October 25, 2012
Opponents of human movement, also known as “immigration,” argue that if the U.S. government stops forcibly preventing foreign-born people from relocating to the United States, the wages of American workers will suffer dramatically. By appealing to economic terms — prices, wages, supply and demand — this argument maintains the illusion of intellectual credibility that merely shouting “they’re-taking-our-jobs” lacks.
The reality is the restrictionist argument — that more workers will mean lower wages — never makes it past Econ 101, class 1. This is because the argument ignores the “ceteris paribus” disclaimer, which says if all other things were held constant, wages should fall. But things are never held constant in real life, least of all when dealing with people. The economy is more dynamic than that — people create, innovate, buy and sell.