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John Tamny On Modern Conservatism’s Confused Opposition to Immigration

I very much like most of what Forbes columnist John Tamny writes.  His recent essay on immigration – in particular, on National Review‘s deep inconsistency on this matter – is the best thing I’ve read by him yet.  (I especially like John’s point about immigration and affirmative action.)  I’m tempted simply to paste the entire essay below, but I’ll instead offer just a few choice slices.  Do, however, read the essay in its entirety.

It’s wasting words to say that private property is fairly basic to conservatism. It’s to conservatism what an engine is to a car. Applied to immigrants, they generally come to the U.S. in order to fulfill stateside demand for their labor (more on this in a bit), yet NR would prefer barriers of the legislative kind to this inflow. Forget about many immigrants trying to escape tyrannical governments decried by NR, forget about how much government would have to grow in order to modestly keep some foreigners out, and forget about whom privately owned businesses would prefer to hire, NR has different views when immigration enters the discussion. While there’s much to dislike about the recent spending bill shepherded by House Speaker Paul Ryan, one of NR’s biggest critiques of the legislation was that “Republican voters are clearly anxious about large-scale immigration and frustrated that the federal government repeatedly demonstrates no interest in doing anything about it.”

NR’s stance on immigration unwittingly reveals contempt for the hiring preferences of private business, and this goes well-beyond the hiring needs of companies who might otherwise add “low-skilled Americans” to their roster of employees.
Such a view is interesting beyond what the position needlessly puts NR in on the subject of private property. The magazine is clearly in favor of the latter, but its immigration stance requires it to always be in favor of private property so long as businesses don’t presume to hire whom they want.

NR is most certainly for free markets, [so] it would probably dismiss in humorous fashion any legislation from Harry Reid or Bernie Sanders dictating what U.S. businesses need and don’t need from a plant & equipment perspective, but when it comes to the most important economic input of all (human), NR presumes to know what businesses require.
Taking this further, NR has long been one of the most articulate voices against affirmative action. With good reason. Affirmative action cruelly places individuals where their skills wouldn’t such that they’re more likely to fail, it penalizes those who don’t receive preferential treatment based on their gender and/or skin color, and then it needlessly creates disharmony on campus and in the workplace for the attainments of the preferred groups perhaps being privately questioned. Why then, would NR seek to legislate preferential treatment for American workers knowing full well that many U.S. businesses would prefer foreign workers? If affirmative action is cruel to its intended beneficiaries, can’t the same be said for legislation meant to promote affirmative hiring of Americans over foreigners?


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