Arnold Kling  

Still More on Immigration

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Greg Mankiw has a Blog... Revealed Preference vs. Happin...

My latest essay uses the N-word.


What should you call someone who wants government to provide for our education, competitiveness, and health care but whose concern about "us" stops at the border? The obvious label would be national socialist. But George Bush and Paul Krugman are not Nazis...

The alternative ideology that I would propose might be called transnational libertarianism. The ideal libertarian world would have no economic borders. There would be no problem of illegal immigration, because all forms of immigration would be legal.


UPDATE: See also Chris Coyne, who, like me, is more concerned with the institutions of freedom than ethnic identity.


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TRACKBACKS (2 to date)
TrackBack URL: http://econlog.econlib.org/mt/mt-tb.cgi/485
The author at Ashish's Niti in a related article titled Anti-immigrant liberals writes:
    Link: EconLog, Still More on Immigration, Arnold Kling: Library of Economics and Liberty. What should you call someone who wants government to provide for our education, competitiveness, and health care but whose concern about us stops at the border? The [Tracked on April 3, 2006 6:14 PM]
The author at PurpleSlog in a related article titled Ideologies and USAv3 writes:
    Econlog has a post that links to the article on TCS entitled Tribal Politics that is about immigration. In it, Arnold Kling lays-out competing ideologies/systems: Transnational Libertarianism individual rights based no economic borders locally focused... [Tracked on April 7, 2006 12:24 AM]
COMMENTS (24 to date)

To be fair to them, their concern does not quite stop at the border. There is such a thing as foreign aid.

"But George Bush and Paul Krugman are not Nazis..."

Error! Error!
Does not compute! Does not compute! :-)

Robert Speirs writes:

If immigration restrictions are wrong, why do all countries in the world have them? And if weak, unenforced US restrictions are bad, why aren't the immigration rules almost everywhere else worse? Why would countries, especially poor countries, harm their economies with strict immigration controls? Yet most do.
And is it entirely irrelevant that the crime rate among illegal immigrants is much higher than that among citizens? Do you favor admitting violent felons?

nn writes:

I'm not sure which definition of little l or big L libertarianism is being invoked, but I thought that even in a Nozickian world, groups would be allowed to agglomerate, self-select, and restrict entry to their group. Why can't we call some of those groups "nations"?

Tom Anger writes:

The ideal libertarian world would be governed by a unified rule of law. That rule of law would protect citizens from predators -- including government-sponsored predation (e.g., welfare programs). To the extent that immigrants come to the U.S. because it offers "better" welfare programs, those immigrants are engaging in predation and enabling the election of politicians who would multiply the predation. Your prescription works in the ideal world, but not in the real one that we inhabit.

JohnDewey writes:

Robert Speirs,

Have you seen any evidence that the crime rate among illegal immigrants is much higher than among U.S. citizens? I've been searching for that but cannot find it.

I have seen statistics showing that the crime rate for Hispanics is slightly higher than for the overall non-Hispanic white population. The problem with those statistics is that the majority of the Hispanic population are either citizens or legal immigrants. The second problem is that those statistics are not age-adjusted. Most crimes included in such statistics are those committed by teenagers and young adults. The average age of the Hispanic population is lower than the non-Hispanic white population, so naturally the crime rates will be higher.

An additional problem with focusing on crime statistics is that such statistics ignore many other social problems. Abuse of family memebers and abortion are two statistics that would be important in determining the desirablilty of any ethnic group. As Mexican Americans strongly embrace family values and religion, I doubt their family abuse and abortion rates would be near as high as many other ethnic groups.

Please note that I'm referring to Mexican Americans, both legal and illegal, and not to the broader group of Hispanics that includes criminals deported by Castro, Columbian drug dealers, and Puerto Ricans who have grown up in our U.S. culture of entitlement that suppresses individual achievement and accountability.

scottynx writes:

Here is Razib on www.gnxp.com, commenting on the post there "Is Jane Galt the new Paul Erlich?":

[...one half of the equation is actually tractible in terms of public policy. america has reduced immigration levels in the past. i do not know of any time when the welfare state has retreated to any extent (someone can correct me). just as michael pointed out that the majority of americans are against high levels of immigration, they are also against "big government." big deal, they still love their mortgage guarantees and federally funded pork programs, just like they hire jose to do landscaping because he'll take $5/hour while john demands $10/hour. i think getting rid of jose is a lot more feasible in the medium term than getting rid of pork projects. that's just my realistic assessment.

(i live in an area where latino labor has started to crop up non-trivially only in the past 5 years. there are vast swaths of america where native-born americans still do hotel work, for example [i've seen it in montpelier, VT]. on the other hand there is no part of america, that i know of, which isn't dependent on the teat of the state. big gov. is a bigger problem from where i stand, but it is a also a natural feature of the universe at this point i suspect)]

JohnJ writes:

Statistics are easy; you just don't like 'em.
I realize that people really want their ideals to work, and they attach a lot of emotion to them. The ideals sound so good to them, that they must be true. We just want people to be free, right?
But that darn reality keeps getting in the way. "If only people would realize how nice it would be if the world worked the way I wanted it to..." Reality is a pain in the butt. There's nothing wrong with being idealistic, but it should be tempered with realism. Anti-illegal immigration is not racism, and it's not anti-immigration. It's anti-illegal immigration.
Imagine that you owned an island, and you and your friends had some businesses there to cater to people who came by, and you had no kind of immigration policy. What do you imagine would happen in the real world, not in your idealized world?

John S Bolton writes:

Calling them national socialists does not take away the reponsibility of the full range of political opinions of officials, to be loyal to their fellow citizens over against the foreigner. One can wish the nation would not exist, or that war or hostiles would not exist, but they do. Where is the socialism in saying that the nation cannot mean less than that all of us, officials and even anarcholibertarians; owe loyalty to our fellow national when he is attacked by foreigners here? To say this, does not imply that the state should own any businesses, nor that it be responsible for the health care needs or competitiveness of anyone. It does imply, though, that officials must act to prevent the increase of aggression on our fellow citizen, the net taxpayer, by means of immigration.

Dezakin writes:

"Anti-illegal immigration is not racism, and it's not anti-immigration. It's anti-illegal immigration."

I'll believe that from people that actually advocate legal immigration that matches the market demand. Otherwise its just advocating racism by government fiat. eg:

"Anti-miscegenation laws are not racism and they aren't anti-marriage. It's anti-illegal marriage"

"One can wish the nation would not exist, or that war or hostiles would not exist, but they do."

Classic strawman; The argument is about the way things ought to be, particulary in the land of political ideas.

"Where is the socialism in saying that the nation cannot mean less than that all of us, officials and even anarcholibertarians; owe loyalty to our fellow national when he is attacked by foreigners here? "

Of course not. Individuals owe their loyalty where they please, and accident of birth locale won't make me more loyal to a local jerk than to a close friend who happened to be born in say Shanghai. That the government says otherwise doesnt yet give them free reign over my very concience or soul.

And thats the point. Anti-immigration arguments are allways touched with racism of the sort that is classic among national socialists; Its not unusual or 'evil' for the plebians to fear foreigners with their foreign ways but such policy has a foundation that is neither robust nor noble.

JohnJ writes:

Anti-illegal immigration only discriminates against people on the basis of whether or not they circumvent the immigration procedure. It doesn't factor race or nationality into it. Sorry to burst your bubble.

JohnJ writes:

By all means, we can discuss how best to fix the immigration policy, but to say that we shouldn't have one at all is unrealistic. And to say that people who believe that immigration laws should be enforced are racist is sidestepping the argument (not to mention insulting). I haven't see one person yet who believed that the immigration policy should be changed actually discuss what needs to change! (Other than those who say it should be abolished outright)
So tell me, then, what exactly needs to change?

Dezakin writes:

"Anti-illegal immigration only discriminates against people on the basis of whether or not they circumvent the immigration procedure. It doesn't factor race or nationality into it. Sorry to burst your bubble."

A fine argument if there actually is a legal immigration procedure for many of those who 'circumvent' it; Which there isn't.

Carter writes:

"See also Chris Coyne, who, like me, is more concerned with the institutions of freedom than ethnic identity."

But what if in the real world some ethnic identities care more about institutions of freedom than other ethnic identities?

"I am cautiously hopeful that the trend might be away from statist collectivism and toward transnational libertarianism. This hope is based on the Internet"

I miss Pets.com too.

"But we do not live in a transnational libertarian utopia"

It's odd you feel the need to point that out, but then you know your audience better than I do.

John S Bolton writes:

What needs to change, is the belief that there is some magic that can expunge from the earth, sovereign nations, wars and hostiles. No evidence or argument of rational type, has ever been given by anarchists or anyone else, as to how one might be convinced that there can be a world without hostiles, wars and sovereignties.
Therefore, it stands as always, that citizens owe loyalty to their fellow national when he is attacked by foreigners within the national territory. This loyalty is by no means a matter of private conscience. Those who give their loyalty to the attacking foreigner are traitors, and the acts in support of such a foreigner are potentially capital offenses.
This is very different from the situation with private beliefs and conscience.
The nation commands this loyalty, and if this means that every conceivable sovereign nation is to be described as national socialist; then that's the way the world always will be, and the (NS) characterization fails to distinguish good from bad. The world-citizen has yet to prove that he is more than a stateless person, if he renounces his necessary loyalty , for a sovereignty which does not exist.
In regard of this loyalty, which the nation cannot mean less than, citizenship and nationality are absolutely of the essence. They are not known to be accidents. If politics be the morals of aggression, it follows that there is moral significance to them, in this regard: who owes loyalty to whom, when foreigners attack?

JohnDewey writes:

John Bolton,

The guys who mow and trim my yard are not attacking me or anyone else. The nurse's aide who helps my wife do her job was not attacking anyone when she entered the U.S. years ago and cleaned up restaurants after hours. She's not attacking anyone now that she's gained citizenship, either. These are hard-working people who appreciate the opportunity we've given them. I feel much more loyalty to them than to the dopeheads and drunks that account for most of the chronically unemployed.

As far as I am concerned, our borders are there to protect our beliefs in freedom, justice, and equality. The borders are not there to subsidize the losers who won't produce.

JohnJ writes:

JohnD, I'll wager that they're legal immigrants, too.

John S Bolton writes:

It is still not honest to simply define foreigners in the country as workers and as net producers, when that is so commonly not the case. Foreigners here are not under any special order to take net public subsidy; therefore they have moral responsibility for that aggression, which is their own. Receiving stolen goods, when one knows, or has responsibility to know, that government uses power to get that money, is a species of aggression as well.
One might know of one such immigrant who has never taken net public subsidy, but not as well as one knows that the foreigners who pulled off 9-11 were not net producers.
If one is taken by the impulse to define foreigners here as non-aggressors, doesn't that indicate hatred against the citizen? What they have in common that sets them apart, is that they're not Americans.

Dezakin writes:

"It is still not honest to simply define foreigners in the country as workers and as net producers, when that is so commonly not the case."

Its not honest to make that sentance when all data clearly show that they are more often than not net producers. You could take the word 'foreigners' and replace it with 'black people' or 'asians' or a whole host of ethnic slurs.

But meandering diatribes littered with anecdotes that inspire fear are of no shortage.

JohnJ writes:

"You could take the word 'foreigners' and replace it with 'black people' or 'asians' or a whole host of ethnic slurs."
You could take the word "you" and replace it with a whole list of insults. You didn't, though, and neither should you imply that he's being racist simply because you don't agree.

scottynx writes:

Dizakin writes:
[But meandering diatribes littered with anecdotes that inspire fear are of no shortage.]

Hows this for a fear inspiring anecdote: The hispanic incarceration rate is 2.9 times the non-hispanic white rate.... oops, that's a statistic. And yes, it should inspire fear if you have an ounce of rationality in you.

purpleslog writes:

I think a distinction between Democratic focused Statist Collectivism and Totalitarian focused Statist Collectivism should be made.

Also, can there be a form of Nationalistic Libertarianism?

John S Bolton writes:

It would be difficult for those who see strong national defense as unnecessary, to be patriotic. The distinction between foreigner and citizen is not known to be the same as that between different ethnic groups within the same country.
If mass immigrationists can only suggest that their opponents must be motivated by racial disaffinities, in the place where a rational argument is to be expected, doesn't this make their postion look intellectually and morally weak?
There is no indication of the majority of contemporary immigrants being net producers or net taxpayers. On the contrary, Borjas and the data he draws on, indicate that foreign born here are low income, as by the relevant consideration of median personal income. Redistribution being pervasive, consumption for these cohorts, will in the overwhelming majority of cases, go way above production.
The aggression comes from the willingness to go on net public subsidy.
It is not known to be valid to treat all the world as American citizens. Indeed, it is self-contradictory to pretend that we owe loyalty to the world in the same manner as to citizens; since, two foreign nations at war would then have us obliged to fight on both sides at the same time. The anarcholibertarian position turns out to mean, not only that our nation has no sovereignty, but that there is not even one sovereign nation in the entire world!
If believing stories like that is what it takes to be antiracist, since otherwise one discriminates against needy foreigners of possibly different race, then one has managed to define racism as inevitable. That is a contradiction-in-terms, though, since one can't be really opposed to what one treats as inevitable.

Dezakin writes:

"There is no indication of the majority of contemporary immigrants being net producers or net taxpayers."

You'll cite yours on taxation, which varies from state to state, and then you will select the segment of the immigrant population that most firmly supports your bias, and then I'll counter that its unrepresentative of the whole immigration population and the net tax is a result of state policies that individual states have every right to readress. Then I'll insist that the foreign born certainly are net producers in that they contribute to the overall growth of the US economy.

"On the contrary, Borjas and the data he draws on, indicate that foreign born here are low income, as by the relevant consideration of median personal income. Redistribution being pervasive, consumption for these cohorts, will in the overwhelming majority of cases, go way above production."

Theres another segment of the population thats immigrating that is significantly below the median personal income: Children. Perhaps we should enact government mandated sterilizations to ensure that they are no longer feeders at the trough of the state?

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