"Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest." ~ John Stuart Mill
Column by Alex Schroeder.
Exclusive to STR
While myriad exceptions certainly abound, in contemporary American politics two prevalent views seem to frame the immigration debate. There are those to whom the label “open border advocates” can be rightly ascribed, typically associated with the political Left. Alternatively, there exists a sizeable grouping of people who oppose unrestricted immigration, favoring heightened border security measures and strict government oversight and controls. These individuals are more often than not associated with the political Right. What strikes this author as particularly strange is the fact that the former faction tends to hold a more skeptical attitude towards economic liberalism than the latter.
Along with their promulgation of freer immigration, they favor extensive welfare programs, publicly funded and/or provided medical care, increasingly powerful bureaucracies, etc. The ambitions of Leftists are simply unrealistic; that is, the two aforementioned aspirations they hold are mutually excludable. The economic paradigm of the Right, on the other hand, is littered with inconsistencies. Their opposition to unrestricted immigration is rooted in the fact that they do not take their stated economic ideals to their logical destination.
In light of Arizona’s controversial bill SB 1070, it is understandable that immigration has risen to the forefront of public debate. Given the millions of “illegal aliens” in border states and the incontrovertible failure of the federal authorities to adequately restrict immigration, the law indeed constitutes an honest effort to bring order to border areas. Nonetheless, it has been blatantly opposed by the political Left, with Obama himself stating that it will “undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.” What such likeminded individuals fail to grasp, however, is that immigration restrictions are an absolute necessity if we are to maintain publicly financed and provided services. The productive classes are already strained. There is simply a limit to the number of immigrants the country can absorb, particularly if they benefit from public services but do not pay for them. The Leftists must take their pick: it is either the mixed economy or unrestricted immigration. Economic reality can only be averted for so long until it asserts itself.
The Rightists, contrarily, more or less recognize this fact. They appreciate that immigration must be limited, otherwise myriad negative consequences would result, one of which would be increasing strains on government services. While some such individuals could certainly be considered unrefined xenophobes, in this author’s experience much of their opposition to unrestricted immigration stems from economic considerations rather than cultural or racial ones. However, the solutions they advocate rarely address the mixed economy, but rather the importance of “keeping the rascals out.”
What is the rational answer to both groups’ concerns? What is the solution that is most consistent with the ideals of a truly free society? It’s actually quite simple: dismantle completely the mixed economy. Without public property, public services, and the various measures necessary to raise funds for government, no immigration problem exists. Jorge in San Antonio should be able to hire Bill from Mexico to work in his factory; it is not the concern of some distant collective of authoritarians. In the absence of the State, Bill’s presence in the geographical area that is now the U.S. should be of no concern to anyone. The current “problem” of uncontrolled immigration haunts the anti-immigrationists, giving rise to brazen attacks on the failure of the authorities. It is quite risible that their only legitimate complaint can be that in the mixed economy, all are enslaved to all. Why they misguidingly direct their outrage at the federal government for not exercising enough control, rather than appropriately target the true culprit that is the State, is something that will always elude lovers of liberty.