How big offshoring companies pwned the H-1B process, screwing workers and businesses

I’ve been wondering lately, in a sort of idle way, what effect basically ending all border restrictions would have. Not end nation-states necessarily, but just let people go where they want, when they want. Would this give us a lopsided world, out of the gate, if you end all border restrictions? Probably. people are going to want to go where they have the best quality of life. But would we maybe get the effect of having states need to compete for citizens? Is this a more humane way to run the world, maybe? Instead of countries competing to bring corporations around for job creation, maybe you have to corporations needing to go where the people are? Does that change the power dynamic dramatically to a more humanist one? Because I think, right now, corporations hold too much of the political power, because many workers (not all) are limited in where they can go, which spirals downward along the economic ladder. [ETA] But even here, you get the “developed” countries with an edge over the developing and non-developed world.

Should these questions be in the questions thread?


Everyone in a poor nation that can find a way out and who wants work where they have none, even if it means hiking across Europe/Central America, will do so. I don’t think any nation is ready to handle a few million Indians showing up, for example.

I don’t know why he wouldn’t. I think he’d be far more concerned about companies not hiring people because of their citizenship.

You may be stretching the zeitgeist. Certainly there are people here who want American-purchased goods to pay American workers, but if you’re going to rah-rah the “they’re taking our jobs” angle it could get frosty.

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Sure. If the system of passports we have went away tomorrow, all hell would break lose. But I’m proposing a thought experiement, I guess, about labor, work, and nationalism. But not everyone would leave, I suspect. Nationalism is still a strong ideology that indeed causes people to stay where they are. I doubt an Indian/Hindu nationalists is going to want to migrate elsewhere, better job opportunities or no. Also, the current ability to move about freely is underwritten by wealth. Even with the article we’re discussing in this thread, the ability to travel more or less freely and comfortably is underwritten by where you already are (which country you’re a citizen of), how much money you have, etc?

So, I guess the philosophical question I’m kind of interested in is what would countries do if they had to compete for citizens? What would that change in how we structure our economy/societies/geopolitical systems? Or, would it just reinforce current systems of global inequality more deeply?


Odd, within countries, we don’t see massive migrations of all the inhabitants from one area of the country to another. We do see large migration, but not the nightmare scenario of billions on the door step envisioned by many.

Seriously speaking, I think that open borders would massively increase the wealth of the poorest, and thus is almost certainly the most moral choice from the standpoint of global human welfare.

However, a good part of the reason I am a leftist is because I don’t want to feel guilty for my relative wealth, and making sure that everyone who I have a reasonable connection with (people I interact/see personally) has a comparable standard of living is a major part of that.

Open borders would inevitably change that. Living in teeming tenements would probably be a huge increase to the immigrants compared to subsistence farming, which as far as I can tell is perhaps the worst occupation anywhere (given the vast numbers who leave when given any opportunity at all). But it would be a big loss to me. I would have to deal with a society around me with enormous inequality. Far easier to have it at a distance where I can assuage my conscience with charitable donations.

So, while I favor healthy immigration rates, I am not an open borders advocate. My personal living preferences trump my moral principles. It’s a bit uncomfortable to acknowledge, but sadly, it’s the truth.

Actually, open borders are a sort of litmus test for true belief. Both left-wing (increase global human welfare) and Libertarian (gov’t has no business in voluntary contracts between people) principles pretty much demand support for open borders, but there are precious few (and I am not among them) that do.


I may be doing so.

If I was appealing to what I perceive the zeitgeist to be here, I’d be talking not about the evil workers “taking our jobs”, but the evil corporations exploiting cheap labor (despite their desperate desire to be exploited in a fashion that leaves them earning multiple time the income of their home country), leaving Americans destitute.

Same point, just different framing.

And certainly a drop in wages would be one effect of open immigration. In fact, open borders would have a gradual effect of levelling wages. Instead of 90% of the world earning $5K and 10% of the world earning $50K, it might be 60% of the world earning $5K and 40% of the world earning $20K.

Still a big leap for overall human welfare - just not the original 10%ers.

And yes, I’d also expect that while we have a dramatic drop in inter-country inequality, we’d see a big spike in intra-country inequality, which I’d personally hate. However, again, if we’re being honest, inter-country inequality positively dwarfs intra-country inequality.


I wonder if there is a direct correlation between the push for open borders for capital (especially post-NAFTA) and fears about migrants coming in to “take our jobs” ideology?

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We don’t? US statistics over the last century and a half around urbanization would disagree. Urbanization of many developing nations also disagrees. People move to the cities from their farms precisely because they are looking for work. Hence the advent of mega cities in much of the world. Why are Lagos and Bangkok such huge cities now after all (or a number of Indian cities) if not because of mass migration? Mexico city, too, for that matter.


That’s a century and a half! I’m talking about why we don’t see 50 million move to the most prosperous state each year!

Look, would you be so kind as to define “unable to handle” immigration levels? With open borders, I would expect perhaps 5x the high water mark of immigration that the US has recently experienced ,which is ~1m. Would that have significant impact on the US? Of course!

But would it be a total breakdown of the US? Of course not. After all, 5x the US rate would only be twice the current Canadian rate (250K for a country 1/10th the size).

Would it have long term effects like a diminishment of the welfare system (at least for recent immigrants)? Almost certainly. It’s one of the reasons I don’t support open borders, even when it’s clear that 5 million coming to the US without welfare are vastly better off than 0.5 million coming with welfare.

Not really since I have no idea (nor do you) since it isn’t like we have any figures here or idea of the capacity of nations beyond the most general.

Well, I have some ideas of lower bounds. At 250K, Canada isn’t even close to catastrophe (real catastrophe, not standard social difficulties). In other words, we could double it, and then we might see some real strain, and double it again before there’s any real danger of total social breakdown.

That would be the equivalent of 10M/year for the USA, approximately 20 times it’s current rate and 10 times its peak rate, and I’d say that the US is more robust than Canada in terms of handling meaningful diversity.

So, I’m pretty certain open borders would make serious changes to North American’s lives. But it wouldn’t destroy the United States or Canada.

A lot of people would like to move, but the vast majority don’t, even when no law restricts them.

I’m not saying you have to support Open Borders - I don’t. But I do think hiding behind “I’d love to support Open Borders, but it’s impossible” isn’t being entirely honest with oneself.

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