“It is unfortunately none too well understood that, just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own. All the power it has is what society gives it, plus what it confiscates from time to time on one pretext or another; there is no other source from which State power can be drawn.” ~ Albert Jay Nock
My recent post on the GM-loan-gate has, thus far, generated some interesting feedback and at least one or more epic discussions on various social networking sites. Aside from enjoying my joke, several people commented on the paragraphs which highlighted several talking points which have troubled me over the last few years. This one in particular, on immigration, seemed to generate the most feedback:
“Illegal immigration represents a danger to the future of the U.S.” (The U.S. didn’t even have a comprehensive set of regulations on immigration until 1952. The Constitution doesn’t even mention immigration in those terms. Hell, damned-near everyone in the U.S. except for the people who were already here when America was “discovered” is an immigrant or descended from one anyway. Here’s my question: When does an immigrant become a visitor or a guest?)
It might be that since Arizona—and Arizona’s governor is currently in the news—that the issue is particularly hot, which therefore made the discussions far-ranging. Immigration policy generally seems to be a hot-button. Having written several pieces on immigration, I admit that the subject fascinates me, but something about these recent debates, particularly among libertarians, has intrigued me even more.
One is often tempted to attack the objections to open borders directly, as did I and a number of guests on a recent radio show. And certainly many of these objections seem ripe for attacking. By the way, are bumper stickers with “every Mexican who comes to the U.S. illegally is only 15 minutes from welfare” being passed out? I would hate to miss out on my chances to get one. Just as popular, but new to me is this one: “In Los Angeles, 98% of convicted murderers are illegal aliens.” Uh-oh! Better raise the fence! It strikes me that anyone who thinks welfare is an enticement for immigration must have never visited their local department of social services. Take the worst parts of the DMV and add in ample portions of emasculation and denigration and you’re starting to get close, but it’s still worse than that, on good days.
It occurs to me—finally—that one needs to take a step back to even begin to understand this issue. For example, of what value is a border? Specifically, why does the United States have a border and why is it so necessary to maintain it? Hopefully examining this more general issue will yield insight into the specific issue—and current political hot-button—illegal immigration of Mexicans. Let us explore a couple of examples, one simple and one a little more complex.
Why does a farmer have a fence? He wants to protect his investment. He has a certain number of livestock in which he invests and out of which he hopes to obtain a return on his investment. Whether he milks them, shears them, slaughters them, or sells them, his motivation is clear. He doesn’t love them or care about them, and in fact, the lessons I recall from childhood clearly stated that naming a farm animal is bad business. “You don’t want to have to kill your pet, do you, Johnny?”
If farm animals could talk, can you imagine one of them going to the farmer and saying, “Hey Bill, there is a hole in the fence out back.” The Animal Farm refugee might continue, “I’m pretty sure some of the other pigs are going to escape sooner or later.” Displaying his true colors, our pig-turned-farmer-informant might finish with, “Worse yet, a couple of sows from next door got in and were eating some of my slop!”
The farmer would very likely repair that hole in the fence in short order.
Later, he’d enjoy the bacon—and if he’s like my family, the fatback as well—from his loyal friend.
Why does a country have a fence? I’d assert that the reason is remarkably similar to that of a farmer. Consider: Many, if not all, of the border stations in the U.S. were built under the auspices of the Department of the Treasury. Why? Crossing the border has long been a financial transaction waiting to happen. There are ample opportunities for erstwhile visitors to pay tribute for the privilege of entry. Simply put, border stations were and are erstwhile statist toll booths. Tariffs are collected. Duties are paid. Licenses are bought. In short, a nice income, and obvious logic behind the Treasury running the operation, at least until the events of 9-11, which is when the Department of Security Theater took over. It seems pretty clear that the protection of investment point-of-view animates the State’s desire for secure borders.
So then, why would the inhabitants of a geographic region want a fence? Are they comparable to hogs fighting over access to slop? If immigrants will end up on welfare it should be no real concern to people—like, well, me—with a lifestyle that supports free time to post on Facebook over a high-speed Internet connection, right? That is, unless one envisions (and cares about) some loss of his own access to government-supplied stuff. If one knows that Uncle Scam only tolerates his presence because Uncle Scam will be milking, slaughtering, or selling him, it should tend to make him rather disinterested in helping the cause or worrying about the government-approved slop of others, no?
Who thinks taxation is different than milking or shearing? Who thinks that military service is not very often tantamount to being sent to slaughter? Who thinks that borrowing vast sums of money against the national debt and/or the tax base is functionally or effectively different than selling the citizenry into debt slavery?
At least in Animal Farm the animals wanted to be people.
It now appears that some Americans are content to be livestock.