May 28, 2010
Let’s discuss the elephants in the living room…

This is all re-hash, but it’s my two cents worth of re-hash in the “illegal immigration” debate.

A reasonable interpretation of Arizona’s political action is that it was designed to shame the Federal government into action: either enforce Federal (which probably wouldn’t look all too different than Arizona’s law), or change the Federal law.

Arizona doesn’t have an illegal immigration problem; Arizona has an organized crime violence problem. What created the incentives for organized crime (and its penchant for violence) to develop? Well, the War on Drugs, of course.

The United States doesn’t have an illegal immigration problem; it has a government entitlements problem. What’s the only anti-immigration argument that carries some water? “They and their children don’t pay taxes, but the use all of the services.” Before addressing the substantive part of the argument, note that (a) illegal immigrants pay sales, excise, and property taxes the same as everyone else; (b) fifty percent of “normal American citizens” effectively pay no income taxes, and, even if they were legal, most illegal immigrants would still fall into this category!

Now, supposing the argument about not paying, yet receiving services is true. Why does that problem exist? Well, because all levels of government tax the bejabbers out of us to provide products that the private market can provide. If governments weren’t so intrusive into economic life, no one would care about immigration.

Imagine a small government that funds itself through sales taxes and provides no private products to its citizens. Education would still exist—at a high level and quality—as a private product. Out of the extra income we would have, charity medical & income support services would still exist. (Recall (a) the strongly positive income elasticity of charitable giving in the U.S., and (b) accounting for dead-weight loss, the Federal government imposes more than $2 in total burden on the U.S. economy in order to collect one “spendable” dollar of revenue).

Outside of blatant racism, in this environment, would anyone really care about immigration? I don’t think so.

Posted by Noel Campbell at 10:29 AM

The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it. -Adam Smith

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