FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Milton Friedman quoted by Dan Mitchell on Welfare and Immigration

Immigration, Part II: Turning America into a Welfare Magnet

In Part I of this series, I explained why it’s absurd to think illegal immigration can be stopped by sending foreign aid to less-developed countries, such as many of those in Central America.

Simply stated, government-to-government handouts have never been a successful strategy for turning poor nations into rich nations. Indeed, aid actually discourages countries from following the recipe that does deliver prosperity.

In today’s column, let’s address Milton Friedman’s famous dilemma about the incompatibility of open borders and welfare.

Like most libertarians, I want to solve the problem by getting rid of the welfare state.

Immigrants are a big net plus so long as they are coming to work and be productive.

Indeed, because of their entrepreneurial skills and work ethic, immigrants from many nations wind up earning more than native-born Americans.

That’s something to celebrate. The American Dream in action!

But will that story of success continue if the welfare state is expanded?

Two advocates of increased immigration are worried. First, Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal recently explained that Biden’s agenda is a recipe for immigrant dependency.

…it is a growing belief on the political left that people should be allowed to enter the U.S. on their terms rather than ours, and that it is our collective responsibility to take care of them if they can’t take care of themselves. Milton Friedman said that open immigration and large welfare states are incompatible, and today’s progressives in Congress and the White House are eager to test that proposition.…Another concern is the left’s determination to sever any connection between work and benefits, something all the more worrisome since it is occurring while destitute foreign nationals with little education are being lured here en masse. …Earlier this month, the Biden administration quietly announced that it would no longer enforce a policy that limited the admission of immigrants who were deemed likely to become overly dependent on government benefits. What could go wrong? …In countries like Italy and France, generous aid programs have attracted poor migrants who are more likely than natives to be heavy users of welfare and less likely to be working. It’s a mistake to think it can’t happen here.

In a column last year for Reason, Shikha Dalmia warned that welfare programs undermine support for immigration.

…economists Alberto Alesina, Armando Miano, and Stefanie Stantcheva…administered online questionnaires to 24,000 respondents in six countries: U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden. The explicit aim was to study attitudes toward legal, not illegal, immigration. …restrictionists have succeeded most spectacularly is in depicting immigrants as welfare queens. …In America, over 25 percent of respondents said the person with the  ..immigrant-sounding name would pay less in taxes than he collected in welfare… The study’s findings pose a particular dilemma for Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), who wants to combine grandiose welfare schemes like free health care, pre-K, and college for everyone with generous immigration policies, because the mere mention of immigration reduces support for such schemes. Respondents who were asked about immigration became less concerned about inequality and less supportive of soak-the-rich schemes. …as long as immigrants are seen as succeeding through their own grit, natives may have no real objection to them. What is most likely to sour the public on immigration are the grandiose universal freebies… Immigrants should be wary of Democrats bearing gifts.

Both Riley and Dalmia raise good points.

My modest contribution to this discussion is to provide a practical example.

In his so-called American Rescue Plan, Joe Biden included a huge giveaway program that will shower $3,000-$3,600 to non-rich households for every kid they have.

This is a one-year, one-time handout, but many Democrats (and some Republicans!) want to make these enormous per-child payments a permanent part of America’s welfare state.

If that happens, the incentive to move to the United States almost surely will skyrocket.

Here’s a map I made, showing the annual handout for two children in the United States and the average per-capita incomein some nearby nations.

At the risk of stating the obvious, there will be a huge incentive to migrate to America – but not for the right reasons. And my little example doesn’t include the value of any of the dozens of other redistribution programs in Washington.

The bottom line is that we shouldn’t have a welfare system that rewards dependency, whether for people in the country legally or illegally.

And if you like immigration in theory, you should be especially opposed to handouts that will undermine public support for newcomers in practice.

P.S. It’s much better to have immigration policies such as the ones proposed by former Congressman Jared Polis and current George Mason University Professor Tyler Cowen.

Milton Friedman in 2004

Portrait of Milton Friedman.jpg

Power of the Market – Immigration

MILTON FRIEDMAN ON IMMIGRATION

MILTON FRIEDMAN ON IMMIGRATION PART 2

March 18, 2021

Office of Barack and Michelle Obama
P.O. Box 91000
Washington, DC 20066

Dear President Obama,

I wrote you over 700 letters while you were President and I mailed them to the White House and also published them on my blog http://www.thedailyhatch.org .I received several letters back from your staff and I wanted to thank you for those letters. 

There are several issues raised in your book that I would like to discuss with you such as the minimum wage law, the liberal press, the cause of 2007 financial meltdown, and especially your pro-choice (what I call pro-abortion) view which I strongly object to on both religious and scientific grounds, Two of the most impressive things in your book were your dedication to both the National Prayer Breakfast (which spoke at 8 times and your many visits to the sides of wounded warriors!!

I have been reading your autobiography A PROMISED LAND and I have been enjoying it. 

Let me make a few comments on it, and here is the first quote of yours I want to comment on:

WHEN IT CAME to immigration, everyone agreed that the system was broken. The process of immigrating legally to the United States could take a decade or longer, often depending on what country you were coming from and how much money you had.Meanwhile, the economic gulf between us and our southern neighbors drove hundreds of thousands of people to illegally cross the 1,933-mile U.S.-Mexico border each year, searching for work and a better life. Congress had spent billions to harden the border, with fencing, cameras, drones, and an expanded and increasingly militarized border patrol. But rather than stop the flow of immigrants, these steps had spurred an industry of smugglers—coyotes—who made big money transporting human cargo in barbaric and sometimes deadly fashion. And although border crossings by poor Mexican and Central American migrants received most of the attention from politicians and the press, about 40 percent of America’s unauthorized immigrants arrived through airports or other legal ports of entry and then overstayed their visas.
By 2010, an estimated eleven million undocumented persons were living in the United States, in large part thoroughly woven into the fabric of American life.Many were longtime residents, with children who either were U.S. citizens by virtue of having been born on American soil or had been brought to the United States at such an early age that they were American in every respect except for a piece of paper. Entire sectors of the U.S. economy relied on their labor, as undocumented immigrants were often willing to do the toughest, dirtiest work for meager pay—picking the fruits and vegetables that stocked our grocery stores, mopping the floors of offices, washing dishes at restaurants, and providing care to the elderly. But although American consumers benefited from this invisible workforce, many feared that immigrants were taking jobs from citizens, burdening social services programs, and changing the nation’s racial and cultural makeup, which led to demands for the government to crack down on illegal immigration. This sentiment was strongest among Republican constituencies, egged on by an increasingly nativist right-wing press. However, the politics didn’t fall neatly along partisan lines: The traditionally Democratic trade union rank and file, for example, saw the growing presence of undocumented workers on co
    nstruction sites as threatening their livelihoods, while Republican-leaning business groups interested in maintaining a steady supply of cheap labor (or, in the case of Silicon Valley, foreign-born computer programmers and engineers) often took pro-immigration positions.

     Back in 2007, the maverick version of John McCain, along with his sidekick Lindsey Graham, had actually joined Ted Kennedy to put together a comprehensive reform bill that offered citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants while more tightly securing our borders. Despite strong support from President Bush, it had failed to clear the Senate. The bill did, however, receive twelve Republican votes, indicating the real possibility of a future bipartisan accord. I’d pledged during the campaign to resurrect similar legislation once elected, and I’d appointed former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano as head of the Department of Homeland Security—the agency that oversaw U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection—partly because of her knowledge of border issues and her reputation for having previously managed immigration in a way that was both compassionate and tough.
My hopes for a bill had thus far been dashed. With the economy in crisis and Americans losing jobs,few in Congress had any appetite to take on a hot-button issue like immigration. Kennedy was gone. McCain, having been criticized by the right flank for his relatively moderate immigration stance, showed little interest in taking up the banner again. Worse yet, my administration was deporting undocumented workers at an accelerating rate. This wasn’t a result of any directive from me, but rather it stemmed from a 2008 congressional mandate that both expanded ICE’s budget and increased collaboration between ICE and local law enforcement departments in an effort to deport more undocumented immigrants with criminal records. My team and I had made a strategic choice not to immediately try to reverse the policies we’d inherited in large part because we didn’t want to provide ammunition to critics who claimed that Democrats weren’t willing to enforce existing immigration laws—a perception that we thought could torpedo our chances of passing a future reform bill. But by 2010, immigrant-rights and Latino advocacy groups were criticizing our lack of progress..And although I continued to urge Congress to pass immigration reform, I had no realistic path for delivering a new comprehensive law before the midterms.

Milton Friedman wisely noted,  “It’s just obvious you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state,” 
Is it prudent to allow illegal immigrants (60 percent of whom are high-school dropouts) access to Social Security, Medicare, and, over time, to 60 federal means-tested welfare programs? I don’t think so either!


FREE TO CHOOSE “Who protects the worker?” Video and Transcript Part 

In 1980 I read the book FREE TO CHOOSE by Milton Friedman and it really enlightened me a tremendous amount.  I suggest checking out these episodes and transcripts of Milton Friedman’s film series FREE TO CHOOSE: “The Failure of Socialism” and “What is wrong with our schools?”  and “Created Equal”  and  From Cradle to Grave, and – Power of the Market. Milton Friedman shows in this episode how the worker is best protected and it is not by the government!!!!!!!

The essence of what Milton Friedman is saying in this episode is found in this statement:

“The situation of immigration restrictions really has to do with the question of a welfare state. As I say in the film, I would favor completely free immigration in a society which does not have a welfare system. With a welfare system of the kind we have, you have the problem that people immigrate in order to get welfare, not in order to get employment. You know, it’s a very interesting thing, if you would ask anybody before 1914 the U.S. had no immigration restrictions whatsoever, I’m exaggerating a little bit, there were some immigration restrictions on orientals, but it was essentially, mainly free. If you ask anybody, any American economic historian was that a good thing for America, everybody will say yes it was a wonderful thing for America that we had free immigration. If you ask anybody today, should we have free immigration today, everybody will __ almost everybody will say no. What’s the difference? I think there’s only one difference and that is that when we had free immigration it was immigration of jobs in which everybody benefited. The people who were already here benefited because they got complementary workers, workers who could work with them, make their productivity better, enable them to develop and use the resources of the country better, but today, if you have a system under which you have essentially a governmental guarantee of relief in case of distress, you have a very, very real problem.”

L. WILLIAMS: Dr. Friedman and Walter Williams go back in history and they take a look at a situation where America was empty, where we didn’t have anything like the sophisticated industrial economy we have today, but had a much more agricultural and rural kind of economy and of course when the __ when the impoverished peasants of Europe, my ancestors and most of our ancestors, except for the slaves, which is another situation, but when these people came from Europe and came to a wide open continent with the most fertile soil then available to anyone in the world, naturally there was progress; and I or any of us would be mad to deny progress. But as that developed and as population increased and as we moved into a much more sophisticated industrial economy, we moved then into the situation in the 1930s, or earlier than that , at the end of the century. As some of the more skilled jobs came along, the labor movement didn’t happen by accident. Didn’t happen because there wasn’t a need there. The results of this development, even with all the wealth available in America, the results of this development was that many working people were not having anything like, by standards of civilization or whatever, anything like their fair share in this progress.

MCKENZIE: Now you’re arguing that in a free market, for labor, everyone benefits. Does that mean that you would favor abolition of all immigration restrictions?

FRIEDMAN: The situation of immigration restrictions really has to do with the question of a welfare state. As I say in the film, I would favor completely free immigration in a society which does not have a welfare system. With a welfare system of the kind we have, you have the problem that people immigrate in order to get welfare, not in order to get employment. You know, it’s a very interesting thing, if you would ask anybody before 1914 the U.S. had no immigration restrictions whatsoever, I’m exaggerating a little bit, there were some immigration restrictions on orientals, but it was essentially, mainly free. If you ask anybody, any American economic historian was that a good thing for America, everybody will say yes it was a wonderful thing for America that we had free immigration. If you ask anybody today, should we have free immigration today, everybody will __ almost everybody will say no. What’s the difference? I think there’s only one difference and that is that when we had free immigration it was immigration of jobs in which everybody benefited. The people who were already here benefited because they got complementary workers, workers who could work with them, make their productivity better, enable them to develop and use the resources of the country better, but today, if you have a system under which you have essentially a governmental guarantee of relief in case of distress, you have a very, very real problem.

MCKENZIE: But this is true of every western industrialized country.

FRIEDMAN: That’s right and that’s why today __

MCKENZIE: Yeah.

FRIEDMAN: __ under current circumstances you cannot, unfortunately have free immigration. Not because there’s anything wrong with free immigration, but because we have other policies which make it impossible to adopt free immigration.

MCKENZIE: Well I’d like other reactions. Is it at all feasible to open the door of the labor market internationally now? Bill Brady?

BRADY: I would __ I would say yes providing they open the door to us. I think that the door to not only the labor market, the door to all markets should be __ should be open. That is the product markets.

W. WILLIAMS: My feelings about the undocumented workers of Mexican-Americans are inscribed at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. I think that the people should have the right to come to this country. Now, those who would say, you know, I hear a number of people saying that, well the immigrants are contributing to our unemployment problem. And I point this out to some people, I said, “look, you know, this is the same rhetoric that the Irish used when the blacks were coming up from the north, ” you know, they’re using blacks as scapegoats. They’re saying, “get those people back where they came from so that our members can get jobs, ” you know. Unions were as well doing this, you know, they called them scabs, strikebreakers, etcetera, etcetera. So I do not wish for Mexican-Americans to become the new scapegoats of our particular national problems. They are not the problem, and our nation benefits to the extent that these people come here and work. And to that extent __ to that extent__ so it’s kind of good for them to remain illegal aliens as opposed to being legal aliens where they’re subject to our welfare programs, so that we don’t want them to come here to __

(Several people talking at once.)

GREEN: I think that this country cannot have a group of workers to remain outside the framework of our laws and our protection. And as long as we have workers who are attracted to the United States because of the standards of living; and I think minimum wages play a part in that as part of that attraction. But it seems to me to have undocumented workers without providing either a means of protection for them and it seems to me that we’ve got to go to the question of providing the amnesty for those generations of workers who have come here over a period of time, now two, three, maybe four generations. We have to see that they have the same rights and protection of all other workers. And as it stands now, large numbers of them live outside the framework of the laws and statutes that we have on the __ on our books.

MCKENZIE: Comment Milton.

FRIEDMAN: They do and the tragedy of the situation, as what Walter Williams point out, that as long as they are undocumented and illegal they are a clear net gain, the nation benefits and they benefit. They wouldn’t be here if they didn’t. The tragedy is that we’ve adopted all these other policies so that if we convert them into legal residents it’s no longer clear that we benefit. They may benefit, but it’s no longer clear that we do. What Lynn Williams said before is again a travesty on what was actually going on. The real boost to the trade union movement came after the Great Depression of the 1930s; that Great Depression was not a failure of capitalism; it was not a failure of the private market system as we pointed out in another one of the programs in this series; it was a failure of government. It was not the case that somehow or other there was a decline in the conditions of the working class that produced a great surge of unionism. On the contrary __ unions have never accounted for more than one out of four or one out of five of American workers. The American worker benefited not out of unions, he benefited in spite of unions. He benefited because there was greater opportunity because there were people who were willing to invest their money because there was an opportunity for people to work, to save, to invest. That’s still the case today. You say, we have to provide them with something or other Ernest. Who are the “we”?

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733 everettehatcher@gmail.com

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