At the start of the industrial revolution, lots of people got rich by getting around existing rules that governed other the world. That’s the nature of technology. The guy who invented the first plow found a way to get around the limitations of the hoe. The next guy who added a draft animal to the mix got around the limits of the human body. The Industrial Revolution, at the simplest level, was the application of science to the physical limits of the human being.
That’s the romantic view. The more realistic view is that great technological leaps are accompanied by, and maybe spurred by, a desire to get around laws, customs and moral codes. Web development in the 1990’s, for instance, was driven by the pornography business. The technology to display images and video on-line was primarily due to pornographers. Jeff Bezos became a billionaire avoiding sales taxes by selling on-line and gaming local tax laws. Uber right now is gaming the laws to undermine taxi cartels.
The push for open borders by Silicon Valley, for example, is about getting around labor laws and nothing more. Mark Zuckerburglar loves the idea of paying the rates they pay in Tamil Nadu India for technical work. He just hates the idea of having to go to Tamil Nadu India to get them. Instead, he would like to import those people to live in camps here and work at rates otherwise against the law here. He’s even willing to let them use indoor toilets, thus showing he is a warm and generous man!
The Robber Barons can’t put it that way so they lie about shortages of labor in their industry. Here’s a good example.
President Obama’s legislation on immigration has been one of the most hotly contested political reforms for a generation. The Immigration Order, along with Ron Paul’s subsequent bill attempting to overturn the reform, put immigration firmly at the forefront of the political agenda.
The outcry in the US reflects a similar sentiment sweeping across Europe. The rise of numerous right wing parties of varying extremes across European countries has led to immigration being actively curtailed. Anti-EU sentiment also is fueling a desire for homegrown talent in business in this highly charged atmosphere.
You see what’s happening? Those who oppose mass immigration are Nazis. They are bad people that can be dismissed, or worse, because they are not really human. They are extremists!
However, as arguments on both sides escalate, the technology sector has emerged as one of the few voices of reason. Digital companies are used to operating globally, and innovation is driven by attracting and retaining the best talent from around the world.
In San Francisco, the battle for talent has seen tech companies doing everything they can to win the best recruits. Hairdressers, free food and doctors are all expected as competition continues to soar. The distance between this environment and the national debate around restricting immigration is extraordinary.
The “everything they can” also includes colluding with one another to depress wages and prevent employees from jumping companies. For people allegedly trying everything to attract talent, they seem oddly willing to engage in what should result in lengthy prison terms in order to not attract talent.
The fact is there’s no shortage of technology workers in America or Europe. There’s a shortage of owners willing to abide by the laws and pay market rates. Instead they seek to game the system to enrich themselves at the expense of their countrymen. It’s a form of colonialism, except this time the colonists are exploiting their own ethnic group. I’d call it feudalism, except feudal lords provided a service in exchange for food rents.
The argument from libertarians in these matters is that the market will sort it all out. Tyler Cowen’s flunky always says it is unfair to punish people because of the accident of birth. National borders are immoral. That’s insane, but let’s think it through. No borders means no country. No country means no citizens and that means no government, at least no legitimate government. Order will simply be imposed by those with force to do so.
In such a world, the entire economics department of George Mason would be on a chain gang somewhere as chattel labor in a few weeks after the new system is in place.
The hard cold truth is that much of the tech sector is just another ruling class scam these days. Credentialed grifters get a license from the state to rip-off the public. The costs are socialized so they are not as obvious, while the profits are privatized. Flooding the country with cheap labor from abroad, living here as indentured servants, has a cost. Silicon Valley thinks you should bear that cost so they can enjoy the profits.