Wednesday, 12 April 2006

Welfare hardening hearts, minds and borders

George Reisman joins the chorus in favour of open immigration; I made my own small contribution here the other day, arguing that "letting peaceful people pass borders freely is both moral and practical," and quoting Harry Binswanger's argument that "Entry into the U.S. [and New Zealand] should ultimately be free for any foreigner, with the exception of criminals, would-be terrorists, and those carrying infectious diseases."

Reisman points out, as I did, that the large elephant in the middle of the immigration debate that no-one mentions is the Welfare State. That's a large elephant which is stampeding through all the moral arguments for open borders, and hardening the hearts and minds of those who should be the natural supporters of open immigration. His point is pithily summarised in the title of his piece: Immigration Plus Welfare State Equal Police State.

Illegal immigrants are overwhelming the resources of the Welfare State: government–funded hospital emergency rooms are filled with them; public schools are filled with their children. On the basis of such complaints, many people are angry and want to close the border to new illegal immigrants and deport those who are already here. They want to keep new illegal immigrants out with fences along the border. It is not clear whether the fences would contain intermittent watchtowers with searchlights and machine guns. The illegal immigrants who are already here would be ferreted out by threatening anyone who employed them with severe penalties and making it a criminal offense not to report them. This is a classic illustration of Mises’s principle that prior government intervention into the economic system breeds later intervention. Here the application of his principle is, start with the Welfare State, end with the Police State. A police state is what is required effectively to stop substantial illegal immigration that has become a major burden because of the Welfare State...
Read on here. LINKS: Immigration Plus Welfare State Equal Police State - George Reisman's Blog TAGS: Politics-US, Politics-NZ, Libertarianism, Immigration

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