Monthly Archives: November 2014

The U.S. Should Open its Immigration, but . . .

As promised, here’s my post on the topic of US Immigration. If you haven’t done so already, you should check out the 2 opposing views posted by Nathan Smith and A.M. Fantini on Fee.org which I will reference throughout this post. Keep in mind that both Smith and Fantini are examining US Immigration from a Libertarian perspective which is all the more reason why I’m fascinated with the debate.

Here’s basically what it comes down to:

On the one hand, Smith argues that opening up Immigration, including to those here already illegally, would create economic prosperity for all. Not only does the current system create an enormous amount of waste, red tape, totally inconsistent / totally unenforceable set of subjective rules, but it also arbitrarily destroys families here illegally, incarcerating or deporting mostly non-violent “criminals” from their families. Opening up immigration would increase PAID demand for goods and services, potential tax revenues (if you support taxation, which I do not), and would create a huge windfall of growth for our economy – some conservative estimates being a 2x GDP multiplier. Smith also argues that opening immigration is, by far, the most logical and ethical decision if you hold Liberty in high regard.

On the other hand, Fantini makes the case that by opening up Immigration, Libertarians run the risk of tearing apart the very fabric of our society, including a base-level tolerance of the principals of Liberty. You are inviting in all kinds of crazy political externalities including Socialism, Totalitarianism, Sharia Law, Polygamy, Bestiality, and so on if you just up and open the borders to anyone that wants to enter. Immigrants won’t assimilate into our culture, and instead we might lose everything that makes America great.

In addition to these points, some of my Right-Wing readers will also argue that Immigrants are poor and will create a drain on Social Services / Welfare, Education, Law Enforcement, and Infrastructure. They steal our jobs and will bring down wages.

Some other well-known Libertarians make the case that since public land is owned by taxpayers, it’s essentially private land, and opening Immigration forces you to allow people onto your private property against your will.

 

So, let’s start with the softballs, the basics of jobs and the economy. The argument that immigrants will steal our jobs, bring down wages, or create a drag on the economy are somewhat of a head scratcher to me. It’s entirely possible that YOUR job might get replaced by an incoming immigrant, just like it’s possible that a local high school or college graduate might replace you after 20 years on the job (that is, of course, unless you are protected by a thug Labor Union which makes it basically impossible to get fired). But this fear of losing one’s job is deeply rooted in the notion that the economy is fixed, that there’s only a set amount of resources and demand. However, as Smith points out, letting immigrants into the community means NEW demand for housing, groceries, energy, financial services, cars, computers, dining out, etc. That demand will create MORE jobs, not less.

Some are concerned that Immigrants will be willing to undercut the current employee for work, driving down wages despite studies that have shown Immigration actually raising the wages of US-born workers. But even if wages fell, Thomas E. Lehman points out this is actually a good thing in the long run. Lower costs to Employers will lead to lower prices for Consumers. It also frees up capital for increased innovation, entrepreneurship, and spending more productively.

Everyone benefits from lower costs. (If you take nothing else from this post, go home with that.) Just like Wheat, Aluminum, Oil, and Land, Labor is just another input into the Marketplace to determine Price of Finished Goods. Put Price in terms of dollars ($) aside for a minute and think of your labor in terms of units of exchange. If you currently exchange about a day of your labor for a week’s worth of groceries, and because of lower total costs, now your labor nets you a month’s worth, aren’t you better off?

Those of you that are concerned about Immigrants coming in that are poor and would create a drain on Social Services and Welfare and ignore the effect of increased Demand (eg. more spending), studies show that immigrants largely do not create a drain on Welfare or Public Aid (due in no small part to the fact that they are currently ineligible to receive it anyway). To that end, Smith’s proposal to counter this fear is very simple — continue to disqualify Immigrants from receiving public aid as part of the terms for entry.

(Those of you who know me know that I’m opposed to All Public Assistance to begin with. I would much rather cut all our taxes and voluntarily help those in need than enable some over-bloated, government program forcing “charity” on everyone.)

This clip is short and sweet and covers the 3 biggest Economic objections to Open Immigration.

 

Thus, based solely on the economic results of Open Immigration, I see no compelling reason to continue to restrict (or even tighten) US Immigration.

 

The next set of issues raised by Fantini on us losing our heritage appears to be more legitimate (on the surface) than the economic fears. Hypothetically, if ½ of China’s native 1.4 Billion population wanted to, and could afford to, move to the US, Chinese American immigrants could overshadow the roughly 320 million Americans overnight. They might decide to ditch the Constitution in favor of a Communist regime or institute Buddhism as the only allowed religion. If we allowed a flood of radical Muslims to come into our country, we’d have Sharia Law taking precedence over our democracy.

So once again, Smith points out a very simple counter proposal to dissuade these fears – don’t allow 1st generation immigrants the right to vote. Their children, born here, would be naturalized citizens and would be able to vote like any other citizen.

Well, what assurance do we have that their children will adopt traditional American values?

There are studies have shown both a tendency to assimilate into as well as segregate from the host culture, so it could arguably go either way.

Here, though, is the most interesting part of this debate.  Don Boudreaux summarized the Libertarian argument against opening Immigration very nicely.

The most popular version of the so-called libertarian case against immigration runs something like this.

Each private property owner has the moral right (and should have the legal right) to ban from his property, or to admit onto his property, anyone he chooses. In a free society, no one is coerced into unwanted associations with others. Therefore, because in a fully free society all land would be privately owned and government would be limited (at most) to keeping the peace, immigration policy in this society would be what ever each private property owner decides it to be. If I wish to let 100 unskilled Irish peasants onto my property, so be it. If my neighbor chooses never to admit onto his property even people from across the street, so be it. There would, in fact, be as many immigration policies in the fully free society as there are landowners. As a practical matter, immigrants would be people who contribute through gains-from-trade to domestic citizens.

But we do not live in a fully free society. Like it or not, we’re stuck with a large and intrusive government. And this same government happens to own enormous tracts of land and public facilities. Given that excessive government is a reality that isn’t soon disappearing, the best that citizens of a democratic society can hope for on the immigration front is that their overly powerful government mimics the immigration policies that a fully free society would adopt. Because there would be no free admission in a fully free society, there should be no free admission in today’s less-than-free society. Indeed, open immigration today is tantamount to forced integration. Citizens who do not wish to associate with foreigners are forced to do so by a government that too freely admits foreign immigrants. And because force is bad, forced integration—a.k.a, open immigration—is bad.

 

As I had alluded to above, well respected Libertarian thinkers like Hans-Hermann Hoppe and Lew Rockwell seem to support this opposition as well.

And to me personally, I don’t understand this objection / fear.

Is it possible / likely that open immigration could change the political / social landscape of our country? Absolutely. The question I ask is, are you happy with the status quo? Are you of the mindset that “well, it’s not perfect, but I’d like to keep things the way they are for the most part and trust that our current system will improve.”?

Not to beat a dead horse, but do you trust the government to KEEP THE STATUS QUO to your liking or do you believe it’s going to steadily degrade against you?

As it relates to Immigration, what part of it are you satisfied in keeping “As Is”?

If you want to completely shut down any foreigners from entering our country, do you think the government is doing a good job?

What about if you only want skilled, educated, rich, or productive immigrants allowed in?

Or if you only want democracy loving, flag-waiving, Christian, right-wing immigrants allowed in?

Do you even know what the process is for legal immigration? Here you go. (Click to enlarge.)


 

Pretty simple, right?

So as it sits, here’s where I stand on the issue of Immigration.

Economically speaking, it’s a no-brainer that open immigration will create incredible prosperity, not just for those coming into our global marketplace but also for existing citizens of all economic levels.

There’s no need to radically dump the existing system and create shockwaves throughout. We could begin in phases of opening our borders to certain countries or types of people / skills.

We should limit the voting rights / public welfare access 1st generation immigrants can have as part of the terms of entrance.

 

But this is a complicated topic and I’ve, by no means, put the issue to bed in my mind.  For those of you reading, I would highly recommend checking out some of the links below. Lots of great information, study results, videos, and ongoing debate on this topic.

Whatever you do, don’t pigeonhole yourself into a view on Immigration based on the 2-party system’s regurgitated, canned responses. I’ve learned a great deal in just the last few weeks reading up on the topic and find the discussion fascinating. I will definitely be posting / following the Immigration debate more closely in the future.

—————————

 

Selections from Openborders.info:

Short Videos

Libertarian Case for Open Borders

Conservative and Small Government Case for Open Borders

Some simple, keyhole solutions to common objections

Selections from Fee.org:

Coming to America: The Benefits of Open Immigration

Liberty and Immigration — by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

 


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Immigration : The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education

My next post will cover this hot topic.  Here are 2 very compelling views on the proposition — The US should open its borders.

Immigration : The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education.

Your Dollars Are More Powerful Than Votes

It’s that time of year when the internet starts buzzing about Christmas Creep (no, not the weird guy from your office that always hits on you at the holiday party). It’s the fact that Retailers start pushing Christmas products earlier in the year. This year, I saw Christmas trees and lights on sale in Costco 2 weeks before Halloween.

People get all in a twisted huff because it ain’t right. There are rules here. We need to first celebrate Halloween. THEN, we need to appreciate Thanksgiving which means, stores should be closed on Thanksgiving. Employees should be allowed forced to have the day off. THEN, on Black Friday, we can officially start to prepare for Christmas.

Traditionally, my wife and children start breaking out the Christmas gear on Nov 1. I don’t get it, but hey, the kids are all excited and the house looks festive. The tree’s already up. Garland and lights and stockings are everywhere. My role in all of this is take down the boxes from the closet and put them away. (We usually don’t do outdoor decorations.)



People online start bemoaning Christmas Creep, starting petitions and online ‘awareness’ of which Retailers are the most egregious offenders. I’m waiting for some politician to propose legislation to make it illegal to see any Christmas décor until Black Friday. Mark my words. You read it here first.

Here’s the thing. YOU have the power to reverse Retailers’ Christmas Creep (good luck convincing my wife and children). And you don’t have to pass any laws. You don’t have to start rioting or protesting.

Just. Don’t. Participate.

Don’t buy any 50% off wrapping paper in October. Don’t go tree shopping the first week of November. Stop buying the holiday-colored Hershey’s Kisses (just buy the regular silver ones). If you work for a Retailer that calls you in on Thanksgiving evening, find a new job.

There’s no need to resort to coercion because the holidays are overlapping like a pair of identical forks in the dishwasher. The dollars you spend at a place of business are like votes. (They are actually more powerful than votes because your message goes straight to the intended audience, not some representative bought by a PAC that has to try and get your request through a subcommittee to have a discussion on whether your viewpoint is important enough to make the headlines.)

When you buy something, you are telling management “YES, MORE PLEASE!”. If you don’t buy, shelves stay full, stock becomes old and might even perish, and businesses scramble to figure out what it is that you want to buy instead (or at what price). As the old saying goes, Money Talks.

Now I’m all for sharing information voluntarily. If you want to organize and encourage others to use their $$ votes to influence businesses, go ahead. But I know when I was a teenager, I used to love working the holidays because that meant 1.5x pay. Didn’t stop anyone from coming into the gas station to fill up on Christmas morning.

Come on, live a little. Enjoy your eggnog and Christmas cookies at Thanksgiving. Peace.

When you have virtually unlimited, stolen resources at your disposal and no accountability, you can build pretty libraries

I came across a blog post by Dale Husband who claims to have “completely debunked” Libertarianism once and for all. (I don’t care to link to his page, but if you Google “dale husband the-ultimate-discrediting-of-libertarianism“, you will find his post.)

Dale’s proof? — this “jaw dropping” transformation in McAllen, TX of an old, abandoned Walmart building into a public library

Dale’s claim is that the Walmart was a product of free-market capitalism and that it failed (as a profitable business). And as a result, the city of McAllen did “something that libertarian dogmas said was impossible, because private industries were by nature better than public agencies. When something has been proven to be a lie, it should be abandoned, period.

I asked why he thought Libertarians believed it impossible for government to create something beautiful from the ashes of private industry.

Dale’s response? (my apologies for the language)

My point is that government created that incredible library, Wal-Mart did not. Why did that Wal-Mart location fail? Because it was not profitable enough. That failure no doubt threw many people out of work. But local, state, and federal governments create jobs just as much as private industry does, and they do NOT need to make a profit to function. As a result, they can accomplish more than private industry can with the same financial and material resources. The city of Allen did not just sit by and wait for another private company to buy that former Wal-Mart property and use it, but took taxpayers’ money and did something extremely useful with the place. So next time some Libertarian extremist claims that “taxation is theft”, I will just tell that idiot to fuk off!


I know. I know. There’s so much awesome failure here that I don’t even know where to begin.

Here goes.

I don’t know any of the background concerning this Walmart building. Is it still owned by the company? Was it rented? Did they sell it to the city of McAllen? What was the total price that was paid by Walmart (including all the structure, utilities and land preparation that the new owners benefited from) and how much of that was recouped? It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that Walmart Corp took a loss on the transaction, meaning the McAllen City Government benefited and got a deal because Walmart just wanted to walk away.

Regardless, let’s look at Dale’s thought process.

I’ve yet to hear any Libertarian claim that anyone (whether an authoritarian state official or a non-profit charity or an individual) is incapable of creating anything of beauty simply because they’re not private industry. If you have bottomless coffers, of course you can use some of those funds to build libraries, parks, arbors, or even Mount Rushmore.

(I don’t know why beauty requires money to be created in the first place. Some of the most beautiful things in God’s creation simply exist in nature.)

I believe Libertarians would assert that governments are NOT THE ONLY ones capable of creating beautiful structures, parks, or educational facilities to be enjoyed by members of the community. The Art Institute of Chicago enjoys corporate sponsorship from the likes of Bank of America, Target, the Terra Foundation For American Art, the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, to name just a few.

But even more impressive than “Private Industry” supporting neighborhood beautification are examples of Voluntary participation or beautification in the midst of Anarchy.

This series by Reason.TV shows how the once great city of Detroit, killed off by government corruption and overregulation, is starting to rise from the ashes thanks, in some part, to Free Association / Voluntary Exchange.


Another curious series of mental backflips that Dale makes are that 1) Walmart’s closure cost some of their employees their jobs and 2) governments create just as many jobs as private industry does but isn’t burdened with the requirement to make a profit.

AND 3)

As a result, [government] can accomplish more than private industry can with the same financial and material resources.

Let’s move quickly past the fact that any lost jobs that resulted in Walmart’s closure wouldn’t have existed in the first place if Walmart was never in McAllen. Is it possible / likely that overregulation and taxation caused Walmart to pull out of McAllen? It wouldn’t be the first time.

Instead, let’s focus on the jobs the government “created” without having the burden of profit. I’ve written numerous times about government job “creation”. Here and here are couple recent examples.

What exactly is Profit? When a business sells a product or a service, it’s just the amount left over above their cost to produce. It could be a very thin profit as is the case with most Food Service businesses. Or it could be a very large margin of profit as is the case with most luxury items.

Profit is not a dirty word. It’s a sign that your good or service is worth enough to the consumer that they’re willing to pay for what you are providing. The more in demand your service, the wider your customer base, the more profit you are likely to enjoy. In an Open Market, if a competitor can do it better, faster, cheaper, or with better results, your product or service isn’t going to last.

What about government services or goods? The problem is that they usually have a monopoly and, by law, are not subject to competition. There’s no incentive then for any improvement or accountability. Some would argue that you can’t put a price on some of the services that government provides like Law Enforcement, Courts, or Muh Roads. I would argue EVERYTHING can be priced in the market. Watch Reason’s second installment on Private Security, for example.

When governments have no incentive to cut spending because they can just raise taxes / fees to increase revenues, are not subject to competition because they have a monopoly, and they are not held accountable for any results / return on their spending . . . well then yes, you might get some pretty libraries and parks to be built, using your money, to keep you content and pacified. Did everyone that was taxed want that library? Are there citizens in McAllen that would have rather seen the money used for schools or health care or more border patrol? What if (gasp!) some of the citizens of McAllen just wanted their tax burden lowered so that they could decide how to spend their own money?

See, government beautification programs are a smoke screen used to pacify the subjugated. Many people love the idea of having a beautiful library for the public, but what they don’t see are the other things that could have been purchased / saved as a result of less government spending.

Finally, I know Dale has already made up his mind that Taxation isn’t Theft, but I’ve clearly laid out previously how it is, in fact, the very definition of theft. He’s justifying the theft, as all Statists do. But it’s still Theft.  From Dale’s own words – “The city … took taxpayers’ money and did something extremely useful with the place.”

Inside McFloogle’s Mind / I didn’t sign the card for the troops

I also refuse to follow the masses because I have a moral obligation to stand for liberty and peace.

Inside McFloogle’s Mind / I didn’t sign the card for the troops.