I’d be interested to hear the Plumb Liners’ views on the six topics of idealistic consensus Scott Sumner presents:
1. The huge rise in occupational licensing.
2. The huge rise in people incarcerated in the war on drugs, and also the scandalous reluctance of doctors to prescribe adequate pain medication (also due to the war on drugs.)
3. The need for more legal immigration.
4. The need to replace taxes on capital with progressive consumption taxes.
5. Local zoning rules that prevent dense development.
6. Tax exemptions for mortgage interest and health insurance
His argument for why these issues aren’t discussed seems persuasive, but then, I agree with him about all six points. In most of these cases, the parties benefiting from these policies are doing so at the expense of the general public. Many arise from simple misunderstandings among the public about macroeconomics.
Immigration is different from the others, however, because the harms of immigration really are general and public. They are merely harms dismissed as irrelevant or irrational by idealistic intellectuals, who tend to believe that cultural goods are unreal or at least can never be rationally preferred to economic well-being. Of course, the general public doesn’t seem to realize how much richer the United States would be if we allowed ten times as many immigrants to enter legally as we currently do. Perhaps if they did they’d be as eager as their pointy-headed fellow citizens to throw ope the gates of El Paso.