Ron Paul on open immigration: what's the worst that could happen?

One of the more disturbing things about Ron Paul’s popularity is his staunch opposition to legal and illegal immigration. I pick on him not because his views on immigrants are especially harsh, but because they stand in stark contrast to his reputation as an advocate of free markets and Austrian economics. On his campaign issues page, he warns that “current reform proposals would allow up to 60 million more immigrants into our country” and that “this is insanity.” I am surprised to see Ron Paul buying into this tired bit of socialist rhetoric. The idea that simply allowing 60 million would actually result in 60 million people rushing into the U.S. is absurd, but suppose it were true. What’s the worst that could happen?

According to the Malthusian theory subscribed to by socialists and environmentalists, the amount of resources and capital in a particular region is fixed, so the average income of individuals can be calculated by dividing the total resource/capital base by the number of people. A fixed resource base means a fixed number of jobs, so a large influx of immigrants means rising unemployment and falling standards of living.

Fortunately, it is socialism, not open immigration that is “insanity.” The premise that the resources available to meet human needs are fixed – that each new human being requires a fixed amount of land, metal, and fossil fuels to live – is absurd. Each additional individual creates not only new demand for the products of civilization, but also provides new resources and insight for meeting those needs. Every self-supporting worker produces more than he consumes, adding to total productive output and raising the real wage rate for everyone. Historically, the American standard of living rose fastest during peak immigration periods and continues to rise today. Our greatest source of wealth is not natural resources or the capital base, but the ingenuity and creativity of our entrepreneurs and workers.

By increasing the division of labor, immigrants free up workers previously employed in maintaining the capital base to invest their time in growing capital and efficiency. So for example, by lowering labor costs, new immigrant factory workers free up engineers to invest in expanding production and improving the efficiency of labor. This improves everyone’s living standards. A free society allows a growing capital and knowledge base to be multiplied by entrepreneurs who find new methods to improve human life, proving an exponential growth in prosperity.

A further complaint of Dr Paul is that “taxpayers should not pay for illegal immigrants who use hospitals, clinics, schools, roads, and social services.” I completely agree. However, this is besides the point. No one has a right to live of other people, regardless of where he was born. American welfare bums do not have any more right to my property than Mexican bums. It is the welfare state that is immoral, not immigration. Furthermore, the argument is misleading because illegal immigrants and permanent residents are generally not eligible for welfare, and already pay the property, fuel, and sales taxes that pay for schools and roads. Illegal immigrants don’t pay income taxes, which Dr. Paul believes we should eliminate anyway, but they often pay social security taxes via bogus social security cards – effectively subsidizing legal workers. Do people who oppose granting illegal immigrants driver’s licenses realize that they are for forcing citizens to pay for the illegal immigrants’ share of road-maintenance costs?

For more on the issue, read my case for open immigration.


Filed under Current Events, Politics

13 Responses to Ron Paul on open immigration: what's the worst that could happen?

  1. jmklein

    Paul has stated repeatedly that he believes if the welfare state is eliminated open immigration would be desirable and possible. Do your research. What your saying is contradictory to his own statements.

  2. that’s a video of Ron Paul @ the Morgan State All American Debate where he discusses his feel about open immigration and how’d he be for Open immigration. He also talks about other minority centered issues.

  3. brody

    Ron Paul is not against legal immigration, and talks about getting rid of the welfare state for all Americans, not just immigrants.

  4. I like that Ron Paul wants both types of immigration to be restricted. It distances him from Ronald Reagan that ‘is grateful that we can share this land with other good immigrants that have worked long and hard to come here from great distances.’ Or something like that. Don’t you want a salad of different views from future politicians, versus the same-old, same-old carbon cloning every 4 years of the same icons, whether from the left or the right (the left being J.F.K., of which John Kerry tried to be like)? I sure do. I want different!

  5. matthew golden

    Whats the worst that could happen – FEDERAL BANKRUPTCY

  6. Dave

    Ron Paul isn’t against immigration. He’s against immigration with the current welfare state in place.

    Get rid of the welfare state, and you remove the incentive to come here for that purpose. To open up immigration while the current welfare system is in place is indeed insane.

    This is why Paul has said numerous times that illegal immigrants are being used as scapegoats. The problem isn’t the immigrants, the problem is the state.

  7. Dorian

    “But current reform proposals would allow up to 60 million more immigrants into our country, according to the Heritage Foundation. This is insanity.”

    This is upsetting. I see some of the previous comments state that Ron Paul is not against immigrants but based ont he description on his webpage and how it is worded he certainly is.

    I have been supporting Ron Paul because most of his view best align with my own (the exceptions being abortions and now immigration). No other candidate comes close.

    I guess it will come down to voting for who I think is not the worst again, and still despite this I still think Ron Paul is the best candidate.

    David who are you interested in? Do you have someone you want to vote for?

  8. Dorian

    Also I love the one-minute cases. Fantastic, keep them going 🙂

  9. I believe that there is an important distinction between the immigrants of the turn of the century who came from Europe and were largely imbued with such as ideas as hard work and education and who were willing not only to work and build our cities, but also to become part of this American culture—rather than remain a separate subculture.
    One of the unattractive aspects of the immigrants from Mexico is that a significant number of them are not only uneducated, but are also unwilling to assimilate into American culture, as many of our ancestors successfully did.
    Another unattractive aspect is that a significant number of criminals and drug traffickers are part of this new flood of immigrants.
    Michael Savage, the conservative talk show host, defines a nation as “borders, language, culture.” If we are to remain a nation, then we must defend these three things. We are instead rapidly becoming a muddle of confusion, with Spanish-language signage in every government building and Spanish announcements in many big retail stores, making one ask, “where are the English-speakers?”
    If these immigrants continue to isolate themselves into a separate subculture, as many of the “Hispanic” immigrants from Mexico and Guatamala have, then what will become of America when we have become so ethnocentric that we bear a resemblance to India?
    More frightening still, is that with some of the political proposals on the boards (“motor voter” laws in New Jersey) to give driver’s licenses to many illegals, many may gain the ability to vote. Now one of the weaknesses in Democracy is that it gives the voters the ability to vote themselves handouts—and that has to come from someone—hence the welfare state was born out of democratic principles. What kind of voters will the non-English-speaking, non-assimilating separatist Hispanics become?
    So I respectfully submit the following questions to anyone advocating free and open borders with Mexico, or any other nation—where will America be in fifty years with such a policy? Do you want your children to have to deal with the consequences?
    I think many Objectivists relate to this issue in a vacuum—that being in an ideal capitalist society. The reality is that things are not that simple in our mixed economy and 60 million Mexicans might not build a great, new America after all.

  10. “David who are you interested in? Do you have someone you want to vote for?”

    I’m disgusted with all the candidates, and I don’t expect our political system to produce anything else for quite some time. I’m least disgusted with Ron Paul because he’s principled – but that is not a reason to support him.

  11. Dorian

    Mark, although I think there is some truth to your details on the differences between Mexican immigrants and earlier European immigrants I think some of the claims are a bit much and not justifiable reasons to be more strict with Mexicans specifically.

    It’s not fair to be judge all Mexicans as a collective, I’m not sure you’re going that far but it does seem you’re justifying some things based on this reasoning.

    I also think is completely unfair to say most Mexicans have poor work ethics compared to previous European immigrants.

    I think all immigrants, Mexican or not, should have to pass certain EQUAL tests, which include criminal records. However, I disagree with making the process harder specifically for Mexicans.

    I think all people, Mexican or not, have a right to make a living in our country, so long as they’re willing to live by our rules.

    I also think some of the biggest arguments against allowing more open & easy citizenship for Mexicans is a result of our country making it difficult for Mexicans to come here. For example I think one major complaint is that Mexicans funnel money out of the US to send it to family. I think the major reason this is the case is because that can physically bring their families to America.

    I think it would be much easier for Mexicans to assimilate if they were here legally too. I also think we shouldn’t make it easy for any foreigner to live here without knowing English, free businesses can do whatever they want, but I think anything Government run should be strictly English.

    For these reason I’m for a more open approach to immigration. I think becoming a US citizen should be a lot more accessible. I see no reason why we not should accept good new citizens from Mexico if they pass our tests simply because they’re from Mexico.

    I also believe in a secure border, I wouldn’t go so far as to build a wall, but I definitely think a strong police and/or military presence is necessary.

    I say if we can find 60 million good Mexicans then I say bring em.

  12. Dorian

    “I’m disgusted with all the candidates, and I don’t expect our political system to produce anything else for quite some time. I’m least disgusted with Ron Paul because he’s principled – but that is not a reason to support him.”

    I guess I view it as a step in the right direction. Do you remember the example Dr. Ridpath gave on how Europe came out of the dark ages? I kind of view it like that.

    If I continue to let things be, and not support any candidates, I think we’ll continue to get the bad. But if I support someone like Ron Paul, maybe it will get more Americans thinking about things I care about.

  13. Dorian

    I’m really spamming your message board David, haha, this is just a very interesting topic. 🙂

    Mark, historically European citizens from the turn of the century were not viewed as hard working. (I’m taking a history class right now).

    Many were viewed as socialists, communists, or anarchists. The government actually rallied up many of the immigrants with little or false evidence and sent them back to their countries.

    So were they hard working? I don’t know, and I wouldn’t claim to say they were or were not. Likewise, I think we can’t say the same about all Mexicans and especially not use that kind of reasoning to justify not accepting new Mexican citizens.

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