Monday, March 30, 2015

Computer Games, Immigration and Protectionism

A few months ago my son found a computer game (one still in development) called Rim World. as he does so often when stumbling across games on YouTube or elsewhere, he wheedled and cajoled and badgered me until I agreed to shell out the money to buy it. Unlike most such cases, however, it turned out to be one of those rare games that he continued to play beyond the week it was bought, and, even more unusual, it was one of those rare computer games that actually caught my attention, and managed to keep me entertained as well.

The basic premise is pretty simple. You control three individuals in the distant future who find themselves stranded on an alien planet, and they must build up a thriving colony and eventually escape. In the process they must build shelter, find food, make clothing, fend off natives, recruit new members and so on. Not exactly a novel premise, it seems there are multitude of survival and colony/city building games out there, but something about this one made it more engrossing than the rest, and I have myself playing it almost as much as my son does.

What caught my attention, at least in terms of turning the game into blog fodder, is how realistically the addition of new recruits is handled. Initially, new recruits are usually reluctant to join the colony, many being captured during raids by the planet's other inhabitants. Even after they are captured, their skills are often rather mediocre and the prove more of a drain than a benefit. However, over time, they begin to supply more benefit, and, in the long run, they prove essential to success. Well, to be fair, there is one drawback. The game's nominal goal is to eventually build a spacecraft to escape the world, and so, above a certain number, more people prove a drawback in that regard, as the cost of each additional passenger is rather high. However, if you play to build a thriving colony -- as my son and I usually do -- disregarding the idea of eventual escape, it becomes quite clear that each additional colonist is a net gain, and the larger the population, the more robust the colony.

Why I suggest this is interesting is because, unlike some colony games, RimWorld does have hard limits on some resources. Mineral wealth, for example, can be exhausted because of the limited play area (unlike, say, Harvest, where the play area allows for expansion). Even some renewable resources, such as wild animal herds, prove relatively slow to replenish, making them an effectively limited resource as well. (Oddly, this is least pronounced in the tundra, where one would expect it the most. Apparently elk and "muffalo", a sort of shaggy buffalo, are fast breeders.) In most games with such hard limits, the artificial constraints prove to make population growth harmful. However, because RimWorld allows for trade with off planet merchants, basically trading goods in abundant supply for those the colony lacks, even after limited resources begin to run out, there is still a benefit to adding more population.

I mention all of this because, in my experience, computer games, in general, seem to offer pretty fair models of population, immigration and trade, much more so than some of the contrived models offered up by professional economists promoting restrictions on immigration or trade. Admittedly, some games do better than others, those that create a closed model, with no ability to move or trade outside of a constrained space, with limited resources (Empires of Earth comes to mind, or to a lesser degree, Banished), provide the worst models, while those that either allow for replenishing resources, or for trade with external sources of supply, provide a much more accurate model. But, as that is my point, more or less, I suppose it is time to move from the subject of games to the issues of the real world.

Until relatively modern times, immigration was seen as a boon. The strength of nations was measured in population, wars were fought as much to bring in bodies of people as patches of territory. The fear of immigrants didn't really arise until a confluence of three issues produced an environment almost ideal for anti-immigration agitations.

First, there was the growth of the union movement, and pro-labor agitation in general, the more clever exponents of which recognized that general underpopulation was productive of elevated wages, and granted additional power to the labor movement, which encouraged them to do all they could to remove the possibility of new laborers competing with established laborers and unions.

Second, there was -- especially in the US and England, but to a lesser degree in other European nations -- the culture shock of relatively heavy immigration from non-European nations, and, to a lesser degree from southern and eastern Europe (and Ireland). The influx of these unfamiliar aliens, with strange customs, relatively underdeveloped backgrounds, and often unusual appearances, led to a growth of nativist, even xenophobic, movements. As these movements made it more and more difficult for these groups to integrate, many of them developed unintegrated enclaves -- Chinatown, Little Italy, and so on -- which allowed many of those already opposed to these immigrants to argue they were impossible to integrate1.

Finally, there were the more formal nationalist movements, which, while they shared a lot of common ground with home grown nativist movements, had some agendas all their own.For example, while nativists were normally concerned solely with excluding aliens, nationalists often have an active agenda of reintegrating the isolated members of their own linguistic-cultural group, however those irredenta are defined.

Together, these three movements created the first real opposition to immigration. Later, as the government became more involved in welfare schemes, and laborer began to be reimbursed by the government for failing to work, there were other pressures established, but the initial opposition very clearly came from a combination of self-interested labor movements and a mix of home grown nativists and more theoretical nationalists.

I mention all this because the movements in question are all distinguished by possessing an irrational foundation, as well as generally opposing individual rights and minimal government. That being the case, one would expect that conservatives and federalists would have an innate distrust of anti-immigration movements. Unfortunately, two modern trends have led to those on the right embracing a position quite contrary to the original intentions of founders, who believed in the US as something of a haven, not an exclusive club.

First, because of the modern welfare state, liberals have managed to make the right see immigrants as the labor movement always did, as a net cost.  It is arguable whether or not the numbers support immigrants as a whole being net loss, but that is almost secondary. The problem in this case is not the liberals, but the welfare state, and the solution is not for the right to join labor in opposing immigration, but rather in opposing welfare state programs.

Second, the left has also managed to convince some percentage of immigrants and minorities in general that, because the left supports welfare, affirmative action and special privileges for select groups, that they are the friends of immigrants, and the right the enemies, and, unfortunately, many on the right have played into this. Of course, many legal immigrants are not exactly falling for this. Having gone through a difficult process to attain citizenship, they do not embrace the left's easy forgiveness for illegals, but the right, often its own worst enemy, has ignored them, missed the opportunity to split legal from illegal and make its own immigrant lobby, and instead often adopted the paleo-con/Buchananite "seal the borders" rhetoric, reinforcing the false image that the left promotes that the Democrats and Republicans of the 21st century share the views of those in the 19th. (Which, in the case of paleo-cons is sadly pretty accurate, and, again sadly, in the case of Democrats, not accurate at all2.)

Thus a combination of fiscal concern and pragmatic/cynical desire to minimize hostile votes has turned the right against immigration, rather than any real philosophical foundation. I will grant, some of the more die hard culture warrior types make a case on the basis of their beliefs, but for the most part it is based on raw emotion rather than any well reasoned appeal. (And, though we won't discuss it here, I have many misgivings about including those who emphasize culture wars among conservatives, as too much of their argument smacks of a disguised nationalism, which is not a philosophy very friendly to liberty or minimal government, but that is a topic for another essay.) But, excepting these culture war arguments, there is little in the way of theoretical opposition to immigration, or even a well reasoned theory, almost all opposition rests on a myopic view based on one or two issues, without taking in the entire picture.

So, allow me to offer my arguments, demonstrating why, on every issue from employment to welfare to assimilation, the contemporary view of the right is contrary to its basic principles, and that, rather than allowing the left to manipulate this issue its advantage, we should adopt a consistent and principled stand. As I hope to show, such a stand will also have practical benefits, and not only those inherent in a consistent position3.

Let us start with the most basic economic point, and the most frequently promoted "pragmatic"4 argument, that being that allowing in immigrants will result in a reduction in our wages and a drop in the standard of living. This is at the root of the opposition labor movements have shown toward immigration, not just in the US but worldwide, and is also one of the limited number of topics on which labor and the rest of the political left disagree.

In one sense, this argument is correct, though only in a very limited way, and in terms of its conclusions about the ultimate consequences of immigration it is simply wrong, mostly because, like all protectionist schemes, it fails to look at man in all of economic roles, and focuses exclusively on man as a wage earner. In fact, the arguments offered against immigration fit perfectly the mistake I described in  "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, and More Jobs" , forgetting we work in order to be able to buy, and instead seeming to think we spend money in order to justify working. In short, it makes of labor an end in itself, and completely forget that labor exists to serve a function, to produce results, not as an end in itself. Not even to earn a wage, as many assume, but rather to produce goods. When we forget that, as most protectionists do, we reach some bizarre conclusions, and the arguments about immigration are no different.

Let us start with the one thing the opponents get right. Immigration, at least into countries that are relatively underpopulated, as are almost all western lands relative to the rest of the world -- or into nations where per capita investment of capital is much higher than the world average, as that also produces elevated wages -- will result in a decline of wages in the country receiving the immigrants. However, in general this will be a decline in average wages, that is the total wages paid divided by number of jobs, and not in the wages for most specific jobs. And it is this confusion of aggregate numbers with individual cases that causes some of the confusion. (Cf "Individual and Aggregate") But it is just one factor. Still, let me explain the difference.

Most people seem to think if immigrants are allowed in, then everyone will see their wages drop. However, that simply makes little sense. First of all, since many, if not most, immigrants are less skilled than the US average, as well as many needing to learn the language, adjust to the culture and so on, most immigrant labor will be for the lower end of the wage scale. Even if it were not, think of what wages mean. If you are paid $25/hour it means your employer is receiving a benefit of at least $25/hour from your work. If immigrants show up, it will not reduce your worth to the company. And if an immigrant can produce the same value, then likely his wages will be bid up through competition to the same price. (See "Employment A to Z", "More Thoughts on Wage Disparities", "Capitalism and Its Consequences", "Competition", "Another Look At Exploitation", "Fairness and the Free Market", "Exploited Labor", "Capital Investment", "Exploiting Workers?", "Two Sided Processes and Claims of 'Unfair' Outcomes", "How Wages Work") Which means that it would be idiotic to fire you to hire an alien who would demand the same pay. No, what will happen when immigrants enter the economy is that the added labor will be used to perform tasks previously impossible due to lack of labor. As many of these will be at the lower end of the wage scale, likely it will result in a reduction of average wages, but most individual wages will remain the same.

The one area where wages may be reduced slightly would be in those areas where wages are artificially elevated, in unionized jobs, or on the marginal end of the spectrum where a shortage of unskilled labor may allow for slight overpricing of labor. Of course, if the government persists in forcing minimum wage and union collective bargaining, immigration will not reduce these wages, immigration will simply create unemployed immigrants, but that is topic to cover later.

However, for the sake of argument, let us assume immigration would reduce actual wages slightly. This may sound disastrous, but only because you are taking a single perspective on the issue. Wages are income, but they are also a cost. If wages fall, the cost of good produced by that labor also declines. So, even if immigrants force wages down, that would also result in a reduction in prices (and likely also the production of goods not previously available, due to the surplus of labor). As a result, even with reduced wages, we would have the ability to buy more, as the combination of reduced costs (fairly proportional to lost wages) and increased goods on the market, would most likely produce a net increase in real personal income for most. Thus, even if wages drop, which they may only do in a statistical sense, the end result would still be a net improvement in our material condition. Thus, it is silly to worry about immigration, at least as regards wages and incomes.

Which brings me to a second issue often mentioned, and yet another protectionist variety of worry. This is the concern that many aliens come to work in the US, but do not spend money here, instead sending it home to their native land. In some way it is imagined this impoverishes the US.

I suppose the first thing to point out is something I have mentioned many times, it is hard to spend US dollars except in the US. So if those dollars are going home, they are eventually going to come back, either directly, or traded to others holding local currency, who will then spend the US currency in the US. Eventually, one way or another, the money comes back to the US. (" Fear of Trade")

Then again, even if it somehow stayed outside of the US, what is the worry. I work in Virginia and live in Maryland. Thus, I take money out of the Virginia economy and send it home to Maryland. Does that means I am harming Virginia? Should they ban me from working there? Or, even more local, suppose I work in Annapolis and live across the river in Riva. If I were to spend my pay outside of Annapolis, does that impoverish the city of Annapolis? Clearly these examples are silly, yet we imagine they begin to make sense when they involve national borders. However, the same principles apply. Just as we recognize in my examples Maryland and Virginia are not competing, or trading, similarly, nations do not trade, individuals do. And, in the end, that trade balances out, barring government playing inflationary games. So, the worry that money may not stay inside our borders is just more protectionist silliness5.

The next issue is one where there are valid questions raised -- though some numbers suggest the problem is smaller than imagined6 -- but also one where easy solutions exist if we are willing to stop following the same path we have for decades. And that issue is welfare, or, to use a more general term, all manner of government payments to aliens7.

As far as the legitimate aspect is concerned, it would be an issue if we were to allow an open door policy, granting resident status, or even citizenship to whoever asked, and doing so with little or no wait, and, at the same time, maintained our present welfare system. After all, even without welfare available to them (or perhaps not, see below), millions seek to enter the US every year, so would it not be likely even more would seek entry if, at the same time, they were guaranteed some sort of free subsistence as well? And would it not bankrupt us to have to pay to support all these freeloaders from across the sea?

However, modern experience indicated this may not be an accurate depiction of open borders. Even now, many illegals manage to collect on some form of welfare, perhaps not to the degree natives do, but there are still illegals who use their false identity to apply for benefits. As this is possible even now, it would seem we would have considerable numbers of illegals entering to live on welfare. Yet this simply is not the case. Most illegals today enter the country to engage in some sort of labor, or else seek out labor as soon as they enter. Of course, this does not guarantee more would not seek welfare in the future if it were easily available to them, but it does indicate that people are generally not motivated to make an effort to migrate just to collect welfare8.

Even if that were the case, and opening the borders brought in masses of welfare recipients, the solution is not to ban immigration, the answer is to modify welfare. Ideally, the answer is to eliminate it entirely, as I have argued before, but if that is impossible, the other solutions would be to limit who can apply, perhaps excluding recent immigrants for a number of years. As with current welfare, we would even add in emergency aid for those who otherwise don't qualify, so no one can complain about denying immigrants emergency medical coverage (something we now do provide, even to known illegals), or emergency cash and food stamp aid in dire circumstances. That should more than satisfy both those wishing to prevent immigrants from collecting welfare and those who lose sleep over the possibility of anyone having to face misfortune without a government agent on hand to assist.

But there is, in fact, an easier solution, and one that has a long (well, relatively long) historical precedent. If we must keep our present welfare system, why not require of immigrants either proof of ability to support themselves, or else a sponsor who will swear to provide for them for a set period of time (say 5 years). It would, admittedly be slightly less than a completely open door, as it would limit immigration to a degree, though not that much, but it also would be the perfect answer to those who insist on maintaining welfare. An immigrant would no longer be a potential drain on our resources, as the state would have a sponsor to whom they could shift the costs. It would not be an ideal solution, as it would both mean retaining the present welfare system and continuing to limit welfare, but it does show how, with even a few small changes, much of the supposed insurmountable problem of welfare could be resolved.

The remaining issues are mostly non-economic ones, and shall be dealt with relatively swiftly.

First, there is the complaint that open immigration would allow the entry of disease into the US. And, I suppose, this is a valid complaint, or would be, were we to also check all tourists entering from foreign countries, as well as all US citizens who return from abroad. However, as we do not do so, it seems the claim that we regulate immigration to exclude disease is more of a pretext for maintaining limits on immigration than any true concern. (In any case, since many diseases do not present in a short time, to actually exclude disease would require either preventing any entry into the nation by anyone, citizen or alien, or else VERY lengthy quarantines for everyone who enters the country, be they citizen or alien.)

A similar problem exists for the exclusion of criminals, as again we do not prevent criminals from visiting (or did not until relatively recently, and even then we are not exactly consistent). In any case, the idea of excluding criminals is problematic for another reason. "Crime" is defined by the local government, and thus those who flee precisely because they are unhappy with their current government are more likely to be labelled criminals even if they did nothing we would want to exclude from our nation. Nor is it always obvious when a supposed crime represents civil disobedience versus a real crime. After all, if you come from a totalitarian land, and the rulers are unhappy with you, how hard is it for them to enter a record saying you were a thief, rapist or killer?  And, in the reverse case, should a nation wish to export a troubling group, be they an unwelcome minority or simply those the state finds unwelcome, such as habitual criminals, what is to stop the state from removing all records of misdeeds to make departure easier? Thus, it seems relying upon the statements of other states as to one's criminal status is problematic8.

Speaking of crime, there is a second issue which comes up which should be addressed, and that is the use of foreign citizenship as a means to avoid criminal prosecution.  Again, it is a somewhat legitimate concern, but one that seems unrelated to open borders. After all, even now, with all our restrictions, aliens and citizens use the borders in just this way. So, whether borders are open or not, they shall remains a problem for law enforcement. It may make a good tub thumping argument against immigration liberalization, but in truth it is not a problem which will be changed by reforming immigration laws in either direction.

That leaves us with just those special cases that people love to bring up as if they were everyday occurrences, such as terrorists entering the country, or the closing of borders during wartime. I will grant that it is probably justified to close borders to exclude aliens from a country with which we are at war, but beyond that it seems most efforts to curb spies, terrorists and others are rather pointless. First, because many terrorists and spies are actually disgruntled natives of the land against which they act, meaning immigration laws are useless in protecting against them. Second, because most nations which seek to insert foreign spies or terrorist agents do not end them directly from their own nations, but instead disguise them as residents of a neutral third nation. Given these two factors, the use of immigration laws to stop spies and terrorists strikes me as a very inefficient means of doing so, and, considering the other negative effects of immigration laws, it seems there are better tools.

And that brings to an end all of the major economic and political issues, at least as far as I can recall them. But before wrapping things up I suppose I must say a few words about the one other issue so often raised, that being the cultural argument, and the worries about integration and assimilation.

The irony here is that, during periods when immigration was more open, integration was much more common. Not only that, but the groups which failed to integrate were almost always those who were treated as special cases. The Irish, the Italians, Asians of various origins, and now illegals, all have found it more difficult to integrate, not because of any innate desire to retain an insular identity, but because their rejection by the larger society forced them to develop close knit and insular communities which stood in the way of integration. If any doubt this, look at Asians in the years following the 1940s. It is rare to find even a second generation Asian who is not fully integrated, and it is common to find second or third generation descendants who not only are fully integrated, but integrated to such a degree they know little of their ancestral language, culture, and so on. Excluding foodstuffs and a few common curse words (the cultural artifacts that seem most durable), many children or grandchildren of immigrants are indistinguishable from natives whose ancestors have been in the US for a dozen generations or more.

Immigration is, sadly, one of those areas where there exists a relatively easy solution, but one which neither side wants to embrace, and, more harmful, immigration is an issue where it is easy to make emotional appeals, appeals which lead to the creation of dangerous exceptions, or, even worse, bad policies based on unusual cases.

For example, no one wants to see children arrested and deported. However, if we adopt a policy of allowing children to remain, we are asking for those seeking entry to smuggle in solitary children so that those children, when grown, can bring in their parents and other relatives. In other words, to avoid the sad sight of solitary children being arrested, we are likely to create circumstances which encourage smuggling solitary children into the US, a situation just as pathetic and depressing.

A similar problem exists with all the proposed solutions to the issues raised by granting citizenship to all born in the US. Ignoring the problem that any limitation on this policy may end up excluding some children at least some of us would want considered citizens (eg children born --in the US -- to a deceased US citizen and a resident alien not his spouse, might be excluded under some proposed rewrites of the law, and other variations exclude other unusual, but legitimate, groups from citizenship), there are still problems with eliminating this law. Let us look at just one example. Although eliminating the law would probably end up reducing the influx of pregnant women who enter the US, our superior health care would still probably attract some women, especially from border areas, and -- even if those were eliminated -- illegal aliens within the US already would certainly, from time to time, become pregnant as well. So we will always have children born in the US to aliens, both legal and illegal. However, some of those aliens, even the illegal ones, are not necessarily recognized as citizens by their former nations, especially those who came seeking asylum who were either denied, or else violated the terms of their asylum9. In those cases, it would be unlikely the home nation would grant the newborns citizenship. Thus, we would be left with a number of stateless children, children we do not recognize as our citizens, but without a land to which they can be deported. Trying to figure out how to handle such stateless individuals could be a problem more tricky than any of our current immigration issues.

And there are similar issues with most positions adopted by either side on this issue. We mentioned a few when discussing criminal records (eg. that crimes can often be politically defined, making it hard to tell if a "criminal" is really a danger to admit). However, there are many more. Not that an open door policy is without issues, I admit as much. However, much like the free market, the open door policy is the best of a universe of imperfect solutions, it fits best with our professed beliefs about the nature of man and the role of government, and it is the system most consistent with the free market. More than that, it is also a system which ends racial or ethnic favoritism, senseless restrictions, limits motivation for human trafficking and smuggling, eliminates almost all opportunities for corruption and otherwise simply cleans up what is a terribly flawed, corrupt and nonsensical system. I can think of no better argument in its favor


1. The ease with which most such groups integrated in post World War II America -- some even earlier -- shows how much of a role the nativist movements played in preventing integration. Modern experience -- despite pressures not to integrate originating from completely different motives ("The Important Lesson of Racism") -- show that even groups one would expect to have real trouble integrating, such as south east Asian refugees from the Vietnam War era, had children, and especially grandchildren, who are fully integrated into American society, to the point where many cannot speak their ancestral tongues.

2. For those unfamiliar with the party shifts, I suggest "The Political Spectrum", "A Timeline Part One", "A Timeline Part Two", "A Timeline Part Three", "Mistaken Perceptions of the Industrial Age", "Child Labor and the Industrial Revolution", "A Passing Thought" and "Rethinking the Scopes Trial" and "Ordered Liberty and Our Modern Mindset". For those disinclined to follow links, the short form is this: in the 19th century, the Democrats were, by and large still the party of limited government, free business, hard money and open immigration. (There was some diluting of this, especially in the west, through populist movements, but it wasn't until 1890 that really mattered on a national scale.) On the other hand, the Republicans of the 19th century largely supported protective tariffs, soft money (easy credit through manipulating currency), centralized government, temperance movements and other enforced morality, somewhat anti-Catholic, and were strongly opposed to immigration, especially immigration from places other than northern and western Europe. As I said above, in some ways the paleo-cons are the last gasp of 19th century Republicanism, though many moderate Democrats hold most of the same views except on immigration. (Well, and their enforced morality is to ban smoking and transfats, not drinking, pornography and blasphemy.)

3. As I have argued elsewhere, holding inconsistent positions leaves one open to all kinds of mischief, mostly from those who will exploit those inconsistencies to undermine one's positions. See "Slippery Slopes", "No Dividing Line", "Harming Society", "You've Come a Long Way, Baby!", "In Loco Parentis", "Hard Cases Make Bad Law", "Tyranny Without Tyrants", "Some Thoughts on "Summerhill"", "In Defense of Zero Tolerance, or, And Examination of Law, Common Sense and Consistency", "With Good Intentions", "In The Most Favorable Light", "Inescapable Logic", "Recipe For Disaster", "The Endless Cycle of Intervention", "The Cycle of Compassion", "Grow or Die, The Inevitable Expansion of Everything" and "Inspections, Regulations and Bans" and "Guns and Drugs", among others.

4. I have a strong dislike for "practical", "pragmatic" or "common sense" arguments, as I explain in   "The Lunacy of 'Common Sense'", "'Seems About Right', Another Lesson in Common Sense and Its Futility", "A Look at Common Sense", "Res Ipsa Loquitur", "The Shortcomings of Pragmatism", "Pragmatism Revisited", "Pragmatism Revisited, Again", "The Plural of Anecdote is Not Data", "Rules of Grammar and Pragmatism", "The Problem of the Small Picture", "Keyhole Thinking", "Impractical Pragmatists", "In Defense of Zero Tolerance, or, An Examination of Law, Common Sense and Consistency", "No Dividing Line", "The Consequences of Bad Laws", "Questions of Law and Questions of Fact", "The Rarity of 'Common Sense'" and "Common Sense,Philosopher Kings, Arbitrary Law and Dictatorship".

5. I explained this in much more detail in the essays "Fear of Trade", "Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc", "Protectionism Right and Left", "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, and More Jobs", "Free Trade, Employment, Outsourcing, and Protectionism" and "Cheap Lighters, Overseas Dumping and Monopolies".

6. I am not sure how much stock to place in official studies of welfare contributions and withdrawals by immigrants, as personal experience tells me some of the numbers may be invalid. During the era of welfare reform, I worked determining eligibility in a county social services department in Maryland. One of the new forms introduced was supposed to determine if the applicant was a citizen, naturalized alien, resident alien or other, in order to determine if they qualified for benefits. However, we were told, as official policy -- though it was not clear if it was our county's policy or statewide -- that we were to simply assume any applicant was a citizen unless they explicitly told us otherwise. Given the relatively wide array of documents we would accept as proof of identity, this would have made it pretty easy for even illegal aliens to qualify (and I am sure several of my cases probably were, my county has a large population of Hispanic migrant farm workers). My county cannot have been the only one to embrace such a policy, or something similar, which makes me think the official count for illegals, resident aliens, naturalized aliens, etc might be a bit skewed toward overestimating the number of citizens and naturalized aliens.

7. There are many claims that aliens actually pay in more, and take less, than natives, and this may be correct. After all, many illegals eventually either are deported or else choose to leave, and thus they will not necessarily collect payments, while those who work at legitimate jobs contribute to the funding of these programs. This is especially noteworthy in the case of social security, as many illegals use false social security numbers, thus contributing to the system, while never collecting on those contributions. I am not saying whether or not it is a valid position (one can find studies to point either way, making a conclusion difficult), I simply wanted to point out it is not a concern shared by all, or even supported by them.

8. I am not saying that all criminal designations are suspect, many states likely provide perfectly acceptable designations. The problem is, if we choose to accept designations from one state, it would be difficult to justify ignoring them from others, and thus we will either end up accepting all, accepting none, or constantly trying to justify each individual case in court, as our inconsistent handling opens the door to constant appeals.

9. A similar issue could occur when nations exclude certain ethnic groups from citizenship for any number of reasons. Or when ethnic resettlement occurs. Eg. Kossovar Albanians who were living as aliens in Albania and migrated to the US before Kossovo split from Serbia are not likely to be recognized as citizens by Albania, Serbia or Kossovo. And thus any children are not likely to be welcome anywhere.

Correction (2015/03/30): As happens every so often, I realize I left one of my little placeholder tags in the finished article. When writing these things, I often add little notes that look like this:"<<JOBS>>", to remind me to put a link to a specific essay, or more than one. Sometimes I also use similar tags to remind myself to flesh out an unfinished bit, or to add some sentences addressing a specific topic. In this case, it was simply one omitted link to my essay "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, and More Jobs", but I have left worse behind in the past. Just wanted to apologize for any confusion it caused and to say it has been corrected.

1 comment:

  1. Pac Man is about my gaming speed. Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde are the leftists who must be avoided at all costs, hee hee hee.

    Well you make a very thoughtful and comprehensive argument, Andrew. I agree that in theory immigration, when properly handled, is a positive thing. I think most conservatives believe this as well, so I do take a bit of an issue with the assertion that the Right is anti-immigrant or that we allow such an impression through our own fumbling of the issue. I know of no viable conservative candidate or spokesman who doesn’t begin every debate or speech on immigration by saying that they support LEGAL immigration, which they unfortunately they must do to combat the false narrative put up by the Left.

    When you advocate an “open door” policy, I would hope that this still includes the means for gov’t oversight to control who comes in, just as you reserve the right to decide who enters your own home as any sane person wants to do. If I’m incorrect on your position then we have a big disagreement there.

    The problem with immigration in the U.S. and other countries boils down to one thing: liberalism. You said that the problem isn’t the liberals, it’s the welfare state, but who is responsible for the welfare state? And the destructive force of liberalism on immigration goes much deeper than that. Liberals encourage immigrants to cling to their original cultures rather than assimilate. They insist that we “celebrate diversity,” not the melting pot. They enable disunity by insisting that we conduct business in a variety of languages and by fighting attempts to make English the official language. They applaud immigrants who fly their own flag and disrespect the American flag, or they at least do not condemn it. Liberals are in a battle for control of this nation and their strategy is to present themselves as the alternative to the conservatives. If the conservative advocates a thoughtful approach to immigration that seeks first and foremost to protect the interests of Americans then liberals will pursue exactly the opposite, and you only need to look to what they’ve done for the proof of that. People who are perplexed by Obama and the rewards he makes possible for illegal immigrants who disregard our laws and disrespect our citizens need to understand that he is driven purely by political aspirations for himself and his party. He wants to create another class of democrat voters, and he may succeed yet. The bottom line is there can be no reasoned approach to immigration so long as the Left has a significant influence on the operation of our government. It’s impossible.