Bryan Caplan  

Are Low-Skilled Americans the Master Race?

PRINT
With Critics of Immigration Li... The Economics of Coming Out of...

Suppose you could give American high school dropouts a 1000% raise by exterminating every man, woman, and child in Latin America. Would that be the right thing to do?

No? Why not? Your answer, hopefully, is that murder is wrong, even if it financially benefits low-skilled Americans. In fact, when you put it that way, it's hard not to exclaim, "What's so great about low-skilled Americans? Are they the master race, in whose service any crime is justified?"

OK, suppose you could give American high school dropouts an 8% raise by deporting every man, woman, and child from Latin America back to their home countries. Would that be the right thing to do?

Economists are used to rolling their eyes when people object to better policies on the grounds that some special interest will suffer from the change. It's time to cross the final frontier, and start rolling our eyes when the special interest is low-skilled Americans.

Call me a Non-Bleeding Heart Libertarian, but for once, the shoe doesn't fit. My heart does bleed for people born in poor countries who come here to better their condition with hard work. What about low-skilled Americans? They were born in the U.S. and speak fluent English. Let them count their blessings.


Comments and Sharing





TRACKBACKS (2 to date)
TrackBack URL: http://econlog.econlib.org/mt/mt-tb.cgi/482
The author at Catallarchy in a related article titled Privileged By Birthright? writes:
    . . .suppose you could give American high school dropouts an 8% raise by deporting every man, woman, and child from Latin America back to their home countries. Would that be the right thing to do? Economists are used to rolling their eyes when peopl... [Tracked on March 28, 2006 11:15 PM]
The author at Asymmetrical Information in a related article titled Some rambling thoughts on immigration writes:
    About immigration: basically, I'm for it. Though there's (allegedly) a smidgen of native American blood in me, most of my ancestors were carpetbaggers who came here for the same reason as the Korean guy who sells you your coffee in the morning: to exca... [Tracked on March 29, 2006 4:26 PM]
COMMENTS (90 to date)
Dave Tufte writes:

Those low-skilled Americans are the ones who are most interested in limiting access to something they haven't earned: success in America.

Zac writes:

I certainly hope that, in my lifetime, we see a significant decline in this ridiculous tribalism.

Rantly McTirade writes:

This smug and sarcastic little whine is disgusting and insulting. It simply an indication of how pathetic the authors' position is that he wheels out the 'woodja MURDER yadda, yadda' line to start with. As to 8% for the booting every illegal back to their home country-well, it's one of many good reasons to do so. However, as badly as we need to bounce the illegal back to their own(what a concept!) countries, we need even more to rid ourselves of the treasonous hacks who not only ceaselessly pimp the vast wonders of the invading hordes- whether through an obtuseness so vast that they can't mentally function without a fantastical textbook propped three inches from their face or because they're a bought & paid for shill for the 3% of society that gets any benefit
from the illegals-but also make smartass sarcastic cracks about their(supposed) fellow citizens. Do you not feel any sort of loyalty to or preference for other Americans, no willingness to sacrifice theoretical economic 'efficiency' for some 'inefficient' favoritism of the people who are (allegedly) your countrymen? Why do you feel compelled to explicitly favor a foreign people in a foreign country over other Americans? Do you suppose that there will never be consequences for you for this arrogant and insulting posture? You're a great example of why the vast majority of
people find economists foolish and less than useless-and therefore a prime reason so many fundamentally poor economic policies are enacted-as well as by all appearances a sad and pathetic person. And you're certainly no American, at least not in any sense of focused & limited loyalty-of course, you likely think that sounds great. Why not quit bothering us, give up your American citizenship and go become a member of one of those poor countries with all those apparently wonderful, saintly people, and focus your message on those poor backward souls? Why, with benefit of your profound genius and insight, I'm sure they could buy and sell us slothful, nationalistic 'mericans in only a few years-buying and selling being the only form of human interaction you recognize, of course.

I think we should let in anybody who pledges not to participate in any protests for five years.

Geoffrey Brand writes:

I am always confused when people advocate that I should somehow be morally obligated to support certain people because they, by accident, had been born in the same general geographical location. I am proud to be American because of the philosophical principles that founded this country. Although we seem to waver a little bit, this is still a great country. People who hold values of freedom and hard work can only make it better. The more the merrier.

JohnJ writes:

Geoffrey, let me clear up your confusion. People born in different countries are raised in different ways, much the same as people born to different households are raised different ways. Why do you support your kids more than you support anyone else's kids? The fact that they were born to you is just an accident of birth, and no reason for you tom favor them over any other.
"I support my kids the same as other parents are supposed to support their kids. This way all kids are looked after, after allowing a degree of charity for those kids unlucky enough not to have a supportive family."
Yes, that's the way it's supposed to work. This country cannot support the world's poor any more than you could support the world's kids. Every country has a responsibilty to take care of their citizens. By allowing a country to shirk its duty, you are doing the same as someone who thinks he can support the world's kids. Yes, some people are poor, and the best thing we can to is to help them internationally. Help their countries drop communism, socialism, and fascist dictatorships so that their economies can boom like ours, and they can feed themselves.
Teach a man to fish...
My heart bleeds for people, too. And I know the best way to help someone, is to help them help themselves. Your heart bleeds, but you wouldn't invite fifty million people to dinner because you know you couldn't feed them all. The absolute best thing to do is to help their economies. They should be immigrating out of a desire to be American instead of out of a need for money. Likewise, the illegal immigratin (not legal immigration) establish a dangerous tradition of people engaging in risky behaviour that leads many into slavery, especially women. Don't you care about women being caught in the slavery trap with promises of freedom and money? If you care, you'll realize that the best thing to do is not to allow people to grasp at straws engaging in such risky behaviour. Immigration is good. Illegal imigration is bad.

ziel writes:

Geoffrey - The more the merrier.

There are approximately 6 billion people in the world who have a lower standard of living than almost every American. I guess you think they all should be allowed in until the standard of living in the U.S. drops to the level of the poorest nations in the world. That is the only logical conclusion to your 'thoughts' on the subject. Care to re-think your position? Or do I assume that you think immigration should stop only when it starts to affect your standard of living?

purpleslog writes:

Bryan...some questions:

1) Do you see any significant difference between the nature of illegal immigration vs. legal immigration?

2) Do you see any significant difference of effect on the nature of the US society between immigrants being assimulated into the American nation and those that choose not assimulate (and institutions that support the non-assimulation)?

3) Do you think there are cost differences to US society between legal and illegal immigrants (e.g. crime/legal system costs, benifit transfers) that are significant?

4) Do you consider there to be any national security effects by illegal immigration that are significant?

5) Does the 8% number you cite refer to legal or illegal immigrants?

6) Do you consider the 8% number to be valid, or would other labor saving products/prcesses be substituted if cheap labor was not available (didn't I read that on this blog in another post in the last few weeks)?

Ben writes:

The accident of geography is why we do care! We have to live next to our native poor and they have a say in our political process. Also as a practical matter we redistribute wealth to the native poor (and immigrant poor), and whether or not that is moral, its something that won't change in the near future.

We should deport people (or effectively deport people by taking away there ability to work) because otherwise we cannot control the rate of immigration, and the supply of cheap labor affects our native poor and hinders the assimilation of legal immigrants. How would you feel if the law was flagrantly ignored at your expense?

And I don't undertand the master race title? Of course they are not the master race, that's why they need our help! And not helping a select few latin americans (who violated our laws) is very morally different than actively harming everyone in latin america (most of of whom have never been to america).

Also you say latin americans, but the majority are mexicans, why should we be so selective in helping one country, one which is middle class by world standards.

Adam writes:

Bryan is an anarcho-capitalist, so I hope he doesn't see a difference between legal and illegal immigration. Unfortunately, in democracy, your neighbor is your ruler, and immigrants from Latin America tend to be much more authoritarian both economically and socially than many Americans, so even though allowing unfettered immigration may be a great economic benefit to the society that absorbs them and may be morally virtuous in helping the immigrants, the present system is such that the benefits probably outweigh the costs. Abolish the state though, and there should be no problem.

atek3 writes:

Wow. You sure have some rednecks reading your blog:

"Fuck off you elitist piece of shit"

"countries, we need even more to rid ourselves of the treasonous hacks who not only ceaselessly pimp the vast wonders of the invading hordes"

Do they even have computers in the redneck backwaters that breed the authors of the above? I guess so.

[Note from EconLog Editor: The comment first quoted above has been removed from EconLog, and the individual who said it has been banned.]

JohnJ writes:

You know, I have to wonder at people who get personal on blogs. I mean, what's the point? There's no reason to call Bryan names (especially not "Libertarian", unless this is some new usage of the word "Libertarian" of which I was not previously aware), and certainly no reason to get insulting. If you don't want to read it, don't read it.

Dobeln writes:

I found the way Bryan started off the post with that whole genocide thing so cool, I'll follow in the same vein. Hyperbole rocks!

First off, people who advocate mass immigration in practice support the mass murder of their fellow citizens, and should be treated accordingly. (Latins murder at roughly three times the white rate - that immigrationist bodycount racks up fast!)

Second, people who advocate mass immigration support the wholesale ethnic cleansing of their compatriots from whole neighbourhoods. (Ask the people who used to live in latino slums what they think about immigration!). Hence, immigration advocates should be evicted from their homes.

Third:
"I am always confused when people advocate that I should somehow be morally obligated to support certain people because they, by accident, had been born in the same general geographical location."

I believe this sentiment is more commonly known as 'treason'. Seriously though, by giving automatic moral credits to those who happen to occupy space around you, we reduce social friction a great deal (by sharing a national sentiment), especially when those around you are socially and culturally similar.(This is in turn an argument against mass immigration, multiculturalism and inequality, but let's save that for antoher time...)

There is lots more, but let's stop there for now. Some additional cool advantages of immigration should be mentioned, still:

- You import cool political views! (We hate Gringos and love Socialism!)

- You import millions of people who believe the land they are moving into was stolen from their ancestors. Civil war rocks! (And we haven't had one in like ahundredandfifty years!)

- You import millions more of affirmative action subjects. Kewl!

- Slumficication rocks!

- Black american men have it way too good already!

- Plus, this whole immigration thing has Free Republic muttering "impeachment", which is kinda funny in itself!

Dezakin writes:

"There are approximately 6 billion people in the world who have a lower standard of living than almost every American. I guess you think they all should be allowed in until the standard of living in the U.S. drops to the level of the poorest nations in the world."

Well I certainly think they should be allowed in because it will raise the US standard of living given the US more efficiently utilizes labor than developing countries; Indeed it would vastly raise the global productivity and for nationalists it really is the only way for maintaining US primacy vis a vis China and India in the long term.

"Care to re-think your position? Or do I assume that you think immigration should stop only when it starts to affect your standard of living?"

No, it should continue especially because of how it would affect my standard of living: It would raise it.

Take a case study in immigration where its essentially unchecked: China. The millions of poor immigrants flock to the cities raising the standard of living of city dwellers and the economy as a whole. Or historically the US. For some reason this time its different?

"immigrants from Latin America tend to be much more authoritarian both economically and socially than many Americans"

I'm quite sure that this generalization isn't well founded and is irrelevant given most immigrants dont vote anyways. I'd be quite surprised that immigrants leaving economic cronyism for oportunity quite like the idea of an all powerful state that happens to be controlled by a bunch of xenophobic white people.

JohnJ writes:

How about establishing democracy in their countries so that they can elect a government similiar to ours? It's win-win! They can even elect a government better than ours if they want!
What about Hamasians? Should we let Hamasians in unchecked?
Okay, we're gonna have a world-wide election, and everyone who wants in is in wherever they are! Wanna be an American? Just sign right here! No, don't even do that; that would be discrimination. Just... just take the check.
Cuz we care.
But what is an American? Is it an ideal? If it's an ideal, then they can have their ideal wherever they are. Is it a right to protection? If so, then doesn't veryone in the world deserve these rights? Doesn't that mean we should immediately begin enforcing those sacred rights all across the world?
Hypothesizing about what rights are ignores the history of how we got here. Sure, it'd be nice if everyone in the world could get along, and nobody was mean, and we were all free and had free health care that no one had to pay for and on and on...
It's just not realistic.
The world is not a nice place, and it certainly isn't fair. The vast majority of people who have ever lived have died. Tell me that's fair. Most of them died never knowing the freedoms that we as Americans have today. I'm not advocating forgetting about all the people who were not lucky enough to be born American. We have to approach the implementation of these ideals in a way that will work in the real world. And it will not work by having unregulated borders.
The best way to help people is to help them where they live. We need to remove terrorist-sponsoring mass-murdering tyrants from power and establish democracies so that people can choose how they want to live. We need to compel governments that oppress their people, either through failed economic policies (Venezuela, Bolivia, Russia) or through human rights violations (Cuba, Iran, North Korea) to adopt better policies. The Berlin Wall was built to keep people IN. That's because the place sucked so much that people would flee. Our country is so great that people are risking everything in the hope to get here.
But we cannot take care of everyone. And we do not need to be offering this false hope to others.
We gave amnesty to illegal immigrants in 1986. It didn't work. It didn't work because we did nothing to keep other illegal immigrants from coming in. We care through international charity and foreign policy. How many of you go out every night and find homeless people to invite into your house? No. You donate to charity. And charities do a great job. Far, far better than government does, because charities are run by people who care (generally, if they don't they typically fail quickly).
At least, in my opinion. Everyone else was ranting, and I didn't want to be left out.

purpleslog writes:

I should have used a spell checker before posting! :-)

[Note from EconLog Editor: *chuckle* Well, yes. More seriously, though, the link in your Trackback below didn't work. It should have been a link to an entry in your blog, "what is up with econolog" but it didn't function correctly, so I've removed the trackback and am reporting the correct link here. Thanks!]

Dobeln writes:

"Well I certainly think they should be allowed in because it will raise the US standard of living given the US more efficiently utilizes labor than developing countries; Indeed it would vastly raise the global productivity and for nationalists it really is the only way for maintaining US primacy vis a vis China and India in the long term. "

It never struck you that replacing the existing US population several times over would result in a new political entity with no resemblance whatsoever to the actual, existing United States? "Harmageddon" is probably a tame description of what would follow.

Still, it is refreshing to see a pro-immigrationist taking his logic to its conclusion.

Brad Hutchings writes:

Wow Bryan, you hit this one on the head. Talk radio is on fire with 50 year old chain-smoking trailer trash divorcés complaining that their slacker 20-something kids can't get jobs mowing lawns and picking fruit because of illegal aliens from Mexico. There's got to be a South Park episode in this.

Uriah Heep writes:

Bryan is the one getting personal. His beef is with all the dumb cool kids that used to beat him up in high school. Now get back to playing your online hero games where you can be the cool kid.

paul writes:

There is a South Park episode. Search youtube.com for Goobacks.

It amazing how worked up people get about relatively small "problems" and don’t seem to care much about things like the war on drugs, public education and the general harassment of business in general. Immigration does touch a nerve though….

Uriah Heep writes:

Bryan uses "High School dropouts" as the example. But are they really the ones that are putting up a fuss. Maybe, but it takes Middle class America(college educated husband and wife) to start complaining(the ones who vote) before it starts making it on a politicians to-do-list. Their gripes are more social driven rather than economical.

Sean writes:

The problem with most of the arguments against immigration (illegal or not) is epitomized by these quotes by JohnJ:

"Every country has a responsibilty to take care of their citizens."

"But we cannot take care of everyone. And we do not need to be offering this false hope to others."

I´m pretty sure the point of immigrating to the U.S. is a chance to work, not feed off welfare or other government programs. I recently read in the WSJ that the unemployment rate for Hispanic immigrants is lower than the overall rate; this would indicate that a chance to exercise skills in a (relatively more) capitalist environment is the prime reason behind immigration. The simple fact is that most production of goods/services is more valued in the U.S. than in other nations, and so the more people who come here to take advantage of that fact (which owes mostly to American economic freedom, infrastructure, education, ability to attract the best and brightest, and the agglomeration of wealth due to these factors), the wealthier and better off the world will be.

Dobeln writes:

"I´m pretty sure the point of immigrating to the U.S. is a chance to work, not feed off welfare or other government programs."

Why need there be some choice or contradiction here? Both work and government largesse makes for an even better coctail!

"The simple fact is that most production of goods/services is more valued in the U.S. than in other nations, and so the more people who come here to take advantage of that fact (which owes mostly to American economic freedom, infrastructure, education, ability to attract the best and brightest, and the agglomeration of wealth due to these factors), the wealthier and better off the world will be."

The world? Perhaps, but I don't care. The United States? Doubtful. Why? Because hispanic social statistics suck, plain and simple. This means more murder, more poverty, more slums, more government spending, more white flight from "bad schools" and "bad neighbourhoods", more affirmative action, etc. etc. (I have an even more extensive list up above...)

Many of these things are examples of external effects, however, so they don't exist in a libertarian universe.

Finally, it's interesting to see how the immigration issue is employed by certain people to differentiate themselves from 'the trailer trash'. There is a certain logic to it of course - only the more affluent can fully use those cheap gardening services, or perhaps a bargain-basement maid.

Zac writes:

The comments on this post have led me to realize that the readership of this blog is of FAR lower quality than I would have guessed.

Its depressing how nativistic nearly every segment of our society is. I feel absolutely no solidarity with anyone who is anti-immigrant, even if we agreed on everything else. Of all the views you could hold, barring genocide, anti-immigration and anti-globalism are the most dispicable.

Dobeln writes:

"Its depressing how nativistic nearly every segment of our society is."

I prefer the term 'patriotic', but to each his own. I realize actually caring for your ('arbitrary') fellow citizens has gone out of style in large swathes on the elite. Indeed - like you, they wear the fact that they have no more love for their fellow Americans than for any arbitrary mexican as a badge of honor.

"I feel absolutely no solidarity with anyone who is anti-immigrant, even if we agreed on everything else. Of all the views you could hold, barring genocide, anti-immigration and anti-globalism are the most dispicable."

Do you have any actual reason or rationale for feeling that way? Or just spouting off some class hatred?

economist333 writes:

I agree that we should reject protectionist policies designed to benefit the native poor at the expense of immigrants.

However, you can be sympathetic to both groups. "Let them count their blessings"? You should stick to generating better policy ideas that benefit society as a whole without the smug and condescending attitude.

Timothy writes:

Most of the anti-immigrant sentiment is simple xenophobia. A lot of the rest is ignorance of the way trade works, and how free flow of labor is just as good as the free flow of capital. The rest is generally guised as concerns about "security", but government hasn't been able to stop drugs and I doubt they'll be able to stop people. They'll just make things worse, no reason to let them get all draconian in the process.

I actually have a lot more respect for most illegal immigrants, at least the ones who work, than I do for high school dropouts. Taking the risk of coming to the US at least shows some initiative, a willingness to make an effort to make one's life better. Dropping out of high school, being unwilling to get just any old job, and then complaining that the durn brownfolks are takin' your livlihood demonstrates laziness.

As for the "what about illegals who come here and get welfare" argument, well, the answer is to eliminate welfare. Get rid of that, and I bet you'll see more employed illegals and a lot more employed dropouts. They'll probably be coworkers.

Mr. Econotarian writes:

"hispanic social statistics suck, plain and simple"

Thanks for making it CLEAR that the whole immigration problem is one of RACISM.

Meanwhile:

The 31% growth rate in the number of Hispanic-owned businesses between 1997 and 2002 was three times the national average for all U.S. businesses, according to a new report released yesterday by the Census Bureau...

According to the report, Survey of Business Owners: Hispanic-Owned Firms: 2002, nearly 1.6 million businesses generated nearly $222 billion in revenue, up 19 percent from 1997. In 2002, there were 29,184 Hispanic-owned firms with receipts of $1 million or more.


(source)
Patrick J writes:

Dobeln,

"I prefer the term 'patriotic', but to each his own. I realize actually caring for your ('arbitrary') fellow citizens has gone out of style in large swathes on the elite. Indeed - like you, they wear the fact that they have no more love for their fellow Americans than for any arbitrary mexican as a badge of honor."

You're right, I am indeed proud to say that I place equal value on a Mexican and an American life. Why would I imply otherwise? Can you provide a compelling argument for why an American deserves better opportunities than a Mexican? Other than "he/she won the geographic lottery"?

dsquared writes:

Here's an alternative thought experiment:

Say tomorrow I invented a new type of robot which can produce a load of stuff which goes into the GDP and which substantially lowers the cost of personal servants for the wealthy.

Would your reaction to this be "fantastic! the best and fairest way to finance the development of this new technology is obviously to tax everyone without a high school diploma 8% of their income!"?

Krugman's point is not that immigration is a bad, but that the redistributive effects of it need to be taken seriously. Economists are very keen on talking about the potential gains in aggregate but very bad at writing cheques.

JohnDewey writes:

dsquared,

We've been displacing manual labor with automation for at least 200 years. So we already know one answer to your thought experiment. Standard of living for everyone will increase. Quality of life for many will improve.

Economists never deny that such displacement has transitional costs.

Dobeln writes:

"hispanic social statistics suck, plain and simple

Thanks for making it CLEAR that the whole immigration problem is one of RACISM"

It is? Is it racism that causes hispanic social statistics to suck? Just pick one - crime, violent crime, murder, high school dropout rates, poverty, language skills, net worth, incarceration rates, and so on.

It is not any racism on my part that made them suck - it is the fact that the US is importing Mexico's underclass (as if the US didn't have large enough an underclass already!) that makes them suck.

In practice this means that immigration advocates , among lots of other wonderful things, contribute to the mass murder of their fellow citizens - thanks guys! But that's a cheap price to pay for cheaper gardening services!

PS.
Yes, the number of Mexican-owned businesses in the US have increased sharply, along with Mexican immigration. So?
DS.

GeneK writes:

When these people can walk legally into this country and follow the legal formalities of obtaining citizenship and start paying their share of the tax burden placed on all of us, THEN, they may ask for the rights granted to citizens of the USA, until then, if you don't like our laws GET OUT.

ivan writes:

I would say that those, like Bryan Caplan, who argue that immigration should be free because that will benefit immigrants greatly are taking the redistributive effects very seriously.

Timothy writes:

I'd also ask if dsquared's magical robot should be banned in order to preserve the jobs of the people currently being used as servants by the rich. Presuming rich people have servants, which I'm sure some of them do, and presuming that some of them are high school drop outs, should we ban the hypothetical robot in order to keep them employed?

Dobeln writes:

"You're right, I am indeed proud to say that I place equal value on a Mexican and an American life. Why would I imply otherwise?"

Because you might have been a patriot.

"Can you provide a compelling argument for why an American deserves better opportunities than a Mexican?"

Because if you show more solidarity to those inhabiting your own socio-political construct than to those outside it, it will benefit all those inside it. (I.e. 'patriotism'/'nationalism')

This in turns tends to limit conflict inside the socio-political construct in question (I.e. the nation-state), plus giving great advantages in all forms of group conflict. In short: cohesion rocks.

In this particular case, it allows US Citizens to keep poorer, more crime-prone, worse-educated Mexicans south of the border through force of arms, thus improving their own quality of life.

Of course, if you do not want to be a part of the American nation other than as a geographical occupant, you should make that clear to those around you, so that they don't waste any nationalist-based goodwill on you.

Dobeln writes:

"I actually have a lot more respect for most illegal immigrants, at least the ones who work, than I do for high school dropouts."

That should place you in a bit of a pickle, as Hispanics have a cool high school dropout rate of about 50 percent or so.

Lord writes:

Emigrate. Now. Please, spare us the claptrap.

tdl writes:

Dobeln,
I was hoping if you could provide some of the statistics that back up your claim that Mexicans have caused a "mass murder" of U.S. citizens. I definetly would like to know how this "mass murder" has taken place, how many U.S. citizens have been murdered, the groups involved, and the governments reaction to this "mass murder".

Robert Speirs writes:

I'm glad someone realizes that if our government had enforced our laws over the last few decades the income of a segment of our country would be 8% higher than it is today. The question is how to keep America the most prosperous and freest country in the world for the average guy. The American legal system decided that the best way to do that was to impose certain conditions on immigrants. The wisdom of that course is proven by the economic problems, rise in crime, decrease in the educational level and increase in the threat of subversion and terrorism that a failure to enforce those laws has brought.

Patrick J writes:

"Because you might have been a patriot."

- Right, supporting rules to keep out foreigners (which our ancestors all were at some point) is the definition of patriotism. One of the things I love about the U.S. is our tradition of welcoming and assimilating immigrants. As opposed to, say, the French tradition of intentionally isolating immigrants in urban/suburban ghettos.

"Because if you show more solidarity to those inhabiting your own socio-political construct than to those outside it, it will benefit all those inside it. (I.e. 'patriotism'/'nationalism')"

- that is purely an assertion.

"This in turns tends to limit conflict inside the socio-political construct in question (I.e. the nation-state), plus giving great advantages in all forms of group conflict. In short: cohesion rocks."

- Another assertion. Although I do believe that we all benefit from some level of group cohesion.

"In this particular case, it allows US Citizens to keep poorer, more crime-prone, worse-educated Mexicans south of the border through force of arms, thus improving their own quality of life."

- Obviously you've never lived in an area of extreme poverty. There is substantial research that suggests people's behavior is greatly influenced by their current environment - in other words, "crime prone" folk will become more law-abiding in an environment with greater emphasis on following laws.

"Of course, if you do not want to be a part of the American nation other than as a geographical occupant, you should make that clear to those around you, so that they don't waste any nationalist-based goodwill on you."

- I make that crystal clear to those around me. If a Bangladeshi can perform my job effectively at a lower price, so be it.

Quick question: how does nationalism factor into your purchasing decisions?

Zac writes:

Anti-foreign bias, alive in well among those reading a libertarian blog.

In your small minds, immigrants are an invading horde that drain societal resources rather than a group that on balance increases quality of life for all, and only hurts Americans who refused to take advantage of educational opportunities.

Anti-immigrationists are bigots, and worse yet, they're ignorant. The truth is, I'm ashamed to share a country with you. Luckily for me there are plenty of people that I am happy live and work here - those immigrants you hate so much.

You immigration critics have forgotten that this is a country of immigrants that has thrived by dealing with foreigners. And those that call themselves "patriots" have limited the meaning of America to a mere geographic area. The only America to me that matters is a nation of ideas, including the idea that your worth is based on what you do, what you produce, not where you were born. The America that I respect still has a spokeswoman who was described as once saying:

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.
JohnDewey writes:

Dobeln,

Can you point me to some of the statistics you continue referring to? I'm particularly interested in the statistics about more government spending. Studies I've seen show just the opposite:

- the late conservative economist Julian Simon calculated that native U.S. citizens receive more in government benefits than do immigrants;

- a Cato Institute study found that immigrants paid 48% as much in taxes as the average American family, but received only 32% as much in government benefits;

- the Urban Institute estimated in the mid-90's that immigrants contributed $30 billion more in taxes than they receive each year.

The difference may be that "immigrants" includes much more than just Mexican border crossers. "Hispanics" probably includes all Puerto Ricans and all citizens who were at any time descended from the Spanish population.

Still, I'd like to understand why we can each refer to such inconsistent statistics.

Dobeln writes:

The US Bureau of Justice Statistics makes a point of *not* compiling yearly murder statistics for hispanics, despite being required by law to do so. (This is the answer to your question regarding how authorities react to hispanic crime - they appear to cover it up.)

Instead they lump hispanics in the "white" category. On Googling around earlier, I did find this mention, that looked to be from a reputable source (Chicago Tribune)
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/printedition/chi-0404200254apr20,1,5936149.story?coll=chi-printnews-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true

"But national Hispanic advocates say they are trying to monitor the rate at which homicides are solved, given that the Hispanic murder rate seems to be higher than the average.

A recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics noted that between 1993 and 1999, an average of 409 Hispanics were being killed a year--a rate of 12.6 homicides per 100,000 Hispanics. The national average during the same period was 8.9."

A bit old, but it indicates an Hispanic murder rate about 3,6 times the US (hispanic-inflated) white rate, which seems reasonably compliant with the other, usually somewhat lower (around 3) estimates from various anti-immigration groups that float around the web. (Noone else appears to take much interest in hispanic crime, go figure...)

So, how many excess murders has Hispanic immigration caused? Hard to give an excact figure, for the reasons stated above. Depends on where we draw the baseline - does every single murder by an Hispanic count? Do only illegals count? If so, we are talking about 1200-1500 murders per year.

Estimating overflow onto the 'indigenous' population is more difficult, of course, and would take more time to figure out, but it seems reasonable we are talking about a fairly substantial amount of murders.

Timothy writes:

Seems to me that lumping "hispanics" into the "white" category makes perfect sense. Or are they somehow less descended from Europeans because the Conquistadors were brownish and spoke Spanish?

Dobeln writes:

"- Right, supporting rules to keep out foreigners (which our ancestors all were at some point) is the definition of patriotism."

No, the definition of patriotism is doing so if it is beneficial for, you know like, the actual citizens of the United States.

"One of the things I love about the U.S. is our tradition of welcoming and assimilating immigrants."

Depends - the US had a long immigration freeze up until 1965 - a period generally remembered very fondly by the majority population. I dunno if 'The American Dream' was seriously harmed by the lack of mass immigration. As for the original settlers of the US, they were conquerors and explorers, not 'immigrants' in the common sense.

"As opposed to, say, the French tradition of intentionally isolating immigrants in urban/suburban ghettos."

Do you have any evidence the French have intentionally been isolating immigrants in ghettos? My impression is rather that they have been fairly gung-ho on the assimilationism of third-world immigrants, but have largely failed (as in all of Europe) in that goal.

"that is purely an assertion."

No, it is an assertion backed by a great deal of empirics. The nation state is an incredibly successful political construct - that is hard to dispute. Thus, those (like you) who wish to replace it with something else has a heavy burden of proof to bear.

"Obviously you've never lived in an area of extreme poverty. "

No - my opposition to third-world immigration is in part due to wanting to keep it that way.

"There is substantial research that suggests people's behavior is greatly influenced by their current environment - in other words, "crime prone" folk will become more law-abiding in an environment with greater emphasis on following laws."

Perhaps. Perhaps not. US blacks, for instance, have proven remarkably successful at keeping up a murder rate roughly six to seven times the (hispanic-inflated) white rate throughout all the decades since record-keeping began. Of course, crime correlates with all sorts of social statistics, so there is always some (supposed) proximate cause to blame. (And if there isn't, there's always 'racism'!)

"I make that crystal clear to those around me. If a Bangladeshi can perform my job effectively at a lower price, so be it."

I generally take a positive view of free trade - I find that to be a reasonable position, as mere trade in goods does not impose the significant non-priced external effects on others that mass immigration does.

Dobeln writes:

"Seems to me that lumping "hispanics" into the "white" category makes perfect sense. Or are they somehow less descended from Europeans because the Conquistadors were brownish and spoke Spanish?"

The population genetics of 'hispanics' is an interesting subject in itself (compare 'hispanic' Vincente Fox with your average'hispanic' Chiapas indian, and you will find a rather striking contrast!), but the US government in its infinite wisdom has decided that Hispanics should be tracked as a separate group. Yet for some strange reason, they have failed to implement this policy when it comes to crime reporting. Puzzling!

tdl writes:

Dobeln,
Thank you for the prompt reply. I would argue that we are not talking about "mass murder" then. If the rate is indeed higher (an issue of understanding and properly interpreting the numbers, which is soluble) are we talking about illegal immigrant murders or murders committed by illegal immigrants (on U.S. citizens and legal aliens?) It seems to me that the number may not be as high as you claim, but I would not be surprised if there is an "excess" number of murders. Like you said, however, it is difficult to fully grasp at first blush.

Regards,
tdl

Dobeln writes:

"Still, I'd like to understand why we can each refer to such inconsistent statistics."

The most likely explanation is that I tend to focus on very 'basic' social statistics, such as murder rates, high-school dropout rates, etc. They are less dependent on who is doing the calculating (although they are hardly always easy to come by, as we see above with the murder rate).

In part, this is because I am interested in the effects of immigration that do not pass through the price mechanism, I.e. external effects.

Furthermore, if we include highly educated professionals, PHD:s and Masters students into the equation, the tables shift, of course. This group has excellent social statistics and is truly high-powered in every respect. Also, the positive dynamic effects are likely to be far larger in this group (research exchange, etc.). That is not the kind of immigration that is in dispute, however.

Finally, it is very hard to come up with a comprehensive accounting for Mexican immigration. Do we include costs for affirmative action? College quotas? Crime? And so on - demarkation problems rapidly become a nightmare. Thus, I find it more rewarding to look at basic social stats.

JohnDewey writes:

Excuse me, Dobeln, but am I reading your post correctly? You seem to use the rate at which Hispanics are murdered to derive a Hispanic murder rate. Does that imply that only Hispanics kill Hispanics? Or was your statement typed incorrectly?

Dobeln writes:

Tdl: Also, I should again point out that my somewhat 'edgy' framing of the murder rate issue was in reply to the more than 'edgy' genocide parable used in the original post. Usually preferable to keep things a bit cooler - especially on this (very touchy) subject.

(This is mostly as Immigration is frequently used for social-exclusion scans for bigotry, as it holds credible bigot-detection potential.

A bigot could never support large-scale third-world immigration. Hence, a pro-immigration stance becomes attractive in many circumstances, as a way to signal non-bigotedness in a credible fashion, independent of the actual merits of immigration as a policy.

For an illustration, witness the number in this thread going on about how anti-immigrationists are at best one step above your average untersturmbannfuhrer...)

Zac writes:

Excuse me, Dobeln, am I reading your posts correctly? You seem to be a racist idiot.

Dobeln writes:

"Excuse me, Dobeln, but am I reading your post correctly? You seem to use the rate at which Hispanics are murdered to derive a Hispanic murder rate. Does that imply that only Hispanics kill Hispanics? Or was your statement typed incorrectly?"

As is clear from the BoJS site, offending and victimization rates tend to track rather closely for the ethnic groups that are tracked there. The offending rates given at various anti-immigration sites around the web (Google: 'hispanic murder rate') appear to hover around 3, so I see no reason to doubt this is the case with Hispanics as well.

Dobeln writes:

"Excuse me, Dobeln, am I reading your posts correctly? You seem to be a racist idiot."

And you appear to have a hard time coming up with a cogent argument. Ironically, my last post contained a rather longish aside on the legions of poseurs using a pro-immigration stance to costlessly signal their lack of 'bigotry and mean-spiritedness'. You appear to fit the bill rather well.

Patrick J writes:

"No, the definition of patriotism is doing so if it is beneficial for, you know like, the actual citizens of the United States."

pa·tri·ot·ism ( P ) Pronunciation Key (ptr--tzm)
n.
Love of and devotion to one's country.

Where in the definition of patriotism does it say this?

"Depends - the US had a long immigration freeze up until 1965 - a period generally remembered very fondly by the majority population."

Yep, and eventually we return to our roots and accept immigrants into society. Blips along the way? Sure. All that tells me is that the human instinct to be xenophobic runs strong. And gee, if the majority remember it fondly, then it must have been a good thing. ;)

"Do you have any evidence the French have intentionally been isolating immigrants in ghettos? My impression is rather that they have been fairly gung-ho on the assimilationism of third-world immigrants, but have largely failed (as in all of Europe) in that goal."

The French have been gung-ho on isolating Muslims (especially from North Africa) in ghettos. I'll try to find links on this. Read The Economist - this topic has been discussed in detail.

"No, it is an assertion backed by a great deal of empirics. The nation state is an incredibly successful political construct - that is hard to dispute. Thus, those (like you) who wish to replace it with something else has a heavy burden of proof to bear."

I have no wish to replace the nation-state. I just want to allow a steady stream of immigrants into the U.S. And yes, you did make an assertion.

"Perhaps. Perhaps not. US blacks, for instance, have proven remarkably successful at keeping up a murder rate roughly six to seven times the (hispanic-inflated) white rate throughout all the decades since record-keeping began. Of course, crime correlates with all sorts of social statistics, so there is always some (supposed) proximate cause to blame."

This doesn't address my earlier point.

JohnDewey writes:

Dobeln,

I was asking about your claim that more immigration will mean more government spending. That's what I think you implied in your 9:41 AM post. Or maybe you were meaning that more Hispanics will mean more government spending. It's difficult to tell when you are writing about immigrants and when you are writing about Hispanics. You seem to find both equally objectionable, as you've interchange the terms frequently as you demean them in your posts.

Can I assume from your 2:56 PM reply that you really haven't seen statistics showing that immigrants increase government spending? But that you know some are out there?

Were you referring to net government spending, meaning spending on immigrants minus taxes from immigrants?

Patrick J writes:

Zac wrote:

"Excuse me, Dobeln, am I reading your posts correctly? You seem to be a racist idiot."

- This adds absolutely nothing to the debate. Uncalled for Zac.

Dobeln - I disagree with your views, but ascribe none of your comments to racism, for what it's worth.

Zac writes:

My argument is simple: anti-immigration is motivated by racism and xenophobia. Its always someone - the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Blacks, the Mexicans. Immigration helps immigrants so much they are willing, in many cases, to risk their lives to come to the U.S. and work, for us, for low wages. It also helps us, by increasing our standard of living, since we have a larger supply of effective labor. But I don't need to frame an argument, because we are commenting on arguments already made - this is a blog, not a forum.

Your posts, if you can call them an "argument," do not at all address these issues: its simply an incoherent mess of carefully chosen statistics that you believes gives support for your bigotry. I can't believe anyone would buy the bull you're selling, and I hardly believe you believe it. You just don't like Mexicans, and you've created a fantasy story to aid you in your self-deception, so that you can convince yourself that foreigners are evil.

My sincere hope is your kind is truly becoming extinct, and that the latest backlash against immigration is just the dinosaurs' last hurrah. This is an immigrant nation. Deal.

Dobeln writes:

1. I thought that the tread was implicitly about hispanic immigration, so if nothing else was stated, that was probably what I was talking about.

"I was asking about your claim that more immigration will mean more government spending. "

2: Fair enough - my argument on that point is largely derived from the fact that Hispanics as a group are poorer than most Americans. Poorer people in turn tend to constitute a larger drain on the public treasury, as they pay less in taxes (nothing at all if they are off-the-book), and use more government-provided services.

As Robert J. Samuelson states in a recent WaPo column:

"Since 1990 about 90 percent of the increase in people living below the government's poverty lines has come among Hispanics."

"The median net worth of Hispanic households is about 9 percent of that of non-Hispanic whites (net worth is what people own minus what they owe)."

"Of those who got through and stayed (crude estimate: some 500,000 annually), about two-thirds lack a high school education. "

In short, hispanic immigrants are poor, own little and are uneducated. That is a blueprint for creating a net drain on social resources of all kinds.

Zac writes:

Patrick, you'll notice that anti-immigrationists (who really are hardly one step above your average untersturmbannfuhrer, pure poetry from Dobeln), since they can't respond to the actual argument at hand - that immigrants, by and large, come here to work hard for low wages in order to create a better life for their families, and as a side effect, a rising tide raises (almost) all ships - start spouting out figures about how "hispanics kill," as if there is something about their race or national origin that makes them more prone to violence, c.p. They claim we need to protect ourselves from the murderous hordes that will turn our country into a slum. They have no idea why immigrants come to this country or what they really do when they are here. Anti-immigrationists are all, yes ALL, either ignorant (or alternately, highly self-deceptive), racist, or both.

So yes, my comment was completely called for, because: Dobeln isn't just ignorant. He can read. He just chooses to ignore it, and continues to spout hate. So, he's a racist, even though he would deny it. He's also an idiot, because he holds an opinion contrary to evidence.

Patrick J writes:

Zac: Calling someone a "racist idiot" is a less than effective way to take them to task. Your further comments provided a basis for your judgments; thanks for elaborating.

Dobeln writes:

"My argument is simple: anti-immigration is motivated by racism and xenophobia."

First of all, for the purpose of this discussion, and as long as the subject is whether or not hispanic immigration is good for the US or not, it really matters little whether my disembodied internet existance really hides the reincarnated Adolf Hitler or Mother Theresa.

"Its always someone - the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Blacks, the Mexicans."

Negative sentiments towards a certain ethic group is, like most sentiments, of a highly variable quality. Did Sicilian immigration the US bring a large amount of organized and disorganized crime to the US? It certainly did. Indeed, European (rather culturally similar) immigration became so impopular that it was stopped, only to resume in mass scale after 1965.

The only way to examine if negative sentiment towards the entry of a particular group is well founded, or a 'phobia', is in the end to use the data at hand. In the case of Hispanics, that data simply seems to indicate that the US is importing Mexican poverty, and that the poverty isn't going to go away anytime soon.

"Your posts, if you can call them an "argument," do not at all address these issues: its simply an incoherent mess of carefully chosen statistics that you believes gives support for your bigotry."

On the contrary, they are the usual SES statistics , and on the whole they paint a rather bleak picture.

"You just don't like Mexicans, and you've created a fantasy story to aid you in your self-deception, so that you can convince yourself that foreigners are evil."

The funny thing is, I am not a US citizen, I do not live or work in the US - my native tounge is not English - I am as foreign as foreign can be to an American. For me, this is merely an entertaining sociological excercise.

I enjoy rattling the local pro-immigrationists as well, of course - there is a kind of universal smugness about them that I think is largely explained by the phenomena I laid out in my previous post. (Pro-immigrationism as a social signalling mechanism)

I really don't care one way or the other about Mexicans on a personal level. From what I've heard they are generally a friendly bunch who run a fairly screwed-up country.

Dobeln writes:

"since they can't respond to the actual argument at hand - that immigrants, by and large, come here to work hard for low wages"

Erm, is this supposed to be a pro-immigration argument? Still, I certainly grant that there is a benefit to US capital owners in getting greater access to cheap labor, thus driving the wages of local labor down. Also, there is a benefit to the immigrants. But that hardly answers the question in itself, especially as the very concept of "low-wage labor" usually comes with significant hidden costs.

"in order to create a better life for their families, and as a side effect, a rising tide raises (almost) all ships"

I believe the figure bandied about in a different post was an overall (narrow) economic gain was one percent. The cost of this was supposedly an 8 percent wage cut for those in US society that are already at the bottom of the ladder. Given the many other negative effects associated with unskilled immigration, it is unclear if the one percent gain is worth it.

"as if there is something about their race or national origin that makes them more prone to violence, c.p."

That hispanic immigrants are more prone to violence than, say, south-east asian immigrants, or US whites (but less violence-prone than US blacks) is a matter of fact, not something an evil racist made up. Thus, it must be taken into account when making a cost-benefit analysis of hispanic immigration.

"carefully chosen statistics"

No careful choosing needed - you can pretty much throw darts at random at all major socioeconomic statistics for hispanic immigrants and count on that they will turn out to be worse than for the majority population. (Although they are sometimes hard to get at - sometimes by accident, sometimes by design)

Dobeln writes:

"Where in the definition of patriotism does it say this?"

I was applying the definition of patriotism to the case at hand - as in wanting to do what is good for the country (and by implication the citizens of the country).

"then it must have been a good thing. ;)"

I dunno, but the majority opinion certainly counts for something. In general though, what is certain is that large ethno-demographic shifts are rarely appriciated by the population. Indeed, such shifts are rather a frequent cause of people getting out their AK-47:s and starting the killing all around the world. Ethno-demographic stability on the other hand is rarely the cause of such disturbances.

"The French have been gung-ho on isolating Muslims (especially from North Africa) in ghettos. I'll try to find links on this. Read The Economist - this topic has been discussed in detail."

I didn't question the outcome (ghettofication)- but rather the intent of the French. I do believe they, both as a colonial power and as the reciever of immigrants, were quite keen on assimilation. Alas, they failed, but that's another story...

"I have no wish to replace the nation-state. I just want to allow a steady stream of immigrants into the U.S. And yes, you did make an assertion."

You were questioning the very basis of the nation-state, I.e. the citizens having stronger bonds to each other than to the citizens of other nations. Or did I misunderstand your statement about placing equal value on Mexicans and Americans?

"This doesn't address my earlier point."

Which one? (This whole discussion is getting kinda tangled up in itself...)

cb writes:

Dobelyn,

What nationality are you, out of curiosity?

Comparing Hispanics to the general population is comparing apples to oranges, because, as you note incessantly, they are poor, stupid and backward, or whatever words you use. Obviously poor people commit more crime and have lower education backgrounds, and probably all the other stats you cite but give no evidence. You and others sound just like all the people at the turn of the previous century complaining about the southern Europeans coming to this country. Because we now live in a welfare state, it is natural that current immigrants will consume more gov't resources than a century ago, but that doesn't mean it will happen w/ their kids or grandkids.

The reason America is such a special place is that she has welcomed with open arms, for the most part, and certainly compared to other countries, the worlds poor and hungry, this is the land of opportunity. Rich people don't tend to emigrate, poor people do.

For those that complain about the drain in welfare resources these illegal immigrants suppossedly consume, find some numbers that compare their consumption to other groups of equal income and education, and then talk to me. I don't think it ever occurs to people that the problem is the welfare state, not hispanics. I've lived in Texas my whole life, and sure, there are lazy bums, just like in every culture, but until someone proves to me that these illegal immigrants plus a couple of generations of kids are a net drain to this country, I will continue to believe my eyes first.

I know everybody ragging on immigration gets painted with the 'racist' tag by some, and it's irritation, but as a conservative/libertarian white male who hates the left and political correctness, I gotta say most of you, but not all, do sound racist, you just like to cloak it in intellectual garb, just like people did a century ago.

BTW, that in no way means levels of illegal immigration is an important topic, waves versus steady flow is a difference.

JohnDewey writes:

Dobeln,

Here's what I've read about immigrant workers from Mexico, though I can't remmber exactly the source (may be one of Thomas Sowell's books):

Mexican adults who cross the border illegally work extremely hard, but always fear being deported. These are law-abiding residents, who remain grateful for the opportunity to be here.
Prior to the 1986 Immigration laws, many, but not all, tried to live in two countries. They worked in the U.S. but returned often to Mexico to visit families. The crackdown on illegal immigration since 1986 made the dual lives impossible, and likely led to more permanent illegal aliens.

Children of these illegal immigrants are more diverse in atitudes and behavior. Some stay in school and will eventually exceed their parents' economic achievements. Others have trouble accepting their family's position in the underclass, and resent the relative poverty their illegal status forced on them. From what I've read, most of the crime and drug abuse among Mexican-American families is perpetrated by this group of disillusioned second generation immigrants.

The problem I have with using statistics such as you've presented is that they mask what's really happening.

I believe we have a real opportunity now to fix several of these problems and still enjoy the economic benefits of the productive Mexican workers. Allowing these workers to register, pay their fines, and move back and forth across the border freely may limit their duration in the U.S. If they have the opportunity to change employers, it is unlikely they will be victims of abuse. Treating their families with respect instead of like fugitives will certainly help the second generation to more appreciate the U.S.

We will, of course, need to close the border.

Please consider looking beyond the statistics, and asking how can we make this work. Also consider the contribution Mexican immigrants have made economically and culturally.

The alternatives I've heard which include deportation of millions are just not feasible.

James writes:

dsquared: "Here's an alternative thought experiment: Say tomorrow I invented a new type of robot which can produce a load of stuff which goes into the GDP and which substantially lowers the cost of personal servants for the wealthy. Would your reaction to this be "fantastic! the best and fairest way to finance the development of this new technology is obviously to tax everyone without a high school diploma 8% of their income!"?"

The poor, like everyone else, have a legitimate property claim to the money that they receive through voluntary exchange. But the poor do not own their emplyers or their employers' customers. The analogy doesn't really work.

Scott Scheule writes:

I pray that people, particularly those on my side of the argument, learn to refrain from petty insults.

Uriah Heep writes:

Its the way Bryan takes a dispassionate science and tries to "freakonomic" it up that I find hilarious.
He baits everyone into a fight. He could have expressed roughly the same views in a low-key manner without all the master-race and killing bologna, but that would not generate 70+ comments. Good stuff, keep it up Doc.

someone writes:

I'm pro-immigrant and immigration and anti-protectionist as well. But, your lack of sympathy or compassion for poor Americans is pretty obnoxious.

Sure, a lot of poor Americans are lazy and dishonest and generally unadmirable. But it's still an admirable goal to find ways to harness the energy of our poor and improve their lot.

Ergon Freely writes:

Bryan,

If you're going to criticize people who want to look after their compatriots before foreigners using that logic, then you indeed are going to explain why you take care of your own children before you take care of other people's. If you buy your son a $300 bicycle, you could've kept 5 children in Sudan alive for a year with that money instead. So can we say that "Bryan Caplan killed 5 children in Sudan when he bought his son a bike"?

This could be fun. Do enlighten.

Dobeln writes:

1.
I'm a swede.

2.
I do think that I've provided quite a bit of backing up for my notion that Hispanic immigration is socially problematic.

3.
True, they are poor. Will things improve? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Despite what social busybodies like to tell us, there is no reliable 'cure for poverty'. (Well, massive cash transfers work, but you get the idea...)

James writes:

Ergon,

If you want to give your own money to those born in the same place as you, or buy things with your own money from people born in the same place as you, go right ahead. You have every right to control your own money. It belongs to you. But other people do not belong to you, including those Americans that would like to hire people that were not born in the same country as you.

The right analogy would be about forcing Bryan to buy his kids a bike rather than buying something from those starving abroad. That's what the anti-immigration side is ultimately arguing for.

john writes:

The point is that the people can vote to force their fellow countryman in jail if they don't buy domestic goods.

This is perfectly within their rights.

For they most part they have not voted that way, but it could change. With attitudes like Bryan's I wouldn't blame them for doing so.

You fellow countryman can also vote to tax you at a higher rate and transfer that wealth to him.

There are many reasons for keeping production domentic including security reasons. The fact that you fellow countryman can vote to tax you is another reason you should consider keeping him gainfully employed instead of a someone from a foreign country.

JohnDewey writes:

Someone,

We cannot "harness the energy of our poor" if it's not there to harness. Employers of Mexican immigrants in CA and TX have told me they try to hire citizens. But they just cannot depend on them to show up after they get their first paychecks. Our economy does not need to be carrying a bunch of deadweight dopeheads and drunks, regardless of how admirable a goal you think that may be.

The unemployment rate in the U.S. is under 5%. Skilled workers in transition and the flat unemployables make up most of this group. Other enemployeds prefer to remain that way rather than move to where the jobs are. There just aren't enough poor people around to do the work the illegal immigrants are doing. That's why jobs continue to be available for them.

The rational solution is a guest worker program that allows us enough workers, but ensures that those workers and their families are treated fairly. The immigrants who find jobs here in north Texas work extremely hard, and we should be pleased to benefit from their productivity.

Bryan Caplan writes:

Ergon Freely writes:

Bryan,

If you're going to criticize people who want to look after their compatriots before foreigners using that logic, then you indeed are going to explain why you take care of your own children before you take care of other people's. If you buy your son a $300 bicycle, you could've kept 5 children in Sudan alive for a year with that money instead. So can we say that "Bryan Caplan killed 5 children in Sudan when he bought his son a bike"?

This could be fun. Do enlighten.
=--------------------------------------------

I never said we have an obligation to give money to Latin Americans, only that we have an obligation to let them take a job from a willing employer. To say that it's wrong to steal bikes from foreigners is not to say that I have an obligation to give them my bike.

Dog of Justice writes:

Bryan, you may be more concerned about the welfare of poor hardworking foreigners than that of economically unsuccessful American citizens. As a second-generation immigrant, I have a lot of sympathy for this position.

However, the American government has a responsibility to put the welfare of its own citizens first. Localized responsibility is one of the key principles of libertarianism. The best way to help poor hardworking Mexicans to succeed as a group is to create a good system in Mexico. If you have any doubt as to how much can be accomplished in this manner, look at Hong Kong.

Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's. Help Americans with your US tax dollars, and help the non-Americans you value more highly with your other resources.

George Paci writes:

Who's taking immigrants from poor countries? Most of the illegal immigrants in the US are from Mexico, which has a per-capita GDP around $10,000 -- not exactly Italy, but nothing to sneeze at, either. And an awful lot of those illegal immigrants seem to be able to scrape up $2,000 - $5,000 to pay a coyote to get them across the border -- again, not exactly the poorest of the poor.

Nobody seriously thinks we should do away with border controls. Can you imagine the Mexican government cheerfully accepting every Bangladeshi or Liberian who wants to better their lot in life?

In the absence of any such actual multilateral understanding, why should we throw our borders open?

Mikael writes:

Dobeln: You write about the early US immigrants:
"they were conquerors and explorers, not 'immigrants' in the common sense."

You have to be kidding, right? Being a Swede, do you consider the 1 million people or so leaving Sweden in the 19th century for the US being conquerors and explorers? My grand grandfather left Sweden (Småland) in the 19th century because of extreme poverty and starvation. He worked in the north of the US building railways, sending home some of the cash etc.

The Swedish immigrants were mainly from very poor rural areas (Småland) that were badly hit by tough years with bad havest.

And for the irish immigrants, were they explorers? No, they fled poverty. The Italians fled poverty. The polish fled poverty. I can go on and on.

The early European-based immigrants to the US were starving and extremely poor. They fled to a country that welcomed them do to hard work. Kind of like the Mexican immigrants too I guess...

And even if you refer to the very early Eureopan-based immigrants your assertion is hardly true. Sure, for a handful of people, but not for the large chunk of people.

Jon writes:

Bryan,
Do you have children? Will you provide as much opportunity for all of these others as you would your own family members, including your own children? If an immigrant shows up exhibiting strong capabilities than one of your own kin, would you tell your son or daughter "I'll pay his college tuition; count your blessings you were born into my family?"

I supposed the answer is no; does that mean your family is a master race?

---Jonathan

If we're supposed to place greater moral worth on someone who happens to be born within the U.S. borders, why stop there?

If I happen to be born in California, should I be upset that low-wage Idahoans are taking our jobs? Perhaps San Franciscans should establish a City Immigration and Naturalization Service (CINS), and deport anyone without proper papers. After all, do Bay residents really want Portlanders moving down simply to take advantage of our their generous welfare system? Black folk commit crimes at a far higher rate than whites -- if Los Vegas put up a wall to prevent any more black folk from moving in, would you nativists support them?

JohnDewey writes:

Dobeln:
"As for the original settlers of the US, they were conquerors and explorers, not 'immigrants' in the common sense."

That's just not true. Very few of the Spanish conquerors and explorers settled in the U.S. The small number who did established farms and missions.

The Pilgrims who settled Massachussetts starting in 1620 came here to escape religious persecution and severe economic discrimination.

My Acadian ancestors who settled Louisiana in the early 18th century did so for exactly the same reasons.

The Dutch "Patroon" system that was the basis for New Netherlands settlement in 1630 was a form of feudalism. The Dutch farmers and fishermen who migrated here under that system were certainly not conquerors or explorers.

Pennsylvania was settled by religious dissenters that William Penn recruited from Europe as early as 1681.

Which early immigrants into the U.S. were conquerors and explorers? Is it possible you have confused the Spanish conquest of Mexico and Central America with the settlement of the U.S.? I know you said you were not American, and so I guess you aren't that familiar with our history.

Did you know, by the way, that the first illegal immigrants into Texas were U.S. citizens who wandered in and built farms without permission from the Mexican authorities?

John S Bolton writes:

None of the above answers the question of why we should allow an increase in the aggression by foreigners, within our borders, against our fellow national, the net taxpayer. The nation cannot mean less than that we owe loyalty to our fellow citizen, the net taxpayers and others, when they are attacked by foreigners inside the borders.
No historical precedent excuses the disloyalism, which waves in a foreign aggressor on to net public subsidy.

John S Bolton writes:

Further, a preference for the native-born unskilled may just mean that we acknowledge the existence of the redistribution, and are loyal to the net taxpayer. It is he who will have to pay for the draw on the system for the expenses of the newly-redundant worker displaced by an immigrant of low estate.
This does not imply any tendency to want to kill millions of potential immigrants for thousands of miles to the south. If there were rational arguments for mass immigration of low-end workers, or should I say, net consumers; it would not be necessary to suggest that restrictionism of immigration implies a slippery slope to mass murder. It may imply the threat of killing border aggressors, such as by emplacement of landmines on the border; if that's what it takes to stop them. But the existence of border defense, or the military, for that matter, does not imply that we want to kill millions of foreigners. No argument has ever been given that it does. It would be like saying that Israel's fortifications imply a wish to kill moslems by the millions.

Carter writes:

Since you think 8% of one's income is no big deal, would you pay 8% of your income to help defray the costs of immigrants? You certainly can afford it more than low-skilled workers. You could write a check for the amount of 8% of your income to a hospital that provides medical care to illegal immigrants, for example. Let us know when you've done this.

"Suppose you could give American high school dropouts a 1000% raise by exterminating every man, woman, and child in Latin America"

You're unable to refute economists who have actually examined immigration, reducing you to bizarre and sophomoric analogies with genocide.

"It's time to cross the final frontier, and start rolling our eyes when the special interest is low-skilled Americans."

I think it's time to stop tolerating free riders who benefit from mass immigration while avoiding the costs.

Lynette Warren writes:

Since you think 8% of one's income is no big deal, would you pay 8% of your income to help defray the costs of immigrants? You certainly can afford it more than low-skilled workers. You could write a check for the amount of 8% of your income to a hospital that provides medical care to illegal immigrants, for example.

Bryan Caplan isn't saying that low-skilled workers of any nationality are entitled to free medical care.

And Caplan is not downplaying the significance of 8% of any income. He's saying that neither 8% nor 1000% of an income justifies violating the rights of others. Immigrants who engage in voluntary value transactions on this side of a line on a map aren't violating anyone else's rights. Therefore you have no right to drop kick them back over such a line. No matter how much you value the line, the property on this side of it doesn't belong to you anymore than it belongs to anyone else.

perroazul del norte writes:

"We cannot "harness the energy of our poor" if it's not there to harness. Employers of Mexican immigrants in CA and TX have told me they try to hire citizens. But they just cannot depend on them to show up after they get their first paychecks. Our economy does not need to be carrying a bunch of deadweight dopeheads and drunks, regardless of how admirable a goal you think that may be."
Right. Send those useless US citizens to an Auschwitz, that is the implication of what you are saying. . All hail the cognitive elite! And their obsequious servants get a break too -the rest can go to the gas chambers!
"As for for the original settlers of the US, they were conquerors and explorers, not 'immigrants' in the common sense."-Dobeln
That's just not true. Very few of the Spanish conquerors and explorers settled in the U.S. The small number who did established farms and missions.-johndewey
I think what Dobeln was saying-since English is not his first language- is that the first European settlers in North America were pioneers, they settled what was in essence a virgin wilderness. The Amerinds were stone-age hunter-gatherers who altered the continent minimally, mainly through burning.The Northern European settlers totally transformed North America and made it possible for Jews, Poles and others to come here and prosper.

perroazul del norte writes:

"And Caplan is not downplaying the significance of 8% of any income. He's saying that neither 8% nor 1000% of an income justifies violating the rights of others. Immigrants who engage in voluntary value transactions on this side of a line on a map aren't violating anyone else's rights. Therefore you have no right to drop kick them back over such a line. No matter how much you value the line, the property on this side of it doesn't belong to you anymore than it belongs to anyone else"
Lines on a map that mark the boundaries between nations are very real to non-loonitarians;they are certainly very real to Mexicans. To Mexicans the boundaries of Mexico are the boundaries of La Patria. One of the problems the US now faces is that Mexicans claim the US Southwest as part of their Patria. To paraphrase Leon Trotsky: you may not be interested in nationalism, but nationalism is interested in you.

Jason Ortiz writes:

Very interesting. I enjoy a good read anytime of the day. Please feel free to stop by my site. You would be sure to enjoy. www.juddandjasonspeakout.com

Bob writes:

Ninety comments are not that common in blogs, especially for an econ blog. The subject definitely causes a big issue among Americans. All related blogs have the same effect towards its members. I guess Government picked the right issue to distract its citizens. After government pulls the rug from under you, will you then put as much effort against the "WAR"? or will it take losing your low-skilled relative in Iraq to attract your attention!

This country was built on Immigration and that will never change. So lets thank all the low-skilled immigrants for our world-class food, buildings, roads, leisure time, and our personal success. Then pay attention to what is really affecting taxes, schools, crimes, GOV budget, and potentially your kid’s future.

Ehh Dicho!

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top