On the day of game six of the World Series (think we’ll have another pitcher brought in to issue an intentional walk, and then pulled?), Forbes.com’s Stuart Anderson compares baseball to today’s politics:
The number of foreign-born players in the major leagues has more than doubled since 1990. In the general economy, the number of jobs rises and falls based on factors that include consumer spending, population growth, capital investment, labor laws, and startup businesses. New entrants to the labor market can create and fill new jobs, rather than replace a current jobholder. In contrast, a fixed number of jobs exists on active major league rosters, with only 25 baseball players permitted per team or 750 players total in the major leagues.
Still, it is noteworthy one never hears complaints about “immigrants taking away jobs” from Americans in the major leagues. Baseball players consider the competition for roster spots to be fair, a meritocracy. And, as Tom Hanks once said, “There’s no crying in baseball.” …
The next time someone complains about immigrants “taking jobs” from Americans, tell them to try playing major league baseball, where, unlike the rest of the economy, the number of jobs are fixed and limited, yet no one ever complains about immigrants.
Baseball is not the real economic world, of course, and the work world is not a pure meritocracy. (Nor, probably, is baseball.) But baseball would not get better by excluding productive players who didn’t come from the 50 states. (Or, for that matter, non-whites; imagine baseball without, for starters, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.) And our economy will not get better by keeping out people not born here who could contribute positively to our economy given an opportunity.
As usual given the state of our politics, dealing with illegal immigration (to the extent it’s been dealt with at all) means we haven’t dealt with our need to let in more immigrants — scientists, engineers, computer programmers and others covered under the H1B and L1 visas — who can become, say, the father of the next Steve Jobs, or make other positive contributions to our country and its economy.