Central planning by the federal government is officially opposed by conservatives until you show them a marker that says “United States” on one side, and “Mexico” on the other. Then: “Congress needs to build a fence!”
The believers in fences offer many arguments. Some of them say this: “Those people want to get free government welfare. We cannot afford it.”
The defender of liberty replies in two ways: “First, these programs should be abolished. They are based on government planning and coercive wealth redistribution. They are the main problem, not any immigrants who may sign up. Second, the sooner they go bankrupt, the better. Let immigrants sign up.” The problem is this: most conservatives approve of these welfare programs in theory and practice. The big ones are Social Security, Medicare, and tax-funded education. Conservatives do not want these programs de-funded. They see them as part of the American way of life.
Second, the conservative says this: “These immigrants will undermine our social way of life. They’re just too different. The American way of life cannot survive open immigration. Change will overwhelm the American way of life.”
The defender of liberty responds: “The free market changes America every day. Innovations undermine our way of life, moment by moment. Innovation makes our lives better.” Second, he replies: “Why do you think Congress can pass a law restricting freedom of travel and freedom of contract, and thereby preserve the good parts of our way of life? Why do you trust the federal government’s good judgment in matters social and economic? Why have you become an apologist for central planning? Why have you become an advocate of social engineering by federal politicians and bureaucrats?” Conservatives remain silent. They have never thought of this, and they don’t want to have to re-think what they say they believe in, namely, that Congress cannot safely be trusted on matters economic. They are saying that Congress can provide a Goldilocks solution: not too much social change, but not too little. The defender of liberty asks: “When has Congress ever legislated a Goldilocks solution? When has the federal bureaucracy ever enforced it as written, let alone as justified by members of the voting bloc in Congress that passed it?”
Third, the conservative says this: “Immigrants will get jobs here. They will take jobs away from Americans.”
I want to focus on this argument, for it is the most common one. It invokes nationalism over liberty. It equates nationalism with restrictions on the freedom of contract. It says: “Not everyone should have the legal right to bid on jobs inside our borders. Only those who are legally inside our borders already, or who will be born to those already inside our borders, should possess this right.” It says: “Our ancestors go here before there were any immigration laws. We deserve the right to bid. Outsiders don’t. It’s first come, first served.”
MAY WE HELP?
This attitude is in direct opposition to both Christianity and the free market. A fundamental principle of Christianity is the principle of service to God by service to our fellow men. This is made clear in Matthew 25. “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (v. 40). The context is the final judgment. The principle of service is also basic to free market economics, which teaches that income derives from service to the customer. This goes back to Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations (1776).
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