Tabarrok on Dobbs

by on August 13, 2007 at 5:02 pm in Economics, Television | Permalink

I just taped an interview on immigration with a reporter for Lou Dobb’s show on CNN.  It’s supposed to be on tonight.  I had a few good lines. (I’m sure I wasn’t as composed as these answers suggest but this is the gist.)

Q: Are you in favor of open borders?

A: I was delighted when the Berlin wall fell and certainly hope that my grandchildren live in a world where it is easier to move between countries.

Q: (After discussing the 19th century immigration of the Irish).  But weren’t the Irish legal immigrants?

A: The Irish were legal immigrants not because they were especially law-abiding but because the immigration law was less restrictive at that time.  If people are worried about illegal immigration the solution is simple, make the immigration laws less restrictive.

I think they were hoping for a "crazy" open border person to make Lou Dobbs look good in comparison.  In which case (believe it or not!) I suspect I disappointed their hopes by being eminently reasonable – we will see how much of the interview gets on the air and what is left on the cutting room floor.

Addendum: My kids thought it was hilarious when Lou called me a complete idiot!  I didn’t get much airtime but my Open Letter on Immigration got lots of attention.

Thanks to everyone in the comments who watched!

1 David Zetland August 13, 2007 at 5:29 pm

Alex, Good luck! Dobbs and other crazies have a way of “reshaping” things in their own perverse view…

Maybe you should interview Dobbs and then allow others to discuss his ideas?

2 M. Hodak August 13, 2007 at 5:58 pm

From CNN’s show as shown:

Tabarrok: I was delighted when my grandchildren moved.

Tabarrok: The Irish were not especially law-abiding.

3 John August 13, 2007 at 6:20 pm

Wow. He gave you a few seconds.

4 John August 13, 2007 at 6:22 pm

He called the Powell an idiot. You got off easy.

If Lou has so much to say, why not talk lives???


WAR ON LOU!!!!!!

5 John August 13, 2007 at 6:26 pm

I sent this to his Dobbs’ Show:

Lou calls economists idiots and jackasses??

Maybe his lack of real economic training makes the world too simple for him.

Lou, if you feel so sure of yourself and their folly, why not invite the men you mock onto your show and talk live instead of taking gratuitous shots at them?

Go ahead, talk to them, you might learn something…maybe.

6 Uber-economan August 13, 2007 at 6:42 pm

I think all the economists here who like open borders should simply move themselves to Mexico. I’m sure they could use a lot of useless theorists there, as we have an oversupply here. I mean, you’re all for the free movement of people, why not move yourselves? Prove what you say. A move to Mexico would do the economy a favor, as lowering your wages and standard of living would save the rest of us a lot of dough. Mexico could use some cheap useless theorists. Then we could use that money we wasted on you and your stupid ideas to build new prisons for all the extra murderers, rapists, and thieves who are coming across our borders, and (fail to) educate their largely uneducatable spawn. Sounds like fair trade to me.

BTW, the rest of us are more concerned with maintaining a way of life than a “standard of living”, which you can only quantify with money. Spare the rest of us the fruits of your mental illness.

7 Luigi August 13, 2007 at 6:56 pm

“all the extra murderers, rapists, and thieves who are coming across our borders”

Really? What percentage of immigrants are murderers, rapists, or thieves? Compared to the percentage of murderers, rapists, or thieves in the general population?

In a way, immigration maintains your “standard of living”. Just because “average wages” went down, does not mean your wage, or any other person’s wage, went down. It might just be that an Immigrant got a lower wage, thus lowering the average wage. As I understand the numbers, the “standard of living” (purchasing power of your dollar), is actually going up in real terms (constantly).

BTW open borders does not mean we “have to move” rather that we are “free to move”. I see no need to further explain.


A cheap and useless theorist in Mexico.

8 josh August 13, 2007 at 7:57 pm

Y’all oughts ta move yourself ta Mexico ya complete idiot!

9 John August 13, 2007 at 8:42 pm

Think it through,

They come here for opportunity. They have little opportunity because because their culture is more under the grip of self-sabotaging populism than we’ll ever be (I hope). They come here because their societies are more economically illiterate than ours is. They come here because, whether they realize it or not, they vote with their feet and those votes favor freer more open markets and laws with more integrity and “rulers” who could never all the empty and destructive promises their authoritarian and corrupt “rulers” back home actually try to accomplish and fail at (of course).

Their economic history is a cycle of failed promises, resentment, populist backlash and more failed promises and around it goes. Sadly, they’ll never realize that.

They are not the same people when they come here. Here, they have a chance to work and they do.

10 Steve Sailer August 13, 2007 at 9:29 pm

What I’d like to see on TV is Alex play Jeopardy against George Borjas, with all the subjects being “Immigration.” I’d guess that the final score would be something like

Borjas $28,000
Tabarrok -$600

11 Butter August 13, 2007 at 9:57 pm

Alex –

Is there a You-tube link you could post to this??

12 Tino August 13, 2007 at 10:20 pm

1. Luigi:

The incarceration rate of Hispanics is roughly 350-380% of Whites, if you want an estimate of propensity for the by far largest group of unskilled immigrants.

Immigration lowers the REAL wage of people they compete with, not only the nominal wage. This is simple Heckscher-Ohlin. The total wage of natives is not likely to go down.

But that’s largely irrelevant. The cost of unskilled immigration largely goes through government spending, crime, lower
civic participation and a more populist/statist electorate.

To keep it simple, let’s stick with taxes and crime. Each unskilled immigrant costs American taxpayers about 140.000$ over their lifetime, even assuming convergence in income far above empirical ones.

2. “the “standard of living” (purchasing power of your dollar), is actually going up†
Well, yeah, thanks to technological growth. But the standard of living would go up EVEN MORE if the US reduced low-skill immigration.

3. John:
You are completely right in the first part of your analysis. But you just can’t make the connection can you? Hispanics that come to the US are voting for free markets with their feet, and voting AGIANST free markets and for economic illiteracy and populism with their hands.

According to Pew 60% of Hispanics want to expand government, compared to 35% of non-Hispanic whites.
In 1940 the US was 1,4% Hispanic. By 2040 it will be almost 25% Hispanic. This is a demographic transformation seldom seen in history. The electorate is changing. Meanwhile incomes of second and third generation Mexicans are no higher than African-Americans. Half of all Hispanic children drop out of high-school.

What will happen to the free-market innovation machine when the poor minorities are the majority?

4. I normally like Tabarrok. But his job as an economist is to think the specific issue through, not offer simplistic clichés.

Normal viewers are less smart than him, but probably have more common sense in this issue. The example with the Berlin-Wall falling is completely meaningless, since it had to do with removing political borders within THE SAME NATION.
Germans share language, culture, history and identity. Americans do not identify themselves as “North-Mexicans†, and have a right to live in the association of their choice.

Using dumb-downed libertarian soundbytes you are advocating giving away the property of Americans, their citizenship “shares† in the US. This is missing the point of libertarian ideals on a deeper level: People have the right of forming communities and associations with those they want, and politely keeping everyone else out.
19th century immigration from Europe was legal because transportation costs kept all less desired immigration groups out. For all their problems the Irish assimilated to American standards within about 3 generations. They faces massive pressure to assimilate to Americans norms, unlike today. Anyway in 1832 there was no welfare state, so the cost even of failed immigration was limited.

In order to use this example Alex has to ignore the central core of the argument. He was answering as an economist, but choice to ignore all economic aspects in the debate, such as costs, taxes, transfers and labour markets. Instead we get a good dose of sentimentality that any soccer-mom can give you.

It would be interesting to see if Tabbarok can use actual economic arguments that open borders with third-world countries benefits a majority of American citizens.
Note that you don’t get to do the standard tricks:

†¢ Using stats where unskilled third-world immigrants are mixed with Japanese Phd.s and German investment bankers to raise their average.

†¢ Referring to 19th century Irish/Italian/Jewish experience as some sort of deterministic rule. We know empirically the Hispanics today are not following the same path. The education and share of professional levels of Irish immigrants surpassed natives within 3 generations. There is no such convergence for Mexicans today.

†¢ Ignore the public sector 800-pound Gorilla, because you are against it. We are not choosing some magical basket of policies, open borders and libertarian paradise. Take the political reality into account, where the small gains from trade are dwarfed by the massive transfers to the (mainly) poor unskilled immigrants.

13 Luigi August 13, 2007 at 11:04 pm


I do not have the technical knowledge of simple Heckscher-Ohlin economics or stats to debate your points. However, it seems everybody here talks about regulatory (send them back, block our borders) solutions; Immigrants are coming because they have incentives to come, and those are not limited to shitty conditions at home. US businesses (walmart, et al) are hiring illegal immigrants at a lower wage, even lower than minimum wage, than they would “regular” americans. What if the US govt actually enforced the minimum wage law? What if the same wage for the same work was enforced? Would immigrants be more productive and thus be a better hire than the US workers? (btw are you against all immigration, or only hispanic immigration?) If so, wouldn’t it be better for the average american to have a more productive worker for the same cost?

Sure, “hispanics” (which is not the same as immigrants, many hispanics have been here for generations; also, why hispanics v. whites? it seems the law of averages would send “whites” back to the mean… do you have stats on balkanic immigrants? eastern europeans? maybe a more apple to apple comparison) commit crimes; but they can also be heroes (see hispanic who saved schoolchildren on the bridge collapse). Are you going to keep them all out or are you going to select between the heroes and the criminals?

Also, as I said not all “hispanics” are immigrants; some go generations back. You still don’t want them? where do you draw the line? Go generations back and even you, and every reader in the US, was an immigrant. YEah, this is sentimental shit. But America was founded and maintained by immigrants. Deal with it.


14 Anonymous August 13, 2007 at 11:07 pm

East and West Germany were different countries by any definition.

I guess you are referring to the division between U.S. and Mexico as set down by your vision of a jingoistic God?

15 thehova August 13, 2007 at 11:47 pm

I want to just laugh this off (because on some level, it is hilarious).

but then you think of how many people watch and agree with Dobbs. and that is depressing. Dobbs has no integrity.

my consolation: My guess is that Lou Dobbs doesn’t command the most intelligent, powerful audience. People who make important decisions don’t watch Lou Dobbs. the country’s powerful business, academic, and government leaders both don’t watch Dobbs and likely don’t agree with him.

i don’t think dobbs poses a real threat.

16 jb August 14, 2007 at 12:02 am

The incarceration rate, by itself, is meaningless, as anyone with the barest passing familiarity with the legal system should know (plus, I have a feeling Tino’s just making up numbers here). I won’t insult anyone’s intelligence, except via praeterition, by expounding on this.

I will, however, say that the Mexicans who come here are the ones who are sick of living under a culture that’s every bit as bad as the anti-immigrants say it is. They want to live in a place that doesn’t suck, and are willing to work hard to earn a living here. Why are Mexicans in Mexico lazy? Because hard work there gets you nothing, so you might as well relax. In the USA they work harder than anyone who comments on this blog does.

17 thehova August 14, 2007 at 12:20 am

JB, i completely agree. one who truly loves their country and way of life want to share it with the rest of the world.

Which reminds me of this wonderful quote:

“We Germans were ordered to be patriots and we became patriots, for we do everything our rulers order us to do. One must not think of this patriotism, however, as the same emotion which bears this name here in France. A Frechman’s patriotism means that his heart is warmed, and with this warmth it stretches and expands so that his love no longer embraces merely his closest relative, but all of France, the whole of the civilized world. a German’s patriotism means that his heart contracts and shrinks like leather in the cold, and a German then hates everything foreign, no longer wants to become a citizen of the world, a European, but only a provincial German.”

Heinrich Heine

18 dave August 14, 2007 at 12:28 am

Nice try, Tino. Those numbers sound completely bogus. State your source and include a link, please.

19 fustercluck August 14, 2007 at 12:38 am

Well, Lou Dobbs comes off as a complete ass, even though I tend to think that this open borders notion is a prescription for chaos and the quick demise of this country’s productivity plus whatever sense of culture we do have.

Though I certainly understand why anarchocapitalists are in favor of open borders: it would spell the immediate destruction of the government. It’s much harder to accomplish both goals (anarchocapitalism + open borders) in the opposite order.

20 fustercluck August 14, 2007 at 1:01 am

“Immigration lowers the REAL wage of people they compete with, not only the nominal wage. ”

If you can’t compete with someone with less than a sixth grade education and can’t speak English, then tough luck.

Not a very smart comment. A Mexican who is housing & feeding his or her family back in Mexico has lower costs than an American citizen facing the same responsibilities here. The “comptetition” at lower level jobs is not intellectual, but financial – who can afford to accept the lowest wage. The problem with this open borders idea is that the lower level American worker is not competing against a few million illegals, but against potentially hundreds of millions of the world’s poor who will do everything possible to come here.

21 John August 14, 2007 at 1:15 am


I agree as I’m sure most would. Real economics education should be standard material in all high schools.

Hazlitt’s “Econ in one Lesson” would make a great 9th grade econ textbook…but maybe I’m biased.

22 Matthew August 14, 2007 at 2:21 am

“The “comptetition” at lower level jobs is not intellectual, but financial – who can afford to accept the lowest wage.”

I don’t think this is the right view. The job market doesn’t care what you can “afford to accept.” Companies won’t offer you more than your worth and employees, in turn, can switch jobs or threaten to switch jobs to put upward pressure on wages.

In other news, Lou Dobbs is a complete, jingoist, xenophobic, economically paranoid and alarmist ass. We look down upon Japanese internment and other xenophobic things that have happened in our past, but this man isn’t far from that ancient mentality. And I’m one more in line with TGGP’s comments here than Alex’s.

23 aaron_m August 14, 2007 at 5:10 am
24 josh August 14, 2007 at 7:48 am

Why does everybody get so up in arms about this? Do you really believe your lives will be any worse at all if Mexicans and Latin American are allowed to live in “your” country or is this all academic?

25 Tino August 14, 2007 at 8:31 am

“I have a feeling Tino’s just making up numbers here†.
I have a feeling you are ignorant and happy to remain so.

Butcher and Piehl (2007)
Fraction of the Population Institutionalized in 1980, 1990 and 2000:
Native Born Hispanic 6,59%

White Non-Hispanic 1,7%

0,0659/0,017= 388%

Percent of adult population ever incarcerated in a State or Federal prison

Hispanic 4,3%
White 1,4%

The figure is slightly better if you adjust for age and gender (which you shouldn’t, since the average effects Americans, not the adjusted rate).

“Based on current rates of first incarceration, an estimated 32% of black males will enter State or Federal prison during their lifetime, compared to 17% of Hispanic males and 5.9% of white males.“
Note that native born Hispanics are much more likely to go to prison than immigrants. There are probably different reasons, such as age, fear of deportation, and norms. Almost half a million immigrants are deported every year for criminal activity (this is in addition to those deported for breaking immigration laws), which partially explains why there are few in prisons.

If you actually had some knowledge about the legal system you might have known that the crime-victim data on offenders matches the racial composition of incarceration almost perfectly.

There is no evidence whatsoever that the high incarceration rate of minorities is due to any bias in the justice system. Many studies actually show a slight downward bias, perhaps because there is less policies and a higher threshold in high-crime minority areas (since minorities don’t commit more crime in the liberal make-belief world, the high crime rate in these neighborhoods must be due to white and Asian kids sneaking in every night mugging people).


You are making the standard economist misstake of thinking in terms of trade of goods in the first place. An immigrant is not a sack of potatoes. The important issues are, as I mentioned, linked with the human aspect:

†¢ Transfers (36% of Mexican households receive some kind of government benefit)
†¢ Crime
†¢ Voting

The US has created a welfare state, partially because the poor vote themselves benefits, but mainly because the majority is altruistic and wants to help them and their children. Unskilled immigrants are low-productive, earn little, and therefore are net drain on the system.

You pay very little taxes if you get 8 dollars per hour, but you get free health care, free schools, public transport, (eventually) social security and Medicare, prescribing drugs, in state tuitions etc.

This is not theory. This is reality. All serious calculations show the obvious fact, that low-income immigrants cost the taxpayer’s money, just as we should expect them to do when you have a welfare state geared towards helping the working poor.

To answer your question I would prefer to limit all low-skill immigration, regardless of ethnicity. High skilled Hispanics would have the same chance as high-skilled Chinese. And no, you can’t separate the “heros† from the criminals ex ante, so you have to limit immigration on objective criteria.

The politically correct theories are irrelevant when you have empirical data. Just look at experience, we know the expected success rate of various groups. This is no different than a college selecting applicants based on grades and SAT scores.

3. “Also, as I said not all “hispanics” are immigrants; some go generations back. You still don’t want them?†

Anyone who is a citizen in the US of course has full association rights and should be treated equally. However America has no obligation whatsoever to threat citizens of other country equal to their own people, just as you don’t have the moral obligation to care about strangers as much as your family and friends.

4. Econotarian:
Libertarianism is a powerful ideology when you have reality on your side, such as regarding free markets. But libertarians that argue completely decoupled from facts is no better than socialisms that do the same.

“Let’s just assume everyone will work regardless of incentives!†.

“Let’s just assume the welfare state doesn’t exists, everyone outside the US are yearning to vote for Ron Paul style economics†

You write:

“If this bothers you, reduce socialist spending†

As I pointed out, you are not allowed to magically alter reality when discussing immigration policy. I CANT reduce socialist spending. If YOU people want immigration than YOU remove the welfare state, and come back when unskilled immigrants are no longer a massive burdens on taxpayers.
Of course you have no chance in hell to do so, since low-skilled Hispanics like the welfare state, because it gives them things for free.

And stop with the silly strawmans

“How many illegal immigrants get invited to Republican get-togethers”

The 60% has a 58% correspondence for SECOND GENERATION who want to expand goverment, not illegals. Republicans have obviously pandered like crazy to Hispanics. But you can’t fight self-interest: low income people that benefit from goverment spending are not likely to vote for economic conservatives, unless they have an extreamly strong free-market ideolgy.

Do Latin Americans in general have strong a political culture that can be described that way?

By the way why in gods name would Republican opposition towards immigration make Republican hispanics become pro-goverment? Why don’t these free-market loving Latinos just flock to libertarian candidates?

Again as I pointed out you don’t have the intellectual right to point to previous experience from immigration when the facts are not the same. The Irish and Germans converged within something like 50 years, while Hispanics have not converged in almost 100 years of immigration, and show every sign of DIVERGING.
The second and third generation are doing somewhat *worse* in many aspects than the first. By the time you were at the third generation German, Irish or Jewish 19th century immigrant they had already surpassed the natives.

Get it?

The facts are not the same. Different group of immigrants, no welfare state in 19th century, high costs and self-selection, no ideology of multi-culturalism to work against assimilation, no communications technology to remain in constant constant contact with your home country.

Different experience, different facts, which explains why we are seeing different results. When you have empirics that go against your theory you don’t get to repeat the theory, just lauder and more shrill.
Your argument is about as logical as saying the US will by historical certainly win the Iraq war, because the US was involved in WW1 and WW2, and won those.

You see? If Germans assimilated it “proves† Mexicans will assimilate! Since the US won WWII it “proves† we will win in Iraq!

26 Josh August 14, 2007 at 9:04 am

This might be a silly question, but you do understand the fundamental difference between a wall built to keep people in, and a wall to keep people out?

I assume the difference is which side of the wall you’re standing on.

27 John Dewey August 14, 2007 at 9:20 am


Would you please consider breaking up your long posts into multiple shorter ones? Perhaps you could reply to one person at a time rather than including multiple replies in one post? It would make it easier on the rest of us, and might increase the odds that someone will read through till the end of your post.

28 Mr. Econotarian August 14, 2007 at 9:30 am

“The Irish and Germans converged within something like 50 years, while Hispanics have not converged in almost 100 years of immigration”

What do you mean by “convergence”? In 2000, 1.3 million Americans still spoke German frequently at home (my best friend in high school was in this stuation), and 1 million Americans still speak Italian at home:

And this is without much modern German or Italian immigration today. It is no surprise that recent Spanish-speaking arrivals still speak Spanish. There was Yiddish radio in New York City and Norwegian road signs and church services in Minnesota until the 1940’s, a hundred years after those immigration waves began.

Even today, you can attend a Norwegian Chistmas service service at the Norwegian Seamen’s Church in New York:

My grandmother and great-grandmother spoke Norwegian to each other at home.

And FWIW, my mother-in-law from El Salvador married a white guy of mixed Jewish and Protestant heritage, for what it is worth.

Also I have never met a child of an immigrant born in the US who didn’t know English, even if their parents didn’t speak English.

Have you ever heard the spanglish in Raggaeton? Obviously the younger crew can barely speak Spanish, while they are merging with Hip-Hop.

29 Richard A. August 14, 2007 at 9:33 am

“Immigration is very similar to free trade in apples”

Apples don’t vote!
It is comparative advantage that causes trade flows — absolute advantage causes labor flows. Labor from low wage countries flows to high wage countries but the reverse is not true.

30 Tino August 14, 2007 at 9:44 am

Dividing the posts wouldn’t make the combined text shorter.
No you shouldn’t adjust for income. You want to know what expected effect unskilled immigration has on your country. It doesn’t matter exactly why crime is higher in some groups, the cost for you is the same. More unskilled immigration = Higher crime.

It would be meaningful to adjust for income if you think Hispanic income was converging to white levels. It’s not.
For what it matters adjusting for income usually only removed a small part of the effect. The recently arrived immigrants are not richer than their second generation children, but commit far less crime. Anyway the direct link between crime-income is weak, the relation is due to some underlying characteristics (social problems, norms, low human capital) causing both high crime and poverty.

I already told you the “rich lawyer” theory is debunked in research. The crime victim describtion give the same answer. Do you honesty think millions of Americans assualted, raped or mugged by white people lie to the police to make some race look bad?

They might have better lawyers, but they also live in communities where the police is much more likely to catch and prosecute you for any given crime, where the treshhold is lower, where vittnesses are more willing to talk etc.

Again: Do you think the high crime rate in inner city ghettos is due to white and asian kids sneaking in at night to increase the average?

Finally the incarceration rate is not only important in itself; it is also a proxy for a lot of other activities that impose negative externalities on others. These externalities matter. Even for a given income few Americans would like to live in Haiti or El-Saldavor. Ever asked yourself why?

31 John Dewey August 14, 2007 at 10:13 am

tino: ” already told you the “rich lawyer” theory is debunked in research.”

And you think I’ll simply believe you? or the research you cite without reading it?

tino: “It would be meaningful to adjust for income if you think Hispanic income was converging to white levels. It’s not.”

Sorry, but I do not believe that. I’ve seen way too much evidence that Mexican and other Latino immigrant families are assimilating within a couple of generations.

tino: “Even for a given income few Americans would like to live in Haiti or El-Saldavor. Ever asked yourself why?”

I cannot even begin to imagine what point you are trying to make.

32 Tino August 14, 2007 at 10:43 am

The autism level is going up with every post:

2,3 million speak Italian and German? Do you realize that Germans and Italians are about 30% of all Americans whose ancestry is given? That there are 60 million who identify themselves as having German or Italian ancesotory?

That there are almost 2 million FIRST GENERATION immigrants from Italian and German speaking countries in the US?
What I mean by convergence is simple. It means by the third generation or so your income and education levels should be similar to Anglos. For the groups you mention, Germans, Italians and the Irish, after 3 generations they were doing slightly BETTER than Anglos (of course they are so many that they brought up the average).

Third-generation and above Mexicans in contrast have a 31% welfare use.

2. “Even today, you can attend a Norwegian Chistmas service service at the Norwegian Seamen’s Church in New York†
Well that changes everything!

Look pall no one cares or minds if Hispanics maintain some of their cultural expressions. What assimilation means is that you adapt core American values, and reach reasonable levels of social and economic success.

The fact that almost half of American born Mexican immigrants are not finishing high-school and that 17% of Hispanic men go to prison is what bothers us, not some meaningless Christmas service. It should bother you as well.

What anti-foreign bias? Why would libertarian minded people interpret self-sufficiency and patriotism as “anti-foreign†?
Your theory that Mexicans are inherently pro-market is just insane. Just look at world value surveys for Mexico. Look at little at Latin American history. Or do you think the illegal’s leave their norms and values at home once they cross the border?

Being pro-market and anti-government is an almost unique Anglo-protestant tradition. As the share of Americans with these values diminish and as cultural assimilation is replaced by ethic tribalism the support for classical-liberalism will diminish, as it already has in places such as California.

Furthermore it’s much more likely for someone to accept small government if they are doing well economically, rather than belong to a permanent underclass while other ethnic groups are doing better.

The theory that “anti-market† bias of Republicans is driving immigrants “right into the hand of socialists† is another logical beauty. Why is the natural reaction of Adam-Smith loving Mexicans to flock to the socialists?

And why are Hispanics that are ALREADY REPUBLICAN so much more anti-free market?

33 Luigi August 14, 2007 at 10:48 am

John Dewey:

As recently as a year ago, US Immigration raided a Wal-mart which hired illegal immigrants with wages lower than the minimum wage (I don’t remember the state but I will look it up). It’s the sort of news that is not a big deal in the US, but in Mexico will get attention.

If wal-mart does it, what makes you think it is the only business that does it?


34 indiana jim August 14, 2007 at 11:53 am

Richard A. wrote: “Apples don’t vote!”

Also neither apples nor their offspring add to wait times and the costs of emergency rooms.

Apples never tap the welfare state; this is why Milton Friedman was not a knee-jerk proponent of open borders.

Dobbs calling Alex an idoit is idiotic, and his airing of just a few seconds of what Alex said is unfair. And I agree that Dobbs calling Alex an idiot is a feather in Alex’s hat. That said, the apple-human analogy is unfortunate because the soundness of any empirical assessment of the consequence of open borders would hinge crucially upon treating immigrants as people and not apples, steel, automobiles, or any other thing that we might trade across national boundaries.

35 Uber-economan August 14, 2007 at 12:08 pm


All these people talk about is theory. Reality means nothing to them at all. You can talk all you want to about reality, and they ignore it to talk about money–fiat money created out of thin air! They don’t care about how these third-world dregs destroy neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, and society in general. They are totally incapable of sympathizing with their fellow countrymen. All they care about are math equations and money. They have a mental illness. You can show them all the statistics you want, and they will ignore them if they don’t involve dollars–that’s how narrow-minded and mentally ill they are. Just listen to them–all you have to do to avoid the ngative consequences of this idiocy is to make a lot of money and move to an all white neighborhood! Oh, and stop paying taxes! Great plan for the rest of America! How can such people can actually take this non-sensical theoretical idiocy seriously is amazing, isn’t it?

36 Anonymous August 14, 2007 at 1:05 pm

“The perception that immigration adversely affects crime rates led to legislation in the 1990s that particularly increased punishment of criminal aliens. In fact, immigrants have much lower institutionalization (incarceration) rates than the native born – on the order of one-fifth the rate of natives. More recently arrived immigrants have the lowest relative incarceration rates, and this difference increased from 1980 to 2000.”

37 rm August 14, 2007 at 1:26 pm

Uber-economan, please stop posting racist comments.

38 aaron August 14, 2007 at 2:02 pm

Immigrants may not be murders and rapists, but their services provide americans the free time to rape and pillage.

39 Carter August 14, 2007 at 3:26 pm

The Berlin Wall, as you must surely know, kept Germans out of their own country. For you to make that analogy indicates you believe people have no right to posess their own country.

Which isn’t “eminently reasonable”, but insane.

40 pjgoober August 14, 2007 at 4:04 pm

The commenter at Aug 14, 2007 1:05:34 PM quotes an NBER research paper: “…In fact, immigrants have much lower institutionalization (incarceration) rates than the native born – on the order of one-fifth the rate of natives…”.

Thier descendants on into infinity come with them in a packaged deal. Asians are a larger percentage of 1st generation immigrants than following generations due to higher hispanic birthrates, which must lower first gen. crime rates. Also, crime sky-rockets within each ethnic group in the 2nd generation. Using immigrant crime rates is not a good proxy for the latter generations effect on the US crime rate.

See research from Ruben Rumbuat and Roberto G. Gonzales of UC Irvine: Debunking the Myth of Immigrant Criminality

“Second Generation

Incarceration rates increase significantly for all US-born coethnics without exception. That is most notable for Mexicans, whose incarceration rate increases more than eightfold to 5.9 percent among the US born; for Vietnamese (from 0.46 to 5.6 percent among the US born); and for the Laotians and Cambodians (from 0.92 percent to 7.26 percent, the highest of any group except for native blacks)…..

Thus, while incarceration rates are found to be extraordinarily low among immigrants, they are also seen to rise rapidly by the second generation. Except for the Chinese and Filipinos, the rates of all US-born Latin American and Asian groups exceed that of the referent group of non-Hispanic white natives.”

41 Mitchell Young August 14, 2007 at 4:20 pm

‘John Dewey’ doesn’t believe that transfers are going to illegals. Supposed not directly, other than medical costs. However, illegals do receive benefits for US born children, including HUD section 8 benefits, AFDC, foodstamps. Of course, these kids are US born, but as these things are reckoned by household, its essentially a transfer to an illegal. If I was getting such things only for my children, you would certainly reckon it a transfer to me.

‘Josh’ — since the French Revolution, and indeed since ours, the People have had the possession of the territory on which they live. Before that, it was the King, or the nobility, which owned the country (word origin, country<-county<-count as in the noble) . If you read even the supposedly libertarian Declaration of Independence, Jefferson is quite clearly talking about a People, with a right to the space they occupy. The collective right of the people of a country to sovereignity is just as much, indeed more, a part of our tradition as supposed 'private property' rights, which only became a cult in the 1830s or so, i.e. after our Founding.

42 josh August 14, 2007 at 6:40 pm

So can I stop the immigration of undesirables from their mothers wombs or not?

43 djconnor August 14, 2007 at 8:54 pm

Wow. I’d say Lou Dobbs just jumped the shark, but I think he is the shark.

44 josh August 15, 2007 at 9:00 am

no, forced abortion? ok, how about vasectomies?

45 Person August 15, 2007 at 9:43 am

omg did Lou Dobbs try to flirt with his assistant at the end? Geez, there’s one thing he could improve on…

46 Michael Giesbrecht August 15, 2007 at 2:32 pm

Ubereconmensch: “All these people talk about is theory. Reality means nothing to them at all. You can talk all you want to about reality, and they ignore it to talk about money–fiat money created out of thin air! They don’t care about how these third-world dregs destroy neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, and society in general. They are totally incapable of sympathizing with their fellow countrymen. All they care about are math equations and money. They have a mental illness. You can show them all the statistics you want, and they will ignore them if they don’t involve dollars–that’s how narrow-minded and mentally ill they are. Just listen to them–all you have to do to avoid the ngative consequences of this idiocy is to make a lot of money and move to an all white neighborhood! Oh, and stop paying taxes! Great plan for the rest of America! How can such people can actually take this non-sensical theoretical idiocy seriously is amazing, isn’t it?”

With enemies like you, who needs friends? Keep up the bad work.


47 pjgoober August 15, 2007 at 5:51 pm

Josh, you seem to subsrcribe to a world utility maximizing stance. An increased level of deaths, assualts, robberies, and taxes for US citizens is a worthy trade to you if immigration increases the net utility for the world population. I do not subscribe to this. I care about myself and my families safety more than I care about others. But mass immigration is bad even for a world utility maximizer A truly far-seeing world utility maximizer would see the value in keeping conditions in the US different from the world average. Your thinking is utterly short term. Keeping the US as a place where it is safe to do heavy business investment and scientific research benefits all of mankind far more in the long run than would letting in hundreds of millions from societies that are not safe for large-scale investment. people until US conditions converge to the third world standards.

1 example: The US creates the vast majority of the world new drugs. Third world nations benefit from these drugs immensely, getting them at much lower costs than US consumers. A third-world origin voting populace would almost certainly change the favorable legal environment that lets this investment take place.

Higher taxes discourages the risk-taking and innovation that benefits the whole world. Taxes will rise to pay for the needs of an ever-increasing third world population that will vote for increasing benefits for itself.

The money and time spent by people trying to avoid third-world levels of crime, and the taxes required for maintaining vastly more prisons and law-enforcement will sap money and time from world benefiting risk-taking, innovation, and research.

An increse in populations that don’t supply doctors and other professionals in proportion to their numbers will still require those services (tax-payer funded of course) and thus draw professionals from risk-taking innovation and research into these services.

Please read Randall Parker’s post where most of these ideas came from. Tyler Cowen linked to it before but only as a contrarian viewpoint that he does not agree with:

48 TGGP August 15, 2007 at 6:03 pm

My guess is that life-expectancy is higher for Haitians in the U.S than in Haiti. But by how much? For that I’d really like to see some data.

49 Loki on the run August 16, 2007 at 7:10 am

John says:

I’m aware of two reasons:

– poor people have less to lose by incarceration;
– poor people cannot afford the effective lawyers that keep rich people out of jail.

How about a third?

– Poor people have, on average, lower impulse control, otherwise they would have risen out of poverty.

While we are throwing around unsubstantiated assertions, lets have a few more.

50 Loki on the run August 16, 2007 at 7:18 am

Uber-economan, please stop posting racist comments.

Ahhh, finally, someone pressed the “Stop saying things I don’t like” button.

Way to go, dude!

51 John Dewey August 16, 2007 at 6:09 pm

By the way, Loki, I do not believe poor criminals are the victims when effective lawyers keep rich people out of jail. I would prefer that poor and rich criminals all be locked up – and forced to earn their keep while in prison. I was only offering a partial explanation for higher incarceration rates of poor people.

52 John Dewey August 17, 2007 at 7:32 am

sN: “where the public school has gone mostly illegal.”

What do you mean by “gone mostly legal”? The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that all children residing in a state’s boundaries are entitled to a public education – regardless of their status or their parents’ status. Furthermore, it is illegal for children to not attend school. As I see it, all kids have exactly the same right to be in public schools as the children of your friend’s sister.

I’m curious. How would you know if the Hispanic children at a public school are in the U.S. illegally? as opposed to being children of legal residents or even being citizens themselves? As I understand it, it is illegal for public school systems to divulge information about the legal status of pupils.

53 John Dewey August 17, 2007 at 1:45 pm

sN: “You are just a broken calculator — you think you act on data — but you only have five buttons,”

Well, that wasn’t very nice. All I did was ask you a question, which apparently made you uncomfortable. As long as you are already uncomfortable, could you go ahead and answer my question? How do you know that hispanic children at any school are in the U.S. illegally?

sN: “A 10-year-old citizen’s life is ruined and you quote supreme court cases.”

Neither I nor the Supreme Court ruined any child’s life. IMO, though, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Plyler vs Doe saved the lives of a million or more kids who may have been otherwise denied a basic education.

Children get in fights and suffer bloody noses everywhere, at the hands of children of all races and colors. Few lives are ruined. This has been going on for all of my 56 years, and probably much longer. What most of us learn early in life is to avoid confrontations where we might get hurt.

54 John Dewey August 20, 2007 at 2:35 pm

loki: “Hey man, I agree 🙂 95% of incarcerated individuals are innocent. Just ask them 🙂

Also, whenever I have caught my kids doing something they were not supposed to be doing, they strenuously proclaimed their innocence, oh, and didn’t they sound so indignant that we wouldn’t believe them.”

You misunderstand my point completely. I’m not arguing that innocent persons are being incarcerated. I’m arguing that wealth allows some criminals to be set free. That’s a partial explanation for higher incarceration rates of the poor.

The second reason I offerred is that poor people have much less to lose from being in prison. I’m not saying the poor person ignores the risk completely. It’s just that the risk/reward equation for someone living in a slum working for $10 an hour is entirely different from the risk/reward equation for a six figure income person living in a McMansion.

55 翻译公司 February 13, 2008 at 10:13 am

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