What’s wrong with legal immigration and free trade?


Let’s review, shall we, where wealth comes from.

When two people get together and decide it is in their mutual self-interest to trade, the both walk away with something of greater value than what they started with.

In other words, when you go to the store and but something you want more than the money you have, you get a little richer. The store is more than happy to give you the item for the money because they would rather have the money, and so they get a little richer.

Free trade, free markets, freedom in general, creates wealth.

See, wealth is not having a lot of stuff. Wealth is having the things you want. The only way to get the things you want is to make it for yourself, or to trade. When we are allowed to freely trade with each other, we all find our comparative advantage, the thing that we are better at more than anything else we can do. And when we all work at our comparative advantage and trade for everything else, everyone benefits the most.

With this lesson in mind, let’s review what our foreign policy should be, to maximize our profits here at home.

First, we should remove any and all trade barriers that we erect. Whether another country decides to do the same is entirely irrelevant. Any tariff we charge should cover the cost of doing the sorts of things government is wont to do in the name of security and such, such as inspecting cargo, making sure people are who they claim to be, etc…

With low or almost absent tariffs, the end result is that everyone will want to sell their stuff to the US. When they sell it, they have to bring something away of comparative value. That’s where we win. By keeping our costs (tariffs and trade barriers) low, we both profit.

Second, we should allow any and all people who want to come to our country for peaceful purposes to come and go as they please, and do whatever they want while here. If you’re like Trump, then you’re probably concerned about unemployment.

In order to dispel your fears, let’s imagine a scenario. Two countries are competing with each other. One has an open borders policy: people can come and go as they wish, and do what they like, as long as it is legal. The other country will not allow foreigners to come and go easily, nor will they allow them to work without special permission.

Question: Where would you build your company? In the first country, you can rest assured that if you need to hire someone, you can hire from any country. In the other country, you’d better make double sure that you don’t need anyone from the first country, or else you’ll be in trouble.

If you decide it’s best to build your company in the first country, then that should be your answer to unemployment. If people decide to build their companies in the US, then unemployment will drop.

It’s also important to understand the cause of unemployment. Simply put, no one is willing to work for the wages they are offered. This could be for several reasons, but usually it has to do with government setting restrictions one way or the other on who can do what and for how much. Right now, if you’re a poor black kid growing up in the projects, you are pretty much denied the chance of ever getting a job thanks to minimum wage. What businessman would think it wise to hire you at ridiculous rates that you simply aren’t worth? With no job, you can’t get experience, you can’t prove your worth, and you can never show the world you are worth more than what you are paid and you can never get practical experience. Similarly, there are people in your community who have an entrepreneurial spirit but who are denied the ability to act on it thanks to arbitrary government restrictions. They could’ve hired you, but they aren’t even in business.

Remove the barriers, unemployment disappears.

Is it any wonder that the Smoot-Hawley tariffs, combined with the new tax-and-spend-and-regulate federal government brought our economy to its knees in the late ’30s?

Remember, when two people are allowed to get together and freely trade, they both come away richer. We should be encouraging people to freely trade with each other, leaping over arbitrary obstacles, like immigration policies and trade barriers.

Trump is wrong on this. I think he knows it. I hope he is wise enough to listen to economists who will be more than happy to explain this all to him.


2 Responses to “What’s wrong with legal immigration and free trade?”

  1. Jason Says:


    Everybody with a good heart can come? Should we be a nation of 500 million. A billion? 3 billion? What’s a good number?

    I say we need to shrink. We are full here. I don’t want the whole country to ba a giant rush hour traffic mess of humanity.

    Johnathan, there is more to life than trade. More to life than economics. Much, much more.

    Do you want to live in a neighborhood where everybody is Somali? Your the only Mormon for miles? Why not bring all of Guatemala to federal way?

    I always worry when I hear these opinions that talk about reducing people to economic units. They usually come from autistics (economists) or sociopaths (politicians).

    Example: I would guess that the problem with Angela Merkle is that she’s a sociopath. She really doesn’t understand why Germans like being German. It mystifies her how they can want to be around family and familiar faces. She doesn’t see that an Algerian is not a German. She doesn’t see the humanity in her own race and feels no affinity towards them.

    She’s sick. (Cluster B.)

    I also get nervous when I hear these economic arguments because it seems to me like the sociopaths use the arguments of the autistics to reduce the humanity of the masses. We all (minus the sociopaths, of course) lose in the long run.

    Why not ask what’s best for your family? Your people? Your country?

    Hint: it’s not found in an economic text book. We all have way too much crap as it is. We can’t buy or trade our way out of our current mess.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      We are hardly full here. Sure, our cities are a bit dense, but nothing like “real” cities. And we have so much land in between we are barely using.

      As long as people come here for honest purposes, and keep the law, there is no problem. I don’t mind living among Somalis and Guatemalans who are here peacefully and legally and keep the law. However, suppose it was true that Somalians are more likely to break the law or are not here for peaceful purposes. Then I have a problem, but let’s be clear: It’s not because of their name, it’s because of their purpose and behavior.

      Angela Merkel’s problem is that she isn’t only allowing legal, peaceful people into her country. She isn’t properly policing them either. She should have stricter immigration laws, she should be policing immigrants more forcefully, and she should be far less trusting of immigrant populations. The mass migrants should be turned away or shot. They have no right to storm the country; that is an act of aggression that cannot be tolerated.

      When England in the late 1700’s opened their borders to trade and immigrants, when they created free-trade zones throughout the world, they got richer than anything thought was even possible. For example, the Chinese who lived in their free-trade zone of Hong Kong were not English citizens. They were ruled by English citizens, and over time, they became as close as you can possibly get to being English without actually being English. That’s the model we should follow. Note that the English were harsh and strict. They enforced English law on the people living in Hong Kong and were unwavering in their commitment to it.

      Citizenship is for those who integrate and who show the ideal attributes of what we’d like in a citizen. Citizens maintain the government because they have the vision and the discipline. The vast majority of people coming to the US should never, ever become citizens. They should, however, buy our houses, go to our schools, work in our factories and our companies, and live by our laws. If they don’t, we kick them out.

      It should also be mentioned that I don’t have a problem with the US saying things like, “We don’t allow immigrants from country X or who have attributes Y.” Banning immigrants based on factors such as religion and culture and nationality is not a concern to me. IE, we can pretty much trust the Koreans, but I don’t trust Somalia. I can trust hindus but I have a hard time trusting muslims at this point. They have to show to us that they want to come here for peaceful and lawful purposes, not the other way around. If they come here and don’t integrate or leave, then we can stop accepting so many and even tell them to go home. The democrats seem to want more and more of the undesirable kinds of immigrants, while republicans tend to want more of the ones we can trust and that we get along with.

      Finally, living as an immigrant in Korea, I can tell you that it’s a completely different experience than immigrants get here in the US. The Koreans are very cautious about maintaining their culture and their economy. They have very strict rules which they enforce without hesitation. It was clear that I was there as a guest, and I had to keep the laws more faithfully than any other Korean. I was also expected to learn the language, learn the culture, and integrate. Those who can’t or won’t do those things are shown the door. While Korea could benefit from more free trade, they are doing it exactly right when it comes to preserving culture and authority.

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