Why don’t conservatives embrace free labor markets?

My friend Sam Shirazi writes,

While conservatives constantly claim to stand up for free market principles in the face of government interference, they seem oblivious to the fact that they oppose freedom when it comes to the labor market. They so strongly oppose what they call “illegal immigration” to the point that it blinds them from seeing the importance of a free labor market. The left argues for tolerance of “illegal immigrants” based on humanitarian grounds and the right denounces such attitudes as rewarding law-breaking behavior. However, I have yet to hear a free market argument for an open immigration policy from conservatives who denounce government intervention in the economy.

Most conservatives would agree there can be no such thing as a free market unless there is the free movement of goods between countries. Yet it is not truly a free market if only goods can move freely through borders, but labor cannot. Goods and labor are two sides of the same coin and government has no role impeding either.

For example, most conservatives would certainly demand that there should be free movement of goods from the rest of the world to the United States. If I am a consumer here in America, I should have the right to buy whatever I want regardless of where it is produced. However if I want to hire labor, then I am forced to use American workers or whoever the government determines should have a Work Visa. If there is an “illegal immigrant” who I determine is the best employee for the job, I am legally prohibited from using that worker.

Conservatives constantly rail against how the government has too much control over the economy and how we should limit government interference in our lives. However, they want the government to crack down against millions of people living in America and have the power to determine who can legally work in the country. Every day, millions of people work for millions of employers who have freely made the choice to hire these workers.

If conservatives had their way, these productive and beneficial economic transactions would be prohibited by the government.  Why is massive government interference acceptable when it comes to regulating the labor market, but not in other circumstances? If you truly are worried about government interference into our personal lives and the economy, don’t give the government the power to tell you who you can hire or who can work legally in America.

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2 Responses to Why don’t conservatives embrace free labor markets?

  1. Conservatives, including libertarian-conservatives such as your humble commentator, prize freedom of labor, but we also prize national cohesion. We tend to value it more than a modest decrease in the cost of getting one’s pool cleaned or one’s lawn mowed. Your mileage may vary, but that doesn’t mean we’re necessarily wrong or that you’re necessarily right.

  2. Sam Shirazi says:

    Your post suggests that “national cohesion” is simply code for “racial purity”

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