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.
This is so much horse manure. There is more to the United States than economy, which by the way has always thrived head and shoulders above every other nation even when our population was around 180 million in 1965.
You think an American gives a flying flip how well the economy is doing if it means third world dregs can come in here and vote and destroy the foundations and culture of the native born? Not hardly Pal. The native population is quickly tossing off this immigration nonsense.
I work with a lot of foreign workers, and they are almost to a man very good people. But that isn't the point.
Anyone who has been to a motel or a convenience store over the last decade can tell that our immigration policy has blown a gasket. Millions have entered the country, they are entering at such a rate that they can not assimilate, and so remain un-assimilated.
Immigration policy should serve the interests of the citizens. It should not be used to depress wage rates, or to alter voter demographics. It should not be used to purposely alter ethnic demographics.
Immigration should serve the interests of citizens, only. That means it must be limited to numbers that can be easily assimilated, to individuals that have skills, to family members of citizens. To overcome the massive influx of people during the nineties, I would favor a 5 or 10 year moratorium on immigration. Combined with an aggressive deportation of illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants are not necessary to the economy. They do not take jobs no one wants.... They take jobs no one wants at the price offered. And under the conditions offered. But raising salaries to attract legal workers does not substantially raise the price of the product, it just reduces the employers leverage over his workers. Which is what US labor law is supposed to do, when it is not subverted by the use of illegal workers.
Lee Malvo is the only refutation this ridiculous argument needs.
By that reasoning then why not let the entire world's population come in here and take us over? Let the new immigrants decide what kind of government they want and we can be a nation of 5 billion. I'm sure the communists in China would LOVE this idea. This guy lives in La La Land.
This is Classic Neo-Con. They really don't believe that capitalism works without an ever rising population. They prefer a chaotic form of capitalism whose validity rests with the sheer numbers of bodies in a country. Sad. By their very beliefs, America's population would have to continually rise towards infinity for prosperity to always be in place.
Of course this is nonsense and our own innovation and technology spawns it's own prosperity. I wonder what these nit wits will think when the socialist party owns all 3 branches of government and property rights become null and void while taxes go through the roof because we as a nation can't control immigration?
Neo-cons are not conservatives. They are the useful idiots of socialists and communists.
He sort of came off as a libertarian, but I'm not sure I even understand the difference anymore. Just about everyone in government, the media, and so-called "academia" supports open borders and the right of illegal aliens to stay. Only the general public are the ones saying no thanks.
It's probably not going to happen until a few dregs in the Senate like Ted Kennedy are gone. They believe in civil rights for everyone BUT Americans.
"Brotherhood of all mankind" --- where have I heard these words? I think that's what Lenin, Stalin and Mao used to repeat at the gravers of 100,000,000 people they have murdered.
No, I think it is more because they are too lazy to train Americans. Either that or not training saves them enough money to justify it. You are probably not aware of the level of fraud when it comes to H-1Bs and their supposed skills. Personally I have seen more than a few that simply don't come close to having the skills they said they had in order to get the job. I'm not saying it is the responsibility of companies to train their workers, but companies that don't are committing suicide in the long run. The plain and simple fact is that if Americans do not have rights to jobs in America, then immigrants have even less. So you can put the bar whever you like, but there must be some advantage to being an American in America otherwise this nation is committing suicide in the long run.
What he forgets to say is that they really want cheap labor because they are unwilling to pay "Americans" decent living wages.
No, I think it is more because they are too lazy to train Americans.
That doesn't make sense. It would be cheaper and easier for US companies to train qualified American workers than to search overseas for them.
I personally know people from India who were invited by American companies to come here to fill jobs they couldn't find enough qualified Americans for.
Nursing is one example of a career which too few Americans are going to school for to fill the job market in the USA. So nurses are recruited overseas to come to America.
I don't buy that either. Nursing is a little different than IT since you have to be licensed, I guess. But if you believe in the free market, wages will rise, and more people will train to become nurses. The market will correct itself. Bringing in government muscle to solve economic problems is always bad in the long run, it seems. I can understand why companies don't put Americans first; it's because profit is the bottom line. There is nothing wrong with profit, but government has a role in making sure that profit is a good thing, unlike the fake profits of Enron, or the dangerous profits of Firestone. Instead, we have the government helping companies put Americans last. They constantly tell us they need more money for inner-city job training. Why not kill two birds with one stone and encourage compaines to train inner-city youths for the jobs of the future, instead of running all our dollars through the bureacracy filter, hoping to solve two problems separately? There has to be some advantage to being an American, otherwise who is going to go through the trouble of becoming one? Long term you risk disaffecting a large portion of the population and you end up with more democrats winning office promising to protect us from corporate barrons, and subsidising our unfulfilled dreams.