David R. Henderson  

Henderson on Trump

PRINT
Civilization Bets Considered... Does the impact of Keynesian s...
You don't have to follow Republican politics for very long to realize that Trump hit two "third rails" in one month. And yet, here he is, as I'm writing this in late August, leading all other Republican candidates for president by a big margin.

And I don't totally mind it. No, I don't like his views on immigration. He wants to forcibly return about 11 million illegal immigrants to their home countries. But President Obama, to take a prominent example, is pretty harsh on illegal immigrants, too. In his years in office, Obama has forcibly removed approximately 30,000 illegal aliens per month, which is more than that of any other president before him. And I don't think Trump understands that when we open trade to other countries, we gain not just as exporters but as consumers. But then, what U.S. politician running for president does? Marco Rubio? Rubio argued a few years ago that he would favour getting rid of quotas on sugar imports if we got something in return. But we do get something in return: it's called cheaper sugar. And getting cheaper sugar, by the way, might have caused LifeSavers not to move from Michigan to Quebec.


The Fraser Institute in Vancouver, where I am a senior fellow, has started a blog. I'll be posting once a month. Above is an excerpt from my post for August.

Postscript:
Commenter Charlie makes a good point in the comments below. A closer look at the deportation data shows Obama to be less extreme than I had thought.


Comments and Sharing






COMMENTS (19 to date)
Charlie writes:

Wow, I clicked through your link. Of the 30,000, half had been convicted of a crime before deportation and another 1,000 were fugitives.

Over 4,000 of the 14,000 remaining were border removals. Presumably congress has something to say about how the borders should be policed and funded.

It's kinda strange that you'd use the 30,000 number to make your point, as if you were trying to greatly exaggerate Obama's view of immigration to make it roughly comparable to Trump's.

Dick White writes:

The DH "like a lot" (anti-political correctness) would likely need Trump to be elected President to have a permanent effect but I concede it is satisfying to see it in action. The "like a little" (less warlike with no foreign policy advisers [yet]) is more wishful than substantive. We know Trump's aggressive style in virtually everything else. Why believe he would be substantially less warlike than, say, the average warlikeness of the other 16. This guy is obstreperous, someone who I pray flames out politically. That said, I "like a lot" that he has the country focused on big issues even if I disagree with his solutions.

Hazel Meade writes:

Which of the other candidates has referred to Mexicans as "rapists" and criminals, or has claimed he's going to get Mexico to pay for building a border fence?

Which of the other candidates has threatened to fine Ford Motor Company to force them to keep an auto plant in the US (in approgation of NAFTA)?

Trump is best described as an America First nativist. While he hasn't had much to say about foreign policy so far, given his anti-immigrant and Buy American sentiments, I wouldn't be surprised if he was hawkish on foreign policy, though not in a liberal interventionist way. He'd be more likely to bomb Iran because America should "win", rather than because he wants to turn them into a liberal democracy.

Jon Murphy writes:
And I don't think Trump understands that when we open trade to other countries, we gain not just as exporters but as consumers.

I'm glad you made this point. I've long argued that immigration restrictions are just protectionism by another name. You're preventing the free trade of labor rather than of capital.

NZ writes:

David Henderson:

I don't know how much stock to put in Trump personally, but as you implied, his candidacy has done a good job of shifting and widening the Overton window.

Meanwhile, I'm a little miffed about something less significant: when British commonwealth writers are published in American media, they typically retain their peculiar spellings of words ending in "or' ("favour", "neighbour"). But when Americans are published in British commonwealth media--at least at the Fraser institute, apparently--their spellings ("favor", "neighbor") get converted? Or did you never adapt your spellings when you became an American citizen?

David R. Henderson writes:

@NZ,
Or did you never adapt your spellings when you became an American citizen?
I adapted my spellings to the American versions shortly after arriving here on a student visa, which was over a decade before I became a U.S. citizen. One of the first to go was “cheque.” :-)

NZ writes:

Interesting. Your post contains the words "favour" and "honourable" (quoting Trump), so apparently the Fraser Institute changed the spellings for you.

Thomas B writes:

Jon Murphy,

I think you have the right idea, but I see it a little differently. The point of immigration restrictions is to keep your own working/middle-class workforce from leaving. How? By conspiring with other countries that have workers, not to allow each other's labor in.

So, if you're a working/middle-class British, French, Canadian or German worker, you can't get into the US (and if you're American, you can't get into those countries) to work legally - and, unlike low-income workers and non-workers, you're not going to do it illegally because you have too much to lose.

Why would countries do this? Because the strongest push-back against government abuse is not voting, but exit. If working/middle-class workers could move freely, they'd look for countries that treated them better. So, the countries that have such workers conspire to stop that from happening. Better yet, by framing it as "immigration restrictions" rather than "emigration restrictions" they fool most of the people into favoring the policy!

E. Harding writes:

"But President Obama, to take a prominent example, is pretty harsh on illegal immigrants, too. In his years in office, Obama has forcibly removed approximately 30,000 illegal aliens per month, which is more than that of any other president before him."

-Pretty much all of these are "deportations" from the border. The Presidents under whom the most actual deportations from within the U.S. interior were done were Reagan and Bush II -just from whom you'd expect. Trump would probably be even better than these.

Massimo writes:
I'm glad you made this point. I've long argued that immigration restrictions are just protectionism by another name. You're preventing the free trade of labor rather than of capital.

Henderson and the Free Trade argument is completely right. Protectionism is silly. Trump is dead wrong on that.

Limited borders does restrict the flow of labor and consumers. It also opens up a host of other issues. We often see culture clashes, forced charity, forced "equality" especially of ethnic groups. The multiculturalism issues are huge and they aren't just GDP-centric. On that issue Trump and Ann Coulter and Steve Sailer make great points and Caplan and crew are not just wrong, they are dishonest.

ThomasH writes:

Trump's departures from Libertarian views on immigration are peanuts compared to he implications for his views on Iran and unlike some other Republicans, he probably really believes what he's saying, not just mouthing party orthodoxy.

ThomasH writes:

Obama's position would be extremely Libertarian compared to any Republican.

DD writes:

Oh come on David, you can't say "this extremely populist candidate is not that bad because other mainstream candidates also have some populist tendencies"

This is an exceptionally weak argument.

For one, as mentioned above, Obama hasn't been poor on immigration in the least bit. You're cherry picking specific data to fit your point (and poorly at that).

The Rubio example is also rather weak.

I think everyone here understands that politicians, especially during election season (and especially, especially during party primaries), will often times throw out populist ideas because they're an easy way to score points with the uneducated masses. However, those who follow politics even semi-closely can discern between populism for the sake of vote pandering (the best current case being Hillary's economic stances in the face of Bernie Sanders' popularity) vs. candidates who have actual populist beliefs (Trump and Sanders as the most obvious).

Taking what politicians say at face value is extremely naive. Not because they are "liars", but because they are rational actors that will (appear to) shift their views to achieve their end goal. Differentiating between pandering and actual ideology is a skill that any graduate political science student should be able to showcase.

Charley Hooper writes:

Trump has me scratching my head.

It could be possible that the rank and file Republicans are so disillusioned after years of setbacks while Democrats were in power (Obamacare, etc.), combined with the lack of progress when Republicans have been in power (Republicans are elected with a lot of bluster and then end up going along with the status quo), that they are ready to try anything new. Trump channels their frustrations.

Could it be that Trump's whole goal was self-promotion, or perhaps a bet or a prank, and even he didn't think he would get this far? Trump reminds me of Mel Brooks' The Producers. By trying to make their play, Springtime for Hitler, as bad as possible, it ended up being a wild success.

David R. Henderson writes:

@DD,
Oh come on David, you can't say "this extremely populist candidate is not that bad because other mainstream candidates also have some populist tendencies"
Actually, I can say it, but the more important points are (1) I didn’t say it and (2) that statement does not reflect my views. I think Trump is really bad.
This is an exceptionally weak argument.
True, which is why I didn’t make it.
For one, as mentioned above, Obama hasn't been poor on immigration in the least bit.
Actually, he has.
You're cherry picking specific data to fit your point (and poorly at that).
I certainly didn’t purposely cherry pick, but it’s true that the data don’t support my point strongly, as I admitted in the Postscript. Perhaps you didn’t read that. You certainly don’t appear to have read my post or the linked post carefully.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Charley Hooper,
I think you’ve put your finger on the Trump phenomenon.
Trump reminds me of Mel Brooks' The Producers. By trying to make their play, Springtime for Hitler, as bad as possible, it ended up being a wild success.
LOL.

LD Bottorff writes:

ThomasH, Obama's position on immigration is to sabotage immigration reform when it is proposed by a Republican president, then ignore it when you have a majority in Congress. I'm not aware that he ever proposed legislation on immigration reform. He just took action unilateral when he thought he could make the Republicans look bad.

I usually vote Republican because they advocate fewer stupid economic ideas relative to Democrats. Then, along comes Donald Trump. He doesn't just say stupid things about immigration, he actually wants to repeal NAFTA. Since he's not a career politician, I worry that he actually might do the crazy things he proposes.

I have to agree with DH on political correctness, but Donald Trump's economic ideas sound as if they come from the party that he spent most of his life supporting; the Democratic Party.

Charlie writes:

"I'm not aware that he ever proposed legislation on immigration reform."

You are not very aware:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/10/24/obama-immigration-bill-house-senate/3177617/

This is not a closely held secret. The White House even has a website:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/immigration

Massimo writes:
Trump's departures from Libertarian views on immigration

There are strong libertarian arguments for and against immigration.

What's happening in Germany with government forced mass immigration is probably the most radical anti-libertarian thing of all. Local small villages are targeted by government/university elites and radically transformed without the locals having any say in the matter. Big government/university vilifies any resistance.

Many prominent self-proclaimed libertarians oppose or at least deeply skeptical this type of mass immigration such as Arnold Kling and Ilana Mercer.

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top