Thursday, May 26, 2016

Response to a Non-Response

 "When you don't like what they're saying, change the conversation."
-Don Draper, Mad Men

I'd like to thank Jacob Hornberger for his reply to my piece. I may sympathize with Hornberger's ideal, but he hasn't convinced me this practice is fruitful in a Statist world.
Maybe I wasn’t very clear, despite my clarity. I’m not in favor of government borders, open borders, mixed borders, closed borders or sealed borders. I see problems with all of them in a world of Statism. Hornberger argues with me as if I've firmly planted my feet in the "Closed Borders" camp.
Thus, Flag is right when he writes, “Removing the State from social and economic activity is the only libertarian position.” But that’s precisely what the removal of immigration controls does — it removes the state from social and economic activity involving commerce across international borders.
What are borders and immigration policy if not a creation of the State, for the State? Freedom didn't draw these lines for the states behalf. Why expect the State to work on Freedom's behalf? Will any border policy be decided on anything that couldn't achieve desired and planned results? Every other mechanism of the State operates with State interests, but there's an expectation that a Federal border will operate as a separate entity from the Federal Government.

But Flag is wrong when he states that our aim as libertarians should be “decentralization.” Perish that thought!
Decentralization gives us freedom of choice. This freedom doesn't have to be perfect liberty in all places; This isn't possible, but we'd have an avenue to aim for it. He does say to perish that thought. To what ends? Further centralization? Maintaining current centralization? A decentralized world could yield Hornberger the opportunity to put his ideas on migration and borders into practice. But, disregard. Let's perish those thoughts.
Why isn’t Flag condemning all of them, even as he condemns the state in general? Why refuse to condemn immigration tyranny or any other tyranny? If I wrote an article condemning drug laws, would Flag praise the “otherwise sound libertarian arguments” in the piece but then “disagree with [my] overall message” calling for drug legalization?
Hornberger doesn't address what I say. He shifts course to talk about what I didn't say. Imagine: "Hornberger didn't talk about immigrants from the Middle East raping and attacking Germans. Why refuse to condemn rape tyranny over any other tyranny?"

I don’t understand why he wouldn’t come down with a full-throated, unconditional support of open borders. There are a number of anti-freedom things that the government is doing that both anarchists and limited government advocates do not hesitate to condemn — the drug war, Social Security, foreign interventionism — indeed, the entire welfare-warfare state gamut of socialist, interventionist, and imperialist programs.

What if I did talk about even some of these things without shifting the conversation? After all, immigration doesn't exist in a vacuum. How does it effect all, or any of these? How high would taxes have to go to fund entitlements for all of these when hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands more partake? Why not a million more recipients? Hornberger is asserting a position that favors completely open migration into a welfare state, after all. I got curious, and wondered if Hornberger has addressed this problem. Fortunately, he has - sort of. He cites the book “Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them” in a piece documenting his experience at The Pomona College debate on Immigration. Hornberger insists the author of this book dispels the myths about the costs of immigration. Hornberger cites the book, but says nothing of it's contents. Another time, I might read it and offer a critique.

Who is Phillipe Legrain, author of this piece that should alleviate all concerns? I’ve never heard this name invoked in libertarian discussion.  He's a visiting fellow of the London School of Economics, which boasts the stellar libertarian credentials of being founded by the Fabian Socialists. Well, at least this school gave us Hayek (I know, but I'll take what I can get.). Further reading on Phillipe Legrain reveals that he’s been an economic advisor in EU circles, the WTO, and in favor of British participation in the EU.

Hornberger is able to put a person with this background on a pedestal in defense of a "libertarian" position, with a straight face.  Were there no libertarians available to champion this cause?

Not surprisingly, Flag chose to ignore the hypothetical I posed many years ago, and which I restated in my article, which exposes the fatal flaw in the pro-immigration control paradigm.
Much less surprisingly, at this point I’d have to wonder if Hornberger read the entirety of my writing or skimmed and cherry picked a few points that he could argue with easy and well-practiced answers. I'd encourage him to give the beginning and the end of my writing at least a glance.

Is his hypothetical scenario of dinner invitations the practice behind immigration and resettlement of any variety? Everyone just wanted to go to Uncle Ted’s for ribs, potato salad, and a beer?

Flag also takes me to task for not addressing the refugee crisis in Europe. Maybe my failure to do so was because the focus of the article was on only one particular aspect of the immigration controversy — i.e., that there is only one position in libertarianism on immigration rather than two contradictory positions.

At least now, Hornberger admits his very important, years old, tried and true hypothetical focuses on one aspect of what is a very large subject. Earlier, he had insinuated that I ignored this hypothetical to my own chagrin, and it was impossible to not openly embrace all immigration everywhere based on it's irrefutable libertarian applications. But now that this theory is put to the test in the real world, we can move on.

Having said that, however, as I have written before, yes, people in the Middle East have the absolute right to flee the chaos, death, and destruction that the U.S. death machine has wreaked in the Middle East. They have a right to seek to preserve their lives and to pursue happiness by moving to other places. The fact that people are dying on the high seas trying to escape the horror is a direct consequence of both foreign interventionism and immigration controls.
...  Well, go on. The story isn't over, what happened next? What's happening right now? The story stops when his position gets a crash course. Make it an  R-Rated flick, and press on. Too late, the credits are rolling and there's no sequel on the horizon. The Director's Cut might be a little more forthcoming. There's no sincere critique to make without addressing the balance of the situation described.

Hornberger gets at least one thing right in his piece, this is a foreign policy problem conducted and operated by the State, nothing to do with freedom.  I won't be filling any holes in his version of the story. Ideally, Hornberger will do that on his own when he's done dancing around them.


I was curious if there was some unseen gem somewhere in the camp that was least likely to agree with me, thus my challenge to Hornberger.

Hornberger's efforts had little to do with defending his position, and more to do with addressing little of what I said while trying his darnedest to make it look like he was. He assigned me stances to make the comfort of his position easy.

I can only conclude that there's no good libertarian answer to the issue of borders and immigration in a world of Statism whatsoever. A move to preserve or ignite liberty in either direction creates more obstacles or violations to liberty elsewhere. This is no fault or burden of freedom, it is a fault and burden of Statism and centralization.

I appreciate Jacob Hornberger participating in the dialogue with what is essentially an anonymous person. It's not hard to imagine all of us experiencing Hornberger's theory first hand soon enough. Let's hope not, but if so maybe we can regroup when that day comes and talk about the results.

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