Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lying Libertarian Lickspittles

Writing from his perch at the Independent Institute, libertarian Alvaro Vargas Llosa spews forth a pathetic attempt to defend open borders and malign those conservatives who might not wish to imbibe the Kool-Aid being offered by immithusiasts.

Llosa, a Peruvian immigrant who maintains dual American/Peruvian citizenship, is a typical libertarian—he knows exactly what conservatives should think. “Conservatism,” writes Llosa, “has always been pro immigration…[and] conservatives have understood that spontaneous social interactions and institutions are what make nations healthy, prosperous and peaceful. It is those social customs—and not bureaucracies detached from reality—that make the law. For conservatives, a real legislator is someone who pays close attention to social norms and tries to adapt to them.” Llosa even manages to enlist Edmund Burke into the cause of amnesty for illegals.

Burke was the epitome of the prudent legislator and thinker. Unimpressed with abstractions, Burke fought against the ideological currents of his era. In our time, the great existential challenge to the American nation is the demographic tsunami unleashed by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which continues to transform the country economically, culturally and politically.

Commenting on the threat emanating from the south, Samuel Huntington has written that the current flow of immigration has no historical precedent and signals the death-knell of the American nation. "Mexican immigration differs from past immigration and most other contemporary immigration due to a combination of six factors: contiguity, scale, illegality, regional concentration [in the American Southwest], persistence, and historical presence... Demographically, socially, and culturally, the reconquista (re-conquest) of the Southwest United States by Mexican immigrants is well underway."

Would Burke counsel passivity in the face of the threat documented by Huntington?

Llosa accuses amnesty opponents of irrationalism, while he is evidently toting around a raft full of facts. Nevertheless, Llosa reverts to a human-interest story designed to, in the immortal words of “Simpson’s” newsman Kent Brockman, “tug at the heart and fog the mind”

Llosa tells the story of a Bolivian women named Rosita. On her way across the border (illegally), Rosita was raped in Guatemala, swindled in Mexico, lost a brother, and encountered major health issues. Rather than a criminal, Rosita is heralded by Llosa as a “civil heroine ahead of her time.”

Rosita’s plight as chronicled by Llosa is sad and distressing on a human and emotional level, but Llosa ignores several things: 1) That all of her problems stemmed from a willful and premeditated violation of the sovereignty of another nation; 2) That the consequences to her were the result of lawlessness; 3) She was raped, swindeled and her brother was killed while traveling through Latin America, but she received medical treatment (likely free of charge) in the United States.

Granted I’m irrational, but such facts lead me to conclude that it might be prudent, heck almost Burkean, to actually enforce immigration laws and restrict entry of those from backward and violent cultures.

As a libertarian, Llosa is largely unconcerned with arguments about law, culture, sovereignty, nationhood and all such other irrationality. And as an apparent proponent of the myth of homo economicus he grounds his argument in the alleged economic necessity of immigration.

Llosa argues first that immigration does not cause the displacement of native-born workers. “In a country with an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent, who can seriously maintain that immigrants take jobs away from the natives?” asks Llosa incredulously.

VDARE’s intrepid number-cruncher Ed Rubenstein has demonstrated on repeated occasions that Hispanics are increasingly displacing natives in the job market. Since the beginning of the Bush reign, Hispanic employment has risen 25.9 percent while non-Hispanic participation in the workforce grew by an anemic 3.2 percent.

Moreover, unemployment statistics are not indicative of the entire economic picture and ignores underemployment and decreasing wages caused by immigration.

Contrary to elite opinion, immigration does little to create or generate wealth. In fact, the primary economic consequence of immigration is the exacerbation of class cleavages via the dramatic redistribution of wealth from workers to employers and users of immigrant services.

Harvard labor economist George Borjas has exploded the myth that immigration adds substantial wealth to the American economy. In fact, Borjas says, “All the available estimates suggest that the annual net gain is astoundingly small, less than .1% of GDP.” In real terms, that translates into approximately $10 billion dollars added to the overall economy, just $30 per person.

Llosa is correct that the lure of employment is drawing immigrants from Mexico and that there is a demand for labor among business owners and trade associations. However, while the profits accruing to business are private, the economic costs of immigration are public, and completely ignored by Llosa and other pro-amnesty prevaricators.

First there is education. According to a report by FAIR, the expenditures for illegal immigrants from grades K-12 costs states "nearly $12 billion annually, and when the children born here to illegal aliens are added, the costs more than double to $28.6 billion." Ed Rubenstein has calculated that educating illegals costs $900 per American child.

The data pertaining to health insurance coverage is likewise shocking. While 13% of natives lack insurance coverage, 34.5% of all immigrants and 45.3% of non-citizen immigrants do not have health coverage.

According to a FAIR study, one out of every four uninsured Americans is an immigrant. Furthermore, 1/2 of immigrants have no insurance or have it provided at taxpayer expense. Unfortunately, the problem of uninsured immigrants is on the rise. Immigrants (legal and illegal) who arrived between 1994 and 1998 and their children accounted for 59 percent of the growth in the size of the uninsured population in the last ten years.

Because immigrants typically have limited job skills and are very poor, they also frequently become a burden on the American welfare state. According to analyst Steve Camarota, state governments spend an estimated $11 billion to $22 billion to provide welfare to immigrants. Camarota finds, not surprisingly, that welfare use remains high over time; immigrants in the country for more than 20 years still use the welfare system at significantly higher rates than natives.

What's worse is that according to Heritage Foundation scholar Robert Rector, all of these costs will skyrocket if the Senate's "Grand Compromise" is adopted as the law of the land.

I'm clearly not suggesting that an economic cost/benefit analysis should drive immigration policy. I think there are plenty of other reasons to oppose the transformation of our country. I am merely challenging the assumption of pro-amnesty lackeys and lickspittles that immigration produces nothing but positive economic consequences.


Blogger JBC said...

Were it possible to do away with the welfare state- free education, healthcare, etc... - immigration might dry up of its own accord. Successful illegal entry into the US provides one with a treasure trove of riches.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous JF said...

I agree with jbc above, but wish to add that there is, for many "libertarians", a great difference between emigration and immigration. Not all "libertarians" conclude that unrestricted "open borders" immigration is consistent with proper rights. Hoppe surprised all of us classical liberal types with his trenchant work in Democracy: The God that Failed, which struck at the heart of "immigration" without limits, even if the social democratic magnets were not built in to our greatly flawed system of governance.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Darrell said...

I just get annoyed by libertarians who support unchecked immigration because it reinforces all of the statist enterprises they claim to loath. The managament of ethnic conflict is bread-and-butter for the state, and "diversity," contrary to popular opinion breeds distrust and tends to undermine the market.

As a former Misesian, I've heard Hoppe lecture and had the opportunity to discuss immigration and forced integration with him. I appreciate Hoppe and the libertarians centered around LRC, but I still think they tend to frequently ignore human nature and history if it contradicts their ideological presuppositions.

Hoppe is right as well about democracy, and the preferability of monarchy genrally.

9:16 PM  

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