"We are all very pleased to be playing in Arizona. I have read that some of the artists won't come here. They are [censored] twits! Let's face it: I still play in California, and as a gay man I have no legal rights whatsoever. So what's the [censored] with these people?" ~ Elton John, at a concert in Tucson on July 22nd
As an advocate of very open-immigration and free movement of labor, I was dismayed when I first heard of the passage of SB 1070, Arizona’s controversial new immigration law.
As a resident of the great state of Arizona, I was further dismayed to learn that a number of bands, artists, city councils, and other organizations had decided to boycott our state because of the decisions of a few of our elected officials.
Boycotts, like economic sanctions, tend to hurt the people who are at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder far more than they hurt the people responsible for whatever the boycott was over in the first place.
Elton John fans are probably among the least likely of any Arizonans to be supporters of the immigration law. The most likely people to be hurt by the empty convention halls and vacant hotel rooms? Illegal immigrants who work as janitors, maids, and in other low-skilled positions whose services will no longer be required.
The fact of the matter is, boycotts are generally more about getting political activists and politicians attention than they are about helping people.
Now that certain key components of the Arizona immigration law have been put on hold by a federal judge, I wonder if the boycotts will start to drop off?
For me, the judge’s decision is undeniably good news – but I’m an open-borders libertarian.
The answer to our immigration problem is not to flood cash-strapped police departments with new non-violent offenders. Indeed, there are so many things wrong with the Arizona law, I won’t even begin to address them here. Suffice to say, I’m glad to see it placed on hold, and I hope the federal government can start working on a better program for the nation as a whole.
I like Ronald Reagan’s solution, myself: amnesty and a path to citizenship, something which Reagan granted nearly three million illegal immigrants back in 1986.
Free movement of labor, like free markets, is an economic boon no matter how you slice it. More immigration means more labor, more demand for goods and services, and more prosperity for everyone. It also puts pressure on foreign governments to compete for citizens, to create more open societies, and to move toward more liberalized economies.
Want regime change? Free markets and free movement of labor will get you there quicker than bombs will, and the change will be more sustainable.
Ironically, boycotts are the very antithesis of this concept. And equally ironic, the only thing that could have united supporters and opponents of Arizona’s immigration law here were the boycotts themselves. I know plenty of Arizonans who were against SB 1070 who were even angrier at the stupid boy-cotters and who felt solidarity with fellow Arizonans on this where solidarity was lacking over the law itself.
Now that the law is for all intents and purposes on hold, do you think the boy-cotters will stop? I doubt it - not until they’ve sucked the political marrow from the bones of this conflict. After all, the boycotts are more about the boy-cotters than they are about the immigration debate. But I could be wrong.