How Much for That Algerian in the Window?

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The new government of France wants to try a market solution to its immigration/assimilation problems:

New immigration minister, Brice Hortefeux, confirmed on Wednesday that the government is planning to offer incentives to more immigrants to return home voluntarily. "We must increase this measure to help voluntary return. I am very clearly committed to doing that," Hortefeux said in an interview with RFI radio.

Under the scheme, Paris will provide each family with a nest egg of €6,000 ($8,000) for when they go back to their country of origin. A similar scheme, which was introduced in 2005 and 2006, was taken up by around 3,000 families.
Hortefeux, who heads up the new "super-ministery" of immigration, integration, national identity and co-development, said he wants to pursue a "firm but humane" immigration policy.

It reminds me very strongly of the "Sailer Scheme" proposed by Steve Sailer, written up on a site that, I'm guessing, French bureaucrats aren't constantly refreshing. But Sailer proposed more money and wanted to use penalties to push even more immigrants back to their countries of origin.

Is it a good idea? Aside from being a total cop-out from legislators who've given up on assimilating their immigrant population, and aside from—presumably—needing a rigorous system of biometric identification to work properly then, sure.

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  1. Hey, I’ve got a great idea: I’ll take a vacation in France, announce my intention to immigrate once I’m there, then agree to return home for $8000.

  2. Better yet, for just $6000 I’ll agree not to enter France in the first place, and instead vacation in Italy.

  3. This is darkly comical. People are wealth generators. Rather than liberalising their economy, the French government is choosing to make its subjects poorer by chasing people out.

  4. tarran beat me to it; when a country’s policy is to try to make sure that there are fewer people in the country, there is something terribly wrong with the country’s government and/or culture. In any sane situation, businesses want more workers and customers and governments want more taxpayers.

  5. The demographics problems related to social welfare systems in Europe will clearly be solved by reducing the available labor force.

    Yup, clearly.

  6. Come on guys, these are immigrants we’re talking about.

    Most of them are like, brown and stuff.

  7. I know that it would cause Lou Dobbs’s head to explode (a bad thing?), but the US gov’t should offer to take on the Algerians for a piece of the action. Maybe a 25% cut to the US treasury? They would be awesome here. After decades of being refused decent jobs, they would be some of the best workers ever.

    Also, shouldn’t it be “super-ministery (sic)”?

  8. thoreau,
    Twenty years ago I tromped around Italy. It was no improvement on France back then, and as far as I know hasn’t improved any since. Corruption is the establishment.

    The history is the cool part. Either read up on it before you go, or have your own knowledgeable guide when you get there. I was very disappointed in the information from the tour guides. It was half BS made up to impress the, everything I know I learned from TV and movies, Americans. They were clueless when asked any question not in the pamphlet.

  9. France should start a national campaign of rudeness to drive immigrants away.

    What’s that? They already have?

    Oh, well, I guess I’d go with the $8,000 bonus then.

  10. I’m not up on my French economy, but something tells me $8K is chump change compared to what the French government gives a somewhat poor person to live in France.

  11. I think Reason needs to sponsor an “Emigrate to France for two weeks” trip…the whole thing could pay for itself.

  12. Today’s Lesson: Tips for running a successful economy

    First, institute a heavily socialized infrasture to ensure that everyone get the basic needs.

    Second, reduce maximum allowed working hours to ensure that there are enough jobs to keep everyone busy.

    Third, make it impossible for all practical purposes to fire anyone for incompentence or laziness.

    And finally, make sure that all “immigrants” are reminded on a regular basis that they are not really citizens in any meaningful way and also make sure that they don’t have any real access to the great jobs you have just protected for all the real citizens.

    Tomorrow’s Lesson: How successfully assimilate people from far away countries with strange customs. Special attention paid to strangers from former colonies.

  13. Bergamot,

    Kind of like how those East Asians don’t tend to be fond of immigrants from anywhere else, right? Cuz you know, they’re white or brown and stuff.

    France is no more of an immigrant society than China is. So why not throw your smarmy charges of racism equally at the Han Chinese majority?

  14. I don’t understand how the government giving people money for leaving the country is a “market solution”.

  15. Aside from being a total cop-out from legislators who’ve given up on assimilating their immigrant population…

    Of course the individuals in question have to wish to assimilate in the first place.

  16. why not throw your smarmy charges of racism equally at the Han Chinese majority

    I’ll bite. China is a very racist society, probably more so than France (you know, the country we’re talking about).

    Twenty years ago I tromped around Italy. It was no improvement on France back then

    Surely the food was an improvement?

  17. Anyway, since “free” government programs are part of what drew a lot of folks to France in the first place, one solution is to pay them to leave. Or they could simply drop the funding. Which would be more just?

  18. In other words, this isn’t a wholely terrible solution to a problem in part created by French state’s welfare policies.

  19. Another thing worth mentioning is this study on US unskilled immigration:

    Your May 24 editorial attacks my research on the fiscal costs of low skill immigration as perpetuating a “myth”. Roughly one third of immigrant households are now headed by immigrants without a high school degree. My research, based on Census data and other government sources, shows these “low skill immigrant” households receive, on average, $30,160 per year in government benefits while paying $10,573 in taxes. Thus each such household costs the taxpayer $19,588 per year. Overall, the net cost to U.S. taxpayers is $89 billion per year. My report suggests that the country would benefit fiscally by having fewer low skill immigrants, who are net tax consumers, and more well educated immigrants who are net tax payers.

    You want the public to support open borders? Open the borders to every foreigner who has a bona fide skill and/or education, not every tom, dick and harry who wants to work in the US or other countries like France. I’ll bet that the real Reason France is pushing this policy is that it discovered that with a welfare state, low-skilled immigrants, no matter how much they work, are not able to contribute more than half of what they consume in benefits.

    Of course, this goes back to the previous blog debate on the LP. If libertarians don’t want to look like desperate losers who grasp for any possible policy objective, they need to realize that abolishing the welfare state is the keystone on which support for their policies on things like immigration hang. No society that maintains a welfare state is going to be friendly to foreigners who cannot completely rely on their own skills to support themselves financially. Nor should they be.

  20. My research, based on Census data and other government sources, shows these “low skill immigrant” households receive, on average, $30,160 per year in government benefits while paying $10,573 in taxes. Thus each such household costs the taxpayer $19,588 per year.

    This data would most likely be true for every household headed by a someone without a high-school degree.

    Should we force all ghetto-dwellers and trailer-trash to emigrate somewhere else? I mean, who cares what the color of their skin is if they are dragging me down.

  21. If libertarians don’t want to look like desperate losers who grasp for any possible policy objective, they need to realize that abolishing the welfare state is the keystone on which support for their policies on things like immigration hang.

    Every libertarian I know WANTS to abolish the welfare state. So… what’s your point?

  22. I generally cleave to a policy of only posting joke comments, opinions on pop culture, and recipes, but I’m going to make an exception here. Do those figures on taxes include sales taxes, or second-order charges like the percentage of rent that goes toward the landowner’s property taxes? I know that I, descendent of seventeenth-century settlers (you can read that “people England was happy to see the back of”) pay quite a bit in increased prices to cover the seller’s taxes, so I don’t see why immigrants wouldn’t be in the same boat.

    For full disclosure, I’m not completely committed either to open borders or elimination of the welfare state. I just question the validity of those numbers.

  23. Is it a good idea? Aside from being a total cop-out from legislators who’ve given up on assimilating their immigrant population . . .

    Am I misreading your use of total cop-out or is it the actual position of the editors that assimilation assurance is a valid government function?

    BTW, now that the French are on their way to becoming a real country again, I shall now use a capital F when referring to that land.

  24. Open the borders to every foreigner who has a bona fide skill and/or education, not every tom, dick and harry who wants to work in the US or other countries like France

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

  25. For full disclosure, I’m not completely committed either to open borders or elimination of the welfare state. I just question the validity of those numbers.

    Dittoes. Statistics like that with nothing to back them up are totally worthless. And I’m curious about the “$30,000” in benefits too. They must be including intangibles like the immigrant’s share of the cost of the war in Iraq. I don’t think I pay $30,000 in taxes, either. I’d gladly give up lots of “benefits” I didn’t ask for in exchange for being shipped back to northern England or Prussia.

  26. rhywun,

    Every libertarian I know WANTS to abolish the welfare state.

    Just for clarity sake I will note that there libertarians who have no problem with certain types of welfare.

  27. Grotius,

    Oh sure. I just think the logic of the false choice that MikeT presented collapses in light of the fact that, in general, libertarian support both increased immigration and decreased welfare.

  28. rhywun,

    Sure. I was just putting that out there.

  29. Should we force all ghetto-dwellers and trailer-trash to emigrate somewhere else? I mean, who cares what the color of their skin is if they are dragging me down.

    Because this has nothing to do with skin color, so stop playing the role normally reserved for Jesse Jackson. It has to do with compounding the existing problem by adding millions of more potential leeches on the system. If you did a poll on most opponents of illegal immigration and asked them, “would support allowing anyone with professional experience in a trade or with a college education in an important field from engineering to medicine to come here to immigrate” you would probably see 75-80% of those people responding “absolutely!” Most people who are against immigration on issues like this just don’t want more unskilled and barely skilled workers who will become welfare dependents.

    Most of them would MUCH rather have an Indian H1-B visa worker for a neighbor than so poor light skinned dude from Latin America as their neighbor.

  30. Every libertarian I know WANTS to abolish the welfare state. So… what’s your point?

    How much more obvious do I need to make my point? As long as you have a welfare state, most people will never even consider supporting open immigration for anyone who isn’t very skilled. There is a direct correlation between the welfare state and most people who oppose what we call illegal immigration today.

    Oh sure. I just think the logic of the false choice that MikeT presented collapses in light of the fact that, in general, libertarian support both increased immigration and decreased welfare.

    *Yawn* You obviously cannot read because if you could, you’d have realized I never presented it as a choice, but as a cause-and-effect relationship. The welfare state and public education system make many people decide that most immigrants are too expensive to support. Someone who consumes more benefits than they contribute is not going to be popular, and if you want to make most low-skilled workers consume fewer benefits than they contribute to society, you have to take away the welfare state.

  31. “The new government of France wants to try a market solution to its immigration/assimilation problems:”
    Is anything a “market solution” as long as it has incentives? Then here is a market solution I propose for our problem: fine the ever living crap out of employers that hire an illegal. No more work for them, no more illegals.
    I imagine that France is supposed to enjoy its unassimilating masses, the good old riots, the pressing of religion into the public sphere, the abuse of women, but maybe more important, a nation with an amazing cultural history becoming more like wonderful Northern Africa and Turkey. Turbans, the pillars of Islam, and warm goat milk anyone?

  32. As long as you have a welfare state, most people will never even consider supporting open immigration for anyone who isn’t very skilled.

    Which is why libertarians simultaneously argue for reducing or eliminating welfare. I think the public is pretty well aware of this, as far as they’re aware of any libertarian ideas.

    Accepting welfare or saying “we’ll never get rid of it” and using that as an excuse for barring entry to unskilled workers is a pretty poor way to hide one’s distaste for poor folk. Like it or not, they are a part of our economy too; it doesn’t make much sense to reduce the supply of low-skilled workers and then cross your fingers in hopes we won’t need them any more.

  33. MikeT,

    You have a point. More people would support legalizing immigration if we didn’t have a welfare state. However, seeing that the welfare state isn’t ending anytime soon and human traficking is a problem today, waiting until the welfare state ends might not be the best strategy.

  34. I’m not up enough on French demeographics to say what the French should do in the short run. I can say that over the long run, fighting peaceful immigration doesn’t work.

  35. Question: What is the difference between immigration and colonization?

    My guess, immigrants want to exist under a countries government and colonists want to overthrough that countries government. Peer review?

  36. than so poor light skinned dude from Latin America as their neighbor.

    I’ll take the ligh-skinned dude from Latin America over 75% of the white US teenagers anyday.

  37. MikeT, every wave of immigration since the founding of the country has been greeted with claims that the new immigrants were going to destroy the country.

    Since that hasn’t happened yet, the burden of proof is on you to show that this time it really is different and all those unskille day-laborers are going to hurt the overall economy.

    As others have pointed out, the statistics you quote do not pass the basic BS test. So try again.

  38. If you have a welfare state, someone has to do the work. Hence, immigrants up the wazoo. The immigrants don’t come to collect the welfare, they come to collect they paychecks on actual jobs. It’s the Americans that take the bulk of the welfare, which includes useless “jobs” like the TSA.

    There’s no way you can have a welfare state and limited immigration.

  39. carrick,

    You know, waves of immigrants did help to destroy the Roman Empire. Of course Roman policies didn’t help much either. Anyway, I don’t think that there is any single, overall or even dominant type of immigration narrative. The merits (or lack thereof) of immigration depend on the context.

  40. “MikeT, every wave of immigration since the founding of the country has been greeted with claims that the new immigrants were going to destroy the country.

    Since that hasn’t happened yet, the burden of proof is on you to show that this time it really is different and all those unskille day-laborers are going to hurt the overall economy.”

    Lame, lame. First, who said they did not, overall, damage the country? Because we are here, or are here and doing good? Perhaps we would have done better without our previous waves of immigration. After all, there was a lot os social pathology connected to the past waves. And the US hit its stride in world power after the tightened quotas. Secondly, to say “people have always said immigration would destroy the country and it didn’t so they must be crazy” is lame because people also, after saying immigration was going to destroy the county, tended to do something about the kind they were alarmed about (like the Asian Exclusion Acts and the aforementioned quotas, along with many other bills). So what “worked” could have been our restrictions, right? Thirdly, this is a very different immigration. Different ethnically, more South Americans/Asians and less Europeans (you don’t have to be a racist to see that Mexico and China are different than Ireland and Norway). And not just ethnically different than previous waves, but ethnically ‘farther’ away from the host nation (an Irishman had more in common with a WASP than a Costa Rican does). So let’s not pretend that “Oh my god, they used to say the same things about past waves, so they must be JUST LIKE THOSE KNOW-NOTHINGS WERE. Welcome to 2007 friends.
    Lastly, no nation that I know has or has had open border, so it seems the burden is on you guys. Unless you’re not for open borders, in which case you agree with us restrictionists, you just want to debate to what extent and how we restrict.

  41. jtuf-

    My guess, immigrants want to exist under a countries government…

    While their very first act is to defy the laws and government of their new country…

    Immigration policy is easy!

    The US has more “wannabe” immigrants than the rest of the world put together. This suggests a “market”…

    Simply set the price for the right to “Residence, and a path to citizenship” at $100,000.00(and a few “privileged’ others are ‘comped’)- And every dollar collected (and more) is spent denying those who did not pay! (Think of ‘exclusive’ clubs like “Studio 54”, and such).

    If “entry to the US as a citizen” is so valuable that many people will literally die in the attempt, it is only rational for our government to extract every bit of money they can from these people…

  42. you don’t have to be a racist to see that Mexico and China are different than Ireland and Norway

    If you say so.

  43. Yeah, why would the French want to get rid of those immigrants who provide such wonderful services such as destroying the excess car population?

  44. Listen to all that matter-of-fact conservative genius. In ANY sane system, business wants more workers and customers, while govermnent wants more taxpayers. Isn’t it great how people who’ve taken a few business classes understand that there really IS a simple answer to everything in the world? After all, anyone who doesn’t think like a business just isn’t being practical! Crowding, violence, pollution, destruction of the environment, the alienation and cynicism that come from having people lost in a tremendous crowd… Not to mention the actual threat of radical Islamism that exists among certain populations in present-day Europe. But, of course, No Sane Person would consider any of these factors when determining the best course to chart for the future of his country. More people = more money, and that’s all there is to it. Gosh, I wish my feeble, liberal-arts-educated mind could comprehend such cleverness.

  45. The French government is being pretty generous offering thousands of dollars to foreigners who don’t want to become French any way to go back home.

  46. The bickring continues, symbolic of the Legislature and the general state of the country. No new legislation will pass, because everyone will continue to demand having their own way, and things will stay the way they are for the foreseeable future.

    And for 12 million immigrants trying to do what’s best for their families, that’s a good thing!

  47. Good for France. Still so many blank slaters around on this comment thread, thinking humans (and groups of humans) are interchangeable widgets.

    All these “racism!” comments don’t take into account the burning banlieue. This tendency towards dogmatism in the face of reality is why I now say I have a “libertarian streak” instead of saying I’m 100% libertarian.

  48. Algeria will become an immigration rather than an emigration nation.

    On May 27, 2007, the New York Times had an article on the huge surge of women into the universities and professions in Algeria, where the age of marriage traditionally occurred in the teen years but now occurs at age 29 for women.

    What they didn’t mention is that there has been a concurrent fall in the number of children per women, from 3 1/2 per woman on average ten years ago, to just 1.86 this year. That’s below the replacement level.

    It means the Algerian workforce will continue to expand quickly for another 10-15 years due to previous high birthrates, but then all of a sudden will grow much less quickly. This will take the pressure off the economy and greatly slow the need for emigration.

    It will also yield an economy with few aged or young dependents, which usually makes for high economic growth and a rise in living standards, tending to draw in migrants from much poorer countries in Africa.

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