A Fence?

When I first heard about this, I thought it was a joke, but apparently, it's not:

Some envision a wall. Others, a fence - or even a "virtual" fence of cameras, lighting, and sensors along the US-Mexican border. Whatever form it will take, the US is discussing, planning, and, in some places, already building it - much to the fury and frustration of neighbors south of the border.

As Mexican President Vicente Fox prepares to meet Thursday with President Bush and Canada's new prime minister, Stephen Harper, in Cancún, the proposed 700-mile, $2.2 billion barrier is a major point of contention - not just for the US and Mexico, but for the US and the whole region.

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Fences do seem to be all the

Fences do seem to be all the rage these days.

since when do we not have

since when do we not have the right to protect our borders? it would be absolutely stupid for the US Govt not to think about how to secure the US-Mexican border whether by physical or electronics means (or both). it's like double-teaming Jim Jackson of the Lakers and leaving Kobe unguarded.

"We?" "Our?" I don't really

"We?" "Our?"

I don't really need to be protected from Mexicans coming across the border to work for me.

Sean, So long as we have


So long as we have odious and racist organizations such as La Raza and MEChA, yes, we kind of do.

I don't mind future Americans coming over. I do mind a hostile rejectionist mass migration with designs on political power and coerced separatism.

Seeing mass marches of undigested, unrepentent, and "fu gringo" Mexican nationalists in the US makes me *more* sympathetic to the anti-immigrant position, not less.

So long as we have odious

So long as we have odious and racist organizations such as La Raza and MEChA, yes, we kind of do. I don’t mind future Americans coming over. I do mind a hostile rejectionist mass migration with designs on political power and coerced separatism.

So you support ideological tests for residency, then. Are there other ideologies whose adherents you would deny residency to?

We have plenty of other odious and racist organizations, such as the KKK and the Nation of Islam. Would you deport current residents? If not, why keep out new residents but allow current residents to stay?

would you support 2000

would you support 2000 uninvited people/day walking across your front lawn everyday? does it matter whether they are going to do a job noone else wants to do or they are on their way to kill someone?

if WE are not allowed to protect the most fundamental rights then I foresee a lot of problems.

"would you support 2000

"would you support 2000 uninvited people/day walking across your front lawn everyday?"

If you happen to be the owner of the many miles of property along the border, well, bully for you. Bill Gates dreams of that kind of wealth.Me, I own no property there, and have no legitimate claim to block anyone's passage.

My comments on the

My comments on the immigration thing can be summed up by this earlier cooment post of mine to an earlier post:

This is how I see it: The free movement of people across borders is a net good for the prospects of liberty. Thus, the more said people move across the various arbitrary borders, the better. Yes, its true, we do not live in a randian paradise and American society as it stands is not exactly Kaldor-Hicks efficient. However, despite these two factors, The long term result of open borders will be a part of a gradual evolution to a more economically free, more mobile world. Besides, I don’t think that measures enacted to stop or stem the problem will matter much anyhow in the long run, mainly because they are static and arbitrary interventions in the tremendous dynamic of social and economic evolution in society. Who is going to decide what numbers will be allowed in, when, how, from where, what will their basis be? How will they cope with the changing characteristics of that basis. To seal borders, or even to impose quotas and other restrictions is an excercise in centrally planned calculation…..That wonderful idea that always works so well in the allocation of resources. Furthermore, one should not ignore the non quantitaive benefits of immigration across borders! The greatest resource, as Julian Simon so wonderfully explained, is people, whether they are born or migrating. That intangible well of human creativeness and productivity that potentially exists in every immigrant is worth more then many of you seem to think. And I solidly believe that it completely outweighs any statistical and numerative calculations that show the ineffiency of immigrant inflow into our imperfect society.

of course I think

of course I think immigration is great for America. my parents immigrated here. but they followed the rules. the blatant disregard for them today is a danger to everybody. whether its a guest worker program or more efficient checkpoints along the border, there is a solution to the problem that doesn't include ignoring it. if you don't agree with the law then do your part to change it.

my parents immigrated here.

my parents immigrated here. but they followed the rules. the blatant disregard for them today is a danger to everybody.

The rule that illegal immigrants are breaking is the rule that says "If you're not one of the lucky 25,620 people from your country this year, you can't come in yet; you'll have to keep waiting until some year you _are_ one of those lucky 25,620."

If the quotas were abolished, or even just doubled, there would be no illegal immigration. Changing just one rule would be enough to get everyone to follow all the rest of the rules. The rule that would-be immigrants are being forced to follow is absurd ("stay out until you get lucky because too many people have already come in this year.").

Let me repeat that more loudly: If immigration quotas were raised there would be no illegal immigration. So if you are against illegal immigration because, well, it's illegal, then you should be just fine with raising the quotas (or abolishing them) - poof, no more illegal immigration. If you're against increasing quotas then you're just plain against immigration, legal or not, and saying "they don't play by the rules" is a bullshit argument.

The only reason one should

The only reason one should obey stupid rules is to avoid getting shot or having your property stolen. Clearly the benefits of moving here outweigh the risk of such brutish behavior. The government has created the "illegals" situation by enacting protectionist legislation under the guise of security. It's nauseating how many people are more concerned with obedience of arbitrary laws than the propriety of the laws themselves.

THANK YOU gentlemen! (Van

THANK YOU gentlemen! (Van worst & eddie)

Spoonie, I don't think the


I don't think the link between illegal immigration and terrorism is valid. "Securing borders" is what the US should be doing against foreign armies and criminals. Illegal immigrants come here to work, and yes, to sometimes take advantage of the welfare state. The former reason is perfectly valid in my view, while the second is a consequence of the welfare state itself. Neither have to do with security.

David Friedman has more: Immigration and Terrorism

I haven’t once tied

I haven’t once tied illegal immigration to terrorism in this thread and that is not my concern. If one thinks raising the quota from 25,620 to 51,240 will solve the immigration problem, then great, let’s work towards the new quota. That is why I said we should do our part to CHANGE the law and not to IGNORE it as many here are advocating.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen the illegals working on the farms in central California and they were some of the hardest working people I ever met. I used to go to work at 5AM and return around 3PM and the illegals worked from 5AM till about 8PM. I do want the illegals to be legal.

Most of these guys would prefer to keep their families in Mexico while they work in America for 6-9 months a year. A solid guest worker program is an excellent idea to allow for the proper labor resources to come in and out of the country without having to burden the welfare state.

So why am I in favor of securing the borders? Because good hardworking labor is not the only thing coming across the border. So is crime and a burdened welfare state. Is the rise in Hispanic gang activity in areas of large illegal immigration a coincidence? Ask Californians why their taxes are so high. Also it is one of the most basic functions of the government to protect the property rights of its citizens.

Eddie- I wouldn't let in


I wouldn't let in hundreds of thousands of Stalinists or Nazis, either. Or if there was a mass cloning and indoctrination program in Brazil of the worst people ever known to mankind, I wouldn't let them in, either.

Duh. Of *course* there is an ideological test. "Are you a foreign nationalist looking to create a grossly illiberal society by mass politics?" seems rather straightforward as far as a disqualifying test.

Brian, Then you should feel


Then you should feel free to ask them that when they want to access your property. Personally, I don't care if my lettuce is picked by a Marxist. A civil society will be far more ameliorating of dangers in the long run than walls, guns, and guards.

Cornelius, When the reserve


When the reserve army of the unemployed comes to burn down your hacienda, don't say I didn't warn you. :)

Brian, Would you then also


Would you then also be in favor of deporting American Nazis and Stalinists if there were hundreds of thousands of them? If you'd keep out the foreign nationalists looking to create a grossly illiberal society by mass politics, why not also kick out the domestic nationalists looking to do the same thing?

If someone's ideology is a threat to our liberty (and I agree with you completely that the ones we're talking about are), surely the correct course of action doesn't depend on where they were born, right?

Eddie, If they're not


If they're not already here, don't let them in here. If they're here and causing mass trouble, then yes you do something about them.

What is so hard about this concept? I'm scratching my head. You seem to be fishing for some sort of a-ha! moment but everything you're putting forth seems like simple matters of course.

Spoonie, you and I are in

Spoonie, you and I are in complete agreement, then (I think). Raise the quotas (I propose raising them to infinity) and secure the borders.

We open-border advocates need to address the valid concerns of the "other" side whenever possible. I see three big concerns:

1) "They took our jobs!"

2) They'll increase the burden on the welfare state.

3) Everything seems to go to hell when there's all these Mexicans around - crime, drugs, gangs, and (for Brian) Marxist Latino separatists.

I don't consider number one valid. I can't see it as anything other than an economic fallacy. I think it should be refuted, not addressed.

How people can hold numbers one and two simultaneously boggles my mind. Nonetheless, number two is a concern that even libertarians have (especially libertarians?). Our answer is of course to smash the state, but let's not kid ourselves... that line of advocacy isn't going to open the borders anytime soon. Spoonie makes a great point about guest worker permits. They're still an imposition on liberty since they don't allow unrestricted freedom to live where you like for as long as you like, but they're better than what we have now - and they have the added feature that by expanding legal immigration we'll channel a lot of the current undocumented immigrants into a program whereby they can be recognized and prevented from obtaining excessive welfare benefits (although I'm uncertain how this could be done in practice).

That's a great compromise, and one libertarians should embrace while continuing the steadfast march down the slippery slope towards true freedom and the destruction of governments. :)

Number three - I'm not sure how to address this. I'm tempted to say "it's all in your head, you stupid racist" but that hardly seems fair, let alone conducive to reasoned debate. I doubt strongly that immigration causes crime, but I don't doubt at all that crime is correlated with immigrant populations. Coming up with a brilliant idea to address that correlation would go a long way towards moving the debate closer to the open-border side.

Brian - sorry, I'll stop

Brian - sorry, I'll stop fishing. You're proposing keeping out racists and communists. I'm pointing out that proposal leads logically to kicking out racists and communists that are already here. I think you just agreed... ?

Your proposal, then, would have us kick people out of the country based solely on their beliefs. You are proposing criminalizing certain political positions. That seems remarkably anti-liberty. Don't people have the right to free speech, even if they advocate racist and communist ideas? Don't they have the right to freely assemble with other racists and communists?

I must be misunderstanding your position.

Eddie- This is a case of


This is a case of extents. If its just a few folk here or there, then nothing much they say really matters a whole lot- to wit, a bunch of Nazis get together for a picnic and chant "down with teh US!11!!11". Don't care, doesn't matter.

100,000 of them gather in Columbus, Ohio, armed with improvised or manufactured weaponry, and THEN go on a rampage looking for Jews, Blacks, Asians, etc, killing and a whompin- and a-stompin ever'thin else within an inch of their lives - THAT's a problem.

This is straightforward and simple. It is certainly case of seeking out people on ideological grounds to say "large groups of people massing and agitating for (at best) a grossly illiberal outcome" and threatening violence (or the hint of violence) to do so is bad.

And given the fact that we already have home grown mass hate/racist political groups to take advantage of ethnic nationalism, it makes even less sense to let in and encourage mass undigested, uncontested amounts of immigration from said areas, no?

Personally, I take a very dim view of any mass politics, but especially nationalist and racialist ones. Yes, freedom of assembly, no to crypto nuremburg rallies.

So, the freedom to espouse a

So, the freedom to espouse a minority-viewpoint is inversely proportional to the number of people that agree with you? Let us hope then that both major parties disagree with you, or that libertarianism never garners many supporters.

Also, it should be rather obvious that there are already "large groups of people massing and agitating for (at best) a grossly illiberal outcome." I'd say about 90% of what the state does falls into this category. And this is precisely the problem with your position Brian, you would legitimize arbitrary state power in the hopes it would use your standard of discrimination. History proves otherwise.

Brian, thanks, well-stated.

Brian, thanks, well-stated. I disagree, but I understand your position; I even sympathize to an extent. But I would draw the line at the point where someone (or a mob of 10,000 someones) commits or immanently threatens violence. Anything short of that I can't embrace forbidding or punishing - including kicking someone out of the country or keeping them from coming in.

I'm all in favor of letting in the communists, the socialists, the islamofascists, the Nazis, the puritans, and the supremacists of every color - as long as they don't commit violence and haven't committed violence in the past. For the same reason I'm in favor of letting them speak, assemble, print, and believe as they see fit.

Whether you're for or

Whether you're for or against immigration, raise your hand if you think the government can actually control it effectively (not like it runs, say, the education system, the monetary system, the welfare system, etc....). I have no more faith in the big fence idea than I do in any of the other proposals people have floated for how the gov't is going to suddenly handle illegal immigration.

Brian said, "So long as we

Brian said, "So long as we have odious and racist organizations such as La Raza and MEChA, yes, we kind of do."

We have Skinheads and the KKK in the US. Perhaps there should be a fence around California to keep the KKK out and the Skinheads who are already here in?

I *might* be convinced that the existence of protectionism and voting somehow necessitates immigration controls, but I'm not sure there's much else that would convince me. Certainly it's in my short term self interest to keep anyone with a different viewpoint out of the US, but that includes a good number of current US residents.

To be honest, after talking to a few Canadians I think they may actually be as much if not greater threat to our way of life. Some of them strongly believe in that "peace, order, and good government" crap! At least the Mexicans understand that politicians are human!

The idea of a bunch of illegals coming in and stressing social services, public hospitals, public schools, police forces, and city infrastructure while contributing nothing in taxes makes me giddy.

Eddie, sure let's raise the

Eddie, sure let's raise the quota to infinity. BUT, if we're going to do that we have to absolutely enforce the subsequent regulations. For example, if the immigrant has not found a job in 12 months (or whatever the rule is) then they should get deported because the skill they brought to the country is not needed. An immigrant should not be able to bring over family members until proof of employment and taxes paid is presented. etc.

to answer your other question of how people can say immigrants take their jobs AND burden the welfare state, it usually doesn't happen overnight. typically it is cited that the children of the immigrant workers who are born here, know the language and culture better do not have the same work ethic as their parents and want to climb the social ladder.

When an unattended 10 year old kid, whose parents are working on a farm 50 miles away, can make the same $100 in an hour selling a few drugs or robbing a gas station that his parents spent 18 hours earning, its no wonder joining a gang is very attractive.

Increased gang activity, educating the children of immigrants (we must do), providing health care to immigrants (we should also do), etc are all a part of burdening the welfare state.

Spoonie, that's an excellent

Spoonie, that's an excellent argument for eliminating the welfare state. I'm all for it! Let's burden it until it collapses!

Cornelius- The culture of


The culture of liberty of the US is maintained by the critical mass of those who have either consciously adopted it or have kept it due to a combination of socialization and choice. That there are native-born folk who don't buy into this culture is immaterial and irrelevant. Enough of us do (whether native or foreign born) that the US's social institutions work and maintain themselves over time, enabling our pre-eminent position in the world. That culture of liberty / liberal commitment is what I wish to defend and extend.

Perhaps this should be a full post, but its a qualified defense of 'Matthias'- Matt's Opposite Day post on immigration. People are not ciphers, they bring with them a host of memes both good and bad. The consequences of these memes depend, in many cases critically, on the concentrated mass of individuals hosting them. In the particular case of heavy Mexican migration, we're getting a large dose of Mexican and to a lesser extent hispanic[1] cultural memes. The long and sordid political history of Mexico (with its deep and ingrained corruption, dominance heirarchies, hypocritical social conservatism, etc) and to a lesser extent the central american polities is both due to and the cause of a great many Very Bad Memes (bossism is good, the government should be very powerful and tell us what to do, we should be ruled by our natural betters and/or those with the cojones to kill people who get in their way). These Very Bad Memes (part of the long illiberal memehistory of the world) are what threaten what is good about the US.

Mass concentrated second-class status of immigrants is not conducive to breaking up these bad memes (which will reinforce with enough concentration) nor is it conducive to the diffusion & adoption of the positive memes of the US culture of liberty.

Texas-style Mexican immigration (percolating slowly and in small numbers through a cultural creole before hitting more-or-less American society) is superior to California-style mass-poverty-barrio style immigration. Miami/Florida is not much of a model given the vastly different hispanic culture moving in (a Cuban elite over mostly carribean immigrants, where the Cuban elite had already partially assimilated to US memeplexes prior to exile, and then co-opted US institutions)- in any case, diffusion is better than concentration.

To the extent that US immigration laws force and encourage the latter rather than the former, they are a bad. I want Americans (whevere they were originally born) to be able to come to the US and prosper. I want illiberal elements of teh world to frankly stay home or STFU and assimilate.

Sean- To the extent that we


To the extent that we should (a) combat racialist political organizations and (b) not intentionally let mass immigration of white supremacists happen given an existing network of racist mass politics, then sure.

Otherwise, its a bit irrelevant to bring up white racists vs. 'brown' racists given the truth on the ground.

What's this about 100,000

What's this about 100,000 nazis in Columbus, Oh? Did I miss something?

To the extent that US

To the extent that US immigration laws force and encourage the latter rather than the former, they are a bad. I want Americans (whevere they were originally born) to be able to come to the US and prosper. I want illiberal elements of teh world to frankly stay home or STFU and assimilate.

I agree with your ends, I'm just pointing out that your proposed means won't accomplish them. Pete Boettke made a good point about economists and the free-market, which could equally be applied here: we agree that liberty works best, but some of us actually believe in it.

Jonathan, perhaps you might

Jonathan, perhaps you might explain why you thought a fence along the border was a joke?

The wall in Berlin worked; only a tiny number of people managed to get across. The fence in Palestine has all but shut down cross-border terrorism.

Fences work. And in fact they are so primitively effective that even a state can run one pretty well. Thing is, you don't have be anywhere near perfect, and you barely even need human involvement. Just enough observation and guns to prevent any obvious holing attempts, and to round up any observed ladder-type activities. And of course, you can cut down quite a bit on those if you're willing to mine the area.

In the case of the USA, forcing illegal immigrants to sneak, fly, dig, or take a boat will dramatically increase the costs of immigration. Walking is very, very cheap. Other means aren't. Given that the "problem" (if that's what it is) of illegal immigrants is largely that of Mexicans who walk across the border, a fence will be effective.

David, They are the lesser


They are the lesser known and more violent cousins of the Illinois Nazis.

They must be related also to

They must be related also to the smoking-ban nazis that live in my fair town.

Nazis. I hate those guys.

Nazis. I hate those guys.

Brian, On your post from


On your post from earlier re: haciendas and the reserve army of the unemployed.

As you well know, haciendas are nearly worthless. The real cash is in factories and wharfs. And you get lots of victory points for reserve armies of the unemployed with the right building. Duh.;)

Be well,


JPB- Well thats why they


Well thats why they want to build the Fortress. :)

And I've devised an hacienda strategy that seems to work, though you're right, factories are the way to go; though with enough corn and a warehouse, you can kick it pretty good without one.

Of course if you have "the Black Market" then you can sell you excess produce and unemployed to gain capital improvements. Bloody exploiters!!
(from the expansion pack)

Brian, You guys have played


You guys have played with the expansion pack?!? I'm so jealous.

Be well,


"J-dawg", Brian has been


Brian has been telling us *about* the expansion, but we have yet to try it.

JD und Liana- I gotta get my

JD und Liana-

I gotta get my hands on the expansion pack, no doubt. I should also order my own copy of the game, I might be able to get the others to play as well. :D