Consider Newsweek blogger Mickey Kaus. Failed Senate candidate, yes. And his iconoclastic views on immigration and unions drive some liberals nuts. But “stupidest human alive?”
That’s the insult leveled at Kaus by J. Bradford DeLong, a former Clinton administration official who is now an economics professor at U.C. Berkeley.
DeLong, in making the “stupidest human” charge, cited Economist blogger Will Wilkinson, who blasted Kaus’s views on immigration in a recent post.
At issue is whether an influx of immigrants from poorer countries such as Mexico drives down wages for American workers because the immigrants are willing to work for lower pay.
“Get employers bidding for scarce workers and you’ll see incomes rise across the board without the need for government aid programs or tax redistribution. … It’s hard for a day laborer to command $18 an hour in the market if there are illegals hanging out on the corner willing to work for $7,” Kaus wrote.
Wilkinson dismissed that argument.
“The only reason to make the within-borders population of a nation-state our analytical touchstone is a prior commitment to the idea that the nation-state is the correct unit of normative evaluation … an unacknowledged commitment to moral nationalism,” Wilkinson wrote.
If you couldn’t follow all those social science buzzwords, what it means is: Kaus is assuming in his argument that wages of American workers are more important than the wages of citizens of other countries, at least for purposes of what policies the American government enacts.
Instead, Wilkinson urged us to treat all people, regardless of their country, equally when it comes to government decisions which impact their wages. In that sense, unchecked immigration reduces worldwide inequality because the immigrants become significantly richer in moving to the United States.
Whether one sides with Kaus in his American workers first take or Wilkinson in his economist without borders approach, “stupidest human alive” might be a bit severe.
The insult didn’t weather Kaus, though, who tweeted the insult was an “honor” coming from DeLong.