Immigration may be the US's main strength

Is the country's historical openness to immigration the only thing that sets it apart from the rest of the world?

David Goldman / AP
Rebecca Alvarado wears a sign opposing House Bill 87, a proposed bill to crack down on illegal immigration during a hearing on the bill in the State Capitol on Feb. 4 in Atlanta. Guest blogger Jeffrey Tucker writes that if it weren't for labor unions, public infrastructure, and political parties, nobody would be upset about immigration in the US.

I know this observation is ridiculously aggregated, but when you take a coast-to-coast flight it is impossible not notice that the vast amount of land space is the U.S. is completely empty. You would swear that the country was an uninhabited wasteland. Then you reflect on the immigration debate and get the strong impression that we are fighting for room to breath around here. It’s just a strange dichotomy. It’s one thing for Japan to worry about immigration, or Switzerland, or even Austria. But the U.S.? There are other factors, I know, but it’s probably true that 10 times the world population could live comfortably in the U.S.. The immigration debate is really about other things: fights over voting blocs, for example. Without labor unions, public infrastructure, and political parties, I don’t know why anyone would even care about immigration.

David Veksler, the technical mastermind behind, recently went to work in Shanghai, China, and there’s nothing like a move like this to inspire a fundamental rethinking. Let me share with you his facebook update from this morning:

After living in China, I am convinced that the only real advantage America has over other countries is its historical openness toward immigrants. Once that ends (and I am thinking of the potential end of birthright citizenship) the United States will quickly sink into the muck of welfare-statism and never be heard from again.

Great update, and one wishes that all such status updates were as provocative and interesting. I’m sure he never expected it to turn up on the Mises blog. But it does make one wonder: have we properly valued the contribution that immigration makes to the U.S. economy and culture? I mean, I look around at the native bourgeoisie in this country and see incredible dependency, sloth, debt, and the absence of the enterprising spirit of 19th century legend. But you look at the immigrant classes and you see the opposite. Again, wild generalizations of course. But David’s comment taps into enough intuition I have developed from casual observation to make me wonder.

Before you post about the high costs of immigration, consider these two posts by Carden: costs and benefits.

Add/view comments on this post.


The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link above.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.