Sessions, Krugman, DACA and the Lump-of-Labor Fallacy
The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences. It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.
This is a lie. DACA has not “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans.” But it isn’t a lie because it assumes the amount of work to be done is fixed. To make that claim trivializes both the mendacity of the Trump administration and the gullibility of people who believe the lies that demagogues tell them. The alleged “fixed amount of work” has nothing to do with it.
To the extent there is economic illiteracy, the economics profession is the main culprit. Economists have shamelessly touted policies that enrich the rich and impoverish the poor and pooh-poohed egalitarian proposals like work-time reduction. For all too many of them, it’s their job. When those policies have exactly the effects they were designed to have, economists become puzzled about where all the inequality is coming from.
In simple terms, when things are not going well for people they tend to scapegoat vulnerable others. This is not “economic illiteracy.” It is scapegoating. Ironically, the economic illiteracy claim is itself a form of scapegoating. People stop listening to the experts because the experts have sold their credibility to the highest bidder. Instead of reflecting on why people don’t trust them any more, the experts blame it on economic illiteracy.
UPDATE: Here Paul Krugman makes good arguments in defense of DACA and avoids the fixed-amount-of-work straw man distraction. The Very Bad Economics of Killing DACA. Much better.
DACA is so small, it is irrelevant. Sessions has been pouring Asians across the border at frightening levels. Cons con.
In this case Krugman is correct that Sessions is wrong about there being a fixed number of jobs – “those same jobs”. Sessions may be wrong for additional reasons, but he is clearly wrong for that one up front.
“Lump of labor” can be a fallacy. It is just poor criticism of work sharing because work sharing does not require a fixed amount of work to be a good idea in some situations.
I do not want to defend Sessions here but Krugman is incorrect even with regard to Sessions’s baseless claim. DACA claimants didn’t deny hundreds of thousands of jobs to Americans but it would not require a fixed amount of work for some immigrants to win out in some particular job competitions with some native-born people who subsequently were unable to find comparable employment.
By making the fixed amount of work claim, Krugman is insinuating that increased labor supply and increased competition for jobs can have only positive effects on the employment prospects of all. Such a claim is no less fallacious — and perhaps a bit less persuasive — than assuming a fixed amount of work.
Most people are likely to have had the experience of losing a job competition to somebody else. If there are 50 applicants for a job, 49 of them will be “denied” that job. They are not concerned about whether or not the total number of jobs in the economy are fixed, the number of jobs that they can apply for are limited and people do not see employers saying “oh, gee, we have so many great applicants for this job, why don’t we just hire them all!”
Wait. I thought ‘murca is a meritocracy. So if those swarthy children of immigrants grow up and beat out those white guys, that’s the way ‘murca works, amirite?
Or is the rule “if you DACA, your job is caca, but if you white, you alright.”
Can’t seem to keep up with the right these days.
Lump of labor is a tool to fool people to voting for neoliberals. The DNC bots like Krugman are closer to CATO than working democrats!
IGM just negotiated a 28h work week in Germany.