George Mason University economics professor Tyler Cowen made some interesting observations in a December 23 Bloomberg Opinion article. Cowen noted that in 2021, America’s “Total population grew by just 0.1%, or 392,665.” This was the slowest pace of population growth ever recorded here. The number of Americans expanded more glacially than at the end of World War I, even as combat deaths, husbands and fathers in military service, and the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic all conspired to grind down the size of the U.S. populace.
Cowen notes that this sluggish increase in the supply of U.S. citizens may contribute to the overall malaise that so many feel these days. “America is in a funk, and low population growth is both a cause and symptom,” Cowen writes. “But this crisis need not be permanent — and one way to solve it is simply to make and bring in more happy people.”
Cowen adds: “A significantly growing population is a kind of macroeconomic free lunch.” That is an interesting proposition. If Cowen refers to Americans born here as well as foreign citizens invited to join the American experiment, especially those tapped for their skills and talents, it’s hard to dispute this argument.
But one wonders just what Cowen has in mind when he declares, “In the terminology of economics, the U.S. is a public good. Allowing more people in the country is like allowing more people to fill the empty seats in a theater for an excellent performance: Why not?”
Cowen’s statement seems to reflect the belief among some radical libertarians that any and every person who walks the Earth has a right to stroll into America, as if it were the world’s largest public park or, as Cowen suggests, a giant arts center in which the curtain is about to rise on yet another breathtaking show.
Come one, come all!
I am a libertarian. I agree with the words attributed to Thomas Jefferson: “That government is best which governs least.” P.J. O’Rourke also captured the libertarian ethos for the ages when he defined it this way: “Make a right at taxes, a left at sex, and straight ahead is paradise.”
But the radical-libertarian, no-borders philosophy takes things light years too far.
This belief considers borders themselves oppressive and, like some American Indian tribes, holds that people should be able to cross national boundaries like flocks of migrant birds flying north and south with the seasons.
I cheer when Canada geese do this. Human beings? Not so much.
As for Cowen’s empty-seats-in-theaters analogy, it would apply if he believes that premium seats should be filled by people who walk past the box office, ignore the line of people seeking admission, bust the lock on the back door, and then help themselves to the $125 seats without paying for them. Then, even worse, the management serves them free hot dogs, pretzels, and soft drinks — all paid for via higher prices demanded of those who bother to purchase their tickets.
A libertarian like Cowen knows better than to believe in either free lunches or free snacks. However, until the entire welfare state is uprooted, it is sheer folly to think that throwing America’s theater doors wide open will not vacate the refreshment stand in minutes, with only the suckers paying for what they take. Why do so when those behind the counters hand things gratis to those who entered for free?
In Cowen’s empty-seat scenario, all the chairs eventually would be filled, and the people waiting patiently in line would be told to keep waiting and waiting and waiting, until there is room for them. Their frustration would mirror that of legal immigrants who calmly await visas and Green Cards, even as others break into the U.S., cut in front of them in line, and then collect fabulous prizes, courtesy of profligate Democrats, as if America were a giant sweepstakes or a non-stop episode of The Price Is Right.
It floors me when libertarians call this proper, sensible, and just.
Libertarians correctly champion the rule of law. Illegal immigration should crash like fine china onto that keystone of individual liberty. One cannot applaud the rule of law one minute and then, a minute later, wave one’s pompoms as 1.776 million illegal aliens cavalierly violated the law by breaching the U.S.-Mexico frontier between February 1 and November 30, 2021 — all under the sleep eyes of the anti-borders Biden regime.
This is the dictionary definition of intellectual incoherence.
My parents came from Costa Rica. They filled out visa applications, got their passports stamped, and crossed the U.S.-Mexico border legally in 1962 — on a bus! THAT is how you enter The American Theater.
And, yes, the performance has been excellent for them. It still is. But the explosion in illegal immigration — and otherwise smart people who think it’s cute — are creating some truly forgettable scenes in the ongoing comedy-drama called The United States of America.