The Swiss prepare for sour relations with the EU after approving legislation to limit immigration.
When policies like this start gaining traction, we must ask ourselves; why do people vote for this? Is it legitimate?
The first question can be easily answered using evolutionary psychology. Fear of foreigners, xenophobia, is deeply rooted in our ancestral nature. We must remember, that for most of our existence, humans have lived in small groups of nomadic tribes.
When these tribes encountered foreigners, other tribes, the outcome could be deadly. The tribe might me facing scarcity of resources, because of the competing tribes, and this would often lead to war.
This, again, is a prime example of a way our natural mind has not properly adapted to the conditions that technological progress has brought about. In this new era of instant communication and mobility, there is no place for xenophobia, yet this attitude is becoming more popular. This is also due to the hard-times we are going through now, and the need to exteriorize blame onto someone else, for many people, the responsibility falls on those who don’t “belong” to our close circle. It’s an easy target.
This line of thinking is present often in anti-capitalist propaganda, which would claim that “our” jobs are being taken by the Chinese.
This brings us to our second point, is this legitimate?
Certainly, limiting or forbidding immigration will be preferable to the Swiss citizens, much like it would be preferable for a Swiss company to prevent new competitors from entering the market.
This, however, as is the case with devaluations, is a zero sum game, where the benefit of ones occurs at the expense of others.
Many people don’t understand this, in fact, they often say, that not only do we lose our jobs to immigrants, but those immigrants get exploited by the big evil businessmen.
Well, if by exploited you mean that they are willing to work for less than you, then yes, they are being ·”exploited”. For me, exploitation must involve some element of coercion.
However, if this is not the case, and what occurs is the result of freely acting individuals choosing what’s best for themselves, then it is undeniable that those actions are legitimate, and indeed, there will be an increase in utility, as with any voluntary arrangement. These are the teachings of the libertarian philosophy. Blaming immigrants for having lower expectations and being willing to work for less is like suing a competing company for offering a better product.
Looking at the issue in this way, it may seem rather selfish, that the wealthiest 20% of the world (which includes people earning minimum wages in western economies) is trying to benefit at the expense of the not so lucky 80%, by forcefully forbidding them to engage in mutually beneficial actions.
Furthermore, it isn’t even true that you will be worst off. In a competitive market, lower labor costs should eventually lead to cheaper goods, as profits get squeezed out of the market. Indeed, we are the main consumers and beneficiaries of the goods produced by those poor “exploited” people.
Food for thought, that’s all for today.