Cruise Ships and Private Plots
By Bryan Caplan
Think about it: On a cruise ship, people of all nations – and all skill levels – work together. Top-notch pilots and mechanics from Scandinavia ply their craft alongside cabin stewards and janitors from the Third World. Via comparative advantage, their cooperation allows them to provide an affordable, high-quality vacation to eager consumers.
So where’s the stunting? Simple: This cosmopolitan cooperation is illegal on dry land. Resources therefore pour into the unregulated sector, creating a beautiful tourist experience. But that’s nothing compared to what laissez-faire could accomplish.
By analogy: Remember the famous private plots of Soviet agriculture? The socialist government owned all the land… except for a tiny fraction in private hands. Yet this tiny fraction of private land produced a quarter to a third of Soviet foodstuffs! All the pent-up potential of Soviet farmers poured into the one legal outlet. Cruise ships work the same way: Immigration restrictions funnel labor into the one place where humans of all nations can legally work side-by-side. Loopholes in destructive policies are a good thing, but there’s no substitute for repeal.
P.S. Here are my earlier thoughts on the economics and philosophy of cruising.