I am personally a fan of fences. I agree with Robert Frost’s neighbor that good fences keep us neighborly. Establishing boundaries between what is mine and what is yours is a net good. Less of my stuff walks away because I have a five-foot fence around my property. The neighborhood kids trample the flowers on our frontage, but not the ones inside the fence. My dog can exercise in the yard without dragging a rope behind her. When my kids were young, they knew where the boundaries were without being told. I’ve discovered no down sides to a fence around one’s yard.
So, I get the appeal of building a fence to keep out those who we feel are not good for the country. There are good reasons for wanting to control immigration in a country where, if you can hide your income, you get stuff paid for by other people. And who better than an illegal immigrant to be able to hide their income, then use false identification to get free stuff paid for by those of us who, because we’re legitimately employed Americans, cannot so easily hide our incomes. Very few of us have the Donald Trump option of massaging the tax code so we pay no taxes. In a world where it feels like our government is sucking us dry and giving us very little in return, a wall is appealing. Lela
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Harry Browne, former Libertarian Party nominee for president, once quipped:
“A free and prosperous society has no fear of anyone entering it. But a welfare state is scared to death of every poor person who tries to get in and every rich person who tries to get out.”
This quote seems to ring especially true whenever politicians propose either immigration restrictions or economic protectionism. Their reasoning is straightforward. Those who fear the migration of the poor to their country are often concerned about the cost of welfare benefits available for disadvantaged individuals (despite evidence that immigrants are less likely to use such benefits). – (I personally disagree with this contention; well educated immigrants, who typically enter legally, are less likely to use such benefits. It’s estimated that 1/3 of California’s benefits programs go to illegal immigrants. Lela)
Those who fear the fleeing of the rich do so out of concern that fewer tax dollars will be available to pay for extravagant government spending programs. Methods imposed by the state to dictate both inward and outward migration are often totalitarian in nature and stem from the fact that the society enacting those methods is already not a free one.
Perhaps no recent national candidate has exemplified this way of thinking more than presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Trump’s plan to impose heavy-handed immigration restrictions is well known. He plans on having a wall built that stretches the length of the US-Mexico border, which Mexico is allegedly going to pay for. He also very much wants to round up and deport the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.
Certainly part of this desire stems from the fact that Mexican immigrants are often poor and unskilled. Trump made this very clear in the speech he made while announcing his presidential run when he said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us.”
Many people who agree with Trump are fearful that American taxpayers will have to foot the bill for immigrants from the lower economic class — those who are not “the best” (meaning, for Trump, the richest and most skilled).
But Trump’s desire to restrict migration doesn’t just apply to poor Latinos. It also applies to rich businesspeople and wealthy organizations in America that may choose to do business elsewhere. Trump railed against such emigration when the PGA’s World Golf Championships opted for Mexico City over a Trump-owned course in Florida, where it had been held since 2007.
The real estate mogul addressed this decision at a campaign rally in Sacramento by saying, “They moved the World Golf Championships from Miami to Mexico City. Can you believe it? But that’s OK. Folks, it’s all going to be settled. You vote for Donald Trump as president, if I become your president, this stuff is all going to stop.”
It’s not clear what measures Trump would use to prevent a private organization like the PGA from voluntarily moving one of its events out of the United States. But his desire to use the power of government to stop such action reflects his fondness for economic protectionism. He similarly assails private companies like Ford, Nabisco, and Pfizerfor moving operations out of the country.
The same sentiment can be seen in Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer’s plan to levy taxes on wealthy individuals who renounce their US citizenship. The bill, nicknamed the “Ex-Patriot Act,” was motivated by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin renouncing his citizenship to avoid high US taxes. The legislation was clearly a last-ditch effort by the government to grab some portion of a rich person’s money before it lost the ability to do so.
However, it’s difficult to see how an action like this could be directed at a golfing association for holding an event in a different country. Perhaps only Trump knows the strong-arm tactics he will use to stop “this stuff” from happening.
It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who has followed Trump’s campaign thus far that he would embrace the sort of authoritarianism espoused by both the left and the right. Vilifying poor foreigners and keeping them out of the country delights many on the nationalist right. Vilifying rich people and corporations and trapping them in the country embraces a philosophy championed by the nationalist left.
Considering that Trump has backed extraordinarily expensive proposals — such as a gigantic border wall, a police state to hunt down millions of immigrants, and some sort of government-run health care system — it isn’t hard to see why he would want to prevent both entrance for the poor and exit for the rich. If the country rejects these types of expensive and expansive policies, fear of immigration and emigration across our borders should largely dissipate. Harry Browne had it right: a truly free society has no need to fear free and voluntary movement.
I generally like FEE, but I’m going to partially disagree here. I agree with the sentiments expressed. It’s one reason I’m not voting for Trump. But ….
So long as there is a welfare society here in the US that allows people to enter the country illegally and take jobs from Americans because Americans are forced to work for higher wages than illegal immigrants are, there will continue to be pressure to do something about illegal immigration. Yes, Americans can reclaim those jobs from illegal immigrants. My daughter’s band works picking vegetables for the same wages as the illegal immigrants. If she gets caught, she’s likely to end up in prison for tax evasion while her illegal coworkers will merely get a return trip to their home country. That is an institutionally unfair system, where Americans risk prison in order to make a living — thus putting illegal immigrants at an advantage to legal citizens.
I have no problem with competing against immigrants in a system where we can actually compete, but the law is stacked against Americans in our own country and until that is taken care of, there will be ongoing discussion and anxiety over immigration.
It’s easy to say that we shouldn’t be petitioning the government for anything. I actually wish that were the case. But the government steals 1/4 of my income every year. That stolen money should get me something in return. If I lived in a state where illegal immigrants were taking my kids’ jobs, I’d want the government to do something about that — I would expect my tax dollars to be spent in an area that I care about.