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Immigration, Open Borders, and Freedom

BigRat
Posts: 465
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3/31/2013 11:43:03 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
It is a common misconception among libertarians that open borders are a libertarian policy. They believe that open borders are the equivalent of a free movement of labor. This is incorrect.

First, we need to make clear that opposing open borders does not mean one opposes immigration. The debate is not open borders versus no immigration. It is open borders versus selective immigration. High skilled immigration is a good thing for both the high skilled immigrants and the receiving country. It is low skilled immigration that, en masse, is good for the immigrants but bad for the receiving country.

Low skilled immigration decreases social capital and solidarity (see Putnam's work on diversity and social trust). It also increases the size of the welfare state (and leads to reduced public investment because of less social trust as well as less room for it because of welfare spending). This is because low skilled immigration increases the need for the welfare state by increasing the number poor people. It also increases the number of people supportive of welfare state policies because low skilled immigrant groups tend to support the more welfare statist political parties.

Look at the surge in low skilled latino immigrants in the USA for an example. This is a group that has reduced social capital in many areas. They increase the need for welfare state programs and, through overwhelming support of the Democratic party, they support expanding the welfare state.

In other words, low skilled immigration harms the receiving country in both direct ways (reducing social capital) and indirect ways (a larger welfare state).

One counter argument is that low skilled immigration (and increased diversity) decreases solidarity (which is true) and thus undermines support for the state. This is, however, mostly incorrect. More diversity does undermine social trust which undermines public investment. However, through the other effects mentioned, it also leads to a larger welfare state.

So, the net effect is a state that is not larger or smaller. Instead, we have a state that does a lot more welfare (which is full of perverse incentives and direct redistribution) and a lot less public investment (which is good). This is important because the massive growth of the state in the USA is entirely because of growth in the welfare state. Public investment has been choked out as the welfare state has exploded.

On a more philosophical point, open borders are not free in the same way that free trade is. Free trade is the ability of two parties, from different countries, that agree on trading a good or service being able to do that with relatively few hurdles. This is a good thing.

Open borders are the state monopolizing border control and forcing the native population to accept all who want to enter.

In a stateless, private property society, all immigration and all movement would be restricted because owners of property could decide who comes and does not come on their property. We live in a world with the state.

This means that we need to look at what is good for our people with regards to immigration. Open borders are not good. Selective immigration is good.
BigRat
Posts: 465
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3/31/2013 11:52:16 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/31/2013 11:44:43 PM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
Prepare to have your derps silenced.


It was actually Thomas DiLorenzo that changed my thinking on this topic. He is affiliated with the institute that put out the video you linked to and speaks often to them.
Korashk
Posts: 4,597
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4/1/2013 1:23:30 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/31/2013 11:43:03 PM, BigRat wrote:
blerp

You basically just said that if the ONLY libertarian policy that libertarians advocate that was implemented by the current government was open borders, then things would be bad.

I don't necessarily agree, but what's the purpose of formulating a situation where this is the case? Open borders is a policy that libertarians advocate IN ADDITION to all of the other crap that they advocate. I'd wager that most individual policies of any ideology would be a bad idea if instituted without regard to any other policies from that same ideology.

On a more philosophical point, open borders are not free in the same way that free trade is. Free trade is the ability of two parties, from different countries, that agree on trading a good or service being able to do that with relatively few hurdles. This is a good thing.

Open borders are the state monopolizing border control and forcing the native population to accept all who want to enter.

Since when does whether or not you like the brown person that moved in next door matter? You don't have to like them, but you sure can't keep them out because you don't like them. Existing residents only have a say in who lives near them to the extent that they control the area near them, which oftentimes means that they have absolutely no say.

In a stateless, private property society, all immigration and all movement would be restricted because owners of property could decide who comes and does not come on their property. We live in a world with the state.

It's disingenuous to call geographical movement in a stateless society immigration, even though it may semantically be an accurate term. The process would be completely different and one can't compare the actions an individual takes to the actions of the state because the mechanisms are fundamentally different.
When large numbers of otherwise-law abiding people break specific laws en masse, it's usually a fault that lies with the law. - Unknown
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,484
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4/1/2013 1:36:24 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/31/2013 11:43:03 PM, BigRat wrote:
It is a common misconception among libertarians that open borders are a libertarian policy. They believe that open borders are the equivalent of a free movement of labor. This is incorrect.

What's incorrect is to identify libertarian thought with the contention that open borders are primarily a concern of free-flowing labor. Maybe that's true of libertarians whose principal concern is maximizing economic capacity, but there are plenty, myself included, whose worries encompass more.

First, we need to make clear that opposing open borders does not mean one opposes immigration. The debate is not open borders versus no immigration. It is open borders versus selective immigration. High skilled immigration is a good thing for both the high skilled immigrants and the receiving country. It is low skilled immigration that, en masse, is good for the immigrants but bad for the receiving country.

Actually, opposing open borders is opposing immigration to some extent, given that there inevitably will arise a situation in which you pull the legal authority card to deny someone entrance based on arbitrary parameters. There's a sense in which admission to your world requires proof of group identification--before citizenship, I guess, this takes the form of skill--and this immediately sets off warning sirens. If your world is intent on sheltering itself from the "unwanted", even going so far as to imprison or dump back across the border those deemed unworthy of the privilege of permanent residence (or those who were tired of waiting in a line for a decade while their fate hangs in the balance), I'm curious how you would treat those who prefer residence without either assimilation or repatriation, like the stateless refugees who desire neither to be naturalized nor, for obvious reasons, to be repatriated to the country from which they are in exodus. If you insist on managing the population according to your arbitrary designs, I think we can only expect violence and intolerance of outsiders, much the same way as the ethnic homogeneity of many of the northern European states presents, in concert with "national solidarity", a sour disposition toward foreign entities (regarded as a threat to national identity, much the same way as members of affluent gated communities might worry about their image when strangers with unlike lifestyles move in).

Low skilled immigration decreases social capital and solidarity (see Putnam's work on diversity and social trust). It also increases the size of the welfare state (and leads to reduced public investment because of less social trust as well as less room for it because of welfare spending). This is because low skilled immigration increases the need for the welfare state by increasing the number poor people. It also increases the number of people supportive of welfare state policies because low skilled immigrant groups tend to support the more welfare statist political parties.

First, that analysis is qualitative. I'm sure you could find a way to establish a correlation between low-skill immigration and lower solidarity (however one would measure that)/higher welfare expenditures (though the ability of illegal immigrants to vote and impact those expenditures is empirically questionable), but the question is how much. It could be that low-skill immigration is tightly correlated with increasing welfarism, but that there is either no causal relation between the two or that the impact of the former on the latter is, particularly relative to some important third variable, negligible.

Second, there's a common thread in group psychological literature about in-group bias, among the effects of which is increased egalitarianism within the group. If, as you say, illegal immigration lessens public investment by damaging group solidarity, I'm curious how this stacks against increased welfarism. One would assume that welfare expenditure would decrease due to contamination of the national identity with illegal foreigners (which should inhibit egalitarian tendencies), so I'd like to see quantification of the impacts.

Look at the surge in low skilled latino immigrants in the USA for an example. This is a group that has reduced social capital in many areas. They increase the need for welfare state programs and, through overwhelming support of the Democratic party, they support expanding the welfare state.

That's interesting, given that a) illegal immigrants can't vote without proof of citizenship and b) something like 2/3 of these immigrants pay taxes automatically without being able to access social programs (and many who try are deported or thrown in jail)--they have to pay payroll taxes, for instance, but couldn't get Social Security if they tried. I think you might need to specify not only the mechanism of action for the effects of illegal immigration, but also quantify its impacts, particularly in relation to other things whose impact we sort of know (e.g., stimulus spending, automation)

In other words, low skilled immigration harms the receiving country in both direct ways (reducing social capital) and indirect ways (a larger welfare state).

One counter argument is that low skilled immigration (and increased diversity) decreases solidarity (which is true) and thus undermines support for the state. This is, however, mostly incorrect. More diversity does undermine social trust which undermines public investment. However, through the other effects mentioned, it also leads to a larger welfare state.

Mechanism of action?

So, the net effect is a state that is not larger or smaller. Instead, we have a state that does a lot more welfare (which is full of perverse incentives and direct redistribution) and a lot less public investment (which is good). This is important because the massive growth of the state in the USA is entirely because of growth in the welfare state. Public investment has been choked out as the welfare state has exploded.

Uh, I think the aging and retirement of the baby boomer population (years-long currency devaluation notwithstanding) are also largely to blame for increased entitlement outlays. I'm telling you, this is why quantification is key. You could speculate in sense-making ways about why illegal immigration could increase welfare expenditures, but, until there are numbers demonstrating not merely a correlation, but a measurable impact, I'm incredibly skeptical. And I mean, this is just the factual dispute--the philosophical dispute concerning your unwillingness to admit people on the basis of identitarian criteria (i.e., their capacity for assimilation according to your specified cultural model)

Also, growth of the state isn't entirely due to welfarism. That's hyperbolic and one-dimensional--I mean, come on. Our defense budget, for instance, is massive; that's an easy one.
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,484
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4/1/2013 1:36:28 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
On a more philosophical point, open borders are not free in the same way that free trade is. Free trade is the ability of two parties, from different countries, that agree on trading a good or service being able to do that with relatively few hurdles. This is a good thing.

Open borders are the state monopolizing border control and forcing the native population to accept all who want to enter.

This is an instructive example of the importance of framing. You make a point of saying that the state will "monopolize border control" and "force the native population" because those things are very negatively-connotated. I mean, in the second case, it clearly appeals to tribal sentiments which inspire reluctance to accept threats to group purity. If, alternatively, I were to say "Open borders are the state relinquishing authority over territorial access and the dissolution of native power to exclude people because they're unlike", I convey exactly the same information, policy-wise, but it sounds as if I'm saying something quite different.

I'd argue that trying to maintain open borders and state integrity are contradictory, sure, but I'm an anarchist, so I think legally-induced borderlessness is a precursor to politics outside the state. I would be very happy to dispense with politicized exclusion, and much happier to expose nativity, political authority, etc. as the baseless illusions that they are. tl;dr, I see your argument about the inability of natives to avoid foreigners given open borders, and I raise you that this is a preferable arrangement.

In a stateless, private property society, all immigration and all movement would be restricted because owners of property could decide who comes and does not come on their property. We live in a world with the state.

This means that we need to look at what is good for our people with regards to immigration. Open borders are not good. Selective immigration is good.

"Prefer our people because of arbitrary nationalistic and territorial distinctions."
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,484
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4/1/2013 2:00:11 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/1/2013 1:36:24 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
And I mean, this is just the factual dispute--the philosophical dispute concerning your unwillingness to admit people on the basis of identitarian criteria (i.e., their capacity for assimilation according to your specified cultural model) is the main point of conflict for me.
Lordknukle
Posts: 12,788
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4/1/2013 2:11:59 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Actually, since most libertarians are against the welfare state, there would be no incentive for lower skilled workers to come into the country if they did not have a guarantee of a job.
"Easy is the descent to Avernus, for the door to the Underworld lies upon both day and night. But to retrace your steps and return to the breezes above- that's the task, that's the toil."
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,484
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4/1/2013 2:17:55 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/1/2013 2:11:59 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
Actually, since most libertarians are against the welfare state, there would be no incentive for lower skilled workers to come into the country if they did not have a guarantee of a job.

How many low-skill immigrants have you met? I've happened across (and spoken to) quite a few--my sample size and methodology might not make for a good study, but my general impression is that low-skill immigration is often motivated by some kind of desperation, not rational calculation. In the case of Mexican immigrants, there's also the constant threat of being caught in cartel warfare (particularly for families). So, I think it's less the guarantee of a job than the prospect of anything better, if only in terms of baseline survival, that tends to motivate poor immigrants.
Lordknukle
Posts: 12,788
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4/1/2013 2:33:07 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/1/2013 2:17:55 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 4/1/2013 2:11:59 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
Actually, since most libertarians are against the welfare state, there would be no incentive for lower skilled workers to come into the country if they did not have a guarantee of a job.

How many low-skill immigrants have you met? I've happened across (and spoken to) quite a few--my sample size and methodology might not make for a good study, but my general impression is that low-skill immigration is often motivated by some kind of desperation, not rational calculation. In the case of Mexican immigrants, there's also the constant threat of being caught in cartel warfare (particularly for families). So, I think it's less the guarantee of a job than the prospect of anything better, if only in terms of baseline survival, that tends to motivate poor immigrants.

What precisely would be better in a place with no welfare for them and no job? Even if they don't have a job in Mexico, the resources spent moving to America would be uselessly spent.

No job vs no job + energy spent moving countries
"Easy is the descent to Avernus, for the door to the Underworld lies upon both day and night. But to retrace your steps and return to the breezes above- that's the task, that's the toil."
DetectableNinja
Posts: 6,043
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4/1/2013 2:36:56 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/1/2013 2:33:07 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
At 4/1/2013 2:17:55 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 4/1/2013 2:11:59 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
Actually, since most libertarians are against the welfare state, there would be no incentive for lower skilled workers to come into the country if they did not have a guarantee of a job.

How many low-skill immigrants have you met? I've happened across (and spoken to) quite a few--my sample size and methodology might not make for a good study, but my general impression is that low-skill immigration is often motivated by some kind of desperation, not rational calculation. In the case of Mexican immigrants, there's also the constant threat of being caught in cartel warfare (particularly for families). So, I think it's less the guarantee of a job than the prospect of anything better, if only in terms of baseline survival, that tends to motivate poor immigrants.

What precisely would be better in a place with no welfare for them and no job? Even if they don't have a job in Mexico, the resources spent moving to America would be uselessly spent.

No job vs no job + energy spent moving countries

CF raised a point about how many immigrants from Mexico immigrate due to cartel warfare in their homeland. Meaning your equation is rather this:

No job + Threat of being killed by cartel warfare vs. No job + Energy spent moving countries - Threat of being killed by cartel warfare.

And I'm pretty sure removing threats on one's life is a pretty good motivator to do things.
Think'st thou heaven is such a glorious thing?
I tell thee, 'tis not half so fair as thou
Or any man that breathes on earth.

- Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus
Ragnar_Rahl
Posts: 19,297
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4/1/2013 3:57:21 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Low skilled immigration decreases social capital and solidarity (see Putnam's work on diversity and social trust)
That's the most pinko thing I've ever heard.

Open borders are the state monopolizing border control and forcing the native population to accept all who want to enter.

In a stateless, private property society, all immigration and all movement would be restricted because owners of property could decide who comes and does not come on their property.
There is absolutely NOTHING about an open border policy that dictates you have to let the brown people in your home if you want to. NOTHING. And the laws about letting the brown people in your business are only as oppressive as the ones about letting the native brown people in your business, and don't have anything to do with open border laws. Any policy OTHER than open borders PREVENTS you from ACCEPTING people on your property, open borders leaves it up to YOU.
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,484
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4/2/2013 12:46:22 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/1/2013 2:33:07 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
At 4/1/2013 2:17:55 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 4/1/2013 2:11:59 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
Actually, since most libertarians are against the welfare state, there would be no incentive for lower skilled workers to come into the country if they did not have a guarantee of a job.

How many low-skill immigrants have you met? I've happened across (and spoken to) quite a few--my sample size and methodology might not make for a good study, but my general impression is that low-skill immigration is often motivated by some kind of desperation, not rational calculation. In the case of Mexican immigrants, there's also the constant threat of being caught in cartel warfare (particularly for families). So, I think it's less the guarantee of a job than the prospect of anything better, if only in terms of baseline survival, that tends to motivate poor immigrants.

What precisely would be better in a place with no welfare for them and no job? Even if they don't have a job in Mexico, the resources spent moving to America would be uselessly spent.

No job vs no job + energy spent moving countries

First, that's a false choice--my contention is that incentivizing immigration, in the context of employment, requires only the prospect of a job with a confidence interval sufficiently high to impel someone to move; guarantees are sufficient, but not necessary.

Second, your model is incredibly one-dimensional insofar as its primary or principal concern is employment. Thaler and Sunstein make a compelling case in Nudge--representative, to an extent, of the wider study of human choice found in psychology and behavioral economics, among others--that humans are hardly rational calculators, demonstrating that even subtle environmental constraints can have measurable effects on our decisions. In a cafeteria, for instance, arranging the order of choices, placing some closer than others to eye level, framing some in certain colors, etc., can quantifiably influence our intuitions. Even subtle moves like wording can have a startling impact on our perceptions--"buying our insurance protects you against accidents" connotes feelings distinct from "not buying our insurance leaves you vulnerable to risk". There are studies you can read attesting to the dominance of loss aversion over reward seeking, but the point is that humans are incredibly complicated actors, and it seems irresponsible to me to attempt to confine the question of immigration to so small a scope as the guarantee of employment. Sure, people respond to incentives--but "job guaranteed?" is not the only incentive, the only thing to which people respond, or even, given the lack (and impossibility, due to the lack of homogeneity in decision-making) of accurate weighting of this incentive in peoples' choice mechanisms, necessarily the most important question for prospective immigrants.