Freedom Folks

Friday, October 27, 2006

Willful Misunderstanding

Source: Hot Air

Today's Vent over at Hot Air is the second half of Michelle's interview with Mark Steyn.  Good stuff on immigration, the cognitive dissonance of the Bush administration vis-a-vis immigration and the war on terror.

Scrolling through the comments I came to this...
If non-criminal non-burdening people should be free to move around the world as they please, how are you going to prevent employee shortages from being filled by immigrants? If given a choice between paying an native born American $500 or paying an immigrant $100 to unclog a drain — what would you choose? The only way to keep the jobs from being filled by immigrants is for Americans to either (a) do them more cheaply or (b) voluntarily overpay people to do the jobs.

That sort of outlook isn’t compatible with a free market.

Mark Jaquith on October 27, 2006 at 10:22 AM
What an interesting and false pair of choices. What fascinates me as I watch people desperately attempt to justify mass and illegal immigration are the "free market" arguments from those who clearly have no concept of what a free market is and how it might operate.

The implication that Americans would have to, in his words..."(a) do them more cheaply or (b) voluntarily overpay people to do the jobs" shows an absolutey willful misunderstanding of what a free market is and what it does. First clue? The fact that he's suggesting that in a free market we must create certain outcomes.

If the market were truly free the price would be set by demand naturally. Hence scarce skills and products would cost more, common products and skills would cost less. This is so basic as to be kind of ridiculous to even talk about but, what he's talking about is "what he would prefer to pay" vs. the free market. Astonishing to me how many people equte the free market with "low, low prices" and $3 Tickle Me Elmo dolls, when in truth the free market only addresses this obliquely.

The free market is the most efficient supplier of goods and services at the best possible prices. Now, if you think a $3 Tickle Me Elmo doll is the be all and end all of the free market I can understand your confusion. But this isn't the whole story on the free market.

One of the objects of the free market is to create a situation where the greatest number of people benefit from their labor, globalization is almost the exact opposite of that, hence, when the free market gets usurped by utopian visions of globalization it tends in many ways to benefit a much smaller number of people, usually those at the top, whereas the free market tends to spread the wealth over a much wider group of people including more of those in the middle and the bottom.

In the interview Mr. Steyn is contemptuous of the idea of importing skilled workers saying "if you lack those types of workers this suggests a structural problem in your society that should be addressed". He also talks about a lack of pipefitters and mocks the idea that we would import them from Yemen, "because of course Yemen is known for it's excellent pipe-fitters." In the interview they used the term "immigration fetishists," isn't this that?  The idea that instead of actually allowing the free market to do it's thing we short circuit it by importing mass numbers of immigrants?

The free market is not a get rich quick scheme or a prize for the wealthy elites, it is at it's heart the best possible way of creating a healthy society wherein all enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Let me know what you think about this readers, I would appreciate your input. It's almost impossible to address this in one post simply because I think this individuals understanding of a free market is so very warped.  I'll end with this, most reputable economists have always held that the free movement of goods was one thing, the free movement of people another, and the two shouldn't be confused.

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