Two years ago at Freedom Democrats, I posted an article on Libertarianisim and Immigration that sort of languished at the time. A year later, my republishing of the article managed to achieve some degree of notoriety with Less Antman’s endorsement.
The argument made in that essay was simple. Freedom of movement, freedom of contract are essential to any libertarian social theory and any (i) welfare argument (ii) cultural argument (iii) property rights regime argument against these essential liberties would result in:
(i) a dreadful social welfare
(ii) a dreadful culture
(iii) a dreadful property-rights regime
And I named “names” regarding the origins of these “libertarian arguments” against these liberties. And I concluded that these arguments were nothing but a welfare costly form of collectivism.
Now, two years later, we have an “empirical moment.” As the NY Times reports, we now are experiencing net zero immigration flows.
Douglas S. Massey, co-director of the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton, an extensive, long-term survey in Mexican emigration hubs, said his research showed that interest in heading to the United States for the first time had fallen to its lowest level since at least the 1950s. “No one wants to hear it, but the flow has already stopped,” Mr. Massey said, referring to illegal traffic. “For the first time in 60 years, the net traffic has gone to zero and is probably a little bit negative.”
The decline in illegal immigration, from a country responsible for roughly 6 of every 10 illegal immigrants in the United States, is stark. The Mexican census recently discovered four million more people in Mexico than had been projected, which officials attributed to a sharp decline in emigration.
What are the reasons for this sharp decline in immigration? According to the NY Times:
(i) Economic, demographic and social changes in Mexico
(ii) a piss-poor performing, Papers-Please US Political Economy
What our current conditions in this net zero immigration environment?
(i) Budget Deficits at a minimum as a result of net-zero influx of unskilled immigrants no longer burgeoning the welfare rolls and sucking up public monies?
Nope. Budget Deficits are at an all-time high, indicating that perhaps Public Debt has little do to do with labor migration
(ii) Unemployment at record lows, real wages at record highs, particularly at the low-skilled end, as a result of net-zero influx of unskilled immigrants no longer competing in the labor market
Nope. Unemployment at record-highs, real-wages, stagnant.
(iii) Access to Medical care up, cost of services down as a result of net-zero influx of unskilled immigrants no longer inflating demand for services?
Nope. Medical inflation still at roughly double digits. Medical tourism abroad still on the rise.
In short, there’s no empirical argument that our net zero immigration environment has improved social welfare. Indeed, this net zero immigration environment has coincided with a rather dramatic worsening of overall welfare.
The obvious question then is why is this outcome something that is desirable to enforce and with the current condition already being net zero immigration, why is this enforcement effort being dramatically ratcheted up with Real ID and E-Verify systems consolidated under the auspices of DHS?
For libertarians it’s a question with an obvious answer. There is no welfare argument against freedom of movement, freedom of contract. If you want to experience a true welfare State, defining a “welfare State” to be a “mechanism of redistribution,” then no better way than totalitarian control of the freedom of movement and the freedom of contract. And this totalitarian control is a Papers-Please Political Economy.
The loss of economic welfare from the Papers-Please Political Economy is the obvious rejoinder to Milton Friedman’s “welfare argument.”
Hoppe’s “invited-contractual property rights” schema, as an absolutist dogma, results in a Papers-Please Political Economy. It’s only “enforceable” indirectly, via a totalitarian control over a general freedom of contract. It’s an utter violation of the libertarian principle and the Lockean proviso.
And the likes of Hoppe have to explain the social and demographic changes in Mexico while coming to grips with the fact that it is the conservative, evangelical Christian culture that is pushing/enacting things like E-Verify.
Finally, Rothbard. Rothbard, in his later years, would oppose immigration on the grounds that it would serve partisan political ends. And it is true that the likes of the Political left largely support immigration on the grounds/perception that it would reinforce a demographic trend that would lead to political domination. I would dispute that Prima facie assumption on the grounds that no one wants to migrate to a political economy that serves corrupt political ends. I used to argue this point frequently at Freedom Democrats, against both progressive assumptions and those underlying Arnold Kling’s “One Party State.” On this matter, the current condition speaks for itself.