Immigration and The Welfare State

by | Sep 9, 2014 | Immigration, Welfare

Most immigrants recognize that America is the land of opportunity. If we let enough in, perhaps their number will offset the growing number of the native born who simper that America is the land of entitlement.

Open immigration is both morally right and economically beneficial.

Morally, it is the inalienable right of an honest individual to reside in any country he chooses. He is an upstanding person; he does good, not ill. His right to choose a country of residence must be upheld.

Related, the government of a free country must, as a strictly logical point, in order to be the government of a free country, protect the right of honest persons to choose their country of residence. Just as law-abiding citizens are free to emigrate from a free nation, so they must be free to immigrate to it.

Moral virtue has practical gains.

Both historically and currently, immigrants have immensely enriched America.

Historically, remember, Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish immigrant; John Roebling, a German one; Nikola Tesla, a Serb who emigrated from Croatia; Albert Einstein was a German immigrant who became a U.S. citizen in 1940; the great economist, Ludwig von Mises, was an Austrian immigrant; and Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged, a Russian one. The list could be indefinitely extended.

In our day, Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, emigrated to the U.S. from the Soviet Union. Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo, emigrated to America from Taiwan. Vinod Khosla, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems, is an Indian immigrant; Andreas Bechtolsheim, another of Sun’s founders, a German one. This list, too, could be greatly extended.

In the terms of economics, such brilliant minds represent immense human capital, and create vast sums of intellectual and material wealth.

Related, immigrants, whether high-or-low-skilled, tend to have a strong work ethic. In 2005, for example, immigrants composed but twelve percent of the U.S. population—but fifteen percent of the work force. Linda Chavez, publishing in 1993, wrote that Haitians, Jamaicans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Peruvians, and Filipinos had “labor force participation rates at least ten points higher than those of the native born.” Wall Street Journal editor, Jason Riley, points out: “We know from labor force participation rates that low-skilled immigrants are society’s hardest workers.”

Should America become a country denying admission to humanity’s hardest workers? Or—recognizing that men working productively, including at menial tasks, thereby create goods or services, i.e., wealth—should it open its magnanimous arms and clasp such workers to its bosom?

Such immigrant willingness to work at jobs often scorned by the native born is a universal win. The immigrants get to live and work in America, with greater freedom and higher living standards than in the nation they abandoned—and their children and grandchildren tend to outstrip them both educationally and economically. American employers get a supply of cheap labor, willing to perform any task, no matter how menial. American consumers enjoy the lower prices resulting from a cheap labor supply. Low-skilled native born workers, enjoying immense advantages in linguistic fluency and cultural knowledge, should be incentivized to upgrade their skills.

In addition to the economic gain, there is an important security benefit to an open immigration policy. Since it is a great boon to an immigrant to be in the country legally rather than illegally, the overwhelming majority, given the choice, will walk in through the front door, thereby initiating the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. The flood of migrant workers seeking to illegally sneak across the Mexican border will reduce to a trickle. The money and manpower currently deployed to keep Mexican workers out of the country can then be used to keep Middle Eastern Islamic terrorists out of the country.

Regarding both American prosperity and security, respecting the rights of honest immigrants to become U.S. citizens lead to significant practical benefits.

Some argue that because of America’s current welfare state, the country cannot afford an open immigration policy. This is false for two reasons. One is that a welfare state is pernicious to both those funding it and those parasitical off of it; the former, because they’re robbed—the latter because its perverse financial incentives support men’s most indolent premises, and seduce onto the dole many who could otherwise gain minimum wage employment. From purely humanitarian considerations, the welfare state must be irrevocably dismantled, regardless of America’s immigration policy.

Second, most persons who ship out of the only society they’ve known are rationally ambitious individuals. The U.S. is the favored destination of such rationally ambitious persons because they recognize that America is the greatest country on earth—and is so, not because it has welfare programs, but because its mixed economy contains more elements of capitalism and fewer of statism than any other nation.

Most immigrants recognize that America is the land of opportunity. If we let enough in, perhaps their number will offset the growing number of the native born who simper that America is the land of entitlement.

Andrew Bernstein holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the City University of New York. He lectures all over the world.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

Related articles

Elon Musk’s Universal High Income vs. Universal Basic Income?

Elon Musk’s Universal High Income vs. Universal Basic Income?

Elon Musk claim that humanity is headed for “universal high income” instead of UBI is possible to the extent that peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice prevail. That means reducing the power of the state rather than extending it with UBI or other collectivist social experiments.

No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.

Pin It on Pinterest