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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/15171/the-costs-of-immigration/

The Costs of Immigration

December 30, 2010 by

One of the comments on yesterday’s post points out that some immigrants are net burdens on the welfare state because they consume more services than they pay in taxes and might, if they get strong enough, procure even more transfers. I agree with Bryan Caplan that an international free market in labor services is an important component of a free market. The problems many libertarians and conservatives associate with immigration stem from poorly-defined private property rights rather than immigration as such.

This got me wondering about the cost of welfare for immigrants and how it compares to other components of government spending. After all, the claim that comes right after “they took our jobs” is “they’re going to take our welfare.” How much do immigrants cost?

According to the Center for Immigration Studies (via the Federation for American Immigration Reform), state government spending on welfare for immigrants is $11-$22 billion through programs like TANF. A report by the Center for Immigration Studies estimated that the Federal Government spend some $26.3 billion on services for illegal immigrants in 2002. These immigrants paid about $16 billion in taxes, leaving us with a net cost of about $10.4 billion (these are their numbers; I know $26.3-$16=$10.3, but there’s rounding error).

Let’s bias this number upward. We’ll take the high estimate of state spending ($22 billion) and assume that the $26.3 billion is all costs. Add them together and we get $48.3 billion. Let’s round it up to $50 billion and assume that there are no offsetting benefits. According to the website www.usgovernmentspending.com, state, local, and federal governments spent almost $5 trillion in 2007. Even if the money spent on welfare for immigrants had no offsetting benefits, it’s about 1% of government spending in 2007.

This is not meant to be precise: the numbers are from several different years, and the calculations are only to get a sense of the magnitude of government spending on immigrants relative to government spending on everything else. Even if you double this crude estimate of the amount being spent on immigrant welfare, you’re up to 2% of 2007 government spending. Compared to the elephants in the Federal budget (Social Security, Medicare, Defense), the money we’re spending on welfare for immigrants isn’t very much.

Does welfare for immigrants cost us money? Yes, but I think the evidence suggests that these costs are pretty small relative to the benefits from larger markets (here’s one example of evidence). Even if there are no offsetting benefits, by focusing so much attention on it we are kind of like a grocery shopper with debt trouble who loads up his shopping cart with hundreds of dollars worth of extravagant, frivolous, and unhealthy items and then argues for hours with his family over whether they should save $1 a week by purchasing store brand rather than name brand soft drinks. If the body politic were an actual body in need of medical attention, waste from defense and entitlement spending would be compound fractures in both legs while waste from welfare spending for immigrants might be a scraped elbow.

Update: Shikha Dalmia points me to her piece on taxes paid by and benefits paid to illegal immigrants.


Michael A. Clem December 30, 2010 at 11:35 am

The cost of immigration may be an important talking point for dealing with anti-immgrationists, but I still hold that problems with welfare don’t justify restrictions on immigration.

Nick Bradley December 30, 2010 at 11:58 am

I have recently changed my stance on immigration from a Hoppean anti-immigration stance to one of almost open borders.

The best way to think about it is that immigration is a market process for allocating human capital. A worker in Latin America or Southeast Asia produces under $5,000 of GDP annually, but that immediately becomes $30,000 – $40,000 upon migration to the West. So let’s say that the English-speaking world — the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, and New Zealand — absorbed the population growth of Latin American and Southeast Asia (about 25 million per year), global GDP would increase by 1/2 to 3/4 of a trillion dollars per year. That’s an additional point of GDP growth per year, a substantial sum.

Even domestically, the benefits outweigh the costs. The Economist article below links to studies that illustrate the benefits of a larger market — the increase in low-skilled labor makes the comparative value of higher-end skills (like speaking/reading/writing English and 8th grade math skills) go up. So even semi-competent natives benefit tremendously.


The welfare impact is also over-stated. I used to add in the cost of education immigrant children, commonly cited as a per pupil cost….$14,000 in California. But really, isn’t this just teachers union propaganda? It does not cost an additional $14,000 to add a child to a classroom — the sunk costs are already there. So on the welfare side, we’re really looking at medical cost, workers comp, and the like. If you reform Medicaid, you eliminate 90% of the problem. Again, benefits far outweigh the costs.

And these arguments only address low-skilled migration. The benefits to working-class americans from “importing” Asian engineers is incalculable…how many additional manufacturing jobs are here due to an ample supply of mechanical and electrical engineers? Producers expand capacity in locations where the factors of production (land/labor/capital) are the most beneficial, and right now that is in China and India.

Bring it back to the West.

HL December 30, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Interesting. Cost, however, cannot just be measured by aggregated dollars and cents. What unites almost all common men who encounter massive third world immigration is the recognition that being different is great, until that difference becomes the norm and you become the different fellow.

Examples are plenty. Going to an ER with your insurance card at the ready and realizing that you can’t be seen because half of some Mexican village that will never pay a dime of the healthcare costs associated with them is ahead of you. Going to the local market and realizing you are the only one speaking english. Going to the local school and realizing no one speaks english and academic standards have been watered down as much as possible to accomodate the cognitive abilities of the new student population. Looking up and down the block and seeing people who are, frankly, not the people you want to spend time with – but you can’t escape them because every neighborhood has to accomodate them under penalty of law, and plenty of programs fund their placement there irrespective of ability to pay.

I have heard lots of arguments against Hoppe’s brilliant insights into the immigration problem, but none of them (sorry Walter) hold water. It is pure fantasy to suggest that massive third world immigration will not turn us into the third world. Sure, if we had Libertania, immigration would be a complete non-issue; but we don’t and it is.

We could, as a practical matter, reap all the “benefits” of immigration with little of the cost by worker guest programs, short term visas, etc. But, of course, this will not do. The goal of government is to create a docile and mindless population that will happily vote for its own exploitation and demise. For this, one can hardly do better than the average immigrant from a country so completely destroyed by this very process. I am frankly surprised Obama hasn’t gone to that ridiculous “wall” along the border to Mexico and proclaimed: “America, tear down this wall!”

Demographics is destiny. You don’t have to be a democratic party operative to understand and work on that basis. Teddy and his buddies carry the dream that the US will be like most third world countries, such as Mexico: small ruling elite controlling hordes of poor and downtrodden masses. Bell anyone?

Oh, I have to go. Miguel is here to cut the lawn.

Wildberry December 30, 2010 at 1:13 pm


You posted while I was writing.

You expressed my sentiments exactly!

Tyrone Dell December 30, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Lol you are so racist its funny.
Ah, its okay though. Really. All throughout history we have been dragging people like you behind us, kicking and screaming, into ages of progressively less barbarism and primitiveness.

HL December 30, 2010 at 3:53 pm

fallacious argumentation aside, the fact remains that an average Joe has two choices in todays hyper-regulated world: open immigration or closed immigration. It’s perfectly rational and “libertarianly correct” to choose the former. One can do so and at the same time agitate for more freedom, less welfare/warfare, etc.

Oh, and let go of my hair.

james b. longacre December 31, 2010 at 1:41 am

Lol you are so racist its funny.”

are they oppressive rascist with power or belief rascist with no power?

Rick December 30, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Xenophobic, possibly racist, ranting pretending to be rational economic thought. People used to say the same thing about Italians, Irish, Germans, et al…

Americans, going back to colonial days, have always had an irrational fear of the stranger especially if that new person is poor… and especially if that new person is poor and dark skinned. It has been used by ruling elites throughout American history to divide regular folks and distract from much bigger problems. This is nothing new and the current Latino paranoia is just another version of this long running diatribe.

HL December 30, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Say what you will, but massive German and Irish immigration DID change to country. We can quibble about how good or bad it was, based on our individual subjective preferences, but we cannot deny there was a significant change.

As for “irrational fear,” I can’t say (and neither can you say) that a preference of, say, gay cuban ballerinas to be in a community of gay cuban ballerinas is any more or less “rational” than the preference of spoiled white kids from gated communities desiring to live in the ghetto because it’s so “exciting” and such.

It is, however, fair to say ruling elites have used race and culture to divide and conquer. It is precisely for this reason they love open borders. The more diversity, the more division and the greater control.

tennanja December 30, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Quote “Say what you will, but massive German and Irish immigration DID change to country. We can quibble about how good or bad it was, based on our individual subjective preferences, but we cannot deny there was a significant change.”

Living in the world we must expect change and strive to move along with it to put ourselves in the best position to benefit from the change, that is the idea of business, specifically entrepreneurship. There will not be a stable period of time ever, because people are always acting.

If we do not allow people to come “here” to work then it will be even sooner that the jobs go “there” to reap the benefits of a workforce that is eager to work and therefore demands a much lower pay. And when the jobs do go “there” it’ll leave many of us struggling to follow them.

So the best position I can see to exploit the coming change is to allow people in and live besides them, set up our businesses to employ them at a wage rate that benefits both of us (they earn more than before we pay less than before) use the labor savings to pass on savings to customers and everyones material standard of living goes up. (however there will be those who value our countries white European heritage enough that they will see their own net standard of living go down.)

Wildberry December 30, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Rick and Tyrone,

That is the best you have, to call someone racist and xenophobic because they disagree with your position? That is by far the bigger offense!

Historically, cititzenship was a symbolic acceptance of a new aligence, language, culture, politics, values, etc. It was a fresh start; poverty for hope. That is not what is happening here.

Illegals are not paying the price of admission, are not assimilating, and are not adopting their new country as their new home.

Many have explicit plans to return the richer, because they can live there much better than they can live here, given the money they have earned here.You are aware that the second largest industry in Mexico today, after oil, is the re-patriation of money earned in the US and sent to bank accounts in Mexico?

Do you think that has any relevance whatsoever to this discussion?

Tim December 30, 2010 at 4:30 pm

There’s a big difference. The Irish, Italians, Germans, Russians, Jews, Chinese et al immigrating in the 19th century and the turn of the 20th century didn’t have a welfare state framework all set up for them to take care of their every need. They had to work hard, amidst brutal conditions and stifling racism, just to survive and keep their families fed. They prospered, rose in society, built communities. In absence of welfare programs these minority groups didn’t starve, but on the contrary, over generations they became an indispensable part of the cultural landscape.

Nowadays the average immigrant doesn’t have to work or struggle. He has a politician who can vouch for him free meal tickets, health care, education and unemployment benefits. As a result he has no incentive to improve himself, learn work skills or language. The welfare programs have degraded the human stock of the population and have caused incalculable damage to these minority groups. The political leaders of today, just as in Rome, have created a class of societal parasites upon whom they can rely on for political backing. Despondency breeds more despondency.

Matt Palmer December 30, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Who cares if someone assimilates or not? That is nobody’s business. Merely because someone refuses to dress, talk, eat, etc, like I do, I have the right to use force to prevent them from transacting with someone within an arbitrary geographical boundary? That seems to be the crux of your argument.

The notion that a territory ought to be peopled with those of a certain culture, or that a certain culture has a right to inhabit a certain, arbitrarily defined, territory is totalitarian statism of the highest sort.

There is no “price of admission.” There is only the right to use one’s property so long as one does not infringe on the rights of others. If that means someone wants to hire a person that is not like you, so be it.

Wildberry December 30, 2010 at 7:56 pm


“Who cares if someone assimilates or not? That is nobody’s business.”

Are you being sincere?

I have to live within my environment. Do you think there is no “libertarian” choice but to accept the lowest common denominator of humanity? I experience this every day. I have a preference for english-speaking, well educated, well-mannered people. Are you saying I have to hang out with drug dealers, people who don’t care a whit about what I think, my neighbor thinks, or the cultural norms that have been established over 100′s of years?

I for one am not afraid or ashamed to say that I prefer things to be one way over another.
Do you live in the ghetto? Why not? How dare you say your life in the suburbs is “superior” to life in the projects? No one has the right to choose the way they want to live, right?

I resent people like you telling me what I have to accept under accusation of racism.

I have a right to build a fence around my property, around my town, and around my country. I have a right to defend that fence agasint those who wish to do me harm, however I decide that is defined. You do not have a right to impose your “policy” on me.

Do you have the right to tell me what I must and must not consider an “infringement”?

If your policy of open borders prevailed, my life would continue to deginerate, as it is doing under present ineffective defense of our borders.

Have you heard of the Tragedy of the Commons? Get it? People that come into the country with no sense of ownership, no desire for ownership, no education about liberty, etc., bring the common denominator lower, not higher.

“If that means someone wants to hire a person that is not like you, so be it.”

What a pathetic race baiter you are. You should appologize for that comment.

augusto December 30, 2010 at 8:08 pm

I’m sorry, but it’s not “your town” or “your country”. all that is actually yours is your property.

Matt Palmer December 30, 2010 at 9:17 pm

I think our disagreement is over the definition of rights, so I will address that. You think you have the right to prevent people from transacting merely because you dislike one or both parties for whatever reason. I do not recognize such a right. I recognize the right to ownership of property. You do not. You think people have a right to choose the way their neighbors use their property. I do not.

I never called you a racist. I never said it is wrong to value one thing above another or one lifestyle above another. I only said, and I still maintain, that nobody has the right to restrict other parties from transacting or owning property, unless it violates the rights of another.

So far as I can tell, that is the nature of our disagreement. Please tell me if I’m wrong.

Wildberry December 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm


I am sorry you feel like an man on an island. It must be lonely to feel like you have no community, no town, no country. If you did feel connected in that way, you could relate to what I’m saying. When you belong to something, like family, it is worth protecting. If you have no feeling for what a family is, I guess there is no way to explain it to you.

However, as a citizen, it is “my” community, town and country, to the extent that I desire to belong to it, and cooperate with others to perserve it. That is part of my freedom. It is called the freedom of association. It is called the vigilence of liberty, my liberty, which is at least as precious as anyone else’s.

Also, there is something called the public domain. That is a shared property. Those who don’t respect or understand that fail to reciprocate. Such a failure is a failure of cooperation, and a failure to cooperate is the antithesis of society.


Yes, you are completely wrong. First, you did cal me a racist without using that word. Your meaning was clear. You are asserting that I am objecting to illegal immigration because they don’t look like me. That is like saying that if I personally object to the behavior of a person who is vulgar, inconsiderate, uneducated and lazy, and black, that I must be a racist. I believe that was your implication.

Second, I am not talknig about a narrow concept of property rights. Do you honestly believe that the only thing that comprises a community is the respective individual property rights.

I have no beef with property rights. But unlike you, I do not believe that because I own some land, I have no limitations on what I can do with it. Freedsom is NEVER unlimited. Even alone on a desert island, you must submit to the forces of nature.

People cooperate and form societies. Such societies have common values, ethics, morals, etc. that bind them together.

To state it another way, rights are reciprocal. They are integrated and are limited by the rights of others, somthing that can be described legally as the “public good”.

This is the basis for nuisance torts. The distinctions are economic, and involve a concept of “greater social good”. I believe there is such a thing, and a society can define them for themselves. It is as natural as eating and breathing to feel threatened when your society, your community, your family is threatened.

But when I say these words, all you can think is something “socialist” or “collective”. It is human.

Sad. Honestly, sad.

james b. longacre December 31, 2010 at 1:40 am

i guess since gays cant marry and file jointly and get benefits from that it offesets the cost of supporting illeagal immigrants.

Peter Surda December 31, 2010 at 5:59 am

Hello Wildberry,

finally I found some time to respond.

However, as a citizen, it is “my” community, town and country, to the extent that I desire to belong to it, and cooperate with others to perserve it. That is part of my freedom. It is called the freedom of association. It is called the vigilence of liberty, my liberty, which is at least as precious as anyone else’s.

Foremost, it is called a metaphor. You are interpreting a phenomenon in two different ways and from this you incorrectly conclude that those two amend each other. None of the higher desires however have an existence without the physical world. If the physical world already belongs to someone (i.e. physical property), you cannot also have rights in abstractions. Just like you cannot have a right to work without eliminating the right of the employers to use their property according to their wishes.

Second, I am not talking about a narrow concept of property rights. Do you honestly believe that the only thing that comprises a community is the respective individual property rights.

The problem is even more evident here. It is completely irrelevant if you believe in other rights than individual property rights. They contradict each other. You cannot promote one of them without sacrificing the other.

But unlike you, I do not believe that because I own some land, I have no limitations on what I can do with it. Freedom is NEVER unlimited. Even alone on a desert island, you must submit to the forces of nature.

This has nothing to do with the problem. The only reason why people create rights in the first place is the scarcity of the physical world. Scarcity, as defined by me, means the existence of mutually exclusive options. Sometimes, of course, an alteration of one good belonging to A, also alters another good, belonging to B. For example, if A shoots a bullet (changes it’s momentum) and it thereupon penetrates the body of B. It can be said that from the point of view of “freedom”, this poses a limit on A. But as an argument, it is meaningless. Some mutually exclusive options involve states of more than one good. That does not mean that there is a higher order right. Your argument is a non-sequitur.

People cooperate and form societies. Such societies have common values, ethics, morals, etc. that bind them together.

In other words, people act (change the scarce resources their own, like their mouths, house or lawn) in a way that increases the value of those scarce resources. Reinterpreting it as “society” is helpful from the point of view of sociology, but not from the point of view of economy, because doing so requires the abandonment of the scarce resources in the first place. Sociology on the other hand does not care about the notion of scarce resources so there is no problem with that.

This is the basis for nuisance torts.

All human action requires the alteration of scarce resources (=physical world, which is presumably owned).

I have seen this trend in your arguments for a long time. You desire two contradictory assumptions. If you want to provide a coherent argument, you need to abandon at least one of them. Of course, I can’t tell you which one it should be. That’s a for you to choose, not me.

Wildberry December 31, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Welcome back. I didn’t know you weighed in on these types of topics as well, but it is always good to hear from you.

I am the one short on time today, so I will respond in more detail later.

In the meantime, let me share this observation with you. You seem to believe that every statement, every assertion can be reduced to the ones and zeros of an ethical code, much like software.

You do not seem to realize that all of your ethics depend on a construct of man alone. This is the Crusoe device that Rothbard used in formuilating his ethics of property rights.

However, man does not live on an island, and cooperation and resulting society is not really voluntary in the sense you continue to imply.

Rights are reciprocal. They are not absolute. This is why I used the example of nuisance. This reciprocal nature of property rights is well illustrated in this type of tort. It demonstrates why rights cannot be absolute in the context of use-rights in property when living in proximity to other property owners.

Also, you assume away the notion of “public property”. In your ethical construct such a concept is unnecessary. There is only “private property”.

Conseuently, you argue from a view of what you assume as the “way it should be” in a society that is built upon your Ancap ethics. However, this is not the world that exists, and not the one I am referencing when I speak.

When you engage in the type of arguments you do, you are merely pointing out those area of inconsistency with the “world” you construct, and the one that “exists”.

In the world that exists, concepts like “public property” exists. Government exists. Borders exist. Criminals exist. Differential economics exist. Welfare economics exist.

Yet you seem to deal with these higher orders of analysis as if it is me who mis-states the current state of affairs.

Try to reconcile this statement. I view the world you construct as one with considerably less individual freedom, not more. How could an otherwise intelligent person make such a statement?

There is no contradiction (at least not the kind you imply). The fact that you must see it as such should give you insight into the limitations of your world view.

It is a matter of the scale of anaysis. When you apply Newtonian physics to the local scale of human perception, and then add the fact that the speed of light is constant, that appears to be a contradiction. When you enlarge the scale of analysis to the very large, very fast, etc, this contradiction disolves into a higher state of knowledge.

Just something to think about. Property rights do not a society make.

I look forward to our exchanges. I presume you are tanned, rested and ready…?

Peter Surda December 31, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Thanks for the reply Wildberry,

You seem to believe that every statement, every assertion can be reduced to the ones and zeros of an ethical code, much like software.

Where did I talk about ethics?

You do not seem to realize that all of your ethics depend on a construct of man alone.

And you don’t seem to realise that I’m not talking about ethics.

It looks like you are repeating the same error a lot of other people make when they argue with me. They seem to think that ethics can beat logic. Self-contradiction is not fixed by taking a specific stance on ethics. The only thing it shows is personal biases.

It might be a bit of a stretch to say that I don’t care about ethics, it would be more accurate to say that my arguments typically do not make any assumptions regarding ethics.

To rephrase it into colloquial terms, being morally outraged does not make 1+1 into 3.

Wildberry January 1, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Just taking a break from the New Year festivities to give you a quick response.
Happy New Year to you and yours.

You are obviously a smart guy, and as you know from previous posts, I respect your thinking, etc. However, and I mean this most sincerely, after reading your posts a couple of times, I have concluded I don’t have the foggiest idea what you are talking about in either one.

Forgive me if I misunderstand you, but your definition of property rights, which you apply to discussions like this one, as well as IP, is in fact tied to an ethics of property rights which appears to be rooted in Rothbard’s limited and narrow connotations of the term.

It is at the least presumptuous to hold that the entire human social fabric can be re-drawn from a blank piece of paper upon which are written a few fundamental principles concerning natural rights of humans and their property rights. To oversimplify the problem is to exclude reality by definition.

In any case, they are derived from the Crusoe device, examining the rights of man alone. As I have argued before, this misses one of the most essential points about rights: they are a device for human cooperation; i.e society. They are relative and reciprocal in nature, not determinative and absolute. This applies to all rights, including property rights.

This narrowly focused system of ethics underpins all of your analysis of property issues and beyond.

You espouse an ethics of property ownership and negative rights associated with that ownership that does not require the concept of society, nor the rights of that society to establish a form of self-governance that grants coercive powers to a neutral third party agency. Am I wrong?

So perhaps you didn’t think you were discussing ethics, but you were. You are constructing some kind of world view based on that point of departure. Property rights, their acquisition and associated rights, is elaborated by the ancap philosophy of private-property as the fundamental principal social organization.

This leaves a great deal of “reality” assumed out of existence, and arguing with you always brings you back, if I understand you at all, to how my view doesn’t assume away these things, and therefore is, in your view, contradictory and inconsistent.

However, once you allow society, i.e. cooperation, governance, purposefully creating externalities for certain social costs, reciprocity of rights, etc. you must comprehend other concepts. These concepts are real and observable in today’s world. They have meaning and history, and are not ever 100% wrong, while seldom being 100% right either.

For example, you say: “The only reason why people create rights in the first place is the scarcity of the physical world.” And then you contradict yourself a few sentences later by saying “That does not mean that there is a higher order right.”

Of course it does! All rights are subject to higher order rights. Your desire to use your body to fly is limited by the impositions of gravity. Your rights to a bullet are limited by their potential effect on my body. Your right to burn toxic waste is limited by my right to quietly enjoy my own property.

Rights are reciprocal in nature. They are not absolute, but relative to some other right. There are operational in today’s world a rich legal history of how we have dealt with these ambiguities and conflicts, considering a concept of the public good. You must assume a society to conceive of a public good. You must look at the economics of that society to make a judgment on how best to achieve that good.

But if you assume that rights are absolute, that they have no point of reference with the rights of others, and further, that a bright line can be drawn to resolve all conflicts of “mutually exclusive options” as you put it, then your assumptions don’t comport with the history of law and economics. Case books are full of distinctions that refine that arbitrary line of “mutually exclusive options”.

You might be interested in reading a short paper by a Nobel Lauriat (perhaps that once meant more than it does now?) Ronald H. Coase. His paper is The Problem of Social Cost, in the Journal of Law and Economics (October 1960). Sorry I don’t have a link right now.

He talks about the legal history of making legal distinctions on the extent of conflicting property rights (not conflicts over the same property, but conflicts between adjacent land owners) and economic analysis; the history of the economics of public good, or as it is regrettably referenced, “welfare economics”.

His entire discussion would be dismissed by you, I would predict, as being inconsistent with the only “true and consistent” ethics of property rights.

So when you say things like: “Reinterpreting it as “society” is helpful from the point of view of sociology, but not from the point of view of economy, because doing so requires the abandonment of the scarce resources in the first place.”-I can’t help but conclude that you don’t have the foggiest idea what I’m talking about either.

As a final bit or irony, you make this bold statement: “my arguments typically do not make any assumptions regarding ethics.”

In my view, this could not be further from the truth. Ancap is a system of ethics that defines natural rights, property rights, and private provision of social services and functions. It is all built upon some specific axioms that you incorporate into all of your arguments.

For example: Only tangible property is scarce, all scarce resources are subject to conflict, so to avoid conflict, property can only be ethically owned by homesteading or legal transfer from original occupiers.

As I have argued many times in many places, this limited system does not pass the sniff test of reality or history. I think you sincerely believe you are on to something so profound that it has the potential to change the world. I think I have heard this referred to on this site as “our little movement”.

As immodest as this may sound, I am a pretty well educated man. I am no spring chicken. And I mean this in utmost sincerity: Your world view is most notable for what it excludes, not what it encompasses. The whole of human society cannot be redrawn by defining bright logical lines in the sand and denying everything that doesn’t fit within the line.

I have to say I believe Mises was a much wiser man than his student Rothbard, in this regard.

No offense meant, but I don’t know how to pick up a thread of discourse form your last posts.

Sincerely and regards,

Peter Surda January 1, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Hi Wildberry,

happy new year to you too and thanks for the reply.

I think you still don’t comprehend my argument. I am foremost a falsificationist. That comes before my Austrian leanings. I hold that a self-contradictory theory is false. And that is what I’m doing with your arguments. Please show me where I claim that the anarchocapitalist view of the state is correct, or that the anti-IP view is correct, or that they are ethical. I am not aware of having made that claim (well, sometimes I do but that’s obviously outside of the scope of a scientific discourse). Rather I make the claim that the statist’s and pro-IP views are self-contradictory and therefore false. That does not mean the anarchocapitalist or anti-IP view is correct.

You also seem to be stuck on the scarcity issue. You think that I am claiming that it is “ethical” to use scarcity to determine rights. That’s an incorrect interpretation of my claims. Rather I claim that scarcity is the reason why there is conflict, why people create rights and why there is human action. This is a crucial realisation pointed out by Mises. Without scarcity, without mutually exclusive options, there cannot even be anything (that includes economics).

That misunderstanding also explains why you mention Coase. Coase, on one hand, correctly pointed out the problem of mutual exclusivity, but then he made the normative claim that rights are to be derived from weighing the negative and positive utility the parties involved experience. Austrians, on the other hand, claim that utility is subjective and interpersonal comparisons are unscientific. Austrians hold a different normative claim about the rights: the one who first uses a scarce resource gains the right to use it. We can of course argue about the practical details, but at least it is less problematic than Coase’s, for example. But for our purposes, the normative claims are irrelevant. Both Coase and the Austrians get the problem of scarcity. It looks like you don’t. Coase did not claim that there are higher order rights. He just proposed a different method of resolving conflicts.

You still cannot apparently differentiate between natural phenomena and an interpretation thereof. This prevents you from realising the difference between beliefs and science. Some time ago, I posted a joke. The joke perfectly explains the difference between natural phenomena and an interpretation thereof and the dangers associated with not understanding it.

Like here (regarding scarcity):

As I have argued many times in many places, this limited system does not pass the sniff test of reality or history.

What kind of argument is this? How can history prove or disprove the claim regarding scarcity?

Your world view is most notable for what it excludes, not what it encompasses.

This is actually quite accurate observation. I’m getting rid of duplicates and contradictions. As Arthur Conan Doyle said: Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.

What you claim is impossible. It is completely irrelevant whether either of us thinks it is ethical.

Wildberry January 2, 2011 at 12:13 am

I read the joke, and was fascinated to read the lengthy exchange between you, Stephan and Bala.

So, given that I’m willing to admit I’m dense, let me ask you to give it to me in simple, concise terms:

What, exactly, is the contradiction that you are pointing out?

Leon Haller January 3, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Who says who gets to travel on US taxpayer built roads? Americans, or foreigners?

augusto December 30, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Funny that in the first paragraph you call others xenophobic and possibly racist, and in the second paragraph you propose such a generalization as “Americans… have always had an irrational fear..”.Who are these Americans you speak of?

Rick December 30, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Yes Augusto, you’re right… “Americans”, that was a lazy generalization on my part. I stand by the rest of what I wrote above.

To Wildberry, my comments were directed at HL. That said, your comment… vulgar, inconsiderate, uneducated and lazy, and black… would you feel the same way towards someone who is lazy, uneducated, and white?

Rick December 31, 2010 at 12:31 am

Race or nationality generalizations are a big part of the problem. I don’t know any more about “latinos” or “americans” than what I’ve personally experienced. Really a poor generalization on my part. “They”, “them”, etc… it’s something I have to remind myself to avoid using, depending on its context… easy to forget sometimes, because it seems such a common and casual part of popular language.

Leon Haller January 3, 2011 at 12:50 pm

You are obviously an extreme leftist. Totally bought into the white liberal bullshit.

Wildberry December 31, 2010 at 11:47 am


If you are asking me that, you didn’t undersant my comment at all. Of course, that is the point. Just because of races being different does not take away my right to make non-racial criticisms. Understand?

Also, so you understand the implications of your question, seeking bigotry? You are looking for the race card. Shameful.

The Anti-Gnostic December 30, 2010 at 11:32 pm

Xenophobic, possibly racist, ranting pretending to be rational economic thought. People used to say the same thing about Italians, Irish, Germans, et al.

I don’t suppose you’ve given any thought to the fact that there are discrete peoples genetically identifiable as Italians, Irish and German, and how those discrete ethnicities came into being.

Rick December 31, 2010 at 12:12 am

Yes, of course. Your point?

The Anti-Gnostic December 31, 2010 at 12:34 am

The point is that everyone, everywhere, and at all times thinks in terms of their own In-group and the Other. If there were no Other, there would be no human biodiversity such as Italian, German, Irish, Anglo, Jew, Arab, Turk, Caucasian, Russian, Spanish, Meso-American, Congolese, Berber, Han, Korean, Japanese, Hmong, Vietnamese, Thai, Aleut, Danish, Serbian, Croatian, Roma, Greek, and on and on.

Rick December 31, 2010 at 12:55 am

Right. But what does that have to do with what I wrote above in criticism of HL?

The Anti-Gnostic December 31, 2010 at 1:08 am

Your criticism of HL was for his purported fear of “the stranger.” Again, the very fact of human biodiversity shows a long evolved sense of In-group and Otherness. In fact, it is far less pronounced among Americans than among Italians, Irish, German, etc., who self-identify as discrete peoples very strongly. Really, the American attitude just underscores the point: “melting pot” Americans tend to regard people from low-trust, tribal societies as a threat to their meritocratic ideal.

OpenBorderFan December 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm

HL’s solution to the alleged immigration “problem” is the battle-cry of statists everywhere. HL’s position necessitates more government agents enforcing more government regulations in the name of stamping out {INSERT ALLEGED SOCIAL EVIL HERE}. For HL, it is illegal immigration. (Notably, though, the only difference between a legal immigrant and an illegal immigrant is some bureaucrat’s imprimatur on a piece of paper–jump through the government hoops and presto, chango, you’re “legal.”)

HL’s argument is of the “ends-justifying-the-means” type. Here, because HL deems as noble the end of protecting folks behind one side of an arbitrarily-drawn border from folks on the other side, this noble end justifies state intervention. Extending HL’s argument to its logical conclusion, libertarians should paradoxically favor more government agents enforcing more government regulations which stamp out all crimes against private property. Whether it is allegedly protecting private property by closing borders or cutting off the hands of alleged thieves, state-power is the enemy, no matter how beneficent the ends of that state-power.

HL December 30, 2010 at 6:55 pm

A wonderul post. It is entirely fair to condemn me for wanting to use “force” to achieve a desireable end. It is also fair to point out that maybe some immigrants are more to my liking than others, legal or illegal.

My argument is a simple one: A man living in an imperfect world must make imperfect decisions because these are the only ones allowed. (Few and far between the ones who can stomach the job of martyr.) I am forbidden, by law, to exclude undesireables from my home, school, neighborhood, workplace, street, etc. However, I am (thank you oh gracious State) allowed to seek the exclusion of undesireables from the territory occupied and defined by the State. If exclusion at my doorstep is impossible but exclusion at the border is possible, I am acting in enlightened self-interest by happily voting for whatever Pat Buchanenite is on the ballot this election cycle. Period.

By way of example, say I am a professional looking for work. Honest labor at high wage rates is not as plentiful as I desire. Say a job has opened up at the State for a professional with my very skill set. It pays well and, since it is a State job, requires little actual effort by me. Now, as a “libertarian” I surely know that every dollar paid to me in wages has been extracted by the threat of force and I am no better than a grape feeder to Pharaos. But wait, doesn’t the fact that the State monopolizes fire extinquisment mean it is wrong to be a fireman? Does the fact that the State monopolizes law enforcement mean it is wrong to be a policeman? Of course not. So, one copes with the system in place and strives to be the best civil servant possible.

Given the constraints of todays world, voting against immigration is being the best citizen possible.

Thank you for the opportunity to clarify my position.

Rick December 30, 2010 at 11:45 pm

I am forbidden, by law, to exclude undesireables from my home, school, neighborhood, workplace, street, etc.

Home — you can exclude anyone you want. I’m unaware of any law that say’s you must allow “undesireables” residency or a temporary stay in your home.

Lets take the others in your statement…

School — do you own the school?

Neighborhood — do you own the neighborhood you live in?

Street — do you own the street you live on?

Workplace — do you own your own business? If so, I sympathize with your property right argument but I despise your personal reasons for exclusion.

I support your right to exclude anyone or anything you want from your property. However, I reject your desire to make those decisions for everyone else.

HL December 31, 2010 at 1:09 am

lol. Rick, you know better than that. If I wanted to rent a room in my house to someone, the State tells me what criteria I may or may not apply. If I wanted to open a school, the State would prohibit me from applying my criteria. If I bought a two acre lot, put a fence around it, paved a road and built eight lovely homes, and then wrote a covenant into the deeds that the houses could only go to people who met a certain criteria, the State would shut me down (and certainly not apply my criteria). If I decided to hire only Norwegian Bachelor Farmers at my office, the State would crush me. And so on.

As noted by me and others in comment string, if we were in Libertania, or even pre-1776 USA, none of these arguments would matter. (Btw, ask the American Indians how unrestricted immigration of Europeans worked out for them…)

And, seriously, it’s a well-known fact that people whose diet consists of beans are more flatulent, and that contributes to global warming, so there.

Wildberry December 31, 2010 at 11:55 am

I may have to give up on you. Do you drive on roads? Do your kids go to school? Do you live in a town. Have you ever participated in something that benefited the town, and not just yourself?

If so (I hope you are not living in a cabin in the wilderness), the you are sharig public property with others. Therfore these resources must be governed. Therfore decisions must be made.

An individual does not make decisions for everyone else. But he may PARTICIPATE in the decision-making process for public issues. That is the way society works. Been that way for quite a while.

So, what really are you talking about. Of course I “own” the school, roads, neighborhoods. I am a citizen and member, voluntarily, of my neighborhood, town, city state and country. I have a right to participate in the decision-making concerning those public resources. Immigration is not exception.

HL December 31, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Don’t be hard on Rick. I have often wondered how some folks can deny the obvious. The answer, I think, is that the obvious is not so obvious to them. A person can drive by a ghetto every day and not register any insights. Put that same person in an apartment right in the middle of the ghetto, and well maybe some basic insights will germinate and mature to fruition.

I am old enough to have seen reliably pinko buddies go “Pat Buchanen” after the local school and neighborhood went from boring blanco to vibrant rainbow. It’s a similar process as a student going into business and suddenly realizing that the government is the problem, not the solution, and that taxes are, like, real money taken from your pocket!

In any case, Rick makes some valid arguments and we have responded to them.

RWW December 31, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Why should I give a second’s care about the future of your beloved state?

CharlesMartel January 3, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I agree with HL. I live in the heart of Los Angeles aka Capital of the Third World. According to the state, illegal invaders cost CA taxpayers over $10 BILLION a year. Sure they pay some taxes. But do you really think most belong to the 50% or so of the population that actually pays any income tax? I doubt it.

The states spends over $10k/year per pupil. Do you really think an illegal alien family with 3 plus kids (minimum) makes enough JUST to pay for their education and “free” school lunches? Not to mention their “free” health care and food stamps. I doubt it.

My brother-in-law is the typical Hollywood liberal. He used to live in Silverlake but he had to move. Know why? Well, even though he paid about $500k or so for his house, he couldn’t send his two blond daughters to the local schools because they’re overrun with illegal aliens. They would stick out like sore thumbs and probably get harassed every day. That’s on top of receiving a sub-par education.

Now, if you pay that much for a house, don’t you think you should be able to send your kids to the local public school? His only option was to pay for $1k+ month for private school or move to a more monochromatic neighborhood. And so he moved. These are invisible costs that escape calculation.

Even if the costs were nil, I would still be against Third World immigration. What price do you put on Western civilization? I for one do not want to live in a Third World country. Yet when Third Worlders invade the US, they create little Third World neighborhoods. And those neighborhoods keep expanding. Every tribe creates the best society they can. Mexicans create Mexicos. Guatemalans create Guatemalas. And Germans create Germanys. If all of Mexico moves to California, which looks like will be the case, California will soon become indistinguishable from Mexico. It’s a fact. Plain and simple.

Take a look at a country like Brazil. There are regions populated by Germans. In fact, some areas have so many Germans that Portuguese is their second language. It’s no surprise that those areas are well-painted, well-maintained, clean, productive and relatively crime free.

If we are to have any immigration, it should be from tribes with desirable traits. Tribes that have created successful societies. Unfortunately, Third World tribes do not fit this description.

Wildberry December 30, 2010 at 1:09 pm


“[The] conclusion follows only if we grant him the premise that the trend in inequality is best measured by looking at the set of people inside a country’s borders at one point in time and then comparing it to the set of people inside the country’s borders at a later point in time. I propose we reject this premise.” (From your Economist link.)

Translation; if you measure the inequality against some sort of global measure that includes the state of poverty in the country of origin, those entering the US are experiencing a net gain. If you look at the US at two points in time and see a net decline in prosperity, we should reject that data? I don’t think so. Wealth and living standards are local phenomena.

Why would an Austrian economist argue AGAINST aggregation as the basis of analysis on the one hand, (Keynesianism) yet argue FOR it in the context of immigration?

The differential between the US standards of living and those of other countries EXIST because there is a control against the balancing effects of open borders. Much like domestic dogs, that if allowed to breed freely would all resemble small brown dogs, an elimination of borders would allow the free-flow of poverty, language and culture such that all nations would be brought down to a lower common denominator as the new baseline is established. (Lest you assume this is analogy is pointing to racism, that is not my point. I am discussing economic mixing across national boundaries, where language, culture, economic, legal and political systems are distinct).

Open borders, and the ability to obtain transporation, would result in a general blending of all wealth such that there would be no measurable differences between say, Somalia, and the US.

These immigrants would bring their education, culture ans language, along with everything else. Concepts such a “littering” are cultural values, primarily. Have you ever been to Mexico and seen their general attitute regarding littering? Have you lived in a location of high Mexican immigration? Notice any similarity?

Various countries and their distinctiveness represent centuries of evolution that have followed certain cultural, political and economic courses, characterized by the nature of the country itself, considering the totality of circumstances. Do you really insist that large-scale changes in our border policies (not that they are very strong now…) would not have other, non-economic consequential effects? The economic factors are merely one of the dimensions of these consequential effects.

Also, we are talking about ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION here. The fact that some or any of these illegal’s pay taxes is completely beside the point. The fact that we may or not believe that we can afford to spend 1-2% of a national budget to support illegals has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

I think those who believe in open borders somehow believe that their property rights will insulate them from the consequences of open border immigration policy. Are you aware of any modern, advanced culture/nation who has successfully implemented an open border policy? Why is that?

Also, there are other effects which are difficult to measure. Speaking from personal experience, when I was in my early teens, I took entry-level jobs in restaurants, canneries, gas stations and in agriculture.

Today, these jobs are filled by adult immigrants, mostly Mexican in California, and other southern states adjacent to Mexico. This has had a negative effect on the cultural foundations which have helped establish our affluence in the first place. Today our young people cannot or will not compete for these jobs.

Certainly, even if you disagree with the premise that it is directly related to immigration, young people today do not have the same work ethic as those of 50 years ago. It seems reasonble to suggest that this shift in availability of entry-level jobs has had a net negative effect on the distribution of wealth and the access to the means of achieving wealth among those who are already, and legally here.

Ryan December 30, 2010 at 2:05 pm

These “cultural foundations” you speak of are precisely why immigrants are able to outcompete people who are indoctrinated from birth in those very “cultural foundations” of exceptionalism, entitlement, and ultimately love of the state. You have or ought to have the complete freedom to not rent or sell property to immigrants and to keep them off your own property, but you have no right whatsoever to use force to prevent others from doing so or to remove immigrants from the property of others. The very idea that such a force-backed right exists, in the name of preserving “cultural foundations”, is a symptom of the cancer that is corroding the West at its core and will eventually eat out everything the Enlightenment stood for.

Wildberry December 30, 2010 at 3:52 pm


Do you have any evidence for your assertion that immigrants taking the lowest paying jobs is related to their cultural freedom from indroctrination, (whatever that really means)?

Your assumption is that I own property. What if I rent? I have no rights whatsoever to prevent someone form “coming on my property” other than perhaps through my actual door.

Also, as you have conveniently neglected to observe, we are talking about ILLEGAL IMIGRATION. You are describing a system of removing any barriers to uncontrolled immigration. I am saying that those controls, including increasing the “scarcity” of immigration opportunities, makes the entry that much more valuable, and tends (historically) to encourage assimilation, something which has been lost in immigration debates.

When I went to elementary school, we learned about the “melting pot”. That meant an assimilation to a common set of ideals. Citizenship tends to encourage efforts to appreciate and adapt to the process assimilation.You seem to have no reason to believe that such assimilation is desirable.That is why, using HL’s post as an example, you find that lately OUR rivers are full of trash, just like in Mexico.

The person who you ask a question in the grocery store can’t understand your question and you can’t understand their answer. I recently had a “english as a second language” in the POST OFFICE!

I mean really, is it too much to expect that someone working with the pubic in a government paid position should have a basic command of the english language?

The Anti-Gnostic December 31, 2010 at 12:07 am

Open borders, and the ability to obtain transporation, would result in a general blending of all wealth such that there would be no measurable differences between say, Somalia, and the US.

Of course. Which is why there are no measurable differences between say, Detroit and Grosse Pointe. Or Compton and Beverly Hills. Or Oakland and San Francisco.

Tyrone Dell December 31, 2010 at 12:47 am

Yes, measurable differences like differences in tax laws, regulations, zoning laws, curfew laws for minors; differences in the laws of criminal and civil procedures, and substantive laws, and contract laws, and tort laws, and…

The Anti-Gnostic December 31, 2010 at 12:59 am

That begs a question: why do different locales enact different tax laws, etc.? Why, for example, is Northern Italy more prosperous and less corrupt than Southern Italy despite the freedom of Italians to migrate up and down their peninsula?

The people-are-just-people crowd assume that affluence and refined society are just lying around, waiting to be stumbled upon.

Wildberry December 31, 2010 at 12:07 pm


And some countries keep a military boot on their citizens, like N.Korea, and some grant more freedom to change government than the citizens ever actually use.

That is a difference woth preserving.

Imagine if Islamo facists around the world could simply set up shop here in america for the price of a train ticket? Do you think that would change anything, or would you be fine with that because you believe you are wealthy enough to insulate yourself behind your compound walls? Going to grow your own food?

You seem like a person that takes so much for granted, you don’t realize what you have.

Tyrone Dell January 1, 2011 at 12:40 am

This doesn’t directly concern the issue of immigration, but I feel like watching this short YouTube video will help you think more clearly, morally, and economically about the issue.


Violence is never the answer, even towards Islamo-facists. (Excluding clearly defined instances of self-defense, of course).

Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito.

james b. longacre December 31, 2010 at 1:38 am

“I think those who believe in open borders somehow believe that their property rights will insulate them from the consequences of open border immigration policy.”

if the illeagal immigrants come into your yard and house what will you do??

Tyrone Dell January 1, 2011 at 12:45 am

If they come into /your/ yard you can tell them to leave.

If they come into /my/ yard /you/ can’t do a god damn thing. Deal with it.


Rob Mandel December 30, 2010 at 1:17 pm


cf. Bastiat, there are many unseen costs of unchecked immigration. And I think that the current immigration situation isn’t just market forces at work, but deliberate policy, thus Bastiat applies.

For example, the impact on public schools is enormous. Let me give a few examples. (Although I do teach in a public high school, 15 years now, I vigorously support full privatization. Not vouchers, not choice, but full privatization. Yeah, I’m kind of an odd duck!!)

-any documents we send home must now be in both English and Spanish (I know, that’s a trivial point, but it does increase costs). It speaks to the larger issue of impacting actions.
-due to the large number of students who enter the schools lacking even basic English skills, the number of ESL/ELL classes have grown tremendously. This of course “crowds out” other classes, and certainly comes with a very high cost.
-the number of support personnel for the English learners has grown much larger, at a high cost
-the legal accommodations add much to the costs and administration of the schools
-as the number of students entering our schools with deficient language skills has grown, and the corresponding lower performance, the greater the directing of resources to assist them.

There are many other subtle (think curriculum and other school activities) and less obvious effects. One that is hardly ever discussed is effects on the school populations and the tensions and “culture” of the schools. For example, a few years ago, during immigration reform debate, many LA schools had large numbers of students walk out and protest, and students marched carrying Mexican flags, and did so with (tacit) approval of the administration.

The “taking our jobs” is a nonsensical claim. I recall former (thankfully) president Bush’s comment about “jobs Americans won’t do”, or something to that effect. What is happening is more than just migration of the labor resource. We’ve always had that, and still do. Many coming from the southern border are coming to work, and are very productive. Comparative advantage holds as it always does. The rub is that many others who come here are overtly hostile (for whatever political reasons) to the very society that they chose to migrate. And the result is a large population, living below the radar, with strong nationalist feelings for a land they left, and will probably never return to.

Come to southern California sometime, and drive around the San Fernando Valley. Parts of it look like Guadalajara. Fine, the market works, every time, all the time. But the greater impact is not so visible, but very readily apparent. The reality is large numbers of people who migrate (maybe think the Goths in 3rd century Rome) into a new society, who are inimical to tenets like rule of law, private property, and liberty. So the very essence of the migration, opportunity and the system that provides it, is the very thing many despise.

There is a terrible gang war going on right now in LA that never will make the headlines for obvious reasons. And it is, for want of a better term, brown vs. black. The terrible racial divide is simmering just below the surface. There is a great battle under the radar, for all sorts of affirmative action type balances, redress of grievances (which at least in the case of African Americans I can understand. They DID face legal, i.e. state sponsored aggression), and other leftist actions. Hard to argue in favor when you’re talking of a very recent, and voluntary situation, versus an historic and coerced one. Yet, and of course it is the state that is causing the problems, there is a tectonic shift in electoral politics that would be altogether different were it purely one of economic/market forces.

I don’t want a fence, or any other obstacles to trade. Labor, like all resources ought to be free, unhindered to move where the market forces direct. However, the big issue in all of this is the state. Like that’d be a shock to anyone here!! It’s not so much the direct, measurable, monetary costs, which DO have a disproportionate effect on certain states (i.e. California), it’s the unseen that is the real problem of the generous welfare state vis-a-vis immigration.

Michael A. Clem December 30, 2010 at 6:00 pm

And I think that the current immigration situation isn’t just market forces at work, but deliberate policy,
This is a point many people, both pro- and against miss. The current patchwork of immigration policy suits politicians quite well–they can satisfy special interests either way. They will never favor a completely open OR a completely closed system–it’s not in their interests.

Barry Loberfeld December 30, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Being a long-time defender of “open borders,” I have a question I’ve been fairly dying to ask those on the opposite side of the divide: Do the reasons that grant government the power to identify and repel foreign “undesirables,” also grant it the power to identify and expel domestic ones?
Simply put:

If you are anti-immigration,
are you also pro-expatriation?

FROM “Keep ‘Em Out? Kick ‘Em Out!”

Wildberry December 30, 2010 at 4:05 pm

That is a stupid question, which of course you know.

Citizenship of a country implies certain rights and obligations. Why would those be extended to “all comers”?

Peter Surda December 31, 2010 at 4:19 am

You don’t need to be a citizen of a country to reside in the country, or often even not in order to earn money. In many countries, the governments give special visa to highly educated people or people who earn high salary, or even to rich people who promise to run a business there. The modern border controls are a method to prevent the poor from entering the country. It’s a measure to prevent wage level from dropping to the market level.

The Anti-Gnostic December 30, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Do the reasons that grant government the power to identify and repel foreign “undesirables,” also grant it the power to identify and expel domestic ones?

As has been pointed out, that is the wrong question. The members in good standing of the State, its citizens, can set set any criteria they want on who does or doesn’t get thrown out, just as the members of a private club or gated community get to set the rules for association.

A liberal society that evicts illiberal peoples, for example, is acting in self-defense. If we decide Marx or Lenin need to take a hike (as actually happened), then good luck to you welcoming them in.

james b. longacre December 31, 2010 at 1:36 am

like presidents who lie about babies pulled from incubators and drunk driving senators with the honorable title??

The Anti-Gnostic December 31, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Especially them.

nate-m December 30, 2010 at 2:17 pm

You can’t have free immigration in and out of the USA until you get rid of the drug laws and welfare state.

Despite what may be said to the contrary only the majority of people come here for work. There is a huge element of criminals, people carrying disease, people taking advantage of the system, etc etc. This is directly due to the dehumanizing effect of the state and the theft and regulation of one group of people for the benefit of the other.

States like Arizona carry the brunt of the punishment of the current regulatory regime.

If we get rid of our shitty laws and rules it will go a huge way into not only helping our selves out, eliminating major problems associated with drugs/gangs/broken families in our own poverty communities in urban areas, but go a huge way into helping to liberate the rest of the world… especially Mexico.

Just like how the ability to free slave states into freedom helped end slavery in the most of the world, and our laws preventing that immigration stopped progress and caused a civil war, the ability for highly skilled and high value workers to freely migrate to the USA will force other countries to change their own policies etc etc

I know what I said would not make a lot of sense to a lot of people, but if I go into details I will be here for hours.

Rick December 30, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Carden’s post and the comments here show that what really needs to go is welfare-statism. Not peaceful and honest immigrants, wherever an immigrant may be from.

Like the teacher here who complains about “brown vs brown” gang warfare in Los Angeles. I don’t deny the problem exists. But that should be an argument for ending the drug war and for freer markets, not immigration reform.

The problem with “illegal immigration” vs “legal immigration” is that in today’s mainstream thinking those designations are statist definitions. It implies that each person living within the arbitrary bordered territory that is at the moment called the “United States” must be recorded, one way or another, and have their presence officially designated by the state into either “legal” or “illegal” status. In a social democracy the definition of legal or illegal is going shift around like the wind blows, depending on which faction(s) have political control at the moment and their whims. Nonetheless, none of that is going to stop people from immigrating or emigrating “legally” or “illegally”.

Asking the government to do something about illegal immigration, or immigration in general, is asking for more government and for more intrusion into the private lives of all people, citizen or not. It’s asking for more police statism, which means more bureaucratic and corporate rent seeking and the brute force that inevitably comes with it.

Leon Haller January 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm

You are truly an idiot. Maybe we should have Rothbard’s pure private society. Then immigration would no longer be an issue. That is not the world we live in, either now or in the foreseeable future. Hence the issue wrt immigration is how to view it now, in the current REAL situation.

You want lots of immigrants piling into the country. I want very few, and those only who make massive contributions ( use wealth and profession as proxies). Why do you get to impose your views on me? My family has been here since the 17th century. My ancestors literally helped to create and build America. Thus, morally, I have a greater say in the disposal of public property than some foreigner. That is basic justice. And I want immigrants, at least nonwhites, KEPT OUT!

America is a property. It belongs to those of us whose ancestors created it. And we are being dispossessed of our country by the Big Government program called RACE-REPLACEMENT (aka IMMIGRATION / INVASION / COLONIZATION).

I am not a libertarian, but an anti-immigration libertarian is every bit as ideologically consistent as some open borders traitor.

billwald December 30, 2010 at 2:51 pm

The bottom 20% of all citizens do not pay their way if, as a class, they are subjected to the same sort of analysis. Why are they more deserving of consideration? You all want to also cut them off, right? For every dime we save on the illegals we could save a dollar on the citizens Is it a matter of “we can pick on these people but not those?”

In the good/bad old days municipalities passed laws outlawing vagrants from being inside city limits after dark. (What was the old sign? “Green River Ordinance Enforced?” I wish I had stolen the last one I saw 40 or so years ago.) How about an ordinance which prohibited any person without government ID after sundown? How about requiring a national ID card for any public or business licensed services?

Bogart December 30, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Somebody has to pay the debts for the Welfare/Warfare US State. There are not enough rich to do it, the middle classes won’t and the poor do not have enough resources. That leaves undocumented immigrants to do the job.

Besides, if current demographic trends continue then there will not be any USA born folks to do the following:
1. Work fixing cars, trucks, houses, machines, ect.
2. Drive trucks and other commercial vehicles.
3. Provide all the services that doctors and nurses are too expensive to provide.
4. Take care of children.
and the list goes on and on….

The Anti-Gnostic December 30, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Good fences make good neighbors. Botswana and the Dominican Republic realize this; naive Westerners steeped in Frankfurt School propaganda from the day their parents deposit them at pre-school do not.

Get rid of public roads, public education, public infrastructure, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, Title VII, the Fair Housing Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the EEOC, the duplicative state and municipal laws and bureaucracies, and numerous other government externalities and I have no problem with “open borders.” Until then, immigration is just another form of rent-seeking. The fact is that there will be more borders, i.e., property lines, in a libertarian society, not less. Without civil rights, due process and government roads, unsponsored immigrants die in the desert or get shot as trespassers. And good luck getting rid of the welfare state as it continuously enlarges its constituency.

Rick December 30, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Without civil rights, due process and government roads, unsponsored immigrants die in the desert or get shot as trespassers.

I don’t much like government roads either. However, what’s your problem with civil rights and due process?

Also, in a libertarian society do you really think that you could just shoot a trespasser and have nothing to answer for? Property rights is not a license to murder.

Good fences make good neighbors.

You take that out of context. Based on you assertion, East Germany was a fine neighbor.

The Anti-Gnostic December 30, 2010 at 11:42 pm

I don’t much like government roads either. However, what’s your problem with civil rights and due process?

Civil rights and due process are government licenses. In the absence of the State, you will only get the rights and process you can pay for.

Also, in a libertarian society do you really think that you could just shoot a trespasser and have nothing to answer for? Property rights is not a license to murder.

The very essence of property is the right to exclude. All movement off your own property requires the permission of adjacent owners. The penalty for trespass depends on local norms.

You take that out of context. Based on you assertion, East Germany was a fine neighbor.

East Germany was a fine neighbor. Specifically, it meant West Germany could be West Germany rather than West ‘East Germany.’

Rick December 31, 2010 at 12:08 am

I hope you’re just being ironic or some kind of devil’s advocate. But I’ll take your word for it. So your anarcho-libertarian piece of property would be… unlibertarian? No rights? No due process? Okay. If that’s how you would want it.

I get your property right argument. But with your type of thinking we could have plenty of Soviet /North Korea style mini-dictatorships bordering each other, and the nightmare that goes with it, if that was based on “local norms”. And that would be okay with you? as long as the “essence of property” and the “right to exclude” were not infringed?

Again… I get your property right argument and your right to exclude anyone you want from your property. But in my opinion arguments styled like yours are why libertarians continue to lose, regardless of how often people congratulate themselves on sites like this.

The Anti-Gnostic December 31, 2010 at 12:15 am

Maybe you’d feel more comfortable over at the Huffington Post. Or iVillage.

Rick December 31, 2010 at 12:36 am

Nice, now you’re just being snarky and pretending to represent some sort of standard on this site. Jerk.

Wildberry December 31, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Countries can and do chart their own destinies. Sometimes it’s a dictatorship, etc.

What are you proposing to do about it?

Mexico is the way she is because this is the destiny chosen. Is it up to me to solve her problems? I may try, but I can’t help or change that history.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s “fine” with me or anyone else except the people who live there. Same goes for them. If they want a better life, they have to fight for it. Or they can sneak over the US border, game the system and try to buy themselves a better life.

Character is destiny.

scineram December 31, 2010 at 8:36 am

Civil rights and due process are government licenses. In the absence of the State, you will only get the rights and process you can pay for.

The best argument for statism I have heard so far.

james b. longacre December 31, 2010 at 1:27 am

often they cent get their fence on their line. good fence bad neighbor.

The Anti-Gnostic December 31, 2010 at 12:21 am

Update: Shikha Dalmia points me to her piece on taxes paid by and benefits paid to illegal immigrants.

So again, immigration is just the welfare-warfare State enlarging its constituency.

Rick December 31, 2010 at 12:38 am

Agreed… but you’re still a jerk.

james b. longacre December 31, 2010 at 1:28 am

agreed..there are things worse than jerks. check the mirror.

Leon Haller January 3, 2011 at 12:46 pm

But you are a race traitor.

nate-m January 3, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Go back into whatever hole you dug yourself out of.

Whatever ‘race’ you come from I would hope that as many people as possible are traitors as it’s a very bad one.

HL December 31, 2010 at 12:59 am

On a lighter note, here is a cute definition of illegal alien/immigrant in the new “Doublespeak Dictionary” by Leslie O’Hara:

Illegal alien n.
1. A culturally inferior human who resides in a country other than the one of his birth, without permission from the state of the host country.

2. A foreigner who has the audacity to believe that he should be free to pursue economic opportunity and freedom from persecution, without first obtaining papers.

Martin OB December 31, 2010 at 1:18 pm

No discussion about the long-term effects, economic or otherwise, of mass immigration in a Western country makes any sense without considering the following facts:

_ Long-term resident workers eventually have children.

_ Birthright citizenship is the norm in Western countries.

_ Citizenship is usually irrevokable.

_ All citizens vote.

_ Democracy means essentially the rule by the majority of citizens. A democracy can turn into the most barbaric forms of government without breaking its internal rules, by a series of referendums and constitutional reforms. Long before that, the laws can become hollow by lack of institutional commitment.

_ Some immigrants have unassimilable cultures; they are even hostile to the host country culture.

_ To make matters worse, those hostile cultures tend to favor higher birth rates than the West.

_ Children tend to inherit their parents’ culture.

All this combined should make it clear that mass immigration is something altogether different from economic globalization, free trade, etc. Most of the mutual benefits of foreign manpower can be acquired by international trade, without risking the balkanization of Western societies.

HL December 31, 2010 at 1:40 pm

True. Immigration is categorically different than trade. I think it is very fair to say a “good” libertarian should favor completely open borders for trade. It is something else entirely to say boat loads of foreigners can be dumped right next door to you, complete with an invoice for social services for these strangers.

That’s why this issue unites even hardcore lefty’s and righty’s at the ballot box. Even a lifelong democrat who unquestioningly believes all the lies his public school fed him suddenly realizes something is amiss when his neighborhood goes native. All the NPR, NYT, etc, dogma can’t disquise this basic fact that is obvious to the naked eye. Boobus Americanus is not that dumb.

newson January 1, 2011 at 6:14 am

to martin ob:
apparently i find myself in agreement with you. stephen steinlight has interesting comments on the wisdom of the some of the promoters of multiculturalism:


Martin OB January 2, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Heh, you see, they are not all the same.

newson January 2, 2011 at 10:24 pm

never said they were! whilst not denying group identity, i don’t fall into the trap of regarding people as automatons. but have a look at this:


on the face of it, it’s hard not to interpret this role as an active rather than a passive one.

newson January 2, 2011 at 11:45 pm
newson January 3, 2011 at 6:26 pm

it was always about homeland control, not security.

newson January 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm

i’ve just realized my omission: my comments about mises’ academic career being stymied refer to austria.

Martin OB January 3, 2011 at 1:04 pm

There are Jews at the forefront of almost every Western social and intellectual movement, except those specifically against Jews. Indeed, it’s not surprising to find lots of Jews at the heart of left-wing multiculturalist movements.

But there are also “right-wing” Jews. I don’t think it’s fair to insult “Zionist” Jews who risk their lives in Israel every day and understand the risks of uncontrolled immigration, by lumping them together with shameless traitors who despise their host societies. That’s a waste of powerful potential allies, a “divide-and-conquer” strategy which has been used against Western societies and conservative sectors of Jewish society for too long.

Besides, this is a battle of ideas, so the first thing to to is defeat the bad ideas with good ones, not complain about those who first came up with those ideas. It may well be that some sectors of Jewish society tend to promote particularly harmful ideas, but there’s no doubt Western societies loved those ideas, identified them as their own, and enthusiastically went along with them.

Moreover, many of the “bad ideas” paleos complain about ( women’s liberation, secularism, relaxation of social norms, sexual freedom, divorce) are inextricable parts of modern Western mentality. Ironically, the same groups who allegedly promoted theses laid-back attitudes also (allegedly) promoted a laid-back approach to the dangers of massive unassimilable immigration, which is a threat for Western society at large, but first and foremost for those very groups.

The apparent dilemma of the West is that if it goes forward full-throttle as these groups want, it will bring about its own demise and its replacement by a brutal foreign patriarchal theocracy, but if it does a 180 and rejects all the teachings of those groups, it will also go back to something it now perceives as a patriarchal theocracy (though indigenous and far more humane). I don’t like any of those scenarios. Maybe the way forward for the West is to recover its classical liberal tradition, before the Marxist contamination of liberal thought.

Beefcake the Mighty January 3, 2011 at 2:01 pm

“But there are also “right-wing” Jews. I don’t think it’s fair to insult “Zionist” Jews who risk their lives in Israel every day and understand the risks of uncontrolled immigration, by lumping them together with shameless traitors who despise their host societies. ”

These “right-wing” Jews are of course well to the left of their non-Jewish counterparts and typically have more in common with their left-wing coethnicists.

Your statement about “insulting” Zionists is nauseating. I find it hard to believe you really think the situation in Israel parallels what is happening in the West in regards to immigration, so I assume you are just a liar. On the outside chance you are not, you should consider that the reverse of what you claim is substantially true: Jewish immigration to Palestine shows what the original inhabitants are in for when a hostile elite settles in. Indeed, we see exactly this here in America, in its early stages. Jewish immigration should serve as a cautionary tale to the open-border enthusiasts (which it seems, includes the Mises Institute).

Wildberry January 3, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Hello Beefcake,

Could you explain this a little more? I’m not sure I follow.

“Jewish immigration to Palestine shows what the original inhabitants are in for when a hostile elite settles in. Indeed, we see exactly this here in America, in its early stages. Jewish immigration should serve as a cautionary tale to the open-border enthusiasts (which it seems, includes the Mises Institute).”

Who is the “hostile elite”?

newson January 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm

notwithstanding some of the nationalist, european right’s declarations (typified by wilders) of fondness for israel, that affection is largely unrequited:

Martin OB January 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm


I’d say that Jews have a better claim to at least some portion of the land of Canaan than anyone else, as indicated by overwhelming evidence from History, the Bible, genetic studies and common sense. There were Jewish kingdoms for centuries, and Jewish presence has always been strong, despite the diaspora.

On the other hand, there was never a “Palestinian” kingdom or State, not even the notion of a distinct Palestinian people until at least the 20th century, and no claims for a Palestinian State as distinct from Syria and Jordan until as late as 1967. Even PLO leaders have admitted the Palestinian people is just a trick of the Arabs against the Jews, to play the little guy card and get some more land for Jordan.

Israel’s behavior is quite reasonable for a country in the brink of civil war, with some inhabitants throwing missiles and blowing themselves up in public places full of children. Arab citizens of Israel have full rights, they can vote, they can even become MPs and then behave like shameless traitors like Hanin Zuabi.

That said, the question of Israel’s legitimacy is unrelated to the question of whether Israelis understand the plight of Westerners with immigration. Whatever the origins of their country, Israelis know full well what would happen if people from hostile neighboring countries were allowed to immigrate and granted citizenship without restrictions. Israel as a Jewish country would dissolve like an icecube in hot water and Jews would be persecuted in their own country.

newson January 3, 2011 at 7:34 pm

mises’ chances of a respectable chair were stymied not by anti-semitism, but by jewish academics, who held sway over all of the humanities faculties, and who were overwhelmingly of a socialist bent.

off the top of my head, the only jewish paleo i can think of is paul gottfried, for whom i hold much respect. his is a lonely road.

newson January 3, 2011 at 7:57 pm

to wildberry:
i don’t want to preempt btm’s comment, but i think kevin macdonald pretty well sums it up here:

Beefcake the Mighty January 3, 2011 at 8:21 pm

newson, yes, MacDonald’s work was exactly what I was thinking of here.

Re. Wilders, there is an American counterpart: the brain-dead Sarah Palin is fervently pro-Israel, but she is absolutely detested by Jewish liberals.

Martin OB January 3, 2011 at 8:34 pm


I don’t see your point in bringing up the problems Mises had with Jewish leftists and the scarcity of Jewish paleos. Is that supposed to be at odds with some of my statements?

newson January 3, 2011 at 9:53 pm

to martin ob:
whilst i agree with you on that not all jews are in the american liberal mould, the right-wing of virtually all the diaspora is neo-con, not old-right. hence the lonely figures that mises and gottfried cut.

Martin OB January 3, 2011 at 10:35 pm


Aha, well, I was not thinking of American old-right diaspora Jews. I was thinking of right-wing Jews in Israel. I have some hopes in an alliance of European classical liberalism with the Israeli right (such as the settler movement), which would kill any attempt of reductio ad Hitlerum by leftie groups, diaspora or otherwise. Indeed, I’ve become a fan of Geert Wilders. He’s changing the rules of the game and the multicultis are crying foul. Defense leages are sprouting like mushrooms all over Europe. I love that.

newson January 3, 2011 at 11:05 pm

to martin ob:
then i think we’re on the same wavelength. the voices of the organized european diaspora are firmly sticking by the multi-ethnic model, of which they had been active promoters, fearing a possible future resurgence of european national identity more than the real and present islamic anti-semitism.

newson January 3, 2011 at 11:29 pm

here’s an extract from line in the sand, the film i linked to above, which addresses the promotion of multiculturalism in america:

james b. longacre January 3, 2011 at 12:33 am

did multiculturalism succeed when britian was in india..years ago??

as far as the fake youtube commentary..fake and lies. i dont see why jews are, if they ever really were, not wanted in some parts of europe (fringe groups?). from what i have read they have always lifted every other boat around them to some extent.

Beefcake the Mighty January 3, 2011 at 8:23 pm

By “lifting every boat” I assume you mean collaboration with the various oppressive States that have ruled over European peoples through history (eg, through tax farming, their role in communism, etc)?

newson January 3, 2011 at 10:31 pm

fake? here’s the long-play version:

it can’t be said that multiculturalism is turning out that well for individual jews in sweden, notwithstanding support by organized jewry for the concept.

Poptech December 31, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Actually they do take jobs from honest law-abiding citizens. Many employers have no problem paying an ignorant illegal immigrant under the table but are too afraid to do this for a law abiding citizen. Thus being honest puts the unskilled legal American worker (teenagers and minorities) at a disadvantage. Now I realize that repealing all working regulations, taxes and mandates (minimum wage) would do much to correct this, it is highly unlikely that all taxes on labor will ever be removed and thus it will always be worthwhile for employers to gamble on illegals.

And it is they are getting welfare, not taking it as I want it all abolished but trying to justify that because these costs are less than the alleged benefit (I’m not buying it as I believe teenagers, minorities and machinery can do those jobs for the same cost) is disingenuous.

The seen and unseen welfare costs to illegals are vast, health care, schooling, welfare, fire, police, prisons, sanitation, infrastructure (roads, public transportation) ect…

I’m all for abolishing all these services I pay for and then having a real discussion on immigration.

Until then I find the discussion on justifying increased government welfare spending that I pay for hypocritical, especially coming from libertarians.

IAin January 1, 2011 at 1:00 am

Why is it that every immigrant is an einstein? I mean realistically the engineers and such probably make up about 1% of the immigrant population. I’m not anti-immigrant or anti-immigration or anything but making every immigrant out to be Richard Feynman or something is an emotional argument.

Gil January 3, 2011 at 8:47 pm


Walt D. January 3, 2011 at 11:54 pm

That being said, I have worked in departments in large companies where only one person out of 10 or one person out of 20 was a native US citizen. This is particularly true for anything dealing with programming, mathematical finance or risk management. Also, you may want to check out the math, science and engineering faculties at well known universities – the preponderance of staff are immigrants.
Needless to say, these are the people who get harassed by ICE.

Randall Burns October 7, 2011 at 1:16 am

What changed that in part were immigration policies that encouraged that trend. You could replace the entire work force of the US for less than 25% of present costs. Policies like H-1b basically let tech employers pay folks with a green card instead of cash.

Dave M January 2, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Unchecked immigration would work if the western countries stripped away all the entitlement programs we have. In Canada they have done studies of the success rates of immigrant populations.30 years ago immigrants would end up with the same or higher average income of the rest of the population within one generation. In the last 20 years the situation has reversed, now a large portion of immigrants never get off the public dole even second generation.

Curly January 4, 2011 at 7:44 pm

If you want to take a libertarian position on the whole package I would say let any body who wants to come to the US to work come. But with welfare available to both citizens and illegals dose two things to make the situation worse even if only some illegals are on welfare. The illegals will work for less money and harder than many citizens would which means the citizen will not work (which many will not anyway) putting them on welfare. I also expect when and if the liberal democrats regain power as they had in 2009 and 10 that they would take welfare a step farther. They would introduce what will become Basic Living Stipend which will give every body basic living income. which will make both citizens and illegals both not have to work. And if you are not working you would have much more time to get into trouble (with the law).

Glenn R May 2, 2011 at 5:50 am

The estimated number of illegal immigrates in Canada is more than 35,000. About half cross our borders entering through inadequate border security. The other half breaks the law by not leaving when their visa expires. The number must have increased drastically with the expiration of temporary employer work permits issued in 2007 and 2008, which were not renewed because of the shortage of work due to the recession.

Randall Burns October 7, 2011 at 1:04 am

The paper fails to look accurately on the really big cost of immigration:
the effect on US labor markets.

The entire work force of the US could be replaced for less than 25% of current costs-by importing workers from China and India. Would that necessarily be a good thing for American workers? I would argue it would not-but it might benefit American property owners.

The thing is: this experiment would transform America into something else.

Dave Francis December 7, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Read the real costs of illegal immigration, that has been studied extensively by the Heritage Foundation. There are grids, analysis and carefully calculated grafts of federal payout and state coffers, that are bleeding $113 Billion dollars a year or rising. Then their is the 46 billion dollars that leave the United States of an estimated $46 Billion, to foreign banks; not reentering American commerce.

ead the real costs of illegal immigration, which has been studied extensively by the Heritage Foundation. There are grids, analysis and carefully calculated grafts of federal payout and state coffers, that are bleeding $113 Billion dollars a year or rising. Then there is the 46 billion dollars that leave the United States of an estimated $46 Billion, to foreign banks; not reentering American commerce.
Another legislator has joined the co-sponsors to enact ‘The Legal Workforce Act (H.R.2885) or extensively known as E-Verify. A mandatory law that holds businesses owners accountable, for hiring illegal workers and only 32 sponsors to go, before it reaches the house floor. Learn more at NumbersUSA or call your Senator or Congressman at 202-224-3121 and giving your name, address to the aid and insisting your representative in the Senate-House uphold the law and co-sponsor H.R. 2885.

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