I am in favor of free trade between countries and also open borders with regard to labor. Almost all schools of economic thought are in accordance with this theory of the free mobility of labor. Monetarists, Austrians, and even Keynesians are all in agreement in this economic point of view. In a nutshell, the theory states open borders will lead to increased economic activity and increase the standard of living.
I was in a recent discussion with a person who was a fan of Adam Smith, and was claiming that Smith was against open borders with regard to trade and labor. He thought that open borders to trade and labor, and commodity backed money, would lead to “mutually assured economic destruction”. I have not read as much Adam Smith as I should have, but since this discussion I have been motivated read a little more of his work. According to my recent research, I discovered that the person I was debating has Smith completely backwards.
I was surprised to hear someone claiming that Smith was against open borders in the first place. So I read Smith’s views on borders, and one quote sums up his view very well, “The core of free trade, is the free circulation of labor.” Clearly this implies that Smith opposed any mercantilistic restrictions with regards to not only trade, but the movement of labor as well. It makes sense that he would be in favor of open borders, every good economist I have ever read or spoken with is in favor of it. Furthermore, all economists get particularly annoyed when they hear people talk about why tariffs are good for protecting our companies, and that we can’t let immigrants steal our jobs etc. etc.
I had no idea what Marx thought of immigration at the time of this discussion, but he sent me a link of something that indicated that Marx was in favor of open immigration to reduce national identity. This sounded like something Marx might say, but my research did not agree with this assessment. Basically, Marx was against any immigration thinking it was a ploy of the bourgeoisie to bring in cheap labor to drive down the wages and further exploit the labor. It also makes sense that Marx would be against the free movement of labor – He is one of the worst economists in the history economic thought.
Disclaimer: When economists talk about open borders to trade and labor they are not endorsing letting anyone in the country at anytime for any reason. Rather, they are endorsing making it easier for people to enter a country for jobs if they are demanded.