My musings on different political topics relevant to America today.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Libertarian critique

Today I am going to call out a discrepancy in how libertarians approach issues.  Libertarians are not going to like this because libertarians like to pretend that they are color blind.  Libertarians like to pretend that their personal backgrounds do not affect their beliefs.  Today I am here to show, that they very much do.  Also before going forward, please take not that this discussion is somewhat "inside baseball", for lack of a better term.

Before I begin, let me explain that I am very sympathetic to libertarian beliefs.  I do believe that individual rights and private property are important.  I do believe that we must guard against government tyranny.  I believe that it shouldn't be governments job to try and create an utopia on earth, and that if it tried, it will find quickly it created a dystopian mess.  I make the following objection I'm about to raise, because I care about the movement, not because I wish to destroy it.

My objection is as follows.  Ideological consistency is held to most of the time, except, in the issue of immigration.  There is a schism here, between open and closed borders libertarians.  Open borders supporters believe that individual rights require libertarians to always support policies that open the U.S. border to immigrants.  Closed border supporters believe that we cannot afford to allow open borders as long as there is a welfare state.  If there is a welfare state, then people will come to the U.S. to mooch off its welfare benefits.  In addition, many argue that allowing unrestricted immigration will inevitably lead to a change in the culture that is less supportive of liberty.

Its interesting that this is one of the few areas that libertarians allow practical considerations to trump ideological purity.  Every other issue, to the libertarian, is straight forward.  Whatever increases individual liberty is best.  As an example, reducing taxes is always good because taxation is theft.  This is interesting, because it ignores that reductions in taxes are often coupled by increased in money printing and/or financial repression by the Federal Reserve, which is simply just another form of theft, in the libertarian worldview.  Yet in this issue, libertarians conveniently ignore the complexity of the issue.  Same goes with healthcare policy.  Libertarians argue against the mandate, yet don't bother to address the massive subsidies the Federal government already gives to hospitals to cover uninsured patients.  If you take away the mandate, more people will be uninsured, which will then go to hospitals and rack up bills that taxpayers later wind up paying.  Funnily enough, the complexity here goes unnoticed as well.  Same goes with education reform.  Most libertarians are against a voucher system, even if its the best option limited government folks can attain, because it doesn't go far enough.  So they rather have the current system than accept a second best solution.

Yet this logic, strangely, does not follow for many libertarians when it comes to border policy.  Here, libertarians often argue that other things must be considered besides individual rights.  Individual rights, in this one issue, are seen as one of many other factors.  More consequentialist arguments are laid out, suggesting that allowing immigration, ultimately, will reduce liberty.  One has to ask why this one issue is allowed a pass to ideological consistency.

Honestly, I believe the reason for this tolerance of support for closed borders lies with some libertarians unholy alliance with the alt-right.  I believe some libertarians are fond of the alt-right due to its politically incorrect stand against the establishment, and I believe some libertarians believe that its easier tactically to convert alt-right nationalist populists into libertarians that it is to convert progressives.  Its obvious when one sees many libertarians love of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who is not a libertarian, that many libertarians have sympathies for nationalist populism.

Since the hottest movement on the right lately has been national populism, and since libertarians have had difficulty attracting a wider audience with their message, many have decided to latch onto national populism in order to increase their market share.  The biggest issues amongst national populists is immigration and skepticism of international institutions, so many libertarians have fully embraced these.  It may be coincidence, but I doubt it.  I think its more likely that libertarians are doing this as a tactical maneuver, and because frankly, many libertarians revel in contrarianism, so if a movement is despised by the establishment, libertarians rush to defend them.

I must admit, its hard to escape the ethnic and racial component in this story.  Especially because the facts seem to suggest the opposite of what libertarians claim.  The facts show that more homogeneous societies are highly correlated with large welfare states.  So if libertarians concern is that allowing immigrants will increase the welfare state, facts don't seem to back up their theory.

In addition, theres an implicit assumption that "people not like us" do not value liberty like Americans.  That may, or may not, be true.  Sure, lately most minorities have been voting overwhelmingly democrat, but the reason for that is obvious.  The Republican party does a very bad job listening to minorities.  Republicans used to do better.  George W. Bush received between 40 to 44% of the hispanic vote in 2004.  Reagan received 37% in 1984.  Meanwhile, Romney only received 27%.  So when people complain about how Mexican immigrants are going to make our country socialist, they are basing it all off of the Romney election.  But its not nearly that obvious, because George W. Bush did much better.  To be frank, Republicans have become more hardline on immigration, and their rhetoric against immigrants has become harsher.  As a result, not surprisingly, more hispanics were driven away from the Republican party.

Lets be honest, most Republicans are not for small government, and neither are most Democrats, but immigrants know from their own experience that America got something right, that their countries at home did not.  Maybe the immigrants are not for small government, but you are deceiving yourself if you believe most white rural Republicans are for small government either.  Just look at the current election.  Look at what made Trump win.  Look at his rhetoric.  He had the weakest position on tax cuts out of ALL the republican candidates.  His whole platform was based off of punishing companies for producing things overseas, and shutting down our borders to immigrants.  His policy, essentially, was one of closed borders, not liberty.  What other evidence do you need to see that Republicans are just as invested in protecting their own interests as are Democrats?  What other evidence do you need to see that Republican rhetoric about liberty is a farce?  How many executive orders, cheered on by Republicans, and missile strikes, will it take before supposed libertarians acknowledge that the real roadblocks to liberty are their fellow Americans? Not a mythic foreign boogieman called the immigrant.

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