Q & A session with Milton Friedman at the 18th Annual Institute for Liberty and Policy Analysis (ISIL) World Libertarian Conference, August 20-22, 1999, in San Jose, Costa Rica. Co-sponsors: The Mackinac Center for Public Policy; the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.
Q: Dr. Friedman should the U.S.A. open its borders to all immigrants? What is your opinion on that?
A: Unfortunately no. You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state.
Q: Do you oppose a unilateral reduction of tariffs and if not how can you oppose open immigration until the welfare state is eliminated?
A: I am in favor of the unilateral reduction of tariffs, but the movement of goods is a substitute for the movement of people. As long as you have a welfare state, I do not believe you can have a unilateral open immigration. I would like to see a world in which you could have open immigration, but stop kidding yourselves. On the other hand, the welfare state does not prevent unilateral free trade. I believe that they are in different categories.
Q: Instead of a green card [resident alien status], can the USA issue a blue card which does not give welfare?
A: If you could do that, that would be fine. But I don`t believe you can do that. It`s not only that it is not politically feasible, I don`t think that it is desirable to have two classes of citizens in a society. We want a free society. We want a society in which every individual is treated as an end in themselves. We don`t want a society in which some people are in there under blue conditions, others are in there under red conditions, others are in there under black conditions. We want a free society. So I don`t believe such ....
I haven`t really ever thought of that system. It`s a new question. I very rarely get a new question, but I must admit that`s a new question for me. And I haven`t really thought about it a great deal, but my initial reaction is that it`s a very undesirable proposal.