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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Philosophical Libertarian on Immigration by Chuck McGlawn

Before we build the Berlin Wall across our southern border with Mexico. Answer this question “What harm does Juan do when he comes to the US and takes a job?” I can hear the answers now. They include the following:

  • Their children overload our educational system. They lower our educational standards and test scores. They force tax payers to cough up more money to build additional schools.
  • They overload and cause the closing of our Hospital emergency rooms.
  • They qualify for Social Security benefits and threaten to destroy the system.
  • They qualify for and sign up for the IRS “Low income tax credit, to list just a few.

Please note that these are the very institutions and systems, government schools, taxpayer paid medical services, Social Security and the IRS, that the conservatives and the right wing have been trying to dismantle for decades.

If you ask the question, “What harm does Juan do when he comes to the US and takes a job?” make sure the answer given is harm that Juan does, and not a harm that WE THE PEOPLE have built into our system.

Another question I would ask is, “What is it that makes a rat-trap anything other than just a piece of wood and some wire?” The answer is the cheese. If we take away the cheese, we stop attracting RATS. As for Mexicans who have marketable skills, like the ability to repair refrigerators, or transmissions, or can build fences, lay brick, or even mow and make our yards look better, and can save us money in the process, money that we go out and spend on other things that create other jobs, then I say welcome neighbor.

The opposition is quick to jump in with, “but we need to protect the jobs of our skilled laborers”. That protectionist policy has all but destroyed our automobile and steel industries. Tariffs that reduced the importation of these items, forced the extra-national auto and steel companies to become more efficient to make their product even more attractive, while giving our domestic producers a free pass on meeting competition. This continued until the disparity in the respective products became so great that the pressure to reduce tariffs swept through Congress to the detriment of the domestic producer.

Just like protectionist tariffs harmed American buyers, forcing higher prices. A wall or fence or more border guards will cause Americans to pay higher prices than is available for labor, and will have the same effect.

If you ask the question, “What is it that makes a rat-trap anything other than just a piece of wood and some wire?” Make sure the opposition still wants to limit immigration after we have removed all the cheese.

My own unique approach is based on my interpretation of the Declaration of Independence. I take the Declaration as the Mission Statement of the US Government. To paraphrase it, all humankind has the right to move about the planet in “pursuit of happiness”. Therefore, the National government does not have the authority to limit immigration. States, on the other hand, can put limitations on immigration. This step would answer the question as to whether immigration is a net gain or a net loss. I believe the Mexicans with marketable skills would migrate to the states that provide opportunity, and the RATS would migrate to the States that provided the cheese, and the US would get a huge lesson in “cause and effect”.

Lastly, when I hear someone say, “But we are a nation of laws, I am not against legal immigration, if they would just follow the LAW.” I have this powerful urge to ask that person, “If a law were passed that made stupid a crime would you turn yourself in for prosecution?