Submitted by Simon Black of The Sovereign Man
Those who break the law must be punished accordingly…
One of the things that’s really great about Panama is how open the
country is to foreigners. All nationalities are welcome in Panama, and
if you spend any time on the ground, you’ll quickly find people from
six continents and dozens of countries.
Panama is an example of how I see governments moving in the future–
like Singapore, Chile, Hong Kong, and may others, Panama is the kind of
place that seeks to attract foreigners, to compete for them by
providing a number of incentives. Panama does this most pointedly with
its retirement ‘pensionado’ program, but there are a number of other
such programs. In fact, the country’s immigration law has so many
different categories, it’s possible for just about everyone to find a
way to move here.
In other places, immigration is unfortunately a four letter word. The
borderless Schengen area in Europe is on the verge of disintegration as
a number of countries in the region begin to put up border checkpoints
to restrict the free movement of people (and capital).
In the United States, the government has been eager to show that it’s
not slacking on the illegal immigration issue. The result has been an
increase in the size and scope of its persecution against “undocumented
workers” as well as the businesses which hire them. I can just
imagine the conversations within the hallowed halls of government:
“those who break the law must be punished accordingly…”
But this begs the question: what kind of laws—and hence what kind of nation—are we talking about?
Whenever the only defense of a policy is “it’s the law”, it’s
worthwhile considering whether that policy is, in fact, ethical. After
all, it was perfectly legal for one human being to own another for much
of history. Legality certainly is not the same as morality, and
politicians have a bad tendency to conflate the two.
One of the chief arguments against free immigration is that old song
about “stealing jobs.” It amazes me that some people still believe this.
When you patrol borders and restrict the flow of people who are happy
to work hard for less money, this is really no different than wage and
price controls. Anyone with even the most basic understanding of
economics can realize that such practices build inefficiencies into the
system– companies who pay more for labor pass these costs on to
consumers, low skill workers have less competition (hence incentive) to
learn new skills and move up the labor food chain.
Most of all, in the undocumented labor world, the government isn’t
able to take its fair share of the pie. Among undocumented workers,
there are no tax withholdings, no payroll deductions, no retirement
plans to regulate, no medical plans to enforce. I suspect this is the
true reason behind the politicians’ “stealing jobs” argument.
Another argument against free immigration is that foreigners
‘unfairly’ receive benefits. But the problem herein lies in the
existence of public benefits in the first place. Does a German do
backflips in the street when s/he pays taxes so that another German can
have free healthcare? Do Canadians enjoy subsidizing education for other
Canadians? Do Americans swell with pride when they pay their taxes,
hoping that the money goes to pay some other American’s mortgage?
This is utter nonsense, and the degree to which one can voice the
“immigrants unfairly receive benefits” argument is directly proportional
to the level of socialist redistribution in a country… again, not
exactly ideal for economic growth.
Then there’s the argument linking immigration and crime. Frankly this
is strictly a criminal matter, not an immigration one. Saying that
immigrants are more prone to crime makes about as much sense as saying
any particular group—young, poor black males…older, white Wall Street
types…people with surnames ending in vowels—is more prone to crime.
The nearly 300 illegal immigrants in Porstvile, Iowa, sent to federal
prison in 2008 didn’t rob or rape or kill anybody. They didn’t despoil
anyone’s property. Their only crime was working in an arbitrary
geopolitical designation without having begged and waited for the proper
political sanctions. The family owners of the business as well as
their accountant now face 80 years in federal prison. They are guilty of
no violence, only of having hired people that a centralized agency
didn’t approve of beforehand.
Countries, states, and provinces that persecute business and people
in this manner are the kind you want to avoid. A nation that tries to
criminalize more and more aspects of people’s lives—what they put in
their own bodies, where they can live, whom they can hire—is a nation
that will see economic decline to go along with decaying liberty and the
increasing number of lives destroyed by the enforcement of unjust