Monday, June 24, 2013

Don B on Immigration

Don Boudreaux on immigration....


A few friends whose opinions I hold in the highest regard have challenged me recently to reconsider my support for open immigration. Their challenge springs neither from the economically uninformed Luddite view that immigrants will steal ‘American jobs’ (or lower Americans’ wages) nor the worry that more immigrants will be a net drain, through their direct use of the existing welfare state, on the public fisc. Their challenge springs instead from the more plausible concern that immigrants will use their growing political power to vote for government policies that are more interventionist and less respectful of individual freedoms. 

This concern isn’t absurd (especially to those of us who believe that culture and rhetoric play a leading role in determining the actual law and policy of society and the performance of the economy). If too many people from countries less free and economies less dynamic than America come to the U.S. and then vote for the same policies that condemn their native countries to second- or third-world status – policies based chiefly on envy, zero-sum thinking, hostility to bourgeois pursuits, belief in secular salvation by Great Leaders, and mountains of plain old economic ignorance – then the very commitment to freedom that leads me to support open immigration might be inconsistent with the long-run maintenance of freedom.

His answer is interesting.  ATSRTWT 


Jim said...

I don't subscribe to the "takin' our jobs" argument, and I think the "draining the fisc" and "voting for big government" arguments only hold up if we foreswear any future return to proper civics education in this country.

But what I feel is missing from this debate is acknowledgment of the basic truth that sovereign states have the right to control passage across their frontiers. The debate can head almost anywhere from that starting point, but if it doesn't at least start there, it's on feet of clay.

I know this separates me from libertarian purists. IMHO it separates dorm-room libertarians from practical ones. Your mileage may vary.

Jeff R. said...

"Freedom may well destroy itself. That’s a risk I’m willing to take, especially if the proposed means of saving freedom is to restrict it."

At least he's up front about it. A lot of open borders libertarians (ie, that yutz Bryan Caplan) seem to want to pretend that no such risks exist. I don't find Boudreaux's answer convincing (I am pretty comfortable restricting the freedom of others to preserve my own, at least in thise case), but at least he has the forthrightness to state his views openly.

TeeJaw said...

Boudreaux apparently is unconcerned that every country that has adopted an immigration policy that allows large numbers of people to come in invariably ends up admitting large numbers of people who refuse to assimilate with the culture of the host country. The result has always been things that neither Boudreaux nor any sensible person wants, i.e., shocking crime rates, erosion of cultural values, near disappearance of the rule of law, and economic decline.

In other words, a gigantic mess.

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Anonymous said...

We already see in the American West where open immigration is likely to lead. And I don't mean the Mexicans in California. I mean the Californians in places like Oregon.