Sunday, February 1, 2009

Banks Want Foreign Workers

It appears that one way banks have been trying to fix their balance sheets has been to cut salaries by bringing in foreign workers, even as they cut their own American staffs:
The figures are significant because they show that the bailed-out banks, being kept afloat with U.S. taxpayer money, actively sought to hire foreign workers instead of American workers. As the economic collapse worsened last year -- with huge numbers of bank employees laid off -- the numbers of visas sought by the dozen banks in AP's analysis increased by nearly one-third, from 3,258 in fiscal 2007 to 4,163 in fiscal 2008.
I would generally describe myself as a libertarian, but this raises my hackles. Free-trade is fine with me -- so long as it is free trade. I am increasingly convinced that the system we have is NOT free-trade at all. And I am 100% against bringing foreign workers into this country, whether or not they are undercutting the wages of Americans. Most doctrinaire libertarians would say that there should be no borders whatsoever, and everybody and everything ought to be able to move about as they see fit. I am fine with this from a purely theoretical, pie-in-the-sky point of view. Which is to say, I'm not opposed a priori, but I very much have practical reservations in the not-so-pie-in-the-sky real world. I am certain that to be "borderless" with respect to people is libertarian suicide. The fact is, most of the world, whatever their reasons and motives may be, really isn't on the liberty-bandwagon. Seriously. Look around. If the world were so liberty oriented, it would be a very, very different place. The fact is that liberty has generally been beaten down wherever it has risen up throughout all of human history. Liberty is rare and precious, and the most fundamental characteristic that keeps it alive where it does manage to sprout up is a culture firmly committed to it and ready to make sacrifices to defend and preserve it. By whatever means and for whatever reason, at least 99% of all human beings who have ever lived have made choices which led them to reside under decidedly anti-libertarian regimes. Which is to say that these populations, by and large, do not have liberty oriented proclivities and are likely to undermine a culture of liberty if they find themselves suddenly transported into one. This is not true of every individual who comes here, of course, and it is not to say that they do it deliberately. But one need not be deliberate to have an effect. And at this point, we are not bringing in individuals. The volume of those entering our borders is so large that we are bringing in mass statistical samples. Moreover, there is little pressure or incentive for them to assimilate, so again, by and large, their home cultures are simply being transplanted here, and it should not surprise anyone that these folks are forming their own communities where their own values dominate. One would have to be quite naive to think that this does not show up at the ballot box. One would have to be quite naive to think that this is not influencing the future of this country in a decidedly anti-libertarian way. One would have to be just plain stupid to think that transplanting enormous numbers of, say, Pakistanis, or any number of other nationalities, would result in a harmonious, liberty oriented society, as if they would all change their minds about their long-held beliefs and customs as soon as they cross our borders and become just like us. I am not alone among libertarians in this opinion. Both Fran Porretto and Vox Day have expressed nearly identical opinions on the matter. They have many, many links and abounding examples and arguments demonstrating as much, far better than I could hope to present. Even Ron Paul, the most visible modern champion of small government and former Libertarian candidate for president, opposes open borders. That should make anybody think twice. If these companies want to realize savings by hiring foreign workers, that is fine. They ought to move their operations overseas. I have no problem whatsoever with that. But, naturally, they don't want to do that, because they know what they will find when they get there: corrupt, meddlesome, authoritarian societies where it is difficult to do business and make any money, which is the entire reason wages are so low in those places to begin with. So these businesses want to have their cake and eat it too, bringing the foreigners here. It doesn't matter to them that they poison the well, since the costs of their behaviors are incrementally small and borne in the aggregate, while the benefits to themselves are large and confined to their own company. That is, until the whole thing reaches critical mass and we all wind up losers. I don't care what Murray Rothbard, the folks at, or any other libertarian thinks or has to say about the issue, whatever their supposed status as Austrians or small government types. They are wrong. Alas, this whole screed is probably an exercise in futility. In the estimation of many (including myself), we are already too far gone. Even the native population seems to have lost its commitment to liberty, preferring illusory comfort and security to the rigorous ethics, discipline, and responsibility required of them to make liberty work. We are no longer the pioneers of old. We are children looking for a sitter. It doesn't make much sense to object to others coming to our shores seeking the same thing. We seem to have given up on liberty. But that doesn't mean we've given up on opinions and ideas. I have a feeling that an awfully large number of Americans may have second thoughts on the way things have been allowed to go on in the coming years. I believe, perhaps naively, that a few may even come to their senses and see the wisdom of the Founders in the new light of the present predicament. Unfortunately, these old crusty ideas were never really a part of a lot of folks vocabulary, and a great many are outright hostile to them. In fact there are now quite a few competing ideologies vying with one another on the American political scene. Most are not favorably inclined to the changes desired by their rivals. But with a lot of different kinds of folks who have very different visions of how things ought to be get thrown together, it was bound to happen. So long as we basically agreed on liberty, we could muddle through and put up with the frictions generated by our differences well enough. But liberty now seems to be out of the picture. Then there was material prosperity. Even great ideological divisions can be covered over in times of prosperity. A flood of cash, good times and easy living can soothe hot tempers and keep the lid on things, at least while it lasts. But that, too, now seems to be evaporating in a very big way, and a lot of people aren't happy about it. Fred Reed has opined many times about the cultural divisions and near-hatreds simmering under the surface of America's cool, stable facade, much of it unrelated to immigration, but immigration is certainly a part of it. I fear many of these divisions may be coming to the surface in a big way in the coming years. The economic depression looks like it might just be the trigger, as the Great Depression of the 20th century triggered the following conflicts. It is an age old pattern in history; the binge, followed by the purge. In our case, it has the potential to get very, very ugly. I suppose I've gotten off track a little going from "Banks Hire Foreigners" to "Looming Civil War." It's not like these few newcomers will turn out to be the straw that broke the camel's back. His spine probably snapped a long time ago, he just has yet to hit the sand. But I do hope I've at least illustrated why folks shouldn't be coming here for jobs, they should be coming here because they believe in liberty as a philosophy and a way of life, and the banks shouldn't be allowed to bring them in as a way of "helping the economy" or whatever other nonsense their appologists are able to concoct. But, as I said, I suppose it's a little late for that.

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