly wrong. The main benefits of trade are split among everyone to the point of obscurity and disproportionately benefit the poor.

        When WalMart importing textiles drove down prices so that the amount of money a family needs to spend on clothing yearly went from $2.8k to $1.8k, that put an extra $1k in the pockets of every family in the US. An extra $1k per family benefitted rich families only slightly but the poor a lot.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Dark Matter says:

          This. I’m constantly astounded by the quality of clothing in Walmart for the price. And for real, when you’re a grownup and not too worried about brand names, most of their stuff doesn’t look too bad. I buy all my workout gear there and a fair amount of my hunting gear. I don’t see how that hurts consumers in any way.Report

    • Avatar Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      “It seems strange that if free trade is so self evidently superior as a way to lift all boats,that it should sold as a form of charity with appeals to our compassion rather than self interest.”

      Could you unpack that sentence? I might be reading it wrong. It seems to me that, among the people who believe that trade lifts all boats, it is sold as a form of charity. At a minimum, they include the charitable nature of trade in their presentation. But that side has been losing ground since 2007.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

        Unpacking:
        Remember hearing about the famous Kitchen Debate between Nixon and Kruschev, where all Nixon had to do is show him the staggering wealth of the capitalist society? Or how in Soviet propaganda films about oppressed Negroes, the Soviets were stupefied to see those oppressed peasants driving cars?

        The superiority of free market capitalism were obvious and self evident. No one needed charts and graphs and complex economic theory to explain that Americans were wealthy and Russians were not. All someone had to do its look around and see with their own eyes.

        So now we are 40 years on with the movement to global free trade, and where is the promised prosperity? It was sold to us as a way to improve things, where people in Youngstown and Flint would see their fortunes rise, not fall.

        And yet..that’s not what happened is it? And when people like me question it, we are given a furious blizzard of charts&graphs&statistics insisting that yes, we are better off, yes, really you are, you just can’t see it!

        How is this possible? How is it that if we compare our lives to the lives of our parents, the difference in prosperity and security isn’t just obvious?

        Like that “Old Economy Steve” meme that goes around, comparing Steve in 1979 to a millennial today.
        Shouldn’t it work in reverse? Shouldn’t the meme be like, “Old Economy Steve paid a quarter of his income on rent, and I only pay half that” or “Old Economy Steve couldn’t afford to take a vacation, but I take 3 weeks in Barbados every year”

        And so now, not only do we not hear about all the boats rising, but now global trade has come down to a form of charity where Rahim will starve unless I surrender my job.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          I think there is a hole in the trade theory.

          You have a well-paid union job in Ohio making, say, air conditioners [or cars, cell phones, vacuum cleaners, etc]. Zhao has a job in China picking cabbage.

          With free trade, Zhao gets a cell phone and you get Chinese cabbage.

          But if instead of trading products, what if we traded factories?

          Your Ohio factory’s corporate owners decide to cut costs and access closed markets by offshoring the plant. So all your factory’s accumulated capital and knowledge is boxed up and shipped to China to reduce labor costs, making it more profitable to operate, while you end up with Zhao’s old job, picking cabbages, which pays almost nothing.

          The CEO and his financial team in Manhattan tells you that in theory, you’re better off, and then they move to Palm Beach or the Caymans because they made a fortune selling the means of production that you used to depend on.

          The economic theory underlying free trade was based on trading goods (or services), based on comparative advantage. But we can also trade in comparative advantage itself by selling factories and entire industries.

          If you sell all your high-tech factories to some agrarian country, then they have all the high-tech factories and you go back to growing potatoes. In theory, as a consumer, you get a slightly cheaper Boeing. In reality, farm hands don’t buy airliners, or even tickets to ride one. By the genius of trading comparative advantage, we can have our well-off post-industrial workers trade places with subsistence farmers. Someone’s getting very rich off the deal, but it’s certainly not the union folks.Report

          • Avatar Pinky in reply to George Turner says:

            Trade theory promises that if two people make a voluntary exchange, then at least one of them gets a net positive, and the other one gets at least a non-negative. The theory holds the same for countries. It never says that there will be no negative consequences within either of the countries. Trade involves, well, trade-offs.

            Any change in an economy carries the risk of affecting people differently. That’s true of trade, or innovation, or fashion. There’s no guarantee that the current kale craze won’t hurt broccoli farmers. Economic changes may hurt some people as workers. But they help (or hardly ever hurt) people as consumers. And the consistent pattern is that they help people as workers overall in the long run.Report

            • Avatar George Turner in reply to Pinky says:

              Derelict US cities argue that sometimes, massive numbers of people are hurt by shipping their industries overseas.

              The US sometimes does this to less-than-friendly countries as a strategy. Buying foreign companies and bleeding them dry or shuttering them is even a handy way to eliminate foreign competition.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

              This is starting to sound very Soviet.

              We are four decades into this experiment, yet there are endless promises being made of some utopia awaiting us, just one more tax cut away, one more round of welfare cuts, one more free trade agreement, one more 5 year plan and then, comrade, all will be well, just you wait and see!

              Or there is the exhortation to the cadres- “Just work a little harder, a few more hours longer, a little bit more dedication and you will create a higher marginal value for your employer and he will reward you with a gold star of Worker Of The Month, and oh, won’t it be grand then!”

              And of course- “No, don’t ask why the factory owner flies in a private jet from his private island, that has nothing to do with why they need to defer pay raises and cut your insurance benefits, and how dare you create divisiveness and factionalism!”Report

            • Avatar George Turner in reply to Pinky says:

              The trouble is that the factory owner makes a fortune when he sells the factory to the communists, who, being communists, don’t have to pay the workers with hard currency, and can shoot a few of them in the back of the head if they don’t meet the production quota.Report

        • Avatar James K in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          We are a lot richer than we were in the 1970s, its just not evenly distributed.

          1) Freer trade has not helped the Rust Belt. This is a conspicuous exception to the way we observe trade working elsewhere. The question we need to answer isn’t “what’s wrong with trade?” it’s “what’s wrong with the Rust Belt?”. We need to understand why it has behaved differently if we are going to help.
          2) The things we buy that have gotten more expensive are healthcare, housing and education. Healthcare and Education aren’t very tradeable and housing isn’t tradeable at all. Liberalised trade is the least plausible explanation for these goods getting more expensive.

          You’re not wrong about there being problems with our economic systems, but you’re barking up the wrong tree here.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to James K says:

            Freer trade has not helped the Rust Belt. This is a conspicuous exception to the way we observe trade working elsewhere. The question we need to answer isn’t “what’s wrong with trade?” it’s “what’s wrong with the Rust Belt?”. We need to understand why it has behaved differently if we are going to help.

            If we’re talking about auto jobs, then it’s worth pointing out that mostly the number of auto jobs didn’t go down across the entire US. The “overseas” car manufacturers came “here” but set up shop in the anti-union South.

            So mostly what happened was a shift from the Rust Belt to the South. Some of these industries also had technology related issues but whatever.

            I also think that cities downsizing is an extremely nasty problem and some handled it poorly.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Dark Matter says:

              My company gets a LOT of business from companies up North that no longer want to deal with union employees. They aren’t interested in sending the work overseas, just away from the Teamsters or whoever.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to James K says:

            You’re not wrong about there being problems with our economic systems, but you’re barking up the wrong tree here.

            Oh I think you’re right about this.

            The only problem is that it makes for a very weak political argument.

            “It’s not trade that’s screwed you. It’s a bunch of other problems that we also aren’t going to fix and address.”

            You are free to object that you would love to fix and address those other problems, but that doesn’t mean anybody actually will.Report

            • Avatar James K in reply to pillsy says:

              Believe me, I am well aware that this argument is a non-starter, I’m just not sure what you want me to do with that information. All I can do is try and point at the real problem in the hope that this slightly increases the odds of a future reform-minded faction initiating the right reforms when they get a chance.

              It’s not much, but I don’t know what else I can do.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to James K says:

                I mean maybe focus on the other parts first?

                People fear trade because even though they may, on average, expect to be better off, they’re loss averse for both rational and irrational reasons.[1]

                And to be blunt, a lot of the reason people fear what will happen to them if they end up getting the short end of the stick from free trade (or any other market liberalization) is justified, and the people who argue most vociferously for free trade tend to wind up making it worse when they get control of the government.

                Neoliberalism has done a lot to cut its own throat.

                [1] There’s a lot of evidence that people are loss averse and last place averse for gut feeling reasons, but beyond that even a positive sum bet is probably a bad idea if you can’t tolerate the loss and the upside is small.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to James K says:

            Part of the problem is that “Free Trade” or even “Freer Trade” is spoken of as a binary like a switch that gets flipped.

            Free trade is really just a massive edifice of laws and treaties and regulations with thousands of discrete entities affecting it.

            And it is the end result of negotiations between all those thousands of entities, everyone from avocado growers to Congressmen to shipping lines to retailers.

            Yes, its stupid to “oppose free trade” but its equally stupid to “support free trade” since it doesn’t really tell us anything.

            What I suggest is a more holistic approach that connects the controlled movement of capital, property, and labor across boundaries.

            Right now, two of those things are considered as technical matters best left to experts, but the third is viewed through the lens of racial hysteria.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              What I suggest is a more holistic approach that connects the controlled movement of capital, property, and labor across boundaries.

              What does this mean in practice?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                When we negotiate trade agreements, we have a list of various goals and interests which we want to accomplish; things like tariff levels, bilateral dispute agreements, patent and IP protections, etc.

                I’m suggesting that we add or strengthen our desires for labor such as agreements on minimum wages, working conditions, fair employment practices and so on.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                This seems a bit backwards right? For most things, free trade agreements aim to lower tariffs and increase the flow of goods and capital. Forcing poorer countries to raise minimum wages seems designed to do the opposite to labour opportunities. You seem to want to prevent labour opportunities from moving to where they might be most efficiently realised. What should be included instead are commitments to eliminating minimum wages across countries as well as barriers to migration.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Murali says:

                For whose benefit?

                Chip and I don’t say things the same way but he’s right about what Trade and Trade agreements are and under what terms and conditions they ought to be re-evaluated.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Murali says:

                No, trade agreements are not primarily about increasing the flow.
                Otherwise tariffs and duties would be entirely unknown.
                Nations often add items to their list of negotiating points,based on cultural reasons.

                Asserting that maximizing the flow of trade should be the goal is itself an arbitrary moral claim.

                Why should this be so? With every other international agreement we take a holistic view, i.e., does this on balance improve our lives overall ?

                Why shouldn’t we use our bargaining power as the world’s largest marketplace to favor nations that respect human rights, or work to protect the environment? Why not penalize nations that use slave labor?Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Otherwise tariffs and duties would be entirely unknown.

                I wish tariffs and duties were entirely unknown. Perhaps its too idealistic, but I look at the whole global trade system as being instituted for the purpose of eliminating tariffs. We’re still a long way away from the goal, but there ought to be and perhaps to some degree is a norm against backsliding.

                Nations often add items to their list of negotiating points,based on cultural reasons.

                Lots of nations do lots of things for stupid reasons. It doesnt mean that they should do it.

                Asserting that maximizing the flow of trade should be the goal is itself an arbitrary moral claim.

                It certainly is a moral claim. But it doesn’t seem obviously arbitrary. We shouldn’t have laws which impede the exchange of goods because outside of certain obvious exceptions (like human trafficking etc) you couldn’t justify those policies to those subject to it. And the claim that political authority is legitimate only if it is justifiable to those subject to it is a very defensible claim.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Murali says:

                Aren’t slavery, debt peonage, child labor and caste also “obvious exceptions”?

                Wouldn’t a national authority that creates a defenseless underclass be considered illegitimate? Or is there some way to justify those policies to the people subject to them?Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Aren’t slavery, debt peonage, child labor and caste also “obvious exceptions”

                I didn’t say that human trafficking is the only obvious exception.

                Slavery is obviously out. Debt bondage is a somewhat different beast. A lot of the top scholarships in Singapore come with three to five year bonds. The government or some company (many of which are government linked) will pay for your education in exchange for your labour when you graduate. Its a good deal if the job is to your taste. Otherwise, you are stuck in a soul numbing job which pays a middle class salary. Such contracts do not seem obviously unconscionable. (Nothing I’ve read about debt peonage seems to make any distinction between outright enslaving someone because they owe you money and having a contract where someone is obliged to work for you at some appropriate wage in exchange for getting a whole bunch of money upfront. So I’m unsure as to whether you distinguish between the cases or not)

                It may be that there are debt contracts which are unconscionable because the terms are much worse, for instance committing someone to what is effectively a lifetime of slavery. Those are of course subject to the same exceptions we would make for slavery. But not every debt contract that pays less than middle class wages is unconscionable.

                It may very well be that laws enforcing contracts are not publicly justifiable unless they have an unconsionability exemption. But if not all debt bondage is objectionable, then the only restrictions on trade that might be justified are those which involve objectionable debt bondage.

                Child labour is unfortunate, but can be justifiable in some cases to the children involved. In many cases, the alternative to children working in factories is children starving or being sent to brothels. Those are admittedly shitty circumstances and countries in which these circumstances are occuring often or always have some other unjustifiable shit going on. Hence the states are illegitimate.

                The mere fact that a particular government is illegitimate does not mean that it is permissible to do anything to the people who are subject to that government. Care must be taken that we do not immiserate defenceless people in further poverty or impose further restrictions on them that cannot be justified to them.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Murali says:

                “Care must be taken that we do not immiserate defenceless people in further poverty or impose further restrictions on them that cannot be justified to them.”

                I agree, so doesn’t this point towards negotiation and dialogue with all the parties involved?

                That is to say, when we negotiate a trade treaty, shouldn’t we also discuss it with local labor leaders, spokesmen from minority groups, opposition leaders, as well as advocacy groups here at home in a holistic way so the final treaty represents a shared consensus of values?Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                The problem there is that everyone you might be dealing with are corrupt players looking to maximize their personal power and wealth, which is pretty much the norm.

                Sometimes Western companies have gone into third world countries offering far better benefits and wages than the local norm, and that has caused other problems where some locals set themselves up “the controller of jobs.” If you want the lucrative job at the American factory, you have to go through them and kick them part of your salary, or else they’ll send people by to pay you a visit in the middle of the night. And sometimes having a few highly paid jobs in a sea of poverty creates a vast wealth disparity that causes other effects.

                There are all kinds of problems that go on that we’re not going to easily fix. Many Haitians think the foreign aid after the earthquake was more devastating than the earthquake itself.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Murali says:

                Care must be taken that we do not immiserate defenceless people in further poverty or impose further restrictions on them that cannot be justified to them.

                This is a very sharp and rather complicated knife though, because it’s not 100% obvious that the sort of trade policies you see in the real world won’t tend to further entrench those illegitimate states, leading to a net overall loss despite the economic benefits.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to pillsy says:

                Future generations which are not in horrible grinding poverty (because their parents worked in sweatshops?) are obviously much better placed to negotiate a fairer political deal than those who are in grinding poverty. It seems that about the only time which trade restrictions are justified is in conditions involving slavery. When the current generation is not paid a wage, then there cannot be a richer future generation.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Murali says:

                Yeah and I could be convinced that the data shows that the local political elites (and for that matter the companies building factories there) are not sufficiently able to capture the resulting economic benefits to preserve their own power, but it’s not obviously true that this is the case.

                As for “except for slave labor”, well, it’s not clear that trade as it exists in the real world includes that provision at all reliably. It certainly doesn’t seem to in China.

                (There’s also the fact that it’s not extremely obvious the people who China has raised out of poverty are terribly well situated to challenge that country’s political deal.)Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to pillsy says:

                I think Chinese citizens today are better situated than in Mao’s time to improve their political situation. It is overall, still not very good, and has admittedly grown worse under Xi, but is still significantly better than Mao’s time. Progress happens, and is slow, but is more likely to happen when the people are literate and not starving.

                The experience in other places in east and southeast asia has been that regions which were initially places where labour was outsourced to developed and the situation of the worst off improved. This happened to different degrees in different countries and the greatest improvements in welfare were seen in places which were the most open to trade. The differences in working conditions from my grandfather’s generation to my father’s to my own are sufficiently stark to make the advantages to developing countries of having low wage manufacturing obvious. The sceptics face the hard question as to why it would be different this time with china.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Murali says:

                It is overall, still not very good, and has admittedly grown worse under Xi, but is still significantly better than Mao’s time.

                I mean when the signature case of trade and economic liberalization actually lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty is, as we speak, ramping up campaigns of ethnic cleansing and enslaving people (including members of the ethnic and religious minorities it’s targeting with those campaigns of persecution), like, I really think your theory may not be right.

                And, of course, they’re using trade (even as we’re having a fucken tradewar with them) as a way to push back against pressure for their treatment of Hong Kong, which, again, was supposed to be insulated from oppression, in part, by its vibrant capitalist economy.

                When “some notable exceptions” include the biggest country on Earth, and, from an economic perspective, one of the biggest successes of liberalization, maybe the theory is wrong.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to pillsy says:

                I mean when the signature case of trade and economic liberalization actually lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty is, as we speak, ramping up campaigns of ethnic cleansing and enslaving people (including members of the ethnic and religious minorities it’s targeting with those campaigns of persecution), like, I really think your theory may not be right.

                So if there are human rights abuses anywhere in China, that invalidates the idea that China as a whole much richer and the average person in China is much richer/better off? Seriously?

                50 years ago China was so poor that starvation was a serious concern on a regular basis. Chairman Mao attempted to uplift his people via chasing socialist utopia, this resulted in him becoming history’s largest mass murderer and burning down the existing economy. After they switched to something a lot closer to Capitalism they changed the average household income of their people from something close to zero to roughly today’s $10k.

                Capitalism gave them a double digit growth rate per year for decades.

                If we want to measure everything in terms of human rights abuses, then Mao’s status as history’s greatest mass murder put us deep into Hitler territory… or maybe even way past that since it’s hard to think of who Mao wasn’t abusing. The really nasty aspects of China that you’re pointing to are not recent creations of Capitalism and aren’t occurring as a side effect of Capitalism. They’re what is left of the old system which used to be inflicted on everyone and are now “only” inflicted in the outer areas.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Why not penalize nations that use slave labor?

                We already do. Btw that’s going to be a problem with a lot of these suggestions, to the extent it would be useful, we mostly already do. What we should avoid is using these as excuses to not engage in trade, because trade is itself such a massively good thing.

                Why shouldn’t we use our bargaining power as the world’s largest marketplace to favor nations that respect human rights, or work to protect the environment?

                If human rights are the concern, then compare modern China to pre-trade China of the 1960’s. If protecting the environment is the concern, then environmental protection is a luxury and as such as countries get richer via trade they protect their environment more.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I’m suggesting that we add or strengthen our desires for labor such as agreements on minimum wages, working conditions, fair employment practices and so on.

                What are we trying to do here and why? We should be deeply suspicious if the purpose is protectionism, i.e. reducing trade or protecting Americans.

                I’m very much in favor of treating people better. However “treating people better” probably is best accomplished by “enabling trade” and not “preventing trade because we’re trying to [x]”.

                Trade is almost by definition good. Poor US households with more money because they’re buying cheaper goods are better off. The former garbage pickers in India now in sweatshops are better off. The 12(ish)% of the US GDP that depends on American exports creates a lot of jobs and well being for this country. The 15(ish)% of the US GDP that depends on American imports creates a lot of jobs and well being for this country.

                These rules you’re proposing are designed to assuage American feelings. If they do effectively nothing but look good on paper then that’s fine. If they actually prevent trade then we need to look at the trade offs. My expectation is that in the cold light of reason the trade offs will look seriously counter productive if we take the reasoning at face value.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Mo’ trade=Mo’ better?

                That’s like saying buying a car is always better than not buying a car. A trade is good only if both parties walk away believing they are better off.

                Not being better off.

                Believing they are better off.

                Just because I believe that you would be better off buying a car, doesn’t mean that the terms suit you, or fit with your overall set of desires.

                Just because an agreement results in a higher volume of trade doesn’t mean that it suits the desires and purposes of the citizens of that country.

                It comes down to terms- since the people of a nation are its sovereign, why shouldn’t their overall desires be paramount? Even if satisfying those desires doesn’t result in a higher trade volume?

                In the example that started this essay, why shouldn’t Rahim be asked for his opinion of what would benefit him, and why shouldn’t his American counterpart take part in that same discussion?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                A trade is good only if both parties walk away believing they are better off… Just because I believe that you would be better off buying a car, doesn’t mean that the terms suit you, or fit with your overall set of desires.

                You’re saying “both parties” are “every single person in the US”. Both parties in the trade are better off or they wouldn’t make the trade.

                The better analogy is I want to buy a car from dealer X, but you’re insisting that I buy it from you, because you would be better off if I got it from you… and not that out of town dealership that’s cheaper and fits my needs much better. You’re trying to insist that your needs come at my expense.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Dark Matter says:

                In a discussion with a hard-core “trade-is-always-good” proponent, I once went full Pablo Escobar. When he shipped massive amounts of cocaine to Miami, both countries obviously benefited, because free trade. Whether shipping slaves from the African coast to Virginia, trafficking sex slaves across the Texas border, selling crack in the projects, selling whisky to winos, selling Uzis in Chicago, or selling prescription opiates in Seattle, everybody benefits.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to George Turner says:

                In a discussion with a hard-core “trade-is-always-good” proponent, I once went full Pablo Escobar.

                There is a world of difference between banning the sale of a product in its entity, by anyone, and insisting that I can buy a product as long as I buy it from a politically connected but inefficient/expensive source.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Oh, you won’t find a better source than Pablo’s Medellin cartel, I assure you! High volumes, low prices, reliable deliveries, and top quality.

                But I use the example because if the position is that free trade always benefits both countries, p -> q, it only takes one counter-example where it harms one or both countries to show that the premise is false, and that trades or particular types of trades or products have to be looked at more deeply to determine if both parties are actually benefiting.

                And this would be true in Pablo’s case whether cocaine was illegal or not, which is why I also mentioned selling liquor to winos, which is perfectly legal.

                At the time I was debating someone for whom absolute free trade was dogma, the truth of it beyond question in all conceivable cases.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Not as much as you might think.

                Governments typically restrict trade in ways that no one objects to.
                For example, declaring that no one may buy or sell anywhere except the land parcels marked “Commercial Zone”. No one may buy or sell except with a business license, or unless they comport with a myriad of regulations.

                These things result in a lower volume of trade than would otherwise occur, and they make trade less efficient, but most people accept that not having a nightclub in the upstairs apartment is worth the resulting loss of economic activity.Report

              • Avatar James K in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                No one may buy or sell except with a business license…

                Your government might insist that, but not all countries are as anti-business as the US.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Isn’t that what we are doing if we don’t allow Rahim, and his fellow citizens to voice their needs about a trade agreement with India? We’re forcing Rahim to comply with our desires, without respecting his wishes?

                Don’t Indian and American labor unions, human rights groups, environmental groups count as legitimate voices of our respective nations?

                After all, no one objects to having corporations and banks add their suggested provisions to trade agreements.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                With whom do we have solidarity?

                If you have more solidarity with people on the other side of the world than with your own neighbors, how much solidarity with you do you think you are owed by your neighbors?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Why is solidarity a binary?Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                It’s a really fundamental thing. Look at Game of Thrones, for instance. If you have someone within your city who is more loyal to whoever is laying siege than they are to you, you might want to kill them before they throw open the gates in the middle of the night or lead the Dothraki and Unsullied past the walls through a long-forgotten secret tunnel.

                That kind of thing has happened so often throughout human history that favoring outsiders over the locals will pretty much destroy anyone’s reputation, and they will be cast out as a despised traitor. It’s just wired in. That’s a big part of why the European left is mostly being swept out of office (they acted more protective of foreign Muslims than native Europeans, and threw the front gate wide open), and why the Democrats may face the same fate if they don’t realize that hordes of foreigners streaming across the border make lots of people extremely uneasy.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

                I didn’t realize you were Native American.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Chip – I know you’re being snarky, but could you define Native American?

                I agree with George’s point, which I have made multiple times in these threads and it has either been ignored or hand-waved away by the open border advocates…the reason that people are fired up about these recent waves of illegals/asylum seekers is not just xenophobia. They represent the tip of he spear and there are predicted to be millions more. Dumping them all on the prairie and hoping they start generating revenue is incredibly optimistic.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Yep. I’m 100% native American, according to the Supreme Court, in contrast to many Indians who were not Native Americans because they were born under tribal governments and thus not under US sovereignty. The Court referred to them as “Indians.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Eh, if you agree that it is a binary, that’s good enough for me.

                “Why” has to do with tribalism.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Except it isn’t.
                The term originates in religious theology, and actually demands universality. Its an incorrect usage to say “with whom” in front of the word.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Isn’t that what we are doing if we don’t allow Rahim, and his fellow citizens to voice their needs about a trade agreement with India? We’re forcing Rahim to comply with our desires, without respecting his wishes?

                The theoretically ideal for the level of tariffs and other barriers is zero if we’re trying to max economic growth. People “voicing their needs” is only a good thing in the service of moving to that ideal.

                Don’t Indian and American labor unions, human rights groups, environmental groups count as legitimate voices of our respective nations?

                The vast bulk of their “legitimate” desires come down to protectionism. That’s probably always true for labor unions. Human rights and environmental groups have some legit concerns (slave labor), but all too often these concerns are also high-jacked for protectionism.

                For example arguing that sweat shops shouldn’t exist is normally arguing that these people would be better off with the back breaking labor that is their less desired alternative.

                After all, no one objects to having corporations and banks add their suggested provisions to trade agreements.

                When corporations argue for getting rid of barriers that is a good thing, ditto when they’re arguing for things which enable it. When they’re arguing for things which merely protect themselves that’s a bad thing.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                You can understand though, that your personal moral choice to elevate economic growth over all other considerations isn’t universally shared?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                You can understand though, that your personal moral choice to elevate economic growth over all other considerations isn’t universally shared?

                A ton of the disagreement comes down to economic illiteracy or self interest. People advance arguments which the claim their country will be better off, by which they mean “richer”, if they do something other than advance free trade.

                True disagreements on “moral choices” are exceptionally rare. Few disagree with the gov’s ability to ban slavery or illegal drugs. Arguments about workers rights or the environment tend to be thinly disguised self interest which fall apart if evaluated on the ethical basis they’re claiming they’re made on.

                Workers who voluntarily choose to be in sweatshops are proclaiming that as bad as this option is by Western standards, their other choices are worse. In school we did a case study about Nike’s sweatshops being condemned by Western worker activists. The eventual outcome was Nike closed the shops and moved to a different country. So the workers presumably went back to the horrific jobs they were trying to flee.

                I don’t have sympathy for arguments that are self conflicting. “To improve moral all employes will be leashed and branded”.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          How is it that if we compare our lives to the lives of our parents, the difference in prosperity and security isn’t just obvious?

          For the same reason that the rest of our serious improvements aren’t obvious. We have a 24 hour news cycles which focus on the bad. Our parents could have someone die and it wouldn’t be news.

          Like that “Old Economy Steve” meme that goes around, comparing Steve in 1979 to a millennial today.

          First of all I’ll point out that 1979 was the high point of labor so there’s an element of cherry picking there. Take us to 50 years (a nice round number) and we’re dealing with things like race riots on a regular basis. However fine, let’s use that date.

          In 1979 there were no treatments for aids, there was no internet, and cellphones (if they existed) where a toy for the extreme rich. Sulfur in the air was so bad that “Global Cooling” was the rage among the greens. The level of criminal violence was much worse. Gays were very much stuck in the closet. There effectively was no black middle or upper class.

          Most types of cancer were basically untreatable by today’s standards. In the last 40 years countless drugs have been discovered and, after they’ve gone off patent, are now cheaply available.

          Monty Python had a skit about the bad old days when school was uphill both directions and their parents would kill the children and dance on their graves before sending them off to bed. 1979 Steve is similar but opposite.

          So yes, we need graphs and numbers because otherwise we’re just dealing with “feelings” with cherry picked data designed to support those feelings… and feelings don’t trump math.Report

    • The theory being put forward here is that trade is a win/lose proposition,that in order for a factory to be built in India, one cannot be built in Indiana.

      Sorry, but this is a mis-reading of the post. The claim I make (which is not unique or controversial) is that it’s worse for people to only be capable of being employed by fewer employers than by more employers.

      I do include this sentence:

      Or will they lambaste the companies for not building the factories in the United States instead?

      which very much does invoke the lump of labor fallacy, but I believe it is clear that the question is whether the fallacy will be invoked by Democratic presidential candidates and that I am not myself doing the lambasting.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        Are the workers in Indiana also getting the option of being hired by more employers, or fewer?

        Because what we are witnessing is that the factory in India isn’t in addition to the one in Indiana, it is a one to one replacement.

        Which is a turn of events that should be lambasted.Report

        • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Just to be clear on how all this social BS has developed, what is the minimum wage in Indiana, and what is the minimum wage in India?

          You can’t cry in the pudding over your labor rates being not able to compete when you have raised them for the last 50 damn years.

          Also creating a central bank that doubles the money supply about every decade was just a gem of socialist dumbassery.

          Maybe keep preaching free stuff from the church of needs will fix this.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I remember an article by Matt Yglesias from back in 2013. You may remember it too:

    Different Places Have Different Safety Rules and That’s OK

    With whom do we have solidarity?Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

      Oh, didn’t we talk about that here?Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Jaybird says:

      A variant would be is it OK for a doctor trained at the expense of a poor sub-Saharan country to flee(*) to a Western country where his skills will be handsomely remunerated and in demand. Do we have solidarity for the doctor, or the people left behind without adequate medical care? Or do we have solidarity with the prospective Western patients?

      (*) The version I recall was a story on NPR involving a doctor who took a job as a taxi-driver in order to pay to leave with his family to Western Europe and to avoid transportation restrictions on his actual profession.Report

      • Avatar J_A in reply to PD Shaw says:

        It is normal, at least in Latin America where most doctors study in public universities and do their residencies in public hospitals, for doctors to have an obligation to work for a certain number of years for the public sector, or at least inside the country, as a condition for their license to be valid.

        To the extent the doctors meet these conditions, their debt to the country that funded their training is paid, and they can do as they wish, either move to a different country, or remain where they are and be a part of the local elite (which all doctors are, no matter the country).

        Most countries, btw, have significant licensing restrictions on doctors not trained in locally accredited entities (*), so moving abroad to practice medicine is not as easy as it sounds. Moving out to practice accounting, for instance, is much easier (I know several Chinese accountants in the USA), but it doesn’t have the same emotional impact

        (*) As far as I know, the UK’s requirements are lower than most, but that’s an exception, and of course the EU accreditation is valid through all/most EU countriesReport

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to PD Shaw says:

        Yeah. Great example.

        Who has primacy there? If we believe that primacy resides in the individual, then it’s waaaay OK for the doctor to get his education and then immediately up and leave and go somewhere else.

        If the primacy resides in the society, that bastard needs to pay back his debt to society. He may say “I am a doctor” but he didn’t build that.Report

        • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Jaybird says:

          As I recall, NPR took the position of solidarity with the individual, which is an easier story to tell than a generalized loss caused by one doctor. ‘He was sacrificing himself by taking a job beneath him in order to completely change his family’s future.’ Personally, I cam feel uncomfortable with brain drain from third-world countries while also being uncomfortable with any of the potential responses.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to PD Shaw says:

        The way we handle foreign MDs, I think it’s pretty clear we have solidarity with the people left behind.

        Well, actually we don’t. What we have is solidarity for the doctors in the US that doctor would be competing with.

        Which has the same ultimate effect, but a different underlying motive.

        Of course, by the same argument that Vikram is making in his article, maybe this is the wrong way to look at it, since that kind of immigration may well be less of a one-way economic street than it looks, as money tends to flow back along the social and familial ties that still bind many immigrants to their home country.Report

  3. Avatar George Turner says:

    The hiccup with all politicians who show their “compassion” is that they don’t express it with their money, they express it with your money. After robbing Peter to pay Paul so they could get re-elected, they preen and strut around like they’ve done some great a noble thing, and then slam Peter for being a self-centered, cold hearted, greedy hater because he objected to getting robbed.

    It reminds me of Biden last week saying that we have to bring back Obamacare’s penalties for workers who don’t have health insurance, after having raised his hand at the debate to support giving free universal health care to illegals. So poor Americans will be forced to pay a fine for not having a health plan they can’t afford, while also forking over even more money to give health care they don’t have to foreigners, for free.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    Really liked this post…

    Where I feel my cynicism flaring up around Democrats suddenly supporting open borders is that the reality is that they aren’t really advocating for a systematic process of bringing in manageable numbers of people and making sure we have jobs available (see Finland and Somalian refugees). And they also aren’t really talking about anyone coming from anywhere other than Mexico, Central or South America. So their plan seems to really be, bring in lots of Latinos, give them some level of governmental support and hey, if they happen to start voting for us, that’s just the way things go!

    It’s also hard for me to square all of this with how much Democrats keep telling us about income inequality and the necessity of a living wage. It almost seems cruel to bring in all of these people and dump them into an economy with those problems and yet there were 20 presidential candidates all advocating for that on a stage a couple of weeks ago.

    I honestly believe that forcing American workers to actually compete with workers in India is the best path to transforming our workforce for the future, but we insist on protecting them through subsidies and tariffs instead.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Immigration sometimes has downsides.

      People who support Open Borders are playing with fire.

      Though they probably will see *SOME* gains in the short term.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

        You’ll have to unpack this.

        Unless your argument is that we shouldn’t accept social conservatives as members of our polity under any circumstances.

        Which, you know, sounds like it’s going a step or two too far to me.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird says:

        We have these people that march every week at City Hall who are opposed to any more immigration to Canada. They are strongly opposed to the gas tax and in support of oil pipelines (which the government is too), and opposed to immigration. Oh, and they also went to our Pride festival to protest homosexuality and throw punches.

        So, they’re fishing idiots, basically.

        But, you look at these guys and it’s pretty likely that they’re roofers and dry wall hangers and ditch diggers and janitors. That’s basically the demographic. I say this as a janitor. And as an immigrant.

        So, of course, they’re opposed to immigration. They understand the “iron law of wages” too. Their kids don’t want to become roofers and dry wall hangers and, if that trend continues, the only way we’ll be able to keep their wages as low as possible will be to bring in cheap labor and drive down their bargaining power. So, the rest of us- the “woke” ones- we’re all much more culturally broadminded than those guys are. I mean, how much do we really want to pay to have the roof repaired?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

        Jay, I understand what you are trying to say but sometimes plain English helps rather than what Saul calls pseudo-Socrates. To translate this, many liberals envision themselves in a fight against homophobia and Islamophobia. Jaybird is pointing out that this is something of a geek social fallacy, the one where everybody can be friends with everybody else. Many immigrants come from extremely reactionary societies and don’t change those beliefs when they move to a more liberal country. Its likely that more immigration can mean less social liberalization because we have many people from extremely conservative countries coming into our liberal country.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      The D’s and R’s (in the Senate) had a grand compromise on immgration in 2013 which the hard line anti immgration R’s in the house shot down.

      It’s hard to see in all the smoke and screaming in the immigration debate where what people actually want is usually subsumed to yakking about the issue of the day but where are all these “open borders” D’s. I keep hearing about them but don’t see much in reality. Any bills in congress? What are the 493 prez contenders saying? Certainly D’s are generally pro more immigration that is true, but that is pretty much all i’m seeing.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to greginak says:

        Greg,

        The question was asked: Do you support de-criminalizing crossing the border illegally? I believe it was unanimous on consent. And here on the site, several of our friends on the Left side of the aisle have basically said we have to let everyone in because they will be otherwise murdered.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          Apparently decriminalization of illegal crossing is exactly the same as a complete and total abolition of any form of control over immigration.Report

        • Avatar Jesse in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          I think going to how things were before the ole’ ancient days of 1993 (when crossing the border was criminalized) will not lead to the end of the world.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Jesse says:

            Was it an actual crime in 93?Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jesse says:

            Jesse,

            They first criminalized it in 1929. They added additional language in 1952.

            https://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/452080-democrats-calling-for-decriminalization-of-illegal-entry-abandoningReport

          • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Jesse says:

            Operation Wetback was an immigration law enforcement initiative created by Joseph Swing, the Director of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), in cooperation with the Mexican government. The program was implemented in May 1954 by U.S. Attorney General Herbert Brownell and utilized special tactics to deal with illegal border crossings into the United States by Mexican nationals.[1] The program became a contentious issue in Mexico–United States relations, even though it originated from a request by the Mexican government to stop the illegal entry of Mexican laborers into the United States. Legal entry of Mexican workers for employment was at the time controlled by the Bracero program, established during World War II by an agreement between the U.S. and Mexican governments. Operation Wetback was primarily a response to pressure from a broad coalition of farmers and business interests concerned with the effects of Mexican immigrants living in the United States without legal permission.[2] Upon implementation, Operation Wetback gave rise to arrests and deportations by the U.S. Border Patrol.

            emph added.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Wetback

            This ran concurrently with the Bracero program, 1942-1964.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          Decriminalizing border crossing in not open borders. The exact nature of the infraction of crossing the border is bit of a picky legal question. It isn’t a felony or a misdemeanor at this time and never has been. It wasn’t a crime. It was more akin to a civil infraction ( traffic ticket, unregistered car, unlicensed dildo in Nebraska, etc). So if it isn’t a crime to cross the border that doesn’t mean every one who comes over the border is automatically a citizen. This is one of those, lots of heat, little light, issues I mentioned above. There is simply a big difference between everybody gets to be citizen and crossing the border isn’t a crime. There is also the issue of asylum which it is completely legal to ask for and some people really might need it.

          While i bow to the august awesome of some of the commenters in these parts “some commenters said it on a blog” is not that much. Now Gosh knows by that standard i can easily prove every R is a virulent racist and barely crypto KKK/fascist but that would be wrong. Lots of yakking on the web is not all that well thought out ( this one comment is the sole exception of course) and more indicitive of the opinions of the Extremly Online, weirdos who like to talk politics and the generally poor state of our discussions. And really if you want to find hard core open border peeps its the libertarians.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to greginak says:

            In the same way that “Free Trade” is not the complete lack of any sort of control over trade, a border can be regulated and controlled in a million different ways from complete anarchy at one end to hermetically sealed at the other.

            Which brings me back to the original essay, where there is an implied binary decision between letting Rahim starve, or keeping Americans employed.

            There surely must be ways in which America and India and Mexico can regulate the international flow of labor, capital, and property which leave everyone at least a little better off.

            At least, that’s what Adam Smith said.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to greginak says:

            So I cross the border illegally, border control grabs me, it’s not a crime…then what?Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              Then you enter a process to determine if you are an asylum seeker, or if you are applying for citizenship, or want a work visa, or some other reason.

              And after you are adjudicated, you either get your citizenship, work visa, approved asylum claim, or are deported.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                If you didn’t commit a crime, and aren’t suspected of committing a crime, and aren’t a witness to a crime, they can’t detain you for anything.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

                Why do they need to be detained while awaiting adjudication?Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                What is there to adjudicate if they haven’t committed any offense?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                And where do you go in the meantime…?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Foster homes, temporary work visas so they can support themselves.
                The process doesn’t need to take as long as it does; There is no reason cases can’t be adjudicated and settled in a year or so.

                Why do you keep pretending like this is some bizarre new phenomenon, like Ellis Island never existed, like waves of immigrants haven’t already happened?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Chip,

                We talked about this last week. Comparing things to Ellis Island is apples to oranges. The available land, opportunity, etc during the heaviest immigration period of the 19th century was completely different than today. You say elsewhere in this thread:

                “Americans are overwhelmingly testifying that they are experiencing things getting worse…”

                …but then you advocate for bringing in lots of refugees with minimal skill sets. Those two things seem very much at odds with each other to me. As also noted last week, the UN and other organizations are predicting an explosion of refugees over the next few decades. You can’t just lead with your heart here when you admit the US is already struggling to take care of the people we have.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                You understand that all across the Midwest and West, towns are shrinking, not growing, and they desperately need more residents?

                And your view of human capital seems odd, like these people bring nothing to the table.
                Its the same view I noted at the outset of this essay, where Rahim is assumed to be a needy mendicant without anything to offer.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Why are those towns shrinking?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Because their factories were sent to…wait for it..Mexico!

                Its sort of the circle of life, when you think about it.

                What we need is a latter day Homestead Act, where the government confiscates the land from the unproductive natives, and hands it out to immigrant settlers. Just like Ma and Pa Ingalls!Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                If the neo- Ma and Pa Ingalls are asking $15 per hour, I see those factories remaining in Mexico.

                No matter how much the church of needs laments.Report

              • In the West, it’s hard to find shrinking towns outside of ruralia (and ruralia is in trouble almost everywhere). In the extended Rust Belt, lots of cities of various sizes with the shrinkage problem*, most with some variant of the same death spiral.

                An industry on which the city was too dependent declines, or a factory relocates, or automates. Tax revenues decline. Infrastructure gets neglected**. People with possibilities elsewhere leave. Other businesses that depend on the population base (everything from dry cleaning to lawyers) decline. Attracting new people is hard for a variety of reasons***.

                * I tend to exclude cities with a situation like Detroit: the central city in a metro area shrank a bunch, but the metro area as a whole held steady or even grew modestly. Detroit (Wayne County) is now poor; neighboring Oakland County (in some places, you can walk across the street from Detroit to Oakland County), in the same metro area, is the richest county in the state. In the 1970s Michigan, like many states, passed laws to keep cities from annexing across county lines.

                ** Maintenance can be deferred. Municipal retiree payments are forever, absent a trip through bankruptcy court.

                *** Consider a software company looking for a home and a software engineer looking for a job. Setting up in a shrinking small city has two sides of one problem for both: the company will have a small pool of talent to draw on to fill vacancies; the engineer will have a small pool of possible jobs to draw on if they want to leave their current position.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                So the factories were sent to Mexico because people will work for less there and your solution is to bring the Mexicans here and the jobs will return? Chip, I do not understand that logic at all.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Will the jobs return if we keep them out?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Doubtful…so shouldn’t we err on the side of not adding more mouths to feed? Chip, let’s face it, you don’t seem to have any kind of realistic plan for what to do with the millions of asylum seekers you want to bring into the US, the same country where you also admit Americans are struggling. You can’t feed them with magical progressive pixie dust.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Daily Mail story about a black woman in New York who attacked a Hispanic contractor by beating her on the head with her own hard hat.

                ‘F**king Hispanics! Go back to your country!’ the woman reportedly yelled as she attacked the victim. ‘You come here to take our jobs!’

                The story is the typical tabloid fare, but it does make you wonder that while it’s great that white Democrats want to give all the blacks’ jobs to illegals, who are the new “in” thing, is it really the moral thing to do? Might an existing “victim class” have some objections to be cast aside like an old toy by spoiled, self-absorbed, self-righteous do-gooders?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I’m not convinced that “too many mouths to feed” is remotely connected to the reason many Americans are struggling, and when you get right down to it many Americans are not struggling.

                Nor is it clear to me that asylum seekers in general should be classed that way.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                I would say ‘mouths to feed’ is more of a metaphor. But I’m glad to hear they are not struggling. Does that mean we can put you down as a No on the living wage vote?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I didn’t say they weren’t struggling; I did say that I’m not convinced that our economy is unable to provide for the number of people who live here. Indeed, it would be hard to conclude that it is.

                Anyway I’m not sure what the “living wage vote” is, so you’ll have to send me an issue of your newsletter before I give you a firm answer.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                My point is that standard liberal dogma is that many American workers are unable to make a living due to massive income inequality, etc…right? A lot of the planks we are going to see rolled out in the next 18 months will be based around improving life for the middle class. At the same time we know the US economy is posed to take a big hit on jobs, not to mention a likely recession in the next couple of years… I’m still struggling to figure out why the Left now wants to flood the U.S. with refugee labor willing to work for peanuts? It seems like it can only hurt.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Right. Now you can disagree over how much inequality there is, and for that matter whether it’s actually a problem [1], but the fundamental Leftward complaint isn’t that there isn’t enough to go around, it’s that there is enough to go around but it isn’t going around due to bad public policy choices.

                [1] You’ll never get rid of it all, for all I give JoeSal a hard time on this subject he’s right that attempts to get rid of it all have been disastrous failures, and some inequality is actually beneficial in a lot of ways.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                I am with you on income inequality. And yes, we’re always going to have some and that’s a good thing, but sure, we can do a lot better there especially with the black community (note: reparations are not the answer).Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                At the same time we know the US economy is posed to take a big hit on jobs

                No. See also “lump of labor”. If technology were going to be destroying vast numbers of jobs we’d have already seen it’s effects and we wouldn’t currently be at full employment.

                I’m still struggling to figure out why the Left now wants to flood the U.S. with refugee labor willing to work for peanuts? It seems like it can only hurt.

                Hurt who? Minimum wage workers? Maybe. Probably.

                Everyone else? Don’t think so.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Conservative estimates are 300,000 trucking jobs. That’s just one industry.

                So what? We already have a ton of stories about AI destroying jobs. We’re already in the middle of this revolution and have been for some time. We’re at full employment and incomes are rising.

                There is a disconnect between the feared reality and the actual reality. Almost like the economists are correct and Lump of Labor is an actual thing.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Dark Matter says:

                I don’t think that we’re going to have massive amounts of people on the streets. I just think it’s going to be extremely disruptive to a lot of industries. My concern is that AI will increase income inequality because I see huge swaths of the population that have zero adaptability or skills to ride the wave of disruption that is coming.

                Regardless of what the job loss numbers are going to look like (I have seen reasonable estimates as high as 38%) I don’t see the utility of adding over 100,000 refugees per year until we can even things out with our existing population. I will also note (again) that this has nothing to do with legal immigrants. I am with you that we should be creating a huge international brain drain.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Looking to unemployment rates for evidence of job losses due to automation is misplaced.
                Even when someone is displaced, they don’t react by just sitting at home doing nothing.
                People react by struggling to find work, even at lower wages.

                Which is why we keep talking about wage stagnation and the evaporation of benefits, and precariousness of job security.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                So if people are pushed down the wage ladder due to evaporating jobs higher up from automation, won’t they find increased competition from the huge influx of refugees and open border migrants that you are now advocating for?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                They are competing already no matter what.
                Widgets will be made by the lowest cost labor, whether it is here or there.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                If we bring them here and give them access to US wage laws, etc they will demand a salary which means those widgets will no longer be made by them anywhere. I’m still perplexed as to how you think the widgets will just follow them wherever they go?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                @Chip,

                Widgets will be made by the lowest cost labor, whether it is here or there.

                This is simply wrong.

                Widgets will tend to be made at the lowest overall cost, but there are costs other than labor that matter, and sometimes paying more for labor will let you pay less for other things.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                @Chip:

                Jobs are both lost and gained due to foreign competition, automation, or just about every other thing that happens in our economy. Capitalism requires both winners and losers to function. With out the losers (who routinely lose through no fault of their own) you wind up with a lot of the awful flaws of centrally planned economies.

                Yet despite the fact that we need market losers to exist, we have a general tendency to blame them for their losses and do everything in our power to immiserate them and constrain their ability to pull themselves out of the ditch that we all decided to drive them into.

                It’s stupid and self-destructive and it keeps our political system constantly lashing out at one boogeyman or another, in ways that rarely make the losers any better off, and make us all, on balance, poorer, more frightened, more angry, and generally more fucked.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                My concern is that AI will increase income inequality because I see huge swaths of the population that have zero adaptability or skills to ride the wave of disruption that is coming.

                Increases in income inequality are only a bad thing if it’s because people are poorer. What we’ve seen so far is some people are better off, some are much better off, some MUCH MUCH better off, and a handful are silly rich. That’s not a bad problem to have.

                Regardless of what the job loss numbers are going to look like (I have seen reasonable estimates as high as 38%)

                The average job currently lasts 3.2 years (google). That’s a current per-year fatality rate of 31%, not all that far away from your 38%. So we’re already there.

                I don’t see the utility of adding over 100,000 refugees per year until we can even things out with our existing population.

                Define “even things out with our existing population”. Doesn’t full employment count as us having already done that?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Lets agree that widgets will be manufactured by Mexican hands, OK?

                Maybe they will be Mexican hands in Guadalajara, or Mexican hands in Milwaukee, but they will be made by Mexican hands.

                My thinking is that its preferable for the widgets to be made in Milwaukee, where those Mexican workers will rent Milwaukee apartments, buy groceries in Milwaukee, drink Milwaukee beer and pay taxes to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the United States.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                The key detail for the widget manufacturer isn’t Mexican labor, it’s cheap labor. If the Mexicans move to Milwaukee…they’ll just send the widget factory to another Third World country where they can still be made cheaply.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                What if the Mexican workers work for the same wage as they would in Guadalajara?

                But see, you are looking at immirgant labor as essentially parasitic. That they take but don’t contribute anything.
                But this certainly isn’t true. When our population grows by natural means, we don’t fret over how we will feed these new people, or that they will take our jobs.

                We understand that new citizens consume goods and services, and add to the total economy.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                They aren’t immigrants – they are refugees. Several other factors are at play there. Most will come here with nothing and potentially no skill set to leverage. They are quire literally ‘fleeing’ their home country. On the other hand you have legal immigrants that make the more deliberate choice to be here (and plan to stay forever). they are vetted and there is usually a network already in place for them to access.

                So these refugees are going to come here already very dependent on social services, much more than immigrants are. Your plan is to send them to dying towns and then I guess you ask companies to bring their factories back here, not for the Americans, but so we can have jobs for refugees? And you make an exception to our minimum wage laws so we can pay them what they were making in Mexico? That is your plan?Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Well, perhaps it would make more sense to match their skills to the available jobs by having small town employers or farmers bid on them in public auctions.

                It seems quite sensible, but I’m not sure if it’s been tried before.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I was being tongue in cheek, but essentially if you look at every previous wave of immigrants , like the Vietnamese boat people or Cubans it turns out that they have invigorated and enriched us. I don’t know why anyone consider this different.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Just a heads up, but Joe Biden fought long and hard to keep Vietnamese boat people excluded from America.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                We have assimilated multiple massive waves of refugees in the past, and for all the talk of, “We accept more immigrants than anybody else,” we’re also the only rich country that’s even close to this large in terms of population. It really seems like the number we should be looking at, to a first approximation, is immigrants admitted per capita.

                As for Warren’s plan, a 400% increase in the number of refugees would take us back to the dystopian days of 2016.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                We keep talking about this and at this point it feels like trolling when the liberals here keep pointing to the mid-to-late 1800s as an apples to apples scenario for today’s immigration surge. The two periods could not be more different. I’m not going to enumerate all the reasons why again but geez, I wish you all would quit doing that…

                “As for Warren’s plan, a 400% increase in the number of refugees would take us back to the dystopian days of 2016.”

                I’m sorry but that is flat wrong. Warren says, “I’ll welcome 125,000 refugees in my first year, and ramping up to at least 175,000 refugees per year by the end of my first term.” If she is talking about admitting asylum seekers for consideration, the last time we were over 100,000 refugees was 1994. The last time we hit 175,000 was 1980 and that was a single-year blip. So her numbers are not simply a return to pre-Trump days but a radical increase from the last 30 years. If she is talking about actually granting asylum, she is truly in unchartered territory. Concerning asylum grants, I could only find data back to 1990 but since then it looks like the highest number we have hit is about 39,000 in 2001. Again, she is talking about a huge historic increase.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asylum_in_the_United_States#/media/File:Refugee_Admissions_1975-Present.pngReport

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                We understand that new citizens consume goods and services, and add to the total economy.

                That. THAT EXACTLY.

                Big picture Chip is correct here.

                1) The USA is exceptionally good at assimilation non-native populations. We done it before, we’ve been in this situation before. Every time we’ve heard how this time is different because of the same reasons as before.

                2) The “not enough jobs” argument and the “there will be fewer jobs” argument are both “lump of labor” fallacies. Similarly for all the talk about how robots and AI have been destroying jobs, we’re at full employment, wages are increasing, and there’s a lot of pressure for them to increase further.

                3) The bulk of these refugees are coming over because they already have connections here to help them settle. If them instantly being on the dole is a problem then pay a law saying they can’t for a certain number of years (and if memory serves we already have a number of such laws).

                4) We’re staring down the barrel of the baby boomers aging into retirement and us not being able to pay for our various social programs. Immigrants are younger and will contribute to the economy in important ways.

                5) Even if they depress the average income by sheer numbers (which would be a new thing btw), as a class they’ll still work hard and contribute to the economy. They are a good thing. It’s irrelevant whether they’re as much of a good thing as the brain drain I’d love to inflict on the rest of the world by stapling a green card to every 4 year diploma. They’re still a good thing.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Dark Matter says:

                The bulk of these refugees are coming over because they already have connections here to help them settle. If them instantly being on the dole is a problem then pay a law saying they can’t for a certain number of years (and if memory serves we already have a number of such laws).

                Yeah, this is sort of the status quo, and while it has its flaws (like every other policy approach to every other problem) requiring immigrants to vest into social programs, if you will, seems like a legitimate approach.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Re #3 – When you say refugees with connections…do you mean from Central and South America or overseas?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Mike,

                Central and South America, not overseas.

                Having said that, I’m not sure the hoard at the Southern border has clear lines dividing immigrants from refugees and I’m not sure the source I was using is in a position to separate the two or cares. So… maybe.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                That’s such a winning issue for 2020 Democrats, especially in the heartland. “We’re going to seize your house and give it free to the first Honduran gang member who wants it!”Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              What Chip chipped in.

              This is a not a simplistic binary situation. Of the people trying to obfuscate and enrage and cajole turning it into a simplistic binary is a common tactic.Report

            • Avatar James K in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              Something can be illegal but not criminal.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to greginak says:

        What are the 493 prez contenders saying?

        I’m wondering if there’s a disconnect between Democratic positions taken individually, and what those positions mean holistically. From the Transcript linked above (all or all but 1 candidates supported each of these):

        1. Decriminalize Border Crossing (YES)
        2. Deport undocumented immigrants (NO)
        3. Medicare-for-All for undocumented immigrants (YES)
        4. E-Verify? (Inferred NO… not specifically asked, but multiple references to undocumented workers should and do work and pay taxes, etc.)

        DIAZ-BALART:
        Fifteen seconds, if you could, if you wish to answer. Should someone who is here without documents, and that is his only offense, should that person be deported?
        BIDEN:
        That person should not be the focus of deportation.
        SWALWELL:
        No. That person can be a part of this great American experience.
        HARRIS:
        Well, thank you. I will say — no, absolutely not, they should not be deported.

        Which maybe folks agree with one, some, or all of the bullet points… but if you connect the dots the public position is: Crossing the Border is decriminalized, undocumented immigrants should not be deported, should be allowed to work, and because they work and pay taxes they are *entitled* to [hypothetical] Medicare-for-All.

        Those dots connect to Open Borders – with Benefits.

        IMO M4A is underappreciated in the Open Border debate… because my question back to you would be under what political calculus will a Democratic administration not only deport someone they say they won’t deport… but if they did deport them, they would simultaneously deprive them of [hypothetical] health-care. Unpossible.

        So as I said at the top… maybe each item taken in isolation seems the best/right thing to do… but you can’t argue that taken together it isn’t Open Borders – even if no one is explicitly calling for open borders. So if the current plan is to honey badger Open Borders, prepare for disappointment.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Marchmaine says:

          That point in the debate was when I started telling my wife, “They all just said they want Open Borders.” I don’t see how anyone reads that quote and doesn’t connect those same dots.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to Marchmaine says:

          Dems support decriminalizing improper border crossing for the same reason Dems increasingly support decriminalizing everything else:

          The alternative is empowering an abusive carceral state. Indeed, it’s more glaringly carceral when it comes to immigration than virtually anything else.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to pillsy says:

            That fine… but it doesn’t address any aspect of what to do with borders or people on either side of them.

            It could be a foundational argument on “why” the Democratic party is moving towards a non-caceral approach to Border Enforcement… but it doesn’t answer any questions about what a non-carceral approach to Border Enforcement would be. Self-Deportations? Other? If so, what? Self-Deportations are up under Trump… would they go up with M4A and/or an end to invol-Deportations?

            That’s my point… absent the winning argument on why the Party is moving to non-carceral open(ish) borders… I think you put at risk a lot of votes.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

              Given that more people are killed by medical errors than guns, maybe M4A is an attempt to control things sneakily?Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

                Just wait until my Hispano-Catholic Integralist friends launch their grand plans for revival… that’ll shut down central/south-American immigration right quick. Any day now.Report

            • Avatar pillsy in reply to Marchmaine says:

              Two things have happened:

              1. Immigration enforcement has been conclusively demonstrated to be malignant and cruel to a huge fraction of Team Blue. Arguments from Team Red that it all started under Obama just reinforce this perception (no matter what other merits they might have).

              2. The public case for being really aggressive about enforcement has basically unraveled because it’s been increasingly left to MAGA World. Even here on OT the arguments are… pretty weak, and smack of the kind of social engineering arguments you get when you don’t have anything better.

              So you’ve got high costs and very few benefits. Of course the result is going to be effectively one for open borders.

              But… so what? Sure, it puts votes at risk, but any plank in any platform places votes at risk.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to pillsy says:

                “Of course the result is going to be effectively one for open borders.”

                Is my point… either embrace it and build arguments to win with it or back away to a position where you can. But the idea that just saying “Open Borders? Wha’?” is a good idea? I’m here to tell you it is not.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Marchmaine says:

                I mean if you think frank, hell, even brutal honesty is the best path in American electoral politics… I kind of envy you I think.

                Anyway, my general sense is that if you don’t have a good answer for a question about an intractable, yet low-salience problem, dissembling is absolutely the best plan.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Now let me say this as one of the open-borders kinda people on the board:

                Open Borders is a Political Loser.

                And you know how Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both opposed Gay Marriage in 2008 but, seriously, everybody knew that they supported Gay Marriage? (Like, on both sides?)

                Everybody knows that Nobody On The Democratic Side Is Arguing For Open Borders.

                And the only person who seems to, seriously, oppose Open Borders is Bernie (who opposes them for reasons related to at least a small handful of reasons why I support them).

                But I know that my view in support of Open Borders is nutty and would never, ever, in a million years be a political winner. You might be able to get away with arguing something like “I want tax hikes that won’t affect you!”

                You can’t argue for “I want Open Borders levels of immigration that won’t affect you!”

                Because everybody knows that Open Borders levels of immigration *WILL* affect them.

                I’m just lucky enough to be one of the people who will benefit from Open Borders.

                And I know it’s a political loser because I know that most people aren’t anywhere near as privileged as I am and they know that they won’t benefit from it.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                So we all agree, then.
                Controlled Borders is the best approach.

                Glad we resolved that, its almost dinner time.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Controlled borders?

                I see you’re a bigger fan of Concentration Camps than I am.

                I’ve got a poem for you to read.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Why do you assume that the only way to control people is concentration camps?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “Why do you assume that the only way to control people is concentration camps?”

                Okay, so, no camps, how about a wall then?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I suppose it’s not.

                More ICE agents, then? Do you support more ICE agents?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Absolutely!

                In order to efficiently welcome in and process these asylum seekers, immigrants, and guest workers we will need a very large staff.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                More people to staff the processing centers. Union jobs, I imagine.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                If you want a vision of the future, imagine people working at good jobs with full benefits. Forever.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “In order to efficiently welcome in and process these asylum seekers, immigrants, and guest workers we will need a very large staff.”

                broke: Nobody is arguing for Open Borders!
                woke: Open Borders means more American jobs!Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                So we should let lots of people into the US as a make-work program for Americans?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Like is the issue here that we let lots of people in or that lots of people come in without any sort of documentation or vetting process?

                Because one way to get people to do something (like enter the country through proper channels) is to make that thing easier.

                Right now legal immigration is pretty hard in a lot of instances. We could always make it easier. Then fewer people would enter illegally.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                The issue is that A) We already accept more refugees than any other country B) There’s going to be an explosion of MORE refugees in the next couple of decades and C) Our economy is about to lose a ton of jobs to automation and AI.

                Why would we sign up to be the single point of asylum for everyone south of us?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Right now legal immigration is pretty hard in a lot of instances. We could always make it easier. Then fewer people would enter illegally.

                Here was something I wrote back in 2010 that I still stand by.

                But any process that will not strengthen the necessity of government administrators will not get through.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird says:

                Ditto.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to pillsy says:

                “low-salience”

                rut roh.

                Low salience is “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman” and driving on.

                High Salience is:
                1. Decriminalize
                2. Non-enforcement/Non-Deportation
                3. DACA
                4. No E-Verify (undocumented folks *should* work)
                5. Medicare-for-All plus undocumented immigrants.

                Not arguing your policy preferences, just the salience of them.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Marchmaine says:

                You have to get to step 5 (which means assuming we have M4A at all which is a pretty huge assumption) to get something that is substantially different from what we effectively had, on and off, for decades.

                Without that jump and a long chain of reasoning leading up to it, you seriously have an issue where people have a gut sense that it’s bad without many of them really being able to articulate why.

                That’s very much the sort of issue that winds up being low salience and not impacting people’s voting habits.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to pillsy says:

                Got it. I’d say #2 is where people’s ears perk up and start to wonder… and, just to be clear, it isn’t implementing #5 that’s the gotcha… its campaigning on #5 day-in-and-day-out that’s the gotcha. If M4A as a campaign issue is 86’d, then sure no issue.

                But hey, my job is done… just wanted to suggest that maybe no-one had considered the impact of 1,2,3,4,5,+ when spoken aloud and holistically. Because individually, they are each maybe “low salience” items (well, not #5… but that’s so high its lynch-pin status – if it survives as a platform).

                And since we’re here ruining Vikram’s thread… I’ll save my “how to lose friends and turn-away people” thoughts on #5 for another author’s thread.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to pillsy says:

                “Without that jump and a long chain of reasoning leading up to it, you seriously have an issue where people have a gut sense that it’s bad without many of them really being able to articulate why.”

                As an aside… I’m sitting at my work computer connecting the dots between what my competitor claims as individual features and why – after you connect the dots – their features illustrate how their product is deficient as a whole when compared to my solution… and it struck me:

                I’m sure Team Trump doesn’t have almost-competent people like me who make a living connecting dots for lazy low-information buyers… and it is perfectly fine to hope they don’t… but, as we say in sales, hope is not a strategy.

                If I, a dumb guy in a comment box, can connect those dots… give me smart people, a production team, and a budget… and, well… probably best to assume Immigration won’t be much of an issue this time ’round. 🙂Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Marchmaine says:

                If smart people, a production team, and a budget could win a Presidential election by connecting dots, OT comment arguments would involve a lot of endless re-litigation of the successes and failures of the Dukakis Administration.Report

        • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Marchmaine says:

          I didn’t watch the debates, but Mark Shields on the News Hour was apoplectic about the Democrats’ appearance of embracing open borders. Which might be a good way to characterize it, because I think Biden might have some wiggle room there, and would probably explain himself as resuming the Obama policies which *focused* on identifying certain people for deportation. Harris might shift to Biden’s position if she wins the nomination, but Swalwell appears to be 100% open borders, and I’ve never heard of him or her.

          I would say anybody who thinks that undocumented immigrants should not be detained at the border or deported following process is advocating open borders. Borders can be open, closed or controlled.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to PD Shaw says:

            Who is saying the borders should not be controlled?Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to PD Shaw says:

            You won’t hear much more about Swallwell for a while because he dropped out today.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to PD Shaw says:

            I personally think most of the candidates hadn’t really formed their opinions fully because things were moving so fast that week. AOC had just unleashed a huge debate with her ‘concentration camps’ trope and the moderator of the debate was looking for a gotcha question (I suspect that issue is near and dear to him). So I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they got caught up in the moment and when they got backstage their people were probably like, “WTF? That’s not our position!” Unfortunately though, I have yet to see anyone really walk it back.

            And to be clear, this was the Night 2 debates. I don’t recall the same thing happening on Night 1.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Marchmaine says:

          So i looked at Harris’s website re: immgartion.
          https://kamalaharris.org/issue/immigration/

          Nothing about open borders. There is DACA and reversing Trump’s actions against immigrants. There is reforming the system and more oversight of CBP which is really not open borders.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to greginak says:

            I can’t lay it out any more clearly than I did above with the transcripts themselves…

            But I can see you guys got this. Nothing to worry about.Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to Marchmaine says:

              The transcripts are brief snips of answer and not full policy proposals. Warren and Castro seem to have the most “open” plans. Conservatives are going to say D’s want open borders no matter what like they did with Obama.Report

            • Avatar pillsy in reply to Marchmaine says:

              Right but what you’re laying out is not, “Hey I want open borders!”

              It’s, “Hey, if you follow this chain of reasoning and loop together the implications of a bunch of disparate statements, you effectively get open borders!”

              Now maybe you’re right and the effects really are the same.

              But that doesn’t mean the political valence is the same.

              People do this all the time in politics and pay little cost for it.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      You had me until the last paragraph, unless I’m misunderstanding what you mean by compete with workers in India. Right now it can seem like we’re muddling through the middle stages of a slow, zero sum race to the bottom.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to InMD says:

        We live in a global economy. In a free market, American workers with similar skillsets to someone in India would compete with them for the global share of those jobs. If they couldn’t take care of themselves on that wage, it would (in theory) push them to improve their skillset. From my perspective, we want American workers to have the best skillset in the world, not a Third World skillset that is protected by tariffs and subsidies.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          I don’t see how any approach so agnostic about facts on the ground can work. Is the expectation that Americans sacrifice their standards of living, or cheapen conditions to those of the third world? Centuries of different cultural and economic development have put the sides on different playing fields. I don’t begrudge them their desire to rise up but we don’t owe them our own hard won civilizational success either.

          We’re swiftly approaching a time where even previously safe service sector professional work can be outsourced and automation is eliminating the low skill variety. The answer to that can’t be either be a billionaire or learn to live like they do in Mumbai and out-scrap them at it.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to InMD says:

            I think they honestly need a kick in the pants to acquire new skills and it may take a certain % living like they are in Mumbai for the rest to get motivated. I know that sounds harsh but every time someone advocates for a living wage or tariffs or more subsidies it just feels like kicking the can down the road.Report

            • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              The guy in Mumbai has a PhD in aerospace engineering and makes $7,000 a year. How much skill set upgrading can the average American do?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to George Turner says:

                Well you have transportation cost that factor in. So, for example, we have a facility in NH that is a distribution center for a big aerospace company. That can’t be shipped overseas due to military restrictions, transportation costs and transit times. We employ about 20 inspectors that inspect parts on a daily basis. We gave them 6 months of training on our dime and they make really good money for most of them only having a high school education. But when one leaves we have difficulty finding people with the basic skill set and experience to fill one of the openings. Those are the jobs I think more Americans need to be pressured into pursuing.Report

            • Avatar InMD in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              It isn’t they. It’s us. There’s no reason lots of white collar work can’t be done by someone in the developing world for a fraction of what its done for here. Yea there’s more cultural reluctance but it’s only a matter of time before more peoples’ livelihoods are on the chopping block. The profit motives ensure it.

              The question is what do we do about that? In a society that doesn’t offer much of a safety net I don’t think we can just let it go, and I don’t think the politics that come out of a situation like that are going to be reasoned or small-l liberal. We’re already seeing symptoms of it.

              I also don’t think you really mean what you say about people living at third world levels, especially not when in living memory we were the envy of the world, and a tiny percentage has more than anyone’s wildest dreams. Even if you don’t see a moral problem with that you have to see a practical problem with it. History isn’t exactly teeming with examples of successful modern societies where the bottom dropped out.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to InMD says:

                Right. I’d also turn it around slightly and ask us to consider that we have decided that for our folks (Family, Friends, Neighbors) and our land that certain requirements for workers (hours, reqs, standards) and businesses (safety, working conditions, requirements on workers) and our land (pollution, use, location, etc) are all Community Goods that we have built into the price of what we would simply call the Cost of Doing Business in America. These are real Public Goods and things we genuinely value…and are willing to pay for. It isn’t simply wages – or, remember that wages are a component of an economy which is a component of a culture.

                Good Neo-Liberalism tells us this is what we are doing globally.
                Neutral Neo-Liberalism tells us this is what we’re aspiring to do globally.
                Bad Neo-Liberalism tells us “look a new iPhone”

                Think of it this way, if our goal is to export Labor protections, Business Practices and Environmental Practices that benefit the greater Communal Polity, then we’re working in Solidarity; and, arguments that some competitive advantage with regards to labor costs exists in these other places might work. But, if our goal is to shed all of these things so that we can reduce prices then we’re not working in Solidarity… and the argument that other countries are willing to work for less is really an argument for soft (maybe even hard) exploitation.

                The tricky middle is when we shed all of the communal goods that we price into *our* work, in the *hope* that maybe they will be picked-up on the back-end in other places… someday, perhaps… but most likely we’ll be dead; so not really my concern.

                And that’s bracketing an entire discussion about how and in what ways these changes are introduced to other countries… what it does to their local economies, local saftey nets and customs, etc. What things did we break while simultaneously exporting our pollution and off-loading our labor protections?

                These are somewhat unanswerable questions… but they aren’t questions we shouldn’t ask as we trade with other nations. Not after 10-, 25-, 50-years of trade when the expose is aired in a bite-sized piece on Netflix.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Agreed. I think it’s the bad neoliberalism defenses of the global trade system have started falling into and it needs to be thoroughly interrogated and corrected.

                And it’s not like I’m saying that as some pinko or whatever. The market is a wonderful servant. Planned economies other countries have tried are a non-starter. But cheap consumer goods (and services for that matter) aren’t the end all be all solution to everything or the only goal of a functioning society. They aren’t even the fig leaf they once were for that ‘e’ word you used.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Marchmaine says:

                if our goal is to export Labor protections, Business Practices and Environmental Practices that benefit the greater Communal Polity, then we’re working in Solidarity;

                If memory serves, the original purpose of the minimum wage was to prevent cheap black labor from completing with expensive white labor.

                My expectation is that these ideas are less about “protections” and more about “protectionism”.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to InMD says:

                “There’s no reason lots of white collar work can’t be done by someone in the developing world for a fraction of what its done for here.”

                Or done by a computer playing back tape recordings for even less.

                The big issue in 2008 wasn’t housing values, it was companies realizing that they’d found the perfect excuse to computerize the back office and lay off all those call-center workers, file clerks, and inventory-management staff…Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to DensityDuck says:

                It goes beyond that. Even traditionally higher level work has changed with technology. I’ve had a front row seat to it in law. Stuff that big law firms used to do with armies of junior associates can now be done with a handful and a few tech savvy paralegals. My wife tells me similar stuff about accounting. Even tasks that still need a human touch require fewer and fewer people to add them because the technology does the grunt work.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to InMD says:

                Can confirm… I’ve worked on those projects from the software side.

                Also, now with GDPR, for the first time Legal is a buyer for some of our solutions… defining policies, applying them across work groups and linking them to the underlying technologies.

                Automation and Global Trade surely intersect… but we’re dealing with different problems and potentially different (though maybe similar) responses.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Am I understanding this right, that the best outcome for American workers is to force them to compete with Indian workers, yet shield them from competing with Mexican workers?Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      We already compete with workers in India. Have you called tech support lately? 🙂

      True story. I was in a local Indian restaurant (The Curry House) with a housemate who was trying to decide with graduate program in physics he should try for. I told him that an Indian university would be much cheaper, and then turned to the waiter to see if he had an opinion on it. So the waiter asked my housemate whether he was focusing on theoretical physics or experimental physics, and then he and several other waiters proceeded to tell him the pros and cons of various top Indian physics programs.

      After we finished and left, I said “That never seems to happen in a Mexican restaurant.”Report

    • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      So their plan seems to really be, bring in lots of Latinos, give them some level of governmental support and hey, if they happen to start voting for us, that’s just the way things go!

      Kinda weird that the only outcome anybody can see is them “happening” to start voting for Democrats, as if it’s some sort of foregone conclusion. Yet all available evidence suggests that they’re really socially conservative and have high levels of grit, indicating that they should be a natural Republican constituency.

      Like I said, it’s strange.

      I honestly believe that forcing American workers to actually compete with workers in India is the best path to transforming our workforce for the future, but we insist on protecting them through subsidies and tariffs instead.

      OK but, uh, why is having a lot of immigrants from Latin America a problem?

      Are US workers only supposed to be subject to competition from workers from other countries if that work can be done when the people stay in those countries?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

        Yet all available evidence suggests that they’re really socially conservative and have high levels of grit, indicating that they should be a natural Republican constituency.

        I have heard similar said about the African-American community.

        Hey, did you know that the Republican party was founded to *OPPOSE* slavery?Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

          I have heard similar said about the African-American community.

          It’s probably overstated there; African Americans are conservative at about the same rate as white Americans, and it’s not exactly surprising given that neither is a self-selected population the way immigrants are.

          It’s just that conservative and moderate African Americans are Democrats at much higher rates than conservative and moderate white Americans.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

          “I have heard similar said about the African-American community.”

          I mean, don’t forget that African-Americans were even more strongly in favor of California’s Proposition 8 than the rest of the voters in the state…Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

        “Yet all available evidence suggests that they’re really socially conservative and have high levels of grit, indicating that they should be a natural Republican constituency.”

        Agreed with Jaybird, I have heard the same thing about African Americans. Tradition is a powerful thing…

        “Are US workers only supposed to be subject to competition from workers from other countries if that work can be done when the people stay in those countries?”

        I don’t see much point in bringing in workers that will reside on the bottom of the economic ladder, absorb social services, etc. I want people who are going to add to the middle and upper rungs of the ladder and create new industries. I will also say that it’s important to remember refugees are different than migrants and migrants are different than immigrants. Latinos coming to the US already fall under the category of ‘migrants’. And ‘refugee’ to that and you create a huge number of people who are not predisposed to assimilation. That leads to ghettos. Ask France and England how that is working out for them.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          Agreed with Jaybird, I have heard the same thing about African Americans. Tradition is a powerful thing…

          It’s a much more recent tradition. Recent enough I’m not really even sure it qualifies as “tradition”.

          Like W did very well among Latino voters in ’00 and especially ’04 relative to other Republicans.

          I don’t see much point in bringing in workers that will reside on the bottom of the economic ladder, absorb social services, etc.

          You may not see much point to it, but if we’re talking about competition I’m not sure why it’s really your call. They’re just competing with a different tranche of American workers (generally service sector and trades working class instead of manufacturing working class).

          Will they absorb more social services than equivalent American workers? Dunno. But it’s not obvious that the answer is, “Yes.”

          I am also skeptical of the refugee thing. A lot of historical refugee populations who made it to the US have fairly similar trajectories towards assimilation as people who immigrated for economic reasons.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

            They aren’t refugees in the normal sense. Many of them are playing the system to get in. Furthermore there’s a general migrant theme for everyone south of the border coming to the US. It’s a cultural thing. They aren’t going to assimilate in the same ways, which prevents us from getting the full benefit of their presence in the US.Report

            • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              If they’re playing the system for economic reasons there’s every reason to believe they’ll assimilate in the same way as previous waves of economic immigrants.

              (As for it being a cultural thing, the US has loomed large in many foreign countries, in ways that don’t seem to have particularly hindered assimilation on the part of their waves of immigrants.)Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                My point is that they will always plan to return to their home country. That prevents full assimilation and will slow the process of them putting down roots. We will not get the full benefit of their presence here.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                This is only true if you ignore the fact that millions of Mexicans have, over the past centuries, already immigrated to America, and assimilated beautifully.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                That’s not very accurate. They have assimilated to leftward ideologies and vote in those patterns.

                After LBJ, they became more politically active and require magnitudes more in social spending per capita than before LBJ.

                Dependent more so on the state than ever before.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to JoeSal says:

                So, they became fully American, is what you’re saying?Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Nope, just saying they will be a extra quantity of Super Moochers at the bottom of the cliff.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                Democrats are American too, Joe.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                ‘No USA at all’ is what the leftwards were chanting.

                There is no America to be a American by those standards.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                The ones on stage at the Democratic debate that Vikram was talking about?

                Supporting long-standing aspects of the welfare state is much, much more mainstream than that sort of vocal anti-nationalism. You may not like it any better, but that doesn’t mean it’s unusual.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                It has yet to be shown that long-standing welfare states (120+ years) lead to anything other than nation collapse, which could be seen as extreme anti-nationalism.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                Capitalist countries without welfare states barely lasted that long. Indeed the structure of capitalism kind of demands them if it’s not going to fall apart one way or another.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to pillsy says:

                Switzerland is still getting along nicely without it.Report

              • Per Switzerland’s federal government, they pay more in public welfare per capita than any of the major EU countries, and >25% of GDP for the country as a whole (which is sort of middle-of-the-pack). Hardly “without”.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Michael Cain says:

                That’s statistics compiled by the federal government, not actual federal government welfare paid by the federal government.

                Switzerland’s social safety net is pushed down to the lowest levels, to the canton, town, employer, church, or family. So when “Switzerland” pays, they’re not necessarily talking about the “Swiss government.”

                The American colonies had a social safety net when our government expenditures on it were essentially zero, and that system stayed in place for centuries. Our social spending, as a percent of GDP, wouldn’t have shown up in the federal budget except for pensions for government employees like soldiers and lighthouse workers, because it was being handled at the individual, church, charity, and local government level.

                And the Brits think Switzerland’s system produces better outcomes than the British model. Swiss welfare runs like clockworkReport

              • Implementation details.

                The major components of the Swiss pension system are provided for in their constitution. The entire health insurance scheme is controlled by federal law. Federally mandated contributions, coverage, and controls on behavior everywhere. The Swiss appear to be able to delegate downwards and everybody plays nice. US public policy history is rife with examples of downward delegation leading to bad behavior, right up through the present day.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Michael Cain says:

                The Swiss don’t need controls on their behavior. They’re have internal governors.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to George Turner says:

                Switzerland has one too, though it’s less extensive than that of most countries in Western Europe.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                What if your assumptions are wrong?Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to JoeSal says:

                (I say that in the context of the graveyard of nations, looking at the fresh graves of those who within the last 120 years that made a true hearted run at 100% welfare statism.

                Dead nations/economies that were a hell of a lot more committed to the idea than this one.)Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                Yeah but “100% welfare statism” has never been a popular position in the Democratic coalition…?

                What on Earth makes you think that’s what I’m talking about? Say what you will about American entitlement and social programs (which are a very mixed bad) they aren’t that.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                How long will it take social spending and unfunded social liabilities to go from zero to 180 trillion?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                Long enough that a ton of other things will happen first.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                Is there anything useful in that ton of other things?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                Probably. I mean you’re asking for pretty detailed long-term extrapolation of current economic trends here, which… well, if that kind of thing worked, so would Five Year Plans.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                Life cycles are about 70 years. Do you think it is a good idea to bring in people when the life cycle of the national economy is likely to end in their lifetime?

                What if it is 100% ending in the life cycle of their children? Still a good idea?

                So they can come here and learn all the ideologies that led to the nation ending to do what? Try it again? Go to some other wealthy nation and try it there?

                This all looks morally reprehensible in my views of what the social truth is.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                Do you think it is a good idea to bring in people when the life cycle of the national economy is likely to end in their lifetime?

                I don’t think it’s likely to end in their lifetime, so it’s not a very interesting question.

                Your reasons for thinking it will end in their lifetime seem to be deeply flawed, as it depends on a faulty equation between “having a welfare state” and “giving over 100% of the economy to the welfare state”, which seems to be a slightly back-assed way of talking about Communist countries.

                Actual countries where a capitalist market economy is taxed to fund a welfare state are a good deal more durable and indeed some have been around for rather longer than 120 years.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                That is not a equation I offered here or in the past.

                One parameter I would offer is to review the purchasing power of money for the last several decades and estimate where it reaches zero in the future. That hits about 2040-2050 without any wink of hyperinflation.

                If that doesn’t mean anything, look at how the M2 money supply doubles about every 10 years. What kills an economy is when the money supply doubles at extreme quantities.

                Estimate when the M2 money supply hits 100 trillion and then goes into doubling in the next decade. Do you really have a viable economy when your supply is doubling a 100 trillion? What year does that happen?

                What quantity do you think the unfunded liabilities will be at in 2045?

                Yeah there is a little variation in range, but that’s the cold hard math of it. Looking at the political lifting of both parties, nothing is going to change the outcome.

                I’m somewhat interested in a list of nations that has lasted 120 years after adopting wide spread social programs that have impacted the velocity of money in a negative way.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to JoeSal says:

                That first paragraph should read, purchasing power of the US dollar, not money. Dang it.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                What kills an economy is when the money supply doubles at extreme quantities.

                Uh why?

                I mean the size of the money supply has indeed doubled in the last 10 years or so but why is doubling from ~$7 to ~$14 trillion not extreme?

                And it is just obviously not true that the purchase power of a dollar has fallen by a factor of two in that time.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to pillsy says:

                Like seriously I bought a new car in 2008. In 2018 I replaced that new car with a car that was about 30% more expensive, but was somewhat higher end and is generally a better vehicle due to technology improvements.

                (Better fuel economy, more trunk space, better acceleration, et c.)Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                “And it is just obviously not true that the purchase power of a dollar has fallen by a factor of two in that time.”

                I did not make that claim, and since you didn’t really find any value in what was offered, we have nothing more to discuss.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                We’re talking about three different groups here:

                Immigrants
                Migrants
                Refugees

                Immigrants are very good at assimilating and that includes Mexican Americans. Migrants resist assimilation because they plan to go back home. Refugees are somewhere in the middle. Some want to stay here and will assimilate. Others will watch and hope things change back home and they will leave. They have a migrant mentality and will see no utility in assimilation.Report

              • Honest questions from ignorance: What’s the return rate to home country for refugees? Are there factors known to affect that, eg, proximity or living conditions or relative wealth?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Right. “They plan to return their home countries, and don’t assimilate because they mostly do return to their home countries,” is… not obviously a problem.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                Pilsy, you are missing my point. A lot of them plan to return home…they just never do. I know a guy from El Salvador that has been here 30 years but he swears he is going home when he retires.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Well if he goes home when he does retire is it a problem?

                And if he doesn’t is the fact that he had that intent for so long a strong argument that he hasn’t actually assimilated?

                Honestly I know immigrants from around the world who say similar things due to the nature of my workplace and… I’d say its relationship to assimilation is complicated.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                But without assimilation we are Paris or London. I absolutely believe that is something we should take very seriously when the Left is now advocating for open borders.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Michael Cain says:

                From my post on immigration last year:

                “Massey calculates that as of 2009, 5.3 million fewer immigrants would have been residing in the United States illegally had enforcement remained at the same levels as in the 1980s. He argues that a large guest worker program, similar to the one that the United States last had in the early 1960s, would reduce not just border crossings but the population of immigrants living in this country-seemingly a nationalist two-for-one.”

                https://ordinary-times.com/2018/11/02/how-border-enforcement-fails/Report

              • A quote on immigrants and guest workers is not an answer to a question about refugees.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Michael Cain says:

                We don’t get any significant number of refugees from the New World. The handful we do is swamped by the number of refugees from Congo, Burundi, Burma, Ukraine, Bhutan, etc. This year the highest any Latin American country places on the list of source countries is Colombia at #10, with 148 refugees admitted.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Michael Cain says:

                I haven’t had any luck finding those numbers but I did find some really interesting material from the UN. In particular is a document about Assisted Voluntary Return programs. These programs are essentially designed to provide support for rejected asylum seekers to return home because, if I’m reading the document correctly, that is the best option for them. One quote:

                “Another important reason why the institution of asylum has become delegitimized in
                many countries is to be found in the fact that only a modest proportion of those asylum
                seekers whose applications are rejected actually return to their country of origin. Many
                remain in the country which has refused their claim to refugee status or move on to another
                state, often in an irregular manner. As a result, states have come under growing pressure to
                demonstrate that they remain in control of who is allowed to enter and remain on their
                territory.”

                They go on to say that in response to this reality, many countries create detainment programs to control the asylum process better (sound familiar?) The document continues:

                ’12. One of the most obvious ways for governments to exert such control would be to detain
                and deport rejected asylum seekers and other non-nationals who are in an irregular
                situation. But this approach also has its drawbacks as far as states are concerned. It is
                expensive. It can lead to controversial incidents, especially when potential deportees
                physically resist their removal. It can complicate relations with countries of origin, some of
                which refuse to accept forced returns of their nationals. And it can actually persuade rejected
                asylum seekers and irregular migrants that their best bet is to go underground or to acquire
                fraudulent documents in order to remain where they are.
                13. In such circumstances, it is not surprising that governments have been increasingly
                attracted by the notion of encouraging non-nationals without residence rights to go home by
                means of AVR programmes.”

                So maybe the best solution to this problem is not elaborate detainment facilities or a huge staff of Americans to welcome them to America, but a robust, humane and expedient system for sending them back home with certain protections.

                https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/research/evalreports/51f924209/difficult-decisions-review-unhcrs-engagement-assisted-voluntary-return.htmlReport

      • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to pillsy says:

        Immigrants from Mexico are by far the greatest source of low-skilled, low income groups for the U.S. I take that as simply a selection due to Mexico’s proximity. Indians are close to the opposite end of the spectrum.

        https://medium.com/@NoahCarl/immigrant-groups-that-are-more-skill-selected-have-higher-average-incomes-b97f09b2bbe2Report

  5. Avatar pillsy says:

    But I am not a country. Personally, I don’t see why I should internalize a sharp distinction between citizens and non-citizens. The distinction seems even more arbitrary given that the Democratic Party seems to be more open to extending its compassion to non-citizen residents and asylum seekers.

    There are a lot of reasons for this, one of the most important being that, while you personally are not a country nor are you taking a country’s perspective, the party which you are griping about is kind of bound to take a country’s perspective by its very nature.

    Tolerating that is, well, a necessary component of being a political partisan. The party is bound by the will of its voters (who are currently of necessity citizens outside of a few tiny boundary cases) and its ambition is to exercise power in ways that are largely constrained by the nation’s borders.

    If Rahim actually did make it over our borders, he would be much more directly subject to the power of our state, and his fate would doubtless be of greater concern to people living here (no matter what form that concern takes).

    But the other tension here is that you are retaining a libertarian approach to problem solving while using a non-libertarian sort of reasoning about how the state should be guided. I’m not saying this is necessarily wrong, because it’s not, but… Democrats generally don’t view capitalism as compassionate. Nor should they, really, since compassion isn’t really what capitalism is there for.

    That doesn’t mean that you’re wrong about what will help Rahim (on the contrary I believe the opposite) but it may (hell, almost certainly does) mean you’re wrong about what blinds Democratic activists from agreeing with you, and thus what keeps Democratic politicians from articulating a principled approach to helping Rahim that you can support.Report

    • Avatar pillsy in reply to pillsy says:

      The broad Left views commerce in much the way the broad Right views sex: sure it maybe good and fun in some circumstances but you really need to tightly control it lest someone get hurt, and you should always have a justification instead of just doing it for its own sake.Report

  6. Avatar PD Shaw says:

    With respect to India in particular, I’m skeptical that free-trade would do much to help Rahim. Right now, the U.S. and India don’t have a free trade agreement, and the U.S. is still India’s largest export partner (16% of total Indian exports). In theory, freer trade might bump that number, but what skills or services is Rahim likely to provide that cannot be acquired from a worker in Vietnam, let alone Mexico? How much would India’s gain in trade, be simply another trade partner’s loss? Discussions involving globalization and movement of goods and people seem to drift towards ignoring distance and transportation. Approximately 50% of Indian exports go to Asian countries, and that’s where one would expect export markets to grow, so long as geopolitical issues can be surmounted.

    But the issue of building a factory is more about foreign investment, and until the early 1990s, India was hostile, and then it began adopting a somewhat neoliberal policies and now is currently the world’s largest recipient of foreign direct investment. If India wanted more such investment, it would need to embrace free trade and reduce public corruption. For example, opening that plant entails complying with “forced” localization requirements that prevent access to global networks of goods and services that would help that plant be competitive. If free trade is good for business, why would business invest in a country that doesn’t embrace free trade?Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to PD Shaw says:

      India has definitely been its own worst enemy with respect to trade. My argument is simply not to compound their self-imposed problems if and when they decide to stop stepping on their own feet.

      I’ve been traveling to India on and off since before the mid 90s, and it’s quite obvious how much they benefit whenever they decide to liberalize a bit more, but the problem with democracy is that not everyone is going to like that path all the timeReport

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        My argument is simply not to compound their self-imposed problems if and when they decide to stop stepping on their own feet.

        This is a fine policy position, and also a completely pointless plank in a party platform.Report

      • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        The thing is though, that according to Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage, India has the most to gain from free trade, and the U.S. has very little. If the U.S. becomes less open to trade, it simply becomes more like Germany, Japan, China or Canada. The potential benefits of more open trade almost always lie with the less developed country. Yet, the less developed country will generally have more challenged institutions, technological disadvantages, and difficult historical legacies to navigate, particularly as a democratic state. If the U.S. really wanted to help India through trade policy, they would pursue trade agreements based upon reciprocity or other incentives that encouraged India to be more open to trade.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to PD Shaw says:

          This is a really good comment.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to PD Shaw says:

          I don’t understand how we get from “Ricardo’s comparative advantage” to “India benefits wildly and the US only a little”.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_advantage

          Unless you’re trying to claim that it’s a problem with scale? I.e. that the US economy is so much bigger than India that we don’t have much to gain? Roughly 30% of the US GDP is export/import. We may not gain much from India specifically but if we view the rest of the world as one entity, 30% of the GDP is a big number and a big benefit.Report

          • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Dark Matter says:

            According to this St. Louis Fed study, less developed countries have far more to gain from trade:

            “In this paper we derive a new measure of openness—trade potential index—that quantifies the potential gains from trade as a simple function of data. Using a standard multi-country trade model, we measure openness by a country’s potential welfare gain from moving to a world with frictionless trade. . . . Quantitatively, poor countries have greater potential gains from trade relative to rich countries . . .”

            https://research.stlouisfed.org/wp/more/2016-003/?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium-rss&utm_campaign=working-papers

            From the body of the study: “The U.S. and Malawi are good examples of this pattern. Autarky income for the U.S. is almost the same as its observed income and the same is true for Malawi. The frictionless-trade income for the U.S. is 1.5 times its observed income but the frictionless-trade income for Malawi is 7.5 times its observed income.”

            Less developed countries face more trade friction, in terms of tariff and non-tariff costs, including regulation of foreign capitol (localization requirements), condition of internal infrastructure, adequacy of legal system, corruption, efficiency of customs processing, etc. If, like Malawi, they are are a landlocked country they have significant transportation costs between trade partners, as well.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        The problem with everyone benefiting from liberalization is that “everyone” includes the bad wrong people who don’t DESERVE benefitsReport

  7. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    I’m basically in agreement with Pillsy on this. You may be operating at a higher level of morality than the rest of the citizens if you don’t buy into the idea that the interests of citizens of a nation that is holding an election you can vote in, but if that’s the case you kind of have to figure out for yourself. The nation and its political actors are not proposing nor claiming to be acting is a way that should be seen as equitable or just if it were taking the interests all humans on the planet as being of equal weight in its decisions. You won’t find or be offered a justification for such a claim from those political actors. They are acting explicitly in the interests of citizens, or some slightly (but not much) larger group of people under the national umbrella.

    As such, you will hear commentary from that nations’s political class that decries changes (such as the shifting of good-paying production facilities to a lower-paying location outside the country) that represent a net gain of utility in the world if they represent, or are felt to represent, a net loss of utility for the people in that country (or even a concentrated, visible grouping therein). In my opinion this is essentially totally inevitable in any global political order that retains nation-states with separate democracies. Various parties in industrialized nation at times have reached certain levels of enlightenment away from such responses, but the response is never totally eliminated, and usually it s quite strong.

    I guess what I am wondering is which part of this chain reaction in political economy you feel is clearly the least justified? Who should be be acting better and what should they be doing? Should citizens’ reactions be more sanguine when job opportunities appear lost? Should politicians simply be more stoic in response? Should they be focusing on defending the benefits for industrial nations of overall global trade system (emphasizing price and selection benefit, etc.?) Should they have better

    And my other question is, if moral concern is the principle driver of objection to American resistance to loss of industry (because the relocation of industry to the poorest places on Earth does so much more material good there), then what factor is it exactly that should govern how many if any new factories are built in the United States – or for that matter in a poor country other than Rahim’s? Multinational corporations don’t operate out of a concern for Rahim’s interest either. Or are you saying that that is what they should be doing?

    The fact of the matter is that neither the American political system nor corporations with factories to build place Rahim’s interests anywhere close to the center of their considerations. The actors in those structures act in their own interests and those of their affiliated groups. It’s possible that when it comes to Rahim, the teachings of your erstwhile philosophy – libertarianism with its counsel of self-reliance – is the most applicable and reliable doctrine available to help him. Almost all the others available rely on a presumption of a communitarianism that, while it can be expanded past its traditional tribal limits, loses political salience when stretched transcontinentally into a full global embrace.Report

  8. Avatar atomickristin says:

    Great piece, as always. Hope you’re having a great trip.Report

  9. Avatar Dark Matter says:

    None of these data points fit with the theory that “we” are growing wealthier.

    A lot of the issues you’re raising are positional, i.e. relative status. San Fran and other big cities didn’t make enough housing for everyone and not everyone can be in the top 15%, so the bottom gets priced out.

    Some of the issues you’re raising are debt. The Boomers didn’t live through the Great Depression so they picked up more. Turns out that’s a problem for retirement. The secret to wealth is not spending money you don’t have.

    Now if we want to look at income (not wealth) then there are measurements we can use to try to cut through the bull. Food expenditures as a percentage of income comes to mind.

    Food cost as a percentage of the average U.S. household budget has decreased dramatically over time. Back in 1900, families spent about 40% of their income on food. By 1950, it was just under 30%. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013 the average American household spent about 10% of its total budget on food.Report

    • Avatar Jesse in reply to Dark Matter says:

      Telling a guy who used to work at a factory, but now is barely making minimum wage at Wal-Mart that, “why are you unhappy? Food is a lot cheaper and you’ve got cheap entertainment!” probably isn’t going to go well.

      Plus, there’s the small matter that in the rest of the First World, they have cheap food, cheap flat screen TV, and ya’ know, universal health care and a larger welfare state in general.

      You can’t tell people “this is impossible” when they can look at Germany, France, or Denmark, and say, “actually…”Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Jesse says:

        But free trade is not responsible for that. In fact part of the reason why many places in northern and western europe are better is that while they have bigger welfare states, it is easier to do business at least in part because of the eurozone. Lots of these places score better than the US on Heritage’s index of economic freedom. And once we abstract away from the tax levels, the US falls even further behind.Report

        • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Murali says:

          The U.S. has almost as many people and is geographically larger and more diverse than the eurozone. I think you’d need to make the case that trade is more free within the eurozone than it is within the U.S. And then there’s NAFTA as well.Report

        • Avatar J_A in reply to Murali says:

          … it is easier to do business at least in part because of the eurozone. Lots of these places score better than the US on Heritage’s index of economic freedom.

          Having dealt most of my professional life with energy businesses outside the US, it surprises people when I say that it is so much easier to do business in Latin America than it is in the USA. To me, the greatest difference is the many concurrent jurisdictions: federal, state, county/city, neighbourhood, NIMBYism, etc.

          Most everywhere has a set process to do business. It is clearly written down, and if you comply with it, you are set to go. It might take several months to fully get yout paperwork, but once you cross the finish line, it is over.

          In the USA, you not only have innumerable authorities’ requirements to meet, but basically any individual may start litigation against your project for almost any reason. That many such litigation does not succeed does not make it less of a nuisance, or raise the costs of setting up a business.Report

        • Avatar Jesse in reply to Murali says:

          Sure, but the guy in rural Wisconsin doesn’t know that.

          All he knows is that before NAFTA, somebody out of high school could get a good job, settle down, have kids, pay their bills, send those kids off to college, and retired at a reasonable age.

          Now, he can’t do any of those things, but what he sees on TV is pointy headed economists telling him, “but people have cheap food and entertainment. Why are they complaining? They should just worker harder to out compete people in India.”

          Then, he turns the other channel and a rich guy is telling him it’s the fault of the immigrants and the liberals and he’ll bring the jobs back that those people took away.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jesse says:

            So then what do you offer him Jesse? Tariffs and other form of protectionism are usually the medicine of choice for the Left concerning global trade and American workers but the president stole that one from you all. Is the Left going to offer their own version of that or go the other direction just to be contrary?Report

            • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              Seriously we need more redistribution and (generally) less meddling, whether in the form of tariffs, occupational licensing, over-policing of various minor crimes or shouldn’t-be-crimes at all.

              Really for all the issues with Yang as a candidate (foremost among them being that he isn’t going to win or even do well enough to influence the party) his approach here is about right.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to pillsy says:

                What we definitely DON’T need is an approach to economics that starts from the premise that we are in a lifeboat scenario, and the only question is who we sacrifice to appease the gods.

                Its ironic that at the moment in human history when automation and technology have made starvation a distant memory, we should be hearing the phrase “mouths to feed”.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                What we *NEED* is for *ALL* people to be undocumented.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Jaybird says:

                Everyone should be undocumented, even the police?

                “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”

                Everything will work out great!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Aaron David says:

                If we can’t prove that people belong here, who will enforce the laws?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird says:

                Have everyone wear publicly displayed symbols which denote their status.Report

              • Avatar Chip "So Great Looking And Smart" Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well if that’s what you want, why don’t you move to Somalia?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Warren makes the same mistake everyone else is making i.e. conflating immigrants, migrants and refugees and using the terms interchangeably. Our ‘immigration’ system is doing just fine and no one is really complaining about it.

                Concerning migrants, she wants to decriminalize seasonal migration, which may or may not work. Hopefully it would take us back to pre-1970s levels where the in-flow and out-flow roughly balance out on an annual basis. The only problem is that prior to the 1970s those migrant workers stayed in just a few border states. Now there is a demand for their labor across the country, which means we would also need to address what services they are entitled to while they are spending the summer roofing in Michigan.

                As for her asylum position…it’s ludicrous. We already take more refugees than any other country in the world and she wants to increase that number by 400%. Even the UN suggests the best way to deal with refugees is not asylum but a program to safely return most of them to their home countries.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I already noted that ‘mouths to feed’ is more of a metaphor not a literal comment about food. The point remains, huge number of refugees coming our way, huge number of job losses coming our way and I guess you still seem to be basing your proposals on optimism and not much else.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I can’t keep up. Last month we were all going to starve to death in ten years because of climate change, and now nobody is ever going to starve again.

                It’s not really “mouths to feed”, it’s “government checks to write.” That’s our welfare spending which we set aside for our poor being massively drained and blown on what is essentially foreign aid, as it doesn’t go to US citizens or immigrants, but to foreigners who are supposed to be home in Guatemala or Eritrea.Report

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