Missouri's 7th District, U.S. House of Representatives




Congressional Issues 2010
Immigration in a Division of Labor Economy

Prof. Reisman now highlights the answers to arguments against free immigration.

Refutation of the Arguments Against Free Immigration

It is necessary to refute the arguments advanced against the freedom of immigration and the population growth it causes.

It is claimed that the larger population resulting from free immigration creates the need to resort to inferior grades of land and mineral deposits and is accompanied by diminishing returns. This argument has already been answered both in our discussions of population growth and in our discussion of private ownership of land.[115] Here it is only necessary to add a further point which applies particularly when the population growth results from immigration. Namely, that the immigration can be accompanied by the importation of additional raw materials along with the additional people.

Imagine, for example, that workers of the British steel industry immigrated to the United States and became steel workers here. This would not mean that the iron ore they required must be taken from the Mesabi range in Minnesota. Very probably, it would simply mean that iron ore that used to go from Labrador to Britain will now go from Labrador to the United States.

This example points up the fact that those who fear population growth are thinking in terms of a non-division- of-labor society, in which people work the land and in which more people in a territory means more working of the land in that territory. Actually, immigration into towns and cities has no necessary connection with the extent to which the land and mineral deposits of the surrounding territory must be worked, because the towns and cities can draw their raw materials from anywhere in the world. The notion that more people in a country must mean a higher ratio of labor to land in that country, and thus diminishing returns, simply does not apply in a division-of-labor society. * *  *

[115] See above, pp. 358–362 and 313–316.

We come next to the argument that a larger population must reduce the productivity of labor because it means less capital goods per worker. We are taking this material from George Reisman's treatise Capitalism.

It is also claimed that a larger population must reduce the productivity of labor because it means a higher ratio of labor to capital goods, or, what is the same thing, less capital goods per worker. Those who advance this argument believe that population growth and increases in the supply of capital goods are independent processes. Capital accumulation, they believe, is determined simply by saving, which allegedly has no connection with the growth of population.

The fact is that a larger number of people working and producing is itself the cause of a larger supply of capital goods. A larger number of people working and producing in conjunction even with an unchanged supply of capital goods results in an increase in total production. This no one can deny. It is only necessary to realize that what is produced in an economy is not only consumers’ goods, but also capital goods. Labor and existing capital goods are used to produce both consumers’ goods and capital goods, and, as we shall see in later chapters, they do so in accordance with the relative demands for the two types of goods.[116]

The implication of this is that if there is any single, one-time increase in the number of people working and producing, it automatically tends to be followed by a growth in the supply of capital goods per worker and thus in output per worker at least back to their original levels. This is because the larger number of workers produces more capital goods with which that same larger number of workers then works in the next period, and with the aid of which it enjoys a higher productivity. The further effect is another increase in production in the following period—both of consumers’ goods and of capital goods, until the original levels of capital goods per worker and the productivity of labor are equaled and, indeed, surpassed.

Thus, it should be clear that no reasonable case exists against any single dose of immigration or population increase based on the argument that it reduces the amount of capital goods per worker. For the additional labor itself results in progressively more capital goods.

[116] On these points, see below, pp. 622–629 and 709.

 George Reisman's Program of Self-Education in
the Economic Theory and Political Philosophy of Capitalism

In the case of a continuous increase in the supply of labor, it could be argued that just as the first group of additional workers brings about an increase in the supply of capital goods, a second group arrives on the scene, so that the ratio of capital goods to labor does not increase and may even fall further. Read Prof. Reisman's answer to this argument:

Gary North's essay on Darwin, Malthus, and a Biblical world-view

In his book The Myth of Over-Population, R.J. Rushdoony shows that the symptoms of "overpopulation" are actually symptoms of government intervention. Darwinian and Malthusian assumptions govern the modern State, and both the Republican and Democrat Parties.

Order Now:
The Myth of Over-Population

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Recent Blog Posts

In the Next Two Years, Congress should:
  • expand, or at least maintain, current legal immigration quotas;
  • increase permanently the number of H-1B visas and deregulate employment-based immigration to facilitate the entry of skilled immigrants;
  • remove the new one-year time limit on filing for political asylum and reform the "expedited removal" laws;
  • repeal employer sanctions;
  • stop the move toward a computerized national identification system and the use of government-issued documents, such as birth certificates and Social Security cards, as de facto national ID cards; and
  • reduce restrictions on the movement of workers within the North American Free Trade Agreement area.
By the end of the decade, Congress should:
  • Abolish all anti-immigration laws.

As soon as possible, America should:

  • Create a vast network of voluntary social service agencies to meet all immigrants at the borders or piers and ensure their literacy and familiarity with American values.
  • Commit to on-going transmission of American values to immigrants in all areas of life. Read more about this.