David R. Henderson  

Coulter on Immigration

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UPDATE BELOW

Last week Ann Coulter wrote a piece on how immigrants to the United States helped Democratic candidates win in Virginia. She made a somewhat compelling case. It is this kind of concern that has made me more nervous than co-blogger Bryan Caplan or Cato Institute's Alex Nowrasteh about allowing more immigrants in. It's not that I want immigrants to vote for Republicans. It's that I don't want them to vote for bigger government. Of course, Republicans and Democrats tend to favor bigger government. So the Democratic vote per se is not necessarily a good indicator.

Coulter pointed not only to foreign-born's proclivity to vote Democrat but also to their favoring bigger government. It's this latter than concerns me. She wrote:

The foreign-born vote overwhelmingly, by about 80 percent, for Democrats. They always have and they always will -- especially now that our immigration policies aggressively discriminate in favor of the poorest, least-educated, most unskilled people on Earth. They arrive in need of a LOT of government services.

According to the Pew Research Center, 75 percent of Hispanic immigrants and 55 percent of Asian immigrants support bigger government, compared to just over 40 percent of the general public. Even third-generation Hispanics support bigger government by 58 percent.


I asked my friend Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute for his quick thoughts on Coulter's article and he pointed out some strong evidence in the other direction.

Alex wrote:

I don't have the empirical evidence on Virginia to show it for the 2017 election, but redder states like Texas have about double the immigrant population.

I assume that he was referring to the immigrant population as a percent of the total population in the state.

Alex also pointed out the following:

The difference [between Virginia and Texas] is how state-level GOPs treat immigrants. Gillespie's ads and arguments here were pretty insulting.

Coulter also wrote that the idea that Republican support of Proposition 187 in California in 1994 helped turn California more left is a "fairy tale." Alex says that it did push California more left, referring me to this study. His data are striking. See especially his Figures 3 and 4.

What if I weren't convinced by Alex's evidence? It wouldn't cause me to be against immigration. There are such huge gains from trade between immigrants and us that we shouldn't cut ourselves or them off from those gains. The solution is not to restrict immigration but to focus on the problem at hand. If you worry that immigrants will vote for bigger government, then address that problem, not immigration per se. My solution, to the extent this is a problem, is to have a longer residency requirement before one can become a citizen. Let people have a better understanding of the system before they vote. I got my green card in 1977 and didn't become a citizen until 1986. That was 9 years without voting, and it wasn't a big deal. What about making it 20 years?

Or how about insisting that immigrants pay at least $100,000 in taxes cumulatively before they can vote? (I think Bryan Caplan suggested this but I can't find the reference.)

There's a basic principle in economics, and, indeed, in life, that the best way to deal with a problem is to address the problem. The problem, if there is one, isn't immigration. It's voting. So address that.

UPDATE: Daniel Bier recommends this article by Alex Nowrasteh. It handles some of the empirical issues about the effects of immigrants on economic freedom. Bottom line: they don't decrease it.




COMMENTS (68 to date)
Chris writes:

first, your entire line of thought is based on an article complaining about a group voting a specific way. It’s anti-Liberal and xenophobic. Then, as if to make yourself appear less biased than Ann coulter, you make a minor change to your complaint that is essentially “they’re not bad people because they’re liberal, they’re bad because they have liberal beliefs!” You then finish your thoughts brainstorming ways to limit the freedoms of an entire class of people in our country based solely on your dislike of their beliefs. And each of your ideas is essentially a way to make it really hard for someone to become a citizen despite living here, working here and contributing to our economy. One of your methods is even a way to specifically make it harder for poor people to take part in our democracy (your $100,000 in taxes idea).

Our country is built on immigrants, freedom and democracy. The idea that the population makes decisions as a group is incredibly important to who we are. Every step taken to limit the ability of some portion of that population to take part in civic life is a step away from our founding principles.

Additionally, there is so much hubris in your assumption that your belief in small government is more valid than someone else’s preference otherwise. If you really believe you’re correct, perhaps you should put time into trying to educate the population and sway their opinions rather than limit their ability to participate in the process. As you say, try to address the problem: the problem isn’t people participating in democracy, it’s education on policy.

Mark writes:

Chris,

If ten million immigrants a year were coming into this country and the vast majority believed in Christian theocracy, are you telling me you would accuse anyone expressing concern at how this would affect the electorate as being xenophobic and anti-liberal?

You're ignoring reality. This country is a democracy, and for that reason, the composition of the electorate absolutely does matter. If enough Nazis, communists, or Islamists move into a democratic constituency, it's like as not going to end up with a Nazi, communist, or Islamist polity. A democratic society is only liberal (in the classical sense) to the extent that the electorate shares liberal values. That's unavoidable.

"Additionally, there is so much hubris in your assumption that your belief in small government is more valid than someone else’s preference otherwise."
Maybe I'm missing something, but doesn't every human being on the planet believe that his beliefs are more valid than his opponents'? How can you not believe that, while still holding your beliefs?

And again, does the same principle apply to, say, separation of church and state? Whether women should be allowed into the work place? Would you humbly accept, without issue, that such views are as valid as yours and we have no right to be bothered by the potential upswing in voters who disagree with us on them?

Fundamentally, this isn't about education on policy either. It's about interests. If someone has a vested material interest in voting a certain way (such as voting to appropriate someone else's possessions), you can't educate that away. It's just self interest. Sometimes the 51% vote to enrich themselves at the expense of the 49%. It's an inherent flaw of democracy, and we can't just naively pretend it doesn't exist.

Christopher Brennan writes:

"If you worry that immigrants will vote for bigger government, then address that problem, not immigration per se. My solution, to the extent this is a problem, is to have a longer residency requirement before one can become a citizen."

I'd prefer a much smaller government myself. But I don't want any government of any size to have the power to restrict people's political rights because of fears about how they will choose to exercise those rights.

Jerry Brown writes:

I don't know what they put on the ballots in Virginia. In Connecticut "bigger government" wasn't on the ballot. Never voted for it, never had the option to- just voted for Democrats mostly.

Mark writes:

I think requiring immigrants to pay taxes (not just file a return, but pay net positive taxes) or prove employment for a certain duration (a few years may be enough) to get citizenship would be pretty effective at solving this problem. Generally only immigrants were capable of sustaining employment would stay, and those would generally not have a vested interest in ever expanding entitlements.

My dream would be a sort of grand compromise: the right agrees to significantly loosen restrictions in immigration, and the left agrees to something like what I just described to significantly reduce entitlement eligibility among immigrants, mitigating both the budget concerns and the voter incentives issue.

Unfortunately, the left likely (perhaps correctly) believes it can ultimately win the war unconditionally and loosen immigration standards while keeping entitlements and guaranteeing the same dominance over the latino vote that they enjoy over the black vote, and, even though I strongly believe that, if the right took a more pro-immigrant position, immigrants would ultimately lean less to the left over time, this change might take time, perhaps a generation, and conservative politicians won't think this far ahead.

E. Harding writes:

The difference between the VA and TX GOPs is what share of the non-Hispanic White vote they win. But, yes, it's basically true the first and second generation immigrant Hillary vote margin in VA was larger than the total Hillary vote margin in VA.

Mark writes:

Jerry Brown,

"In Connecticut "bigger government" wasn't on the ballot."

Um, pretty sure it's always on the ballot.

https://www.cbia.com/news/issues-policies/governor-lawmakers-negotiate-budget/

"Lawmakers approved the two largest tax hikes in the state's history in 2011 and 2015, and now face projected budget deficits of $2.2 billion for fiscal 2018, and $2.7 billion the following year."

BC writes:

It's always useful to compare Texas and California when trying to separate demographic effects from policy effects since both states have similar Hispanic populations but different histories of immigration policy (Prop 187) and welfare policy. Nowrasteh's data on Prop 187's impact on voting behavior is certainly striking. Same demographic group (Hispanics), but different voting behavior associated with different policy (Prop 187). Scott Sumner had a blog post a while ago about how Texas puts Hispanics to work while California puts Hispanics on welfare. Same demographics, different welfare policies, different economic and education results. (Hispanics were doing better in TX than in CA.)

One remaining question I have is whether Prop 187 was an exogenous policy shock. Did the California GOP, but not the Texas GOP, just decide to turn anti-immigrant in 1994 or did California's welfare policies induce an anti-immigrant backlash? European welfare states have also experienced anti-immigrant backlash in recent years, of course. Any examples of places with small welfare states that are more anti-immigrant than comparable places with large welfare states?

Andrew_FL writes:

Yes it sounds like a great idea to open the borders, let the population more than double, and then expect them to tolerate being governed by the minority we allow to vote.

Why not deprive them of other rights while we're at it?

The cumulative tax payment option is just an unconstitutional poll tax.

Noah Carl writes:

There's also evidence that a small number of non-citizens vote, again, overwhelmingly for Democrats:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261379414000973

mike shupp writes:

Man, I LIVED in California when Prop 187 came up, and I saw how Republicans loved it. None of that nonsense about philosophy! The whole point was, it was going to show to show people who spoke Spanish what the people who spoke English thought of them, and Republicans got damp spots on the crotches of their paints thinking about that, talking about that, preaching about that, screaming aloud about that. And there weren't going to be ANY consequences because English speakers were so obviously on the side of God and Justice and Righteousness.

Do you really think that's economics?

David R Henderson writes:

@Chris,
Then, as if to make yourself appear less biased than Ann coulter, you make a minor change to your complaint that is essentially “they’re not bad people because they’re liberal, they’re bad because they have liberal beliefs!”
You misunderstood me. I never addressed whether they’re good or bad people. I have leftist friends and social conservative friends who I would like not to vote; but they’re good people.
Also, Mark addressed your point well. Thanks, Mark.
@Christopher Brennan,
I'd prefer a much smaller government myself. But I don't want any government of any size to have the power to restrict people's political rights because of fears about how they will choose to exercise those rights.
So I take it that you’re a totally open borders advocate with no restrictions? Also, would you let 16 year olds vote? If not, why not?
@Jerry Brown,
I don't know what they put on the ballots in Virginia. In Connecticut "bigger government" wasn't on the ballot. Never voted for it, never had the option to- just voted for Democrats mostly.
Good point. Which is why I quoted her data not just on voting but also on attitudes to big government. And it’s also why I pointed out that both Reps and Dems who run for office largely favor big government.
@Mark,
My dream would be a sort of grand compromise: the right agrees to significantly loosen restrictions in immigration, and the left agrees to something like what I just described to significantly reduce entitlement eligibility among immigrants, mitigating both the budget concerns and the voter incentives issue.
That’s similar to mine.

David R Henderson writes:

@Mark,
Um, pretty sure it's [big government] always on the ballot.
I think you’re missing Jerry Brown’s point. When you vote for a representative, it’s not clear, especially with rational ignorance, what you’re voting for. The cases where big government is on the ballot are in places like California, where there are lots of initiatives, sometimes to reduce government and sometimes to expand it. Your examples are examples of bigger government that representatives got to vote for or against, not of bigger government that voters got to vote for or against.
@BC,
One remaining question I have is whether Prop 187 was an exogenous policy shock. Did the California GOP, but not the Texas GOP, just decide to turn anti-immigrant in 1994 or did California's welfare policies induce an anti-immigrant backlash? European welfare states have also experienced anti-immigrant backlash in recent years, of course. Any examples of places with small welfare states that are more anti-immigrant than comparable places with large welfare states?
First, thanks for your thoughts in your first paragraph I didn’t cite because I have nothing to add.
Second, good questions.
Whether Prop 187 was an exogenous shock: I don’t think so. What happened, I think, is that with the huge decline in military spending and contracting, Orange County shifted from relative conservative to less conservative. Republicans, noticing this, responded with Prop 187. But this is just my conjecture.
Your last question is spot on. I don’t know the answer.
@Andrew_FL,
Yes it sounds like a great idea to open the borders, let the population more than double, and then expect them to tolerate being governed by the minority we allow to vote.
I take it that you’re an open borders advocate?

Chris writes:

Mark,

I fundamentally disagree with your rebuttal, however I do not believe that empowers me to find ways to restrict your voting rights.

My response would be that the beauty of democracy is that it changes the political direction based on the beliefs and feelings of the population. Theoretically, the best ideas win in the marketplace of ideas that democracy should be. In reality, that obviously means someone will be unhappy with the results at any one time, but the majority will be happy (with exceptions such as flukes caused by representative democracy)

Restricting voting rights in an effort to protect other constitutional values endangers our rights as much as any other constitutional restriction. In addition, this line of thinking has a truly ugly past of voter suppression efforts ranging from gerrymandering to murder. Where do you draw the line? Today you propose an unachievably (for most) high bar of $100,000 in taxes for immigrants. Why not propose removing voting rights from blacks because they lean left and vote for government support, or the requirement for conservative indoctrination in higher education to counter those liberal institutions as well? The ‘means justifies the ends’ attitude toward democracy quickly slides into totalitarianism and if you’re willing to restrict one form of rights enshrined in our constitution, what is stopping you from advocating for more intensive restrictions and all out suppression?

David R Henderson writes:

@Chris,
My response would be that the beauty of democracy is that it changes the political direction based on the beliefs and feelings of the population.
Thanks, Chris. I think you’re narrowing it down to where you, on the one hand, and Mark and I, on the other, disagree. You see that as beautiful. I see it as ranging from OK to sometimes downright horrible. Recall that in the last election in pre-World War II Germany that could rightfully be called an open election, in 1933, Adolf Hitler won 44% of the vote, which was well above the second-place candidate. What followed was NOT beautiful.
BTW, almost all immigrants would pass the $100K bar; it would just take them a few years. I don’t have my tax returns handy--I shred them when they are 7 years out of date--but if I exclude Social Security, I think I would have passed that bar in about 1991 rather than 1986, when I finally got to vote.

pyroseed13 writes:

David, I think your proposals are good ones. But I worry that in today's highly polarized political environment, none of these is likely to pass. For many on the left, it would amount to treating immigrants as second-class citizens. Also, wouldn't something like the poll tax you advocate run into constitutionality problems?

In general, I don't find the "GOP rhetoric" explanation for why immigrants vote the way they do particularly compelling. How does this explain why most Asian groups vote liberal, even though the GOP has never adopted anything that could be classified as "anti-Asian" rhetoric? It seems to me that culture is the more relevant factor here.

Chris writes:

@David,

Do you not see the ethical issue in claiming you have friends with a certain belief and then proposing restrictions on the rights of others specifically because they also hold that same belief? Would they still be your friend if you proposed taking away their right to vote until they met some arbitrary threshold?

Also, I think you hit on an actually interesting question on why we restrict voting at a certain age. Off the top of my head, I would say it's because people under 16 is very likely to be compelled to vote however their parents want them to, since that age also had many other legal restrictions attached. However, I could see legitimate arguments either way.

Lastly, if someone goes through the lengthy and costly process of becoming a citizen and is then deemed a citizen by our country, they inherently get the rights that entitles them to, which is full protection under the constitution. If you are restricting some number of their rights then you are not considering them a real citizen. In the instance of your $100,000 tax threshold, there would be people living and working here permanently that would never gain the ability to vote. I understand that you don't think poor people should immigrate here, period, but if you are arguing that the left should compromise with the right to create a second class of citizenship then you are asking us to compromise our constitutional democracy because you don't like the beliefs of outsiders.

chris writes:

@David

I was really trying not to push it to Godwin's Law, but since you did it first:

A minority of people voted for a man who would lead a nation to do terrible things. One of those terrible things was limiting the rights of a group because they were considered outsiders. Do you not see the parallels between that attitude and the attitude of your post?

People, in large quantities, believe and vote for explicitly terrible things. You believe this and I believe this and in many instances, we probably believe it about each other. I don't see the solution to this as being limiting who can vote, and I'm not sure how you justify this. What if the immigrants are right and you are wrong? What if that doesn't even matter and "right" is really just an expression of the public interest as voted on by the public, and if they live here, work here, pay taxes and have gone through the citizenship process, are they not American public at that point?

I don't see a legitimate argument for restricting participation in our government for a group based on a belief. You'd be better off arguing against immigration because at least then you could make an ideological argument, but as of now you're just reaching for ways of winning policy by limiting the rights of citizens.

[This is the same Chris as the one who posted with an uppercase “C” just above.—Econlib Ed.]

Brian writes:

"if someone goes through the lengthy and costly process of becoming a citizen and is then deemed a citizen by our country, they inherently get the rights that entitles them to, which is full protection under the constitution. If you are restricting some number of their rights then you are not considering them a real citizen."

Chris,

I don't wish to take a position on one side or the other, but I will note that you are mischaracterizing David's proposal. He proposed having a longer time before an immigrant can qualify for citizenship. This has nothing to do with taking away someone's rights or their protection under the Constitution.

No one who is not a natural-born citizen has the right to be a citizen. It is a privilege granted to people by the government once they meet the conditions laid down by said government. In principle, then, the government can lengthen the time or put other limitations (such as a test or a monetary requirement) on how easily citizenship is gained.

Andrew_FL writes:

@David R Henderson- Either you missed my sarcasm or I'm missing yours.

David R Henderson writes:

@pyroseed,
David, I think your proposals are good ones. But I worry that in today's highly polarized political environment, none of these is likely to pass.
You may well be right.
In general, I don't find the "GOP rhetoric" explanation for why immigrants vote the way they do particularly compelling. How does this explain why most Asian groups vote liberal, even though the GOP has never adopted anything that could be classified as "anti-Asian" rhetoric? It seems to me that culture is the more relevant factor here.
Good question. Another complication: How do we explain that such a large % of Chinese immigrants to Canada voted Conservative.
@Chris,
Do you not see the ethical issue in claiming you have friends with a certain belief and then proposing restrictions on the rights of others specifically because they also hold that same belief? Would they still be your friend if you proposed taking away their right to vote until they met some arbitrary threshold?
My point was more modest: It was to challenge your idea that saying that people shouldn’t vote means that they are bad people. But, by the way, the current threshold is arbitrary. Why insist on only citizens being allowed to vote? And why just people 18 or over.
I understand that you don't think poor people should immigrate here, period
No, you don’t. I think poor people who are not criminals SHOULD be allowed to immigrate here, period. Pretty big difference between what I believe and what you think I believe.

ColoComment writes:

Whoever, whichever racial, ethnic, sex, SES, group turns out the required vote, the direction of government, at all levels, but especially the federal, is and has historically been more expansive and intrusive. The political polarity that we see today is just the now-observable built-up resistance of "C" people to a pattern that, as uniquely demonstrated by the coercive ACA mandate for a private individual to buy an unwanted & overpriced product or pay a fine, has taken on the force of a tsunami.

~140 years after Sumner wrote this, it is still being argued:

"As soon as A observes something which seems to him wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X, or, in better case, what A, B, and C shall do for X... What I want to do is to look up C. I want to show you what manner of man he is. I call him the Forgotten Man. perhaps the appellation is not strictly correct. he is the man who never is thought of.... I call him the forgotten man... He works, he votes, generally he prays—but he always pays..."

...and the payment is not limited to monetary or labor cost, but also in adverse, unraveling effects on the integrity of the woven fabric of our society.

David R Henderson writes:

@chris,
I was really trying not to push it to Godwin's Law, but since you did it first:
Chanting Godwin’s Law has become an excuse for not thinking. The example of Hitler is completely relevant here.
A minority of people voted for a man who would lead a nation to do terrible things. One of those terrible things was limiting the rights of a group because they were considered outsiders. Do you not see the parallels between that attitude and the attitude of your post?
No, I don’t. I’m advocating letting them in and temporarily limiting their right to vote. Hitler advocated excluding them, making it hard for them to make a living, and, ultimately murdering them. Do you see the difference?
What if the immigrants are right and you are wrong?
Then I would be wrong. But what if the immigrants want to vote, say, to end free speech? Would that concern you?
What if that doesn't even matter and "right" is really just an expression of the public interest as voted on by the public, and if they live here, work here, pay taxes and have gone through the citizenship process, are they not American public at that point?
I don’t think you can say what’s right by counting votes. Interesting that you mentioned paying taxes. So you are agreeing with me that some level of taxes paid should be required?
@Brian,
Good point. Thank you.

David R Henderson writes:

@Andrew_FL,
Either you missed my sarcasm or I'm missing yours.
Sarcasm is always risky. I don’t do it well and I don’t like myself as much when I do it.
So I apologize for my sarcasm.
Let’s get to the substance.
My question to you is this: do you advocate open borders as Bryan Caplan understands it?

Otto writes:
Theoretically, the best ideas win in the marketplace of ideas that democracy should be. In reality, that obviously means someone will be unhappy with the results at any one time, but the majority will be happy

Chris,

I think this a misguided thought on several levels. First, did you intend to express a difference between the theory and practice of democracy? I don't see any incompatibility with the two statements as you wrote them.

Second, what precisely are the majority happy about? If you're saying that they're happy that the candidate they voted for won the election, that strikes me as either a truism or reliant on the unreliable assumption that everyone who voted for the winning candidate actually *liked* the winning candidate. In reality people often unhappily vote for "the lesser of two evils," had their hopes pinned on someone who lost in the primary, or are otherwise unhappy about the person they voted for. And of course many people choose not to vote because they are unhappy about the choices on the ballot.

If you meant that the majority will be happy with the general state of government, or the "results" that followed the election of the person they voted for, then I think you're just wrong. Approval ratings (which I think it's safe to say are generally lower than happiness ratings) for all levels of government routinely plunge far far below 50%.

Lastly, the contention that the "best ideas" win in a democracy strikes me as naive to the point of delusion. Politicians win elections by getting votes, and there are any number of ways to get votes pitching something south of the "best idea." A cursory glance through US history should make that pretty obvious. To wit, there are still people alive today who were born before the 19th Amendment was ratified.

Also, I find it somewhat alarming that you think there is any wisdom in allowing 16 year-olds to vote.

Chris writes:

@David,

I do see the difference, but to me it feels more like a difference in degree than substance. You don't like how immigrants vote so you want to limit their voting rights; Ann Coulter doesn't like how immigrants vote (or seemingly anything else about immigrants) so she publicly advocates for restricting their rights; Trump doesn't like immigrants so he revokes the visas of thousands, builds a giant wall, restricts immigration from a the "bad" countries and does whatever else he can think of; the guy who ran a car into a crowd of counter-protesters doesn't like outsiders and became a terrorist. To me, there is a basic substance of "I don't like the beliefs and preferences of outsiders and will restrict their rights" to all of this group and the primary variation is of degree.

Again, if you would like to talk about the overall merits of immigration and who we let become citizens, that's one thing, but you are arguing for fairly arbitrary limits to citizenship solely because the beliefs of the group they belong to generally aligns with liberal ideology. If we're just looking for ways to tilt the vote conservative, and we don't care about the means we use to do so, then there are plenty of more effective methods to use.

This all may be an interesting thought experiment to you but other people with similar beliefs are actively working to make life harder for immigrants, exclude them from benefits and rights and restricting them from entering our country. While this might push votes right, it is also changing what America is as an idea and making life harder for people coming here legally. Is small government worth all of that?

Also, I do believe that paying taxes is an important part of civic life. Immigrants do pay taxes and one of the founding principles of our country was no taxation without representation. Should that no longer be a principle to uphold?

Andrew_Fl writes:

@David R Henderson-No, I am very much opposed.

Andrew_FL writes:

To be clear here, and I think I must apologize for my sarcasm, I think it is a terrible idea to create a massive, potentially majority underclass of second class residents.

chris writes:

@Otto,

I don't really disagree with you, I think I may have confused things with the theoretical/practical language.

The whole thing was theoretical, the practical portion was essentially saying that there will be people that strongly disagree with any policy, but that (still theoretically) the majority is getting the policy they signed up for. I know that in reality policy rarely ends up being something anyone wanted exactly, but this is the general drive of democracy. There may be better ways of holding politicians to their stated policies, or improving our measure of the public opinion (there are plenty of systems that encourage having more than two parties and would be huge improvements), but I don't think we look at the issues with our form of democracy and come to the conclusion that we need less of it.

Also, I'm really not advocating for 16 year olds voting, but, it is an interesting question of what age should be appropriate. I'm in my 30s now but I would probably vote the same now as I would have at 16, and I would argue that most people are likely the same. As is often mentioned, rational ignorance in politics means that most people don't understand policy any better than a 16 year old could, and most people make decisions and build beliefs based almost solely on a gut reaction to an idea. With all we know about voter preferences and rationality, you should be somewhat alarmed that we let anyone vote.

David R Henderson writes:

@Chris,
This all may be an interesting thought experiment to you but other people with similar beliefs are actively working to make life harder for immigrants, exclude them from benefits and rights and restricting them from entering our country.
You’re right, but I think you’re not recognizing a tradeoff here. What if you could get some of those opposed to immigration to drop much of their opposition, but doing so required that you substantially lengthen the amount of time before immigrants can become citizens? And what if that was enough to get the immigration restrictions substantially relaxed? What policy on this would you advocate: restricting the amount of time before they become citizens or not restricting, knowing that then many of them wouldn’t be allowed in at all?

David R Henderson writes:

@Andrew_FL,
@David R Henderson-No, I am very much opposed.
That’s what I thought.
To be clear here, and I think I must apologize for my sarcasm, I think it is a terrible idea to create a massive, potentially majority underclass of second class residents.
I accept your apology and it seems that you have implicitly accepted mine. Thanks.
Do you see what you’re advocating here, Andrew? It’s all or nothing for you. In your view, it seems, it’s better to have them have many fewer rights (think North Korea or Cuba) than to let them in and have them be second-class citizens.
Speaking for myself (and that’s all I can do), I would have accepted second-class citizenship forever rather than go through what I went through with U.S. Immigration.

David R Henderson writes:

@Otto,
Good points and well said.

Henry writes:

I feel that any "grand compromise" on immigration, (such as letting in large numbers of non-voting guest workers) could well be a near Pareto-improvement, but wouldn't be a sustainable equilibrium. There'd eventually be huge pressure to grant more voting rights to these "second class citizens".

David R Henderson writes:

@Henry,
I feel that any "grand compromise" on immigration, (such as letting in large numbers of non-voting guest workers) could well be a near Pareto-improvement, but wouldn't be a sustainable equilibrium. There'd eventually be huge pressure to grant more voting rights to these "second class citizens".
Just to be clear, I am not advocating that they be guest workers. That term seems to imply that they are here temporarily. I’m advocating that they be allowed to be permanent residents but that the length of time they must be permanent residents before being allowed to vote be increased.
But I agree with your point about the pressure. If “eventually” is long enough, though, that’s not much of a problem.

Alexandre Padilla writes:

David,

Alexander Hamilton had this proposal of requiring 11 years residence before you could be eligible to become a citizen but you are forgetting that most immigrants in the US take years before becoming citizens and on top of that there is evidence that even when eligible to vote, they vote at much lower rate than natives who also don't vote much. Also immigrants tend to vote the same way than people around them and since most immigrants live in cities and most people in cities vote for Democrats you are making assumption that their vote matters when it comes swing election outcomes, it doesn't.

My biggest issue with your analysis is that it's not really backed up by the data. The only thing data show is that from a statistical viewpoint naturalized citizens tend support higher minimum wages and we see some increase in union density. While you allude to it, you seem to argue that voting for the Democrats is worse than voting for Republicans. From a data viewpoint, I don't see much difference between both when it comes to government size and scope. Neither do I believe it's true that Democrats when in power get the government even bigger than Republicans. In addition, you seem to overlook the idea that people when voting don't necessarily vote for economic policies, they might vote for issues related to morality and social issues. Finally, allow me to make one additional point. There is a lot of variance in terms of operational ideology within each party. A Republican from CA is more likely to sound like a Democrats from Texas than a Republican from Texas.

The only true benefit of being a citizen is not voting, it's not all the rights listed in the US Constitutions because all those rights legal residents get them, it's the right to call yourself an American and avoid having to get finger printed and photograph every time you go through the border when you have a Permanent Resident Card.

Finally, you are right the problem is voting but if the problem is voting you shouldn't allow anybody to vote because the average voter is an economic illiterate and in this case I would argue that naturalized citizens might be more economically literature than natives. However, it's an error to believe that the average voter when voting relies on their economic knowledge or what they think they know about economics, they most likely use moral principles. Right and Left just disagree on what those moral principles are and who should benefit from the government graces.

Alan Goldhammer writes:

Other than those who can trace their lineage to the original native American Indians, we are all immigrants. I personally find any conjectures about how immigrants vote to be next to worthless.

Addressing one point that David Henderson makes about paying $100K in taxes before one can vote: why pick this number? What about all the immigrants working in what most of us would consider to be 'menial' jobs (slaughterhouses, warehouse, farm labor, yard maintenance)? It will take these folks much longer to make the $100K tax threshold than say a college professor (Pace Dr. Henderson). Isn't their contribution to America just as valuable?

I look at the Latino yard workers in my geographical area (and they pretty much are all Latino these days) and contrast their hard work with the many generational opioid addicts of Appalachia (and other regions). Which of these groups would you rather see vote?

Of course if we had a ban on all Canadian immigration look how much our society would have lost!

John Reagan writes:

[Comment removed. Please consult our comment policies and check your email for explanation.--Econlib Ed.]

Andrew_FL writes:

@David R Henderson-

Do you see what you’re advocating here, Andrew? It’s all or nothing for you. In your view, it seems, it’s better to have them have many fewer rights (think North Korea or Cuba) than to let them in and have them be second-class citizens.

Curious statement. The right to vote is enshrined in the US Constitution, the right to cross a border is not. I don't see how I am taking away anyone's rights by saying that if you let people in, you have to let them vote-or have the opportunity to become eligible to vote-within a reasonable time frame.

If I understand you correctly, you're saying that if I think the US shouldn't be a two tiered society, I'm morally equivalent to the Castros and the Kims. I think I ought to demand another apology!

David R Henderson writes:

@Alexandre Padilla,
but you are forgetting that most immigrants in the US take years before becoming citizens and on top of that there is evidence that even when eligible to vote, they vote at much lower rate than natives who also don't vote much.
Those are both good points. But I’m not forgetting them--I’m quite aware of them. I just didn’t mention them. Both make my point about voting a less powerful point. But not powerless. It’s a “think on the margin thing.” If enough of them vote to expand government, we’ll likely get an expansion of government.
While you allude to it, you seem to argue that voting for the Democrats is worse than voting for Republicans.
How do I “seem” to do that when I explicitly said "Of course, Republicans and Democrats tend to favor bigger government. So the Democratic vote per se is not necessarily a good indicator.”
The only true benefit of being a citizen is not voting, it's not all the rights listed in the US Constitutions because all those rights legal residents get them, it's the right to call yourself an American and avoid having to get finger printed and photograph every time you go through the border when you have a Permanent Resident Card.
Exactly.
in this case I would argue that naturalized citizens might be more economically literature [sic] than natives.
Might be. I doubt it. Do you have evidence on this?

Yaakov Schatz writes:

How about a constitution that limits government powers?

David R Henderson writes:

@Alan Goldhammer,
Addressing one point that David Henderson makes about paying $100K in taxes before one can vote: why pick this number?
It’s admittedly arbitrary. The point is to come up with a number that’s high enough that people who meet it haven’t been on welfare for a long time and also have some substantial concept of the size of the tax burden.
What about all the immigrants working in what most of us would consider to be 'menial' jobs (slaughterhouses, warehouse, farm labor, yard maintenance)? It will take these folks much longer to make the $100K tax threshold than say a college professor (Pace Dr. Henderson). Isn't their contribution to America just as valuable?
It could be. You chose an easy target: my job was completely subsidized by taxpayers and so did not meet a market test. But I would say that the plumber, by standard market tests, is contributing more than the farm laborer.
I look at the Latino yard workers in my geographical area (and they pretty much are all Latino these days) and contrast their hard work with the many generational opioid addicts of Appalachia (and other regions). Which of these groups would you rather see vote?
I don’t know.
Of course if we had a ban on all Canadian immigration look how much our society would have lost!
True, and thanks for the implied compliment, Alan. You do realize, though, don’t you that I’m advocating more immigration, from Canada and from everywhere else?

David R Henderson writes:

@Andrew_FL,
The right to vote is enshrined in the US Constitution, the right to cross a border is not. I don't see how I am taking away anyone's rights by saying that if you let people in, you have to let them vote-or have the opportunity to become eligible to vote-within a reasonable time frame.
You and I understand rights very differently. What makes it a right is not that a bunch of guys over 200 years ago said so and wrote it down. I think people in North Korea and Cuba have a right to freedom of speech too. You advocate keeping them there and, thus, denying it to them.
If I understand you correctly, you're saying that if I think the US shouldn't be a two tiered society, I'm morally equivalent to the Castros and the Kims.
Fortunately, you don’t understand me correctly. The Castros and the Kims are murderers and jailers. You are simply advocating that they be kept in those jails. There’s a pretty big moral difference.

Andrew_FL writes:
You and I understand rights very differently. What makes it a right is not that a bunch of guys over 200 years ago said so and wrote it down. I think people in North Korea and Cuba have a right to freedom of speech too. You advocate keeping them there and, thus, denying it to them.

I don't understand rights differently from you, apart from just the one which we don't agree whether it exists. And the right to vote was enshrined much more recently than that.

I don't see how I am the one denying them their first amendment rights. Their government is denying them their rights. It is not necessary that they come to the US to have their rights. It is only necessary that they not be subjected to a government which denies them. There are, on the one hand, many other countries which would not deny them their rights besides the United States, and, on the other hand, other ways than immigration that we could free them from that. Of course, you'd dismiss those out of hand.

Fortunately, you don’t understand me correctly. The Castros and the Kims are murderers and jailers. You are simply advocating that they be kept in those jails. There’s a pretty big moral difference.

I thought we had an understanding about sarcasm.

I regard Open Borders and "Round 'em up" deporters as extremists. I am a centrist.

Andrew_FL writes:

Let me put this another way. If a child is starving somewhere and I have bread, presumably you as a libertarian would not scold me that the only moral difference between me and someone who steals bread from the child is that whereas he starves the child, I merely keep the child in starvation, if I keep my bread.

David R Henderson writes:

@Andrew_FL,
There are, on the one hand, many other countries which would not deny them their rights besides the United States, and, on the other hand, other ways than immigration that we could free them from that.
True. I overstated.
I thought we had an understanding about sarcasm.
We do. I was not at all being sarcastic. I really do see a big moral difference between you and murderous dictators.
Let me put this another way. If a child is starving somewhere and I have bread, presumably you as a libertarian would not scold me that the only moral difference between me and someone who steals bread from the child is that whereas he starves the child, I merely keep the child in starvation, if I keep my bread.
You’re right. In this case, though, you’re going further than simply keeping what’s yours. You’re advocating that these people be forcibly kept out of the country.

Andrew_FL writes:
You’re right. In this case, though, you’re going further than simply keeping what’s yours. You’re advocating that these people be forcibly kept out of the country.

I see the root of the difference here, actually. To my mind the theory of a Democracy is that the government is the private property of the whole people. You evidently believe the United States is the common heritage of all mankind.

chris writes:

Alexandre, Andrew and Alan have all made excellent points, much more eloquently than I have. Thank you.

@David
I think I would have trouble accepting reduced immigration restrictions in exchange for second class citizenship that has limited rights, or permanent residents whose security relies on the political climate not turning too conservative. That doesn't really feel like reduced restrictions at all, it just feels like different ones that encourage short term immigration over naturalization (who's going to put up with such ridiculously long processes with only a hope of success?). Do you really want more short term immigration and less permanent?

Furthermore, twenty years without representation or basic social services is a huge amount of time and $100,000 is a huge sum of money to someone making less than middle class wages. Both requirements feel like a really good way to disenfranchise that population while providing no other positive value and the taxation method is incredibly regressive.

Also, how many years do you think it takes to learn how American government works? What would you learn in 20 years that you wouldn't in 5?

chris writes:

@David

In your discussion with Andrew, you seem to be forcing the false dichotomy of less immigration against more immigration with fewer rights. Why do we have to reduce their rights at all? I think you can have a non-extremist position/discussion on the amount of immigration free from the constraints of reduced rights.

Mark Bahner writes:
Last week Ann Coulter wrote a piece on how immigrants to the United States helped Democratic candidates win in Virginia.

Whenever something happens in the world, regardless of whether I think it's a good or a bad thing, I find some consolation if it irks Ann Coulter. ;-)

P.S. Seriously, to me, Ann Coulter is the epitome of what's wrong with political discourse today. I don't even see how she thinks she's helping her party.

David R Henderson writes:

@chris,
I think I would have trouble accepting reduced immigration restrictions in exchange for second class citizenship that has limited rights, or permanent residents whose security relies on the political climate not turning too conservative. That doesn't really feel like reduced restrictions at all, it just feels like different ones that encourage short term immigration over naturalization (who's going to put up with such ridiculously long processes with only a hope of success?).
I don’t know about feelings, but I’m advocating a huge increase in the number of people who are permanent residents. The word “permanent” means what it says. I would have put up with a ridiculously long period before I became a citizen in return for less hassle in becoming a permanent resident. Indeed, when I became a permanent resident, I planned to stay here forever and had no plan to become a U.S. citizen.
Furthermore, twenty years without representation or basic social services is a huge amount of time and $100,000 is a huge sum of money to someone making less than middle class wages. Both requirements feel like a really good way to disenfranchise that population while providing no other positive value and the taxation method is incredibly regressive.
It provides huge positive value. Ask someone in Haiti making $1 an hour whether he would want to move here with no prospect of “social services” or citizenship, which is more extreme than I’m advocating. I can almost guarantee it’s a yes.
Also, how many years do you think it takes to learn how American government works? What would you learn in 20 years that you wouldn't in 5?
I think the key is more learning how a semi-free economy works. But I don’t know the answer.

David R Henderson writes:

@chris,
In your discussion with Andrew, you seem to be forcing the false dichotomy of less immigration against more immigration with fewer rights. Why do we have to reduce their rights at all? I think you can have a non-extremist position/discussion on the amount of immigration free from the constraints of reduced rights.
I’m not forcing anything. Of course, if I thought the way you think, I wouldn’t be raising the issue. I think there is a tradeoff.

Bedarz Iliaci writes:

Andrew_FL

the government is the private property of the whole people.

Did you mean to say that USA is the private property of the whole people?
But does it make sense in international law? Since it is to the international law we must resort to when we speak of private property of American people as a whole, as the assertion or the claim is made against all non-American people.

But I doubt if you will find that international law supports the idea of America being private property of Americans. The idea of nations or national territories being private property of people as a whole does not quite make sense.
For instance, what will be the status of parcels of privately held lands within the national territory?
And the status of Federal lands which are owned by the Federal Govt? If all the national territory is owned by Americans through the Federal Govt (presumably) then what does it mean to specify a particular bit as a Federal land?
Won't all of the national territory be Federal land?

So, I prefer to view the national territory as being possessed by the people, possessed but not owned.

Mark writes:

Chris,

A big problem with your assessment of the situation is that, if we impose the waiting time you characterize as 'second class citizenship' and people still immigrate here, are they not choosing American 'second class citizenship' over ostensibly first class citizenship of the country from whence they came? If the alternative (and for many conservatives, this is the alternative) is that they be barred from entry altogether, is that really preferable for anyone? If anyone who lives here gets full rights, regardless of whether they can demonstrate empoyability or economic self-reliance, many people will simply reason that we may as well not let them in at all.

If there's to be no taxation without representation, why should there be representation (or receipt of the benefits of citizenship) without taxation? The purpose of a waiting period for citizenship, imo, would be to give immigrants time to verify if they can in fact carry their own wait (as those who can't have a strong incentive to offload that weight on others politically once citizens). Why does a current, taxpaying citizen not have the right to seek to reduce the extent to which people who won't pay their share get to dictate how the state use his/her tax dollars (perhaps to their own benefit)?

If we lived in a stateless society, you'd be right. But each of us is inexorably tethered to each other and to each new immigrant who chooses comes here, and like it or not, to the extent that we are tethered to them, we have some right to impose standards on who gets in. There's nothing totalitarian about it: if they dislike the arrange, no ones forcing them to immigrate here.

I would note, again, that I'd like to see immigration restrictions (and the size of government) reduced; but I also value individual freedom far more than democracy; in fact, I regard the latter as merely a means, and the former an end in itself; where democracy begins to threaten individual freedom is, I'd say, where we should stop favoring democracy.

Steve Z writes:

The two solutions proposed at the end are untenable. Similar to all of Caplan's supposed keyhole solutions, they're:

1. Unconstitutional, or would be determined so by us courts;
2. Of unproven benefit;
3. Inferior to the obvious alternative, practiced by practical every other country, of screening immigrants based on skills not victimization.

Andrew_FL writes:

@Bedarz Iliaci-

Did you mean to say that USA is the private property of the whole people?

No, I meant what I said. In a Democracy, the government is owned by the whole people, in the same way a club is own by its members. The rest of your comment is just further the misunderstanding you created for yourself by the curious assumption that I did not mean what I said.

Thomas Boyle writes:

David,

One of the problems with "Permanent Resident" status is that it's not permanent. It used to be that a Permanent Resident (PR) was told they had "all the rights and obligations of a U.S. citizen except the right to vote or serve on a jury". Certainly it included the male obligation to register with Selective Service (i.e., for the draft), for example - unlike any other class of visa. But, that description really wasn't true. A PR can be deported for a variety of reasons (no, it doesn't require a felony - taking a work assignment that involves being out of the country for an extended period would do it); must renew PR status every five years (at present it's automatically approved, but who knows about the future); cannot qualify for certain types of jobs requiring either a security clearance or U.S. citizenship (no, P.R. status is not the same thing); and lives with being "not a real American", knowing the rules are subject to change at any time.

It's more than a bit unfair of you to ask someone to spend decades in a situation where their right to live in their (legally adopted) home country is subject to cancellation with a change in the political winds.

Separately, at the moment people object to low-income immigration, and therefore we're almost completely blocking immigration by high-income people, which is... what's the word?... stupid. So let's fix that, without waiting for a comprehensive fix that gets hung up on low-income immigration issues every time.

I'd argue for setting a threshold, say 1.5x the median U.S. household income. If you a) can show a five-year tax record of individual income above that level, or b) have a verified job offer as an individual at above that level, then you should get a work permit, no further questions asked. Pay taxes on that much income for five years, you get a green card. Show that taxable income for five years while holding the green card, become eligible for citizenship. Benefits: our country gets the benefit of high-earning people who grow the economy and spend their income here. Bonus benefit for the right: an increase in the number of people who pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits, and are more likely to be fiscal conservatives. Bonus benefit for the left: a reduction in measured income inequality as the upper middle class gets a boost in size; and voters who are more likely to be social liberals. (See the libertarian angle, here?)

Obviously a different mechanism would be needed for low-income immigrants. But let's not wait to fix those, more complex, issues. Let's make America greater (again) by opening the doors to the upper middle class.

Thaomas writes:

The problem with both the Coulter view and to a lesser extent with Henderson's view is that they are about "open borders," not about the realistic margins. We should be discussing how to allow a few (1-2 million?) more "high value" immigrants and refugees, discourage (in a cost effective way, probably NOT including a wall on the Mexican border) immigrants unlikely to contribute economically, and whether it is cost effective to deport non-criminal immigrants. At those levels, issue of cultural change and voting behavior are just not relevant. And less hostility to immigrants could reduce the costs and make assimilation easier.

James Pass writes:

Mr. Henderson, I'm not sure how to respond to your article. You suggest that if we make immigrants wait twenty years to vote, rather than nine, they would be less likely to make the "mistake" of voting for bigger government, presumably because they would have a better understanding of government and economics?

The point of your article seems to be the problem of voting for bigger government, not a problem with voting or immigrants per se. If college students, college graduates, younger voters, minority voters and lower class voters tend to vote for bigger government, is that also a problem we need to address?

Then there is the question of conservatives voting for bigger government. It's no secret that government and deficits tend to get bigger under Republican leadership, notwithstanding all the rhetoric about the need to shrink government and deficits. Is it fair to imply that Democrats are the only party of bigger government and deficits?

Finally, I'll point out that Ann Coulter is not an economist. She's a social and political commentator whose popularity largely depends on her making provocative and inflammatory statements. As such I don't find it productive to take her seriously. I regard her more as an entertainer, along with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, etc.

Bedarz Iliaci writes:

Andrew_FL,
In a democracy it is more likely that a government owns you than vice-versa.

The analogy to a club being owned by its members is imperfect. The club exists among hosts of other things. But the government of a country is in a unique position. For one thing, it can not be sold. The membership can not be purchased.

It seems merely a poetic way of saying that in a democracy, the people bear a certain responsibility for what Govt does. But there is no connection with the concept of ownership.
Parents bear legal responsibility for what their minor children do so you might as well say that government is a minor child to the people as a whole.

David R Henderson writes:

@James Pass,
Is it fair to imply that Democrats are the only party of bigger government and deficits?
No. It’s not. Fortunately, I didn’t.
Finally, I'll point out that Ann Coulter is not an economist. She's a social and political commentator whose popularity largely depends on her making provocative and inflammatory statements. As such I don't find it productive to take her seriously.
I don’t think that’s a good way to act. When someone makes a case and has some evidence for it, I take that person seriously and examine her evidence and argument. I don’t insist that the person be an economist.

Nick writes:

[Comment removed. Please consult our comment policies and check your email for explanation.--Econlib Ed.]

Sam writes:

It's commendable that David would engage Coulter and the issue of immigration restrictionism. Especially since libertarians, myself included, tend to have an ideological and emotional position on the issue. This also blurs the realities and the underlying dynamics of immigration. Being an economist seems to be an additional analytical handicap.

The first rule to a critical immigration debate is Thomas Sowell's "There is no such thing as an average immigrant". Importing a median Japanese is not the same as importing a median Ghanian or Ecuadorian for example.

The most influential thinker on immigration, and somebody who inspired Coulter's immigration turn, among restrictionists is Steve Sailer. He has engaged with Caplan and Alex Nowrasteh over the years.
http://takimag.com/article/the_trouble_with_texas_steve_sailer/print#axzz4yyojVeKb
http://www.vdare.com/articles/reconquista-in-texas-vs-california-and-the-need-to-coerce-gop-pols
http://www.vdare.com/articles/the-sailer-strategy-updated-three-steps-to-save-america

In addition I would the great Chicago School economist and Iranian-Swedish immigrant Tino Sanandaji. He's absorbed many of the critical lessons on these issues that Caplan and Nowrasteh have been blinded to. Not that they haven't engaged each other. See Tino and Caplan's back and forth articles:
http://tino.us/2011/05/ethnic-diversity-and-the-size-of-government/
http://tino.us/2011/09/bryan-caplan-is-wrong-about-open-borders-and-the-size-of-government/
http://tino.us/2011/09/more-on-bryan-caplan-ethnic-diversity-and-the-size-of-government/

Despite being of an ethnic background libertarianism made me ignore ethnic interest thinking and how important that was in politics. Even in ways that are not readily apparent. By far the best book that cured me of a superficial orthodox libertarianism was Amy Chua's World on Fire. Can highly recommend that book.
https://www.c-span.org/video/?174375-1/world-fire

If what critical thinkers like Sailer and Tino are saying is true than it warrants a huge rethink and at the very least some reflection. Because the implications would be quite dire. So far though libertarians and economists haven't been too welcoming or even interested in this debate. So I hope David keeps up on the issue or even issues a friendly challenge to Sailer for example. I have little doubt he would respond fairly and soberly.


Niko Davor writes:

I favor free migration from a market perspective. If two parties are willing to buy/sell housing/labor/whatever, freedom of movement is a strong positive. I completely agree.

I don't think foreigners or the children of foreigners have a reasonable or moral claim to citizenship or voting rights or even future citizenship and voting rights.

Nowrasteh agrees that large immigration radically changed the politics and governance of California. This is a strong negative.

If people vote by ethnic or religious tribe, which is largely passed biologically from parent to child, this is an even bigger negative. And ethnic, religious, tribal voting does seem to be the reality.

David R Henderson writes:

@Niko Davor,
I favor free migration from a market perspective. If two parties are willing to buy/sell housing/labor/whatever, freedom of movement is a strong positive. I completely agree.
Nowrasteh agrees that large immigration radically changed the politics and governance of California. This is a strong negative.
Actually he doesn’t. You have misstated his position.

Niko Davor writes:

@David R Henderson,

To quote Alex Nowrasteh directly from his article "15 Common Arguments against Immigration, Addressed":

"The evidence is clear that Hispanic and immigrant voters in California in the early to mid-1990s did turn the state blue but that was a reaction to the state GOP declaring political war on them."

I reread my earlier claim that, "Nowrasteh agrees that large immigration radically changed the politics and governance of California." and that seems to be a correct statement of his position.

Also, can you respond to the issue of ethnic/religious/tribal voting?

David R Henderson writes:

@Niko Davor,
You have now, by quoting Alex Nowrasteh, stated his point accurately. What you had left out was the interaction between the Hispanic and immigrants voters and the reaction of the state GOP. I’m not saying he’s right, but it’s this latter point that you made no mention of. Thus my statement that you misstated.

David R Henderson writes:

@Niko Davor,
Also, can you respond to the issue of ethnic/religious/tribal voting?
Sure.
You wrote in your earlier comment:
If people vote by ethnic or religious tribe, which is largely passed biologically from parent to child, this is an even bigger negative. And ethnic, religious, tribal voting does seem to be the reality.
I didn’t reply because I don’t know enough about it. What if you’re right but the particular voting goes the way you would like? Would you say it’s a problem?

Niko Davor writes:

@David R Henderson,

"What if you’re right but the particular voting goes the way you would like? Would you say it’s a problem?"

For example, what if a demographic that votes in a way I don't like is forced to give voting rights to a demographic that votes more favorably in my view. The part of me that wants to win and not play fair would enjoy that. The part of me that wants genuinely fair neutral policy would not.

Equity in a company makes more sense. Investors buy shares, employees are often given stock options, and early investors/employees of successful companies have more ownership than outsiders. Outsiders can buy in, or potentially get a job, and earn options, but members aren't obligated to simply share their ownership stake for nothing and there is no pretense of morality of not discriminating between share holders and non-share holders.

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