Number 310, March 13, 2005

"Words and Guns"

Government Gets It Wrong (Again)
by Caleb Paul

Exclusive to TLE

The above article, one of dozens on the web, demonstrates just how clueless government can be and why it needs to mind its own business (in other words, cease to exist).

Restricting the flow of labour, either within a country, or across countries is ultimately detrimental to the economies of both. Acknowledging the mistake is a start, but tying the recovery down with bureaucratic red tape doesn't help either.

Obviously, Malaysia can't find enough local workers to do unskilled work because there's something better (and more profitable) for them to do. The only way to solve that internally is to increase wages for unskilled work to attract people to it, yet obviously, that's grossly inefficient and increases the costs of end products or services in such fields unnecessarily. If it works, it also essentially draws a skilled person into an unskilled job, which is both terribly inefficient and also bad for the original industry.

The solution is to bring people in from outside, regardless of whether they're "legal" or not. The legality of it is completely irrelevant. Clearly, bringing such people into the country works in favour of the richer country and its citizens, since it means those jobs they are unwilling to do (that are still necessary) actually get done. This in turn allows them to increase their standard of living because they can spend more time doing something they like and also make more money at it. On a national scale, a mass move towards more skilled jobs greatly increases the prosperity of the nation.

For the workers coming from poorer nations, their standard of living also increases. Obviously, most people don't go overseas to work unless there's something in it for them (usually in terms of money and/or gaining experience) and most people would like to stay home near their families, communities and familiar surroundings. That people are willing to make this move means they obviously think it's worthwhile. They can either take or send more money home than they could make at home, which increases the standard of living not just of themselves and their families, but has flow on effects to the rest of the economy (since they spend that money). Likewise, the experience they get overseas will also benefit them when they return home, as well as the nation overall.

It's pretty simple really—letting people into your country to work is a win-win situation, but keeping them out is a lose-lose situation. Why is this so difficult to understand, and why do governments continue to get this so wrong?


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