Wednesday, 13 April 2022

If we're going to have an embassy in Moscow...

If we aren't using our embassy in Moscow for granting asylum paperwork and visas for Russian dissidents, we might as well expel the Russian ambassador and staff and recall our own. 

The main benefit of suffering their continued presence here is that it lets us keep an embassy there. 

So use it for what it's good for: draining Russia of talent, to the benefit of dissidents seeking freedom, and to the benefit of NZ as a whole. 

Trade sanctions aren't going to do much; NZ hasn't got a lot of trade with Russia. And the 35% tariffs are a joke in any case. The NZ government put 110% tariffs on some wire nails from a company in China that the NZ government considered to be undercutting local manufacturers. So as far as the NZ government is concerned, as expressed in tariff policy, undercutting local manufacturers is worse than invading Ukraine and murdering tens of thousands of civilians. Seems pretty typical really. 

But tariffs and trade embargoes hurt both sides. Well designed ones hurt the other side more, but they'll always hurt at least somewhat. Letting people move here though? That doesn't hurt at all. We have labour shortages all over the place. 

My column in Newsroom, now ungated:

Last week, the American Enterprise Institute’s Brent Orrell and the Cato Institute’s Alex Norasteh urged the Biden administration to fight the Putin regime by depriving it of skilled labour.

Tariffs and trade sanctions are important, but costly. They hurt both sides. But welcoming skilled workers and depriving Russia and Belarus of highly skilled labour, as Orrell and Nowrasteh put it, “would strike a blow against our adversaries and simultaneously strengthen the present – and future – American economy.”

They noted that some 50,000 to 70,000 information technology specialists had fled Russia since the war started, and another 100,000 were expected to leave by the end of April.

The Soviet Bloc knew the risks a brain drain posed to their regime and built a concrete wall to stop it. Today’s wall is built of paper: immigration restrictions in New Zealand and elsewhere prevent entry.

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