Bryan Caplan  

Statism for Freedom

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Libertarians' odd openness to using immigration restrictions to protect American freedom has me thinking.  There are many statist policies that could indirectly lead to more libertarian policy.  If you're open to one, you should logically be open to all.

Here are just a few candidates:

1. Make public schools teach libertarianism.  Sure, public education should be abolished.  But as long as public education exists, wouldn't it be better if the schools taught children about the value of freedom and the wonder of markets?

2. Discourage fertility of less libertarian groups.  If you really think that Muslims or Hispanics are unusually statist, their high birth rates should worry you.  Indeed, any birth rate above zero should worry you.  A moderate step would be to offer members of these groups extra subsidies for birth control.  From there, it's just a hop, skip, and a jump to subsidized sterilization, tax penalties, or a selective One Child Policy.

3. Censor statist ideas.  Sure, Paul Krugman has a right to free speech.  But the rest of us have a right to not be ruled by people swayed by Krugman.  It's childish to deny the trade-off, no?

4. Subsidize vacations for less libertarian groups on election day.  Suppose the government gave members of unlibertarian groups free trips to Cancun that conveniently coincided with election day.  While some of the eligible would file an absentee ballot, there is little doubt that this would heavily depress turnout.  So why not?

My list obviously just scratches the surface.  My point, of course, is not to advocate any of these proposals, but to challenge libertarians who advocate immigration restrictions in the name of human freedom.  Out of all the conceivable forms of statism for freedom, why oh why are immigration restrictions the exception you're swiftest to condone?



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COMMENTS (35 to date)
shecky writes:

Do you really need it spelled out?

Dan writes:

Bryan,

Open immigration is an ideal. It is not a policy. I suggest if you want to convert others to your ideal you invest more effort in detailing the policies that will make open immigration possible.

For example, the poor in western hemisphere countries have a great advantage over the poor in the eastern hemisphere of getting to the US. Is that a bug or a feature? If it is a bug how do you suggest it be rectified? Sans immigration regulation how do you balance the flow of all the world's inhabitants to the United States?

If you feel empathy for the poor in the eastern hemisphere how are you actually going to help them?

Steve Z writes:

Immigration is distinct from most such proposals because it relates to the actual makeup of the nation, from which both polity and the national culture emerge. Citizens are the fundament of a nation, and so questions of immigration are fundamental. (The second-most fundamental issue would be suffrage, but challenges to the propriety of universal suffrage would seem are foreclosed by history).

In short, the citizens of a nation supervene its policies, making it appropriate to apply a different ethical framework to questions of immigration than one would to ordinary political questions. With this framework in mind, I'd be willing to bite the bullet on most of your examples.

The only one that is fundamental under the framework is natal policy. Wouldn't eugenic policies be preferable to our current dysgenic policies? Probably. But, then, it's an academic question given what is currently politically possible. Immigration policy isn't.

I find some of the other questions mysterious given their rhetorical posture. For example, why on earth wouldn't schools that propagandized for libertarianism be preferable to the current statist indoctrination regime? The Nirvana fallacy is a poor basis for a political program.

Steve Z writes:

By "would seem are" I just meant "are." Dang phone.

Tom E. Snyder writes:

@Steve Z:

"Immigration is distinct from most such proposals because it relates to the actual makeup of the nation, from which both polity and the national culture emerge."

This same argument was made against many ethic groups (Germans in PA, for example) that have come to America and that have enriched our culture. Should we have excluded your ethnic group as well?

Steve Z writes:

Snyder:

I'm a mix of multiple ethnic groups, and nobody is discussing limiting immigration by ethnicity. So, in addition to being an especially premature example of Godwin's law, your response is a red herring.

(also in my first comment I meant to say that policy supervenes on citizens, not the other way around.)

Steve Z writes:

Snyder:

Actually, I guess I'm just not being generous enough. Your comment isn't completely inapposite, in that you are positing that it is important that beacons of relative freedom and prosperity exist so that oppressed people may escape from local oppression. But this actually supports my point: if the floodgates are opened worldwide, local maxima of freedom may cease to exist.


Sorry for the repeated posts; I think I'm done now.

MingoV writes:

A (hypothetical) libertarian society cannot exist without the vast majority of the population behaving as libertarians. Massive immigration of people who do not behave as libertarians would destroy the society. Therefore, it isn't odd that libertarians would restrict entry into their society.

The USA today is a non-libertarian society. Libertarians in the USA can try to convince fellow citizens and politicians that libertarianism is good, and that we should resist government expansion, privacy invasions, police militarization, etc. (Current events show that our efforts to date have failed.) In this environment, where anti-libertarianism is rampant and growing, why should libertarians support a massive influx of immigrants who also are anti-libertarian? It is logical to support selective immigration. Don Boudreaux believes we should support open immigration regardless of its effect on society. I'm not willing to commit suicide to support that ideal.

johnson85 writes:

I'm not sure I disagree with your stance, but I don't think any of your examples are very convincing. The reason immigration restrictions are condoned is because they (1) are politically feasible and (2) can plausibly help.

I think most libertarians would love it if schools tried to teach respect for freedom and markets, but that battle has been lost. If they are going to exist, and the alternative is for them to indoctrinate socialist policies that are increase human suffering, gov't abuse, and poverty, why not support schools trying to teach two of the things most responsible for pulling mankind out of poverty. The problem is this is not a realistic goal at all.

Your second example fails on both counts. It's not politically feasible and even if it were, it doesn't seem like a particularly practical proposal. I doubt most libertarians would object to offering subsidies (for any reason other than it's a waste of money) although they wouldn't necessarily support it. And it's much more than a hop, skip, and a jump to get to the other policies you mentioned.

The third example also fails on both counts. It's obviously not politically feasible and it seems very likely to end up decreasing liberty, as it seems there is a close to 100% chance that the authority would relatively quickly be abused and likely used against pro-liberty ideas.

The fourth example also fails on both counts, but mainly because it just doesn't seem very practical. If you already had the power to use gov't to offer vacations to illiberal groups on election day, you'd have much better options available to expand and protect liberty.

I thought your previous post was fairly persuasive. I think this one is a swing and a miss.

[minor coding problem fixed--Econlib Ed.]

James A. Donald writes:
1. Make public schools teach libertarianism. Sure, public education should be abolished. But as long as public education exists, wouldn't it be better if the schools taught children about the value of freedom and the wonder of markets?
Indeed: If you have a state, an official state religion is pretty much unavoidable. Observe that strict Cathedral Orthodoxy is taught in every school, starting at elementary.

Right now we have an official state religion taught in schools and universities that endorses and demands hatred, evil, destructive behavior, and self destructive behavior. The libertarian ideal would be to have no state religion, but this seems impractical, short of having no state. Short of anarcho capitalism, we are going to have an official state religion, so, let us have a less obnoxious one, something more like the official Anglicanism of restoration England.

So let us instead have the state religion endorse truth rather than lies, good rather than evil, and prosocial behavior rather than anti social behavior. And the flying spaghetti monster will eat you up if you covet your neighbor's house, or your neighbor's wife, or anything that is your neighbor's. If people believe in invisible white racism, but are mystified when blacks attack whites for no reason, why not have them believe in a flying spaghetti monster that hates theft, envy, adultery, oathbreaking, disrespect for one's parents, and coveting what belongs to some else.

2. Discourage fertility of less libertarian groups. If you really think that Muslims or Hispanics are unusually statist, their high birth rates should worry you. Indeed, any birth rate above zero should worry you. A moderate step would be to offer members of these groups extra subsidies for birth control. From there, it's just a hop, skip, and a jump to subsidized sterilization, tax penalties, or a selective One Child Policy.
This proposal does not go nearly far enough. How libertarian is a society where in order to fly from one place to another one must submit to genital probing by brown skinned people hired on the basis of race?

Observe that in over a thousand years, no race, no religion, no culture, no society has succeeded in coexisting with Muslims. We will not be the first. So let us just confine them in rather small ghettos so that we can once again fly without being sexually molested. If the ghettos are sufficiently crowded, that will discourage them from breeding and immigrating.

3. Censor statist ideas. Sure, Paul Krugman has a right to free speech. But the rest of us have a right to not be ruled by people swayed by Krugman. It's childish to deny the trade-off, no?
Turn on your television: Most television shows are propaganda against fathers and fatherhood, because the state wants to be your father.

It is, unfortunately, impractical, for the state to censor statism because it is going to be the state that does the censoring. But we could at least have a state that censors the idea that the state should do stuff beyond what it deems its proper role, such as redistribution, or the state replacing fathers and families - a state that in claiming rightful power and authority, in claiming a role for itself, acknowledges the role of non state institutions such as family and business. Again, the official Anglicanism of Restoration England is a good example of this. Everyone who wanted to get anywhere in society had to sign on with the thirty nine articles, which included the second book of homilies, which said that the King had his proper authority, and a father had his proper authority.

4. Subsidize vacations for less libertarian groups on election day. Suppose the government gave members of unlibertarian groups free trips to Cancun that conveniently coincided with election day. While some of the eligible would file an absentee ballot, there is little doubt that this would heavily depress turnout. So why not?

Now that, however, is silly. Let us just give anyone who wants to vote a test for literacy, a property requirement (own your house, the mortgage is above water, and your credit rating is decent), and a good character requirement (no bastards nor mothers of children fatherless through reasons of sexual immorality need apply)

[minor coding fixed--Econlib Ed.]

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Professor Caplan:

It is not odd for a libertarian to want to protect liberty. Your friend Mr. Vipul Naik has allowed me to write a response to this post at Open Borders, where it parallels a discussion we have been having.

Here is the link: http://openborders.info/blog/eternal-vigilance-a-response-to-professor-bryan-caplan/

I would welcome your response!

Richard writes:

Count me as another one who doesn't understand why it would be bad for schools to preach libertarianism. Government schools exist in every country in the world and they're not going anywhere anytime soon. I'd think that economic literacy would be one of the first things I'd want them to teach, if kids have to be forced to learn something.

John Smith writes:

Having these clearly delusional ideas is not going to bring any results.

Unlimited immigration has essentially no support whatsoever, even among the readers of this blog. And for very good reasons, already repeated many times before in response right here in the blog comments.

Reality is not going to change. You are, or at least should. Certainly at least to the extent that you stop thinking that your ideas are so clearly good. They are not clearly good.

BC writes:

Prof. Caplan, your arguments for open immigration have been getting sharper and sharper over the past several months. A few months ago, I would not have believed that the open immigration movement would ever gain any traction, but the trajectory of your and others' posts are beginning to change my view.

I don't have any objections to including lessons about freedom and markets in public education because I believe one can do so from a social scientific and historical perspective, without being dogmatic.

Obviously, the other three proposals are ridiculous. It's interesting to see, though, how many of the immigration opponents' responses to those three proposals are that they are politically infeasible, not that they are completely incompatible with freedom, liberty, and libertarian principles. The implication is that they would consider supporting those proposals if the proposals were politically feasible. Indeed, it would seem difficult to construct a libertarian-principled argument against the three proposals that did not also reject immigration restrictions, which I think was your point.

Thomas May writes:

How about this: don't give immigrants voting or welfare rights. This is no bullet to bite, because I want to eliminate voting and welfare for the native population too.

I'm not clear if you actually support giving citizenship to every would-be immigrant rather than just Permanent Guest Worker status. But if you don't, you should do more to flag that up.

In a broader sense, I think your analogies are wrong. Forcing people to 'learn' libertarianism in school is aggressive. Preventing them gaining rights to vote in authoritarian governments and take peoples' tax money is defensive. While ideally this would only result in the specific rights to vote in authoritarian governments and take peoples' tax money being denied, that isn't one of the options politicians are offering us.

R Richard Schweitzer writes:

Perhaps we could consider regulating the rate of immigration by the rate of "assimilation."

Now that raises issues of measuring the constituents of assimilation (press one for English - shall we add beyond "press 2? ").

Commonalities have become less important than diversities.

If we just "slow down" a bit for some time, perhaps assimilation will catch up and more commonalities will take on social forms.

David M. Nieporent writes:

I have to confess that while objections to #2-4 are easy to see, I fail to understand the objection to #1. (Correction: I fail to even perceive it.) While the others involve the diminution of freedom (either through the direct use of force -- #3 -- or the extra expenditure of taxpayer dollars) based on the prediction that this will ultimately advance libertarianism, #1 does not.

Given the existence of public schools, #1 does not involve additional expenditures or any additional restrictions on anyone's rights.

johnson85 writes:

BC wrote:

The implication is that they would consider supporting those proposals if the proposals were politically feasible. Indeed, it would seem difficult to construct a libertarian-principled argument against the three proposals that did not also reject immigration restrictions, which I think was your point.

With Bryan's last post, I think he conceded that it's not a principled argument that is being made. From a principled standpoint, I think all Libertarians would basically agree that open immigration is more libertarian. What's being debated now is how should you determine when a Libertarian should/can adopt illiberal/statist positions on pragmatic grounds. Libertarians opposed to open immigration don't take that stand because they are anti-immigrant, they take that stand because they think it maximizes their ability to enjoy and protect what liberty remains in the U.S. for them and their friends and family.

If we lived in a society where most people did not view gov't as a weapon to be used to enforce their will on other people, this wouldn't be an issue. But since that's not the society we live in, the question is when is it ok for libertarians to take statist, illiberal positions to protect their own liberty. They didn't create the current political system, so while it would immoral to simply stop poor people from immigrating because they didn't want to be around them (or to try to stop them from immigrating to a different country), it's not as clear that they are morally prohibited from trying to protect themselves against people that will very likely vote for immoral policies that will impact them.

Bryan's prior post made a good effort at this and I think was probably effective for a lot of people on the fence. I think one area where it could be improved is he is putting too much weight on the rights of all future immigrants. I think it would be more effective to focus on the harm to the minority of immigrants that would not be statist and illiberal. If an immigrant is statist and illiberal (and I think the evidence shows a significant majority of them are, and in a little higher percentages than the current U.S. voting population), they cannot complain that other people are preventing them from gaining the right to act on their statist and illiberal impulses. But the minority of immigrants that would respect other people's liberty essentially end up as something akin to "collateral damage" from limitations on immigration. I would think it makes most libertarians uncomfortable to think of using statistical discrimination to prevent not only would-be immigrants that have not done any harm, but would-be immigrants that would not do any harm even if given the right to vote, so I assume the harm to those people would be more persuasive.

I'm not sure what the right ethical/moral framework is for considering them in this situation. I think the collateral damage analogy may help a little. I think people are generally entitled to defend themselves and their liberties, even if there is some limited collateral damage. In those cases, it's the people making defense necessary that are culpable, not the person defending himself. But surely a person cannot inflict unlimited collateral damage to defend him/herself. I'm just not sure how that line should be drawn. It's also more difficult when it's a situation like this where you are dealing with indirect, but very likely harm.

And Bryan's argument that immigrants are not that much more statist or illiberal than natives, while true, does not seem very convincing to me. I think evidence is clear that most amnestied and new immigrants that would result from immigration reform or open immigration will form a population of which a significant majority will consistently vote for the most statist, illiberal political party.

Bryan can claim that Republicans are just as bad, but as bad as they are, Democrats are much worse. On most issues, Republicans and Democrats are just coke and pepsi, but Republicans at least recognize that economic freedom is a real value, even if their other statist tendencies often result in hypocritical positions. But even so, that one area is enough to put significant distance between them and republicans. I don't think there is a similar type value where Democrats actually value liberty where Republicans simply don't recognize it exists.

Tax policy alone is enough to do it for me. When you're working 35-40 hours a week, a few extra percentage points dedicated to gov't may not seem that bad, but when you're working 60, a few extra percentage points is a significant chunk of your remaining free, waking hours. That alone is worth the fight. You also have people that won't have jobs at all because of policies like the minimum wage. A small number of people for sure, but I would think it would be a very large issue for most of them and also for all the teenagers who are denied the first rung on the ladder (although neither of these groups may be aware of the extent to which they are being harmed).

And the areas where Democrats on the surface look better, they either (1) only care about liberty when Republicans are in power (e.g., 4th amendment, foreign wars) or (2) slightly lead Republicans in an area where changing public opinion assures that liberty will increase regardless (e.g., freedom of contract for homosexual people, hopefully the war on drugs although for D politicians, that's also something to only care about when R's are in power).

So as poor as republicans are with respect to liberty, I think there is enough difference that it is a real negative from a liberty perspective for the pendulum to swing toward democrats. And with the current political makeup of the country, I think that means you can't wish away the significant harm to liberty that could result from increased immigration. Even if it will be a net gain when you consider the increased liberty of immigrants, I think you have to come up with a moral or ethical argument for why libertarians in the U.S. would be obligated to embrace a policy that will decrease their liberty. The last post was a very good attempt at this but still relies on convincing people to be charitable. I'd be interested to see if there is a good/better argument that it is actually wrong to oppose open borders or at least immigration reform.

Cimon Alexander writes:

In the 60s and 70s, Lee Kwan Yew outlawed the writings of the communist party in Singapore. While many neighboring states succumbed to bloody Marxist revolutions, Singapore did not. It maintained a relatively free state.

Did Lee Kwan Yew inhibit the freedom of speech of his citizens? Doubtlessly. But Singaporeans should be glad that they were ruled by a centrist pragmatist, and not a suicidal libertarian.

Heaven help the people ruled by libertarians! They will find little protection on earth.

And blessed are the ones ruled by a wise king.

Wallace Forman writes:

"Out of all the conceivable forms of statism for freedom, why oh why are immigration restrictions the exception you're swiftest to condone?"

The answer for the most part is that the alternative policies you give as examples are not facially neutral with respect to libertarianism.

People intuit that policies openly favoring their own political affiliation represent an unacceptable end-run around the process-neutrality underlying supposed democratic legitimacy and that supporting these processes will only antagonize people holding other affiliations. So instead they seek to advance their affiliations by facially neutral policies.

I imagine that libertarians would be comparatively more likely to support facially-neutral statist policies that they think will lead to more libertarian government. (Off the top of my head: require teaching of micro-economics in public school, extend government funding of education to those attending private schools, increase taxes on low income earners, increase regulatory burden on public corporations competing with private corporations, subsidies to child-bearing when it is perceived that most large families are right-leaning and libertarian friendly.)

Jeff writes:

I for one am willing to endorse all of your proposals, Bryan. Politics isn't war, exactly, but it isn't basket weaving either.

Philo writes:

None of the pro-libertarian statist policies you suggest in your post has the slightest chance of being enacted. In contrast, immigration restrictions are quite popular with the electorate—so much so that they have already been enacted. Your suggestions are politically unrealistic; not so immigration restrictions.

Aaron Moser writes:

Dr. Caplan

in regards to suggestion number two, do you think it is possible less productive people have more children because of the welfare state?

vikingvista writes:

It is disheartening how easily conscientious people disregard basic human decency with abstractions like "policy". I doubt any of their mothers taught them that kidnapping peaceful strangers at gunpoint in the open desert, on public streets, or in the homes or workplaces of willing proprietors was polite, nice, just, or at all acceptable.

Neither, I suspect, would any as a child have dared argue with his mother saying, "Because Bluto bullies Billy, we must make sure Bluto bullies Bobby as well." And yet with their now adult minds capable as they are of higher level abstractions, that is the impassioned argument they make, though further removed from the exact same concretes.

A great deal of modern adult morality is both exceedingly unethical, and far removed from what children are commonly, correctly, and hypocritically taught.

guthrie writes:

@Philo,

But why would someone who identifies as a 'libertarian' argue in *favor* of greater restrictions? Even arguing for the status quo seems philosophically inconsistent. What am I missing?

Andrew writes:
I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system

George W Bush

[N.B. there are several different people posting in this thread with the nick of Andrew.--Econlib Ed.]

Robert H. writes:

Do libertarians not generally think the modern conception of negative human rights is useful? Or do they think there should be a human right to emigrate? As a lawyer, the most obvious distinction between a country restricting the number of emigrants and all those other policies is that the other policies implicate the freedom from compelled speech; the freedom to speak; the right sto reproduce, marry, to equal protection, and to medical autonomy; and the rights to vote and to equal protection. The policies may not be violative of those rights, necessarily, but they raise enough questions that most democracies would submit them to judicial scrutiny which a restriction on emigrants could avoid.

Andrew writes:

What exactly is the problem with public schools teaching libertarianism? If anything, it would balance out the current pro-statist bias. As an example, a typical high school government class will go through a full defense of the social contract as a justification for government. Why not include the other side of the debate, perhaps using Michael Huemer's book. Another example is the typical high school economics course promoting Keynesianism, why not include public choice in the curriculum as well?

[N.B. there are several different people posting in this thread with the nick of Andrew.--Econlib Ed.]

Mr. Econotarian writes:

If my immigrant ancestors were considering coming to the US today, they probably would not be able to get a visa.

Thus there would be at least one fewer libertarian in the US today, namely me.

My wife is libertarian as well, and "shock", she is even of partial latin american descent!

Hazel Meade writes:

JFTR, there are many libertarians here and elsewhere who are supportive of Caplan's position.

I'm just not arguing for it because (a) the libertarian anti-immigration position just seems so hopelessly wrongheaded that there's no point in attempting to reason with it, (b) the immigration "reform" bill is nothing of the sort anyway, so it's not as if open immigration was on the table, and (c) as a practical matter, the pro-immigration camp should be advocating something rational that stands a chance of passing.

The current immigration bill is largely a combination of amnesty and more enforcement, and does little to actually make it easier to immigrate. If you want to advocate for more open immigration, propose repealing the labor certification requirement and moving to something like a point based weighted-random-selection lottery system.

SaveyourSelf writes:

Bryan.

I cannot see, and you have not convinced me in your comment, that there is a logical connection between Libertarianism and some sort of immigration policy. In Webster’s Dictionary, Liberty is defined as “freedom from arbitrary or despotic control.” Immigration is the movement of people from outside of society in to it.

“Society”, as I understand it, is the contractual agreement between individuals to avoid harming one another. A “border”—in theory—is the physical limit of the reach of that contract. Your argument for open borders comes across as an argument for no borders at all. Borders are necessary.

Consider your own body. The cells in your body have limits on their growth and activity defined by your genome. [This is functionally similar to Society’s contractual agreement wherein individuals agree to avoid harming one another]. Your skin—called the integumentary system—is the outer limit of the agreement between your cells. [This is functionally similar to the borders between countries]. When a large quantity of the skin is damaged—as sometimes happens with extensive burns—rapid death is guaranteed from dehydration, heat loss, and infection unless those skin boundaries can be quickly re-established. Even when the integrity of a tiny area of skin is broken by something like a bug bite, invasive organisms can enter the body. Since these invasive organisms are not party to the normal agreement between the cells, they grow and multiply without limit, taking nutrients from all around to feed their activities irrespective of the damage those activities cause to their new neighbors. White blood cells [much like police] can capture or destroy these alien-organisms, but the white blood cells can be overwhelmed if the invaders are present in sufficient numbers, at which point you become sick—possibly to the point of death.

The analogy between the human body is a good one—though not perfect—for understanding the importance of contractual agreements between citizens and the necessity of intelligent, strong, and consistent police and border security for the health of society. Now, I am not arguing that healthy borders are impermeable. Effective screening and admission of people who can understand and respect the societal contract while repulsing those who cannot will lead to societal growth. But the opposite is also true. Admission of people who cannot respect the terms of the societal contract will hurt or even destroy society. Thus, if there is a correct Libertarian position on immigration, I think it is that Freedom is the engine that drives society forward; that society is built on a foundational agreement to limit freedom in areas that directly harm other citizens; and that border-management and police policy consistent with that understanding is required for Society’s health and survival.

guthrie writes:

@saveyourself,

I want to isolate a phrase you used: ‘movement of people’.

My question: should the ‘movement of people’ be ‘managed’? If so, who has the right to so manage people’s movement?

Per your definitions of ‘society’ and ‘border’, could a ‘border’ not also be considered the limit by which ‘Society’s’ responsibility over ‘avoiding harming one another’ ends? Is it possible that ‘borders are necessary’ because ‘Society’s’ reach must be limited? Where in this equation is ‘Society’s’ justification for prohibiting people’s movement to join said Society?

You admit the body analogy isn’t perfect. I would go further and say it’s not helpful. ‘Invasive organisms’ stemming from skin damage aren’t typically organisms which have any chance of supplying benefit to the body being invaded, should they succeed in establishing a foothold. The word ‘invasive’ is important here. If the word were ‘invited’ then this changes the tenor of the analogy completely. The vast majority of immigrants come here offering something of use – their labor – which will actually provide benefits to the host.

You say, ‘Admission of people who cannot respect the terms of societal contract…’(emphasis mine). My question: Who decides this? How? What’s the metric for deciding between those who ’can’ from those who ‘cannot’? Can you see that there’s a lot of room in your example for xenophobes and racists to implement policies more in line with their preferences rather than what would be best for ‘Society’ or in the service of ‘freedom’?

Amos D Wright writes:

Economic models are economic models. Balkanization is history.

It is fact.

A regression analysis or literalist interpretation of libertarian ideology does not rebuild ethnic conflict and strife, neither rebuild cities or restore social harmony.

A comment was made earlier about Singapore. Let us be honest, the problem is Mexico (which protects its emigrants from having to compete with the other 8/9 of Latin Americans, who would be happy to get here).

Let us review. Mexico is one of the oldest democracies in the world. It is rich in minerals, has a young workforce, coasts on both oceans, climate and resources conducive to growing crops, timber, and a sizable class of educated people. While it is true that the War on Drugs has done great harm to them, it is also true that they've been busy screwing things up for themselves for quite a long time.

Most of that screw up has been toward collectivist policies.

We libertarians are fighting a hard enough battle as it is. If you want to keep importing millions of people who by all evidence are not disposed toward that philosophy, you are, in fact, committing political suicide. If you are content with shouting into the darkness and wind for the sake of saying, "I stuck to the true and righteous path," that's your right. But you'll have to be the one to apologize to your grandkids.

Some objections and why they're wrong:

1. They'll assimilate. Your ancestors did.

Wrong. Most people's ancestors got here when the country was very, very different. If you reach back far enough, the populations were spread out, dispersed. They were not trapped in their locations by welfare policies; a problem that afflicts Black Americans today. Mobility and a job market based on putting large numbers of people together in commodity-producing industries was conducive to integration. Needless to say, we don't do that anymore. Moreover, our society thought America was a place you WANTED to integrate into. That lesson is no longer taught. If your "elite" spend the majority of their time telling the world how evil their own country is, integration is no longer on the table. Nobody wants to integrate with evil people.

If you look at those places where large numbers of people from different ethno-political groups came together, you'll find conflict. Eastern seaboard, anyone? Duh. You can't argue out of one side of your mouth that we had problems with the natives, then out of the other that there are no problems that arise with the natives.

2. They're here for opportunity, so they must be willing to integrate.

Wrong. Freedom /= opportunity. You can find opportunity in a prison, a mob and a communist hell hole. But freedom is something different. That someone comes for opportunity does not, in fact, mean they understand that it is the freedom that creates it. If that is not obvious to our President and the millions of Americans who support him, it is not going to be obvious to others.


Balkanization is a fact. Sorry. It just is. You're seeing it now in Los Angeles and other parts of America, but also in both Western and Eastern Europe. Those who want to hide behind a shield of libertarian ideology, or make absurd claims that because a bunch of economists ran models and studies that we don't have a problem need to:

A) Explain how Balkanization happens, then;

B) What THEY personally plan to do to fix the results should they be wrong.

One of my problems with other libertarians is that they tend to think theory supplants reality; they talk about emergent order, but fail to recognize that civilizations are subject to the same forces. It might be that walled city states are formed for reasons other than bigotry and a failure to perform the proper economic analysis.

Saveyourself writes:

Guthrie. Thank you for your reply and your thoughtful questions.

1) You wrote "should the ‘movement of people’ be ‘managed’?"

The movement we are discussing is specific type: movement across a border. "Should it be managed?" Yes. "By whom?" The owner of the property who maintains that border.

The institution of property rights is—without question—a set of limitations on freedom--including freedom of movement--but such limits are necessary because property is an extension of the person who cares for it. Injury to one is an injury to both. Who decides what constitutes injury to either? Honestly, it depends on which side of the property line you are standing.

2) You also wrote, "Per your definitions of ‘society’ and ‘border’, could a ‘border’ not also be considered the limit by which ‘Society’s’ responsibility over ‘avoiding harming one another’ ends?"

Yes. You are both insightful and correct.

3) You went on to ask, "Where in this equation is ‘Society’s’ justification for prohibiting people’s movement to join said Society?"

Answer: A) Property Rights. B) Freedom of Contract.

"Society" is a contract between individuals to abstain from harming one another. In order to enter in to this contract (or any contract), the consent of all the people already party to the contract must be obtained. Thus, the justification for allowing or prohibiting people from joining a society is simply each individual-citizen's opinion as to whether adding a particular person benefits him. Of course, once the number of people in the contract gets larger than a handful, some of the admission criteria become...systematized, for practical and obvious reasons, but the underlying theory remains unchanged. So when an individual applies for citizenship, they are going through the formal negotiating process for joining the existing contractual arrangement with all the people who are already in the society. In the USA, the House Judiciary Committee (http://judiciary.house.gov/) has the responsibility for that handshake.


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