Immigration: Focus on Corporatism, Not Illegals

corporatism border policy cartoon

FrontPage Magazine — the neoconservative rag that gets its cheap thrills from kicking liberals in the teeth — actually has a pretty decent debate/interview on immigration (half-way down the page) with Los Angeles radio-host Doug McIntyre, who’s more libertarian than their usual fare. He makes an interesting case that hasn’t been getting much play in the media:

The wages of working class Angelenos are going down at the very time costs for everything else is going up. What we are witnessing is a massive failure of government. But, unlike Hurricane Katrina, or rather, like Hurricane Katrina, the failure is at all levels. However, there’s a significant difference, because this is not a failure due to incompetence. This is one of the rarest of rare phenomena: what we are seeing here is like the mythical white buffalo: it is a government program that succeeds brilliantly because what’s happening is not happening by accident, it’s not happening as the law of unintended consequences, it’s happening by design.

[…] Well, they are very troubling and most of the trouble that they cause, frankly, is restricted to the local level. But, at the federal level, at the state level, the real problem is the corporatists who have tragically infested and taken over our party. You see, for the corporatists, it’s not a conspiracy; its a business model.

We have had a lot of discussion over the last number of years about outsourcing but outsourcing only works to a point. Then there’s insourcing and insourcing rarely gets talked about. You can’t outsource the bellhop of the Arizona Biltmore. You can’t outsource a hair cut. You can’t outsource the driveway paver. But you can insource millions of cheap laborers who will drive down the price of labor in America and that’s exactly what they’re doing and they’re doing it by design.

[…] So you see the quality of life in America is constantly threatened and, when you talk about this and you talk about the responsibility of corporations in all of this, you’re branded as a “Communist,” as a knuckle-dragging union thug, as whatever — we know all the names. If you talk about this subject, period, you’re a xenophobe, you’re a racist, you’re a Republican. All these terrible words.

If his hypothesis is correct and corporate lobbies are indeed against responsible immigration (meaning documented and accounted for immigrants), they will want to preserve the status quo so that the massive influx of illegals will never look towards unionization as a method of collective bargaining for higher wages. Then again, with the state picking up the tab for health care and retirement as wages collapse, there’s no business incentive for them to change their tune.

His commentary brilliantly highlights the rift between corporatism and capitalism when applied to the border issue. I would highly suggest reading the whole thing.

Update: In response to Rad Geek in the comments… I don’t agree with the author’s conclusion that immigration policy needs to be even more arduous and clamped down (the points on checking backgrounds with foreign nations notwithstanding), I think the point of bringing up the corporatism ties and their lobbies that prefer the status quo of illegals without protection is completely valid.

[image credit: Brian Fairrington]

18 Comments
  1. I’ve called Doug Mcintyre’s show a few times. He didn’t seem that libertarian to me. When I spoke out against the invasion of Iraq back in early 2003 he hung up on me.

  2. Andy: I based that label on the info found in his Wikipedia bio. Feel free to edit it as necessary to reflect his pro-war views and anything else as that wasn’t there.

    It seems he’s probably more of a hawkish Boortz libertarian than a dyed-in-the-wool Republican. I think our tent is big enough for people like him at least on domestic issues.

  3. On domestic issues such as shooting immigrants, as a form of protectionism for U.S. workers’ wages? If that’s the tent, I’ll stand in the rain, thank you.

    Corporatism and a free market are indeed different things. But the only way to achieve a free market in labor is the complete decriminalization of immigration, not arresting, confining, exiling, and/or shooting immigrants who haven’t gotten a permission slip from the government, or (as McIntyre wants) arresting banks for loaning money to those immigrants, or employers for giving them jobs.

    Incidentally, since when did “responsible immigration” mean producing your papers to the federal government on demand? I don’t notify the government of my whereabouts every time I move. What business is it of theirs?

  4. Rad Geek: His argument is that illegal immigrants aren’t the bad guys, it’s the corporations who offer them under-the-table jobs while pressuring Congress to keep them in an illegal status so they can easily be deported/arrested should they try and get all uppity.

    In a perfect world, none of us should need documents to get a job, but that’s just not the case here and we need to at least make the process for peaceful immigrants to come here as simple as possible (including amnesty for those that are already here).

    We’re on the same page here, just realize who has the most to gain by keeping illegal immigrants running around as a sub-caste of America: shady corporations who want to manipulate their employees through fear, not economic incentives.

  5. The entire disconnect between the love of the LP for private enterprise and teh reality of life under government supported corporatism needs to be explored.

    Can the LP ever succeed being a single issue party? I doubt it. hate of government is fine, but hate of corps that use government to exploit the people would be a way to broaden the LP’s appeal, assuming you are fighting for the liberty of the individual first.

  6. Tim, you got it 100% right. As long as people confuse support of free enterprise with support of the current reality of corporatism (fascism) we get nowhere. People experience the injustice and oppression of real-life big business in their day to day lives, so they are easy prey for anyone who claims the government will protect them from it….without realizing both big government, big unions and big business are teaming up together against ordinary workers and small business owners.

    And yes, absolutely, they DO benefit from the current system of keeping immigrants “illegal” so they can exploit them.

    When I was in the abandoned building rehabilitation business in NYC I knew a guy who was having his workers (all “illegals”) sleeping on the floor in the unfurnished buildings they were working on, with no utilities and toxins all over, eating out of garbage cans (behind his restaurants) and getting paid less than a dollar an hour. Working 100 plus hour weeks, too.

  7. What can we learn from the current immigration controversy? That if there is critical mass, the government is powerless to enforce the law. People think it’s not practical to deport 11 millon illegal immigrants. Would it be practical to jail 50 or 60 millon people for not paying taxes?

    Just a thought.

  8. Stephen, I agree that many actually existing corporations reap benefits from the criminalization of immigrants, in part because they can use the threat of La Migra (tacitly or explicitly) to control and exploit immigrant workers. And I’m on record as emphatically agreeing that corporatism or state capitalism needs to be sharply distinguished from the free market, and (therefore) defenders of free enterprise shouldn’t always, or even often, be defending actually existing big business. (See, for example, http://radgeek.com/gt/2005/03/31/anarquistas_por .)

    And of course I agree that undocumented immigrants shouldn’t be blamed. (For what? They’re doing nothing wrong.) I just can’t find this argument anywhere in MacIntyre’s piece. All I can find is a single paragraph where he says that certain sorts of Chicano activists who are currently boogey-men of the nativist Right are indeed a problem locally in California, but aren’t as big an influence on federal policy as some seem to claim.

  9. He does say that the corporate class has more effect on immigration policy federally than those Chicano activists do. But I can find anywhere at all that MacIntyre suggests that undocumented immigrants aren’t to blame, or that they shouldn’t be punished. He does have some complaints about the “disaster” of Spanish being spoken in Los Angeles schools, apparently blames Latin American immigrants for Los Angeles’s murder rate, and generally talks about Mexican immigrants in a way virtually indistinguishable from the AFL’s anti-Chinese rhetoric of the 1880s.

    He nowhere advocates decriminalizing undocumented immigration, which is the only non-immigrant-blaming policy to take. He nowhere even suggests that the criminalization of immigrants, rather than the immigration itself, is the problem. Instead he repeatedly calls for escalation of the war on immigrants, e.g. by prosecuting banks that dare to write loans to immigrants, or government-subsidized landlords who dare to rent to them.

  10. If you want to make the argument that corporatism is at least partly to blame for the situation, and that the best solution is to stop punishing undocumented immigrants immediately and entirely, then you can and of course you should. My beef is with the claim that MacIntyre’s piece, which is a string of immigrant-blaming, protectionist fallacies, and calls for escalation of government attacks on immigrants, has anything to do with the argument that you seem to want to make.

  11. I got hung up on by Doug Mcintyre a couple of other times.

    One of them was after I brought up that Donald Rumsfeld helped arm Saddam Hussien and then I brought up the fact that Rumsfeld was on the bord of directors of the company that built nuclear power reactors in North Korea. Doug’s response was that I should go back to the 1700’s and then he hung up on me.

    The other time was during a discussion about the income tax. I brought up the fact that there were two Supreme Court rulings in 1916 that said that the income tax did not apply to American citizens who work within the 50 state(Brushaber vs. Pacific Railroad & Stanton vs. Baltic Mining). Doug called me a “kook” and hung up on me.

    When I called in to say that the Boy Scouts were a private club and could reject gays if they wanted to he let me talk without hanging up on me.

  12. LOBBYING
    It seems that we often forget that when we live in a mixed economy, it is not the corruption of power, but the power to corrupt that we must focus in on. As long as we give the government to control people’s and business’s lives, pressure groups will form to protect their group from the guns of the government.

    WAGES
    When it comes to wages, I think we overlook that we want higher wages so that we can have more purchasing power. The big government solution is to artificially raise wages. Which in turn raises the cost of production, and then the cost of living. The Free Market/Capitalism solution is to lower the cost of production (for example wages)in order to produce more. As companies mass produce more products, they not only make more profits, but also push down the price of their products and products that depend on their goods. This leads to lower cost of living.
    Immigration is good, if they are here to work and bad if they are here for the welfare.

  13. LOBBYING
    It seems that we often forget that when we live in a mixed economy, it is not the corruption of power, but the power to corrupt that we must focus in on. As long as we give the government to control people’s and business’s lives, pressure groups will form to protect their group from the guns of the government.

    It’s both. A big part of the reason why the power to corrupt exists, is that those with power desire more so they can take advantage of corruption.

  14. correction to previous post: It should say “As long as we give the government the power to control people’s and business’s lives, pressure groups will form to protect their group from the guns of government.” It’s a kind of we will screw you before you screw us mentality. If we remove the government intervention into the free market and free trade of labor between countries, it would make it harder for bad companies to profit from leveraging the Immigration services against them. For example, the mob and gang bangers would not be in the business of drugs if it were legalized. There would be no profit in it, if every company could offer drugs.

  15. Paulie, I agree with you that someone had to have the desire for that power to come to be, however, focusing on them takes focus away from the one thing that will prevent any of the pressure groups out there from continuing to use that power. It is the power itself that must be erradicated and our Individual Rights restored. Focusing on the bad companies, bad environmentalists, bad socialist, and etc. may cause congress to make some laws against that particular group. Yet, the power will still be their for whatever their new pet group may be at their pleasure. As Harry Browne used to say,” The power to punish their enemies and reward their friends.” Let’s not kid ourselves, this includes all the pressure groups out their that want to use the guns of government to satisfy their wants. Which also includes the groups with so called “good intentions”.

  16. All this talk about free markets versus corporatism is a lot of free market counting angels on pins. Free markets have never exists, libertarians are utopian idealists, and in that sense are more similar to Marxist-Leninists then they would like to admit. Libertarianism is tragically flawed, the ideology of a adolescent male who hasn’t grown up yet. In economic terms, there is no evidence whatsoever that a government organization is any less or more efficient then a private corporation. Morally, libertarianism is even more defective, based on the theory that we should all be ‘free’ to starve, equally, but ignoring the fact that no one is equally at risk of starving. Libertarianism has nothing to say about the abusiveness of corporate personhood, leads most people to dismiss it a pimp ideology for the CEO classes–a mere rationalization for inequality and inefficiency of dysfunctional markets, and systems of private oppression and greed.

  17. Joe, you must have missed something somewhere. Your misunderstanding of libertarianism certainly is deficient. Whether you have a moral problem because of it is between you and God…

    Anyway, libertarians generally consider large corporations a bad thing, as a construct of government intended to confer special privileges on the corporation. Most libertarians I know would abolish them altogether if they could.