THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 367, May 14, 2006
Ask the Right Question
Exclusive to TLE
First, libertarians became divided on the red herring issue of abortion, and then they were further subdivided on the issue of the US government's initiation of Wars of Empire in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now the few remaining libertarians are being even further decimated on the issue of Freedom of Travel, also known as the War against Immigration. These latest defections from libertarian principles qualify as "new" Libertarians In Name Only or "neo-LINOs".
I would like to address some of the rationalizations that long time libertarians are using to abandon the principles of liberty.
Recently, Lady Liberty, (I'm not picking on her in particular, just using her summary) echoed and summed up what seems to be the major excuse (among libertarians and non-libertarians alike) for excluding people from the relative freedom that is still available in the United States.
"The illegal immigrant population is literally costing American taxpayers billions of dollars in schooling, medical care, welfare payments, and law enforcement that we need not otherwise be spending. (Yes, I'm well aware that public schools should be privatized and that welfare should be abolished, but that's not happening next week.)"
Hmmm. I remember when one of the libertarian arguments was to actually help the tyrannical US government bankrupt itself by arranging one's taxable income to be as small as possible. It is quite an about face to be concerned that the welfare system et al might actually suffer higher costs, which in turn could actually hasten such a bankruptcy.
But are immigrants really the problem, or are they just a scapegoat, a rationalization, a diversion, a cover for an objective that is being manipulated from Washington DC?
"Restate the problem by asking the right question, and usually the solution becomes obvious and simple". (Paraphrase of Charles Moore in Thinking Forth)
For an excellent example of the principle of restating a problem, I point to Kenneth Royce aka Boston T Party, who did just that with his book Hologram of Liberty.
The usual problem statement was "How can the Constitution be fixed". In 1957, even Ayn Rand addressed that question in the final pages of Atlas Shrugged. I picked up that challenge and spent months working on it. (See http://tinyurl.com/aj88L). Many other people have expended energy on similar "new Constitution" projects.
But as early as 1870, Lysander Spooner had already restated the problem by asking (paraphrased) "Is the Constitution really broken, or is it working as it was meant to work?" Ken Royce picked up that challenge, wrote Hologram of Libertywhich really answers the correct problem statementand changed my life, saving me from endless hours, days and years that would have been lost chasing a solution to the wrong problem.
Judging from the nature of numerous postings about "illegal immigrants", it is apparent to me that the "immigration problem" has been stated incorrectly.
The problem is not "How do we protect our borders from immigrants"
The correct problem statement (until we can abolish the system) is "How do we protect our Welfare System from people who are not entitled to receive benefits, namely immigrants who are not yet US Citizens"
Once the problem is stated correctly, a workable solution can be more clearly identified. And it turns out that the real solution does not require spending more tax money erecting a police state. Such a solution should appeal to any libertarian who is not a Libertarian In Name Only (LINO). And what is this "magic" solution?
Since it is glaringly obvious that it is the Welfare System that is being defended, rather than "the border", the welfare offices are where the defenses need to be erected. The procedure to prevent non-citizens from using the US welfare system (or medical aid payment system or public school system) could be and should be the same procedure that the US Government uses to prevent non-citizens from getting US passports.
That procedure is to require the individual applicant to prove that s/he is a citizen of the US. The burden of proof is then upon the individual applicant, not on the public at large.
Please note that if a person does not want a passport or welfare or medical aid funds or public schooling, that person does not need to prove anything. When was the last time a roadblock was set up so that people could be asked to prove citizenship because they might want to apply for a passport? Yet roadblocks are regularly being set up to check for people who might want to use the welfare system! The checkpoints should be at the point of use, not on the freeway.
With the incorrect problem statement, any likely welfare "savings" will be more than offset by the cost of setting up a new multi-Billion dollar, full time, (and un-Constitutionalfor those who still care) standing army of armed border guards, electric fences on top of Berlin-type walls, moats and trenches to prevent tunneling, drug war-type snitches paid with tax money, more random, intrusive police searches of work places everywhere (not just on the border states), more new intrusive and restrictive "laws" to "protect" us, more random checkpoint roadblocks etc, ad nauseam.
Isn't this a classic case of using a sledgehammer to kill a mosquito? Certainly, the proposed solutions are way out of proportion to the significance of the problem. Clearly, the cost of the wrong solutions will vastly exceed the intended savings. The solution should match the problem. A simple solution is one that does not obscure the problem with irrelevanciesor create worse problems than the originalsuch as enlarging the police state.
And with the incorrect problem statement, we get the gross spectacle of "libertarians" actually defending the welfare system from misuse, and embarrassing themselves by using exactly the same arguments and rationalizations that racists use, and openly advocating the enlargement of the police state, openly abandoning the Non-Aggression Principle and belittling the Freedom to Travel principle as "purist" libertarian. And not only have long-time libertarians defected, this issue has even caused defections and renunciations of principles among that sub-set of libertarians who are signatories to the Covenant of Unanimous Consent!!
The remainder of this article is in the form of an interview between a Neo-LINO, who is not any particular person but rather a composite of many recent LINO arguments against freedom-seeking people (if the shoe pinches, perhaps you shouldn't be wearing it), and me, a lonely "purist". I adopted that pseudonym for this interview because while there has been scattered opposition to the Neo-LINO, there is nothing approaching a comprehensive rebuttal of their position. Perhaps like me, other "purists" are in a state of shock at the number of former libertarians who have abandoned principles and jumped ship on this issue.
Neo-LINO: These black haired, brown eyed, brown skinned, "illegal" freedom seeking people from south of the US border (aka immigrantsor is it freedom that is "illegal"?) are not assimilating themselves into the American culture. (Well, yes. Perhaps I have embellished the Neo-LINO position a bit, by adding a few words that they mean, but don't really say).
Lonely "purist": Historically, the first generation members of any immigrant family are busy working their butts off, trying to keep themselves and their family from starving (which probably would have happenedor worseif they had stayed in "the old country"). The immigrant generation consists mostly of people who have the initiative, will and burning desire to uproot themselves and seek freedom and a better life in a country that, in some cases is totally alien and even hostile to them. This happened to Scots and Irish and Germans and Poles and Chinese and Japanese and French. And some of these people with initiative, will and a strong desire for freedom and a better life where Mexicans who were already here and had developed farms and ranches long before the western states were even US territories. Some of those Mexicans even fought FOR Texas, against the Mexican dictator Santa Anna.
Historically the second generation is the assimilated generation, but the US has now guaranteed that they will receive their assimilation in the government run public school system. How disgusting is that? Perhaps we need less assimilation and more first generation people working their butts off and actually running businesses!
Neo-LINO: They are guilty of the effrontery of not learning the English language before they seek freedom from the tyrants under which they had the audacity to be born and raised.
Lonely "purist": By this spacious reasoning, the Yankees who moved into Texas in the early 1800's should have learned Spanish before moving. And the Orientals who came to North America to help build the first western railroads should have learned English before contributing to the railroad building. And how about the miners and tradesmen who came from Europe speaking not English, but Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, French, Italian, German and Russianto name just a fewand settled in this country and created productive communities, far from the tyrants under which they were born?
Neo-LINO: The freedom to emigrate from Mexico is not a right to immigrate to the US. A person has a right to leave his own house at any time, but that does not translate into the right to enter my house.
Lonely "purist": This is a really bad analogy! Entering this country is not equivalent to entering your house. I am in this country, but I am not in your house, and never have been.
Neo-LINO: And it is a fallacy to argue for the libertarian notion of unlimited immigration while we have a welfare state for immigrants to take advantage of. If they never availed themselves of government programs (which they don't pay for), then they wouldn't be a net loss on the schools, hospitals, welfare and the country.
Lonely "purist": It is a fallacy to restrict immigration because some thugs expropriated our money for taxes and then set up a welfare system. The blame for the welfare system rests with the US government, not the immigrants. The simple solution is to require welfare recipients, public school students and recipients of government medical care handouts to PROVE that they are US Citizens.
This very simple solution does not require new laws, nor snitches, nor penalties against employers, nor elaborate fences and guards; which, of course, guarantees that it will never be used because the State would have less to do and less reason to tax. The fact that the US government does not & will not require proof of citizenshipbut proposes to make employers perform this function (!!), illustrates the enormous hypocrisy involved and reeks of a hidden agenda. Using the welfare system as an excuse for restricting free travel across a line on a map is absurd. Furthermore, it just gives more power to those who take our taxes and set up welfare programs and build new Berlin Walls. We certainly do not need more of this.
Neo-LINO: If Mexican illegal immigrants came here solely to work, and refused every penny of public welfare, then Americans wouldn't be so upset about the issue.
Lonely "purist": Keep it simple. Require proof of citizenship for all welfare recipients.
Neo-LINO: If we already had a libertarian society with no public schools, hospitals, and welfare . . . then the libertarian notion of free borders could be actualized because there would be no welfare for unproductive immigrants to take advantage of.
But the welfare state must be dismantled beforehand. Until then, open borders cause the country more problems than not. Elements of freedom are not interchangeable in their timeline. Some things must precede others. And unrestricted immigration is one of the last things to work for, not one of the first. When, and only when, we have achieved such a society, then and only then will open borders make any sense.
Lonely "purist": Here I would like to quote Curt Howland from Smith2004 Yahoo discussion group who has views similar to mine (apparently I am not so alone):
"The 'issue' is an illusion. There is no 'issue'; every welfare/warfare program is evil in [and] of itself. The 'conservative' argument that 'until or unless these other programs are abolished, we cannot afford to open the borders' is merely a tool for violating their supposed principles and expanding their xenophobic program to use more tax money to set up Fortress America. It's an ego trip on your tax dollar, nothing more."
We cannot and will not become free by supporting Statist programs and Statist limits on travel. STRIKE AT THE ROOT!! The ROOT is in Washington DC. Nothing will be accomplished by allowing ourselves to get diverted into trimming around the edges of the issue by making "immigrants" a scapegoat.
Neo-LINO: Border porosity differs between the ingress and egress, and it should. It's why we all have locks for the outside of our doors. None of us need keys to exit our own homes . . . .
Lonely "purist": Good enough to keep them out is good enough to keep us in!
Given what we know of the current people in charge of the US government, after they build "The Wall" and force immigrants to use the (guarded) gates for entry, there is every reason to believe that those wanting to leave will be required to use the same (guarded) gates for exit. And you know that you will need to have approved "keys" to exit.
The proper response is not an analogy about the door on your house, but the current reality of the inspections and the No Fly lists at airports, railroads and bus terminals and the Historical Reality of Nazi Germany and the communist Berlin Wall! It was easy to give the No Fly list to the railroads and bus terminals; how hard will it be to give the No Fly list to the armed border guards?
The problem of "illegals" crossing the border and trespassing on private lands would vanish instantly if the armed guards and the gates were removed from the "legal" border crossings and people were allowed to freely cross in either direction. (It actually used to be that wayand guess what, there was no incentive to trespass on private lands.) Ask the "Minutemen" when the trespassing became a big problem and you will find that it coincides with a "tightening" of the border at the "legal" gates. I can only guess what their real agenda is, but the "Minutemen" are certainly not seeking real solutions, otherwise they would be calling for open immigration and removal of gates and guards. They seem to me (again only my guess, YMMV) to be Rambo wannabes looking for unarmed big game under the thin guise of protecting privately owned rangeland and open deserts. And they probably want government funding to do it! I've camped in those areas in Arizona with my Boy Scout troop; they are so wide open and empty that the concept of trespass has no meaning. These people are supporting our Statist government and are certainly the most na´ve of dupes. Our neo-con masters in Washington DC probably stay awake nights laughing.
A bit of perspective: People seeking freedom crossed into private land at the Berlin wall, but they were not treated like trespassers, they were welcomed as heroes, freedom seekers who thwarted the wishes of dictators and tyrants. The difference on the border with Mexico, is that the fence (soon to be a Berlin-type wall) was erected by dictators and tyrants in Washington DC. Only in America, land of the slave and home of the public school spawned ignorant, are freedom seekers accused of trespassing. After all, it follows in the great tradition of sending shiploads of people back to Stalinist Russia and certain death.
If I owned private land on the border today, I would serve lemonadebut not to the jackboots.
Neo-LINO: Every country has the right to establish its own immigration rules, it's called right of association in our libertarian platform which I will invoke now and then entirely out of context just to prove that I am still libertarian.
Lonely "purist": There is no "right to establish immigration rules" at the country leveland certainly not in my name. No group has rights that exceed those of its individual members. You have a right of association, but you do not have a right to restrict my right of associationand that is exactly what immigration "laws" restrict. A man cannot claim rights for himself while denying them to others!
Neo-LINO: My European grandparents did not snub the rules. They applied for visas, learned English, adopted American culture, and pulled their own weight. They came here without any pretext that America somehow "owed" them anything.
Lonely "purist": I'm glad your ancestors came here "legally" and sorry they wasted valuable days of their brief lives (as did some of my ancestors) filling out unnecessary and useless forms for people who really don't give a shit who they are as long as they pay their taxes or could be drafted into Lincoln's or Wilson's or Roosevelt's army for cannon fodder. Some of my ancestors came here before there was an "immigration law" that made some freedom-seeking people "illegal". What is the point? When did a sovereign individual become an "illegal"? The Native Americans would consider all of us "illegals" if it would do them any good. I live in Arizona and I see the beneficial effects daily of people from Mexico who are willing and able to work at jobs that "legals" shun. And they are willing to do so at rates that don't bankrupt whoever employ them.
Neo-LINO: Illegal aliens contribute to crime and welfare statistics.
Lonely "purist": First of all, remove the "and welfare", then consider what you have left. We "solved" the welfare "problem" earlier by simply asking for proof of citizenship. The real criminals operate from Washington DC. Has this LINO forgotten everything learned as libertarian?
Real criminal elements can be dealt with using the Glock on your hip. The Glock won't care what race they are, but the criminals are most likely to be "Anglos" of European descent. You do still support the Second Amendment and are prepared to defend yourself, aren't you?
Can you even imagine the impact of all 12 million alleged "illegals" being forcibly removed from this country? Those 12 million are workers not real criminals (although they are politically criminals by definition). Be careful what you wish for, an early economic collapse may be the unintended consequence that you get.
Neo-LINO: When Mexico gets its act together, Mexicans won't feel compelled to flee, and that is precisely the point of why we need a tight southern border and, conversely, why a tight northern border is unnecessary.
Lonely "purist": Sure, and when the Jews force Hitler to get his act together, there will be no need for the Jews to flee Germany either. Or the Russians and Poles and East Germans to flee across the Berlin Wall. And the Vietnamese should stay and die for their country.
And look at the wonderful job the libertarians are doing getting this country to abide by its Constitution. Sorry, LINO. Freedom loving people seek places where they can be free. And that is precisely why some of us choose to move to potentially "free states" instead of Washington D.C.!
Have you really tried to imagine what it would be like if you were forced to live in Washington DC? After all, when Washington gets its act together, you won't feel compelled to flee. And that is precisely the reason why the current residents of our chosen "free states" should keep us out.
Everything said about the border with Mexico applies equally to the borders with New Hampshire and Wyoming and Montana and Idahoexcept this time we are the immigrants seeking a better life!
Voting with ones feet is a time honored and very effective way to deal with dictators, tyrants and their wannabeseven more effective than voting from the rooftops. Our own ancestors left their countries for the very same reasonthe possibility of life being better elsewhere. They couldn't change the government where they were born and raised, so they changed where they lived!
Neo-LINO: Immigration, measured and controlled by our wonderful geniuses in DC, is the proper way to do things. But that's not what's happening with Mexican illegal aliens. We are being invaded, pure and simple. The Reconquista is practically official Mexican foreign policy.
Lonely "purist": This is what is pure and simple: The Mexicans did not kill Gringos at Ruby Ridge or Waco or Oklahoma City or the Towers & the Pentagon. The common elements in all these events are thugs, employed by unconstitutional (i.e. "illegal") agencies of the US government, funded by your and my tax money. Theynot Mexicansdid the attacking and killing (or failed to prevent itif you still believe the Arab-9/11 conspiracy theory told by the US government). We have more to fear from the people who have taken over the US government than from any other source. Again, focus on and Strike at the Root; do not waste time trimming the pretty, little, easy to reach, poor and unarmed Mexican workers.
The "Chicano Invasion" force is noisy and toothless, or noisy because they are toothless. They know what the Japanese military knew in 1941: behind every blade of grass there is an American with a gun. These Reconquista and Raza militants are more like our own modern KKK and Neo-Nazis. They are no more representative of the 12 million "politically declared illegals" who are actually working in this country than their counterparts are representative of you or me or Southerns or descendents of European origin.
These Chicano militants are no different from hundreds of black and Anglo racist, militant groups who are all full of talkall except the one group who did quietly manage to get control of the US government. Save your fear for the group that has succeeded in getting real power and is using it against Americans. We riflemen have nothing to fear from those who puff and posture and do nothing but march in parades. Did you ever see a neo-con parade?
Do we libertarians really want to focus our energy on the wrong group? The 12 million who are working in this country are not the problem, they are representatives of Capitalism! They are being made scapegoats to divert our attention and energy from the real problem, which resides in Washington DC.
Neo-LINO: Illegal aliens have the temerity to protest in the streets. Actual guests wouldn't do that.
Lonely "purist": Most of the marchers in Phoenix (where I currently live) were US citizens, not "illegals". And I find their "demands" too limited. The current flap about changing immigration laws should be for the repeal of all immigration laws, not just a half hearted attempt to make some "adjustments" which, in reality, will only increase the power of our masters to control with whom we, as individuals, may trade and will enable our masters to erectin very distinct phasesa very real, physical, "Berlin" type prison wall around us to prevent us from leaving.
Neo-LINO: Every nation on earth has some history of conquest. (And after what happened to Mexican Indians, Mexico is hardly blameless there.) The best thing that happened to 19th century northern Mexico was that we forcibly bought the place. At least we returned to them Mexico City, but they've never forgiven us for that, either.
Lonely "purist": Let me see if I understand my history correctly.
In the early 1820s, Mexicans living in Texas openly welcomed and invited Yankees to homestead. Then the Mexican government changed rulers and changed the rules. Texicans (residents of Texas consisting of Mexican ranchers/farmers and Yankee homesteaders) fought side-by-side and defeated Santa Anna and declared themselves an independent country. Then Yankee homesteaders confiscated property held by fellow Texicans of Mexican descent (an act that they promised would never happenbut it even happened again in California), joined the United States, seceded from the United States and by force of arms were re-united with the United States.
Now today, Mexicans and US citizens of Mexican descent are seen as some vague kind of threat, even though it was actually employees of US government agencies that openly committed the Waco murders. Why do alleged libertarians continuously let themselves have their focus diverted from the real threat?
I, for one, would consider moving to Texas if it became an independent nation again; but only if the Texans/Texicans didn't do something stupid, like joining some bigger nation.
In summary, we cannot make ourselves free by advocating and supporting Statist programs and views! The xenophobic obsession with immigration control blinds some "libertarians" to our real, common enemy.
The unhampered free market correctly allocates resources to their best use. Interventionism changes the allocation so that resources are applied to uses that are not beneficial to a society. Government loves to create roadblocks to entry into fields of choice. Control of freedom of travel and association are political as well as literal roadblocks. Immigration control, i.e. control of movement across lines on a mapsuch as the Berlin Wall, is a hallmark of Statist programs for prevention of liberty and free trade.
Furthermore, the obsessed "libertarians" have abandoned the Non-Aggression Principle and the principles of laissez-faire Capitalism. They have created two new and unnecessary enemies for themselves, the alleged "illegals"who could be and should be recruited as valuable alliesand their former fellow libertarians whose rights they now tread upon.
How can a free, sovereign individualof any racebe "illegal"?
Laissez nous faire!