It is not generally known among immigration restrictionists that any economist disagrees. Much less that they all do.
The mistake of immigration restrictionists is not that they listen to the claims that immigrants cause economic catastrophe – claims made by self-ordained “researchers” with no training in economics. (Undocumented economists.)
Their mistake is that they will not also listen to the evidence of researchers who do have formal credentials in economics. Their mistake is that they believe their chosen undocumented economics gurus uncritically, and will not listen to economists who disagree; indeed, it is not generally known among restrictionists that any economist disagrees.
Much less that no economist has published research on the economic impact of immigration whose conclusions are as pessimistic as the “research” by undocumented economists that drives our national immigration debate.
(This article was revised January 4, 2015. It was originally published at CafeConLecheRepublicans.com. It is reposted here at Talk2me on March 9, 2018.)
There is therefore little interaction between the opposite claims, letting one side sharpen the other. Restrictionists have virtually no awareness that there is another side to the economics claims; only that there are expansionists who want our borders wide open to let the whole world come, despite allegedly unquestioned consensus that immigrants take jobs from citizens, drive down our wages, transfer our wealth to their families in Mexico, drain our welfare budgets, collapse our public education, etc etc. Restrictionists say these expansionists must be motivated only by misguided Christianity, the lust for cheap labor, or an ignorant calculation that immigrants will vote Republican. It is not in the restrictionist mindset that expansionists might actually be motivated by an opposite understanding of the facts of the impact of more legal immigration.
When I tell restrictionists that economists exist who claim that expanding legal immigration will heal our economy, reduce our national debt, and provide better jobs for all citizens, I find little curiosity. I am not invited on talk shows to share this exciting discovery. Average restrictionists just run around the circle to some other accusation against immigrants that I haven’t challenged yet.
Not that expansionists (who are not economists) are a lot more fact-focused. Even supporters of immigration reform are uneasy around any talk of overwhelming evidence that the more legal immigration we allow, the more every citizen will benefit, the more our economy will grow, and the sooner we can control our national debt. And the easier it will be to stop the thousands of criminals and terrorists, if they can no longer blend in with a stream of millions who just want to work hard.
(Related articles: For a comprehensive immigration reform vision based on this evidence, see my “win-win solution“. The economic impact of more immigration is what determines whether other aspects of our policies make sense. Our prosperity is directly proportional to the size of our brain pool, other factors like freedom and safety being equal.)
Why are the very people with the most urgent personal reasons for wanting a lot more legal immigration afraid of the facts in support of what they want? There is a general terror of the “Political Reality” monster. Reality is so foreign to Political Reality that people too obsessed with annoying facts and evidence are marginalized is not politically “credible”. Political Reality is so entrenched, and has its ears plugged so tightly, that it is courageous enough to beg it for just a few crumbs of Reality. Better to fight for crumbs than, by demanding a whole meal for our land and our posterity, to lose one’s political influence to get even a crumb.
I have as much credentials to publish my research on whether more immigration will hurt or help our economy, as all the professional paid researchers at FAIR, Numbers USA, and Center for Immigration Studies combined.
I have a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Drake University from 1967, with a major in Trumpet.
Now let’s see how much more qualified they are than I am.
Eric Ruark, director of research at FAIR, “is responsible for FAIR’s research publications….He was trained as a European intellectual historian, specializing in Twentieth-Century Germany, and the history of science and technology.”
Numbers USA has no researcher on their list of their staff. Roy Beck, their “Founder, President, and CEO”, “graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism”.
Dr. Steven Camarota, “Director of Research” at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), “received a master’s degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania and later earned a doctorate degree from the University of Virginia in public policy analysis .”
John Tanton, the abortion clinic founder who established all three of these restrictionist organizations, has an undergraduate chemistry degree, a medical school diploma, and an MS in ophthalmology.
Heritage.org wasn’t founded by Tanton. Here are the Heritage researchers who wrote “The Fiscal Cost of unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer” whose methodology was strongly criticized by Cato Institute economist Alex Nowrasteh, former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, and the Hudson Institute’s economics Ph.D. Tim Kane:
Jason Richwine: BA in political science, American University, 2004; BS in mathematics, American University, 2004; Ph.D. in Public Policy, Harvard, 2009.
Robert Rector, holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in political science from Johns Hopkins University.
The credentials we all have, to publish our research on the economic impact of immigration: none. Nada.
And yet, look at this amazing statement from Camarota’s bio: “Dr. Camarota has testified before Congress more than any other non-government expert on the economic and fiscal impact of immigration.”
Can that be true? Camarota, without any formal training in economics, testified before Congress “on the economic and fiscal impact of immigration” more than any non-government economist?
It was certainly true in 2013, when the Senate Judiciary committee, chaired by Senator Leahy, held 5 hearings on S744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act”, during which 39 expert witnesses testified, only one of whom had a degree in economics, against at least half a dozen Undocumented Economists including Camarota. (See my article.)
I know that in all my listening to talk radio hosted by confirmed restrictionist Christians, I have never heard an economist invited as a guest, or quoted, nor have I heard it admitted that economists exist. Certainly not expansionist economists. (That would weaken the accusation that we are either victims of bad theology or we want cheap labor in the businesses we own.) Yet during the same time I have heard Camarota’s studies cited often, and relied on religiously; in fact, to the exclusion of the Bible. Literally: several expansionist verses are dismissed as irrelevant – as having no place in public discussion, while Caramota’s research is swallowed without even tasting it. Can it be that Congress, also, receives its economics education primarily from this one non-economist?
Borjas. I know of two restrictionist economists. George Borjas is from Cuba, and argues for reduction of legal immigration. He doesn’t allege that more legal immigration takes jobs for citizens, or reduces the wages of citizens, except for one population group: high school dropouts. He said “the wages for native-born high school dropouts fell about 8.9 percent from competition with low-skilled immigrants.” Yet Cato Institute economist Alex Nowrasteh “credits Bryan Caplan, George Mason University economist, for discovering in Borjas’ own labor textbook that 8.2 percent was Borjas’ figure for temporary ‘short run’ effects, but right next to that, Borjas listed only 4.8 percent as the average figure over the ‘long run’.”
In other words, Borjas overstates his own findings, which Nowrasteh classifies as “the most pessimistic estimation in the scholarly literature” – that is, in publications about economics written by actual economists. And in turn, Camarota overstates Borjas’ overstatement to justify his thesis that immigrants, in general, have taken almost all America’s job growth from citizens. Please see my article explaining all this, based not only on my own analysis of Camarota’s research, but on email conversations with Camarota and Nowrasteh. (“Let the U.S. tank to save jobs for dropouts”)
In other words, Camarota, who is not an economist, quotes the only restrictionist economist he can find, and exaggerates even his claims in order to reach a sufficiently startling conclusion to mesmerize talk show hosts and Congress itself.
Sowell. “After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University (1958), Thomas Sowell went on to receive his master’s in economics from Columbia University (1959) and a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago (1968).”
Sowell’s credentials are certainly adequate. I don’t know how much of Sowell’s peer-tested writings have been about immigration. I’ve heard Rush Limbaugh quote him on other topics, for which by the way he is not nearly so credentialed. Cato economist Alex Nowrasteh faulted Sowell for ignoring his own published economic principles when Sowell when Congressman Ryan said we need immigration reform to avoid a worker shortage. I was similarly perplexed, when I wrote about one of Sowell’s columns about immigration in which he said nothing at all about economics.
Nowrasteh wrote about Sowell’s immigration articles in general. Nowrasteh began: “Thomas Sowell is an influential and prolific writer whose books span the social sciences. My shelves are full of them, decorated with underlines, marginalia, and dog-eared pages. But in his recent columns and comments on immigration, Sowell has not approached that topic with the same rigorous attention to detail that he has in his books.”
I don’t know if any of this is part of the reason Congressmen and talk show hosts turn to a non-economist, for their economics education, rather than to a renowned Ph.D.
Expansionist economists (who say America’s economy will improve, the more legal immigration voters allow) You say you don’t believe me, that expansionist economists exist?
Not only do expansionist economists exist, but there are economists who do actual research. That is, where they go find dozens or hundreds of individuals, study their circumstances, and try out theories about them. Camarota’s research, at least that has come to my attention, doesn’t rise to that level. His is where you take a bunch of statistics you can get online, and rearrange them in a way no one has thought of before.
The American Immigrant Policy Portal has paragraph summaries of hundreds of research projects related to immigration. It lists over 140 studies on “Economic Development, Employment and Labor issues”, which is just one of 12 categories of research it lists.
It would be simplistic to characterize the hundreds of economists represented there as “expansionist”, as I just did. I believe they are generally more so than Camarota, but they are generally more likely to encounter reality than your average Congressman or talk show host, and reality often proves hard to pigeonhole.
There are a few studies, by economists, that summarize published research. I reported on one of these.
Not that people without official credentials or formal qualifications are incapable of performing just as well as formally trained Ph.D’s. I can’t be the one to say that because I myself have done quite a number of things for which I am not officially qualified.
I repair my own car, do the electrical wiring in my own house, (my house hasn’t burned down yet), and do my own plumbing (and the pipes haven’t exploded and shorted out the wiring). But of course these examples fall short of exposing me as equally audacious with Camarota, Beck, or Ruark, since I haven’t publicly held myself out as an expert on these subjects. So let me step farther into it.
I publicly disagree with many pastors even though I have never attended seminary. I disagree in two important areas. My website, www.Saltshaker.US, is full of Bible studies showing that God’s idea of a worship service welcomes wide open discussion of the government-sponsored evils identified through Bible study, and strategizing about how to oppose them as a church. . At my site www.Saltshaker.us/hell-fire, you can read about my book, “Hell Fire: Heaven’s Loving Purpose” which doesn’t fit any previously existing category of theories about Hell. I think these Bible studies have much to offer even though I have zero formal credentials for understanding anything in the Bible.
But I didn’t reach that point without a prior period of several years where, knowing my limitations, I tested what I thought I saw in the Bible by dialog with scores of pastors whom I had the opportunity to meet in the course of political campaigns. And I do not pretend no one disagrees with me. I acknowledge, and address, opposing positions. Unlike Undocumented Economists who write as if their pronouncements are uncontested.
Though I have never been in law school except to use their law library, I have written legal briefs in court cases which have gone reasonably well even though they were opposed by multiple lawyers. I have created revolutionary legal arguments in the areas of abortion, immigration, and divorce which I think will be very helpful to anyone inclined to use them, even though I have no legal credentials.
But I am constantly “looking over my shoulder” for anything I might have missed due to my lack of training. I constantly seek trained people willing to identify any weaknesses in my work, and all my writing addresses criticism.
So I cannot be the one to say Camarota and his team cannot understand economics just because they have no credentials in economics.
But on the other hand, I would feel weird if my lack of credentials were no obstacle at all to having my contributions reviewed. I would feel weird in a world where I was the only one the public would listen to, while lawyers and theologians were utterly ignored.
God & Credentials. I notice that even God is not impressed by credentials.
God “repented of the evil which he thought to do” upon hearing the argument of a mere man! Exodus 32:9-14.
The logic of a mere woman turned Jesus’ emphatic “no” into a complimentary “yes”. Matthew 15:22-28.
The most righteous king, 2 Kings 23:21-25, died because he ignored the warning God gave, 2 Chronicles 35:20-25, through the mouth of the one man in the world with probably the worst credentials for speaking for God! Isaiah 30:1-3, 7, 31:3.
And what about us?! Who are we, that God answers our prayers? That God should not only listen, but act as we request?!!! What credentials do we have, to merit God’s favor? Consider the story of the man in Matthew 18 who owed 10,000 talents, as you answer this question: dare we, after God listens to us, refuse to listen to each other because the guy begging for our attention doesn’t have enough “credentials”!?
Now here is where our views of credentials gets really weird. A man, in fact many men, will not listen to God.
It is possible for a professor in a college class, or a judge in a courtroom, or a restrictionist in a political debate, to dismiss the Word of God as irrelevant even when it squarely addresses the issue being considered. It is considered irrelevant, not by the usual meaning of “irrelevant” – it is on a different subject – but because it is the Word of God, automatically disqualifying it from consideration.
God never got even a Bachelor of Music Education degree. Jesus didn’t “study at the feet of Gamalial” or any great Temple authority.
One might suppose that being God would be all the credentials anyone might want. The One who created intelligence, is He not smart? The one who created us and loved us enough to experience death for us – is He not committed to our own best interests? But the whole point of credentials is that they are a measure of ability based on years of study, not on the demonstration of ability by performance.
It should be a red flag for any Christian who notices himself turning up his nose at a Bible verse quoted by his opponent because it shatters all his assumptions. The Christian should notice this and ask himself, “why am I dismissing a Bible verse? Aren’t I open to comparing this new verse with the ones I already quote, to double check my conclusions? I believe the Bible, don’t I?”
It should be a red flag for restrictionists that their chosen researchers have no economics credentials, and are thoroughly refuted by virtually all researchers who are trained economists. It doesn’t mean restrictionist researchers are wrong, but experts ought to at least be listened to; perhaps even with greater attention than amateurs, but at least amateurs ought not be listened to exclusively while experts are wholly ignored, without any consciousness of their very existence.
I have been amazed how little impact it has had on the national immigration discussion when the wisdom of God speaks, and when the wisdom of this world speaks, and even when those agree. An astonishing number of conservative Christians will not be impressed by either. Hmmm. Maybe you and I are selling ourselves short, telling ourselves there is so little we can do because we have no voice. It seems our very lack of credentials qualifies us as just what the world is ready to listen to.
Luke 7:31 Jesus continued, “To what may I compare the people living today? 32 They are like little children who sit in the marketplace and shout to each other, ‘A wedding song we played for you, the dance you simply scorned. A woeful dirge we chanted, too, but then you did not mourn.’ 33 Because John the Baptist has come neither eating bread nor drinking wine, yet you say, ‘He has a demon!’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look! He’s a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” (ISV)
Credentials may not be everything. But they aren’t nothing. Credentials do not always imbue a human being with extra terrestrial wisdom, but they don’t strip a man of ordinary human intelligence either.
We ought not censor economists just because they give us a clearer picture of Reality, which unfortunately costs them all their credibility in the presence of the Political Reality monster.
To affirm the facts and evidence which describe Reality is simply to state the truth. The more legal immigration we allow (except for criminals and terrorists), the more all of us will benefit. There is no numerical limit to how many we can receive and still benefit. That is the truth.
As scary as the Political Reality monster seems, stating the Truth has proven more powerful down through history. Of course, it always takes a little time for Political Reality to topple, with all its lies, tyrants, suffering victims, and general tragic destruction. Which is why we need to tell the whole Truth right away, if we care about a better world for our children.
Of course, telling the Truth, the whole truth, is costly. Political Reality doesn’t fall quietly. It destroys all those who dare expose it, with all its power. But God, who gave us Truth, empowers it and protects us as much as necessary to enable us to complete His will. Our love for Political Reality’s victims is a fulness of life greater than the cost. And when we are finished, God will take us where Truth is as clear as lies are here.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
ADDED NOVEMBER 19, 2015:
By every human measure of how to acquire understanding of a subject, the way it is done is to study it. We are most willing to trust those who have studied a subject most. We call them “experts”. We pay them most to do jobs which require expertise.
Although there is not a perfectly direct correlation between a college education in a subject and expertise in that subject, the correlation is generally substantial enough that we make it the gateway to our most lucrative careers requiring expertise.
There are controversial issues like evolution or climate change upon which experts wildly disagree, leaving the untrained to pick sides as best they can. But where experts are virtually unanimous in a view much different than that held by the unstudied, most of us side with those who have studied what they are talking about.
By every human measure of how to tell who knows what they are talking about, therefore, college-educated economists, doing research by procedures they have learned in college, are a more reliable source of information about the economic impact of immigration, than the half dozen or so whose college majors were in every other area besides economics, yet whose “research” is relied on almost exclusively by restrictionist Congressmen, talk show hosts, and other activists. (Camarota, Rector, Roy Beck, Mehlman, Salzman, Brimelow, Ruark)
Perhaps the most dangerous substitute for the authority of God and of human experts, is Majority Opinion. To ignore me because I am not an authority is quite understandable; but to ignore the economist authorities I cite because they disagree with Majority Opinion is national suicide.
The system we in America have for documenting human expertise actually has precedent in the Bible, and is one of myriad examples of how America is, indeed, “a Christian nation”, shaped by principles found in the Bible but in few other if any other religions.
Endorsements. For example, one way to acquire some credibility without college today is to get endorsements from people with the relevant credentials. Endorsements are modeled in Scripture. Titus was appointed by Paul to ordain elders, Titus 1:5. Peter acknowledged that an uncircumcised Roman soldier was a Christian, Acts 10:47. David was christened by God to be king, 1 Samuel 16:13. However, God gives humans free will in how long they will take to accept God’s best for them; thus David waited 7 years after the death of Saul before he reigned over all of Israel. 1 Kings 2:11.
The problem with Undocumented Economists is that relevant authorities do not endorse them, but refute them.
Citing authorities. One way Undocumented Economists like myself, who are not primary sources of relevant economic facts, can present a reasonably accurate economic case, is by quoting economic authorities. This is modeled by Jesus in John 10:35 when He quoted a verse as authority for a very bold conclusion, and added, “the Scripture cannot be broken”, [or discredited, or disregarded, or is always true, or can’t be argued with], so therefore His conclusion based on it could not be refuted. The problem with Undocumented Economists is that they rarely quote even one economist, not to mention Luke 6:38, relying instead almost wholly on their own authority.
Testing ideas by showing them to experts. Peer Review is a process of publishing one’s research in journals read by top experts on your subject, so that any mistakes you make are very likely to be publicly exposed. The essence of the Peer Review process is the testing of our theories by the world’s leading experts relevant to our topic. Even those of us with no access to this world’s formal peer review journals, myself for example, need to do whatever we can to test our theories by presenting them to the world’s leading experts in our area, to see if they will confirm them or refute them; for that reason it is especially important to present it to those most likely to oppose it.
This testing is unnecessary and unimportant for you, and you may skip it, if you have no desire for your conclusions to be taken seriously by people in a position to do something about them. If you just want to echo a crowd, or hold opinions for the sole purpose of entertaining yourself, or exulting in your superiority over those who disagree, you don’t need to know if you are actually right. But if you want to steer the crowd, and if you want to educate decision makers, you need to be as sure as is possible.
Jesus modeled this testing process at the age of 12. He presented his ideas to the world’s experts in his area of concern. Luke 2:42-49. Proverbs advises us again and again to love correction; to welcome it. Proverbs 5:12, 9:8, 10:17, 12:1, 13:1, 15:10, 12, John 3:20. In fact, God gives us a very absolute-sounding promise of success in whatever goals a “multitude of counselors” can agree to, in Proverbs 15:22. The scenario is of many people willing to listen to each other and test each other. 100 people patient enough to do that with each other provide 100 times the brainpower of one “leader” doing all the thinking and deciding, “followed” by 99 “fans”.
1 Corinthians 14 makes this the model of a church service; 7 verses in the chapter call for “all” to verbally participate. (See www.saltshaker.us/Salt/Prophesying-Slides.pdf) The Separatists in 1620 (“pilgrims”) cited these passages in their catechism as the basis for the Sunday afternoon forums they instituted in which anyone could introduce any topic, and could even respectfully criticize/disagree with political and religious leaders without being burned at the stake. (www.1620.US) This laboratory of Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech produced the seeds of the freedoms we take for granted today, though this open forum to all left most churches after several generations and remain today only in America’s legislatures.
Rules for documenting facts. There are definite rules of Bible interpretation, called “hermeneutics”. We know there are such rules because 2 Timothy 2:15 says “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The possibility of “rightly dividing” the Scripture proves there are procedures which if followed make that possible, and which if not followed result in “wrongly dividing”. As for what those rules are, besides those already mentioned, there are several which logically apply the principle of “a multitude of counsellors”, along with the requirement in court to hear all the witnesses in a case, Proverbs 18:13, and to not convict without at least two and preferably three witnesses, Deuteronomy 17:6. (Also Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:16, 2 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Timothy 5:19, Hebrews 10:28, Revelation 11:3.]
Based on this principle of assembling and addressing all the testimony available, when we really need to be sure about a verse we look up every commentary we can find to see if there are alternative possibilities, and if we are honest, we report all of them; we do the same thing with alternative translations. Then we go to lexicons to look up the alternative meanings of the words. Only after fairly and honestly reporting all the competing authorities that disagree with each other and with us, are we ready to offer a resolution – to make a case for resolving the seeming contradiction. This is what we must do when we are not primary sources ourselves.
This is not what Undocumented Economists do, nor the politicians and talk show hosts who quote them. None of this is done in the national immigration discussion. A handful of UE’s are trusted, and there is rarely any public acknowledgment that there is even one single economist who disagrees, much less that all of them do. And even the occasional economist cited is only lightly relied on because he does not depart from economic consensus as far as the UE is determined to go.1
“Academic Collectivism” is historian David Barton’s name for the failure to follow this process.
“This type of ‘peer review’ is incestuous, with one scholar quoting another, each recirculating the other’s views, but with none of them consulting sources or ideas outside his or her own academic gene pool. The presence of a Ph.D. after one’s name today somehow suggests academic infallibility – but this view must change if truth, accuracy, and objectivity are ever again to govern the presentation of history and historical figures. Primary source documents and historical evidence are the proper standard for historical truth, not professors’ opinions.”
(Quoting David Barton:) “The solution for Academic Collectivism is to personally investigate, study, and search out information rather than just accept what the ‘experts’ claim. Become like a jury member of old; get all the evidence, listen to both sides, and reach an independent conclusion warranted by the facts. By practicing these remedies, the five traps of modern historical malpractice can be avoided. Learning accurate history should be our objective.”
It is ironic to read this article about Academic Collectivism at WorldNedDaily News, which is home to Undocumented Economists. There, it is the Academic Collectivism of evolutionists and climate fanatics that annoys the crowd. Barton himself slams immigration, but he has to leave his historical turf to do it. Meanwhile it turns out that Barton himself is an Undocumented Historian, so it is interesting to see how historians try to discredit him. The Wikipedia article about him says:
Barton holds no formal credentials in history or law, and scholars dispute the accuracy and integrity of his assertions about history, accusing him of practicing misleading historical revisionism, “pseudoscholarship” and spreading “outright falsehoods”. According to the New York Times, “Many professional historians dismiss Mr. Barton, whose academic degree is in Christian Education from Oral Roberts University, as a biased amateur who cherry-picks quotes from history and the Bible.”
So let’s follow the links to see if they back up the claim that Barton “cherry-picks quotes”. #7 says Barton is wrong about the court’s notions of “separation of church and state”. That is a primarily legal question, and only secondarily a historical question. #8 is a statement by People for the American Way; #9 is by “Americans United for Separation of Church and State; and #10 criticizes Barton for claiming there is any controversy when “Even advocates of the viewpoint of the “godless Constitution” … fully understand the religious base of American history.” What? Well, #8 and #9 are hardly objective witnesses. One does not expect a fair report of a man’s expertise from his ideological enemies. #10 is confusing. #7 is off the subject. And #4? It says Barton “cherry-picks quotes” and lists “separation of church and state” as an example, but gives not one specific thing Barton said, not to mention any context that Barton left out.
My point is not to exonerate Barton, but to illustrate reasoning about whether a linked or quoted source successfully backs up the claim linked to it. Although Barton is an Undocumented Historian by his university credentials, he has the second largest library in the world, next to the Library of Congress, of original documents from revolutionary America; even if he hasn’t read them, just knowing enough about them to acquire them is, I would think, beyond the experience of many historians! As for his critics, they will have to do better than the ones I reviewed before they will bring him down. Again, taking a position on Barton’s history credentials is not my interest; if it were I would spend weeks reviewing his information and comparing it with his critics’ accusations.
UE’s vs. reporters. Undocumented Economist is my term for someone who passes off his studies as “research” which may be trusted as an “original source” to guide national policy. Someone who merely reports such studies is not in that category, as I mean it, even if he agrees with it. In other words, Steven Camarota, who publishes his research through the Center for Immigration Studies, is an Undocumented Economist; Steve Deace, syndicated talk show host, who trusts the claims of people like Camarota, is not; he is a reporter.(Although when Deace told me we should listen to no economist on immigration because some economists wrongly tell us to spend our way out of debt, and did not say who he trusted after ruling out all economists, as if he himself were the highest authority on the subject, I became curious about his own credentials. He didn’t graduate from college. That doesn’t mean he can’t understand anything, but it suggests a stronger need to back up his claims.)
Reporters have more credibility if they have credentials in their field. You probably wouldn’t want to choose a medical procedure on the basis of an article about medical procedures by someone with no medical training. You wouldn’t want to learn how to fly a plane from someone who has never been in the air. Your first choice for someone to help you fight off a lawsuit probably wouldn’t be someone who has never been in court. So an article about the economic impact of immigration should inspire more confidence when the author has studied the subject. I said, it should.
We may read articles about theology by authors who have never been to seminary, like myself, but we are much more likely to take them seriously if we learn that the author has been tested by others. And it is much more likely to be published in a venue with serious circulation if the author has a Ph.D. in his subject. Because the publisher knows that the better an author’s credentials, the more it is likely to be read, which is needed to pay for the costs of publication. An author without credentials has a higher hill to climb, as he should, but it is not impossible. But there are rules he must follow. They are the same rules all must follow, but uncredentialed authors will be dismissed more readily for fudging them.
If the subject is anything but evolution, climate change, or immigration, that is. My purpose in pointing out these rules is to show the academic process which is entirely missing in the national immigration debate. Where those with formal training are essentially excluded from the discussion, participants are not only unlikely to follow the established rules for documenting facts, but are unlikely to even know them.
So how can I live with myself? I write a lot about immigration economics, though my college major was teaching music, with an emphasis in trumpet. I spend a lot more time writing about immigration economics, than I spend playing my trumpet.
I have no more economics credentials than the little boy who thought it obvious that “the emperor has no clothes”. I give links to the authorities that animate me and ask readers to see if I understand them correctly. So here I am, shouting it to all the adults around me, pleading with them to tell me if there is something wrong with my eyes. Many adults smile in agreement. “I wouldn’t be surprised”, some tell me. But who will either correct me if I am wrong, or join me if they see what I see? How long can the crowd remain silent except for my pleading mixed with the murmurs of approval of the emperor’s gorgeous invisible clothes?
1In his 2012 study, CIS’ Steven Camarota, who is not an economist, quotes the most restrictionist economist he can find, and exaggerates even his claims in order to reach a sufficiently startling conclusion to mesmerize talk show hosts and Congress itself. (http://cis.org/who-got-jobs-during-obama-presidency) He quotes George Borjas, whom Alex Nowrasteh identifies as the “most pessimistic in the scholarly literature.” (www.cato.org/blog/immigrants-did-not-take-job) Borjas’ studies are certainly among the most pessimistic in Roodman’s review of economics research at http://davidroodman.com/blog/2014/09/03/the-domestic-economic-impacts-of-immigration/ Camarota writes “There is a long-standing debate among economists about whether immigration reduces labor market opportunities for the native-born. There is good research showing that immigration displaces natives from the labor market.8 But there is not a consensus.” His footnote is to four studies one would assume were economists who disagree with each other. But Borjas is the only economist on the list of four. Another of the four is a study by Christopher L. Smith, who has a bachelor’s in business administration and is a CPA, (https://www.starr.org/bio/christopher-l-smith), and two studies by two more Undocumented Economists at the Center for Immigration Studies. Economist Bryan Caplan wrote about another instance in which Borjas is quoted by Undocumented Economists out of context to double the job competition that Borjas alleges. http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2007/03/borjas_wages_an.html. Robert Rector “acknowledges that there are people who disagree with him, but he doesn’t say who. He does not admit that virtually all economists do and that the only people who agree with him are people who have as little economics education as he does. Nor does he report details of what his critics allege, or their evidence. Much less does he address the evidence against him and address it, explaining why readers should believe him rather than contrary research. Instead of this scholarly process, he makes vague references like “people say”, followed by a single phrase summary of contrary findings. …The failure to cite and address criticism raises the question whether he is simply unaware of any evidence that refutes his own, due to his lack of education.” (Continued on page 35 at: www.saltshaker.us/hispanichope/rectorsundocumentedreckoning.pdf )