Sunday, January 17, 2010

Best Way to Help Haiti?

Art Carden argues at the Division of Labour blog that the best way to help the poor is to conduct an open-borders policy, thereby enabling individuals with fewer opportunities for economic advancement to come here and pull themselves up by the boot straps, or something like that. As much as I love Carden's lecturing style, he's dead wrong with this one, as are all other libertarians whom preach an 'open-borders' policy.

It would be one thing if all land was owned by individual, private owners: this includes buildings, homes, businesses, parks, roads, and all other land that possesses value. Then, we wouldn't be talking about an open- or closed-borders policy in the first place; the decision to include or exclude foreigners (this includes anybody not given advanced permission to enter a specific property) would operate on an individual basis, that is, property owners deciding what is best for the value of their own properties. In this way, no state is involved, and no board of bureaucrats and satraps decide for the community what's best for them, be it multiculturalism, isolationism, or otherwise. Business owners can exclude anybody based on any criteria if he so pleases, be it race, age, sex, religion, haircut, number of teeth, etc. We would expect that miscreants, delinquents, hoodlums, and any other type of human black sheep to be excluded from social exchange on any given property, as this would raise that property's value. This and similar policies would discourage such behavior, and if one considered such nefarious actions a psychological 'good,' he of course could admit the lowlifes on his own turf.

In present-day America, however, the situation is very different. The state owns the interstates, highways, 'public property,' considerable airspace, and even residential homes. The government has also made it illegal to exclude individuals from privately owned property on any physical basis, before a crime of some sort has been committed. One cannot discriminate when selling property, and no matter who you are or virtually what kind of criminal background you possess, if your income is low or nonexistent, you qualify for housing, food stamps, and other kinds of aid (cell phones, cable television, etc.). We see how our current society is strikingly different from a private property-based society, where there is no state to willy-nilly its subjects based upon the current political fashion.

Now, the problem with an open borders policy in our current society is this: Even if we assume that foreigners net an economic benefit to society, that is, that whatever malfeasance and misconduct they exhibit is outweighed by their labor productivity and diligence, we cannot say that society as a whole is better off. Humans do not derive psychological benefit just from economic, real-dollar profits and higher material standards of living. Those same foreigners who are economically profiting society might just as well be culturally degrading it at the same time. With state-owned roads and without the ability to exclude anybody short of blatant criminal misconduct, anybody can waltz into my store, move into my community, and utilize the public services system (transportation, education, etc.) as they please. Any reprobate can indirectly contribute to the degradation of norms, customs, religion, etc., of a society, thereby making many of its members worse off, even if the foreigner is assumed a saint in his own right.

Perhaps I see this more clearly than most; where I come from, "white" is a pejorative. I grew up fighting my middle school years away because of my white mannerisms, and in my neighborhood, I was violently excluded from an entire section by blacks my own age. I can't say the word 'nigger' in public, and to scoff at MLK day is heresy. Since I graduated, I have gone back as a substitute teacher to many black schools, only to hear black and hispanic numb skulls calling each other white, cracker, and uncle Tom. I cannot walk through the mall with my girlfriend on a Saturday night, lest we be subjected to racist and sexist heckling on the part of the overgrown baboons who populate these places. I have no real culture to call my own, because in places where white culture does manifest itself, such as the confederate flag and white hoods, they must be displayed in private, if at all. In fact, it is worse than mere white discrimination: blacks are extolled because of their misfortunes and ill-treatment in the past, and every day whites are made to feel sorry for actions that they themselves had absolutely nothing to do with. Holidays, months of the year and even presidential elections have come to stand more about race than any sort of substance.

I understand that similar situations can happen in a private property-based society, but I have serious doubts as to whether or not the situation a white male faces today is the same as a white male would have faced had landowners themselves been able to decide in full who it is they include or exclude on their own properties. My guess is, those who seek to suppress 'white' characteristics would be excluded from social interaction insofar as it takes place on property owned and operated by whites, because such nobodies would tend to depress their values.

In our current day, and on a much larger scale, there exists preferential hiring, diversity requirements (immigration and labor), minority scholarships, food stamp and welfare programs, and blatant reverse discrimination called 'affirmative action,' ALL of which assist other races and income classes at the expense of middle- to upper-class whites.

And this brings me to what I set out to destroy: open immigration, specifically for destitute Haitians. Haiti is the poorest country in all of the Americas, where more than 80% of its population lives in utter poverty. English is not a main language there, and foreign aid makes up roughly 40% of the government's budget. I'm willing to guess most Haitians are not familiar with classical liberal-libertarian property law and capitalism even on a primitive level, and thus most are friendly towards government interventionism. At best, then, open immigration from Haiti would import creole-speaking statists who hopefully will never have the opportunity or intelligence to vote. Importing them 'out of poverty' would make them better off at the expense of the communities they found themselves in, communities that had little to no say in who they wanted to import in the first place. Why must relatively free Americans be forced to suffer this kind of forced integration? This has become some sort of libertarian predilection that is utterly inconsistent with human welfare and the freedom of choice. 'Open-borders' in today's America is a euphemism for letting vagabonds and derelicts trample over what's left of property rights.

I understand that Haiti sucks right now, but that's not my fault. Their own government prohibits the preservation of private property rights and the movement of goods, services, and humans from one area to another. Importing crime, poverty, and ignorance into America via 'open borders' will not help their situation in the long run, and it certainly will not make mine any better off.

Ask me if I think it's fair to open up borders that I pay for in taxes, whether I like it or not, to at best creole recluses, and at worst human trash, subjecting my friends, family members, and even myself, to forced acculturation.

My answer is an emphatic no.


  1. this was brilliant. libertarians, if they are to survive politically, must make the distinction between an open border policy among well-educated fellow libertarians vs. those with wholly welfare mindsets. the former will only strengthen our nation while the latter will simply accelerate its downfall. the difference is vital and beyond debate. ideology must sometimes be massaged by reality.

  2. Perhaps I don't know their position all too well, but it seems that libertarians operate on the premise that their 'open-borders' policy is consistent with the freedom of choice and property rights. But since the state owns the borders and the roads, and can arbitrarily weigh in on property rights issues, the premise is incorrect.

    As long as we have a society where our fellow man can vote to expropriate our property at will, where the majority rules by legislative fiat, it is in our interest to make sure we don't extend that power to just anybody who wants to come to this country: prudent and stringent immigration selection is key.



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