30 Nov 2013

Even When I (Sorta) Agree With Him, Dean Baker Gives Me the Creeps

Dean Baker, Health Legislation 12 Comments

In terms of the underlying policy stance, I think I agree with Dean Baker in this post about immigration restrictions on foreign doctors. (HT2 Chris Rossini at EPJ) But holy cow does this give anybody else the creeps?

We have deliberately changed immigration rules and standards to make it easier for foreign computer engineers, nurses, and even teachers to enter the country and meet demand in these occupations.There is no economic reason why we would not do the same for doctors. The potential savings to consumers and the government and gains to economy would be several times larger for each qualified doctor that we brought into the country than for every nurse or teacher.

…[R]egularizing a flow of doctors, with foreign students trained to U.S. standards, would be a major focus of trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (We could design a mechanism to ensure that earnings of foreign doctors are taxed and repatriated to home countries so that developing countries could train 2-3 doctors for every one that comes to the United States. Even an economist could figure out how to design such a mechanism.)

12 Responses to “Even When I (Sorta) Agree With Him, Dean Baker Gives Me the Creeps”

  1. David R. Henderson says:

    Yes. BTW, here’s my review of his book a few years ago in which he discusses this immigration proposal. Either he didn’t discuss this tax in that book or I, unforgivably, failed to criticize it.

  2. Ken B says:

    Yes it gives me the creeps. It implies home countries are entitled to a share of their emigrants’ earnings.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      Country must be hungry and unsatisfied.

  3. Philippe says:

    If the US were to allow more foreign-born doctors to practice in the US, their income would be taxed.

    Dean Baker is saying that the tax revenue could be transferred to foreign countries and used to train more doctors there, rather than being spent in the US.

    The taxation of foreign-born doctors’ incomes is no more creepy than the taxation of US-born doctors. So is the part you find especially creepy the transfer of this tax revenue to foreign countries?

    • Ken B says:

      Yes it is more creepy. If I move to a country I am some sense accept my responsibilities as inhabitant the country (The usual rough Bardion suspect here will disagree). I benefit directly from the services provided by the government of the country. If I am to always be tethered the country of my origin than in some sense that country owns me. That is where the creepiness comes in.

  4. Gamble says:

    I don’t mind immigrants but on the flip side, I think Americans should be able to purchase property and operate business, with guaranteed rights, in the corresponding Country. This is not always as easy as it sounds. I know Americans that have owned property in Mexico only to have it snatched by the Mexican guberment.

  5. Tel says:

    … and meet demand in these occupations.

    As soon as he starts talking about unmet demand you just know he is keeping quiet about the way this is designed to force down wages. The basic dishonesty here bothers me. If you look at what unions do, they create some barrier to competition that brings up wages for the unionists (generally at the expense of everyone else). Here is Dean Baker giving his full support to the idea of encouraging unions to drive up wages.


    What you can learn from this is that certain select occupations (e.g. Doctors) attract Baker’s ire and therefore need their wages pushed down, but for other occupations the opposite is true. In other words, nothing more than political wrangling and Baker believing he is entitled to transfer wealth on a personal whim.

    • Philippe says:

      “you just know he is keeping quiet about the way this is designed to force down wages”

      actually I think its pretty obvious that the whole point is to reduce health-care costs by reducing average doctors salaries. I don’t think Baker is being secretive about that. He thinks that doctors are currently paid too much on average, given the need for cheaper health care.

      • Tel says:

        I would say quite a lot of unions have got themselves into cosy situations where they are also paid too much on average. Let’s hear Baker offer an approach where we all play by the same rules.

      • Ken B says:

        Of course he’s not being secretive about it. He talks explicitly about the savings to those paying doctors.

  6. Yancey Ward says:

    White liberal guilt explains Baker in this case.

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