The Work Open-Border Libertarians Won’t Do

Ilana Mercer, June 15, 2007

Open border fundamentalists seldom address devastating arguments against their case. Maybe they can’t. But they generally prefer to respond to philosophically limp positions. Immigration fetishists seem to like advancing positions not worth a straw.

The intellectually honest, however, will try to reply to a valid opposing argument, no matter who makes it. Unless he can’t. Then he must concede defeat. Alas, among the open-border claque, intellectual honesty is as scarce as unskilled labor is abundant across the land. The scrappy Tibor Machan is one exception. A scholar and a friend, Machan possesses the intellectual energy and honesty to address the hitherto unchallenged arguments I’ve put forward in opposition to mass immigration.

First some background. While he is no Tamar Jacoby (for one, he’s prettier), Tibor has expressed, in a column for the Orange County Register, doubts about the findings that, overall, immigrants cost taxpayers more than they contribute. Jacoby just denies facts such as those released by the National Academy of Sciences and relayed by the Heritage Foundation. Accordingly, “each immigrant without a high school degree will cost U.S. taxpayers, on average, $89,000 over the course of his or her lifetime.” Having tallied the number of illegal and legal low-skill, uneducated immigrants, the NAS has estimated that “in total, all immigrants without a high school education could impose a net cost on U.S. taxpayers of around one trillion dollars or more. If the cost of educating the immigrants’ children is included, that figure could reach two trillion dollars.”

It’s not clear why clever people consider these facts counterintuitive. The immigration “reforms” of the 1960s launched an era of egalitarian policies, which gave preference to Third World immigrants, who were then selected not for their skill or education, but for their family ties to a principal sponsor. Such a policy guaranteed the importation of masses of poor, less accomplished, dependent individuals. A finding to the contrary would be newsworthy.

Missing from the current debate about illegal immigration, argues Machan, is a recognition that “the welfare state is the underlying fundamental problem. Until that system is abolished, until a revolutionary change occurs and no Peter is looted for the sake of any Paul—whether poor, rich, legal or illegal—there will be no solution to the illegal immigration problem.” In the column “Welfare State and Illegal Immigration,” Tibor repeats an uncontested, standard libertarian stance: “the immorality begins not with putting illegal immigrants on the welfare rolls or transferring to them costly services at the expense of American citizens. The immorality lies in the welfare state itself, in the government’s policy of coercive wealth redistribution.”

The problem with so many libertarian formulations is that they do not respect reality. Rather, they hold up the libertarian ideal, lament its unattainablility, and refuse to debate the issue until the ideal is achieved. That’s intellectually lazy. It’s also an affront to reality, the rational man’s anchor.

And the reality is that the American welfare state is accreting, not shrinking. The reality is that the more libertarians support the importation of impoverished minorities, with a tradition of aggressively manipulating the political apparatus to obtain property not theirs—the more intractable the welfare state will become. How better to diminish property rights and accelerate wealth distribution and, with it, the death of the republic, than to add to the “union” each year the equivalent of a New Jersey, powered by identity-politics, and peopled predominantly by tax consumers seeking to indenture taxpayers? Witness how, when thousands of non-voting illegal aliens poured into the streets recently to demand their positive, man-manufactured, bogus rights, their elected officials and El Presidente (Bush) came up with a bill that would grant the protesters their wishes.

To the meat of my argument: From the fact that taxpayer-funded welfare for nationals is morally wrong, as Machan rightly avers, why does it follow that extending it to millions of unviable non-nationals is economically and morally negligible? Or that it remotely comports with the libertarian goal of curtailing government growth? How is this stock-in-trade, truncated argument different from positing that because a bank has been robbed by one band of bandits (welfare-dependent nationals), repelling or arresting the next (welfare-dependent non-nationals) is unnecessary because the damage has already been done?

This craven indifference to property proponents of mass immigration extend to the lives snuffed out in crimes committed by illegal aliens. Bob Clark, director of one of the most delightful films ever made, “A Christmas Story,” and his 24-year-old son were both killed by a drunk, unlicensed, allegedly illegal alien. Geraldo and Jacoby, the teletwits of amnesty, both asserted that the illegality of the perp is irrelevant to the crime. “It’s not an illegal alien story; it’s a drunk driving story,” Geraldo noodled on “The Factor.”

Geraldo was serious, although he should not be taken seriously. So here’s my next question: For the Geraldo/Jacoby crushingly stupid claim to stick, they would have to demonstrate that had this drunk, allegedly illegal alien been stopped at the border or been deported, his victims would have nevertheless suffered the same fate. If you leave the door to your home intentionally open (as Bush has), and advertise your hippie habits around the hood (as Bush does), can you honestly claim that the robbery, abduction, rape, or murder of your charges was unavoidable? (And that you are unimpeachable?)

I’ll let professor Machan do the work libertarians won’t do.

©2007 By Ilana Mercer
June 15

CATEGORIES: Argument, Immigration, Libertarianism, Logic & Reason, Private Property Rights, Welfare State