Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Deporting UK-Based EU Migrants After Brexit Would Be As Foolish As Scratching Your Car Because You Don't Like How Others Are Driving

Theresa May is under fire for not unequivocally ruling out deporting EU migrants after Brexit, and the UK government believes it would 'unwise' to guarantee that EU migrants can stay in the UK unless they can secure a reciprocal arrangement from other European countries about Brits living abroad.

It would be absurdly imprudent to entertain the idea of deporting EU migrants living here, not to mention horrible - but for reasons that run deeper than the media is telling you. It's all to do with the free movement of people, and for that we need to start with perhaps the primary edict of libertarians - the non-aggression principle.

The non-aggression principle (while nothing like as absolute as many libertarians would have you believe) is an ethical axiom which says persons should not initiate force on other persons. In other words, your right as an individual and as a property owner must not be violated against your will.

It's a knotty issue and there are all sorts of ways (such as taxation) in which people semi-voluntarily trade off a proportion of their earnings into a state treasury fund for the perceived cross-national benefits and stability such a system brings. But generally, in a Sorites-type manner the principle holds for the majority of life.

To see why deporting EU migrants would be a bad idea, and why welcoming their ability to carry on living and working here is a good idea, we have to understand when free movement of people is a problem. Without an intelligent policy as a substratum, free movement of people can violate the non-aggression principle, because many of the citizens of the countries in which free movement is being enabled are not voluntary participants in the policy.

To take an extreme example, suppose there was a free movement of people arrangement between the UK and Somalia. With such an arrangement but also with disproportionately different size economies, populations and welfare states, there is asymmetry in the gains and losses (although one must also include the gains of the immigrants themselves).

This can lead to a situation where large swathes of people from the less-prosperous nation pour into the more-prosperous nation on the basis of a state-mandated arrangement and add all kinds of economic pressures and social duress on the citizens of the latter country.

A system that just allowed any number of prospective welfare claimants from some of the world's poorest countries into more prosperous nations would come with all kinds of strains on the health services, housing, school places, plus a drain on the economy through increased unemployment benefits and other financial entitlements.

However, a system intelligently managed whereby any citizen is free to travel, live and work in any nation is most welcome, and it would be an infringement on their liberties to have this denied to them. This is because a person going to work in another country is, by definition, bringing value to the economy in terms of consumer and producer surpluses.

Because the free movement of people policy is fairly well constructed in Europe, among nations that can offer each other beneficial migrations, we have, largely speaking, the positive kind of free movement of people where there is not too much asymmetry in the gains and losses.

So not only is it pretty evident that deporting EU migrants would be an opprobrious thing to do morally, it is also the case that robbing our nation of people that bring value to our country on the grounds that we are no longer in the EU would be a pretty foolish thing to do as well.

Of course, being a globally-minded citizen, it's important that human beings do all they can to help the world's most deprived people, and that is largely done through opening up their trade opportunities.

Alas, though, an awful lot of the problems nations face with mass immigration are problems created domestically by politicians (not to mention through their foreign policies): it is politicians that cause an awful lot of the shortage of jobs (minimum wage price controls, green taxes), the shortage of housing (over-regulated industry, environmental laws, and in some countries, rent controls), the shortage of school places (by not freeing up some of the education sector to the market of competition), and more generally, with far too much taxation.