The Irony Of (Self)Defeat

Lewrockwell.com’s Stephan Kinsella recommends John Derbyshire on immigration. Derbyshire lectures libertarians thusly:

As to why I think libertarians are nuts to favor mass uncontrolled immigration from the third world: I think they are nuts because their enthusiasm on this matter is suicidal to their cause. Their ideological passion is blinding them to a rather obvious fact: that libertarianism is a peculiarly American doctrine, with very little appeal to the huddled masses of the third world.

Kinsella echoes Derbyshire at the LRC blog that

… libertarians are nuts to want a more open immigration policy, since it’s self-defeating.

What Derbyshire and Kinsella both miss is that libertarianism has very little appeal to Americans in the first place. Forget about immigrants for a second: how well has the American public been swayed by this “peculiarly American doctrine”?

Answer is not at all, collectivism has won on all fronts and continues to be a landslide winner every election. Even counting every Libertarian Party candidate, even the ones clamoring for more taxes, as a “libertarian”, it’s clear that libertarian ideas have been handed decades of resounding defeats. The open borders issue isn’t self-defeating for libertarians because libertarians have already lost.

For clues as to why, we don’t need to look further than the fact that Kinsella and Derbyshire themselves are arguing for nothing more than a particular collectivist public policy on the grounds that this policy will advance the libertarian cause. Our self-appointed libertarian strategists are proceeding on the assumption that more collectivism now will manufacture more libertarianism later, and they can still talk about “self-defeat” with a straight face.

Happy Birthday Virginia Dare!

Speaking of the perils of immigration, they are, no doubt, passing around the angel food cake today at V-Dare in celebration of the 419th birthday of The White Doe.

from Peter Brimelow:

I have always been fascinated by the story of Virginia Dare. She was the first English child to be born in the New World, in August 1587, shortly after the founding of what was to become known as “The Lost Colony” on Roanoke Island off the North Carolina coast. It says something about the mettle of those settlers that any pregnant woman would cross the Atlantic, the equivalent of a lunar expedition at that time—and Virginia’s mother Elenor was no less than the daughter of John White, the colony’s governor…

Today, Virginia Dare seems to be vanishing from American education too. But she was a fixture for earlier generations. Even Franklin D. Roosevelt felt free to give a speech commemorating the 350th anniversary of her birth. At one point, I planned to pay homage by bestowing her name on the heroine of a projected fictional concluding chapter in Alien Nation, about the flight of the last white family in Los Angeles. It seemed symmetrical.

I was dissuaded.

But multiculturalists will be happy to know that there is always the possibility that the colonists survived, merging with the local Indians. There are fables that Virginia Dare as a young woman got involved in a love triangle with a warrior and an angry medicine man, who transformed her into a white doe…

So Virginia Dare could be symbolic of the coming racial nirvana that immigration enthusiasts are forced to start fantasizing about when you compel them to look at the statistical consequences of current policy.

Or perhaps not. The actress Heather Locklear (Melrose Place, etc.) is claimed as a prominent Lumbee. But if, through some miracle of genetic recombination, Virginia Dare is reborn in Ms. Locklear’s beautiful face, John White might well have recognized her.

Beck On Immigration

Billy Beck writes:

Milton Friedman (getting a lot of play here today) was entirely, simply, correct when he said, “You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state.”

Following Beck’s link to VDARE we find the full quote:

Q: Dr. Friedman should the U.S.A. open its borders to all immigrants? What is your opinion on that?

A: Unfortunately no. You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state.

Friedman is saying that as long as welfare state exists in America, as it clearly does today, individuals should be restrained from freely crossing the borders.

Beck:

As a general principle, I say, “The more, the merrier.” The thing that I insist on is that they come here to be Americans, like my great-grandfather did.

But what right does Beck have to insist anything of an individual for crossing a line on a map unless that line marks his personal property?

And what does it mean to “be Americans” anyway? Are Du Toit and McPhillips being Americans when they champion collective politics, or does Beck insist they leave?

Attention Kim DuToit: The Free Market Is Not Your Enemy

Kim DuToit expresses a mild dissent against my amusement regarding his faith in government:

I suppose it matters not to these frigging anarchists that government is sometimes capable of doing some things reasonably well (not always to our satisfaction, but when your binding purchasing criterion is always to go with the low bidder… well).

Government sometimes does some things reasonably well, y’know, for an organization that always goes with the lowest bidder. Now that’s a ringing endorsement.

But DuToit’s just getting warmed up, he’s not going to let the immigration issue get forgotten:

As for preventing the influx of illegal aliens across our southern border: well, I guess we could leave it up to Blackwater or someone to set up patrols—as long as their salaries and expenses could be paid by… whom, exactly? The border ranchers? Displaced native-born agricultural workers and housemaids?

DuToit carries this theme into comments at NT:

I await with interest to see how well the private sector manages to prevent Mexicans from flooding into the country.

The answer is of course that not only won’t the “private sector” prevent Mexicans from darkening DuToit’s neighborhood but that it’s the private sector (or “free market”) that’s drawing them here in the first place.

And this is a good thing.

A free exchange of values is what drives all of human progress. This is what first allowed people to spare enough time from tending to the business of staying alive to advance their own well-being. Everyone involved becomes richer as a result of a free exchange of values. For example, when Farmer Jim pays Jose Illegal to pick veggies, they both gain: Jose gains money from the work and Jim gains money by paying Jose less than it would have cost Jim to pick the crop. Jim can sell his crop to Safeway, and again they both benefit. And when Kim DuToit shows up and buys those vegetables in Safeway, he benefits too. Free exchange creates wealth: the more, the merrier.

But coercion works differently. DuToit’s IRS, for example. You know, the instrument with which he would pay for his border-closing scheme. They aren’t exchanging values, instead they’re presenting us all with the highwayman’s challenge: “Your money or your life”.

Every thin dime that this government confiscates is money that will be spent in a manner that doesn’t benefit all parties involved. In principle, as DuToit affirms above, it might be spent well (sort of) on things that (maybe) might be worth doing, kind of. In practice, most of it gets simply wasted. It’s potential wealth that gets lost, just as surely as if you take out a loan and burn the money rather than investing it.

And this is why I answer DuToit’s rhetorical question like so:

Mr. DuToit, closing the border oughtn’t be paid for at all. The free market isn’t my enemy, and it shouldn’t be your enemy either.

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.

Memo To Patri: I Got Yer Tradeoff Right Here

Patri,

You write on immigration:

If you believe (as Russell claims to) that in a country like the US, an influx of people hostile to freedom will reduce the freedom of people in that country, one is led inexorably to an uncomfortable conclusion. Namely, that the impact on freedom is the combination of gains from the increased freedom of the immigrants and losses from the decreased freedom of the residents. We can let in the coercers and be coerced, or we can coercively keep them out.I

Now, there is plenty of room for debate about the resulting net impact. But if immigrants truly are anti-freedom, then the real question is how to evaluate this tough tradeoff. Not whether libertarians can have their immigration and a small government too.

Do you really propose to trade the lives and liberty of some people against those of others? Anyone who endorses such a tradeoff as a matter of policy ought in principle to be willing to implement that tradeoff himself. Anyone endorsing a closed border ought in principle be willing to personally employ deadly force to keep people from crossing the border.

Eventually the moment of truth comes: You have a Mexican in your sights and nothing but your bullet can stop him from crossing into the United States. Now you get to make your “tradeoff”. Are you willing to trade his life for the marginal liberty you could retain for America by killing him? Could you conceivably defend such a tradeoff here and now as libertarian?

If you’re not willing in principle to shoot the Mexican then it should be clear that you ought not hire others to do it for you or endorse such as a matter of policy. And if you are not prepared in principle to do such a thing then what precisely are you proposing to trade? Preferring one outcome to another is no tradeoff in and of itself, your preferences don’t cost anyone anything. Only your actions can impose costs and produce benefits.

The life and liberty of others are not yours to trade. I think you would understand this perfectly well if you were face to face with the individuals in question but when you consider them collectively in the abstract you are seduced through a weakness for wonkery into imagining that men have no choice but to trade in such values.

Bush Calls for Biometric ID

As predicted Bush just opened the door for national biometric ID:

Third, we need to hold employers to account for the workers they hire. It is against the law to hire someone who is in this country illegally. Yet businesses often cannot verify the legal status of their employees, because of the widespread problem of document fraud. Therefore, comprehensive immigration reform must include a better system for verifying documents and work eligibility. A key part of that system should be a new identification card for every legal foreign worker. This card should use biometric technology, such as digital fingerprints, to make it tamper-proof. A tamper-proof card would help us enforce the law and leave employers with no excuse for violating it. And by making it harder for illegal immigrants to find work in our country, we would discourage people from crossing the border illegally in the first place.

Of course the fraudulent documents currently being used often represent the immigrant as a legal citizen, so Bush’s proposed card won’t do much at all until all citizens are required to have them.

Immigration: A Conservative Win-Win Scenario

Conservatives like Kim DuToit are under fire hereabouts for their immigration-control schemes, but as you’ll soon see, there really aren’t any problems – just exciting new opportunities.

For instance: how does DuToit suppose that the American border guards tell illegals from legals? Well, it would seem that some sort of identification documents would be required. Good thing we have those, right? One problem is that there’s already ten-jillion wetbacks inside the borders, but all we have to do about that is to have the border guards stop and search people at random. Now that by itself will lead to a massive increase in the size and intrusiveness of the American government’s law enforcers, but social conservatives have never cared about that particular issue as long as it’s the reds/wetbacks/negroes/gays/foreigners that are getting the whip. In fact, it’s job creation.

So no problem, right?

Except, oops, it turns out that there’s an enormous demand for illegal (read: market rate) labor, a massive in-place illegal population, and thousands of US counties that issue the fundamental citizenship document, the birth certificate. The only thing that’s preventing the illegal population from obtaining the best papers that money can buy is simply that they have better things to do with their money. DuToit’s scheme would change that overnight.

Once Mexicans start buying themselves identity documents, the conservatives will have to turn to Plan B. And Plan B is…

A National Identification Card, issued by one central agency, complete with biometrics, and backed up by draconian “must carry and present on demand” regulations. Sure, a few civil libertarians, religious fanatics, and homeless kooks are going to refuse to comply and thus get swept up and stuffed into the gulags, but let’s face facts: they probably weren’t voting Republican anyway.

And there’s many more uses for a National ID that just keeping union wages high (or “protecting America for Americans”, as you will). As long as you have a perfect form of ID, you might as well use it to conduct instant background checks for gun purchases. A national drug offender registry? No biggie, the framework’s already in place. Folks with tax “issues” won’t get beyond the next random highway FreedomStop(tm). Criminal background checks would be as easy as sliding the barcode under the scanner, and would come with the added bonus of tracking who was wanting to work where. “Carding” for booze and smokes becomes foolproof, and since computer data storage is virtually free, the fact that you both purchase firearms and use tobacco can be kept in your permanent file, awaiting the dawn of the inevitable National Health Care Plan. “No treatment for you, Mr. Lopez – you’re just too high risk for AmeriCare.”

Hell, with employers footing the bill for the premiums, you’d never even get hired.

And thus the circle is complete: social conservatives get to kick out the foreigners, create millions of new government jobs, and at the same time find a brand new source of cheap agricultural labor: all of the now-unemployable drug users, smokers, and other “uninsurables” that could no longer hide behind some sort of “right to privacy”.

What’s Wrong With Breaking The Law?

The political superstar of movement libertarianism writes:

We must reject amnesty for illegal immigrants in any form. We cannot continue to reward lawbreakers and expect things to get better. If we reward millions who came here illegally, surely millions more will follow suit. Ten years from now we will be in the same position, with a whole new generation of lawbreakers seeking amnesty.

Memo To Ron Paul,

You bandy about the words “illegal” and “lawbreaker” as if they had moral content. They don’t.

Weren’t Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and all the founding fathers lawbreakers? Wasn’t Thoreau? Or Martin Luther King?

Wasn’t the Declaration of Independence itself an act of lawbreaking?

Men have no moral obligation whatsoever to obey or even recognize immoral laws, including many immoral laws that you are party to. Stop using law as a proxy for morality in your arguments. There is no necessary relationship between the two.


Update: Billy Beck recommends Kyle Bennett’s critique of this post. I respond in comments at Bennett’s post.

The Gulag Du Toit

The spectacle of hispanic protests winding through the streets of America has riled the ranks of cultural conservative freedom fighters, it’s given the straight-shooting Liberty Belles a case of the vapors, and it’s even got Kim du Toit laying in the framework for American labor camps.

Addressing the concern that immigrants might get over or under an American Wall constructed at the border, du Toit proposes:

And we catch them doing it, and either repatriate them (first offense), or imprison them in tented labor camps for five years (subsequent offenses). They wanna work here? Fine. Let them do it as convicts, earning $1 per hour.

Du Toit implies that his labor camp solution could be a joke, but it stands to reason that he’s at least half-serious about it in the face of the high stakes game that du Toit, himself, outlines below.

Jokes aside, here’s the thing.

Illegal immigration costs us an untold amount of money each year, in social services, law enforcement and unpaid taxes. That’s just pure currency we’re talking about.

Now add to that the harm done by drug smuggling, terrorist infiltration and increased gang violence.

Ask me again whether the cost of securing our southern border is too much.

Expense, drug crime, terror, and unpaid taxes inflicted on the country as a result of the unauthorized crossings of a line on a map. That’s du Toit’s justification for apprehending and detaining illegal immigrants at gunpoint, but if the consequences of illegal immigration in the form of drug smuggling and unpaid taxes are unacceptable, then why stop at throwing wetbacks into the labor camps when there’s plenty of tent space left for domestic drug dealers and tax evaders, as well? That’s the beauty of your gulag, Kim. It’ll not only keep Club America exclusive, it’ll also re-educate red-blooded American druggies and tax deadbeats.