Skip to comments.Wal-Mart, Immigrants, and Thomas Jefferson
Posted on 10/24/2002 5:16:17 PM PDT by G. Stolyarov II
I have a friend who came to the United States from a South American country as a guest of Wal-Mart. It seems Sam Walton, in an effort to promote Capitalism in Central American countries, set up scholarships so that students could come to Arkansas, become schooled in business, and return to Central America ready to make the poor agricultural nations more receptive to large-scale, super-discount retailing.
Today, my friend, who shall remain unnamed (I probably don't know his real name anyway), is one of the many people in the United States illegally. He has skills, an advanced degree and a willingness to work that could be used to produce in the United States, yet is confined to working at tasks far below his skill level in order to stay here.
My friend is not alone. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami and New York are filled with people who are contributing in some way to the local and national economy, but whom we don't recognize as legitimate members of our society. While it would seem there of deterrents in place to keep immigrants from coming to the United States, in reality they are no match for the incentives. Those unable to get a job under the table pay for fake id's and social security numbers that match those of a lifer in prison a, missing child or a deceased baby. The less savvy simply make them up. Eventually many are caught, but that only means looking for a new job. Others work under-the-table independent of the workers' compensation, social security and income tax systems.
Many Americans see the situation as a problem of law enforcement and conclude that stricter border control is the solution. They say that these immigrants take legitimate jobs from Americans, crowd the cities and overburden social systems.
This is not so. There is both a moral and economic argument to be made for legitimizing the status of anyone who reaches American soil, and for opening the borders to all who wish to enter.
First, consider that in every census from 1880 to 1990, immigrants have been more likely to be self-employed than natives. Most jobs in the United States are created by small business. Rather than taking jobs from native Americans, immigrants are likely creating jobs. Still don't buy the argument? Consider that the cities that immigrants go to--San Francisco, New York--have lower unemployment and higher job creation rates than the ones they avoid, such as Detroit and Pittsburgh. People create jobs, not the other way around.
Over-population is another concern of those who oppose immigration. While San Francisco may be more crowded because of immigrant arrivals, many cities in the United States have lost as much as half of their population in the last 50 years. These are places where the infrastructure and housing stock exist ready to accommodate new arrivals who are itching to pump new entrepreneurial economic energy into the local economies. Even in San Francisco, prior residents benefit from the rise in property values caused by in-migration and an artificially static housing supply.
Our prosperity is directly tied to two things: immigrants and youth. Without immigration, the median age in the United States would be much older, and while older may be wiser, it's also cautious, and caution does not lend itself to starting businesses and taking risks.
If you take the world as a whole, it's the industrialized nations that have lower birth rates, and it will be further "industrialization" or movement towards technological and "knowledge-based" economies that will eventually bring the world population numbers into check.
Still, recognizing the economic benefits of immigrants, it's the moral arguments for immigration that are the strongest. We are after all dealing with people. We are debating from above. Our arguments and decisions determine people's lives and livelihoods. On what basis can we argue anyone should have that power over our fellow man?
The laws that work best are the ones that reflect the social contracts already established by people. Laws that seem to defy these contracts and be in defiance of reason will not be obeyed and will not serve any constructive purpose. Laws that prevent people from pursuing basic life-sustaining goals will not be obeyed at the borders or within the country.
Thomas Jefferson wrote that "All Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." Unless you believe by "all men," Jefferson only meant those with legal residency in the United States, today's immigration laws do not reflect this principle. Do we not all have the same "creator" regardless of borders?
The Declaration of Independence refers to "The laws of nature and of nature's God." But what does this mean? According to the Clairmont Institute, a California-based political philosophy think tank, it means that nature encompasses laws, that certain obligations are prescribed for all human beings by nature--or more specifically, by the fact that all humans share a common nature. Law is based on rights. I may not kill you not because the law that says I can't, but because you have a right to life and that right is granted by nature.
Clairmont also explains that "laws of nature" are laws that can be grasped by human reason. The "laws of nature" the founders referred to are accessible in principle to any person anywhere in the world who thinks about the nature of human beings. Clairmont explains that "the American founding is not based on ideas specifically tied to one people, such as 'the rights of Englishmen,' but on ideas that are true for all people everywhere."
If we agree these rights are granted by a creator, then how can we, as men, justify taking them away? And by telling anyone they have no right to live and work in the United States, we are in effect saying to them "you have not been granted the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by your creator."
Jefferson did not intend for the light of liberty to dim at the nation's shores. But as long as it does, we, as Americans must be there to defend individual rights. It should not matter the benefits immigrants bring to the economy, though they do. It should only matter that we recognize the inalienable rights of all people. If we don't, what case can be made in defense of our own rights?
Perfect magazine title for this story since it sometimes feels like we're being colonized by the flood of illegal aliens.
If we took in 10 million people a year these utopian one-worlders would still say we're too restrictive. I think the immigration issue is going to explode in a few years if we don't get it under control, Mr. Miller notwithstanding.
Teh problem with your theory is that it is based on a false view of the Human state in nature. We do not exist as individual, but in groups. Both therefore have natural rights. Group in nature, like the state, have a right to define membership.
Forcing new membership is tyrannical.
Since this author is so fond of quoting Thomas Jefferson, I thought I'd add this little gem by him:
"[We wish] but to consecrate a sanctuary for those whom the misrule of Europe may compel to seek happiness in other climes. This refuge, once known, will produce reaction on the happiness even of those who remain there by warning their taskmasters that when the evils of Egyptian oppression become heavier than those of the abandonment of country, another Canaan is open where their subjects will be received as brothers and secured against like opressions by a participation in the right of self-government."
Jefferson believed in immigration alright, from Europe. Methinks Mr. Miller picked a wrong hero to further his cause since immigrants today don't come from there anymore.
He has skills, an advanced degree and a willingness to work that could be used to produce in the United States, yet is confined to working at tasks far below his skill level in order to stay here.
You could say the same thing about a lot of people who are actually Americans.My friend is not alone. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami and New York are filled with people who are contributing in some way to the local and national economy, but whom we don't recognize as legitimate members of our society.
That's right, they are criminals.Those unable to get a job under the table pay for fake id's and social security numbers that match those of a lifer in prison a, missing child or a deceased baby. The less savvy simply make them up. Eventually many are caught, but that only means looking for a new job. Others work under-the-table independent of the workers' compensation, social security and income tax systems.
Ah, a thug's life.Consider that the cities that immigrants go to--San Francisco, New York--have lower unemployment and higher job creation rates than the ones they avoid, such as Detroit and Pittsburgh.
Last I checked, the bay area and NYC have the highest unemployment rates in the country.Even in San Francisco, prior residents benefit from the rise in property values caused by in-migration and an artificially static housing supply.
Yeah, right. In his next article he will be complaining about high housing costs for new immigrants.Without immigration, the median age in the United States would be much older, and while older may be wiser, it's also cautious, and caution does not lend itself to starting businesses and taking risks.
Yes, of course, we need more people in line to keep the ponzi scheme going.On what basis can we argue anyone should have that power over our fellow man?
The law?Unless you believe by "all men," Jefferson only meant those with legal residency in the United States, today's immigration laws do not reflect this principle. Do we not all have the same "creator" regardless of borders?
Somehow they should be immune from the law and also benefit from it at the same time!? I guess we can start enforcing the Declaration of Independence around the world, huh?If we agree these rights are granted by a creator, then how can we, as men, justify taking them away? And by telling anyone they have no right to live and work in the United States, we are in effect saying to them "you have not been granted the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by your creator."
I bet this guy voted for Alan Keyes, not. That last sentence is r e a l l y a s t r e t c h.Eric Miller is editor of The New Colonist.
New Colonialist is more like it.
"No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him." --Thomas Jefferson to Francis Gilmer, 1816. ME 15:24
The welfare state exists through government initiation of force and thus must be eliminated.
If you think you've been harmed by a person moving into the same community as you live, if you think that has harmed you take the person to court and do your best to prove to an impartial jury that you had been hammed by that. You'd be lucky to convince a third of the jurors that you had been harmed by the defendant -- let alone convince all twelve jurors, which you'd need to obtain a guilty verdict.
Some people on this forum want to impose their communitarian beliefs on people by initiating force, threat of force or fraud against people or enlist government agents to initiate force, threat of force and fraud on their behalf.
"The oppressor no longer acts directly and with his own powers upon his victim. No, our conscience has become too sensitive for that. The tyrant and his victim are still present, but there is an intermediate person between them, which is the Government - that is, the Law itself. What can be better calculated to silence our scruples, and, which is perhaps better appreciated, to overcome all resistance? We all therefore, put in our claim, under some pretext or other, and apply to Government. We say to it, "I am dissatisfied at the proportion between my labor and my enjoyments. I should like, for the sake of restoring the desired equilibrium, to take a part of the possessions of others. But this would be dangerous. Could not you facilitate the thing for me? Could you not find me a good place? or check the industry of my competitors? or, perhaps, lend me gratuitously some capital which, you may take from its possessor? Could you not bring up my children at the public expense? or grant me some prizes? or secure me a competence when I have attained my fiftieth year? By this mean I shall gain my end with an easy conscience, for the law will have acted for me, and I shall have all the advantages of plunder, without its risk or its disgrace!" - Frederic Bastiat
Thus it follows logically:
"The state is the great fiction by which everybody tries to live at the expense of everyone else." -- Frederic Bastiat
I would not want to live in the world you sketch. It seems to lead to an anarchic condition in which a property owner can do anything with his own property, including perhaps dumping toxic chemicals on it and allowing them to seep into the water supply. Take things to the extent that you do, and you'll find it hard to enforce laws forbidding property owners from employing slave labor. It might also be hard to find others willing to enforce property rights if they are taken as far as you suggest.
Hans Hermann Hoppe has come up with a libertarian rationale for immigration control. Whether he's right or wrong, there will always be legimate desires to restrict immigration. Even in the heyday of immigration, businesses bringing in people specifically to work for them was legally discouraged because it was felt that would lead to dependency on the part of employees and excessive power on the part of employers.
Congratulations! Two inaccuracies in such a brief phrase!
Rousseau was not an "arch-leftist." His somewhat incoherent writings can best be described as "anti-enlightenment." They are ancestral to both the extreme right and extreme left of the 19th and 20th centuries.
And the "social contract" theory predates him quite a bit, being traceable back to Plato, with its definitive formulation by Hobbes and Locke, both of whom were highly influential on the Founders of America.
The advanced degree could be used to better his own country obviously, that was the reason he supposedly was brought here and he accepted that deal.
There are a lot of immigrants in Detroit and cities with very high unemployment like El Paso. Besides supposedly we need immigrants to do the work that Americans with advanced degrees don't want to do ---like clean houses and pick lettuce. The reasons keep changing it seems.
You could say the same thing about a lot of people who are actually Americans.
And a lot of their "skills" are in areas where there is no demand.
It is a fact that the USA recruits skilled workers from other countries because of the lack of qualified Americans in many fields.