Will Wilkinson: "Immigrants Yet to Arrive Matter Too."
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January 26, 2018, 03:50 PM
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From the New York Times:

Democrats, Make a Deal With Trump to Protect Dreamers

By Will Wilkinson

Jan. 14, 2018

… But Democrats should reject a DACA compromise that would reduce the overall level of immigration. Immigrants yet to arrive matter too.

Similarly, the 100 million shares of Apple stock I’ve yet to acquire matter too. Where’s my dividend? Tim Cook, you are fired!
Consistent worst-case-scenario thinking means assuming new legislation will set immigration policy for the foreseeable future. A DACA fix that cuts legal immigration could eventually deprive at least as many people as are currently covered by DACA from ever having a shot at the American dream.
After all, the foreigners who have not arrived yet would eventually become American citizens, making them Who We Are, so, surely, their interests as future Americans must count just as much as those of current American citizens, right?

This is actually a logically rather hard question to figure out (correct answer: “Wrong.”).

The people who have thought the hardest about this kind of thing are judges and corporate lawyers in regard to the rights of current stockholders versus future stockholders. And they’ve reached a definite conclusion about the relative merits of current versus potential rights holders that everybody who talks about immigration ought to be aware of.

Back when I was 22, I was as sloppy in my thinking about this in Corporate Finance class at MBA school as Will Wilkinson is today in the New York Times. In my 2005 debate with Jared Taylor over why I favored citizenism rather than his white identitarianism, I recounted an embarrassing anecdote of mine from 1981. (The logic of this drove Professor Bryan Caplan around the bend into genocidal fantasy because he couldn’t think of a good answer to my point.) I wrote:

By “citizenism,” I mean that I believe Americans should be biased in favor of the welfare of our current fellow citizens over that of the six billion foreigners.

Let me describe citizenism using a business analogy. When I was getting an MBA many years ago, I was the favorite of an acerbic old Corporate Finance professor because I could be counted on to blurt out in class all the stupid misconceptions to which students are prone.

One day he asked: “If you were running a publicly traded company, would it be acceptable for you to create new stock and sell it for less than it was worth?”

“Sure,” I confidently announced. “Our duty is to maximize our stockholders` wealth, and while selling the stock for less than its worth would harm our current shareholders, it would benefit our new shareholders who buy the underpriced stock, so it all comes out in the wash. Right?”

“Wrong!” He thundered. “Your obligation is to your current stockholders, not to somebody who might buy the stock in the future.”

That same logic applies to the valuable right of being an American citizen and living in America.

Just as the managers of a public company have a fiduciary duty to the current stockholders not to diminish the value of their shares by selling new ones too cheaply to outsiders, our leaders have a duty to the current citizens and their descendants.

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