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mobile labor

2006-11-20 23:22:56.244365+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

Apropos the immigration discussion that sprung up under the "gay economics" entry, here's Philip Greenspun's discussion of Jeffrey Sachs's The End of Poverty:

If an African achieves the standards of a First World nurse, he or she can easily emigrate to Europe or the U.K. where such skills are in high demand. The emigre enjoys a much more comfortable lifestyle in the rich country, can make free voice calls to friends and family back in Africa, and can fly home in 8 hours on a discount airline. Educated and productive people are the biggest assets of most countries and, more so than ever, they can simply choose to walk away.

[ related topics: Sociology Work, productivity and environment Economics ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-11-21 16:12:27.646643+00 by: petronius

While I suspect the author is right, I'm not so sure I'm comfortable with what seems to be a counsel of inaction. So, some doctors and nurses we train will end up in Cleveland instead of Kinshasa. But some will stay home and make their countrymen healthier, which should in the long run improve the overall conditions in that nation. No fail-safe plan has yet to be created.

A lot of this comes down to the deserving vs. undeserving poor question. We want to help people who will then help themselves, but resent it if somebody just sponges off of us. But do these two results come across in so neat an order? The problems of Africa are so huge that no progress will be made until a number of them are addressed, plus a few years for the Africans to catch their breath. Plus improvements in governance, infrastructure, etc. etc. Who has the time?

Well, maybe we need to take the time. We have seen that various failed states and societies end up as tools for all sorts of mischief. Combined with uneven development in neighboring countries, and you have a very combustable mixture. Think of our dumping billions on the Saudis, and how much of that cash ended up in the hands of the Taliban and various Somali warlords. I'm sure all sorts of hard cases are firmly ensconsed in West Africa waiting for some patron to show up and hire them.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-11-21 16:30:33.08745+00 by: Dan Lyke

Despite my overpopulation opinion, I actually think that the best course of action is to welcome people and teach and mentor them. Because those family ties do run deep, and the money that they send home will do worlds more good than money that gets slipped from one government to another and lines the pockets of the corrupt politicians, or that gets sent as aid to be used as political maneuvering blocks between rebels and governments while citizens still starve.

The problem is not resources, the problem is culture, and the challenge is finding the best way to diffuse that.