Ilana Mercer, July 9, 2003

The ethics of private property ought to guide all libertarians on the matter of immigration. And an essential attribute of property and ownership is the right to exclude or include—the right to discriminate is an undisputed feature of property. In the absence of a state, or in the presence of a limited government where almost all land is privately owned, migration would be a very restricted affair. It would depend on the graces of private property owners. A newcomer may be invited over by a propertied person, who would shoulder the costs. If he wishes to venture beyond the invited sphere, the newcomer would seek consent from the private property owners with whom he wishes to interface. The more the status of property approaches the libertarian ideal, the less free migration would be.


The libertarian theorist Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe has brought to my attention his excellent “Natural Order, the State, and the Immigration Problem” journal article. It comports well with my description of the abuses of the H-1B visa program as part and parcel not of the law of the free market, but of the law of the state.


In a free society based on absolute private-property rights, the natural tendency of men—a tendency that is most conducive to peace—is to live among their own, but to trade with any and all. In such a society, commercial property owners will tend to be far more inclusive than residential property owners. As Hoppe notes, owners of retail establishments, like hotels and restaurants, “have every economic incentive not to discriminate unfairly against strangers because this would lead to reduced profits or losses.” Still, they will have to consider the impact of culturally exotic behavior on “local domestic sales,” and will impose codes of conduct on guests.


Seeking low-wage employees, employers would also be partial to foreigners but, absent the protectionist state, the employer would be accountable to the community, and would be wary of the strife and lowered productivity caused by a multiethnic and multi-linguistic workforce. All the more so when a foreign workforce moves into residential areas.


In short, reasons Hoppe, in a natural order—absent government—there will be plenty of “interregional trade and travel,” but little mingling in residential areas. Just as people tend to marry along cultural and racial lines, so they maintain rather homogeneous residential neighborhoods. This is how the chips fall in a highly regulated society, so much more so in a free society, based on absolute property rights. Is this contemptible? To the left-libertarian open-border purist it is—else why would he be lending ideological support to the state’s efforts to upset any semblance of a natural order and to shape society in politically pleasing ways?


His tentative grasp of property leads the leftist libertarian to forget that public property is property funded by taxpayers through expropriated taxes. It belongs to taxpayers. Yet at least a million additional immigrants a year are allowed the free use of these taxpayer-supported amenities. Every new arrival avails himself of public works such as roads, hospitals, parks, libraries, schools and welfare.


This is why the H-1B visa program, as I pointed out in “Displacing Americans,” is tantamount to a subsidy to business at the expense of the taxpayer. And Hoppe concurs: “[E]mployers under democratic Welfare State conditions are permitted by state law to externalize their employment costs on others” and will “tend to import increasingly low-skilled and low value-productive immigrants, regardless of their effect on all-around communal property values.” Here, the rightful owners of public property do not get to vet the newcomers—the state and big business do. Yet when faced with such economic fascism (government-business collusion), open-border libertarians exalt business’ every move.


Perpetually suspended in some kind of third dimension—or on a collision course with reality, as the libertarian Roy A. Child put it—the best open-border libertarians can come up with is, “There should be no public property or Welfare State.” Well there is, and levitating in la-la land is not going to change this fact of life. To which the immigration enthusiast’s only response is to propose a kind of chaos theory—let the multitudes come, the Welfare State will buckle under and collapse. Out of the chaos, a free order will emerge (sigh).


Back on terra firma, state-administered immigration continues undisturbed. Its egalitarian, multicultural impetus guarantees that a quota is divvied among the nations of the world, irrespective of the sentiments of Americans or their own cultural affinities and origins. Government’s laws, moreover, make avoiding this compulsory integration impossible. A Middle Eastern immigrant enters the country. Despite post-September 11 jitters, and a desire to protect his tenants, an apartment-complex owner cannot by law refuse to lease to the new arrival. The law prohibits property owners from exercising the right to exclude applicants from housing—civil-rights legislation and affirmative action circumscribe hiring, firing, renting, selling, and even money lending.


All told, government is vested in emasculating Americans. Remove their guns, their right to defend their property, force multiculturalism and cultural relativism down their gullets, control their property so that it is not their own, then import millions of new constituents who lay claim to what’s left. Open-border libertarians are on board with the state for th
is last leg of the journey.



July 9, 2003

CATEGORIES: Immigration, Libertarianism, Property Rights

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