Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Immigration Central Planning


Farmers in California have suffered enormous economic losses due to a shortage of labor to harvest their crops. It’s just another devastating consequence of immigration controls.

Now, small businesses as far away as New England are suffering the consequences of immigration controls. According to an article in the New York Times, small businesses in that part of the country are now facing major financial losses as a result of a shortage of seasonal workers.

The basic problem is one of socialism. When people hear that word, they often think in terms of either government ownership of the means of production or coercive redistribution of wealth. But there is actually another aspect to socialism — central planning.

Central planning is a process by which some group of government officials attempts to plan, in a top-down, command-and-control fashion, the economic affairs of some part of society. Inevitably, all sort of perversities result from the central planning, as people in socialist countries have long experienced. Shortages are one of the main consequences of socialist central planning.

The fundamental economic problem, as Ludwig von Mises pointed out, is that central planning is inherently defective. That is, no matter whose plan is adopted, it can never work. Why is this? Because the central planner can never possess the requisite knowledge to plan the activities of thousands or millions of people, especially given that people’s valuations and market conditions are constantly changing. Central planners who think they possess such knowledge and expertise have what Friedrich Hayek called a “fatal conceit.”

Immigration controls are a good example of socialist central planning. The planners come up with some arbitrary number of immigrants to enter the United States. The economic problem is that the number is usually far less than the number of immigrants who would normally enter the country in response to natural laws of supply and demand. All sorts of perversions then result, including shortages.

For example, according the Times’ article, “For Cape Cod, the impact has been devastating. Employers will receive only 15 of the 5,000 visas they had requested, according to the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce…. Employers say that unless Congress acts, they will have to scale back operations, because the labor pool in many resort areas is not deep enough to provide new workers, and many people do not want seasonal jobs.”

What will it take for Americans to finally abandon their commitment to socialism and restore a free market to our land? A good first step would be a recognition that it’s socialism, not the free market, that is the root of their economic woes.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.