Paul Graham on Immigration, Part 2

Paul Graham’s pro-tech immigration argument, as unpopular as it may be in certain liberal and non-neoconservative circles, is the most logically consistent with a meritocracy under a free market, where people should be promoted based on talent instead of national origin, and it’s inevitable the cap will be raised under a Republican president. A lot of proponents of HBD lament the dumbing down of society; bringing in more high-IQ foreigners would help reverse this.

From Wikipeidia, the requirements for a Visa, which seem to require at least an above average IQ, are as follows:

The regulations define a “specialty occupation” as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor[1] including but not limited to biotechnology, chemistry, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent as a minimum[2] (with the exception of fashion models, who must be “of distinguished merit and ability”).[3] Likewise, the foreign worker must possess at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and state licensure, if required to practice in that field. H-1B work-authorization is strictly limited to employment by the sponsoring employer.

A common argument is that the work is of inferior quality to American workers, and even if this is true, there is a trade-off between cost and quality in a micro-economic sense. Many companies may want to hire most employees at 80-90% quality at 50% the cost and will pay a minority of employees top dollar for 100% quality, such as super-star engineers and visionaries. If foreign tech workers were irredeemably incompetent, companies would simply stop hiring them and the problem would fix itself.

The microeconomic argument seems to contradict the part about the meritocracy, and this is true to some extent, but the meritocracy is intact for the top talent, as alluded to by Tyler Cowen’s Average is Over. Hard working, creative geniuses – not only in programming but in all facets of life – are reaping enormous monetary and social windfalls in the post-2008 economy, as part of a general trend ‘winner take all’ trend. To be a winner in an economy where labor has the underhand you cannot merely be good or competent, you have to be exceptional.

Low wages aren’t all bad. By boosting profits with foreign labor, companies can lower their prices and expand. One reason why successful companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Microsoft can hire so many people is because they are obsessed with profits; otherwise, they would have gone out of business or not been able to expand and, in turn, hire thousands of Americans. When major players like Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft become more profitable and successful, so do the 3rd parties (app developers, advertisers, peripheral makers, etc) that depend on them, and then this, consequentially, creates more total jobs.

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