Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Controversial Idea

UGA Economist Dwight Lee has an idea that he claims would help the immigration controversy in the United States, and the homeless/panhandling problem: allow US citizens to sell their citizenship to non-Americans. The American selling their citizenship would have to leave the country, and the buyer would be a US citizen.

Here is part of his explanation:

First consider the fact that America's homeless and panhandlers (who are often different people—some homeless don't panhandle and some panhandlers aren't homeless) are actually quite wealthy. Almost all own an asset—their United States citizenship—that is worth several hundred thousand dollars. The problem is that they are denied the right to sell that asset.

Citizenship in the United States is a highly valuable asset because it gives its owner enormous productive potential. American citizens are able to take advantage of the
opportunities to combine their ambition, ingenuity and labor with an unparalleled capital base and other hard-working and talented people to create wealth. The homeless and panhandlers in America have clearly failed to use their citizenships as productively as many non-U.S citizens could, and would, if they became citizens.

What do you think of this idea? Do you think it would work at its stated purpose (with restrictions on selling citizenship to terrorists, etc.)?

Minimum Wage Issues

An interesting political issue is whether to apply any minimum wage increases to the islands that belong to the United States, like American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Under the new proposal before Congress to increase the minimum wage, the Northern Mariana Islands would now be subject to the minimum wage. The reason why that is so important is because the average wage in the islands is half of the proposed minimum wage. There is a lot of debate amongst economists as to how much an increase in the minimum wage affects employment, but I think most would say that doubling the average wage would have a significant impact.

To add to the interesting situation, right now, American Samoa would still be exempt from the minimum wage, offering a possible comparison of the effect of the minimum wage if instituted.

(Source: Marginal Revolution)