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Avoiding Congress, Inc.

Scott Jagow May 4, 2006
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Ask Money

Avoiding Congress, Inc.

Scott Jagow May 4, 2006
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TEXT OF STORY:

SCOTT JAGOW: As you’re no doubt aware, some in Congress want to clamp down on the flow of immigrants coming into this country. At the same time, many lawmakers are really skeptical of foreign companies taking over American assets. Remember the Dubai ports issue? You could argue it all adds up to a growing sense of protectionism. Marketplace economics correspondent Chris Farrell believes that’s no good for the economy.

CHRIS FARRELL: If you look at our economy over the past 25 years, open borders, international trade, immigration. This has been a huge boon to the US economy. It’s one of the reasons why American companies are among the most productive in the world. And I think the great risk right now is a rising tide of protectionism, whether that is against companies coming here like the Dubai ports that you mentioned or the sense that we’ve had enough of immigrants.

SCOTT JAGOW: So are you suggesting that the government should just have a laissez-faire attitude about these issues and just stay hands off?

CHRIS FARRELL: Well what I’m saying is we have a system that’s working pretty well right now, don’t change it. You know, there is a body, a very respected body, that when there are certain mergers and acquisitions that have implications potentially for national security, it looks at it. What you don’t want, what we really don’t want, is for the K Street lobbyists, representing a domestic company that is in trouble, all of a sudden realizing that all they gotta do to keep the competition out, is do a little lobbying on Capitol Hill. That’s the real danger, so that’s what worries me. And I think that’s we why need to have what the Wall Street Journal editorial page says, you know, we don’t want Congress Inc.

SCOTT JAGOW: Well how does the issue of immigration fit into this issue in terms of protectionism?

CHRIS FARRELL: Well I think immigrants are the steroids of economic growth here in the US economy and have been for the past 25 years or so. And, you know we talk about open borders in terms of capital. You know, money flows, global economy. Well you also have the flow of people, and this economy has been incredibly successful at absorbing immigrants, many of whom are among the best and brightest, who are playing important roles in Silicon Valley, Route 128, the suburbs of the Beltway in Washington D.C. and also doing a lot of jobs here and you don’t want to create barriers to people, at least the way that it’s being discussed right now. No nation can completely open its borders but the system, despite all the hyperbole that’s going on, the system was largely working.

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