In Memoriam Gary Becker: A Coward, But Right About Immigration/Welfare

Becker

Gary Becker 1930-2014  H/T Piera

I see the Jewish Telegraph Agency reports Gary Becker, Nobel Prize-winning economist, dies May 5, 2014

A professor of economics and sociology at the University of Chicago, Becker also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was known for applying economic analysis to human behavior and daily life.

His teacher and mentor was Milton Friedman, also a University of Chicago economist and fellow Nobel Prize winner.

No doubt only on VDARE.com will you be told that Becker once used his BusinessWeek column to second and amplify Milton Friedman’s famous quote about immigration -

It`s just obvious that you can`t have free immigration and a welfare state…

(which has even lodged in the murky mind of Rand Paul!)

Mexican Immigration: Don’t Open The Doors Wide Yet Businessweek October 22, 2000
Is a good exposition of the obvious:

…under current conditions the U.S. should not allow unlimited mmigration from Mexico or anywhere else.

…entrants prior to the middle of the 20th century had to sink or swim on their own, or with the aid of friends and relatives. The U.S. government then would not bail out either immigrants or the native-born with welfare, unemployment compensation, subsidized medical help, or other public assistance. Many immigrants simply returned home if they could not make it in the New World.

This is not the case today… open borders would also encourage large numbers of immigrants seeking the generous benefits provided by state and federal governments… the government should deny welfare and many other benefits to all immigrants for several years.

Becker would not have written this column today. He couldn’t, of course, because BusinessWeek is now owned by American-despising Michael Bloomberg, whose Open Borders fanaticism has made Bloomberg News exclusively a conduit for Treason Lobby propaganda.

But he would not have done so anyway. As Peter Brimelow noted in 2000 when discussing Becker’s immigration column

Milton Friedman is a tough guy; Gary Becker is not. When Leslie Spencer and I interviewed him for our February 15, 1993, Forbes cover story estimating the costs of affirmative action – STILL THE ONLY ESTIMATE EXTANT, incidentally, thanks to the cowardice of American academe – he actually declined to give his opinion of the policy, although it is condemned by the whole thrust of his work. So we gave him a good boot.

…Becker, like Friedman…also deals with the libertarian loonies` knee-jerk comeback – “let`s just abolish welfare for immigrants!” (No-one could be so impractical? These are people who seriously debate whether traffic lights are unacceptable government coercion.) Both economists rightly doubt that Congress would have the backbone to maintain such a distinction.

Another Nobel Economics Laureate Drops Another Nobel Economics Laureate Drops October 23, 2000

In the Forbes story – When Quotas Replace Merit, Everybody Suffers - Brimelow reported

Quotas are very expensive. There`s surprising denial about this. University of Chicago free market economist Gary Becker, a 1992 Nobel laureate, wrote the standard analysis, The Economics of Discrimination (1957). But Becker recently shrugged off affirmative action in a Business Week column. He argued that although affirmative action “does hurt some individuals, as it caters to minorities with political clout,” it “probably causes less harm than many other programs,” such as farm supports.[ HOW IS AFFIRMATIVE ACTION LIKE CROP SUBSIDIES?, April 27, 1992]

Strangely, however, Becker tells FORBES that in fact he has no idea what quotas cost (“I think it`s an important subject for research”)…

Nevertheless, Becker`s analysis of discrimination remains the best framework for assessing the economic impact of quotas: In a free market, Becker argued, there is an inexorable tendency for everyone to receive the marginal value of his or her labor. This means that ultimately, you are likely to be paid something like what your work is worth. If you belong to an unpopular group, employers may pay you less. But that means that they will make more money off you. Because you are such a profitable hire, you will come into demand, and your labor will be bid up….

Talking to FORBES, Becker is very anxious to stress that he is not saying discrimination will be completely competed away.

What happened here is quite plain. By the early 1990s, Black privilege in the form of Affirmative Action was entrenched, opposing it was taboo, and notwithstanding his early work Becker was frightened. In his 1992 article he was willing to say

I don’t like group quotas and other aspects of affirmative-action programs

but the thrust of the article was to weakly rationalize not worrying about the issue. A tenured Professorship and a Nobel prize was not enough to give Gary Becker integrity, much less courage.

As late as 2000 however, the Democratic elite had not fully realized that mass immigration was their ticket to a permanent leftist majority (after all, they could not be expected to read National Review!). They and their MSM allies had not yet anathematized discussion and Becker felt able to be an economist about it.

He would now be by no means the only tenured Academic afraid to discuss immigration.

Welcome to 21st century America – the Land of the Free!

The Founding Fathers were different men.