North Korea: the new Mexico?
Could North Korea be the new Mexico? Let me explain. Mexico is the foundry of our massive economic explosion and the source of all of our recent economic gains. The hard work of millions of Mexicans keeps our economy afloat, lowers consumer prices, and increase incomes across the board. However, that cure has led to its own disease: many Mexicans are now a bit "selective" about the jobs that they will take. Many have, for instance eschewed working in the fields for taking jobs in construction. Instead of threatening us with nuclear tests, could North Koreans take their place, keeping our economy growing and also reducing the nuke threat from that nation?
A couple years ago, my friend Michael Beatty had a wonderful idea: bring victims of the South Asia tsunami to the U.S. as guest workers. Those workers would then send a large portion of their income home. Not only would those Indonesians take jobs Americans don't want, they would also help rebuild their straggling society. Shortly after Beatty's proposal, CATO Institute analyst Will Wilkinson came up with a remarkably similar plan. Despite the support, unfortunately the plan never came to fruition.
Now is the time and the chance to finally show just how well this plan would work.
What we should do is make a deal with North Korea. Yes, I know getting our minds around the concept will be difficult, but it must be done. We can import hundreds of thousands of North Koreans - on a temporary basis - to do the jobs that Mexicans won't do: picking crops, cleaning highway rest stops, sorting offal at chicken processors, and so on. A people that are almost starving will accept almost any wage they can get, leading to lower prices for the American consumer. (And, of course, that means the American consumer will have more money to spend on other goods... market magic!)
Whatever they're paid, our North Korean guests will send a chunk of it home, helping increase the North Korean economy and introducing the people back home to the wonders of a consumer-based economy. Now, certainly, our guests' leaders will want to make sure that their citizens do not seek asylum here or that they are not shocked by American lifestyles. That's why we will encourage the use of North Koreans as monitors and supervisors for their people. Of course, most jobsites will be at remote locations and with dormitory housing and similar, so we can assure our friends in NK that this won't be an issue.
In summary, the threat from North Korea is real. But, it doesn't have to be a threat just so long as we let the market work its magic, resulting in a win-win for all concerned.