Milton Friedman - Illegal Immigration
by Larry Perrault on June 29, 2010 at 2:44 PM
Milton Friedman was the preeminent American giant of economics of the past 100 years. In response to those who presumed him “conservative,” Friedman would assert that he was not. He was for liberty, which his expositions explained was beneficial for the individual and for the society. He anchored the Chicago School of Economics at The University of Chicago for 30 years from 1946 to 1977, and then had a television series named after his book, “Free To Choose.” Friedman died in 2005 at 93.
This discussion of immigration appears to be from the 80’s, but principles apply across time. If you can recall, I have repeatedly written that the problem of illegal immigration is not so much of the immigrants as of the structure and neglect of the law. Friedman refers to the time when immigration was open and the effect of it good. The problem comes, he says, when we have developed a society in which government dispenses benefits, so that the only immigration that benefits all parties is illegal immigration. Though he saw the now proven natural tendency for governments to continually centralize power, he did not approve it, which is why he didn’t consider himself a conservative: he didn’t want to “conserve” that ongoing natural trend. He was correct, and we are now gazing directly at the time he predicted when government would bankrupt the system and demolish the dollar. I suppose he wouldn’t have been awfully surprised that the out-of-control system by that time would also be distributing benefits to illegal immigrant. State and local services are paid for with sales tax dollars, which illegal immigrants pay also. But as we have recently seen federal agencies may not be scrupulous about affirming citizenship for some benefits, like food stamps for instance, though a Social Security number is required for SS and other programs. Immigrants from less-developed countries have survived by navigating corrupt systems, and ours becomes more corrupt all of the time. As I’ve said before, these immigrants know a corrupt system when they see one.
Friedman certainly would not have approved the federal government distribution of benefits to illegal immigrants, but he wouldn’t have favored the federal government power to distribute benefits to anyone. Nor do I. To focus our attention on the immigrants and not the irresponsible government, is to let thoughtless emotions take our eye off the ball. Friedman enthusiastically supported Ronald Reagan before and after his election. I’ve added a video of Reagan’s comments about Friedman, at the bottom. And, I strongly recommend all of the Friedman material on the web, on YouTube and elsewhere. There a couple of series of two interviews he did on liberal daytime talk show host Phil Donahue in 1979 and 1980, which allow him to respond to Donahue’s questions in a forum aimed directly at common viewers.