Tuesday, June 05, 2007
How about a "Free Market Case" for Smaller Government?
When I first saw the title of this article at TCS Daily, I had some faint hope that its author, James D. Miller, would take the unusual tack of noting, as I have so many times, that since our welfare state makes immigration so expensive, we should therefore take steps to curb ... the welfare state!
Sadly, Miller gets only halfway there, only to turn around and conclude that we should limit immigration.
Much of the cost of new immigrants comes from the government services they consume. In 1900 the U.S. provided relatively few government benefits to anyone, so poorly paid immigrants couldn't become too much of a burden on the economy. Today, however, government spending is about five times larger (as a percentage of the economy) than it was in 1900. And legal immigrants today have the right to consume considerable government services. Indeed, according to the Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector, in 1994 the average low-skilled immigrant household received $30,160 in direct governmental benefits. But this same average family paid only $10,573 in taxes. As a result, low skilled immigrants are net tax eaters. (But read this for a contrary view.) The difference between the taxes paid by unskilled immigrants and the government benefits these immigrants receive is mostly made up by taxes imposed on U.S. citizens. Such additional taxes slow our economy. [bold added, links dropped]This is a good argument -- but only if we drop such relevant context as the fact that most instances of government regulation and property confiscation are not only gross violations of our individual rights, but make our economy far less free. Since both things happen whether or not we have immigrants around to worsen them, why not talk about getting rid of those?
Sadly, dropping relevant context causes us to make poor arguments and worse decisions. Were new immigrants expected to, say, foot their own medical bills, many would be more reluctant about coming over here in the first place, and "cheaper" when they arrived. Fewer immigrants, all of whom would encounter the expectation that they support themselves like real Americans, would mean that assimilation would be less problematic. Oh yeah. And we'd still get the benefits of their cheap labor along with the reduced overhead of government taxation and regulation.
We could solve two problems at once by working for a freer economy, but we're sniping about immigration, instead!
Those Loony Lefties, Part I
Tim Blair has posted a couple of good examples of left-wing stupidity today. The first one is a familiar variant on an old theme. Blair describes an Irish couple who decide to boycott the Czech Republic as a travel destination since its president recently came out against global warming hysteria. One result of their boycott will be that they travel 1000 more miles, to Malta, dumping even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
If you are really that worried about your "carbon footprint", shouldn't the results of your actions reduce it? This grandstanding reminds me of pacifists who would have civilized men forgo fighting a war, even if it allows a butcher to march roughshod over many more people than a war would kill. Notice the disconnect between professed aims and actual results. Given that so many leftists regard reality as a fiction anyway, it should come as no surprise that gauging one's results against reality doesn't even enter the picture.
Those Loony Lefties, Part II
Blair's second example shows an even more glaring disregard for the real-life consequences of basing one's actions on irrational ideas. A group of new-agers danced, chanted, and played drums in a steam room while a friend died right in front of them: "They weren't doing this because they didn't care about the dying man; they were doing it because they were trying to call Cooke's conscious self back to his earthly body during what was assumed to be an astral travelling episode."