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"palooka, are you saying that it is immoral to offer someone the option to take out a sizeable loan because of the possibility that they will not be able to repay it?"

No, and I have no idea where you got that idea. But in the storm of comments earlier with Gowder, maybe I posted something which was not explicit (a lot my argument was presupposing Gowder was correct for argument's sake).


my first comment (and my comments toward Becker's posts generally) was quite negative, and, upon reflection, too harsh. I latched on to a few statements Becker made which annoyed me (i.e., foreigners come here b/c of government handouts), and never really considered his argument. I do think it is imperative that the illegal immigrants who now reside in America are given an avenue to pursue their rights, such as the right to apply for driver's licenses, which will naturally increase the range of jobs they can do, and give them incentives to build a future in the US (aside from moral reasons). I also agree that Becker's idea is better than the present system where illegal immigrants have no chance to become American citizens.
Even so, I don't think I can come around to the view that the US should try to charge a revenue maximizing price, particularly for those poor illegal immigrants who reside in the US already. One reason is that society would also benefit by giving illegal immigrants more incentives to invest in their future here, by buying houses, cars, getting car & professional licenses, and acquiring skills. Setting a price much lower than what would maximize revenue yet enough to raise a substantial amount of money which should go to communities who spend money on services for these immigrants & to make the US's immigration services & border patrol more effective.
I would recommend a system like present (which kinder treatment to students applying for visas, and speeding up the whole process), a lottery system to fill up a certain quota (i think it's impossible to argue for open borders), and then employing a system like what Becker advocates for those who did not get in. (In the end, it looks like what Posner advocates.)

Daniel Chapman

There is no "right" to a driver's liscense. This "right" doesn't even exist for citizens.


All of this makes sense, for someone immigrating from a poor country to a rich country. But what about someone immigrating from a rich country to a not-as-rich country?

For example, I intend to immigrate from the US to Australia. This is motivated by personal factors, as well as the increased quality of life, and an affinity for the Australian culture.

In order to move though, I have to take a significant pay cut -- once you factor in taxes, my pay will be cut about in half.

This pay differential is acceptable because of the non-financial benefits of living in Australia. If I had to pay a US$50k fee however, it would be much more dicey.

Also consider someone immigrating from Sweden (or really anywhere in Europe) to the US. It's very unlikely that they are moving to the US to take advantage of extra welfare benefits, and it would be ridiculous to make them pay as if they were.

In short, it seems as though you've only considered immigrants who come to the US from poor countries, not immigrants who come from rich countries, who make up a large proportion of all immigrants.

One could get around that problem somewhat by varying the fee by how much someone's income is expected to change -- someone who will earn an extra $50k/yr should be willing to bear a higher fee than someone who will make an extra $10k/yr.


That last Corey's comments were ludicrous enough to warrant them being attributed to someone else.


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