Tyrone’s immigration plan

by on June 26, 2007 at 10:07 am in Economics | Permalink

Yes, my evil twin Tyrone remains a loyal MR reader, and frequently he emails me his rantings, in the hope I will publish them.  Usually I refuse, but every now and then I feel the need to remind you just how off-base he is (no kudos to the wise guy who emailed, suggesting that Tyrone is in fact my "Inner Economist")...

Tyrone just sent me the following, I added in the link:

Tyler, you had a good point that the demand for immigrant labor is often the demand for illegal immigrant labor, but you didn’t take it far enough.  We too frequently conflate illegal labor with unskilled labor, when instead this dichotomy should be challenged.  We need to make illegal labor more highly skilled and thereby restore its good name.

Toward that end I have a modest proposal.  The federal government should allow, by default, any northern European to work in the United States illegally.  The labor would be legal in the sense that the employer would face no criminal penalties.  But the worker would collect no social security or Medicare benefits, receive no OSHA protections, and the worker would never be sure how long this grace period would last.

Hi-tech employees, especially for short projects, would receive many offers very quickly.  So would many medical professionals.

Who would come?  It is obvious — those from high marginal tax rate countries.  That means France and Sweden, etc.  In essence our government would be engaging in tax arbitrage by not paying these people benefits.  Those are the optimal illegals.

Transient communities of Swedes would congregate on the shores of the Minnesota Lakes, sharing lutefisk, waiting for rides (a lot of them come from Stockholm and thus can’t drive), and exchanging rumors about where hi-tech work is available.

These people would never fully integrate with the capital stock of the United States.  But the program would attract people who already had high levels of human capital from their native Sweden.

Don’t charge them admission for a visa, that would give the gains to our rapacious and spendthrift government, rather than to the people of this fine land.

Do let them own pets.

But don’t make them legal, that just means higher wages for them and lower net gains for all right-thinking, baseball-loving Americans.

All the legal spots should be reserved for Mexicans.

Poor, poor Tyrone.  His mind never recovered from that military ambush he faced in the Congo.  That is why he talks of giving free entry to all Venezuelans, or at least the women.  He wants to set up an artificial American island just off the shores of Cuba, with lighted beacons along the way.  He wants to give "the Puerto Rico deal" to Trinidad, or indeed to any individual citizen of Trinidad who wishes to take it.  He thinks that free citizenship should be offered to any person who can score in the 80th percentile on GREs. 

Poor Tyrone has no idea of the cultural foundations of democracy.

1 nelsonal June 26, 2007 at 10:08 am

Tyrone and I agree on something. I’m all for open immigration laws for Venezuelan women.

2 Dave Barnes June 26, 2007 at 10:38 am

“free citizenship should be offered to any person who can score in the 80th percentile on GREs” sounds like a great idea to me.

3 Jeff Evans June 26, 2007 at 11:24 am

Tyrone’s plan sounds surprisingly similar to Lance Pritchett’s plan, written up in an NYTimes article a few weeks ago —


4 pinus June 26, 2007 at 12:13 pm

Oh GRE… Talking about monopolies…

Can I average out my perfect math score with the verbal score to beat the 80% mark?

5 Richard Pointer June 26, 2007 at 2:30 pm

I have an idea. I repeatedly take the GRE and get the needed 80 percentile. Every time I take it, I get one free citizenship that I can go sell. I split the revenues with the local tax man. How about that?

6 mik June 26, 2007 at 8:26 pm

It is interesting how Cowen and assorted other Open Border libertoads
with absolute job security are trying to be relevant and funny in
immigration debate.

How come all they produce is irrelevant nonsense?

7 fustercluck June 26, 2007 at 10:17 pm

The only debate regarding the immigration issue we the public get to partake in is whether Bush is crazy like a fox or as dumb as a fencepost.

8 eddie June 27, 2007 at 11:04 am

“But the worker would collect no social security or Medicare benefits [..]” Assuming that also means not paying the social security and medicare taxes, then I’d like to take that deal myself… and I’m an American citizen!

9 mik June 27, 2007 at 4:32 pm

“No one has absolute job security.”

Cowen job security is much closer to absolute than abcolute majority of
economic models to reality.

10 cfw June 27, 2007 at 6:09 pm

Tyrone should also keep in mind the big picture – if we grow the US internally (increase the birth rate) we have huge expenses in educating and caring for the “youtes” until they turn 18 and can work. A large chunk of them end up in courts and prisons. A large chunk end up spending years at the minimum wage level (paying no income taxes). Remeber al those dirty f’ing hippies from the 60’s?

Compare that scenario to “the Puerto Rico deal” (growing through minimally regulated immigration) and the economic case for immigration looks pretty good.

The third choice – no growth – is worse than growth through immigration, if we assume the US is not yet at optimum population density. Since we are at about a third of the population density of France, I am quite prepared to support growth as the best approach compared to no-growth for the foreseeable future.

Perhaps we should give some preference to those from abroad who would agree to help develop our less developed areas.

11 cfw June 28, 2007 at 12:51 am

France and Germany have been my stomping grounds (off and on) for years, I have lived 9 years in Germany and I have lived in lots of states (Army brat growing up).

Outside Paris, France is at the density that makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. People eat well there, generally speaking.

France has about 113 persons per square km, compared to say 38 for the US and 230 for Germany.

The French do a poor job integrating immigrants and the US does a good job – that is one of our competitive strengths and we should build on it.

We are also a country of real estate developers and have been for 500 years – we have done it reasonably well (except for shameful conduct toward aboriginal Indians) and can do it as well as any country in the world for the foreseeable future.

Again, if you want your son and daughter to grow up with more opportunities than you, build on the expertise the country has honed for 500 years (real estate development and integration of immigrants).

The no growth option robs them of opportunities. Do not conflate concern about increasing economic inequality – a real problem, despite what TC may argue – with immigrant issues.

12 Peter Schaeffer June 28, 2007 at 11:59 pm

Brent Lane,

“So, are you prepared for, say, 50 million people in the metro LA area? Plenty of ‘economic opportunities’ I would imagine – but would it be worth it?”

Vast profits for the upper class. Extreme inequality. An infinite supply of cheap servants (and bodyguards to minimize kidnappings). Zero middle class.

What’s there not to like?

The MR version of paradise.

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