July 15, 2007


Free people movement is the way to global prosperity (Mirko Bagaric, 16 July 2007, Online Opinion)

The best way to ameliorate third world poverty is by massively increasing migration to the west. Left to their own devices many people would gravitate to life sustaining resources, leading to a rough equilibrium between the world’s resources and its population.

That’s not to suggest that Africa would empty overnight into the western world. Some of its citizens are too destitute to hobble to a more plentiful border. Some will not want to come, in any event. But huge numbers will follow the yellow brick road to prosperity in the west.

There is one fundamental obstacle to western nations relaxing border controls: racism. Discrimination on the basis of race is the lynchpin of the whole of western migration policy.

Nationhood and the practice of excluding others from our shores is so embedded in our psyche that many readers will find it jarring to contemplate that this practice is morally objectionable. No doubt our forefathers would also have found disconcerting the suggestion that precluding aboriginals from voting and taking their children from them was founded on a racist ideology.

While most of the western world has made remarkable strides in recent decades by eliminating most forms of discrimination and ensuring that most people enjoy something approaching adequate (if not equal) access to the resources of the nation, there is a fundamental failing with this enlightenment: the benefits are limited to people within the borders of the nation.

For most of human history there have been few migration limits. Now we are moving to an age of “anti-migration”. In 1976 only about 7 per cent of UN members had restrictive immigration policies. This rose to 40 per cent in the early part of the 21st century. Advanced (western) economies are at the forefront of this regrettable trend.

We must accept that restrictive immigration policies are racist unless there is a morally relevant basis for tightly limiting the number of people we permit to join our privileged society.

A relevant reason cannot be a person’s birth place. This is merely a happy or unhappy accident. Much of what is important to a person’s flourishing should not turn on so little - morality requires that to the maximum extent possible luck is taken out of the benefits and burdens equation.

National security is commonly used to justify a tight migration policy. While we have a legitimate right to security, this only justifies a policy of strict security checks. This is tacitly accepted by governments. Western nations accept a far greater number of tourists than migrants.

There is exactly one moral basis for excluding prospective immigrants: that they are personally at odds with the rules by which a society governs itself and the ideals upon which the political regime is founded. So long as a person wants to conform to those ideas they ought to be welcomed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 15, 2007 7:59 PM

Bah! Whatever we do, it's racist. Whatever happens in the world, it's our fault. Sure is convenient that we just happen to be immoral racists, huh?

The benefits of the resources of a nation are limited to the people of the nation? Fancy that--whodathunk? Next thing you know, the resources of a family will be limited to actual family members rather than anybody who happens to wander down the street and into their front door.

You know, it's not actually necessary to move to America to get the benefits. The documents and policies that made us prosperous are not some deep dark hidden secret--they are readily available in libraries all over the world, not to mention being easily downloadable from the internet.

Personal & economic freedom, rule of law--that's all it takes.

Posted by: ray at July 15, 2007 11:15 PM

Ray -- are you in favor of opening the borders to brown people? Americans sure take any and all white nurses and doctors we educate here in Canada without objection.

The jobs illegal immigrants do in California are probably more important to the U.S. economy than white nurses from Canada, yet there is strong opposition to the brown people and none to the white people.


Posted by: Randall Voth at July 15, 2007 11:26 PM

Oh, by the way, I believe the root of racism and all its more politically correct variants are based in one word: selfishness (which, itself, comes from fear).

Over and over again it has been proven that immigrants bring more than they take. The wealth of the U.S. is not its natural resources, but its people -- who are practically all 1st, 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants.

So take your pick: racism, selfishness, or fear, whatever sounds good to your sensibilities; but all are destructive and will erode the very foundation of the great republic if not held in check by drastically increased immigration.

Posted by: Randall Voth at July 15, 2007 11:36 PM

Not whatever you do, whatever you do that's racist.

Posted by: oj at July 15, 2007 11:56 PM

The real racism is to shirk our burden to share the jewel we have found with our neighbors throughout the world.

It is the height of racism to acquiesce in the notion that the loved Egyptian night is good enaough for the lesser breeds.

Communism was good enough for the Russians, or the Chinese, the crypto-racist holds; the spiritual jailhouse is good enough for its pathetic inmates; chaos and corruption are good enough for the Africans.

Say to me, what is left of the camp of the saints after it has been overrun by the wretched of the earth? The article, a silly, puerile essay, really, even admits that there just might be some economic diminution as a result of the open borders scheme.

When all are equally poor, who then will have the wealth above the needs of subsistence required to finance the world government? Roads, legions and triremes are expensive. These things are the price of law, and law is the hope of the world.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 16, 2007 3:42 AM

Isn't it a little silly to accuse us of racism by comparing perhaps hundreds white Canadian nurses to the tens of millions of "brown" people from south of our border?

Not that I care. All Americans, not withstanding their "brownness, blackness, redness, yellowness or whiteness," born in the wrong country are welcome.

All others, stay where you are or go to Canada or some other paradise which welcomes those whose sworn mission it is to kill or convert their citizens and take over their country.

Posted by: erp at July 16, 2007 8:24 AM

No one is so poor as the man who believes giving up some fraction of his overabundance in order to improve the lot of the many makes him poor.

Posted by: oj at July 16, 2007 8:42 AM

I think the cause of immigration restrictions isn't racism, it's national socialism. We want to provide a social safety net. It's not feasible to provide that to the whole world, but we might be able to do it here at home, if we restrict who can get in.

Post-racist national socialism is a bit better than the old racial kind, but it's still an abomination.

Posted by: Nathan Smith at July 16, 2007 11:03 AM

Except that the racist policy preceded socialism and was then, as now, advocated most loudly by the nativist Right.

Posted by: oj at July 16, 2007 11:26 AM

-- Americans sure take any and all white nurses and doctors we educate here in Canada without objection.--

1. We don't "take" them, they Choose to come here. Not our problem Canuckistan hasn't learned socialism doesn't work. And Canuckistan pays their neurosurgeons 20% less.

2. There are also a lot of Filippinos who come here as nurses.

Posted by: Sandy P at July 16, 2007 3:10 PM