July 23, 2006


The Romance of Economics Milton and Rose Friedman: Dinner with Keynes? Yes. War with Iraq? They disagree. (TUNKU VARADARAJAN, 22 July 2006, The Wall Street Journal)

Is immigration, I asked--especially illegal immigration--good for the economy, or bad? "It's neither one nor the other," Mr. Friedman replied. "But it's good for freedom. In principle, you ought to have completely open immigration. But with the welfare state it's really not possible to do that. . . . She's an immigrant," he added, pointing to his wife. "She came in just before World War I." (Rose--smiling gently: "I was two years old.") "If there were no welfare state," he continued, "you could have open immigration, because everybody would be responsible for himself." Was he suggesting that one can't have immigration reform without welfare reform? "No, you can have immigration reform, but you can't have open immigration without largely the elimination of welfare.
"At the moment I oppose unlimited immigration. I think much of the opposition to immigration is of that kind--because it's a fundamental tenet of the American view that immigration is good, that there would be no United States if there had not been immigration. Of course, there are many things that are easier now for immigrants than there used to be. . . ."
Did he mean there was much less pressure to integrate now than there used to be? Milton: "I'm not sure that's true . . ." Rose (speaking simultaneously): "That's the unfortunate thing . . ." Milton: "But I don't think it's true . . ." Rose: "Oh, I think it is! That's one of the problems, when immigrants come across and want to remain Mexican." Milton: "Oh, but they came in the past and wanted to be Italian, and be Jewish . . ." Rose: "No they didn't. The ones that did went back."
Mrs. Friedman, I was learning, often had the last word.

Once again, Mr. Friedman finds himself occupying the center of American politcal thought.

Posted by Pepys at July 23, 2006 3:53 PM
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