2013 October 19 Saturday
Washington DC Economy: No Need For Low Skilled

In a piece about a battle over Wal-Mart wages and minimum wages in Washington DC Megan McArdle opines that the D.C. economy doesn't have much use for those who aren't highly skilled.

The long boom in D.C.ís economy doesnít have much place for unskilled or semi-skilled workers

Has this insight caused any alteration of her views on immigration? I'd like to hear what Megan thinks of figure 4.2 and what it portends for the future of libertarianism in the United States of America.

A growing fraction of the US population wants more services from government. A growing fraction of the US population is lower skilled. The US economy's demand for low skilled labor is on the decline.

The old white majority has enough (and growing) problems already without the demographic transformation due to immigration. I see the coming death of American exceptionalism.

In the comments Mercer points to an article McArdle wrote a couple of weeks ago that reveals Megan actually believes that cutting low skilled immigration (which is what immigration from poor countries amounts to) won't improve the lot of low skilled workers in America. Yet increasing supply of something lowers its price. Labor is not an exception, especially low skilled labor.

So let me state the central problem facing people who actually want to improve the plight of the average worker, rather than imagine an improvement: The easy solutions -- ending technological progress, shutting down immigration from poor countries, cutting off trade with all but our fellow rich industrialized nations -- would not only be bad for American consumers (most of whom are also workers), but also be terrible for millions upon millions of poor people in other countries.

The more technologically able among us are busy developing computer systems and robots that are cutting the utility of low skilled labor. The least educated are facing declining demand for their labor. In our robotic future this will only continue.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 October 19 10:26 AM 


Comments
Mercer said at October 19, 2013 6:36 PM:

"caused any alteration of her views on immigration?"

If you read the last paragraph linked below the answer is she cares more about the third world poor then the poor blacks in DC.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-04/why-labor-laws-won-t-save-labor.html

DC does have jobs for the low skilled in restaurants, hotels, construction, convenience stores, cab drivers etc. Whenever I visit the area most people I see in these jobs are immigrants.

radical centrist blogger said at October 19, 2013 9:20 PM:

the most ignored aspect of mass immigration (and naturalization, amnesty etc) is the degree to which this increased diversity decreases unity among the populace. The more diverse, the less united, the less united the populace, the less control the majority has over the government, and
the more control the corporations and the rich have over the
govt.

Just look at our cultural cousins--all the other western nations (western europe, canada, australia et al). The more homogeneous the population, the more control the majority in
this nations have over their own govt.

That means more democracy. Democracy is a good thing, right?

So stop immigration, drive down the supply of labor, raise wages, and increase democracy.

But why do I even bother? If there is one thing I have learned about homo sapiens, it is that they are basically incapable of understanding complex, abstract ideas that are new to them. My ideas are new, and therefore they simply bounce off your heads.

DDR said at October 21, 2013 3:54 PM:

Doctors may also begin to feel the heat from robots:

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-02/11/ibm-watson-medical-doctor

It looks like IBM is renting out its Watson machine to Memorial Sloan Kettering for patient reviews of possible cancer. Watson apparently has a much higher diagnosis rate than human oncologists and can access 100,000s of research articles instantly to render a more accurate diagnosis and better treatment. Money saver for hospitals, better outcomes for patients, not good news for oncologists.

Sam said at October 23, 2013 9:52 AM:

radical centrist blogger said ..."
the most ignored aspect of mass immigration (and naturalization, amnesty etc) is the degree to which this increased diversity decreases unity among the populace. The more diverse, the less united, the less united the populace, the less control the majority has over the government, and
the more control the corporations and the rich have over the..."

That's the whole point. All else being irrelevant.


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