The “Chaos Threat” to Legal Immigration and Classical Liberalism
Prohibition is an interesting example. You’re spot on that politicians respond to incentives as much as anyone; rather than the romanticized viewpoint that they are public servants making rational policy trade-off considerations to arrive at the most good for the most people. It’s nice when it works out that way.
Another interesting question is how much the perception of chaos at the border aligns with reality. On inequality, perceptions don’t seem to improve with actual improvements in living standards for people in the lower half of the income scale. Perhaps an important distinction here is that inequality is always a relative measure.
The last paragraph reminds me of what Bryan Caplan called "the idea trap:" A bad government policy makes things worse, which causes people to demand more government. https://www.econlib.org/library/Columns/y2004/Caplanidea.html
Dan’s half-baked questions. I hate the idea that social security and Irs data might ever be used by ICE to place employees OR employers at risk of civil or criminal penalties. Does the federal government have any discretion to wall off the data?
Thanks Alex, interesting piece, and totally agree that a lot of good could come from making immigration "boring." A challenge is that the perception of chaos at the border, for the majority of voters, is almost entirely a creation of images and a narrative circulated by the media - not a direct experience, as in the case of Prohibition or other examples that touch the U.S. population more generally. So, reducing chaos will not necessarily reduce the *perception* of chaos, unless it's accompanied by other changes in politics and culture.