Saturday, November 26, 2011

Does slowing people down slow down the economy?

As my family and I were traveling back to LA from my parents' place in Arizona this weekend, we had to stop at three checkpoints.  Each stop delayed us--I would guess the average delay was 5-10 minutes.  One check point bragged that it had arrested around 100 people--about 70 for immigration violations and 30 for crimes--over the course of 2011.

According to this web site, one of the highways I travelled on carries 10,000 cars per day.  Let's say the average stop takes five minutes, the average car has 1.3 people in it, and the value of people's time averages $15 per hour.  This means that each arrest costs a little under $60,000; perhaps there is a deterrent effect as well.  Is this worth it?  I really don't know.

But I can't help but notice that over the last ten years, the US, as a matter of security policy, has really gummed up the ability of people to get easily from one place to another. Is it a coincidence that the economy has underperformed over this time?  Perhaps.  I can't think of a way to run a regression to test the relationship between ease of travel and economic performance--but that doesn't mean that someone else can't.



5 comments:

Wendy said...

Maybe there is an indirect correlation. If the US gov't spent less time and money worrying about illegal immigrants and more time and money on things that would actually help the economy, then economic performance would be better.

For example, what about more retraining programs for the long-time unemployed? what about subsidies to help people in areas with no jobs relocate to places with jobs? what about welcoming more educated immigrants who tend to create jobs for native-born Americans (or allowing those with Ph.Ds in engineering, for example, to stay in the US and create jobs).

Worrying about illegal immigrants is a distraction from America's real problems.

The Sparkman Team said...

Interesting points that are made here Richard. Thank you for sharing. We tend to complain about our economic shortcomings, but don't look at our spending habits.

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There are of course corresponding negative effects for that, man power is always a great factor for every productivity, effective man power results to a larger productivity, that therefore concludes that if people slows down, then their productivity decrease.
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