The standard Soviet argument against free emigration was that it would spark a "brain drain." Why? Obviously, because they were underpaying their brains relative to the world market.

Since the collapse of the USSR and emigration restrictions, the standard argument has been proven entirely right. There has been a massive brain drain. But I can't remember hearing anyone drawing the obvious lesson: Russia needs more inequality to persuade the brains to stay. As Alex Tabarrok pointed out to me, even Rawlsians should embrace this conclusion.

But the main thing you hear about post-Communist Russia is the awful explosion of inequality, blah, blah, blah. True, perhaps the problem is that there are large rewards for rent-seeking rather than production and innovation, but in that case, inequality is a red herring. The slogan shouldn't be "equality" but "riches for the most productive" or perhaps "better inequality."
Prof. Bryan Caplan
Department of Economics George Mason University [EMAIL PROTECTED]

        "Infancy conforms to nobody: all conform to it, so that
         one babe commonly makes four or five out of the adults
         who prattle and play to it."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"

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