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

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Global Marches Demand Action on Climate Change

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  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.