Why They Come

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Yesterday, millions of immigrants demonstrated on the streets of U.S. cities asking to be allowed to work to achieve for themselves and their families the American dream. But why not stay home and work to achieve the Mexican dream or the Guatemalan dream or the Salvadoran dream? The World Bank's fascinating new book, Where Is The Wealth of Nations: Measuring Capital in the 21st Century provides the answer to that question.

Every immigrant who makes it across the border automatically gains access to over $500,000 of capital. What? That's right. The clever economists at the World Bank have figured out how to measure natural, produced and intangible capital. It turns out that natural capital (forests, minerals, oil) and produced capital (buildings, roads, and factories) while important pale in comparison to intangible capital for producing income and wealth. In fact, 80 percent of the capital of rich countries is intangible. Intangible capital encompasses raw labor; human capital, which includes the sum of the knowledge, skills, and know-how possessed by population; as well as the level of trust in a society and the quality of its formal and informal social institutions including an honest bureaucracy, a free press, the rule of law and so forth.

By World Bank measurements, Americans enjoy access to $513,000 worth of capital, the vast majority of it embodied in intanglibles such as the rule of law, strong property rights, democratic governance, and high levels of education. This accumulated capital yields an average per capita GDP of about $38,000 per year.

Contrast this to Mexico, whose per capita capital amounts to $62,000 and yields a per capita GDP of $9,000 per year. Or Guatemala, whose per capita wealth is just $30,000 produces a GDP per capita of $4,000 yearly, and El Salvador, where per capita wealth is $36,000 yielding an annual GDP of $4,800.

Who could resist increasing their capital 8 to 16 times simply by moving? I know I couldn't. Could you?

NEXT: No Joy in Fristville

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  1. Assuming cost of living is inversely correlated to per capita capital, isn’t the real ideal being able to commute?

    Anon

  2. Call me skeptical, but it sure looks like the value of this intangible “capital” is simply a percentage of GDP. Hey, I too can divide by 7.5. Can I go work for the World Bank?

  3. Looking at Ron’s linked chart:

    What is the weather like in the Cayman Islands this time of year? ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. OK, so I did a little more math. What’s really interesting is that Mexico and El Salvador have a much better return on capital than the United States does. Who knew they were such savvy investors?

  5. Financial motivations make people do all sorts of things. It is good to be cognizant of that. Superb post.

  6. I have always wondered about the assimilation and voting patterns of recent and illegal immigrants (yes, illegal immigrants successfully vote in some areas). Would their votes be more typical of Mexican voters or American voters? (I assume there is a difference in averages, even if “typical x voter” is a nebulous concept.)

    If the majority of American capital is in intangibles such as institutions, are recent immigrants more likely to vote to uphold those institutions or vote to make them “more like home”? Phrased differently, are they trying to join the winning team or to loot it?

  7. Ron must have seen a slightly different rally than I did. Nobody is more sympathetic to immigration than I am but I get pissed when anyone drags the flag through the gutter.

    I find it idiotic to wave signs that say stuff like Fuck Bush and Deport Bush. Can anyone translate Bush is pretty much on your side, idiot into Spanish?

    How about No Justice On Stolen Land? Land stolen from whom?

    And Guber Schwarzengroper as a Nazi? The same governor who is vehemently opposed to the WALL?

    How about Tony Bahama, er ah, Mohammed from Nation of Islam? The forefathers were the true illegal immigrants and we’re standing in Mexico. The cheers were deafening.

    Of course, for 6 decades public education has decreed that AmeriKKKa is a racist, fascist, genocidal culture propagated by dead white males for the benefit of the White Man. In that context, some of this makes more sense I suppose.

  8. I have always wondered about the assimilation and voting patterns of recent and illegal immigrants (yes, illegal immigrants successfully vote in some areas). Would their votes be more typical of Mexican voters or American voters?

    I’ve brought this up before — an influx of Latin American voters is a bad thing for tax levels, gay rights, and welfare levels.

  9. Just imagine how quickly the intangible capital we enjoy would be squandered if libertarian fanatics somehow managed to take over and destroy all the institutions that make it function. What a relief to think that the Libertarian party has never garnered even as many votes as the American Communist party at its peak. America’s greatness lies in its uncanny ability to keep all it lunatic fringes on the fringe. May it always be so.

  10. Financial motivations make people do all sorts of things. It is good to be cognizant of that. Superb post.

    The more things change…

  11. Commonsewer, I’m with you 100% here.

    A taqueria that I’ve enjoyed greatly over the years was closed Sunday, with a notice saying that they were staying closed Monday, as well, in observance of the “day without immigrants.” My gut reaction, which my wife forced me to examine more closely, was that that was a real shame — I’d have a hard time feeling good about doing business with them again.

    When I expressed this sorrow, she demanded to know why I felt this way. I mentioned the rascist “no gringos” undertones, the strong association with the labor movement and so on.

    Aligning with the raving lunatics of the variety you mention is a HUGE mistake — we “gringos” who are otherwise inclined to be highly sympathetic find this sort of garbage to be anything but embracing the American Dream.

    I heard someone read a Teddy Roosevelt quote the other day that actually seemed highly relevant:

    In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all.

  12. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all.

    I always thought that Americans are whatever we want to be, and if somebody else doesn’t like it that’s not our problem.

  13. Jeremy, would you care to elaborate on how Libertarians stand against the rule of law, honest bureaucracy or human know-how?

    Troll.

  14. “What’s really interesting is that Mexico and El Salvador have a much better return on capital than the United States does. Who knew they were such savvy investors?”

    Actually, that investments in developing countries provide higher rates of return than in developed countries is pretty well-established. It’s just that you also have to accept higher risks to get those higher returns, like, hypothetically, a populist, sweater-wearing leader winning election based on a promise to more equally distribute wealth and then nationalizing the country’s natural gas reserves.

  15. “Just imagine how quickly the intangible capital we enjoy would be squandered if libertarian fanatics somehow managed to take over and destroy all the institutions that make it function.”

    But isn’t there the question of whether said “institutions” are morally just?

    For example, what if the USA created an “institution” that shot, on sight, anyone outside of the US who produced automobiles. This would most assuredly create a shitload of “intangible capital” for us, because we would be the only ones allowed to produce automobiles. Would you still support that, Jeremy?

    There’s a balance that has to be struck, where our rule of law simply allows the free market to thrive, and does not encroach onto the other side, to protectionism. Sometimes, our “intangible capital” is created by infrastructure and rule of law—and it’s not necessarily at anyone else’s expense (other than criminals). Other times, our “intangible capital” is a result of protectionist policies. In this case, it is at the expense of those who aren’t covered by said protectionism. Pure market distortion, in other words.

    The fact that you think that libertarians would do away with the rule of law just goes to show how ignorant you are…as does the fact that you seem unable to distinguish between the essential institutions of a free republic, and protectionist market distortions that create wealth at others’ expense.

  16. Um, it looks to me like they took the per capita income and multiplied up to get intangible capital.

    Phlogiston reserves, in short.

  17. If the majority of American capital is in intangibles such as institutions, are recent immigrants more likely to vote to uphold those institutions or vote to make them “more like home”?

    Yes.

    I have a friend who moved to the Texas Hill Country from Britain because he doesn’t want to live in a jurisdiction with gun control. He believes that gun control results in places being more dangerous to raise children in.

    I also have a friend who moved to the Texas Hill Country from California because he and his wife were tired of being mugged, burglarized, carjacked, etc. Shortly after they arrived they started trying to convince neighbors that the Hill Country would be even safer, if only we had the kind of gun control laws California has. Everyone knows gun control controls the crime rate.

    The proportion of sheep to goats is open to question.

    As for the rallies, I’d guess the “Back to Mexico” crowd is running them, while those who came for the opportunity are running their businesses.

  18. Clean, thanks.

    Another thought..

    If the rabble rousers had an interest in reaching out to the Anglo community, they should have scheduled the demonstrations for Cinco de Mayo instead of May Day (Labor Day in Mexico). Dopes. Everybody’s Mexican on Cinco de Mayo.

  19. Of course, for 6 decades public education has decreed that AmeriKKKa is a racist, fascist, genocidal culture propagated by dead white males for the benefit of the White Man.
    But of course! That’s why official US policy is to discriminate against white men.
    CSPAN had some pro-illegal-immigrant moron who was claiming that Mexicans, and others, are forced to go to the US because the US has ‘plundered’ the rest of the world.

    It’s unfortunate that we don’t share a border with China instead of with Mexico.

  20. Larry A, good point about the Californication of other states. That’s is happening in both Nevada and Arizona.

  21. It wasn’t “millions of immigrants,” it was approximately one million people, only some of whom were immigrants, joined by their “allies” (e.g., kids who could care less but wanted a day off from school).

  22. Why they come?

    “Trade with Mexico: From 1999 to 2005, U.S. farm and food exports to Mexico climbed by $3.7 billion to $9.4 billion — the highest level ever and the fourth record in 5 years under NAFTA. U.S. exports of soybean meal, red meats, dairy products, and poultry meat all set new records in 2005.”

    http://ffas.usda.gov/info/factsheets/NAFTA.asp

    We flood these poor agro economies with our ultra-cheap mass agro-production and then wonder aloud, “Why do these people come here?”

    Idiocy.

    JMJ

  23. I’ve said it before: if you like Mexico and think it a model for a system of government and economy, then be for immigration. If you think America better, then it makes sense to be against it. It’s amazing to think that thousands of people, when they get here, will drop their corrupt, anti-market, anti-rights, culture. Not to mention their lack of education (2 out of 5 no high school) and skills.
    I’m not pretending that this is a simple issue. It seems cruel to exclude a Mexican, who just happens, by chance, to be born where he is, from our economic and governmental goodies. But its suicide to allow unrestricted immigration from low skill nations with no social capital…

  24. Ken, though I’m sure you just love Mexicans, did it ever occur to you that American hegemony is a pretty big part of the governmental problems there? For example, what if Mexico said, “Ya’ know what, gringos? We’re opting out of NAFTA and growing our own f’n food.” You cool with that? You cool with the Maquilladoras? Should they get rid of them – force Americans to make their own production? Oh! Wait! Can’t do that! We have no national healthacare! Our overhead is too high to compete with civilized countries like Germany and Japan! Get real.

    JMJ

  25. Clean Hands @ 9:50,

    Losing access to a good restaurant for a couple of days is indeed an annoyance if you were planning on eating there. However, it’s unlikely that any sign that is on the door of the closed restaurant is going to portray the owner’s true feelings about what’s going on.

    If they oppose the day without immigrants work stoppage, and say so, they risk losing a bunch of customers.

    If they have to close due to their help simply not willing to work that day for whatever reasons, they run the risk of extra legal attention if they post that fact.

    If they have a complex view that would take several pages to explain, … nobody will read it.

  26. I’m totally against NAFTA, I think it was plainly disasterous. I’m against immigration, but I think Mexico should do what’s best for Mexico (if they did otherwise it would be nuts), while the US does whats best for us.

  27. So I’m pretty sure I know what they did to get the intangible capital figures and GDP, and it’s a bit more sophisticated than just picking the number 7.5. Economists like to use an equation called a Cobb-Douglass production function to model the way total output responds to changes in capital and labor. It has the form y=Ak^?, where y is per capita GDP, k is capital per person, ? is, roughly, the proportion of national income earned by capital, and A represents “everything else,” like institutional effects and technology. ? is generally estimated at between .3 and .4; you can plug in the amount of physical capital per person and known GDP to estimate A.

    But if you do that, you wind up with an equation that says return to capital in India, say, should be about fifty times the return to capital here. It’s clearly higher in India, but not that much. There was a famous paper by Robert Lucas in the eighties that investigated this; if you factor in human capital you get an equation that looks like y=A(K/hL)^?. But return to capital in India should still be about five times as much as it is here.

    I’m assuming (without having read the report, since I’m lazy and have to go to class soon) that the World Bank basically figured out how much you’d have to increase capital to get the rate of return on capital (the interest rate) to come out roughly right, and that’s what you’re seeing. Since ? would be treated as the same in all the countries, it would come out looking a lot like just multiplying by some number.

  28. Jersey: You’re right everyone in Mexico could have a job if they were forced to grow all their own food Such a jobs program would be even more effective if they could go back to the near famine conditions that existed in Mexico in the 1950s before modern plant breeders created the Green Revolution. And what about requiring people to build pyramids–plenty of jobs there too.

  29. Well, Ken, you and I, and each from very different angles, may see this one the same way – but the powers that be in America want things just the way they are. With that understood, the best we can do is make life as easy for the imigrants as possible. No?

    JMJ

  30. I’d have a hard time feeling good about doing business with them again.

    Maybe the owner didn’t have much choice if 90% of his employees weren’t going to show up.

    If it turns out to be “Do Business With Our Higher-Priced Competitor Day (Because We’re Not Open)” so be it. The whole thing smacked of some union-backed event to me, mostly because it seemed like it would do more harm than good.

  31. Ron, that’s not the point. The point of the thread is ‘why are they coming?’ and that’s a pretty damned big reason. Also, you’re getting back to what Ken was saying – the Mexican people need to clean up their own nation. And they do. But they have some powerful American interests against them. They want Mexico just the way it is. I’m not saying, “Go back to doing things wrong.” I’m saying, “Do things for yourselves better.” But they can’t because people like you see nothing wrong with “free trade” (aka: lopsided hedging) that crushes their economies under our weight. The truth is – AMERICA HAS NEVER BEEN A FRIENDS TO ANY OF OUR NEIGHBORS TO THE SOUTH – THEY’D ALL HAVE BEEN BETTER OFF WITHOUT US.

    JMJ

    JMJ

  32. JMJ,

    Everyone who’s ever posted regularly on this board has made stupid comments from time tiotime and I am no exception. But your chaff-to-wheat ratio is incomputable because nobody can divide by zero.

  33. It’s really amusing(/sad) to see how quickly a “libertarian” reveals his true beliefs when faced with the actual consequences of open borders. It’s surprising to me how quickly even this crowd (surely a level-headed bunch, for the most part) turns round to “give me your well-off, your caucasian, your investment bankers yearning to breathe free…”

    Yes, unbelievably, there are concrete reasons that immigrants want to, well, immigrate here. And guess what? They’re selfish reasons. We love that! Selfish is fuckin great! That’s how democracy and capitalism work! But, wait, these people don’t speak English? And they’re MEXICAN??? Well, fuck that.

    You know the battle as already been lost when a “libertarian” trots out Teddy Roosevelt for wisdom, for chrissake. I mean, really. Teddy Roosevelt. Really.

  34. “…if they were forced to grow all their own food….”

    What if they grew food that was easy to grow in their climate, and we imported it, instead of subsidizing inefficient domestic production? Maybe they could use the income from those sales to buy food which grows better north of the border.

  35. Selfish is fuckin great! That’s how democracy and capitalism work!

    Libertarians are quite happy to accept any new selfish participant in the capitalist system. Libertarians are quite suspicious of new selfish participants in the democratic system. Libertarianism is a large restraint upon the range of democracy.

    Wolves, sheep, dinner, voting.

  36. Russ, the Mexican economy is closly attached to ours. Are you denying that?

    JMJ

  37. We flood these poor agro economies with our ultra-cheap mass agro-production and then wonder aloud, “Why do these people come here?”

    Oh sure, that’s why Mexicans are coming here. It has nothing to do with a higher standard of living, more opportunities, better health care, nicer towns and cities to live in.

    The Mexican government is corrupt, their police is corrupt in a lot or areas. There have been studied showing how much more it costs to start a business in Mexico than in the U.S.

  38. But its suicide to allow unrestricted immigration from low skill nations with no social capital…

    America has been importing people from low-skill nations for as long as it’s been in existance. Irish, Poles, Italians…

    Oh wait, when our ancestors complained about the influx of immigrants, it was racist. When we do it, it’s okay, because the Mexicans really will destroy us all in a rising tide of color. Really.

  39. We flood these poor agro economies with our ultra-cheap mass agro-production

    We’ve got some nerve, selling cheap food to poor people.

  40. Coachebola, many of the immigrants represent farmers from the northern half of the country who have lost their ability to farm because they can’t compete with American big agro. If you don’t believe me, look it up. Don’t be nationalistically incurious. It’s annoying. There are reasoins why things happen and they are not all “America is so f’n great.”

    JMJ

  41. If the majority of American capital is in intangibles such as institutions, are recent immigrants more likely to vote to uphold those institutions or vote to make them “more like home”? Phrased differently, are they trying to join the winning team or to loot it?

    My purely anecdotal observation is that this depends on how well the particular Mexican voter is educated (which is true of most other voters as well).

    More informed voters tend to examine the effects of particular policies, while less informed voters tend to play politics as a team sport.

    It’s difficult to make a general statement, but you can pretty much take it to the bank that most of the illegals aren’t Ph.D.’s in economics.

  42. What’s really funny about this “intangible” capital is that so much of it is our labor law, regulations, physical and institutional infrastructure, etc. In a Liberatarian America, we’d have shit for capital.

    JMJ

  43. Not claiming that TR was particularly wise, dc. Just that his words in this instance struck me as being well-put. Folks who come here should do so with the intent of becoming Americans (in the sense of the word that means “citizens of the United States”), not re-taking territory lost in a war nearly 200 years ago. (This incredible position was taken by all too many of the protesters…)

    Ken, you idiot, do you think that prior waves of immigrants came from countries with proud traditions of freedom and democracy? Of course not — they escaped countries that lacked such traditions to come here.

    To the several of you who offered alternative thoughts on why my friend’s taqueria might have been closed yesterday, I thank you — I’m looking forward to enjoying another of his WONDERFUL chorizo burritos…

  44. JMJ, as usual, you demonstrate your inability to think beyond union slogans. Labor law is not what makes this country great. What makes this country great is the relative lack of labor law.

    Don’t believe me? Look to France…

  45. What’s really funny about this “intangible” capital is that so much of it is our labor law, regulations, physical and institutional infrastructure, etc. In a Liberatarian America, we’d have shit for capital.

    Then you might want to explain how we became the world’s premier industrial and economic power, along with having the world’s highest standard of living, around 1900, when there wasn’t much in the way of labor laws or publicly owned infrastructure until several decades later.

  46. JMJ,

    Yeah that whole free trade thing is really horrible isn’t it. We can produce food more efficiently here and the Mexicans can do things like assemble Chrysler engines, Mitsubishi big screen tvs, and Fender guitars cheaper than we can. So we send them food and they send us consumer goods.

    And the end result is the consumer in each case pays less. Truly horrible.

  47. We can produce food more efficiently here and the Mexicans can do things like assemble Chrysler engines, Mitsubishi big screen tvs, and Fender guitars cheaper than we can

    This argument would be a lot more effective if it weren’t for the massive agro subsidiies in this country that skew the market and it’s efficiencies.

    I would hardly consider federal subsidies that push prices artificially lower proof of “efficiency”

    Also, try reading (or maybe re-reading) P Brooks’ comment @ 01:09 PM. His/Her comment, I believe is particularly insightful

  48. Clean hands on a Pig, sure, we had growth when we had little girls working factories, you slobs. But we had the greatest growth in our history when we had a workforce that was 1/3 represented, a top marginal tax rate of 70%, and self-interested trade law.

    Matt, the trouble with big agro is that it is NO WHERE NEAR as labor intensive as all those other things you point out. That’s why our trade deficit is $800 billion dollars even WITH the agro. Take out the agro and it’d be aroun d2 trillion.

  49. Jersey almost stumbles onto a good point. The problem is not that we are flooding the Mexican market with our cheap food, it is that we are flooding their market with our cheap subsidized food. Cut off the damn farm subsidies and move the farms to Mexico and the United States would have a lot fewer immigrants from Mexico.

    There is nothing immigration per say. The question is what the hell is so special about Mexico? Why can’t we shut off the Mexican border and then have more liberal legal immigration but control it so that people come from all over the world. There are tons of hard working, wonderful people from Europe, Africa and Asia who would come here, work hard and assimilate. Furthermore, a diverse group of immigrants encourages assimilation for the same reason that the best foreign language emersion classes combine people who speak different languages; if there are not too many of your own kind around you have to mesh in with the locals. It seems to me that if you allow huge numbers of immigrants from the same culture you run a greater risk of them not assimilating.

    Finally, as far as the Mexicans themselves, if they want special treatment, then fine, stop joining La Raza, vote out of office the numerous elected officials who openly claim to want to make Spanish the official language of the Southwest, kick the reconquest nutcases out of polite society and stop having marches demanding rights your don’t have. Until they do that, fuck them, kick them all out. Bring in some Mongolians or Kenyans or whoever to do the work.

  50. Matt, the trouble with big agro is that it is NO WHERE NEAR as labor intensive as all those other things you point out. That’s why our trade deficit is $800 billion dollars even WITH the agro. Take out the agro and it’d be aroun d2 trillion.

    Ignoring the apparent failure to grasp Ricardo here and recognizing that it is foolish even to ask, are you saying that it is a good thing to have a labor intensive agricultural sector?

  51. Guys, seriously, stop feeding the troll. Is it worse if he is intentionally saying these things to annoy people or if he actually believes them?

    BTW, the CIA puts US exports at less than one trillion dollars. If your views on American agricultural policy include the belief that agri exports are more than 100% of US exports, you may have some flaws in that line of thought.
    http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2078rank.html

  52. Jersey:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: fuck you.

  53. The problem is not that we are flooding the Mexican market with our cheap food, it is that we are flooding their market with our cheap subsidized food. Cut off the damn farm subsidies and move the farms to Mexico and the United States would have a lot fewer immigrants from Mexico.

    Agreed, at least insofar as I also strongly oppose U.S. agricultural subsidies. It is the height of hypocrisy for the U.S. to cling to domestic agricultural protectionism while insisting that underdeveloped countries embrace free trade.

  54. John, what you said has no “tangible” value. But you are right – our agro subsidies really skew the numbers.

    DAR, if that’s what you got outta what I said, you’re retarded.

    Zubon, I work in internbational shipping. With out agro, our trade deficit would be throught he roof.

    The other Mark, feel better now?

    JMJ

  55. Ignoring the apparent failure to grasp Ricardo here and recognizing that it is foolish even to ask, are you saying that it is a good thing to have a labor intensive agricultural sector?

    I would also ask Mr. McJones if he understands the concept of “economies of scale”.

  56. Why can’t we shut off the Mexican border and then have more liberal legal immigration but control it so that people come from all over the world.

    You do realize that Mexicans dominate illegal immigration precisely because immigration is restricted. If immigrants must walk in order to get across the border, then — wow — most immigrants come from the only (poor) country from which you can walk to the US.

    If you open the borders, then indeed you will find that immigrants will come from all over the world since it only costs a month’s wage to get to the US from anywhere.

  57. It is the height of hypocrisy for the U.S. to cling to domestic agricultural protectionism while insisting that underdeveloped countries embrace free trade.

    I’ll agree it is hypocrisy. That being said, U.S. agriculture is still among the most efficient in the world.

  58. Ah, yes, JMJ, the good ol’ days, when we were FIGHTING A WORLD WAR. Gee, by that logic, shouldn’t you be in favor of an all-out invasion of the entire Middle East?

    As for little girls working in factories, well, hell, I guess you’re right. It’s far more admirable to let them starve to death for lack of any available work. (viz. sub-Saharan Africa…)

    Fucking dumb-ass Marxist.

  59. DAR, if that’s what you got outta what I said, you’re retarded.

    I’ve been called worse, though possibly not by people with such a high degree of first hand knowledge of retardation.

    So let’s assume I’m less intelligent than you are. Use small words and short sentences and tell me what you did mean.

  60. DAR, what I meant was that agro does little for regular working American jobs.

    JMJ

  61. What he meant, DAR, is that it’s harder to unionize folks when they’re using their minds to earn a living than when they’re using their backs.

  62. (Gov’t “workers” excepted, of course…)

  63. No, Genius Hands, what I meant is that agro does not make for good jobs and real GROWTH for American workers.

    JMJ

  64. (But then, they’re not really using either.)

  65. what I meant is that agro does not make for good jobs and real GROWTH for American workers.

    Rarely does mercantilism appear so blatantly. Is it possible that this is exactly the mentality that succeeds brilliantly in international shipping?

  66. Modern agriculture doesn’t make for good jobs. It just frees up all those workers to produce all that human capital that the World Bank was talking about.

  67. Matt, that’s a joke, right?

    JMJ

  68. No, Genius Hands, what I meant is that agro does not make for good jobs and real GROWTH for American workers.

    …because of the EEEVIL machines doing all of the work that your beloved proletariat would otherwise be doing?

    Or is it that those EEEVIL Mexicans are doing all of the good jobs?

    Really, I’m stumped as to what you really mean here, other than spouting more union blather…

  69. I’ll agree it is hypocrisy. That being said, U.S. agriculture is still among the most efficient in the world.

    Perhaps so, Matt, but that is precisely Ricardo’s point. It doesn’t matter if we do everything more efficiently than the rest of the world and especially the underdeveloped world. What matters is that we concentrate on those things we are most efficient at. Then both we and those underdeveloped nations profit by permitting them through free trade to compete in markets where they can, especially including agriculture.

  70. I’ll agree it is hypocrisy. That being said, U.S. agriculture is still among the most efficient in the world.

    Perhaps so, Matt, but that is precisely Ricardo’s point. It doesn’t matter if we do everything more efficiently than the rest of the world and especially the underdeveloped world. What matters is that we concentrate on those things we are most efficient at. Then both we and those underdeveloped nations profit by permitting them through free trade to compete in markets where they can, especially including agriculture.

  71. “waiting for https://www.reason.com...”

    and waiting

    and waiting

    This thing will probably be in here nine times, now….

    ———-

    “Is it possible that this is exactly the mentality that succeeds brilliantly in international shipping?”

    How smart do you really have to be to drive one of those DHL trucks?

    —-

    “Also, try reading (or maybe re-reading) P Brooks’ comment @ 01:09 PM. His/Her comment, I believe is particularly insightful”

    Gracias, Chicago Tom; I try (sometimes). FYI: “His”

  72. Has anyone considered the possibility that Jersey is Juanita? Hmm, Juanita McJones.

  73. Precisely, Matt.

    We keep hearing about how traaaaagic it is that all of the kids from farm towns are moving away to the big city to make their fortunes. This phenomenon is exactly what has built up the tremendous intellectual capital this nation has.

    Of course, by JMJ’s ideal of our strongest economic period, we’d still be in a manufacturing-based economy, with them dumb farmboys staying on the farm where they belong, instead of having pretensions and putting on airs in their shiny new (built on the backs of the suffering laborers) houses and cars in the city. (Or going off to war to be killed in their thousands.)

  74. CH, I’m not making a value judgement about agro, Mr Defensive. I’m just pointing out a fact.

    JMJ

  75. “Trade with Mexico: From 1999 to 2005, U.S. farm and food exports to Mexico climbed by $3.7 billion to $9.4 billion — the highest level ever and the fourth record in 5 years under NAFTA. U.S. exports of soybean meal, red meats, dairy products, and poultry meat all set new records in 2005.”

    http://ffas.usda.gov/info/factsheets/NAFTA.asp

    Jersey, you actually produced a FACT to support your argument!!

    And just when I was about to write you off forever as a hopeless troll.

    Alas, I see you have reverted to you old ways in your subsequent posts.

    I read somewhere that Mexico has weird land ownership laws regarding farmland where the owner can only sell it (will it?)to his decendants. Because of that no large farms emerge and economies of scale do not take place.

    Also, I remember reading (perhaps from this site) that one of the reasons things are so crappy in Mexico is, no surprise, the burden of regulation that businesses must face. It compared Mexico to Taiwan in 1950. Both where about equal at that time. The smart money would have been bet on Mexico having the stronger economy in the 21st century since it had a lot more natural resouces and its close proximity to America. One example of this burdensome regulatory climit is the time it take to form a new business in Mexico vs Taiwan. In Taiwan, it takes 3 days. In Mexico, 58 days.

  76. My father was born and raised on a farm. Strangely enough, he thought (and thinks to this day) that switching from horse- and man-power to machine-power was an improvement.

  77. Russ, the Mexican economy is closly attached to ours. Are you denying that?

    As closely attached as Canada’s.

    JMJ, get off your stupid, lazy, naturalized ass and read a frickin’ book, fer crissakes. Try Hernando de Soto’s “The Mystery Of Capital” for starters.

    Also, if agriculture subsidies were cut (and I’d love to see them cut), the US would likely see an INCREASE in immigrant labor.

    As soon as someone offers the idea of making immigration easier (so that it’s easier to “follow the law”), the truth comes out and all the people against “illegal” immigration expose their true belief that what they really want is some kind of market protectionism. Or they’re just plain racist.

  78. Again, just exactly what “fact” is that, JMJ? All I’ve seen from you are unfounded and unsubstantiated opinions.

    Show me a raw, unvarnished fact.

  79. All I’m saying is that a big part of the reason why the immigrants are coming is because of free trade and our tremendous agro production capacity. It is not a value judgement, not a suggestion to revert to the bad ol’ libertarian days, just a simple part of a simple explanation of cause and effect. You loonies.

    JMJ

  80. Russ, BINGO BINGO BINGO. Right exactly on.

    This article says it pretty well, I think.

  81. So, Jersey, at what point is agriculture efficient enough to be a good thing for the industrial laborer? When a complete meal springs onto the dining table for free, costing only the inconvenience of watching a 30 second Nike ad?

    What can anyone say to you if you don’t recognize that greater efficiency in production of the more basic goods and services is the very foundation of economic growth?

  82. …failure to grasp Ricardo here….

    Hey, what the fuck does Desi Arnaz have to do with any of this? He wasn’t Mexican, he was Cuban, for Christ’s sake.

  83. Russ2000,

    Maybe people just don’t want to live in a country with 5 or 600 million people, which is what you would have if you had true open borders. Further, as Milton Friedman points out, you can’t have open borders and a welfare state. If anyone who wanted to could move here and collect government benifits, the country would be overwelmed pretty quickly. Lastly, how is it racist for people already living here to want to protect their quality of life? The quality of life in a country bursting at the seems with twice as many people as it has now would generally be lower for the average person. That maybe great if you are moving up from the slums of Mexico City, but it sucks if you already live here and have to watch your quality of life go down through increased pollution, housing costs and traffic and being nailed to the cross of open borders.

  84. Mike, all I said was that our agro causes immigration. That’s all.

    JMJ

  85. I suppose it’s produce that is made sheaper by subsidy as farmers in CA pay less than market rates for water transportation.
    But many other products are made more expensive; dairy and sugar for example.
    Damn, wish the people wouldn’t stand for those business subsidies.

  86. Russ, while I’m sure you’re a genius, don’t kid yourself about me. And you’re right – we do need realistic immigration numbers. But you’re wrong about subsidies. Not only would thye not increase immigration, it would decrease it. Less capital – less jobs. Did you read that in any of your Economics 101 books?

    JMJ

  87. Mike, all I said was that our agro causes immigration. That’s all.

    No, what you said was…

    what I meant was that agro does little for regular working American jobs

    …and…

    what I meant is that agro does not make for good jobs and real GROWTH for American workers

    If you’re backing from that position to a claim that superior US efficiency in agriculture induces more immigration, well… that’s pretty much what the original post is all about.

  88. But many other products are made more expensive; dairy and sugar for example.

    Neither of these are actually “subsidised”.

    Dairy is subject to price controls and a cartel, namely a floor price which is raised on a regular basis.

    Sugar is controlled by quotas on imported sugar. By having supplies limited this way domestic growers can get prices at which they can make a profit.

    Not subsidies exactly, but every bit as evil.

    But you are absolutely correct about the water subsidy to CA farmers.

  89. John, I doubt you’ll find many defenders of the welfare state here (well, except for our [not-so] friendly local Marxist), so let’s dispense with that. Indeed, perhaps opening the gates to all comers would give us an impetus to end the welfare state.

    As for living in a country of 500-600 million, are you honestly going to claim that we don’t have room for that many people in this country? Have you ever driven from, say, Chicago to San Francisco? Or flown? Room enough is one thing that is NOT a problem.

    Population growth is not a zero-sum-game: more people do not simply divvy up the same pie amongst themselves. More people drive more production, and the size of the pie grows.

    In a free economy, it grows much faster than in one chained by ineffective and obstructive gov’t.

    And THAT is what drives immigration from Mexico.

  90. Mike, I don’t have to back off that. They are tangental, but true. Having a hard time following me here?

    JMJ

  91. Clean Hands,

    The welfare state is not going away. People who argue for open borders are pretending that it will. Until you get rid of welfare, you don’t want open borders, but everyone on here seems to want to pretend that welfare will magically go away. It won’t.

    As far as space, I have driven from Chicago to San Fransisco and I can tell you that cities like Denver and the cities in the Bay Area were a hell of a lot nicer 20 years ago when they were smaller. True, population is not a zero sum game, but it does have its costs. Even if they increase production, they still use more recources in absolute terms and produce more pollution and at some point make the place less livable. Hong Kong is a fabulously rich and productive city, but you can’t have an American lifestyle there. You have to live in a flat the size of a postage stamp and spend 90% of your disposable income on rent. Let a few hundred million more people into this country and LA and San Fran become like Hong Kong and Houston becomes like LA and San Fran are now. It would suck. You can pretend it wouldn’t all you want, but it would.

  92. Not subsidies exactly, but every bit as evil.

    It may be reffered to as an indirect subisdy.

  93. Mike, I don’t have to back off that. They are tangental, but true. Having a hard time following me here?

    JMJ

  94. I don’t have to back off that. They are tangental, but true. Having a hard time following me here?

    Apparently so. Can you help me out by answering my questions of 3:57 PM?

  95. So, John, is it your position that we should set a maximum allowed population number for the country?

    What’s the right number, and who decides? And how do you enforce it??? FIFO? LIFO? (“first in-first out”/”last in-first out”)

    Do we kill off the excess population, or just ship them to Canada?

    Think through the implications of your complaints, willya? As for places being “a hell of a lot nicer,” by whose measure? Are these cities supposed to just remain as theme parks to your ideal of stasis? (Rose colored glasses not included; must be this tall to play.)

  96. Clean Hands,

    You don’t go to one ditch or the other. If you have completely open borders the cities turn into Calcutta. You are the one with Rose Colored glasses if you think that would be such a great idea. Americans have every right to say that they don’t want large numbers of people moving into their country and every right to determine what kind of country they live in. Americans do not owe the rest of the world a living or a chance to live in the U.S.. Indeed, perhaps other countries would be forced to solve some of their internal problems if they no longer could use immigration to the U.S. as a safety valve for their corrupt systems. The sollution is real simple, control the borders and limit the number of people who immigrate. Countries have been doing it for centuries, its called sovereignty. A foreign concept to most libertarians.

  97. From the thread title:
    “Why They Come”

    Presumably they’re, um, stimulated to do so?

    Thank you, I’m here all week!

  98. JMJ,

    So you still haven’t read any of the books Tim suggested?

    I tried giving you the benefit of the doubt over the months you’ve been posting here, but you lost that benefit with your ignorance and nasty disposition.

    I’d agree that doing away with subsidies would mean fewer jobs, but only over the long term. The idea behind most subsidies is to keep some land unused to keep supplies of the commodities down. Take away those subsidies and the unused land will get used. And who’s going to provide the labor for that extra acreage being farmed? After a time, if imported crops are still cheaper (without price supports), then maybe the jobs will go away. But the immigrants will likely stay put.

    John,

    I was born in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Chicago. You’ll have to excuse me if my heart doesn’t bleed for the richest of the rich.

    You can’t have a welfare state if you don’t keep adding people to the bottom of the pyramid. It’s the welfare state that will force the country to take in more people, by hook or by crook.

  99. Russ2000,

    Many people on the hard left are open about their desire to import a revolotionary class from abraod since one never developed here. I don’t see how we help the poor areas of Chicago or anywhere else by overcrowding them with the world’s most desparate.

  100. John, we’ve been limiting the number of people who can legally immigrate for several decades now. You can see the results of that policy — massive illegal immigration, and a population of immigrants who are thereby marginalized and ghettoized.

    We’ve tried your solution; it hasn’t worked so well. I’m not saying that we didn’t have the right to do so, but that it wasn’t right to do so. Immigration, despite what the xenophobes would say, is what has kept this nation vital and strong for most of its history. New ideas, new perspectives, new experiences — all are good for this country.

    You’ve shown yourself to be a neophobe by your pining for the “good old days” when your favorite cities were brighter, cleaner and smaller. Change, however, is inevitable, and the alternative to growth is contraction. Stasis is not an option.

  101. Many people on the hard left are open about their desire to import a revolotionary class from abraod since one never developed here.

    John, if there’s a fringe group that’s even smaller than libertarians, the hard left wanting to import a revolutionary class has got to be it!

  102. Clean Hands,

    We have never made a serious effort to police the border. Whenever you hear a politician saying they proprosing to do so every word of what they are saying is a lie down to the “and” and the “the”. We get millions of illegal immigrants because we don’t punish people who hire them, do no empower local officials to arrest them and turn them over to the INS and make no serious effort to stop them at the border. For years Congress has sold out to big business and the race lobby and passed one sham enforcement bill after another knowing all the while the enforcement will fail because it is not a serious effort. They can then say “see we tried enforcement and it didnt’ work.” Bullshit. We have never tried enforcement. You could clean out every illegal alien in this country within a year, if you had to will to do so.

  103. You’ve shown yourself to be a neophobe by your pining for the “good old days” when your favorite cities were brighter, cleaner and smaller. Change, however, is inevitable, and the alternative to growth is contraction. Stasis is not an option.

    I pine for worldwide open immigration. Then I could go to Costa Rica!

  104. And yes clean hands, there is obviously something wrong with having bright, clean livable cities and worrying that a huge population will irretreavably alter our environment. Anyone who doesn’t want to turn all cities into dirty, crowded unlivable slums or astronomically expensive Manhattan like enclaves is clearly a neophobe.

  105. You could clean out every illegal alien in this country within a year, if you had to will to do so.

    Or we could stop wasting billions on trying to enforce a silly set of protectionist laws and open the borders.

  106. Or we could stop wasting billions on trying to enforce a silly set of protectionist laws and open the borders.

    LET FREEDOM AND NAIVETY RING!!!

  107. You could clean out every illegal alien in this country within a year, if you had to will to do so.

    Talk about naiive!

  108. Oh really Russ,

    Every other country seems to do it. No other country in the world has the illegal immigration problem the U.S. does. In fact, Mexico is downright hell on illegal immigrants from Central America and shockingly doesn’t have a problem with them. You don’t think the Turks wouldn’t like to overrun the EU more than they already do? Yet, there are not 11 million illegal Turks running around the EU or 11 million illegal Russians or Ukrainians for that matter.

  109. Russ,

    One quick way to verify if a person is elligible to work in this country is through the Social Security Number.

    Some kind of automated system where an employer enters a worker’s name and ssn to find out if that person is a legal resident. This wouldn’t stop cash only operations, but it is a start.

  110. Did you know the area of France is quite significantly smaller (57,000 sq miles, IIRC) than the area of Texas? Just ocurred to me…seems like it might be relevant somehow, if only I could think of how that factoid relates? Hmmm…

  111. Timothy,

    I don’t know but if you have ever been to west Texas you would know that large areas of it are an unlivable desert without the water to support a large population. Not quite the French countryside. In fact, the entire Southwest is growing fearfully short of water. Of course after Russ and Clean hands let a fifty or sixty million more illegal aliens into the Southwest, drinking water won’t be a problem at all. No, only a racist, navtivist no knowthing would worry about a problem like that.

  112. “he vast majority of it embodied in intanglibles such as the rule of law, strong property rights, democratic governance, and high levels of education.”

    All these items are diluted by amnesties and massive and unlimited immigration of unskilled, uneducated peasants.

    Rule of law – a joke if amnesty essentially forgives massive lawbreaking, including using another person’s social security number/identity theft.

    Strong property rights – ask someone who owns border property in a border state if the government is protecting their property rights by preventing trespassing.

    democratic governance – current citizens are facing a massive dilution of their citizenship in a Democratic/Labor Union vote buying scheme. Most polls show large majorities of the US public wants immigration (legal and illegal) cut back.

    High levels of education – public education has been decimated by multiculturalism and bilingualism.

    I know libertarians will argue that they don’t believe in these policies but reality is that America is increasingly a welfare state and 40-50 million new immigrants without skills will simply increase the size of the welfare state.

  113. Some kind of automated system where an employer enters a worker’s name and ssn to find out if that person is a legal resident. This wouldn’t stop cash only operations, but it is a start.

    A start?? It’s the same system that’s already in place! WTF? Only a born bureuacrat would think that a massive project to do absolutely nothing different from what is already happening is “a start.”

  114. Yall snippin at the branches of problems and seemingly ignorant of the roots.

    Oh, yeah, we can stop alcohol/marijuana/whatever…billions of dollars, mandatory sentencing, harsh jail terms. Yeah, it can be done. Hah!

  115. Mexico is downright hell on illegal immigrants

    John, I’m assuming you might be able to convince me of your position, but using third-world economies as your examples is going in the wrong direction.

  116. Russ,

    There economy doesn’t suck because of their immigration policies. There corrupt elite that we encourage by accepting their exploited masses are responsible for that. Moreover, forget Mexico, what about Europe? They don’t have a huge illegal population, despite being next door to millions of poor desparate Turks, Urkrainians and Russians.

  117. France’s experience with Muslim immigrant riots shows us that they have figured out how to deal with the issues of immigration, all right.

    Good example, John. Keep fishing.

    Look — I’m all in favor of strong border security. Shoot-to-kill orders and all that. I’m not in favor of applying that sort of security to folks who are trying to come here for the nefarious purpose of making a living.

    It’s my very strongly-held opinion that our insane immigration restrictions, which are, at root, racially motivated, make it so that our borders are unenforceable.

    Open immigration to anyone who can prove that they’re not a criminal, and wants to come and work for a living, and you cut the legs right out from under the demand for illegal border crossings.

    In the meantime, since it’s impossible to know who is crossing the border, it’s impossible to keep out those who mean us harm.

  118. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating.

    Some “libertarians” you are. Gee, I’m all for immigration. Just as long as those immigrants don’t come from a poor country … Well, guess what ? Most of your ancestors came from poor countries. So what are you still doing in America? Shouldn’t you voluntarily deport yourselves?

    As for JMJ : were you dropped on your head or do you just enjoy clinging to your ignorance? Have you ever actually TRIED reading Adam Smith or David Ricardo? Or are you too smart for that?

  119. what about Europe? They don’t have a huge illegal population,

    John, the three most succesful economies in Europe are Britain, France, and Germany. And unless you have selective blindness immigration is a constant hot-button issue in each one of those countries.

    I’m all for eliminating the corruption of the elites in Mexico, the way to do that is to start building a foundation of property rights in the country that everyone can understand and trust. That’s not easy of course, but our own government has no interest in doing in that Iraq or Afghanistan despite the fact that we already have massive numbers of troops and workers there! As someone noted above, our same incompetent government is never going to solve the immigration “problem”, but they sure will spend gobs of money funcking things up even more.

  120. I heard one way to stop illegal immigration that I’m pretty sure would work (although I’m a fan of allowing tons more immigration than there is now). Basically: harsh, really harsh penalties for anyone who hires an illegal immigrant. And if you are an illegal immigrant, and you turn in someone who hires you, free green card.

  121. I’m sure much argument can be hashed over the World Bank’s numbers and their accuracy, however, the gist of what they report is generally true. There has traditionally been much confusion over the concept of ‘wealth’ vs. ‘income’ or ‘money’. America’s poor have access and benefit from a considerable amount of wealth- even if their liquid cash is nearly zero. The World Bank may be taking a shot in the dark with their exact numbers- but they are, in my opinion, generally correct.

  122. Russ,

    Forgive me for not being clearer.

    In jobs that require a social security number for paper work reasons, illegal immigrants will often use someone elses valid social security number. So illegal immigrant Juan Lopez’s FICA contributions are deposited in legal citizen Jean Smith’s social security account.

    The way the law currently stands, the Social Security Administration will not tell an employer if his worker is using his assigned social security number nor will they inform the employer that the social security number being used belongs to someone else.

    I believe validating social security numbers would be a good first step in finding illegal immigrants.

  123. Have you ever actually TRIED reading Adam Smith or David Ricardo? Or are you too smart for that?

    Dan, I think we all know the answer to that. JMJ is much too smart to read some mad rantings of a couple of white, racist, facist, redneck, hicks.

    I had high hopes earlier in this thread when JMJ posted a link to support his argument, but alas, he soon reverted to his old way.

    I have given up hope on rational discourse with Jersey McTroll and will no longer waste precious electrons doing so.

    JERSEY McJONES! I DUB THEE A TROLL!! LET IT BE KNOWN THROUGHOUT THE LAND THAT HE HAS NOTHING TO ADD TO ANY THREAD BEYOND SNARKY COMMENTS AND NAME CALLING!!!

  124. Years ago, on a couple of local radio stations, I did the closing stock market commentary.
    A buddy of mine kidded me then about anthropomorphizing pesky, little “profit-takers.”

    Now, after more than a million Mexicans have “outed” themselves, we can put faces to the pesky, little “profit-adders.”
    I wish I could kiss every face.

    Get at the end of the line, Herrick.

  125. Open immigration to anyone who can prove that they’re not a criminal, and wants to come and work for a living, and you cut the legs right out from under the demand for illegal border crossings.

    *raises hand*

    if you’re doing a background check, can you do a health screen? Please?

  126. I believe validating social security numbers would be a good first step in finding illegal immigrants.

    So that we can do a background check and health screen and legalize them.

  127. I was born in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Chicago. You’ll have to excuse me if my heart doesn’t bleed for the richest of the rich.

    Thank you. You’ve managed to validate what I’ve suspected for quite some time – this open borders crap is basically a wealth redistribution scheme by different means. There’s nothing libertarian about it. In fact, the notion of a right to immigrate has been explicitly rejected by any number of leading libertarian thinkers, including Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Milton Friedman, and the man who was quite possibly the ultimate libertarian, Murray Rothbard.

    I’ve noticed that the alienists have never bothered to make an argument in favor of their position, they simply attack those who are opposed to it. But they’ve never explained to us – why should a nation of people who are basically contented with their country as it is want to support a massive wave of immigration which will unquestionably alter the character of that country?

    In other words, what’s in it for us? Why should we allow our country to be altered to accommodate foreign nationals who aren’t even citizens, and to whom we owe exactly nothing?

    The alienists are silent on that point. All we get in response are Touching Remembrances of Good Ol’ Grampa, and the insinuation that anyone that doesn’t support open immigration must be some kind of racist.

    I suspect we never get a direct argument in favor of immigration for a very simple reason: the alienists don’t have an argument to make.

  128. I suspect we never get a direct argument in favor of immigration for a very simple reason: the alienists don’t have an argument to make.

    “Alienist”. Cute. I prefer to consider myself an “individualist” — you know, someone who values the rights of the individual above the rights or powers of any group and especially above the rights or powers of any government — but I’ll play along.

    Here are my arguments:

    1. All persons are created equal.

    2. All persons have the inalienable right to travel where they wish and to trade their goods and services with whom they wish.

    3. Argument 2 above is enough reason to find protectionist measures inherently wrong. Nonetheless, both economic theory and empirical history disprove any benefit to a society from protectionist measures.

    There they are. The rest is details. You’ll notice that neither the government nor “we” as a nation appear anywhere in the arguments except as the antagonists in the protectionism statement.

  129. reality is that America is increasingly a welfare state and 40-50 million new immigrants without skills will simply increase the size of the welfare state.

    Are there any statistics on welfare usage by immigration status? My personal observation would suggest that immigrants are LESS likely to be on welfare than native-born Americans.

    MikeP,

    Nice.

  130. 2. All persons have the inalienable right to travel where they wish and to trade their goods and services with whom they wish.

    In other words, you reject the concept of property rights.

    Again, you’re invoking an “inalienable right” that’s never been recognized by any society since humans climbed out of the trees.

    I’d like to see you walk through my back yard and explain to my Doberman you have an “inalienable right” to travel anywhere you wish. Even a dog understands the concept of exclusive rights to a territory. If you don’t, I’m sure somebody’s dog will eventually teach you.

    3. Argument 2 above is enough reason to find protectionist measures inherently wrong.

    Unfortunately, argument 2 is figment of your imagination.

    Nonetheless, both economic theory and empirical history disprove any benefit to a society from protectionist measures.

    Free trade is not contingent on open immigration. I’ve got a house full of stuff that says “Made in China” on it, and I doubt the majority of workers who manufactured it ever set foot in the US.

    There they are. The rest is details. You’ll notice that neither the government nor “we” as a nation appear anywhere in the arguments except as the antagonists in the protectionism statement.

    Unfortunately, here on Planet Earth governments appear as the acting authorities of specific geographic regions, and sometimes even do the bidding of the populations inhabiting those regions. Frequently, they even exist at the behest of those populations. You can choose to ignore those authorities if you wish. They won’t ignore you. Trust me on this one.

  131. 1. All persons are created equal.

    2. All persons have the inalienable right to travel where they wish and to trade their goods and services with whom they wish.

    Comment by: MikeP at May 2, 2006 11:25 PM

    BULL SHIT!
    They don’t have any right to travel onto my property or across my property. They don’t have any right to travel onto or across anyone else’s property if they are not wanted there by the owner or owners of said property. And they don’t have a right to travel onto, across, or through publicly owned property either, unless the holders of that property (through their elected representatives) grant them PERMISSION to do so.

    There is no “right” to travel, per se. There is only the freedom to do so or the lack of freedom to do so. I suppose one could say that there is a moral or inalienable right to the freedom itself. That is, one has a right to exercise that freedom,…providing, of course, that one has the permission of the property owner to whose property one wishes to travel.

    The same argument applies to trade. One does’t have a right to trade with just whomever one wishes. One only has a right to the freedom to trade, and that freedom to trade only applies to those who wish to trade with one.

  132. AHH Hell! You beat me to it, Pig Mannix

  133. In fact, Mexico is downright hell on illegal immigrants from Central America and shockingly doesn’t have a problem with them.

    And the incredible benefits Mexico has reaped from from this policy are Obvious to all.

  134. My apologies for allowing the misunderstanding that I don’t believe in property rights. I presumed that this audience would take those as a given. And please don’t take the omission of any discussion of rights to life or liberty to mean I don’t believe in those either.

    To be a bit clearer…

    2. All persons have the inalienable right to travel where they wish provided the owners of the property upon which they travel approve and to trade their goods and services with whatever other willing persons they can find.

    And, no, this can’t be read to mean that all commons and all rights of way are the property of the government.

  135. Pig Mannix, cynic,

    Your arguments against free migration seem to me to be rather circular:

    The authority that grants itself the monopoly power to initiate force within a certain geographic region decides that people from outside the geographic region can’t enter the geographic region.

    That’s an argument? In elementary school it was called “might makes right” and was not given much credit.

    Just to give me another example of your points of view so I could better understand them, could you outline your arguments for or against Apartheid? I can see your “for” argument, but I can’t see how you could argue the “against” side.

  136. Really though, the greatest american symbol (other than the flag itself) is the statue of liberty…

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

    When is some anti-immigrant politiician (say Tancredo, or any?) goin’ grow a pair and say “this is out dated, I propose legislation that should change this to “give us your most highly educated, your brightest and best, your highly skilled Phd’s, architects & engineers… blah, blah, blah”

    Then I could sort of respect them, for their honesty, even while I totally disagree with them.

  137. And, no, this can’t be read to mean that all commons and all rights of way are the property of the government.

    Comment by: MikeP at May 3, 2006 01:55 AM

    Well they’re sure as hell owned by SOMEone. We can argue all night about whether “public property” means owned by the People or owned by the Government, but the fact remains that governments are the ones who CONTROL it. If the Government owns it, it has the legitimacy to do as it pleases with it. If the People own it, they have delegated that legitimacy and control. And whoever owns it, it certainly is not owned by those that are trespassing here.

  138. Pig Mannix, cynic,

    Your arguments against free migration seem to me to be rather circular:

    The authority that grants itself the monopoly power to initiate force within a certain geographic region decides that people from outside the geographic region can’t enter the geographic region.

    Comment by: MikeP at May 3, 2006 02:16 AM

    The flaw in your argument is the assumption that the “authority” is the one granting itself any said powers. Under the American Constitutional theory of government and under libertarian limited government theory, the “powers” are granted to the “authority” by the People or citizens…the lawful residents of the geographic region, if you will.
    If the government prevents someone from migrating to or across the property under its jurisdiction, it is not initiating the use of force. Rather, it is the trespasser who has initiated the use of force, assuming that the trespasser is there without permission and is indeed a trespasser.

  139. Just to give me another example of your points of view so I could better understand them, could you outline your arguments for or against Apartheid? I can see your “for” argument, but I can’t see how you could argue the “against” side.

    Comment by: MikeP at May 3, 2006 02:16 AM

    I will assume that by Apartheid you mean racial apartheid as was practiced in South Africa. I can’t say that I’m all that familiar with the details of its practice, but did that not involve the restriction of lawful citizens to travel, work, or reside where they wished in THEIR OWN COUNTRY? Did it not create and maintain a group of second-class citizens? The fact that it was based on race makes it particularly egregious, but that a government could create or designate within its own borders a group of citizens that has less than equal protection of the law is the element that is in question.

  140. cynic,

    I’ve got to admit, you certainly play it straight all the way. From the totalitarian powers government has over the roadways to the presumption that some people’s setting up a government grants it unquestioned legitimacy over all others in its realm, it is clear that you work from fundamental assumptions very different from mine.

    As for Apartheid, the reason I bring that example up in particular is that it did not create a second class citizenry. Instead it transferred the citizenship of a large class of people, making them citizens of separate self-governed homelands. The South African government chose to define who was a citizen and who wasn’t, and Apartheid was the result.

    Moreover, while the practical determination of whose citizenship would be transferred to the homelands was race-based, the reasons and the effects were driven principally by protectionism. I find the parallels of Apartheid with the issue of illegal immigration very illuminating.

  141. P Brooks: My father was born and raised on a farm. Strangely enough, he thought (and thinks to this day) that switching from horse- and man-power to machine-power was an improvement.

    The total biomass of people, horses and mules is about the same today as it was in 1925.

  142. MikeP,

    A government’s power over its roadways is not (in theory,anyway) any more totalitarian than a property owner’s power over his property. As for the legitimacy of a government’s jurisdiction over a particular geographic area, unless one is somehow moving from a state of NO government juridiction to one OF jurisdiction over a particular property (nearly impossible these days), I fail to see how the legitimacy can be questioned. When one buys property or otherwise accepts title to it, implicit in the contract is the idea that both the transaction and the property are subject to the laws of the particular government under whose authority it falls. One might not like that, but if so, one’s only recourse is not to buy the property or to somehow get the law changed (very unlikely). In a way it is similar to the Terms Of Use when buying software.
    Frankly, since all governments and their jurisdictions were put in place long before any of us were born, I don’t see how one might escape the situation of being under some government’s authority. In the United States some of the southern states once attempted to withdraw themselves from the jurisdiction of the Federal government; they were not successful.

    As I said I know little about Apartheid in South Africa. If I understand you correctly, you are saying that rather than having been made second class citizens a group was stripped of their citizenship or that it was “transfered”. That sounds rather like one side changing the rules after the game has commenced. It sounds very like the Nazis’ initial treatment of the Jews in 1930’s Germany. Were these people in Africa disposessed of their property, or suffrage? One would hope that guarrantees or protections against such an occurance would be built into the government’s charter.

  143. And if such guarrantees or protections are NOT built into the government’s charter, then one might want to question the moral legitimacy of that government. But morality, more succinctly whose particular standard of morality, is a whole ‘nother ball o’ wax! ๐Ÿ™‚

  144. And if such guarrantees or protections are NOT built into the government’s charter, then one might want to question the moral legitimacy of that government. But morality, more succinctly whose particular standard of morality, is a whole ‘nother ball o’ wax! ๐Ÿ™‚

  145. And if such guarrantees or protections are NOT built into the government’s charter, then one might want to question the moral legitimacy of that government.

    Here’s a major area of disagreement. I see moral legitimacy of governments as a matter of degree, not of a line that governments fall on one side or the other of.

    Someone once wrote something like

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

    Most important here is that governments are derivative institutions. Individuals are the primary actors. And, citizenship, being granted by governments, is not one of these unalienable individual rights. It is merely an entitlement.

    What South Africa did was frowned upon in the international community because it countered the longstanding notion under international law and diplomacy that citizenship was unrevocable.

    But South Africa’s actual crime was not in revoking South African citizenship from the individuals it forced into homeland citizenship. After all, had they founded the homelands in the 1600’s and always had Apartheid a part of the rules of their government, you would, I gather, consider the situation legitimate. Rather, South Africa’s actual crime was in preventing the free migration and free labor of those individuals within its dominion. The actual crime was simply the infringement of liberty.

  146. “Here’s a major area of disagreement. I see moral legitimacy of governments as a matter of degree, not of a line that governments fall on one side or the other of.”

    A matter of degree? That seems similar to being a little bit pregnant. ๐Ÿ™‚

    “Rather, South Africa’s actual crime was in preventing the free migration and free labor of those individuals within its dominion. The actual crime was simply the infringement of liberty”

    I thought you said above that they were NOT made second-class citizens or denied equal protection of the law? And in their own country, at that.

  147. I thought you said above that they were NOT made second-class citizens or denied equal protection of the law? And in their own country, at that.

    They weren’t made second-class citizens: They were made noncitizens. And South Africa was no longer their own country: They were citizens of the homelands.

    In South Africa proper they had the same privileges as any other noncitizen. They had equal protection of the law in the same way that illegal immigrants within the US have equal protection of the law.

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