Immigration and Welfare

Well, I should be skiing right this moment, but my son woke up barfing this morning, making it a perfect 15 of the last 15 family trips where one of my kids has gotten sick. 

But the ski lodge is nice, and the wireless works great, and Q&O has a very interesting post on immigration and welfare.

High unemployment among immigrants is of course not confined to just
Sweden or Scandinavia. Throughout Europe, governments have found that
well-intentioned social insurance policies can lead to lasting welfare
dependence, especially among immigrants. Belgium is the European
country with the highest difference in employment rates between the
foreign-born and natives. The images of burning cars in the suburbs of
Paris that were broadcast around the world illustrate the kind of
social and economic problems France is facing with its restive
immigrant population.

Given the high barriers to entry, many
immigrants in Europe no longer start accumulating essential language
and labor market skills. This is in stark contrast with the situation
across the Atlantic. For example, in 2000, Iranians in the U.S. had a
family income that was 42% above the U.S. average. The income of
Iranian immigrants in Sweden, however, was 39% below the country's

Lots of interesting stuff there.  Which reminds me of something I wrote years ago:

In the 1930's, and continuing to this day, something changed
radically in the theory of government in this country that would cause
immigration to be severely limited and that would lead to much of the
current immigration debate.  With the New Deal, and later with the
Great Society and many other intervening pieces of legislation, we
began creating what I call non-right rights.  These newly described
"rights" were different from the ones I enumerated above.  Rather than
existing prior to government, and requiring at most the protection of
government, these new rights sprang forth from the government itself
and could only exist in the context of having a government.  These
non-right rights have multiplied throughout the years, and include
things like the "right" to a minimum wage, to health care, to a
pension, to education, to leisure time, to paid family leave, to
affordable housing, to public transportation, to cheap gasoline, etc.
etc. ad infinitum....

These non-right rights all share one thing in common:  They require
the coercive power of the government to work.  They require that the
government take the product of one person's labor and give it to
someone else.  They require that the government force individuals to
make decisions in certain ways that they might not have of their own
free will. 

And since these non-right rights spring form and depend on
government, suddenly citizenship matters in the provision of these
rights.  The government already bankrupts itself trying to provide all
these non-right rights to its citizens  -- just as a practical matter,
it can't afford to provide them to an unlimited number of new
entrants.  It was as if for 150 years we had been running a very
successful party, attracting more and more guests each year.  The party
had a cash bar, so everyone had to pay their own way, and some people
had to go home thirsty but most had a good time.  Then, suddenly, for
whatever reasons, the long-time party guests decided they didn't like
the cash bar and banned it, making all drinks free.  But they quickly
learned that they had to lock the front doors, because they couldn't
afford to give free drinks to everyone who showed up.  After a while,
with the door locked and all the same people at the party, the whole
thing suddenly got kind of dull.


  1. CRC:

    This sounds like the basic breakdown between negative vs. positive rights. Or perhaps "natural" vs. "civil" rights.

  2. Timothy Wise:


    Having completed about 2/3 of Jonah Goldberg's new book, "Liberal Fascism," I'm guessing that a possible answer to your question about "non-rights rights" starting in the 1930's can be found in his book. Especially interesting is your observation about "non-rights rights" suddenly becoming important.

    In Monday's "Washington Examiner" newspaper, there's a story about the movement/migration of immigrants (most likely illegal ones) as Prince William County begins greater enforcement. Gee, the Arlington government schools now have 58 "new" ESOL students from Prince William County. At $18,500 per student, maybe even the liberals in Arlington will take notice.

    Keep up the great work on the Coyote Blog.

  3. Emil:

    Q&O does not talk much about the high barriers of entry on the labor market, or the practice of interning the "immigrants" in "refugee" camps, which severely limits their opportunities to integrate.

    If I am not mistaken, there was always an "immigration debate" in US, and Irish/German/Jewish/etc. problems. Fact is, "send us your poor etc." was just a word ... the really poor did not get to US until it became less expensive to cross the ocean, which was during the '30s. During the 1880s it was said that the "poor immigrants" brought with them capital equivalent, on average, with 200$.