Saturday, November 21, 2015

Libertarian Open Borders

I wrote Open Borders: Case Study because the current circumstance in Europe offers a very good case study on this idea of open borders, an idea supported vociferously by many libertarians.  I used this real world case study from the real world we live in to suggest that this idea was perhaps not all that its advocates suggest it to be.

I received many comments – this might be the most commented-upon post I have ever written.  Many, obviously, took me to task for what I wrote.  That’s fine, I learn through such dialogue.

But what I haven’t seen is a libertarian open borders advocate, via this case study (as close to a social science experiment as one might ever hope to achieve in a real world setting), demonstrate the virtues of their idea.

I would welcome any links to such articles and commentaries – there must be dozens, judging by the numerous libertarian advocates of this position.

I understand the virtues for those fleeing war, but they aren’t the only individuals to be considered.  I am not looking for one-sided analysis.  Take into account the situation for all affected individuals.

I want a case study – not theory, not principle, not dreams of humans as something other than human.

Someone must have done so.  Please provide the links.


  1. We must distinguish between deontological and consequentalist arguments. For example, Austrian economists (and most other good economists) all agree that raising the minimum wage causes unemployment. It is a deontological truth that is separate from any case studies. Does this stop people from citing evidence of the opposite? No, it does not. A quick 10 second search bring up this article, which includes a large list of research studies showing a purported link between a raise in the minimum wage and no subsequent increase in unemployment:

    Does this "research" negate the economic fact that raising the minimum wage causes unemployment? Of course not. Even if the research is impeccable, which I doubt, it does not isolate for that one variable, take into account unseen effects, or look at a long enough time table.

    The same can be said for open borders. Economics tells us that free movement of labor is just as desirable as the free movement of goods. Both labor and capital should not be hindered from relocating to places where they can best express their comparative advantage. As Mises said "There cannot be the slightest doubt that migration barriers diminish the productivity of human labor." See here for more:

    So any case study you come up with against the free movement of labor will not negate this deontological truth.

    But if you want case studies, you need not look further than the first 100 years of U.S. history. The first immigration law wasn't passed until the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. In fact, one of the reasons in the Declaration of Independence states:

    "He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands."

    Do you think the United States benefited or suffered from the free immigration policy of the first 100 years?

    1. Ed, I asked a simple question. You wrote more words in your comment, and yet provided no answer.

    2. Ed ucation:
      There was no government sponsored welfare in the first 100 years that would have attracted immigrants to America. They were attracted by the opportunity to succeed by their own exertions and not by a cushier lifestyle than at home. Immigrants had to either work to support themselves and their families or rely on private charity or perish. A clear understanding of this reality would have limited immigration to extraordinarily motivated individuals convinced that they could and would succeed.

      Laws targeting Chinese immigration were passed not because Chinese immigrants were a welfare burden on the nation, but because Chinese were perceived to be supermen with the "unfair" competitive advantage of willingness to work longer hours and harder for less money than were whites. This powerful entrepreneurial spirit of ethnic Chinese has also caused resentment and discrimination against Chinese from less self driven indigenous ethnic groups throughout southeast Asia

      The difference between the first 100 years and the present is that many if not most immigrants today are unable to support themselves and their families on whatever low skill jobs they are able to land and have become an additional welfare burden on already overburdened taxpayers. It is the existence of social welfare administered by the state at gunpoint that undermines von Mises argument that migration barriers diminish the productivity of human labor.

  2. I had open borders on my house back when I was a hippie. They smoked all my dope, left hair clogs in the shower, invited barnyard animals in for the evening, and left nasty stains on my sheets. After 2 months of this I got a lock for the door.
    This is a true story.

    1. "Borders" are not "property lines" -- unless, of course, you believe in the state as a living, breathing entity. Sam

  3. "an idea supported vociferously by many libertarians."

    And they're nuts for doing so.

    "I understand the virtues for those fleeing war"

    That's their problem, not mine.

  4. Few wish to simply acknowledge the fact that "borders" are fictitious lines in the sand. The lust for political authority is the only reason for their "defense". Sam

    1. Sam

      Where might we find your case study of this issue (the theory of "open borders" as applied to the real world, fully consistent with libertarianism for all participants) currently playing out in Germany?

      I look forward to reading it.

    2. Rereading your article (and linked article) I can see how my comment elicited this "challenge". Any "case study" would first need to acknowledge that the group of psychopaths fondly referred to as "government" and/or "the state" not only possessed a phenomenon called legitimacy (other than force of arms), but also serves a socially useful purpose.

      I acknowledge neither. Sam

    3. Sam

      This is the world we live in; one with real - not fictitious - borders. The open borders crowd suggests that open borders is the right libertarian answer in this world - with those "psychopaths" in charge.

      They have their real world experiment in front of them. It is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the NAP-consistency of their theory.

      Not one has done so as of yet. The silence is damning for their position.

  5. If open borders causes the government to go bankrupt, then so be it. I don't care for case studies one way or the other.

    1. I made no argument about bankruptcy.

      And if I were in your position, I wouldn't care about case studies either.

    2. What I said bankrupt because that is the worst case scenario that I can imagine, and it strikes no fear in me. If that isn't your big fear, what is?

    3. And still no case study. We both realize how this wet-dream, so-called libertarian theory cannot stand the reality of practice - the perfect scenario is offered in Merkel's Germany.

      I choose to examine it, you do not. What are you afraid of?

    4. Your statism is showing. A case study is irrelevant. That's like a slavery supporter demanding case studies from abolitionists on what will happen if slaves are freed. "You don't have a case study!?!? Then the idea of freeing slaves is a wet-dream that cannot stand the reality of practice!"

      Once again Larkin Rose brings clarity to the situation:

      FEAR is the best way to shut down rational thought. And apparently it works on some "anarchists" too. For example, I've seen a whole lot of variations on this theme in recent days:

      A: "It's immoral to initiate violence against someone in order to stop them from crossing that imaginary, arbitrary line called a country border."

      B: "Some of them are scary! And violent! And want to kill us!"

      What's interesting is that anyone thinks that that response is a logical rebuttal. Even if entirely true (as it often is), it is also entirely irrelevant. Yes, I have no doubt that some people fleeing Syria, for example, intend to do nasty things, whether just as common crooks or as political terrorists. And guess what. That doesn't justify initiating violence against an entire CATEGORY of people. Duh. Why did this need to be explained to anyone claiming to be libertarian, or anarchist?

      In case stating a bleeding obvious MORAL PRINCIPLE is too confusing for people, allow me to give an example. Suppose YOU live in a neighbor that has a fairly high crime rate. And suppose the National Guard shows up at your door, and tells you, "You're coming with us." You ask why. "Because obviously a significantly percentage of people who live around here are prone to violent, criminal behavior, so we thought it best to forcibly lock ALL of you up, just to be on the safe side."

      Question #1: Would you be okay with that?

      Question #2: If not, would you be okay with the exact same bogus, pack-mentality, collectivist statist bullshit mindset being applied to "immigration law"?

      "BUT SOME OF THEM MEAN US HARM!" Yeah, and that doesn't mean you get to use violence against ALL of them. For a self-described libertarian or anarchist to NOT grasp this, and to therefore oppose "open borders" (which is the description of NOT initiating violence against everyone trying to step over that line), then you need to pause your emotions and reboot your thinking brain.

  6. I do not disagree that there are dangerously armed lunatics at guard of lines upon which they claim represent "jurisdiction". By force of arms. That is, indeed, reality.

    And it is beyond my control. I choose not to expend emotional energy whining about it. And I certainly will not aggress upon them.

    Call that "principle" if you wish. "Non-Agression" principle if you wish to stay in vogue. To me it is common sense. Sam