Your Lying Eyes

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12 October 2005

And so, you see, the sky is, indeed, green

Via Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution, another new study - well, "working paper" - assuring us yahoos that "there's nothing to see here" when it comes to millions of "guests" that flood in from the south each year.
Because U.S. and foreign born workers belong to different skill groups that are imperfectly substitutable, one needs to articulate a production function that aggregates different types of labor (and accounts for complementarity and substitution effects) in order to calculate the various effects of immigrant labor on U.S.-born labor.
Uh-huh. It goes on...
We introduce such a production function...contrary to the findings of previous literature, overall immigration generates a large positive effect on the average wages of U.S.-born workers. [Emphasis mine]
That's one helluva production function - one that could explain how you can raise wages by increasing the labor pool by a million people per year. Or you could ask a landscaper how's business and get a different perspective.
Another referenced paper in Tyler's post also pooh-poohs the crass notion that masses of low-skilled immigrants might negatively impact our own low-skilled citizens. But the paper has a very revealing passage on the effect of mass low-skilled immigration on technological investment
...the adoption of advanced technologies by individual plants is significantly reduced by the presence of a greater relative supply of unskilled labor...More work is clearly needed to better understand how firms choose which technologies to use and whether the choice is influenced by the relative availability of different skill groups. [Emphasis mine]
Ya think!? Not in that study anyway. The author quickly returns to the more comforting "sky is green" theme of his study. Reminds me of the old Steve Martin/SNL skit "Theodoric of York: Medieval Barber":
Wait a minute. Perhaps she's right. Perhaps I've been wrong to blindly folow the medical traditions and superstitions of past centuries. Maybe we barbers should test these assumptions analytically, through experimentation and a "scientific method". Maybe this scientific method could be extended to other fields of learning: the natural sciences, art, architecture, navigation. Perhaps I could lead the way to a new age, an age of rebirth, a Renaissance! [thinks for a moment] Naaaaaahhh!


Anonymous jimbo said...

Okay Ziel, but why do you continue to waste an entire blog on an idiotic blog? We know you have a BUYA about illegal immigration and environmental causes (dare I say obsession?), but why honor such meaningless shyte with comment?

October 13, 2005 11:57 AM  
Blogger Dennis Dale said...

Anyone who can manage a relevant Theodorick of York reference has my respect and gratitude.
Your absolutely right that the sheer numbers of immigrants from the South render this argument highly suspect. Funny how some people who normally see the sinister hand of laissez faire economics in globalism and its effect on wages become logical contortionists when considering illegal immigration.

October 13, 2005 4:37 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Jimbo, au contraire, Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen is one of the premier economists - and that working paper is from the National Bureau of Economic Research - so these are not windmills I'm tilting at.
As far as the BUMA/obsession, that probably reflects frustration at the cabal of elites among economists, libertarians, corporations, Democrat identity politicians, neo-marxists, and politically correct media kahunas who manage to thwart the overwhelming preference of the voters - and the hoops they'll jump through to justify it.

October 13, 2005 7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey jimbo, you think this stuff is easy to come up with? You should try it some time.

October 14, 2005 8:51 AM  
Anonymous jimbo said...

Okay Ziel and anonymous. By the way, on the subject of immigration, check out the trailer for this new miniseries called "Human Trafficking." Sorry that it just happens to be on David CornĀ“s page on The Nation website.

Wish I could get it where I am.

October 14, 2005 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Harlem said...

Ziel: I found the entry really tough to follow (and I'm not an immigrant) with all the in and out comments.
I can tell you from an ex-landscaper's perspective (thank God, an ex-landscaper), that that particular industry would suffer badly from an end to illegal immagrant labor. That is what you pay $8 an hour and charge $20 an hour for. That's how landscapers make money.
I think the landscaping business would clearly suffer if they couldn't employ illegals.
The original writer's comments are not without merit but seem to be simplistic. Yes, there is a place for immmigrant workers but they only raise the standard of living for legals & real citizens if they are counted and factored in, which rarely happens.
I'm not sure what Jimbo means by BUYA but I do think that this is a relatively minor issue, given Iraq, Katrina, Rove/Plamm, etc. You're not "diverting", are you?

October 14, 2005 9:00 PM  
Anonymous jimbo said...

bug up your...

October 15, 2005 4:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


October 15, 2005 1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Do you think perhaps that what you say is a bit short sighted? Is the fate of our country based on whether the landscapers can continue to exist as they currently do?

October 15, 2005 9:20 PM  
Anonymous Steve Sailer said...

What this country needs is ever-more elaborately landscaped front yards! And we can't possibly afford those if we have to pay American citizens to do the work. We should borrow hundreds of billions more from the Chinese to pay to illegal Mexican immigrant landscapers so we can all have vine trellises and fountains in our yards. And don't forget digging up your lawn to put humps in it so it looks more like a golf course. If we have really, really fancy front yards, the Chinese will just get so intimidated they will decide they can't possibly compete economically with us anymore, and they'll go back to Maoism.

October 18, 2005 5:04 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

Imagine the terrible impact on our economy if all this elaborate landscaping using artificially cheap labor were to suddenly stop tomorrow. What else are people going to do with the money - probably have to be wasted in safe, blue-chip investments.
I don't understand - Tyler Cowen is a brilliant - and conservative -economist - what part of this picture does he not understand?

October 18, 2005 8:10 AM  
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January 25, 2010 7:11 PM  

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