Sorry, but you Kant have that

The British public wants the right to work in the EU but they don’t want EU citizens to have the right to work in the UK.

EU Poll

This was from a poll taken in 2014 that presciently illustrated some of today’s confusions and misgivings.

Hat tip: Lones Smith.


I think there's a compromise between the two positions, by accepting migration of people who have job offers, only.

If they only will your friends if you use drugs, then they aren't really your friends. Sorry, but it's just how I feel.

Is this kind of like how polls show that large majorities of Mexicans think they have an absolute human right to move freely into and live and work in the U.S., but that Americans do NOT have any right to move into, live or work in Mexico, let alone own property or businesses? "Kan" they have that? Seems like it and you seem to approve as well.

That's exactly how the H1B visa is used in the US, but Americans seem to hate it and think it's purely a conduit for cheap labor.

H1B visas have a lot of other things going on that make them hated.

Including £3/h jobs ?

Accepting people that have a graduate degree (in anything) seems like a good starter policy, too. Generally, they're intelligent people that will add positively to the country.

Disagree with the "in anything" part. Common sense exceptions need to be made for Women's Studies degrees and the like.

Because we have no need of all that woman stuff around here. /s
Why not just restrict it to engineers?

That's not a common sense exception. Completing a graduate degree takes work an intelligence, even if you think it's misapplied in a humanities / X studies degree. It's about letting intelligent people in, not people in certain degrees that fulfill some sort of labor need.

Let's make it more systematic, then. Any subject called X studies doesn't count. Not aware of any one of them requiring work or intelligence, just self deception and signalling

Humanities are OK

Perhaps a vote on the top five graduate degree subjects which should be banned for entry? Then we can discuss how democratic it all is.

Maybe the Chinese hukuo system has its advantages.
I'm actually starting to see the need for it.

All the homeless bums and junkies here in Seattle attracted from far and wide by the dream of a free and easy life of juicy green cannabis.

Let newcomers apply for their residency permit. Maybe make a reality game show competition in and let the pubic in various regions decide who their new neighbors should be.

This supports a class society whereas the rich live in their own areas and protect it agains the poor. It will strengthen authority, and will leave the rural areas behind.

I don't see how this should ease the problem at all!

I don't support the hukou system as a matter of principle, but there are advantages in testing different economic strategies when it's more possible to have influence over relocation. But in most Western countries the freedom to move wherever you want in the country any time is pretty ingrained.

I'm gonna let you finish, but this isn't so hard to understand. If you asked the English about reciprocal freedom to work with say.... France Germany Belgium Netherlands and Denmark (or some collection of countries at about the same economic level as the UK) then both graphs would look like the first one. Throw in a bunch of countries that are likely to send migrants to England and are unattractive destinations for working English (Poland, Lithuania, Bosnia, potentially Turkey) and you get the 2nd graph.

I think if you're right about the first graph for western Europe. I suspect, though, that if you asked "Should British people be allowed to work in Poland?" and "Should Polish people be allowed to work in Britain?" you'd likely still end up with something like the two-graph split.


Take a poll of Americans, substituting "Canada or Mexico" for EU. The result will likely be the same. And the way things have gone the last 18 months, try a poll of Germans, too.

Maybe not Canada, being the 51st State and all. Most of us out here in flyover land prefer Canadians to Californians anyway.

Like it or not, Canada isn't really the 51st state.

Indeed, the "all" in the second question is doing much more work than the "anywhere" in the first.

The British will not, and ought not get what they ask for in that first question. But there are a lot of other compromise solutions that they will be perfectly happy with. E.g. reciprocality on a country by country basis.

For skilled Brits -- the ones most likely two want to work on the continent I suspect -- they don't even need special deal. As an Australian, I found it much easier, less expensive and hassle-free to get admission to Germany than the UK on my qualifications. They didn't even seem to care that I already spoke German.

You don't seem to get the word "Union". Try a dictionary.

I'll second this.

These aren't necessarily inconsistent. The premise of the first is they are in the EU, so they should have equal rights. The second is perhaps they shouldn't be in the EU.


The poll is specifying desired outcomes, right? I mean, it's 100% reasonable that British citizens would like the best possible deal for themselves--they get free movement and everyone else has to ask politely to be allowed to come. I imagine if you asked in other countries, you'd get something similar. It's the same phenomenon as when you get polls that say the public wants balanced budgets, tax cuts, and more social spending--of course they do, everyone wants more of everything good. I'd like more pay and shorter hours at work, too.

This is quite different from asking about a package of things you can actually get. We'd all like balanced budgets, lower taxes, and more spending on stuff we like, but it's more interesting to ask how the public would feel about balanced budgets coupled with higher taxes and less social spending, since that's something we can actually get. Similarly with the EU, the Brexit vote asked (to the extent the voters understood the likely results) whether they'd be willing to lose some of the benefits of EU membership (like free movement in EU countries) in order to lose some of the things they don't like (like free movement from EU countries into the UK).

"I mean, it’s 100% reasonable that British citizens would like the best possible deal for themselves–they get free movement and everyone else has to ask politely to be allowed to come. I imagine if you asked in other countries, you’d get something similar. It’s the same phenomenon as when you get polls that say the public wants balanced budgets, tax cuts, and more social spending–of course they do, everyone wants more of everything good. I’d like more pay and shorter hours at work, too."
This not what "should" means at all.

So a competently managed and transparent immigration system is completely out of the question.

Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony. Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh lord, why Kan't we?

I guess this makes sense coming from the people who colonized a quarter of the planet.

But that changes the question to free movement of convicts.

No, a quarter of the planet was made their dependencies. The only 'colonists' most places were a thin layer of soldiers and officialdom who were commonly transient. present for a discrete period of time.

Where you saw settlement, it was generally in areas which were sparsely populated with disconnected aboriginal bands (i.e. North America and the Antipodes). You also had colonies built on imported populations after the aboriginals had died out (e.g. in the Caribbean). And in the U.S., a shade more than half the population is attributable to post-colonial immigration.

The two loci where you had a lot of colonists interacting with a lot of natives would be in Southern Africa and in the Levant. You also had a British and East Indian population in Kenya who owned a considerable share of the country's productive assets (though they were a small demographic segment). In Southern Africa, most of the white population is not British and most of the black population are colonists of a sort - Bantu migrants who arrived in the early modern period. The Khoi-san tribes who are the actual aboriginals (and their descendants) are thin on the ground. Also, very few Israeli Jews are of British origin. Most are Sephardic and Oriental Jews and a large but indeterminate share of the Arabs in Israel and the adjacent territories have only a few generations in those specific loci.

"Where you saw settlement, it was generally in areas which were sparsely populated with disconnected aboriginal bands (i.e. North America and the Antipodes). You also had colonies built on imported populations after the aboriginals had died out (e.g. in the Caribbean)"

India, sir, rather blows that notion sky high:

Shh, don't bother Art with facts and common sense.

He's trying to pedant away the broad point made by Cooper above, instead of building a cogent argument against it.

The facts in this case would be that the population of British India and the princely states in 1931 was just north of 300 million and the population of British residents was fewer than 300,000. The common sense in this case is that a population subgroup with < 0.1% of the total constitutes "a thin layer of soldiers and officialdom who were commonly present for a discrete period of time."

Hypothesis: Mexico has similar opinions about the U.S. and it seems to work just fine for them.


Aren't migration restrictions between nations usually asymmetric?

In any case, this result might occur just because people are thinking in terms of typical emigrants and typical immigrants. The typical person emigrating from the UK is very different from the typical person immigrating to the UK. They are going to and coming from very different places and for very different reasons.

'The typical person emigrating from the UK is very different from the typical person immigrating to the UK.'

That just might be true - the German doctor I know who has worked for the NHS, and lived in England, is very different from the British person I know who runs a small English language training/translation company in Germany.

While the Scottish director of a DuPont plant in France (he's a big Runrig fan) is not very comparable to the German woman I know outside of London who got a job working a phone job for Lego.

Welcome to EU 'immigration' - all citizens of the EU are allowed to live and work in all EU member countries. One does wonder - which one of those four is the most typical? (I'll skip asking about the next 40 or 50 people I know who are British and live in Germany, or Germans who live in the UK. A number of them are married couples, often with the German citizen also holding an American passport - which means if those German citizens with American passports came to the U.S., they would not be counted as immigrants, of course, even if their spouse would be.)


Two countries are likely to have different immigration profiles and take different policies according to their situation, which may include economic, cultural, ideological and/or other differences.

So, I don't think you'd expect them to particularly often be symmetric in a particularly strict consideration of the word, but in consideration of different positions, interests, etc., I do think there is often a degree of balancing (perhaps involving quotas, degrees of red tape, etc) which is less asymmetric than it might seem like to the more pessimistic position.

However, for the average person, I think they would underestimate the degree of what I believe is often unnecessary levels of administrative burden, etc., in relation to immigration policies.

(I'm not American, so the question of rules and public sector resource allocations relating to immigration policy should be understood as somewhat different than that of the USA. My understanding is that a decent number of Americans want more and/or different enforcement, for a variety of reasons, and others are basically OK-ish with the status quo).

I'm not saying it's fair, but aren't the citizens of rich western countries trained to expect that they Kan have this? For example, as a U.S. citizen you can travel to many countries visa-free (or with an easy visa on arrival), while citizens of those countries can't easily visit the States. How is this different?

It's perfectly rational if you assign a price to each right. This is a basic tool for any economist.

How much are the citizens of e.g. Poland willing to pay for the right to work in the UK? Quite a lot, I suspect, since it gives them access to well-paid jobs. But how much are the citizens of the UK willing to pay for the right to live and work in Poland? Very little, since it has neither a desirable job market (for the young) nor desirable weather (for retirees).

Brits are simply unwilling to offer a high-value right in exchange for a low-value right. Perfectly rational.

Further evidence: When the EU consisted solely of western European countries (and Greece), EU migration was uncontroversial in the UK. This is because there was an exchange of rights of similar value. With the accession of new EU countries, the right was devalued.

You might be surprised by this, but the EU negotiation procedure recognizes that quite often deals are not fair and balanced, because finding a compromise acceptable for 28 countries is almost impossible.
We run a thing that is called "Permanent negotiation", that basically means that if to close the deal today you accept something less than you'd like to have, you will be able to bring that as credit to the next round of negotiation.
It's been like that since the beginning.

Tourist visas are not comparable to work permits.

There is nowhere in the world that an American can legally work outside the USA without a complicated discretionary intrusive personal review by the local government. EU citizens can just hop on a train to a foreign country and have all the residence and work rights of a citizen automatically.

I kind of expect it (tourism related) and I don't think it's fair in a lot of ways but there's no point in turning down access for and anyways you should appreciate it at least a bit instead of always lecturing some other society for its difficulty integrating in various global systems for the fact of different way of some segments of the societies they live within.

On the matter of work permits, among other things, the simple fact of having degree from a recognized Western university is hugely beneficial, in particular because it's much easier to estimate the likely value (in a pretty rough sense) of the degree compared to some largely unknown or poorly measured school in the developing world. Which, among other things, makes it a lot easier to secure advance employment in a highly demanded sector before seeking employment in some other country.

It just depends on how good the UK is at negotiations.

This. The asymmetry is perfectible possible if there's capable people negotiating. But this implies rational, calm and silent negotiation, something in which the British failed horribly.

But this implies rational, calm and silent negotiation, something in which the British failed horribly.

When and where?

Negotiations are governed by facts on the ground. It was never worth it to their interlocutors to accommodate them.

Earth to economist: valid survey research is not as easy as it looks. How was the question asked? Were the franchises involved made mutually contingent in the question? Also, 'the British public' does not favor these options conjoined. About 12% of the British public does.

Brexit's causing mind-clouding emotional upset at the Mercatus Center, I see.

Or somebody is simply reading what a number of leave vote representatives expect to happen when they handle their leaving the EU while retaining everything the leave voters want to keep.

You are reading actual statements from actual UK politicians, right?

Admittedly, this web site is certainly not providing much in the way of actual information.

What do you mean I lost? I, personally, am thrilled to see the UK leave the EU, as I have written in other comment threads. And I fully (as a non-German citizen, admittedly) support the basic German government position, which is now that the British have voted to leave, it is time for them to go about leaving, after a measured amount of time to let the British actually organize themselves enough to finally submit their article 50 notification. After which, the EU will tell the UK what they need to do to have access to the EU common market they voted themselves out of.

The leave voters won, and basically no one in Germany (as an extremely concrete example) wants to keep them in the EU after such a clear expression of their democratic desire to become a non-member.

But as for a snappy come back, why not quote a UK politician - though to be fair, we can ignore Johnson's fantasies at this point. How about this, from just a couple of days ago, with both an EU and Tory perspective? - 'Mr Tusk said the remaining EU member states had agreed Britain would not be able to place controls on EU immigration if it still wanted to remain part of the single market.

He said: “Leaders made it crystal clear that access to the single market requires acceptance of all four freedoms - including freedom of movement.

“There will be no single market a la carte."

But Mr Tusk added the bloc wanted to keep Britain as a “close partner” after it leaves the EU.

Hours earlier, prime ministerial hopeful Stephen Crabb had said cutting EU immigration to Britain must be a “red line” in Brexit talks.

The Work and Pensions Secretary said the referendum result showed “the British people want control of immigration.”

Mr Crabb also said if he wins the Tory leadership race to replace Mr Cameron he would push for “as close as economic relationship with the EU as we do now” and to “end the supremacy of EU law” over British legislation.'

So, the EU is just going to grant whatever a soon to be former EU member wants, or is that the sort of fantasy that apparently no amount of repetition from the EU saying that it is fantasy will ever dispel?

Truly, no need to read all of what I write obviously, but hasn't it started to bleed through the media coverage that a lot of people in the EU are more than happy to see the UK leave, if only because finally, no one in the EU will have to ever listen again to the seemingly endlessly repeated threat that if the British don't get what they want, they will leave? And by this point, though the British are likely to get what they want in terms of having all the benefits and privileges of being a non-member, the EU finally no longer even needs to pretend to care about what the British want.

You won. Suck it up. (Though I wasn't aware you were a British citizen - obviously, I feel no need to read everything you write either.)

" I, personally, am thrilled to see the UK leave the EU, as I have written in other comment threads."

The number and tone of the posts you've made on the topic indicate that this is not true. It's clear to me that you are upset that the UK left the EU club and you are happily anticipating that they will be punished for it.

'The number and tone of the posts you’ve made on the topic indicate that this is not true.'

Sorry that my 'tone' has been misunderstood - so let me repeat, I am thrilled to see the UK leave the EU.

As for the number - I have been trying, apparently with no success, to explain why the German government, for example, has reacted so consistently to any and all UK demands to be in charge of their leaving the UK, while the German government remains so insistent that the UK is now a soon to be former member, with a 2 year deadline that cannot start soon enough in the eyes of many German political figures (Merkel is being, certainly unsurprisingly to so many commenters here, more forgiving).

For years, the UK has been threatening to leave the EU if it does not get what it wants. Now that it is leaving, it seems bewildered that so few people in the EU want it back. A bewilderment that apparently even extends to a number of commenters here, who seem incapable of believing that anyone would think the EU would be better off without the UK (or a bit more precisely, the City) in it.

'It’s clear to me that you are upset that the UK left the EU club'

Well, again, I personally am thrilled that the UK is leaving the EU. That I have seemed to have been so thoroughly misunderstood might be a case of people not being prepared for the idea that a number of people in the EU cannot wait for the UK to leave? Remember when I was pointing out that the original demands from several German political figures concerning Cameron submitting the article 50 notification last Tuesday? Is it impossible to imagine that a significant number of people in the EU see the UK in an utterly different light than what most of the English language media presents?

'and you are happily anticipating that they will be punished for it'

I keep trying, and apparently failing, to point out that it is not punishment that UK will soon enjoy all the privileges and benefits of being a non-member of the EU. Which is exactly what the British leave voters have chosen, and which, again to be concrete, the German government expects them to have after the 2 year article 50 period is over.

Giving people what they want is rarely considered punishment - and I, for one, do hope that the UK does not stay in the EU, though with the utter confusion on the British side, who knows? But the EU, at this point, seems quite uninterested in the prospect of the UK staying in the EU.

So, to repeat -
1. I'm thrilled that the UK is leaving the EU
2. The member states of the EU respecting the British desire to be a non-member of the EU, and the UK being granted all of the attendant privileges and benefit of non-membership, is not punishment. It is precisely what the leave voters chose.

However, I'm cynical enough to think that the City will pull all the strings it can to remain in a position to influence EU policy, even if that means keeping the UK in the EU - for example, by the British government simply not delivering that article 50 notification.

So, one mistake still slipped through - obviously 'and all UK demands to be in charge of their leaving the UK' should read 'and all UK demands to be in charge of their leaving the EU'

Just too many 'U's to easily scan.

p_a defending Alex T...strange bedfellows the EU makes.

I am not defending Prof. Tabarrok.

What I am saying is that a certain proportion of those representing the leave position seem to think that the EU will offer them what they want, because that is what the leave voters want.

This does require not a couple of year old survey to see - one needs only follow the press in an EU country or two to see that the UK leave voters are clinging to the dream that the EU will give a non-member UK what it wants merely for the asking, when as a EU member, the EU was not willing to give the UK what it wanted.

And as one concrete example, whether in that ever so gentle Merkel fashion or with a more typically brusque German directness, the UK is being told how the process will work as they become a non-member. Something that the Germans are eager to get on with, even as they stare at wonder at a country that apparently gets what it wanted in terms of leaving the EU, but have absolutely no plan for leaving the EU. It makes it hard to take the UK seriously, at least from a perspective that says people that want something should also know what to do with it.

Including a realistic appraisal of what is on the table, and what isn't.

You could post more links to the European press that understands so much better what the British Leave voters want than the English speaking British press understands them (which you're rather light on). Bonus if you add some showing predictive accuracy about what they want, from for instance, perhaps only two weeks ago.

Read German? Here is one, with a few quickly translated passages - you do know who Steimeier, of course.

'Interview mit Steinmeier zum Brexit: "Wir erwarten von London einen Fahrplan - und zwar zügig" / Interview with Steinmeier concerning Brexit: "We expect a schedule/roadmap from London - and promptly"

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Herr Steinmeier, kann es noch einen Exit aus dem Brexit geben? / 'Can there still be an exit from Brexit?

Steinmeier: Ich habe nicht erwartet, dass es wenige Tage nach dem Referendum bereits Antworten auf alle offene Fragen gibt. Aber nach dem eindeutigen Ergebnis - das ich aus tiefstem Herzen bedaure -, bin ich doch überrascht, wie wenig vorbereitet Großbritannien auf eine Situation ist, die zwar nicht die erwünschte, aber doch nicht unwahrscheinlich war. / I did not expect that only a couple of days after the referendum there would already be answers for all open questions. But after the clear result - which I deeply regret - I am surprised how unprepared Great Britain is for a situation that may not have been desired, but which was not unlikely.


Steinmeier: Man muss ja fast den Eindruck gewinnen, als hätte mancher prominente Brexit-Befürworter eigentlich gar nicht den Austritt gewollt, sondern auf eine knappe Niederlage gehofft. Jedenfalls kann man nicht erkennen, dass irgendjemand auf der Insel einen Plan gehabt hätte. Viele sind nun offenbar verwirrt und erschrocken darüber, dass das Votum der Briten tatsächlich Folgen hat, und das nicht nur unter den Wählern, sondern auch in der Politik. / One could almost have the impression that some prominent Brexit proponents did not want to leave, but hoped for a close defeat. One can not recognize that anyone on the island had a plan. Many are now openly confused and distressed [in the UK] that the vote of the British has actual consequences, and not only for the voters, but also in politics.


Aus unserer Sicht ist das so: Solange Großbritannien nicht förmlich ausgetreten ist, ist es Mitglied der Europäischen Union. Das sagt auch die britische Regierung. Umso mehr irritiert mich, wenn in britischen Regierungskreisen öffentlich über Rückzugsmaßnahmen vor Beginn der Austrittsverhandlungen nachgedacht wird. / From our perspective, so long as the UK has not formally left, it is a member of the EU. The British government says the same thing. Which makes it more (personally) irritating when in British government circles there is consideration of return measures [though possibly he means simply accessing the common market, as the idea of undoing Brexit and of discussing the UK's access to the EU market are both being debated in a UK where both major parties seem to have imploded] before actually even starting the process of leaving.'

The FAZ no longer cares all that much about Brexit, by the way. Seems to be a done deal, and there are more important things to discuss. Pretty typical of how the German press looks at the UK in general, most of the time - not all that important, accept for those threats to leave the EU.

'Bonus if you add some showing predictive accuracy'

Hard as this might be to imagine, most people in Germany just weren't all that concerned whether the UK stayed in or left the EU, and considered it be a matter for the British voters to decide. But as seen above with Steinmeier, the Germans are having an extremely hard time dealing with British 'Ratlosigkeit' after making their decision.

Almost as if most Germans believe that a nation deciding on a major course change should give it more than a couple of minutes of thought. Probably just another example of how those Teutonic concepts are overriding that particular UK charm which the EU so desperately needs.

Your schadenfreud is ridiculous and should embarrass you. Why do you care so, so much that you constantly comment over and over about what idiots the UK are and how high the German expectations are which the UK could never hope to meet. Just give it a rest already.

Those aren't exactly clear statements that the German press definitely knows "UK leave voters are clinging to the dream that the EU will give a non-member UK what it wants merely for the asking".

They seem more like they, like everyone else, has no idea what the Leave campaign proposed as a settlement, other than that membership of EU legislative, executive and judiciary bodies is intolerable. They can hardly *know* that the UK leave voters are clinging to something very specific, at the same as saying they have no understanding of what leave actually proposes.

Although in any case, it can hardly be the case that Leave have an absolutely concrete plan that the EU (or whoever represents them), when it is a matter for negotiation (one person cannot dance). Negotiations being the thing which the EU at the moment is unwilling to tender (and of course, yes, there is a perfectly defensible legal argument for this).

And, I am sure the German press generally pays British affairs little regard. The same is true for Britain to Germany (although by some alchemy this disregard is transmuted into the term "insularity"), and in fact practically all EU nations to Germany (rather an impediment to any sort of actual democracy amongst the EU nations).

Alex gave him a C+. It was Tyler who gave him the D.

How could you even know that?

I'm in Germany myself, and I can confirm the complacency pt2 notes. The more interesting question is what that's based on, or, in German, "worauf herauf eigentlich?"

The EU was a mess before Brexit. Arguably, Britain is in better shape now than Germany (well, not *right* now with all the aftershock of Brexit, but wait 'til there's some clarity as to who will be PM).

Does it not occur to anyone in the better-off parts of Europe that they're falling behind, and fast, without a functioning collective decision process (see Schengen/dealinh with refugees) and saddled with imploding hinterlands?

Britain is purchasing insurance against EUmplosion. It's a tail risk, and it's expensive, but I wouldn't dismiss it as irrational

Given that, is it so unexpected that British public preemptively sees Europe as another BRIC in the wall, and wishes an appropriate migration strategy?

I think the phrasing of the two questions may account for some of the disparity. If I'm asked about "British people" I think of one prototypical Briton to stand in for all Brits (and depending on which British import I last consumed this prototype either looks like Hyacinth Bucket or a trashy mid-20s drunk doubled over a park bench. But it's usually Hyacinth.). If I'm asked about "all citizens of other EU countries" I consider a multitude of groups from varying countries and varying demographics within each country, then consider whether each individual sub-group is a good candidate for free movement into the UK. If the answer for one is 'no,' the answer for all is 'no.' I would proudly support Hyacinth's free movement through the EU (my heart positively swelled when she sang Rule Britannia on the shores of Denmark); I would be less likely to support the free movement of Latvia's unemployed slum dwellers into the UK.

There's also the well-established habit of people supporting contradictory things at once. But in practice people don't get to choose both; they choose one, and Brexit was the consequence of them choosing just one. Polls and referendums and ballots may include "neither" or "undecided" as options but they seldom give an option for "both!" One more check on the fickle passions of the people.

I was about to respond with something similar. One question was about freedom; the other was about rights. I might feel differently about those questions, too.

Roger Scruton had some illuminating remarks, before the referendum,:

Quite so. Some will interpret the question as:

"Should the British government limit the number and kind of British citizens from working abroad?" and "Should the British government limit the number and kind of non-British EU citizens working in Britain?" There is no confusion or inconsistency in a no/yes.

Others will assume the EU government is the actor. Still others assume God (by whatever name) is the actor.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

And economists.

This is the one of two primary ways why I think the actual negotiations with the EU amount relatively nothing in the long run. (Say the UK gets to vet Polish immigrants for 3 months.) UK voters really wanted to slow down the movement of workers and not the movement of goods & services. (Esp. Financial Services in the UK). So I suspect the EU has Angela Merkel, the master of slow negotiations using the threat of market access to keep everyone in line, lead the negotiations for nominal gains.

Anyone who finds this result strange should stay out of democratic politics.

And should probably stay out of market economics, also.

That is what Economics Departments are for. All that is required are a bunch of meaningless statistics and lots of foreign food.

An educated Brit is an asset to your country, a Somali goatherder not so much

And what Somali goatherders have to do with German doctors working for the NHS will be the next statement you will entertain us with, right?

At least use the properly British term for what the leave voters have finally freed themselves from - 'Polish vermin.'

Straw man it up. Who is saying ALL immigrants are bad? Was there a survey about whether to let in German doctors that I missed?

Way to strawman and point fingers on the same issue, in the very same breath. In which year did Polish people become "ALL immigrants"?

Somalia is part of the EU? I should drink less, I missed this event.

De facto.

The EU is not stopping the British from keeping non-EU would-be immigrants out. There is an obligation under international law to succor refugees, but I don't hear suggestions the UK should leave the UN and relinquish its permanent seat at the Security Council.

EU immigrants to the UK are statistically net contributors to public finances, so it's really that a German doctor, French quant or Polish plumber is an asset, whereas a brexit-voting unemployed man in Sunderland isn't.

There is an obligation under international law to succor refugees,

That can be done perfectly well in Turkey or Jordan. Angela Merkel invited a mass movement of a miscellany of young men and various EU officialdom have then tried to claim that EU members were obligated to take quotas of them under this provision and that provision of the complex of treaties governing the EU.

I thought some Leavers even wanted more non-EU immigrants and part of getting out of the EU is more "space" to try to attract more (better?) cream of the crop in a more global sense. Whether or not the British economy is still able to do anything like that might be a different question, but certainly there are a lot of highly qualified and experienced people who might be likely to want to try out living in the UK (if there is such a thing as the "UK" aside from England in a few years' time).

Only if the EU is dumb enough (and they probably are) to fight protectionism with protectionism. The correct answer would be: if the British want to hurt themselves, there is no need we have to do the same. British citizens welcome as ever.

+1, this is the best response.

very true, but I have more hope that the British will see that than that the EU will

Maybe. But I don't think England would take kindly to those who take advantage of the situation to upscale recruitment activities to attract labour out of England. Does it matter if they still have nukes and all?

like, you seriously think they'll nuke Germany for hiring too many Brits?

Since there are far more citizens of the other EU countries than the UK, the Brits opinion is understandable.

In other words, the UK is so fantastic compared to the EU that everyone in the EU wants to be in the UK. But the EU offers so much more opportunity and better weather and jobs that everyone in the UK wants to be able to go freely to the EU.

Clearly too many have bought the free lunch political economics sold by conservatives.

Everything is argued on either or both "changing the status quo will be great" or "the status quo takes our rights or money". Every change to the status quo will never have a cost because costs are never mentioned, or if given by the opposition, dismissed as totally political by the defenders of the failed status quo.

Trump has totally captured the spirit by advocating conflicting policies in the same minute based on both being "great, so great".

Every agreement requires giving up sovereignty, whether between two individuals or between two nations. TANSTAAFL

"In other words, the UK is so fantastic compared to the EU that everyone in the EU wants to be in the UK. But the EU offers so much more opportunity and better weather and jobs that everyone in the UK wants to be able to go freely to the EU."

Europeans go to the UK to get jobs (the UK has created more jobs since 2010 than the entire rest of the EU), British people go to Europe to retire and enjoy the weather.

Do those sum to 100%? 50+20 looks an awful lot like 70%?

Implies a lot of people who are rather undecided.

It looks in each question roughly 50% and then 37% are in favour of Freedom of Movement. A swing of 13% isn't huge.

But there's then some slight variance when the question is asked each way.

So perhaps closer to Kant than the figure implies, with indecision and framing causing some wobbles.

I'd also say that if, as the figure implies, around 50% of British citizens want the right to work in the EU (which I'd also note is the same percentage as there are remainers), it hardly implies "The British public wants the right to work in the EU" by any particularly strong margin.

Likewise, less than 50% of British citizens by the same poll did not want EU nationals to have the right to live and work in the UK....

So Alex's statement is highly, highly, misleading.

The third option was "What is the EU?"

There is Tabarrok, standing like a stone wall.

How does that show any confusion? That it might not be possible to achieve both doesn't mean there is something irrational about wanting both.

I echo Turkey Vulture. There's nothing wrong with wanting what you can't have. We all do it--it's part of the Human Condition.

Aren't you meant to be an economist? Why are you falling back on categorical imperatives and symmetry?

All kinds of relationships are asymmetrical. I work for my employer. He never works for me. Is that a Kantian impossibility? I think not.

Of course Britain people can have that asymmetric relationship with the EU, at some price. And the size of that price will be determined by things that, as an economist, you are well placed to analyse.


Immigration, having failed to pave the sidewalks with trillion dollar bills and requiring ever more layers of bureaucracy and statutory rights to administer, is one of those areas where gimlet-eyed economists transform into handwringing Kantian ethicists.

People should generally be banned from straying into any subject whatsoever except for the one that they are most highly qualified in. Knowledge will grow the the exchanges which result, at either faster or slower rates than otherwise ...

There may even be some individuals who want both. But that doesn't follow from the data given.

Is the right to work in an open society like Britain (English speaking, with generous benefits) worth more than the right to work in countries (with paltry benefits) like Poland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Slovakia, Romania, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and Latvia? I suspect it is. For most, even the right to work in generous countries like Finland, Sweden and Denmark is worth very little in practicality because of language and other barriers.

There is no "right to work" anywhere. Fundamentally, the only right you have is to be left alone.

Technically speaking, AlexT is wrong. According to free trade principles (ideally, not realistically), unilateral free trade, meaning you allow free trade (EU for example) but your neighbor does not (UK for example) benefits the country allowing free trade (here, EU). Bilateral free trade is of course best for both countries, but strictly speaking the EU is 'wrong' not to allow unilateral free trade, unless they are trying to get more advantage for both countries by negotiating for bilateral free trade by taking a 'hard line' against unilateral free trade.

Yeah, countries not falling for unilateral trade are ignoring the US$ 100 bills on the sidewalk...

It's a riskier proposition than picking up bills from the sidewalk. Costs and benefits for different groups.

as a matter of fact, yes. Their overall welfare is reduced, as everybody pays more than necessary for everything they buy. Of course, there are some winners who profit from the artificial monopolies created. Those desiring to be such are not the most likeable people
(this is an econ blog, you know?)

Unilateral free trade with a country that systematically steals your intellectual property might actually be a really bad idea. Depends on how much IP you have to steal and how much you can bargain to reduce IP in exchange for lower tariffs.

The real world of business really does have a lot of complex stuff going on.

Why won't the EU benefit by allowing these eager workers in, regardless of whether Britain is smart enough to gain similar benefits through also relaxing working restrictions? Why isn't Alex arguing that the EU should absolutely allow Britains to work there if they want to, no matter what Britain decides for itself?

If this were a question about trade, I feel confident Alex's answer would be that while it would be beneficial for both to adopt it, it's still beneficial for only one to adopt it. So why the difference when it's workers we're talking about?

Just an irrational attempt to stick it to those hateful, stupid Brexiters or am I missing some nuance?


When someone at the men's club stops paying his dues, is he still allowed to attend networking meetings, or lobbying-esque discussions about how/when they might move forward together on a variety of issues?

Well, I simply don't think the EU is going to act according to the econ101/201 version of hominus economicus. Maybe something deeper into game theory thinking of a couple or more different types?

I wonder if slightly rewording the groups would make a difference?

"_All_ British people should be free to live and work anywhere in the EU." (adding "All" as first word of segment)

"Citizens of EU countries should have the right to live and work in the UK" (no "All" as first word of segment)

British people want what's best for British people. Obviously, this is evidence that there should be no national boundaries.

"British people should be able to live and work anywhere in the EU." Agree/Disagree

There is no option for "German/Greek/Polish/ect people should be able to decide their own nations' immigration policies." Which is what most Brexiters would have picked. If Spain, with it's 45% youth unemployment rate, wants to kick out British retirees, well, let them see how well it works out.

I haven't seen anyone point out that what the EU has done with the new members in eastern Europe is different from how Spain and Portugal were dealt with in the eighties. What the polls show is something entirely reasonable and consistent with the old way Europe handled new member countries that were much poorer than the rest of the EU. Citizens of Spain and Portugal were prohibited from moving to other EU (well, EC) countries for a number of years because it was recognized that they were much poorer and immediately giving them freedom of movement would lead to a flood of unskilled migrants to the richer countries. There's no reason that limitation should be balanced by an equivalent limitation on people from the richer countries moving to the poorer countries. Far from it: all the Brits moving to Spain was a boon to the poorer country's economy. So it would have been good policy - and consistent with past practice - to tell the Poles et al that they couldn't move west for ten years or so, while still allowing any Brit who wanted to to move to Gdansk.

There was 7 years restriction for Eastern European countries, just like with Spain and Portugal. But this restriction expired in 2011

Thanks. A little digging showed me why I made this mistake: The restriction wasn't automatic, but at the discretion of the receiving country, and was for two or five or seven years. The UK strikingly, given all the take recently about taking back control of immigration, chose to impose no restrictions at all. Germany imposed the full seven years ...

"sorry but you Kant have that". That must be the best headline in the history of this blog.

Sure, but it doesn't really approach the level of a Metafilter member's 'The Full English Brexit' title for a post.

Suppose there was a "5 to 1" rule. Every nation has to accept up to 5 times as many workers going from Country X to Country Y, as go from Country Y to Country X.

Between roughly equally-developed nations,like Britain and Germany, or the US and Canada, that would allow people to move pretty freely for work and business. Between developed and less-developed nations, like Britain and Poland, or the US and Mexico, it would constrain MASS immigration from greatly altering societies.

To you of course, that would make the 5 to 1 rule a terrible thing: preventing the cheap labour and downward pressure on unskilled and semi-skilled wages that you want from free trade. But in principle it's not impossible to imagine some kind of compromise maintaining some level of free trade while putting some limits on mass immigration... if the powers that be were interested in compromise, rather than ignoring the pressures of discontent until they explode.

Interesting. But I think a lot of anti-immigrant types (of various sorts) might find any numbers that approach being economically sensible as being "too high". Would a 2 or 3:1 ratio be needed to establish fairly wide consensus on such a criteria?

These days, many places might be in the 5-10:1 sort of ratio, so if you're main thinking is driven by the average production of melanin across the population then presumably the numbers are already out of whack. Personally, I don't worry much about the relative distribution or concentration of genetic stuff in the population really matters much (and for that matter doubt that any genetic differences between identifiable population segments really matters that much either).

So ... 5:1? I dunno. What sorts of issues does framing it that ways bring up for different positions in the argument?

I'm surprised anyone is surprised. In a zero sum game, I want to be able to take to take something from you, but I don't want you to be able to take something from me. That's selfish, but not irrational. You may want the same for yourself. Those could be our starting position, and we try and negotiate a compromise.

Whether free flow of people across borders is a good idea for the people in the receiving country depends on:

- the nature of the people flowing it. The range includes serial killer, dumb welfare recipient who makes lots of babies out of wedlock, lazy worker who cheats their employer, Marxist zealot, Jihadist zealot, unimaginative but conscientious hard worker, bright kind go-getter, brilliant inventor. Lots of these differences are innate.

- what your position is in the receiving country. Owner of capital? Or worker facing deluge of competitors? Resident of a gated community with high income to pay private school tuition? Or low skilled dim bulb with poor job prospects and low pay?

If everyone really was up for respecting the rights of others and everyone was hard-working, conscientious, bright, and fair to people unlike themselves then we could have the immigration debate that libertarians want to have. Perhaps there is a parallel universe where this is the case?

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