In the debate over the immigration bill, left-liberal Democrats are emerging as champions of the free market. The bill assigns points to would-be immigrants based on, among other things, their education levels and professional backgrounds. In an example cited by The New York Times, a Bulgarian who wants to join his wife (a legal resident) in the U.S. would "get 20 points because he has a specialty occupation, an additional 8 points because he is an engineer, 28 points because he has a master's degree in engineering, 3 points because he is in the preferred age group and 15 points because he is fluent in English." Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on immigration, objects to the fact that the bill would lock in a congressional judgment about which skills are most needed in the U.S. for 14 years:
The point system is like the Soviet Union. The government is saying, in effect, "We have a five-year plan for the economy, and we will decide with this point system what mix of skills is needed." That is not the way a market-based capitalist economy works best.
Lofgren is right, but I'm not sure she's willing to follow this reasoning to its logical conclusion, which is not somewhat more flexible central planning but a system in which employers and consumers decide which skills are needed. If only we had a catchy name for that.