"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Heritage Study on the Costs of Immigration Reform

Heritage has a new study out that estimates that the long-term cost of granting amnesty to 10-15 million illegal immigrants will add more than $6 trillion to the US national debt, because illegals, once naturalized, will become eligible for social welfare programs.

Look, I'm not against immigration reform and ultimately a "path to citizenship" for illegals.   The reality is that we are not going to deport 10-15 million Mexicans, not now, not ever.  Concentration camps and cattle cars wouldn't look too good for the TV cameras.   And, besides, that's not who we are as Americans.

But we also have to be realistic.   We cannot afford our social programs as they exist today. Add 10 million or so to the food stamp rolls andthe welfare rolls and the Medicaid rolls, etc., and the fiscal Armageddon accelerates. But no one is saying "get rid of food stamps," even though we have an obesity epidemic, not a starvation epidemic. And no one is saying "get rid of Medicaid," even though an Oregon study recently showed there was little to no positive impact on health from having Medicaid coverage rather than being uninsured.
And we aren't creating enough low-skilled manufacturing jobs to use the workforce we have now, and our government, via its massive regulation of industry, is effectively hostile to manufacturing job creation.
And our public schools are bad, and even if they were good, you can't turn people with IQs of <100 -- which by definition at least half of the illegal immigrants are -- into computer programmers or engineers.
So amnesty coupled with a serious border fence is nice, but it's not enough. What we would really need is amnesty coupled with a serious border fence...
  • Plus gutting the EPA and OSHA and all of the other regulation regimes that keep manufacturing firms from locating factories and creating jobs in America.
  • Plus unleashing oil and gas production so that manufacturers can get cheap energy to compete with cheap labor overseas.
  • Plus cutting or eliminating the minimum wage so that low-skilled workers become efficient hires.
  • Plus deregulating education so that trade schools and charter schools and private schools can compete with the public school bureaucracy.
  • Plus significantly cutting back on disability, welfare, food stamp, Medicaid, etc., so that we stop disincentivizing work.
Then, maybe, just maybe, amnesty might make sense. But amnesty in a European-style welfare state with a post-industrial information economy is a recipe for disaster.
Since I think there is little or no chance that any of my bullet points will ever be enacted in a country that seems intent on self-destructing, I'm betting on "disaster."

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