(Business 101: Pretty graphs make everything better)
Imagine, if you will, a country or city-state called Libertopia. We have just overthrown our evil socialist masters and made a new government from scratch. By some magic video game miracle, we don’t start with any debt, outside enemies, and have a fully functioning market-driven farming and industrial base that trades all over the world. There will be no empty bellies in Libertopia tonight (except for the orphans who aren’t working hard enough in the monocle polishing factory).
In my imaginary country only property owners can vote. So after the revolution we get together, review the collected works of SugarFree, hem and haw, drink our fill of mead. and decide to go with the idea of keeping our borders closed to the nearby Outsiders. We are, after all, a tight community with a shared background.
What would happen?
At first not much at all. Business would go on as usual, and we would stay competitive with our neighbors. But under the “nativist” model, as time goes on, domestic market limitations and labor issues start. The heads of industry and farming may start to clamor for more talent and workers.
The voters finally listen and get together. After a few rounds of brandy and the feasting on deep-dish pizza, we decide to open our borders just a little bit; letting in a yearly allotment to meet our needs. To keep things simple, these Outside workers aren’t citizens, nor do they have a vote or receive welfare (which doesn’t exist in our country, comrade!). This “restrictionist” model, however, still causes worker shortages, especially if the economy starts heating up.
Business is doing great – so great that more Outside workers are needed to meet demand. Once again the voters get together, do a few squats, and finish off a keg or two. We decide to open the borders all the way, allowing everyone who wants to come in. After all, things are looking fantastic for business.
But we begin to notice that the citizens are starting to get angry. There are protests and labor strikes because they have to compete with the Outsides for jobs.
Now what’s the point of this simplified and rather silly story? Using the scenarios above I’m trying to minimize input variables for the idea of something like the Laffer Curve, but instead of dealing with taxation, we are touching on immigration. I imagine such an idea has already been explored before, but hey, I’m no economist (we can tell! – ed). This is not an economic model either, but something soft and political science-y.
Is there an optimum rate of immigrants – we’ll call it the “Jerbs Curve” – before the citizens get resentful (the Resentment Index?) with having to compete for wages with the Outsiders? See Chinese rail workers or the Irish immigrants as an example. And is there a point where they get angry enough at this perceived unfairness that they revolt and put in a new leader? Or in a real world case, have enough electoral votes to put in someone like Trump?
If there is such a thing as a Jerbs Curve, it would only skew the line in one direction or another: adding in welfare, illegal immigration, race, identity politics, war, the state of the economy, political party dynamics, and countless other variables.
Perhaps the conclusion to all of this, if we can make one, it is that the world is a complicated place that often defies the most simple of models. Something as dynamic as a highly populous country with millions of inputs, variations, outputs, needs, and whatnot is impossible for anyone to predict. As far as intellectual exercises go, you can create models that are perfectly logical, but do they reflect the real world at all? How would they be when implemented or exposed to the real world?
Comments and insults are welcome.
edited by Elspeth Flashman