PERMEABLE CELL WALLWithout getting into politics—at least not initially, let’s consider the job-creation implications of two diametrically opposite immigration policies of two hypothetical and neighboring large countries we can call “US” and “THEM”, reserving “OTHER” for all other nations and their peoples.

US and THEM are at comparable and, relative to average OTHER nations, at the highest stages of economic, technological, social, cultural, etc., development. Both rely on immigration to sustain population levels or growth, an adequate labor supply, tax base, school enrollment and research talent targets, with the resultant cultural diversity as a bonus, if not a target itself.

US has, in some respects, to the dismay and delight of many, been easing or erasing entry requirements and screening (while alternately being praised and vilified for it, as the U.S. and various EU nations have recently), while THEM has been tightening them (also with mixed reviews). US does, nonetheless, maintain some comparably strict programs, but all the recent news is about the relaxed and lax policies and policing—fueled by allegations that US is creating tunnels and funnels for drug dealers and gangs, fugitive felons, terrorists, plague carriers, parasites and job stealers.

Abstractly speaking, US is making its borders more permeable, while THEM is its most visible moves making its borders less permeable, as has a recent Canadian government decision to cancel all “immigrant investor visa applications”, 75% of which have been from China—and including those that have been in the processing queue for years. A revised program, with a doubled net-worth requirement of $1,800,000, stricter vetting and residency requirements, etc., is on the horizon.

Broadly speaking, rationales for strengthening or erecting barriers to migrants commonly include job protection and job creation for citizens. However, among the officially admitted key motivations of the recent Canadian policy shift was the “flouting of the rules by mainland Chinese”.

In some instances, job protectionism, when invoked as a rationale, can be short-sighted–especially if immigrants represent an increase in consumer demand that more than matches their job demand. Equally short-sighted are barriers to “job creators”—e.g., immigrant entrepreneurs or professionals who would establish operations requiring employees.

What remains to be seen is to what degree the borders of US and THEM become, remain or cease to be “semi-permeable” with respect to direction of flow, as well as to degree of flow, specifically in disallowing two-way flow across their borders, viz., emigration out of as well as immigration into their territories (bearing in mind that, even in nature, a cell wall is designed to keep things in as well as keep other things out).

Good and Bad Permeability

Now, in and of itself, permeability or impermeability of anything is not a “bad” thing or a “good” thing. That’s because it can exist in degrees with quite varying consequences and with various protective and compensatory mechanisms for dealing with excessive, insufficient or simply wrong permeability, e.g., mechanisms to catalyze quantitative or qualitative changes, including increases or decreases of penetrability. Problems arise when those protective and corrective mechanisms fail, are blocked, disabled or dismantled.

Compare national borders with cell walls: If the walls of the cells of your body were absolutely impermeable, they would starve, drown in their own waste and die; if they were absolutely permeable, they would be overwhelmed with toxins, infectious agents and lose vital balances through excessive diffusion and osmosis, becoming, instead, a lifeless or chaotic soup (rather than the humming engine of a dynamic metabolic melting pot).

National borders, like cell walls, require just the right degree of permeability, if they are to be of any use at all, allowing that in some other systems zero or 100% permeability may be ideal—e.g., perhaps the universe itself (at least thermodynamically or theologically speaking). Various cellular mechanisms and structures exist to ensure and protect such vital balance.

Ideally, both cell walls and borders should function the same way, and can, unless overwhelmed by some factor for which they are unprepared or unless they somehow merge or vanish for “the greater good”.

“USE’M” Permeability

At the same time as they are moving in opposite directions with respect to border permeability, i.e., immigration, US and THEM are toying with the idea of abolishing their borders altogether, to create a new consolidated super-region called USTHEM or “USE’M” for short, with common laws, currency, military, governance, etc., with high hopes for job and wealth creation and distribution.

It is worth noting how that development would be ideologically and politically consistent with the increased permeability of US’s borders, but at odds with the decreased permeability of THEM’s. (Compare the real-world examples of the EU and U.S. experimentation and flirtation with ever-increasing, if not yet total permeability, and contrast these with current nationalist counter-reactions of member states, e.g., in France.)

Of course, like permeability, consistency per se is neither good nor bad, bearing in mind the overused and inaccurate aphorism that says, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting different (and better) results.” An overzealous commitment to unrestricted, absolute permeability of one’s own borders, and then again, with total consistency, of all borders, may serve as an illustration.

Job-Creation Implications of (Im)Permeable Borders

With this preamble as backdrop, let’s now consider the possible job-creation implications for US, THEM and OTHERS, of increased or decreased permeability of their national borders and their qualitative consequences, allowing that the level of abstraction involved here limits the concrete policy implications of the analysis:

1. US job creation becomes even more laissez-faire and free-market than ever: In a pure free-market economy of the sort ideologically trumpeted by US, there are no “artificial”, enforced barriers or other impediments to entry as either a company or as an individual on either the supply or demand side of employment.

From the standpoint of such free-market ideologically-motivated (as opposed to New World Order-motivated) US policy makers, removal or easing of border controls amounts to removal of an artificial barrier to the free flow of talent, goods and services within a “free trade” framework.

The problem with this perception and practice is that the heart of the free-market system is compromised in the selfsame model: At risk is maintenance of the web of recognized mutual rights and obligations among participants that define and sustain a free-market economy.

That web can be sorely tested, if not shredded, in the absence of an intent, willingness and ability of migrants to work or to do so in a lawful, required manner, without recourse to the kind of violence or fraud that by devious design or desperate circumstance unvetted (im)migrants utilize or resort to.

From this perspective, even though, unlike cell walls, borders are “artificial”, they are clearly essential to the preservation of what they are criticized for obstructing: a free market based on liberty, not license (in the negative sense).

One implication for job creation is that a disturbing number (even one would be disturbing) of the jobs created with absolutely no screening or barriers could require or encourage such violence and fraud, e.g., working in cross-border drug gangs, which, paradoxically, is inimical to precisely the free-market model that, in being championed, would unintentionally allow that.

When borders become too permeable, as was the case with the Roman Empire during its collapse, that not only are governments unable to stop the (im)migrant or invader surge, but also unwilling to even ask, much less confirm, “Are you a villager, or a pillager?”, the fundamental premise of a market economy—that goods and services are produced and obtained through informed consent and honest effort—will, like the borders themselves, no longer hold, ironically, entirely at the expense of those who truly support the free-market model in both senses of “support”, viz., advocate and finance it.

In such a circumstance, the principal legitimate job-creation opportunities to spin off are likely to be for police, security services, military, courts and in penal systems, as offsets to border control laxity—if not for social services, emergency shelters, pharmaceutical companies, medical services and facilities dealing with (if not also profiting from) pandemics, epidemics or localized outbreaks of diseases transmitted by unscreened migrants dispersing within the borders.

If, in virtue of concerns about the worst among them, the best among these immigrants get these jobs, the job creation implications for the pre-existing job-seeking citizen population will probably be insignificant, except for considerations such as a Keynesian multiplier effect spurring spending and consumption in other sectors of the economy in which they may find themselves employed.

2. A second key prerequisite for a free-market economy is that those physically within it also be systemically within it on both the supply and demand side of its equations—i.e., are producers as well as consumers, rather than thieves or beggars, with essential allowance made for those with warranted entitlement to goods and services they are unable to create (for example, through illness, infancy, disability or advanced age).

Such entitlement—especially when expanded to include those arriving from outside one’s borders, outside any vetting system and, in effect, “outside the law” (in either sense of that phrase, in terms of accountability, as opposed to being afforded “protections”)—has implications for permeability-induced job creation. As any entitlement base increases the need for the associated goods, services, resources and personnel, job opportunities will expand—but only if there is adequate funding and revenues to support them.

Think of entitlements and their associated programs, like borders, as being permeable membranes: Ideally, they should filter a flow of obligations as well as of rights through themselves. Obligations should include demonstration of past or likely future contributions to or at least warranted inclusion in the social contract from which such benefits are being derived, provision of proof of documentation of satisfaction of eligibility and background-check requirements, paying affordable taxes (however modest), etc.

To this end, the creation or recognition of such entitlement obligations, in turn, should be obligatory and incumbent upon legislators. Without such requirements, the stage is set for a shift of job creation control from the local to the national level, e.g., in the form of federal financial interventions (with policy and priority strings attached) that are created to deal with local government revenue shortfalls or bankruptcies.

3. To the extent that a virtually completely permeable border attracts numbers of migrants seeking free benefits, allowances, exemptions (e.g., from taxation or permanent residence requirements) and access to key services such as medical care, education or housing, the stage is obviously—if not also deliberately—set for creation of a grateful, beholden and dependent class of unemployed, working and voting new residents.

In job-creation terms, this means expansion or at least retention of large bureaucracies to administer such benefit-programs and the hiring or retention of front-line staff, such as teachers in schools accommodating the children of migrants arriving with such expectations, privileges or rights. Hence, it would not be surprising to find strong support for such policies and job programs among those likely to benefit from them on the job supply side of the equation as well as on the demand side.

Whether a dependent, embedded class of non-nationals would also provide a pool of recruits for military, police or paramilitary service, e.g., as disciples or beholden beneficiaries, if not foreign mercenaries, to enforce laws and policies unpalatable to nationals in these services, is a speculation, question and debate topic best left to’s Alex Jones and his critics.

In any event, the irony of employing illegal migrants to suppress protests about employing illegal migrants would make for a hilarious Monty Python skit, were it not so unfunny.)

A Roman Perspective: Cutting to the Chase and to the Quick

It should be clear that border (im)permeability, like a sword, can cut two-ways or just one way: It can cut out and exclude populations or cut out huge holes for their entry. It can make penetration tough or easy on one or both sides of a border and thereby create, destroy or have negligible direct, immediate impact on the host population’s job market (e.g., when migrants fill only the jobs nobody else wants or jobs created to serve their increased numbers).

Above all, following the premises and logic of the free-and-fair market mantras that may be invoked to legitimize extreme, total permeability, border permeability can simultaneously subvert precisely that which is being championed—a free market requiring as well as offering open, honest, accountable, vetted and productive employment and employers achieving a greater good while pursuing their own.

Cutting to the chase and to paraphrase one of the grandest figures of the dust-binned Roman Empire, eventually overrun by migrant Visigoths, Vandals and their ilk, Shakespeare’s Mark Antony (speaking of the betrayal of Julius Caesar, by favored Brutus, who joined the assassins who literally cut Caesar’s reign short), “This may be perhaps the most ironic, if not the most unkind cut of all.”

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