Immigration Letters, Con (as in Conservative) and Pro

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Earlier this week, the conservative Hudson Institute released an "open letter" to President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill "Cat Killer" Frist, Speaker o' the House Dennis Hastert, and the usual gang of idiots otherwise known as congressional leaders. "First Things First on Immigration"–signed by a conservative version of the vaunted Steel Curtain defense of legend and lore–gives mad, crazy props to tough-on-illegals Republicans and Dems, asserting

We favor what Newt Gingrich has described as "sequencing." First border and interior enforcement must be funded, operational, implemented, and proven successful?and only then can we debate the status of current illegal immigrants, or the need for new guest worker programs. We are in the middle of a global war on terror. 2006 is not 1986. Today, we need proof that enforcement (both at the border and in the interior) is successful before anything else happens. As Ronald Reagan used to say "trust, but verify."…

We thank the majority of the Senate Republicans (33 in all) and the seven Democrats who supported the Isakson amendment, which insists upon verifiable benchmarks for border security before considering other issues. Moreover, we say "Thank You" to Jim Sensenbrenner, Peter King, and the bi-partisan House majority including 36 Democrats, that passed HR 4437. We may quibble with a clause here and there, but you in the House and the majority of Senate Republicans are right to emphasize that the Congress and the President must deal with enforcement first and other issues later. Stand fast; the American people are overwhelmingly with you.

Note: the question mark after "successful" appears on the Hudson Institute's web site and I'd rather not mess with a jot or tittle of so serious and profound an epistle.

The open letter is signed by a wide-ranging crew of "leading conservatives and civic leaders" including William Bennett, Robert Bork, William F. Buckley, Ward Connerly, Newt Gingrich, David Horowitz, David Keene, John Leo, Herbert London, Rich Lowry, Daniel Pipes, Phyllis Schlafly, and Thomas Sowell. Read the whole letter here. No word yet on when a Spanish language version will be done.

Meanwhile, the libertarian Independent Institute has penned an open letter of its own and one certainly nearer and dearer to Reason's long-held general stance on immigration.

Concerns about the impact of immigration on the poorest Americans should not be addressed by penalizing even poorer immigrants. Instead, we should promote policies, such as improving our education system, that enable Americans to be more productive with high-wage skills.

We must not forget that the gains to immigrants coming to the United States are immense. Immigration is the greatest anti-poverty program ever devised. The American dream is a reality for many immigrants who not only increase their own living standards but who also send billions of dollars of their money back to their families in their home countries–a form of truly effective foreign aid.

America is a generous and open country and these qualities make America a beacon to the world. We should not let exaggerated fears dim that beacon.

The Independent Institute's letter is signed by more than 500 economists–including five (count 'em) Nobel laureates–and has been endorsed by the Wall Street Journal. I hope that notoriously pro-immigrant Bush apparatchik Tony Snow puts this letter on the stack of newspapers that his boss doesn't read everyday.

For the full text and list of signatories, go here.

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  1. We are talking about this William F. Buckley, correct? The author of Happy Days Were Here Again: Reflections of a Libertarian Journalist?

  2. I’m sympathetic to its goals but unimpressed by the Independent Institute letter. It does not address anything specific. It does not suggest a way to deal with illegal vs. legal status, nor does it tell us why such a distinction is not meaningful. It doesn’t suggest how to control the border, nor does it explain why border control is unnecessary.

    Too often the libertarian position in the face of specific complaints has been “Immigration is good,” which is true but easily sidestepped by focusing on illegality, border security, and demand on social services. We need some concrete counter proposals.

  3. First border and interior enforcement must be funded, operational, implemented, and proven successful

    What a bunch of dipshits. If the War On Drugs has taught us anything, it’s that no amount of “border and interior enforcement”, no matter how well funded, will ever be successful at keeping out what there is a market for. But then again, It’s fair to say we’ve learned nothing in over three decades of fighting the WOD.

  4. Jason Ligon,

    You’re not going to get 500 signatures on concrete counter proposals.

    The point of this letter is to say, “Economists reject the so-called economic arguments put forward by the forces against greater immigration.” Considering how little that notion is understood among the public or their rulers, I would think that would be quite enough of a point.

  5. MikeP:

    I get what they are trying to do, but I disagree with it as a matter of strategy. It seems like a sidestep. The libertarian position here assumes that the goal of the opposition is to reduce overall levels of immigration, when that is not the argument dominating the headlines. What is dominating the headlines and the explicit screaming of various bobble heads are: security, illegality, and the cost of ILLEGAL immigrants. If we don’t make the argument in such a way as to address those concerns, we look to have conceded the point.

  6. I must be missing something, but at what point did a Mexican Immigrant become illegal? The McCarran Walter Immigration Act of 1952 declared that “an immigrant who was born in Canada, the Republic of Mexico, the Republic of Cuba, the Republic of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Canal Zone, or an independent country of Central of South America, and the spouse or the child of any such immigrant, if accompanying or following to join him” was a ‘nonquota immigrant’. So, when Operation Wetback occured two years later, who in the hell were they rounding up? I know that by 1965 they were defacto illegal and with a quota imposed.

  7. “The economists say only an 8 per cent wage reduction at most from immigration.”

    Oh, is that all?

    Economists-
    Hey, we might also be off a few percentage points the other way. Anyway it will only take a few years for everything to be sorted out.

    Of course the working poor can already barely cover the basics like food, shelter, etc. An 8% decrease in income would be devastating.

  8. Jason-

    I get what you’re saying. There probably are some people who are simply bothered by “illegality”. Law and order certainly sounds less scary to most people than a situation where anybody can just do what they want.

    I always make the same proposal: Heavy border enforcement, but give a visa to anybody who pays a fee and passes a background check against criminal, terrorist, and related databases. This way the issues of security, law, and order are all addressed.

    The problem is that when one proposes this, too many people are like “So, um, just any old non-criminal who wants a job could come in? But won’t they steal our jobs and overwhelm the welfare system and overcrowd our cities and all sorts of other bad things?”

    I’m forced to conclude that while some people may really believe that illegality is the only bad thing here, many others see the legal vs. illegal issue as a way of dealing with their basic objection: They’re OK with some level of immigration, but too many would be a bad thing, and they don’t think that market forces, job availability, and housing costs will be sufficient to regulate the flow of labor. Not even in an interconnected globe where information is easy to obtain. (And immigrants seem to be pretty darn good at sniffing out info on job aviailability.)

    Or else they fear that the market equilibrium will occur, but at a level that, in some sense, “averages things out” so that the standard of living in the US is somewhere half-way between our current standard and Mexico’s current standard.

    All of this takes us right back to the merits of immigration and the need for economic data and all that. Legality vs. illegality may be the central issue for some, but for others it’s merely a way to regulate the system and stave off their worst fears about immigration.

  9. Why did Thomas “Basic Economics” Sowell sign the Hudson Institute letter?

  10. Jason Ligon,

    Not every organization can do everything. But I do agree with your general contention that no organization — at least none that I have seen — has yet to bring up a concrete proposal from the libertarian position.

    But I also note that I have not seen libertarian organizations come out with concrete proposals on the much less contentious issue of free trade, where the concrete proposal would be trivially simple compared with the side issues freer immigration involves.

  11. re: I hope that by “improving our education system,” the Independent Institute means: getting rid of the ongoing catastrophe that is publicly-financed education.

    Rest assured, the Independent Institute are not big fans of the government education system.

  12. Thomas Sowell proves once again that he’s no libertarian.

  13. MikeP writes: “But I do agree with your general contention that no organization — at least none that I have seen — has yet to bring up a concrete proposal from the libertarian position.”

    Errr. Wrong! The libertarian Cato Institute was actually the brains behind Dubya’s guest-worker proposal. See here:
    http://www.freetrade.org/pubs/pas/tpa-019es.html

    You may or may not like the idea of a guest worker program, but it is a concrete proposal.

  14. The reason there are so many illegal immigrants here is because there is a big demand for their labor here in US and there is a big need for jobs over in other countries. Let’s not blame it all on those poor people that come to make some living. They are illegal here because there were not enough legal visas for them to come, there were employees that hired them and there is our government that closed their eyes on this and allowed them to pay taxes, including billions of social security taxes that are paid each year by illegal immigrants. I agree with president Bush that all three things need to be addressed at the same time (internal enforcement, external enforcement, and legalizing immigrants). If you do enforcement only, where will 12,000,000 people go? What will their employees do? What will their mixed families do? Those are people we are talking about. People that worked hard for years and contributed to our country. Immigration reform has to be comprehensive to work. Enforcement along will not stop immigrants from coming; it will just drive them further to the ground. It’s just “forces of nature” that we cannot deny.
    By the way, I voted republican in the past and I believe in many things that republicans stand for. However, I will not vote for my republican candidate unless he is for legalizing illegal immigrants and he is not playing games about it (like more hearing and B. S. like that). By the way I don’t get why “amnesty” is all of a sudden a bad word. It means forgiveness. Since when is forgiveness bad? We all need it, unless anyone can claim to be perfect, “let him cast the first stone” than. Thank you.

  15. I guess there is some merit to criticizing the Independent Institute’s letter for missing concrete details, but at least it get’s the foundation correct. The headlines that scream about ILLEGAL aliens keenly forget that we’ve looked the other way for decades, almost inviting these people. The faux-morals crowd bangs their cans about rewarding illegal behavior, never once pondering whether it is morally appropriate for a Mexican laborer to let his family starve in Mexico or cross the border and make ends meet. The lefties want to unionize the immigrants and make them paid more than their worth, creating another black market; unless of course they want all immigrants deported because they interfere with minority unemployment. The Independent Institute letter at least makes some sense. That, to me, is a start.

  16. It seems that the two sides can’t even talk about the same topic.

    The first article’s point: ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION BAD

    The second article’s point: LEGAL IMMIGRATION GOOD

    Is anyone disagreeing?

    If we need a certain number of immigrants, we should have an open, transparent application process for people all around the world – and kick the @#$# out of anyone who cheats. Yes, they are people, and yes, they have problems. So are the people on the outside who FOLLOWED the rules. Why should the former have any advantage over the latter?

    They only “amnesty” we should be talking about is a six-month grace period to get your butt out of the country, after which you will be shipped back forcibly and black-listed from entering the country ever again.

  17. to thoreau:

    Even if we fix the “illegal” problem, we could not handle a completely open system of “if you ain’t got a record and you can get on a boat or plane, you are in!”, either. I think it is conservative to estimate that there are more than a hundred million people that would show up in just a few years under such a policy. We can integrate several million people into the system every year as we are doing now, but it should be obvious to everyone that even this number is seriously straining our educational and social systems. There is no possible way that you could increase immigration ten-fold or more and expect anything other than civil revolt.

    While in pure libertarian theory, such an open system is the just one, it only works in a roughly-flat, small-government world that does not exist.

  18. Somehow I find it 100% disingenuous when you claim to care whether immigrants “followed” the rules or not. Still, I guess we probably should derive our immigration policy on whether desperate and starving people followed the rules rather than our own interests. Seems OK to me to base the fate of 11 million people on whether they break the rules, regardless of whether we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. Heck, it wouldn’t be the first asinine thing we’ve done. While we’re at it, we should deport people who don’t pay traffic tickets, and shoot those damned people who let their dogs crap on the sidewalk. Sorry if I’m a bit sarcastic here, but I like to see people think through their posts a little more. Right wing bumper-sticker arguments don’t really cut it.

  19. There are three billion poor people who DID follow the rules, Lamar. By and large, they are much POORER than those who came (Mexico and Central America are not the poorest places on earth). Why in the world should we reward relatively-rich cheaters at the expensive of relatively-poor people who did what was right?

    If 11 million is the right number, we should allow in the best 11 million we can find, from all around the world – not 11 million who have demonstrated that they are willing to break serious laws in order get ahead of others. Also, with a good program of legal immigration, we would get a much more diverse and educated crop of immigrants, which only strengthens us more.

    I am not arguing against immigration at all. I think we could probably integrate 3-5 million people per year. But few things annoy me more than calls to “forgive” cheaters at the expense of those who did what they should have done.

  20. re: Is anyone disagreeing?

    Yes.
    The first article’s point: LEAKY BORDERS BAD
    The second article’s point: IMMIGRATION GOOD
    The heart of the debate is over the assumed subtext of the articles. Such assumptions not totally coming out of the blue.

  21. Chad-

    Your post just proves my point: The concerns over legality and illegality are rooted in a conviction that immigration should be kept to a certain level. You would only support a lawful process if that process also limited the number of immigrants.

    Jason was suggesting that it isn’t enough to make the case that letting in a lot more immigrants would be a good thing, because people care about the legality of immigration as an end in its own right. But I don’t think so: People may very well care about legality as an end in its own right, but many people also believe (perhaps rightly, perhaps wrongly, whatever) that letting in significantly more people would be a bad idea no matter how lawful and regulated the process might be.

  22. Both groups are whistling past each other. If it weren’t for the arbitrary restraints on legal immigration there wouldn’t be so much of the illegal kind.

    Dead the quota system & the whole mess w/ visas, & draw down immigration controls to nothing more than “if you aren’t a criminal, welcome to america”. Anyone who would attempt to get around such a piddling barrier as a background check, you can safely assume they want to blow something up & react accordingly. Problem solved.

  23. My problem with the letter from the II is it’s soooo long — who reads all that but libertarians — remember that open letter by all those smart people against the War on Drugs when Clinton spoke on the matter at the UN — remember that? — I think it had like 6 nobel laureates sign — remember that? and then they legalized drugs and had an honest debate about policy — remember? Big Whoop…I’m sure Lou Dobbs will break down and cry when presented with such logic…

  24. Why did Thomas “Basic Economics” Sowell sign the Hudson Institute letter?
    Read his dozen-or-so recent columns and find out; he addresses most all the issues people raise here.
    http://www.townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/archive.shtml
    There’s more than economics involved.

    The faux-morals crowd bangs their cans about rewarding illegal behavior, never once pondering whether it is morally appropriate for a Mexican laborer to let his family starve in Mexico or cross the border and make ends meet.
    People don’t starve in Mexico; by world standards, Mexico isn’t a poor country.

    Anyone who would attempt to get around such a piddling barrier as a background check, you can safely assume they want to blow something up & react accordingly. Problem solved.
    When F. Castro, H. Chavez and (add your favorites) decide to relocate the inmates of their prisons and mental asylums, chaperoned perhaps by a few Al-Qaida types sponsored by Country-X, they’ll all have squeaky clean backgrounds.

  25. To Thoreau:

    You would only support a lawful process if that process also limited the number of immigrants

    To suggest otherwise would be insane. There are over three billion people on earth who live in abject poverty. What fraction of those would jump at the chance to move to the US (or any first world nation?). Even if you guess just a few percent, you are talking about 100 million. Tens of millions more might come from more advanced nations. They would keep coming until America was worse than the alternatives – in other words, until we were as poor and chaotic as the places they came from.

    Frankly, if this is your idea of a rational immigration policy, I think I and 99.9% of Americans will take a pass. Yes, I know in that perfect world that we all would love, there would be open immigration, no nukes and a pony for every little girl, but WE DON’T LIVE THERE.

    Yes, we need better rules. Yes, immigrants CAN be a boon for society, depending on who we let in. Yes, we SHOULD be letting in precisely those that strengthen our society – as many as we can reasonably expect to integrate into our economic and social systems. However, letting in tens or even hundreds of millions of predominantly poor and uneducated people would overwhelm every system we have. Even the moderate amounts we have now is swamping the education, environmental, and health systems throughout the southwest in particular. How would opening the flood-gates help that?

  26. Secure our borders, enforce our existing laws in and within the borders. Legal immigrants are given visas with affidavit of supports so they would not become plublic charges….Those receiving handouts from the government are even getting more than what most retired US citizens get. I, for one, is under the Federal Poverty line, because I do not get enough from my Social Security pension, while those who are illegal get more than what we, US citizen received. It is unfair for us who have worked for our social security benefits because so many are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) most of them have not even worked an hour on their eintire lives. So do not reward those who are illegally here with more SSI benefits.

  27. Those receiving handouts from the government are even getting more than what most retired US citizens get. I, for one, is under the Federal Poverty line, because I do not get enough from my Social Security pension, while those who are illegal get more than what we, US citizen received.

    I think it’s a shame SSA took so much of your money over the years. I hate payin’ into that pyramid scam.

    …Half of me thinks immigrants, legal and otherwise, should have to pay into the same system; the other half thinks that amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

    I haven’t seen any definitive studies on the amount of welfare immigrants receive from the Federal government, but in the states where I’ve seen data, a state where illegal immigration was prolific, even there it looked like most of the freeloaders were native born.

    I agree there should be a war on freeloaders–I don’t care much about where they come from.

  28. They would keep coming until America was worse than the alternatives – in other words, until we were as poor and chaotic as the places they came from.

    Yes, of course. This is why the US doesn’t allow free migration between its states. The poorest people in Alabama would move to Connecticut until it was just as poor and chaotic as Alabama.

  29. Ken Schultz

    I haven’t seen any definitive studies on the amount of welfare immigrants receive from the Federal government, but in the states where I’ve seen data, a state where illegal immigration was prolific, even there it looked like most of the freeloaders were native born.

    The problem is that most of the people who are doing and reporting these “studies” haven’t talked to very many recent Mexican immigrants.

    I live in one of the border states, and I’ve talked to a lot of Mexicans. From what they tell me, you can buy fake IDs on the black market pretty easy and use them to get jobs and social services. NOBODY knows how many illegal Mexican immigrants are doing this because even the Feds can’t tell real IDs from fake.

    Around here, the Feds are walking into construction offices and telling employers “fire those 12 people because we think they’re illegals. Yes they have paper work saying they’re legal, but we can’t tell if the paper work is legit or not.” [italics mine]

    Fact: nobody has any clue how many illegal Mexican immigrants are soaking up our welfare state. But the Mexicans I’ve talked around here to sure make it sound like there’s a lot of them.

    And that doesn’t even go into the myraid ways they’ve found to get around paying taxes on more than a fraction of their income. I don’t give a damn what anybody prints anywhere, I’ve talked to them and they brag about it. This problem is rampant.

  30. Even if we fix the “illegal” problem, we could not handle a completely open system of “if you ain’t got a record and you can get on a boat or plane, you are in!”

    That’s a true statement that many seem unable to grasp. At some point the tide does get too high.

    in that perfect world that we all would love, there would be open immigration, no nukes and a pony for every little girl, but WE DON’T LIVE THERE.

    At some point you have to ask yourself: if a large enough fraction of the Mexican population wants to come here, why don’t we start letting Mexican states apply to become US states?

    I think it might not be such a bad idea.

  31. The letter may not be worth all that much. But I’m glad to see some actual debate around here, and some people saying something more than “If you aren’t in favor of complete open borders right now, you must be a racist.”

    To repeat one of my earlier posts, I’ve talked to a lot of Mexicans, and the stories they tell of what it’s like to live in Mexico would break anybody’s heart. I’m generally inclined to let them come here and work.

    But it’s also clear to me that a complete open border policy, combined with a welfare state that isn’t going to go away, is a disaster in the making too.

    Given the fact that we aren’t going to kill the welfare state, it isn’t obvious to me what we ought to do about the situation. But I sincerely doubt we will be able to stop the Mexicans from coming over the border. We should not underestimate their motivation.

  32. Sowell’s arguments, as do do most arguments against open immigration, boil down to this: we were here first, so fuck ’em (Or at least the uneducated types).

    Interestingly, he also mentions in one of his articles that he once did a study showing that the entire population of the world could fit comfortably in Texas.

    Most of the arguments against also carry some false assumptions: all these new people are just going to wind up on welfare. In fact, the majority will find jobs and contribute skills, and then send their descendents on to college to improve their own positions just as our poor and uneducated ancestors did before us.

    And if there is such fear over the welfare state imploding, maybe that would be a good thing. It would force our politicians to do entirely away with the system or recast it in a way that does not lead to moral hazzard, does not reward not working.

    Other problems to the anti side. It assumes an enlightened leadership of gatekeepers who can omnisciently predict what ‘we’ all need. A complex economy, that is ever in flux, depends on a wide range of skills and people, not predictable in advance. Trying to, Brave New World style, micro-manage who gets in in accordance with ‘our’ needs is as reasonable as trying to decide how many levi’s jeans the population will want in ten years time.

    The war on drugs is even more asinine but there’s an interesting parallel: “I’m not against drugs, just the ones that are illegal.” It is the legal rules themselves that are rotten – they don’t rest on a sound moral and economic foundation. “I’m not against slaves winning their freedom through legal means, paying off their debts to their masters, and having their slavery certified by the state, I’m just against slaves running to freedom illegally.”

  33. But it’s also clear to me that a complete open border policy, combined with a welfare state that isn’t going to go away, is a disaster in the making too.

    So the question I have is, Why isn’t the welfare state overburdened today?

    I would submit that it is because there is still some feedback. Granted, the feedback is through political mechanisms and is therefore slow and imprecise. But exists it does, and neither the federal government nor any state government finds itself wrecked due to welfare expenditures.

    Why do restricted immigration types think that the feedback mechanisms that regulate welfare will suddenly disappear under increased immigration?

    The static-world mindset that today’s welfare system will be the same as the welfare system with 100 million more immigrants is identical to the mindset that the 100 millionth immigrant to the US sees the exact same costs and benefits in migrating as the first.

  34. to ghengis:

    “To repeat one of my earlier posts, I’ve talked to a lot of Mexicans, and the stories they tell of what it’s like to live in Mexico would break anybody’s heart. I’m generally inclined to let them come here and work.”

    The problem is that for every sob story you can find in Mexico, you can find fifty more in China, India, Pakistan, Africa, etc. Are you inclined to let them ALL come here and work? Clearly that is impossible. Therefore, we have to sort somehow, and using the criteria “Hey, you broke the rules and got in first” is completely unfair.

    To midbrowcrisis:

    “Most of the arguments against also carry some false assumptions: all these new people are just going to wind up on welfare.”

    Well, using the word “all” when summarizing someone else’s argument virtually always means you are setting up a straw man, but even assuming you really mean to say something like “often”, it is probably true, depending on your meaning of welfare. The reality is that in a welfare state, low-wage workers are ALWAYS on some form of welfare. I am not talking about literal checks from the government – I am talking about the thousands of dollars worth of government services they consume while contributing little or no tax revenue to cover it. A guy making $7/h pays virtually no federal income tax, doesn’t pay enough FICA to come close to the benefits he accrues, and at the state level does not pay enough taxes to cover the additional police, prisons, roads, and schools necessary to cover his family. This is true of the native-born and immigrants. Yes, his and his family’s life will probably improve over time, but the rest of us pay dearly for it.

    “And if there is such fear over the welfare state imploding, maybe that would be a good thing.”

    Unfortunately, the welfare state and the state itself are so closely coupled that both would implode. Even as a libertarian, I still like SOME parts of the government, such as law enforcement.

  35. See, Jason? This isn’t just about people who don’t care how many come as long as it’s legal. Most opponents of open immigration see a legal process as a means to an end rather than just an end in its own right. Read this thread.

    They may be right, they may be wrong, but that’s the concern.

    As to this suggestion:
    if a large enough fraction of the Mexican population wants to come here, why don’t we start letting Mexican states apply to become US states

    I actually have a lot of sympathy for that idea. I know it will never happen, but neither will most of the other things that we express support for on this forum, so let’s talk about it. 🙂

    It would be especially cool if expansion brought in not only Mexican states but also oil rights in the Gulf of Mexico. As I understand it, Mexican oil fields are under state control, and hence not terribly efficient. American oil companies, as bad as they might be in regard to crony capitalism, are still better than an outright state-owned company.

  36. Those damn Vietnamese spammers are stealing our jobs! And they’re all collecting welfare!

  37. MikeP,

    Why isn’t the welfare state overburdened today?

    Can you spell E-U-R-O-P-E ????

    Why do restricted immigration types think that the feedback mechanisms that regulate welfare will suddenly disappear under increased immigration?

    Sit back in your little armchair and take a nice long look across the Atlantic. You’ll see first hand just how well your “feedback mechanism” works.

    The welfare state is not going away. The very best that anyone can hope for is to slow down the march forward temporarily.

    There isn’t a politician on the planet that has the balls to fix social security. They’ll raise taxes and cut benefits until we’re broke. The final feedback signal will be “we’re broke, we can’t pay any more”.

    The politicians also won’t stop with the medical system until they’ve F’ed up the whole thing (i.e. socialized it). Because there so so many poor people out there who need health care, don’t you know. The final feedback mechanism will be that they ration health care like it’s now done in Europe, and nobody will get any — because there’s no money left to pay for it.

    Make no mistake, we’re following in Europe’s footsteps (I submit the state of California as proof positive). Our economy will stagnate, our net average standard of living will drop, almost everyone will have trouble getting a job. And the sooner you can add another 50 million poor Mexican immigrants to the U.S. welfare state equation, the sooner we can be there.

    We too can be like the Europeans. Because we’ve got FEEDBACK mechanisms in OUR welfare state. Just like the Europeans do.

    The final feedback signal of the welfare state is: bankrupt. And if you’re one of those liberal democrat assholes who thinks Europe is a good place, none of this will bother you.

    Don’t worry about it. You’re absolutely right. We can afford open border immigration, and we really should start today. Why don’t we send a personal invitation to every soul in Mexico to come north of the border, right now?

  38. Chad,

    The problem is that for every sob story you can find in Mexico, you can find fifty more in China, India, Pakistan, Africa, etc. Are you inclined to let them ALL come here and work?

    You’re right, and no.

    What I would advocate is that we begin with demolition of the welfare state. Then, we could afford a larger load of immigrants.

    It’ll never happen.

  39. Chad:

    You are right about low wage workers being in some sort of welfare. And this is true whether the low wage worker is an inmigrant or a native.

    Deny them health care? Sounds great until you learn about epidemics. If the guy coughs, how do you know if he’s got a garden variety cold or, say bubonic plague, or tuberculosis, or even Ebola? The only way to effectively screen about infectious diseases is to give them physicals. Personally, I would like to think that the people who prepare my food have access to health care and have received proper training into sanitation…. Just remember what happened to Chi Chi restaurants because it did not care about the health conditions of the workers who picked the crops they used.

    You have also to provide for living conditions that have easy access to working toilets, and that those toilets drain properly into the sewer. What is the point of having a sewage treatment plant if a portion of the population is not connected to it?

    Education? Without education, how can they qualify for jobs that allow them to pull their weight?

    Same goes for police and fire protection. Fire tends to spread, that’s why we pay firement to put out other people’s fires – we want to make sure that the fire does not travel to where we live. As for crime, well, criminals travel too, and they may decide that there are easier pickings in my neighborhood. I rather they got stopped before that..

    Then of course, there is recourse to charity, and need I remind you how we are hammered by requests to contribute, with a lot of peer pressure (you can get a lot of dirty looks by refusin to give to the United Way at work – and it will count against you when it comes to promotion).

    There is a case to be made for the “living wage” movement based on the fact that when the wage is less than that, the rest of us end paying for it, and in some quite annoying ways.

  40. Good arguments for not just opening the borders to anybody and everybody who wants to come here. I’m astounded by the number of people who don’t see any problem with just letting one and all come right on in.

    Of course, I have other attitude problems, like not being opposed in principle to expanding our borders (I’m not Genghis Kahn for nothing you know). It could make a lot of sense to slowly annex Mexico, for example, and more or less impose our system there (sans welfare state). And thoreau makes a good point about Mexican oil that I hadn’t thought of.

    Of course, if you want to impose law and order on Mexico, you’d also have to give up the war on drugs so you dry up the black markets.

    Like we’ve said though, none of these things is ever going to happen.

  41. My policy preferences would be something like:

    1) Make legal immigration much easier than illegal immigration.

    2) Border security consists of guarding the easy passages across the border.

    3) I’m comfortable with the idea that in such an environment, if some guy makes the hard journey across the border, can hold a job and have no arrests over a 10 year period, he becomes legal.

    4) Guest worker status is fine, but I think it doesn’t address much of the problem. I’d rather see more open immigration policies in general.

    5) Enforcement should come at the interior law enforcement level. If you get arrested and you are not a citizen and you don’t have legal status, THEN law enforcement should have the resources to deport you. This way we focus on problem of immigrants here illegally that actually cause problems. Building a barrier to keep out anyone willing to take a risk for a better life is not cost effective and is fundamentally illiberal.

    6) I’m open to the idea that those who get here illegally and make it some period of time without a criminal record or collecting unemployment should be allowed to stay, but perhaps something should be held in reserve as a boon to those who went through the legal process. Maybe the right to vote?

  42. I see the point about people who pay less in taxes than they receive in services, be those services something that they actively receive (putting kids in school) or passively receive (e.g. benefits of police protection, roads, the prosperity that is possible when you live under the rule of law, etc.).

    The thing is, even in a night watchman state, that handled only defense, courts, police, maybe some minimal infrastructure, and so forth, there would still be people whose tax payments were below the national average. What do you do about that?

  43. Also, to those looking to reduce overall levels of immigration by way of ‘getting control of the borders’, you are looking at the wrong threat.

    The AARP is a far greater threat to 30-40 somethings than Mexicans ever could hope to be. Demographically, we are screwed if we can’t increase the tax base by immigration.

  44. The AARP is a far greater threat to 30-40 somethings than Mexicans ever could hope to be.

    I agree!

  45. “A guy making $7/h pays virtually no federal income tax, doesn’t pay enough FICA to come close to the benefits he accrues, and at the state level does not pay enough taxes to cover the additional police, prisons, roads, and schools necessary to cover his family. This is true of the native-born and immigrants.”

    It strikes me as just a tad bit ironic for a self-declared libertarian to base his arguments against immigration on whether immigrants are paying enough in taxes or not. The first libertarians I ever met stood outside the federal building on the day taxes were due and protested either the bullying of the IRS or its right to exist at all. Now the new libertarians come along and declare that immigration must be controlled so as to get the right kind of immigrants who will pay enough to our political masters. And then, if you follow the other post above, what we see is even some libertarians arguing for forced labor camps for people who have done little more than cross over into U.S. territory because they want to work for wages someone else is willing to pay them – a consensual act. We’ve come a long way baby.

    In any case, if I follow this logic then, the very wealthy immigrants should be denied as well, as it is likely they will have their high priced lawyers and accountants figure out a way out of paying their taxes, shoveling it to other interests. Hey, don’t want the rich driving on roads they’re not paying for through legal taxation. While we’re at it, we might as well export all those citizens who are already here, who are only getting low wages or who are starting out low. And the very rich as well. I mean, if the argument is based on the notion that qualification for being here should be indexed to how much is turned over to the taxman, then we might as well start exportation proceedings. Maybe some of our 7 dollar an hour workers will move up in pay eventually, but we can’t guarantee that and it takes time anyway. Meanwhile they’re sponging off the rest of us.

    Of course there’s another possibility than the dystopic nightmare offered up by the static minded here. People are not categories. They move up and down in income, mostly up. They might use more at one time in services than they are having taken from them by the tax man, but one day they might be having much more taken from them than they use in services. And their children might, too. They might make other interesting contributions in skills and knowlegdge and drive that they bring. Yet, unlike the static minded, I can’t predict exactly what the future will hold. I have no idea what jobs will be available ten years or twenty or any other time, what skills will be needed, how technology will intersect and impact all of this, and all the other changes that could go on. All I know is that if someone comes here, and someone else hires him, then the second person ‘needs’ him. When people say ‘we’ don’t need…, who the frack is the ‘we’ they are talking about?

    Anyway, it’s a good thing that our forebears didn’t discriminate in the past based on low skills and economic status entirely, as we would have lost many of our most talented citizens whose ancestors came here poor.

  46. Oh, and let’s not forget that the most destructive AAPR wish-list item of the past couple decades was signed by Bush after DeLay twisted arms to pass it.

    Yeah, I know, the AARP really wanted something even more expensive, but the fact remains that they got a big chunk of what they were hoping for, and they got it in a period of one-party government….from the party that allegedly supports smaller government.

    The most dangerous demographic factor in this country has the Republicans by the balls, and self-described libertarians are whining about Mexicans who want to work.

  47. It strikes me as just a tad bit ironic for a self-declared libertarian to base his arguments against immigration on whether immigrants are paying enough in taxes or not.

    It is not ironic at all. If we lived in a libertarian country, my argument would fall apart. But WE DON’T. We live in a country (and a world) where every person we allow in is one more person that gets to hold a gun to our heads. Is this right? No. But it does give me and everyone else the right to object.

    Now, if you are a supporter of the welfare state and complain about immigrants stealing benefits, you might be being a bit hypocritical. I am not. I am just caught in a bind of someone else’s making – keep some people out, or have too many people leaching off me.

    Here in REALITY, when we allow poor people in, many take more than they put in. If we allowed hundreds of millions to come, there would be little left. You would literally be talking about the destruction of our society. This is obviously an absurd policy and far beyond a no-go.

    So is anyone willing to discuss a real policy we might adopt, and not a fantasy of “anyone can go anywhere at whim”?

  48. Jason Ligon for President! Your Six-Point Immigration Plan sounds great to me!

  49. “The thing is, even in a night watchman state, that handled only defense, courts, police, maybe some minimal infrastructure, and so forth, there would still be people whose tax payments were below the national average. What do you do about that?”

    Nothing really. The idea is that differences in degree become differences in kind. ‘Some’ is tolerable, a ‘whole shitload’ could become an undue financial strain.

    I think what is clear is that most of the difficulties and problems that occur from immigration occur outside of this country. The real problems exist in places like Mexico and the rest of Latin America and also in Africa and certain parts of Asia. Our immigration problems stem a good deal from having to deal with the massive problems that exist in _their_ governments.

    Is there a way to incentivize these places to modernize and open their economies in order to dry up some of the desire for people to leave and come here. To make open immigration work, I think you have to pursue all options available to improve the chances of potential immigrants not _needing_ to come here to pursue a better life for themselves and family.

    In other words, reduce potential immigration not necessarily by law, but by foreign policy designed to dry up some of the sources of the flood of potential immigrants. Easier said than done, obviously, but I think it’s a tough sell to argue that simple open immigration immediately resolves the issue.

  50. In other words, reduce potential immigration not necessarily by law, but by foreign policy designed to dry up some of the sources of the flood of potential immigrants.

    You do realize that the sum total of remittances from the foreign born in the US are greater than direct US foreigh aid.

    Given open borders few of the new immigrants would stay year-round or for more than a few years. Not only the money earned by their productive labor, but also their experiences on how businesses, economies, and less corrupt governments operate, will return to their home countries.

    Frankly, I can imagine no better foreign policy.

  51. MikeP, I like your win-win perspective here. The free flow of labor need not be zero-sum. Some people assume that workers will keep coming here until our standard of living has fallen to that of the third world.

    I prefer to think that a free market for labor will lead to a rising tide that will lift all boats, especially ours. And the remittances that immigrants send home, as well as the indirect benefits of free markets, will alleviate enough suffering to help reduce the flow of immigrants.

    I want the West to be as dynamic and innovative as possible. Let in every person who is willing to work. We’ll benefit from their talent, their ingenuity, and their plain old work ethic. Their relatives back home will reap benefits as well.

    The maximum freedom in the flow of people, products, and information always leads to the maximum economic benefit.

  52. re: Is there a way to incentivize these places to modernize and open their economies in order to dry up some of the desire for people to leave and come here.

    Free trade. Even lengthy, complex free trade agreements make the world more free, I suppose. Not passing laws restricting outsourcing.

    Making it easy for people to come here temporarily to visit, or go to school, or work. If you make it easy to come and go, many will want to go back home instead of staying here. Plus, the cultural exchange will spread modern ideas.

  53. “We live in a country (and a world) where every person we allow in is one more person that gets to hold a gun to our heads. Is this right? No. But it does give me and everyone else the right to object.”

    Look, Keanu, I know the Matrix was a good movie, and you nailed the role of Neo, but it was just a movie and a role…it’s time to move on.

    Immigrants don’t hold a gun to your head for the services they use any more than any other person who uses state services, whether they are low wage workers just entering the work force, or the disabled, or the very wealthy who wiggle out of taxes, or any ordinary citizen. You are mixing up your argument with the argument against forced extraction and then scapegoating immigrants for this.

    Talk about living in a fantasy world. Your arguments assume a lot of things: among them that most immigrants are merely ‘leaching’ off of you. Your static minded and zero-sum game analysis is naive. You forget the contributions immigrants make, some of which are too subtle to quantify, like any other sort of activity in a complex system. Some immigrants might be more motivated than people who have been here for generations and thus they might be more industrious workers, considering the poverty and lack of previous opportunity in their backgrounds. Do some immigrants take more than contribute? Sure, as do some citizens already here, but others give more than they take, in a variety of ways (not just in the taxes they pay).

    In your ‘reality’ you have the conceit to think you know how all these immigrants are affecting you or will affect you in the future. To quote from Adam Smith: “He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces on a chess board.” In my fantasy world I don’t have any idea or conceit as to how the future will play out or how the complex interactions of immigrants, the market, and technology will influence all of that. I do know that if an immigrant arrives here and someone wants to hire him then my distant, third party analysis is probably not as well informed as to what the particular needs of each party is as is the opinions of the parties themselves. And I do not assume that because I arrived first, then my feelings about whether they can arrange a work contract trumps their decision or their natural right to contract.

    On another note, it’s also true that if there were open borders then ‘some’ immigrants on the Mexican side would choose to work here but return to Mexico to live. This is what happens between the fantasy nations of Spain and Portugal. As it stands now, the punitive risks are too high for immigrants to cross back and forth.

  54. Immigrants don’t hold a gun to your head for the services they use any more than any other person who uses state services

    If you read what I wrote, I said just this. Immigrants, however, tend to be poor, and poor people, regardless of origin, use a lot of state services but contribute comparitively less in return.

    Talk about living in a fantasy world. Your arguments assume a lot of things: among them that most immigrants are merely ‘leaching’ off of you.

    Most are. Anyone (regardless of citizenship status) making less than about $40,000 a year does not pay enough taxes to justify the services they are provided. Of course, all of us leach some of the time. The problem is those who leach all or most of the time.

    Some immigrants might be more motivated than people who have been here for generations and thus they might be more industrious workers, considering the poverty and lack of previous opportunity in their backgrounds.

    Yes, some do. We should be looking for these people, and letting in as many as we can integrate into the system. That doesn’t mean we should open the borders to anyone and allow a flood of hundreds of millions, or reward those who have broken the rules.

    Do some immigrants take more than contribute? Sure, as do some citizens already here, but others give more than they take, in a variety of ways (not just in the taxes they pay).

    Which is why I want to have lots of LEGAL immigration.

    In your ‘reality’ you have the conceit to think you know how all these immigrants are affecting you or will affect you in the future.

    One can never be sure, but one can play the odds. A few people do climb out of poverty and make great contributions, but the vast majority do not. We simply CANNOT let in everyone who wants to come. This is both practically and politically impossible. We have to sort. We may as well sort sensibly.

    I do know that if an immigrant arrives here and someone wants to hire him then my distant, third party analysis is probably not as well informed as to what the particular needs of each party is as is the opinions of the parties themselves.

    You keep acting as if this is some sort of “private” or “free market” issue. It SHOULD be, but it is not. If we lived in the wonderful fantasy libertarian world, national borders would be nothing more than minor administrative lines in the dirt with no more meaning than state lines have now. If you wanted to hire a guy from Pakistan to clean your toilet, it would have no tangible effect on me, and be none of my business. In reality, it does and is.

    On another note, it’s also true that if there were open borders then ‘some’ immigrants on the Mexican side would choose to work here but return to Mexico to live.

    Yes, we should have a major guest worker program. This is far different from allowing hundreds of millions of poor people to flood every port and overwhelm our social services. While you are right in theory, that theory does not apply to the very non-free-market reality that we are stuck with.

  55. midbrewcrisis:

    If you want to hire a Pakistani to clean your toilet, then I have nothing to say about it.

    The problem is what the Pakistani does when he is not cleaning the toilet.

    Like: Is he unwittingly spreading a communicable disease?

    Does he, as he did in his village, urinate against the first tree or wall that he sees? It takes time to acculture people to proper sanitation.

    Does his cultural tradition teach him that if a woman smiles him in greeting, it is a sexual invitation that he has to respond? Does he believe that he has a God-given right to grope any attractive female he sees, as long as she is not veiled?

    Has he learned that garbage goes into the garbage can and not on the floor?

    To all those activities I can object to, and I can object to you letting us deal with those problems because you wanted a cheaper hire.

  56. So, furriners are dirty man-children? I did not know that. Get ’em out of here! Seal the borders!

  57. Adriana,
    Were the comments intended below as an Ann Coulter parody? Just in case not, I’ll try to respond seriously:

    “If you want to hire a Pakistani to clean your toilet, then I have nothing to say about it.”

    Right, like this is the motivation for Pakistanis to come here or my motivation in defending their moral claim to emmigrate.

    “The problem is what the Pakistani does when he is not cleaning the toilet.

    Like: Is he unwittingly spreading a communicable disease?”

    Are you? There’s plenty of foolish Americans already here who are quite capable of such a thing. One argument conservatives often make is that our society has become too libertine. Yet, a lot of immigrants often come from more conservative societies; perhaps they would be more likely to refrain from some of the activities that can spread diseases.

    “Does he, as he did in his village, urinate against the first tree or wall that he sees? It takes time to acculture people to proper sanitation.”

    Yes, if you head to any park in London you are bound to find the Pakistani population just whizzing away on the trees in the public parks. It’s an epidemic problem from what I’ve heard.

    Actually, to some extent you are right that people do bring some of their cultural customs from back home here. Yet, just as many Americans already here do things like spit in the street or commit much worse offenses. I reckon the Pakistani crime rate is quite low per capita to the white or black native crime rate in America or England.

    “Does his cultural tradition teach him that if a woman smiles him in greeting, it is a sexual invitation that he has to respond? Does he believe that he has a God-given right to grope any attractive female he sees, as long as she is not veiled?”

    I would be curious to see the statistics on Pakistani gropers per capita vs. native born gropers from other cultural backgrounds. I hear tell the Scotch Irish can get pretty fresh, as can the Austrian body builders.

    “Has he learned that garbage goes into the garbage can and not on the floor?”

    Anyone here, immigrant or descended from immigrants should be fined or prosecuted if they commit an offense that deprives you of your liberty or is an act of physical or environmental aggression or negligence, such as littering. It doesn’t have anything to do with where they came from.

    “To all those activities I can object to,”

    Just as you can object to any other offense committed by the native born.

    “and I can object to you letting us deal with those problems because you wanted a cheaper hire.”

    No, you are mixing categories. I am not responsible for what somebody, immigrant or otherwise, does outside of my place of business. And fyi, I am not in a position to hire anyone for lower wages. Yet, at the same time, I do not begrudge others who are.

    Btw, folks,
    Many people on these posts about immigration have insisted that their arguments against immigration are not based on racism. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. In some cases, it is even not necessarily xenophobia. More often it’s probably a selfish – me-firstism. Yet, I give you Exhibit B: Adriana. If that’s not racism or xenophobia, I don’t know the meaning of the terms.

  58. Yes, midbrowcrisis, I admit it. I prefer not see America destroyed by your fantasy policy. It definitely would be horrible for current Americans (making it an absolute political non-starter) and really wouldn’t help the very immigrants who you seem to be willing to sacrifice America for. It would instead result in the biological equivalent of a population boom, after which there would be mass starvation the following winter. If we really wanted to sacrifice a large part of our wealth for foreigners, we would be much better off just taxing ourselves an extra trillion or two and sending it to them. They wouldn’t have to leave their homes and families and we wouldn’t be living in a land of state-run refugee camps.

  59. Chad

    You have lived a too sheltered life if you think that “communicable disease” means venereal disease.

    Think tuberculosis. Think dengue fever. Think typhus or cholera. Think bubonic plague. Think Ebola…

    There was a lesson to be learned from AIDS, but it has nothing to do with sex. It is the fact that diseases travel. We were lucky with that one since its method of transmision is easier to deal with. Imagine what it would be like if it transmitted the way tuberculosis or pneumonic plague: through the nose and mouth.

    As for racism or xenophobia, it is not. People who live in rural areas tend to be rather cavalier as to where they go to the toilet. They just squat in the bushes or lean next to a tree. It takes a while for them to learn the niceties of holding until they find an appropriate receptacle. And most of thsoe immigrants come from rural areas and do what is natural to them.

    (I seem to recall that there was a case, in which an expensive home turned out to smell foul because the building crew just relieved themselves on the spot – same as Louis XIV’ courtiers did in Versailles)

    As it is natural for Oriental inmigrants to catch the neighborhood cats and dogs for the pot.

    As for attitude about women,well, that is the way they are taught. There are decent women and there are whores, and unfortunately the women here look and behave like whores in their country. Again, they need to be taught.

    So, if you hire someone to work for you who has not learned the appropriate behavior for where he moved, you should take the trouble of teaching them what they can do, and what is incredibly annoying to their new neigbors.

  60. Chad,

    Do you have any examples of societies collapsing under unrestricted immigration? I’d consider limiting the question to modern, post-Enlightenment societies, but I’m not aware of any historical cases either.

    Please consider the entire history of US immigration before the 1920s. Also consider intranational migrations such as unlanded southern black populations’ moving to northern cities. For that matter, please explain why US urban societies were not destroyed by the rapid migration of the population from farms to cities that came with the industrial revolution.

  61. “Immigrants, however, tend to be poor, and poor people, regardless of origin, use a lot of state services but contribute comparitively less in return.”

    They do tend to be poor but since people do not stay in the same economic category all their lives your argument can only apply to one year of income reported in. In some cases, fresh immigrants are more likely to move out of poverty faster, and then their children will do even better. Whereas people descended from immigrants whose families have been here for generations, are just as likely or more likely to stagnate in poverty. It is often the case, that the most industrious populations are the first wave of immigrants, then their children. By the third generation, some of this industry can taper off.

    Most are (leaching). Anyone (regardless of citizenship status) making less than about $40,000 a year does not pay enough taxes to justify the services they are provided. Of course, all of us leach some of the time. The problem is those who leach all or most of the time.

    Yes, but then it isn’t necessarily the case that fresh immigrants, and then their children, are going to be the biggest leachers. It migh turn out it is fresh immigrants, or their children, who are making the biggest contributions compared to people whose families have been here for generations. As for the 40,000 mark you mention, many people earning below this can make all sorts of contributions beyond merely their payment in taxes. And as I said, they won’t necessarily stay at this level. And of course, none of us would need to ‘leach’ at all if we had a less medieval method for paying for services in place.

    I dislike discriminating against people based on their current earnings. While I do not favor equality of outcomes, I do favor equality of opportunity.

    “Yes, some do (work harder). We should be looking for these people, and letting in as many as we can integrate into the system. That doesn’t mean we should open the borders to anyone and allow a flood of hundreds of millions, or reward those who have broken the rules.”

    We cannot know ahead of time who the most industries people would be. The gatekeepers we appoint to this task do not have this omniscient sort of knowledge. And just as I wouldn’t block you from entering this country, if you were part of this hundred million horde, I see no more reason why I have a moral claim to block others, simply because my family entered earlier.

    “One can never be sure, but one can play the odds (on immigant success). A few people do climb out of poverty and make great contributions, but the vast majority do not. We simply CANNOT let in everyone who wants to come. This is both practically and politically impossible. We have to sort. We may as well sort sensibly.”

    And you trust Bill Clinton or Newt Gingrich to sort sensibly? To gamble with other people’s futures? Would you trust them to gamble with your family’s future? Where do they get the knowledge to figure out who is going to become the most productive members and who will flounder? Besides, the vast majority wouldn’t stay here if they were to stagnate in poverty. They’d go somewhere else. You seem to assume 100 million people are going to come here, most will live in poverty, and noone will ever leave or go to other places. I submit this is static minded and collectivist thinking (assuming that individual people will not adapt and make new decisions based on changes in their environment), not to mention glass is half empty thinking.

    “You keep acting as if this is some sort of “private” or “free market” issue. It SHOULD be, but it is not. If we lived in the wonderful fantasy libertarian world, national borders would be nothing more than minor administrative lines in the dirt with no more meaning than state lines have now. If you wanted to hire a guy from Pakistan to clean your toilet, it would have no tangible effect on me, and be none of my business. In reality, it does and is.”

    Why, because you keep stomping your foot to say it is? Your argument confuses the moral for the legal. Because something is legal, that makes it a legitimate claim on our actions, forgetting that many laws are either immoral or poorly thought out constructs based on prejudices, poor understanding of economics, or regurgitated tribalism.

    “Yes, we should have a major guest worker program. This is far different from allowing hundreds of millions of poor people to flood every port and overwhelm our social services. While you are right in theory, that theory does not apply to the very non-free-market reality that we are stuck with.”

    Guest worker programs are okay as a start I suppose or a compromise. Yet, you glosed over the fact that not all immigrants who live on our borders would necessarily stay if the borders were open. It’s the risk factor of jumping back and forth that keeps some of them here. As I said, look at the real world nations of Portugal and Spain for a comparison. Besides, if you are worried that too many people will come here because of the attractiveness of our welfare state, then it’s probably more likely that the majority of these people who would be attracted by such an option would head to Canada or Europe where government services are more expansive.

    I think, in short, your argument is that since the state takes away our earnings in taxes to pay for services then letting in too many people will strain an already strained state system. But you argue only one way – that these new immigrants will mostly be a drain. My argument is that it’s just as likely they will make more contributions, in the long run, then they will take away, as I’ve stated for the reasons mentioned above. Sure, some won’t be contributers, just as some of our native born aren’t. But we cannot predict this ahead of time, or exactly how any societal changes will develop in the future, and letting the state be the gatekeepers of this is no more wise than letting the state try to figure out how many widgets people will need in a few more years. You seem to think we will, in the long run, produce a more libertarian society, by bolstering some of the anti-libertarian measures we already have in place, giving even more power to the state to make collective decisions for ordinary people. I say this is letting the fox guard the hen house, strengthening and entrenching the fox’s power. And I do not see that you have a moral claim on anyone’s future, simply because your family arrived earlier.

  62. midbrowcrisis,

    “Yet, I give you Exhibit B: Adriana. If that’s not racism or xenophobia, I don’t know the meaning of the terms.”

    I don’t know what her motivation is but I have a question. Have you ever worked in a restaurant? I have, many. My sisters, many friends and girlfriends have as well. Cultural differences between US born and Central and south Americans manifest in rather distasteful ways. Ever noticed a trash can in a toilet stall? They’re put there because many people from the lower Americas have sewer systems that don’t accept paper products. So those trash bins contain paper covered with shit. It seems to be a habit that is hard to break since they’re still there to this day. Yum.

    Another fun cultural difference is that women are treated in ways that would make your eyes bulge.
    Nonstop sexual comments and yes groping. Now certainly not every person from those cultures is like this but its the rule rather then the exception.

    Now on to the IT field where I worked with many people, woman and men from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Although US woman are treated by men from these countries fairly well the women from the Indian subcontinent are treated in ways that border on criminal. I had to constantly explain to these (well educated) guys that their behavior was inappropriate. It was usually mat with a smirk or occasionally a quote from the Koran.

    I write this to illustrate that cultural differences do cause friction. Many times severe friction. It’s not something to summarily discount. Also any immigrants that continually return home will have a harder time acclimating to our culture.

  63. As it is natural for Oriental inmigrants to catch the neighborhood cats and dogs for the pot.

    midbrowcrisis,

    Adriana has got you there. How do you respond to that?

    and
    I seem to recall that there was a case, in which an expensive home turned out to smell foul because the building crew just relieved themselves on the spot

    Adriana is right again. I have talked to guys who work construction, and only foreign born workers take dumps in the basements of homes under construction. The white, I mean ‘Mercan, workers only poop baby powder and they keep it in their pants.

  64. Midbrowcrisis,

    “And just as I wouldn’t block you from entering this country, if you were part of this hundred million horde, I see no more reason why I have a moral claim to block others, simply because my family entered earlier.”

    I see a large gray space between public and private ownership. Where do you draw the line? Because I see this as the underlying issue in most immigration arguments.

  65. Adriana, Chad is on your team. I made the comments you are referring to.

    “Chad

    You have lived a too sheltered life if you think that “communicable disease” means venereal disease. ”

    No, I was only thinking of one kind of disease that can be spread through unsafe behavior.

    “Think tuberculosis. Think dengue fever. Think typhus or cholera. Think bubonic plague. Think Ebola…”

    Okay, well this is one kind of argument I can respect. Perhaps it would make sense to have some sort of testing for these diseases before entry would be allowed. Restricting immigration, by a quota method, is not necessarily likely to make some of these threats less likely, as many people will continue to hop borders, or load themselves on freights to get here. They do this as they know there is no possibility or very little possibility they will be one of the lucky ones to be part of the quota allowed in. If restriction had nothing to do with quotas but only with some sort of health check, then I think this would likely lead to lessening this risk more than a quota system would.

    Isn’t dengue fever from a mosquito bite though?

    “As for racism or xenophobia, it is not. People who live in rural areas tend to be rather cavalier as to where they go to the toilet. They just squat in the bushes or lean next to a tree. It takes a while for them to learn the niceties of holding until they find an appropriate receptacle. And most of thsoe immigrants come from rural areas and do what is natural to them.”

    Most or some? a few? This is what racism is. People are automatically assumed to partake of a behavior simply because they are of that race or ethnicity, and then if one example supports the stereotype, this supposedly makes the claim true. I’ve lived in areas with heavy populations of new immigrants and I really don’t recall any of this hehavior you are describing, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it had happened. Actually, many of my neighbor’s apartments seemed cleaner than some of the apartments of the natives. I’ve lived in a number of foreign countries and I hate to break it to you, but most people know how to use the toilet in the world today. The ones who don’t are drunk or older or street people…the latter two groups are not the type who are going to emigrate to the States.

    (I seem to recall that there was a case, in which an expensive home turned out to smell foul because the building crew just relieved themselves on the spot – same as Louis XIV’ courtiers did in Versailles)

    One example does not support categorical claims.

    “As it is natural for Oriental inmigrants to catch the neighborhood cats and dogs for the pot.”

    No, it is not common actually. It does happen but is not the norm. Nor is it natural to all oriental groups. The Japanese don’t eat dogs. Some of the Chinese do, in some parts, but many don’t either. Thais don’t except for the part of Thailand called Issan. It depends on the Asian group, which part of Asia they are from, whether they are from rural or urban areas, their economic and socio-cultural status, etc. To lump all orientals together in one group and to say it is natural is, ahem, racist.

    As for attitude about women,well, that is the way they are taught. There are decent women and there are whores, and unfortunately the women here look and behave like whores in their country. Again, they need to be taught.

    This is a social issue, not a legal one. It is only a legal issue if they attack a woman. They should be prosecuted for this, just as a white or black man should be prosecuted for an assault on a woman (and if you watch enough music videos it’s pretty clear that it is not only non-native cultures who don’t have a high attitude towards women. Do you plan to teach them?).

    “So, if you hire someone to work for you who has not learned the appropriate behavior for where he moved, you should take the trouble of teaching them what they can do, and what is incredibly annoying to their new neigbors.”

    I’m not in that position but even if I were you are certainly within your legal rights to suggest what I should or should not do. I am also in my legal rights to tell you to butt the hell out of my business and keep your xenophobia to yourself. Go bother some white people who you think are annoying for a change. If someone I had hired assaulted someone then it would be the legal authorities who would prosecute them and take them to jail.

  66. MikeP: Do you have any examples of societies collapsing under unrestricted immigration? I’d consider limiting the question to modern, post-Enlightenment societies, but I’m not aware of any historical cases either.

    I do not think there are any examples of any nation attempting such a suicidal policy, for good reason. The closest analogies would be when such a policy was enforced from the outside, and yes, those civilizations were destroyed (Native Americans and Tibet come to mind off the top of my head). Also, any attempt to compare this policy to the policy of a north or south American nation of even a hundred years ago is rather moot, as transportation was very limiting back then and there was still large amounts of untapped resources in this hemisphere. Things have changed.

    Internal migrations are of a very different nature. While they can represent vast changes in society, for society as a whole, they do not change things much. There are still the same number of people to protect, the same amounts of water and land consumed, etc. Also, the cultural differences between rural and urban are quite small when compared to international differences.

  67. They do tend to be poor but since people do not stay in the same economic category all their lives your argument can only apply to one year of income reported in.

    Yes, but a guy making $7/h today is not likely to become a professional earning $70k/year. Most likely, he will be poor, then not so poor, then poor again in the future. There are always exceptions, but not that many of them. People do move around the income scale quite a bit during their lifetime (being a student or retiree vs being a worker) but if you are fairly poor during your working years, you probably will be only poorer the rest of the time.

    “In some cases, fresh immigrants are more likely to move out of poverty faster, and then their children will do even better.”

    Here is something else that you seem to be missing. Yes, immigrants have tended towards the mean after a few generations, rapidly learning English and moving towards the middle-class. However, this process of integration may only work when there numbers are sufficiently low. If you have been to the southwest lately, you might very well come to the conclusion that the “melting pot” idea of integration is no longer operating. Beyond a certain critical mass, groups of immigrants no longer need to integrate with the surrounding society, and the integration process can be severely slowed or even stopped. Look at the disaster that is occuring in Europe with the Arab populations.

    “And you trust Bill Clinton or Newt Gingrich to sort sensibly?”

    I would prefer coin flips or paper-rock-scissors with a quota of 1% of the population (currently 3 million new immigrants/year) to your policy. Having a real human decide would be even better – even Newt or Bill.

  68. As for attitude about women,well, that is the way they are taught. There are decent women and there are whores, and unfortunately the women here look and behave like whores in their country. Again, they need to be taught.

    This is a social issue, not a legal one. It is only a legal issue if they attack a woman. They should be prosecuted for this, just as a white or black man should be prosecuted for an assault on a woman (and if you watch enough music videos it’s pretty clear that it is not only non-native cultures who don’t have a high attitude towards women. Do you plan to teach them?).

    Yes, they need to be taught, and prosecuted when they act out what they learned. Who pays the teachers? Who pays the policemen? The legal staff and what not?

    Those come out of public taxes. That is, my pocket. So I have the choice of being harassedd in the street, or paying for the acculturarion. In the meantime, someone got some work done cheap.

    My point is that when people want to hire workers the cheaper the better,then end up shifting the costs to the rest of us.

  69. If you please, begging your pardon, Mr. Adriana sir, but relieving oneself against a tree while simultaneously groping an unveiled woman with one hand, cleaning Mr. snow white man’s toilet with the other, while letting the guts of the neighbor’s cat glide auspiciously down one’s gullet, is a most divine pleasure that no oriental should be depriving himself of.

  70. Another thing you are missing, midbrowcrisis:

    Currently, I own a 1/300,000,000 share in Yosemite National Park, the oil in ANWR, and the federal courthouse in Tuscaloosa, among others. When you bring in a Pakistani immigrant to do your dirty work, my shares are diluted to 1/300,000,001. Now, if I somehow gained a 1/150,000,000 share of all the public property in Pakistan, or if the “open” policy resulted in a roughly equal number of Americans moving to Pakistan, or if there were no nation-states and I had just as much right to a public building in Karachi as in Alabama, you might argue that this is fair. However, none of these conditions hold.
    When the immigrant comes, my share in America’s wealth is diluted. I am materially poorer, as more resources are required to maintain the buildings, more people crowd the parks, the oil revenues get diluted among more people.

  71. Is Adriana a real person?

    “So I have the choice of being harassedd in the street, or paying for the acculturarion.”

    What a bunch of nativist crap. You make it sound like your poor self is going to have to pay for four years at Harvard for an undergrad degree in Relating to American Women, and Don’t Poop in the Garbage Can for every immigrant. The mind boggles. Call me crazy, but this argument would be just as effective at closing down immigration altogether, wouldn’t it? I mean even one guy that YOU have educate or get assaulted by is too many, I’d think.

    “In the meantime, someone got some work done cheap”

    Yeah, because cheaper housing doesn’t affect you at all. I hope you tip your nice white server well when you go to a restaurant, too. The cost structures of every one I know of depends on cheap back of the house labor. Lord knows the FICA portion withheld directly from these workers doesn’t affect you at all by mitigating your payroll taxes.

  72. “Currently, I own a 1/300,000,000 share in Yosemite National Park, the oil in ANWR, and the federal courthouse in Tuscaloosa, among others. When you bring in a Pakistani immigrant to do your dirty work, my shares are diluted to 1/300,000,001.”

    Er, when you have a baby you are doing the same thing. So what? I’d think the key observation would be that your bills from public resources now get divided by another person, who is doing a job.

  73. In keeping with what you said about AARP earlier, Jason, every time somebody reaches Medicare age (what is it, 65? 66? I forget) your share of a debt increases. Every time a guy comes in from Pakistan or Mexico and gets a job subject to payroll taxes, your share of that debt decreases.

  74. Concerns about the impact of immigration on the poorest Americans should not be addressed by penalizing even poorer immigrants.

    In other words, these clowns are petitioning the United States government to put the interests of foreign nationals, to whom it has no obligation whatsoever, ahead of those of United States citizens, the people whose interests it’s supposedly getting paid to represent. Nice guys. Something tells me these aren’t the kind of folks you’d want to be a foxhole with.

    Watch your back around this crew. And watch it real close.

  75. Begging your pardon, if you please, Mr. Adriana, sir, but is your neighborhood containing a plethora of he-goats? My fellow villagers would be most appreciative for this kindly information as it most natural for we celestials to be engaging in village wide goat ass fucking whenever we are not so wonderfully engaged in other pissing and groping pursuits.

  76. Stupendous Man:
    Regarding your comments about the bathroom in restaurants where you worked…join the club. I’ve worked in a lot of restaurants as well. Probably the filthiest was actually a resort hotel in upstate New York, mostly run by Italians. There was a rat that ran around in the kitchen that everyone called Frankie. And I know others who have worked in restaurants where food that was dropped on the floor was put on the plate – 5 second rule or no. I also recall seeing a program on one of the news shows that showed video clippings of cooks and waiters doing unmentionable things to the food. Guess what, in all those situations the perpetrators were white. And at my university, where there weren’t too many Mexicans to speak of, the bathrooms were downright horror shows.

    As for the guys from Southeast Asia you mention in IT with obnoxious attitudes towards women you don’t have to go too far in America to see this lack of respect either. Or how about the annoying people who blare their heavy metal, rap, or polka music out of their boom boxes or car stereos? Born in the U.S.A.

    So, I see no reason to scape goat immigrants for their obnoxious behaviors. We have just as much obnoxious behavior right here among the native born. Take the bigoted comments of Adriana for example. Please.

    This does not mean that I embrace a pure form of multi-culturalism. I still think our laws against aggression and other offenses that harm others, and even animals in needless ways, need to be strictly enforced. Cock fighting should be prosecuted as it’s animal cruelty – I don’t care what culture people come from in that regard.

    Regarding your comments about public and private space, here’s my take on it:
    The most important right a human being should have is liberty, a right that should not be infringed upon by third parties unless the actions of the first two parties in consensual agreement infringes on 3rd party rights. I regard this human right as not just extending to Americans, the descendants of immigrants, but to everyone. So immigrants coming to America to work should not have their liberty to contract with native born Americans disrupted by third parties. The fact they are traveling on public property, such as roads, should not trump their liberty to move and contract.

    It’s my view that open borders, is an extension of the enlightenment thinking that underscored the Declaration and the Constitution. But just as blacks were originally seen as not fully persons, or worse, as property, and women weren’t given voting rights, I also think the idea of extending full liberty to new immigrants, was an idea not yet ready to be fully realized. And I also think that the Constitutional Framers knew enough to restrain popular whims of citizens, to vote away the most basic rights of others, otherwise they wouldn’t have established a bill of rights in the first place. Extending these rights to newly arrived immigrants is simply expanding the groups of people who can be seen to be included in the most basic rights we should be endowed with.

  77. Dear midbrow:

    I am sorry if I made myself not clear. My problem is not with inmigration per se, but with those who salivate at the thought of low cost labor, never mind who pays the hidden costs.

    None of the problems with inmigrants is itself insoluble, which is not the same thing as saying that they don’t exist. Law enforcement and acculturarion will do the trick.

    The problem is that law enforcement and acculturation are paid by public taxes, that is the rest of us, whether we employ low cost labor or not. Also, low cost labor means that we have to provide medical care and education to people who a) need a lot of it and b) are not in the position to pay for it. I explained why we need to provide the medical care (epidemics…), and education to make sure that they can one day pull their weight.

    You are free to hire whoever you want, at the wage you agree, but if your practices lead to attracting a population whose needs require that taxes rise to maintain the same level of services that that existed before the migration, then your low wages are being subsidized by public taxes, and as taxpayers, we have the right to resent that. Such as we have the right to resent the behavior that leads us into agreeing to raise taxes that will pay to prevent it in the future.

    As we always will resent a situation in which you keep the benefit (the lower cost of wages) while spreading out the costs to the rest of us.

    Forgive if I think of such behavior as basically freeloading.

  78. Also, low cost labor means that we have to provide medical care and education to people who a) need a lot of it and b) are not in the position to pay for it. I explained why we need to provide the medical care (epidemics…), and education to make sure that they can one day pull their weight.

    The knowledge may be lost in policy circles today, but a hundred years ago people knew the difference between public health and welfare. Public health describes those health issues which are public goods, that is, those whose benefits are greater to the public at large than to the individual. In particular, they are clean water, adequate sanitation, and containment of communicable disease. And the provision of the truly public aspects of individual and collective health is ridiculously cheap! Aside from antibiotics and vaccines themselves, it’s also simple 19th century medicine.

    Please retire the “the state has to pay for all an immigrant’s health care to contain epidemics” strawman.

    Education, on the other hand, is a private good. The vast majority of its benefit accrues to the individual being educated. If the state chooses to pay for education it is because, fundamentally, it does not trust the parents to be competent or concerned enough to provide it themselves. I may be jumping out on a limb here, but I would bet that new immigrants would be more likely than current residents to take an interest in assuring their children get the best educations they can.

    If the state wants to pay for an immigrant child’s education, it has that power. But do not pretend that it is a societal requirement or even a public good for it to do so.

  79. MikeP: I do not disagree with your last post. Adrianna probably does not, either. The government SHOULD be small and limited, as you suggest. But it ISN’T, nor will it be any time soon. Welfare states conflict with open immigration if nations have differing resources and wealth. Until we get rid of welfare states (unlikely), or the world becomes a lot “flatter” in terms of its wealth distribution (likely in time), open immigration would lead to floods of people moving from the poor areas to the rich.

    Do you really want millions of refugees in your backyard?

  80. Do you really want millions of refugees in your backyard?

    I have a small backyard. It would likely be uncomfortable for more than a couple dozen “refugees”. But if millions of refugees could fit, I’d charge them a dollar a month rent apiece and go live in the nicest part of town. They could even have the run of the house too!

    I’m sure you’ll tell me it can’t be as good as you’ve described it. Then you’ll refer me to the sob stories of all those people in Connecticut who have dozens of the poorest residents of Alabama, Mississippi, and Puerto Rico residing in their backyards.

  81. Chad:

    Thanks for your defense, but my position vis-a-vis the State is irrelevant. Once there is a bill to be paid, it will be paid, either by the State or in a roundabout way by the community.

    Whether or not it is a private company or the State that removes garbage on the street, you have to pay for it. Same thing with all the other services. Privatized or not, eventually you get the envelope in the mail with the implied threat. Pay or face legal penalties if the State, or Pay or face denial of service, by the private outfit.

    We have to face that we have to provide those services to those who do cannot afford them, not out of th goodness of our heart, but in our our interest. We have to provide them with sanitation if we do not want feces in our driking water. We have to provide with medical access to be able to track down incipient epidemics (how easily we forget how our ancestors endured them, no matter how high or low their station in life, and prayed for an end to thata scource). We have to provide them with fire response teams to keep any fires contained, same thing with crime and police. And we have to provide their children with education to install in them a) the kind of behavior we find acceptable and b) the means to learn a useful trade which will be rewarded based on the need we have for it.

    How it is paid, is another question, but out of our pockets come it will……

  82. Let’s hear it for Adriana! Finally someone who will admit that they are just a me-firster, in spite of the evidence that any immigration has net positive benefits. Someone who posts to a website called “reason” but still refuses to use hers. God bless ya!

  83. Midbrowcrisis,

    “So, I see no reason to scape goat immigrants for their obnoxious behaviors. We have just as much obnoxious behavior right here among the native born.”

    Yes obnoxious people are everywhere. I was making an example of cultural differences that do cause hardships. For example, I don’t agree that you’ll find the level misogynistic (yep, I said it) behavior in the average male born in the US as you would a male from Pakistan or Bangladesh. Culture change is not easily predictable. Watch what happens when a large group of males from less enlightened cultures is combined with our own unenlightened- fundies anyone.

    “The most important right a human being should have is liberty, a right that should not be infringed upon by third parties unless the actions of the first two parties in consensual agreement infringes on 3rd party rights…”

    While I agree with the ideal I don’t think it works well in practice. If I were the third party how are the other two parties aware of how their behavior effects me?

  84. Y’all get the fuck off my land….uh, ‘cept for your women. They can stay. Dress ’em up real nice in buckskin.

  85. I suppose the thread is dying out and this could just keep going back and forth forever. But a few closing comments.

    Adriana,
    If you think the public schools are teaching civic values then you haven’t been in one in a long time. If anything, Americans only become civilized after exiting the jungle of government education. The people in power determine which values are taught in the public schools, as well as an official, often myopic, view of history. Schools are indoctrination centers. Some of the latest indoctrination takes multiculturalism to such an absurd degree as to insist that a future time orientation is racist. You pay taxes for that, not necessarily for teachers to teach your own brand of warped values, view of history, or the inability to keep argumentative categories straight.

    SM,
    How third parties are affected by the consensual agreements of other parties involves a long and protracted discussion. But basically, if there are infringements or externalities, these issues can be worked out by arbitration, other market or voluntary arrangements, private agreements, the courts, or even regulation as a last gasp measure if it can be determined that the preceding methods are inefficient.

    The view that “I don’t see how it can work in practice” seems just so similar to all the other arguments against any sort of libertarian positions where all the affects of all actions cannot be predicted in advance. “We can’t legalize all drugs – there would be chaos, yer granny smokin’ crack on her doorstep, even white kids shootin’ up in their previously pristine suburbs.” “We can’t have free trade, Americans would suffer in competition with the faceless hordes.” “We can’t just let prices run wild. Someone’s got to decide a fair price for everthing. Otherwise, we’ll have chaos. The big eveel corporations will charge through the roof, and we’ll get a race to the bottom.” We could argue all day about the positive or negative effects of open immigration but I think it basically boils down to whether you view the Command and Control view of the world or the Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom view. It also depends on whether you view that the value of equality of opportunity should apply not only to your tribe, but whether it applies to all of humanity.

  86. midbrow

    Did I make it clear that because I am aware that we have to pay for those things does not mean that it has to be through the Government. Let’s say that we use private teaching exclusively. We still have to find a way to subsidize those who cannot afford it. It might be part of the United Way, with its trademark gentle shake-down.

    Well, highnumber, haven’t I heard cited here that selfishness is a virtue? Why are you so shocked that I exercise mine? Or are the people who you approve of the only ones allowed to look out for
    their best interests? So, argue that it is not in my best interest, but do not call me a “me firster”, because flattery will get you nowhere.

    The fact is that any increase in population increases demand for public goods, if the increase in population cannot afford to pay for them, they will have to be subsidized by those who can, with the result, as I said, that you have to pay more to keep the same level of services. People **do** object to that.

  87. “if there are infringements or externalities, these issues can be worked out by arbitration, other market or voluntary arrangements, private agreements, the courts, or even regulation as a last gasp measure if it can be determined that the preceding methods are inefficient.”

    I understand that in principle I have remedies. But most of these are onerous. Ex. The two other parties receive benefits that curtail my liberty. To regain my liberty I have to expend even more resorces with no garantee of an equitable outcome.
    Their cost of denying my liberty for profit is much lower than my cost to fix the situation.

    Personal story: a contractor is building next door. He’s undermined my foundation, damaged my garage, sprayed cement all over my building. After getting the city, my alderman and his lawyer involved the outcome is that unless I’m willing to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees I’m screwed unless the contractor decides to do what the law and the city say he should do. He’s using illegal labor from Poland and Mexico. I know they’re illegal because I’ve talked with them. Many of the issues have been caused by the workers from these other countries being unfamiliar with codes, how to actually build certain structures etc. Oh, this guy will make hundreds of thousands of dollars while degrading the value of my property. It isn’t a free market it’s more like mob rule.

    “The view that “I don’t see how it can work in practice” seems just so similar to all the other arguments against any sort of libertarian positions”

    I support most libertarian postitions. After reading many post on immigration I finally went out and read up on what economists are saying. Yes the majority I could find supported immigration (of course many prominent economists have differing views) but I also found that many of the models were bounded. This is as it should be. What I, and I think many of the open border detractors are saying is that we see the reality to be either moving or already outside the parameters of the economic models. So yes the models indicate immigration = good, but with caveats. Some issues like taking into account the amount of effort and/or suffering required for the markets to straighten out. Who bears the moral burden for that effort/suffering?

  88. Stupendous man:

    Your post demonstrates why the rest of us should provide education to those who cannot pay for it. Unless you educate, how are they going to learn the proper procedures, codes, etc, that will keep you from being an innocent bystander victim?

    But of course, education, aculturation, law enforcemente, that all costs money. The courts cost money. It will take a lot of money for you to get back to where you were before it all started. Not to mention aggravation. And then you get a lecture for being “against freedom”

    Well, for one, I am against the freedom to dump your costs on innocent bystanders. Innocent bystanders have rights too, and should be free not to subsidize others unless it is properly called subsidy and then agreed to.

    Given that in the provision of public goods innocent bystanders are a captive market (they cannot choose not provide them, unless they want their life to turn nasty), then innocent bystanders have the right to ask that the influx of those who cannot afford to pay their share of public goods be kept within bounds.

  89. Did I say that would be my closing comments back there…oops, I meant to say, ‘next to closing comments.’

    Adriana,
    So you are happy to be called a ‘me-firster.’ Cool. I’m happy not to insult you then by the label. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with selfishness in the sense that everyone is free to do their own thang. That’s the American Way. I have no quarrel with that. That’s not really selfishness anyway but simply finding one’s own way, which is the heart of liberty. So, of course, you are free and entitled to want to live away from those that you disapprove of. Build or live in a gated community if you choose. Or build a high fence or wall around you. That’s also your right.

    However, if you think this ‘me-first’ principle gives you a claim over the whole of this public land we now call America, or to the private sector that you have no legal claim to, then I think your selfish hand has reached too far, since it’s backed by the point of a sword. Do you subscribe to this philosophy of “whoever was here first sets the rules for anyone coming later” as a principle or is it just an opportunistic and selfish way to say me me me. If it’s the former, then I think you should have a nice little chat with Mr. “Leers at Pilgrim Women” above. It seems he might quarrel with who public, perhaps even private, land in America belongs to, as his tribe was actually here long before yours. He could also tell you a tale or two of epidemics gone wild. My guess is though, given all your other posts, that this ‘me-first’ principle of yours is actually just opportunistic and in fact you would not respect his claim.

    Your other comments are a dog’s breakfast of Malthusian myopia, seeing as you do, wholly negative effects of immigration. And you continually mix categories – is your argument with how the state collects revenue or with immigrants, or just humanity itself? Afterall, all human beings have some impact on you, if there’s anything to the butterfly effect, but in your case, you seem to be only able to see the negative. Or at least the negative in all tribes but your own – another sort of myopia.

    You also mix up forced extraction from the state and donations given to private charities. The United Way is a private charity – you are not forced to hand over your money to them.

    SM,
    Sorry to hear of your situation. I would hope that you would win the case and your remuneration would well exceed the cost to you in damages and legal fees. The problem with the implications of your story is that the same argument applies to immigration of any sort- even if we restricted immigration to the number we have now, and continually hounded illegals, the exact same sorts of situations would occur (as of course, it happened to you under the present conditions). You’d still have some construction workers from other countries, some of them illegal. In fact, with the rules the way they are now, it might give contractors more incentive to go under the table, and thus the rules on building codes would be less likely to be followed. Unwittingly, the INS works to support both improper conditions for foreign workers, many in sweatshops, and for shoddy work itself when workers are hired under the table and must be on the look out constantly from the authorities. Supervisors must find ways around the law, workers are sometimes housed in poor conditions, and worked in subpar conditions.

    Additionally, do you not think that earlier arrivals had similar problems in adjusting to conditions here? That there weren’t similar problems and disputes when old customs clashed with new? Do you expect that your ancestors did not cause any sorts of messes or at least misunderstandings to their neighbors?

    When I was growing up, we lived next door to a plumber. He also liked to go hunting and leave out the carcasses of his kills in the backyard where they would rot and attract vermin. Amidst the elk heads he stashed various kinds of other trash. Such a thing did not lead to higher property values for my parent’s house, or to sanitary living conditions. He had other bad habits as well, such as beating his wife, after she spent his paycheck on shopping, leaving the family with less to spend on food, and my mother to spend time in her day consoling the woman after these beatings. They didn’t have to come from another country to have these problems or to cause us problems. Their families had been in America for generations.

    This is not to say some groups bring in their own unique problems and situations to America. But that’s no different from the problems brought before. Or the unique benefits they brought. Up until 1920 we basically had open immigration, with all the positive and negative effects we have now. Sure, America had huge problems, but wouldn’t you agree that we also became on of the great, if not greatest countries on earth, perhaps even in history prior to 1920?

    Ideas on Liberty has some great resource articles on immigration. I’d recommend doing a search on their site for more information. Cheers.

  90. midbrow:

    If you think that the United Way does not force you to give money, you have never been at a pledge week on the job. No, they tell you, it is entirely voluntary. You give what you want (they suggest how much), and if you want to give nothing you do.

    If you do not mind to be labeled as “not a team player” which means a less pleasant working environment and fewer chances of promotion…

    Just because others are subtle in making you turn you money to them, does not mean that you do it of your free will.

    Then there is the “captive market” scenario. You mentioned your obnoxious neighbor, who left carcasses around. Let’s say that he threw carcasses on the street, where they constituted a traffic and health hazard. Since you have to drive on the road and do not relish the smell of rotting meat, you have to haul it, or pay someone to have it hauled away. So your neighbor forced you to do his work, if you haul it away yourself, or dipped into your pocket to pay someone else – the Government through taxes, or a private hauling company. In other work, your own earnings went to do a job your neighbor should have done himself.

    You could have recourse to the law, but that also costs. Policement salaries, judges’s salaries, lawyer’s fees, court transcriptionists’ salaries, etc. The number of personnel in the court system is a function of the number of transgressions they have to deal with. By constantly trangressions your neighbor will end up causing the city to hire one more policeman.

    These are costs that you cannot escape. Should you have to work to fix the messes that other people cause?

    Low wage people are not obnoxious per se, but the fact is that they use up public goods that they do not pay for, and that we are powerless to prevent it, because, well, we do not like rotting carcasses in the middle of the street. A community can affort a certain percentage of those, but with the proviso that an effort will be made to get them into a position where they no longer do so – where they share the load.

    It is hardly an argument to bring in more so that we have to pay more and more to get the same amount of services. After all, it is our money, we worked hard for it, and we like to spend it on things we like, not on subsidizing cheap labor for those who **might**, I say **might** pass down some of their savings to us.

  91. shooonnnngggg. That’s the sound of an argument going over your head.
    Lady, the guy just got through explaining that his neighbors were not immigrants. I don’t know what measures his family took to deal with them but it looks like his family had ample reason to deal with the police, the health department, lawyers, and the courts, if they wanted to. You’d be paying for part of that, whether the neighbors kept the carcass just in their own yard or threw it in the street. Do you live in Neverland or something because you seem to think that natives don’t ever litter or trash their yards. One has to conclude you were raised in a gated community and never left.

    Also, how much money do you think is taken out of your pocket for all the workers and agents who work for the INS (as well as supportive local police work) regulating, tracking down, and incarcerating illegal aliens (are those jail cells free?)?? Hundreds of millions of dollars are needed for this, billions in fact if you also count illegals who get caught up in crime, or drug trafficking, when backed into a corner, or join gangs, or wind up in hospital, as their illegal status makes their living and working conditions that much more dangerous (think of how dangerous alchohol was when it was illegal and then money spent on keeping it illegal as well as the criminal activity associated with it and the police needed for that. Think of the War on Drugs and how much that has cost us, or any human consensual human activity that is made illegal – prostitution, gambling, etc. and how much money is spent dealing with law enforcement over that and how much more dangerous it then becomes for everyone else involved, which spills over into the rest of society, costing you your hard earned wages). If you’re going to object to money taken from you for public purposes you’d have more reason to object if you understood all the costs better in keeping a consensual act illegal. Get a hold of a movie like “El Norte” to better understand this. Better yet, pick up a book. Any book and just start learning to reason. Also have a look at what happens to the costs of your goods when labor prices are lowered. Of course it’s not all one way – there are costs and benefits to immigration – but it’s damn sure not the one way tunnel vision of yours.

    Oh, and so when are you giving your land back to native americans and compensating them for the epidemics your ancestors brought here?

  92. boooing:

    My argument is against those who think that low wage labor is an unalloyed good that must be promoted at all costs.

    Whether that low wage labor is native or inmigrant is irrelevant. What I point out is that “cheap” labor is cheap only because it is subsidized by the rest of us. So those who welcome inmigration because it brings cheap labor are actually asking for subsidies from the rest of us to deal with the real costs.

    There are very good reasons to approve of inmigration. Cheap labor is a very bad reason.

  93. A,
    Is it an argument for low wage labor or just the price agreed upon by the employer and employee? In the latter case, it’s a standard basic economic win win situation. The employer is trading something he values less for something he values more and so is the employee. Both profit, which has spill off benefits on the rest of us. Insisting that this not a fair wage and that higher wages must be paid to natives, artificially props up the wages, making costs of those goods higher, and thus a drain on the economy. It might be correct to point out that extra people also means extra public goods cost as well, but to only factor in the latter is to ignore the total costs and benefits of immigration or cheaper labor. Another problem with the public goods argument you cite is that so much more money is taken from our pockets for extra police and federal agent forces to hunt down and then incarcerate illegals. That’s money from your pocket as well. Given the stigmatizing nature of being illegal adds some other costs as well: more hospital visits due to the dangerous nature of living and working illegally. Sweatshop conditions are actually fostered by the INS, which leads to costs to not only illegals in terms of their health and safety, but to the rest of us if hospital visits increase. Also, as midbrow, pointed out, work done can actually be shoddier as well, which may have spin-off affects on neighbors: building codes are less likely to be respected if contracted work is highered under the radar of the law. Gang life for some might even seem more attractive if some illegals get too desperate running from the law.

    The problem is not your argument itself that immigrants cost public goods. It’s that it fails to take in the whole picture of costs and benefits – costs both ways for legal and illegal immigration. Conflated with your argument against open immigration, is immigration itself, as well as the public goods costs of the natives here, whose costs and benefits are deleted from your argument. You think cheap labor is being subsidized forgetting the enormous subsidization from our pockets that comes from protectionism in the form of propping up home industries and products or labor that is not competitive. That’s just as much or much more so, a drain on our economy than so-called ‘subsidization’ of cheap labor. Um, one question. Are you a Democrat?

  94. The problem is that wages do not just involve employer and employee. It involves the rest of the community who have to subsidize the services for the employee whose wage would not cover the cost of them.

    That’s the whole point. That there is a large bunch of people who have no say in the wage negotiations, and then find that they are having their pockets picked to make up the difference.

    As yous said, the employer is free to offer one wage, the employee is free to accept it. But we are not free to opt out of paying the employee’s share of public goods.

  95. I feel been discriminate because my age for an consular officer, I am american citizen and need to bring my wife to US. Could aarp help me in this situation?. Thank you.

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