Razib!? Not You, Too!

Razib is uncharacteristically confused:

a nation is not a market, a market is a sector of a nation. There is a large underclass in the United States which we lay off and replace with some industrious Mexicans, but that isn't going to happen, you don't lay off citizens, or export them. That's a reality, so one of the major priorities (in my opinion) should be choking unskilled labor so that wages rise for that sector.

Well, here we go…

(1) Markets are not sectors of nations. I just looked at the tag on my shirt. It says “Made in the Philippines.” How did it get here!? Labor markets are geographically bounded only insofar as the market for services and flows of labor are geographically bounded. But services are increasingly international (call centers, data entry, etc.). And the question at hand is whether we ought to further restrict the free flow of labor across our borders: don't beg it.  

(2) The largely black, urban American underclass is not an underclass because Mexicans are willing to accept low wages. It just isn't.

(3) Who doesn't lay off citizens? I'm not sure what is being said here. (Exporting? Huh?) If there is some claim here about a special obligation to enter into labor contracts with co-nationals, I'd like to hear an argument for it.

(4) As my last post argues, a nation is basically a geographically defined club that offers a number of services to its members, and that generally denies entry and membership to others on a completely morally indefensible basis.

I am glad that Razib (and Yglesias) are clear about their straightforward protectionism when it comes to labor. Of course, the argument for free trade in labor is exactly the same as the argument for free trade in anything else–even given morally backward America First assumptions. (And once we decide to consider the issue like decent human beings, and take into account the welfare of other human beings who just happen to have been born outside our public goods provision jurisdiction, the argument for free labor is so overwhelming you basically have to reject the idea of morality itself to deny its force.) Is there a compelling argument against free trade of which I am not yet aware? Even from the perspective of the U.S. national interest, we ought to abolish wage floors and allow U.S. employers to enter legally into labor contracts with anyone with the good sense to show up here.

In the same post, Razib says we need to batten the hatches to allow us to fully absorb the immigrants we have now. Is there any evidence that we are not successfully doing this already? Is there any evidence that we could not be doing this quite successfully if we doubled or tripled the rate of immigration? We can absorb many many more high wage and more low wage workers, and we should.

The good thing about the guest worker provision in the otherwise awful immigration bill is that it provides a stepping-stone to an EU-like American common labor market.  Here is Princeton's Douglas Massey in the August 2006 Cato Unbound on Mexican immigration:

Rather than seeking to build a wall between our two countries, we should adopt the stance taken by the European Union when it integrated poor neighbors such as Spain and Portugal in the 1980s and Poland and Hungary today. Rather than seeking to block flows of people that naturally follow from trade and investment within a common market, we should work to make sure these movements occur under circumstances that are beneficial to all concerned, promoting growth in Mexico, minimizing costs to the United States, and protecting the rights of immigrant and native workers.

Right on.