I’ve been slowly working my way through Choice: The Best of Reason, edited by Nick Gillespie, Reason’s Editor-in-Chief. I subscribe to Reason, and I normally read through each issue over a period of a couple of hours. Then I have to wait a month to do it all over again. Choice, however, is a collection of very meaty material, so I’ve been waiting after each article to let it soak in a bit.
I just finished the fourth article in the collection, Glenn Garvin’s “No Fruits, No Shirts, No Service: The real-world consequences of closed borders.” The title of the piece is a way of pointing out that immigrants do a lot of work in this country, and that if we kept the immigrants out, we’d have to find americans to do the work…and Americans don’t like that kind of work.
Here’s my favorite passage:
Study after study shows that immigrants are at worst a break-even proposition in terms of creating jobs and paying for the government services they consume.
Perhaps the most dramatic was a study by Princeton economist David Card, who looked at the impact of the 1980 Mariel boatlift on Miami employment. That was the year Castro, in an ill-considered fit of pique, briefly opened Cuba’s doors to permit free emigration. In just a couple of months, 125,000 refugees flooded into Miami, boosting the city’s work force 7 percent overnight.
Card tracked Miami’s unemployment statistics for six years after the boatlift, comparing them with those of half a dozen Sunbelt cities with similar economies. What he found was–nothing. Miami’s economy swallowed the newcomers without a trace, like a boa constrictor gulping down a pig.
That’s a classic piece of Reason writing. It’s an amazing fact, it proves the author’s point, and nobody else is talking about it.
Here’s another passage I like, just a few paragraphs later:
“When I read letters to the editor, it’s plain that most people seem to think that the number of jobs is fixed,” he says. “So, in their view, if you add one more worker to the population of a city, it just means that that guy will have to fight with somebody else for an existing job. It’s an extremely narrow and very non-economic view of the world….If you look across cities, the number of jobs is proportional to the number of people in the city. The fact that more people have moved to New York than to Atlanta does not mean that a lot of people have been thrown out of work in New York. What it means is that there are 10 times more jobs in New York than there are in Atlanta.”
Of course. How obvious. The number of jobs is proportional to the number of people in the city. The populations of America’s cities have been fluctuating for years, sometimes shrinking, mostly growing. Although some growth is due to people having children, much growth also occurs because people are moving there. And yet cities that experience sudden growth aren’t giant pits of unemployment; more often they’re boom towns. Why would it matter if the people come from inside our borders or out? From Atlanta or Guadalajara?