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28Jul/08Off

Immigration

I live in one of the most ethnically diverse places on the planet. The area surrounding San Francisco has been a destination for immigrants for 150 years. And Immigration works. The mixing of cultures here breathes in ideas and creativity and then exhales art and business. The economy is vibrant and exceptional.

Mexico, Mexico, Mexico. The immigration debate in our country is all about Mexico, so let's just talk only about Mexico. There used to be a knee-jerk response that immigrants were stealing jobs. Yet almost everyone acknowledges that many immigrants are willing to do work for which there is no domestic labor supply. If no one here is willing to have these jobs, and the jobs need to be done...  well, shouldn't we be willing to allow immigrants to generate that economic activity? Someone making money is better than no one making money.

Stealing Jobs? It's not intuitive that a competitive environment creates opportunity. Members of groups that perceive themselves to be advantaged over competitors seek to protect their advantage. But it doesn't actually work-- economists show us over and over that free markets generate more opportunity than closed markets. Restricting access to competitors actually reduces your opportunities.

The Economies of Immigration. Another big factor is the funding of public works. We have been hearing about the coming Social Security crisis for many years. And that problem is directly stated as too many beneficiaries and too few contributors. Why is no one talking about promoting immigration from the most obvious source of new contributors, new taxpayers-- Mexico?

Free Market Types need to start walking the walk of truly free markets--which includes open immigration.