In Response to Mark Krikorian

 

It was very nice of Mark Krikorian to mention me and my recent post during the last Ricochet Flagship podcast. If you’re interested, here is the podcast, and the relevant section can be found starting around the 55:00 mark.

I need to respond to a few things Mark said. First, I’m not a member of the “political class,” and if their position is at all similar to mine, that people should be able to move freely across borders, well that’s news to me. Would that it were so! If it were, frankly, we wouldn’t be having the problems we’re having with this. It’s not a lack of action on the part of the government to exclude people that’s causing problems, rather its the federal government’s byzantine immigration system that in no way matches reality. This graphic from the good people at Reason gives you a good idea of what the system looks like. The government’s legal immigration system has the efficiency and rationality of the VA or the Post Office. (When I ran that graphic by a friend of mine, now back in England because she left when she was asked to, she dismissed it as oversimplified.) Small wonder people, when faced with an non-functional immigration system choose to avoid the system all together.

In the podcast Mark says:

The core issue that we need to debate: Do the American people have the right to decide who comes into our country?

He also said that my suggestion that there shouldn’t be a limit on the number of immigrants to the United States means that I believe:

that foreigners should be able to decide how many people move to the United States.

That’s a nice little bit of immigration restrictionist populism. I’m sure stuff like that plays well. But it falls apart on upon critical examination and it is certainly not the position I hold.

First of all, we need to keep in mind that immigration is a public policy question. We are not discussing holy writ. Immigrants do not violate the sanctity of our nation. This is also not an existential question. American society, pluralistic and free, has always absorbed and assimilated immigrants, including in large numbers. Letting immigrants into the United States does not mean the end of America, or mom or apple pie.

Second, Mark talks about “the American people” deciding this issue. There isn’t one “the American people.” There’s groups of people and there are individuals. Politics too often consists of one of those groups deciding something and forcing their decision on everyone else.

Frankly, I don’t see things in those terms. I’m not a collectivist. I’m an individualist. Rather than groups of people making decisions and forcing them on other groups, as an individualist who believes in individual rights, I see things as an imposition on the rights of the individual.

I see things through the lens of individual rights because there are only individual rights. The idea of group rights is an absurdity. No group has the right to keep arms. The individuals in that group have the right. There is not group right to vote. The individual has that right. (This is not to say that when groups of citizens band together they don’t have rights, they do, but the rights are individual. If I form a corporation or a union, my right to free speech doesn’t go away. But that corporation only has free speech rights inasmuch as the individuals who own it have those rights.)

To that, I don’t see it as a question of “the American people” deciding such and such. I see individuals deciding things. If you open things up to collective decision making, there is no end to the bright ideas that the collective can claim moral authority to regulate. Don’t the American people have right to decide how big sodas should be? Don’t the American people have the right to decide who owns Rockefeller Center? Don’t the American people have the right to decide what color shirt everyone should wear? Don’t the American people have the right to decide what kind of cars should be sold in America? Don’t the American people have the right to decide who can say what on the radio?

When you claim to be speaking with the voice of “the American people,” when you claim to be speaking with the voice of the public will, for the public good, for the good of the nation, you can reach the point where you can rationalize anything.

The alternative is the individual view, the market view. Markets function because individuals make choices based on the conditions of their individual lives. Rather than some group forcing their views on people, its individuals making choices. The result is the aggregate of those choices.

So it’s not “the American people” (in this case meaning the small but vocal crowd of immigration restrictionists) deciding how many people come to America. (A number, by the way, which, even it it could be rationally calculated for an optimal utilitarian number, which it can’t, would be based not on that number but on politics.) But rather its market conditions, meaning individuals making the decisions on when to move and where and why.

History is replete with examples that when central planning, is compared to free markets, the free markets produce superior results. And results are best when capital and goods and ideas and, yes, labor, are allowed to flow freely

So it’s not those scary foreigners deciding how many people who get to move to American, but rather individuals and their individual interactions that, in the aggregate, decide what will happen.

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  1. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Fred Cole:

    Yeah, I’m an anarcho-capitalist. SNIP I don’t usually talk about that here because anarcho-capitalism is an impossible sell to people, so I don’t even try.

    The assumption is that markets work.

     You could have fooled me.  Have you ever given the consideration to the fact that the reason that it’s hard to sell to people is because, well, other people are at least moderately intelligent, observant of human nature and reached the conclusion that the tenets of Anarcho-Capitalism are a utopian fallacy? 

    The unfounded assumptions begin with what you perceive your rights to consist of and secondly just how absolute you think those perceived rights are.

    You are correct about markets: markets do work, (labor and immigration being but 2 markets) but in this situation there is justifiable reason for the government to restrict and regulate this market.  The fact that there is a practically unrestricted trade in immigration on the southern border has led to chaos.

    People who have questions about anarcho-capitalist policy might do well to look at the border, where Barack Obama must be some sort of Libertarian hero for removing immigration regulation there.

    • #31
  2. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Majestyk:

    People who have questions about anarcho-capitalist policy might do well to look at the border, where Barack Obama must be some sort of Libertarian hero for removing immigration regulation there.

     I don’t know what to do with this.  Your rhetoric is literally not connected to reality.

    • #32
  3. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    At the moment, my ideal number of total immigrants we should allow into this country is… wait for it…

    0.

    Why, you say?  Because we already have this crop of people who don’t want to assimilate into the fabric of our nation, we don’t need more stoop labor (as the unemployment and labor-force participation rate indicate) and we can’t afford to bring in people who are going to cost the public fisc more than they could ever provide.  The damage they’re already doing to the fabric of our national identity with their (frankly) alien values may not be reparable.

    At the garage sale I had 2 weekends ago, I felt fortunate that my high school spanish hadn’t completely atrophied.  In Miami at the beginning of the month I was seriously questioning if I was in America.

    This has gone far enough.  Our perceived kindness is killing us.  If companies want highly technically skilled individuals they should petition congress to allow them to sponsor guest workers.

    But no more third world peasants and refugees.

    • #33
  4. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Fred Cole:

    Majestyk:

    People who have questions about anarcho-capitalist policy might do well to look at the border, where Barack Obama must be some sort of Libertarian hero for removing immigration regulation there.

    I don’t know what to do with this. Your rhetoric is literally not connected to reality.

     Here’s what you can do with it: take heed.  Merely because a raft of incomprehensible immigration regulations are on the books doesn’t mean they’re actually going to be followed, and when you add in the political motivation of the people in charge of the government who want to bring more of these potential Democrat voters in, the purpose of the lack of enforcement becomes clear.

    Why do you want to help the Democrats?  That’s what I want to know.  Do you seriously believe that it you had your way it would lead to a more free and prosperous nation, or would we get an ever-increasing tide of bureaucracy, Obamacares and IRS clones.

    Use your political common sense and grasp what the outcome of your policy desire in this situation would be.  Politics is about the compromise of principle.  Smart compromises are sometimes necessary.

    • #34
  5. Mark Krikorian Contributor
    Mark Krikorian
    @MarkKrikorian

    The question Fred Cole, and open-borders libertarians in general, have to answer is this: Does national sovereignty exist? If so, then the American people, through their elected representatives, have the right to decide who enters their territory and who does not. As the Supreme Court has written:

    Admission of aliens to the United States is a privilege granted by the sovereign United States Government. Such privilege is granted to an alien only upon such terms as the United States shall prescribe. It must be exercised in accordance with the procedure which the United States provides.”

    The alternative is that We the People, in Order to form a more perfect Union, etc., are not sovereign and do not, through our established political process, get to decide who moves here and lives among us. This is the post-sovereignty position.

    Which is it?

    • #35
  6. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Majestyk:

    Why do you want to help the Democrats? That’s what I want to know. Do you seriously believe that it you had your way it would lead to a more free and prosperous nation, or would we get an ever-increasing tide of bureaucracy, Obamacares and IRS clones.

    I am literally arguing for more freedom.  Freedom for individuals to move across borders.  Freedom of association for myself and others to contract with whom we please.  Freedom from onerous governmental  mechanisms meant to enforce poor public policy.

    And yeah, obviously I think it would lead to more prosperity.

    With regards to the Democrats, first, when it comes to statist Republicans, I don’t give a fig for their electoral prospects.  Second, I could ask you the same thing.  If your goal is to put off Hispanic voters with your rhetoric (as above, taking time to point out some connection between hit-and-runs and Hispanic last names), congratulations, you’re accomplishing your goal.  You’re well on your way to poisoning Hispanics as a Republican constituency.

    • #36
  7. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Mark Krikorian:

    Which is it?

     That’s the thing, Mark.  I’m a free person.  I’m sovereign over myself.  

    • #37
  8. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Mark Krikorian:

    The question Fred Cole, and open-borders libertarians in general, have to answer is this: Does national sovereignty exist? If so, then the American people, through their elected representatives, have the right to decide who enters their territory and who does not. As the Supreme Court has written:

    Admission of aliens to the United States is a privilege granted by the sovereign United States Government. Such privilege is granted to an alien only upon such terms as the United States shall prescribe. It must be exercised in accordance with the procedure which the United States provides.”

    The alternative is that We the People, in Order to form a more perfect Union, etc., are not sovereign and do not, through our established political process, get to decide who moves here and lives among us. This is the post-sovereignty position.

    Which is it?

    America can be both sovereign and wrong. America can be both sovereign and immoral. Your position is essentially whatever America does is right because America does it. All arguments about political authority are inherently circular like this. What we question is that sovereignty give us a moral right along with the legal right.

    • #38
  9. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    Fred Cole:

    Mark Krikorian:

    Which is it?

    That’s the thing, Mark. I’m a free person. I’m sovereign over myself.

     No you are not. You are a citizen of a Country. Feel free to break a law and tell the police “I don’t have to follow your rules I am Sovereign over my self”.  Same idea don’t pay your taxes, as you are sovereign over yourself and have an absolute property right to your income. 

    • #39
  10. Mark Krikorian Contributor
    Mark Krikorian
    @MarkKrikorian

    Fred Cole:

    Mark Krikorian:

    Which is it?

    That’s the thing, Mark. I’m a free person. I’m sovereign over myself.

     You are indeed, as am I. But the nation collectively is also sovereign. Denying this is anarchism — not as an epithet but simply as a description.

    • #40
  11. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Mark Krikorian:

    Fred Cole:

    Mark Krikorian:

    Which is it?

    That’s the thing, Mark. I’m a free person. I’m sovereign over myself.

    You are indeed, as am I. But the nation collectively is also sovereign. Denying this is anarchism — not as an epithet but simply as a description.

     The government is sovereign, I guess, in the sense that it claims for itself a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.  

    • #41
  12. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Fred Cole:

    I am literally arguing for more freedom.

    And yeah, obviously I think it would lead to more prosperity.

    With regards to the Democrats, first, when it comes to statist Republicans, I don’t give a fig for their electoral prospects.

    If we tie ourselves in knots trying to pander to racialist minorities we basically concede something which is abominable: that race is the thing that matters in politics. I was under the impression that we were supposed to be colorblind. That doesn’t mean however that we can’t look at characteristics like ethnicity, and the behaviors that sometimes stem from that does it?
    And the places where most of these people are coming from are quite prosperous, no? Do you think that the people who inhabit a place have a great deal to do with its prospects? Or would our nation quickly begin to resemble the places they originally came from?

    Fred Cole:

    That’s the thing, Mark. I’m a free person. I’m sovereign over myself.

    Only so long as there are people who are willing to do violence in your stead. This gets back to your comments about the draft.

    • #42
  13. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Fred Cole:

    The government is sovereign, I guess, in the sense that it claims for itself a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

    A government which we legitimately instituted and invested with this power, because there is really no other means of parceling out the monopoly on coercion.  What is it you think the Founders were doing with this whole Three Branches of Government thing?  Creating an anarcho-capitalist paradise?

    • #43
  14. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Jager:

    Fred Cole:

    Mark Krikorian:

    Which is it?

    That’s the thing, Mark. I’m a free person. I’m sovereign over myself.

    No you are not. You are a citizen of a Country. Feel free to break a law and tell the police “I don’t have to follow your rules I am Sovereign over my self”. Same idea don’t pay your taxes, as you are sovereign over yourself and have an absolute property right to your income.

    Why would a rational sovereign person give up the maximum sovereignty he can reasonably hope for?

    • #44
  15. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    Fred Cole:

    rico: ”Wonderful theory, wrong species.” ―E. O. Wilson

    Wilson was talking about Marx and about how people aren’t ants.

    So I’m talking about how people are individuals, not a collective (ie, ants)… so I guess I don’t get your meaning.

    You are invited to elaborate.

     I am suggesting that we are not a species in which:
    “individuals making the decisions on when to move and where and why”
    can work effectively.

    Please cite historical examples, or at least evidence that human nature allows us to function this way.

    I suppose your theory might work with ants, though.

    • #45
  16. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Fred Cole:

    Mark Krikorian:

    Fred Cole:

    Mark Krikorian:

    Which is it?

    That’s the thing, Mark. I’m a free person. I’m sovereign over myself.

    You are indeed, as am I. But the nation collectively is also sovereign. Denying this is anarchism — not as an epithet but simply as a description.

    The government is sovereign, I guess, in the sense that it claims for itself a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

    Fred’s answer is no, he doesn’t believe in national sovereignty.  He is being evasive because he is well aware that once his views are clearly identified as being anarchistic, people will slowly back away.

    It is difficult to pose hypothetical to challenge Fred on the necessity of immigration controls, because they will all work from the assumption that a government should exist, which is a concession that Fred won’t make in response.

    We are eventually going to need to have the anarchist vs minarchist battle Royal.

    • #46
  17. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Fred Cole:

    As far as your point #2, yeah, they were legal immigrants because, lo and behold, we had almost no restrictions on who could come in (unless you were Chinese, of course).

    It should also be noted that at Ellis Island a fairly rigorous series of exams was given to potential immigrants.  The sick, old, maimed, insane and not a small number of others were denied entry into this country.  The procedure is documented here.  “Almost no restrictions” is a term of art at best.  We were quite choosy about who we let in and a not small number of families were fractured in the Hall of Tears.

    • #47
  18. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Frank Soto:

    Fred’s answer is no, he doesn’t believe in national sovereignty. He is being evasive because he is well aware that once his views are clearly identified as being anarchistic, people will slowly back away.

    It is difficult to pose hypothetical to challenge Fred on the necessity of immigration controls, because they will all work form the assumption that a government should exist, which is a concession that Fred won’t make in response.

    We are eventually going to need to have the anarchist vs minarchist battle Royal.

     Stop poisoning the well!  And while you’re at it, stop being so darn accurate with your terminology.

    • #48
  19. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Frank Soto:

    We are eventually going to need to have the anarchist vs minarchist battle Royal.

     I don’t see the point when it takes hundreds of pages and dozens of drawn out hypotheticals to show the former could possibly work. It’s not something conducive to the Ricochet format. I’ve been studying it for over a year and I don’t feel comfortable arguing many aspects of it yet.

    • #49
  20. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Majestyk:

    Frank Soto:

    Fred’s answer is no, he doesn’t believe in national sovereignty. He is being evasive because he is well aware that once his views are clearly identified as being anarchistic, people will slowly back away.

    It is difficult to pose hypothetical to challenge Fred on the necessity of immigration controls, because they will all work form the assumption that a government should exist, which is a concession that Fred won’t make in response.

    We are eventually going to need to have the anarchist vs minarchist battle Royal.

    Stop poisoning the well! And while you’re at it, stop being so darn accurate with your terminology.

     Accurate ad hominems are still ad hominems…

    • #50
  21. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Majestyk:

    It should also be noted that at Ellis Island a fairly rigorous series of exams was given to potential immigrants. The sick, old, maimed, insane and not a small number of others were denied entry into this country. The procedure is documented here. “Almost no restrictions” is a term of art at best. We were quite choosy about who we let in and a not small number of families were fractured in the Hall of Tears.

     You forgot Chinese.  Not many came into Ellis Island because of, well, geography.  But also they were excluded by law.  But in relative terms. the number of immigrants who were allowed in during that time period would make immigration restrictionists plotz from existential dread.

    • #51
  22. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Frank Soto:

    We are eventually going to need to have the anarchist vs minarchist battle Royal.

     We can’t even legalize pot.  I’m willing to postpone that battle royale till we actually need to have it.

    In the interim, free movement of people (and by extension good, capital, etc.) is something minarchists should obviously be on board with.

    • #52
  23. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Fred Cole:

    Frank Soto:

    We are eventually going to need to have the anarchist vs minarchist battle Royal.

    We can’t even legalize pot. I’m willing to postpone that battle royale till we actually need to have it.

    In the interim, free movement of people (and by extension good, capital, etc.) is something minarchists should obviously be on board with.

     Hey, I voted for it here in Colorado.  Whether this experiment turns out as it was promised is another subject.

    • #53
  24. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Mike H:

    Accurate ad hominems are still ad hominems…

    My initial impression of this is to say that if calling a spade a spade is an ad hom then what do you call it when somebody inaccurately accuses everybody who isn’t at least a Libertarian a “Statist”?

    Let’s at least have some accuracy here.  If I’m a Statist then basically there are practically no non-Statists.

    • #54
  25. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Majestyk:

    Fred Cole:

    Frank Soto:

    We are eventually going to need to have the anarchist vs minarchist battle Royal.

    We can’t even legalize pot. I’m willing to postpone that battle royale till we actually need to have it.

    In the interim, free movement of people (and by extension good, capital, etc.) is something minarchists should obviously be on board with.

    Hey, I voted for it here in Colorado. Whether this experiment turns out as it was promised is another subject.

     When they actually follow the law and regulate pot the way alcohol is regulated, then we can judge.

    • #55
  26. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Fred Cole:

    Frank Soto:

    We are eventually going to need to have the anarchist vs minarchist battle Royal.

    We can’t even legalize pot. I’m willing to postpone that battle royale till we actually need to have it.

    In the interim, free movement of people (and by extension good, capital, etc.) is something minarchists should obviously be on board with.

    Let’s start with where we agree then, and move on to where we disagree.  I am on board with a system that allows for more legal immigration, and preferably determined by market forces, instead of government mandate. In this regard I fairly certain I depart quite radically from Mark on this topic.

    Now some questions for you.

    Do you acknowledge that immigrants to the US are overwhelmingly poor?

    Do you acknowledge that poor immigrants are entitled to generous benefits in this country?  (free education for their children, guaranteed emergency medical care, a welfare state that isn’t terribly concerned with verifying legal status)

    Do you acknowledge that our resources to provide these benefits are limited?

    Do you acknowledge that the government artificially inflates the labor cost of immigrants via the minimum wage and other methods, rendering poor immigrants unemployable if working on the books, and therefore more likely to require the above mentioned benefits?

    If you answer yes to all four, then you must conclude we must limit the number of poor immigrants into the country until the welfare state and labor laws are reformed.

    • #56
  27. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Fred Cole:

    When they actually follow the law and regulate pot the way alcohol is regulated, then we can judge.

     I can’t imagine you even wanting alcohol regulated, so you are unlikely to be satisfied by any half-measures.

    • #57
  28. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Majestyk:

    Mike H:

    Accurate ad hominems are still ad hominems…

    My initial impression of this is to say that if calling a spade a spade is an ad hom then what do you call it when somebody inaccurately accuses everybody who isn’t at least a Libertarian a “Statist”?

    Let’s at least have some accuracy here. If I’m a Statist then basically there are practically no non-Statists.

     They are both wrong. It’s an ad hominem because it’s about the person instead of the argument. Whatever Fred or you “are” is irrelevant to whether your arguments are correct.

    • #58
  29. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    Fred Cole: When they actually follow the law and regulate pot the way alcohol is regulated, then we can judge.

    Why should pot be regulated at all?
    Why should we judge collectively?

    I’m a free person. I’m sovereign over myself.

    • #59
  30. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Mike H:

    Majestyk:

    Mike H:

    Accurate ad hominems are still ad hominems…

     

    My initial impression of this is to say that if calling a spade a spade is an ad hom then what do you call it when somebody inaccurately accuses everybody who isn’t at least a Libertarian a “Statist”?

    Let’s at least have some accuracy here. If I’m a Statist then basically there are practically no non-Statists.

    They are both wrong. It’s an ad hominem because it’s about the person instead of the argument. Whatever Fred or you “are” is irrelevant to whether your arguments are correct.

    It does matter.  It’s a bit like a Jew and a Christian debating Christ.  The two sides do not accept the same premises, therefore the discussion may be interesting, but will never get anywhere.

    Similarly, my arguments begin from a premise that the citizens of a nation have a legitimate interest in controlling who may enter it, and under what criteria.  If Fred doesn’t agree to this premise, the discussion isn’t going anywhere.

    If he can agree to it, then we can have an earnest discussion.

    • #60
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