We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

The Hoppean position on immigration is illogical; you do not reduce the scope of the state by increasing it and the number of tasks it undertakes. We should be looking at ways to limit the damage and cost of government now, and not sit in ivory towers trying to fudge a philosophical position that takes away the right of free association.

Allrik Birch

37 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    Then let there be a free society.

    In such a civil society property owners (such as the owners of ranches and farms) would be allowed to defend their property from invaders – not dragged into court for doing so.

    Nor would people be forced (as they are by the Supreme Court Judgement of 1982) to pay for the education of people they never even asked to arrive (and do not want – so much for “freedom of association” which must include the freedom NOT to associate).

    Nor would private hospitals be forced (by the 1980s statute) to treat any person who turns up at their E.R.

    A denial of private property rights in land, and “free” education and healthcare – not very libertarian so far.

    But it does not stop there.

    Do not forget the “anti discrimination” measures – where (for example) if a business asks customers to speak in English they can be prosecuted.

    And do not forget the POLITICAL MOTIVATION – “Motor Voter” regulations (show a driving document – and you get to vote).

    The Economist magazine may pretend (indeed does pretend – just as it pretends that the L.A. Times is declining in circulation becuase it is “right wing”, something that had not been true for 50 years, and that CNN “keeps to the centre”) that 68% of American want a “path to citzenship” (i.e. to poltical POWER – not freedom) for illegals, but I find it hard to believe that most people (even now) think things would have gone better had the war of 1848 gone the other way.

    For the Mexican government (although the schools and universities carefully leave this out) also had expansionist aims.

    And, due to the treason of the American elite, it appears that these espansionist aims may (eventually) be achieved.

    Indeed this may be the least worst option – a Mexico that spread up to (say) New York, might actually be less terrible than what the “enlightned” elite have planned for the United States.

    Although with the growth of the “international community” (a new U.N. firearms law passed just today – internatinal law has turned into “legislation”) all nations may, eventually, become equally horrific.

    “But what of Britain and the rest of Europe”.

    Immigration into Europe is mostly from the Islamic world.

    Enough said.

    Unless someone can show me good statistics on conversions.

    Not “indifference” (which can explode into a fanatical explosion of faith in a day) but sincere mass conversions.

    But conversion to what?

    The West no longer believes in its founding belief systems.

    And, no, moral degeneracy (examples of which are normally given at this point) will not do as a alternative.

    Young Muslims enjoy the vices as much as young anyone else – it counts for NOTHING in the end. Eventually drink, drugs (and so on) no longer satisfy.

    Conversion must be to something POSITIVE.

    A believe system – but, as already stated, the belief systems of the West are in decline (terrible decline).

  • Steven

    I think that when historians a couple of centuries from now look back at the collapse of the United States, the two biggest factors will be the Court’s continual expansion of what a limited government was allowed to do, essentially amending the Constitution by judicial fiat, and the blind eye towards the border and welfare with the end goal of buying votes. Demographics is destiny.

    I encourage everyone to keep a diary. The average man in the streets couldn’t tell the future what they thought during the final days of the Roman Empire, but we can. Generations of future historians will thank you. Who knows, it may be the only mark you leave on the world.

  • RRS

    Is not the real issue here the functions of governments?

    Is it not the assignment (from the ways our human relations are conducted) to governments of the functions of providing, education, child support and family welfare, along with imposing upon the broad base of members of society the obligations necessary to create “rights” to specific conditions of individual and group living that generates these issues?

    Is it not the assignment to governments of the management of human relations with one another and with their surroundings that generates these issues?

    The essential issue for normative libertarianism is the limitation of the functions of governments. All else will fall in order as the social order spontaneously evolves.

  • Steven

    Is not the real issue here the functions of governments?

    No. The real issue is politicians trading the future well-being of the nation for political power in the here and now. Even if the only thing the government did was the courts and national defense, you would still have pork barrel politics that would force the trade between what is needed and what gives the most political points. The Republicans being bought off by big business looking for cheap labor, the Democrats kowtowing to La Raza for votes, and the legions from South of the Border showing up for that free ride is just the symptom. The disease is the avarice of politicians.

  • Snorri Godhi

    That’s the trouble with libertarians: reasoning from first principles, instead of thinking in the Machiavellian way. If you did the latter, you’d realize that almost any principle can be used to increase the power of the State: open borders or closed borders, militarism or pacifism, pro-life or pro-choice, segregation or civil rights, religion or atheism, and many more. One can find, fairly easily, the libertarian solution to these issues; but you can be sure that the solution implemented in practice will be statist, no matter which side it takes on an issue.
    The only safe principles, possibly, are free markets, free speech, and borders open to Emigration; but I am not at all sure that even these cannot be turned into instruments to legitimize an expansion of the State.

  • Indeed, Snorri. But this is sort of like saying, for example: why bother cooking all day, when it will be all eaten in less than an hour, and eventually we’ll all die anyway?

  • David C

    Too many libertarians think that freedom is only for those with the right nationality, papers and qualifications. Sure there are issues about the practicality of open borders, but if you actually believe in freedom you surely must include the right of people to decide under which regime they wish to exist.

  • DarthBuzzKill

    This debate is fun and all that, but why is it that support for open borders correlates so strongly with personally not living anywhere near one? (i.e. near a border that is illegally crossed on a regular basis).

    Search your feelings young open borders padawan, you know it to be true.

  • Well Darth, I live in an extremely cosmopolitan city of many millions of people surrounded by 4 major international airports which are about 45 mins away from me through which said immigrants arrive, so I would argue I do indeed ‘live on a border’ that is ‘illegally’ crossed on a regular basis… and my view is the UK does not have an immigration problem, it has a welfare state problem.

  • Perry: I live in Israel.

  • The problem in Israel is when the ‘immigrants’ arrive in T62s :D

  • RRS

    Steven:

    How else than through the functions of governments do the powers that vest in politicians come into being?

    If a function is assigned to, or defaulted to, governments then the power to conduct that function passes by assignment or default as well.

    Snorri:

    Do not The Powers of the “State exist because of the functions assigned or defaulted to the “State?”

    Thus, the “first principle” of libertarianism – Limitation of the Functions of Governments- is a “TINA” (Thatcherism).

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    In defence of Hoppe, the OP is something of a Straw-Man. Hoppe does want to reduce the scope of the government, but this does not just involve eradicating government functions entirely. It can also involve streamlining them. Regarding immigration he suggested moving from a Visa eligibility system, to the much simpler “Have you been invited by a legal resident?” system.

    So I think that still qualifies as reducing the scope of the government.

    As to whether that goes far enough, or is just, is another matter entirely. I would say that the Hoppean “invited guests only” approach seems far better than what he have now. As to whether it is the best approach, well, I’m open to persuasion on that point.

  • Lee Moore

    I am provoked into commenting by two of Perry’s pithicisms :

    “The problem in Israel is when the ‘immigrants’ arrive in T62s”

    But if one believes that people should be allowed to bear arms, and that people should be allowed to move freely, and that people should be allowed to associate freely, then there can be no objection to several divisions of Syrian armoured troops turning up in Israel whenever they please. The first offence – libertarian-wise – is when they actually open fire, and it would be an abuse of their liberty to intervene merely on suspicion that they were up to no good. One is reluctant to let practicality intrude on discussions of high libertarian theology, but this sort of libertarianism is like the democracy of 1960s Africa. It can exist in pristine perfection …. for twenty minutes.

    “the UK does not have an immigration problem, it has a welfare state problem”

    Welfare – ie coerced confiscation from X to pay for benefits for Y – is not the only objection to immigration-as-it-is-now. Coercion-by-voting, crime and public health are risks that any human poses to another. Whether immigrants, on average, pose greater or smaller risks to the liberties of the locals than other locals do is not a theological matter but a matter to be determined empirically, and the answer may differ from place to place and from time to time.

    But even limiting the matter to welfare the fact is we have a vast welfare system, to which immigrants are entitled. I do recall a recent post, possibly also by Perry, the gist of which was “No Compromises ! We must ignore tactical opportunities and alliances in the wars between the statists ! La lutta continua !” Which is fine. But it doesn’t tell us whether a state with a lavish welfare system and unrestricted immigration is closer to or further from the libertarian ideal than a state with a lavish welfare system and restricted immigration.

  • Snorri Godhi

    RRS:
    Do not The Powers of the “State” exist because of the functions assigned or defaulted to the “State?”

    The short answer is…yes and no.
    My Machiavellian view is as follows:
    The powers of the State exist because the ruling class could grab them. The ruling class had the power to grab more power, if you wish.
    The functions “assigned” to the State are just pieces of paper giving a veneer of legitimacy to the powers of the ruling class.

    Thus, the “first principle” of libertarianism – Limitation of the Functions of Governments- is a “TINA” (Thatcherism).

    Sorry, i don’t get it. The acronym, i mean.

  • One is reluctant to let practicality intrude on discussions of high libertarian theology, but this sort of libertarianism is like the democracy of 1960s Africa.

    Google away to your heart’s content, you will be hard pressed to find me suggesting that.

    Indeed I am disliked in some libertarian circles for my lack compunction when it comes to dropping bombs on people based on their intent and capabilities alone. My basic notion is that a wise libertarian does as Solo did… he shoots first… when the other guy or army of other guys… clearly have ill intent. I have no truck with the suicidal wing of libertarian theorists.

  • Sorry, i don’t get it. The acronym, i mean.

    There Is No Alternative

    It was Thatcher’s well know catch phrase.

  • RRS

    TINA

    There Is No Alternative

  • RRS

    My Machiavellian view is as follows:
    The powers of the State exist because the ruling class could grab them. The ruling class had the power to grab more power, if you wish.

    Snorri

    Well, that (seizure of powers)may well be your “Machiavellian” in cases of Principalities, but would need some explanation of such events in the case of Republics (and, this presumes you are analogizing the Machiavelli of the Discourses; not of the Prince).

    The question transfers (in part) to how does the “Ruling Class” acquire Ruling Authority, which is translated into power (they are not the same)other than by assignment or default?

  • Steven

    How else than through the functions of governments do the powers that vest in politicians come into being?

    If a function is assigned to, or defaulted to, governments then the power to conduct that function passes by assignment or default as well.

    That’s not the argument. This is about politicians exploiting a situation for their own political gain, even at the expense of the nation. If there was zero welfare state and Mexicans were machine gunned at the border and had their corpses flung over the Rio Grande with a trebuchet there would be some other issue our betters would exploit. Welfare and the masses of illegals is just the most bang for the buck.

    Case in point: Almost everyone will agree that of all the things government can or should do, national defense is high on that list. In the mid-90s, the government decided that with the end of the Cold War we didn’t need a lot of the bases we had. The Navy had three recruit training centers: San Diego CA, Orlando FL, and Great Lakes IL. The Navy was told it was going to lose two of those facilities and the Navy said of the three, it would keep Orlando. It was the newest facility, had a bunch of A and C schools there (technical training programs), the weather allowed for year round operations, and there was plenty of room for expansion if needed, good community schools for the families of sailors, etc… Of the three, the Navy wanted rid of Great Lakes. The facilities were ancient, it couldn’t expand because of Chicago, and the winter all but closed down the base for four months each year.

    In spite of what the Navy wanted, the politicians from IL fought tooth and nail to keep Great Lakes open. In the end they won, and NTC Orlando and San Diego were closed. That wasn’t “what’s good for the nation” decision, or even a “what helps the Navy the best” decision. It was a “what gets me reelected” decision. Looking the other way concerning illegal aliens is just more of that. The increased drain on social services, increased rates of crime and communicable diseases, the massive outflow of capital being sent home are all acceptable trades for politicians who can use the immigration issue for vote pandering or who can get reelection campaign contributions to draft laws that allow big business to hire illegals for pennies on the citizen dollar.

  • Steven

    The question transfers (in part) to how does the “Ruling Class” acquire Ruling Authority, which is translated into power (they are not the same)other than by assignment or default?

    In representative governments, mostly because the governed have a say in what it wants government to be and do. The thoughts of what legitimate government should and should not be by some long dead political philosopher is all well and good, but when We The People see a problem that Wall Street is either unable or unwilling to deal with, then the push is to get government to make it happen. One of the two biggest flaws with the libertarian movement in my mind is that there is this push to let the free market be responsible for whatever, forgetting that the free market had its chance and blew it. If companies didn’t cut corners and just dump waste everywhere without any regard for the safety, environment, or health of everyone there would be no EPA. If the likes of Standard Oil weren’t bent on crushing any competition to the point that they were physically excluding competitors from the market there would be no Anti-Trust acts. If there was no insider trading, there would be no SEC. If there was no Tragedy of the Commons, there would be no state DNR to make sure that there is enough deer and fish to go around. An economist might see a market correction and a Rockefeller might lose millions during a crash, but he’s not going to go hungry or lose his home. The average worker isn’t so lucky and so he demands that some safety net be put in place to make sure his kids aren’t in the streets when someone like Soros deliberately tanks an economy to make some money.

  • RRS

    Steven:

    Your comment at 6:23 PM seems to me a confirmation of the fact of assignment of, or default in, authority. Your answer seems to boil down to “the people turn to the use of governments to deal with problems. They do this by the selection of representatives.” (not yourquote)But they are actually selecting managers (rather than representatives of principles or interests) who in turn select others to manage the human relations within our society.

    You appear to favor the increased, and increasing, functions of governments.

    While it is a digression from the underlying issues, you seem to have some concept of markets as something other than the interactions of humans in seeking methods of cooperation in carrying out exchanges that are the necessary resultant of the division of labor. For the subjects to which you refer, is extremely doubtful that they fall within the concept of “free” markets.

    You may also be overlooking the fact that “government planners” created the conditions that made possible the actions by George Soros and his helper from Demopolis, Alabama. Soros did not create the conditions of which he took advantage. He is no favorite of mine, but neither are government planners, who have caused far more devastation and personal disasters.

  • RRS

    Steven:

    to yours of 6:12 PM:

    Yes, it is the “argument.”

    Political exploitation for political gain arises out of the need for management of the functions of governments. Limit those functions and we limit the areas of political exploitation.

    When the functions of governments are continuously expanded the areas of political exploitation expand exponentially; thus, it becomes impracticable to deal with all of the exploitations, even those that are applied to the essential functions of governments. There is just too much going on at the plantation for proper oversight. In addition, oversight has been delegated to the various bodies who maintain policies of exploitation. Limitation of functions is absolutely essential. Tina.

  • Paul Marks

    If the followers of Islam turned up in Israel WITHOUT weapons the result would be the same – Israel would no longer exist. If only 10% of the population of Egypt (not the Islamic world, just Egypt) came – then Israel would no longer exist (unless they converted – not likely). There are Christian Israelis, there are even Muslim Israels – but the mainstream of Islam does not accept Israel (and never will).

    Strong defences – not just a wall, but such things a minefields also, are vital. The limes of Rome held for centuries (even without such technology) – till Constantine downplayed the forces on the frontier in favour of a central army (basically his personal bodyguard in the capital), fearing that other provinical generals (if they had crack troops under their command) would do what he had done and take power.

    The political loyality of people who arrive in a new land is just as important as whether they have come for welfare payments.

    Although there is a link.

    For example,the sort of Mexican who is prepared to serve for years in the American army (or whatever) in order to legally come to the United States is BOTH the sort of person who is not interested in “Food Stamps” (and so on) and someone’s whose political loyality is normally to the United States (not to Mexico).

    However, the United States (like so many other Western nations) has become a a sucidal culture (murdering terrorists given academic jobs is just the tip of the iceberg) – for example the standard teaching of such things as the war of 1848 is fanatically anti American.

    A brown skin (or a blue skin) has nothing to so with political loyalities – unless the ideas in someone’s head (the ideas put their by such things as the educational system) make it so.

    A nation the size of the United States could IF it undergoes a “fundemental transformation” (in the exact opposite direction to the one Obama wants) might be able to have an “open borders” policy.

    If there was no state education, and ER treatment and Foodstamps and… and so on then this might be possible – no benefits for people who came (and no anti American brainwashing either).

    But as it is – Open Borders (for the United States or other Western nations) is suicide. Which is exactly why the internatinal “liberal” elite want it.

    Snorri is correct – one must try and work out the motives behind a policy. And, in this case, the motive of the “International Community” (i.e. the forces of evil) is obvious. The destruction of the few places that might stand against their ideas.

    The U.N. is just one element of the “International Community” (although its LEGISLATION on “human rights” such as “gun control” is important to the collectivists) – the real heart of the “international community” is academia and the media.

  • Andrew

    forgetting that the free market had its chance and blew it

    At what point does government blow its chance?

    When it’s starved millions of people to death? When it invents a story so it can commit mass murder? When it tests STDs on Johnny foreigner? When it runs an education system so utterly worthless, supermarkets are having to teach new recruits basic English and maths?

    To quote H.L. Mencken, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

  • But even limiting the matter to welfare the fact is we have a vast welfare system, to which immigrants are entitled. I do recall a recent post, possibly also by Perry, the gist of which was “No Compromises ! We must ignore tactical opportunities and alliances in the wars between the statists ! La lutta continua !” Which is fine. But it doesn’t tell us whether a state with a lavish welfare system and unrestricted immigration is closer to or further from the libertarian ideal than a state with a lavish welfare system and restricted immigration.

    Actually that was very unlikely to be the point I was making (you would need to quote some context). What I do tend to say however is that arguing over how big a bite of the shit sandwich you have to eat is indeed not just worthless but in fact endorses shit sandwiches… ie if you voted for Romney because RomneyCare was better than ObamaCare, then yes, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  • veryretired

    I’ve long thought the answer to this issue of immigration, especially illegal immigration across the border from Mexico, was to enact, word for word, the same laws that Mexico uses to control it’s own immigration problems. Sauce for the goose, etc.

    In much the same vein, it seems reasonable to me to notify our various trading partners that we shall henceforth enforce the same trade rules concerning products from their country as they enforce towards products from the US.

    I must admit the Japanese, and now the Chinese, have inspired me in this matter.

    By the very nature of its founding charter, the US belongs to the legal citizens which inhabit it, and it is the duty and responsibilty of that polity to devise the rules by which non-citizens may join that community.

    Saying that they have no right to do so is to deny them effective control of their own political entity, and to severely penalize otherwise desirable future citizens from other lands which do not abut the physical counrty, and to reward undesirable interlopers, who would otherwise be unwelcome, simply because they could reach an undefended border.

    Mexico’s complainting about immigration policy, in particular, is a blatant case of living in a glass house and throwing stones.

    Legal immigration, by the way, does not bother me, as I view such new citizens as a positive good.

  • In much the same vein, it seems reasonable to me to notify our various trading partners that we shall henceforth enforce the same trade rules concerning products from their country as they enforce towards products from the US.

    A better strategy would be complete and unilateral free trade and if people in other countries want to subsidise the products the US (or anywhere else) imports, well more fool them.

    Legal immigration, by the way, does not bother me, as I view such new citizens as a positive good.

    I much prefer an illegal who wants to work to a legal immigrant who wants to go on the dole.

  • Steven

    You appear to favor the increased, and increasing, functions of governments.

    and

    At what point does government blow its chance?
    When it’s starved millions of people to death? When it invents a story so it can commit mass murder? When it tests STDs on Johnny foreigner? When it runs an education system so utterly worthless, supermarkets are having to teach new recruits basic English and maths?

    I’m not advocating government involvement and I’m certainly not going to cheerlead the government or say it is the solution to our problems. I’m saying there is a reason the government reacted and that is because the private sector has a history of doing some very questionable things, sometimes out of incompetence and sometimes out of malice, and the American people demanded something be done and if Wall Street couldn’t be bothered to clean up its own act, then Capitol Hill would make them.

    All those agencies that the true believers are using to shape the US into their vision of a socialist utopia would never have even existed had the private sector not just shrugged its shoulders when it got out of line and got called on it. It was a story that kept getting told time and again until something had to be done.

    I don’t like government any more than you do, but I don’t have a solution either. Government is a source of its own set of problems and makes everything worse, but the private sector can’t be trusted to clean up after itself and make changes either. There is no right answer.

  • Andrew

    But do the American people really demand something must be done?

    Here in the UK, it’s very small but very vocal minorities, amplified by the state broadcaster, who demand something must be done.

    Nothing to do with “the people”.

    Most recently seen in action in regard to press regulation: a left-wing paper lied, it became headline news on the BBC for weeks (even after the lie was exposed), now the government has its hands around the neck of the press.

    Or there’s the charity trick: government funds charity, charity lobbies government, government increases its power.

    You can see this type of thing done over and over again, lies invented, problems made-up out of thin air, myths started.

    The free market isn’t perfect, but when you look at its “failures” make sure you look closely, the vast majority of the time you’ll see the cold, dead hands of the state brutally choking it.

    “As a rule, capitalism is blamed for the undesired effects of a policy directed at its elimination.” Ludwig Von Mises.

  • veryretired

    Well, one of my favorite Laurel & Hardy movies is “Tit For Tat”, so I’m always looking for a way to dump honey in someone’s cash register.

    Other than that, I just like people who work for a living—period.

    Anyway, I’m not in the mood to argue. My guys scored two in the bottom of the ninth this afternoon and won a close game.

    My best friend, who doesn’t like baseball at all, just can’t understand the beauty of something like that. Bunch of immigrants on the team, too.

  • Steven, I can’t make a global argument, but there are plenty of historical examples of well-functioning private business which the government either effectively nationalized, or drove out of business when nationalization proved too difficult. As as others have been pointing out out for ages: private does not mean perfect – nothing human ever is. But things can be better, and they can be worse. What government does is making the imperfect worse.

  • Snorri Godhi

    RRS: since you brought in the Prince vs Discourses debate, i’d like to point out that, in this thread, i meant “Machiavellian” in the sense of Burnham’s The Machiavellians, though if people reading my comment interpreted “Machiavellian” as “very cynical”, not much is lost.
    Let me add that, inspired by Burnham’s book, i am now reading Gaetano Mosca’s excellent The Ruling Class, and no doubt this reading influenced my comments even more than i am consciously aware. You might find an answer to your questions addressed to me in there, though i suppose your questions were supposed to be rhetorical.

  • RRS

    Snorri:

    the question (to which you responded on April 3 at 6:23 PM) was not at all rhetorical. It was posed in order to determine whether or not your view (however you care to characterize it) countered the empirical evidence of assignment of, or default in exercise of, authority and the power resulting therefrom.

  • RRS

    Snorri:

    My apologies, it was Steven who replied, not you.

  • Harry Powell

    Does it work, then? Does immigration under conditions of open borders look like an efficient market with an equilibrium point? Treating immigrants as rational consumers of the investment that is immigration you would expect the market to self correct when jobs, property and public goods were scarce. If it doesn’t, and I would suggest that even when there is an unfettered choice as with internal immigration people don’t necessarily make rational, utility maximising decisions, then immigrants are not rational consumers and immigration is not a normal consumption good. I don’t apologise for being a consequentialist on this subject. Talk of freedom of association is all very well but if it just produces favelas then what is the use of it?