Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Is There a Lump in Your Trump?

"Whether it's China or Japan or Mexico, they are all taking our jobs." -- Donald Trump
Whatever one may think of Donald Trump, one thing he is not is naïve. So does it make sense when someone like Adam Davidson (or Jonathan Portes) claims that worry about immigrants or foreign countries (or robots or non-retiring seniors) "taking our jobs" are based on the "something called the Lump of Labor Fallacy: the erroneous notion that there is only so much work to be done and that no one can get a job without taking one from someone else"? 

Of course not. These folks are just mouthing platitudes they've heard without a thought to where the platitudes came from, whether they make sense or whether they are persuasive. (See also Sandwichman's Lump-of-Labor Odyssey)


Thornton Hall said...

I can definitely identify w/ @grant in the Twitter exchange w/ Portes. An economist would be stopped in their tracks by the invocation of the fallacy backed by "empirical evidence".

But the obvious follow up is: ok, the thing you are measuring doesn't go down, but who decided that the thing you measured is important?

The silence that follows is the only true answer. But every time this happens, the person in Portes's position loses just a little bit more of his soul. Because intellectual honesty demands that he notice his own silence and think "Uh Oh!" Ignoring that sense is how scholars earn a ticket to hell.

Sandwichman said...

Jonathan is a virtuoso at not noticing his own silences.

Open Letter to Jonathan Portes I

Open Letter to Jonathan Portes II