Bloggers as illegal immigrants

In a blog post, George Borjas considers the analogy between bloggers and illegal immigrants:

It is not uncommon to see a Journalist (with a capital J) launch into a diatribe against bloggers and sometimes even call for regulations to stop “citizen journalists” from spreading the news. Although such calls are often couched in terms of noble-sounding goals like protecting the integrity of information in a free society, there’s also an important self-serving economic motive at play.

It doesn’t cost all that much to become a citizen journalist: a computer and your own time is about all it takes for you to start reporting your view of the world to whoever wants to read it.

The laws of supply and demand suggest that the rewards to being a Journalist would drop because anyone can now start reporting news and opinionating a la Paul Krugman or Maureen Dowd. It’s as if the Journalistic profession has received its own influx of illegal immigrants–increasing competition, lowering rewards, and creating havoc along the way.

Maybe now the Journalists will learn how those workers affected by immigration have long felt.

In response, in a blog post “Bloggers as Illegal Immigrants”: What Does Borjas’ Analogy Really Show?, Bryan Caplan writes:

I’ve previously chastised Borjas for failing to do what economists do best: go “beyond the obvious losers of trade to all of the less-obvious – but equally human – winners.” But now he’s making things too easy for me. Let’s see, besides the obvious losses to journalists, who gains from blogging?

1. Consumers of news
2. Bloggers!

If Borjas had written this post for a newsletter for journalists, I could at least understand why he might expect a receptive audience. By why on earth would blog readers find this a persuasive anti-immigration argument? Frankly, Borjas has produced a great argument in favor of immigration: If shutting down the blogosphere to protect journalists is crazy, so is keeping out illegal immigrants to protect low-skilled workers.

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