Furchtgott-Roth: Bigotry Cloaked in Sloppy Economics

March 13, 2009

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2009/03/12/jump-start-us-growth-through-immigration/comment-page-2/#comment-9806

It seems that there is one ethnic class that is still fair game for the overt expression of bigotry, at least among elitist economists – and that group is Americans.  In the linked piece of drivel authored by Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the Department of Labor (our current state of unemployment and the economy as a whole speaks volumes about the quality of her work there), she champions the notion advanced by other like-minded economists that we need to boost immigration because Americans are too dumb to handle the heavy mental lifting required to sustain our economy. 

Here’s a sampling:

If Congress had not imposed a tight lid on green cards, … America in 2008 might have had up to 300,000 more highly educated engineers and graduate students performing path breaking research. They would have added about $23 billion to GDP, and the federal government would have gained about $5 billion more in tax revenues.

In other words, there are no Americans qualified to handle this work, so the jobs are left unfilled and the work is left undone.  Our economy is failing because we don’t have enough immigrants to carry the intellectual load.  How is this any different than saying that a particular major league sports team is failing because there aren’t enough qualified white people to fill the coaching and front office jobs?  Today, such words would be the last ever written by a sports writer in a professional capacity.  But similar  insults and stereotyping directed against Americans are accepted as long as they’re proclaimed by our demi-god economists. 

What is her real motivation?  Ms. Furchtgott-Roth is an employee of the Hudson Institute, one of those “think tanks” that thinks exactly what it’s paid to think by its corporate sponsors, in this case corporations interested in abusing the H-1B immigration program in an effort to suppress labor costs with a flood of cheap foreign labor.  Economists like Furchtgott-Roth rationalize their support for such policies with a blind faith in the use of population growth as an engine for economic growth. 

This is a lazy, sloppy approach to economics that, unfortunately, is all too common among economists lacking the courage to consider all of the ramifications of population growth at the risk of being branded “Malthusians” by their close-minded colleagues.  They never once stop to question how packing more and more people into the same space can possibly yield anything but falling per capita consumption and rising unemployment and poverty.  It’s this kind of superficial economics we have to thank for the economic morass into which we sink deeper every day.


End Traffic Congestion

January 6, 2009

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2008/12/24/a-christmas-wish-end-traffic-congestion-in-2009/comment-page-3/#comment-4054

It seems that even economists aren’t all that enamored with some of the consequences of growth.  In this linked editorial, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former Labor Department chief economist, bemoans traffic congestion and suggests that new GPS technology be employed to tax drivers for miles driven and routes taken in an effort to cut down traffic in congested areas. 

A couple of observations are in order.  First of all, the surest method to prevent traffic congestion from becoming worse is to stop putting more drivers on the road.  That means a plan to stabilize the population.  It’ll stabilize eventually anyway, either through a lower birth rate or a higher death rate, so why not do it now before congestion becomes worse?  Building more roads and more lanes won’t help.  Take it from someone who pre-dates the interstate highway system, more roads and lanes only enable more population growth and they fill with more traffic volume faster than they can be built.  Stabilizing the population is the only sure way to stop the congestion problem from getting worse.

Secondly, while schemes like that proposed by Ms. Furchtgott-Roth will certainly be necessary if the population isn’t stabilized, it will ultimately lead to a decline in per capita consumption of vehicles, accompanied by a decline in per capita consumption of everything associated with operating and maintaining those vehicles.  That means a decline in per capita employment in those industries.  You may be inclined to think that those displaced workers will simply find employment in other industries.  Think again.  As a society becomes more and more densely populated, the per capita consumption of virtually everything, with the exception of food and clothing, declines as well.  The end result is rising unemployment and poverty. 

We would be better served if economists spent time stuck in traffic pondering the ultimate consequences of their pro-growth agenda instead of looking no further than the bumper in front of them to imagine technological band-aids to keep their theories patched together.