Tucker Carlson has a really great opinion show on Fox News, and I often enjoy his point of view on a number of topics where I find a lot of agreement. He does a great job of providing well-thought insight into a lot of different topics. However, I certainly do not always agree. On his March 20 episode, as well as an adapted opinion piece online, Carlson argues that not all immigrants are good for an economy. He argues that those who pay taxes on their earnings add value to the economy, but those who send remittances to their home countries with money that has not been taxed are actually a drain on the economy.
Let’s use a smaller example of something that nearly everyone seems to support. Just about every community, especially larger cities, attempts to attract additional people to move to their locale in order to improve the economy. In fact, many of them use a lot of incentives. Often times, they provide tax incentives (not charging certain taxes) for businesses to move their operations and their employees in to the area to bolster economic activity. In some cases, tax incentives (tax deductions) are even offered to individuals to move into an area.
These incentives and the ensuing immigration of people from other communities actually do improve the economy. Are there some that might be a net negative cost? Of course. There might be people who receive entitlement benefits at the cost of other people. That is a net negative gain. There might also be some people who engage in criminal activity that makes a negative economic impact (violent crime is a cost for everyone in the community).
However, does anyone really worry about immigration from within a country’s own borders causing remittances to be sent to different places within the country? Let’s bear in mind that those remittances have received tax benefits as well. In other words, part of them have not been taxed at the local level. So, according to Tucker, this would mean that a person sending his money (if that person has received tax incentives) to a bank account in another local would be a drain on that local economy. Yet, no one seems to worry about that, because they know that the net effect of more people moving in is a very positive impact economically.
Let’s say we have 100 immigrants that move into an area, and 50 of those immigrants happen to be sending some portion of their earnings to another location (maybe it’s to a different area or maybe it’s to a home country). Maybe they are sending back 20% of their earnings or maybe it’s 30%. It doesn’t really matter. If we remove those 50 people from the equation the 50 that are left are still contributing less to the economy than the 100 would be together. It’s simple math. More people, even when offering a diminished amount, still add something. Taxation on that money is irrelevant to the fact that more has been added.
Now, if you want to argue that many illegal immigrants are receiving services on the taxpayers’ dime and are not contributing taxes themselves, I can understand that and agree with you. But, the answer isn’t fewer immigrants. That’s going at the problem the wrong way. The answer there is to remove those services for people who are not contributing to them.
Of course, to me, the best answer would be not to forcibly steal peoples’ money to pay for those things anyway. But, we are talking just about immigrants here. The fact that we don’t steal from people who are here illegally doesn’t make it better to steal from them. It makes it better if we steal less from our citizens, and that we don’t provide free services to people who have not contributed. Yes, we have a natural sort of individual understanding that we should provide for those who do not have some things that are essential to survival, but not through force – voluntarily.
Tucker Carlson’s argument hints of the same sort of zero-sum game thinking of the left. It’s a belief that wealth is limited to a single, solitary amount, and that wealth can only be gained at the expense of others. When immigrants send money back home, it does not come at our expense. Arguing that it does is no different from arguing that a wealthy person has gained money only by taking it from the poor. All immigrants, to some degree, even if 80% of their earnings are being sent back home, are still adding something to the economy.
So, considering that every single immigrant adds a bonus to the economy, it behooves everyone to invite more free movement so that the markets can dictate labor needs themselves. It makes sense to have a lot more of the good neighbors and friends Carlson has mentioned. It makes sense to make the process easier for these good folks to join our economy, rather than to restrict it further. Why would you want to restrict people who make you better off from moving in and making you better off? You would want to restrict the areas that cause a drain (such as social programs, and people who practice criminal behavior) rather than restrict those who add to your personal wealth. It doesn’t matter if they send some money back home or whether the money has been taxed. They still make you better off.