Image credit. Angela Merkel has gone from being portrayed as the heartless villain in Europe's debt crisis to the heroine of those flooding in to find refuge on the continent." Writes Zero Hedge:
Oops, may want to rewrite that one quickly, especially following a report from Bild that the German government "will send 2,00 (sic - correct is: is 2 100) riot police to the Bavarian border, where they will "help the State to secure the border."
Not only that but Express reported that the "German Defence Minister has admitted that the country verges on "an emergency" after cracks have begun to emerge in the 'German generosity' and that some 4000 German troops have been put on standby.
As I have proposed in The Denial of Politics - Wrong Track, you cannot escape politics. Libertarian arguments are often unconvincing, either because they pretend a free world void of political arrangements is a possibility, in fact, the very solution championed by them. Or they introduce governmental intervention just as they see fit, arbitrarily and dissociated from principles otherwise sternly upheld, suddenly forgetting that politics and government are supposed to be out of the question. Bryan Caplan seems a case in point - see below (Part II).
It appears, many libertarians are arm-chair mopers, being temperamentally more given to ideas, content to sport thoughts that they think are unassailable, rather than being interested in power and politics, the two things it takes to make the world conform to some of the most cherished among their ideas. Yet, if they did try to practically stand up for their beliefs, they would soon realise that they would have to deal with lots of politics. Which would teach them this one important lesson:
you cannot dissociate your beliefs from the impact of opinions, interests and ambitions of other human beings in a free society that invites everyone to vie for political influence.
There is a huge difference between making a verbal statement among sympathisers, and standing up for it in the face of large audiences of opponents.
Working toward the minimization of government in immigration issues - a dubious aim, in my view - I would prefer sensible but not necessarily minimal government participation - will prove in reality to require extensive political engagement on the part of the proponents - the desired outcome will not drop from heaven. The more seriously that effort is being pursued, the more the politically active libertarian will come to appreciate the many factors that he abstracts from in pure theory.
In the face of this (new to him) reality, he will either choose to be politically effective, in which case he will depart substantially from pure libertarianism, or he will remain true to his initial dogmatism and end up being inconsequential as a politician.
With respect to the refugee mania/crisis in Germany, where events are still largely ahead of political reactions (but the mood is changing by the minute), I note in Arnold Kling's blog:
The situation, as of today, in Germany, resembles Bryan Caplans’ libertarian dream come true.
Let them in, just let them in, I promise you, nothing bad can come of it.
Says Caplan, for those of you who do not believe me, or in case problems do occur, there are tons of ways to come up with special laws and provisions for ad hoc tweaking here and there by the government.
So don’t worry, libertarian laissez faire is absolutely the way to go, it is fail-safe, and should I have misestimated the situation, we have the power and the resources of government to avert problems. [That does indeed seem to be the position of Angela Merkel, whose actions are usually explicable in terms of their effects on building, maintaining or expanding her power.]
As for reality: at this stage, we have a fully laissez faire situation in Germany – no systematic bias (unlike suggested in the above post [by Arnold Kling]) in favour of the well-to-do or anyone else – just chaos, utter chaos, with those responsible for refugee issues totally confused and overwhelmed.
If anything, the government offers its capacity for coercion to defend total laissez faire, and to suppress the [German and European] law. [Officials in charge who openly describe the problems they face are threatened into shutting up with reference to legal provisions that require reticence from government personnel, [e.g. for reasons of national security, but, of course, not in matters concerning their practical duties such as handling refugees.]
Incidentally, with no word do I suggest in the above passage, as a commentator claims, that what is going on in Germany is the expression of libertarianism by the people or any significant player. The source.
In the same thread of comments at Arnold Kling's blog and in my post The Denial of Politics - Wrong Track, I have made reference to Bryan Caplan's libertarian proposals for the handling of immigration. For the full context of the proposals, including the essence of Caplan's argument as presented by himself in the conclusion to one of his papers (published with CATO)), I excerpt this last comment of mine:
I have made the following remarks in my above comments relating to Caplan’s ideas concerning immigration:
“Caplan who favours open borders prima facie, eventually goes on to qualify his initial demand for open borders with any number of ad hoc provisos which create a multi-class society that can only be enforced by the state.”
“Says Caplan, for those of you who do not believe me or in case problems do occur, there are tons of ways to come up with special laws and provisions for ad hoc tweaking here and there by the government.”
Form your own opinion about it:
Caplan writes in his conclusion of a paper on immigration (see link below):
“Immigration restrictions are not necessary to protect American workers. Most Americans benefit from immigration, and the losers don’t lose much. Immigration restrictions are not necessary to protect American taxpayers. Researchers disagree about whether the fiscal effects of immigration are positive or negative, but they agree that the fiscal effects are small. Immigration restrictions are not necessary to protect American culture. Immigrants make our culture better—and their children learn fluent English. Immigration restrictions are not necessary to protect American liberty.
Immigrants have low voter turnout and accept our political status quo by default. By increasing diversity, they undermine native support for the welfare state. And on one important issue—immigration itself—immigrants are much more pro-liberty than natives.
Even if all these empirical claims are wrong, though, immigration restrictions would remain morally impermissible. Why? Because there are cheaper and more humane solutions for each and every complaint.
If immigrants hurt American workers, we can charge immigrants higher taxes or admission fees, and use the revenue to compensate the losers. If immigrants burden American taxpayers, we can make immigrants ineligible for benefits. If immigrants hurt American culture, we can impose tests of English fluency and cultural literacy. If immigrants hurt American liberty, we can refuse to give them the right to vote. Whatever your complaint happens to be, immigration restrictions are a needlessly draconian remedy.” [Emphasis added - G.T.]