November 28, 2009
During my neocon days I wrote an op-ed for my college paper on why America should kick out illegal immigrants. I had good reasons. Aliens were costing “us” (American taxpayers) lots and lots of money.
The whole they’re-taking-our-jobs argument never really held water with me. The free-marketer in me knew that there aren’t a finite number of jobs. First, aliens don’t just bring a supply of labor. They also bring a demand for goods and services. This creates a demand for jobs to help supply those goods and services.
Old me might have argued that the demand for goods and services they bring is dampened by their propensity to send their money back home to let their families spend it on goods and services there. But new me would counter that that’s an effect of immigration being illegal. Why would someone move to America and leave a family behind that they care enough about to send money to? Perhaps because the journey to America is dangerous due to its being illegal, and nearly impossible to do legally?
Furthermore, new me would argue that payroll taxes, regulation and minimum wage all limit the number of jobs available to natives much more than immigration.
No, jobs weren’t what ate old me’s lunch about illegal immigration. It was the fact that illegal immigrants were using our services, such as food stamps and education, without paying payroll or income taxes. So as a neocon I thought the solution to that was for the government to erect fences, enforce laws and punish employers.
But as I began to see everything through my free-market lens, I finally began to focus that lens on immigration. Is the problem really the immigrants, or the services? And is there a solution that doesn’t empower the state?
If the free market provided education and assistance to the poor, what I’ve always wanted, btw, would legal status really matter? If I’m running a school or church, and someone comes up to me in with money and the desire for an education in the first case and a need in the second case, citizenship needn’t come into the matter unless I personally had a problem with educating or helping a non-citizen.
Everyone hates a free rider. It sucks having a third of his or her paycheck stolen, and knowing there are aliens enjoying the entire fruits of their labor. And there are two ways to solve the problem. Citizens can either try to get the government to throw all the aliens out, which politicians have no incentive to do and every incentive to avoid. Or citizens can advocate the privatization of the services so citizenship doesn’t matter.
Neocons say they want the government out of business. But then they want the government to determine who employers can hire. Neoconservatism is a series of compromises. They want limited government, except when it comes to anything to do with the military. They want limited government, except when it comes to kicking foreigners out. They want limited government, except when it comes to police powers. They want limited government, except when it comes to which substances adults are allowed to buy, sell and use. They want limited government, except when it comes to pictures of naked people.
I got tired of the compromises. There’s a way to get rid of the free rider problem without involving the state. It’s anarcho-captialism baby. Free market all the way.