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 Globalization for the Good
 
Sorry, Milton: Let 'em in
Pittsburg Tribune Review, United States Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Donald J. Boudreaux
Friedman often proclaimed that the strongest case for individual liberty is a moral one. Because it is immoral for government to prevent the free movement of peaceful people, the existence of one immoral institution -- the welfare state -- ought not be used so cavalierly to justify the imposition of another immoral institution -- restrictions on peaceful immigration, writes Donald Boudreaux in Pittsburg Tribune Review.

The recent furor over Arizona's new attempt to curb illegal immigration has ignited another heated debate on the merits and demerits of a more-open immigration regime.

I have long been a proponent of opening America's borders much more widely -- say, the way they were until the 1920s. Such borders would not be totally open. Rather, immigrants would come in the same way they did for most of America's history: Those who were not carriers of communicable diseases or who weren't known violent criminals were allowed in. They were unimpeded, save for a relatively brief inspection at ports of entry such as Ellis Island.

...

The most common objection is that more-open borders, however desirable they might be in the abstract, are impractical as long as America has a welfare state.

Indeed, even the late, great Milton Friedman famously argued against more-open borders precisely on this ground.

...

...

The most important fact overlooked by Friedman -- or, at least, by those who cite Friedman as an authority for keeping immigration strictly limited -- is that the costs of immigrants' freeloading on taxpayers must be weighed against the benefits of immigrants' contributions to the economy and, indeed, to tax revenues themselves.

...

...

The numerous prohibitions and restrictions against immigrants (legal and illegal) finding gainful employment in America constitute overwhelming evidence that the real concern today is not that immigrants will abuse the U.S. welfare state. Quite the opposite: It's that immigrants will compete with native-born Americans for jobs. And such competition is something that an economist of Friedman's caliber would rightly applaud rather than condemn.

...

...

...

Cut off from the least expensive varieties of health insurance, it is no surprise that illegal immigrants overuse hospital emergency rooms -- their safest and least costly means to get medical treatment.

Abolish the existing prohibitions on legal employment and watch the incidence and severity of these problems diminish. And watch immigrants pay more taxes to support the government schools and government hospitals they now use free of charge.

But let's assume these highly restrictive work rules cannot be eliminated. Would Friedman's case against more-open immigration then fly?

No.

Friedman often proclaimed that the strongest case for individual liberty is a moral one. Because it is immoral for government to prevent the free movement of peaceful people, the existence of one immoral institution -- the welfare state -- ought not be used so cavalierly to justify the imposition of another immoral institution -- restrictions on peaceful immigration.

 

 

This article was published in the Pittsburg Tribune Review on Wednesday, May 12, 2010. Please read the original article here.
Author : Prof Boudreaux is chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA
Tags- Find more articles on - Donald Boudreaux | health insurance | illegal immigrants | Milton friedman | welfare state

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