Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hell Freezes Over Brad Delong Criticizes Paul Krugman

I agree with Brad who writes “Paul Krugman is conflicted on immigration. In fact, I would say that he is confused--and probably wrong” ?!?!?! yes your read that right.


Krugman is concerned that immigration causes increased inequality of income among US born US residents writing "George Borjas and Lawrence Katz... estimate that U.S. high school dropouts would earn as much as 8 percent more if it weren't for Mexican immigration." He discusses politics, then concludes "Realistically, we'll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants."

Forget the political considerations for a moment. The idea (not due to Krugman) that egalitarianism requires us to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants is crazy. An egalitarian (like Krugman) cares about the interests of the immigrants too. A policy maker who considered say about ten of them as important as a native born US citizen would oppose stronger efforts to stop the flow of low-skill immigrants. Brad argues convincingly that a policy maker who counts any number of immigrants as like one US citizen can cancel the effects of immigration on the distribution of income US born residents.

Now remember the political considerations. I think it is clear that Krugman is considering what is politically possible and advising the Democrats against political suicide. I think this makes it worse. For one thing, moving towards the Republican position strategy hasn’t worked so great for the Democrats this century. Standing up for immigrants rights is a short term loser but a long term winner (ask Karl Rove). Standing up for something is a short term winner and a long term winner.

Paul Krugman is of the few prominent commentators who has been completely willing to challenge the conventional wisdom has now decided to take it into consideration when discussing what should be done, and I am dismayed. He is not supposed to be a political strategist. I think he should be a free thinking, thought provoking independent thinker.

Now that I think of it, Brad and I disagree with Krugman on one of the issues where Krugman disagrees with The Economist. Pigs fly over the frozen wastes of hell.

update: Sifu Tweety has a firm view on the political considerations

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