by Jim Peron
Dave Gallagher assumes we are putting the immigration cart before the welfare horse. This argument is one that some, especially those who want to cater to the xenophobic Right, use with certain regularity. The welfare state supposedly distorts the situation so that we can’t allow people to immigrate to the US because..., because... Well actually they don’t spell it out.
There is welfare and there is immigration and we are simply supposed to draw conclusions. But we are not provided with the evidence. At least Mr. Gallagher provided zero evidence in his essay. He merely says: “The fact remains however that many illegals consume an enormous amount of public resources.”
I bet that proportionate to their numbers illegals consume less than native born Americans or legal aliens. Frederick Bastiat gave a lesson I thought most libertarians understood. There is the seen and the unseen. Now let us assume Gallagher’s premise that illegals consume “an enormous amount of public resources”. That is what is seen or at least what Mr. Gallagher wants to see.
What is unseen is the amount of money they pay toward those programs. A survey from the US Labor Department recently showed that immigrants have a lower rate of unemployment than native born citizens. If they have lower unemployment that means they have higher labor participation rates. That means they disproportionately pay taxes into the system.
Illegals are less likely to collect welfare than native born Americans because they are illegal. Many simply avoid welfare entirely because it can be used to track them down. They are worried about INS brownshirts knocking on their door. On the other hand they find it very difficult to avoid paying taxes. They pay taxes on the food they buy, the gasoline they use, the salaries they earn. But their illegal status makes it harder for them to collect the so-called benefits which they help fund. But Mr. Gallagher only looks at one side of the equation. He prefers to concentrate only on what they collect and pretend that they pay nothing in toward those costs.
Now let us investigate what appears to be his principle. Welfare is bad. Welfare makes Americans worse off. It makes us so much worse off that we ought to restrict the rights of would be immigrants so they can’t add anything to the burden of welfare.
But there is another group that falls into this category which Mr. Gallagher is ignoring. In fact this insidious group of individuals have traits that are not at all good. Every single one of them is an economic burden and remains so for years. Not a one finds a job upon arrival. Many consume welfare benefits, they flood the hospitals and the schools spend billions on them. Everywhere we look they are consuming billions and billions in taxes in one form or another.
Next to the elderly they are probably the second largest burden on our health system. They are a major component of welfare beneficiaries and they consume the lion’s share of our all funding of education. They are babies. And for years after their birth all they do is take, take, take.
Since immigrants are more likely to be employed than native born Americans we can assume that they, unlike babies, pay more in taxes than they consume in benefits. So if the welfare state somehow justifies preventing immigration to the US then the same logic ought to be mean that our anti-immigrant “libertarians” should be demanding that we stop women from having more children. Surely if there is a case for restricting the liberty to immigrate, due to the welfare state, there is an even stronger case to restrict the liberty to have children.
Of course there is a simpler solution. Instead of lobbying to stop immigrants why not lobby to welcome them with one proviso: Anyone who immigrates is not allowed to collect welfare benefits for so many years after their arrival.
Instead of blaming immigrants for the welfare mess Mr. Gallagher would better spend his time going after his fellow legal citizens. They are more likely to be unemployed and thus more likely to consume welfare.
I only have one side point to make. Mr. Gallagher expressed an odd sentiment for an alleged anarchist: “wrap yourself in the American flag and leave the Mexican flag at home.” I’m not fond of anyone wrapping them self in any flag. It’s so gauche. Now Mr. Gallagher spoke of his Irish heritage. I grew up in Chicago where the Irish ran the city. They had a tendency to march with Irish flags. The shamrock is not an American symbol and you can hardly find an Irish pub without one of them on display. They even dyed the Chicago River green every year.
I find myself rarely offended by someone with a Mexican flag. After all Mexico hasn’t invaded other nations under that flag. It isn’t a Mexican flag flying over off shore concentration camps. It isn’t a Mexican flag flying outside while detainees are being tortured. These days I find the Mexican flag far less offensive but the mere idea of anyone wrapping them self in the American flag ---- well that’s a different matter entirely. My suggestion is don’t fly any flag. March as individuals.