IT WOULD MAKE MY JOB EASIER. Dan Drezner links to a Matt Yglesias challenge to academic economists to lobby the government to change the cumbersome visa requirements that act as a trade barrier protecting economists' salaries. (Mr Yglesias may have recently read Dean Baker's The Conservative Nanny State, of which more at Marginal Utility. Mr Baker's thesis is that a number of "conservative" interests, including "so-called free-market economists" benefit by Big Government policies that protect the well-off.) Brad DeLong is up to the challenge. There is a spirited bull session at his place.

Less restrictive immigration rules would simplify my job. My department recently hired two productive colleagues who have been subjected to all manner of abuse and procedural hassles verging on the extortionate to obtain permanent resident status. (I tease them about the advantages of setting up your own country ...) The rules on reimbursement of speakers who are not citizens or permanent residents are sufficiently cumbersome as to make me nostalgic for the days of class rates, commodity rates, and exception rates for lead-filled rugs in carload lots.

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