Monday, April 24, 2006

Why Let A Few Inconvenient Facts Get In The Way Of Neoliberal Dogma?

Dr. J. Bradford DeLong approvingly quotes the following:

Redistribution implies that trade is a zero-sum game. Borjas implies that immigration works like a tax on low-income workers and a subsidy to high-income employers. Of course, in any sort of competitive market, employers do not profit from lower costs but must instead pass them onto consumers. But why let a little economics get in the way of a folk-Marxist story?

Immigration, like all other forms of trade, is positive-sum game. All forms of trade restrictions hurt the economy. Immigration restrictions may change the composition of the least-well off. Overall, however, by weakening the economy immigration restrictions are likely to produce more poverty rather than less.

"Pass them onto consumers"? Uh, no. "Competitive market"? Haha.

And while I'm at it I might as well ask the question yet again: If I get Dr. DeLong's position right, he's for Free Trade But With A Safety Net. Ok, fine. But since there has been an ongoing war on the safety net for six fucking years now, shouldn't pro-Free Trade arguments be put in abeyance until the safety net is repaired???? Or should I assume that the Free Trade matters more than the safety net, and though neoliberals like Dr. DeLong would prefer the latter going with the former, if push comes to shove, the real issue is that the former goes on regardless.

Will Dr. DeLong the amoral economist answer to the tune of "Yes, the cause of Free Trade supercedes social well-being", or will Brad DeLong the human being answer "The well-being of people supercedes the needs of capital"? My guess is that if I get an answer at all it will come from the false synthesis of the economist-human: that Free Trade inevitably and incontrovertibly provides for the well-being of the people (never mind which people, with regard to nationality or class). In other words, I'll get answered with more neoliberal dogma.

Which, in turn, leads to another question unanswerable by neoliberal economists: Who is our economy for?