Immigration Is Not The Problem

August 20, 2013 05:35
Immigration Is Not The Problem

We don’t need to take in external leeches to bankrupt ourselves. Our welfare system is converting enough citizens into dependents that it will sink the country without adding external dependents to the roles.


By Monty Pelerin

Immigration is a hot topic. It is also a complicated one, at least as framed in today’s political context.

It need not be. Human beings are what Julian Simon termed the “ultimate resource.” The more of them, the better so long as space allows.  At some point diseconomies of scale occur due to overcrowding. The US is nowhere near that point and likely never will be.

All productive newcomers should be welcomed into our society. I am in favor of immigration, even open borders. That doesn;t mean that I am in favor of what comes out of Congress regarding immigration “reform.”

There are two critical reasons why open borders cannot be open:

  1. Terrorism
  2. Welfare


Terrorism is a concern, although it is unlikely to be as big a threat as our government maintains. Tyrants need “enemies” and threats as a means of justifying the expansion of control and power. Enemies are always used for such purposes. If there are not enough enemies then government will invent them. Threats, real, imagined or manufactured, pave the way to loss of  liberty.

Ironically, justifying extreme measures because of enemies, ultimately is the basis for destroying a society. The destruction comes in the form of sovereign bankruptcy caused by fighting wars that cannot be funded. Sometimes people become so repressed from the tyranny imposed on them that they rebel and revolt before the sovereign goes bankrupt.

The extent that terrorism presents a real threat is beyond my knowledge. Suffice to say that all governments desiring to become more powerful have need for an enemy, real or invented.

Political Considerations

Without terrorism, higher immigration would still be a political problem. Interests on either side of issues are parochial and self-serving. An example is the position of labor unions. They are against immigration because they believe (correctly) that it will have an adverse impact on their wages.

Organized labor’s position is that cheap labor will flow to these shores and depress wage rates. That is true, however stopping immigration does not stop the event they fear. Labor arbitrage is inevitable. Blocking the adjustment with immigration laws does not prevent the downward adjustment to US wages. If you block lower-priced labor from coming here, capital and jobs will go to the lower-priced labor.

That is exactly what has happened in the US. Instead of cheaper labor coming here to our factories, the factories went there. The effects on wages will ultimately be the same, however the US tax, manufacturing and employment opportunities have been seriously harmed by such a policy. Foreign countries have been the beneficiaries of our shoot-ourselves-in-the-foot policies.

welfare - Jefferson quoteThe Welfare State

The risk of insolvency with open borders is real. What is feared is a flood of leeches into the US. Open borders would bring productive and unproductive. That, however, is not an argument against open borders. Rather it is an argument against the Welfare State which attracts parasites. But it does the same thing among our citizens.

Each new program and each new level of benefits makes it more attractive for some to “go on the dole.” We don’t need to take in external leeches to bankrupt ourselves. Our welfare system is converting enough citizens into dependents that it will sink the country without adding external dependents to the roles.

Those who are against immigration, whether they know it or not, are so primarily because of the Welfare State. It makes it possible for “foreigners” to game the productive just as fellow citizens do today. Immigration is not the problem, the Welfare State is.

Along these lines, I received the following via email. A number of good points are made, most of which can be attributed to the existence of the Welfare State:

“David LaBonte”
My wife, Rosemary, wrote a wonderful letter to the editor of the OC Register which, of course, was not printed. So, I decided to “print” it myself by sending it out on the Internet. Pass it along if you feel so inclined. Written in response to a series of letters to the editor in the Orange County Register:

Dear Editor:
So many letter writers have based their arguments on how this land is made up of immigrants. Ernie Lujan for one, suggests we should tear down the Statue of Liberty because the people now in question aren’t being treated the same as those who passed through Ellis Island and other ports of entry.

Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to people like Mr. Lujan why today’s American is not willing to accept this new kind of immigrant any longer. Back in 1900 when there was a rush from all areas of Europe to come to the United States, people had to get off a ship and stand in a long line in New York and be documented. Some would even get down on their hands and knees and kiss the ground. They made a pledge to uphold the laws and support their new country in good and bad times. They made learning English a primary rule in their new American households and some even changed their names to blend in with their new home.

They had waved good bye to their birth place to give their children a new life and did everything in their power to help their children assimilate into one culture. Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws
to protect them. All they had were the skills and craftsmanship they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity.

Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out. My father fought alongside men whose parents had come straight over from Germany , Italy , France and Japan . None of these 1st generation Americans ever gave any thought about what country their parents had come from. They were Americans fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan . They were defending the United States of America as one people.

When we liberated France , no one in those villages were looking for the French-American or the German American or the Irish American. The people of France saw only Americans. And we carried one flag that represented one country. Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about picking up another country’s flag and waving it to represent who they
were. It would have been a disgrace to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here. These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be an American. They stirred the melting pot into one red, white and blue bowl.

And here we are with a new kind of immigrant who wants welfare-stateimages2the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country. I’m sorry, that’s not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900′s deserve better than that for all the toil, hard work and sacrifice in raising future generations to create a land that has become a beacon for those legally searching for a better life. I think they would be appalled that they are being used as an example by those waving foreign country flags.

And for that suggestion about taking down the Statue of Liberty , it happens to mean a lot to the citizens who are voting on the immigration bill. I wouldn’t start talking about dismantling the United States just yet.

Rosemary LaBonte

“Monty Pelerin” is a pseudonym derived from The Mont Pelerin Society. The writer has no connection with the Society (other than coincidence of philosophy). Nothing said by me should be considered to be representative of the views of the Mont Pelerin Society or any of its members. “Monty Pelerin”  blogs at Monty Pelerin’s World

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