Posted by Georg Thomas on 12/03/2015 at 11:13 AM in American Culture, Anti War libertarians, Barack Obama, Books & Media, Current Affairs, Economics, Electoral Prospects, Film, Georg Thomas, National/International Affairs, Presidency, U.S., Presidential Race--Then and Later, Pure Politics, Rand Paul, Republicans, Taxes and Spending | Permalink | Comments (0)
| | | |
Posted by Georg Thomas on 12/01/2015 at 04:49 PM in A Climate of Changes, Anti War libertarians, Barack Obama, Congress, Current Affairs, Film, Georg Thomas, National/International Affairs, Presidency, U.S., Presidential Race--Then and Later, Pure Politics, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)
| | | |
Writes Tim Ball:
Volkswagen’s deception was a self-deception because with some of the best engineers and scientists, they chose to accept the claims of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Clearly they did not look at the IPCC reports because if they had they would discover what Klaus-Eckart Puls discovered.
“Ten years ago I simply parroted what the IPCC told us. One day I started checking the facts and data—first I started with a sense of doubt but then I became outraged when I discovered that much of what the IPCC and the media were telling us was sheer nonsense and was not even supported by any scientific facts and measurements. To this day I still feel shame that as a scientist I made presentations of their science without first checking it.” ”Scientifically it is sheer absurdity to think we can get a nice climate by turning a CO2 adjustment knob.”
If they looked at the IPCC Reports and didn’t reach the same conclusion, then they are grossly incompetent, or the corporation took a political decision with their tacit approval.
They, like all automotive producers chose to pursue CO2 reduction as a marketing tool rather than examine the science and make the proper decision. Figure 2 shows their, now laughable, attempt to exploit the marketing opportunity.
Volkswagen was not alone in the decision to capitulate to the green lobby and government deception about climate change. Almost all industry chose to cow and beg forgiveness for their sin of using fossil fuels. [...]
They surrendered to the eco-bullying even promoting what they had to know, or could easily discover, was bad science. They abjectly backed away despite simple and plausible options – they became appeasers. Like all appeasers, they only created bigger problems for themselves and society.
The crocodile is now eating them. Consider the case of Exxon. They totally surrendered to the ridiculous charge that they spent $16 million on climate change research. A simple comparison with government spending on climate research offsets the charge of bias as Joanne Nova so ably exposed. Couple this with the legitimate argument that understanding climate and climate change is basic research and development essential for any energy company. No sensible investor would put money into a company that was not doing such research. Now compare Exxon’s behavior with that of the insurance industry. They spend millions, to great praise, funding documentaries and promoting and exploiting severe weather threats for the sole purpose of selling more products.
What appear to be welcome and promising developments in Tunisia have been drawn to my attention by the awarding of this year's Nobel Peace prize.
Nothing produces peace better than a domestic constitutional process in which elected representatives of stakeholders negotiate patiently to reach consensus.
Read more on the Tunisian accomplishment at the source.
For the announcement of the prize click here.
See also A Civilizational Crisis.
Image credit. Reading Hoppe's below paper on the correct anarcho-capitalist approach to immigration leaves me with a sense of duplicity, as if the author was alternately swimming in two different rivers (of explanation), one of which being particularly muddy. At the bottom of the post, find a short summary of my findings.
In his paper "The Case for Free Trade and Restricted Immigration," Hans-Hermann Hoppe promises to
demonstrate that free trade and restricted immigration are not only perfectly consistent but even mutually reinforcing policies. (p. 221)
In his view, free trade and free immigration are not analogous, since
goods and services require a prior voluntary invitation under free trade, while
... free in conjunction with immigration does not mean immigration by invitation of individual households and firms, but unwanted invasion or forced integration ... (p. 226)
... in advocating free trade and restricted immigration, one follows the same principle: requiring an invitation for people as for goods and services. (p. 227)
... population movements, unlike product shipments, are not per se mutually beneficial events because they are not always—necessarily and invariably—the result of an agreement between a specific receiver and sender.
There can be shipments (immigrants) without willing domestic recipients. In this case, immigrants are foreign invaders, and immigration represents an act of invasion. Surely, a government’s basic protective function includes the prevention of foreign invasions and the expulsion of foreign invaders. Just as surely then, in order to do so and subject immigrants to the same requirement as imports (of having been invited by domestic residents), this government cannot rightfully allow the kind of free immigration advocated by most free traders. (p. 227)
It is interesting that Hoppe seems to be adopting a minarchist rather than an anarcho-capitalist position in that he assigns government "a basic protective function" and the ability to act "rightfully," and identifies
its primary function as protector of its citizens and their domestic property." (pp.227/228)
Be this as it may, Hoppe insists:
The guiding principle of a high-wage-area country’s immigration policy follows from the insight that immigration, to be free in the same sense as trade is free, must be invited immigration. (p. 228)
Next, Hoppe seems to get into a bit of a muddle. He refers to the "anarcho-capitalist model" to make the central point of his preferred immigration policy, putting it like this:
As every product movement reflects an underlying agreement between sender and receiver, so all movements of immigrants into and within an anarcho-capitalist society are the result of an agreement between the immigrant and one or a series of receiving domestic property owners. (p. 229)
But then he adds:
... if for realism’s sake the existence of a government and of “public” (in addition to private) goods and property is assumed—it [his anarcho-capitalist (ac) model, G.T.] brings into clear relief what a government’s immigration policy would have to be ... (p.229)
Let me try to summarise: the ac-solution may be unrealistic, concedes Hoppe, while in a world that is more realistic because it contains the institution of government, the latter ought to pursue a policy that is unrealistic under ideal conditions, which are of the ac-type. I feel a little confused.
Hoppe continues to argue that any one who intends to sojourn in a free country must be invited to do so by a property owner with citizen status, who assumes responsibility for the visitor much as a parent or grown up does for a a minor.
In addition, an invitee under such tutelage may eventually become a citizen of the country by acquiring property. This being a necessary condition, it is not a sufficient one, as
citizenship may require that the sale of residential property to foreigners be ratified by a majority of or even all directly affected local property owners. (p.233)
A remarkable option as it embraces collective decision-making with the attendant politics and thus admits lots of inroads into the private property regime which otherwise Hoppe portrays as unaffected by arrangements of a non-trading variety.
In fact, Hoppe is characteristically ambiguous in this paper: he has doubts as to the feasibility of his policy under anarcho-capitalist auspices, yet demands its realisation by the very state whose total denunciation is the main tenet of anarcho-capitalism. He admits forms of collective deliberation and political (as opposed to market-based) decision-making (for the purpose of determining entitlement to sojourning and naturalisation) that anarcho-capitalism does not normally condone.
At the same time, in a spirit of affirmation, he employs a substantially truncated notion of property (see below), one that is cleansed of the social concessions and provisos that surround private property in real life, contrasting it against conditions of immigration - disliked by him - that are not based on bilateral deals between private citizen and immigrant. However, no allowance is made as to the fact that making visits by and naturalisation of foreigners depend on individual initiative and judgement (by an established citizen) alone is highly inefficient - and contradicts his incongruous admission of collective arbitration (see last quote above).
Now, would I want to visit such a country or conduct business with its citizens? Not unless I had pressing grounds. The country in question seems to expose itself to a considerable competitive disadvantage.
Who decides what kind of property and how much of it one needs to acquire so as to qualify for citizenship? Who is supposed to ratify the Hoppean rules for visitors and new citizens. Who is assigned the duty of policing these rules? How do we deal with citizen-property owners, who deviate from the rules? What will happen in the absence of collective means of legislating and policing a society free from "forced integration and foreign invaders." (p. 231) We encounter the recurrent petitio principii - pretending to have explained that which is still to be explained - of anarchism: who is to decide what is legitimate aggression and what is not?
No answers. Instead, Hoppe gives us a glimpse of the politico-bureaucratic door that is about to be opened in the face of some of the property-acquisition criteria that he surprisingly concedes in the paper (see more in the next paragraph but one).
There is something of a furtive hedge about Hoppe's contradictoriness: on the one hand, he argues on the basis of his radically one-sided idea of anarcho-capitalist private property,
... all land is privately owned, including all streets, rivers, airports, harbors, etc. ( p.229)
On the other hand, at a later juncture, he softens these strict conditions to leave conditionality of ownership essentially indeterminate,
... the owner is permitted to do with his property whatever he pleases as long as he does not physically damage the property of others. With respect to other territories, the property title may be more or less restricted. As is currently the case in some developments, the owner may be bound by contractual limitations on what he can do with his property (restrictive covenants, voluntary zoning), which might include residential rather than commercial use, no buildings more than four stories high, no sale or rent to unmarried couples, smokers, or Germans, for instance. ( p. 228)
In general, it seems to me that much of the crankiness and rickety feel of his proposal hinges on an exceedingly naive conception of what property is. Hoppe fails to take cognizance of how in a free society property rights are being dynamically constituted and constantly reconstituted in a complex chain of trade-offs.
Even within Hoppe's framework, one wonders how a society might evolve that is so radically suppressed by immigration policies that it turns grown up guests into children and makes every invitor haplessly dependent on any random citizen for the free movement of her guest and ultimately herself.
What if I am surrounded for hundreds of miles by neighbours that do not want my guest to get to my place? What invitation for blackmail and all sorts of neighbourly aggravation! Heaven, am I grateful to be living in a country, where government ensures free movement for all of us, including foreigners! In this regard, to me at least, Hoppe involuntarily demonstrates a chief reason for the popularity of the state: it has the ability (not always exercised) to liberate us from individual whims and arbitrariness.
By contrast, Hoppe cheers the immobilisation of society by his vision of ever more complete privatisation. Hurrah, says he:
The immigrant’s freedom of movement would be severely restricted by the extent of private property, and private land ownership in particular. (p.230)
Alas - horror of horrors:
Yet, by proceeding on public roads, or with public means of transportation, and in staying on public land and in public parks and buildings, an immigrant can potentially cross every domestic resident’s path, even move into anyone’s immediate neighborhood and practically land on his very doorsteps. The smaller the quantity of public property, the less acute the problem will be. But as long as there exists any public property, it cannot be entirely escaped. (p. 230)
Hoppe is entirely focussed on convincing himself that he is being consistent in his argument, showing little interest in facing the reality that surrounds us.
In the real world, private property is used and exchanged to enhance our options for a life of peaceful coexistence, mutual trust, prospects of cooperation and mobility. In real life, private property is a relational phenomenon, a tool for trade-offs that effect constant changes in the restrictions and micro-freedoms that a bundle of property rights contains.
See also my discussion of relational versus monadic law in my critique of Rothbard's justification of anarcho-capitalism: The Elementary Errors of Anarchism (2/2)
In defining the bundles of property right that we trade with one another we include new negotiated, won or legislated unfreedoms and freedoms, asymmetric positions in coercive relationships. We tie our bundles of property rights to communal rights and obligations because such blending brings about advantages otherwise not to be had.
In looking at the micro-structure of free trade, following the route of a traded good, we are confronted with innumerable arrangements that restrict absolute property rights and encompass social rules, collective rulings and regulations. If somehow magically, we were prevented from encroaching on, or better: moulding, absolute property rights, we would be unable to have an order evolve that gives us the flexibility underlying free trade.
In the real world, we make sure that our rights are not absolute but capable of appropriate moulding so as to better play the game of mutual adjustment, give and take. By contrast, Hoppe takes away from us the right to political freedom and the freedom of association by which we exercise our political freedom, leavening each one alone to fend for herself, and burden herself with tasks that are far more efficiently done if public bodies are tasked with the respective chores.
Ironically, Hoppe with his vision of a re-feudalised landscape of manor-like private realms provides a self-defeating, tell-tale contrast to the freer post-feudal society in which today we choose rules, which force us in some measure to obey common restrictions, but ultimately enhance the range of personal, commercial, and political trades available to us.
Hoppe, who tries to make property the fulcrum of his overriding ambition to arrive at a consistent theory of freedom, fails resoundingly because he does not understand how property works in a free society. The regime of property in a free society is not built by looking in the rear mirror trying to ensure that every new move is consistent with a rigid set of initial (anarcho-capitalist) premisses.
True, in characterising free trade, it is correct to state that it is partly
the result of an agreement between a specific receiver and sender,
but to think that this observation exhausts the conditions of free trade is hair-raisingly naive.
Of course, certain forms of bilateral agreement are vitally important in bringing about free trade, but for it to occur with enduring success there is equally involved a vast array of social and collective and politically shaped conditions that permeate and go beyond the discretion of two parties.
In sum: Hoppe is neither here nor there. It remains unclear how two mutually exclusive positions taken in the paper are supposed to be welded together in a logically satisfactory manner: one part of his argument is based on a radical individualism much in the spirit of anarcho-capitalism, whereby immigration is a private matter to be decided by each citizen on her own.
On the other hand, Hoppe admits forms of collective deliberation and decision-making designed to (a) qualify private ownership in indeterminate ways and (b) define and ratify the conditions of naturalisation. To the extent that Hoppe would insist on the first part, it must be pointed out that he ignores both
(a) vital conditions of freedom - in particular, political freedom, freedom of association and freedom of movement - and
(b) the nature, purpose, and real life practice of private property in a free society.
Overall, his results are inconclusive; a clear position is not to be detected.
See also What Does Liberty Matter?, The Great Fiction (1/3), The Great Fiction (2/3), The Great Fiction (3/3), The Universal Grin - A Farewell to Alms, Immigration and Freedom (6/10) - Political Scarcity and the Indeterminacy of Freedom.
Image credit. I am not always particularly conscious of a logical link between the images at the top of my posts and the written content underneath them, though mostly, I think, I would be able to explain some sort of association. The present picture has been chosen as an allusion to the wishful thinking underlying Bryan Caplan's immigration policy proposals. Once one assumes a certain depth of conviction, the belief system one subscribes to tends to develop a logic with its own dynamic. For instance: if you believe in advantageous spontaneous processes firmly enough, it might appear perfectly reasonable that immigration can be turned into a spontaneous order, upon which exhilarating prospect one may develop a selective fervour in search of data and theories that confirm the vision so beautifully in sync with one's dearest presumptions. I suspect, this is the psychological backdrop to Bryan Caplan's wishful thinking on immigration, in which regard it is indeed of a libertarian nature -, being, at the same time, not philosophically, but practically almost identical with Angela Merkel's recent political whim to declare Germany and Europe an area of open borders - err, to Syrians, err to who exactly is not really clear. Like Caplan, she proposes a general invitation, only to be qualified, when reality replaces rhetoric, by a mess of arbitrary ad hoc conditions.
The Indeterminacy of Immigration
In a recent post, I maintain that Bryan Caplan's libertarian take on immigration is flawed. In the meantime, I have had second thoughts as to whether it is accurate to describe Caplan's policy proposal as libertarian at all. My doubts are of a duplex nature: first, Caplan does not seem to derive his position from libertarian principles. Rather, his stance is based on a wish, namely that
unconditionally open borders ought to be recognised as
(1) a moral necessity, and
(2) a doable way of alleviating world misery superior in its outcomes both for the guests and hosts to any other outcome.
In explaining his "solution," Caplan is strangely confident in the well-functioning and benignity of the state.
Suddenly, the state is unproblematic in that host countries are not inhibited in their immigration-qua-deliverance by government-induced deficiencies that might frustrate the absorption of unlimited numbers of immigrant.
Suddenly, Caplan happily relies on government as it is to provide the kind of environment in which it is possible to easily cope with the migration of millions, perhaps even hundreds of millions of immigrants. While in all other respects the government is held to be a botcher of catastrophic import.
Suddenly, to top it all, he insists that should problems occur - a state of affairs which Caplan precludes, but toys with in a thought-experiment intended to assuage his critics - we have a state at our disposal that can be used to add any number of ad-hoc laws and policies capable of amending what difficulties may emerge.
In a word: Caplan relies on an enormous amount of confidence in the governmental status quo to be able to carry out his vision of immigration. In this sense, his proposal is hardly congenial to the libertarian or minarchist ethos, but rather of pronounced leftist pedigree - à la: since I have a good idea - which, I am sure, makes me morally superior to my opponents, - my proposition must be feasible, into the bargain.
There Is No Such Thing as a Uniquely Valid Libertarian Position on Immigration
These sceptical observations inspired in me another doubt: namely, that there cannot be any such thing as THE LIBERTARIAN POSITION on immigration.
Consider this historic scene - borrowed from Borjas: US president Carter and Dengxiao Ping meet in the oval office - a great act of rapprochement between the US and communist China. Carter comes in heavily laden with folders documenting anti-humanitarian cases detected in China. The American president loses no time to explain his Chinese counterpart that China must not keep its population as if in a prison, and should rather open its borders, so that those unhappy with the bad state of human rights in China are free to leave the country and come to the US.
Upon this reproach, Dengxiao Ping turns pensive for a while, before suddenly a smile appears on his face, and he replies: "You are right, absolutely right, Mister President. Just tell me, how many Chinese do you plan to welcome to your country? 20 million? 50 million? 200 million? We shall be happy to oblige." And that is not even considering billions of other people living in countries with a gruesome human rights record. Little wonder, Carter quickly changed the subject.
To cut a long story short: the issue is how many people is a host nation willing to and capable of absorbing, and which people are to be invited? And what is easily overlooked: whatever decision is taken, inumerous ramifications and consequences are making themselves felt as soon
At this point, it transpires that there cannot be any such thing as THE LIBERTARIAN POSITION - as no one is able to provide us with a set of libertarian premisses that deliver a unique answer to these questions: how many people, and who to include and who not to include, subject to which conditions.
If there is not a unique libertarian answer to the question of immigration, then neither - by implication is there a state of liberty uniquely corresponding with THE right immigration policy. This holds true when we go on to admit any doctrine that claims to represent the requirements of freedom. Careful, this is not tantamount to saying that all immigration policies are equally good. What I am saying is that there cannot be any such thing as an immigration policy uniquely determined as right and indispensable in terms of this or that doctrine outlining the needs of a free society.
Freedom is more about the way in which we ought to play the game of political dissent so as to ensure we cope with the tensions inherent in political strife than it is a nucleus from which to extract determinate solutions to specific questions embodying explosive political scarcity.
Immigration is a severe case of political scarcity.
Political scarcity occurs when there is more than one way of looking at an issue that affects a group of people who are not easily persuaded to give up their differing views in order to come up with a common, a mutually agreed position. A group may be as large as the American electorate, and the number of issues that create political scarcity is infinite, while the issues are not amenable to bilateral negotiation and resolution, but require political compromise, collective decision-making, and ultimately the credible threat of coercion. Generally, the mitigation of political scarcity may be perfect in that it avoids violence, but otherwise it will tend to be regarded as rather imperfect since in a free society differences of opinion will proliferate and be allowed to prevail in the presence of a more or less transient, politically dominant compromise.
Liberalism (in all its variants) is not identical with freedom. Liberalism is a set of hypotheses, some of which are being refuted by freedom, which latter includes integrally political freedom, and hence the right of non-liberals to compete for and gain transient political dominance. Freedom is an amalgam of different political views, a fusion more or less visible in most of her institutions and policies.
Maximalist libertarian demands appear convincing only if one overlooks the nature of political freedom, which is often traded off against some of the other robust conditions of freedom - as when contractual freedom is restricted in certain cases, because the legitimate processes of political freedom authenticate a certain policy, say the minimum wage, as being entitled to transient and contestable political dominance. What is overlooked are the innumerable cases where political freedom is restricted by contractual freedom - or are you allowed to use the resources of your employer against her will to advertise the promises of communism?
The various indispensable (= robust) conditions of freedom form a pulsating cloud of interrelated particles that by affecting one another wax and wane, pulsate, stretch and contract dynamically. If one treats contractual freedom as an absolute, as opposed to a relational right that is sculpted by many interrelated forces, one misses the essential resilience of freedom and sees instead catastrophic violations of her all over the place.
No society is free from political scarcity. Freedom cannot achieve the abolition of political scarcity, she is an effort to handle political scarcity as best as we can. Her ability to manage political scarcity well is among the prime reasons to value and defend liberty.
Posted by Georg Thomas on 10/03/2015 at 10:24 AM in American Culture, Books & Media, Congress, Constitution, Current Affairs, Electoral Prospects, Georg Thomas, Liberty Laid Bare, Media/Media Bias, National/International Affairs, Pure Politics, Social Philosophy, Supreme Court, Taxes and Spending | Permalink | Comments (0)
| | | |
The various "branches of government have their roles, but it's time to give us some of our government back, to embrace our heritage, and to breath life back into our constitutional system," thus argues Mark Levin, whose book "The Liberty Amendments" Ed Stevens has recommended to me to better understand the LR 35 initiative.
It seems to me an exceedingly commendable initiative, for nothing is more important than keeping the public aware of and actively participating in the constitutional framework of American politics.
You may disagree with Levin on this or that issue, or not; in any case, the initiative offers an excellent opportunity to compete politically in the context of a set of needful and constructive categories such as living federalism and true subsidiarity.
And it is recognised across party lines that we need to engage in a discussion that restores the respect for the fundamental principles of a constitutional republic:
Posted by Georg Thomas on 09/25/2015 at 02:48 PM in A Climate of Changes, American Culture, Books & Media, Congress, Constitution, Current Affairs, Electoral Prospects, Film, Georg Thomas, Grassroots Activism, Laura Ebke, National/International Affairs, Presidency, U.S., Pure Politics, Social Philosophy, Socialism Gone Wild, State/Nebraska Politics, Supreme Court, Taxes and Spending, TSA Outrage | Permalink | Comments (0)
| | | |
It would seem to me that there is a difference between a well thought-through, responsible immigration and refugee policy and the wilful, wantonly negligent importation of a civilizational crisis.
Reports Steve Kates on Europe an the influx of refugees,
THE European Union has lost control of its borders and risks total collapse if they are not sealed, a senior Brussels diplomat has warned.
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, warned the EU was now facing a “critical point” and that the migrant crisis hadn’t even reached its peak.
As he chaired an emergency meeting of EU leaders in Brussels last night Mr Tusk painted a bleak picture of the EU’s future, saying the 28-member bloc was on the verge of breakdown with “recriminations and misunderstanding” pitting nations against one another.
The future of free movement was at stake, he said, as the continent had lost control of its borders as well as a “sense of order”.
He added: “The most urgent question we should ask ourselves…is how to regain control of our external borders.
“Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense to even speak about common migration policy.”
He appeared to lay much of the blame with Germany, accusing Chancellor Angela Merkel of exacerbating the problem by sending the signal to desperate Syrians fleeing their war-torn homeland that Germany had no limit on the number of migrants it would accept.
Another Canadian offers this take on Angela Merkel's position concerning the refugee issue:
Writes David P. Goldman,
I have long believed that the most likely outcome of Islam’s civilizational crisis is a body count that would beggar the last century’s world wars.
And, even if the best possible outcome is achieved, the author expects,
There would be no glorious era of Arab democracy, no Arab spring, no happy ending, just a less murderous sort of despotism and an armistice rather than a real peace between Shia and Sunni. That is as good as ever it will get in that miserable region.
At any rate, too fragile are the solutions sketched in the below article that they would seem likely to succeed. Also, I have reservations concerning the author's hopes for the requisite statesmanship.
Still, it is a remarkable article that has yielded me new perspectives and - in many ways - a surprisingly conclusive global assessment of the region and its players (including the US and Europe).
The great task of diplomacy in the 21st century is a sad and dreary one, namely managing the decline of Muslim civilization. There is a parallel to the great diplomatic problem of the late 19th and early 20th century, the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, which the diplomats bungled horribly.
It is no job for the idealistic, namely the Americans, nor for the squeamish, namely the Europeans. The breakdown of civil order in a great arc from Beirut to Basra has already displaced 20 million people and raised the world refugee count from 40 million in 2011 to 60 million in 2014, with scores of millions at risk. After it failed to build democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States fell into a sullen torpor in which serious discussion of intervention in the regime is excluded. The hypocritical Europeans averted their eyes until millions of desperate people appeared on their doorstep, and remain clueless in the face of the worst humanitarian crisis since the last world war.
That leaves Vladimir Putin as the last, best hope of a region already halfway over the brink into the abyss. That is a disturbing thought, because the Russian leader has played the spoiler rather than the statesman in his wrangling with Western powers over the past decade and a half. Nonetheless, Russia has an existential interest in sorting out the Levant. Muslims comprise a seventh of the population of the Russian Federation, and the growing influence of ISIS threatens to give a fresh wind to terrorism inside Russia.
Make sure to read the rest at the source.
Posted by Georg Thomas on 09/23/2015 at 01:36 PM in American Culture, Anti War libertarians, Barack Obama, Books & Media, Congress, Current Affairs, Georg Thomas, History Lessons, National/International Affairs, Presidency, U.S., Presidential Race--Then and Later, Pure Politics, Rand Paul, Republicans, Ron Paul | Permalink | Comments (0)
| | | |
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.]