Saturday, May 1, 2010


I believe in freedom.

Like nearly all economists, I believe that freedom to trade makes us better off. This trade includes free trade of labor.

If I am made better off by trading with someone across town (maybe she mows my lawn) then there is no reason that I cannot also be made better off by trading with someone in another state. Perhaps someone in another state can so something for me cheaper or better than anybody in my town.

Non-economists might say, at this point, "But you are killing jobs in your state by trading with other states." That is true. Just like when I hire someone across town I am killing a neighborhood mowing job. Get off my back, neighbors! I should be free to hire whomever I want.

If I buy Wisconsin cheese I'm putting a Georgia dairy farmer out of work. Too bad it's more efficient to do dairy farming in Wisconsin. Should I support people who want to raise reindeer in Georgia since the climate is all wrong for the reindeer? Enough with you pushy reindeer ranchers!

And if Wisconsin seceded from the U. S., it would still make me better off to trade with them, rather than starting up more Georgia dairy farms.

So I believe that trading with Mexico or Lichtenstein or Japan makes us better off. We only engage in trade with people who can do it better or cheaper or will do lousy work that we do not want to do.

And if it is efficient to import grapes from Mexico, then it may also be efficient to import grape harvesters from Mexico and put them to work in grape orchards. If it did not make me better off, the vineyard, who wants my business, would not hire them.

Yes, somebody will be hurt by immigrant labor, just like that poor Georgia dairy farmer is hurt because I buy cheese from Wisconsin. This is the way that resources go to their most valuable use. (Warning, this link contains strong language.)

But I insist that we not import problems into the U. S. We have enough murderers and thieves here. Let's do a background check on anyone who comes in. Further, we need to keep the murderers and thieves from sneaking in.

I would also insist that not one dime be taken involuntarily from anyone and given to those poor grape pickers. Sorry, no public schools. No public health care.

But, if you have read my views on freedom, you already know that I do not want a dime to be taken from anyone involuntarily to support that Georgia dairy farmer either.

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