Low-skilled immigrant workers not needed, says establishment economist in Times
I canít believe it: sane, logical, commonsensical statements about immigration in a New York Times op-ed. Barry Chiswick, head of the economics department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, makes two main arguments. First, he says that America does not need the scores of millions of low-skilled immigrants that President Bush wants to bring in. Lots of people are available to do such jobs, lots of Americans are already doing such jobs in non-immigrant intensive states, and some low-skill jobs (such as changing hotel sheets every day for long-term guests) are unnecessary or could be made optional.
Second, he says that America is harmed by low-skill immigration. It acts as a regressive tax, effectively lowering wages for low-income people, and increasing income for high-income people.
None of these insights is new. But Chiswick presents them persuasively, and to see them appearing in the New York Times is heartening.
A correspondent asks: Since low-skilled immigration lowers wages for lower-income people and increases inequality, how do liberals justify their support for it? Hereís a theory. They support it because they are Bobos, bourgeois bohemians, who combine materialist self-interested behavior with cultural liberalism. The low-skilled immigration improves the liberalsí life-style, while it fulfils the liberal moral imperative to be open and inclusive. The fact that the immigration actually harms poorer Americans means nothing to the liberals, because what they care about is their own material well-being, plus symbolic expressions of their liberal morality.
Mark P. writes:
You wrote:LA replies:
I lived for years in Aspen, 40 miles up Highway 82 from Glenwood Springs, and thatís the way it was there back then. Iím glad to hear itís still the same. I worked for years in a bookstore, but did all kinds of jobs. In the summer of 1980, in the midst of the biggest heat wave I remember in my life, I had a job as a laborer on a construction site outside Aspen, and a guy who was working with me, also as a laborer, was a member of the Aspen City Council. That captured the democratic thing that Aspen was all about. Sure there were differences in income. Some people lived in nice houses, some people camped out in tents (as I was doing at the time I had that construction job). But there was a social equality, because everyone was basically the same. We had, as the saying goes, a common culture.A reader asks:
Wasnít it difficult to go from Aspen to New York? Iíve been to both, no contest for me.LA replies:
I had lived in Colorado for eight years (Aspen and then Boulder, where I went back to finish college after a hiatus of seven years, a great experience, and got an undergraduate degree in English), and, ironically, I came to the feeling that Colorado was too homogeneous for me, not racially of course, but in peopleís attitudes and styles. (But racially too, since in my first few years in New York I had positive attitudes about its greater racial diversity.) Also, after I had returned to college and thus re-entered mainstream society again, something drew me back to the New York area, a greater intellectual richness there, a desire to be part of the ďnormalĒ society again, closer to Europe perhaps.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 03, 2006 12:19 PM | Send