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Bionic Mosquito’s Bite Misses the Mark

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In my article “Bionic Mosquito Has It Wrong on Immigration,” I pointed out that when it comes to immigration enforcement measures that accompany immigration controls, Bionic Mosquito (i.e., Jonathan Goodwin) was steadfastly ensconced in the land of silence. Like many proponents of immigration controls, he simply chose not to discuss them.

Bionic has now published a rejoinder to my article, entitled “Burnt Toast,” which I diligently searched to determine if he had exited the land of silence with respect to the federal government’s immigration enforcement measures. I was curious to see if, in the face of my open challenge, Bionic would join me and other libertarians in our condemnation of the measures that the federal government takes to enforce its immigration controls. After all, in his original article taking me to task for supporting the principles of open immigration, he steadfastly claimed that he was not a prominent of government-controlled borders.

Alas, in his new article there is not one single word of condemnation of the federal government’s immigration enforcement measures. In fact, there is not one single word even mentioning the many brutal and tyrannical ways that the federal government enforces its immigration laws. Nothing but continued silence from the Bionic Mosquito.

Why?

Of course, Bionic is not alone when it comes to silence regarding immigration enforcement measures. Every single libertarian proponent of government-controlled borders has always remained silent when it comes to immigration enforcement measures. It is, without a doubt, the Achilles heel of those libertarians who believe that government should be controlling the border and centrally managing the movements of millions of people.

Why the silence among this faction of the libertarian movement? For his part, Bionic points out that he’s a libertarian anarchist — that he doesn’t believe in government at all. Okay, fair enough. But since when does the anarchist paradigm preclude an anarchist from condemning the wrongful acts of government? Indeed, the wrongful acts of government oftentimes provide anarchists with their best arguments for abolishing government.

Libertarian anarchists condemn, for example, drug laws. They point to the tyrannical nature of such laws, arguing that government has no business jailing or otherwise punishing people for ingesting what the government considers are harmful substances.

The same with public (i.e., government) schooling. Anarchists never shy away from pointing out how government schooling, with its army-like system of regimentation and deference to authority, does irreparable harm to children.

Libertarian anarchists condemn Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other socialist programs, both on moral grounds and utilitarian ones.

They also are among the most ardent critics of empire and foreign interventionism.

With immigration controls, people are also subjected to some of the worst tyranny and violation of rights imaginable. Yet, Bionic remains silent. So do proponents of government-controlled borders.

Why?

Consider those domestic highway checkpoints in the American Southwest. They are established on U.S. highways that run east-west. They stop travelers who have never entered and returned from Mexico. Immigration officials demand to see people’s papers, especially if they are dark-skinned. They search their vehicles without judicially issued warrants. They bring dogs to sniff for evidence of drugs. If someone refuses to answer their questions or submit to their searches, they bash in his car window, drag him from his car, beat him up, and jail him.

Yet, Bionic remains silent, as do all proponents of government-controlled borders.

Consider the fact that government agents trespass onto private ranches and farms on and near the U.S.-Mexico border. Notice I said and near the border. They trespass onto ranches and farms that are not only adjacent to the border but also ones that are located several miles from the border. They don’t have judicial warrants. They don’t have permission of the owner. They just go onto people’s private property, sometimes leaving gates wide open and also destroying the natural habitat. If property owners resist, they are arrested and jailed. If they resist violently, they are put down.

Yet, Bionic remains silent, as do all proponents of government-controlled borders.

Consider the fence that has been built along the border and the possible upcoming Trump Wall. How can they not remind people of the Berlin Wall, which was constructed by communists? U.S. officials use eminent domain to steal property from landowners to build these socialist structures.

Yet, Bionic remains silent, as do all proponents of government-controlled borders.

Consider the immigration raids on private businesses all across America, where immigrants are working with mutual consent of American employers. The gendarmes initiate force to take peaceful, hard-working people (i.e., not people on welfare) into custody, separate them from their families, and forcibly deport them.

Yet, Bionic remains silent, as do all proponents of government-controlled borders.

And there are lots of other immigration enforcement measures. It all constitutes the initiation of force — horrific violations of the core principle of libertarianism — the non-aggression principle.

Yet, Bionic remains silent, as do all proponents of government-controlled borders.

Why?

Some of them just say: “I favor immigration controls” and leave it at that. But there is a big problem with that simplistic position: People don’t comply with laws that criminalize peaceful behavior. They cross borders anyway, most of them seeking to sustain and improve their lives and the lives of their families through labor.

That’s where enforcement comes in. Enforcement measures are to immigration laws as thunder is to lightning. When libertarians tell you that they favor immigration controls, they are also telling you that they favor the enforcement measures that come with immigration controls. They are telling you that when it comes to immigration, they favor the initiation of force — they favor violating the libertarian non-aggression principle.

Many conservatives are now coming into the libertarian movement and calling themselves libertarians, but the problem is that they just cannot leave behind some of their conservative (i.e., statist) positions, such as their devotion to the national-security state apparatus, their support of foreign interventionism, their support of immigration controls and trade restrictions, their support of public schooling, and sometimes even their support of laws criminalizing the possession of hard drugs.

As I indicated in my initial response to Bionic, libertarians are of course free to take any positions they want. That’s their prerogative. But they have no business telling the public that the statist positions that they have retained from the conservative movement have somehow magically been converted into libertarian positions.

The price system

Bionic says that he can’t argue with my hypothetical about the two brothers owning adjoining ranches along the border. In what amounts to a repudiation of the government-controlled border position, he implicitly agrees that government agents should not be able to trespass onto the U.S. ranch in order to prevent the Mexican brother from crossing the border and having dinner with his American brother.

Unlike the Mexican brother who received a personal invitation to dinner from his U.S. brother, however, Bionic asserts that under open immigration immigrants come to the United States without being invited.

How wrong he is! He obviously forgets about the price system, the intricate system of communications in a free-market economic system. That’s how the invitations to immigrants and others are sent out — through the price system.

Imagine that a hurricane hits along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, destroying or damaging thousands of homes and businesses. Immediately wage rates rise. Why? Because homes and businesses need to be repaired and workers are needed. The rise in the wage rate, which reflects supply and demand, implicitly sends out an offer to everyone, which says: “We need workers and we are willing to pay this price. You are invited to come and accept this job.”

It’s the same thing for landlords. They set a rental price for their property. They are inviting people to come and rent their dwelling at that price.

The principle is no different for international laborers. A worker in Mexico checks on the job market in Oregon and sees that companies are hiring workers at $20 an hour. He doesn’t need to know the reasons. He just knows that he is being invited to come up and work at that wage. When he comes and accepts the job and finds a place to live, it’s all peaceful and consensual. The process doesn’t violate Bionic’s rights or anyone else’s.

In an unhampered market economy — that is, one unhampered by government control and interference, there is a free flow of labor across borders — county borders, state borders, and international borders.

Consider the United States. Every day countless people cross state borders to secure new employment. They don’t have to ask the government for permission. They don’t have to wait for a visa or a work permit. They don’t have to deal with border guards. They just learn how much employers are offering and if it’s attractive to them, they go. They are being invited to come work and live. And it’s all peaceful, consensual, and mutually beneficial. (I should note, of course, the many government violations of free-enterprise principles, such as occupational licensure, minimum-wage laws,  and construction permits.)

The European refugee crisis

All right, let’s address the refugee crisis in Europe.

First of all, the crisis is a direct consequence of the U.S. national-security state’s death machine in the Middle East, which has been killing people and destroying people’s homes and businesses for at least 25 years. With its regime-change operations and ongoing assassinations in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, and other parts of the Middle East, the death machine has set into motion a catastrophic series of events, including civil wars and the rise of ISIS. (The death machine did the same thing in Guatemala. It destroyed that country’s democratic system with a regime-change operation that installed a brutal U.S.-approved military dictatorship, which brought about a 30-year civil war that killed an estimated more than a million people.)

When people are faced with certain death, the likelihood is that many of them are going to try to save their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Those refugees could have stayed where they are and died either from the U.S. bombs being dropped on them or some other wartime mayhem. They chose to flee, with spouses and children in tow. The only place they could practically go to save their lives was Europe since there is no country in the world that is willing to provide sanctuary. Many of them, including children, have died crossing the Mediterranean in the attempt to save their lives from U.S. bombs and other mayhem.

The massive influx of refugees into Europe has caused an enormous refugee crisis — no question about that.

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 and join up with the statists by supporting their socialist system of immigration controls?

Absolutely not. Life sometimes presents catastrophic events like this — earthquakes, hurricanes, war, and the like. Those temporary phenomena, no matter how big, always work themselves out over time, especially in societies that are founded on libertarian principles. Whenever they happen, the temptation among some people is to panic and eagerly surrender their rights and liberties to the government. But history has shown that people who surrender their rights and freedoms in times of crisis hardly ever recover them once the crisis is over.

Europe has long been a statist society. They’re not as bad as North Korea when it comes to a government-controlled economy but European countries are still highly regulated, very socialistic societies. Thus, it’s no surprise that their static economic system is unable to easily absorb a massive increase of immigrants.

But that’s not the case when it comes to systems that orient toward free enterprise. That’s why, in fact, that the United States was able to absorb millions of European and Asian immigrants in the 19th century who were oftentimes fleeing war and starvation. They were quickly absorbed into the work place.

If the United States, whose government has set off the cataclysmic events in the Middle East, had not denied entry to those hundreds of thousands of refugees besieging Europe, there wouldn’t have been a refugee crisis in Europe. Those people would be coming to the United States like normal human beings. They would have been helped by private groups and private individuals, including church related groups and enclaves of Americans who immigrated from those areas. And they would quickly be absorbed into the workplace and become productive citizens.

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.

Are some Americans scared that there might be a few terrorists included within the refugees? No question about it. Isn’t it ironic that Americans have the most powerful totalitarian-like national-security state apparatus in history attached to their federal governmental system and yet many Americans are among the most frightened people in the world?

There is a simple solution to anti-American terrorism and the deep fear that it generates among many American: Bring the U.S. death machine home and discharge all the troops participating in it. No more U.S. killing, including ISIS and the Taliban. Just stop the U.S. killing. Twenty-five years of killing is more than enough.

Once that happens, anti-American terrorism goes away. Then Americans no longer have to live in fear that the terrorists (or the Muslims) are coming to get them.

What if the U.S. death machine insists on continuing to kill more people in the Middle East? Then we still should not let U.S. empire and interventionism destroy freedom here at home, including the principles of open borders. I’d just as soon take my chances with the possibility that some terrorist will come and get me than to trade away my freedom for the pretense of security.

The practical solution

A big point that Bionic makes in his rejoined to me relates to his belief in anarchism. He asserts that the ongoing immigration crisis is because government exists. But he’s wrong. The cause of the decades-long U.S. immigration crisis is not government but rather government control over the border. If there was no government control over the border, there never would have been a decades-long continuous immigration crisis that stretches back at least to the 1950s and has never gone away.

There is a simple reason for this. Government-controlled borders constitute socialist central planning in action. As libertarians, we know what socialism produces — chaos — or as Ludwig von Mises put it, planned chaos. It never works. It will never work. Socialism is an inherently defective paradigm. Americas will have planned chaos in the area of immigration because the U.S. government controls and manages the border.

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. In the drug war area, that means the legalization of drugs. In the unemployment area, that means repeal of minimum wage laws. In the immigration area, that means open borders — i.e., the free movements of people across borders.

Thus, the only thing that will ever work is getting rid of government control over the borders and, in a broader sense, over all economic activity. That’s the only way to end the decades-long immigration crisis. Open borders — the free market — is the only thing that works and, therefore, it is the only practical approach to immigration. What could be more practical than adopting a policy that works? What could be more impractical than continuing to embrace immigration socialism when it’s clear by now that it doesn’t work?

Taxation

Bionic asserts that I’m “okay” with welfare-state taxes. That’s just a silly attempt to distract people’s attention from the main issue I have raised regarding whether libertarians should abandon their principles for the sake of expediency. I asked: If open immigration means paying higher welfare-state taxes, should libertarians abandon their principles if adhering to them will mean paying higher taxes? My answer: No. I say that libertarians should continue adhering to their principles even if that means higher taxes. Bionic misinterpreted my answer as saying that I condone higher taxes, and he even suggested that I should pay his taxes.

Thus, let me clarify my position. If the government or statists put me in a position of choosing between abandoning my libertarian principles and paying higher taxes, I’m don’t condone that but I choose not to abandon my commitment to libertarian principles just because the government’s welfare-state policies are going to cause me to pay higher taxes. The way I figure it is that we should never permit statists to manipulate or maneuver us libertarians into abandoning our principles and joining up with them on any position whatsoever. If we do otherwise, we end up becoming like them.

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? Or would you stick with your principles and continue calling for an end to this evil, immoral, and destructive war even if it means you have to pay higher taxes? If the latter, then why not the same answer with respect to immigration?

Anarchy versus limited government

Finally, Bionic takes me to task for being a limited-government libertarian rather than a libertarian anarchist. He says that one of his beefs with limited government is that it can’t stay limited.

Really? Then why are there still open borders between the respective states of the United States despite the lapse of some 225 years since the federal government was called into existence by the Constitution? That’s plenty of time for there to have been a complete totalitarian system of state and county borders controls all across the country. Indeed, why was there a continuous system of open immigration for foreigners coming to the United States for more than a hundred years after the enactment of the Constitution? Both examples confirm that it is entirely possible to have government without government-controlled borders (just like it’s possible to have government without drug laws).

Bionic also asserts that it’s impossible to reconcile limited government with the libertarian non-aggression principle. Really? I invite him to read my 6-part essay entitled “Why I Favor Limited Government,” which is currently being published in FFF’s monthly journal Future of Freedom. (Subscribe here.) If after reading my essay, Bionic is able to find anywhere I promote the violation of the libertarian non-aggression principle, I’ll eat my copy of Man, Economy, and State.

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    Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.