Fighting Terrorism Requires Legalizing Immigration

James S. Valliant's picture
Submitted by James S. Valliant on Tue, 2006-06-06 16:58

Immigration has become a very hot issue in the United States these days. It is estimated that there are something like ten to fifteen million illegal immigrants living in America – and more keep streaming across the border every day.

Of course, immigration is nothing but a boon to any free market economy, as has been repeatedly demonstrated, and there is every reason for a capitalist society to eagerly welcome every last immigrant. And, of course, so long as the immigrant is not a direct threat to the physical safety of the country, such migration to and from a place is a RIGHT.

One cannot hope to convince neanderthals, such as Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, who complain that immigrants steal jobs, hurt the economy, and violate the rights of "us" natives.

Whatever part of this opposition to immigration is actually rooted in misguided but sincere economic fears, less credible cultural fears, or ugly racism, none of these "concerns" has had any reason to 'heat-up' lately, and, I suspect, these emotions would have remained on a slow simmer, as they had for so long – but for 9/11 and the fear of terrorists.

It is the fear of terrorism that has thrust immigration onto the front pages of newspapers – and into debates on the floor of the Senate.

This is just one more example, to be sure, of what happens when you have an American leadership unwilling to do what's needed – the overthrow of terrorism-supporting states – starting with Iran – and which, instead, makes further retreat on personal freedom for the illusion of increased security.

As many others have observed, the enemies of immigration are using the "terrorism issue" as a bootstrap to push their own abiding agenda to "stem the tide." If thousands of undocumented and untraceable aliens are slipping into this country every day, how on earth can we prevent more mass-murderers from getting in?

Unfortunately, this increase in nativist fury at illegal immigration has inflamed recent immigrants themselves – as the recent and sizable demonstrations across the country show – and is working to polarize, not acculturate this community.

In all the give-and-take on the issue, everyone seems to have missed the obvious error in the logic in the anti-immigration argument on terrorism, the error of its fundamental premise – since, in fact, the only way to actually prevent terrorists from slipping in is to legalize as much "illegal immigration" as possible.

If one is looking for a needle in a haystack, as the saying goes, one has a hell of job. Finding that needle on a relatively clean floor, however, presents an achievable goal.

If every person who wanted into America in order to find work was legally permitted into America, I'll bet they'd be happy to stop by the front gate, show some i.d., get checked against a terrorist watch-list, etc. Only those with criminal records, or reasons to flee justice, those with contagious diseases, and, well... terrorists would have any reason to "jump the gate" at all.

This would concentrate our resources on those who actually posed a threat to the country. Thousands of border patrol agents would, then, not be going after thousands – ultimately, accumulated millions – of people everyday, but just a few hundred – ultimately, a few thousands. I, personally, prefer those odds when it comes to catching terrorists and mass-murders.

Besides, we wouldn't be violating anyone's rights – and that might be a good thing, too.

But would somebody tell these yahoos that it would be a whole lot EASIER for the border patrol to stop a terrorist from oozing in if we LEGALIZED as much immigration – and as many illegals – as possible. And the sooner the better, please.


( categories: )

The Solution to the U.S.-Mexican Border Problem

tlwinslow's picture

Hi,

I just published an Internet broadcast article containing my proposed final satisfying permanent solution to the U.S.-Mexico border problem, which I think you'll all like. Check it out. It's important that I get more people to read it.

http://tlwinslow.weebly.com/me...

Ciao,

T.L. Winslow

Aha!

atlascott's picture

Tim:

"Had you called it “Terrorism isn’t the issue when it comes to Mexican immigration”, there wouldn’t be a problem. Instead you called it “Fighting terrorism requires legalizing immigration”, which *is* a general principle, and one that you had to go back on as soon as it was pointed out that the real terrorist threat comes from jihadists, not Mexicans."

Exactly.

It's not about

Richard Wiig's picture

Do I own my property, or do the goons from Washington DC own it?

It's not about the ownership of your property, it's about Pedro's right, or lack of, to cross the border into America, and what the conditions attached to that crossing, if he does cross, are. That you desire to employ him, and are willing to give him lodgings etc, I think, is completely irrelevant. As I see it you have set a standard - Pedro is ok by you - and that is all. I don't see how you setting a standard suddenly gives Pedro the right to emigrate to America and become an American citizen. Equally, someone can set a standard and say "Hey, that Abu Hamza is ok by me, I'll give him lodgings" and bingo, he's in, and he gains all the rights of a US citizen even though his one goal is to bring the US to its knees and destroy it. I think something is amiss. Don't get me wrong. I believe in free-trade, and freedom of movement and association, and the main thrust of James article - that as much legalised immigration as possible is desirable - but I just don't think it should be given easily and lightly as an automatic right. I don't believe there is an inherent right to it. There must be certain standards met, and of course, they must be objective rational standards. James says that the standard is "not a direct threat", but I'm not really sure what that means. Pedro, obviously, isn't a direct threat, but then neither is Abu Hamza.

My space

AdamReed's picture

Pedro has no space here YET, but I want to let him use mine while he works for me, until I pay him and then he can rent a room or a house from a willing landlord. But the shit-eating politicians are forcibly stopping me from letting Pedro use my space while he works for me, they are forcibly stopping landlords who own their land from renting it to Pedro on mutually agreed terms, etc. Do I own my property, or do the goons from Washington DC own it? And if it is mine, how come I'm forcibly prevented from using it to house Pedro while he works for me?

Adam

Richard Wiig's picture

Yes, I understand the difference.

Richard - do you know the difference between private property (Midas Mulligan owns Galt's Gultch, so he decides whom to let in) versus force (I want to hire Pedro from Mexico to paint my house, but the shit-eating politicians won't let me?)

I understand freedom of association, so I understand that Joe Bloggs has every right to associate with Pedro and to employ Pedro to paint his house, but that doesn't equate to Pedro having a right to immigrate, or even to having a right to cross the border into America. For arguments sake, like me, Pedro doesn't own a single square inch of America. If he doesn't own a single square inch of it, how can he have a right to immigrate to it? He can't. You cannot claim, by right, what doesn't belong to you, and America doesn't belong to Pedro. He must meet certain rational standards in order to be allowed in. If there is an inherent right, then no standards need be met, and it would have to be an open doors policy, and that is where James runs into his contradiction. He states that there is an inherent right to immigrate, on the one hand, but on the other, he says that authorities can pick and choose who is allowed in.

Difference

AdamReed's picture

Richard - do you know the difference between private property (Midas Mulligan owns Galt's Gultch, so he decides whom to let in) versus force (I want to hire Pedro from Mexico to paint my house, but the shit-eating politicians won't let me?)

I'm coming to America

Richard Wiig's picture

I'm coming to America to settle, as is my "right", and so much as one hand of obstruction from you, or anyone on your behalf, would be a  violation of my rights. If I have the inherent right to immigrate, meaning to move there and settle in, then no one has the right to stop me, or even touch me in any unwanted way. The fact is, I do not have this right. I do not have the right to simply march into America as if I own the place and belong there, anymore than I'd have the right to march into "Galt's Gulch". Those who live in America, who own America, who are American, have the right to set the terms and conditions of entry, and if I meet their criteria then I can come in. This applies whether it's a fully privatised laissez faire America (in which case the criteria would more than likely be based on rational principles) or whether it's a semi-socialist/fascist mixed-economy America, and based on irrational principles.

I agree with you wholeheartedly about "cleaning up the floor" by bringing immigration law in line with rational principles, but an inherent right to be an immigrant is not rational. I believe that certain criteria must be met, criteria that goes beyond simply showing yourself not to be a "direct threat". Latin Americans, largely, are probably no threat at all. Muslims, those with a certain ideological bent, on the other hand, could well be.

Galts Gulch would certainly have had certain criteria for entry. If someone gained entry to Galt's Gulch it's because they'd have earned it. If they earn it, then it's because they see its value. If they see its value they know how much it's worth defending. If they know how much it's worth defending, then they're an asset. The opposite is a liability, which is not necessarily so bad, but in these times when the world is heading towards some kind of precipice, it's an absolutely crucial matter of life or death.

I cannot agree with your carte blanche open door policy. You say that it's not, but that is contrary to your "it is RIGHT" statement.

Nope

James S. Valliant's picture

Mr. Wiig,

If I were to use force to keep you in a certain spot, or if the government were to do so, it would be called "false imprisonment" and you could take legal action. This is because your freedom of movement is a matter of right. Such a "right" does not mean the government cannot lock people up sometimes, right?

A problem

Richard Wiig's picture

If we are excluding only demonstrated threats to this country, then no one's rights are being violated

I think there is a problem here. If there is an inherent right to immigrate to a place, as you say, then it's a violation of someones rights to even process them. If they have the inherent right, then they don't need your permission to come in. I don't think there is an inherent right to immigrate to anywhere, no more than there's a right to housing or to food.

I also think that what constitutes a "demonstrated threat" is not something that is easily determined. This inherent rights angle makes it so much harder, perhaps near impossible, to determine it.

I think that the rights you are talking of - the ideal freedom of movement that you desire - can exist only in a certain context and, at this point in time, that context doesn't exist. Self-defence is a much higher priority.

Non-issue

Tim S's picture

The "thrust" of my initial argument was about the overwhelming "thrust" of U.S. immigration worries, i.e., Latin Americans.

Yes that’s all fine. My beef is that I don’t think you should have structured your argument as a *general* principle, as evidenced for example, by the title of your article. Had you called it “Terrorism isn’t the issue when it comes to Mexican immigration”, there wouldn’t be a problem. Instead you called it “Fighting terrorism requires legalizing immigration”, which *is* a general principle, and one that you had to go back on as soon as it was pointed out that the real terrorist threat comes from jihadists, not Mexicans.

btw: did you hear today's report from Homeland Security on how many man hours it takes each border patrol agent to process a SINGLE deportee? It makes the point more powerfully than I ever could.

What that tells me is that you shouldn’t waste resources on countering immigration that doesn’t pose any threat. It says nothing about the fact that you should still expend those resources to counter immigration that does pose a threat.

As I said James, I have no beef with you at all. It’s just that your article exemplifies this tendency I perceive among Objectivists to continually emphasise the libertarian position on immigration (immigration should be completely open for economic migrants as long as there are no welfare handouts and property rights are respected, etc), all of which I completely agree with, but to completely ignore the issue, which to me is so important that the issue you are focusing on simply pales in comparison, that potential jihadis may be entering our countries with no legal opposition at all.

[Edit: When I wrote "...your article exemplifies this tendency I perceive among Objectivists to continually emphasise ...", I should have said "...your article is another example of all the discussion I have seen on SOLO that emphasises ...". I don't mean to falsely generalise my argument to all Objectivists!]

No Need

James S. Valliant's picture

Mr. Sturm,

The "thrust" of my initial argument was about the overwhelming "thrust" of U.S. immigration worries, i.e., Latin Americans. No worry about "banditos" here, sir -- and that's my point.

btw: did you hear today's report from Homeland Security on how many man hours it takes each border patrol agent to process a SINGLE deportee? It makes the point more powerfully than I ever could.

No Rights Violated

James S. Valliant's picture

Mr. Wiig,

If we are excluding only demonstrated threats to this country, then no one's rights are being violated -- any more than the arrest of a violent criminal, or the detention of a suspected criminal, is a violation of anyone's rights. It's a protection of everyone else's.

At least, that's how I see it.

Condtions

Richard Wiig's picture

"My view? I don't think there is any need to turn away all Muslims,"

Tim, by what criteria do you decide who to turn away and who to let in?

" although if the war being carried out by jihadists escalates they may force us into a position where we have no choice."

How big an escalation is needed? It's escalated a long way since the Salmon Rushdie fatwa. How much more? BTW, don't forget that immigration itself is a tool of Jihad. A muslim doesn't have to blow people up to be a Jihadist, it can be something as simple as settling behind enemy lines, which ultimately, given time, will be equally as destructive as flying planes into towers of people.

How I see it.

Richard Wiig's picture

"So where's the "contradiction"?"

I didn't elaborate on it because I thought it was so glaringly obvious. If it is everyones inherent right to migrate to any place, then what right do you have to pick and choose? To say that "mexicans can enter" but we're going to look more closely at Pakistani's would be to violate their inherent right to migrate to any place. In fact, if they have an inherent right, you wouldn't have the right to put even one iota of an obstacle in their way.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but that's how I see it.

Watch out for bandits

Tim S's picture

My view? I don't think there is any need to turn away all Muslims, although if the war being carried out by jihadists escalates they may force us into a position where we have no choice.

But the principle should be: the more the jihadists escalate their war, the more difficult we make it for potential jihadists, and I'm afraid that means Muslims or at least people from Islamic countries, to enter the country.

Simple really, but it contradicts the thrust of James initial article.

The relentless Mr Perigo writes, "I don't believe James mentioned Islamic immigration as such in the article". Well where did he envision his terrorist threat coming from then? Mexican banditos?

Huh?

James S. Valliant's picture

So where's the "contradiction"?

So, Mr Sturm, Scallop-Slurper :-) ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

What exactly was it that you found in the article that "should not need restating"?

I can only assume you've been slurping too many shellfish & contracted something from toxic algae, leading to brain-damage. What should not need restating in the article surely ... er ... should not need restating:

... the only way to actually prevent terrorists from slipping in is to legalize as much "illegal immigration" as possible. If one is looking for a needle in a haystack, as the saying goes, one has a hell of job. Finding that needle on a relatively clean floor, however, presents an achievable goal.

I don't believe James mentioned Islamic immigration as such in the article, but did say those presenting a direct threat should be turned away. Does that mean turning away *all* Muslims when we (the West) are at war? Well, what's *your* view?

Linz

PS—Everyone: Don't mind Timmy & me. We have these lovers' tiffs once in a while. The kissing & making up is something else!

Smiling

Contradiction

Richard Wiig's picture

James asked:

"When did I ever advocate "open borders"? "

Right where you said this:

And, of course, so long as the immigrant is not a direct threat to the physical safety of the country, such migration to and from a place is a RIGHT.

Hence your contradiction.

Right

James S. Valliant's picture

When did I ever advocate "open borders"?

But, yes, the illegal immigration "problem" in America is not essentially a security issue, but an alleged economic one. To believe otherwise is to mistake the needle for haystack here. To the degree that we enforce immigration laws for economic reasons we undermine our efforts at protection from potential security threats.

Currently, our border and immigration authorities are completely overtaxed with an impossible goal. Terrorists who want in must love this situation.

This war will not be won at the border, but by killing the killers before they get here. For all we know, the next mass murderers are already here -- and legally. The new focus on immigration enforcement as a security issue is a bogus bootstrap.

So, Mr Perigo/Shellfish hater ...

Tim S's picture

I "rushed to Mr Riggenbach's defence" as you put it because (a) Winefield's reaction seemed totally over the top, at least in response to the particular words that Riggenbach had written on that thread at that time and (b) notwithstanding Riggenbach's views, which weren't apparent from that post, he has a swagger about him that I like.

Who said anything about pacifism?

Zarqawi? Great, but I must say I'm much more interested in the issues in this thread. I don't know why people such as yourself laud articles on immigration like this one which fails at a basic level to deal with the critical issue in relation to immigration, namely Islamic immigration.

The title of James' article refers to a general principle - free immigration helps to counter terrorism - but then he contradicts that principle by advocating restrictions on Islamic immigration, and then refers to the example of Mexican immigration where he believes the principle doesn't apply anyway because there is no terrorist threat.

What exactly was it that you found in the article that "should not need restating"?

So, Mr. Economist/Vacillation ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... is the Jihadist threat none of our business, as per Mr. Riggenbach, to whose defence you rushed? Does the taking out of Zarqawi count for nothing? Have the pacifist Sciabarrians gotten to you?

Smiling

Just checking. I'm sure you know better than this, as indicated by your penultimate blog post, "In Love with America"!!

Jihadist threat

Tim S's picture

If the jihadists commit any seriously terrible terrorist acts in western countries, then there may come a point where the argument won't be about looking for a needles in haystacks, it will be about shifting the whole damn haystack.

The only issue of interest I can see in relation to immigration is therefore the extent of the jihadist threat, current and potential.

What would you do with the

Richard Wiig's picture

What would you do with the 2+ million of them that are already here, then?

I would do nothing with them, but they would know that US citizens are serious about defending their freedom, and they would be on notice that any promotion of Jihad would mean being kicked out of the country. Any promotion of Jihad in Muslim bookstores, or mosques, then I would close them down.

I suppose we can implement a mandatory non-jihadi oath for them,

Actions speak louder than words. A Jihad plot was just foiled in which one of them wanted to behead the Canadian Prime Minister. They were recruited in a mosque, preached to commit violent Jihad in a mosque, yet all the muslims that go to the mosque expressed astonishment at what happened. It happens time and time again. If they won't stop it in their mosques, then someone else has to stop it, because it has to stop.

or else toss them back into their sewer of a half-continent.

Yep, good idea, if it comes to that, and it may yet come to that.

Or we could try something completely new, like forced conversions. They'll have a form with all the christian denominations listed on it and they can check the box next to the one they like best.

While you are being sarcastic, the Jihadists are plotting for your death.

Not a picnic

Richard Wiig's picture

Fantastic!

Yes, it is fantastic. Islam is about the equivalent of nazism. The context is war. During WWII would it have made a great deal of sense to allow unrestricted movement of nazis into your country? I suggest that it would have just been plain idiotic, and likewise, with this war with Islam, to allow unchecked immigration of Muslims - the enemy - into your country, is just plain idiotic.

Muslim immigration

Boaz the Boor's picture

I propose banning, or at least severely restricting, Muslim immigration.

Fantastic! What would you do with the 2+ million of them that are already here, then? I suppose we can implement a mandatory non-jihadi oath for them, or else toss them back into their sewer of a half-continent. Or we could try something completely new, like forced conversions. They'll have a form with all the christian denominations listed on it and they can check the box next to the one they like best.

Not across the board.

Richard Wiig's picture

If we cannot "weed out" Jihadists anyway, then it doesn't matter what we do with immigration, or at the border, in this context, anyway, does it? Unless you propose to ban ALL immigration?

I propose banning, or at least severely restricting, Muslim immigration.

We are safer just knowing who is here, rather than having so many undocumented and untraceable persons.

I agree with you that legitimizing certain immigration will help clean up the floor, but I don't agree with free-immigration across the board - that would be a recipe for disaster.

Knowing who's here is the first step in accounting for our inability to know for sure. And, it's a mere needle of threats in a haystack of innocents,... right?

A "minority of extremists"? No, I don't believe it is a minority at all.

Well Said Bob

Landon Erp's picture

Well said Bob.

---Landon

Inking is sexy.

http://www.angelfire.com/comics/wickedlakes

The New Colossus

Bob Palin's picture

I posted the following at RoR but it is definitely worth repeating here. It's about time America started living up to the proper ideals on which it was founded.

 

The New Colossus
by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

 

Jason

Mark Dow's picture

I will admit man’s creativity for harnessing the environment seems to be boundless when his mind and actions are not shackled as is evidenced by the incredible amount of wealth we have, and I am not a “utilitarian” or a collectivist advocating bureaucratic control of our population. But Jason, don’t you ever feel just a little bit uncomfortable by the shear magnitude of people in this world (and the potential for a lot more), and you wonder about diminishing returns in areas not economic?

And yes, I am going to read George Reisman's book "Capitalism." Those articles I’ve read here at SOLO by him were very will done. Thanks!

Oh?

James S. Valliant's picture

If we cannot "weed out" Jihadists anyway, then it doesn't matter what we do with immigration, or at the border, in this context, anyway, does it? Unless you propose to ban ALL immigration? We are safer just knowing who is here, rather than having so many undocumented and untraceable persons. Knowing who's here is the first step in accounting for our inability to know for sure. And, it's a mere needle of threats in a haystack of innocents,... right?

Simple Math

James S. Valliant's picture

It is not a question of limited resources per se, but the link between enforcing immigration laws and our safety from future terrorism is clear. Only, the enemies of immigration have the security issue backwards. It is the use of most of whatever resources we do have to attempt to catch millions of non-security threats which constitutes a real obstacle to preventing terrorists from getting in. No, this isn't the ethical case for immigration. It's simple math.

Right now, we're looking for a needle a haystack.

Fair enough, but

Richard Wiig's picture

"Free immigration," as I am proposing it, would focus our efforts on the (in America's context) few real security threats -- and off of the many whom we have every reason to believe are not threats.

That is fair enough, but I think that your "free immigration" would actually increase the threat. I understand the right to freedom of association, but under your proposals Jihadists could emmigrate to America carte blanche, which ultimately would be like commiting suicide.

And, of course, there is no reason to buy someone's stated motives. The circumstantial evidence, however, shows that most Latin immigrants are not "Jihadists."

How do you weed out the Jihadists from the non-Jihadists?

False dichotomy

atlascott's picture

My point is that the title suggests that fighting terrorism requires a different immigration policy--presumably because of limited resources.  I heartily dispute the truth of the title or the notion that resources are too short to effectively combat the immigration of terrorists.

We agree that the vast majority of illegal immigrants are not, never have been, and never will be terrorists.  The US is not necessrily tightening immigration enforcement because the immigrants are terrorists.  In fact, none of the 9?11 guys had to sneak across a border--they were allowed in freely.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that we have no evidence of any kind which suggests that terrorists are sneaking in.

So I separate the issues of Rio Grande immigration and terrorist security.  The main objection to the former is the economic one.  I wish California was not such Socialist state,  but it is, and the citizens there can raise heck about stolen government money going to those who do not contribute, and those not on our "team." I am glad that fruit is very inexpensive, and agree that cheap labor has a tendency to get an economy moving.  It is their state, they can complain as they see fit.

So here's why I see terrorist immigration as a completely separate issue:  sure, some folk complain that an Islamic terrorist COULD sneak into the county via Texas.  Yep.  Sure could, but there is no indication that anyone ever has.  The terrorists in this country are likely already here, on student or work visas.  THe 9/11 guys were.  The US is just using the threat of a terrorist attack as a kitchen-sink argument for whatever pet cause exists at the moment. 

I see little or no link between issues of Mexican border patrolling and US security from Islamic terrorists.

I Also Said

James S. Valliant's picture

"Free immigration," as I am proposing it, would focus our efforts on the (in America's context) few real security threats -- and off of the many whom we have every reason to believe are not threats. And, of course, there is no reason to buy someone's stated motives. The circumstantial evidence, however, shows that most Latin immigrants are not "Jihadists."

James said:

Richard Wiig's picture

The "border" exists to protect the rights of those inside -- this means the government cannot stop folks migrating with an economic motive

An economic motive does not preclude a Jihad motive.

 James, the title of your essay reads: "Fighting terrorism requires legalising immigration".  I stress to you again, it is not terrorism that is being fought, it is Jihad. Jihad is broader than blowing people up with bombs. Immigration itself is as much a tool of Jihad as putting a bomb in your backpack and blowing up infidels. In fact, immigrating and having babies is a far more effective tool of Jihad than blowing up infidels.

If the war is limited to rooting out those who're willing to use violence, as many here seem to have limited to, then the war is lost. Your free immigration policy will merely play into the hands of the Jihadists, who will simply cite 'economic reasons' as their motivation.

Mark

Jason Quintana's picture

Can you point out a place anywhere in America or in the American economy where "diminishing returns" is found to be taking place in any important way beyond tiny, poorly managed snippets of farm land and isolated mines and mineral deposits?

- Jason

(by the way, I was very pleased to find Julian Simon's The Ultimate Resource II available online --

http://www.juliansimon.com/wri...

I also suggest chapter 3 of George Reisman's book "Capitalism" which is also available for free on his website in PDF form at www.capitalism.net)

Huh?

James S. Valliant's picture

Scott,

Currently, the government is attempting to empty an ocean with a thimble. Resources are an issues when the government is unable to pursue the millions of law-breakers its laws have already created.

Finding Jihadists in this crowd is, as I said, like finding a needle in a haystack. In this context, to ask for more enforcement against those who are not a security risk -- such as the Latin American immigrants to U.S. -- diminishes our capacity to find the real bad guys.

Taxes violate rights -- not immigration.

Tim,

If the immigrants were coming in from Pakistan, not Mexico, I might feel differently -- but not about the need to document/know who was coming through. And, for this, too, we also need to focus on the real threats. The "border" exists to protect the rights of those inside -- this means the government cannot stop folks migrating with an economic motive, but, surely, they must act to defend our physical security.

Fighting Terrorism Requires Raising Taxes

atlascott's picture

Fighting Terrorism Requires Raising Taxes

Fighting Terrorism Requires Abolition of Privacy

Fighting Terrorism Requires RF ID Tags In All Citizens

It is a simple fact that all of these things will increase resources to fight "terrah" as President Bush pronounces it, or make the use use of resources more efficient.

Is that what we really want?

The article seems to have 2 themes:

1.  Opening the border and spending less on patrolling the border will free up resources to catch real bad guys.

and

2.  Open borders are good for America and the economy.

My responses:

1.  Resources are not even an issue.  It is poor planning and implementation that allows nutters in here.  The US government has far, far more money that it ever needs for all of its essentialy, and its vast non-essential functions.  A budget crisis is a myth supported by politicians who want more pork.

2.  In an Objectivist utopia, you are correct.  But in for the Socialist State of California, there is a population and benefit problem.  As a free people, if Californians are too stupid to realize that socialism is a bad idea, that's thair business, but I will not damn them for bemoaning freeloaders getting healthcare and education without contributing to the tax base; or buying cars, driving drunk and killing people, only to flee back to Mexico, to return to the US in 3 mos with a new fake identity; or theives or murders who do the same.  O r the people who come here for the moeny, but hate Americans, do not want to learn to speak English, and who otherwise could care less about their new country, as evidenced by their having no interest in supporting it.

It is not terrorism

Richard Wiig's picture

that is being fought. It is Jihad - something that many people here seem to need to learn. Free immigration is a blessing to Jihad, not a hindrance. James would be the Jihadists best friend.

Tim said: "does free immigration help fight terrorism or not?"

Contradiction?

Tim S's picture

James wrote:

"But, if I wasn't clear earlier, in the case of immigration from certain Muslim countries, the immigrants DO pose a potential physical threat -- unlike the vast majority of Mexicans. In my view, we can restrict immigration for this reason."

Doesn't this contradict the premise of your original post? What exactly are you trying to say - does free immigration help fight terrorism or not? If not, what kind of restrictions would you advocate?

(Btw, I'm not having a crack at you, I'm just interested in this issue).

James

Mark Dow's picture

As I understand diminishing marginal returns, if you hold some inputs fixed, and you continually increase some other input (like population), that input will at some point produce a diminishing return, and I would think that most economists, including the authors you sited, would agree with that. And no, I am not familiar with all of them. But to assume that we can continually increase “all” other inputs besides population, so that diminishing returns never set in, which is your view, doesn’t seem realistic. I will grant you this however, if we could produce enough energy (through fusion reactors or something like that) and desalinate enough water and pump it out to the deserts (with water and land, as least in my view, being two of the most important limiting factors), we could double, triple, or even quadruple our population, and I would have to concede that your optimism is justified. Would living with that many people be a good thing, for me it wouldn’t be, but that’s another topic.

Analogous

Boaz the Boor's picture

I'll just stick to this one issue.

Whether we can decide who joins our neighborhood or who enters the country depends on who owns the properties, respectively. Property rights don't exist by analogy. You can treat the whole segment of land between N.America and Mexico as "ours" as Americans (this is a separate issue from Jurisidiction - all the land ultimately falls under one jurisdiction because that's a requirement of protecting individual rights, but jurisdiction doesn't equal ownership), but that doesn't make it so, regardless of how our government actually operates. The government's obligation to register, monitor and possibly evict immigrants is an extension of the individual right to self-defense, and especially in a state of war I think it's appropriate to implement certain very discriminating controls - potential revolutionaries and their cannon fodder don't have the same rights as others. Barring that, however, no one born inside this country has more claim over any part of it (that isn't specifically his own) than anyone else on the globe, i.e., zero. Good thing, too.

Organizations and individual rights

AdamReed's picture

Bill writes: "By analogy of sovereignty to property rights that allow me to expel trespassers and squatters from my property."

Beware of false analogies, Bill. I participate in government in order to protect my rights, including my right to deal with any human of my choice on whatever terms we mutually agree to. A government that denies me this right instead of protecting it, is counterproductive to its purpose, and should be reformed or replaced.

Participation in an organization, whether a government, a corporation or anything else, cannot give its members or agents moral authority to initiate force. When a crime takes place, the criminal is responsible for whatever incidental force is needed to bring him to justice. A foreign invader is rightly liable for whatever harm must be done to defeat him. Outside of those two very narrow provisions, a government is no more entitled to violate my rights - whether by interfering in my voluntary relationships with "unauthorized persons," or in any other way - than any other organization of individuals.

History Lesson, Adam

Bill Tingley's picture

Hi, Adam.

I suppose you can make up facts if you want, but doing so doesn't make your argument very persuasive.

Let's start with the first howler: "History check: The Spanish Inquisition was one of the main reasons for the eventual overthrow of Spanish rule in the Americas."

The revolutions in Latin America occurred in the 1820's. The Spanish Inquisition was disbanded by then, and was a largely toothless entity for the century or so before that. The Inquisition's most severe period was at its beginning in the aftermath of the Reconquista, three centuries before those revolutions, and had little impact on the great majority of people in either Spain or its colonies.

"Latin Americans, if they consider themselves Catholic at all, tend to be anticlerical and far from devout. Puerto Rico, the only majority-Latino jurisdiction under our flag, legalized abortion in 1937, long before any mainland state and even longer before Roe v Wade."

Adam, you must be utterly clueless if you are ignorant of the fact that the vast majority of Latin Americans are Catholic and most are regular church-goers. Indeed, Brazil has the largest Catholic population in the world. Do you even pay attention to the news of papal visits to Latin America, including the huge crowds that welcomed Pope John Paul II in the officially atheist paradise of Cuba?

As for anti-clericalism, that was indeed common in both Latin America and Europe in the nineteenth century, and lingers on especially in Mexico. However, it had a whole lot to do with centralizing states seeking to marginalize the influence of the Catholic Church and little to do with the religiosity of individual Catholics. It was the price the Church paid for clinging to temporal power. Crack open a history book and learn.

"Cubans in Miami are more likely to be seen on the nude beach than in church. Here in LA, those Mexican immigrants who get religion tend to become Pentecostals. Those who stay Catholic see the inside of a church on the average 3 times in their lifetime. The Church keeps hoping for a miracle, though... "

Right. Tell you what, I'll trust my experience of what I actually see at Mass in the various churches I have attended and other church-related activities I am involved in.

As for the rise of Pentacostalism among Latinos, that is a real phenomenon but a small one. One important cause was the plague of liberation theology which sought to politicize the Latin American Church in support of communism and drove away many parishioners. The Vatican only recently mustered the will to stamp out that evil. I suspect Pentacostalism will continue to its appeal to the extent that the bishops keep watering down the lessons of Catholicism, but I see no evidence of large-scale conversions.

Meanwhile, Adam, you can pick and choose or otherwise make up the facts you want to believe in.

Regards, Bill

Sovereignty & Collectivism

Bill Tingley's picture

Hi, Boaz.

You asked: "First, I don't think private property and collectivism of any stripe can be 'approximated' to fit each other. Maybe you can explain what you mean by the 'inherently collectivist enterprise of government.' Collectivism has a specific meaning in the context of rights - either a person owns his life or he doesn't. Would you agree?"

I understand what you are saying, and I'm sure we both agree collectivism is repugnant. Nevertheless, government is the collectivization of the use of force, and that collectivization is what makes the rule of law effective. The rule of law is great good thing, especially for a liberal democratic capitalist society.

However, the collectivization of force is why government has the potency to be perverted into tyranny that ultimately only the sovereignty of the citizens can check. I do not see why the exercise of that sovereignty would not include who can or cannot enter within its jurisdiction.

As I say, I believe making the authority of the people's sovereignty effective in this manner is the only way to approximate the principle of private property to the collective enterprise of government. It may not be pretty, but don't see another other way of squaring this circle.

"Second, it doesn't follow from a supposed need to limit citizenship or suffrage that immigration as such should be controlled. Can you expand on your reasoning here?"

You're right that limiting citizenship and limiting immigration need not be related issues. In principle, at least. However, I cannot think of any situation in which a country has hosted a large immigrant population ineligible for citizenship that hasn't either reduced their condition to near-slavery (Filipinos in Saudi Arabia) or have fomented discord and violence despite the grant of citizenship or other substantial rights (Muslims in various western European countries). Ideally, this shouldn't be a problem, but the clash of culture and religion are realities that will not go away.

"... This is the only form of "sovereignty" worth fighting for, as I see it."

Same here.

"But we are not given that right by virtue of our geographical origin or any other accidents, and that sovereignty does not extend to deciding who our neighbors are. You might choose to argue against an inherent right to citizenship, but what principle allows you to claim an unfettered right of some individuals to decide where another may reside - a circumstance that can be critical to his life?"

By analogy of sovereignty to property rights that allow me to expel trespassers and squatters from my property. In doing so, I am dictating to no one where he can live. I'm telling him where he cannot within the limitations of my property rights. There is nothing "unfettered" about that.

Regards, Bill

Never Doubted It, James

Bill Tingley's picture

Hi, James.

I never doubted that you take defense and security seriously. I disagree with you that allowing unrestricted immigration into the country would necessarily improve security. I think whether that is true or not is heavily dependent upon the particular facts of the situation.

For example, if many of the Mexicans pouring into the Southwest U.S. were revanchists, that would be a security problem, although I fail to see how you could sort out the ones who just want to work here from the ones with an agenda. I'm not saying this is the case today. I'm posing a what-if.

However, I do take it from your comment that we can restrict immigration regarding Muslims because of the security threat some pose, you would agree in principle that we can do the same to mitigate the security threat of revanchist Mexicans. If so, the question becomes what would be legitimate action in that regard, especially if I am correct about the difficulty of sorting the bad apples from the good ones.

As for your statement that it would be better to have immigrants documented than undocumented, well of course. But it begs the question of whether or not the sovereign citizens of the United States have the authority to control who does or does not enter their country legally.

Regards, Bill

Mark

James S. Valliant's picture

Mark,

If you are familiar with those works, I really don't know what you mean. Do you think that limited "natural resources" are some kind of an actual problem on the horizon for more immigration into the U.S.? How 'bout population growth? Is that a "problem," you think?

But, no, to be precise, my position is that -- for a free-market economy -- the "returns" are always positive.

I, too, live in So. California, but I just don't understand your point.

James

Mark Dow's picture

I only challenged the implied “assumption” in your post that returns are always positive for an ever-increasing input of labor to our economy (Am I correct that you implied that?). I don’t know why you are now making the further assumption that the list of authors you cited would disagree with my point. I know you and Jason believe we are not “at” the point of diminishing returns, I am just trying to get you to admit that one exists.

Jason stated, “…the integration of new labor into our economy can only be a benefit. It can only serve to raise the number of "inputs" and "outputs".”

That’s quite a statement. Is that your contention as well?

Uranus to Bill...

AdamReed's picture

Bill writes, "if we leave the borders open, I'll bet you we could make the U.S. a papist paradise in no time."

History check: The Spanish Inquisition was one of the main reasons for the eventual overthrow of Spanish rule in the Americas. Latin Americans, if they consider themselves Catholic at all, tend to be anticlerical and far from devout. Puerto Rico, the only majority-Latino jurisdiction under our flag, legalized abortion in 1937, long before any mainland state and even longer before Roe v Wade.

Cubans in Miami are more likely to be seen on the nude beach than in church. Here in LA, those Mexican immigrants who get religion tend to become Pentecostals. Those who stay Catholic see the inside of a church on the average 3 times in their lifetime. The Church keeps hoping for a miracle, though...

Sovereignty

Boaz the Boor's picture

Hi Bill,

As I explained the sovereignty of the people is the best way to approximate the principles of private property to the inherently collectivist enterprise of government. If the people cannot protect that sovereignty by determining who can or cannot join in it, then the alternative is anarchy...

First, I don't think private property and collectivism of any stripe can be "approximated" to fit each other. Maybe you can explain what you mean by the "inherently collectivist enterprise of government." Collectivism has a specific meaning in the context of rights - either a person owns his life or he doesn't. Would you agree?

Second, it doesn't follow from a supposed need to limit citizenship or suffrage that immigration as such should be controlled. Can you expand on your reasoning here?

...If the sovereignty of a jurisdiction is by right to be open to anyone who wants to join it, and permitting this under all circumstances would never be a threat to that sovereignty (which is critical to restraining government), I would like to understand how.

The doctrine of popular sovereignty, as I understand it, means that government is answerable to the people - that people get to choose their leaders, and that a constitution must therefore provide certain measures (e.g., balance and clear delineation of powers) to safeguard this. I agree that this is necessary for a limited government (which is necessary for private property). This is the only form of "sovereignty" worth fighting for, as I see it. But we are not given that right by virtue of our geographical origin or any other accidents, and that sovereignty does not extend to deciding who our neighbors are. You might choose to argue against an inherent right to citizenship, but what principle allows you to claim an unfettered right of some individuals to decide where another may reside - a circumstance that can be critical to his life?

This Is Life-or-Death

James S. Valliant's picture

Let's put it this way: insofar as security from terrorism is our goal, border security's resources are best focused solely on security threats -- to exclusion of other goals, like helping workers (even assuming you are right about it "helping.") Most illegals in America simply cannot be classified as "security threats." To the extent that border patrol and Homeland Security are focused on them, they take resources from finding the real threats -- even ignoring issues like the creation of a fake documents industry and smuggling rings associated with gangs and terrorists.

One is a life-or-death issue. The other is an economic theory I don't buy.

Does that help?

Let's

James S. Valliant's picture

Great example. As a thought-experiment, convert a third of those Muslims into undocumented and untraceable illegal aliens roaming America, and you can see the point even more clearly, I think. I would much rather the immigrants here have checked in at the front gate, even -- and especially -- if they are coming in from Muslim countries.

But, if I wasn't clear earlier, in the case of immigration from certain Muslim countries, the immigrants DO pose a potential physical threat -- unlike the vast majority of Mexicans. In my view, we can restrict immigration for this reason.

See, I'm for border security, too.

Let's Clear Up One Point

Bill Tingley's picture

James,

I am not anti-immigrant. I am against an open border policy. I disagree that unrestricted immigration would necessarily make the country more secure. Look at the relatively liberal immigration policies of the U.K., France, and Canada. Do they have more or less of a problem with their Muslim immigrants than the U.S.? I do not see the cause-and-effect between open borders and more security. I think the relationship in particular country at any particular time between immigration and security is matter of fact and not general principle.

The basis for my opposition to an open border policy is the argument I made to Marnee that no one has a right of entry into a country of which he is not a citizen. As I explained the sovereignty of the people is the best way to approximate the principles of private property to the inherently collectivist enterprise of government. If the people cannot protect that sovereignty by determining who can or cannot join in it, then the alternative is anarchy.

My position is not unprincipled, bigoted, or the musings of a yahoo. I could well be mistaken in it, though I given it enough thought to be confident I am not. As always I open to persuasion by the facts and good argument. If the sovereignty of a jurisdiction is by right to be open to anyone who wants to join it, and permitting this under all circumstances would never be a threat to that sovereignty (which is critical to restraining government), I would like to understand how.

Regards, Bill

Jason the Mindreader

Bill Tingley's picture

Hi, Jason.

"He starts with an assumption about what is good for 'America' and then excuses any rights violations because his flawed understanding of economics sees them as necessary for the maintenance a 'greater good' -- i.e. the American economy."

If this is your sole basis for labeling me a collectivist, then you'll need to label James a collectivist too. He argued for cheap labor by citing the general benefits to the economy. The fact that either of us, or anyone here, uses aggregates to make quick points in a forum like this is hardly evidence of a collectivist mindset.

It's also funny how you seem to think you know my understanding of economics is "flawed" when the only thing I have had to say on the subject prior to your post is that: [1] It is the productivity of the employee not the wage he is paid that is the boon to the economy, and [2] Capital pays for the technology that increases productivity. Please educate me as to the flaws here.

I think your real problem, Jason, is that you have made a snap judgment, as too many so-called Objectivists are wont to do, and now you think you can read my mind and determine what I think sans evidence. When you want to start putting a little thought into what I actually write, get back to me.

Otherwise, you might want to hang out with Adam on watch for those black helicopters the Christianists and conservatives are flying these days. Don't forget your tinfoil hat.

Regards, Bill

They Care

James S. Valliant's picture

Bill,

The consumer "cares" about every dime of the price, it seems to me. Let's put it this way, then: if your product's price isn't competitive, it doesn't matter to me why, I'm just not buying. If your competitor has a cheaper price -- even if he is a "foreigner" -- other factors being equal -- I'm buying his without question.

But, the security issue isn't merely neutral or "no issue." More legal immigration means more security. Your anti-immigrant stance makes my family less safe.

Security is not Issue

Bill Tingley's picture

Hi, James.

"Whether 'cheap labor' is a good thing depends on my context. As a consumer, I want the labor cost of the products I buy to be as 'cheap' as possible. As an employer -- big, small, in need of temporary day labor -- I appreciate it being 'cheap,' as well. Indeed, it is only in respect to my own employment that I see 'cheap labor' as 'bad.'"

As a consumer, do really care why a product is cheap? Whether I make what you want for a price you like by using cheap labor or productive labor, how will you know the difference?

Furthermore, as the general manager of my family's manufacturing company for the past twenty years, I can assure you that I want productive labor, not cheap labor. If I know how to make my employees highly productive, I really don't have to worry about whether I pay them too much. Indeed, I offer the best wages relative to skill, overtime after eight hours in a day, four-day workweek if the employee wants it, and quarterly bonuses.

You what? Everybody is happy. We make a lot of money, the employees take home big paychecks and have plenty of time to enjoy it, and our customers love us. And the secret to all of this is accumulating the capital and then spending it on high-tech machine tools and developing automation technologies that allow the same number of employees to produce more and more every year.

Should everyone run their business this way? I recommend it, but none of my business if they don't. However, I do know from experience that cheap labor has little good going for it.

By the way, thanks for the reading recommendations, although I have read all them except Reisman.

>>But, again, and in any event, does this mean you see my point about immigration and terrorism?<<

I meant to answer that the last time. I agree with you that the security issue is somewhat phoney regarding control of the Mexican border. The threat from the large Muslim population in Canada is no doubt greater. I think our security against terrorists is best accomplished by destroying them overseas before they have a chance to get into this country.

Regards, Bill

Labor & Capital

Bill Tingley's picture

Hi, Marnee.

You ask, "..isn't labor considered capital?"

No.

You then say, "Bill you seem to have divorced humans from capital. Why? Where does this capital that “…pays for increased productivity…” come from if not labor and ideas?"

I agree. I must first have an idea, then I must work to realize it, and finally I must sell what I produce. If I get a price greater than my expenses, the surplus is capital. I can spend it on some indulgence, or I can put it to work by buying equipment that will produce more with less labor.

That is how capital pays for increased productivity. I'm sure I'm telling you nothing you don't already know. I just want you to know, we're on the same page.

"Human capital in the form of work and ideas is the greatest, perhaps even the only, reason for this growth and success. Of course, this can only be achieved under liberty or some semblance of it."

Well, no. People aren't capital. Their labor is a prerequisite to capital, but people are not tradeable, fungible, spendable things. Of course, the foundation of all economic success is the productivity of human beings. That's sine qua non, but I think it is useful not to conflate the concepts of labor and capital. Their distinction is critical in a capitalist economy.

"Liberty must be applied to immigrants as well if it is to have any meaning. In discussions of illegal immigration it is imperative to demonstrate what would be the ideal, otherwise there isnt any goal to acheive and the disuccsion will be about pragmatic bandaids at best and therefore mostly pointless."

Marnee, the issue is not denying an immigrant any particular rights. The question is whether each of us has a right to be an immigrant in the first place. No government is obligated to permit me into its jurisdiction. That jurisdiction exists for the benefit of its citizens, who are, if the government is properly constituted, sovereign over the territory of that jurisdiction.

That concept of sovereignty is critical. Government by its very nature is a collectivist enterprise, and if the danger of its collectivist nature is to be tightly controlled, then the sovereignty of the people must be real and must be enforceable. Sovereignty is the only means of approximating the principles of private property to the unavoidable collectivist aspects of government. The only alternative is anarchy, and that doesn't work. The reality is that we must endure some minimal level of government if we desire the rule of law to safeguard our liberty.

So what does that mean regarding immigration. Just as I can exclude anyone I want from my property, the sovereign citizens of a jurisdiction can exclude non-citizens from the territory of their jurisdiction. If they can't, then how do they defend their sovereignty against immigrants who would destroy it by supporting, let's say, an oppressive government?

"James and Adam have made the best points. Laws restricting liberty necessarily create criminals. There is no way to stop this than to lift the restrictions creating them and to do it on principle. James made this abundantly clear."

Well, Marnee, Adam's slur that bigotry motivates any opposition to open borders is nothing but argument from intimidation. It's not worthy of respect.

Regards, Bill

TIngley

Jason Quintana's picture

While Mr. Tingley's understanding of economics is horribly flawed his biggest error is that his overall argument is stained with collectivism.

He starts with an assumption about what is good for "America" and then excuses any rights violations because his flawed understanding of economics sees them as necessary for the maintenance a "greater good" -- i.e. the American economy.

This is why dialog with "conservative" free market advocates is difficult. They all start with collectivist notions about what it is they are advocating and this leads to all kinds of errors both in regard to philosophical premises and economics. Add the religious component and you end with a set of irrational ideas that is further away from the Objectivist position then that of most modern liberals. The appearance of common cause is an illusion.

Depends

James S. Valliant's picture

Bill,

Whether "cheap labor" is a good thing depends on my context. As a consumer, I want the labor cost of the products I buy to be as "cheap" as possible. As an employer -- big, small, in need of temporary day labor -- I appreciate it being "cheap," as well. Indeed, it is only in respect to my own employment that I see "cheap labor" as "bad."

And, of course, "cheap" is itself a contextual term. If, as an employer I wish to attract and keep the best skilled employees of a certain kind, I will have to pay accordingly. But, for heaven's sake, not a dime more than they're worth, I hope. My customers and shareholders are counting on it!

I don't know if you and Mr. Dow are familiar with books like Andrew Bernstein's 'Capitalist Manifesto,' George Reisman's treatise on economics, 'Capitalism,' Henry Hazlitt's 'Economics in One Lesson,' and Julian Simon's 'Ultimate Resource.' If not, let me recommend them.

But, again, and in any event, does this mean you see my point about immigration and terrorism?

Capital's Source

Marnee's picture

..isn't labor considered capital?

Bill you seem to have divorced humans from capital. Why? Where does this capital that “…pays for increased productivity…” come from if not labor and ideas?

“This is the formula that has worked to keep the U.S. economy growing, even despite the weight of the welfare state it must now carry.”

Human capital in the form of work and ideas is the greatest, perhaps even the only, reason for this growth and success. Of course, this can only be achieved under liberty or some semblance of it.

Liberty must be applied to immigrants as well if it is to have any meaning. In discussions of illegal immigration it is imperative to demonstrate what would be the ideal, otherwise there isnt any goal to acheive and the disuccsion will be about pragmatic bandaids at best and therefore mostly pointless.

James and Adam have made the best points. Laws restricting liberty necessarily create criminals. There is no way to stop this than to lift the restrictions creating them and to do it on principle. James made this abundantly clear.

Earth Calling Adam ...

Bill Tingley's picture

Hi, Adam.

You are one funny guy. Your "Christianist Bigotry" post was a hoot.

But just in case you actually believe the tripe you wrote, could you please explain to me why, under your conspiracy theory, that I as a devout Catholic would have any problem with a flood of other devout Catholics from Mexico and Central America pouring into this country. Indeed, haven't most of the Catholic archbishops made it clear they support continued immigration from Latin America?

Migosh, if we leave the borders open, I'll bet you we could make the U.S. a papist paradise in no time, Adam.

Regards, Bill

Cheap Labor is Not Good

Bill Tingley's picture

Hi, James.

You wrote: "What boon? More consumers for our businesses, more producers to make stuff, and, yes, cheaper labor -- all good."

I disagree. Cheap labor is not good. What is good is increased productivity so that the AMOUNT of labor a worker must put into a unit of production is less. Capital is what pays for increased productivity, and both the business owner and the his employees benefit. The business owner because he outputs more at lower costs, and the employee because his wages can go up because he is more productive. Then there is a general benefit to all, as more people have incomes to buy or invest more.

This is the formula that has worked to keep the U.S. economy growing, even despite the weight of the welfare state it must now carry. And that brings me back to my original point. The issue of illegal immigration must be discussed in the context of the actual government we must endure, not what would be ideal under a limited government adhering to the restrictions of the Constitution.

Regards, Bill

Reality and appearences

AdamReed's picture

James - you write about "the growing "fake documents" industry" that results from closed borders - and actually helps terrorists.

And that is the tip of the iceberg. There is also a growing industry of smuggling people in for a fee - and to the illegal people-smuggler, who would not be in business without restrictive immigration laws, a terrorist's money, or a criminal's, is as good as an honest immigrant's. And as long as some of one's honest customers or employees are sometimes "illegal," one is deterred by that fact from asking for proof of their identity, something that with open borders one would naturally do, if only to check their individual reputations for honest dealing.

Stricter enforcement of restrictive immigration laws creates the appearence of "doing something about the threat of foreign terrorists" while actually helping the terrorists, in this and many other ways. Stoopidocracy loses again.

Rights don't have borders

AdamReed's picture

Penelope,

You write, "even if a government violates its own citizens rights' and limits immigration, Mexico, say, cannot go to war with us on the premise we are violating the rights of its citizens..."

But wait a moment. If my government is to protect my right to trade by mutual consent with individuals of my choice, and a foreign government kills - even outside my country's borders - the person I choose to trade with, or confiscates from him the goods or the work that he could have traded with me, then how can my governmment not protect my rights, and therefore also his? Are you claiming that my rights somehow end at the border?

If my government is to protect my rights, then it must also, by necessity, protect the right of other people to trade with me, to not be dprived of the things we wish to trade with each other, and so on. And certainly my government must NOT, except when actually necessary to protect my life and my rights, or the lives and rights of my fellow citizens, kill or torture an innocent person I would rather trade with. Thus, the fact that the purpose of a government is to protect the rights of its citizens necessitates that it also protect and respect, with some very limited contextual exceptions, the rights of any foreigner whom a citizen decides to trade with, or deal with, or value.

As for war: yes, a government must, in the limited context of an actual war, put the lives of its own citizens, emphatically including its soldiers, first. But to claim this as a general principle, outside the context of actual war, is incoherent.

Christianist bigotry

AdamReed's picture

Bill the rat,

You write, "Acknowledging that an open border policy is a bad thing under the current regime hardly makes one a neanderthal, yahoo, or racist."

Actually, an open-borders policy would be a strong motivator to change the current regime for the better. The fact that opposition to open borders is strongly correlated with religious belief is not an accident: the believer believes that God has bestowed on him the favor of having been born an American, and that if God wanted Pedro to be an American too, then He would have made sure that Pedro was born here and not in Mexico. And since Pedro wasn't, the believer in "God's will" feels entirely justified in violating my right to deal peacably with any person of my choice, regardless of where that person happened to be born, or whether or not he made it onto some bureaucrat's list of government-approved people. Treating people differently on the basis of accidents of birth just another expression of the Christianist principle that "God's will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven." To call such a belief "Neanderthal" or "yahoo" might indeed be unjust - to yahoos and Neanderthals.

An Explanation

Jason Quintana's picture

If there were going to be 1 trillion new immigrants coming to America I might have to reconsider my assumption and simply claim that I don't know what would happen. At current population levels we don't have to worry about this. Especially in a sparsly populated place like the United States. The key to understanding why additional population leads to higher and higher levels of production in capitalist, post industrial revolution economies is that new, more prodcutive ways of doing things are constantly being developed.

Your theory is true in a pre-industrial revolution setting in which there is very little division of labor. Almost everyone in such a setting worked on farms and their practices hadn't changed for hundreds of years. Since there were no productivity gains or new avenues for productivity and wealth creation over time there was a diminishing return on labor on employed resources (land) if population rose to a certain level in a particular geographic area. This can happen in certain pockets of a modern economy, but there are always other opportunities for wealth creation being developed that demand more labor. Because of this constant influx of newly created opportunities and technology more labor can always result in productivity gains in a modern, relatively unhampered economy.  

- Jason

(It should also be noted that modern capitalist economies constantly develop new technology that improves health standards -- this has more then offset the effects of massive population gains that have taken place in densely populated cities around the world.)

And I agree with you.

Mark Dow's picture

I just have a hard time with this assumption that we will only have positive returns with an ever-increasing population in this country. There are diminishing returns for population levels regarding disease and other factors in all bio systems (help me I sound like a liberal) but the trend lines seem to support your argument.

But how can you be so sure of the things you are so sure of?

Mark -- I am suggesting that

Jason Quintana's picture

Mark -- I am suggesting that it is not something we need to concern ourselves with.

The only people who ought to be concerned about such a thing are those who still live in primitive/third world circumstances. It is not overpopulation that is the primary cause of their problem. It is the primitive nature of their economy -- the lack of technology, capital intensiveness and division of labor.

We don't suffer from the same problems and because of this the integration of new labor into our economy can only be a benefit. It can only serve to raise the number of "inputs" and "outputs".

- Jason

Jason

Mark Dow's picture

Jason,

So, you are saying diminishing returns are not possible?

"With other inputs being

Jason Quintana's picture

"With other inputs being somewhat fixed for our economy, such as water and land, I would expect diminishing returns to occur at some point. Maybe that’s not relevant to this discussion, but for those of us who live in Southern Cal, that’s a reality we have to at least contemplate."

There is an incredible amount of water, land, resources etc etc etc in the United States and all over the world. This is one of the most common (and incredibly silly) anti capitalist notions -- the notion that natural resources are "running out" and that we need to hoard or conserve.

The more productive people there are, the more goods are available and the better the economy is. The only "fixed input" we need to be concerned about is labor. PERIOD. The reason the U.S. is the most productive economy on earth is that we have the most productive labor force. Add more labor inputs to our highly capital intensive, highly specialized and relatively free economy and that productivity goes up -- and there is more output and we're all better off.

Besides, instead of getting sidetracked into utilitarianism we should simply move ahead with the philosophy that we don't have the right to interfere with other people (in most contexts) who aren't guilty of initiating force against us -- i.e. people moving to the United States to work.

- Jason

James

Mark Dow's picture

While I am in agreement with your arguments for legalizing immigration, and I admit that immigration in the past has produce mostly positive returns for our economy, why do you assume this will continue into the future? With other inputs being somewhat fixed for our economy, such as water and land, I would expect diminishing returns to occur at some point. Maybe that’s not relevant to this discussion, but for those of us who live in Southern Cal, that’s a reality we have to at least contemplate.

Bravo, James ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... for a trenchant, KASS reminder of that which should not need restating. I won't wade into the argument it's engendered, since there's a certain speech I'm trying to get started. Smiling

Linz

Penelope

Victor Pross's picture

Your position is even clearer to me, and I tend to agree with you, with your "thrust" of arguing for what is primary--the consistent application of the recognition of rights, in all of its various applications.
But this does not speak against Jason's concerns that diplomatic relations can be a delicate and very important matter—this being a more pragmatic area. (Saying this, I don’t mean it in the bad sense).

Penelope

Boaz the Boor's picture

I said: "And yes, it's an act of force against the immigrant AND against the [American] company who would hire him or the friend who would embrace him."

Okay, so is the Mexican government justified in going to war with us in order to protect its citizens' rights?

Well, no, because not all rights-violations against any number of non-citizens by a foreign government merit a declaration of war, not by a stretch. In principle, I would say that a domestic company that secured the services of an immigrant, whose entry was then improperly denied, would be justified in seeking damages from their government. If a party can show damages, it can sue. The principle extends to the injured immigrant; if he has suffered from the unwarranted restriction on his right to immigrate, then he is justified in taking the offending government to court, if possible.

Governments can no more curtail the flow of new immigrants, so long as rights aren't being threatened, than can specific individuals. If you don't own the property, then keeping someone out is just as bad as keeping them in.

As Ayn Rand wrote, "A private individual may do anything except that which is legally forbidden; a government official may do nothing except that which is legally permitted." The fact that the government's only proper function is to protect its citizens' rights therefore implies that it may not, say, arbitrarily nuke New Zealand.

A proper government cannot do anything that isn't constitutionally mandated and legally permissable, yes. In practice, that means a government must pursue only those policies necessitated by its function in a given context. But if we agree that harming non-citizens is contrary to its function, then...well, we agree. Initiating force on non-citizens is hereby stricken from the list of available government activities.

Jason

Penelope's picture

It also protects the rights of non citizens within its borders. This includes the property of non citizens.

Right. I said that. My point is that protecting the rights of non-citizens is not the purpose of a proper government. We determine the proper functions of a government by identifying its purpose. Its purpose is to protect its citizens' rights. In order to fulfill this purpose, it must necessarily protect all the rights within its borders, as well as the rights of citizens even when they leave the country.

That's not what's at issue here. The issue here is whether a proper government's actions must take into account the rights of non-citizens outside the country. This is the basis Jim (and Harry Binswanger, I think) used to defend open immigration. I'm saying I don't think that's right. I think a proper government takes no account of the rights of non-citizens outside its borders. Outside its borders it does not deal with individuals qua individuals--it deals with them qua citizens of a foreign nation. This is why--as I said--even if a government violates its own citizens rights' and limits immigration, Mexico, say, cannot go to war with us on the premise we are violating the rights of its citizens to come here. The foundation for open immigration is our rights as American citizens.

Jason, I do understand your

Victor Pross's picture

Jason, I do understand your position. It seems that this is a hot topic in a post 9/11 world--Objectivists included.

Penelope

Jason Quintana's picture

"Oh goodness, no! That's what's so important about defining standards for citizenship. If Middle East nations nationalize oil that belongs to US oil companies, or if North Korea shoots down a plane and there's an American on board, the US can and should take action to protect its citizens' rights."

Yes, this would be a legitimate.  I agree.   However, once again -- government action is not limited to protecting citizens. It also protects the rights of non citizens within its borders. This includes the property of non citizens. Just as your hypothetical middle eastern countries should have done.

"You're mixing issues. Yes, a proper government protects the rights of everyone within its borders (it has to, in order to protect the rights of its citizens), but it also protects the rights of its citizens when they are ouitside the country."

Actually it was you who placed a limitation and I just wanted to clear that up. In fact, the government should do more then just protect its citizens. And the protection of citizens outside the country only needs to take place when other governments fail to protect non citizens within their borders.  This usually doesn't happen in modern free countries. 

"No. It is critical that it restricts its function to protecting its citizens' rights. I think the rights of people outside its borders are irrelevant to it. A government, in foreign policy, deals not with individuals but with other governments. That's why it's irrelevant if Joe Camel didn't initiate force against the US. If Iran did, and he's living in Iran, we have every right to destroy him. Period. End of song."

Take a very careful look at how I worded that. I said "it is critical that governments of free countries recognize the rights of the citizens and residents of other free countries."  And this is an extremely important element of diplomatic relations and the free flow of trade.    I can illustrate this point further but if you think it over carefully I think you will agree with me.

 - Jason

Thanks

James S. Valliant's picture

Bill,

What boon? More consumers for our businesses, more producers to make stuff, and, yes, cheaper labor -- all good. Go make YOUR own labor more valuable, that's what I say, and the flood of immigrants can be no problem for you. And, what's the "fair" price for the services of a fruit-picker or busboy? The artificially inflated rates of an artificially restricted labor market?

In any event, I trust you see that in order to catch terrorists, we should narrow the agenda of the border patrol?

But, thanks for the kind words about PARC.

What Boon?

Bill Tingley's picture

James,

The flood of cheap labor into this country has not been an economic boon. When it comes to productivity cheap capital ALWAYS trumps cheap labor, but turning a blind eye to illegal immigration into this country has gone a long way to reducing the political pressure to cut or eliminate the taxation of capital.

With all the technologies now available for harvesting all manner of produce, our farms and orchards would be mechanized by now (and so far more productive) if capital were not artificially expensive because of taxation and the Fed's mismanagement of the money supply.

With illegal immigrant labor kept artificially cheap by the federal government's failure to control the border while state governments dole out freebies (well, not free to the taxpayers who are forced to pay for them) to anyone who shows up at the welfare window, the natural political consequences of policies that make capital more expensive than necessary have not been suffered by politicians.

That's just one reality of today's political order that doesn't recognize the limits imposed upon government by the Constitution. Acknowledging that an open border policy (de facto or de jure) is a bad thing under the current regime (which isn't getting better, only worse) hardly makes one a neanderthal, yahoo, or racist. It is nothing other than call against throwing gasoline on a fire.

Regards, Bill

P.S. After taking you to task, James, let me tell you this. Your book has been a great service in getting the truth out about Ayn Rand. If it has outted those who have defamed Rand to hijack her philosophy, you have accomplished more good than you may have intended in writing PARC. Kudos.

Victor

Jason Quintana's picture

"Jason, that's a very good point. By logical extension: As a Canadian,
Does it also not follow that if, as a Canadian, say, I commit a serious crime--while on American soil against an American citizen, that American authorities have the ‘right’ to detain me until such time that I'm handed over to Canadian law---by logical extension of your whole argument?"

I don't think you understand my argument and how it relates to Penelope's argument. I am arguing that since the crime was commited on U.S. soil that the U.S. government has jurisdiction. They can detain, deport or whatever else is reasonable and just within in the specific context. This relates both to crimes against citizens and non citizens.

- Jason

"...of what happens when you

atlascott's picture

"...of what happens when you have an American leadership unwilling to do what's needed – the overthrow of terrorism-supporting states – starting with Iran"

So it is the government's fault if it allows in terrorists if it doesn't affirmatively go out and overthrow terrorism-supporting states?  The American govt has an affirmative duty to do that so that it can relax it's immigration policy?

Part of protecting its citizens (a legitimate function of government to most Objectivists) is to screen and allow/disallow certain folks in.

As things stand now, we have policies and laws---which are just ignored, not enforced, not taken seriously, when it comes to the Mexican border.

No one will ever get me to say that curtailing immigration is bad for the economy.

But when a democracy becomes inundated with people who hold no democratic values--or hold values inimical to those who value a free and democractic nation, cheap labor will abound, but how long until Hugo Chavez is a write-in candidate for President?  The French have expressed serious concern about their cultural destruction by allowing mass Islamic immigration--and the labor riots there bear their fears out.

In an America where American children are not being taught to revere American values, just where is America headed if we allowed unlimited access and citizenship, no strings attached?

One thing that is troubling to me on this, and many, threads is that some of the contributors here answer these questions 'as if.'  (For example, as if America were an Objectivist nation).  Not good.

Boaz

Penelope's picture

The government is also obliged not to violate the rights of non-citizens. That the government's only proper function is rights-protection of citizens doesn't mean anything it does to non-citizens is fine and dandy (I trust you would agree). There are limitations on what it must, and must not, do. And that does flow directly from the operation of individual rights.

There aren't two different issues here: what the government must do and what it cannot do. As Ayn Rand wrote, "A private individual may do anything except that which is legally forbidden; a government official may do nothing except that which is legally permitted." The fact that the government's only proper function is to protect its citizens' rights therefore implies that it may not, say, arbitrarily nuke New Zealand.

And yes, it's an act of force against the immigrant AND against the company who would hire him or the friend who would embrace him.

Okay, so is the Mexican government justified in going to war with us in order to protect its citizens' rights?

EDIT: by this last sentence I meant, "its citizens' (alleged) right TO IMMIGRATE TO THE US.

Jason wrote: "Do Japanese

Victor Pross's picture

Jason wrote: "Do Japanese police need to fly to America to protect Japanese citizens and their property? No because this protection falls under the jurisdiction of the American government. There are thousands of cases in which property located in the U.S. is owned by citizens of foreign countries and this is highly beneficial to U.S. citizens (and is the rightful property of those who have acquired it) and so proper government function must be broader then your above definition."

Jason, that's a very good point. By logical extension: As a Canadian,
Does it also not follow that if, as a Canadian, say, I commit a serious crime--while on American soil against an American citizen, that American authorities have the ‘right’ to detain me until such time that I'm handed over to Canadian law---by logical extension of your whole argument?

Jason

Penelope's picture

I am under the understanding that proper government function has more to do with the protection of the rights and property of those (citizens or not) within its borders.

Oh goodness, no! That's what's so important about defining standards for citizenship. If Middle East nations nationalize oil that belongs to US oil companies, or if North Korea shoots down a plane and there's an American on board, the US can and should take action to protect its citizens' rights.

If this protection only extends to citizens then what happens to property owned by a group of Japanese businessmen in the U.S.? What if their building is bombed and they are inside of it?

You're mixing issues. Yes, a proper government protects the rights of everyone within its borders (it has to, in order to protect the rights of its citizens), but it also protects the rights of its citizens when they are ouitside the country.

Do Japanese police need to fly to America to protect Japanese citizens and their property? No because this protection falls under the jurisdiction of the American government.

But if the US government defaults, then the Japanese government has every right take action to protect its citizens and their property...even at our expense. Suppose, for example, that some anti-Japanese group bombs a Japanese building in the US and the US does nothing. The Japanese have a perfect right to send in military jets to bomb that group out of existence. Just as we would have the right to bomb any terrorist in any country that refused to hand him over...or even passively refused to track him down.

There is also the question of interaction between countries. It is critical that governments of free countries recognize the rights of the citizens and residents of other free countries.

No. It is critical that it restricts its function to protecting its citizens' rights. I think the rights of people outside its borders are irrelevant to it. A government, in foreign policy, deals not with individuals but with other governments. That's why it's irrelevant if Joe Camel didn't initiate force against the US. If Iran did, and he's living in Iran, we have every right to destroy him. Period. End of song.

Penelope

Boaz the Boor's picture

The government's only function, and therefore its only consideration, is to protect the rights of its citizens. Therefore its policy on immigration has to be dictated by the rights of its citizens.

The government is also obliged not to violate the rights of non-citizens. That the government's only proper function is rights-protection of citizens doesn't mean anything it does to non-citizens is fine and dandy (I trust you would agree). There are limitations on what it must, and must not, do. And that does flow directly from the operation of individual rights.

Now, it's true that whatever the government has to do (and ONLY what it has to do) to ensure rights-protection in an emergency situation is what it very well must do. If temporarily restraining the influx, if only to allow for the government to react properly to an unforseen (and possibly deadly) scenerio, then that's fine. My point is simply that the government, as an agent of its citizens, is charged with respecting the rights of all individuals in its dealings. Not allowing access to a country, unless the person is a threat or unless the government and/or its citizens are being threatened, is an initiation of force. And yes, it's an act of force against the immigrant AND against the company who would hire him or the friend who would embrace him.

Fer Instance...

James S. Valliant's picture

Rights discussions are cool, but, as a specific case in point, the President today in a speech on immigration referred to the growing "fake documents" industry, making enforcement of the draconian employer-enforcement provisions of U'S. immigration law difficult. The terrorist thrives in a world flooded with fake immigration papers, social security numbers, etc. But this entire black-market industry would mostly wither on the vine if we opened the door to any and all who pose us no threat.

Penelope

Jason Quintana's picture

I am under the understanding that proper government function has more to do with the protection of the rights and property of those (citizens or not) within its borders. If this protection only extends to citizens then what happens to property owned by a group of Japanese businessmen in the U.S.? What if their building is bombed and they are inside of it?

Do Japanese police need to fly to America to protect Japanese citizens and their property? No because this protection falls under the jurisdiction of the American government. There are thousands of cases in which property located in the U.S. is owned by citizens of foreign countries and this is highly beneficial to U.S. citizens (and is the rightful property of those who have acquired it) and so proper government function must be broader then your above definition.

There is also the question of interaction between countries. It is critical that governments of free countries recognize the rights of the citizens and residents of other free countries.

- Jason

Rights are inherent to all

Penelope's picture

Rights are inherent to all individuals in any voluntary, social context, not just citizens; the only proper immigration measures would be those that ensure rights-protection (including the rights of aliens, diplomats, cats, dogs and permanent residents), which means keeping out violent criminals, et al. Keeping someone out of the country, which qua country is owned by no one, is a violation of that person's rights.

That doesn't follow. Yes, everyone involved has rights. Rights are not conferred by the government. My point comes down to: what is a government? What is its purpose? The government's only function, and therefore its only consideration, is to protect the rights of its citizens. Therefore its policy on immigration has to be dictated by the rights of its citizens.

If a government is violating the rights of would-be immigrants by keeping them from entering its borders, that means the government is threatening the citizens of another country. In practice, this means that if the U.S. government kept out Mexican immigrants (which both you and I agree would be a violation of OUR rights as Americans), the Mexican government would be justified in going to war with us in retaliation.

I agree with Jason. Rights

Boaz the Boor's picture

I agree with Jason. Rights are inherent to all individuals in any voluntary, social context, not just citizens; the only proper immigration measures would be those that ensure rights-protection (including the rights of aliens, diplomats, cats, dogs and permanent residents), which means keeping out violent criminals, et al. Keeping someone out of the country, which qua country is owned by no one, is a violation of that person's rights.

The mass exodus scenerio is not something that can happen barring some major disaster (historically it's been wars). That's something that, in practice, any government will be able to prepare for, as will other organizations and charities that already exist for such purposes. Responsible immigrants (i.e., the majority of them) will normally have had the opportunity to make their own preparations. Needless to say, such people can only add value.

Jason

Penelope's picture

I wasn't arguing on the basis of "collective property." I was arguing, as I said, on the basis of infrastructure. In a proper society, the government would have so many police officers per number of citizens. If a sudden and unexpected massive influx of people paraded across the border, it would be unable to fulfill its role in protecting rights.

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