If wishes were horses, this argument would fly.

Rand Paul – sometimes I love him, and sometimes he seems to forgot to engage his brain before speaking. The following quote was pulled from a recent interview:

There was a PEW study that added up data from a lot of different countries, and asked them, if you could, would you go to the United States? 600 million would come. We’re a country of 300 million, it would be a bit disruptive to have 600 million people show up,

Yes, I cut right in the middle of a sentence – it only gets more stupid. This quote is already enough to embarrass any rational person. In fairness, Rand did not invent this line of argument, but his crap detector should have blocked it.

Let us construct a thought experiment: Ferrari commissions a poll, with exactly the same structure: “If you could, would you buy a Ferrari?”

Visions of winning the lottery dance in your head. If you could afford a Ferrari, would you buy one? A fair number of people would say “Yeah. In a heartbeat. If I had a million dollars.”

Poll taker: “That’s a yes.”

At the end of the survey, Ferrari would “discover” millions of potential buyers.

Should they then build factories, acquire materials, hire people, and ramp up their distribution network, to cope with an influx of millions of new customers? Only if they wish to bankrupt themselves.

It’s a ridiculous and unwarranted extrapolation from the survey data. If you want a more accurate survey, you must qualify the buyer. Every auto salesman knows this.

Rand Paul and the others who cite this nonsense apparently never heard of “qualifying the buyer.” They’re counting wishful thinking as if it were a measure of the ability to make the wish happen. To update an old proverb, “if wishes were cars, beggars would drive.”

Immigration is costly. Try a back-of-envelope calculation – what would be all the costs for you to emigrate to another country? Are there 600 million people who can afford such costs? This is why immigration is self-limiting and would remain so, even if we “opened the borders.”

This is elementary. The “600 million immigrant” argument is inexcusably lame, illogical, irrational.

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