In Support Of A Consequentialist Analysis Of Immigration Policy

Contra John T. Kennedy’s rebuke of Patri Friedman, I present a concrete example that should set the discussion to rest.

The situation is simple: we have an illegal immigrant from an indisputably “hostile to freedom” culture who is residing in the United States. American immigration deports him.

What’s wrong with that, Kennedy? Isn’t it at least worth considering the future liberty you might gain?

A picture of this illegal immigrant is reproduced below:

1 less Communist = better consequences
Above: Illegal immigrant from hostile-to-freedom culture being deported by American law enforcement.

10 thoughts on “In Support Of A Consequentialist Analysis Of Immigration Policy”

  1. C’mon, it’s not like that’s a real gun the Fedbot is sticking in the kid’s face – he’s just “inefficiently expressing a preference” is all.

    Every time a hostile to freedom immigrant is forcibly deported, America gets freer.

    Don’t you feel freer, Citizen?

  2. I should confess that I may have illegally crossed the Canada-US border in order to participate in this discussion, thereby depriving a native born American the ability to make a similarly snarky comment.

  3. I think that it’s worth considering a game theory analysis of the potential loss of freedom in regards to the question of commenters from liberal social democracies posting to We can’t ignore the n-th order permutations of the effect of memes and meta-memetic vehicles (or “comments” as they are colloquially known) on the overlying substrate of American socio-political culture. Here’s a hypothetical situation: you are on a desert island with an indeterminate number of people, for which we will substitute variable p. In p-1 scenarios of inter-memetic discourse there are f instances where preventing memetic intrusion from hostile-to-freedom cultured individuals will result in a net gain of freedom g for the sum of social memetic-exchange units (“people”).

    Plug the appropriate values into p, f, and g so as to allow you to advocate the central plan of your choice.

  4. It is worth considering the future liberty you might gain. Why wouldn’t it be?

    Suppose you are able to see with a crystal ball into the future, and to reach out and affect the past. Suppose you see that if Al Gore had won the 2000 election, we would have had more social freedom and more economic freedom than under Bush, because he would have been fighting with the Republican congress and gotten nothing done.

    Now, is it wrong to reach through your crystal ball and deport George W. Bush?

    I would say that it is not wrong. Would you? After all, violating his freedom greatly reduces the amount of violation of other people’s freedoms.

    The case with immigrants is similar, although much less extreme, and without the crystal ball. But the basic tradeoffs are the same.

  5. Patri:

    It is worth considering the future liberty you might gain. Why wouldn’t it be?

    Because other people’s lives are not your bargaining chips, even if you can buy greater freedom for yourself by sacrificing them. They are not yours to give.

    Now, is it wrong to reach through your crystal ball and deport George W. Bush?

    Maybe not. Using force against an individual in order to defend yourself against a known, concrete threat posed by that individual is often within the bounds of justice. Using force against an innocent third party in order to “defend” yourself against the vague dangers allegedly posed by the ethno-national collective of which she is a member, however, is not. You have absolutely no right to visit the presumed sins of her compatriots on her, if you have no reason for thinking that she herself will do some damage to your rights. I can think of absolutely no libertarian principle that would justify or excuse that kind of collective punishment.

  6. Lopez,

    Right. Also once you’ve convinced yourself that what justice demands is not that you, personally, not violate anybody’s rights, but rather that you somehow or another try to minimize the total number of rights violations going around in society. After all, that frees you up for all kinds of policy wonkery and social engineering that a personal obligation to do no injustice would rule out, on principle.

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