Immigration Opposing Jerks
YouNotSneaky (which I presume is a pseudonym) ponders an important question: “How much of a jerk do you have to be to oppose immigration?”
Let’s put on our annoying-economist hat and consider the question; if you consider a foreign national to be only 1/2 a human being (alright, alright, only 1/2 as “important”) as a native citizen, are you justified in opposing immigration? After all, it takes a real jerk to argue that foreign people’s welfare should not count at all. Suppose the foreigners are only 1/10th as important? Surely, if natives’ welfare counts for ten times as much as that of foreigners, we would be justified in banning immigration since it may adversely affect the wages of the unskilled in US?
The answer, derived from some sophisticated formulas that may or may not be econometric,* is that, using the most conservative assumptions, you would have to value each American low-wage worker “about 26 and a half times as much as a migrant” and that, with “more plausible” assumptions, “you need 55 and some migrants to make up one native.”
Now, I’m not sure that valuing your own more than some “Other” reasonably qualifies one as a jerk, but it’s an interesting and, as Alex Tabarrok observes, amusing analysis nonetheless.
*Scott Adams’ Dilbert Principle states that, “Everyone is an idiot… the only differences among us is that we’re idiots about different things at different times. No matter how smart you are, you spend much of your day being an idiot.” The corollary is that, from the standpoint of a genius — or even a highly trained individual in a difficult subject — the difference in IQ between most of us and our dogs is essentially meaningless.