THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 577, July 4, 2010
"He pissed me off."
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
My father was an illegal alien who came from Germany during the 1920's. I know that many of us had ancestors who never needed to fill out papers. I'm hoping that those who move anywhere do make the effort to learn about where they are moving to and try to understand and be part of it, even if the history is not pretty and it usually isn't.
The reason that I support open borders (with some caveats) is that I believe that a Fortress America strategy will not work for any land. As anyone who has studied the history of fortresses should know, famous, expensive large works such as the Maginot Line of France failed in 1940. For these public works projects only inspire the ingenuity of enemies to circumvent them. Worse is that these defenses also create a complex of stagnation within those who hide in or behind them. This long wall on our border will only help imprison us, lull us into a false sense of security, give us more debt and worse yet, keep potentially friendly people away from our ideas. Such a defense, even against mere trespassers, won't work, either.
But I find that the attempts to build and maintain fences on a local level could be seen as an attempt to maintain property rights and safety and therefore, morally defensible. These attempts could in the end help to end the federal government like the Arizona law 1070, which merely allows the state and localities to takeover the enforcing of federal law. Therefore these attempts are almost laudable in that they will inspire secession type efforts, such as nullification, and increase the capacity for local self-defense. In a way these attempts are similar to the efforts of the Confederacy during the Civil War to maintain state's rights while at the same time keeping slavery. Secession is good while slavery is bad; as Murray Rothbard and Jeffrey Hummel have said.
But more important is the means used to change society and maintain values. Freely organized property owners and localities may defend a border if they wish and are doing so. The Federales will not and cannot do so, as some suggested it is not in their interest. The state of Arizona attempt is a half way measure in both effectiveness and in morality.
Border crossing is really easy despite barriers. I wonder why Latin Americans don't buy visas or just fly to LA and visit Disneyland and while there, covertly move to the Fantasyland known as the US. And there are paper marriages, lawyers, bribes or just working your way across by being a drug mule. They all work, no matter how high the fence is. The wall is mostly symbolic and a source of contracting and patronage. But the flood of immigration that people worry about can easily and legally be reduced and just by reducing government. Here's how.
We could legalize drugs in the US or they could legalize them in Mexico. That alone would end a lot of the illegal border traffic. Even if we just legalized pot that would get rid of about 50% of the problem as most border worries from the locals are about the violence that happens from the drug trade, whether in Mexico or this side of the border. There are other reasons, of course, but we are addressing the illegal entry question here.
Think of the poor Latin American earning a few dollars a day in his home country. He starts to grow pot or coca as it earns some more money that he's making now. Then he hears from local musicians, radio and films the songs called narcocorrado. These ballads tell of the thousands of dollars a day made by doing nothing more than being a delivery boy. To be a rebel, wealthy and to inspire song is a heady offer to young and the desperate, even to Americans and especially if it is dangerous.
I proposed an idea to a Mexican ex-drug dealer while I was in prison that if border crossers like him were able to cross the border with 30lbs of pot each, they should be allowed to stay; as this would be a grubstake so they would not have to rely on welfare. He agreed and said that green pot was better than a green card in making money.
Later I was invited by a young Mexican to give a seminar in prison on the American domestic market for pot. I told them that in the 60's their pot was the best such as Acupulco Gold. I told them that California, Netherlands and even Canada had through innovation come up with superior strains that made their current products look like beer vs. grand cru champagne. Learning the new ways and means were now easily possible through books, seeds and even lighting and were now available by mail and on the web. I also told them that hashish made in Afghanistan had made the Afghani Revolution possible and that they should consider learning how to make this product as well. After all condensing product to its smallest size and potency is essential to any good smuggling operation. But I digress.
Then there was this guy from Jamaica in my prison drug education class who told us in class that he came to America just to sell drugs. I told him that I was shocked, shocked and wasn't he ashamed of himself for taking away American jobs? This remark might have caused me to be kicked out of that class as I guess that Lou Dobbs is not appreciated. One time some official from Columbia came to address the coke prisoners there and they had to use a large hall just to accommodate all of them.
Now I understand there are opportunities of living near a border in that you can increase options. You can buy cheap gas, clothing, medicine etc. on one side of the border and earn higher wages on the other side, if you can cross. On the other hand if you can't cross, there is a lot of trespass; and that can turn the nicest parks and land into littered landscapes and even into dangerous areas. So now rural border America is becoming as bad as the inner cities.
As a libertarian I appreciate the dangers of border areas. If a few persons trespass on your land you don't need a militia. But if its hundreds a night then you join one or even consent to more dangerous measures. And then you might start to wonder whose land is it and for how long? The neighborhood is changing and you wonder if the new people understand issues of freedom and limited government since they may not have experienced it before and are really desperate. And the foreign refugees are frightening as well.
There is also the price of welfare that can occur. Even if everything is private, it can be of great cost with a torrent of poor refugees. They all may need emergency care, food, water, security etc; as these people cannot pay. And they must be provided for there are public health reasons, crimes committed by them and against them, the toll on infrastructure and they can't afford to pay for it.
Consider this possibility as well. Suppose a plague broke out in Mexico? During such outbreaks in history, it was customary for cities and countries to refuse entry to ships and people arriving. Cold and cruel it may appear to be, but the reason given was that massively destructive diseases did spread this way. There were always the daring and humane few that would leave the city and treat the sick and these caring few often were not allowed to return until the plague was over. Then they were regarded as heroes and this type of behavior is regarded as it should, of moral leadership
Yet also consider the problem a private libertarian community might have that has an internal dispute and loose rules for citizenship. Bringing in new people to pack meetings would be an acceptable tactic. Some say that the Democrats have been doing this for over a hundred years to the US. This is how some conservatives are seeing the new flood of immigrants.
It is interesting to know that the most famous Mexican American is Cesar Chavez; who is known for organizing his fellow agricultural workers and was for strong immigration controls. Or look at the work of Jack London, the socialist novelist who made racist points in his describing of how Black men as scabs were getting the jobs of White men who were on strike when he wrote a hundred years ago. Tariffs and quotas for imported goods are yet another form of racial exclusion.
Most conservatives for all the time they yammer about foreign policy don't really care about helping poor people who live in other countries. Socialists got as strong as they did for the good reason in that they did care and helped them. The same could also be said of Christians and other religions. Socialists had intenationales and helped fund activists in other lands. Every country in the world seems to have not just one but several socialist groups, unions, parties etc. How many conservative groups can say the same? Ideologies based on nations or identities cannot transplant themselves well. However, I see my list of libertarian friends from other countries grow every day on Facebook. I expect that even though libertarianism began here and is strongest here, the first place to get liberty will be somewhere else. It will probably be a small country and I know of libertarians who have gone south of the border already. In case I want to go I don't want a wall stopping me from getting there and neither should you.