Thomas Sowell: There's lots of bad economic thinking in the immigration debate
One of my most vivid memories of the late Armen Alchian, an internationally renowned economist at UCLA, involved a lunch at which one of the younger members of the economics department got up to go get some more coffee. Being a considerate sort, the young man asked, "Does anyone else need more coffee?"
A recent editorial on immigration in the Wall Street Journal brought back the memory of Alchian's response, when I read the editorial's statement about "the needs of an industry in which labor shortages can run as high as 20 percent" — namely agriculture.
You might think that we all obviously need food to live. But however urgent it may be to have some food, nevertheless beyond some point food becomes not only unnecessary but even counterproductive and dangerous. Widespread obesity among Americans shows that many have already gone too far with food.
What are called "jobs that Americans will not do" are in fact jobs at which not enough Americans will work at the current wage rate that some employers are offering. This is not an uncommon situation. That is why labor "shortages" lead to higher wage rates. A "shortage" is no more quantifiable than a "need," when you ignore prices, which are crucial in a market economy. To discuss "need" and "shortage" while ignoring prices — in this case, wages — is especially remarkable in a usually market-savvy publication like the Wall Street Journal.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His website is www.tsowell.com.
READER COMMENTS: 0
- 'Cadillac' health tax costs draw big worry - 13
- Wastewater lagoon blamed for Exit 4 odor - 0
- Author and poet Maya Angelou dies at 86 - 0
- After controversy, retired NH superior court judge fights for kudos - 4
- Road to be closed for fallen Brentwood officer's procession - 0
- Brentwood Officer Arkell's death adds fresh pain to somber law enforcement memorial ceremony - 1
- Conference participants take on climate change planning - 1
- NH agencies see growing needs for seniors - 1
- Nashua to combat substance abuse with knowledge at forum - 0
READER COMMENTS: 0
- Manchester woman suffers injuries in dragging incident - 0
- Judge orders fired Manchester officer back to jail to finish sentence - 4
- Claremont police dispatcher charged with sex assault and incest, placed on leave - 0
- Speeding stop leads to drug and alcohol charges in Hollis - 0
- Allen Lessels on Motor Sports: Youngsters eye NHMS - 0
- Mark Hayward's City Matters: Manchester's bike culture shifts into high gear - 0
- Ignoring Lyme: What are state, towns doing? - 1
- Dave D'Onofrio's Sox Beat: Red Sox makeover underway - 1
- Tom Herzig's Trackside: MacDonald has NHMS track experience - 0
132-mph street racers blow by trooper in Nashua, one of two arrested; motorcyclist arrested on I-93 doing 107 mph
Police say Manchester woman arrested for punching ex-boyfriend during custody exchange in Walmart parking lot
Mount Washington College to close 2 campuses
Bikers say under-30 generation isn't interested, and can't afford many of the top motorcycles
Ban fireworks? Get serious
GOP criticizes Shaheen over gas tax
Sentence fragment: Coco's cuckoo release
Ayotte calls again for FCC reform