Conservatives Don’t Really Like Free Markets

That is the conclusion I’ve come too. Now, of course, this doesn’t apply to all conservatives, but it sure does apply to those who are anti-(illegal-)immigration. How do I conclude this? Well this article at Reason pretty much sums it up for me.

The example in the article is pretty good.

If there are no jobs in Town A and lots of them in Town B, many residents of A will decamp for B. The same holds for countries. Mexicans making $15 a day have a huge incentive to go where they can make $15 an hour. Like water rolling downhill, they are naturally drawn to places where they will be better off.

This pretty much the dynamic when it comes to markets. I’d even go so far as to say that early on the wages in Town B would be higher than in Town A. And further, that as people moved from A to B, the wages in the latter would fall.

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And as for stopping the flow, this was interesting,

Of course, we often alter or stop the flow of rivers by damming them. But damming people is harder, since they, unlike H20, have the means and the motive to outwit such efforts. Thus the paradox discovered by Princeton sociologist Douglas Massey: As we have increased our efforts to seal the Mexican border, migrants have been diverted to remote areas that are harder to patrol, so much so that the rate of apprehension has actually fallen.

Even if the border could miraculously be made airtight against trespassers, it would do nothing to stop foreigners from coming on tourist or student visas and then staying on after they are supposed to leave. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, as many as 45 percent of the foreigners here illegally arrived with the blessing of the law. Build a 2,000-mile fence, and more will come that way.

So, as I’ve noted, if you are really anti-illegal-immigration and if the above is true, then in the end you simply have to be anti-immigration. Because even parking a couple of Army divisions along the border with orders “shoot-to-kill” wouldn’t stop the flow. People would resort to alternate means like over-staying tourism and student visas. Sure, the flow would decrease in terms of illegal border crossing, but what if the flow increases due to tourist/student visas? I know, I know the answer is obvious, restrict those. But then again, you’d be restricting legal immigration.

And the economic arguments still apply if we made immigration to this country easier. People would still point to wages, social services, and other things that they consider “bad”. They wont assimilate, there goes our culture, wages will be drived down, “a dagger aimed at the heart of the middle class”, etc. Of course, most of these arguments were made sometime ago when the Irish, the Italians (can we say Tom Tancredo’s forebearers?), and others came here.

Then there are those who think that if we simply got rid of the jobs, killed the demand for cheap labor, why then we’d solve the problem. Kind of like we solved the drug problem…oh wait nevermind. But this isn’t a free market response either. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. In this scenario every employment decision has to recieve a government seal of approval. Does that sound nice? It is setting the precedent where the government says, “Yea or nay,” to any and all employment decisions. And one thing I’ve noticed about the government when you give them a little bit of power, the people in government seek to use it “new and interesting ways.” Think of the Kelo v. City of New London decision. The government in New London looked for a new way to use the power of eminent domain and won. How about SWAT units and “no-knock” raids? Heck, the government has pushed so hard on this one that the difference between knock-and-announce and no-knock are distinctions with no practical difference. Is this really the kind of thing we want the government doing? Scrutinizing and giving a thumbs-up/thumbs-down to each and every employment decision?

Even if the government was benevolent and never did anything to trample the rights of its citizens (query: why would we need a Bill of Rights with such a government?) consider the sheer size of the economy. There are over 150 million people in the civilian labor force. Each month there can up to two hundred thousand new jobs. Such a proposition would strike me as a major impediment to employment and thus economic growth. Talk about cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

In practice, as a small-scale pilot program begun in 1997, the verification system has proven fallible. Randel Johnson, vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recently testified before Congress that the databases “are not always up-to-date, there is a high error rate in determining work authorization, and the program is incapable of capturing identity fraud.” The Society for Human Resource Management estimates the new system will increase the administrative burden on employers tenfold.

But you see, it is all so simple. We just got to stop those Mexicans from getting jobs.

And one thing I find amusing is the position of people like Michelle Malkin. On the one hand she wants the government to do all it can to stop immigration. But on the other hand she seems to delight in pointing out the failures of government. Which is it? Is government a competent and thorough entity that does its job really well, or is it actually just as prone to failure, and maybe more so, as the rest of us? I usually go with the latter. After all, how often do bureaucrats get fired or a bureaucracy get shut down? Firms in the market place will shut down, so I’d argue that there is probably more incentive to get it right the first time with private firms than with the government.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Economics and Business, US Politics, , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    On the one hand she wants the government to do all it can to stop immigration. But on the other hand she seems to delight in pointing out the failures of government. Which is it?

    Good point, tho of course I’m coming at it from the other side. Malkin & Buchanan don’t seem able to pick up on their self-contradiction here.

  2. “Is government a competent and thorough entity that does its job really well, or is it actually just as prone to failure, and maybe more so, as the rest of us?”

    You’re kind of quick to exclude the middle.

    There are a few activities for which government is arguably the right institution. Law enforcement is one of these. I’m not saying we’re always getting it right at present; the Duke case, and the behavior of some of the Atlanta police, indicate a need for continuing vigilance and reform. But to say that an institution must be good at everything or it’s not good for anything is a mite silly.

    Perhaps that’s not what you’re saying, but it sounded a bit that way.

    On the immigration issue itself, I’d favor open immigration but for two things: (a) The world contains criminals, carriers, and Jihadists, and sorting these folks out of the masses crossing the border is arguably a good thing to do; and (b) in the backlash of the Civil War, for reasons quite understandable given the historical context, the Constitution was amended in a way that pretty much guarantees citizenship to children of immigrants, whether or not there has been any assimilation.

    I tend to agree that the economic arguments against open immigration are weak. I don’t like immigrants drawing welfare — assuming they do in any numbers — but then I don’t like citizens drawing welfare. Welfare is one of those things for which government is not, in my opinion, the right institution.

  3. floyd says:

    Salt is essential for life, too much will kill you, regulating salt intake certainly does not make one “anti-salt”.
    Your argument simply says that no nation has a right to exist, a position strongly supported by much of the left, socially, and the right,financially.
    Conservative,progressive, liberal,and libertarian are multi-faceted positions of which the economy is only a small part. It is not incompatible to be an “isolationist conservative”, or even an anti-immigration liberal.
    Human nature being what it is, it is not practicle to expect a one world government that doesn’t espouse tyranny and poverty for all.
    Many idealists think they are realists, but then so do the cynics!

  4. Wickedpinto says:

    Illegal anything is a violation of fair trade. By ignoring the rules of the host nation, those individuals have violated the good faith contract the host nation has with it’s citizens, making it okay to not extend the benefits of fair trade with those who have violated the rules of fair trade.

  5. M1EK says:

    I like the market in most uses. Good tool. Problem is that whenever most people don’t like the outcome, they start gaming the system. A bigger problem is self-identified libertarians who don’t understand how allowing massive illegal immigration is gaming the system in favor of capital over labor and thus think everybody who doesn’t favor essentially wide-open borders is some kind of communist.

  6. Very good post. I couldn’t agree more.

  7. McGehee says:

    Illegal anything is a violation of fair trade.

    Careful, “illegal” is one of those bad “stigmatizing” words, don’t you know. And everyone knows those of us who oppose Bush’s amnesty bill are only using the word “illegal” as a fig leaf to cover up for our bigotry.

    Right, Steve?

  8. brainy435 says:

    So.. per the example, since homeless people would be better off living on your livingroom, they would be naturally drawn to enter your house. It’s useless to lock your doors, as they’d come in a window or something.

    The funny thing is that if such a thing occured, you’d immediately call the “just as prone to failure, and maybe more so, as the rest of us” government, in the form of the police, to save your idiotic ass.

    Free markets don’t mean much without private property rights.

  9. JohnG says:

    If immigration was an issue of pure economics then there wouldn’t be much of an argument. But it’s not. And it’s not racism to believe that immigration should be controlled for non-market reasons any more than it’s racism to believe that say the UN should not be able to dictate the laws of the US (hypothetically speaking).
    And I’m sure there are some people who would consider themselves libertarian leaning who nonetheless think that enforcing borders though police or military power is a legitimate purpose of government. A more accurate term for someone who would don’t think the government should be in the business of controlling its own borders is ‘anarchist’. I would say that a nation that cannot legitimately control its own borders is no nation at all.

  10. Director Mitch says:

    > 45 percent of the foreigners here illegally
    > arrived with the blessing of the law

    The U.S. government issued 5 MILLION to 10 MILLION work visas? (depending on the number of illegals you use). No, I don’t think so.

    You use incorrect facts and hand waving to make ridiculous arguments: 1) if you are against illegal immigration you are against all immigration; 2) enforcement is impossible, so we should just let it happen 3) People would overstay their legal visas and would be here illegally anyway (so we would seal the borders and not go after everyone else?)

    Try again.

  11. TJIT says:

    No matter what immigration utopians say, unfettered illegal immigration and the US cradle to grave welfare state are simply not compatible.

    Executive Summary: The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Immigrants to the U.S. Taxpayer

    Welfare is only a modest part of the overall system of financial redistribution operated by the government. Current government policies provide extensive free or heavily subsidized aid to low-skill families (both immigrant and non-immigrant) through welfare, Social Security, Medicare, public education, and many other services…. it is fiscally unsustainable to apply this system of lavish income redistribution to an inflow of millions of poorly educated immigrants.

    I estimate that if all the current adult illegal immigrants in the U.S. were granted amnesty the net retirement costs to government (benefits minus taxes) could be over $2.5 trillion.

    Granting amnesty or conditional amnesty to illegal immigrants would, overtime, increase their use of means-tested welfare, Social Security and Medicare. Fiscal costs would go up significantly in the short term but would go up dramatically after the amnesty recipient reached retirement

  12. Steve Verdon says:

    Kent,

    I don’t think government necessarily does a good job at law enforcement, fire departments, etc. However, I think one could argue that private markets would do an even worse job. I do admit that this is only one possibility, but it strikes me as one that is also consistent with my overall view of government.

    As for the border situation, I’m not in favor of just throwing open the gates and letting anybody and their uncle Bob through. The issue of criminals, carriers, and other unsavory sorts probably needs a federal government response. I admit this reluctantly because I think any private approach to the problem will be worse.

    floyd,

    Your argument simply says that no nation has a right to exist, a position strongly supported by much of the left, socially, and the right,financially.

    No, I’m saying the economic arguments are basically bullsh*t due to either ignorance or less savory motivations. I fully and completely admit that any and all nations have a right to exist.

    M1EK,

    I like the market in most uses. Good tool. Problem is that whenever most people don’t like the outcome, they start gaming the system.

    Yes, and by your own admission you appear to be one of those who want to game the system. You want to game it via the political system.

    A bigger problem is self-identified libertarians who don’t understand how allowing massive illegal immigration is gaming the system in favor of capital over labor and thus think everybody who doesn’t favor essentially wide-open borders is some kind of communist.

    No, not communist, but certainly a Statist. And now, allowing labor and capital to move without political hinderances is not gaming the system, it is precisely the opposite.

    McGehee,

    Careful, “illegal” is one of those bad “stigmatizing” words, don’t you know. And everyone knows those of us who oppose Bush’s amnesty bill are only using the word “illegal” as a fig leaf to cover up for our bigotry.

    Right, Steve?

    I think that is not too far off for some in the anti-immigration movement, yes. Cetainly not all.

    brainy,

    So.. per the example, since homeless people would be better off living on your livingroom, they would be naturally drawn to enter your house.

    Uhhhh, no. This does not logically follow from my example. The example deals with how markets work, people move to wherever they can get the most for thier labor. This is why we have people coming to the U.S. Not to steal, as your attempt to rationalize away my example implies, but to engage in mutually beneficial transactions.

    Free markets don’t mean much without private property rights.

    Sure, but what private property rights are being violated by Pedro coming across the border to bust his butt and make a better life for himself? Is he sqauting in you guest bedroom? Is he commandeering your car to get to work? What?

    If immigration was an issue of pure economics then there wouldn’t be much of an argument. But it’s not.

    I agree. I think one can oppose our current border control and open borders on security grounds. But that doesn’t mean we should wall ourselves off and prevent immigrants from coming to this country.

    And it’s not racism to believe that immigration should be controlled for non-market reasons any more than it’s racism to believe that say the UN should not be able to dictate the laws of the US (hypothetically speaking).

    Again, I agree.

    My problem is that these anti-immigration folks, and that is what they are when you get right down to it, use these bogus and fear inducing economic arguments. Why? Why not just go with the security issue? Maybe because one solution to the security issue is to allow immigration, but try to stop the security risks.

    Seriously read the Reason article. There is a part that points out that the more we clamp down on illegal immigration the more illegal immigrants go to remote areas to make their crossings. Net result, less arrests of illegal immigrants crossing the borders. In short, clamping down on the obvious entry points has had the perverse effect of pushing people to non-obvious entry points making it even harder to stop them. It seems like a not too unreasonable inference that many oppose allowing more legal immigration with tighter screening (yes, that wont be perfect, but then again neither is the current situation) might acutally make us both safer and better off economically. Stifling trade usually does the opposite for the latter and possible for the former as well.

  13. TJIT says:

    The US immigration system gives us the worst of both worlds. It harasses the daylights out of those who are trying to enter the country legally and do high value work. People who are the most likely to pay more in taxes then they will ever get via governemtn entitlements

    It tends to wink at those who illegally enter the US to do low value work. Illegal immigrants who will take more from the system via entitlements then they will ever be able to pay in taxes

    This conservative is not opposed to immigration. I am opposed to the one way, corporate welfare, version of immigration that the proposed amnesty bill codifies.

    I am vehemently opposed to the fact that this bill gives advantages and preferences to illegal immigrants that legal immigrants would love to have but won’t.

    My brief two cents on this, as an immigrant and indeed an immigrant attorney, is that the bill presently in the senate is the worst piece of proposed legislation I have ever seen and was clearly drafted by people who have no idea what the current law is or the reality of immigration procedure.

    Take for example, my neighbors, Ecuadorian by birth but the children of US citizens there. They have been here on legal Visas trying to get the BCIS to recognize their status. They have now have been told to return to Ecuador while things are finalized and have therefore had to sell their house, at a loss of many thousands of dollars. How much easier it would be to go illegal and then claim amnesty. But they are not that type. Instead, they’re the type we should love to have in the country. So BCIS is hounding them out even as preparations are made to accomodate those with little respect for the rule of law.

  14. Steve Verdon says:

    Director Mitch,

    Actually, your problem is with the Justice Department then. Granted, that is a bit dated, but if the numbers are accurate then it was about 2 million visas upto 1997.

    As for this,

    1) if you are against illegal immigration you are against all immigration

    If you are relying on the economic rationales for opposing illegal-immigration I think this is a logical conclusion. But you can dispell this myth, if the U.S. liberalized immigration policy and allowed people to enter once completing a background check for security issues, diseases, crimes, etc. would you be in favor of it? If not, why not?

    2) enforcement is impossible, so we should just let it happen

    I didn’t say that. I’m quite sure with a strong enough police state immigration laws could be suitably enforced. I’m not sure that is quite what you were aiming at though.

    3) People would overstay their legal visas and would be here illegally anyway (so we would seal the borders and not go after everyone else?)

    Well, what can I say, according to the Justice Department this seems to be a problem. I take it you favor not going after illegals who enter this way?

    TJIT,

    No matter what immigration utopians say, unfettered illegal immigration and the US cradle to grave welfare state are simply not compatible.

    Well, good thing I didn’t write anything like that!

  15. superdestroyer says:

    How are native born U.S. citizens suppose to economically compete with people who steal identities; cheat the tax collector; refuse buy car, home, or health insurance; get their medical care from the emergency room; violate building and housing ordinances; commit welfare scams; and violate health codes.

    If that is what you want from free trade, then such policies will force most people to demand a police state.

    Besides, economics is not the best models for thinking about immigration. Think of the illegal aliens as people who want to move into your neighborhood. Do you really want neighborhoods who break all of the laws and drive down the value of everyone else’s property and lower the quality of life for everyone else?

  16. M1EK says:

    Yes, and by your own admission you appear to be one of those who want to game the system. You want to game it via the political system.

    No. I want a reasonable set of restrictions applied to the free movement of labor so that labor can maintain a reasonable share of power in this country. As long as we’re throwing around ad-homeniums, I might just as well call you a fan of feudalism – since that’s what unfettered immigration of low-skilled workers will lead to.

  17. M1EK says:

    Oh, and as for the gaming the system retort (more directly): baloney. The current laws regarding immigration are essentially the same ones everybody today made their money with, grew up expecting when they pursued their education, whatever. In my field, particularly, this education expectation is a major issue – if you expect people to prepare for a career as a software developer, but then tell them that whenever software developers briefly get the upper hand in the free labor market, you’ll go ahead and let big-pocketed employers import more H1Bs, people aren’t going to be willing to make the investment.

  18. Steve Verdon says:

    How are native born U.S. citizens suppose to economically compete with people who steal identities; cheat the tax collector; refuse buy car, home, or health insurance; get their medical care from the emergency room; violate building and housing ordinances; commit welfare scams; and violate health codes.

    I see many of these problems as problems with

    1. The Welfare State
    2. The current immigration policies.

    Besides, economics is not the best models for thinking about immigration.

    Labor is a commodity, so why not use economics when looking at the economic arguments? Seems like a no-brainer to me.

    Think of the illegal aliens as people who want to move into your neighborhood. Do you really want neighborhoods who break all of the laws and drive down the value of everyone else’s property and lower the quality of life for everyone else?

    Yes, those law-breaking Mexicans. Their a race of scofflaws. Is that really how you intended that to read superdestroyer?

    No. I want a reasonable set of restrictions applied to the free movement of labor so that labor can maintain a reasonable share of power in this country.

    As I said, you want to game the system in favor of labor…rent seeking in short. Economic rents are un-earned income. Welcome to American Politics, where the participants try to grab as much as they can of other peoples’ money.

    As long as we’re throwing around ad-homeniums, I might just as well call you a fan of feudalism – since that’s what unfettered immigration of low-skilled workers will lead to.

    Ha ha ha ha. Stop, you’re killing me. Seriously you think capitalism and fuedalism are compatible? Really?

  19. floyd says:

    “”Sure, but what private property rights are being violated by Pedro coming across the border to bust his butt and make a better life for himself? Is he sqauting in you guest bedroom? Is he commandeering your car to get to work? What?””

    ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

    Even if this statement were true, my real estate taxes for public schools alone are nearly two-thousand dollars per year higher just to support the added load of students and programs attributed to illegal immigration.
    The real THIEF here may not be Pedro; it may be Mr.Green, the business man who is stuffing his pockets and leaving the tax payer to pick up the slack. Every tax dollar paid to support the presence of illegals is a dollar stolen by Mr. Green!
    Maybe we should consider deportation of anyone who hires an illegal!

  20. Even free markets have rules. This immigration analogy conveniently omits free market examples like ‘dumping’. It happened in the electronics industry as well as others. Those being dumped upon reacted. So are those who react similarly to illegal immigration.
    And it is of course a simple matter of the rule of law. Without is chaos ensues. Anarchy is not my preference.

  21. Steve Verdon says:

    Floyd,

    Sounds like your real problem is with the Welfare state. After all, if there wasn’t this public teat out there for people to suck on, like my neighbors who have 4 kids and could never afford their schooling if not for my property taxes and others have no kids, then you wouldn’t have a problem.

    Every tax dollar paid to support the presence of illegals is a dollar stolen by Mr. Green!

    Same goes for my neighbor then, who happen to be white.

    Maybe we should consider deportation of anyone who hires an illegal!

    Or who has kids and can’t afford to send them to school. It is, after all, the very same logic.

  22. Steve Verdon says:

    Even free markets have rules. This immigration analogy conveniently omits free market examples like ‘dumping’. It happened in the electronics industry as well as others. Those being dumped upon reacted. So are those who react similarly to illegal immigration.
    And it is of course a simple matter of the rule of law. Without is chaos ensues. Anarchy is not my preference.

    This analogy is problematic in that it was a single firm or a number of firms doing the dumping to get market share and possibly predatory pricing. Who is playing the role of the “dumping firm” with immigration? The country of Mexico? And even with dumping you are conviently omitting the welfare benefits to those who purchased the low priced electronics. Frankly, I just can’t get to worked up about looking at immigration in this way.

  23. M1EK says:

    Ha ha ha ha. Stop, you’re killing me. Seriously you think capitalism and fuedalism are compatible? Really?

    No, I don’t think they’re compatible – which is why I can’t stand self-identified libertarians who advocate policies which would push us towards Latin American-style feudalism.

  24. Dave Schuler says:

    I like the market in most uses. Good tool. Problem is that whenever most people don’t like the outcome, they start gaming the system.

    I’m with M1EK on this. Nobody but nobody wants a free market—they just redefine the idea of a “free market” to suit what it is that they do want. In a really free market there would be no legal barriers to entry into particular businesses. That means no bank regulations; no insurance regulations; no professional licensing; no intellectual property; no pure food and drug laws; no immigration restrictions; no air traffic control; no zoning restrictions; no laws against polluting.

    I like all of those things in moderation and that’s why I’m chary of a truly free market. We had that; we didn’t like it; we went to something better. People seem to forget that.

    BTW Steve this

    If there are no jobs in Town A and lots of them in Town B, many residents of A will decamp for B. The same holds for countries. Mexicans making $15 a day have a huge incentive to go where they can make $15 an hour. Like water rolling downhill, they are naturally drawn to places where they will be better off.

    has not been found to be empirically true. What is true is that ceteris paribus “like water rolling downhill, etc.” I’ve read studies that say that the wage differential needed to spur emigration is somewhat larger than one might expect. I seem to recall something like 300% i.e. when wages are a third (or less) in country A what they are in neighboring country B, there will be emigration from A to B.

    There are other reasons to stay home: it’s where you’re comfortable, they speak your language, your family is there, your history and attachments are there. A difference between $5.00 an hour and $5.01 an hour won’t outweigh those other factors.

  25. Bithead says:

    Good point, tho of course I’m coming at it from the other side. Malkin & Buchanan don’t seem able to pick up on their self-contradiction here.

    The it’s not a contradiction, in light of the idea that it is actually one of the few functions that is constitutionally mandated. The other failures of government of which we routinely speak, are not.

  26. Steve Verdon says:

    M1EK,

    Advocating for markets that are not encumbered by undue and/or bad regulations, laws, and policies is not usually the way one goes about moving towards fuedalism. Fuedalism does not promote freedom. As such your assertion is simply laughable.

    Dave,

    Sure, the anarcho-capitalist ideal is almost surely going to be untenable. I understand their reasoning and I think they tend too often to dismiss various short-comings of the market. However, I doubt our current situation is anywhere close to the “ideal” mix. If the government restricted itself to public goods, positive and negative externalities and reducing information asymmetries I think we’d see a very different and much smaller government than we do now.

    And that is the problem with the current batch of conservatives. They are fair weather market supporters. When it cuts in their favor, sure they support it. When it doesn’t, why government, government and more government. Yes, I know it isn’t all of them, but it used to be that seeing markets as generally a good thing and reducing government interference was a standard conservative belief. Not anymore. Nowadays you have conservatives who think, “With just the right policies everything would work great!” Michelle Malkin for example. They are basically just like liberals but just approaching things from a different perspective.

    has not been found to be empirically true. What is true is that ceteris paribus “like water rolling downhill, etc.” I’ve read studies that say that the wage differential needed to spur emigration is somewhat larger than one might expect. I seem to recall something like 300% i.e. when wages are a third (or less) in country A what they are in neighboring country B, there will be emigration from A to B.

    Actually it is quite true. If you live in Town A and there are no jobs then your effective wage is $0. If you move to Town B and say your wage is $0.01/hour then the increase is? A bit more than 300% wouldn’t you say?

    Same goes for the $15/day vs. $15/hour. Assuming a 8 hour work day the illegal immigrant would see a 700% increase in his (pre-tax) wage.

    I suppose we can get into standard of living issues on this, but I’d submit that millions of people would not decamp from their home country for the U.S. to be worse off. If you are going to make that sort of extra-ordinary claim you’d better have extra-ordinary data.

  27. Steve Verdon says:

    The it’s not a contradiction, in light of the idea that it is actually one of the few functions that is constitutionally mandated. The other failures of government of which we routinely speak, are not.

    Really Bithead, so you’re turning Reagan’s dictum on its head? Government isn’t the problem it is the solution?

  28. JACK ARMY says:

    I notice a small flaw in your logic, though I doubt it changes your premise any. If a foreigner with a valid work or student visa stays in country beyond their visa’s expiration date, he just became an illegal alien. So, if I’m against illegal immigrants who cross the border without papers and I’m against illegal immigrants who cross the border with papers and then become illegal aliens, I don’t see how that makes me against free markets. I fully understand the economic need for immigrants. I also believe that I understand the social/moral reasoning for immigration, after all, we are a “melting pot”, right? However, I don’t understand how we can only fit those needs through illegal immigration.

    Is our current system broke? You betcha. Whether you focus on border enforcement or the INS bureaucracy, our immigration system is broke and is in serious need of overhaul. I don’t think anyone would argue that point, however, is the bill that the president is supporting an appropriate fix? I think that is what I doubt, not the need for immigration nor the immigrants’ desire to get here.

  29. LaurenceB says:

    So.. per the example, since homeless people would be better off living on your livingroom, they would be naturally drawn to enter your house. It’s useless to lock your doors, as they’d come in a window or something.

    The funny thing is that if such a thing occured, you’d immediately call the “just as prone to failure, and maybe more so, as the rest of us” government, in the form of the police, to save your idiotic ass.

    To extend (and correct) the analogy:

    Let’s say I left the door unlocked one night and someone entered my house without my permission and promptly set about cleaning my kitchen, doing my laundry, organizing my garage, etc. Then in the morning they charged me a measly two dollars for all that work.

    What would I do?

    I would give them a key and ask them to come back tomorrow night.

  30. Dave Schuler says:

    And that is the problem with the current batch of conservatives. They are fair weather market supporters. When it cuts in their favor, sure they support it. When it doesn’t, why government, government and more government.

    Yep. It’s why anarcho-capitalists and minarchists will always be disappointed. And it will never change. Neither anarcho-capitalists nor minarchists have enough patience with organizations to do the spadeworks to gain influence.

  31. superdestroyer says:

    LaurenceB

    While those “homeless” people are in your home, if they steal personal information, trash the place, vandalize the home, and then steal your care, and when they show up the next day there are ten of them, you would not want them back.

    Anyone who argues that open borders and massive illegal immigration is a good thing has never been to El Paso Texas. If your and St eve’s arguments were anywhere near correct, they would be a boom town instead of the crime ridden, high unemployment, bad schools, barrios that virtually every white resident has fled.

  32. Dave Schuler says:

    Here’s one paper

    Home Bias and Migration

  33. M1EK says:

    Advocating for markets that are not encumbered by undue and/or bad regulations, laws, and policies is not usually the way one goes about moving towards fuedalism. Fuedalism does not promote freedom. As such your assertion is simply laughable.

    By importing tens of millions of new laborers, you tilt the balance of power so far towards capital that you’d need much stronger regulations than we currently have to maintain even half the relative power that labor has versus capital today. Without such regulations, such a slide would be inevitable, no matter how ‘free’ the market. Since you’ve previously (and frequently, and recently) declared your hatred for regulations, I find it unlikely you’d suddenly want MORE rather than LESS employment and environmental laws, so it’s entirely reasonable to conclude that if we did what you want, we’d end up as serfs and lords.

  34. LaurenceB says:

    Anyone who argues that open borders and massive illegal immigration is a good thing has never been to El Paso Texas. If your and St eve’s arguments were anywhere near correct, they would be a boom town instead of the crime ridden, high unemployment, bad schools, barrios that virtually every white resident has fled.

    It seems so silly that I would have to point this out, but… I have never argued (nor, I’m sure, has Steve) that “massive illegal immigration is a good thing”. In fact I heartily agree that the slums of El Paso demonstrate the undesirability of illegal immigration. That’s why I’m in favor of legal immigration. We need to remove the illegality of it.

    And of course I’m not in favor of “Open Borders” either (as you seem to define it). Rather, I favor of an expanded and simplified immigration policy, wherein those wishing to immigrate would simply see no advantage to doing it illegally.

    See: U.S. Immigration Policy Pre-1966.

    Is it really necessary to shoot down these strawmen again and again and again? (sigh)

  35. Bithead says:

    Sounds like your real problem is with the Welfare state. After all, if there wasn’t this public teat out there for people to suck on, like my neighbors who have 4 kids and could never afford their schooling if not for my property taxes and others have no kids, then you wouldn’t have a problem.

    Nor, in fact, would we have the influx of Mexican immigrants that we do today. The problem, here, is both issues both singley, and more importantly, combined.

    I’m in favor of legal immigration. We need to remove the illegality of it.

    By two means, is it possible to do that. Apparently, amnesty is the easier way. The argument, is whether or not that’s the more destructive way.

  36. Steve Verdon says:

    Jack,

    Is our current system broke? You betcha. Whether you focus on border enforcement or the INS bureaucracy, our immigration system is broke and is in serious need of overhaul. I don’t think anyone would argue that point, however, is the bill that the president is supporting an appropriate fix? I think that is what I doubt, not the need for immigration nor the immigrants’ desire to get here.

    I don’t disagree that our current border security situation is broken. As for the current legislation, it probably sucks. Most legislation does, and it seems especially the case with Bush.

    superdestroyer,

    While those “homeless” people are in your home, if they steal personal information, trash the place, vandalize the home, and then steal your care, and when they show up the next day there are ten of them, you would not want them back.

    So you did intend to come of as a racist with your previous comment?

    Anyone who argues that open borders and massive illegal immigration is a good thing….

    Why is it that people who are against immigration always cast their opponenets as open border supporters. I think stopping illegal crossings, making legal immigration less costly and instituting policies for assimilation is not all that unreasonable. Seriously, is it intellectual dishonesty or what?

    Dave,

    I don’t doubt that there is a home bias effect. But that effect can be overcome as our current immigration situation indicates.

    M1EK,

    By importing tens of millions of new laborers, you tilt the balance of power so far towards capital that you’d need much stronger regulations than we currently have to maintain even half the relative power that labor has versus capital today.

    Sorry I don’t buy this psuedo-marxist stuff. I don’t think it is as simple as you make it out to be.

    Laurence,

    And of course I’m not in favor of “Open Borders” either (as you seem to define it). Rather, I favor of an expanded and simplified immigration policy, wherein those wishing to immigrate would simply see no advantage to doing it illegally.

    Exactly.

    Bithead,

    Nor, in fact, would we have the influx of Mexican immigrants that we do today. The problem, here, is both issues both singley, and more importantly, combined.

    I disagree. I don’t think that a guy in Guadalajara Mexicon decides to pull up stakes and head north simply so he can sit in an emergency room when he bashes his finger with a hammer or that if he gets married he can send his kids to LA Unified (actually considering LA Unified that might be a factor that would discourage him).

    I think the main this is going from $15/day to $15/hour. It is a huge increase in income. Plus many goods are much cheaper in the U.S. than in Mexico. Our better urban development would mean better housing, probably more expensive, but not nearly as expensive as in Mexico. Better access to food, transportation, and entertainment.

    By two means, is it possible to do that. Apparently, amnesty is the easier way. The argument, is whether or not that’s the more destructive way.

    Most of the people here already are for the most part law abiding (yes the broke the law coming here illegally, but I just can’t get up too much anger over people wanting a better life and breaking immigration laws to do it). Most of them are hard working and they engage in transactions with people here that are mutually advantageous–i.e. they are productive. What do we gain by deporting them? Some budgetary savings for government? How much is lost by the way in increased expenditures in finding them and deporting them? Further, we also lose all their productive capability as well. The net effect? I don’t think anybody has a clear cut answer to that. My view is that it would actually be a loss, not a gain. I’m not above looking at evidence to the contrary.

  37. psmarc93 says:

    Interesting post. Most, not all, conservatives are enraged against the “illegals,” some, not most, conservatives are also enraged against the employers of these illegals. If thousands of American employers were not breaking the law and hiring illegal immigrants at slave wages and illegal, unsafe, unprotected working conditions — there would be no problem. If conservatives really want to dry up the problem of illegal immigration, imprison, fine and punish the employers FIRST. Give a mandatory 3 years imprisonment to each and every CEO whose company has found ONE illegal immigrant and watch the illegal jobs VANISH over night. No jobs, no immigrants. Perhaps this is draconian, but you see my point. Even the present laws against illegal employers are not enforced.
    The thing is, I can put myself in the shoes of a Mexican trying to simply feed his or her babies and survive. I too would cross a border when so many jobs are waiting for me. I have no sympathy for a greedy company that tries to make an extra buck off the sweat and blood of unprotected, scared desperate illegals.
    Most companies play by the rules, but are forced to compete with companies that cheat off illegal labor. So, back to the post, I think conservatives that immediately and exclusively blame the victim of this illegal immigration on the little guy are indeed opposed to a fair market system.
    Yet immigration is not the BEST example that conservative hate free markets and capitalism. The fact that, for example, they support tax breaks for oil and gas, at the expense of alternative research and development, that they support corporate welfare at the expense of small business, that they support government aid to pharmaceutical companies at the expense of the sick and dying, is greater proof that conservatives are more interested in a monarchy of business and government only for the rich.

  38. superdestroyer says:

    Steve,

    The only way to prevent illegal immigration is to let everyone into the U.S. who wants in. That is basically an open border policy and is what you are proposing. Adopting your ideas means that not only are millions migrating in from Mexico but they will also be coming from Pakistan, India, Egypt, Turkey, and the former Soviet Union. That means millions more people wanting to do yard work or put up dry walls, park cars or be servants.

    If you want the entire U.S. to resemble Mexico City, your ideas are the best ideas around.

    The only question to answer is where are the children of the current middle class suburbia Americans suppose to migrate after your policy makes a third world country out of the U.S. I doubt if giving everyone in El Paso a green would sudden make the economy great, the schools great, and the crime rate go down. it would just increase welfare spending, increase the unemployment rate, make the last of the middle class leave.

    If you want to live in your world, you could move to El Paso today. It is close to what you propose as exists today.

    I get the feeling from reading your posts that you feel that you are smart and clever enough to create a great life for yourself while living in a country overwhelmed with poor immigrants from third world countries. I just believe that you are very naive and in the end people like you will be the first ones to flee to some place like Australia after implementing a de facto open border policy.

  39. TJIT says:

    Steve,

    The hopelessly broken kluge of a system we have now needs to be fixed.

    However, in the past every time we try and fix the unacceptable status quo things we have managed to make the immigration system worse.

    One example of the complicated nature of the issue is that I’m not so sure that increased security on the border does not make things worse. It makes it more difficult for illegal immigrants to round trip back to their country of origin. So they bring their family to the US.

    Immigration is a complicated issue and it would pay to look at the 1986 amnesty and see why it failed. Here is a concept maybe the politicians could actually learn from history and come up with an improved immigration system.

  40. josil says:

    if we don’t try to control our borders (because it’s hard to do), say we deny citizenship and voting rights to those who arrived illegally. of course, then the Democrats would lose their enthusiam for open immigration but i’d guess the libertarians would still approve. irt the economic argument, how is it that other high wage countries can control their borders? is it just the proximity of mexico to the US? and, if we look the other way on illegals from the south, what is the justification for interdicting boatloads of chinese from their destination? immigrants

  41. Random Guy says:

    The original post ignores negative externalities.

    In economic-speak, impoverished and poorly educated immigrants impose significant “negative externalities” on the remainder of society.

    In other words, they may only cost their employers $8 an hour, but the expensive government services they and their children consume mean that they cost society quite a bit more.

    The invisible hand that governs the free market isn’t perfect. We conservatives believe in free markets, but we recognize their limitations.