Alta Gracia, the charity organization disguised as a business, is floundering. As readers of the Sept. edition of The Hoya discovered (The Hoya, A1 Sept. 9, 2011) this clothing line, which is founded upon the principle of paying its Dominican workers three times the going rate with a “living wage” is rapidly hemorrhaging funds. Despite the fact that their clothes are stocked in several campus bookstores, including our own, the factory is operating at far below capacity.

Perhaps Alta Gracia will somehow turn around and start making money. The essential issue is that, even if they do, Alta Gracia does not work to support the good of America, the company, or the Dominican Republic. The problem here in the words of French economist Frederic Bastiat, is one of “what is seen and what is not seen.” What is seen is that a few lucky workers in the Dominican Republic will receive a massively overvalued salary, which they will spend chiefly for consumption such as “nutritious food … sufficient housing and health care.” Now, these are good things, as all would agree.

What isn’t seen is that instead of lavishing benefits on a few lucky workers, Alta Gracia could instead pay its workers a competitive salary to make a large profit. It could then use this profit to expand production, which would increase its total wealth and require it to hire more workers. As other companies began to do the same, they would compete for the limited supply of labor, causing the average wage and standard of living in the Dominican Republic to increase. It is by this process that the developed countries of the world became rich.

If this process is so easy and beneficial to everyone involved, why hasn’t it already happened? The irrationality of companies like Alta Gracia doesn’t help, but the chief reasons are the lack of property rights and governmental corruption. As of now, the Dominican Republic places 90th in the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom and is ranked 101st in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Thus, if the people of the Dominican Republic want to earn the most for their work, they will need to reform their government so that it does not arbitrarily confiscate property and demand bribes at every turn.

But, the real violation of freedom the Dominicans face is if they attempt to enter America to find a better job. If caught, hopeful emigrants are turned back by force, and the businesses that hire them abroad will be fined and demonized by the Dominican Republic.

Liberals typically oppose opening borders because it would increase the gap between the rich and poor in America. Of course, the difference would be augmented, but does it really matter whether someone is poor in America or in Ethiopia?

Similarly, conservatives often oppose open borders because they could increase the burden of the welfare state. This concern is equally valid, but Americans cannot be leeched to feed the rest of the world.

The United States of America must open its borders now. We hear a lot of nonsense in The Hoya’s article about Alta Gracia advocating for “workers’ rights.” Living wages and safe working conditions are not the default conditions of reality to which one can demand a right. These are enormous benefits that were produced by capitalism. Rights are protections against the initiation of force against one by someone else: They protect one from theft, extortion, rape and murder. If the Dominican Republic isn’t able to guarantee so-called ‘worker’s rights,’ Dominican citizens should have the opportunity to try and work in the United States.

If anyone at Georgetown cares about improving the lot of the world’s poor, he or she must advocate for open borders. The solution is to exempt new immigrants both from the benefits of the welfare state and the taxes that fund it. For true social justice, free borders are the answer.

Daniel Kendrick is a freshman in the College.

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