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Sunday, March 30, 2014

America's Immigration Policy No Longer Matters:

There are some countries which enjoy the fruits of homogeneity -- like Japan, South Korea, or Iceland.  These countries have a real reason to oppose immigration -- because they really do have a culture and ethnicity worth preserving.  If their harmonious and happy world were split apart and ripped to shreds by the third world, they would be losing a treasure trove of social goods -- strong community ties, a shared history, a feeling of collective communitarian spirit that leads to generous social spending, low crime rates, low stakes elections where it doesn't matter which party wins because they're all moderate anyway, etc, etc.  The happiest and healthiest places on Earth are single-ethnicity enclaves like those found in Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, etc.  I'm very happy for Switzerland's successful vote to prevent any further immigration into their country, which has been working just fine with its original inhabitants for the last thousand years.

This does not apply to America anymore.  America is already a 40% minority country, with an over 50% minority birth rate.  America has no shared history, ethnicity, language, culture, religion, or anything to speak of.  America is just a global marketplace where people come to find work and get rich.  In the 1950's, America was 90% white, and identified around the WASP way of life as the 'center' of America's cultural experience.  Now WASPS are an endangered species, completely sidelined in all our important institutions.  They no longer form as a cultural core for everyone else to assimilate to, they've been practically forgotten.  There is nothing left to rally around or protect, it's all been lost long ago.  Continuing to fight against immigration is a waste of time, because everything anti-immigration policies seek to preserve has already been destroyed long ago.  You can't close a barn door after the horses have already bolted.  The current racial balance of the USA is here to stay, and nothing can reverse our course at this late hour.

As a result, we should look at immigration as solely an economic issue when it comes to America, with no cultural or political implications whatsoever, because those cultural and political issues have already been settled in favor of the immigrants.  Immigrants will create social chaos and division all across America, and they will be the decisive power in federal elections -- this is just baked into the cake and established fact given the birth rates we face today.  Bewailing this fact is a waste of time, because even if immigration stopped tomorrow this truth would still remain.  The question now is, given that there are no additional costs culturally or politically, because democrats have already won politically, and the culture is already fragmented beyond repair, is immigration a net positive or negative for Americans?

I would say immigration could easily be made into a net positive with a few common sense rules.  If we only allowed in immigrants who have already found jobs here in America, or possess college degrees that indicate they will easily be able to find a job once they get here, we could make immigrants into an economic dynamo that would help support the rest of America which may not be doing as well and could use the additional tax revenue to cover their needs.  Instead of the family reunification basis of American immigration, switching to a 'points system' where anyone who qualifies can come and anyone who doesn't qualify can't come, like is done in Canada, would instantly upgrade the quality of the immigrants coming into America yearly while still not discriminating against any particular race or ethnic group.  By all means avoid racism, xenophobia, and nativism.  Allow hundreds of millions of immigrants to come here tomorrow -- but only if they can prove that they'll be a boon to the economy instead of a burden.  If people want to come here to find work and pay taxes that eventually end up in the pockets of the native inhabitants, both sides benefit from this deal.  In order to sweeten the pot for native Americans to open up their borders to all comers, all we need is one simple policy in place that would silence all critics:

Immigration lowers wages for the industries involved, and drives up unemployment.  It also lowers costs and increases economic efficiency, but never mind that.  The fact is immigration really does hurt various hard hit groups who would have been better off without it.  The answer is to make sure everyone wins in the new economy, so that no one feels abandoned or betrayed at the end of the day.  And the way to make everyone win is a citizen's dividend.  If people are given $12,000 a year automatically, it doesn't matter if their wages are lower or they've lost their jobs -- they're secure for life either way.  No one can possibly complain about immigration's impact on their personal lives if they have a guaranteed good life no matter what happens in the marketplace.  This citizen's dividend would apply only to native Americans and American-born children -- so immigrants who come here will be doing it for the right to work and not to receive handouts, but their children, who will be American citizens, will have the same benefits as everyone else.  The great thing about this plan is that it offsets itself --

One of the objections to the citizen's dividend is that it would lower the supply of labor, that not enough people would want to work to keep the economy moving.  On the opposite side, immigration floods the labor market and creates too many people for the economy to support.  Combine the two together and both problems disappear.  The policies offset in another sense as well -- rich people complain that they don't want to pay taxes that go to lazy poor.  However, immigrants would gladly accept this deal if it allowed them to move to America.  America has huge assets that make moving here a good deal no matter how many lazy people are supported by an immigrant's hard work.  America is relatively crime-free, pollution-free, corruption-free, discrimination-free, abundant in land, with a mild climate, good human rights, mighty in war and politically stable.  People living in failed states all around the world, like India, China, or even Mexico, look upon all of these traits with great envy.  The right to live in a well run country, with good institutions, is worth paying any premium for, from their point of view.  Rich, native Americans already have this right free of charge, so they resent paying taxes to help the poor.  However, immigrants, who would gladly make this deal in order to move here, see it as just the price to pay for a good life full of economic opportunity and political liberty.

The market would improve in practically every field if we allowed in unlimited economic-based immigrants.  The productivity of various fields would improve as skilled labor slots would be filled and businesses could grow as they desired, from doctors to engineers.  As a result, the cost of all these products would go down, making everyone's standard of living improve even if they don't make any more money than before.  The economic dividends of open immigration, and the importing of every intelligent person all across the world to come work here and pay taxes here, would more than cover the cost of a citizen's dividend, while also alleviating any damage done by said immigration.  Right now America is a place full of natural resources that want to be exploited, and entrepreneurial startups that want to be staffed -- immigrants are the perfect solution that would allow for booming growth in the decades to come.  Whether it's farmland or natural gas, America is searching for workers to tap into Earth's natural bounty.  The only bottleneck right now is healthy, able bodies who will come take this natural blessing from its resting place and put it into the marketplace already.  Computers are the wave of the future, but every tech company says they can't make any progress with their new business models because there aren't enough programmers to fulfill their ambitions.  If Silicon Valley fulfills its potential, we will have AI, robotics, brain uploads, cheap spaceflight, virtual reality, you name it.  If a few visas can make even one of these inventions possible, for God's sake, give these companies their visas.  As many as they want, as many as they can handle, and more -- once they've invented what they say they can invent, no one will be worrying about immigration anymore.  A recent estimate says that driverless cars would contribute $3 trillion to the economy per year.  The entire USA economy is only $16 trillion.  If immigrant visas were to hasten the arrival of this economic boon by just a few years, it would pay the entire cost of the citizen's dividend right there.

It is immoral to prevent an employer and an employee from meeting and making each other happy.  If both sides would benefit from such a deal, having a third person come in from out of nowhere and keep them apart is just as appalling as a third party preventing the marriage of two people in true love.  Unless there are vital reasons to keep an employer and employee apart, they should be left alone to achieve their dreams together.  The default view on immigration should be open, with only exceptional circumstances keeping them closed.  Japan has a good reason to keep immigration closed, for the sake of preserving its unique heritage and way of life that has so far worked wonders for all native Japanese.  We don't.  We don't have any moral arguments on our side.  And without those moral arguments, it's just spiteful to stand in an immigrant's way.

With the passage of the citizen's dividend, there would be no economic reasons to prevent immigration either.  If immigration alone wouldn't pay for the citizen's dividend (though I believe it would, as America's population could easily double with a system of open immigration, making the 'makers to takers' ratio quite favorable), there are still many other ways to dramatically improve the economy we haven't yet tapped.  We could, for instance, say that racism is no longer a problem in an America that has gone so far as to open its borders to all mankind, and therefore get rid of all discrimination/disparate impact/affirmative action requirements.  This would improve the GDP at least 10% overnight, as everyone would have the right to hire and fire who they please, on whatever criteria they please, and all the lawsuits would end as people simply concentrated on finding the right man or woman for the job.  Opening our borders would prove our color-blindness, which we could then insist upon as our policy in education and the workforce as well, from a position of moral strength.  No one can question your motives or inner heart if you're welcoming immigrants from all over the world.  With the citizen's dividend taking care of all the nation's poor, regardless of their skin color, it won't matter what disparate impact exists in education or the workforce -- everyone will be taken care of regardless of capitalism's opinions.

Other ways to instantly boost the economy would be to open up oil, natural gas, and coal drilling offshore, on public land, or wherever it may be found.  America could become the petro-capital of the world if we set our minds to it.  We could all live like Kings, just like Saudi Arabia does, if only the environmentalists would get out of the way and make these endless riches available to the populace.

Switching from our arcane tax laws to a simple flat sales tax would also boom the economy overnight.  Without having to comply with all the various tax laws, people would save time and effort by doing what makes economic sense, instead of what earns them a tax loophole.  People would also strive to earn as much income as possible, knowing that it won't be taxed at a higher rate the more they earn.  Encouraging production from our most productive citizens will have an enormous impact on our economic growth, since most income is made by these high-earners in the first place.

Another way to instantly boost economic growth is to pull out of foreign conflicts and slash the military.  With the citizen's dividend in place, there is no need for government jobs like the military to take care of our poor.  Just let it go.  It's time to embrace a new, more peaceful century like the entire rest of the world has accepted long ago.  While we're at it, we could also pass a constitutional amendment saying we will have free trade with all at all times, so that sanctions are not even an allowable federal policy.  Sanctions are a form of warfare that got us into World War II in the first place, and I would like to sideline such a stupid mistake from ever emerging again.  Free trade with the rest of the world could easily increase our GDP by another 10%.  And like usual, those hurt by free trade could fall back on the guaranteed income of the citizen's dividend.  There are no victims in a citizen's dividend world, only beneficiaries when it comes to improved economic efficiency.

With these victimless reforms, where no one is hurt and everyone is better off, we could afford the citizen's dividend even while keeping all previous programs in place.  Economic growth could pay for all of it.  We could even balance our budget and pay off the debt while we are at it.  There is enough technological and natural resource potential in America, that with even a halfway sane political system, the economy can take off like a rocket at any time.  Free trade and open borders is part of that economic dynamism.  Treating everyone in the world and everyone at home equally, with the same dividend, the same hiring practices, the same criteria for getting into college, the same simple tax rate, etc, is another part of that dynamism.  Not only is refusing to discriminate a moral goal, it will supercharge our economic growth in virtually all sectors of the economy.  It will benefit people of every social class and every ethnicity.  It will benefit the entire world as well as every American.

Growth-centered policies championed by Republicans, combined with the compassion of Democrats to take care of our least fortunate, is the formula for America's future.  Working together, we have all the tools necessary, all the natural resources and human capital needed, to create a utopia.  Just one grand compromise could satisfy everyone, for all time, and end our partisan divisions currently wracking America once and for all.

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