Power & Market
Swiss news site The Local reports that new laws taking effect this month will make it even more difficult for immigrants to obtain citizenship.
It has apparently been established law for some time that immigrants collecting social benefits are barred from naturalization. The new law, however, now also prohibits naturalization if an applicant has accepted social benefits at any time during the previous three years.
An exception is made if the benefits "are paid back in full."
On the other hand, applicants for citizenship now must only have resided in Switzerland for ten years instead of 12, as was the case before the new law took effect.
It's important to make a distinction here. The change in law is not saying the recipients on social welfare will be deported. It is merely closing them off from citizenship until they can demonstrate they do not require social assistance.
There is a difference here between residency and naturalization, and the two ought not to be confused. The state is quite flexible with legal residency. The rules for extending citizenship, though, are far more rigorous.
Indeed, Switzerland has a large number of foreign born residents, and its economy includes many immigrant workers.
Unlike many other nations, though, the Swiss recognize that the political system is distinct from the economic system, and admitting a migrant to the Swiss economic sphere does not necessarily mean the state must also grant access to the political sphere.
Moreover, in nearly all cases, immigrants residing in Switzerland have citizenship. They're simply citizens somewhere else. (Swiss law specifically protects immigrant residents from deportation in case of statelessness.)
This is true everywhere, of course. Non-resident immigrants residing in the US, for example, are already citizens. They're simply citizens somewhere else. This fact is confused by the usage of phrases like "illegal alien" or "undocumented worker" which ignore the actual citizenship status of these workers. In most cases, the term "foreign national" — which highlights the fact these people are not stateless — is really more useful than "illegal immigrant."
After all, the "illegality" of an immigrant is a totally arbitrary status made up by government bureaucrats, and is no more morally legitimate than the term "illegal drugs." In both cases, the only difference between legal and illegal is some government paperwork.
On the other hand, there is no clear reason why foreign nationals residing anywhere ought to be given an easy path to citizenship, especially in cases where those residents rely on taxpayer funded services.
This position, by the way, need not violate the property rights of immigrant residents. After all, property rights exist everywhere, regardless of location, and a respect for property rights suggests that persons ought to be allowed to freely contract with others for employment, housing, and other goods — regardless of an arbitrary government decree of illegality.
In a 2017 column titled "Don't Confuse Immigration with Naturalization," I explore this topic further.
Preferably, access to the economic system is open to anyone with whom persons are willing to contract, whether they be employers, landlords, shopkeepers, and potential customers for new immigrant-owned businesses. Given that people tend to be quite open to economic ties with others, accessing the economic sphere has long been quite easy for immigrants to the United States. This is precisely because the economic sphere is relatively free and open in the US.
Granting access to the political sphere, however, opens up a variety of other problems, such as extending access to the ballot box, and encouraging the use of political power to enrich one's self or one's own group. This problem is hardly unique to immigrants, as I've explained here, but as the Swiss understand, restricting access to the political system in this case is often quite prudent. Thus, is makes sense to be open to migration, while being less open with the extension of citizenship privileges.
The ideal, of course, is to shrink the political sphere in such a way that citizenship ceases to be important. In a laissez faire economy where the state has only a tiny role in the regulation and ownership of property, then it would not be terribly important if one enjoys citizenship or not. The free exercise of one's property rights would be assured regardless.
According to multiple sources, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going to revoke the Obama-era Cole Memo, which directed federal law enforcement to respect states' marijuana legalization laws. Once revoked, federal prosecutors in states where marijuana has been legalized will independently decide how to enforce federal marijuana policy in their states. This could create chaos in the fast-growing cannabis business which has been creating large numbers of jobs and burgeoning tax revenues for state and local governments.
It is unclear how Mr. Sessions thinks that such a move would benefit Sessions or help him carry out his job, other than repealing an Obama-era rule might get him back into the graces of President Trump.
The only other option is that Session is supposed to help address the Opioid Crisis. He thinks that cannabis has somehow contributed to the crisis ala the Gateway Theory of drugs, which assumes that cannabis smokers will turn into heroin addicts. The Gateway Theory has long been debunked for many reasons. In fact, cannabis and cannabis legalization has actually reduced the crisis somewhat. Cannabis is now being successfully used to treat opioid addiction. In states that have legalized cannabis, the number of opioid overdose deaths have actually decreased.
In any case, it will be interesting to see how people react to a new crackdown on cannabis in states that have successfully repealed federal law and enjoy very positive results.
Dr. Edward Stringham was quoted today in US News in an article on investing in a strong dollar next year.
His advice? Friends don't let friends bet on a strong dollar.
[B]etting on the dollar can be risky, as it tends to lose value over the long term rather than gain, says Edward P. Stringham, president of the American Institute for Economic Research.
"While it remains to be seen what will happen to the specific value of the dollar over the next year, the [U.S. Federal Reserve] has a fairly established record of increasing the money supply and decreasing the value of the dollar over the long run," Stringham says. "A dollar was defined as 1/20th of an ounce of gold up until 1934 and now a dollar buys 1/1,200th of an ounce. People with assets or pensions tied up in dollars see their savings or retirement whittled away."
The gradual fall of the dollar means it's hazardous to keep too much in assets like bank savings for the long term.
According to Politico:
On Wednesday, one top [Morning Money] source who talks regularly to President Trump said the only finalists are Jay Powell and John Taylor and the question is just which one gets it. This person said Janet Yellen is out as is Kevin Warsh. Gary Cohn, as we’ve reported, has been out of it for weeks now. But…
We've discussed Jay Powell here before as "a full endorsement of the status quo in terms of monetary policy." John Taylor, of course, is founder of the Taylor Rule, which is highly overrated and has been dissected here and here.
Other candidates, remain of course, but as Ron Paul noted earlier this week, everything we're looking at is just more of the same.