So the Trump team this week rolled out another idiotic plan, this time to lower the amount of immigration to the country. Despite the fact that immigration itself is always a benefit and the lack there of is always a detriment, the Trump team as usual doesn’t deal with facts. Since the sane argument would be to increase legal immigration, obviously they don’t want to do that…but they also don’t want to deal with the actual problems of illegal immigration: The Cost to the US Taxpayer
In a previous post, we covered all the benefits by switching to the UBI would have for the US economy—like switching to the UBI would have the interesting side effect of immediately wiping out $10 Trillion in US debt.
But this has another major incentive. As most ways the UBI would be carried out would be by depositing money directly in the bank accounts of citizens, it ensures that what little welfare is currently distributed to illegal immigrants will be eliminated (yes it is currently against the law for illegal immigrants to receive the benefits of means tested programs, but we all know that there are cracks in the system and this will plug up most of those cracks).
But there remains one major benefit that drives illegal immigration. And that is we still offer entitlements to children of illegal immigrants. The problem here is that completely free education is the last and probably the most appealing entitlement still open to illegal immigrants. And what’s more troublesome is that you can’t just make it illegal to give this benefit. The Supreme Court in the 1980’s ruled in Plyler v. Doe that schools can’t deny entry into public schools. Thank the great state of Texas for taking this case all the way to the Supreme Court and helping undermine the effectiveness of the immigration for years (thank Texas also for Roe v. Wade, Ron Paul, LBJ, Ted Cruz and a lot of other lunatic and terrible decisions that are hell bent on burning this nation to a cinder,………I think it’s fair to say that if we are going to survive as a nation we have to admit nothing good has ever come from Texas and that they should be invited to leave the Union at their earliest opportunity). So, there isn’t the easy way to get rid of this tempting entitlement in the way we can do everything else.
Now before we start into how we get around this court decision, let’s explain why the court was wrong in their decision. They said that not allowing all children to go to public school was a violation of due process. Now some stupid people would say due process doesn’t apply to illegal immigrants, but it does. Due process applies to all people the government deals with because the Constitution doesn’t give you rights, you have those by the fact that you’re human; what the Constitution does is it gives limits to what the government does and it has to treat all people it deals with equally. No, the problem is that it views education as something government should provide. It’s not.
Yes, education is important to society. It is something that everyone needs to live a full life. But so is healthcare. And not only have we seen over and over again, no matter how important something is that having government run it is, and almost always will be a mistake. So, on the one extreme you have the government taking over the entire health care or education system, at huge cost and huge inefficiency and on the other extreme you have the government having zero control of either system. Now anarchists and libertarians would have you believe this other extreme is a low cost alternative to the other extreme—and god I wish it were true. But if healthcare is funded at absolutely zero you will have lots of people due to congenital diseases, genetic conditions, major accidents and the like unable to pay for their care or have to have their family spend a huge portion of their money on care for them. It doesn’t take too much thinking to understand that the economic cost of the loss all of this human capital and wasted funds as such a free for all system will see a far higher level of fraud taking advantage of the desperate which either means cost in terms of the fraud or the cost of police/court/jail costs to keep the fraud down (usually a combination of both). The same with education if you have absolutely no public funding then the people who need education the most, will likely not get it, and everyone suffers due to the losses in human capital and the lack of progress due to that. Now the libertarians are right that the less government involvement you have better quality, greater efficiency, and overall better product due to the laws of competition and the free market. So, on the one hand you have one extreme that creates better market incentives but due to lack of funding still causes problems, on the other extreme attempting to fix those lack of funding issues causes mass inefficiencies. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. But in reality, we don’t have to take either extreme. As Charles Murray points out in In Our Hands a yearly voucher given to every adult for $3,000 to be spent on an insurance plan would cover every single American’s major medical costs (accidents, long term care, congenital conditions etc.), keep all the market forces in place (not to mention being $400 million cheaper than Medicaid and Medicare expenditures BEFORE Obamacare went fully into effect). Well the same logic applies to schools.
There has been much talk about the rewards of vouchers, and they’re pretty much all correct.
But for a quick summary here are of values of vouchers
What research tells us about School Choice: The Findings by Herbert J. Walberg s about school vouchers
Education Savings Accounts: The New Frontier in School Choice
Learning from Sweden’s School Voucher Success
Safer Kids, Better Test Scores: The D.C. Voucher Program Works
Vouchers would allow for more competition and parental choice, they will provide more help for the students who need it, and allow the cream of the crop to rise as quickly as they can thus providing the best benefit. They provide the stronger emphasis on vocation training for students who need it. They provide the additional and more intensive remedial teaching for those students who need more time and help. There are no downsides to vouchers for even when they offer no improvements on education, they do so at a fraction of the price. But if we take this a step further than just offering a voucher to parents who want it, and rather switch to an entire voucher based system several benefits will occur. One advantage it will cause public schools to cut the fat out of their budgets, right now every public school in the nation gets paid more per student than any voucher or charter school. And all they do with that money is waste it. District Offices with spacious offices, Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent salaries and benefit packages (sometimes including cars and other perks you wouldn’t often see in most CEO contracts). Further this will go a major step in ending the discrepancy in education quality from different income brackets. And, of course, as you will be spending less on district graft, you will save huge amounts of money (somewhere in the realm of 10-20% of every state’s budget).
But getting back to the main point as how this solves the rest of problem of illegal immigration.
Vouchers, like the UBI, would be sent to private bank accounts. Thus, to both sign up for the voucher and the bank account you need to legal proof of residency or proof of citizenship. The fact is that even under the current situation very little goes to illegal immigrants through welfare programs other than education and medical care because you do have to prove you’re a citizen. This makes the last bit of entitlement spending that goes to those who are not here legally pretty much go away.1 And it does not violate the spirit of the Plyler, as every school will still have to take students even of non-residents, but their parents will have to pony up the money be it through voucher or privately.
As the last major financial incentive to come to this country is now gone, the likelihood of immigrants who come here illegally will be greatly reduced. This won’t solve the entire problem of illegal immigration, but it will greatly reduce it the only primary reason to come over now is looking for a job or those associated with other forms of crime. And to be perfectly honest, there are few if any downsides to immigrants who want to come looking for a job. It’s a practice that defined America for over a hundred years—young people would come looking for a job, send money home, and either become Americans or go home. It was good for both the US and the home countries, and it’s what you saw throughout all the periods of US history that defined growth and the massive improvement of the quality of life, and if we returned to that, it wouldn’t be a problem.
Now as I said there is a minority of the immigrant population who is tied to the crime network we generally refer to as Cartels. But a good portion of the business is in smuggling immigrants in, which if there are no families to move, you will see a drop in that. That leaves the biggest problem at the border being drug trafficking. Yes, some reasonable border security will help at the border with the criminal drug trade. But the fact of the matter is that after putting in drones and electronic surveillance there are simply diminishing returns on what border security can do. Yes, in Israel where you had terrorists coming over with bombs, the cost of putting in a full scale wall on their rather short border made the cost provide needed benefits. But such a wall on our significantly longer border would not yield the same benefits as nobody crossing the border is out to blow us up on a daily basis. Look at it this way, a good portion of our current illegal immigrants come not from Mexico but from nations South of Mexico…and the Mexican Southern border is all the barb-wire and concrete you could possibly want, yet they still make it past Mexico, and even if you built something twice as high as the Great Wall of China on the US/Mexico border you still wouldn’t be able to stop the drug trade because, hey, we also a truly staggering amount of the coastline and you can’t shut that down.
So, yes a limited electronic border would help with the border, but the single biggest part of reducing illegal immigration would be to actually reduce the reason to bring families, which that single biggest issue the fact that we offer free education. You switch to voucher you cut the number of illegal immigrants for the long term, you allow police to focus on the remaining amount of drug traffic (which even if we took a more libertarian view you would still want to regulate the control into the nation), and thus have a greater effect for the efforts of the police.
But overall the UBI and vouchers will fix immigration more than foolish plan by Trump or his equally stupid nationalist allies.
1 Yes this won’t do anything to get rid of illegal immigrants using medical resources, but you don’t want to try and start anything in E.R.’s. Anything you could possibly put in to try and limit access of illegal immigrants to emergency medical care will only backfire and hurt everyone else. There is no point in cutting off your nose to spite your face, which is what doing anything in the medical field will do. But the fact is that free education was a major draw for people to bring their whole family over the