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Author Topic: Immigration and trade: A question
Stephen Gordon
Babbler # 4600

posted 18 March 2004 10:28 PM      Profile for Stephen Gordon        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
In this thread,

I argued - against what seems to have been a unanimous consensus of opinion among babblers - in favour of the export-led development model in which poor countries run trade surpluses in exchange for transfers of capital from rich countries.

The I noticed
this other thread,

where (near the end, after having worked out some other issues) babblers seemed to generally agree that rich countries should be open to immigration from poor countries.

Here's the thing: both stories involve matching rich-country capital with poor-country labour. In one version, the rich-country capital moves to poor countries, and in the other, poor-country workers move to rich countries. Either way, poor country workers are better off. As for rich country workers, well, they'll have problems either way. If poor country workers are willing to work for lower wages, it really doesn't matter if they immigrate or not.

Since both policies amount to pretty much the same thing, and since we're mainly preoccupied by helping the poorest of the poor, economists generally support open borders to people as well as goods and capital. The only quibbles are practicalities: it's generally less disruptive to transfer capital instead of people, since capital doesn't have family and cultural attachments to its homeland. Nor does capital need much in order to integrate into its new home.

So here's my question: Why should poor country workers be obliged to immigrate in order to have access to rich country capital?

[ 18 March 2004: Message edited by: Oliver Cromwell ]

From: . | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 569

posted 18 March 2004 10:36 PM      Profile for verbatim   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
My experience with immigrants and refugees is that the majority of them aren't immigrating to access our capital, they're doing it to leave the political or cultural circumstances that make it nearly impossible for them to have safe, predictible or fulfilling lives in their country of origin. If "international capital" was interested in raising the standard of working conditions, and stop rewarding pathological or kleptocratic political systems through "investment", you might find that people wouldn't be quite so eager to emigrate.
From: The People's Republic of Cook Street | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 2777

posted 21 March 2004 11:42 PM      Profile for radiorahim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Those on the political "left" tend to advocate for the rights of individuals but not for the rights of corporations.
From: a Micro$oft-free computer | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
Babbler # 518

posted 22 March 2004 12:01 AM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Why should poor country workers be obliged to immigrate in order to have access to rich country capital?

Well, ask yourself this: "Why can't we insure that capital is equitably shared? Why tolerate the ridiculously unjust division between rich and poor countries?"

Contrary to the suggestion above, I don't believe that capital-exporting states or companies believe in free immigration. If they did, we'd have it.

No, I think they want to have ghettoes of impoverished workers who they can exploit. Freedom of movement for investment, "permanent residence" for working people.

And then they can claim that recruiting people to work for $1.00 a day is some kind of tremendous benefit, meanwhile keeping the corrupt system in place.

From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Steve N
Babbler # 2934

posted 22 March 2004 10:24 AM      Profile for Steve N     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Third World countries are generally famous for having poor wages, poor human rights, poor worker's rights, poor public services, etc.

If, in addition to exporting capital, we "exported" all of the above, I wouldn't be as against it. Of course, this ends up removing the "advantage" of exporting capital.

From: Toronto | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged

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