• timthumb

    Why Advocating Free Trade Means you Must Reject the Term “Illegal Immigration”

    Lately, immigration has been a hot button issue and because of it, the term(s) “illegal immigrant” or “illegal immigration” have been thrown around so much that they have almost lost all substantive meaning for me.  Then again, how can any objective thinker respect an argument that is solely based in ‘Authority of the State is divine, so of course it’s purposeful’? With all the rhetoric from those that claim they are pro market and liberty minded, you’d think a more Laissez-faire immigration policy would be an easy persuasion for those that are opposed to it….for reasons you think you understand, but the debate continues… so I guess we don’t.

    At face value the argument against immigration seems like a legitimate one; welfare and taxes.  I mean no one likes paying taxes and no one likes having their money go to encouraging unproductive people and increasing people’s dependency on the State. Wasteful and unnecessary spending, I’m with ya.  (If that’s the case conservatives. Eh hem…. War!) So why continue to concentrate on the symptoms of government social programs? Why still make excuses to be against immigration based on everything from a warped view of property rights to the really flimsy “They may bring in outside diseases”?

    Disease? I mean come on, they are not aliens from another planet with unknown biological conditions or time travelers from mid 14th century Europe infected with the Black Plague. Or maybe they arebut these kind of problems are not solved with putting up restrictions and making it harder for people to immigrate. Doing this just creates difficulty and assures people will take greater risk by acting in a less than favorable manner, where it will go unnoticed and unchecked, until it’s too late. (ie; the war on drugs and the violence it creates.)  A much more liberal (in the classic sense) immigration policy and a simple screening process would lower the risk and the openness of such a policy would bring potential issues to light and allow for problems to be solved quicker and easier, where we are all better off for it.

    Even more than disease is this new argument for being against immigration, of a warped view of property. Claiming government owns all the land inside the imaginary lines of jurisdiction, because the citizens “pay” taxes and therefore the USA is private property based on some misconceived Home Owner Association (HOA) idea. I mean the basic argument is: I own my house, therefore I own the land that is on it, therefore I own the entire country that my property exists within. I’m sorry, but entire counties are not and cannot be your property, (collectively) through government. I’m not even sure government owns property legitimately, let alone citizens owning large areas of a continent, via the State, just because they say so.  The imaginary lines are there for jurisdiction, not for some communist idea of shared property of everyone that has their money stolen from them (taxes) by those that operate within those same lines of jurisdiction. Even if the country was basically and HOA on a grander scale, an HOA isn’t about telling people they cannot become part of the community. The HOA is about establishing rules (that are explicitly agreed upon by buying a home/property in one) to preserve and better the community and to create growth to incentivize others to become a part of it. So even if the entire country was some massive HOA, (which it’s not) it/they would benefit from not being against the equivalent of having borders for immigration. Here is a great video explaining how property is legitimately acquired: You Can Always Leave. So at best, this “The U.S. is private property” argument, is basically the same ‘Social Contract’ theory argument that the other side often makes to justify it’s pro-government/economic ignorance perspective and as someone that doesn’t share that ideology, don’t you wan’t to separate yourself from such things?

    The only real legitimate argument against immigration is the welfare State or because it hurts the government socialized economy, but even then I’m not quite sold on that as a good reason to restrict trade and (continue to) regulate markets…specifically labor markets. Austrian economics isn’t about crunching numbers and statistics, but according to the CBPP; the Federal budget 
    for welfare spending is 10% and that is including those that had been working and paid the taxes for things like unemployment and food stamps. So factoring that in, welfare dependency spending is about 5 or 6% of the total federal budget….of everyone receiving welfare spending. Now because immigration policy is so restrictive, you essentially create a black market. So it becomes very difficult to separate the numbers between those that are “legally” in the U.S. and receiving welfare and those that are “illegally” in the U.S. and receiving benefits. Now considering the Census Bureau says that 108 Million are receiving some sort of welfare and the liberal estimates of those that “illegally” reside within the US are (way south of) 15 million. The studies also show that immigrants tend to flock to States with growth potential, rather than lavish benefits. Simple math and logic tell us that foreigners come here to produce (work) and/or create capital, rather than the opportunity to land on ‘Free Parking.’ Even if every one of those so called “border jumpers” are on welfare programs, it’s your fellow Americans that vastly outweigh and are contributing to the unsustainability of the welfare system, not the boogeymen foreigners.

    Maybe your objections to immigration are Dey tuk r jerbs, but a job cannot be taken, only given because the employer/owner/entrepreneur create the jobs and not the worker. You own your labor, but not the job. Jobs don’t simply belong to those that work them, but rather owned by those that see the  job needs to exist and thus has the final say of who should get it. The market is global, resources (such as labor) and the goods created from it are exchanged despite borders.  Also, jobs do not disappear as if there is just enough to go around. Jobs are created because to the changing and increasing economic environment due to the people in it, not by some fixed equilibrium. Jobs are not lost due to the efficiency or the saturation of the market, they simply shift to elsewhere within the structure of production or are redirected elsewhere in the economy.  This is why we are not at 50%+ employment and (while also poorer) despite the population increase over the last century. I mean, are we worse off for not having a milk man or not having an ice man and a refrigerator in our homes? My point is made with immigration at the beginning of the 20th century. They came here to work and for a better life. All they got was a simple screening process, not a welfare check (because early 20th century immigration came before government welfare programs) and the boom in population certainly didn’t result in record unemployment or bring the economy to it’s knees, but wars and government policy sure did…. has. Maybe the argument is that foreign workers in domestic markets are bringing down total wages. What about economics, does economics not apply to the labor market or what is created from letting entrepreneurs do what they do best?……Improve the lives of the masses. Here is economist Ben Powell debunking the Myths of Immigration to show you that the mainstream economics of immigration have some misconceptions.

    Don’t misunderstand, I am not defending or in support of any government welfare (redistribution). I don’t support taxes (theft) to go to foreigners that have immigrated here or American citizens alike, regardless of the reason given. I understand that the economy is tough and we need things like safety nets or ways for people to be able to sustain themselves during things like this… “recession”, but funded through the productive efforts of the rest of us in the form of taxation (theft)? It’s just asking for bubbles and economic decline. Which we are getting considering that out of 320 million people living in the U.S., only 90 million are actually doing anything for the total economy. I mean going back to those CBPP study statistics: welfare, defense, and (the only increasing thanks to the ACA) healthcare spending (yes, pensions are a problem as well, but for another post) account for nearly 60% of the total budget. There is no reason why the money that is saved by not having income subsidies, military adventurism, and socialized medicine, couldn’t be spent by individuals in the private sector (through savings/investment or creating charitable organizations) to actually properly allocate the resources to provide for the poor and needy more effectively than any government redistribution program could. The poor are worse off for having their incomes subsidized for them (through the theft of everyone else) and encouraged to be dependent, which makes us all worse off for it, as the capital is not created to flow to where it is needed the most. (providing for the needy and masses). If you still believe that immigrants come here for benefits, the best way to disincentivize such behavior is to not have have a public welfare system. It’s economics 101; simple supply and demand! To reduce demand, you raise the price and because you cannot increase prices, you’ll have to limit supply… to zero. Being the welfare system is already overburdened and we know that American citizens are mostly responsible, arbitrarily restricting immigration wouldn’t improve either the situation of welfare or immigration. So why still stand against free trade?

    Usually advocates for free markets also take issue with modern day unions, because it can make it quite easy for the workers to gang up on those who pay the wages of the worker and thus labor prices become distorted.  What you may be missing is the protectionist market unions create and what they are really benefiting from, which force artificially higher wages at the expense of productive employment. Here is our good friend Uncle Milty explaining The real role of unions. Just like the artificial markets government backed unionized labor create, immigration policy can essentially create similar externalities. Labor markets know no boundaries, productivity and people seeking a better life crosses the imaginary lines we call borders. So why put them up and be against immigration? Saying it may be a drag on our economy and protectionism in trade can be good economic policy, is essentially the same argument the other side makes with Unions.  We already know free trade is a good idea, because each party involved believes they are benefiting.  So why is labor markets that cross lines of government jurisdiction (immigration) the exception? Foreign labor into (your) domestic markets is not a zero sum game, even with welfare it’s a net positive. Why meddle in labor markets with immigration policy and burden yourself with unnecessary costs of  the restrictions, regulations, and opportunity costs of it, while create unseen negative externalities? Socialist policy always begets more socialism in attempt to fix the problems the policy was created to solve. Let’s break that cycle and embrace free trade, free the market!

    If by this point you are STILL against immigration or justifying your misconceptions by saying something like “I’m just against ILLEGAL immigration” then you are just validating my original suspicion of why you are really against immigration. This is because the State says to be and your loyalty is really with government, it promises security in the fear of the unknown (despite the chaos it delivers) and not with the prosperity of free trade and giving people the opportunity to improve their lives on their own accord and merit (which guarantees positive outcomes for everyone). Government has a terrible track record of causing serious problems in the economy and society, via it’s terrible misallocation of resources and regulatory policies. If you doubt me, pick up a major newspaper tomorrow morning and I’m sure it will go on about disruptions in markets or the instability of something or someplace. I’m not sure why you would look to them to influence your perspective and use legality as objections to free trade and labor markets, as all the evidence is against it. Can we really say that thousand of laws and thousands upon thousand of pages of legislation/regulation are necessary? I mean what has a simple government stamp of approval or using violence to control outcomes, done for the efficiency and productivity of capitalism and voluntary exchange? Government defines illegal immigrant as: an alien (non-citizen) who has entered the U.S. without government permission.  You are just agreeing with government’s definition of a government idea, that exist to serve no real purpose besides (arguably) socialism of labor. A person is not illegal, an act (that harms person or property of another) is illegal and certainly not the act for just crossing some border put up by men to restrict the the free trade of other men. I mean, permission to for the pursuit of happiness? It’s counterproductive and silly, let alone undermines The Deceleration of Independence! No person can be illegal for existing in a particular geographical location. Mere existence can never be illegal and the right to exist trumps any man made arbitrary law and border. Such acts as trade and travel should not be illegal and such government edicts should not be supported by anyone who advocates for the freedom of markets, over the coercion of the State.

    If controlling immigration through borders put up by government is such a good idea, then how has 50 country like states became so prosperous for simply having a welcome sign when people cross that  imaginary line we call a border, between let’s say Illinois and Missouri? Which are ranked 45th and 9th in Mercatus Center’s Freedom in the 50 states 2013 study. In a previous Mises Boston article; how do you think Hong Kong got so rich when it itself is a resource poor country, by putting up barriers, regulating/restricting trade? People care only to improve their lives by satisfying their subjective needs and wants of their value systems. Therefore, what’s the real objective difference between a state and a Country? Maybe imagination, just like immigration. Borders only exist in our minds, because we either believe they service a purpose or we refuse to question their validity.  By all means though, reject my argument(s) and continue to defend the safety of controls, out of fear of where accepting my premise may take you.

  • barter

    Direct Exchange


    Chapter 2: Direct Exchange
    Man, Economy, and State, Murray N. Rothbard

    Chapter 2 Study Guide
    Study Guide to Man, Economy, and State, Robert P. Murphy


    2.01 Types of Interpersonal Interaction: Violence


    2.02 Types of Interpersonal Interaction: Voluntary Exchange and the Contractual Society


    2.03 Exchange and the Division of Labor


    2.04 Terms of Exchange


    2.05 Determination of Price: Equilibrium Price


    2.06 Elasticity of Demand


    2.07 Speculation and Supply and Demand Schedules


    2.08 Stock and the Total Demand to Hold


    2.09 Continuing Markets and Changes in Price


    2.10 Specialization and Production of Stock


    2.11 Types of Exchangeable Goods


    2.12 Property: The Appropriation of Raw Land


    2.13 Enforcement Against Invasion of Property



    1. Do different praxeological laws apply to situations of isolation versus society? (p. 79)
    2. What is Rothbard’s definition of society? (p. 84)
    3. Give an example of autistic exchange. (p. 84)
    4. Suppose someone says, “In order for an exchange to be just, each person must give up an equal value for an equal value.” What do you think Rothbard would say about this? (p. 85)
    5. What are three sources of ownership? (p. 93)
    6. What is the law of association? How does it relate to Boulding’s example of the doctor and his gardener? (p. 98)
    7. In Figure 16, how many horses will Smith demand at a price of 85 berries? At that price, how many total berries will Smith offer in exchange? (p. 125)
    8. What will happen to the price if the total demand to hold is higher than the stock? (pp. 137-140)
    9. How can the principles of this chapter be applied to shares of ownership? (p. 166)
    10. What is Rothbard’s response to Henry George? (pp. 171-172)
  • chess-board

    Fundamentals of Human Action

    This is our first week starting Man, Economy, and State by Murray N. Rothbard. We will be using both the original text, as well as the study guide by Robert P. Murphy.


    Chapter 1: Fundamentals of Human Action
    Man, Economy, and State, Murray N. Rothbard

    Chapter 1 Study Guide
    Study Guide to Man, Economy, and State, Robert P. Murphy


    1.01 The Concept of Action

    1.02 First Implications of the Concept

    1.03 Further Implications: The Means

    1.04 Further Implications: Time

    1.05 Further Implications: Ends and Values & The Law of Marginal Utility

    1.06 The Factors of Production: The Law of Returns

    1.07 Factors of Production: Convertibility and Valuation

    1.08 Factors of Production: Labor vs. Leisure

    1.09 The Formation of Capital

    1.10 Action as an Exchange

    Appendix A: Praxeology and Economics

    Appendix B: On Means and Ends


    1. If an infant cries immediately after birth, is this action in the praxeological sense? What if the infant, several months later, has learned that crying will often lead to attention from parents? (pp. 1-2)
    2. When doctors in the 1800s used leeches in an attempt to help patients, was this an example of human action? (p. 7)
    3. Suppose a man is strumming his guitar while sitting on the sidewalk in a large city, and that his only purpose is to listen to the enjoyable music. How should the guitar be classified? What if passersby begin giving the man loose change, so that he now views the guitar as a means to earning money? (pp. 8-9)
    4. Suppose that a boy, on June 4, is offered the choice of seeing a fireworks show that day, or in exactly one month. If the boy chooses the show in the future, has he violated the law of time preference? (pp. 15-16)
    5. Suppose someone says, “I like steak more than burgers, and I like burgers more than hot dogs, but my preference for steak over burgers is definitely stronger than my preference for burgers over hot dogs.” What do you think Rothbard would say about this statement? (pp. 18-19)
    6. Imagine that a chemist measures two bottles of water, and finds that the first contains 8.002 ounces of water, while the second bottle contains 8.001 ounces of water. The chemist concludes that the bottles of water are definitely different objects. How should the economist treat them? (p. 23)
    7. What are the two ways that capital increases productivity? (p. 48)
    8. What are the definitions of consumption, saving, and investment? (pp. 48, 53)
    9. If capital goods increase the productivity of labor, why don’t people create as many capital goods as possible? (pp. 48-49)
    10. Suppose that a farmer normally sets aside ten percent of his harvest as seed corn. His son says, “That’s silly! We should sell all of our harvest and make as much money as possible.” What would this policy lead to? (p. 55)