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Modern Nomads: The Dark Side

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2 Responses

  1. Matt says:

    Very interesting, Shruti. A few quick thoughts. First, this sort of thing, to me, shows the importance of trying hard to craft a good and well-working guest-worker program. Such programs are very unpopular with most people working on immigration from a liberal perspective but I think this is a mistake, both pragmatically (a good guest-worker program is likely the best we can hope for, and if liberals don’t work towards it we’ll get a worse one) and more theoretically (it seems to me that most of the deeper objections to guest-worker programs can be met and are often based on confusions as to what such a program must be like.) This is something I’m working on now myself. Secondly, it seems to me that more dark than light is thrown on questions of migration by comparing internal EU movement to other migration since the increased freedom of movement inside the EU has been achieved only with the increasing state-likeness of the EU itself and an increasingly strong external border. So, internal EU movement has become more like normal internal state movement, and it’s not clear that that is a very good model for thinking about international movement. That’s a minor point in your picture but something that seems important to me, especially since people talking about migration often don’t give it enough credit, I think.

  2. A.J. Sutter says:

    Unfortunately, many of the lessons purported to be learned about economic growth are based only on correlations; witness debates about “happiness”/”well-being” and the “environmental Kuznets curve,” among other topics. (Caveat: linked references represent the neo-liberal side of both issues, and in the EKC case radically so.)

    Still, I think you’re right to make a connection. There is a point of view, more publicly debated in Europe but still kind of fringe in the US, that economic growth is not a good thing, at least for OECD-type countries. While the European discourse is broadly-grounded, the US discourse is especially focused on environmental issues, including the physical impossibility of unlimited growth due to the law of entropy, and the undesirability of the inevitable build-up of “high-entropy” waste from economic activity. (This is distinct from the more widespread US “peak oil” discourse, which seems to focus more on the impossibility, and less on the desirability vel non, of continued growth.) The leading living US exponent of this view, U. Maryland economist Herman Daly, is also a vociferous opponent of immigration. The Carrying Capacity Network, on whose board Daly sits, has advanced the argument that a Mexican family who comes to the US is likely to have more kids than non-immigrant families, and each family member will have a bigger environmental footprint than if they stayed at home, e.g. in the US they all might have cars. While most of the other anti-growth discourse I’ve seen doesn’t forground immigration as an issue (including that of the late N. Georgescu-Roegen, Daly’s mentor on matters entropic), at least some people see restricting migration as a way of intentionally reducing GDP growth.