Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Getting one price right

I have not yet read Michael Sandel's What Money Can't Buy, but I enjoyed Paul Solman's interview with the author on the Evening News last night.

Economists who see "market failures" and suggest that policy makers can "get the prices right" are challenged on two fronts -- by the "fairness" argument as well as the public choice criticism that policy makers have many other agendas than efficient allocations, some of them pretty awful.  Nevertheless, we celebrate the few examples of dynamic roadway pricing where we see them -- and keep suggesting that they are harbingers. 

The standard rebuttal to the "fairness" critique is to ask just how "fair" the status quo is.  Relieve highway congestion by building subways partly financed by sales taxes?

The June 9 Economist includes "Visas for entrepreneurs ... Where creators are welcome ... Australia, Canada and even Chile are more open than America."  I know that immigration law and procedures are a hash, but letting entrepreneurs with capital go to the head of the line should be the ultimate no-brainer -- especially for politicians who prattle on about their interest in "creating jobs".

I am persuaded that open borders are best (see Clemens), but if we cannot get there, how about some simple and reasonable immigration rules?