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Open the Borders, End the Housing Glut

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By Yaron Brook from The Ayn Rand Institute Media Releases,cross-posted by MetaBlog

Open the Borders, End the Housing Glut

December 11, 2008

Washington, D.C.--As the housing glut continues to send home prices spiraling downward, leaving millions of homeowners unable to unload houses they can’t afford, Washington is debating ways to address the oversupply of housing.

 

“This crisis was caused by government intervention into the economy, yet every proposal to fix the housing market involves more power for Washington,” said Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. “Instead of more government distortion of markets, we should be looking for ways to get the government off our backs. That will require us to think outside the box, so here’s one--admittedly radical--suggestion to get us started: free up immigration.

 

“At a time when Americans are suffering from an oversupply of housing, it is tragic that the government continues to forcibly prevent millions of peaceful people around the globe from bringing their wealth, talent, and ambition to this country.

 

“Imagine if the number of annual immigrants increased from around 650,000 a year to, say, five million. Virtually overnight we would see money pour into the American real estate market, as millions of new businessmen and workers bought and rented homes. Not only would this eliminate the oversupply of houses, we would enjoy the broader, long-term economic benefits of welcoming legions of highly skilled and motivated individuals into the American economy.”

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482217638

Cross-posted from Metablog

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Five million highly skilled and motivated individuals every year? I doubt it. Many of the 650,000 that do get in currently aren't even motivated enough to learn English.

Besides, while this argument may sound appealing at this point in the economic cycle (especially to those who want to sell homes, not buy them), what would it have sounded like two years ago--and what will it sound like when house prices are hitting the ceiling again? I don't think such concrete-bound sound bites are a good way of popularizing Objectivism.

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It's an interesting idea, but what makes him think that a) we can assimilate 5 million immigrants quickly, and b ) that immigrants can afford a house with no credit?

Edited by Sir Andrew

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As one of those highly-skilled immigrants who has been in this country legally for NINE YEARS trying to get a permanent residence (hard to do when the relationship you're in isn't covered under immigration policies, and when your career is contractual based and not permanent position based) I simply have to say: Bring it on!

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The idea of bringing the so-called "Green Card queue" down to zero, and maybe having a no-quota, fast-track Greencard process for anyone who currently has an H1 visa (or similar skilled-work visa) makes a lot of sense. Of course, we're not talking about millions in those categories, but in the 100,000's. And, these are typically people who will buy middle-class homes, probably slightly above the median home price, if they have the security of a Green card. I know from my own experience as a one-time "temporary-immigrant", that I would have bought a house 3 years before I did, if the GC process had been of reasonable duration. (Today, for my profile, that would be 5 years.) There are probably (see note 1) a few hundred thousand foreign doctors in the U.S. on "J-1" visa, at various stages of U.S. internship, residency, fellowship, etc., who do not buy houses because they are not certain they will get a so-called "waiver".

It is true that this is not a panacea for the housing glut. Even if were to happen (it won't) it might address about 10% of the problem. Better than not addressing it at all. More importantly, the suggestion stresses the correct way of looking at the issue: by creatively looking for ways in which to solve the problem while increasing the government's respect for individual rights.

Footnote (1): Over 200,000 J-1s are issued each year. Not sure how many actually come to the U.S.

Edited by softwareNerd

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Five million highly skilled and motivated individuals every year? I doubt it. Many of the 650,000 that do get in currently aren't even motivated enough to learn English.

What's some of that evidence you have to suggest that most of those who come legally, with work visas, don't speak the language? (Correct me if I'm wrong, but you actually have to speak English to get a visa. It is my understanding that there's an interview with the official who gives that visa, at the American Embassy or Consulate overseas, and that interview is conducted in English. Not to mention the fact that most Europeans and I think a lot of Indians - certainly the college educated ones- already speak English)

Besides, while this argument may sound appealing at this point in the economic cycle (especially to those who want to sell homes, not buy them), what would it have sounded like two years ago--and what will it sound like when house prices are hitting the ceiling again? I don't think such concrete-bound sound bites are a good way of popularizing Objectivism.

Are you saying that one of the automatic rights under laissez-faire capitalism, the political system Ayn Rand advocated for, namely the free movement of immigrants into the country, would not make economic sense? That such a freedom would in fact constitute a burden on Americans trying to buy houses?

If so, please explain how that would come about: Somebody (Mr. A let's say) comes into the country, gets a job. Mr. B, who builds houses, builds one and sells it to Mr. A, right?

My question is this: how does this transaction between Mr. A and Mr. B inconvenience Mr. C, who was born and raised in the USA? Feel free to place my scenario into any type of economy you wish (boom, bust, I don't care), and answer my question.

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Are you saying that one of the automatic rights under laissez-faire capitalism, the political system Ayn Rand advocated for, namely the free movement of immigrants into the country, would not make economic sense? That such a freedom would in fact constitute a burden on Americans trying to buy houses?

If so, please explain how that would come about: Somebody (Mr. A let's say) comes into the country, gets a job. Mr. B, who builds houses, builds one and sells it to Mr. A, right?

My question is this: how does this transaction between Mr. A and Mr. B inconvenience Mr. C, who was born and raised in the USA? Feel free to place my scenario into any type of economy you wish (boom, bust, I don't care), and answer my question.

I understand and agree with your statement above.

I think the valid point that Capitalism Forever is trying to raise is that there are immigrants that aren't in the "trading" process. They are looters of the socialist practices that the government, which should be sworn to protecting our freedoms, had put in place for the common good.

So, yes, Mr A buy's Mr B's house. Great for everyone, including Mr C. If Mr D arrives and uses schools, medical, and other opportunities as a part of public good rather than being a trader...then there is a problem. Then A, B, & C pay to support that "common good". No accountability, not a good investment. Welfare.

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Only high quality immigrants should be allowed. Only intelligent hard-workers who aren't inclined to commit crime or go on welfare. Also people who are pro-freedom, pro-American, willing to learn English, and won't vote socialist. In primitive, practical terms -- just to be wildly unPC and offend everyone :D -- this means far fewer blacks, hispanics, and Muslims, and far more whites, orientals, and Jews! :P

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Only high quality immigrants should be allowed. Only intelligent hard-workers who aren't inclined to commit crime or go on welfare. Also people who are pro-freedom, pro-American, willing to learn English, and won't vote socialist. In primitive, practical terms -- just to be wildly unPC and offend everyone :D -- this means far fewer blacks, hispanics, and Muslims, and far more whites, orientals, and Jews! :P

I'd twist that a bit. There's good and bad everywhere.

But if they are criminals or on welfare, out. Got to produce for themselves.

I think the lack of English by some is a recognition that the trader aspect of production in this country is being lost and that we're government slanted toward continued socialism.

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Many of the 650,000 that do get in currently aren't even motivated enough to learn English.

Who cares? They can speak English or make crude clicking noises and stomp on the ground. What does it matter? Regardless of whether they speak English or not, they possess rights. The purpose of government is to protect already pre-existing rights, not violate them. One of those rights happens to be that individuals can move wherever they want so long as they pose no threat, and the other is that they can speak whatever language they want.

I'm having trouble trying to quantify your crappy attitude. Are you "anti-immigration"? If not, then why does this idea sound ridiculous to you? Freeing up the borders should be done regardless of the economy, and it should be done immediately.

Edited by adrock3215

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Who cares? They can speak English or make crude clicking noises and stomp on the ground. What does it matter? Regardless of whether they speak English or not, they possess rights. The purpose of government is to protect already pre-existing rights, not violate them. One of those rights happens to be that individuals can move wherever they want so long as they pose no threat, and the other is that they can speak whatever language they want.

I'm having trouble trying to quantify your crappy attitude. Are you "anti-immigration"? If not, then why does this idea sound ridiculous to you? Freeing up the borders should be done regardless of the economy, and it should be done immediately.

So, based on the concept of rights and pre-existing rights, are we talking about the rule of law? Thus, illegal immigration is, well, illegal. Prisons do have a higher percentage of illegal immigrants that have commited violent crimes, in addition to their illegal "status".

Certainly, they can speak whatever language, but the logic of that was not the route that millions of other prior and current immigrants that recognize the logic in using English as the language of trade in this country...not to mention other parts of the world that regularly use English as their language of business.

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So, based on the concept of rights and pre-existing rights, are we talking about the rule of law? Thus, illegal immigration is, well, illegal. Prisons do have a higher percentage of illegal immigrants that have commited violent crimes, in addition to their illegal "status".

The law should recognize individual rights. If the law is unjust, then it should or should not be broken, according to the particulars of the situation. In most instances, the law involving immigration is so absurd that it should be broken. My advice to people who want to come here but can't get a visa, or who want to come here but have to wait 5 years to get one, is that they should consider coming illegally. While here they should take advantage of as many free social services as they can.

Certainly, they can speak whatever language, but the logic of that was not the route that millions of other prior and current immigrants that recognize the logic in using English as the language of trade in this country...not to mention other parts of the world that regularly use English as their language of business.

Right, and that is altogether logical. But what you're missing is that it doesn't follow that I should care if they speak English or not. So what if they don't speak English? If they can't trade with anyone, they just die. What does that have to do with me?

Edited by adrock3215

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Only high quality immigrants should be allowed. Only intelligent hard-workers who aren't inclined to commit crime or go on welfare. Also people who are pro-freedom, pro-American, willing to learn English, and won't vote socialist. In primitive, practical terms -- just to be wildly unPC and offend everyone :D -- this means far fewer blacks, hispanics, and Muslims, and far more whites, orientals, and Jews! :P

Wow I thought you only had a problem with Muslims. Turns out you're a racist on principle, huh? Oh well, one more guy I will never again acknowledge. You're in a very select company.

That said, I do think it is perfectly justified for the US Government to favor certain regions over others, when it comes to giving out visas, simply because these regions have people better prepared to fit in. Part of the reason a lot of people don't become successful in America is because of the multiculturalists insistence that people from all regions of the world should come here, and quotas be fulfilled. The goal should be open borders, of course, but that needs to be achieved gradually, and until that visas (and a selection process) are necessary.

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That said, I do think it is perfectly justified for the US Government to favor certain regions over others, when it comes to giving out visas, simply because these regions have people better prepared to fit in. Part of the reason a lot of people don't become successful in America is because of the multiculturalists insistence that people from all regions of the world should come here, and quotas be fulfilled. The goal should be open borders, of course, but that needs to be achieved gradually, and until that visas (and a selection process) are necessary.

"Better prepared to fit in"? This sounds like something Michael Savage would say. As if 'American culture' (whatever that is) is some sacred treasure. The recognition of individual rights is not a gradual process. It needs to be done immediately.

Check out this picture on Dianah Sieh's page:

http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/uploaded_im...tion-764383.jpg

Edited by adrock3215

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If anyone is interested in a more general discussion of Immigration, check out this thread, and this one, and the one that specifically talks about illegal immigration and the rule of law and its brother thread too. There is even a separate thread about "Islamic immigration".

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The law should recognize individual rights. If the law is unjust, then it should or should not be broken, according to the particulars of the situation. In most instances, the law involving immigration is so absurd that it should be broken. My advice to people who want to come here but can't get a visa, or who want to come here but have to wait 5 years to get one, is that they should consider coming illegally. While here they should take advantage of as many free social services as they can.

You state that they should drain upon those that produce. If production is a basic freedom, you advocate them using the freedoms that the current government does not protect. Why?

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"Better prepared to fit in"? This sounds like something Michael Savage would say. As if 'American culture' (whatever that is) is some sacred treasure. The recognition of individual rights is not a gradual process. It needs to be done immediately.

Check out this picture on Dianah Sieh's page:

http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/uploaded_im...tion-764383.jpg

I'm not trying to protect American culture (Don't put words in my mouth), or even the current welfare system. I'm trying to protect the millions of immigrants who would flood this country the second the borders are opened, hoping for the life Americans who are leading completely unproductive lives are guaranteed by the system. (and of course those Americans. Both them and the unqualified immigrants would suffer from the system crashing (or far less likely, the welfare money drying up). The reality is that there is no way American employers are prepared to pay millions of unqualified workers above the minimum wage-which of course is a reality, just like a socialist president is for the next four years)

The reality is that there are N number of visas available next year. (Sure, that number should be increased gradually, until the number of applicants is less than the number)

What's a better criteria for selecting those N people out of 5*N applicants? Nicely distributed according to creed and ethnicity, to include N/5 Indians, N/5 Muslims, N/5 Europeans etc. or some objective criteria such as how well they speak English, understand basic economic concepts, have a history of employment, education etc.?

If it's the second, then guess what: there's no point in looking for such applicants in Afghanistan, Bangladesh or even the Americas. You're gonna find them mostly in Europe, parts of India and China etc.

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What's a better criteria for selecting those N people out of 5*N applicants? Nicely distributed according to creed and ethnicity, to include N/5 Indians, N/5 Muslims, N/5 Europeans etc. or some objective criteria such as how well they speak English, understand basic economic concepts, have a history of employment, education etc.?

If it's the second, then guess what: there's no point in looking for such applicants in Afghanistan, Bangladesh or even the Americas. You're gonna find them mostly in Europe, parts of India and China etc.

That's disgusting. You should try reading some of Rand's work.

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If anyone is interested in a more general discussion of Immigration...

I think some people need to check out the essay Racism in Virtue of Selfishness as well. Jeez! :D

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Wow, some racism here.

Immigration regulates itself. The amount of people who will come is roughly equal to the amount that the economy can absorb and pay wages those people are willing to work at. To imagine some fantastic scenario in which a billion people come in all at once and a ton of people cannot find work, is beyond belief.

In addition, even giving in to the fantastic notion that this would happen, no one's rights are violated. If you cannot find a consistent, sustainable job, pick up your crap and go somewhere you can. If a bunch of immigrants cannot find jobs then they will leave or go jobless; I do not see the problem with that.

The government's job is to ensure no one's rights are violated. Thus, in immigration, its only job is supposed to make sure no one coming in has violent intentions on its citizens, or carries some disease that would harm other people, etc. To claim that its a legitimate station function to disallow certain people from immigrating due to the color of their skin (!!!) is morally reprehensible. This forum is for discussing Objectivism, not advocating racist ideology.

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That's disgusting. You should try reading some of Rand's work.

Ok, so what is the basis?

Certainly the basis of immigration would be that immigants work. They are productive.

Whether they come here to escape political oppression or simply the pervasive poverty and idleness of welfare socialist states, the immigrants who come here seeking a free, productive life are Americans-in-spirit, regardless of what some bureaucrat or politician says. Any law that claims otherwise is an abomination, a gross injustice, and should be treated in the same way that moral men regarded the Fugitive Slave Act or the Nazi Nuremberg Laws.

While most Americans don’t even bother to vote, immigrants abandon their entire life and culture and often risk everything to embrace the American dream. Upon coming to America, they are usually far more successful than their native born-counterparts who begin in their position. By any rational standard of justice, these immigrants deserve to be here far more than the millions of welfare slobs, America-hating hippies and intellectuals, and all the union workers and assorted privileged moochers who believe that their livelihood comes from a divine birthright rather than the unbridled genius and hard work of self-made men.

However, there are many examples where they are using the socialized systems of the government (reducing the freedom of men) and committing volent crimes(individual opportunities against the freedom of men).

In the end, I fail to recognize where opening borders will end the housing glut. How does that follow the other?

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However, there are many examples where they are using the socialized systems of the government (reducing the freedom of men) and committing volent crimes(individual opportunities against the freedom of men).

There are many examples of US-born citizens doing both. That is not an argument to forbid giving birth to children.

The only entity violating the rights of US citizens when people use "social" services is THE GOVERNMENT.

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In addition, even giving in to the fantastic notion that this would happen, no one's rights are violated. If you cannot find a consistent, sustainable job, pick up your crap and go somewhere you can. If a bunch of immigrants cannot find jobs then they will leave or go jobless; I do not see the problem with that.

The government's job is to ensure no one's rights are violated. Thus, in immigration, its only job is supposed to make sure no one coming in has violent intentions on its citizens, or carries some disease that would harm other people, etc. To claim that its a legitimate station function to disallow certain people from immigrating due to the color of their skin (!!!) is morally reprehensible. This forum is for discussing Objectivism, not advocating racist ideology.

Jobless in an "objective" world would allow them to just drift out of existence then, right? However, in a "socially conscious" state, the state would provide be taking money from others and give to them. If the new "host" state for the parasitic immigrant has better "benefits", they won't leave, will they?

The US system rewards illegal immigration with many benefits. Much more than some host countries. That IS a violation of the rights of those that pay for that socialization.

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That's disgusting. You should try reading some of Rand's work.

Yeah well, it's hard to argue with name calling and stupid assumptions such as that I'm hanging around this forum for reasons other than having read and liked Rand's work.

What you want is her political views implemented right now. What she advocated for is laissez faire capitalism implemented gradually. Her method was to try and change the culture of altruism in America, yours is to call people names for offering practical solutions rather than idiotic ones: Open the borders now!! is not possible. If tomorrow Congress would pas a bill to that effect, tens of millions would come from around the world, the American welfare system would soon dry up, and the political establishment would undoubtedly take the private sector with it. Such a move would cause devastation and misery on an unimaginable scale, and every rational person, including Ayn Rand would advocate against it.

If you think you can crate political change through chanting "Open borders now!", go ahead, do that. Bang your head against the wall while you're at it.

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