Sometimes you’ll hear people who are generally free market friendly make statements like the following: “I support open borders in principle, but we can’t have both free immigration and a redistributive state so I reject open borders in practice.” The idea, roughly, is that while the standard arguments in support of free markets also support free immigration all else being equal, all else isn’t equal: closing our borders is justified as a means of preventing an overconsumption of state-provided benefits.

It’s worth mentioning that I think we should implement a redistributive program like a negative income tax or a universal basic income if it turns out to be the best institutional means of alleviating poverty. And although I believe that the evidence indicates that free immigration would be a net economic positive for receiving countries, I’ll set that claim aside for the sake of argument.

So, should we reject freedom in immigration in practice?

No, and here’s why: if preventing an increase in the consumption of state-provided benefits justifies restricting freedom in immigration, then it also justifies restricting freedom in, well, anything.

Consider that libertarians oppose laws restricting people’s ability to do things like consume drugs and sugary beverages, gamble their savings on professional sports, ride motorcycles without helmets, etc. But note that a major argument made on behalf of supporting these laws is that they prevent an increase in the consumption of state-provided benefits. People who ruin their health and their finances are more likely to avail themselves of state assistance. Still, libertarians reject these laws—not just in principle, but here and now.

I see no reason to treat free immigration differently. (Indeed, if anything, we have far stronger reason to permit free immigration because it would produce significantly greater gains in human well-being than, say, helmetless motorcycle riding.) Now, you might zig where I zag: you could support ending the drug war, legalizing gambling and helmetless motorcycle riding, etc. only in principle but not in practice. This view reduces civil and economic libertarianism to a project without much real-world import. And maybe this is the view you take (although I doubt it). But if you don’t, then you should support people’s right to immigrate in the real world at least as strongly as you support their right to drive a car without wearing a seatbelt.

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  • KPK

    Chris, I am pro immigrant and have employed many; most legal, but a few others in emergency situations. They were virtually all great employees. I assume that the vast majority immigrate to work, and am 100% sure that all come to better their families and themselves. So what is my reservation?

    If you had certain knowledge that for every one worker, there were 99 free benefit seekers, would you stick with your theory? Is there ANY evidence that would entice you away from your theory?

    • Chris Freiman

      If there was compelling evidence that open borders produced a net decrease in human welfare, then I’d oppose them. But I don’t think most arguments for immigration restriction try to make this point; instead, they center on a state’s alleged right to restrict entry even when the restriction results in a net harm.

      • K.P.

        So you’d then be a “closed-borders libertarian” or would “libertarian” be scrapped too?

        • Chris Freiman

          Yeah, I favor libertarianism for welfarist consequentialist reasons, so if there was compelling evidence that free markets produced a net decrease in human welfare, then I’d oppose them.

          • K.P.

            I guess the question is when does one cease to be a libertarian? As you seem to make some exceptions, such as certain resdistributive programs, yet still claim the moniker (or at least favoring it). And this site as a whole seems to be largely a place for libertarians-with-exceptions, so I’m not sure why those who oppose open borders are one of the few who don’t get a pass. (It’s not like there aren’t those who oppose it consequentialist reasons too, even if they are mistaken)

            (I know it’s just a word, so this is a largely a petty question)

        • Chris Freiman

          Yeah, I favor libertarianism for welfarist consequentialist reasons, so if there was compelling evidence that free markets produced a net decrease in human welfare, then I’d oppose them.

    • Jameson Graber

      I’ve never understood why it is that once someone is residing on US land, they suddenly become the responsibility of the state. It’s like, “Darn it! We almost had that guy gunned down before he crossed the border, but then he made it. I guess we have to pay for all of his health care.”

      As long as we’re insisting that the state can’t pay for everyone, why can’t we just decide who can receive welfare or not, independently of where they are located?

      • adrianratnapala

        Residents are the responsibility of the state at least in the negative sense, that the guy might be a thief, a drunken disorderly etc. Also there are positive services, not just welfare, immigrants aught enjoy the protection of police (we have the right not to be mugged) and indeed most day to day rights that any householder holds against his neighbours or city.

        As far as existing citizens are concerned, states just have to lump it: those citizens were born with those rights or got them with their naturalisation. But is unreasonable for thee state to decide who else it will extend those rights to?

        • Jameson Graber

          It is certainly reasonable to expect people to pay for services they use. It is also reasonable to expect everyone to use certain services, such as police. Therefore, it is reasonable to enforce things like taxes and fees.

          But on what basis do you put arbitrary limits on the number of people who are allowed to enter within your borders? If someone is both willing and able to pay for themselves, or is sponsored by someone else willing and able to pay, on what basis should the state reject them or force them to wait?

          • adrianratnapala

            Because they are *your* borders, you get to decide. More precisely foreigners generally don’t have any right that you allow them in. I agree that pragmatically, most sates should indeed welcome foreigners on the kinds of terms you advocate. Though realistically I don’t think those terms can be made to stick.

          • Jameson Graber

            “Because they are *your* borders, you get to decide.” No, they’re not. Americans don’t collectively own the entire land of the United States. Texans don’t collectively own the entire land of Texas. Governments preside over these lands, but they don’t have any moral right to them. People collectively institute governments, but they don’t collectively own land.

            At least, I hope not. (Do let me know if the Texans are trying a new communist experiment.)

            The argument from property actually goes in favor of open borders. Let’s say I own a business. Let’s say I want to hire a worker from another country. It’s my business. I should get to hire that worker. No democracy has the moral right to deprive me of that decision. Likewise with the property owner who rents a home to said foreigner, etc.

          • adrianratnapala

            Property is a bundle of rights, and those rights can be distributed in all kinds of ways. Land rights tend to be layered, home-owners have some rights, city councils others etc. Higher layers are especially important with respect to immigration because it involves access to public spaces and public services. Yes, immigrants can offer to pay for those services, but who makes the rules about when such offers should be accepted?

            Now I generally favour the individual over the collective. So an immigration law that says “let him in if he is sponsored by someone willing to board him”, or “let her in if she has a willing employer” etc sound like good rules. But they can’t be derived from natural rights.

          • Jameson Graber

            Natural rights imply that immigration restrictions demand a strong justification. I don’t think the present day justification is strong enough. See my other reply.

          • adrianratnapala

            This is the merry circle in action. You say natural rights imply freedom of movement, I say they don’t, and both of us have our intuitions as our source of truth. To break the solipsist deadlock we need to flirt with consequences and even an appeal to nature.

            In an anarchic world, there is little freedom of movement. Each little property-owning tribe has good reasons to deal harshly with in-wanderers (Jared Diamond repeatedly points this out in “The world until yesterday”.) States win freedom of movement for their citizens by taking over part of that right to defend territory. Leviathan says “Here are my public spaces, you now have to tolerate strangers walking them. But don’t worry, I am keeping the peace.”

            There are many benefits to this arrangement, including the possibility that foreigners will be allowed in to trade and share ideas. But foreigners didn’t have that option until territorial states started granting them access.

            Open-borders starts with a seemingly innocuous appeal to a natural right and blows it up into an extremist ideological position. See my response to Chris for why it is extremist.

          • Jameson Graber

            I don’t think we should be using pre-civilized societies as a guide for moral intuitions. Civilization is better, precisely because it allows us to treat all human beings as equals. We shouldn’t regress to the tribalism that justifies immigration restrictions.

            All I ask is for progress in the right direction. Since you agree that many laws need to be liberalized, great. In the short run, at least, we’re on the same side.

          • Jameson Graber

            Natural rights imply that immigration restrictions demand a strong justification. I don’t think the present day justification is strong enough. See my other reply.

  • adrianratnapala

    Well, at moral level, I don’t see how immigration restrictions have much to do with the welfare state either way. I live in Germany, but I do so as a guest. I was not born with a right to live in Germany, I got a limited version of the right by politely asking certain bureaucrats to invite me in as a guest.

    The Germans have a kind of collective property right over their country. This is easiest to understand for a “state” that is just an extended family of stationary hunter-gatherers living in some jungle village. Their borders are the same thing as property lines, strangers are either invited in or asked to leave, perhaps at spear-point. Complex societies have more than one layer of territoriality, individuals and groups hold property rights against each other, but the nation as a whole also controls access for people wandering in who, after all, might have pillage on their mind.

    There are good reasons for powerful countries like Germany to be quite easy-going about visitors, and that is why Germany does in fact have liberal rules about it. But those rules are theirs to make.

    • Jameson Graber

      “But those rules are theirs to make.”

      I don’t understand why so many people, when arguing specifically about open borders, feel the need to stress this point. No one is disputing it. No open borders advocate has ever said, “Our goal is to replace democracy with a new and benevolent monarchy which will then impose open borders on the populace.”

      Clearly, democracies will have to decide on this issue through elections. The question is, how should they decide? It’s the same question that we are confronted with in literally all areas of politics. I don’t understand why I need to make this point when talking about immigration and no other issues.

      • adrianratnapala

        As far as I know “open borders” means having no immigration restrictions at all. Someone recently said “Also, the opposite of open borders is not closed borders. It’s not like the US lets in zero immigrants each year (legally).” Moreover this seems to be a moral stance before it is a pragmatic one based on the idea that people have a right to live in any country they like — but that right doesn’t exist.

        Even if you think it does exist, you must see that it is totally unrelated to your respect for democracy. Switzerland bans people from building minarets, this law is immoral (if not very important) and I condemn it without deferring to their democratic authority, though I would not dream it was OK to topple Swiss democracy for such a cause. Many countries (including probably Switzerland) also have stricter than optimal immigration restrictions. Well, that’s their own business.

        • Jameson Graber

          So I think I understand you as actually saying you think there’s really nothing morally wrong with immigration restrictions, though lots of other things democracies decide are morally wrong. In that case, I’d like to hear your argument. I’m not sure what your description of living in Germany was trying to accomplish, but it didn’t do anything to convince me that limiting immigration is morally justified.

          • adrianratnapala

            We can go around in a merry circle here, because I can ask you what argument you have that there is anything morally wrong about restricting immigration.

            As I have said, people have a kind of right, a cousin of property rights, that they hold in common with their other citizens. Like other land rights, it restricts the freedom of others to enter a territory but that is part and parcel of the right of the owners to control that territory.

            Let’s assume you agree that the citizens (owners) have such a right of control. That right doesn’t have to be unlimited, certainly citizens within that territory have strong moral rights against the collective, but immigrants (including illegal ones) also have some such rights. But if a territorial right is to make any sense at all, it surely includes controlling the right of entry.

            But perhaps my assumption in the last paragraph was wrong, and you don’t believe that a country is owned by its citizens.

          • Jameson Graber

            “But perhaps my assumption in the last paragraph was wrong, and you don’t believe that a country is owned by its citizens.”

            Exactly. Well, more specifically, it’s the *land* that isn’t owned by all citizens collectively. See my comment above.

            “We can go around in a merry circle here, because I can ask you what argument you have that there is anything morally wrong about restricting immigration.”

            I don’t understand why you said this the way you did, because I’m happy to share my argument.

            It is generally wrong to inhibit someone’s movement unless you have a good reason, such as self-defense, to defend your property, etc. Immigration is literally nothing more than movement, so there better be a good reason to stop it. Moreover, even if immigration does present a real problem, stopping immigration can *only* be justified if there is no reasonable, humane alternative which will solve the problem.

            The reasons given usually fall into one of three (or so) categories. First is economics: we need to protect our labor from competition, we can’t pay for everyone, etc. Second is culture: we need to preserve certain political beliefs, practices, a common language, etc. Third is safety: massive immigration may bring with it lots of crime or worse.

            Economics tells us the first concern is mainly wrong. Immigration tends to improve the economy, not hurt it. And anyway, any economic damage done can be offset by a much more humane alternative, namely charging money. The second concern can be reasonably offset simply by demanding some sort of assimilation; the empirical evidence shows that this works just fine. The third is also not confirmed by empirical evidence. In fact, security would be better off if we had open borders, because instead of working on chasing down innocent people just trying to get by in the world, they would be chasing after real criminals.

          • Jameson Graber

            “But perhaps my assumption in the last paragraph was wrong, and you don’t believe that a country is owned by its citizens.”

            Exactly. Well, more specifically, it’s the *land* that isn’t owned by all citizens collectively. See my comment above.

            “We can go around in a merry circle here, because I can ask you what argument you have that there is anything morally wrong about restricting immigration.”

            I don’t understand why you said this the way you did, because I’m happy to share my argument.

            It is generally wrong to inhibit someone’s movement unless you have a good reason, such as self-defense, to defend your property, etc. Immigration is literally nothing more than movement, so there better be a good reason to stop it. Moreover, even if immigration does present a real problem, stopping immigration can *only* be justified if there is no reasonable, humane alternative which will solve the problem.

            The reasons given usually fall into one of three (or so) categories. First is economics: we need to protect our labor from competition, we can’t pay for everyone, etc. Second is culture: we need to preserve certain political beliefs, practices, a common language, etc. Third is safety: massive immigration may bring with it lots of crime or worse.

            Economics tells us the first concern is mainly wrong. Immigration tends to improve the economy, not hurt it. And anyway, any economic damage done can be offset by a much more humane alternative, namely charging money. The second concern can be reasonably offset simply by demanding some sort of assimilation; the empirical evidence shows that this works just fine. The third is also not confirmed by empirical evidence. In fact, security would be better off if we had open borders, because instead of working on chasing down innocent people just trying to get by in the world, they would be chasing after real criminals.

          • Bucklander

            Jameson, you concede that the open border question depends, in part, on whether they produce economic gains. You acknowledge that this is an empirical question, and I imagine that you recognize that the answer will depend, to some degree, on the size of state and on its laws. So are we arguing about facts or fundamental moral principles? For example, suppose that the tiny principality of Monaco decided, with much popular support, to adopt a negative income tax. Everyone in Monaco is entitled to an income of, say, $200,000 per year (it doesn’t go far, there) — to be collected, at gun point, from the other residents of Monaco. They voted for it, after all. Then an airline advertises that, for a modest fee, it will fly people from anywhere in the world to Monaco to collect their $200,000. Do the citizens of Monaco have any grounds to object? Can they say, that’s not what we meant? Some people in the U.S. feel like that’s the position we are in. The numbers are certainly different, and the case for unrestricted immigration to the U.S. may be stronger. But you are wrong to say that there is no case at all to be made.

          • Jameson Graber

            “But you are wrong to say that there is no case at all to be made.”

            When did I say that? I only said the case for immigration restrictions is not sufficient.

          • Bucklander

            You didn’t. My bad. I was responding to arguments made by the O.P.

          • adrianratnapala

            You have three fairly good arguments about why the consequences of immigration are better than people (though all three work better for marginal changes than vast influxes of people). This is exactly why countries should liberalise their immigration rules. It does not show that such rule-making is illegitimate.

    • Chris Freiman

      I’m not sure I agree that citizens have a collective property right over their country. For one, this collective property right would conflict with a lot of legitimate private property rights. You might make the case that citizens have something like collective property rights with respect to public property, but I don’t know how far that gets an argument for immigration restriction. Maybe the issue isn’t about collective property so much as democracy, but there I’d say there are limits to the things democracy can rightfully restrict.

    • Chris Freiman

      I’m not sure I agree that citizens have a collective property right over their country. For one, this collective property right would conflict with a lot of legitimate private property rights. You might make the case that citizens have something like collective property rights with respect to public property, but I don’t know how far that gets an argument for immigration restriction. Maybe the issue isn’t about collective property so much as democracy, but there I’d say there are limits to the things democracy can rightfully restrict.

      • adrianratnapala

        I agree state territorial rights are only distant cousins of individual land rights. But I think they are part and parcel of being citizens of particular countries and not of the world as a whole. Your original post works by falsely equating citizens with non-citizens. It is one thing to ask potential immigrants “why should we allow you access to our material bounties”, whereas citizens have that access as a matter of right.

        I guess world citizenship is natural from your utilitarian starting point; everyone is equally capable of enjoying utility. But to me that is just another reason not to be a utilitarian. Placing abstract philosophy over traditional rights has lured you into a pretty extremist corner. Consider how shrill and intellectually intolerant the title of your post is. Consider also that open borders is the maximalist position, it doesn’t just call for liberal immigration rules but for their total abolition.

        • johnleemk

          “Consider also that open borders is the maximalist position, it doesn’t just call for liberal immigration rules but for their total abolition.”

          Well then: “Consider also that free trade is the maximalist position, it doesn’t just call for liberal trade rules but for their total abolition.”

          It’s remarkable to me how people seem to believe it’s fair to suggest terrorists, armed invaders, or fraudsters will have freedom of movement under an open borders regime. It’s like arguing with free trade advocates by raising the spectre of biological weapons, assault rifles, and nuclear waste flowing freely across the world.

          Other than anarchists who reject the state (i.e., they believe in no borders, not just open borders), I’ve never met an open borders or free trade advocate who rejects the sovereign authority of a state to regulate its borders. These advocates just reject the view that a state is morally entitled to use its sovereign authority to arbitrarily regulate its borders. Not all exercises of sovereign authority are just or right.

          I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people, at least a majority in the US, believe the state has the sovereign authority to impose death as a criminal punishment. Would it be just to impose death as the penalty for parking illegally? For shoplifting? For drunk driving? Why not? Haven’t we agreed the state has a sovereign authority to impose the death sentence as it wishes in accordance with the laws it makes?

          Sovereigns may not do certain things. Death penalty opponents may argue the state is immoral and unjust to put people to death for the crimes it currently does (murder, treason, etc.) but other than anarchists, I have never seen a death penalty opponent contend that the state lacks sovereign authority to impose a death sentence. Strawmanning the debate into the area of state sovereignty ignores the more important and difficult question — what exercises of sovereignty are justifiable, and what exercises aren’t?

          Personally I am not sure about the justice-based arguments against the death penalty (though I do oppose it, primarily more for practical reasons — and I would certainly oppose the extension of the death penalty to lesser crimes on grounds of justice). But I am quite convince of the justice-based arguments against arbitrary border controls. Nobody should be excluded and banished from seeking a better life in another society just because of where they were born.

          • adrianratnapala

            Yes, free trade is a maximalist position. And like open immigration, it is not a moral imperative, though it is almost always a good idea.

            I’ve never met an open borders or free trade advocate who rejects the sovereign authority of a state to regulate its borders.

            What is open borders except the claim (made several times in this very comment thread) that it is immoral for the state to restrict immigration at all. But in fact I do go further: there are only a few cases (such as asylum) where there is any moral imperative to accept immigrants.

          • johnleemk

            “Yes, free trade is a maximalist position.”

            So you seriously think that free trade advocates generally believe we ought to be allowed to move, say, nuclear weapons across borders indiscriminately?

            “And like open immigration, it is not a moral imperative, though it is almost always a good idea.”

            There are definitely arguments for free trade from a justice perspective. Banning people from selling their wares to other people is prima facie unjust unless you have a good reason. That there’s a border in the way does not seem to suddenly make such a ban just.

            “What is open borders except the claim (made several times in this very comment thread) that it is immoral for the state to restrict immigration at all.”

            Open borders is the claim that it is immoral for the state to restrict movement just because of someone’s national origin. It is not the claim that it is immoral for the state to restrict movement altogether. (This would be akin to suggesting that “freedom of religion” implies the state can never interfere with one’s practice of one’s own religious beliefs. It’s a strawman.)

  • http://thoughtsonliberty.com/ Rachel Burger

    There’s another point that should be made here. CIS, a very conservative, anti-immigration think tank found that,

    “Many of the preconceived notions about the fiscal impact of illegal households turn out to be inaccurate. In terms of welfare use, receipt of cash assistance programs tends to be very low, while Medicaid use, though significant, is still less than for other households. Only use of food assistance programs is significantly higher than that of the rest of the population. Also, contrary to the perceptions that illegal aliens don’t pay payroll taxes, we estimate that more than half of illegals work “on the books.”

    http://cis.org/High-Cost-of-Cheap-Labor

    Undocumented workers don’t weigh down the system as much as people think.

    • Linear

      The study seems to justify increased local burdens in exchange for net benefits. Is that right?

      And won’t the calculus change with legally open borders? Or are you simply arguing for keeping “undocumented workers” illegal?

  • Jameson Graber

    While I agree with the title of this post, I’m disappointed it only dealt with one libertarian objection to open borders. Surely no libertarian who opposes open borders believes *only* the welfare state incompatibility argument.

    Also, the opposite of open borders is not closed borders. It’s not like the US lets in zero immigrants each year (legally).

    If we open borders proponents are going to gain any ground, we have to be more convincing than this.

    • Chris Freiman

      Although there are lots of other arguments offered on behalf of immigration restriction, I think that the welfare state incompatibility one is particularly popular among libertarians. I hope to write some posts addressing other ones in the future.

    • Sean II

      Some of us open border skeptics don’t use the welfare state argument at all. Some of us rest our case on two closely related points:

      1) Open borders, by its own chosen phrasing, an absolute rule akin to “never initiate force” or “no property takings ever”. Absolute rules are usually stupid, therefore…

      2) Open borders are one form of liberty. If the cost of open borders is an undermining of the culture that sustains liberalism, eventually resulting in a general loss of ALL forms of liberty, then clearly…

      • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

        2 is a weak point. Immigration could not possibly undermine liberty without the cooperation of natives. So then we have to expand into thinking that maybe anti-libertarian natives are as much a threat to liberty as immigrants, and ought to be deported. You could argue that the existence of bad natives is no reason to allow in bad foreigners, but then you’re arguing for the use of state violence to preserve liberty, and when has that ever worked?

        • Sean II

          “Immigration could not possibly undermine liberty without the cooperation of natives.”

          Of course not, but so what? Our movement is already locked in a desperate action against native statists, and now you’re claiming we have some non-negotiable, all-or-nothing moral obligation to lose that fight by letting our opponents win demographically.

          “You’re arguing for the use of state violence to preserve liberty, and when has that ever worked?”

          World War II, to give just one example. The American Civil War, if like. It happens all the time.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            I’m simply asking why you think it’s okay to keep bad foreigners out but not okay to deport bad natives. Or, do you think it’s okay to deport bad natives?

          • Sean II

            I’ve said this before. I’ve probably said this to you before:

            The amount of force required to deport people who are already here is massive and revolting. Of course I don’t want that.

            The amount of force required to completely close the border is massive and revolting. Of course I don’t want that.

            The amount required to discourage and thereby slow the rate of inflow is much less. That’s what we’re talking about here.

            I’m telling you, Ryan, great things happen to your mind once you let in a sensitivity to consequences and realize that knock-down deductive arguments about morality are a) tedious, and b) all-but-guaranteed to produce error.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            1 – How do you discourage the inflow of statists and not libertarians? Or is this mostly just an exercise in probability? 9 out of 10 Ruritanians are statists, so let’s discourage them all from coming here, is that it?

            2 – While not every immigrant is starving and desperate, many are, and your argument seems to suggest that they deserve their fate. I’m not comfortable with that.

            3 – Are government-enforced border controls the only way you are willing to imagine “discouraging” statists from taking root in your community?

          • Sean II

            1) “How do you discourage the inflow of statists and not libertarians?”

            Don’t pretend you don’t know. Africa and Latin America include approximately zero libertarians.

            2) Who the hell ever said anything about anyone deserving their fate? Refusing to share in someone’s fate is not the same thing as wishing it upon them.

            3) “Are government-enforced border controls the only way you are willing to imagine “discouraging” statists from taking root in your community?”

            Of course not. Please…I’m begging you man to man…please stop being cute. It’s not that resisting demographic change is the only way to discourage statism. It’s just that massive demographic change is one of the more plausible ways for statism to win big.

        • Sean II

          More important point: no one denies, Ryan, that you’ve got yourself a tidy little syllogism. Open borders = force, force = rights violation, open border therefore can’t = protecting rights.

          Good for you. Rand and Rothbard had a bunch of airtight arguments just like that.

          The problem is just that your conclusion is morally absurd. Why? Because it’s always absurd to say “we must do X no matter what!”

          You’re allowing no sensitivity to consequences, and we’ve all seen to what madness that leads.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            I’d be happy to entertain consequences, if you’d be willing to fully articulate them. What threat to liberty do foreigners present that is not already present in natives? That’s the question.

          • Sean II

            The same threat, but possible much more and much worse.

            If you merely switch from being insensitive to consequences to being insensitive to questions of degree, then you’ll have missed the point.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            “possibly much more and much worse” is pretty speculative. I agree, if you assume the worst, it will be almost impossible to be convinced of anything.

          • Sean II

            Let me explain what you sound like to someone like me.

            “Gosh, Sean, I don’t know what you guys are talking about. There are statists in Florida. There are statists in Haiti. If the people of Haiti merely walk around – or swim around as the case may be – what difference does that make to the way things are in Florida?”

            Do you see what I’m saying? It sounds extremely disingenuous. It sounds like you’ve enslaved yourself to a syllogism. It sounds like you’re pretending not to know several things I think you certainly do know…like the crucial role individual states, and thus focal demographic changes, can play in American politics…like the way immigrants’ cultural baggage can and almost certainly will dispose them to be eventual captives of the Democratic party…like the fact that American political parties do horrible things when they get an unrestrained upper hand…etc.

            Most of all, the thing it feels like you’re pretending not to know is something every libertarian should now: that liberalism is extremely fragile in human history, and that some cultures – indeed perhaps some peoples – have shown themselves unable or unwilling to tolerate it.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            I’m going to apologize for sounding disingenuous and leave it at that, before things get more ad hominem than I feel they need to be. I am not convinced by your fears. It’s nothing personal. I’d prefer that you agreed with me, but we agree on enough things that it doesn’t get under my skin that you don’t agree with me here.

          • Sean II

            That’s fair enough, and all I ask. I think there’s a better debate to be had on the empirical case.

            In other words, we both admit that there is some point at which the consequences of open borders would override the admittedly strong presumption in their favor, and we argue about when that is.

            You think it’s very far away, or maybe you think it’s not very probable at any time. I think otherwise, and this leaves us much to discuss.

          • Linear

            It is present in natives, but in a different proportion which is significant in a democracy (which was Sean’s point). Or do you think that all of the arguments over the political persuasion of legal and illegal immigrants is irrelevant to liberty?

          • Linear

            It is present in natives, but in a different proportion which is significant in a democracy (which was Sean’s point). Or do you think that all of the arguments over the political persuasion of legal and illegal immigrants is irrelevant to liberty?

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            I don’t think political views are a valid reason to include/exclude a person from a community, just as I don’t think political views are a valid reason to deny a person freedom of speech.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            I don’t think political views are a valid reason to include/exclude a person from a community, just as I don’t think political views are a valid reason to deny a person freedom of speech.

          • Linear

            So, you view granting someone the right to coerce you through their democratic vote as tantamount to granting them free speech? That “coercive” part doesn’t give you pause that maybe you should discriminate against including those who would vote to outlaw hate speech or political speech, for example?

            In your view, what are some valid reasons to include/exclude a person from a community?

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            Sorry, I’m trying to figure out why you put the word coercive in quotation marks. You’re certainly not quoting me. Thus I’m not sure how to reply to that aspect of your comment. I don’t know what you’re referring to.

            As to inclusion/exclusion, that’s an interesting question. I don’t know that I’ve ever articulated a theory on that before. Nothing immediately comes to mind as a valid reason to exclude anyone from a community. I’m not saying that there are no valid reasons, I’m just saying that on the first pass I can’t really think of a reason why communities would be in the right for forcibly excluding someone.

          • Linear

            Hehehe, sorry, the quotation marks just came out of me as a reference back to that part of my own previous sentence. :) That was a mistake. I was just pointing out how democracy is coercive but free speech is not, so they are not analogous.

            Do you agree that democracy is coercive? If so, why wouldn’t you have an interest in forming an exclusive community with similar views on coercion as you do? Political views are essentially views on coercion.

            Also, just to clarify, when you say “communities”, you are still talking about states and not simply social communities like fan clubs, right?

            If so, then are you saying that you are in favor of everyone in the world having a vote on your rights and how you live your life? Because that seems to be the implication of including everyone within a single democracy. And, as the world currently stands, I think you’d probably lose rights as a result of that.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            Ah, I get it now. Thanks for clarifying.

            Well, first of all, I think modern democracy is coercive, yes, but I don’t think democracy is inherently coercive, nor do I think it need be coercive in practice. In my opinion, it depends on the scale of the democracy, as well as its jurisdiction; possibly also its opt-out criteria.

            But I do think it’s interesting that you seem to be hinting at the idea that democracy is coercive, while community exclusion is less so. I’m not sure I agree with that.

            By “community,” I’m talking about any group of people that functions as the dominant social network for human interaction. So, I’d exclude fan clubs, but include more than just governments. Neighborhoods, religions, employers, etc. can all become the dominant social network in a person’s life. That’s really what I mean by community.

            I see your point in your last paragraph. I suppose it’s similar to Sean II’s point. I think there are easy ways around this problem. First, the more people in your community, the more people who are like you tend to be there, and there is protection in numbers, even when the overall % is low. This is one of the points they make in The Federalist Papers, of course, but I know that kind of citation won’t get me much traction among an-caps. :)

            The best way to solve this problem, in my opinion is to impose strict limits – including strict punishments – on governments and politicians. I believe the strictest punishments in a community ought to be reserved for community leaders and invoked when the community leaders violate the rules of government or work to expand them.

            And, I don’t believe my idea should be a “rule about government,” I believe it should be a shared cultural value. I take Sean’s point that letting in a diverse group of people will dilute shared values (but do note that this is a good thing, where statism prevails), but I don’t think exclusion is the solution here. I think persuasion is.

          • Linear

            But I do think it’s interesting that you seem to be hinting at the idea that democracy is coercive, while community exclusion is less so.

            I wouldn’t say that. In fact, since (to some extent) you grant to others in your democratic community that power of coercion over you and you can leave, there may be less coercion within. But naturally, you have an interest in choosing who you grant that power to. Meanwhile, you have no agreement with those outside your community.

            Think of it this way: one person owns land (somehow) and agrees to have it internally administered as a democracy according to a constitution. The right of exclusion is then essentially property rights. On what basis do you have a right to compel the community to include you?

            Neighborhoods, religions, employers, etc. can all become the dominant social network in a person’s life. That’s really what I mean by community.

            And you believe that you have a right to be included in any social network you may choose?

            First, the more people in your community, the more people who are like you tend to be there, and there is protection in numbers, even when the overall % is low. This is one of the points they make in The Federalist Papers, of course, but I know that kind of citation won’t get me much traction among an-caps. :)

            You are free to make Madison’s argument for centralizing power. I will concede its limited merit in balancing some local corruption while pointing out its general failure historically since the centralized power is then corrupted to more devastating effect. But even if Madison were right, that is an argument for why I should want to include everyone in our democracy, not an argument for why outsiders have a right to be included in it.

            As for your related point, I agree that there is protection in the numbers of people who are like me, which is why I have an interest in protecting those numbers. Democratically, the fewer voters there are, the better we are each represented.

            The best way to solve this problem, in my opinion is to impose strict limits – including strict punishments – on governments and politicians.

            What is the mechanism of that imposition? i.e. how long would your strict limits on government last if socialists are predominantly immigrating?

            And, I don’t believe my idea should be a “rule about government,” I believe it should be a shared cultural value. I take Sean’s point that letting in a diverse group of people will dilute shared values (but do note that this is a good thing, where statism prevails), but I don’t think exclusion is the solution here. I think persuasion is.

            Well, statism should prevail for those who want statism. Politically, we would all be better off if the statists and libertarians among us separated rather than maintaining the hodgepodge political mixture that we have now.

            Persuading people not to steal your property is also far better than forcefully preventing it, but both are justified. And because you lack borders, you would have to persuade everyone in the world, whereas I only have to persuade those I choose to form a community with. In fact, we may very well form our community because we already agree.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            Wait – you made a jump in logic that I don’t endorse. Maybe it’s a misunderstanding.

            Before, we were talking about whether forced exclusion is coercive. Suddenly you switched to talking about forced inclusion.

            I’m not in favor of forced inclusion, I simply oppose forced exclusion. In the present context, this means that I don’t think society is obligated to make room for immigrants, but I also think that they ought to be able to freely migrate.

            If your argument is that anything that is not forced exclusion is forced inclusion, then you’d better convince me of that first before we talk about the various aspects of forced inclusion.

            The rest of your comment appears (to me) to be rooted in that misunderstanding, so I’ll leave it at that.

          • Linear

            They ought to be able to freely migrate where and with what incorporation into government?

            Perhaps our discussion has topically drifted into the other thread on the nation-house analogy. You can read what I wrote there, but essentially, if there is no agreement between landowners, then yes, they can rent or sell to whomever they want. However, they can also form an agreement, akin to a nation, that restricts entrance into their community, perhaps in the hopes of preserving some aspects of their community, such as liberty, defense, health, etc.

            What if you somehow established a nation on your own property? Would it still be subject to your property rights, including your power of exclusion?

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            There is an element of reasonableness here. I don’t think there is any justification for denying someone the ability to pass through, as in Jason’s recent public roads post. Sure, no one has the right to trespass, but migration isn’t trespassing.

            No, I don’t think it’s reasonable to exclude someone from political participation just because their ilk statistically differs from my ilk.

            I think a lot of these problems arise from the fact that modern governments are too involved in our lives, that no one chooses to solve problems with direct conversation.

          • Linear

            In my property rights example, not only is migration trespassing, it is permanent theft, isn’t it?

            The heart of the matter is that in order to achieve the positive liberty of free immigration, you have to prohibit communities from forming voluntary agreements that in any way limits such migration into their community.

            “Statistically differs” sounds innocuous, but to be clear, “their ilk statistically differs” from you in what they are going to impose upon you through government.

            I agree that government is too involved in our lives and that is due to Madison’s centralization of power. Too many people have a say in how you live your life, and because government is so expansive, it is harder to escape it to another, different community.

            Now, in practice, I think you and I are probably very similar — I think open borders is generally fantastic and mutually beneficial, and but that exists within the context of the right to exclude, just as free trade exists within the context of property rights.

          • Christopher S.

            “it’s absurd to say “we must do X no matter what!””

            Why? Presumably, because of this:

            “You’re allowing no sensitivity to consequences, and we’ve all seen to what madness that leads.”

            I take it that what you say in second clause of the sentence above is supposed to be the justification for what you say in the first. What are you referring to by “madness”? Bad consequences? So, then, do you want to say something like “We ought to be sensitive to consequences in our moral reasoning, because not being sensitive to consequences leads to bad consequences”? I don’t think citing that as the reason for being sensitive to consequences should be, all on its own, terribly compelling to a hard-line deontologist. Or is your reasoning here different from my characterization?

            At any rate, I’ve never known what to make of this idea of being sensitive to consequences yet also being concerned for respecting rights. I don’t know what this recommendation amounts to, or how it’s motivated, or how it’s supposed to be coherent. It strikes me as akin to somebody saying “Y’know, you really ought to work some macaroni into your pipe bomb recipe.” What?! WHY?? Reasoning from deontological considerations and reasoning from considerations of consequences strike me as fundamentally different, incommensurable even. From the point of view of a hard-line deontologist, I don’t see what reason there is for being sensitive to consequences. So is there some independent standard we’re supposed to appeal to? What is it?

            Another thing that sort of bugs me is the suggestion — which I have occasionally seen made on this blog — that the hard-line deontological view is somehow less sophisticated than whatever view folks here want to take up, as though hard-line deontologists are just too thick to see that there is this position in logical space where deontology gets smooshed together with concern for consequences (for whatever mysterious reason). I suspect that from the point of view of a hard-line deontologist, being sensitive to consequences some of the time just looks unprincipled and ad hoc. We presumably want to avoid these sorts of theoretical modifications in other domains. So why not in moral theory? And if one wants to say that moral rights are justified by appeal to consequences from the get-go, then why not go the whole hog and just be a consequentialist? I’d really like to see a principled reason why we get to help ourselves to an appeal to consequences only some of the time or, if we’re justifying moral rights by appeal to consequences, why we get to treat these things as the sorts of trumps that rights are normally treated as.

          • Sean II

            “Another thing that sort of bugs me is the suggestion…that the hard-line deontological view is somehow less sophisticated…”

            Hard-line deontic views reliably yield absurd and revolting conclusions.

            At this point in the history of ethics, people who cling to those views ARE less sophisticated.

          • Christopher S.

            “it’s absurd to say “we must do X no matter what!””

            Why? Presumably, because of this:

            “You’re allowing no sensitivity to consequences, and we’ve all seen to what madness that leads.”

            I take it that what you say in second clause of the sentence above is supposed to be the justification for what you say in the first. What are you referring to by “madness”? Bad consequences? So, then, do you want to say something like “We ought to be sensitive to consequences in our moral reasoning, because not being sensitive to consequences leads to bad consequences”? I don’t think citing that as the reason for being sensitive to consequences should be, all on its own, terribly compelling to a hard-line deontologist. Or is your reasoning here different from my characterization?

            At any rate, I’ve never known what to make of this idea of being sensitive to consequences yet also being concerned for respecting rights. I don’t know what this recommendation amounts to, or how it’s motivated, or how it’s supposed to be coherent. It strikes me as akin to somebody saying “Y’know, you really ought to work some macaroni into your pipe bomb recipe.” What?! WHY?? Reasoning from deontological considerations and reasoning from considerations of consequences strike me as fundamentally different, incommensurable even. From the point of view of a hard-line deontologist, I don’t see what reason there is for being sensitive to consequences. So is there some independent standard we’re supposed to appeal to? What is it?

            Another thing that sort of bugs me is the suggestion — which I have occasionally seen made on this blog — that the hard-line deontological view is somehow less sophisticated than whatever view folks here want to take up, as though hard-line deontologists are just too thick to see that there is this position in logical space where deontology gets smooshed together with concern for consequences (for whatever mysterious reason). I suspect that from the point of view of a hard-line deontologist, being sensitive to consequences some of the time just looks unprincipled and ad hoc. We presumably want to avoid these sorts of theoretical modifications in other domains. So why not in moral theory? And if one wants to say that moral rights are justified by appeal to consequences from the get-go, then why not go the whole hog and just be a consequentialist? I’d really like to see a principled reason why we get to help ourselves to an appeal to consequences only some of the time or, if we’re justifying moral rights by appeal to consequences, why we get to treat these things as the sorts of trumps that rights are normally treated as.

  • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

    Great, concise post. I completely agree.

  • M Lister

    Not being a libertarian, I don’t have a horse in the general fight, but think this bit might be somewhat misleadingly put:

    preventing an increase in the consumption of state-provided benefits

    The argument as I understand it is that open borders would, plausibly, make many types of benefits (and certainly things like access to a UBI) impossible. Characterizing this as “preventing an increase in consumption” seems to me to at least violate a Gricean maxim. If you read, say, Chandran Kukathas on immigration, it’s clear that he think one of the clear benefits of open borders is that it will make the welfare state, let alone something like a UBI, impossible. This is at least a clearly-up and well thought out position, though to my mind an unattractive one.

    • adrianratnapala

      I haven’t read exactly what Kukathas says about this. However, free immigration would result in a huge economic benefit flowing to many poor people. Probably more than the welfare state achieves. At least the beneficiaries will be much more needy than today’s welfare recipients. If I understand your position correctly, then it is quite unattractive to my mind.

  • Les Kyle Nearhood

    Bollocks

    • M Lister

      To what?

  • eccdogg

    What if huge numbers of immigrants destroyed the culture that makes even modest libertarianism possible? To me that is the strongest argument against completely open borders.

    What if you knew that 100 million people with views strongly in the statist end of the Nolan chart would move to the US? Would that not make you give pause to completely open borders?

    Now maybe that is unrealistic because immigrants are not pro statist or because they would not move here in that great a number. But those are empirical arguments that need to be made and I don’t see open borders advocates addressing those issues.

    I think there is a presumption of free immigration and personally I am in favor of much more of it, but there are certainly circumstances where we might say that we only have the ability to assimilate so much before changing the fundamental nature of the country.

    When I look out at the rest of the world I see a bunch of folks that are much less libertarian than the US. I think open borders advocates need to calm my fears that mass immigration of those folks won’t make the US look just like the rest of the world.

    • johnleemk

      “What if you knew that 100 million people with views strongly in the statist end of the Nolan chart would move to the US? Would that not make you give pause to completely open borders?”

      Maybe, but it would depend on the consequences of them holding those views. A lot of people may have very disagreeable personal opinions or political views, but we don’t persecute them for it. I’ve never seen a libertarian argue that it’d be okay for the state to starve African-Americans to death because this would move the country’s politics in a more libertarian-leaning direction. So why is it okay for the state to persecute foreigners who would happily follow its laws?

      Is it just because of the magnitudes? Is there some point at which the African-American population might grow large enough that libertarians would support coercive action against African-Americans, to reduce the “political risk” of having these people around? I believe it is because of the principle: it is not okay to persecute people for their political beliefs — and certainly not okay to *collectively* punish a group of individuals for political beliefs that they might hold *on average*.

      All that said, the evidence shows that US migrants are not really that much more statist than natives, and much less likely to be politically-engaged, which makes the political risk of large migration flows look pretty small (not least because it takes them some time to acquire voting rights — an option which far from all of them pursue — and even once they are citizens, they are still less likely to vote). For a deeper look at migrants’ political views, see this analysis of General Social Survey data: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2012/06/the_gss_and_the.html

      • eccdogg

        Yes, for me it is mainly about magnitudes and the general recognition that limited government is the minority opinion around the world and few places have achieved our level of freedom. I think we can win over reasonable numbers by the general desire to conform to the norms of the local culture, but at some point there is a limit to that force.

        I think Sean nailed it on your question regarding AA. I do not view controlling immigration flows as the same thing as starving people or deporting people. I still think limiting free movement is bad and so should be avoided unless there are other strong reasons for doing so. Maybe those reasons are weak. That is the conversation I want to have.

        So thank you for bringing some data/analysis to the conversation. I had seen that data before and find the analysis pretty weak for reasons pointed out by some of the commentators. Particularly because the analysis controls for race, education, and political affiliation. But the point about political engagement is a good one.

        • johnleemk

          “I think we can win over reasonable numbers by the general desire to conform to the norms of the local culture, but at some point there is a limit to that force.”

          I agree. I think our main difference is that I don’t find political views a very compelling reason to use violent force to exclude someone from my society or community. Even if many migrants and/or their descendants adopted political views different to mine, as long as we hashed our differences out through the community’s accepted and legitimate political process, I would strongly oppose any attempt to exclude them simply for having those views. I don’t see a need for the state to enforce my political views on others at gunpoint.

          “I do not view controlling immigration flows as the same thing as starving people or deporting people. I still think limiting free movement is bad and so should be avoided unless there are other strong reasons for doing so. Maybe those reasons are weak.”

          I generally agree, but I think I reach somewhat different conclusions than you. The effects of arbitrary border controls devastate the lives of hundreds of millions of people: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjLcbV18gw4

          Will migrants bring in different views? Definitely. Might their views be wrong? Probably. But while some see that as reason enough in of itself to exclude them, I don’t.

          If there were clear and compelling evidence of existential danger from open borders, I would probably change my mind. But the best arguments I’ve seen for this are mere hypotheticals and what-ifs.

          I actually perceive the arguments against open borders as weaker than the arguments against abolishing slavery in the 19th century or the arguments for legal toleration of homosexuality in the 20th century. I may disagree with those who believe that allowing gays into our schools and our armed forces will destroy our society, but they have a decent point: it has never been tried before, who knows what could happen? These arguments are even stronger when applied to gay marriage. Literally no legal system ever recognised gay marriage until the 20th century. Who knows what the long-term effects could be?

          Meanwhile, not just the US but the world had open borders until the borders began closing at the end of the 19th century, and finally became sealed in the wake of WWI. To liberals of the 19th century, open borders was obvious. Frederick Douglass was not a fan of immigration which he thought undercut African-American labourers, but he nonetheless insisted migration was a human right in 1869 and vehemently opposed attempts to exclude Chinese migrants on this basis.

          When the German state was founded in the 1860s, the Reichstag voted for open borders without any debate. The main debate was actually about whether to entrench in the law further protections against deportation. On this, one German nationalist (Eduard Lasker) told the Reichstag: “it is a barbarity to make a distinction between foreigners and the indigenous in the right to hospitable residence. Not only every German, but every human being has the right to not be chased away like a dog.”

          I am not saying that conditions today are the same as those of the 19th century. Yet somehow today migration is not a human right but a gift for the state to bestow. What other human rights have we ever abolished because they ostensibly became “antiquated” or “outdated”? (Facetiously, one might argue the right to own human beings as private property is one such example…but I digress.)

          And when people criticise this regression, we are told that it obviously poses suicidal, catastrophic risks, on the basis of mere hypotheticals that never came to pass in the era of open borders which spans essentially all of human history. I don’t think the “argument from history” seals the case for open borders by any means, but I do find it fantastic that people insist on various catastrophic hypotheticals as very real possibilities when they never materialised in the era of open borders — in the era when liberals everywhere understood migration is a human right.

          Every social change carries risks. So let’s evaluate the risks. I don’t think we can pose elaborate hypotheticals and on that basis alone allege we have proven those risks to be real and sufficient to overturn an age-old understanding that every human being has the right not to be chased away like a dog.

          • johnleemk

            Minor typo: “or the arguments for legal toleration of homosexuality” should be “…arguments *against*…”

    • Sergio Méndez

      I love this racist cannard…as if such culture actually existed in the US or most of the first worild nations to start…

    • Sergio Méndez

      I love this racist cannard…as if such culture actually existed in the US or most of the first worild nations to start…

  • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

    Chris:
    I have a question. Imagine a scale that registers how closely a society adheres to the rule of law (as understood by Hayek), with “10” representing perfect compliance and “1” representing violent, lawless chaos. Further suppose that a particular country (with restricted immigration) rates a “5” on this scale, but under open borders would drop to a “2;” should it still open its borders? What if the drop is only to “4”? What if a reduction in the rule of law is coupled with an increase in overall utility?

    • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

      How would that drop occur? Show your work.

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        Don’t really think I need to for purposes of posing a hypothetical, but let’s suppose that the potential immigrants are substantially more likely then the natives to resort to ideological violence when other people are perceived to “insult” their religion or to hold political views, or sexual orientations, they find offensive.

        • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

          It’s not the purpose of a hypothetical to contradict logic. Obviously, if you define a hypothetical bizarro world that behaves exactly opposite to true reality, then the answer to every bizarro hypothetical is “do whatever is the opposite of what I would normally do.” How interesting is that exercise, though?

          Your question essentially boils down to “How violent would people have to be before you would tolerate an increase in state violence?” It’s a false dichotomy. So long as there is an alternative to state violence then there are other ways to deal with the problem.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            You say, “So long as there is an alternative to state violence then there are other ways to deal with the problem.” Really? Funny, you don’t explain how.

            In 2004, Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker and critic of Islam was murdered in broad daylight on the streets of Amsterdam by a radical Muslim immigrant-citizen, who objected to a documentary van Gogh had filmed. His collaborator, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, received so many credible death threats, she had to flee the County.

            How many filmmakers and artists in the Netherlands are now willing to criticize Islam. As a libertarian, I would find such a situation intolerable. If the Dutch government were to reasonably conclude that open borders would [produce more ideological murders f this sort, what is the alternative to restricted immigration?

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            Yes, I’m familiar with that story. The difference between my opinion and yours seems to be that you believe this murder is an immigration problem, and I believe this murder is a murder problem. By your own account, the criminal was a legal immigrant – even better, he was a citizen. So I am not sure why you feel this is an argument against open borders.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            I really can’t understand your puzzlement. Um…the killer gained access to Holland through immigration. Quite plausibly, if the Dutch opened their borders they would get many more fanatical, intolerant Muslims, who would commit more ideological murders. I can understand why this seems incredibly far-fetched to you, because when The Satanic Verses was published in 1988, Muslims around the world, while strongly objecting to its content, uniformly rallied around the right of the author to publish, shouting, “we hate what you say about Islam, but we will defend to the death your right to say it.” And, admirably, the author didn’t receive a single death threat.

            Laudably, there was a similar reaction in 2005 when a Danish newspaper published satirical cartoons about the prophet Muhammad. Here again, global Muslim reaction was a model of tolerance and restraint: no riots, no deadly mob violence, no threats against the publisher.

            I am not finding this conversation very productive, so I will just leave you with this. We have an empirical disagreement about the gravity of the threat to liberty posed by unlimited immigration. You are welcome to your opinion, your opinion may even be right. My only point is that neither you or Prof. Freiman is entitled to excommunicate other libertarians because we have different opinions.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            I really can’t understand your puzzlement. Um…the killer gained access to Holland through immigration. Quite plausibly, if the Dutch opened their borders they would get many more fanatical, intolerant Muslims, who would commit more ideological murders. I can understand why this seems incredibly far-fetched to you, because when The Satanic Verses was published in 1988, Muslims around the world, while strongly objecting to its content, uniformly rallied around the right of the author to publish, shouting, “we hate what you say about Islam, but we will defend to the death your right to say it.” And, admirably, the author didn’t receive a single death threat.

            Laudably, there was a similar reaction in 2005 when a Danish newspaper published satirical cartoons about the prophet Muhammad. Here again, global Muslim reaction was a model of tolerance and restraint: no riots, no deadly mob violence, no threats against the publisher.

            I am not finding this conversation very productive, so I will just leave you with this. We have an empirical disagreement about the gravity of the threat to liberty posed by unlimited immigration. You are welcome to your opinion, your opinion may even be right. My only point is that neither you or Prof. Freiman is entitled to excommunicate other libertarians because we have different opinions.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            In other words, you oppose immigration because you’re frightened of Muslims.

            I find your excommunication comment strange, especially levied at me, a true nobody. I don’t care what label you ascribe to yourself or who else agrees to it. I care about open borders and liberalized immigration, and that’s what I was talking to you about.

            Anyhoo, it’s clear that you take exception to Freiman’s rhetoric. I can understand that.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Then it was some other Ryan Long who said, “Great, concise post. I completely agree.”

            ETA: And just for the record, I am not “frightened of Muslims.” The majority of immigrants from (say) Pakistan would probably be just fine. But it only takes a small percentage of crazies to adversely impact the rule of law. If you have a reliable way of segregating the dangerous from the benign potential immigrants from Pakistan, I am all ears. But then again, this would not truly be open borders, would it?

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            Or potentially some other Christopher Freiman who said, “MARK_D_FRIEDMAN and people who agree with him should be excommunicated from libertarianism.”

          • jdkolassa

            Did you miss the part where Freiman wrote “There’s No Such Thing as a Closed-Borders Libertarian” ?

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            Nope, I definitely read that part.

          • jdkolassa

            Then you can see how some people will read that as an excommunication, if they happen to be someone who holds both a “closed borders” view and general libertarian views simultaneously. Words matter.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Particularly, when I (and I suspect many other libertarians) favor substantially more open borders.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            We agree that words matter.

            ex·com·mu·ni·cate
            verb
            ˌekskəˈmyo͞oniˌkāt/
            1.
            officially exclude (someone) from participation in the sacraments and services of the Christian Church.
            adjective
            ˌekskəˈmyo͞oniˌkit/
            1.
            excommunicated.
            “all violators were to be pronounced excommunicate”
            noun
            ˌekskəˈmyo͞oniˌkit/
            1.
            an excommunicated person.

          • jdkolassa

            Okay, fine, this isn’t literally a church. You got me there.

            But Freiman’s tone is still denying that someone who holds a closed borders view and generally libertarians views elsewhere is impossible. As anyone reading this comments section can attest, that is simply not true – no matter how much you disagree with them on the borders issue. No wonder some people may then label that as an excommunication and get bothered by it. You trying to deny that just makes you look silly and pedantic.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            No, but look: You’re the one who went off on a tirade about how words matter, and then went on to use words incorrectly. So, yes, I “gotcha,” but only because you seemed to insist on being “gotten.”

            As for Freiman’s piece, it’s obvious to me that he wasn’t “excommunicating” anyone, and if you got that impression, I suggest not being so sensitive. The thrust of Freiman’s point is that calling oneself libertarian while opposing open borders seems to place one in the midst of some irreconcilably contradictory logic.

            Becoming angry and indignant and shouting religious-flavored words like “excommunication” doesn’t help your case, it only makes you look like you’re not willing to think about the issue with a level head.

          • jdkolassa

            Look, all I am saying is that you’re being far too flippant in dismissing Friedman’s concerns, and you should try to think what Friedman is feeling.

            But you’ve demonstrated in this thread that you’re not really interested in debate and you’re focused on yourself, not others, so there’s really nothing more to talk about.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            As far as I can tell, Friedman’s objection to open borders is that a statistically small number of immigrants would end up committing violent crimes. But, as he himself has acknowledged, a statistically small number of immigrants commit violent crimes even under the current regime. And furthermore, a statistically small number of natives also commit violent crimes under the current regime, and would likely do so under an open-borders scenario as well.

            When you fuse all this information into a coherent story, what it suggests is that a statistically small number of people commit violent crimes, no matter which side of any imaginary line they are born on.

            So my point, and my response to Friedman’s fears, in case you’ve missed it, is that citing examples of rare violent crimes neither helps nor hinders the case for open borders.

            Flippant is also a word that means something. You may dislike my tone for whatever reason, but I am responding to the arguments Friedman has made with my opinion as I understand the world. You and Friedman are more than welcome to respond to my arguments, and we can have a nice discussion.

            But between allegations of flippancy and excommunication, it sounds like all you’re really interested in is ad hominem.

          • jdkolassa

            You are really missing the point of where I jumped in, dude. I should probably save you further embarrassment and just stop here.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            Well you’ve clearly underestimated the depth of my lack of pride. I’m more than happy to continue embarrassing myself if I feel it proves a point. I’m shameless.

            So I’ve managed to make short work of your excommunication stuff, and the only thing remaining is the flippancy stuff. To be sure, any allegation of flippancy is prima facie interesting, but unless it’s substantiated, it’s really not much more than the aforementioned ad hominem.

            So the question at this point is how much have I embarrassed myself by adding another reply, and how much did it serve my point?

  • Chris Freiman

    Regarding questions about extraordinary cases where a policy of open immigration would be harmful for all involved, I’d say that (1) these cases tell us little, if anything, about real-world policy and (2) even if they show that there are in-principle exceptions to open borders, this wouldn’t make free immigration different from any other policy commitment. That is, we can devise examples that show that any policy, from free speech to free trade, has counterintuitive implications in strange enough circumstances.

    • eccdogg

      Lets say it is not harmful for all involved, lets just say that it is harmful for the current citizens of the US.

      Lets say we live in a little libertarian utopia (other than totally open borders) and the local culture being what it is everyone is supportive of that. The rest of the world is essentially about as libertarian as Argentina or worse Iran.

      If we open our borders a bunch of folks who are fairly representative of the rest of the world will move in making our community about half as libertarian (how ever you want to define that) as it was before. Still better than the rest of the world and better for those who moved in but worse for us who loved our little libertarian utopia.

      Do we morally have to let them all in? What if letting some in gradually allowed us to slowly convince the new entrants of the value of libertarianism while also serving as an example to the rest of the world.

      While the above is a bit extreme, I think it does have some relationship to the world we live in. A large number of immigrants to the US are Hispanic. Hispanic countries are much less libertarian than the US and Hispanic immigrants (even second and third generation) hold views that are far less libertarian than the average for the US.

      http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-x4kyH6sA2MU/UKFyYxWA49I/AAAAAAAAAsw/YSd_dxdOqWE/s320/Pew2.png

      • johnleemk

        Are you seriously saying that people should be denied fundamental freedoms, such as the right to live, work, and play where they choose (as long as they don’t steal, murder, etc. — for some reason this always has to be explicitly spelled out when we talk about migrants, even though nobody’s ever accused free trade advocates of supporting a free trade in nuclear armaments), simply because of their political views?

        What next? If the US government decides to start persecuting African-Americans or Jews again, should libertarians shrug their shoulders and say “Ehhh, they were statists anyway, why bother letting them live?”

        You may protest that it’s not fair to compare the rights of American citizens to foreigners. I agree, foreigners probably shouldn’t have the same political rights as American citizens. But I still don’t see why I’m supposed to stand by and let the state persecute someone just because he or she has the wrong political beliefs — whether or not that someone is libertarian or not.

        The possibly-apocryphal statement “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” somehow morphs into “I disagree with what you say, and so if the state lets me, I will put you to death” when that “someone” is a foreigner. I for the life of me cannot justify this kind of differential treatment.

        • eccdogg

          Well yes, if a group of people’s political views involve taking away my property I would prefer that they stay as far away as possible.

          Now I do balance that against a generally belief that the right to migrate and associate with whom ever you want is a fundamental human right so you need strong evidence of bad consequences to overcome it. I am not sure that threshold is met so I favor more immigration. But I prefer gradualism so that we can assess the situation as we go.

          • johnleemk

            “Well yes, if a group of people’s political views involve taking away my property I would prefer that they stay as far away as possible.”

            So would you vote to ban African-Americans or Jews from renting homes in your neighbourhood?

            As long as people adhere to the law in adjudicating political disputes, I have no quarrel with people who hold political views different from mine. I might have quarrel with the law if I feel it does not offer me due process or fairly protect my basic rights. But in general I cannot fault anyone, whoever they might be, for following the legal political process. I certainly would not advocate or even tolerate the persecution of people who try to use their legal rights to advocate for their views. I may consider Marxists seriously misguided, but I stoutly refuse to support any law that prevents a law-abiding Marxist from earning a living or putting a roof over their own head. If I would do that for Marxists, I can surely do that for foreigners of all political stripes.

            (BTW I agree in principle with your point re gradualism. But I would have to be persuaded of strong imminent risk that the existing order would collapse and be replaced with some dystopian theocracy or Stalinist regime before I would agree to restrictions of fundamental human rights — and that goes the same whether the risk originates from citizens or foreigners.)

          • eccdogg

            Does it really have to go as far as dystopian theocracy or stalinist regime.

            What if open borders just turned America in Argentina? Not awful, but not as libertarian as it is today. Should I still support open borders?

            I ask these questions because I generally want to be convinced. I think there is a prima facie right to open borders, but I also realize that the rest of the world is pretty messed up place from a libertarian perspective and I don’t want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            Now we’re back to strange hypotheticals. If open borders turned America into Argentina. If immigrants are categorically more violent than natives. If raindrops were made out of meat… Yes, life would be very different in these scenarios. So what?

          • johnleemk

            “What if open borders just turned America in Argentina? Not awful, but not as libertarian as it is today. Should I still support open borders?”

            What if emancipating blacks turned America into Haiti? What if giving women the vote turned America into a Soviet socialist state? What if abolishing apartheid turned South Africa into Mugabe’s Zimbabwe?

            What if letting homosexuals teach elementary school turned our children gay? What if letting homosexuals into the armed forces destroys our fighting force? What if letting people openly toke up causes our kids to drop out of school and turn into drug addicts?

            I’m not trying to be facetious — these are serious questions about serious civil rights issues that serious people once asked. Neither am I trying to be dismissive. I know personally a number of people who once asked — in some cases, still ask — some of these very questions.

            My point is that you can ask these questions all you like. But today few of us would argue that a just society should deny blacks or women the vote — or that South Africa should continue oppressing its blacks. A majority of Americans favour legalising gay marriage and decriminalising marijuana — both seen as utterly impossible merely two decades ago. There are youth coming of age today who literally cannot imagine a world where most people — even those sympathetic to gays — thought it essential for the state to exclude homosexuals for the sake of protecting our civilisation and society.

            Going back further in time, if you read the debate on slavery from the first half of the 19th century, Americans once used the spectre of Haiti to shut down any conversation about freeing the slaves. People legitimately worried that freed slaves would massacre their former owners and also other people who idly stood by as those slaveowners tortured and abused their “property”. (I say “legitimately” because you can certainly see why people were afraid this might be a consequence of emancipation — not because I think they were right, with the benefit of hindsight, to worry.)

            To me, questions like the one you pose — what if open borders turns America into Argentina? — don’t counter the argument for open borders, so much as they suggest caution about the risks of undertaking any legal reform which might result in vast social change. That’s a very fair point. But that does not mean justice should not be done.

            If we should not criminalise a simple act of recreation like pot-smoking, there is no excuse for criminalising the act of seeking a better life because you happen to be part of a group that on average holds the “wrong” political views. The concerns you raise certainly behoove us to tread carefully. But they are not an excuse for letting injustice fester.

          • Sean II

            “What if abolishing apartheid turned South Africa into Mugabe’s Zimbabwe?”

            I know you think this is supposed to be some magic trump card, but I’ll say what any morally serious grown-up should say…

            …That would at least be a reason to hesitate, or to build in some conditions.

            The point of abolishing apartheid was to make life better for South African blacks. Turning into Zimbabwe would have made their lives worse, and would probably have made the lives of white South Africans…dead.

            If a given action makes everyone worse off, that should make you hesitate to call it a moral imperative.

            Of course, you seem to like calling things moral imperatives, so please..don’t let adulthood cramp your style.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            Do you think there is a difference between believing in taking away your property and actually taking it away? If not, do you believe communists ought to be deported?

          • eccdogg

            I do believe there is a difference. If some one could comfort me in to believing beliefs would not translate into actions by the state I would feel a lot better about totally unlimited immigration.

            But few people do the hard work of laying that case out. I want to be for open borders because I think it is a human right. I also want to live in as libertarian a society as possible.

            Seems like there are two answers to me.

            1) it’s a human right to immigrate and a big part of being libertarian. You morally have to accept it even if it weakens property rights or respect for individual liberty. Even if it makes the society you. Love worse. It is your obligation to make yourself worse because it is the right thing to do. This is a fair point and a bullet we may have to bite.

            2) The choice is a false one. Immigration at any level would not change the nature of the country in an adverse way. Or immigration at that level is unlikely. This second point is a empirical question and I find that open borders advocates spend little time addressing it.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            Like Freiman says, you’re laying out a case against migration that could easily be applied to any other right. You want to be comforted, and I agree that I am unwilling to comfort you. In the end, it’s a perspective. My belief that the evils that come with free speech are far outweighed by the benefits leads me to believe that free speech ought never be impeded. And so it is for migration.

            If you want to believe, I suggest simply giving yourself the permission to do so. There exists no logic that can convince you that your fears of the horrid masses of statist foreigners will destroy your world are off-base. I consider it an irrational fear, and I don’t know how to argue against irrational fears.

            More importantly, the marginal benefit of convincing you seems low to me. You already favor more open immigration policy, so for now I don’t really care where you draw the line, so long as we’re going in the same direction.

    • Sean II

      Yeah, the cases we’re worried about are not really so extraordinary. Parts of Europe are within plausible distance of a major clash between the social liberalism of natives and the unapologetic homophobia and misogyny of Islamic immigrants.

      Failing to deal with such possibilities doesn’t make you a no-nonsense objector to crazy thought experiments. It just makes you negligent.

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        Okay, but on the other side of the ledger, the Islamists have a warm spot in their hearts for the Jews of France, Sweden, Belgium, etc.

      • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

        Do you agree with the argument that free speech ought to be rescinded from those who would use speech to incite violence? If not, can you help me understand the difference? Otherwise I’m trying to understand how your argument doesn’t amount to “rights don’t exist for people who use them the wrong way.” For me, that’s a tough sell.

        • Sean II

          Bad analogy, Ryan. Free speech is just that – speech. the fact that some group talks about taking away my rights doesn’t justify any particular action on my part, except of course the act of talking back.

          But when that same group achieves a local majority in my town, say, and starts voting to take away my rights, then yeah…I would absolutely try to stop them, if need be by taking away, for instance, their right to vote.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            Yes, and migration is just walking around. The fact that someone walks across an imaginary line doesn’t deprive you of any of your property. “But what if it eventually happens?” is not a very good counter-argument against liberty. It is essentially no different than “who will build the roads.”

          • Sean II

            “”But what if it eventually happens?” is not a very good counter-argument against liberty.”

            Why not?

            “What if it eventually happens” is a perfectly good argument against smoking.

            “What if it eventually happens” is the basis of pretty much every effort we make to calculate and manage risk.

            There can’t be anything inherently wrong with questions taking the form of “what if it eventually happens?”

          • Artifex

            The fact that someone walks across an imaginary line doesn’t deprive you of any of your property

            Sorry, but I beg to differ. As things stand now it most certainly does deprive me of property and liberty in the form of taxes and requirements made by existing laws. Who exactly do you think is paying for the medical services and educational services that the migrants are “entitled to”

            I don’t find “But what if it eventually happen” a very good argument for liberty either. My rights are being restricted now. Rather than wait for the glorious libertarian revolution that promises to sweep away the welfare state, I prefer to keep this to a minimum as it stands thanks.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            Hi, Artifex. Maybe your tone didn’t properly convey, but the way you typed that comes across as somewhat indignant to me. I’m sorry if I’ve somehow offended you, but I can assure you that we’re all just having a friendly discussion about policy. :)

            I agree with you that immigrants are not entitled to public welfare. I happen to think that no one is entitled to public welfare, even in the form of minimum guaranteed income, or whatever it is the BHLs are favoring these days. So on that point, I disagree with Freiman.

            That said, your tax rate does not change based on how many people enter the country this year. I can think of an Austrian School-type argument by which the increases in inflation from the outlays paid to immigrant recipients of welfare would have an inflationary effect on the money supply. If this is what you mean, then my response is that, first, we have to discount that effect by the deflationary impact of a larger labor force, so it is entirely possible that your overall costs would still go down. Second, the marginal increase attached to any one immigrant is so small that you would not be likely to feel the cost increase, anyway. And considering the large increase in utility they would experience, utilitarian morality would suggest we let the immigrants in.

            Of course, you are probably thinking that open borders would result in tens of millions (or more) new entrants to your country. I actually doubt that, because every new arrival reduces the marginal benefit for the next immigrant. Neighboring states would likely modify their own immigration laws to attract newcomers or keep their domestic population (and tax base) intact. A natural equilibrium would start to emerge, no different than any other non-labor market.

            So while I hear your concerns, I respectfully disagree with them.

          • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

            Hi, Artifex. Maybe your tone didn’t properly convey, but the way you typed that comes across as somewhat indignant to me. I’m sorry if I’ve somehow offended you, but I can assure you that we’re all just having a friendly discussion about policy. :)

            I agree with you that immigrants are not entitled to public welfare. I happen to think that no one is entitled to public welfare, even in the form of minimum guaranteed income, or whatever it is the BHLs are favoring these days. So on that point, I disagree with Freiman.

            That said, your tax rate does not change based on how many people enter the country this year. I can think of an Austrian School-type argument by which the increases in inflation from the outlays paid to immigrant recipients of welfare would have an inflationary effect on the money supply. If this is what you mean, then my response is that, first, we have to discount that effect by the deflationary impact of a larger labor force, so it is entirely possible that your overall costs would still go down. Second, the marginal increase attached to any one immigrant is so small that you would not be likely to feel the cost increase, anyway. And considering the large increase in utility they would experience, utilitarian morality would suggest we let the immigrants in.

            Of course, you are probably thinking that open borders would result in tens of millions (or more) new entrants to your country. I actually doubt that, because every new arrival reduces the marginal benefit for the next immigrant. Neighboring states would likely modify their own immigration laws to attract newcomers or keep their domestic population (and tax base) intact. A natural equilibrium would start to emerge, no different than any other non-labor market.

            So while I hear your concerns, I respectfully disagree with them.

      • johnleemk

        “Parts of Europe are within plausible distance of a major clash between the social liberalism of natives and the unapologetic homophobia and misogyny of Islamic immigrants.”

        If immigrants are pushing for political change unlawfully (e.g., beating up men who don’t grow beards or women who dress the wrong way), there are remedies for that which don’t involve deporting every individual in their social group. Is the state somehow incapable of fining/jailing/deporting people who use violent force to push for political change? It seems odd to punish innocent immigrants for sharing the same national/ethnic origin as criminals, just because the state isn’t enforcing the law. Why do Europeans not hold the state accountable, and go off on the migrant-scapegoating red herring instead?

        And if immigrants are pushing for political change lawfully, I just don’t see signs of it posing a threat to European liberalism in the foreseeable future. The main threat to liberalism in Europe appears to be the rise of fringe far-right parties, who post surprisingly good numbers in elections across the continent, and often combine the worse aspects of conservatism (radical nationalism/racism) and leftism (economic socialism/populism).

        • Sean II

          “And if immigrants are pushing for political change lawfully, I just don’t see signs of it posing a threat to European liberalism in the foreseeable future.”

          Look, the groups we’re talking about in this example aren’t pushing for much of anything yet. They’re still too small, and they’re not yet savvy to the public choice-ish behavior of European states.

          But don’t duck the theoretical question. It is quite possible for even the nastier forms of political change to happen in ways that don’t give much warning.

          The disastrous triumph of British socialism is a good example. No one saw that coming in 1945. It didn’t start out as anything especially violent or aggressive or even noisy. Indeed, it couldn’t have looked less like the usual story we imagine of red goons marching up and down the street. But still, the damage that did to liberalism, in Britain and around the world, was very real…is very real even today.

          • johnleemk

            “Look, the groups we’re talking about in this example aren’t pushing for much of anything yet. They’re still too small, and they’re not yet savvy to the public choice-ish behavior of European states. But don’t duck the theoretical question.”

            Ah you said that the sort of catastrophic clashes you had in mind were hardly extraordinary and very plausible, so I thought you had something more concrete in mind.

            So what should we worry about then? The chance of something very bad happening? Ok — but what evidence is there that this chance is likely (say, >10% probability) to happen?

            The fact that you use socialist Britain as your example of a very-bad scenario makes me wonder. Now, I’m sure no country wants to become the sick man of Europe as Britain basically did from 1970-80. But how much violation of fundamental human freedoms should we accept to prevent this outcome?

            I think this is just where you and I differ. I don’t see much of a reason to persecute anyone on account of the political views that their social group may hold *on average*. As long as people follow the laws, I think governments have no just basis to exclude them.

            Might this lead to negative outcomes in a democracy? Most certainly. But that’s the chance we take. It’s the chance rich countries did when they stopped excluding blacks, when they stopped excluding women, so on and so forth. And if the worst case scenario is we trade a stagnant economy for about a decade (coupled with potentially some undesirable institutional setups like the NHS) versus unjustly persecuting people for an accident of birth, I’d take the stagnant economy any day. Economic prosperity founded on the persecution of others — even on the persecution of others simply for their political opinions — is fundamentally illiberal. But that’s just my view.

          • Sean II

            “Economic prosperity founded on the persecution of others — even on the persecution of others simply for their political opinions — is fundamentally illiberal. But that’s just my view.”

            I always love it when people try to combine humility with moral high-handedness. As in “I believe every child deserves a bright future, but that’s just my view.” Ugh.

            I also love the way you describe the NHS as, you know, just some “potentially undesirable institutional setup”. Oh, is that all it is?

            Even more do I love the way you describe a stagnant economy as though it’s just a thing that doesn’t really hurt anyone.

            So let me get this straight: stopping someone from crossing a border, that’s NEVER okay. But stopping people from buying health care, that’s just “potentially undesirable”. Stopping a whole bunch of people from having a job, or keeping what they earn from any job they’re lucky enough to have, that’s just a “stagnant economy” – no big deal.

            Here’s the sum of your position: when it comes to open borders, THERE CAN BE NO TRADE-OFFS! When it comes to everything else…hey, it’s all negotiable.

          • johnleemk

            “So let me get this straight: stopping someone from crossing a border, that’s NEVER okay. But stopping people from buying health care, that’s just “potentially undesirable”. Stopping a whole bunch of people from having a job, or keeping what they earn from any job they’re lucky enough to have, that’s just a “stagnant economy” – no big deal.

            “Here’s the sum of your position: when it comes to open borders, THERE CAN BE NO TRADE-OFFS! When it comes to everything else…hey, it’s all negotiable.”

            Well, I could borrow your arguments against free migration to argue against all other kinds of liberties.

            After all, Catholics often advocate all kinds of state oppression (e.g., bans on contraception, more government spending on welfare programmes irrespective of effectiveness). So clearly there ought to be limits on freedom of religion.

            And hey, look at the socialists circulating all their Marxist propaganda. Why don’t we have limits on freedom of speech?

            Those who advocate freedom of religion and freedom of speech clearly don’t believe in trade-offs, right?

            I do believe there are limits to every freedom and every right. Freedom of speech does not include the freedom to libel or slander, for example. Free trade and open borders do not give you the right to traffic in slaves. And so on. But if you want to peacefully participate in an open and lawful political process, that is not in of itself a reason for the state to coercively prohibit you from doing so.

            Those are the trade-offs and limits I believe in.

      • Sergio Méndez

        Meh…by that logic, in the US militant homophobia and misogeny of million of native christians should be cause for their deportation.

        • Sean II

          Don’t you go changing, Serg’. I love you just the way you are.

        • Sean II

          Don’t you go changing, Serg’. I love you just the way you are.

          • Libertymike

            “[You] don’t want clever conversation”?
            Tell me it ain’t so!

    • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

      Your #1 seems to me to be just another way of saying “I know that open borders will be great for all concerned, and if you disagree with me you don’t understand the way the real world works.” Since no modern liberal democracy has ever experimented with truly open borders, you can perhaps forgive me for not regarding this as a particularly powerful “argument.”

  • JonnyBH

    I agree with your headline, but am amazed that so many see no contradiction between calling oneself a libertarian and being in favor of “institutional” (government) force being used to mandate economic redistribution. That one can’t be “set aside.”

    Freedom is indivisible, as many have said.

  • http://www.uva.nl/contact/medewerkers/item/e.rossi.html?f=rossi Enzo Rossi

    I’m not sure about your conclusion. Think of Part 3 of Anarchy, State & Utopia. Do the various utopian communities have to allow free movement between them? (OK they’re not states, but you get the idea: voluntarism can be border-friendly.) Also, I can Imagine some libertarian security-based argument for borders (‘OMG teh terrorists are coming, raise the drawbridges!’). I’m not saying any of those are good arguments, but I don’t think they’re inconsistent with libertarianism.

    • adrianratnapala

      ‘OMG teh terrorists are coming, raise the drawbridges!’ is a terrible argument for raising the drawbridge when the terrorists are not, in fact coming. But the possibility of such things is an excellent argument for why the castle-folk get to decide how the drawbridge is governed.

    • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

      Very good point. If the nudists want to form their own community (or secede from an existing one), they can surely close their borders at least to the extent of keeping out the folks who won’t strip down.

  • geoih

    So, just because I already have my wealth stolen to support people earning less wealth than me that already live in this country, I shouldn’t argue against being robbed to support even more people that earn less wealth than me moving here from other countries? Your analogies to motorcycle helmets, sugar and gambling are completely irrelevant. Most libertarians are not interested in being robbed to support the consequences of these other ricky activities either. The fact that the state robs us because of the second thing doesn’t make arguing against the first thing wrong. Arguing against both is completely consistent.
    I’m not interested in being robbed to support poor immigrants or reckless motorcycle riders.

  • Chris Freiman

    Regarding the “cultural conflict/erosion” argument, I should first say that I was only trying to address one argument against free immigration (the “redistributive state incompatibility” argument) here. However, I think my reply can be repurposed: if you’re deeply concerned about cultural conflict, why the focus on restricting freedom of immigration? Why not advocate restricting freedom of speech or freedom of religion? Now, I don’t think that we should restrict ANY of these freedoms in the name of “cultural preservation.” And since you probably aren’t willing to suppress freedom of speech to keep a national culture the way it is, you shouldn’t be willing to suppress freedom of immigration either.

    As for whether the US should restrict immigration if doing so turns out to benefit US citizens, I have a couple of comments. First, as I note in the original post, I think the evidence indicates that restricted immigration HARMS citizens of the US. But even if that’s incorrect, I’d still favor open immigration. Presumably the gains to immigrants would be far greater than the losses to citizens and I think that everyone’s happiness counts equally, morally speaking.

    • Sean II

      “If you’re deeply concerned about cultural conflict, why the focus on restricting freedom of immigration? Why not advocate restricting freedom of speech or freedom of religion?”

      Two very good reasons:

      1) It’s a question of relative invasiveness. The degree of force required to restrict freedom of speech or religion among a people who expect to have it is great. The degree of force required to merely limit immigration in a world where almost everyone expects there to be national borders is much, much less. These imaginary lines we talk about seem quite real to…pretty much everyone but us.

      2) In the clash of cultures, speech is a very limited weapon. The ultimate weapon is: having a bigger group.

      Crude example a): what did more harm to the Jews of Europe: the persuasive power of Hitler’s oratory or the fact that there were 70 million Germans vs. only 6 million Jews?

      Crude example b) Which is a surer method for the Democratic party to gain votes: spending a fortune on political advertising or gerrymandering a district so that it includes more black people?

      • johnleemk

        “The degree of force required to merely limit immigration in a world where almost everyone expects there to be national borders is much, much less. These imaginary lines we talk about seem quite real to…pretty much everyone but us.”

        I dunno, the people prevented from migrating might have something to say about that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjLcbV18gw4

        I’m not convinced by “degree of force” types of arguments about rights or freedoms. Is it okay that rich countries spend billions of dollars to ensure thousands of people die trying to enter them in search of opportunity? Is that somehow “less” force? Are those people any less dead? And even if one could enforce migration restrictions without directly causing any deaths, is it any less force if you use the *threat* of deadly force to coerce people?

        “In the clash of cultures, speech is a very limited weapon. The ultimate weapon is: having a bigger group.”

        At the most this is an argument for gradual open borders, not an argument for perpetuating border controls as-is. But I am not convinced by this argument still. After all, what prevents the US from massacring its Jews today? Surely not sheer numbers. Similarly nothing prevents governments from persecuting homosexuals, religious minorities, ethnic minorities, etc. The answer is not numbers per se. The answer is sociopolitical norms — most people in developed countries don’t believe it is right to persecute minorities simply because of who they are.

        So would it be worrying if immigrants come in and act on a set of sociopolitical norms that accepts or advocates use of violent force on others (be they a minority or majority) to get their way? Certainly. But our governments already have a way to deal with people who break the law and use violent force to get their way. Would law enforcement stop being effective if the migrant population gets too large? Perhaps — but at what point exactly? When exactly do a bunch of unarmed people with no organisation, assets, or political power start becoming too much for the armed force of a wealthy state to handle? And if one particular group of people consistently makes trouble (say, members of a particular organisation), it is far easier and more logical to exclude that group than to exclude migrants altogether.

        • Sean II

          Sorry man, but that was just an incredibly lazy response. I’ll do the decent thing and respond at length to explain why, but you’re making me spell out things you could easily have figured out on your own by actually reading my comments. I’ll take it point for point:

          1) “At the most this is an argument for gradual open borders, not an argument for perpetuating border controls as-is.”

          I never said anything about perpetuating border control as is. So who exactly are you addressing with that remark?

          2) “And even if one could enforce migration restrictions without directly causing any deaths, is it any less force if you use the *threat* of deadly force to coerce people?”

          Yes, obviously, it is. It’s worse to be shot, than to be threatened with shooting, even though it’s better to be neither. A guy from Cameroon who is deterred from trying to enter the U.S. is not the same as a Mexican shot dead by some border patrol goon.

          3) “The answer is sociopolitical norms — most people in developed countries don’t believe it is right to persecute minorities simply because of who they are.”

          Right, but you’re suggesting we open the border to people from un-developed countries, so you don’t get to use that argument. I’m the one arguing that developed countries should protect their nice little developed country culture, if needs be by excluding people who are unlikely to share it. You’re the one arguing: fuck it, let’s blow the doors open for the gay-hating Africans, the Jew-hating Muslims, and the women-hating Africans, Muslims, and Latins. So no, YOU don’t get to rest your case on how “people in developed countries” think.

          4) “But our governments already have a way to deal with people who break the law and use violent force to get their way.”

          Don’t be obtuse. We’re not talking about people who might use violence to get their way ad hoc, like street criminals.

          We’re talking about people who might capture the state and use it to do violence. Or more exactly, people in whose name the state will do violence.

          5) “When exactly do a bunch of unarmed people with no organisation, assets, or political power start becoming too much for the armed force of a wealthy state to handle?”

          See above. The danger is NOT what your lowly masses might do against the power of the state, the danger is – what the state might do in the name of those lowly masses.

          6) “And if one particular group of people consistently makes trouble (say, members of a particular organisation), it is far easier and more logical to exclude that group than to exclude migrants altogether.”

          That’s precisely what I’m suggesting. I’m saying we should recruit certain kinds of people and discourage others. Which is not the same thing as open borders.

          If that’s what you want, we have no quarrel.

          7) That video was very effective in its way, but it doesn’t answer any argument of mine.

          • johnleemk

            “I never said anything about perpetuating border control as is. So who exactly are you addressing with that remark?”

            I know you didn’t, but I also know plenty of people who take your arguments (which I see regularly) as excuses for tolerating the current border regime. As you and I agree, they are not a good reason for accepting closed borders.

            “Yes, obviously, it is. It’s worse to be shot, than to be threatened with shooting, even though it’s better to be neither.”

            So your position is that the state should be allowed to threaten force against peaceful foreigners, but not actually use force on them? I’m not saying you’re wrong (I actually see much to recommend in your position), but I don’t think that’s a very intuitive stance to hold.

            “Right, but you’re suggesting we open the border to people from un-developed countries, so you don’t get to use that argument.”

            My point is that your original claim, which is that sheer numbers are all that matter for political outcomes, isn’t some sort of ironclad empirical truth. I’m simply providing a clear counterexample.

            More broadly, my point is that developing countries already have both written and unwritten laws (i.e., norms) about politics and policymaking. Immigrants, like most people, are generally a law-abiding bunch. There is little reason to believe that migrants — especially the diverse population of migrants from many countries who would come under open borders — will collectively mobilise as a group to overturn the norms of human rights that exist in their new home country.

            “We’re talking about people who might capture the state and use it to do violence. Or more exactly, people in whose name the state will do violence.”

            So now your concern is that actually your fellow citizens might expand the welfare state to spend more on migrants? That migrants who naturalise will vote to expand the welfare state?

            If we are going to target defined social groups on this basis, then using your logic I could argue the US government ought to fund massive subsidies for contraception aimed at African-Americans. In fact, borrowing your logic, I would call it suicidal for libertarians to not advocate a massive state push to make sterilisation affordable, if not free, for Jews and African-Americans, and a massive state campaign to encourage them to take up this offer.

            At what point this this sort of “realist libertarianism” stop being libertarian? For many people, it seems to stop at the water’s edge. But while not all forms of state coercion or force are created equal, I personally disagree with the notion that it can be libertarian to violently exclude someone, not for committing an offense against someone else, but simply for the crime of belonging to a particular social group. That’s clearly the nub of our disagreement here.

            “I’m saying we should recruit certain kinds of people and discourage others. Which is not the same thing as open borders.”

            I don’t want the state to recruit or discourage anyone. I don’t trust the state to do that. I want the state to refrain from using force to exclude anyone who has peaceful intentions. I recognise some people such as yourself consider it a “violent intention” to hold non-libertarian political views. But although I object to many of the state’s policies, and strongly disagree with many people’s political views, I think most of them are non-violent people, and I would reject any state attempt to oppress these people simply for their political beliefs.

            I do think the state ought to suppress terrorist groups or other groups who exist to foster violence and unlawful disorder. But these are a minority of those who seek to migrate.

    • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

      Sorry, bad argument alert. Deontological libertarians (most of us), believe that the rights of expression and religion flow in a relatively straightforward way from basic libertarian principles (self-ownership, respect for rational agency, etc.) And, properly understood, these rights are compossible (see Hillel Steiner): my right to express whatever content I prefer in my speech, is perfectly compatible with your right to do the same. This is equally true of freedom of religion.

      In contrast, at least in arguments directed to deontological libertarians, you must establish that an unconditional right to migrate exists. I don’t think you’ve even begun to do this. Plausibly there are political externalities created by open borders, just as there are unacceptable externalities when a property owner releases deadly toxins in the air. His right to use his property is limited by my right not to be poisoned. Therefore, it is not clear that an unconditional right of everyone in the world to travel is compossible with my right of untrammeled free speech.

  • Fortycal

    I think the article misjudges the “practical” point of view. It’s not a question of theoretical justification. It’s a question of the most judicious *order* in which to correct a whole pile of policy problems.

  • Javier

    Hi Chris, I have a paper where I defend a somewhat similar point. I argue that, if it’s really true that states have rights to restrict immigration, then they also have rights to deport and denationalize ordinary citizens. You can find it here.

  • Jerome Bigge

    Who “owns” the United States of America? Who “owns” any country? Is it the people who live there? If you study history, you will see that the concept of “group property” goes back to primitive groups of hunter-gatherers. Fighting between these groups is often over who claims a certain area. Who is allowed to hunt. To gather natural foods found there. So it does appear that the area of North America is considered to be “owned” in the sense that it is a territory belonging to the group of people referred to as “Americans”. Just as to the north of the United States of America there is the territory inhabited by people who call themselves “Canadians”. Then to the south of the United States of America there is the territory held by people who call themselves “Mexicans”. In the past there have been wars fought over which group of people claimed property rights over a specific territory. So it does appear that the majority of people living in a specific territory more commonly called a “country” do believe that they have a property right over that piece of territory. I know of no modern nation that does not attempt to control who may enter that nation. There is no country today that does not require people to obtain “permission” (visas, passports, etc) to enter their country. So the problem is really one of convincing enough people as the merits of more immigration of people who will eventually become productive citizens.

  • Victor Davis Hanson Awards

    Fascinating how some libertarians, quite anti-state on domestic issues juxtaposed to Matt Zwolinski, compete with each other for a Victor Davis Hanson Award when it comes to borders. Libertarian state policies internally; neoconservative externally. But I do not think it is possible to have this compartmentalization. Nor is it necessary. In a more robust private property regime and a market oriented legal framework and culture etc– there could be a superior regulation of people/resource movement. It is pure myth to consider the state as the most useful tool of protecting borders and liberalism simultaneously. What examples are there? None. The more state borders become the focus of state policy, outlays, and use of force– the more all internal things need to be intervened as well. Then there is the growth of corruption, favoritism, and the formation of yet more government interest groups (border guards, bureaucrats, vendors….). How long ’till the border patrol negotiates the drug trade with Mexican cartels directly, e.g.? It’s not like within an attempt to balance liberalism with neoconservative border policies that goods and services will stop flowing. The demand is there. The only way out of the Catch-22 is to end the state. But that is not in the cards for…”libertarians”.

    • Linear

      And yet, ironically, if you refuse to exclude those who favor a state, you will suffer their creation of a state. Catch-22s all around! :)

  • BYODB

    I was under the impression that part of being a libertarian was being against redistribution of wealth in the first place. Ergo this argument holds very little water with people like me.

    The ‘liberal’ welfare state is itself something that isn’t libertarian at it’s core, so I’m confused about why this expresses an invalidation of libertarianism. If anything, it’s a logical disconnect made by liberals who believe that they are libertarians.

    If the welfare state didn’t exist, which it shouldn’t, then it would be a non-issue on the immigration front. Hence Libertarianism is consistent; it’s the attempted inclusion of other pro-government solutions that causes it look inconsistent.

    • BYODB

      Unless of course that welfare isn’t collected by force and is the result of people willingly and willfully giving that money away for that specific purpose. As most redistribution is done at the behest of those without and forced upon those who have, I find this to be code for neoliberal.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism

    • Linear

      It’s not just welfare but more generally coercion upon citizens in response to immigrants, such as through democracy.

      • BYODB

        That’s a rather vague statement. Could you perhaps expound upon it?

        What other types of coercion are you referring to in a democratic society? There are many, I would imagine, but as a generality I’m not sure that holds water.

        Welfare itself is already a rather broad generalization.

      • BYODB

        That’s a rather vague statement. Could you perhaps expound upon it?

        What other types of coercion are you referring to in a democratic society? There are many, I would imagine, but as a generality I’m not sure that holds water.

        Welfare itself is already a rather broad generalization.

      • BYODB

        That’s a rather vague statement. Could you perhaps expound upon it?

        What other types of coercion are you referring to in a democratic society? There are many, I would imagine, but as a generality I’m not sure that holds water.

        Welfare itself is already a rather broad generalization.

        • Linear

          Sure. For example, immigrants may vote in favor of hate speech laws, thereby limiting freedom of speech.

          More generally, we have an interest in excluding immigrants who would democratically make government less libertarian.

          • BYODB

            I don’t think that really logically follows. Immigrants must become naturalized to vote in any Democracy you care to name for this very reason. Once they are naturalized, you might as well say that any citizen can do the very same thing.

            Thusly in your example it would be Democracy that is the issue rather than immigration or any democratic response to it. If anything it would be easier in a democracy for it to work the other way around with citizens voting to oppress immigrants as immigrants are not citizens and ergo can not vote.

            One can actually see this pretty consistently in American history although it tends to resolve itself eventually. Not to say that mitigates or excuses it, but I just don’t think the argument specifically applies here.

          • Linear

            Naturalization educates immigrants, it does not change their political persuasion. Or are you suggesting that the political inclinations of foreigners are somehow uniformly distributed so it doesn’t matter who immigrates?

            Yes, democracy is the issue since it overrules individual liberty, which is why we have an interest in minimizing its use and as well as in selecting who we grant such power over ourselves.

            I didn’t realize that we were only talking about non-voting residents who receive welfare. Naturally, my comments about democracy would not apply if they can’t vote.

          • BYODB

            Immigrants would need to be a majority to vote themselves anything and since they are voting they are just as entitled as any other member of a democracy to vote themselves largesse from the public treasury or do any other public thing. (And just as likely as previous immigrants to do so, that being all members of the American democracy, in my opinion.)

            I’m not saying you’re wrong, I was just trying to clarify what you were trying to say. To me, if an immigrant is naturalized than their political views would then be considered part of the body politic and not foreign at all.

          • Linear

            Naturally, once they are voters, they are part of the body politic, but the question of immigration precedes that status. You have a choice over who you want to grant power over your life and include in your government.

            And, no, not all people are “just as likely” to vote themselves largesse, or to oppose free speech, etc. People differ both ideologically and culturally in these regards.

          • BYODB

            It’s a pointless argument to go down the rabbit hole of the many issues in democracy.

            The French knew in at least the 1800’s that any body politic in a democracy will eventually vote itself largesse from the public treasury. Every time. It’s a human thing, not a cultural thing.

            At least that is what I believe. I see plenty of American’s who are not immigrants at all who want something from the government and are willing to take it from other’s to get it.

            It’s just as likely that new immigrants would actually be in favor of expanding individual liberties as they would be to restrict them all else being equal. Why else would they immigrate here?

          • Linear

            What do you mean “all else being equal”? Do you really not care whether you grant democratic power over your life to a libertarian vs. a statist?

            Sure, democratic degradation occurs, not just due to an erosion of law and checks and balances, but also in conjunction with an erosion of cultural beliefs, such as self-sufficiency and the morality of compelling people through government.

            In the 1800s, de Tocqueville commented on how new undertakings in France used the government, while in the US people independently created associations. That is not merely a comment on structure but also on culture. They go hand-in-hand.

            People immigrate for many reasons, most notably economics and family, which may or may not be useful indicators for politics. Many people are drawn to the economic benefits of liberty, yet they nevertheless pursue socialist policies that destroy liberty.

          • BYODB

            Look, that was my point all along. Immigration is a non-factor; what you rail against is democracy not immigration.

            You can try to connect those dots if you want, but Democracy is inherently flawed on the large scale just as socialism is. They will fall apart on their own, of their own weight.

            A minority is completely unable to vote in any kind of change -by definition- in a democracy. They get exactly what the majority thinks they deserve. You simply hope the majority has a conscience.

            As some would rightfully point out, we are not actually a democracy here in America anyway which further deflates any idea’s you may have about how immigrants are going to change the face of anything.

            In America’s case, they get exactly what corporate interests and the political class think they deserve based on their own desire for power. We, as citizens, get exactly the same deal.

            QED.

  • http://www.americans4liberty.blogspot.com jaime o. perez

    Controlled immigration implies respect from citizens of other nations to request entry and accept responsibility for the national viability of the adopted country. Noting wrong with asking for respect. This simply means as a citizen of the U.S. I believe a policy of controlled borders reveals I place a high value on national sovereignty. As individuals, our personal boundaries demand respect as well. No one has a right to penetrate or otherwise agress against my body or mind without my consent. No one has a right to violate the boundaries of my property or home without my consent. No one has the right to violate the boundaries of my nation without our consent. It has nothing to do whether I benefit financially or not or whether there is redistribution or not, or whether someone is in pain or not, or economically distressed or not. It is about boundaries. I am a controlled-borders Libertarian.

    • fascist libertarians?

      Horrible analogy: sanctity of person, sanctity of nation. One is physical, lives and dies, feels pain, makes choices, has identifiable responsibility. The other, so-called nation-state, doesn’t act, doesn’t bleed, yet serves as a metaphysical device for legitimizing divide and conquer.

      • BYODB

        Or, more honestly, a method of protecting property rights.

        What else is a country if not a collection of property rights and persons?

        What happens when a group of people cross your undefined border with the intent to settle where you live. These people do not follow the non-aggression principle, and fully intend on killing you to take advantage of what was your land. You can defend yourself, but they are better equipped and more numerous.

        I mean, there are no borders right so who can even say it’s ‘your’ land in the first place. It’s all open, settle where you like, but -your- particular area just so happens to be best.

        Any group that can overwhelm you and take what is yours will most likely do so. That is the history of mankind.

        This is why governments arise organically. This is why property has borders and is well defined by the consensus view of the population which we refer to as ‘government’ or ‘law’. We also refer to the recognized adherents to that rule set ‘citizens’.

        Those who cross property borders are showing you that they do not agree with your definition of what is ‘yours’ and what is ‘theirs’ at the most basic level.

        It’s hard to ignore that people divide and conquer even in the absence of governments. Even in anarchy this occurs.

        • Victor Davis Hanson Awards

          You are being way too imprecise, out of convenience, when you use terms like country, nation, government, borders, property, etc. You assume a scenario– but it is just one of many options. What is the most likely? Well, that depends. Too assume that there is no government absent the state is to admit ignorance of the increasing literature on anarchy. Of course governance may arise naturally– and even develop into protecting market society.

          Why is it that the most dominant conquerors of the modern era have been relatively market liberal societies? The Brits, the Americans, etc… There is every reason to believe that market society can be expanded to include defense. Now, try to extrapolate the complexity of systems that might develop in the name of defense… You can thing of tons of off-setting powers developing, the erasure of clear geographic hegemonies, gradations of cultures…. There is a book in it for you.

          But let’s stop the nation-state monopoly simplistic way of thinking.

          • http://a-albionic.com/ Lloyd Miller

            The simple-minded are the people who think a real world situation meant to grow statism by leaps and bounds can be understood by reference to ideals no where in sight.

          • Victor Davis Hanson Awards

            Nobody called anybody simple-minded. but you did call people “morons”. This might apply to you if you don’t provide some clarity for your comment…

          • BYODB

            If you use history as a guideline anarchy is always the precursor to a more organized government system. This is because Anarchy does not protect property rights in any way shape or form. So no, anarchy isn’t a system of government it’s the lack of a government by definition.

            Anarchy: a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority.

        • Victor Davis Hanson Awards

          You are being way too imprecise, out of convenience, when you use terms like country, nation, government, borders, property, etc. You assume a scenario– but it is just one of many options. What is the most likely? Well, that depends. Too assume that there is no government absent the state is to admit ignorance of the increasing literature on anarchy. Of course governance may arise naturally– and even develop into protecting market society.

          Why is it that the most dominant conquerors of the modern era have been relatively market liberal societies? The Brits, the Americans, etc… There is every reason to believe that market society can be expanded to include defense. Now, try to extrapolate the complexity of systems that might develop in the name of defense… You can thing of tons of off-setting powers developing, the erasure of clear geographic hegemonies, gradations of cultures…. There is a book in it for you.

          But let’s stop the nation-state monopoly simplistic way of thinking.

      • http://www.americans4liberty.blogspot.com jaime o. perez

        If you believe a nation-state doesn’t bleed, doesn’t act and is a metaphysical device, you don’t live in reality you live in metaphysical obtuseness.

  • http://a-albionic.com/ Lloyd Miller

    Wake-up morons! Open borders is Obama’s method of putting the welfare state on steroids!

  • godlessmath

    The arguments against open borders are quite indicative, particularly in how exacting they become. Free association, inextricably connected to the freedom of movement, is the most basic right. Think about it, what does your right to say whatever you want matter if no one is allowed to be near you to hear what you have to say?

    Justifying the existence of national borders is much harder than, for example, justifying the existence of food stamps; I don’t need to make tortured analogies to defend the latter. To continue the comparison, note that a food stamp program only requires violence by the State to a second-degree order: all they need is to collect taxes for it, and that just requires the sort of threat-of-force it already imposes to collect other forms of taxation. On the other hand, to enforce closed borders, a State must use violence to the first-degree: it must employ people with guns to enforce closed border policies, along with collecting taxes to fund such operations.

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