Skills-Based Immigration and Centralized Planning

Frank McGahon of Internet Commentator has an outstanding post up quoting The Economist on the problems with skills-based immigration restrictions. Writes The Economist [subscription only],

Under the new rules, fewer low-skilled workers will be allowed in, while those with plenty of qualifications and experience will be welcomed, particularly if their skills fall into categories believed to be in short supply. A committee of experts will be assembled to determine exactly what those skills are.

A "committee of experts," you say? Where oh where have we heard that before? Bells should go off whenever anyone ever mentions a "committee of experts" in relation to political economy.

This way of managing immigration has a respectable pedigree - sensible people such as the Australians and Canadians do it - but that does not mean it makes economic sense. Employers are better than governments at knowing what jobs are in short supply (as Australian employers discovered a while ago when the government got its sums wrong and left them with a critical shortage of doctors).

Frank comments,

Those who argue for such entry requirements simply assume it to be the case that such restrictions represent the most effective method of identifying the most suitable immigrants. It never seems to occur to them how this particular centrally planned system manages to get around the problem of information identified by Hayek. Such a system could no more predict the demand for, say, plumbers for the next year than it could the weather.

I wonder what the libertarians who want the government to keep out the "human trash" think about this? Do they think the government should establish a "committee of experts" to decide who has the right skills and who doesn't?

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