Everywhere you look, socialism is in crisis. Not just in Venezuela, North Korea, and Cuba, but also right here in the United States. Just consider three of America’s core socialist programs: Social Security, healthcare, and public schooling. They are all in crisis. They are always in crisis.
Among the best examples of crisis in American socialism is in the area of immigration. The immigration crisis has gone on for at least 50 years. It has brought more than just chaos to our land. It has also brought death, suffering, and destruction of liberty.
A few days ago, eight undocumented immigrants died from heat exhaustion while being illegally transported in the back of a tractor-trailer in South Texas. Dozens were severely injured, with some expected to have permanent brain damage.
There is an important factor to consider here: Immigration laws are what give rise to the black-market business of illegal transportation of illegal immigrants.
That’s what a black market is all about. When economic activity is made illegal, an illegal market immediately comes into being. It’s a natural law of economics. It’s economics 101.
As an aside, consider drug laws. The minute the authorities make drugs illegal, a black market forms. Same with booze. The same with any other peaceful economic activity that is made illegal.
In a free-market system, immigrants would be free to cross borders back and forth using the normal means of transportation — cars, busses, planes, and trains. They wouldn’t have to hide for fear of being caught because their movements would be legal. But the minute that crossing borders is made illegal, a black market gives rise to transporters who, for money, aid immigrants to illegally enter the country.
There is nothing new about this phenomenon. Illegal transportation of undocumented immigrants has been going on for decades. And so have the deaths. Consider, for example, this 2003 article that details the deaths of 18 people (later, 19) who were being illegally transported in the back of a tractor-trailer in Texas. Or this 2016 article about 42 illegal immigrants being found alive in the back of a tractor trailer in Arizona. In fact the illegal transportation of undocumented immigrants has been going on along the U.S.-Mexico border since at least the time I was growing up in South Texas in the 1950s and 1960s.
Many people are surprised to learn that immigration controls are a socialist program. But that’s precisely what they are. Socialism encompasses not only welfare-state programs that take money from Peter to give to Paul (e.g., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and corporate grants), it also encompasses programs that engage in central planning.
What is central planning? It is when the government plans, directs, and controls some aspect of economic activity. A government board, department, legislative body, or agency plans, in a top-down, command-and-control manner the economic activities of hundreds, thousands, or millions of people.
The problem is that there is no way that the planner can competently make decisions regarding supply and demand. That’s because market conditions, as reflected by people’s perceptions, wishes, desires, valuations, supplies, and demands, are changing on a minute-by-minute basis. There is no way that the planner can know about all these changes in real time and factor them into his planning decisions. The Nobel Prize winning Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek called this phenomenon the “pretense of knowledge” and the “fatal conceit” of the planner.
Like other socialist programs, central planning always results in crises and chaos. The great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises referred to central planning as “planned chaos.”
It would be difficult to find a better example of planned chaos than immigration socialism. A good example appeared in last Sunday’s New York Times in an article entitled “Visa Dispute Strands Carnival Workers in Mexico.” The article shows how American carnivals are struggling financially, having to shut down rides, because they don’t have enough workers to work the carnivals. Historically, the carnival operators have relied on legal Mexican immigrants who have received work visas from the U.S. government. This year, however, government planners decided to reduce the number of visas, saying that the Mexicans were taking jobs away from Americans.
That’s the classic mindset of the planner. He is convinced that he knows what is best for the carnival market. He knows how many workers are needed. He knows what their skills should be. The immigration planner’s “pretense of knowledge” and “fatal conceit” have brought chaos, crisis, and suffering to the carnival industry. It’s what socialism always does.
Socialism, in all in variations and manifestations, has produced nothing but crises, chaos, death, destruction, suffering, impoverishment, and loss of liberty. Americans should lead the world by tossing American socialism into the dustbin of history.