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lou dobbs is pretty stupid August 14, 2007

Posted by AP in econ, news, politics.

during a segment of his show that aired on 13 august, lou dobbs calls economists who support free immigration “idiots” and “jackasses”.

first of all, i find it ridiculous that this segment of mr dobbs’s show is titled “war on the middle class”. the show offers no evidence for how immigration could harm the middle class. instead, the only argument we hear is from a letter discussing the possible effects of immigration on the “poorest americans”.

however, if one actually reads to the end of the quoted sentence, as opposed to stopping halfway, one would see that the letter states that immigration can lead to a net social benefit: the poorest of the poor get more money. on the other hand, bringing people in other countries to a higher level of income clearly conflicts with mr dobbs’s zero-sum view of the international economy. his insistent claim that america’s economy is superior to that of any other central or south american nation seems to imply that he thinks it should damn well stay that way. he likes his poor americans poor, and his foreign poor people even poorer, i guess.

furthermore, the background chosen by the producers of mr dobbs’s show confuses me. is the fistful of dollars supposed to symbolise the middle class’s desperate attempt to hold onto their money, or does it represent america’s tightfisted reluctance to share material wealth with others?

mr dobbs also objects to what his correspondent, christine romans, calls a view of “people as units of labor”. again, maybe I’m missing something, but is there any other source for units of labor besides people?

later on in his tirade, mr dobbs calls alex tabarrok, an economist from george mason university and co-author of marginal revolution, an “idiot” for comparing a worker to an apple. the host embellishes this ad hominem attack by fabricating a family for the suffering proletariat in question. however, what mr tabarrok actually says is that “immigration is just free trade in labor”. that is, the same forces of supply and demand are at work in the markets for labor and consumer goods.

lastly, you don’t need a “differential calculus equation” to run a statistical model.



1. KG - August 14, 2007

haha classic:
“what are we dealing with here?…these folks go to college.. they go to their masters program…their PhD program.. they’re reasonably well educated….”

if lou dobbs spent any more time on show talking about illegal immigration…oh wait he can’t…that’s all he talks about… and with the habit of sensationalizing and outright lying…

from nytimes (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/30/business/30leonhardt.html?ex=1187323200&en=c5fc34bea91d0eda&ei=5070), 30 may 2007:

” For one thing, Mr. Dobbs has a somewhat flexible relationship with reality. He has said, for example, that one-third of the inmates in the federal prison system are illegal immigrants. That’s wrong, too. According to the Justice Department, 6 percent of prisoners in this country are noncitizens (compared with 7 percent of the population). For a variety of reasons, the crime rate is actually lower among immigrants than natives.

Second, Mr. Dobbs really does give airtime to white supremacy sympathizers. Ms. Cosman, who is now deceased, was a lawyer and Renaissance studies scholar, never a medical doctor or a leprosy expert. She gave speeches in which she said that Mexican immigrants had a habit of molesting children. Back in their home villages, she would explain, rape was not as serious a crime as cow stealing. The Southern Poverty Law Center keeps a list of other such guests from “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”

Finally, Mr. Dobbs is fond of darkly hinting that this country is under attack. He suggested last week that the new immigration bill in Congress could be the first step toward a new nation — a “North American union” — that combines the United States, Canada and Mexico. On other occasions, his program has described a supposed Mexican plot to reclaim the Southwest. In one such report, one of his correspondents referred to a Utah visit by Vicente Fox, then Mexico’s president, as a “Mexican military incursion.”

When I asked Mr. Dobbs about this yesterday, he said, “You’ve raised this to a level that frankly I find offensive.”

The most common complaint about him, at least from other journalists, is that his program combines factual reporting with editorializing. But I think this misses the point. Americans, as a rule, are smart enough to handle a program that mixes opinion and facts. The problem with Mr. Dobbs is that he mixes opinion and untruths. He is the heir to the nativist tradition that has long used fiction and conspiracy theories as a weapon against the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Jews and, now, the Mexicans.”

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