Open Borders and Competition

The open borders crowd is almost-exclusively composed of those who do not and never will have to compete with immigrants in the labor market.

Or, rather, they believe they won’t have to compete. But they will. It’s coming for everybody.

I recently had another chance to hang out with my Peruvian colleague who came for a visit to my town. I would love to see all my open-borders-are-amazing colleagues meet with her and consider how they would do if they had to compete with her and the million college professors like her around the world. Because they (we) wouldn’t win that competition. We would all be out in the streets in a flash. It’s just a fact.

It’s not because we aren’t smart or great teachers. But we have no idea how to work and survive in the working conditions our colleagues everywhere else take for granted and deal with daily.

But the reasons why the open border crowd isn’t worried are a) hubris and b) contempt. In spite of all their diversity worship, they are convinced they are oh, so smarter and more valuable than their Peruvian counterparts.

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36 thoughts on “Open Borders and Competition”

  1. “they are convinced they are oh, so smarter and more valuable ”

    Contempt is their psychic armor against the forces they are unleashing…. (it’s similar to the Smollett hoax – they’re contempt for those who weren’t fooled is what they think will save them from the same fate of having their lives controlled by those who have no concern for their wellbeing…)

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    1. // Contempt is their psychic armor against the forces they are unleashing….

      The most frightening thing to me is precisely that they are not unleashing any forces; they are merely practicing psychological defense against what will happen anyway.

      Clarissa, I still fail to understand what one can do politically and in private life to deal with the new realities in your opinion. Won’t the logic of history and the power of capital make millions compete with all of us anyway, whether in US or in Israel? The only advice I can think of is “try to beat everybody else in this rat race,” but it’s hardly optimistic or not frightening. May be, you will write a post with suggestions: what would’ve been your plan, if you were a US President?

      Why care if your colleagues are mistaken, if they’ll wake up when the tsunami comes and if we are powerless to turn the flow of the future wave back anyway?

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      1. Politically – I don’t see a solution right now. Trump attempted to do something but the means of communication beolng completely to global capital and you see what happened. Anybody who attempts to find an alternative will be pilloried in the media as devil incarnate and people will believe it.

        As for private solutions, this new economy is a great equalizer because nobody can inherit a leg up in it. This is why there’s so much anxiety because class belonging is no longer guaranteed. You read Bobbitt, so you know that this system is fantastic for people who can maximize their opportunities through it. There are people who cover the competition because they are bored with the things as they currently are.

        This is an economic reality for a small minority of overachievers with outsize personalities and great psychological malleability. And since they are the ones who’ll control the means of expression, they’ll never let any real challenge to the system slip through.

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        1. As to why I don’t want to be a pariah, well, because it’s unpleasant. It’s like saying why take a pill for your headache if you’ll die anyway 50 years from now. I want to enjoy my life. And I do.

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        2. To explain what I mean about the people who are welcoming the new economy, take my sister. She wouldn’t even understand what this fear of competition is about. She is absolutely unique, she will only feel invigorated if there are more people like her around. She goes into a new industry about once a year and dominates it easily.

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  2. I’m not for open borders.
    If someone is willing to outwork you/has more ability then you, in any profession, they deserve to put you out of work. That’s how the human race as a whole moves forward.

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    1. Buddy, it’s not about “outworking,” whatever that means. It’s about workers from third world country being eager to accept bad working conditions that people in developed countries fought hard to make impossible. If going back to 18-hour workdays for unlivable pay is your understanding of “the human race” moving forward, then something is wrong with your sense of direction.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thats why you have labor laws buddy. People coming to your country from countries with more inhumane laws doesn’t change the laws of your country.
        You don’t apply for a job with a VISA, and automatically be subjected to 18 hour work days without breaks or inhumane conditions.
        And every employee that has ever outworked a coworker knows what “outworking” looks like.

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        1. No, it doesn’t happen automatically. So what? If it takes several years to get there, how is that any better?

          I currently teach 3 courses per semester. My colleague in Peru teaches 10. How reluctant will she be to take my job on the condition that she teach 8 courses per semester? Not very. It’s not illegal but it would dramatically change my profession and turn it into a third-world sweatshop. And the quality of the education (for everybody but the rich kids at Harvard and Co) will be of the third-world quality. But who cares, right? None of it is illegal.

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          1. To understand how this works, conduct the following mental exercise. How many people from third-world countries would agree to take your job at half the pay in exchange for a US visa? Many would probably take it at one tenth of the pay.

            There is no law against that.

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          2. All gets addressed if you change the way salaried positions work in the United States. Right now most fast food companies make their managers salaried, why? Because they can work them as much as they want without having to pay them more. Maybe having that issue affect more white collar jobs would lead to some meaningful changes in legislation.

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            1. \ All gets addressed if you change the way salaried positions work in the United States. Right now most fast food companies make their managers salaried, why? Because they can work them as much as they want without having to pay them more.

              The employers will easily ‘solve’ this problem too by paying educated or even academic workers close to federal minimum wage of 7.25 USD per hour.

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              1. And then minimum wage laws should get adjusted as well. Addressing the second comment from Clarissa (I was typing out my response before I saw her second so this is the first time I had to address it), raise minimum wage to $15 a hour.

                As a mechanic in the Air Force I was confident enough in my abilities that I could out perform another mechanic to justify a higher salary.

                Think of it this way – if I am the owner of a company I have 6 work areas for mechanics to use for my company. I can pay 6 mechanics to work for $15 dollars an hour. All are qualified and all do decent work, they make me, the owner, $60 an hour in profits from their work. Or I can hire someone like myself, that will make him $120 an hour because I am a superior mechanic, that can troubleshoot quicker and repair quicker, leading to more vehicles getting fixed in the same amount of time. So to get to my level of production I would have to pay 2 average mechanics $15 dollars a hour. That makes my work worth $30 dollars a hour to the owner. If you can find enough mechanics on my level my worth isn’t as high as I think it is, but of course if there are that many on my level then I’m not as good as I think I am, and there are better ones that will justify that higher salary.

                That’s the basis for capitalism. If I don’t provide more then basic level production why should I be compensated for more?

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            2. \ And then minimum wage laws should get adjusted as well. Addressing the second comment from Clarissa (I was typing out my response before I saw her second so this is the first time I had to address it), raise minimum wage to $15 a hour.
              […]
              if I am the owner of a company I have 6 work areas for mechanics to use for my company. I can pay 6 mechanics to work for $15 dollars an hour. [… ]Or I can hire someone like myself

              May be, it’s because I am from FSU and know people in Russia where almost nobody pays taxes, but why are you so sure such laws will be obeyed despite the foreign competition? Why, for instance, not employ an immigrant desperate for the work in order to stay in US for $5 per hour in practice, while paying them the required $15 on paper?

              Raising minimum wage will hardly work with open borders, or even with anything approaching them.

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  3. // I would love to see all my open-borders-are-amazing colleagues meet with her

    You could’ve hosted a party. 🙂

    Have you ever expressed your opinion to open-borders-are-amazing colleagues? How have they reacted?

    // we have no idea how to work and survive in the working conditions our colleagues everywhere else take for granted and deal with daily.

    I suppose, you do know how to do that after the experience in FSU.

    Also, which working conditions are those except having to teach more courses? It is probably not teaching more difficult students since the latter are already blank slates. From the impression I got, the most difficult new condition for many would be the demand to publish more while working longer hours for lesser salary.

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    1. No, I haven’t expressed it. I don’t fear adminstrators or anything they can do, so I’m very outspoken with them. What I fear is becoming a pariah among my peers. Questioning any part of the open borders dogma with them is like saying that gays should be shot on sight. It’s inexcusable bigotry.

      I also conceal what I read and watch. Not because I’m afraid of authority. Authority can bring it on any time. I’m afraid of my peers, my friends, my colleagues deciding that I’m unfit to exist.

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    2. As for working conditions, hey, if somebody asked me to publish more, that would be paradise. My greatest professional frustration is that nobody is asking.

      My Peruvian colleague teaches 10 courses per semester. 40 students each. The courses are writing-heavy, and she grades everything herself. She has no life outside of this. No husband, no children, barely any friends. The buildings where she teaches are in a horrible conditions, and they are far from each other.

      She doesn’t publish, not does anybody ask her to. Publishing is a great luxury in our career. People who bitch that they have to publish too much are like the rich folks who complain they can’t keep track of all their diamonds.

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  4. The open borders crowd is almost-exclusively composed of those who do not and never will have to compete with immigrants in the labor market.

    Strange comment…I have been in a department with large numbers of immigrants my whole career. They might even have been a majority at times; I have never tried to count. And I certainly fall mostly into the open borders group.

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      1. Most are from U. S. universities. Two U. S. natives got Ph. D.’s in the UK. The one from the Falkland Islands got his Ph. D. at Oxford. I am not sure about the people from Syria, Israel, Uganda, Nigeria, Brazil, Finland, Russia, Romania, China, Ireland, Columbia, Germany, (One German woman got her Ph. D. in Manitoba. She left after getting tenure and I think went back to Manitoba.) and several others. Come to think of it, the Russian man got his Ph. D. at Penn. There are more that I do not remember offhand.

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        1. If they got their PhDs in rich countries and have no laboral history in third-world countries, then obviously it’s not the kind of people I’m talking about.

          I thought my example of a colleague from Peru was very clear. What relationship to her extremely harsh life graduates of Oxford have is a mystery.

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          1. My experience, though, is that people without US PhDs either don’t like it here or don’t make it, unless they are at very elite institutions or, perhaps, in a department where they are teaching their native language or one which has a preponderance of faculty from your country or region. If you show up here to a non-elite place, without strong English and knowledge of US university culture, you often either get disgusted and go home or you don’t get renewed. I keep having people vituperate at me: but this is the United States! It is supposed to be a Top Place! But it is worse than my country!

            Also: I’m in Spanish and am always in immigrant-heavy departments therefore. This has not yet caused me to be unemployed. I have at least one friend who is convinced we’re victims of discrimination because of this but I don’t feel it, and I’ve been on a lot of search committees and I don’t think we discriminated, although I will say that seeming super-gringo as in not accustomed to Hispanic World does make you fit in less in CERTAIN circles.

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      1. As a white heterosexual middle-class male (the kind of person who will never win any intersectional beauty contests), I carry the burden of responding to the argument that my support of free-markets (a much better word than capitalism or neoliberalism) is not simply cover for some trickle down scheme to enrich myself. So I jump at the opportunity to show the different ways that markets can help people not like me even at my expense. For all of my disagreements with the Koch brothers, something that I admire about them is how they make a point of trying to help “non-Republican voters” through immigration and sentencing reform.

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        1. It sounds like your readiness to sacrifice your own economic self-interest to show support for something as immaterial as an idea places your more in the camp of idealistic communist luminaries than hard-nosed free marketeers. 🙂

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          1. What I don’t get is this. Americans have a real advantage on the global market created for them by their grandparents and great-grandparents. And they are willing to destroy that advantage from a misplaced sense of guilt, a confused sense of superiority, or like you say, to prove some theoretical point. They are dismantling their own advantage over ideological qualms. How is that capitalistic? It’s nothing but self-sabotage.

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            1. “Americans have a real advantage on the global market created for them by their grandparents and great-grandparents.”

              This is something that very few Americans understand. I think it’s the way history is taught in US schools. The US is always at the center of everything and so it seems like the US has always been important and always a global player. I don’t think it’s clear to Americans that the US went from being a second tier power (at best) at the start of the 20th century to being by far the most prosperous and powerful country in the world by the end of WWII. The idea that mismanagement and bad decisions could cause the US to fall back to being a second tier gloabl power isn’t even a conceptual possibility for most Americans.

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        2. “I jump at the opportunity to show the different ways that markets can help people not like me even at my expense”
          This is what post-religion religion is like – sacrifice without context and thought of longterm consequence…

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          1. My great-grandmother was a fanatical communist. She lived in a tiny, crappy studio and refused a larger apartment. She never got a second pair of shoes or a second coat because that would be materialistic and against her convictions. But she was very ideologically consistent.

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