Libertarianism And Immigration

I was going to wait a while before tackling this issue, but it has become topical in so many countries, including those of most of you reading this, that it’s appropriate we look at it today. It isn’t a cut and dried issue, and there is no one-sentence solution that is at once practical, possible, just and Libertarian. But let’s have a look and see where the first principles of Liberty take us here.

The Ricardian Fallacy

Before we can look at immigration per se, we need to re-visit a principle of economics which LibertyGibbert tackled nine months ago: Ricardo’s Law of Comparative Advantage. To refresh the memory of those who (like me) lack any formal training in economics, English economist and politician David Ricardo (1772-1823) demonstrated his law using a hypothetical example in which there were only two countries, England and Portugal, and only two products manufactured in each: cloth and wine. Portugal produced wine more efficiently than it did cloth, whereas England produced cloth more efficiently than it did wine. Portugal, moreover, produced both more efficiently than England produced either.

He then used some simple arithmentic to prove that it was in the interests of both countries for Portugal to abandon its textiles industry, even though it was better at it than England, and for England to cease winemaking, and for the two countries to concentrate on what they did best and trade for what they do not produce. It all adds up, of course. Provided that the only output parameter that matters is the total output of goods (or GDP, if you will).

But imagine now that you are an English winemaker at the time faced with this situation. You and your family have been in the winemaking trade for generations. Then one day, a government bureaucrat knocks on your door and informs you that henceforth, you may no longer produce wine, and will have to switch to weaving instead. Sorry about that, old chap. You can start Monday.

Only, you’re fully aware that it would take many years for you to become a proficient and prosperous weaver. Even after many lean years of apprenticeship, you’d only find yourself in a marketplace alongside all the long-established weavers who know all the tricks of the trade and with whom you couldn’t realistically compete for decades, or even generations, if ever. So, you start thinking. You’ve also heard on the grapevine (pun intended) that lots of new opportunities for winemakers have just opened up in Portugal, whose government had recently announced a huge expansion of its wine industry. So, there’s really only one intelligent solution that benefits you personally—GDP and the country be damned. You’re going to pack up shop and move to Portugal.

For that matter, now imagine you’re an English weaver. You’ve heard the government’s announcement regarding the massive expansion in the English textiles industry, and that’s all well and good. It’s just that, there are no more people than before in England to buy all that cloth, and you’re being told the excess product will have to be sold in new overseas markets, like Portugal. You’re highly sceptical of this, sensing a coming market glut and hugely increased local competition (from all those re-trained winemakers), and as far as the promises of new export markets are concerned, you suspect the government is spinning you a bit of a yarn (OK, I’m done punning now).

What’s more, you’ve heard that there’s a huge new opportunity opening up for weavers in Portugal, whose government may have mandated the closure of its textiles industry, but whose bureaucrats are rather less rigorous than their British counterparts in enforcing such diktats, and who in any case are happy to look the other way in exchange for a few escudos’ worth of a backhander. Furthermore, Portugal has better raw fibres available for textiles manufacture than does England, and produces bigger and better weaving looms. Didn’t Ricardo say so? In other words, you can make a lot more cloth in a year in Portugal than you can in England, and more cheaply. You, like the winemaker who lives in your village, have decided there is only one sensible course of action: emigrate to Portugal!

Now, Ricardo was intelligent enough (just) to realise that mass migration, fuelled by the promise of personal advantage, would pull the rug out from under his neat little formula. So implicitly, migration is disallowed under a Ricardian economy. He believed in practice the social dislocation involved in migration would dissuade most from wishing to do so anyway:

Experience, however, shows, that the fancied or real insecurity of capital, when not under the immediate control of its owner, together with the natural disinclination which every man has to quit the country of his birth and connexions, and entrust himself with all his habits fixed, to a strange government and new laws, checks the emigration of capital.

Ricardo thus betrayed his own blinkered, imperialist mindset, along with his inability to grasp the desperation of those faced with poverty and ruin at the hands of his own top-down, centrally planned, totalitarian, ahuman theory.

Ellis Island, New York City, circa 1900. Labour was in short supply, immigration laws were liberal and everyone benefited

Capital and Labour

It’s telling that prior to the nineteenth-century export of Ricardian economics to the British Empire, and thence the world, migration of labour was a fairly unrestricted affair, in peacetime at least. Any man who wished to do so, and could find the means of transport, could pack up his bags, jump on board a ship, and pretty much go withersoever he wished. It was the movement of capital that was restricted, in the form of tariffs, duties, excise and bond. This, it is true, was in the age of colonial expansion, when the economies of the New World were booming, land supply appeared unlimited and labour, both skilled and unskilled, was in desperately short supply. It was in this atmosphere that American poet Emma Lazarus penned in 1883 the words of The New Colossus, now inextricably linked with the Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Today, in an era of Ricardian, global interdependence of food, commodities and credit, the situation is exactly reversed: it is capital which can fly from nation to nation at the click of a mouse, and labour which is constrained within national borders, with ever-increasing determination.

Diamond, Greenland, Lifeboats and Resource Depletion

Whether or not you agree with his broader thesis, scientist, author and activist Jared Diamond captures the fin de siècle atmosphere of today’s immigration crisis in his 2005 work Collapse. In it, he analyses the means by which several societies failed; though the proximate cause is different in each case, Diamond argues the ultimate cause in each case was the failure to manage, and adapt to, the local natural environment. Chapter 8, Norse Greenland’s End, describes the dire predicament facing the Norsemen in their two settlements in Greenland at the end of the Medieval Warm Period, in particular Gardar, the largest farm in the more prosperous Eastern Settlement; it is worth quoting him here at length:

Compared to Western Settlement, Eastern Settlement lay further south, was less marginal for Norse hay production, supported more people (4,000 instead of just 1,000) and was thus less at risk of collapse. Of course, colder climate was in the long run bad for Eastern Settlement as well as Western Settlement: it would just take a longer string of cold years to reduce the herds and drive people to starvation at Eastern Settlement. One can imagine the smaller and more marginal farms of the Eastern Settlement getting starved out. But what could have happened at Gardar, whose two cattle barns had space for 160 cows, and which had uncounted herds of sheep?

I would guess that, at the end, Gardar was like an overcrowded lifeboat. When hay production was failing and the livestock had all died or been eaten at the poorer farms of Eastern Settlement, their settlers would have tried to push their way onto the best farms that still had some animals: Brattahild, Hvalsey, Herjolfsnes, and last of all Gardar. The authority of the church officials at Gardar Cathedral, or of the landowning chief there, would have been acknowledged as long as they and the power of God were visibly protecting their parishioners and followers. But famine and associated disease would have caused a breakdown of respect for authority, much as the Greek historian Thucydides described in his terrifying account of the plague of Athens 2,000 years earlier. Starving people would have poured into Gardar, and the outnumbered chiefs and church officials could no longer prevent them from slaughtering the last cattle and sheep. Gardar’s supplies, which might have sufficed to keep Gardar’s own inhabitants alive if all the neighbours could have been kept out, would have been used up in the last winter when everybody tried to climb into the overcrowded lifeboat, eating the dogs and newborn livestock and the cows’ hoofs as they had at the end of Western Settlement.

I picture the scene at Gardar as like that in my home city of Los Angeles in 1992 at the time of the so-called Rodney King riots, when the aquittal of policemen on trial for brutally beating a poor person provoked thousands of outraged people from poor neighborhoods to spread out to loot businesses and rich neighborhoods. The greatly outnumbered police could do nothing more than put up pieces of yellow plastic warning tape across roads entering rich neighborhoods, in a futile gesture aimed at keeping the looters out. We are increasingly seeing a similar phenomenon on a global scale today, as illegal immigrants from poor countries pour into the overcrowded lifeboats represented by rich countries, and as our border controls prove no more able to stop that influx than were Gardar’s chiefs and Los Angeles’ yellow tape. That parallel gives us another reason not to dismiss the fate of the Greenland Norse as just a problem of a small peripheral society in a fragile environment, irrelevant to our own larger society. Eastern Settlement was also larger than Western Settlement, but the outcome was the same; it merely took longer.

Has it really come to that in the world today? Do the rich nations of the West represent overcrowded lifeboats, into which are desperately scrambling the poor of the developing world? And if so, where is the morality in us trying to keep them out? How does this square with our embrace of the principles of Liberty?

I look forward to your thoughts on this. In the meantime, I’m going to suggest the explanation of the current immigration crisis, together with the solution, lies somewhere other than the issues of environment and resources.

The modern face of immigration: Africans landing in Europe

 Warfare and Welfare: a Tragic Imbalance

In my article last August on the Welfare State, one point I should have covered but didn’t (not wishing to get sidetracked) was the drawing force presented by a nation with more generous welfare arrangements than those of its neighbours. As I mentioned to Izen the other day, the immigrants currently arriving in Australia by boat from south Asia have bypassed several peaceful countries en route, spurning the chance at asylum in countries with little or nothing in the way of state welfare, and risking the long and dangerous sea voyage to wealthy Australia. I imagine that, were Mexico separated from the United States by a string of poor Central American nations, instead of merely the width of a river, immigrants from Mexico would not be satisfied having reached Honduras, Nicaragua or El Salvador; they would be lured onward by the promise of wealth in generous America.

Two facts need to be emphasised here. Firstly, there is emphatically not a world shortage of food. Yet. In the West, millions of tons of food are thrown away annually, having passed their use-by date or unable to be sold at profit. Furthermore, all Western food-producing nations are participants in any number of food aid programs, some permanent, others temporary as and where needed. Australia, with a population of 22 million, actually feeds 60 million people. The terrible images of emaciated bodies we see from third-world dictatorships are not of people starving: they are of people being starved.

The second fact is that all nations of the West are signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and its 1967 protocol, which expanded its terms of reference from its initial restrictive definition encompassing only European refugees fleeing the debris of the Second World War. A significant exception, the United States is signatory only to the 1967 protocol and not the original Convention. Under it, a refugee is defined as

A person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

Signatories to the convention are bound by a non refoulement clause in its wording; that is, they are prevented from returning those claiming refugee status until such time as that status is determined legally; a process made far longer and more difficult if, as is often the case, refugee claimants destroy or “lose” their papers en route. Even then, appeals against unfavourable rulings may be made by petitioning the UNHCR directly, appeals which may take years to resolve and which in many cases persuade governments to relent and grant disputed refugees residency status anyway. Human traffickers in the strife-torn developing world know this full well. So, it comes down to the subjective definition of well-founded. Despite the overwhelming circumstantial evidence that new arrivals are “economic refugees” rather than genuine humanitarian asylum seekers, our current international treaty obligations compel us to treat them as the latter.

Humanitarianism versus Social Cohesion

I’m not aware of too many Western social problems whose roots lie in immigration which occurred three or four generations previously. I suppose one could point to the Sicilian Mafia in the United States, but from what I have read the current generation of mafiosi there are at least partly recent immigrants, having fled the clutches of the law in their own country; in any case, the new RICO statutes in the U.S. appear to be well on the way to cleaning up the remainder. In general, it is the first generation of migrants that experience the greatest social dislocation, their children less so, and their grandchildren are more or less completely assimilated. Certainly, many retain such cultural nostalgia as food, language, music and dance; this is not the multiculturalism that has proven such a spectacular failure in Europe particularly, but a recognition, indeed a celebration, of our diverse roots and backgrounds, now subsumed by an overriding commitment to the country of our adoption.

I remember in my early years of convent schooling, four decades ago, the boys in our class were divided socially into the “Aussies” and the “wogs”—the latter being a disparate group of Greeks, Germans, Italians, Maltese, Sri Lankans and Christian Lebanese. We looked down on them as dirty and inferior, and our inherent racism was tolerated, if not actually encouraged, by the Irish nuns in whose charge we were. Such a distinction along national or racial lines being accepted would be unthinkable today, yet you only have to look at any inner-city schoolyard to see mankind’s natural instinct towards tribalism being played out.

I’m not going today into the very real social problems currently occurring in Europe and largely associated with concentrated, inner-urban populations of migrants predominantly from Muslim nations. Our recent discussion on France’s new burqua laws was an offshoot of this broader issue. My own sense of this, entirely based on discussions with many Muslim migrants in Sydney, is that the problem is blown way out of proportion by the media, and is traceable to a small coterie of ratbags who are a complete embarrassment to the Muslim community generally. It’s no surprise that most terrorist acts by Muslims in Western countries are committed by individuals outside the Muslim mainstream; any known groups with jihadist leanings tend to be infiltrated by willing spies (you’ll never hear the MSM telling you that) and whose activities are thus well-known in advance to the intelligence services.

I’m also not going into the issue of new arrivals presenting health risks. I’ve heard all the activist arguments supporting the right of the HIV-positive to move freely across borders. No country with any aspirations to long-term survival is going to seriously entertain the prospect of admitting anyone carrying a deadly, communicable disease (of any kind), and that alone sums up the issue for me.

So, what is the Libertarian Position?

Freedom of movement is one of the core preconditions requisite for a free society. Totalitarian societies, by contrast, have always sought to restrict the movement of its people, and closely monitor their whereabouts, either by banning travel outright, or by enforcing a system of internal passports. In an era when international travel is comparatively cheaper, and certainly faster, that at any time in human history, freedom of movement would appear at first glance to raise the spectre of unwashed hordes swamping the hard-won wealthy lifestyles of the West: turning us, in other words, into an overcrowded lifeboat.

Yet it need not be so. What we need to return to is the primacy of citizenship. All the rights typically and carelessly bestowed on entire populations—such as welfare, health care, free education and the franchise—should become the exclusive preserve of the citizen. And citizenship for new arrivals should become difficult to attain, and granted only after many years of productive, well-behaved residency; something to be earned, valued and treasured. Citizenship entails responsibilities, too, and this period of trial should serve to demonstrate the prospective citizen’s ability to shoulder these responsibilities, and his commitment to the ideals of his adopted country.

Australia’s libertarian political party, the Liberal Democratic Party (with which I’m not associated) has a policy of promoting a system of Free Immigration Agreements, not dissimilar to free trade agreements, with like-minded countries. Australia currently has more or less this arrangement with New Zealand, meaning that as an Australian passport holder, I have not needed a visa on my recent business visits to that country. It certainly obviates the need for marshalling the resources of a country’s military simply to keep out unwanted arrivals, as is the case today in so many countries of the West.


That’ll do for today. I’ve done little more than gloss over some of the main issues connected with immigration, and I’m sure we’ll be revisiting various aspects of the subject in the near future. I am aware that the Libertarian approach is unconventional, even counter-intuitive in some respects, but I do believe it would lead to a more just, free, and ultimately, a safer society in the long run. Let us not forget that many of us are immigrants too, or the descendants of immigrants. The sacrifices they made, the leap into the unknown, are in no small measure the reason we are able to enjoy the freedom we do today. As one New Zealander put it:

Over to you.

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29 Responses to Libertarianism And Immigration

  1. fenbeagle says:

    When is ‘people freely moving about’…… People freely moving about?
    And when is an ‘invasion’……. An invasion?…. Using force or not.

    It would be good to be able to tell the difference.

    The earliest example I can think of is the ‘Hyksos’ in Northern Egypt. (But the exact details are not complete)

  2. Luton Ian says:

    “It’s no surprise that most terrorist acts by Muslims in Western countries are committed by individuals outside the Muslim mainstream; any known groups with jihadist leanings tend to be infiltrated by willing spies (you’ll never hear the MSM telling you that) and whose activities are thus well-known in advance to the intelligence services.”

    Or were a bunch of gullible loosers who got cajoled along by an agent provocateur, in order to provide publicity for what a good job our boys in blue do, and justify yet more catch all laws. But I guess that’s another thread.

  3. Justin Lee says:

    I do not believe you have interpreted Richardo’s hypothetical correctly. His hypothetical was that everyone in the nation already performed the nation’s comparative advantage, so immigration has no part to play. Admittedly, it is not a realistic hypothetical on a national level, but Ricardo’s principle lesson could be scaled down to the individual level and remain valid.

    Nevertheless, even if it were true that capital mobility or open immigration “hurt” a nation and even if I accepted that the welfare of the nation was a genuine standard of value by which to make decisions, neither of which I think is the case, it does not necessarily follow that imposing restrictions would mitigate that “hurt” on the nation. In fact, it is more likely that case that any government-imposed restrictions would do more damage, relative to the impact that capital mobility and open immigration would allow.

    G’day Justin and welcome to LibertyGibbert. If you follow my earlier link in the thread I used the real-world example of the application of Ricardian economics to India in the 19th century. People there were forced by the Raj to abandon food production for cotton, and the social dislocation was immense.

    That’s a great site you’ve got BTW. People, when you get a chance click on Justin’s name and check out his blog. He’s one of us – Oz

  4. Dr. Dave says:

    Immigration and illegal immigration are two different issues. An oft repeated fallacy is that “America is a land of immigrants”. This has never been true. Even at the time of our founding most of the English speaking people on the continent were born here. Even during periods of mass migration, the immigrants have been vastly outnumbered by those born in this country. This quaint little “truism” is repeated as an excuse for unfettered immigration.

    The Libertarian purist equates unfettered immigration with free market economics. The rationale follows along the lines of competition for labor. It should be good for a society to be able to hire Mexicans is pick lettuce at $2/hr, right? Unfortunately the Libertarians got this one wrong largely because the ignore the larger social issues. The great economist Walter Williams (a disciple of Milton Friedman) cuts the legs out from the Libertarian argument with one simple question. “Should anyone who wants to be allowed to live in the United States?” Common sense dictates that, of course, the answer is NO.

    Unguarded Gates by Otis L. Graham aptly describes the history of America’s immigration crisis. Immigration has always been problematic and mass immigration even more so. It warps the labor market, causes displacement, introduces stress on the housing market and creates societal strain. Assimilation is the key to successful immigration. The US was able to absorb huge numbers immigrants during the 19th and early part of the 20th century. Most came from Europe and thus were not as racially or ethnically diverse, they brought with them useful and needed skills and they worked hard as assimilation. Learning to speak English was a top priority. They came here to become Americans. Further, the US had not yet devolved into a “compassionate” welfare state.

    I largely agree with Ozboy but what he describes is not really the Libertarian position. I favor giving all legal immigrants a 5 year probationary period. In this time they must assimilate into the culture, be able to speak, read and write English, be gainfully employed and self-sufficient (i.e. no welfare), have committed no crimes and become legal, naturalized citizens. Failure to meet any of these conditions would result in deportation. Illegal immigrants should be immediately deported.

    The US today has huge problems with both legal and illegal immigrants. We have far too many of both. We allow 1 million legal immigrants per year. Think about that. We may be a nation of 300 million but there is not way 1 million new immigrants can assimilate every year. Further, we’re getting third world economic refugees who have no skills, many are illiterate even in their own, native language. They have no interest in learning English or assimilating into American culture. This endangers national sovereignty and cultural cohesion.

    I’ve got more to say, but first I have to perform some useful work. More later…

    Ermm, I think you’ll find a relatively open-borders policy, combined with an emphasis on citizenship, protection against health and security risks and restrictions on welfare, IS the Libertarian position in most countries. See the Libertarian Party policy in the USA and Australia, and The Ludwig von Mises Institute. Britain, faced with some real structural and housing policy problems, is the significant exception, although I believe the British Libertarians are taking a “pragmatic”, as opposed to a “purist” view, in response to the real-world issues they face.

    I know you like John Stossel on Fox. Well, check out this discussion panel (taped before a vocal studio audience):

    For these and other great links, Google “libertarian immigration”. Note particularly entry sixth on the list. Thank you, PageRank!!! – Oz

  5. Ozboy says:

    Dave – the lack of a definition at the top was an oversight on my part – thanks for picking that up.

    “Immigration” in this thread is meant in a broad sense to include all permanent or semi-permanent movement of individual people across national borders. So legal as well as illegal immigration, and asylum-seeking, are included here.

  6. Dr. Dave says:


    What the heck are you doing being up at 4AM? Parenthood (yawn) – Oz It’s a little after noon yesterday where I live. From the perspective of an American, illegal immigration, legal immigration and asylum-seekers are all distinct and separate problems. By far our largest problem is illegal immigration. This is little different than a (mostly) peaceful invasion by a 3rd world country. It is exacerbated by the existence of the welfare state.

    Up until the mid-60s we were tough on enforcing our immigration laws. Hell, we even deported Canadians who overstayed their visas. I grew up in a very prolific fruit producing region in Michigan. We grew lots of crops that (at the time) required hand harvesting; apples, pears, peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, currants, blueberries, etc. The harvest time for fruits and vegetables was typically a 2-3 week window (longer for various apple varieties). For as long as I can remember we had Mexican migrant workers come up and harvest the crops year after year. Groups of families, sometimes as many as 100 individuals, would travel up from Mexico each summer. They would start in the southern Midwest and follow the crops all the way up to the late summer cherry crops in northern Michigan. The farmers got affordable (and quite efficient) pickers during their harvests which is the only time of the year they were needed. They lived in migrant camps and pretty much stayed to themselves. At the end of the season they took all the American money they had accumulated and returned to Mexico. It was a win-win arrangement and it worked for many years.

    I never heard any disparaging comments about the migrant workers because they served a vital function for the local economy and they didn’t cause any trouble. Mostly, they didn’t stay – they went home when their job was done for the year. Our vast expansion of the welfare state occurred in the mid-60s. This started the trouble. The migrants discovered it was a better deal to illegally remain in the US, collect welfare, avail themselves of healthcare they don’t have to pay for and send their children to US public schools. When they quit going home again we started having problems. They became a burden on our society. Most of the year we don’t need unskilled labor. For that matter we’re already beyond our saturation point in terms of the demand for Pakistani cab drivers.

    Lunch is over…back to work.

  7. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave…..yes bloody foreigners in other peoples countries.
    Actually there already is a 5 year probationary period for new immigrants and you do get deported if you commit a felony. You can not work unless you have a work visa or you have your permanent residency status, it took nearly 6 months to get my paper work sorted out, during which I could not work. I am legally here and considering the hassle you get and the costs it’s amazing anyone wishes to be here.
    What gets me is how I found that the USA has an open border policy with Mexico no fees, welfare and education on demand, identity cards provided no questions asked and best of all no taxes and the right to vote.
    When I arrived here in 1993 the USA population was 256 million it has grown to about 306 million, that’s 40 million new people mainly from Mexico and India allowed in to depress wages.
    I fully expect my county to show a population from India of about 100,000 this census. We already had 100,000 hispanics.

  8. Kitler says:

    Duh bad maffs 50 million not 40 million.

  9. Dr. Dave says:


    What can I say? We work extra hard to keep the Eurotrash out so we can make room for more disease carrying, illiterate criminals from the impoverished 3rd world. You’re not a naturalized citizen yet so under my plan we toss your ass out. Damn it man, become a citizen a buy a gun (for Ozboy’s benefit make it a handgun). Seriously though, your comment casts sunlight on an issue most Americans ignore. We torment would be immigrants from Europe while we molly coddle criminals (i.e. illegal aliens) from backwards third world countries. Technically these illegal aliens have no right to vote but technicalities are only a nuisance for leftist Democrats. Hell, even dead Democrats vote in our elections! In fact, a lot of the these folks didn’t become Democrats until after they died.

    We don’t shore up our borders for purely political reasons. The Democrats are betting the farm on granting amnesty to between 11 and 20 million illegal aliens and are thereby hoping for that many new Democrat voters. What’s ridiculous is that the Republicans are scared to death of losing votes they’ll never get. The welfare state breeds dependency…and party loyalty. What the media never reports is that native Hispanic populations are often just as opposed to illegal immigration as your most stalwart redneck

  10. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave I can buy a gun in some states except the wussy ones, as for becoming a citizen that takes money which at the moment I don’t have and I’m waiting to see if our muslim in charge mounts a coup or not to become el Presidente for life. If we turf them out at the next election then it will be time to act and finally get it.

  11. Luton Ian says:

    go do your training for a concealed carry, and get you one (get several, and get a saiga semi auto shotty b4 they get banned). hopefully you’ll never be in a situation where you might need to point it at a human, but better have it and not need it, than to need it and…

    Got a big comment part written earlier, then the missus decided I was being too idle, looking at blogs, hopefully I’ll get it finished tomorrow.

  12. Luton Ian says:

    Oh, and don’t waste any of your money on the US NRA, they’re not worth it, their raison d’etre is to be “reasonable” and negotiate away yet more of that which “shall not be infringed”.

    Gun Owners of America is far more active and effective.

  13. Dr. Dave says:

    The last I knew one could only purchase a firearm in their own state of residence (i.e. I can’t even go next door to Texas and buy a shotgun). It’s been nearly 20 years since I possessed a Federal Firearms License (legal FFL dealer) but I seem to recall that the the form you had to fill out required that the purchaser be a citizen. I wouldn’t bet the farm on it because I can’t remember all the specifics. But let me ask you this…even if Obama should win a second term, would living in the UK be a better alternative?

  14. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave it all depends on the state so I’m not sure here in Tennessee I would qualify, if Obama wins a second term then the USA is finished as a united country so I shall wait for the New CSA in that case or whatever it will be called.
    Of course the UK is already done for as it is just a province of the EU these days. If it was possible I’d bugger off somewhere really remote like South Georgia.

  15. Kitler says:

    That’s the island not the USA.

  16. Kitler says:

    Luton Ian well at the least I could go for firearms training at the local range I think they do rentals.

  17. farmerbraun says:

    Kitler, do you really love penguins that much? There are some lovely little islands in the Pacific; sparsely populated many of them, the inhabitants having moved to N.Z. where the welfare state is very generous, by anyone’s standards.

  18. Kitler says:

    farmerbraun I hear they imported reindeer onto the island with some clever wall building I could build a few nice gardens and raise the local micro climate to grow crops. I like few neighbours being a country boy and having an entire Islands Geology to myself could be fun. Might even find my own source of coal.

  19. Luton Ian says:

    the inhabitants having moved to N.Z.

    and you’d be well stuck for decent rugby players without them 😉

    Which reminds me, Fiji used to have about 50% population of Indian origin, who ran almost all businesses, but the land was held tribally by the indigenous Fijians, and never came up for sale (the Indians having been imported during colonial times to work the sugar and ginger plantations, as it was reckoned at the time that the Indigenous Fijians much preferred rugby and warfare to wage labour, and damn fine warriors they still make).

    Cue the late ’80s and the predominantly Indian political party winning power on a platform of “land reform”.

    Bad move!

  20. Luton Ian says:

    I think this lady is partly of Indian Fijian extraction

    One of my exs was really into her stuff.

  21. farmerbraun says:

    [the inhabitants having moved to N.Z.]

    “and you’d be well stuck for decent rugby players without them .”

    I ‘m observing something similar happening over on the West Island of N.Z. in recent times. They could yet become competitive.

  22. Dr. Dave says:


    I’m impressed that you located that particular episode of Stossel. I watched it when it was “new”. On the entire panel only Deroy Murdock knew shit from fat meat in my estimation. These were some of the most divisive issues ever discussed on the Stossel show. I agree with them about gay marriage. Personally I think gay divorce will take the bloom off that rose. Abortion doesn’t affect me, but I do believe life begins with conception. I didn’t always feel this way. In my youth I was quite pro-choice. As I’ve grown older I’ve come to recognize the rights of the unborn as a legitimate argument. With safe and effective contraception so readily available, the notion of abortion seems all the more abhorrent to me as a means of birth control.

    But on the immigration issue only Deroy Murdock got it right (he’s a great writer BTW). The other three parroted the typical Libertarian talking points and, as expected, all three had their heads firmly planted up their rear ends. They are essentially blinded by their own Libertarian ideology. They touch on the welfare state but let’s face it…this is not about to “go away”. If we had absolutely NO welfare for illegal aliens (e.g. educating their kids, providing food stamps, housing and healthcare) most wouldn’t come to the US. But these dolts ignore the language and cultural issues and the lack of assimilation. You’ll notice how these Libertarian “experts” tend to conflate legal and illegal immigration. They are separate issues.

    History is all but irrelevant. The story of today’s immigrant to the USA is vastly different than the German sausage maker who got off the boat at Ellis Island in 1890 and set about to make a new life for himself in the New World. Today we are looking at the refuse of a 3rd world country like Mexico. These people are desperately poor, they have little or no skills needed by a modern society, many are illiterate, most cannot speak English. They offer the host country almost nothing except cheap labor and are thus ripe for exploitation. They bring with them crime and disease. Just entering the country without permission is a crime. In the USA we damn near wiped out endemic tuberculosis. Not anymore. It is showing up again with greater frequency in the illegal immigrant population. Sorry Pal, but the card carrying Libertarians screwed the pooch on this issue.

    I recommend reading J.D. Hayworth’s “Whatever it Takes”, Otis L. Graham’s “Unguarded Gates” and Mark Krikorian’s “The New Case Against Immigration – Both Legal and Illegal”. As you know, I believe we could legalize drugs tomorrow and within a few years not only would American society not implode, we would be wealthier and healthier as a result. When it comes to immigration, we ignore the dangers at our own peril. Ask yourself this. How long could Australia absorb 220,000 new, non-English speaking economic refugees year after year before something had to give?

    That’s about the number we’re taking now, Dave, but I concede there are a lot of legal, skilled migrants in that figure. But I think we’re agreed that access to welfare is crucial. How many of those Mexicans would bother making the long voyage to America, risk being sent back if coming illegally, if they knew their new government was going to give them not a penny more in handouts than their old one? I reckon you’d wipe out most of the problem right there. But try getting it past the bleeding hearts in Washington D.C. who, as you pointed out earlier, are angling for their own permanent “captive welfare constituency”?

    Abortion and gay rights are on LibertyGibbert’s to-do list BTW, so I’ve bookmarked the Stossel debate, and noted your views on the panellists – Oz

  23. fenbeagle says:

    Do governments hand out cash to people, because they want to?…. Or because they feel they have no choice?
    Does it cost more to sort out the problems of not doing it, than it does to simply pay it out?
    Does the problem stop, if you stop the payments?….(Danes and Dane geld. Is it cheaper and more acceptable to budget a hound out, than to finance defensive border military actions….Are aggressive military adventures abroad a solution?…Although the western powers are being dragged into those, as well) How do you deal with large numbers of unemployed hungry people, living rough on the streets, if not by hand outs?.

    I have to say in answer Fen, by discouraging them from arriving in the first place. By letting them know there’ll be no free ride, BEFORE they set out on their quest for unearned wealth.

    In the case of your country, it’s complex and the roots of the problem lie in the way the British Empire fell apart. I guess you’re asking at least in part, what do you do about all the unassimilated migrants you’re faced with already in Britain today? It’s a fair question, and I’m probably not the ideal person to answer it.

    For what it’s worth, the answer is not a short one, but I tried to go at least part of the way to doing so back here. In this article, I stressed that while you can’t allow people in your midst to actually go hungry, if prospective immigrants knew the best free handouts they could hope for by migrating to Britain were soup kitchens and tent cities (i.e., less than what they already had in their home countries) then most of them would be dissuaded from trying to reach there in the first place. Consider it in the pipeline for a new thread – Oz

  24. fenbeagle says:

    My feeling is Oz, that many people are not put off by the idea that they will not receive anything when they get to their destination. Their desperation and optimism, overrides the knowledge (assuming they have that knowledge). So they come anyway, and having arrived, they become the next wave of people to have to deal with.
    So you make an exception for them then, as you have no choice….But no more.

    ….And then more come.

    That’s the “overcrowded lifeboat” scenario that Jared Diamond described, as I’ve quoted in the head article above. I posed the question, has it really come to that in the world today? So far, you’re the only poster who’s offered an opinion – Oz

  25. Dr. Dave says:

    I can’t help myself. I feel compelled to post this little ditty by Ray Stevens:

  26. Dr. Dave says:


    I’m quite surprised to hear that Australia takes in more than 200,000 immigrants a year. I would imagine that the majority of these folks are possessed of skills and means, education and a command of the English language rather than impoverished, poorly educated, illiterate and unable to speak English (and unwilling to learn).

    In the US we have two large groups of immigrants who resist assimilation. These are the immigrants (legal and illegal) from Mexico and South America and Muslims from Middle East countries. Just a few decades ago we had relatively few Muslims in the US. Many of them were physicians and engineers. We’ve always had quite a few Indian immigrants but they seem to be more adept at assimilation. The Muslims we get now are nowhere near as well educated. They establish their own little enclaves, they maintain their own, native culture and beliefs. They are not interested in becoming “Americans”. They’re interested in living in America. Many have also become incredibly skilled at gaming the welfare system. It is important to keep in mind that the US Constitution is anathema to Islam. Fortunately they remain a relatively small problem at the current time.

    By far our biggest problem is mass migration (invasion) by Mexicans and South American economic refugees. Believe me there is a huge difference between Cuban and Mexican immigrants. The Cubans have an incredible work ethic…Mexicans, not so much. I could go on for 2,000 words or more describing the woes this unfettered immigration has wrought on this country. The important question is what can we do about it? It would require tremendous political will but we could seal our border. We should stop such foolishness as bilingual public school education, bilingual signage, “Press 1 for English”. We should halt all entitlement programs for anyone in the country illegally (that includes educating their kids). Finally we should round up and deport anyone found to be in the country illegally. The problem would solve itself.

    The 200,000 figure includes everyone, legal, illegal and asylum seekers, including tens of thousands who come here on a little dodge known as “student visas”. Basically they come here ostensibly to study cooking or hairdressing or something, at some tiny private “college” whose diplomas are of dubious value and most of whom then attempt to overstay their visas and work the system to gain permanent residency. Many of these outfits are run by principals of the same ethnic group as the students themselves; I’m sure you can see the danger there – passports are held and locked up, students living twenty to a house and often being pimped out to the sex trade in return for being allowed to stay – the list goes on. It’s even an issue in the more respectable tertiary institutions, with lecturers under pressure to pass fee-paying foreign students with poor academic records and little to no fluency in English. It may be helping our balance of trade, but it subverts our sovereignty and I believe does the “students” little favours in the end.

    Out of interest, how would you answer Fen’s question above? Is the solution a doubling of the guard around the borders? (That seems to be the answer governments down here are taking, though we have more coastline than even you do and the costs are astronomical). Should Britain become Fortress UK? Even notwithstanding the embarrassing acronym? And do you see our countries as resembling overcrowded lifeboats? – Oz

  27. Justin Lee says:

    Oz said:

    If you follow my earlier link in the thread I used the real-world example of the application of Ricardian economics to India in the 19th century. People there were forced by the Raj to abandon food production for cotton, and the social dislocation was immense.

    I agree that is a bad idea. I would definitely not support centralized, unaccountable command and controls on the economy.

    I’m not sure if you want to do it, but it is possible to allow nested comments to make it easier to reply to a particular comment thread. From the Dashboard, I think go to Settings > Discussion and check Enable threaded (nested) comments.

    G’day Justin,

    Good to hear you share our view of a centrally planned economy (not that I doubted it!)

    As to threaded comments, my blog community decided a long time ago that on balance we preferred linear threads. Most of them were refugees from James Delingpole’s blog on the UK Telegraph, where the old blogging software was linear and one page per thread. They replaced the blogging software a year ago with Disqus and there is universal agreement that it’s rubbish. Certainly, threaded comments make side-discussions easier, but the way we get around it here is to include the time stamp of the comment we’re responding to – Oz

  28. izen says:

    A few random and rather disjointed musings on this issue…. -grin-

    One aspect of Friedmanite free market economics is the ethical hypocracy in its requirement for money to have far greater freedom of movement than people. There is a conflict between the ‘rights’ of money to move unhindered by government regulation as argued by Bastiat onwards and the right of an individual to pursue their best self interest.

    After all it makes no sense to allow an enterprenier to move production to a nation where wage costs are low if the workers there can move their labour to the area where incomes are higher.

    As your Ricardo examples indicate the free movement of people is often in conflict with the conventional version of capitalist economics which rather assumes a captive labour and consumer market.

    Migration has always been the response of people faced with local poverty and accessible wealth in other areas, and it has taken draconian efforts to have even a small influence on these ‘natural’ movements of people. I find the complaint fatuous from some commenting on the US situation that the Mexican and S American migration is an influx of third world illterates, the Irish from the potatoe famine and the Scots from the clearances were not exactly a majority of literate English speakers….in fact in terms of education and familiarity with advanced society the Mexicans probably have the edge!

    The draw of a generous welfare system in the target country is real, but it is more a measure of the real target of any migrant, the wealth of the destination. The generous welfare system is a sign and symptom of the wealth of a society and as such is less the target of imigration than the social wealth it represents. Obviously any migrant will aim for the best option for personal advancement and while some may be explicity looking to exploit the welfare system, the majority are looking for the society with the most disposable wealth spread and greatest freedom to gain it. That those are also the societies with ‘generous’ welfare systems is a consequence of their wealth, not the primary target of most immigrants.

    The idea that welfare and citizen rights could be denied to migrants who are new residents ignores the primary reason welfare systems exist. While they are benefit to the individual, it is the collective benefit to society of welfare systems that requires the universal application of benefits. Preventing the extreme poverty and the disruptive result in terms of crime and illness that results from it is the aim of welfare systems. It is like vaccination schemes, they benefit the individual, but it is the application to a large amjority that confers herd immunity and benefits the sociwety as a whole that justifies the universal application.

    Interesting string of thoughts, Izen. Hmmm… you and Fen have convinced me to try another immigration thread or two, this time from some specific angles – Oz

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