Let's Try Some Painless Ways To Fix The Debt

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 10 2013 3:41 PM

Let's Try Some Painless Ways To Fix The Debt

A lot of pundits lament the fact that Democrats and Republicans can't come together to make the painful choices that would reduce the country's debt:GDP ratio. I find it much more frustrating that we can't come together and make the painless choices that would do the same thing. Monetary stimulus is one such example.

Immigration is another. Because we so throttle the supply of visas for engineers, it's possible to find great natural experiments where the question of who was let in and who wasn't was a matter of pure chance. Michael Clemens looked at one such case and was able to do a detailed study and found that statistically identical workers employed by the same firm can increase their earnings by over $55,000 a year by securing permission to come to the United States. So what if instead of allocating these visas by lottery, we let as many people come as there are corporate sponsors for and charged $5,000 per person per year? On the one hand, we'd raise a little chunk of revenue without needing to raise taxes on any American. On the other hand, the huge productivity gains here—the Indians' labor is worth five to six times as much in the USA as in India—would boost growth.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The NFL Has No Business Punishing Players for Off-Field Conduct. Leave That to the Teams.

Meet the Allies the U.S. Won’t Admit It Needs in Its Fight Against ISIS

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Medical Examiner

How to Stop Ebola

Survivors might be immune. Let’s recruit them to care for the infected.

History

America in Africa

The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.

New GOP Claim: Hillary Clinton’s Wealth and Celebrity Are Tricks to Disguise Her Socialism

Why the Byzantine Hiring Process at Universities Drives Academics Batty

Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 3:29 PM The Fascinating Origins of Savannah, Georgia’s Distinctive Typeface
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 23 2014 6:06 PM Nothing to See Here The one national holiday Republicans want you to forget.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Outward
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:38 PM “No One in This World” Is One of Kutiman’s Best, Most Impressive Songs
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 23 2014 1:38 PM Why Is Fall Red in America but Yellow in Europe? A possible explanation, 35 million years in the making.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.