Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Libertarianism, Immigration and Gentrification

By Robert Wenzel

There is a particularly odd thing going on in the United States right now centering on the movement of people. Lefties are against gentrification and rightists are against most immigration.

In both cases there is fundamental objection to the movement of people and the change it represents.

For lefties, they object to rising property values, new construction and rising rents forcing low income individuals to relocate.

For rightists, they object to the entry into the United States of immigrants, who will certainly change the landscape of parts of the country.

Curiously, lefties do not seem to be concerned about change coming from immigrants. Indeed, in the lefty city of San Francisco, where sometimes militant objection is launched against change via gentrification, the city is also a "sanctuary city" for undocumented immigrants.

On the other hand, rightists, while objecting to change via immigrants. tend not to be as concerned about change via gentrification.

From a libertarian perspective,that is, based on the non-aggression principle, there should not be any objection to either change, if it takes place on private property. From a libertarian perspective , what is done with a property should be up to the owner (provided the owner does not violate NAP). If  he wants to raise the rent on a property, and this make it less affordable for low income individuals,he should be free to do so. If he wants to rent a house to Mexicans, he should be free to do so (provided there are no private community restrictions against such).

Life is about change. One day a man has a successful buggy whip business, the next day Henry Ford comes along and puts and end to that.

One day rent is cheap, in a given location, the next day it skyrockets. One day, an area is filled with ancestors from the Mayflower, the next day it's full of Mexicans who snuck over the border.

None of this can be objected to from a libertarian perspective. Change happens. Life in a very important sense is about adjusting.

If someone doesn't want to live around Mexicans. and Mexicans are moving into a neighborhood that person will, from a libertarian perspective, just have to move to an area that has no Mexican demographic or is more accommodating, say, via a white only private property community. ,

I personally don't have any problems with Mexicans. I don't know many very well, but they clean my office building, and seem to be honest and hardworking. If I see any on the weekends, they seem to be very family oriented. I have no idea where they all live. There may be millions who have come into California, but they don't live in my neighborhood. My neighborhood, in this sanctuary city of San Francisco, is mostly white, with a good smattering of Asians and a few blacks. I see a few Mexicans on the streets who appear to be coming and going from cleaning jobs, but they don't live in the neighborhood. I really don't think much about them, or where they live. Like I say, they seem to be hardworking, God fearing, decent people. I don't cross the street when I see them, thinking that trouble may await if I don't

This, as I say, does not mean that people who don't want to live around certain ethnic groups, shouldn't be free to do so. They should just find their own land, their own groups and do so. I prefer the energy of a big city with an ethic mix.

Of course, there is a limitation from the libertarian perspective to this flow of illegal immigrants and, even gentrification, and that limitation comes in when the government enters the equation to coerce change (or stop change).

A libertarian must object to any gentrification that goes on as the result of property being taken by eminent domain. Or gentrification that is subsidized by government,

On the other hand, a libertarian must object to any immigration that is subsidized, say in the form of healthcare payments, welfare payments or, unemployment payments. It should also be objected to when government forces businesses and property owners to not discriminate against any group.

For the libertarian, there is no objection to the movement of people, whether it is immigration (by any group) or gentrification. Change happens. There is only objection to government involvement, in any way, in this movement, since government involvement always involves coercion against individuals or property.

 Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher at and at Target Liberty. He is also author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics


  1. Bob.

    I have posted this before. I don't believe the immigrants from Mexico or central America are coming up here for welfare checks. They all work thier tails off.

    White people are by far the biggest welfare queens. How many Latin Americans run big corporations or big banks?

    The welfare to imagrants bit is a red herring. Those subsidies do more harm to the imagrants than good. From that perspective yes libertarians should be dead set against hand pits to imagrants.

    1. 1.Many come so their children can be educated and have a better life than them -- there is a tipping point of child to income where public education becomes a subsidy -- I suspect after 1 child in most of these cases.

      2. Apparently you have never heard of 3 G capital.

    2. The school lunch program is not feeding anyone. Most of the kids throw that crap in the trash. The ones that don't eventually become diabetic. It's welfare for the food like substance producers not their victims the school children.
      Same with wic. Certain brands and types of food no real nutrition and you have to prove that you vaccinated your child in order to get your coupons. So who benefits there?
      Section 8 benefits landlords that use it not the poor people stuck in those places.

      End welfare by all means but the so called recipients of welfare are not the beneficiaries.

  2. In a free market economy, labor goes where consumers demand.

  3. Thanks Bob,
    Great article. I intend to share with my friends. We've been having discussions on this topic as of late. Thanks again

  4. Awesome. Where can I find my private community that has restrictions against certain groups that I do not want to live with? Oh... right. It isn't allowed by law and if I try to set one up government agents will come along and blow my brains out (if I resist integration).

    So there is no option but to demand some sort of immigration restriction until integration is no longer forced on me.

  5. I live in a sparsely populated West Texas farming community that has changed from 95% white 60 years ago to over 50% Hispanic (Mexican) today. I don't have a problem with the Latinos being here per se. But the rate of unwed and single mothers who live on government welfare is a problem that gets worse every year. When the Mexicans arrived from Mexico they came with a strong patriarchal family structure. Now their family structure is being destroyed by the welfare system. Whatever opposition I have against immigration is driven by my oposition to their rampant use of the welfare system.

    1. This is the issue that causes problems. Eliminate welfare as a government subsidy and that issue will diminish and disappear.

    2. Lets eliminate welfare first before opening the borders then,

      I notice that people that demand open borders insist that open borders should come first and elimination of welfare second (meaning never).

    3. I agree. The question is what to do right now? Welfare isn't going to be ended by either party, there is some desire to slow illegal immigration. Should we do what we can to stop more people from getting on welfare by opposing illegal immigration or do we let illegal immigration continue unopposed and watch as the welfare rolls continue to swell?

  6. This is excellent, Bob. Thanks for writing it.

  7. Fantastic analysis. But we can't truly consider immigration in the right light unless and until the welfare state inducement is removed. Only then can we forthrightly consider the motivation of immigrants to be a market phenomenon.