Mark: Just so. In the particular case of New England, there was practically no immigration at all between the Puritans of the mid-17th century and the Irish of the mid-19th. That’s two hundred years. A New Englander of 1840 was, in all probability, directly descended from New Englanders of 1640.
Another reader contributes this:
Mr. Derbyshire — Yes, I do realize all your correspondent’s arguments have been shot down a million times or more, but may I do so again?
First, he refers to President Calderon’s lamentation on the loss of Mexico’s “best and brightest.” We should believe that coddleswap when Calderon actually stops demanding legalization for Mexicans in the US and stops handing out Matricula consular cards in the United States. Oh, and is the Mexican government still handing out these?
Second, I’ll believe in the concept of a “guestworker” program when the government proves to me that it ever has any real intention of assuring that the guestworkers — not to mention their children born here — are actually guests. It has made not a single effort to do so. It has no credibility on the matter. It does not enforce the laws against illegal workers, and it has no way of ascertaining whether those who come here as guests actually leave.
Third, there already is a free market in labor — it’s referred to as free trade. The very point of free trade is that workers don’t have to move across borders because products can. The movement of labor is not part of the free market because nations are, in a very real sense, the property of their citizens. The implicit goal of any modern, democratic government is supposed to be the welfare of its citizens, a goal that is actually explicit in our Constitution — that item about promoting “the general welfare,” which refers to Americans, not the entire world.
In a free market I have the right to sell my goods or services in competition with Target, WalMart, whoever. That does not give me the right to walk into a Target or WalMart and sell my goods on their property in competition with them.
[Me]: Several readers have also reminded me of Milton Friedman’s apothegm that “You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state.”