Tag Archives: CATO

The “Cost” Of Immigration


Recently, The Heritage Foundation published a report saying that immigration reform would cost us $6.3 trillion.  I’m posting late on this but it’s been in my stack for awhile.  The report struck me wrong because I’ve never considered immigration to be a financial transaction.  It’s always been a primal “yawlp”.  America is less a physical location than it is a “way of living”.

Beyond that, I couldn’t get over the numbers.  And then CATO helped me out:

The Heritage Foundation has released a study claiming an immigration amnesty will cost the U.S. Treasury $6.3 trillion. Many other free-marketeers — of which I am one — decry that report’s methodology as ignoring the economic growth effects and resulting tax revenues of open immigration.

I’ve always thought that immigration brought the folks most willing to work for a better life.  And not those who simply want to live at the government’s expense.

So, how do immigrants that are willing to work and work hard help the new nation?

A 2009 study prepared for the Cato Institute employed a dynamic economic model called USAGE to estimate the economic change caused by immigration reform. It found that a bill similar to that proposed in the Senate added $180 billion to U.S. household income a year.

Another paper commissioned by Cato employed a similar analysis using a model called the GMig2. The study found that immigration reform would increase U.S. GDP by $1.5 trillion in 10 years.

That model also ran a simulation in which all unauthorized immigrants were removed from the U.S. economy — a policy favored by Heritage’s study. The result was a $2.6 trillion decrease in estimated GDP growth over the same decade, confirming the commonsense observation that removing workers, consumers, investors, and entrepreneurs from America’s economy will make us poorer.

The Cato studies provide dynamic tools that count the unambiguous economic gains from increased immigration as part of any reform. The consensus among economists is that immigration is good for the vast majority of Americans and the immigrants themselves, and makes both the U.S. and world economies larger and more productive.

A Reagan-era amnesty confirms that legalized immigrants experienced wage increases of up to 15 percent just by working legally. Those higher wages are a result of more productive workers who then pay higher taxes. But employers, shareholders, consumers, real estate owners, and most workers also see their incomes and productivity increase from immigration.

Not only is more open and freer immigration consistent with Liberty lovers, it makes financial sense.

Taxation And The Laffer Curve

This has been on my stack for some time.  I came across a story after reading a post by Dan Mitchell of CATO:

CIGARETTE-smuggling continues to soar in Ireland, with new Department of Finance figures showing that tobacco excise tax receipts are falling dramatically short of targets, even though taxes have increased and the number of people smoking has remained constant at 29 per cent of the population.

I especially enjoyed the assumed fact that economic gain made by the voluntary trade in an open a free market somehow first belongs to the government:

What Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins called “Premiership-style criminality” is behind the latest upsurge in smuggling, which is costing the state hundreds of millions in lost revenue.

Not one pause at the idea that the profits realized by selling tobacco from those who have it to those that want it should first be the property of the sellers.


The “Attack” Of The Middle Class

In November I asked a simple question:

Would you be more or less likely to look for a new job if your current job no longer offered vacations and holidays?

I got a couple of answers and they confirmed the very obvious:  We would be more likely to look for a new job and certainly not LESS likely.

More recently I made an observation concerning teacher salaries:

…to receive the bonuses and raises, teachers must sign away some job security provisions outlined in their union contract. About 20 percent of the teachers eligible for the raises this year and 30 percent of those eligible for bonuses turned them down rather than give up those protections.

Teachers in Washington DC valued the clause in their contract that prevents them from being fired MORE than they valued $30,000 in bonus AND a $37,000 salary increase.

In both cases, the point is made, one theoretical and the other practical, that compensation comes in forms OTHER than strictly wages and salaries.  Vacation is one form of compensation.  Protection from having to actually DO your job is another.  It’s something that I’ve always suspected.  However, Dan Mitchell on his blog points out a couple of studies by CATO that demonstrates the lower earning deciles is growing more rapidly than the growth shown in the highest earning deciles:

While it is true that the cash explicitly paid to employees has become more unequal over the last generation, the…more benign explanation for the change in cash compensation over a generation is the dramatic increase in health insurance costs. …inequality in total compensation has not increased because the fixed costs of health insurance are a much larger percentage of the total compensation of lower-earnings workers. Burkhauser and Simon explore this explanation. They add the value of employer-provided health insurance as well as Medicaid and Medicare to the pre-tax, post-cash-transfer household income data and find that the bottom three income deciles actually exhibit higher growth than the top seven deciles from 1995 to 2008.

Compensation, in it’s many forms, grows more rapidly for the lower earning deciles.


Using unpublished BLS total compensation data, including employer health insurance expenditures, from 1999 to 2006, he finds that the growth in compensation by earnings decile (from the 30th to the 99th) averages 35 percent, with 41 percent growth at the 30th percentile (workers earning $10–$14 an hour) and only 35.8 percent growth at the 99th percentile (workers earning $59–$80 an hour).

We’re certainly going to h ear from Obama and the Democrats this election cycle that the Middle Class is under attack, perhaps true, but that attack takes the form of government dominated health care, not some form of class warfare engaged by the elite.  Obama is going to cast himself as the Middle Class warrior.  The media will produce study after study that shows the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer.

Don’t buy it.  Do the work.  Get the data.


Beware The Liberal Siren Song

If you believe the likes of Barack Obama and his of his socialist, fascist friends, you will believe that the American system of economics benefits the wealthy at the expense of the poor.

The rich get the breaks and the poor are exploited.

Don’t believe it:

Did you know that in Denmark, the poorest 30 percent pay 14.1 percent of all taxes and the richest pay 48.7 percent, while in the United States, the poorest 30 percent pay just 6.1 percent of all taxes and the richest 30 percent pay a whopping 65.3 percent? The surprising thing is not that the richest pay most of the taxes but that the U.S. has nearly the most progressive tax system in the world, while the Scandinavian countries have about the least progressive tax systems, contrary to commonly held belief.

Obama and his team are radical extreme thinkers when it comes to organizing our economy.  The only thing saving us is the fact that he and his team don’t have any experience in running an organization.  He simply couldn’t manage his way out of a wet paper sack.
Thank God!

Lessons From South America: Chile, Argentina and Venezuela

Some time ago I stumbled on the CATO Institute’s Dan Mitchell.  He has an awesome video on how to balance the budget; a concept I’ve taken a liking to:

He also has his own blog that he regularly contributes to.  The other day he referenced a great post of his where he links economic freedom to prosperity:

What’s responsible for the turn-around in each of these nation’s welfare?

As Mr. Mitchell says:

— Chile’s score jumped from 5.6 in 1980 to 8.0 in 2008, and the country now ranks as the world’s 4th-freest economy (ahead of the United States!).

— Argentina’s ranking has improved a bit, rising from 4.4 to 6.0 between 1980 and 2008, but that still only puts them in 94th-place in the world rankings.

— Venezuela, by contrast, is embarrassingly bad. The nation’s score has dropped from 6.3 to 4.4, and its ranking has plunged from 22nd-place in 1980 to 121st-place in 2006.

Chile was the poorest and is now the most wealthy of the three.  Venezuela has seen just the reverse.


The Logical End

I am shamelessly lifting this AWESOME cartoon from Mr. Mitchell, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute.

Coffee With Cato: II

Obama nominated his second Justice to the court.  I’m pretty sure that even he can’t screw this one up.  The Democrats still control 59 seats in the Senate so this is as close to a slam dunk as possible.

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Coffee With Cato: I

I love CATO.  And their blog.  You should go read ’em both.  Anyway, I am going to try to work out a piece every Tuesday that grabbed my attention over there and discuss my take.

This is the first installment.

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