A philosophy professor responds to…me (?) on open borders
February 19, 2013, 10:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Read the post there. I’ll try to respond here, but as there’s a lot (and I’ve already pretty much said my piece on this subject) I may have to descend into Fiskery here and there.

First much of his time is taken up on the following question: does the government have a first, or primary duty to its own citizens. I join Steve Sailer in saying yes, for essentially the same reasons; I will even quote the same ‘ourselves and our posterity’ phrase from the Constitution from time to time. I have no originality whatsoever in this regard. Meanwhile, I don’t see the professor making a real argument otherwise (if that’s what he thinks); if the state doesn’t have a primary duty to its citizens, by what right does anyone connected with ‘the state’ wield any power or authority whatsoever, to allow or disallow immigration or anything else? I’d be interested to hear his thoughts on that subject; but they aren’t shared there.

I must have summarized this viewpoint by using the phrase ‘social contract’ at some point because the professor then debunks the (my?) idea that we have a literal social contract, and related issues surrounding the concept of one:

I know of no living person who works on political authority and thinks that we actually have a valid social contract.

Let the record show that, although I don’t ‘work on political authority’, I don’t think we ‘actually have a valid social contract’ either. Alas. The question is how we feel about that fact and whether it, however imperfect and unattained in practice, is nevertheless a thing to be desired or aimed for, to guide our (and more importantly our government’s) actions and principles. I’ll just add here that whether/how closely the ‘social contract’ concept hews to the legal notion of a contract – something the professor spends a bit too much time discussing – is a sideshow in that regard. Just call it a metaphor if that helps, who cares; the point remains.

Next the professor argues against a straw-man: that immigration restrictionists think the social contract “requires the government to promote our interests, in general, in any manner it can think of”. ‘Any manner’? No, just in manners that are part of its delegated powers in the Constitution. Right? Surely the ‘social contract’ people have a huge overlap with the ‘limited powers’ people; more troublingly, surely the professor knows this. So where does he get ‘any manner’? Possibly because there is essentially no disputing whatsoever the fact that a sovereign government, if it has any powers whatsoever, is within them in enforcing its own border.

More straw-men come:

How could this lead to the conclusion that the social contract requires the government to restrict immigration?

‘Requires the government to restrict’? How did we get here? Let’s try to keep in mind the context of this debate: one side (the open-borders faction) is asserting that the government may not restrict immigration. The contrapositive of ‘may not restrict’ is not ‘required to restrict’. This straw-man masks the fact that it is the open-borders faction which is arguing the stronger claim. All that’s required in response is to establish that a government may legitimately restrict immigration – not that it ‘must’!

The economic discussion is light and not really even to the point as far as I’m concerned (unlike perhaps(?) Sailer, I don’t think I’m a restrictionist primarily as a protectionist measure for the jobs of low-income domestic workers), but let me just note this:

Furthermore, of course, consumers benefit from lower prices as a result of businesses’ ability to hire inexpensive immigrant labor.

Shouldn’t it be noted and addressed here that what he is describing as, somehow inherently and categorically, ‘inexpensive immigrant labor’ is really black-market and what-would-have-been-called-in-less-polite-times-‘wetback’ labor? There’s nothing inherently ‘inexpensive’ about legal immigrants, is there? Are we really supposed to think of the canonical ‘inexpensive immigrant’ who is ‘benefitting consumers’ so much as an IIT-trained engineer from India designing computer chips? No, there would be no such material ‘benefit’ to domestic consumers from pulling in a bunch of legal immigrants with similar/equivalent skills and training to perform labor at more or less the same wages (less, what, ~3%?), and for the record, I’d have basically no problem with virtually-unlimited import of Indian engineers from IIT in the first place. No: in practice, this ‘benefit’ he wants us to count on (permanently?) for our embrace of unrestricted immigration comes almost entirely from the fact that the category ‘immigrant labor’ is dominated by less-educated black-market workers who, due to their legal status, can often be exploited by paying them less than the minimum wage, with fewer benefits/protections, and so on.

Now, it’s okay that the professor doesn’t mention or address this. What’s more problematic to his case however is this: to the extent that his argument relies on the assertion that consumers benefit from (inherently? intrinsically? perpetually?) inexpensive immigrant labor, does this mean that immigration is only a good idea as long as and to the extent that we make sure a decent proportion of them are second-class citizens for whom most of our labor laws de facto don’t apply?

Finally there’s yet another straw-man, the idea that restrictionists must think that a government’s duty to its citizenry ‘cancels’ or ‘negates’ its duty not to violate the rights of non-citizens:

…even if we believe there are such duties, do not negate the rights of non-citizens, nor do they mean that the state may abuse foreigners to its heart’s content as long as doing so serves the interests of citizens.

Oh my. Now I’m arguing that my government may ‘abuse foreigners to its heart’s content’ am I! No wonder I also resist the idea that the Earth is round and that we came from monkeys! Non-professors like me are such cretins.

Let’s just note that in this ridiculous construction, not allowing someone to permanently relocate to the United States has been equated with abusing them to one’s heart’s content. Is this a real argument? I don’t think so. Even if the intended point here were stated in a more sober and less straw-manny way, the problem is that there is simply no Universal Human Right To Immigrate To The United States Of America. Such a thing is, if anything, even more problematic and mythical than the concept of a literal ‘social contract’. But if the professor nevertheless thinks there is such a Universal Human Right, where did it come from? Why didn’t he include his actual argument for its existence in that (already very long) piece?

40 Comments so far
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I came across this David Friedman blog post quite a while ago, and I thought of you:

I’ve been sort of looking for an opportunity to ask you about it. This blog post is opportunity enough for me.

How do you react to Friedman’s observation that, whatever the theoretical mumbo-jumbo of it all, this whole concept of national borders is a relatively new one?

Comment by RPLong

Yes, well, nation-states themselves as we currently conceive them are indeed relatively new (Westphalia 1648? In the grand scheme, that’s pretty new). It’s also not such a news flash that the United States is a very young nation.

Lots of other concepts are relatively new, of course: individual rights, private property, republican form of government…

I maybe just skimmed Friedman’s piece without fully grasping his point. What was it supposed to be an argument for/against, do you think? What do these concepts’ ‘newness’ have to do with anything? Does individual rights being a ‘new concept’ taint that one too?

Comment by The Crimson Reach

I think Friedman is expressing bewilderment.

I think the idea is that, when it comes to legal restrictions, if there is no good historical justification for them, then the modern justification ought to be pretty compelling. If it’s not, then we are in a somewhat bewildering situation, one in which there is a rule without a compelling justification.

Now, in the case of immigration, you might be able to provide one. But the fact remains that you would be doing it ex post facto. The law already exists and, strangely, no one seems to recall what the justification for it was as the time.

Compare to individual rights, which were first justified, then declared, then fought for, then institutionalized. With respect to border controls, it seems the other way around: First we institutionalized them, then we fought over them, and now we’re justifying them.

Comment by RPLong

I don’t think it’s very hard to tell a very simple story that goes like:

A long time ago, humans hadn’t explored as much of the habitable planet. There were fewer of them. Nations didn’t rub up against each other as much, and when they did, the result was often just violent or keep-your-distance. ‘Governments’, even where they existed, didn’t have as much power/authority at their fingertips, often little more than marauding thugs extracting tribute from your village from time to time. Humans were far more (local) tribal, and ‘mobility’ as such – ‘migrating’ to a whole different tribe! – was less heard of, if even conceived of. Similarly, technology limited such travel anyway. Meanwhile, life was far closer to subsistence for a far greater percentage. So, all things considered, the problem of whether a ‘central government’ could or should ‘allow’ ‘immigration’ just didn’t come up as much for political-governance philosophy professor-equivalents of the time; there were more pressing matters. Such as plagues, famines, and Huns.

Over time, all of that became less true. And now we are where we are.

It really doesn’t seem that mysterious to me, unless one is being coy in an attempt to prove a point. But what point?

Comment by The Crimson Reach

No one’s being coy. If I understand your points above, then you seem to be suggesting that we need border controls because people are more inclined and able to migrate. At least, these are the conditions that are suggesting have changed over time, in response to my having said that there doesn’t appear to have been a formal justification for border controls.

So, if you’re arguing that the justification for border controls is the fact that humans are willing and able to migrate, it seems to me that you’re setting the professor up for a home run.

Comment by RPLong

I beg to differ: I think Friedman was indeed being coy. (Note: I say this with no animus whatsoever :-) )

Humans are willing and able to detonate bombs on airplanes. They weren’t in 900 B.C. Not coincidentally, there were no rules or procedures about bombs on airplanes at that time, let alone philosophical discussion of their validity.

I don’t see where the ‘home run’ will come from here. Of course, I wouldn’t, would I? ;-)

Comment by The Crimson Reach

I guess what I’m saying is that the fact that people want to cross borders is no argument in favor of border controls at all, and “but they might blow us up” is hardly a convincing follow-up. Given that, according to Friedman, our present-day conception of nations was basically developed during the 20th Century, and that up to that point the number of nations that have ever been defeated via immigration is zero despite the fact that it was a theoretical possibility, suggests that it is not much of a threat.

The two regions I can think of that might make a valid counter-claim here are Texas and Israel, both of which were unambiguously improved by the inflow of people. I am coming down more on the side of open borders here.

Comment by RPLong

“the fact that people want to cross borders is no argument in favor of border controls at all”

Of course not. To people who favor (some) border controls, it’s not ‘the fact that people want to’ that is relevant, it’s what (they think…) happens if/when they do. Right?

The fact that people want to/can cross borders more nowadays does help explain why the issue has gained more prominence in recent centuries than in the distant past. But that doesn’t make it ‘the argument in favor’ of preventing same. I suggest you’re confusing these two things.

“up to that point the number of nations that have ever been defeated via immigration is zero”

Whether a nation could be or has ever been ‘defeated via immigration’ is a red herring. This implies that, short of ‘defeat’ of the nation (whatever that means), citizens have nothing to lose from immigration, which is to load the argument. I hereby reserve the right to worry about and wish to prevent Bad (Yet Sub-‘Defeat’) Outcomes.

Comment by The Crimson Reach

Okay, then maybe you could clarify exactly what the threat is.

Comment by RPLong

Even taking current immigration restrictions (hardly the embodiment of perfect policy), we apparently (try to, or at least ‘officially’) keep people out who are terrorists or criminals, and/or come from hostile places, who it would appear would be an economic burden on society, who carry disease or seem likely to given such-and-such outbreak, etc. I may be missing some. Anyway, none of these seem like idle, frivolous, invalid, or non-fact-based reasons to prevent someone’s relocation to our country. Do they, to you?

In any event, by even asking the question it would appear you’re conceding that if ‘what the threat is’ can be answered, then immigration may indeed be restricted. In that case my job is done. After all, plenty of people in our country do indeed see immigration as a ‘threat’ to their interests in various ways (not all of which I mentioned above) – even if you don’t. And unless you can somehow argue that all such concerns are invalid or false (which I don’t think you can), or that the government lacks the right/authority to limit immigration full-stop (which some open-borders folks – recognizing the difficulty of their position – do try to do, but which you’ve apparently conceded), then we’re beyond ‘open borders’ and are just discussing the nature/parameters of what *sort* of immigration restrictions we *are* going to have. That puts the ball clearly on my side of the field. best,

Comment by The Crimson Reach

@CR I’m just trying to understand your POV.

Comment by RPLong

the number of nations that have ever been defeated via immigration is zero

American Indians.

Comment by Leonard

Good point. And I’ll add that the number of nations that have collapsed from an excessive welfare state is not zero.

Comment by Texan99

That wasn’t immigration, idiot.

Comment by model_1066

Let me explain that: it wasn’t immigration, because immigration is something allowed by a sovereign nation that governs according to laws agreed upon by those in control of that nation. European conquest of the new world isn’t immigration. Idiot.

Comment by model_1066

You don’t think you’re in danger of being excessively literal? The point was that sovereign nations that don’t enforce their borders are vulnerable to being overrun for the same reason the Amerindians were. They paid fatally little attention to the whole concept of the border. Whether someone has the modern legal status of “immigrant” isn’t the issue. The question is the impact of the newcomers on the people who are already there, and the willingness or ability of the latter to exert some control over the arrival of the former.

Being one of the newcomers in that analogy, I’m not going to claim I don’t like the results. But it was tough beans on the Indians, and something that took them somewhat by surprise.

Don’t think I say any of this because I think established residents are automatically better off without newcomers. I’d actually be a big open-door proponent if it were only a question of the salutary effect of a lot of new blood. The only thing that hangs me up is the presence of a safety net we already can’t afford. I wish we’d ditch the safety net and welcome the immigrants. My ancestors were impoverished Ulstermen. I like scrappy, ambitious immigrants even though they bid the price of labor down. I think it works out for the best in the end.

Comment by Texan99

Hmm. I kinda think there was a lot of immigration involved. At least some of it involved people packing up, leaving Europe, traveling to America, and settling there. Legalistic/sovereignty issues aside, any way you slice it that’s immigration, at least in my book.

Comment by The Crimson Reach

P.S. By the way, if I knew more history etc. I suspect I’d challenge your implicit claim that something like ‘individual rights’ went from pure theory/justification to institutionalized practice and not something more like the other way around, too…things are just unlikely to have been so neat. (As long as we’re puncturing all the other 5th-grade civics myths like social-contract, universal-rights etc I figured I’d get in on the ground floor here by pointing that out…)

Comment by The Crimson Reach

I agree. The words “Human Rights” are surprising malleable, and any particular implementation of a regime to “protect human rights” nearly always align suspiciously neatly with a “who … whom” power arrangement.

Like, “the right to immigrate to the USA” is suspiciously close to “let’s abuse the white racists with a cheaper, more brown, and more Communist underclass” – NOT – “let’s import really cheap Indians and Chinese to replace teachers, state and federal bureaucrats, lawyers, politicians, and tenured professors of social science on a large scale”.

That doesn’t sound like a “universal human right”, that sounds more like “do what we say or die” – only dressed up in nice clothing.

Here’s the appropriate Moldbug:

Comment by Dave

The idea that immigrants depress labor costs does not rely on them being illegal. It merely relies on them demanding a lower standard of living than natives. Now, it seems likely to me that the illegal status of illegal infiltrators does depress their wages somewhat. But there are two possible solutions: one is to enforce the law. The other is to abolish it, i.e. “amnesty”. So I don’t think relying on this argument is a good one for the restrictionist side; rather the progressives have the better of it.

As for the Professor, he seems blind to little things like culture. Is there any value to it? If so, then we cannot model ourselves purely as homo economicus; and therefore that the “vast majority of economists agree that immigration helps the economy overall” is not the full picture. Given a choice between a GDP of 1 unit, and a culture in which you can walk any street at night in perfect safety, and a GDP of 1.1 units, in which major swaths of all cities are no-go areas day and night — which is superior? Which one “benefit citizens”? Personally I would take the safe streets.

Comment by Leonard

You’re right, culture is left out. And like you I don’t consider it negligible.

Re: standard-of-living,

Well, it’s true that both these groups (illegal+legal immigrants) and (legal immigrants) will tend to demand lower standard-of-living than current citizens. But for the latter group the effect is probably less dramatic – and disappears pretty quickly (<1 generation). So the 'benefits to citizens', while nonzero, are probably not that material and more easily overridden by other considerations.

It seemed to me that the professor, in referring to 'inexpensive immigrant labor', was trying to get the listener to think mostly of the former group. At the very least, in practice that IS who the listener will think of. And this is problematic to his argument for the reason I stated: to the extent the listener becomes convinced unrestricted immigration is great due to all the 'inexpensive immigrant labor' it brings, the open-borders cause has (ironically) now been inextricably married to that of a permanently two-tier society of full-citizens and a second-class.

Comment by The Crimson Reach

I get what you’re saying, but I think the open-borders proponents are playing a longer game than you think. To them, it is a good thing that immigrants’ kids raise their expected standards to ours — that’s equal, and human equality is by definition good in all situations. But this does not give away the point; in a generation they expect to be importing even more immigrants. So the second class does exist but its members are always dynamically moving up. Those nice cheap wages will continue until morale improves! Logically, there is an endpoint: when wages in America (and all of the rest of the West and any other countries foolish enough to allow free immigration) have adjusted to match the lowest wages anywhere in the world. Only then will economic migration stop. But that will be equal, and again, equal is always good.

Comment by Leonard

“Possibly because there is essentially no disputing whatsoever the fact that a sovereign government, if it has any powers whatsoever, is within them in enforcing its own border.”

But there is dispute about that. Sorry, you just have to not make claims like this. You know they’re false– you just read Professor Huemer’s article, which does dispute it– so this statement is a bald-faced lie to avoid an honest debate. You are a human being, with a responsibility to tell the truth. In the name of reason, never make this claim again.

As far as I’m concerned, you lost the debate with that sentence.

Comment by Nathan Smith

He ‘disputes’ it by absurdly equating enforcing a border to abusing people to one’s heart’s content. As stated I do not consider this a real argument. For anything.

Meanwhile I have explained the absurdity of a government that can’t/isn’t allowed to (?) enforce its own borders more than once; here was a post that got some comment.

Thanks for affirming my humanity, though.

P.S. I’ll be the judge of which statements I can make/not make on my own blog, thanks. You’ve got your own. So please tone it down a tad, or stay there. Best,

Comment by The Crimson Reach

Meanwhile professor McSmartypants almost certainly argues for restrictions on the supply of capital in the form of “regulations”. So, flat labor supply and steep upward slooping capital supply. To whom are these wonderful benefits of immigration going to accrue? To consumers? Maybe a bit, but most of what we buy comes from industries that are at least semi-cartelized via the financiogovermonster. I predict increased consumption of cheap, nasty crap leading to greater profits going nearly 100% to the owners of capital. Also, a big win for people who can employ personal servants, who, shockingly, largely turn out to be the same people.

Comment by josh


P.S. I don’t know if he really deserved the ‘professor mcSmartypants’ crack, but then again he DID trot out the tired Scopes monkey/flat-earth references on me. Honestly, it might be time for the academy to retire those trump cards. At least he should have called me a climate ‘denier’ or something (which I am!); update your cultural touchstones, Professor McSmartypants, it’s not 1930 for cripe’s sake! :-)

Comment by The Crimson Reach

They’re all McSmartypantses.

Comment by josh

The open-borders position baffles me, as I can’t make any sense of it apart from a context of total anarchy, i.e. if you think the state shouldn’t exist at all, then ok, the state shouldn’t create and enforce borders. But someone for that position would argue against the state in general, rather than some particular facet of it like immigration. Outside of that context…what purpose would a government have if not to control the borders of the territory it claims to govern? If it were unable to control these borders, then the rational response is to cede territory until the borders are controllable. This is what always happens in the real world, though not always “officially”, e.g. we still refer to the country of “Somalia” even though the government doesn’t control much more than the capital. This is why it’s always so bogus when people claim that we just can’t control the border with Mexico, too big, too expensive…If they really believed this then which territories are first up for cession? California? Florida? Alaska?

Comment by Matt

Matt, as I understand it, the “open borders” position is just saying that we should allow in as many immigrants as want to come, the way we did in early America. I don’t think that implies that we should either have anarchy or cede a large amount of territory to Mexico.

Comment by Michael Huemer

I vote to give up California. Can I do that? (It would be a great place to visit — do you think we’ll need a visa, and I wonder what the currency exchange rate will be?)

Also: “P.S. I’ll be the judge of which statements I can make/not make on my own blog, thanks. You’ve got your own. So please tone it down a tad, or stay there. Best,”
Right on.
This is why we have borders, be they political or blog borders. To be selective about who we permit into our property, national or personal, based upon criteria that we [the owner] determine in our sole discretion. I see nothing wrong with that.

Comment by colocomment

Some comments:

1. On the general question of where the government gets its authority: See my book, _The Problem of Political Authority_. Here, I’ll just stick to the immigration issue.

2. The thing you (“The Crimson Reach”) say there is “no disputing whatsoever” has been disputed many times, by many people.

3. When someone says something like, “Here are two views: 1. such-and-such. 2. So-and-so.”, that doesn’t mean the person is saying that all his opponents hold view #1. So in particular, I did not say “that immigration restrictionists think the social contract ‘requires the government to promote our interests, in general, in any manner it can think of’.” Read on to where I discussed view #2.

4. On the inexpensive immigrant labor: My point was made in response to the restrictionists who say we should not open the borders, because it will result in lower wages for low-skill American workers. *They* (the restrictionists) are saying that the immigrants will work for low wages. That’s where I got that idea from.

5. I think you are attacking a straw man, when you represent the issue as being one of whether the government has the legal authority to control the border. Surely you know that that’s not what people are arguing about. People are arguing about whether we should keep the immigrants out, or let them in. That’s the issue. Saying that the Constitution authorizes the government to control the border is just a non sequitur.
But while we’re on the subject . . . where exactly does the Constitution say that?

6. You said that I didn’t give any argument for a right to immigrate, and that all I did was to, for no apparent reason, compare immigration restriction to “abusing foreigners to your heart’s content”. In fact, I gave the argument that immigration restriction violates rights in the very next paragraph from the one you took the quotation from. The argument is stated as clearly, directly, and explicitly as I could state it.

7. My remarks about the “egghead intellectuals” trying to convince us that we came from monkeys were in allusion to your earlier sarcastic remarks about how “all Smart People” disagree with you on the social contract. They were meant to suggest that when the great majority of intelligent people disagree with you, rather than something to proudly proclaim, that’s usually a sign that you should reconsider your views.
Btw, I don’t mind being addressed as “Professor McSmartyPants”, since I consider intelligence to be a good thing.

Unfortunately, you seem to have become much angrier since your last discussion with the Open Borders people, so this will likely not be a productive exchange.

Comment by Michael Huemer

They were meant to suggest that when the great majority of intelligent people disagree with you, rather than something to proudly proclaim, that’s usually a sign that you should reconsider your views.

Well said sir. You are pronouncing the views of the majority of academia, the media, and the civil service. Certainly it’s the case that practically (not to the letter of the law though!) your open-borders views have been implemented in this great country. As you have written, your people are the majority, you have won.

It is very kind of you to appear upon this blog and explain to backward (probably racist) kulaks like myself why we are wrong. Forgive me if I go away thinking that you are nothing more than a mouthpiece (intellectual enforcer) for the majority of elites, whose desire to import a large brown underclass seems to neatly coincide with their well-known desire to smash the remnant of the backward (probably racist) white working class.

Comment by Dave

Funny, I *feel* just about equally angry as back then. Ah well. (‘Seeming’ is such an unpredictable condition to be stricken with.) Anyway, you’re probably right this won’t be a productive exchange, if only because dealing with all these splintered numerical points is practically going to kill me. That said,

1. Buy your book because the actual argument is in there, not in the blog post. Got it.
2. Okay, let me amend to: ‘no *reasonable* disputing whatsoever’. Obviously people do say many unreasoned things, not to mention silly, insane, stupid, etc etc.
3. Okay, so there was no point at all to that part of your post. Got it. Like I said, its length gave me difficulty responding.
4. Can only speak for myself; as I said, I’m not a restrictionist primarily out of a low-wage-labor protectionist concern. Anyway, so shall we just then agree to remove ‘it benefits citizens due to inexpensive labor’ from the “pros” side of the ledger altogether, or do you still want to keep it there? If the latter, my comments still apply.
5. People don’t assert the government has no right to control borders? Two can play this pedantic ‘has been said many times, by many people’ game. Anyway, you’re not saying that; okay good.
6. Okay then, CMMIW but the core of what you’re saying constituted your clear/direct/explicit argument that immigration restriction violates rights appears to be that (a) people sometimes want to immigrate, and (b) to prevent them would require coercion. This argument, if valid, invalidates all private property along with it. (I want your iPad…) Just saying.
7. You can obviously be forgiven for not being familiar with the ‘Smart People’ jargon that I use as shorthand for the benefit of, and which is probably better understood by, my 2.3 regular readers.


Comment by The Crimson Reach

I can understand the argument that open borders are good economic policy in the long run, but only in the highly counterfactual universe in which we don’t have an expensive safety net. Without a safety net, there will be a really ugly period of dislocation and adjustment (unskilled immigrants arrive in a flood and starve while the economy adjusts to finding them work; citizens employed in low-wage jobs face sudden and overwhelming wage decreases from the flood of cheap labor). But at least in the end I can imagine reaching an equilibrium where immigrants stop coming (or go home) if they can’t find enough work. What’s the equilibrium point if we put them all on unemployment/welfare? Are we to imagine there is an infinite capacity in the economy to absorb welfare costs? (Yes, I know, it’s a rhetorical question.) The only reason the current system even limps along is that, being illegal, there are still a few legal benefits they don’t qualify for. I really do not understand how that’s supposed to work after amnesty?

Comment by Texan99


Wanted to respond to your comment about me being too ‘literal’ about immigration. What I was opposing is the corruption of language used in these debates. And that is important. When politically useful, the Europeans coming to the new world are described as colonialist aggressors killing peaceful natives, stealing their land for profit and so forth. But sometimes they need to be described with the more innocent sounding term ‘immigrants’ in this case for the purpose of promoting unrestricted immigration from the third world, legal or otherwise, into prosperous countries such as the US or the UK. It is intended to morally equate the two scenarios. Notice that the European colonial powers are never commended for adding ‘diversity’…

Comment by model_1066

Fair enough. You would be looking for an example of a nation that collapsed under the pressure of newcomers who didn’t resort to armed conquest at some point in the process. I still think the important question is what happens to the ability of the existing residents to protect their access to critical resources. Whether they lose them to force of arms or to being outvoted, there is something very dangerous about taking uncontrolled immigration lightly, especially in a system in which a majority vote gives a portion of the electorate the power to confiscate your stuff.

Which is why I’d feel better about open borders if we didn’t have a welfare state we already can’t afford.

Comment by Texan99

Milton Friedman said, and I paraphrase: you can have a welfare state or massive immigration, not both. Which is sensible. If Democrats don’t have enough poor people here to ‘care about’ with other people’s money, they’ll be more than happy to have them come by the millions without scrutiny as long as they vote correctly. When you talk about the ability of existing residents to protect themselves both physically and economically, the ongoing insanity of our current immigration laws and border enforcement makes you wonder why laws exist if they are not going to be enforced, or enforced selectively to the detriment of the nation. For example, the Obama administration’s prevention of Arizona actually doing the border enforcement duties the Feds are supposed to do Or the broke-ass state of California giving illegals preference over US citizens regarding tuition at the state universities. But as long as the free shit keeps flowing and Bush can still be blamed for everything, this nation is on political autopilot until the money stops and everything crashes.

Comment by model_1066

Now we find ourselves in violent agreement.

Comment by Texan99

Interesting debate. Doesn’t a lot of it boil down to property rights, i.e if the states as a collective supposedly has the property rights to all propety not owned by individuals (i.e by the commons), then isn’t the third argument, i.e denying the rights of potential immigrants by force pretty much akin to an individual denying another individual entrance to his own private property?

I have some problems seeing the latter being fine and the first not. Yes, technically they would be able to immigrate to the personal property of individuals, and then be restricted from ever entering any property owned by the state (assuming both a democracy and a majority vote), which would have, ehm, some interesting implications. I’m very much a dumb non-scholar and would like to have this explained to me as it seems property rights concering individuals vs the state seems to be of the essence here.

Secondly, I’d still want some reply on what Crimson alluded to in his invasion of a libertarian state (which Tino Sanandaji in other words also has described in having to choose one of democracy, open borders and welfare state) as I have not yet found any good arguments for how to solve the issue of poor immigrants eventually, upon reaching near-/majority just voting for a bigger welfare society even if the libertarian utopia has essentially no welfare to start with.

Comment by John

[…] ideas about who holds the burden of proof, compared to my views. Consider the last paragraph from a response by Sonic Charmer (aka The Crimson Reach) to Michael Huemer’s guest post on Open […]

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