The Corner

Re: Owning Jobs

Jonathan: You are right to be befuddled. I did not express myself

sufficiently clearly. Please let me try again.

The proposition I put up in order to pour scorn on it was: “that jobs in the

USA ought to be open to competitive bidding by all the people of the world.”

I was writing in the context of our immigration debate, and assumed my words

would be taken in that context.

Let me re-phrase for greater clarity. The key words are “in the USA.” At

any point in time, there are certain jobs in the USA. At some later point,

there is some other set of jobs. Some of the first set will have gone

abroad on free trade principles — like the outsourcing of service-sector

work we are reading so much about. Others will have vanished because of

technological change… and so on. The pros and cons of all that are

something we can discuss another time. Here we are discussing


Here, then, is my re-phrased proposition — my original meaning, more

clearly expressed (I hope): “that whatever jobs exist in the USA at any

point in time ought to be open to competitive bidding by all the people of


In saying that American citizens collectively “own” whatever jobs exist in

this country at any point in time, I am saying that American citizens should

have a prior right to those jobs, over immigrants. Even the President

genuflected to this principle in his proposal last week (and it is enshrined

in current immigration rules).