Monday 6 January 2014

The Case for Unlimited Immigration!

 “If there's one policy that would change the wealth of the world it is open borders, standard estimate is that it would double the wealth of the world.”
Professor Bryan Caplan

Depending on which newspaper you read the UK is currently either sinking under the collective weight of 100million Bulgarian's and Romanian's, or about six of them have arrived since the border controls were dropped.   Either way it's a good time to take a look at the the concepts of border controls and the state's restrictions on the free movement of people.

To be consistent with my anarchist views I would have to advocate a world of complete free movement of people, a world where anyone could move and work anywhere. But is this just a Utopian fantasy?  Would cataclysmic consequences ensue?  According to free-market economist Benjamin Powell, a specialist in the economic development of poor countries, the answer is no, at least as far as the economics goes. Immigrants are not a drag on the economy and they don't 'steal' jobs or depress wages.

Whilst it's good to tackle the economic myths surrounding immigration and alleviate peoples fears, one problem I have with this is that the starting premiss is that immigrants have to justify themselves on the basis that they will benefit us.  I think what we should be questioning is by what right do people in one geographical area deny others the right to come and work there?   I can understand how someone can steal my car say, because my car is a thing that I consider I own.  But in what sense do I own a job, maybe one that I don't even do?   If I don't own it, if it isn't my possession, how can someone else possibly steal it from me?

But if a first world country dropped all immigration controls tomorrow, surely that would be a disaster right?   Millions of people from the third world would flock there causing utter chaos.   It would be like building a dam to prevent flooding, then deciding that it'd been a bad idea and de-constructing it by blowing it up.  Well according to economist Bryan Caplan no, not only should we drop border controls but we should do so immediately.  That's the position he argues in his debate (video below) with Professor Jan Ting, that border controls are a massive violation of human rights that leave everybody worse off and the sooner we get rid of them the better for all.

Maybe future generations will look back and laugh at the illiteracy of a people who thought that enforcing massive restrictions on human movement could somehow be a good thing.  

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