Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Contradictions of the left

Paul Krugman on the immigration debate:
Democrats are torn individually (a state I share). On one side, they favor helping those in need, which inclines them to look sympathetically on immigrants; plus they’re relatively open to a multicultural, multiracial society. I know that when I look at today’s Mexicans and Central Americans, they seem to me fundamentally the same as my grandparents seeking a better life in America.

On the other side, however, open immigration can’t coexist with a strong social safety net; if you’re going to assure health care and a decent income to everyone, you can’t make that offer global.
This is closely related to the confused and contradictory stance liberals take on free trade. On the one hand they profess to sympathize with the plight of the poor in developing countries, who are often marginally employed with minimal prospects for improving their lot. When an American company, however, looks to outsource production away from the U.S. and, you know, actually give these poor people a job superior to what they currently have, the left quickly takes a page out of Pat Buchanan's book and kicks and screams over the country's alleged de-industrialization and its fearsome impact on American workers (especially those in unions).

They only manage to square this circle by then calling for increases in foreign aid -- essentially placing the foreign poor on a U.S.-funded welfare program which, like such programs here in the U.S., meet with consistent failure.

For the libertarian there is no conflict. Libertarians sympathize with the poor regardless of their citizenship, and are agnostic as to where private companies choose to operate. Libertarians embrace high levels of immigration and disdain the welfare state, so not only is there no conflict, but to the extent immigration calls into question the viability of welfare programs it should be seen as a classic "two-fer."

Not only is libertarianism superior from both a utilitarian and moral perspective, it also doesn't require a series of mental gymnastics to navigate inherent contradictions.

Update: Richard Epstein has more on muddled leftist thinking.

No comments: