Jacob Hornberger has offered his rejoinder to my recent post on immigration and borders. I feel we are now talking in circles or talking past each other, but I have been encouraged to make one more attempt to clarify my view.
On the Federal Government’s Immigration Enforcement Measures
Alas, in his new article there is not one single word of condemnation of the federal government’s immigration enforcement measures.
This is not true, yet he spends over 900 words chastising me for this.
I hate to repeat what I have previously written, but will do so to save you the trouble of searching. First, Hornberger’s previous charge:
But since Bionic is so concerned about big government, what about the enforcement measures that come with immigration controls, which libertarian proponents of government-controlled borders never mention or talk about?
And my reply:
Hornberger does not seem so concerned about the additional big government that will result from his position. He is not concerned with all of the additional government that is the reality in Europe now as compared to the time prior to this flood of immigration. He most certainly is not concerned with higher taxes (actually, he kind of likes these; maybe he will pay mine).
He is not concerned with all of the additional new government that will come with his program, and only is concerned about the government we already have. I am reminded of what I wrote in the previous post:
Advocates who say “let’s just open the borders and deal with a completely voluntary system later” are no better than most economists and all politicians: they fail to comprehend (or willingly close their eyes to or secretly hope for) the second and third order effects in the process that has been unleashed – call it the seen and the unseen.
Chanting “NAP, NAP, NAP” does not qualify one to advance to Libertarianism graduate studies.
I will suggest, once again: is it possible that there is no libertarian answer available in a world with state borders? I know my answer.
I will state my answer explicitly: there is no possibility of a libertarian answer with a world of state borders. As long as there are state borders, there will be violations of libertarian theory in all matters regarding those borders.
If we are down to creating balance sheets, have at it – as this is basically what we are left with on this point.
On Hornberger’s Hypothetical
Speaking of Hornberger’s hypothetical:
Bionic says that he can’t argue with my hypothetical about the two brothers owning adjoining ranches along the border.
I do not argue with it and in fact agree with it; it is good libertarian theory. Again, with apologies for being repetitive, I will list the key points of his hypothetical:
1) The implied first step is that the government has no say about who crosses political borders.
2) Pete invites his brother Miguel to his property.
3) Pete places a condition on this invitation – it is an invitation for dinner.
4) Miguel accepts the invitation.
5) Pete finalizes the agreement by allowing Miguel into his home and serving him dinner.
6) The implied last step is that Miguel will not be a burden to any of Pete’s neighbors.
So what is my point? It takes all of these steps for there to be such a thing as libertarian open borders – every implicit and explicit step. It is more than just disbanding government control of the border. Without every step included, you have something that is not libertarian.
This was Jacob’s hypothetical, and he should stop running from it or ignoring it (and for those of you who accuse me of only accepting a big bang, take it up with Hornberger, not me; it is his hypothetical).
As an aside, I did like Jacob’s use of the price system as the invitation – this is creative and seems to me to be reasonable. It also points to every aspect being voluntary – thereby not relieving the burden of step six (meaning that the “price” offered as invitation is not a “price” from the welfare system).
The immigrant is coming after being drawn by a market price – a circumstance that does not explain the influx in Europe today (or many places otherwise). For Europe, Hornberger looks to reasons that are to be found outside of libertarian theory.
Finally just because a price is extended and accepted, does not mean Pete is obliged to serve dinner to Miguel – when Miguel accepts the invitation, Pete still decides if he will allow Miguel into his home (but then this bumps into a property owner being able to discriminate against anyone – immigrant or domestic alike; a no-no for many left-libs).
To place this in the context offered by Hornberger: in the subset of immigration issues where a market price is the invitation, the buyer (Pete) may always decide if he accepts any particular seller (Miguel). This is step five.
The European Refugee Crisis
Jacob ignores my points or otherwise brings up irrelevant or repetitive topics, so I will ignore his – except for two. First:
But is a massive crisis (bought on by the U.S. national-security state’s death machine) any reason for libertarians to abandon their libertarian position favoring open borders…
Hornberger assumes that open borders is the libertarian position, and it is therefore being “abandoned.” Two can play at that game: I have offered numerous reasons why it is not the libertarian position – so I say Hornberger is the one who is abandoning the libertarian position!
Note something important: If an American church group tried to assist any of the European refugees by bringing them into the United States without official permission, the Justice Department would go after them with a vengeance, indicting them for a felony offense of violating immigration controls, prosecuting them, convicting them, jailing them, and fining them.
I am in full support of this church group, as long as Jacob remains in full support of all six of his steps for libertarian open borders. Of course, Jacob doesn’t really believe all six steps of his hypothetical – he has demanded violation of step six, for example. In any case, I suspect he and I could find some middle ground on a basis other than libertarian theory to avoid this catastrophic outcome.
Guess what? Personally I would support this church group even in the face of higher taxes. However, I have no right based on libertarian theory to make this decision on taxes for others – neither does Jacob.
Please note, even my support requires five of the six steps; I could live with this – not on a pure libertarian basis but on a personal level. I also could open my wallet – better yet, Jacob could open his wallet. No NAP violation then need occur, and then we can part as friends.
Speaking of Higher Taxes
So, let me put the question directly to Bionic: What would you do, Bionic? Would you abandon your libertarian principles just so you could avoid paying a bit higher taxes? Or to put it another way, if drug legalization will lead to higher welfare taxes to treat drug addicts with public hospitals and Medicaid, would you say that libertarians should now start supporting the drug war until the welfare state is dismantled?
I have already dealt with Hornberger’s default that “open borders” is the libertarian position, but I cannot let the statement pass.
In any case, this strikes me as so simple to refute that I am going to embarrass either Jacob or me by my answer. He is comparing a positive right (the right to immigrate) with a negative right (the right to put in my body whatever substance I choose).
There is no libertarian justification for me or the state to stop the drug addict from doing whatever he wants to his body. Full stop. We need not concern ourselves on the issue of public funding of hospitals and the like in this context; the issue is irrelevant.
There is no right to immigrate based on the NAP. There is every right to put in my body whatever I choose. Hornberger advocates…oh, here I go repeating myself again from my previous post:
Instead he is, in fact, advancing the call for a violation of the NAP in order to support a positive right for an immigrant. This is impossible to square within libertarian theory, however it is great left-lib stuff (or just call it left stuff; this is more precise).
By the way, if opening the border without stipulating step six in Hornberger’s hypothetical will result in less government – as Hornberger claims – why would there be higher taxes? Why isn’t Hornberger making the argument that taxes would be lower?
Hornberger’s Practical Solution
The only thing that works is free markets and free enterprise, meaning markets and economic enterprise that are entirely free from government control and interference.
I agree fully. This takes all six steps – all of them. Not only step one. Not step two only on occasion. Not ignoring step five or six. Implement all six steps and you might even have the beginnings of a fully compliant libertarian solution in a world with state borders.
Limited Government Libertarianism
On the topic at hand, this was a tangential issue in our earlier dialogue and I will leave it as this. I will only mention that I have read (or heard in the interview) that Hornberger would make payment of taxes voluntary in his limited government. This is a good step – and greatly changes the meaning of “government” as it is normally understood.
Of course, it isn’t the only step. No monopoly. This will also be required.
Voluntary payment and no monopoly: if this is what Hornberger means by “government” (limited or otherwise), it fits no definition of “government” that is generally understood. If by limited government Hornberger means voluntary payment and no monopoly, well we agree on the concept just not the label. He can call that government; I will call it the market.
But I don’t think he means no monopoly; he is after a final arbiter, after all.
As mentioned, we are now going in circles. Jacob is responding to statements I have not made and is ignoring statements I have made (and it is possible one can find an example or two where I do the same). In any case, I thank Jacob for his time.