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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The benefits of foreign labor are a lie

In Cuckservative, John Red Eagle and I conclusively demonstrated, using official government statistics, that immigrant labor is a net negative to Americans and American workers. Others who are looking into the subject are reliably finding that the importation of foreign labor is harmful:
Last year, thousands of American companies won permission to bring a total of more than 150,000 people into the country as legal guest workers for unskilled jobs, under a federal program that grants them temporary work permits known as H-2 visas. Officially, the guest workers were invited here to fill positions no Americans want: The program is not supposed to deprive any American of a job, and before a company wins approval for a single H-2 visa, it must attest that it has already made every effort to hire domestically. Many companies abide by the law and make good-faith efforts to employ Americans.

Yet a BuzzFeed News investigation, based on Labor Department records, court filings, more than 100 interviews, inspector general reports, and analyses of state and federal data, has found that many businesses go to extraordinary lengths to skirt the law, deliberately denying jobs to American workers so they can hire foreign workers on H-2 visas instead....

At the same time, companies across the country in a variety of industries have made it all but impossible for U.S. workers to learn about job openings that they are supposed to be given first crack at. When workers do find out, they are discouraged from applying. And if, against all odds, Americans actually get hired, they often are treated worse and paid less than foreign workers doing the same job, in order to drive the Americans to quit.

What’s more, companies often do this with the complicity of government officials, records show. State and federal authorities have allowed companies to violate the spirit — and often the letter — of the law with bogus recruitment efforts that are clearly designed to keep Americans off the payroll. And when regulators are alerted to potential problems, the response is often ineffectual.
I know it's painful for the devotees of free trade, who love nothing better than to compare 21st century analyses to 18th century dogma, to admit, but the increasingly undeniable empirical reality is that free trade, and the free movement of labor, are about as Marxist, globalist, socially destructive, and economically harmful as Communism.

I've read every single defense of free trade that I can find. None of them, not a single one of them, holds up. And as for those who babble childishly about a protectionist government picking winners, as if that suffices to make a rational case, what on Earth do they think is happening in the USA and in the EU now?

All that free trade accomplishes is that it allows governments to pick winners from around the world rather than from inside their own borders. And the winners are those who are willing to pay the most for the privilege, which is why the dominant figures in the U.S. media are a) an Australian and b) a Lebanese based in Mexico.

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88 Comments:

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother December 16, 2015 8:40 AM  

The immobility of labor was much easier to buy into in Ricardo's day. Now, millions of people can move from one country to another as a mass in weeks.

Blogger Conan the Cimmerian December 16, 2015 8:43 AM  

Linked and reposted

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr December 16, 2015 8:49 AM  

As Dr. Pournelle has pointed out for the last fifteen years, the purely financial case for or against free trade is incomplete. There are social costs that don't get accounted for.

Personally, I think we also need to differentiate between free movement of goods and free movement of people, and between trade among peer states and trade with non-peer states.

Free exchange of goods among peer states is, I think, beneficial. In particular, it provides small businesses working niche markets with a larger potential market, allowing consumers to get precisely the product they were looking for.

Trade of goods with non-peers is not so good. Workers in the advanced nation lose jobs, and are forced down-market to work that may be lower paid, but can't be exported. This results in a loss of income and status that corrodes a society.

Free movement of people? Bad idea. Always.

Blogger VD December 16, 2015 8:57 AM  

No one is arguing that all trade is harmful. The point is that not all trade is beneficial. That's a major change in the debate.

Blogger White Knight Leo #0368 December 16, 2015 8:58 AM  

I'm convinced that VD is correct when he points out that there are social and political costs to free trade that aren't sufficiently accounted for.

That said, perhaps none of the defenses of free trade hold up, in his estimation, because he's expecting free trade to accomplish something that free traders aren't actually trying to do.

Blogger James Dixon December 16, 2015 9:06 AM  

> ...because he's expecting free trade to accomplish something that free traders aren't actually trying to do.

The corporate support for free trade and visas is entirely because they drive down costs. Visas and illegal immigration drive down labor costs in this country; while the free trade of goods allows them to relocate production to escape both labor and regulatory costs.

That's what VD expects they're trying to do, and that's what they are trying to do.

Blogger VD December 16, 2015 9:06 AM  

That said, perhaps none of the defenses of free trade hold up, in his estimation, because he's expecting free trade to accomplish something that free traders aren't actually trying to do.

No, they all fail by their own reckoning. The arguments are uniformly flawed.

OpenID paworldandtimes December 16, 2015 9:07 AM  

Seven years ago when libertarians/free traders were very vocal within the nascent alt-Right, I was pointing out that libertarians are one or more of the following:

- Right wingers without the balls to be right wing
- Aspie/HBD nerds
- High-functioning minorities with an agenda of their own
- Profiteers on human misery

PA

Anonymous 1925er December 16, 2015 9:14 AM  

“Restricted immigration is not an offensive but purely a defensive action. It is not adopted in criticism of others in the slightest degree, but solely for the purpose of protecting ourselves. We cast no aspersions on any race or creed, but we must remember that every object of our institutions of society and government will fail unless America be kept American."

Calvin Coolidge, 1924

Blogger James Dixon December 16, 2015 9:15 AM  

> - Aspie/HBD nerds

Speaking for myself, I'd have a hard time arguing against that particular point, I'll admit. :)

Blogger dc.sunsets December 16, 2015 9:18 AM  

From CAFO meat production to dumping hundreds of tons of pesticides on utterly depleted soils, and gaming corporate accounting systems to pump up stock prices to enhance executive compensation, we've entered an "anything goes" amorality of creating shareholder value.

Cultural Marxism (from pathological altruism) on the Push, profit maximization while ignoring social consequences on the Pull, no wonder things are spiraling the sewer drain so fast.

Blogger Student in Blue December 16, 2015 9:22 AM  

The fact that BuzzFeed will get something right...

Blogger RC December 16, 2015 9:27 AM  

We have a battle on our hands no doubt. The immigrants provide recognizable benefits to influential people with long-term costs that few ponder. I own a software company that serves contract-related industries. These entrepreneurs do not think they could survive without seasonal Mexican manual labor so they end up in strong support of policies that will be their eventual undoing. In their mind, the Mexicans are doing the work that American college kids and blacks do not want to do.

Blogger Gapeseed December 16, 2015 9:28 AM  

The free trade between the states via the Interstate Commerce Clause is good, and the mobility of a people who share a common language and (more broadly) a common culture is a feature and not a bug, then?

Anonymous A Visitor December 16, 2015 9:29 AM  

Heard something last night after I got done watching the debate, it sounded like it was part of the old Jordan Commission. It may still have been during the debate.

Blogger dc.sunsets December 16, 2015 9:30 AM  

I used to be a free trader. I now see that virtually any "good" will be inverted if not embedded in a larger cohesive social milieu.

Shared identity (culture, heritage, etc.) is a powerful system of disciplining naked self-interest. Cultural Marxism's and Blank Slate's first effect is to destroy shared identity, freeing people to undertake individually profitable actions that utterly destroy the commons on which their lives depend.

Multi-culturalism and totalitarian anti-racism/anti-sexism produce, in fact, a monstrous Tragedy of the Commons, where a common culture, common heritage, even common belief systems and common values are the essential connective tissue of a peaceful and prosperous society.

Blogger White Knight Leo #0368 December 16, 2015 9:35 AM  

@16

I am one still, but I no longer accept that it entails open immigration, if for no other reason than that open immigration would entail political and social costs greater than the economic benefits.

Blogger dc.sunsets December 16, 2015 9:41 AM  

Maybe it makes me an aspie, but the inescapable conclusion from this logic train is that what "we" need more than anything is separatism.

My family and I will thrive best if we live our lives embedded in a homogeneous society, one where we share the same core values. Given the axioms of HBD, this means we would best live in a society of straight, culturally conservative (at least nominally Christian) people primarily of Northern European descent, and where all others would be encouraged to Go. Somewhere. Else. Such a cohesive community would embed powerful checks and balances on members' individual actions, most of them subtle and private rather than public and legalistic. Borders would be semi-permeable to goods, virtually impermeable to people.

As Hans Hermann Hoppe has noted, Job #1 would be ejecting anyone who tried to infect the Body Politic with the poisons with which it is saturated today.

Blogger VD December 16, 2015 9:45 AM  

The free trade between the states via the Interstate Commerce Clause is good, and the mobility of a people who share a common language and (more broadly) a common culture is a feature and not a bug, then?

No. Are you even paying attention to anything that has been written here? You don't simply declare things good and then attempt to derive conclusions from that assumption.

Blogger dc.sunsets December 16, 2015 9:52 AM  

@17 Leo, sadly I'm compelled to see that while permeability to people is THE most disastrous of free trade, there must certainly be instances where The Commons of a cohesive society is threatened by certain goods as well.

My lingering libertarian quickly asks, "Who is to decide what is socially good and what is not?" but when caught in the vise between "Authority Decides" and "Naked Self-Interest Rules," I'm now forced to side with Authority.

Until humans self-segregate and geographically separate into relatively homogeneous societies there will be too little social cohesion to subtly apply moral opprobrium in enough quantity to offset naked self-interest. A relatively free society cannot emerge from or even survive amidst heterogeneity, this should now be blatantly obvious.

Until then, the path ahead that does not lead into the Valley of Lord of the Flies must pass through a totalitarian autocracy. Since we're already living in a totalitarian democratic despotism, it's possible an autocracy will actually be an improvement for most of us.

Blogger White Knight Leo #0368 December 16, 2015 9:59 AM  

@20

is threatened by certain goods as well

Can you name one?

offset naked self-interest

What's your plan for stopping the authority from acting with "naked self-interest"?

Are you differentiating between predatory self-interest and non-predatory self-interest?

Blogger Conan the Cimmerian December 16, 2015 10:00 AM  

Sunsets,

Those last few posts are perhaps the most cogent I have encountered on this subject.

Blogger Scuzzaman December 16, 2015 10:04 AM  

Chinese food?

I just got back from Singapore, a nation-city-state with 5 million people made up of 4 major ethnicities and a lot of minor ones.

I had an interesting conversation with a native Singaporean who said: "You know all those people who go to other countries and cause trouble? Who are famous for not integrating, getting into drugs, crime, and etc? Well, they all come here as 'guest workers' and they don't cause any trouble."

The government of Singapore, under the brilliant Lee Kwan Yew, had one over-riding principle: you fuck with the government and you die. You cause trouble, vandalising, assaulting, or otherwise breaching the peace, and you get flogged in public the first time, jailed in a very harsh penal system the second time, and hung the third time.

That is the only way I know of to effectively neutralise the human propensity to clan together and to fight with other clans.

Overwhelming force.

This is the society Americans will soon live in, at best, and this is the objective of the importing of masses of trouble-makers, aka foreigners.

Americans need to decide if they want their government to have that kind of power, and if not, what they are going to do to prevent it. In other words, will they expel the invaders or will they submit to the crackdown that will follow the conflict those invaders bring to every nation that does not harshly suppress disobedience?

Blogger Conan the Cimmerian December 16, 2015 10:05 AM  

Sunsets,

Added to my re-post of VD. Did not think you'd mind.

Blogger White Knight Leo #0368 December 16, 2015 10:06 AM  

@20

I've come to accept that closed immigration is a surmountable obstacle because any human skill is potentially learnable by any other human being (within certain limits, obviously), but like human cultures the Earth itself is heterogeneous, and many natural resources are more abundant in some places than others.

I love that we've developed fracking, but even advanced technology doesn't make it our oil cheaper to get at than Saudi oil, and our regulatory climate isn't helping things. I'm comfortable with supporting domestic fracking specifically to destabilize our enemies (many of whom depend on oil revenue). But currently its the only such good that I can think of, and my support for subsidizing fracking domestically would evaporate the moment we no longer had significant enemies who benefit from oil drilling.

So what I'm saying is: I can accept a temporary political argument for the dangers of importing specific goods, since our economy simply won't be here if we can't defend it. But if defense policy isn't on the table, I don't see the benefit of import restrictions.

Blogger White Knight Leo #0368 December 16, 2015 10:08 AM  

@23

That is the only way I know of to effectively neutralise the human propensity to clan together and to fight with other clans.

Overwhelming force.


Isn't that the underlying assumption of Pax Americana? Like Britannia and Romana before it?

Blogger Scuzzaman December 16, 2015 10:12 AM  

@26:

I'd have said rationalisation.

The actual underlying assumption was expanding the sphere of command and control.

Blogger dc.sunsets December 16, 2015 10:12 AM  

@19
Trying to clarify my understanding.

I now see that simply declaring "unrestricted trade" a universal good is like saying "more water is always better," ignoring that in reality the web of context matters most and that context changes.

Free Trade is a misguided effort to create a mechanistic approach to an important area of potential social conflict. In their zeal to strip the state's minions of one weapon in their arsenal for assaulting fellow citizens, libertarians yielded a defect common to all attempts to oversimplify complex systems.

This is an evolution in my understanding.

OpenID paworldandtimes December 16, 2015 10:14 AM  

"Overwhelming force"

Like when the entire weight of the narional legal and media establishment attempted to crush a putative White man in Florida for defending himself from a black punk that was pounding his head into the pavement.

PA

Anonymous Joe Blowe December 16, 2015 10:14 AM  

Overwhelming force

1.) Diversity
2.) Freedom
3.) Civilization

History has shown that a society can have two of the three but not all three at the same time. Singapore decided it wants Diversity and Civilization. That's fine for them. I'd rather have Freedom and Civilization.

Blogger Scuzzaman December 16, 2015 10:19 AM  

@29:

Such force is always dangerous. The present Prime Minister of Singapore, the son of Lee Kwan Yew, is a brilliant politician in his own right.

The problem is, he is NOT Lee Kwan Yew.

It is inevitable that the holders of this office will rarely attain in future the stature of the original. (You see this in the USA, too, right? Anyone like George Washington lately? Thomas Jefferson? Of Pitt the Younger in the UK?)

The machinery of suppressive control of men's worst impulses will become a machine of oppressive control under the guidance of men's worst impulses.

Such are the cycles of history. We should learn from them, but we should not think they cannot happen to us, no matter how learned we be. Such thinking is a part of what guarantees that they will.

Blogger Scuzzaman December 16, 2015 10:21 AM  

@30

Singapore inherited diversity from the British and wanted Civilisation.

They did what they had to do, within the strictures of their own moral system.

The problem is not choosing which of the three are more important to me or to you. The problem is achieving a society in which the vast majority agree with us.

Blogger dc.sunsets December 16, 2015 10:32 AM  

@21
Leo, your argument resonates with my prior self.
is threatened by certain goods as well
Can you name one?


I can posit a scenario, that's all. A town has a young man who wishes to produce a good. The good is available from overseas and in the present time at a lower cost than any local could produce. The problem is, this condition could change and NOT just because the price of the overseas-made good is no longer better. The local man may have no other job prospects (I know, this is far-fetched, but you asked me to describe something that in fact is impossibly complex, too complex for description so I'm forced to grossly oversimplify, hurting believability.) In this context, a locally-produced good may easily have a lower fully-fleshed cost than the "cheaper" overseas product. I think the experience of the USA these past 30 years is an example of this writ large, and it disguised political destruction of work in the USA (via rampant escalation of crushingly expensive regulations.)

What's your plan for stopping the authority from acting with "naked self-interest"?

I don't have one. Democracy (open entry to political action) + social heterogeneity = conscienceless, merciless exploitation via political lobbying, a political Hobbesian war of all against all.

There is today no way to square the circle.

As I stated earlier, without the social cohesion and shared moral opprobrium to dull the blade of naked self-interest, Political Authority will be entirely aligned with forces whose intent is to strip-mine society.

Is this not what we see today?

Every political faction in America jockeys endlessly to rob everyone else. Concentrated benefit, diffuse cost is the universal guiding principle in the halls of government and corporate suites across North America.

I find it nauseating, but have no solution to propose. Either humanity segregates and separates into homogeneous, geographically separate enclaves or we're going to ride this train right off the broken trestle and into a fiery denouement at the bottom of the approaching chasm.


OpenID paworldandtimes December 16, 2015 10:36 AM  

"Either humanity segregates and separates into homogeneous, geographically separate enclaves..."

Why not "communities" or "nations" instead of "enclaves"?

PA

Blogger J Van Stry December 16, 2015 10:44 AM  

I was once told at a phone screening for a job I applied for, that they could only hire an H1B visa holder, that the job was not open to Americans.
The only reason I didn't file a complaint was that I knew the hiring manager and they were just being honest with me.
But yeah, this has been going on for decades and everyone knows it, but the government won't do anything about it, because the pols in charge are getting paid off.

Blogger dc.sunsets December 16, 2015 10:46 AM  

@31
Such are the cycles of history.

The study of history always devolves into an attempt to stop time, or to somehow steer history toward some (inevitably Utopian) end state.

By axiom, life is dynamic, always changing. The only things that are static are dead. Any attempt, even the very notion of creating a static "good" system, posits that this axiom is violable.

Libertarian philosophy is a superficially attractive but ultimately benighted attempt to separate human nature into light columns and dark columns, and to systematize social interactions using only the former. I wish(ed) it would work, but now see that human nature is a package deal. There are no "solutions," only trends and reversals.

Better in my view is to simply accept that reality has trending (coherent) periods and reversing (chaotic) cusps, and to concentrate our energies on being better persons (husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, neighbors, producers, etc.) tomorrow than today. That's my plan, though admittedly walking the walk is difficult.

Anonymous Ryan December 16, 2015 10:47 AM  

In the several years I've been reading Vox's posts, I cannot think of one issue raised that could not be reversed/diminished/stopped/improved by an end to women's suffrage.

Anonymous DJF December 16, 2015 10:51 AM  

One dirty little secret of "free trade" is that it has been so narrowly defined that it just means that there is no government tariffs or restrictions between countries

This means that trade between Baosteel the largest steel maker in China which is a government owned corporation and Vinashin the largest shipbuilder in Vietnam which is also a government owned corporation are considered to be "free trade"

Even North Korea selling kidneys of executed political prisoners would be considered to be free trade and any foreign government trying to stop it to be anti-free trade.

Anonymous vfm #0202 December 16, 2015 10:52 AM  

Vox, I've been driven to the milright by the manifest corruption of the RulingParty(R). I was not expecting to be kicked in my midwit smugness of being able to pronounce "Ricardo", yet kicked I have been. The fragility of my pro-FT opinion is a lesson all in itself. What else don't I know I don't know? So, sincere thanks for the wakeup call.

I had a cranky Social Credit (nationalize the banks) uncle, and I've been avoiding the whole Fed discourse. I guess I can't do that any more. Time to buy RotGD.

Anonymous vfm #0202 December 16, 2015 10:53 AM  

Captcha was trains, which are fine.

Anonymous DJF December 16, 2015 10:55 AM  

I would be very much more impressed with these “free traders” if they did not pretend that the situation outlined below had anything to do with actual free trade or free markets.

The Mongolian government owned Tavan Tolgoi coal mine ships its coal to China on the Mongolian/Chinese government owned railroads, to the Chinese government owed Chongqing Iron and Steel Company where its combined with Chinese government owned iron to produce steel. The steel is then shipped on government owned railroads to the Chinese/North Korean owned Rajin-Sonbong Free Economic and Trade Zone in North Korea where its turned into a bumper. It is then trucked on government trucks and government roads to the government owned port of Chongjin where its put on a ship built at the government owned Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group (Vinashin). The ship was chartered by the government owned Dubai Ports and transports the bumpers to the government owned Port of Los Angeles where its transported on government roads to the government bailed out GM assembly plant where its put on a van which is sold to the Department of Homeland Security.

All along the way this “free trade” was financed by the World Bank, IMF, various government owned banks and government bailed out Goldman Sachs and facilitated by the government organizations like the WTO and United States International Trade Commission and the laws of many countries which created government sanctioned limited liability corporations

Anonymous RH December 16, 2015 10:55 AM  

It's not that the benefits of foreign labor are a lie, it's that those benefits arise from the federal government making American workers noncompetitive. The anti-free trade arguments in this post and in Cuckservative ignore entirely the degree to which the federal government has made using American labor cost prohibitive. If you own a business, you have four options: (1) hire American workers; (2) hire illegals; (3) outsource the work to a company located in another country; or (4) take advantage of the visa program.

If you pick (1), you're subjected to a slew of regulations, costs, and lawsuits that are entirely absent if you choose (2), (3), (4). For example, an employer doesn't have to pay Social Security or Medicare taxes if you outsource, hire illegals, or use the H-2 visa program (employers are exempt from paying Medicare/SS taxes on visa employees). Ignoring the government imposed costs will, of course, lead you to conclude that foreigners are taking jobs from Americans. But if you put American labor on par with foreign labor, you'd see the usage of foreign labor drop significantly.

Another point: it's the very same government that has made American workers noncompetitive that protectionists would have to entrust with the power to enact a regime that would benefit American workers. Why believe the government that has made American workers noncompetitive through regulation and taxing employers for employing them all of sudden have the will and competence to protect them through tariffs?

Blogger dc.sunsets December 16, 2015 10:56 AM  

Why not "communities" or "nations" instead of "enclaves"?

Small is beautiful. Small is knowable. Small is approachable. I'm not married to terms.

Could you mean "nation" as in "Sioux Nation?" Sounds wonderful to me. And no, I have no plan for getting there.

I like the idea of secession. I don't know if I'll live long enough to see much of it, at least officially. But sometimes reality on the ground is not reflected by labels on the map.

Blogger White Knight Leo #0368 December 16, 2015 10:59 AM  

@33

The Hobbesian war in politics continues because there are favors to buy. It's the biggest argument against most kinds of economic regulations.


When I agree that some regulation is necessary, what I mean is that some actions are provably harmful. Like, for example, allowing "free trade" to encompass @38's example of North Korea selling the organs of political prisoners, or Cuba selling the blood of the same.

These kinds of ghastly examples don't ever come up in free trade arguments, but I don't think its any dishonesty on the part of the debaters; I think its simply not normal for most people to contemplate how evil can corrupt good systems. Its something you have to deliberately set out to consider.


I can accept regulation in the name of provable harm.

Anonymous Michael Brazier December 16, 2015 11:05 AM  

The article linked to states that a number of businesses, with the collusion of government agencies, go out of their way to import foreign workers who will be more subservient than the available Americans. This is a straight-up corruption in government story; nobody in it is following libertarian principles. So why do you suppose it proves anything against "free trade"? The most that can be said is that the article is consistent with your views; it doesn't actually support them.

Blogger Conan the Cimmerian December 16, 2015 11:21 AM  

So why do you suppose it proves anything against "free trade"?

Why do you suppose that this freed trade unicorn even exists?

In all but the micro, this unicorn is a figment of mythological imaginations.

Where does it exist? It does not in the real world. It is utopian fantasy.

See @41

OpenID Jack Amok December 16, 2015 11:27 AM  

And as for those who babble childishly about a protectionist government picking winners, as if that suffices to make a rational case, what on Earth do they think is happening in the USA and in the EU now?

This was my last intellectual holdout on Free Trade, but Hasbro and their Chinese Lead-Paint Toy Factory debacle finally kicked the legs out from that. For those who don't know, some toys Hasbro has outsource for manufacturing to China were contaminated with lead because why should Chinese factory managers give a damn. In theory, a free market response would've seen Hasbro punished by customers who, hearing about their poor quality control and poisonous products, would have stopped buying Hasbro toys. Instead, Congress got involved, Hasbro lobbied Congress, and a law was passed requiring expensive testing of all children's toys sold in the US. Hasbro's lobbying accomplished two things - it muddied the water and made their quality control problems look like industry-wide problems, and two, it saddled their smaller competitors with high costs, giving Hasbro an advantage because their larger volumes allowed them to spread the testing costs over more products.

And for the kicker, Hasbro even managed to get an exception to the testing.

After that, I could no longer convince myself that free trade was any protection against government picking winners and losers. Regulation allows them to do that, and the ability of companies to off-shore operations doesn't stop it. In fact, I've come to believe Free Trade enables over-regulation, because it allows costs to be hidden from the public.

Governments regulate the people who live within their jurisdiction, so the only thing that limits a corrupt governments ability to pick winners and loser is free movement of people. So a Free Trader cannot argue for the benefit of Free Trade as a brake on government corruption without agreeing to Open Borders as well.


Blogger Gapeseed December 16, 2015 11:49 AM  

Vox:

No. Are you even paying attention to anything that has been written here? You don't simply declare things good and then attempt to derive conclusions from that assumption.

Oh, I'm paying attention. My initial comment was aimed at your comment @4. I was trying to ferret out an example where free trade was good under your understanding, and this was my best example - a shared language and culture of labor mobility harkening back to a largely monoethnic, pre-Revolutionary war time. Among other things, the Constitution functions as a free trade pact between the states. It seems to my understanding that the pact has worked quite well over the years, leading to a prosperity where socialist Sweden lags behind even the poorest states in America. If you cannot bring yourself to support that, then where could you support free trade. Even more to the point, could you even support the Constitution?

Blogger dc.sunsets December 16, 2015 11:51 AM  

@44 I can accept regulation in the name of provable harm.

Provable to whom? Your statement is meaninglessly vague.

There will always be favors to buy in a political system. Politics is defined as the system that manages an organization of people who exercise a territorial monopoly on actions that in all other contexts are deemed CRIMINAL.

Political systems can do no wrong, because in a legalistic sense they define what is right.

Have you a systematic political mechanism for disciplining politics?

Good luck with that.

No. The only way to discipline political pathways is non-political pathways. In human societies, this is largely if not exclusively a matter of culture.

Now that the USA has no shared culture, literally "anything goes" in halls of political power. Barney Fag can cornhole his 18-year-old page (Congressmen act in the capacity of high school teachers for that program, so you might ask how the hell he got away with that...and I'd have my answer for you) and nothing changes.

Lockheed-Martin can hire retired Admirals to schmooze congressional staffers so a useless weapons system costing $150 million gets added to an omnibus bill in the dead of night, but the cost per US resident is 50 cents so who could remotely be bothered to fight it...multiplied by thousand each year in the Halls of Congressional Log Rolling.

Anything goes. Gays can adopt infants. Transgender nutcases can shower with actual girls in high school. Anti-racism can be promoted by discriminating explicitly against white males.

The only thing that can halt this is a shared culture that deems such things reprehensible. You will never find such a culture in Saudi Arabia or Somalia (well, they'd kill the transgenders and the gays, probably) but a society that shares no convictions has no beliefs. Universalism isn't a belief, it's the absence of them. In the Universalist Store there are no prices, there are no colors, there are no sizes....EVERYTHING IS THE SAME.

So anything goes. Gay pedophiles can raise kids the same as hetero couples. We know this because they come in the same brown-paper-wrapped box, with the same price as everything else.

Change will come when some asshole politician or bureaucrat who pushes some policy that hurts me in some outrageous way has to confront me face-to-face, on the street where I live. Not because he has to fear that I'll shoot his sorry ass, no.

He has to fear that I'll walk up to him and demand he explain himself (without sounding like he's mentally ill or cognitively impaired.)

That's social control. It comes from 1) common cultural beliefs and 2) proximity (accountability.)

#1 comes only in a homogeneous society of people with a common ancestral genetic stock.

#2 comes only in small political systems. All large nation-states engender distance and anonymity, which are a major portion of the poison in modern society.

We don't need libertarian structures (they don't exist.) We need homogeneity and small political communities. Possibly you could have a successful large polity if social homogeneity was very solid, but I'd still be from the Show-Me state on that one.

Today we have large and heterogeneous. Nothing good will ever come of it.

Anonymous Stephen J. December 16, 2015 11:51 AM  

Admittedly stupid question here, but stipulating the net negative effects of labour importation, why do companies keep agitating for/making use of it? Is the single positive factor the short-term cost savings of lower wages, or are there other systemic incentives to which corporations are merely responding?

If the latter, some of those incentives might be removeable. If the former, the problem seems to be simply the failure to properly balance short-term immediate profit against long-term deferred expenses, which unfortunately seems to be a perennial human weakness.

Blogger Conan the Cimmerian December 16, 2015 12:08 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Conan the Cimmerian December 16, 2015 12:09 PM  

@48

Among other things, the Constitution functions as a free trade pact between the states. It seems to my understanding that the pact has worked quite well over the years, leading to a prosperity

Wickard v. Filburn

If you cannot bring yourself to support that, then where could you support free trade. Even more to the point, could you even support the Constitution?

What Constitution? That thing was thrown in the shiter long ago.

Anonymous VFM#158 December 16, 2015 12:09 PM  

@42 "If you own a business, you have four options: (1) hire American workers; (2) hire illegals; (3) outsource the work to a company located in another country; or (4) take advantage of the visa program. If you pick (1), you're subjected to a slew of regulations, costs, and lawsuits that are entirely absent if you choose (2), (3), (4)."

The problem I have with this "Americans are too expensive to hire" excuse is that everyone I've ever seen use it ignores the fifth option: American employers are themselves citizens with both the right and duty to oppose government overreach. So the observable social effect of options 2, 3, and 4 is to cause employers to collude with corrupt government and throw their fellow citizens under the bus, instead of spending all those lobbying dollars fighting for policies that would benefit American employers and workers both.

Blogger Gapeseed December 16, 2015 12:12 PM  

@52 Conan - Touché. To clarify, the Constitution as written, not bowderlized.

Blogger OGRE December 16, 2015 12:18 PM  

The "free trade" among the states has been very good for some, and very bad for others. Any particular state is unable to protect itself against exploitation originating from other states. Look at the history of West Virginia, one of the poorest states in the nation, but which was probably the most abundant in natural resources per capita and per area. It was essentially raped by out of state interests: its resources were extracted and removed, its workers forced to do the very dangerous labor necessary to do so, and when the workers revolted against the horrible conditions and unfair pay they were gunned down by their 'own' government.

Theres nothing 'free' about preventing one party from protecting itself against another.

Blogger Were-Puppy December 16, 2015 12:22 PM  

@43 dc.sunsets

Why not "communities" or "nations" instead of "enclaves"?

Small is beautiful. Small is knowable. Small is approachable. I'm not married to terms.

Could you mean "nation" as in "Sioux Nation?" Sounds wonderful to me. And no, I have no plan for getting there.
---

And even that can be broken into smaller groupings such as Lakota.

And even further with Oglala.

The smaller the groupings, the more cohesive they become.

Blogger Gapeseed December 16, 2015 12:28 PM  

@55 OGRE - That's probably true enough, and I confess to not knowing the details of West Virginia's exploitation to comment on it at length. But wouldn't then the culture of labor mobility benefit West Virginians, allowing them to move to greener pastures in other states?

Anonymous Michael Brazier December 16, 2015 12:34 PM  

"The problem I have with this 'Americans are too expensive to hire' excuse is that everyone I've ever seen use it ignores the fifth option: American employers are themselves citizens with both the right and duty to oppose government overreach."

True, but any American employer who tried to argue against the massive costs imposed by federal law on taking option (1) would be pilloried by the Deep State for "impoverishing the American working class". The other options actually do impoverish the American working class, but (1) would bring the Deep State to an end.

Anonymous BoysMom December 16, 2015 12:35 PM  

I've been using the term 'localist' when asked about my political stances for a while. I want the laws made and enforced as close to home as possible.

OpenID Jack Amok December 16, 2015 12:37 PM  

Is the single positive factor the short-term cost savings of lower wages, or are there other systemic incentives to which corporations are merely responding?

In addition to cost savings (especially of the government-imposed type), they also gain greater control. H1 (and I assume H2) employees are akin to indentured servants to their employers. They can't freely shop their services around without risking deportation. Illegal immigrants can shop their services around, but they can't use the court system against their employers. Plus, the wretched refuse we get these days are mostly serf-minded folks anyway, coming from cultures that assume el jefe runs the show and workerbees do what they're told without any lip.

We can't remove those other incentives without destroying our culture. A certain portion of people will always prefer bossing around peons rather than leading free men. If we want to be a society of free men, we can't let them import peons.

Anonymous aegis-1080 December 16, 2015 12:50 PM  

"Americans are too expensive to hire" is the disgusting excuse for those that want free serfs. There was a restaurant owner pulling that against Trump a while ago, and even lefties can see that is a naked appeal to the righteousness of serfdom.

Anonymous Spartacus xxxxx December 16, 2015 12:52 PM  

@19. VD December 16, 2015 9:45 AM

The free trade between the states via the Interstate Commerce Clause is good,...

No. Are you even paying attention to anything that has been written here? You don't simply declare things good and then attempt to derive conclusions from that assumption.

To pile on, the Interstate Commerce Clause is the single-most abused line item in the alleged US constitution (with the possible exception of the general welfare clause and not including the unenforced items like gold and emitting bills of credit, Article 1, Section 10, ymmv). It is where the term "Interstate" freeway comes from, and therfore the entire federal highway bureaucracy. It was used to great effect by the fascist/communist/traitor FDR to wreck in-state businesses, for example claiming that the wheat a family farmer grows might somehow end up in a loaf of bread that floats across a state border and that makes the wheat a federal matter.
-------------

Speaking of sliding-glass Overton windows, here's Merkel https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/12/14/angela-merkel-multiculturalism-is-a-sham/?tid=pm_world_pop_b

Anonymous BGS December 16, 2015 12:57 PM  

Provable to whom? Your statement is meaninglessly vague. There will always be favors to buy in a political system.

How about not selling blood products collected from hookers in Haiti in the US? That was one of the sources of STR8 people getting AIDS.

Blogger Gapeseed December 16, 2015 12:59 PM  

@62 Spartacus - I should have also included the Tenth Amendment with my defense of the Constitution's free trade structure, an article almost entirely ignored at this point.

Blogger SciVo December 16, 2015 1:02 PM  

WKL #0368: That said, perhaps none of the defenses of free trade hold up, in his estimation, because he's expecting free trade to accomplish something that free traders aren't actually trying to do.

I would like for you to ponder the way in which that sentence doesn't follow.

"none of the defenses of free trade hold up"

"because he's expecting free trade to accomplish something"

Do you see the problem? He's analyzing other people's defenses and finding them wanting, and you're wondering what his defense would be. You're conflating two completely separate questions.

And sure, I don't think that the free traders are being intellectually honest. They don't actually care whether it benefits society as long as it benefits them. But they would deny that! So you managed to implicitly get the point while explicitly missing it.

Anonymous Hezekiah Garrett December 16, 2015 1:18 PM  

"But wouldn't then the culture of labor mobility benefit West Virginians, allowing them to cease to be West Virginians?"

Fixed it for you.

Anonymous Spartacus xxxxx December 16, 2015 1:40 PM  

@64. Gapeseed December 16, 2015 12:59 PM

@62 Spartacus - I should have also included the Tenth Amendment with my defense of the Constitution's free trade structure, an article almost entirely ignored at this point.

Sure. And the Preamble as well-

THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution.

- which is not only ignored, it is scrubbed from 'all' .gov sites, law books/schools, etc.

The 'free trade structure' is the creature of the mercantilists who overthrew the original Articles of Confederation in a soft coup and wrote up the US constitution for their benefit, not yours, then as now. There's a good reason why they ripped off the ensign of the British East India Company in Boston Harbor and called it the American Flag.

Blogger F. Axe #437 December 16, 2015 1:45 PM  

I have come to love the commentary just as much as the posts here on VP

Blogger Anthony December 16, 2015 1:49 PM  

Economically, free trade in labor has the same effects as free trade in goods - labor becomes cheaper, as lower-cost labor moves to where labor is more expensive.

The difference is that neither a shoe nor a smartphone cares how much it's sold for, and it makes no moral difference to the shoe if it's sold for $2 or $20. Any moral issues with the price of a good are second-order effects. That's not true of labor - whether the wage is $2 or $20 makes a big difference to the laborer.

The science of economics can tell you what will happen given some change (though there are solid methodological arguments that quantitative prediction is impossible in economics), and even, with sufficient research, delve into second-order and third-order effects, but it cannot tell you whether the net result is "good" or "bad". That distinction requires a system of values, which empirical sciences don't have.

So deciding on the value of economic policies requires not just the economic analysis to determine what will likely happen, but also the moral framework to judge the results.

Most people trying to sell an economic policy actually share, or pretend to share, the same general morals as the society around them, but will deliberately emphasize those outcomes which appear good, and de-emphasize those which appear bad, in order to sell their case. Because economics isn't, and can't be, an exact science, it's rather easier to hide the effects which your audience won't like.

Blogger Gapeseed December 16, 2015 2:06 PM  

@67 Spartacus xxxxx -

As nice as the Preamble sounds to my ears and yours, it seems to be flowery precatory language useful only in helping interpret the meat of the document.

The 'free trade structure' is the creature of the mercantilists who overthrew the original Articles of Confederation in a soft coup and wrote up the US constitution for their benefit, not yours, then as now.

The United States no longer leads the world in wealth and economic vitality measurements, but I believe that a good case can be made that the fall from first is a consequence of degradation of Constitutional economic structures and protections, including free trade between the States and restrictions against Federal meddling. That "mercantilism" you decry benefitted America and Americans greatly over the years, albeit admittedly unevenly.

Blogger Noah B #120 December 16, 2015 2:44 PM  

Unfortunately what we have now cannot be remotely considered free trade. It is a system in which the oligarchs receive all the benefits of free trade while you and I receive none. Oligarchs are largely free to transfer labor and capital as best suits them, while we are not.

Even setting this reality aside, I still loathe the libertarian fixation upon free trade that neglects, or even outright denies the necessity for, the health and integrity of nations.

Blogger James Dixon December 16, 2015 2:50 PM  

> The free trade between the states via the Interstate Commerce Clause is good, and the mobility of a people who share a common language and (more broadly) a common culture is a feature and not a bug, then?

Free trade between the states? By and large, yes.

But ask the folks whose jobs require them to move every few years if mobility is an unalloyed good or not.

> I've come to accept that closed immigration is a surmountable obstacle because any human skill is potentially learnable by any other human being (within certain limits, obviously)

Leo, look up a IQ map of the world. Your "within certain limits" is an chasm that dwarfs the Grand Canyon.

Blogger James Dixon December 16, 2015 2:59 PM  

> "But wouldn't then the culture of labor mobility benefit West Virginians, allowing them to cease to be West Virginians?"

Why do you think the population of West Virginia has been in a relative decline for decades?

Anonymous Real Human Being December 16, 2015 3:53 PM  

@62. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/12/14/angela-merkel-multiculturalism-is-a-sham/?tid=pm_world_pop_b

Oh gee, ya think so? Wish she figured it out before letting a million invaders in

Anonymous Spartacus xxxxx December 16, 2015 6:18 PM  

@70. Gapeseed

@67 Spartacus xxxxx -
As nice as the Preamble sounds to my ears and yours, it seems to be flowery precatory language useful only in helping interpret the meat of the document.


Aaaand thanks for the vocabulary builder. Precatory: adj. referring to a wish or advisory suggestion which does not have the force of a demand or a request which under the law must be obeyed. Thus "precatory words" in a will or trust would express a "hope that my daughter will keep the house in the family," but do not absolutely prevent her from selling it.

Good description of the entire alleged Constitution.

The 'free trade structure' is the creature of the mercantilists who overthrew the original Articles of Confederation in a soft coup and wrote up the US constitution for their benefit, not yours, then as now.

a good case can be made that the fall from first is a consequence of degradation of Constitutional economic structures and protections, including free trade between the States and restrictions against Federal meddling. That "mercantilism" you decry benefitted America and Americans greatly over the years, albeit admittedly unevenly.

Sure, e.g. shipping paper or electrons in exchange for oil works out pretty good... so far. By "mercantilism" I mean the enforcement of un-free trade to the benefit of some and the detriment of everyone else, using things like private armies and navies, like we have here in the US. It creates insurmountable barriers to entry in a manner difficult to distinguish from Corporatism. Yes, everyone benefits from trade to some degree, in the "I, pencil" sense, since there are always two sides to every transaction. But one Party to the action constantly has his thumb on the scale. The US Constitution- the corporate Charter of the West East India Company- enshrines that thumb. As El Duce might have put it "Everything within the Charter, nothing outside the Charter".

Blogger tz December 16, 2015 7:32 PM  

A "Protectionist Government" does not pick winners, but specifically is the referee which insists that the game be played by the rules and people don't go out of bounds, so the correct winner - playing by the rules - can be determined.

Even that often doesn't work, the largest crop here is the Sugar Beet (producing the addictive, poisonous in the usual quantities, sucrose), only because of the same kinds of corruption, but impoverished welfare whales need their soda fix (after taking their meds for their type 2 diabetes). Say, I never thought that our state was already at war and using bioweapons against the blue areas, but the more I think about it...

Free trade is an impossible ideal - what it means is voluntary exchange along the entire chain, but without similar cultural and legal systems, "coercion" and "subsidy" (bribery is the mirror of threat) has different meanings and acceptability. I'm not directly trading with an individual somewhere in China.

Anonymous TransMuppet December 16, 2015 8:35 PM  

Got to be careful of those pesky Australians... they're taking over the world! The WORLD, I TELLS YA!

Blogger Jason Rennie December 16, 2015 9:29 PM  

So what I am wondering is, why are the businesses seeking to do this? "It's cheaper" isn't the answer, as the article noted that they will reluctantly hire americans but pay them poorly in the hopes they will go away and presumably it actually costs money to be compliant with the law.

Business people may be greedy, dishonest and any other slur you might want to cast against them, but successful ones are very rarely stupid.

So how do they benefit from this? It isn't lower wages because they are actively avoiding hiring the Americans, not just offering wages so low Americans wont work for them.

Are the H2 visa holders harder working? Grateful for a job? More efficient? Less likely to want to form a union? What?

Blogger tz December 16, 2015 10:02 PM  

Libertarian case against summarized:
"Free Trade" is the term used to launder (as in "money laundering) theft and coercion.
A T-shirt appears with a price tag and we aren't allowed to ask any questions about how it is there at such a cheap price.
Both the theft and coercion are at best hidden or diffused, or worse, excused if not lauded; something of the form "the kids would starve to death if they weren't textile slaves" or "The deadly toxic smog in China is their problem".

The Chinese worker might "voluntarily" agree to work for $2/day, but that is in the context of thousands of coercions. He cannot own a farm, produce his own food, sell it at a price he sets (or eat it). He cannot marry and then have more than one child. I can go on, but this is like me burning down your house then pointing out you are "voluntarily" living in a motel.

Blogger Gapeseed December 16, 2015 10:46 PM  

@79 tz

And yet, millions of Chinese have moved from farms to cities to earn that $2 per day. Are you saying that they are less than rational? Whatever the case may be against free trade, I don't think you made it from the Libertarian perspective.

OpenID Jack Amok December 17, 2015 1:05 AM  

But ask the folks whose jobs require them to move every few years if mobility is an unalloyed good or not.


A certain amount of mobility is good for a society, but too much is very detrimental. When a sizeable portion of the community - especially if you have universal suffrage - are short-timers just passing through, they don't invest in civic institutions. They just get what they can from the place, and move on when it's time. People who would like to see their grandkids raised in the town they are living in are the types who will at least attempt to do the best for the community and not just absent-mindedly stripmine the place.

Anonymous Alice De Goon December 17, 2015 1:30 AM  

There is a word for government officials, corporate executives and anyone else who puts the interest of foreign citizens ahead of the interests of their own citizens in the name of profit:

Traitors.

Treason is the acid that destroys a country. Subtle acts of treason, like rigging the job market to favor the hiring of foreign employees over the hiring of native ones, are no less destructive than espionage or the assassination of political officials. The Rosenbergs with all of their slimy, anti-American animus and their determination to see the Nuclear Blade placed at the throat of freedom-loving American citizens, have wrought no more damage than the CEO who decides to import scabs from Mumbai to shut working class Americans out of the job market. You may scoff, but think of the deprivation, the elevated suicide rates, the despair wrought by anti-American policies and preferences. Think of the eventual collapse of this country and the blood that will be shed on the Day of Reckoning.

There was a time when treason was considered the absolute worst of crimes. Drawing and quartering, killing the families of the accused, gibbeting, - all of the worst forms of execution were reserved for traitors. We shouldn't allow ourselves to forget why in these days of relative peace and calm. We should also take pains to identify the traitors in our midst and remind them what could happen should the Western Civilization they exploit and vilify ever collapses.

Blogger SciVo December 17, 2015 2:44 AM  

@ Anthony: The science of economics can tell you what will happen given some change (though there are solid methodological arguments that quantitative prediction is impossible in economics)

Postdiction is storytelling, not science.

I appreciate your comment on many levels -- the moral distinctions between capital and labor, between values and empiricism, and between sympathetic and aversive -- but I think you got that one nuance wrong, equating something that can't predict with a science.

Blogger SciVo December 17, 2015 2:49 AM  

Fast reflection: is there such a thing as a qualitative science? If there is a qualitative prediction, then yes; and economics lends itself to that. So I retract my objection in that respect.

Anonymous Boetain December 17, 2015 3:59 AM  

I like to check heritage.org from time to time to see which countries are at the bottom of the "trade freedom" rankings. If trade restrictions are a good thing, you should expect to see some great places on the bottom of the list, such as these 5 from 2015 (not including the hell-holes that get a n/a ranking):
North Korea
Iran
Seychelles
Maldives
Bhutan

Anonymous SevenCrimes December 17, 2015 4:59 AM  

If trade restrictions are a good thing, you should expect to see some great places on the bottom of the list

Yep, there's only one variable that differs between Iran or North Korea and the US, and that's their respective "Trade Freedom".

Anonymous Boetain December 17, 2015 5:06 PM  

Seven Crimes:

I didn't mention anything about the US, so not sure what your response is all about.

This is real simple. I am testing the theory that "less free" trade is a good thing. Under this theory, at least a few countries with low levels of trade freedom should be great places. Maybe if we go 5 deeper, we can identify some real winners:
The Bahamas
Central African Republic
Equatorial Guinea
Djibouti
Chad

Anonymous Anonymous December 17, 2015 5:59 PM  

We need two new laws. All employers hiring any non citizen should have to pay a fee/tax to cover the costs to the public for employing a non citizen. About $10-$15 and hour for hourly employees and about $50,000 for salaried employees.
Second: a law that limits the amount of time any non-citizen could spend in this country to 180 days per calendar year. This should include a tracking mechanism for all non-citizens so we know when they enter and when they leave.

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