Sunday, June 13, 2010

Right, For all the Wrong Reasons

Irvin Studin’s idea to increase immigration into Canada is a good one, but although he momentarily catches sight of why it is a good idea when he says, “The Canada of 100 million has a far larger national market and the attendant economies of scale and scope…” this is a mere afterthought for him.

To Mr. Studin, hailed as something of a public policy wonder-kid, the prime reason to open immigration and increase Canada’s population is to “build strong national institutions and structures across the vast territory of Canada -- institutions that, while today are often absent or weak, would eventually serve as a bulwark for international strategic influence. Second, a far larger talent pool to populate the strategic arms of the state -- the military, diplomatic, civil service and political branches of government, as well as business, cultural, educational and scientific sectors.”

If you read the entire article it becomes quite clear that Mr. Studin’s intent is solely focused on increasing the power of the state both within and outside of Canada.

He envisions some sort of superpower which will simultaneously see the Canadian people held from cradle to grave by the “strategic arms of the state” and witness the rise of Canada as an international military and diplomatic force, with emphasis on the force part.

This is exactly the wrong reason to increase immigration and Studin's plan which counts on immigration as a force in and of itself is exactly the wrong way to go about it.

I agree that Canada ought to open up immigration and have it limited only for national security reasons, to prevent the spread of infectious diseases or to keep criminals out. But there is something else that must be done first.

First we should begin to dismantle the so called social safety net. The reason why we should do this ought to be self-evident. We want people to come to Canada to work. We want them to come here for the opportunity to succeed and thrive in a country that offers them more freedom to achieve than the one they just left.

Consider the United States in its early history. Immigrants didn’t flock to America for social services or “strong national institutions”, they came for the opportunity to be free and to make their own way in the world. As a result of that “pioneer spirit” the USA went from upstart colony to world superpower in less time than Mr. Studin could imagine in his wildest public policy wet dream.

Once we have ensured that immigrants won’t be coming to Canada to turn the “social safety net” into a hammock there is another step we must take before we can open the flood gates, and be reasonably assured that those that come will be those that want the freedom that we can offer, the freedom to prosper.

Now with immigration comes the economic benefit of all those added people. Mr. Studin continues to apply all this human power to “applied research institutions; to aid the generation of policy ideas; to create bona fide national institutions of higher culture in the musical, visual and theatrical arts; to justify national sports leagues” but he seemingly ignores the very thing that makes all of that possible… Individual economic activity.

To make this immigration plan work you can not just dump a bunch of people onto the land and expect great cities to rise, or… well you could if no one was going to get in their way… but sadly Canada is an over-regulated, politically restrictive pseudo-capitalist, bureaucratic welfare state.

So step two, before immigration can be opened up with any realistic hope of creating the wealth and its serendipitous cousin the power - that Mr. Studin so fervently desires - is to begin dismantling the bureaucracy. We would need to get the government at all levels out of the way of the people who actually make that wealth and power a possibility.

The best way to accomplish this would be to have, as Ayn Rand put it in her brilliant collection of essays The Virtue of Selfishness, “a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church..” . Initially, however, I think we could go a long way by eliminating superfluous regulations, business taxes and the sort of nickel and dime, money wasting red tape nightmares that make it so hard to open and run a business today.

Sure it will mean that consumers will have to be more aware of the services and goods they contract and consume, (with lessened regulation I am not so naive to think that some unscrupulous men won’t try to cheat and defraud) but that is part and parcel of being free. Besides we are not talking about eliminating the courts or police services and such frauds should be held to account by the law.

So now with the social safety net severely curtailed if not gone completely, and our bureaucracy restricted to the absolute bare minimum, Irvin Studin’s proposal for increased immigration could be implemented with reasonable chance of success.

Although this would no doubt lead to more economic, political and international clout for Canada I doubt that with the reduced scope of “strong national institutions” and the reduction or elimination of “strategic arms of the state” that Mr. Studin would recognize or appreciate the change.


Kelly McNulty Valenzuela said...

Hi, Zip!

Can I cross post this to my new immigration blog? I plan to roll it out within the next week or so and I'd love to feature this story and you as a guest blogger. I will link back to your blog to hopefully get you some traffic too.

Zip said...

Sure Kelly. My pleasure!

On a side note I've taken the first step to joining OBloggers (filled out the online application) and I hope to hear from them soon. :D