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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Trump’s Brilliant Use of the Coin of the Realm


In every welfare-warfare state, the people in charge are committed to maintaining their power and control over the lives, income, assets, and liberties of the citizenry.

Yet, those in power know that it is not in the interests of people to have a large portion of their income and assets seized by the government. They also know that generally people would rather be free than unfree.

Under dictatorial regimes, that doesn’t present a big problem. Those in power simply seize whatever they want. If anyone objects, they jail, torture, or execute him. The U.S. government’s close allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt are a good examples of this phenomenon. So are Cuba and North Korea.

Under democratic welfare-warfare states, the challenge is a bit dicier. If a democratic regime goes out and arbitrarily starts seizing people’s income and assets and infringes on their liberty and privacy, that regime runs the risk of being run of office in the next election.

Therefore, what rulers have to do in democratic welfare-warfare states is convince people that it is in their interests to surrender willingly their liberty and their property to the ruling regime.

What the rulers in democratic regimes have figured out is that there is a time-tested method to get people to surrender eagerly their assets and their freedom, a method that Donald Trump is now employing to maximum effectiveness. That method is fear, which is the coin of the realm in any society whose government is founded on a welfare-warfare state.

The idea is to strike terror into the hearts of the citizenry, even if it means conjuring up or even producing the thing that causes people to be overly afraid. Once people are stricken with fear, they are more willing, even eager, to surrender their assets and their freedom to be kept “safe” from the danger.

We saw this phenomenon in the run-up to the Iraq war. Saddam Hussein! WMDs! He is coming to get us! Mushroom clouds over American cities, just like Hiroshima and Nagasaki! Rally to the government! Support the troops! We will keep you safe from Saddam and his WMDs! Support our invasion of Iraq to keep yourself and your family safe.

President Bush’s political strategy was absolutely brilliant. When FFF was standing steadfast against the U.S invasion of Iraq, you would not believe the number of critical, even nasty, emails we were receiving saying, “President Bush has access to information we don’t have. We have to trust that he is doing the right thing to keep us safe.”

In what can only be described as an equally politically ingenious strategy, in the run-up to the mid-term elections Trump is using the coin of the realm just as effectively as Bush did, only this time with respect to a caravan of Central American immigrants who are currently heading north to seek refugee status in the United States. Just like Saddam Hussein, those immigrants are coming to get us and destroy our country, minus, at least for now, the WMDs.

Now, mind you, we are talking about a few thousand people who are seeking to save their lives and the lives of their families from horrific economic conditions and horrible violence in their countries, much of which is rooted in the U.S. government’s war on drugs, a federal program that Trump, along with other conservatives and liberals, continues to support.

Notwithstanding the fact that none of these refugees is armed and that the group includes lots of women and children, you would think that the United States is about to be invaded by the North Vietnamese, North Korean, Red Chinese, or Soviet armies (which was the official bugaboo throughout the Cold War). Trump has his supporters in a total tizzy. His dramatic decision to send (more) U.S. troops to the border to protect us from the coming “invasion” is nothing less than sheer political genius.

The guy is absolutely brilliant! No one can deny that. When you can incite panicked fear among otherwise rational adults over the possibility that a few thousand refugees are coming to get us and destroy our nation, that is nothing less than political genius. That’s one of the most effective uses of the coin of the realm that one could ever find.

The result of Trump’s strategy? Countless Trumpistas are now quivering and quaking over the fact that the “illegals” are coming to get us. “Please, please, Mr. President, do whatever is necessary to keep us safe. Take away our freedoms and spend whatever you need to spend. Forget the National Guard! Call out the 82nd Airborne Division! Just keep us safe!”

In the process, people block out of their minds that what are they are doing in falling for this time-honored scheme is sacrificing their liberties and their assets. They are doing that by supporting an even greater expansion of the immigration police state that both conservatives and liberals have foisted upon our land over the past several decades.

Highway checkpoints, where people are subject to mandatory full body-cavity searches, even though they have never entered Mexico. Full vehicular searches with no warrants, along with the possibility that federal agents drop drugs into their car and then falsely charge them with illegal possession. Roving Border Patrol checkpoints. Federal agents boarding Greyhound buses and demanding to see people’s papers, taking into custody anyone who looks “suspicious.” Violent raids on private businesses. Warrantless trespasses onto people’s farms and ranches. Forced separation of children from parents. Forced deportations, including of people who have been here for years. Complete searches of cell phones and mandated, forced disclosure of passwords. A Berlin Fence and the possibility of a Berlin Wall. Eminent domain stealing people’s private property.

That, my friends, is the face of a police state, a U.S. police state. That’s what life is like in a communist country. That Trump is now employing the military to fortify this immigration police state will only serve to destroy freedom and privacy even more.

There is one thing you will notice about any article that supports America’s statist system of immigration controls. No such article, including any article written by any conservative-libertarian, ever confronts this immigration police state that immigration controls bring into existence.

Don’t believe me? Go look at any article, including the recent ones, on any conservative or libertarian website that calls for immigration controls. I guarantee you: You will never — repeat never — find any of them confronting the fact that they are, at the same time, supporting an immigration police state.

There is a good reason why no advocate of immigration controls, including conservative-libertarians, ever confronts this police-state phenomenon. The reason is this: a police state is the opposite of a free society. What advocate of liberty wants to be in the awkward position of advocating liberty and a police state at the same time? Better to advocate liberty and immigration controls and just remain quiet about the police-state part. Sort of like openly and publicly favoring lightning but remaining silent about the thunder that comes with it.

I’ve seen this ongoing, never-ending immigration crisis all my life. Year after year, decade after decade, I’ve seen advocates of immigration controls trying desperately to come up with some immigration plan — any plan — that will finally make their system work and bring an end to the ongoing, never-ending, decades-long immigration crisis.

It hasn’t happened throughout my lifetime. And it will never happen. That’s what people finally need to realize. Nothing — repeat nothing! — they can do will bring an end to this ongoing, never-ending, decades-long immigration crisis. That’s because their system, which is based on immigration socialism in the form of immigration central planning, is itself the cause of the ongoing, never-ending, decades-long immigration crisis. As we have learned time and time again, socialism produces crises. Or as Ludwig von Mises put it, socialism always and inevitably produces “planned chaos.”

Throughout the 28 years of FFF’s existence, people have written me to say that our position favoring open borders is irrational and pleading with us to abandon our libertarian principles and join up with the conservative (and liberal) statists on the issue of immigration. Give it up. It ain’t gonna happen. Ever. FFF will never support statism in any respect whatsoever. We are libertarians, not conservatives or liberals (i.e., socialists, leftists, progressives). We favor freedom. And after all, what could be more irrational than continuing to favor a system that is inherently defective, can never be made to work, and that entails the destruction of liberty, privacy, and property through an immigration police state?

The only thing that works and the only thing that is consistent with moral principles is freedom and free markets, which necessarily means free trade, open immigration, freedom of association, freedom of travel, economic liberty, private property, liberty of contract, and privacy. What could be more rational than steadfastly continuing to stand for freedom and free markets and against a police state?

This post was written by:

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.