Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Some Thoughts on Immigration and Equal Time Use

While I don't always follow political events closely, Eric Cantor's loss in the GOP primary, definitely got my attention. (Bonnie Carr just posted about this and it almost sounds as though he had it coming.) What news I've heard about the upset, makes it seem as though an even further drift is inevitable, from any moderate position still remaining. In the days ahead we will be finding out who David Brat actually is. Right now it seems to be anyone's guess.

Will it become even more difficult for our government to accomplish anything? The possibility of fallout in immigration policy is what triggered this post, for immigration issues had been on my mind for a while. Certainly, the U.S. would only be the latest example, of a growing frustration over competition for jobs and squeezed budgets. Are economists beginning to throw their hat in the ring with the public on this matter? Even though I dislike the anti-immigration stance, it's not hard to see where others have problems with immigration.

And while I've noted numerous benefits from immigration, there were two occasions when local immigrant populations negatively impacted my own work related circumstance - in two different states. Those circumstances were not easy to overcome. Anyone seeking a job in a city which has lots of immigrants and college students - for instance - will have plenty of competition for job opportunities which require less skill - plentiful though such jobs might seem. That goes double for anyone who has been unemployed for a while.

Still, I remain sympathetic to immigration in the sense that it would be an incredible plus, if human capital were widely utilized in a more inclusive marketplace. Hence I continue to hope for a day when people no longer resent the skills capacity (or lack thereof) of others, whoever they are. And I continue to hope for monetary policy which will also provide greater economic access. Even so, as Scott Sumner recently pointed out in an Econlog post, how can I be confident about my own views on immigration?

Sumner provided a thoughtful response to Bryan Caplan, who posed a scenario in which those with less than median income, would be forbidden to have children. What Caplan imagined, is unfortunately more to the point than it may seem. While at least one commenter told Caplan that there is a difference between a poor child here, versus a poor child who has come from elsewhere, I'm not sure everyone would see it that way. If people feel sufficiently backed into a corner regarding a lack of available opportunities, what would stop some from seeking such a law?

As many readers are already aware, I argue that extreme differences in time use valuation lie behind what people perceive to be a zero sum reality. Not to say that greater compensation for greater skill isn't warranted, because it is. But problems come into play, when variances in reward are based on the same limited time set which everyone has. As a result, some individuals below the median, fall into lifetime patterns where they never catch up to their responsibilities. Not only might they feel they have little to contribute, others will often feel the same way about them.

This is why differences in monetary compensation need to be about the resources we interact with in our environments, rather than the use of our time. The best way to approach such compensation would be through sets of local investment options, in terms of ongoing projects and building components. Knowledge use systems and their associated services, need to be an option for anyone who is below a median income. Otherwise, people can go an entire lifetime not being able to make up for what they need from others - no matter how hard they try.

Issues with immigration, are only one of the external indicators as to unresolved questions of the present. We have an incomplete marketplace, where time use inequalities have needlessly pitted people from all walks of life against one another. There are ways to overcome this state of affairs, but neighbors will have to feel good about their neighbors again, before they are confident enough to welcome others. Fortunately, problems with immigration in the U.S. are of a more recent nature, than many concerns. Let's hope that Washington can at least find some resolution, for them.

Update: Tyler's question also ties in with the thoughts of this post.

No comments:

Post a Comment