Sunday, June 24, 2007

thoughts on immigrration

Why has immigration become more of a problem in the last few decades?

I would argue that some of it, at least, has to do with increased wealth among those who would emigrate. It is not easy to drop the few possessions and relationships you have to embark on a journey to an unknown land far away in hopes of a better life. The least mobile are always the most poor. We see this to be the case at all levels. Within our cities, the middle class are infinitely better placed for upward mobility than anyone on welfare. In accord with my thesis, they are also more likely to take a new job in another locale. Often new employers help to pay for such a move. A potential employee has to promise a marginal productivity equivalent to the combined compensation of wages and moving costs. The more productive the individual the more sought after they become in the jobs market, and the more likely they will move.

Mexican immigrants promise a high level of marginal productivity to those that employ them, especially since they do not enjoy the protections of citizen enfranchisement.

Which leads me to another tangent. I’ve often noted that open immigration is a preferred policy, but that it would require an end to welfare. The same is true about other state protections. Citizens enjoy unemployment insurance. This, too ought to be done away with. OSHA protections must be eliminated. Social Security is a hindrance.

Free labor is what is really is being debated. Unfortunately for many citizen-workers, they will be more defensive of their privileges, their inherited “Labor-friendly” laws because they intuitively see the world as a zero-sum game. This is the case for most non-economists. If the creation of wealth could be demonstrated, if we could show that each new immigrant adds more productive wealth to the economy than they could ever possibly consume, if we could convince people that it is in their own best interests to take ownership and responsibility for their own labor, life, and livelihood, if we could do these things, and finally, miraculously, change the mentalities of so many who prefer security to liberty, then we might be able to get the laws which are best for us. This is unlikely.

2 comments:

Jeff said...

"Mexican immigrants promise a high level of marginal productivity to those that employ them, especially since they do not enjoy the protections of citizen enfranchisement."

So if I follow, the Mexican immigrant would work harder because he isn't a citizen? So dis(un?)enfranchisement is cost born by the employer, to which the immigrant must make up by being more productive?

What...?

If an employer is operating outside the legal realm, no matter how flawed you think it may be, he is still acting in an unethical manner and shouldn't be rewarded for that.

"Which leads me to another tangent. I’ve often noted that open immigration is a preferred policy, but that it would require an end to welfare. The same is true about other state protections. Citizens enjoy unemployment insurance. This, too ought to be done away with. OSHA protections must be eliminated. Social Security is a hindrance."

Ah, you're getting too predictable, grasshopper. Care to explain *why* welfare would need to be abolished, aside from your anarchist tenancies?

Unemployment insurance eases frictional unemployment and acts as a grease to keep the economic engine running. Temporary relief is no different than living with your parents while trying to find a job fresh out of college. Some people, like me, don't have that resource. In which case, if I didn't have the government to take care of me, I would have never met you, nor would we be having this conversation. Who knows how illiterate I would be.

OSHA regulations are simply necessary in an industrialized country. Don't like 'em? Move to China. I hear they're making some t-shirts over there... well the ones with fingers left are making t-shirts.

And social security... don't get me started...

Hey! Here's a novel solution... since you hate the state so much, lets get rid of FAFSA and all your subsidized loans! Yeah! That's shooting yourself in the foot. Woohoo!

Juris Naturalist said...

"the Mexican immigrant would work harder because he isn't a citizen?"
No, the employer's costs per employee would be lower.

"If an employer is operating outside the legal realm, no matter how flawed you think it may be, he is still acting in an unethical manner and shouldn't be rewarded for that."
So, to what extent do we continue to obey bad laws? Is it ethical to obey a bad law? I don't see how, unless ethics originates with the state, which is where we end up if we are not careful.

Milton Friedman is my source for the "you can't have both open immigration and a welfare state." Because people will move here just to take advantage of the social programs, and not to work. If everyone had to pay their own way fewer would come, and those that did would be no problem.

I don't buy the idea that unemployment insurance keeps the economic engine running. I also don't believe in a national economy. That's because I don't believe in taxes. And that's because I don't believe in social programs or national defense.

I believe it is the church's responsibility to look after the needy, not the state's. If the church would step up to this responsibility then we could have real progress. And I acknowledge that the church must act first. But in the meantime it must not co-advocate policies which would make the situation worse.

The irony of my current situation has not escaped me, and I don't know if it can be resolved.