“To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” — Thomas Jefferson, April 6, 1816
What follows is my Op-Ed in today's Orlando Sentinel. If you are a rapid environmentalist your comments are not welcome...
This summer marks five years since the "Great Recession" officially ended.
For millions of Americans, it probably does not seem possible that our economy has grown for that long. After all, by historical standards, the current recovery is anemic, if not borderline invisible.
Sixty months after the last recession ended, the unemployment rate is still well above the 4 percent to 5 percent range we would see in past recoveries. The gross domestic product continues to slog along at a 1 percent to 2 percent growth clip. Nearly half of all Americans are receiving some form of social-welfare income from taxpayers, and the labor-force participation rate — the percentage of Americans working or seeking work — is at a three-decade low.
For young people, the news is even worse, with far greater rates of unemployment or total disconnection to the labor force or to a job that matches their education.
This latter reality is why this fall I am going to show my students where Williston, N.D., is located; 2,188 miles from Orlando, Williston is a modern-day boomtown that is providing jobs, high incomes and hope to people all over the world.
While driving through North Dakota this summer with my family I decided we would spend a few hours looking around and talking to people who have poured into this remote locale.
What I found was Saudi Arabia of the North American plains. Stunning to behold, I looked out upon hundreds of oil wells as far as the eye could see. My family and I saw billboards advertising new-home subdivisions and ads on newly constructed buildings that offered employment to truck drivers, carpenters, electricians and more. Everywhere we looked were new businesses ranging from hotels to restaurants, heavy-equipment dealers, car dealerships and everything else a booming town would need.
At the local Wal-Mart, we saw and heard workers of all races and ethnicities. The young man who bagged our items was a young immigrant from Africa. His starting pay? $17.10 per hour. If he offered to work the night shift, he would make $19 per hour.
The girl at the window of a fast-food restaurant was from Russia. Starting pay for her? $15 per hour.
What, in the name of supply and demand, can possibly lead to two teenagers earning several dollars more than the $10.10 minimum wage that Barack Obama and Charlie Crist desire?
It is simple.
North Dakota decided years ago that the vast oil reserves under the ground and accessible only by technology called fracking would be fair game to the oil companies willing to come in and get it.
Not only did North Dakota decide to allow massive drilling and extraction to take place, but it did so without adding thousands of pages of burdensome, incentive-killing regulations and without hammering property owners and oil companies with Jimmy Carter-era "windfall-profits taxes."
Instead, North Dakota adopted a free-market, private-property-respecting mentality that told the world it was open for business.
Today, North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. at only 2.6 percent. With chronic shortages of skilled — and unskilled — labor, the supply-demand equation is greatly in favor of those willing to supply their labor services to the oil fields, Wal-Mart and the other businesses in this town.
Even without a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour, businesses have to pay the going rate or face labor shortages. Without any law, regulation or mandate, the natural forces of supply and demand have led to compensation levels far beyond what many college graduates are pulling down in other places around America.
Without any central planning from Washington, D.C., the natural allure of profit has led to all of these entrepreneurs entering a region that has brutally cold winters and few entertainment options.
Friedrich Hayek taught the world decades ago that all that is needed for a nation to prosper is for government to allow people to pursue their self-interest, so long as that pursuit does not violate the life, liberty or property of another person.
This system is based on the concept of spontaneous order, which means it does not require intelligent busybodies in far-away political capitals to plan and organize and coordinate economic activities. All that is needed is for those we elect to get out of the way by regulating and taxing human beings less, and we will see more Willistons emerge.
I hope I can convince some of my students to rent a moving van and chase a realistic American dream.
I read in the Orlando Sentinel this morning that 70 percent of Americans and 86 percent of Republicans feel that immigrants threaten America. What follows is an Op-Ed I wrote for the Sentinel in 2006. Your comments are welcome.
Here we go again. It
seems that every few years someone looks around and starts shouting that too
many people are showing up on our shores, in our airports and in our labor
Round 132 in the "Are Immigrants Destroying America?" debate is
upon us, and politicians from both sides of the aisle are frantically sticking
their wet fingers in the political winds to see what Americans want this
What is unfortunate in
this debate is that we keep ignoring all of the historical and contemporary
analysis that has been applied to this question, and we keep finding the same
facts. We may not like the facts we are finding, but as Aldous Huxley once said,
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."
So, what are the
immutable truths about the folks who walk, fly and swim to get
First, they create jobs, not destroy them. Immigrants from up and
down the wealth scale have proved to be incredibly entrepreneurial. Many
technologically savvy immigrants from Western Europe and India helped create
thousands of jobs in Silicon Valley. One in six of these companies was started
Many of America's best scientists, economists and
engineers are not originally from Kentucky or Florida or Maine. They are from
Beijing, Moscow and Bangalore. This reality is because American kids can't do
math and science, so Microsoft and Google have had to find these geniuses
Poorer immigrants have created thousands of restaurants,
retail shops and other service-based companies. One visit to San Francisco, New
York or Chicago will show you how many native-born Americans are earning a
paycheck because of the incredible efforts immigrants have put into our
Immigrants without money and business plans
have filled jobs in meat packing, textiles, lawn care and restaurants that
Americans simply won't take. Sadly, it is beneath the dignity of the average
American to pick onions or cut fat off a pig 10 hours per day. Who is supposed
to fill this gap?
Immigrants have also helped keep our rate of inflation
down by supplying valuable labor in areas where shortages would otherwise exist.
Imagine what the price of housing or restaurant meals would be if not for
immigrant roofers and dishwashers with tremendous work ethics.
also thank immigrants for having lower crime rates, higher graduation rates and
lower participation in the welfare state than native-born Americans. Routinely,
immigrants from the Caribbean show up, look around and find opportunity where
many native-born Americans look around and give up on the chance to advance over
If I were president of the United States, I would fly to New York
and read the plaque on the Statue of Liberty. Then, I would go on television and
announce to my fellow Americans that every one of us is a descendant of someone
who originally was not from here. I might also mention that if we want to help
India and China pass us up in the economic superpower game, the surest way of
achieving that is to keep immigrants from those nations out.
I would also
suggest that we are never going to win the war on terror if we do not let
liberty-loving people from the Middle East come over here to find out why
America is a nice place to live.
Finally, I would suggest that if we want
to kick out the immigrants, we might want to look at our own history with
respect to the first Americans, "real Americans." I seem to recall that when we
showed up from Europe -- as immigrants -- we took away their property, forced
them to move to less desirable places and killed many of those who
Perhaps then the best immigration policy of all would be for
everyone who is not an American Indian -- also known in politically correct
terms as a Native American -- to leave at once.