De-homogenizing Globalism

I understand and sympathize with opposition to mass migrations into the US and Europe in a statist world. But there is bad globalism and good globalism. Here’s the bad kind:

  1. Mass immigration.
  2. War and foreign interventionism.
  3. Economic sanctions and blockades against any nation.
  4. Foreign aid, including indeed to Israel.

But there’s good globalism:

  1. Commerce and unilaterally free international trade. By this I mean that it is in the best interest of each nation to abolish all legal trade barriers, regardless of the trade policies of other countries. No “trade agreements” need to be entered into by governments. Free trade includes free movement of goods and money capital, as well as full rights to multinational enterprises to work (or indeed refuse to work) within the United States.
  2. Freedom to travel to any country that would have you as a guest, including, yes, to Cuba.
  3. Unimpeded international scientific cooperation.
  4. Increasing ease of global communications and progress of the Internet. I want to mention in particular continuing advances in electronic translation tools and language learning that help diminish language barriers.
  5. Rightly understood multiculturalism, i.e., tribalism based upon unrestricted freedom of association. By that I mean that any culture has full rights to exclude, by simple exercise of the property rights of its members, any other culture from mixing with it. Old-style nationalism, however, is dead. A nationalist could be taken seriously only if he actually preferred a more expensive good made in America to a superior cheaper good made in China. There are few such fanatics out there.

NB: Peaceful and mutually beneficial multiculturalism is only possible under a laissez-faire regime which makes it pointless for minorities and “cultures” to vie for control over federal / central / imperial government. It requires the abolition of “who whom.”

Banning Muslims vs. Banning Guns

Roderick Long argues that gun control is wrong because most gun owners are law-abiding, and restricting their liberty is therefore unjust. Similarly, most Muslims are peaceful; hence restricting travel from certain countries is unjust.

Now Long is mistaken in holding that the Trump travel ban applies to Muslims; in fact, it applies to all citizens of Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Yemen, and Somalia, irrespective of religion.

But we are philosophers, so who cares about empirical facts? Very well then, I agree that both gun ownership and travel are human rights. From that point of view, the two cases are identical.

But there is also a difference, and Long’s case is incomplete. The pro-gun advocates argue, correctly in my view, that guns control will increase violent crime by greatly encouraging criminals who will be emboldened by their realization of the people’s defenselessness. It will bring about results opposite those the gun haters want to achieve.

Yet those who favor Muslim immigration do not propose, in an analogous move, that allowing it will make the natives more secure. It is fully admitted by everyone that the dangers of living in America will increase as a result of such immigration.

The rights-based argument works to establish the parity between guns and immigration.

The consequentialist argument highlights the difference between them.

As a result, the pro-gun case is on a more solid footing than the pro-immigration case.

But of course, there is even more to it than that. Open borders is not a rational policy in a world marked by cheap transportation and great disparities in the standard of living. Open the borders, and within a month, 100 million of the world’s poorest will arrive to the US. The disruption will be enormous; the impoverishment of the natives, certain; the reign of chaos will truly be upon us. This move undercuts the rights-based argument.

Or, if Long insists that the rights of no individual foreigner are affected by these considerations, it at the very least strengthens the utilitarian argument. Here’s how.

Assume with me that preventing mass migrations through managed borders is a desirable policy. Then immigration will have to be limited, even severely so. But with half the world to choose from, why pick people from Libya, Sudan, etc.? Why not carefully let in only the best and brightest? Why not prefer Christians to Muslims? Or educated people to barbarians? Or wealthy people and businessmen to paupers?

Now perhaps there are some good pickings to be had in those miserable countries, too. Why single out them explicitly to reject everyone in them? Well, the utilitarian argument now comes into play. The dangers of making a mistake by letting in a terrorist outweigh, in Trump’s judgment, the utility of possibly finding a useful immigrant who would be competitive with all the other contenders. The rights argument is defeated at the outset, and the utilitarian argument is inconclusive. Trump is therefore entitled to his opinion and policy.

Whether the Catholic Church Needs Immigrants?

Lyman Stone says yes, for the following reason:

Given the church’s heavy Hispanic demographic, immigration policy in general looms large for the church and its parishioners. …

For the most part, the only growing religious groups in America are those that count immigrants prominently among their numbers. …

Delegitimizing the evangelization of immigrants is a swell way to hasten the end of Christianity in America.

This is preposterous. If a Christian immigrant moves to America, thereby increasing the number of Christians in America by 1, he by that very fact moves out of Mexico, thereby decreasing the number of Christians in Mexico. Overall, there is no advantage.

That Americans are leaving the Church is condemnation of the efforts of present Christian evangelists and intellectuals. Relying on immigrants to compensate is a cop-out.

But of course, the issue is actually far simpler. It’s not so much the confession of faith that we need to follow here, but money. “The Church and related Catholic charities and schools have collected more than $1.6 billion since 2012 in U.S. contracts and grants,” Washington Times revealed in 2015. “Catholic Charities USA, the largest charitable organization run by the church, receives about 65 percent of its annual budget from state and federal governments, making it an arm of the federal welfare state.” “Most of the money is used for refugee services and rehabilitation,” Newsmax points out.

The Church wants to keep and increase the taxes it unjustly eats. It has become a willing participant in the looting of the populace by the predatory state. Its “love” for illegal immigrants is adequately explained by this illicit profit motive.

Case Against Mass Immigration

Landsburg makes cogent points in defense of freedom of immigration. His main line of reasoning is utilitarian:

When we admit an unskilled Mexican immigrant, his wage typically rises from about $2 an hour to $9 an hour — call it a $7-per-hour gain. …

He bids down wages, but that’s a two-edged sword: It’s bad for his fellow workers, but good for employers and good for consumers. (182-3)

I will continue the argument in a few seconds, but let me interject that the costs to the American workers outweigh the benefits to them. This is because the amount of capital goods per capita declines at least in the short term which lessens marginal productivity and makes Americans poorer. (The Mexican by Landsburg’s own assumption migrates without any real, money, or human capital.) Mises points out, for example:

There is only one way to improve the standard of living of the population — increase capital accumulation as against the increase in population. Increase the amount of capital invested per capita.

Landsburg estimates “from the labor-economics literature” that the Americans collectively incur a $3-per-hour loss. “To oppose that, you’d have to count an immigrant as less than three-seventh of an American.” Even worse, under even the most conservative assumptions about “how to value a poor man’s dollar against a rich man’s, … the immigrant’s $7 gain is worth about five times the Americans’ collective $3 loss. By that calculation, to justify keeping the immigrant out, you’d have to say he’s worth less than one-fifth of an American citizen. In other words, you’d have to be a pretty enormous jerk.” (183-5)

What makes the anti-immigrationist “Goofus” so callous? Landsburg has the following theory:

Usually we care about our loved ones more than strangers, and to some extent we care more about the poor than the rich: I’d rather help my daughter than help yours, and I’d rather help a starving Bangladeshi than a Microsoft vice president.

But Goofus favors neither his loved ones nor poor people; he favors relatively rich American strangers over relatively poor Mexicans.

Moreover, he favors them by at least a seven-to-three ratio, which is huge. (186)

Let me first concede the deontological argument. Americans cannot lawfully keep their wages up by doing what is unjust, namely, forcibly preventing migrations. It is everyone’s natural right to walk the earth. Further, I agree with Landsburg that “Goofus, by denying American landlords the opportunity to rent to José, is violating a property right (not to mention the rights of all those Americans who want to hire José, or sell him groceries).” (185n5)

The situation is relevantly different with mass immigration, however, which will inevitably be unleashed if the US borders are fully opened. I’m saying that within months, 100 million poorest Africans will land in the New York City.

Open borders are an extremely egalitarian institution, especially now with very low transportation costs and efficient language learning. It equalizes wages for the same work done over all the earth, unless some areas are naturally suited for certain specific factories or farms. Landsburg’s chief moral principle demands that Americans lower their own standard of living to that of Sudan, because the benefits to the Sudanese, etc. immigrants outweigh the costs to the natives, and on the net there is benefit, too. (Well, not really, since the population of Sudan will be restored in a short order, as its citizens mindlessly have more children; their plight will be quickly reintroduced.)

But Landsburg himself admits that his ethics “does not require Gallant to open up his living room” to strangers, because “Gallant values his privacy more than José values a spot in Gallant’s living room.” (185n4) In other words, turning one’s house into a refugee camp is too great a sacrifice to be casually demanded of people. Why then can’t we similarly argue that abject self-impoverishment on the part of the American people through 100% open borders is not an unequivocal injunction of morality itself?

As a result, Goofus can counter that he has his own interests not to become poor. It’s not that he loves an American stranger more than a Mexican or African one; it’s that all American strangers have an interest in common, namely, not to be crushed into grinding poverty by the huddled masses of immigrants. I love myself; every American loves himself, too; and these are sufficient reasons for all of us to limit immigration.

Look, the land in the world is parceled out among states. It so happens that although in my opinion all large states are illegitimate, some large states are better than others, even much better. Americans have through a Herculean effort managed to create a political and legal regime that, despite its numerous lamentable flaws, permits a measure of economic growth. Sudan, on the contrary, is a failed nation. I see no reason for Landsburg to punish success and reward failure by inviting mass migrations from Sudan to America.

How would that even differ from a military invasion of the Sudanese army into the US? Does Landsburg think that the Africans will be coming to America while clutching copies of Big Questions under their arms? What’s to prevent these hundreds of millions of barbarians from recreating here the exact sort of inhuman system from which they fled?

Open borders then is simply equally distributed poverty. With no tools of reasoning beyond his narrow-minded utilitarianism, Landsburg pines for this miserable and desperate world. Equal penury for all, how very progressive.

The situation is very different when it comes to private communities or even cities. If company X is being run incompetently and is losing money, it is a very good thing that the rats can start abandoning the sinking ship. A more profitable company Y and society as a whole will benefit from the resources thereby released. But for large states, there is a contrary argument: the Sudanese are poor not because they lack technological knowledge or even capital, but because they lack capitalism, and easy immigration gives them a chance viciously to free ride on other people’s economic wisdom.

My argument is valid not universally but only in our present unique situation of billions in great poverty and only a few countries with a decent standard of living. Since the ultimate cause of this tragic state of affairs is faulty ideologies on the part of the people, I would fully support open national borders in a world with universal laissez-faire capitalism.

If it is admitted that immigration will have to be limited, the only question that remains is whom to admit and how many. Relevant to this, there are factors that would greatly exacerbate the damage of mass immigration into the United States. These are:

  1. the welfare state;
  2. pressure on public services such as roads and emergency rooms which have not been designed to accommodate so many new arrivals;
  3. initial shortage of housing: where are these 100 millions wretches going to live?
  4. widely incompatible cultural practices that will lead to serious violent conflicts between immigrants and natives, i.e., an uptick in crime;
  5. political consequences — again, when Mexicans come here and begin to influence government policy, won’t they end up recreating here the very corrupt political system in Mexico?

In short, there will be a massive and terrifying disruption in our everyday lives as the immigrants try to settle in. Therefore, a case can be made for significant restrictions.

On the other hand, when businesses leave the US in search of cheap labor, I am unperturbed despite the apparent symmetry, because that, in addition to the net economic benefit of the sort Landsburg describes, encourages Americans to improve their country’s political system to give these firms an incentive to stay.

Open borders for wealthy nations here and today and the resulting mass immigration waves are not a rational policy in the age of cheap transportation and deep poverty in many parts of the world that remains largely brutal, cruel, and dark.