Art Carden  

The Brilliance Of The Onion on Immigrant Fruit

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Some Empirics of Moral Philoso... This is HUGE!...


COMMENTS (14 to date)
NZ writes:

Brilliant? Or...kinda dumb?

Is there any serious banana production in the US? I know some mangoes are grown in California.

Anyway, it's ridiculous to take the analogy seriously like that. Fruit combines differently than people/cultures. Delicious fruit salad is not a handy metaphor for segregated enclaves with hugely disparate lifestyles, classes, and group identities.

Also, importing goods for one-time consumption is different from importing people--and then giving them incentives to out-reproduce you--for lasting political, economic, and cultural change.

Jon Murphy writes:

Indeed. Morally and tactically, there is no difference between economic protectionism and social protectionism. One cannot claim to be for free markets but against immigration, even in a welfare state.

NZ writes:

@Jon Murphy:

Can one claim to be for free markets within a limited scope (say, within one country), but not be for them outside of that scope?

Should laws, customs, and values be defined within imaginary lines on the ground? If so, what about the laws, customs, and values that give meaning and differentiation to what's on either side of those lines in the first place?

If not, then what about the imaginary lines that exist between firms, property, or individuals? Should we be able to distinguish between firms, property, and individuals and allow each to determine their own laws, customs, and values? Why?

JimH writes:

If we are going to settle the immigration debate using fruit parables, might I suggest phylloxera as a possible alternate view?

Jon Murphy writes:
Can one claim to be for free markets within a limited scope (say, within one country), but not be for them outside of that scope?

Not morally or intellectually consistent, no. That would be nothing more than a different form of nationalism, and thus my point.

The "dangers" to society are no more from free trade than from free movement.

NZ writes:

@Jon Murphy:

What exactly is inconsistent about that? And why must absolute universal consistency be a requirement? And then are you conceding that libertarians deserve their reputation for silly absolutism?

What exactly are borders if not a form of nationalism? Isn't it nationalistic to say that on this side of an imaginary line you have the right to freedom of speech (because free speech is awesome! Go Us for letting people have free speech!), but on that side of the same line we'll let whoever's in control there decide whether you have that right? (And by the way we won't march over there and force them to recognize the right to free speech because we're pacifists.)

And if nationalism is wrong because it's based on imaginary lines, what about the imaginary conceptual lines that divide firms, property, and individuals? Aren't those just scaled down forms of nationalism?

Roger Sweeny writes:

There are many environmentalists who want to keep out foreign plants and animals. It is common to refer to foreign ("exotic") plants and animals that can survive and thrive here as "invasives" or "invasive species."

Jon Murphy writes:

NZ, based upon your comment, I can see you don't understand what nationalism is, what property rights are, and how protectionism works.

James Buchanan writes:

Open the borders... Let everyone in... Just remove the incentives of public assistance. The free market will take care of everything else! It's really that simple. Back to the days of hard working immigrants that didn't want a handout, but rather an opportunity to work hard and make a better life for themselves.

NZ writes:

@Jon Murphy:

My point is that there is no reason to have borders or nations or other divisions if one does not feel that one's own nation/division/etc. is fundamentally superior to or more desirable than others. Next, consider that something good is worth protecting, and protecting something is a way to affirm that it is good.

@James Buchanan:

You refer to going "back to the days". Which days? My hunch is you are referring to the late 19th century in which loads of European immigrants came here by boat over the Atlantic. Don't you think it's significant that immigrants from Europe had a relatively small cultural hurdle to clear before they could assimilate into the prevailing WASP culture that was in place here already (and, if they were met part of the way, that those WASPs had only a small cultural hurdle to clear as well)? And didn't many of those immigrants already bring with them a tradition of hard work and self-sufficiency? And didn't the prospect of having to cross the Atlantic by crowded steamboat do at least some of the weeding out of the less motivated and less socializable immigrants? And once here, didn't many of those immigrants get spat upon and have rocks thrown at them, and go through a relatively harsh "hazing" period that further incentivized them to assimilate? And wasn't the American frontier not really "closed" until about 1900, meaning there was plenty of cheap land for those immigrants to go settle, far away from the natives they might otherwise have been competing with? And aren't many of those immigrants' home countries (Germany, Italy, Ireland, etc.) solidly up to First World living standards, indicating that people from those places have the proven ability to generate and maintain first-world conditions? And wasn't all this before the war on drugs and similar programs created a huge incentive for criminals to immigrate?

Maybe it's time to recognize that not all immigration waves are created equal, and that silly absolutism is just that.

David writes:

I once heard in a lecture that one of the last acts of a declining power is to build walls to keep out the undesirables...

MikeP writes:

My point is that there is no reason to have borders or nations or other divisions if one does not feel that one's own nation/division/etc. is fundamentally superior to or more desirable than others.

The reason to have borders is that one feels the nation's laws and enforcement are superior to or more desirable than other nations' laws and enforcement.

That is, after all, all that sovereignty means.

Next, consider that something good is worth protecting, and protecting something is a way to affirm that it is good.

Indeed, one should be willing to defend the territory and population against existential threats to the rights-securing capacity of the government.

Free migration of harmless individuals is not an existential, or even serious, threat.

MikeP writes:

By the way, I think the Onion's editorial cartoon is making fun of editorial cartoons, not nativist attitudes about immigration. It's simply too much of a non sequitur.

NZ writes:

@MikeP:

The reason to have borders is that one feels the nation's laws and enforcement are superior to or more desirable than other nations' laws and enforcement.
That is, after all, all that sovereignty means.
Yes, well put.

Also, I agree with your analysis of the Onion's editorial cartoons. I've read a lot of them and they primarily make fun of editorial cartoons, not whatever issue is mentioned in the content.

@David:

I once heard in a lecture that one of the last acts of a declining power is to build walls to keep out the undesirables...

If your implied logic there is that strong physical borders cause national decline, then no island nations (Japan, Australia, England) should have survived very long at all. Nations with partial-but-significant natural or manmade borders (China, Hong Kong, the US, or Israel, for example) should be limping along, on their way out. Meanwhile, the most easily-accessible nations should be the most powerful.

I can't help but notice this is not the case.

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