They're So Lazy We Must Use Force to Stop Them from Working

by Don Boudreaux on June 16, 2007

in Immigration

James D. Miller is not alone in arguing that the existence of the U.S. welfare state means that more open immigration — particularly of unskilled foreign workers — is unwise policy.  My reasons for rejecting this argument are several, but at the top of the list is this reason: If immigrants come to America to suckle on the tits of American taxpayers, why does Uncle Sam spend so much effort trying to prevent these immigrants from working?

As long as the U.S. government persists in making the employment of immigrants artificially difficult, I can have little sympathy for the argument that "we" must reject immigrants because they will become unproductive drains on our economy.

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{ 47 comments }

cpurick June 16, 2007 at 8:28 am

I don't think your argument makes sense. The welfare state creates questionable incentives, and that's true whether you agree with the effort to protect jobs or not.

What you're implying is that gains from cheap immigrant labor offset the losses in the welfare system. But it's easily argued that such cheap labor is only possible in the first place because its maintenance costs (in the form of health care) are externalized onto the public.

If you really believe it's acceptable for workers to take less money in exchange for receiving state-sponsored benefits, then you just agreed with the principle behind every government-run health plan in the world today.

If we stop the welfare benefits for illegals, then our workers will be at less of a disadvantage against foreign workers subsidized by our own government.

lowcountryjoe June 16, 2007 at 9:59 am

Even the most ardent restrictionists will concede that the legal immigrant provides net benefits to the economy. So, in that spirit, the next question to ask is whom is more likely to provide net benefits to our economy, an illegal immigrant or a legal one?

Here are just two things to consider when answering that question:

- Considering that many illegals pay payroll taxes by using ficticious SSNs, will they ever be eligible to collect any of these social benefits?

- If they are being paid under-the-table and skirting the payroll tax then they are surely being compensated less than the legal wage and the employer is also skirting their portion of the payroll tax. This leads to either more producer surplus or additional employment. It also adds to consumer surplus.

I'm sure that there are many more things to consider — things that the stereotypical immigrant might do more than their legal counterparts — like remittances to their home country and how those capital flows benefit the U.S. once they are repatriated.

Lee Kelly June 16, 2007 at 11:45 am

Dr. Boudreaux,

The argument is simple. The government enforces a price floor on the labour market. The legislation which achieves this is as diverse as the minimum wage to health and safety to compensation packages. The consequence of the price floors is too much supply and not enough demand, so the government must buy up the surplus.

As you know well prices convey information, and the artificially high price of labour enforced by the government increases supply. In the case of the labour market, the government buys up the surplus labour with welfare cheques. The price controls produce an incentive for more people to emigrate to whatever nation enforces such legislation.

I would argue that open immigration is not to be desired, since as long as the government enforces these price floors on labour, then it follows that more people will arrive than are necessary to meet demand, and so the surplus will be bought by welfare cheques. My point is that you attribute a desire for such price floors to those who oppose open immigration, when in fact many who oppose open immigration do so, in part, precisely because of those laws.

It may be that "Uncle Sam" opposes open immigration and supports price controls on the labour market, but it does not follow that everyone who opposes open immigration supports prices controls on the labour market. In fact, there would be considerably less to oppose about open immigration if such price controls were not enforced.

Those immigrants who are willing to work illegally by breaking those price control laws, are fulfilling a real demand. However, how much of that demand would be satisfied if the preexisting unemployed were not contrained by those price controls? Or more to the point, how many people are kept on welfare because they can't compete with the immigrants who work illegally?

People often frame thise as a problem of immigrants seeking welfare, but the immigrants themselves need not be seeking welfare for more people to become and stay dependent on it, since they prevent the already unemployed of that nation getting a job due to a surplus of workers.

SheetWise June 16, 2007 at 12:29 pm

"As long as the U.S. government persists in making the employment of immigrants artificially difficult, I can have little sympathy for the argument that 'we' must reject immigrants because they will become unproductive drains on our economy."

Is it your assertion that the government behaviour is generally rational?

jason June 16, 2007 at 12:48 pm

The "immigrants will come to get on the dole" argument is tired and bogus.

I worked for two years in Congress on the Ways and Means Committee (the cmte w/ juris. over TANF) dealing with welfare policy. Immigrants aren't even allowed to receive many federal government benefits (TANF, SSI, etc) for at least 5 years after entering the country. Not only that, but family-based immigrants must have a "sponsor" in the U.S. prior to entering who agrees to keep the immigrant off government support. These sponsors sign what is called an Affidavit of Support, a legally binding document, requiring them to repay entities that end-up providing welfare-type support to the immigrant.

These restrictions were put in place in 1996 and 1997, and yet immigration has continued strong. Why? Because immigrants don't come to the US to be poor. It's much easier to poor in their home countries where things are cheap and they have families to support them. Immigrants come here to work and build a better life. We should applaud them.

Peter Bickford June 16, 2007 at 1:11 pm

Dr. Boudreaux,

It seems this is a rare case where you seem to be ignoring the advice usually dispensed to the creators of government programs: don't look at intentions, look at effects.

Indeed, there are, as cpurick points out, complementary incentives on the part of illegals: higher wages and the cushion of education and social benefits–which make the decision to cross over to the U.S. quite rational from an economic sense. When the social costs they incur are disbursed among the taxpayers, it even makes sense for employers to hire them. It's only when the total cost of the social benefits they consume is weighed against the taxes they generate, however, that the true cost of "importing" so much unskilled labor into the country is felt by the taxpayers at large.

Lee Kelly June 16, 2007 at 1:37 pm

I just want to restate my point a little clearer, since I think it was poorly state in my original comment:

The price floor on wages increases the supply and decreases the demand for workers, creating a surplus. This surplus is bought up by the government in welfare cheques. Thus, there is an incentive for people emigrate to whatever nation imposes such a price floor on wages.

It does not follow that the immigrants will be surplus and have their labour bought up by welfare cheques, since many immigrants will work illlegally at wages below the price floor. However, a consequence of this surplus labour will be that those unable or unwilling to work illegally are kept dependnet on welfare.

The real problem are the price controls on the labour market which create the surplus, and make more people dependent on welfare *whether or not they are immigrants or not.* The solution would be to remove those price floors, and release people from welfare dependence.

If people persist in emigrating to the US, then they will be fulfilling demand, rather than simply representing a surplus created by price controls.

SheetWise June 16, 2007 at 5:35 pm

The wisdom of the immigration policy aside — there is an obvious division of opinion between competing camps, both assembling the usual suspects.

Many consider the pro-amnesty crowd to be "poverty pimps". One problem for them is that there's not a lot of poverty in this country — it's getting harder and harder to find. So they keep redefining it.

I wouldn't expect anyone to argue that services for the poor has been a pretty good business to be in for the last 40-some years. A lot of people got rich off of being a professional proponent for the poor.

Imagine seeing the problem you've spent your entire life trying to erradicate solved. The emptiness! And then, seeing it solved by polices other than your own. The horror!

There are many Americans who need new poor people to replace those so inconsiderate as to abandon their post.

The amnesty bill is aimed at the "New Poor", willing to listen to the politics of envy — and willing to recognize the capitalist enemy, and the collectivist savior.

I agree with most of the comments here about illegals/immigrants. They're simply trying to improve their lives. There should be a simple process for them to enter this country. They're good people, and generally hard working. In general — they're the victims here. They're being held in limbo by politicians without the backbone to address the process and the real issues that divide their opinions.

TGGP June 16, 2007 at 6:36 pm

WHY DO YOU KEEP OVERLOOKING THE LATER GENERATIONS!?

As a side-note, many immigrants work in agricultural, which is one of the most ridiculously subsidized sectors of the economy. If we cut subsidies many of those jobs could shift to Mexico so they wouldn't need to come here.

Bill Conerly June 16, 2007 at 8:14 pm

Don, great headline on the post. It led me to think about what we might say of farmers:
"They are such hard-working people that we must pay subsidies to get them to grow our food."

Ray G June 16, 2007 at 8:17 pm

Wow. That was weak. I mean just really weak. And I respect Dr. Boudreaux, and send many people to this website as the portal for common sense on the internet.

But that is weak.

I am totally for an open immigration policy, but I'm honest and realistic enough to recognize that we have some internal problems to fix first.

raja r June 16, 2007 at 8:53 pm

pay payroll taxes by using ficticious SSNs,

Ever stop to think about what that does to the real owner of that SSN? IRS audits, lawyer fees, time taken off work to go to police stations, etc, etc.

One of my co-worker's SSN is being used by an illegal immigrant working at a McDonalds. He has applied for credit cards, opened accounts, his employer has reported income, etc. Her life is hell right now because of this 'poor immigrant who has come to this country to better his life'.

And here is the funny part – we know who this immigrant is and where he works. But the police, ICE, etc will not touch this case because of the current political climate.

shecky June 16, 2007 at 10:58 pm

The easiest way to solve the problem of stolen SSNs by illegal immigrants is to allow them to become legal. Fewest business disruptions, lowest cost to taxpayers, end of problem.

coyote June 16, 2007 at 11:02 pm

Believe it or not, the stated policy of our governor in Arizona is that immigrants should have full access to free government services, but should not be allowed to work. From here.

Frequent readers of this site know that I hold an extreme position on immigration:  I advocate free and open immigration of anyone who wants to come.  I made the case for open immigration here.

So it is not surprising that I am opposed to recent efforts by our Arizona Governor and state legislature to crack down on undocumented immigrants, an effort by the way that feels more like populist pandering than deeply held belief.

But what really befuddles me about our Governor's efforts is the message she seems to be sending.  Take these two positions together:

  1. Last November, Governor Napolitano opposed the passage of Proposition 200, which was aimed at denying state services to illegal immigrants.  And, after its passage in November 2004, she did everything she could to drag her feet on its enforcement
  2. Today, Governor Napolitano is supporting a state-wide crackdown on hiring of illegal immigrants, with a proposal for substantially increased fines and penalties for businesses that hire an undocumented worker.

Taking these two positions together, our governor's position appears to be that she supports immigrants being able to freeload off of taxpayer-funded services and transfer payments, but opposes immigrants being able to work and be productive.  Maybe we can post a big sign down on the border:

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning… for government handouts, but please tell your productive workers to stay home.

Update:  The Arizona Republic, though I may bash it from time to time, has been pretty fair to me in publishing my letters to the editor.  The post above was published in their print edition on January 21, and online here (though I thought my title was much better!)

raja r June 16, 2007 at 11:28 pm

The easiest way to solve the problem of stolen SSNs by illegal immigrants is to allow them to become legal.

I completely agree. But what do you say about this illegal immigrant who knowingly causes so much problems to a stranger?
And what do you say about commentators who support such people and say they are innocent people out to improve their own lives?

TGGP June 17, 2007 at 11:37 am

coyote, you know if they become citizens, they will have the right to vote, right? And the politicians they vote for in Mexico are horrible (even worse than ours), right? Have you read polls on the political views of Mexicans here that currently lack the vote? Even if Bush is successful in wooing Hispanics (and I really doubt he will be) remember that "In fact, on the question of more taxing and spending, Hispanic Republicans are slightly more liberal than white Democrats. Indeed, Hispanic Republicans are to the left of African-Americans!"

Regarding how "hard working" they are, I trust what the data-driven Inductivist has to say rather than the sappy talk one hears here.

Mesa EconoGuy June 17, 2007 at 5:27 pm

As I stated and showed in a previous post, the welfare system may not be a direct draw, but it sure does collect users.

The government doesn’t expend any energy, save sporadic random raids, ensuring illegals don’t work. That’s the whole point of this ridiculous legislative argument. Coyote’s post above is Gov. Napolitano’s late-to-the-party recent response (3 years ago, she was proposing drivers licenses for illegals), which also won’t be enforced.

We already have laws on the books that address our situation, and no one is using them. We don’t need an entirely new layer of bureaucracy to “solve” this problem.

And Republicans are delusional if they think that this Hispanic vote will gravitate to them:

http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon2007-06-06hm.html

Allen June 17, 2007 at 5:39 pm

I'm not a fan of the welfare argument. My concern is that overall we should be worrying more about getting better educate immigrants into this country.

Ivan June 17, 2007 at 6:08 pm

This doesn't make sense for unskilled immigration.

Even if the immigrants were allowed to work freely, it is doubtful they would be productive enough to offset the benefits they receive. To show this, just think about high school dropouts. They don't have restricted employment, but undoubtedly receive more in benefits than they give in taxes or increased productivity.

Considering the average education level of latin immigration, it is difficult to argue that, if freed, most immigrants would be a net tax savings.

Either way,
I'm not sure why the immigration debate is this convoluted. I've changed my mind recently on the issue. The existence of a welfare state doesn't make immigration untenable and bad.

The state of immigration highlights how untenable and bad the welfare state is.

Many folks who don't want to spend more on immigrants should in stead complain about excessive benefits.

indiana jim June 18, 2007 at 11:20 am

Bravo Peter Bickford and lowcountryjoe! I agree with your posts (above).

indiana jim June 18, 2007 at 11:31 am

Bravo SheetWise for the comment above!

Methinks June 18, 2007 at 4:30 pm

"I'm not a fan of the welfare argument. My concern is that overall we should be worrying more about getting better educate immigrants into this country."

I'm in agreement with Allen and others who make this distinction. Immigration per se is not a problem – uneducated immigrants, coupled with a welfare state are a problem.

There is a general aversion in the United States to discrimination of any kind. However, the welfare state is itself discrimination. Thus, it stands to reason that we must also be more discriminate when it comes to which immigrants we will more readily accept.

Low skilled illegal immigrants DO get welfare when they come here. Hospitals are forced to treat them whether the individual can pay or not. Their children attend our publicly funded schools. At the moment, illegals are working because being on the dole is not an option. Will that continue once they are citizens and are not forced to work for their lunch? The data say "no". Successive generations tend to go on welfare (in contrast to most other immigrant groups). Even if they continued to work after legalization and didn't sit around on welfare, they are still among the least productive and worst paid in the country. The result is that they consume far more than they produce. At the moment we

Because the externalities of low-skilled Mexican immigrants are both numerous and negative, we can only allow such low-skilled labour in if we also greatly increase the number of highly skilled and educated immigrants to offset the additional strain on the welfare system.

The entire immigration system needs an overhaul before we can even have a conversation about amnesty for current illegals. If government were smaller, the welfare state less robust and immigration for higher skilled labour more lenient, I would be all for latin American immigrants.

Of course, as Carlos Mencia pointed out, it would really help their cause if the illegals marched in these pro-immigration rallies carrying an American flag rather than a Mexican flag! LOL!

Ray G June 18, 2007 at 8:44 pm

Here's the perfect cartoon for this one.
http://catbirdseat.typepad.com/the_catbird_seat/2007/03/open_borders.html

And though I am an open borders advocate, there are problems we have to solve internally first before we put more logs on the fire.

Hans Luftner June 19, 2007 at 1:08 am

Methinks:
Couldn't you apply that same reasoning to native-born ignorant welfare recipients? If not, what's the distinction? If so, why single out the immigrants?

Methinks June 19, 2007 at 11:21 am

Hans, I'm not sure what you're asking.

My reasoning (sorry if I made it unclear) is that we should make everybody pay for his own lunch. We should also not be in a position where 90% of the population can impose punitive taxation on 10% of the population to subsidize the lifestyle to which they feel entitled. Entitlement programs create zero-sum societies. Not to mention the price controls on labour (as Lee pointed out) which make U.S. labour less competitive and incentivize laziness and feelings of entitlement.

If you got rid of those things, the biggest problem of low-skilled immigration would be solved, IMO. Open borders would be much more easily accomodated – as they were before the welfare state was created.

Methinks June 19, 2007 at 12:27 pm

Since I don't think we're about to scrap our welfare state, I think we're going to have to discriminate in immigration. Once immigrants become citizens, they also become entitled.

Hans Luftner June 19, 2007 at 3:45 pm

Methinks:
I totally agree with your assessment of the welfare system. I suspect I hate the welfare state more than you do, even, though that's just a guess. I really hate the welfare state.

I think where I disagree with you is how it applies to the immigration debate. I won't deny that when immigration meets state welfare we have problems. I will deny that this illustrates something about immigration we have to deal with. It seems arbitrary to single out one group of entitleds when the problem lies with the entitlement. It's focusing on the symptom, & doing so not only punishes the immigrants unjustly but also puts off dealing with the cause, which is the state welfare system.

What I'm hearing from you (& please correct me if I mischaracterizing your position. I don't want to be accused of strawman tactics) is that we have to fix the welfare system first, but we're unlikely to ever fix the welfare system, so we have to make the welfare system work better by singling out one group of likely recipients & bar them from the whole country, for the sake of the welfare system.

To put my point another way, couldn't your immigration argument also be applied to outlawing single white girls in rural West Virginia from having children? If we had socialized medicine, could we then justifiably target anyone whose lifestyle is deemed to unhealthy, just until we fix socialized medicine?

The problem is socialism. You agree, I suspect, that socialism is unjust & unworkable. But this is how they get you: they pit one group of us against the other so we focus on the externalities instead of fighting the actual socialism.

I say if you want to stop immigrants from recieving welfare, fine. I think state welfare's bad for the recipients, too, so cut them off. Stop them from becoming citizens, no problem. But I think it's wrong to prevent them from entering the country & working or doing anything that would otherwise be considered peaceful behavior, just because the government is doing something bad.

Mesa EconoGuy June 19, 2007 at 7:11 pm

Methinks (and Dr. Friedman) has it right – can’t have open immigration with welfare state. But that’s not the entire scope of this argument.

There are many Mexican nationals sitting in Arizona prisons right now at my expense, at least partly because the border is so open. It is an extremely naïve assumption that all people crossing are “in search of a better life” (just ask Jimmy Carter about the Cuban boat people).

That said, there are plenty of productive people who do cross, which begs the question, why don’t we let everybody in?

It is far harder to enter this country from Austria than it is from Mexico, which makes our current policy (or lack thereof) somewhat racist: we are clearly favoring one race/nationality over others due entirely to geographic proximity. Why should they get an advantage?

skh.pcola June 19, 2007 at 8:26 pm

It is disconcerting, being an economics major, to read the opinion of an economics professor and wonder, "Is everything that I have learned regarding markets, demand, and supply invalid?" Because the only way that an advocate of "open borders" can justify the adoption of such a plan is through the wholesale rejection of basic economics. And that's disregarding any jingoistic, "xenophobic" (to crib an ad hominem from Dr. Boudreaux) incentives. I don't know what the impetus is for him (you) to veer into irrationality and illogic, but it is dishonest and disheartening.

Hans Luftner June 19, 2007 at 9:36 pm

Mesa:
"Methinks (and Dr. Friedman) has it right – can’t have open immigration with welfare state." But you haven't actually explained how the fault lies with immigration. You're just repeating their assertion.

& my understanding of the Cuban refugee incident was that only like 2% of them were violent criminals, & they were only there because Castro took them from prison & encouraged them to emigrate. This is hardly a principle you could apply to immigration in general.

As for the Mexicans sitting in prison in Arizona, I can't really respond one way or another to that without knowing how many of them are in prison for violent crimes verses some stupid legislation, which is why most people in prison are there. Being in prison in modern America is itself no measure of how bad anyone is.

skh:
What specifically are your objections?

SheetWise June 19, 2007 at 9:47 pm

Hans -

…(W)e have to fix the welfare system first, but we're unlikely to ever fix the welfare system …

The direct approach is not always the best approach.

Our founding fathers had a healthy fear of direct democracy — maybe not enough. Over the years, there have been many qualifications to enjoy the franchise — unfortunately, almost all have been repealed. They were rightfully repealed because they were based upon wealth (land ownership), race, and sex — and they were repealed before the welfare state.

Now that we have a welfare state, it may be a good time to revisit our fear of direct democracy. The question being — should people who actively petition the state for benefits be allowed to vote for the legislators who legislate the distribution of those benefits? I would say no.

If we, as a country, said NO — what do you think the liberal position on immigration would be?

Hans Luftner June 19, 2007 at 10:31 pm

SheetWise:
The quote you referenced was not my position. I was attempting there to reframe Methink's position to ensure I had it right.

I'm not actually a fan of democracy. I'm opposed to aggressive violence, even when that violence is supported by more people than those who object to it, which is really what democracy is. I have other objections to democracy, too, which I suspect you'd sympathize with, based on your post.

I also don't think we can fix the welfare system. You can't fix what's morally broken to begin with. Nix it. But until then, don't blame the immigrants for what the government does, because that's exactly what the government wants you to do, & because it's fallacious.

Mesa EconoGuy June 20, 2007 at 12:31 am

Hans, you haven’t provided one counterexample (Black Swan, if you will) why my assertion is incorrect.

Hans Luftner June 20, 2007 at 4:57 am

This isn't a question of examples verses counterexamples, Mesa. This is logic. I've explained why I think the welfare argument is fallacious. Do you have arguments for why I'm incorrect? What are they?

& if this were about counterexamples, did you give an example for me to counter? Any white swans?

Methinks June 20, 2007 at 11:26 am

Hans,

As I've mentioned before, I'm from the Soviet Union. Nobody hates collectivism more than the person who has been subjected to it. I don't know which one of us hates the welfare state more – let's just say that you and I are on the same page regarding welfare.

The problem is that as long as there is a welfare state and I have to pay for it, I will always discriminate against immigrants who have the highest probability of ending up living on my dime. This is a shame. Both my husband and I are immigrants from two entirely different countries.

You are correct that we need to get rid of the welfare state – or at least reduce it to only the most destitute (for a limited amount of time) and for the completely disabled for an indefinite time. This is ultimately the solution to the low-skilled labour immigration problem. I agree with you. I also agree with Sheetwise that those who are recipients of welfare shouldn't get a vote. Unfortunately I don't see either the dismantling of the welfare state or the denial of the vote to welfare recipients happening. As Sheetwise and others point out – too many people are profiting from these enterprises.

Unfortunately, while democracy is no sure insurance against tyranny, other political systems are far more prone to it. This is particularly in countries with large and diverse populations.

So, ultimately, I think you are correct that the welfare state and not immigration is the problem. However, I think that since the welfare state continues to grow, the backlash against low-skilled immigrants will also grow.

Hans:"…so we have to make the welfare system work better by singling out one group of likely recipients & bar them from the whole country, for the sake of the welfare system."

Barring low-skilled immigrants doesn't improve the welfare system in any way. It simply doesn't add to it!

Hans: "To put my point another way, couldn't your immigration argument also be applied to outlawing single white girls in rural West Virginia from having children? If we had socialized medicine, could we then justifiably target anyone whose lifestyle is deemed to unhealthy, just until we fix socialized medicine?"

Yes. Since I'm sponsering her lifestyle choices, shouldn't that girl be accountable to me? Shouldn't the people who gorge on food and expect me to pay for their resulting health crisis be accountable to me? I work out every day and I'm very careful about what I eat. Consequently, I'm of normal weight while the remainder of my family is obese (genetically, the "gun" is loaded for me). I paid for my own college education by working full time while taking a full school load and worked 100 hour weeks afterward. I pay for my lunch and I'm entitled to what I've earned. If a lazy and obese girl in West Virginia decides to have a kid out of wedlock and forces me to pay for it, shouldn't she be accountable to me? Of course she should – assuming that she has the moral right to compel me to fund her choices in the first place. I think you and I both agree that she doesn't, but the government has used its coercive power to force me because she is a member of club USA. If I see more people applying for club USA who are like that girl, I'm likely to fight against letting them in.

We need to nix the welfare state first, then we can talk about free immigration (which I I agree with, incidentally).

Hans Luftner June 21, 2007 at 1:35 am

Methinks:
Thank you. That was a very clear & straightforward explanation of your viewpoint. I think we agree completely on everything except one point: whether or not the recipients of state welfare are answerable to those of us forced to pay.

Allow me an absurd example: If I were a rich billionaire (& let's all hope someday I am) & I decided to give away free iPods to all red-headed children, then it would be nobody's business but mine, the children, & their parents. Certainly no one could blame the children. If I stole the money from you first, then bought these children iPods, then it would be your business only to the extent that I stole money from you. You might be particularly offended by the frivolousness of what I did with the money, or ask "why only red-heads?", but I still don't think you could blame the childen or demand control over their lives based on them benefiting from my theft, or try to reduce the number of red-heads. The problem is that I stole from you. That's where the crime is.

Or if you then said "As long as you're stealing from me, this is what I want you to spend the money on," then it almost legitimizes the theft. Almost. Not quite. But certainly one would make that argument, which we'd then have to fight, thus further distracting us from dealing with the crime of theft.

Or then you & I fight over what the thief should do with the money. We shouldn't be fighting each other.

I think we should stop the thief from thieving. Until he stops, we keep fighting the thief, not go after who gets the money. I hope this makes my position clearer. I don't see you as the enemy, nor the immigrants. The thieving state is the enemy, who's very cleverly turning us against each other. Overly dramatic? Possibly. But is it true?

Methinks June 21, 2007 at 8:11 am

Hans,

You and I are in agreement about the state and the theiving. I appreciate your example, for it makes your position very clear.

However, I think there are some key differences between your example and the reality of our situation.

In your example, the children were mere recipients of my stolen money (in the form of ipods). They had no power to take more out of my pocket. However, immigrants become citizens with the power to vote to steal more money from my pocket. In a democracy, the children of your example become part of the state that steals the money in the first place.

When the children have the right to vote themselves nice entitlements with my money, then they become the thieves. That's how our democracy works.

I am in favour of reducing the power of the state to provide entitlements in the first place. I agree with you about the core problem. But until that problem is fixed (and I doubt it will be – it's going in the opposite direction, in fact), it is foolish to knowingly allow more people the right to steal more money. It's a sad state of affairs.

Hans Luftner June 21, 2007 at 1:51 pm

Good points. How about instead of denying them entry, we deny them citizenship?

We may sort this out yet.

Methinks June 21, 2007 at 2:51 pm

I think that's what the whole "guest worker" program is all about.

However, children born on American soil are automatically citizens and family reunification laws means that their parents end up getting citizenship here.

Also, we've actually had proposals to let non-citizens vote (even illegals), so I'm not sure that we can sell that to the general public.

I think if you and I made the rules, the problem would be solved quickly. We'd kill the welfare state, make it impossible for people to vote entitements for themselves and require people crossing the border to only submit to health and background checks to lower the risk of terrorism and public health crises. We may decide on a few other criterion (e.g. affiliations with groups seeking to undermine our freedom or subvert the government) but it would basically be as easy as it was in the first part of the 20th century.

Would that it were that that easy!

Hans Luftner June 22, 2007 at 12:31 am

Methinks, I'm gonna say we've successfully sorted out where we disagree & found that our differences are relatively minor. We're pretty much on the same side. Thank you for a stimulating & civil exchange.

Hans Luftner June 22, 2007 at 12:39 am

Methinks, I'm gonna say we've successfully sorted out where we disagree & found that our differences are relatively minor. We're pretty much on the same side. Thank you for a stimulating & civil exchange.

Hans Luftner June 22, 2007 at 12:44 am

Methinks, I'm gonna say we've successfully sorted out where we disagree & found that our differences are relatively minor. We're pretty much on the same side. Thank you for a stimulating & civil exchange.

Hans Luftner June 22, 2007 at 12:50 am

I have no idea why that posted 3 times. I only hit the "post" button once.

Mesa EconoGuy June 22, 2007 at 1:28 am

The Black Swan point, and my overall point, is opportunity cost:

What could have (should have?) happened in place of our observation/actions.

1) We have ample laws addressing immigration. We don’t need more.
2) We never enforced our previous laws; the true red herring is the current movement, which was caused by
3) Failure of the federal government to enforce its own extant laws.

That is a direct failure of short attention span Hillaryland.

The end.

Methinks June 22, 2007 at 5:26 pm

"..found that our differences are relatively minor.We're pretty much on the same side."

I thought so too. It was a pleasure "talking" to you.

Seymour Butts June 29, 2007 at 11:46 am

I favor free migration. But the immigration issue today is a joke. Do classical liberal economists really believe that Senator Edward Kennedy's support for immigration reform is support for the right to work or the free market?

Paula August 17, 2007 at 9:39 pm

Consider how the illegals are bankrupting the hospitals. The don't need insurance. All they have to do, is show up in a hospital ER, they are taken in, and every single need is taken care of FREE. Even their families raid the hospital pantries for free food. Should they need major surgery, it's FREE. Should they need a very expensive treatment for a chronic illness, chemotherapy, or dialysis, it is FREE. These people should all be deported. They are ILLEGAL, not just undocumented. They are leeches on society. Those that say we can't make it without the immigrant workers are nuts. Those guys just want these "illegals" to be given amnesty and be made citizens, so they can vote. Guess what they would vote for? You got it! Socialism. FREEBIES for the underdogs. They want to vote so they can take more of the taxpayers' money. We should be afraid, very afraid.

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