Former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld announced today he is running for president against Donald Trump, hoping to secure the Republican nomination.
Andrew Lepore | United States
Libertarian philosophy centers itself around protecting property rights. It also recognizes the immorality of coercive action against any individual or group. So on its face, the construction of a southern border wall seems contradictory to libertarian values; in fact, I at one time opposed it. But since diving deeper into the issue, I have concluded that the wall will provide a net benefit to individual liberty.
Misinforation about the Border Wall
First of all, it seems that many people have misinformation on the issue of illegal immigration. Among this is the incorrect statement that the majority of illegals come from overstayed visas. This is false: only 42% of illegal immigrants are here for that reason. Though this is a plurality, calling it a majority is deceiving.
Another common false point is that illegal immigrants do not have access to welfare. But an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies of the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) shows that 62% of illegal-immigrant-headed households use some form of welfare, excluding social security (compare this to 30% of native citizens). Illegal immigrants do in fact benefit from welfare that their children legally obtain via birthright citizenship.
Moreover, opponents perpetuate the falsehood that, historically, walls have proven ineffective in preventing undocumented migration. They say it would be inefficient and is just not worth the cost on taxpayers. Common responses include the notion that immigrants could go over, under, or around it. However, the facts show that these assumptions are ignoring the history of border walls across the globe.
For example, the construction of Israel’s border wall decreased illegal migration by 99% while Hungary’s did the same by 98%. In Soviet East Germany, before the wall existed, illegal emigration was a serious problem. Between 1945 and 1961, over 3.5 million East Germans walked across the unguarded border. But as the statistics below demonstrate, the wall reduced defection numbers by over 90%.
Once again, there are obvious contradictions to libertarian philosophy in the construction of a border wall. Most importantly, it requires the government to use coercion against those trying to cross it. Moreover, the government will be using our tax dollars to construct it. They also will use eminent domain to obtain the land they need.
Granted, those are immoralities, but so is welfare (a redistribution of stolen tax dollars). Large, government-funded public programs are as well. And so is allowing political parties to take advantage of democracy by permitting massive migration of a demographic that vastly supports larger government programs.
Risks of Illegal Immigration
Government spending has exploded since the 1960s and is continuing to climb at an unsustainable rate (see graph below). As you may know, the United States is nearly $22 trillion in debt. But what you may not know is that the United States is also in an over $210 trillion hole in the unfunded liabilities column for welfare benefits, social security, and pensions that we owe in the future.
To reiterate, a majority of illegal-headed households use welfare. Moreover, 6 out of 10 who cross the border illegally will go on to start a family that will consume tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars every year. Every dollar of this is taken involuntarily from citizens.
Even worse, illegals are taking up benefits owed to Americans who actually pay into the overcrowded system. $210 trillion is an enormous number which we will be hard-pressed to pay off; some even say that we never will. Our system already has far too many burdens and rising debt. It would be financially irresponsible to hand out taxpayer-funded welfare benefits to anybody who shows up.
Some dispute the validity of the current statistics, as the analysis does not account for household income or size. This analysis does not compare the welfare rate of illegal immigrants and natives in the same income bracket or with the same size households. It is showing that due to many factors, illegal immigrant households have higher welfare use rates.
Use of Public Services
Welfare is not the only program which allows illegals to benefit from American taxpayers. Due to a vast array of public services, illegals provide an additional impact on the American taxpayer. Wear and tear on roads, cost of emergency services, congestion, public utilities and more all contribute.
These may seem less impactful, but the numbers add up significantly over the years. The taxpayer cost of illegal immigration over the years will make the initial construction cost look like a drop in the bucket. The cost of the wall is one-time, while the benefits are continuous.
Support for Big Government
Another way the wall may preserve liberty in the future is with the preservation of a demographic with limited-government political leanings. Statistically, Hispanics are most likely to illegally cross the border due to geographic proximity. The Hispanic population also happens to be the demographic with the highest welfare use among illegals. Moreover, they are far more likely to support leftist government policy than natives.
The wall will help preserve a population that prefers smaller government by reducing the demographic impact of any future amnesty deals. In the case of such deals, massive demographic changes would take place. Most likely, it would not reflect the aspirations of native-born citizens. A large-scale amnesty deal like Reagan’s in California may not happen, but it is very possible. Such would have massive effects on the political demographics of the United States.
Even if an amnesty deal never takes place, illegal immigration has a significant effect on the electoral college and the distribution of seats in the House. Seats are apportioned based on state populations, which includes non-citizens and undocumented immigrants. So, increased illegal immigration without amnesty gives citizens in border states an unfairly large voice in Congress.
The Wall: A Net Benefit to Liberty
Every year, hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants come across the border to work. But while they do this, many take advantage of the benefits the government hangs in front of them. Illegal immigration is not stopping any time soon, and neither is the welfare state. Every single dollar they hand to illegals, they stole from a working American taxpayer.
Granted, funding and constructing a wall will require some force and an act of government. That pinch of statism, however, is necessary to stop a tsunami of future leftist coercion. Construction of the wall can almost fully prevent this future pillaging of the American taxpayer. The protection of liberty we can achieve through its construction vastly outweighs the little liberty we must surrender for it.
In conclusion, if I could abolish welfare instead of building a wall, I would. In today’s political theater, though, the abolition of welfare is not feasible while the construction of the wall is. Due to the boatloads of money Americans lose every year due to illegal Immigration, the wall’s construction will provide a net benefit to liberty.
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Daniel Szewc | Poland
One of the most common mistakes made by political enthusiasts across the political spectrum, is the false notion that traditionalism can only exist and flourish under a market mutilated by many regulations, as well as at least basic forms of state redistribution. To best expose the problem with this idea at large, it’s worth viewing the subject from a broader perspective.
In the most basic sense, value systems compete between each other, and have done so since the beginning of civilization itself. This can be expressed by the fact that societies with good values turn out to out perform and take over societies with lesser values. All is well and fair with this, as long as deceit and force aren’t involved in the process of internal value changes. These occur in cases of revolutions installed by external powers (such as the Bolshevik Revolution, started thanks to German funding of Lenin), or when the tyranny of the majority (i.e democratic rule) takes control of societal values, as well as regulates the market, especially when it comes to the right to discriminate, or through redistribution. For it is because of the last two, that traditionalism has been abandoned in the West. Since tradition is the result of constant rivalry between moral values, and mutual discrimination is the tool by which the power of each competing world view is expressed, not letting competition happen creates a lack of clashes between the two. The older a tradition/value is, (for example the long for truth), the more, according to probability, enemies it had to face in the past, making it more likely to win with new competitors on the market of ideas. A good example of this happening in history, is the high quality of the press in the past, during an era when no failing businesses were saved, which systematically prevented the press from spreading, what we now call “fake news”- if any newspaper decided to publish false information, it would go bankrupt- starting a business was extremely simple in the past, and their market competition would therefore destroy them- not to mention the boycotts of their good, otherwise known as market discrimination.
The other problem causing the fail of traditional values in modern times, is the welfare state. If we look at history, the only people to die of hunger (excluding times of famine, and extremely rare exceptions), were units who were asocial and wouldn’t receive any help, because nobody in society wanted to help them. How much of a bad human being do you have to be, for literally nobody to help you? In contrast, the modern era allows people to completely detach themselves from society, dismiss the idea of having children (why would they, if they’ll get state help when they are old or sick?), and in general become parasites of the system. The same holds for representatives of ALL inferior value systems, and ones that are purely against Western interpretations of personal freedom.
Those who favor tradition often note, from the depths of their hearts, that single mothers and poor people must be helped! There are two problems with this. For one, the innocence attributed to poor people, is the result of poor people, historically having to appeal to society as good, or else nobody would help them. In the case of the help being state organized, and therefore ending the risk of not receiving any help, laziness and egoism may kick in in poor people. The second problem with is, is that the less dangerous a societal position is, (“Oh no! How will I feed my children!”), the less likely people are to fight off becoming part of it.
A typical example of a situation like this is of a man who leaves his woman and children alone, without funds to live. In the past, this meant uncertainty and extreme stress caused by financial risk for the mother, which caused the man to be seen as a monster, and people discriminated against him, because of what tradition would consider to be poor character. Nowadays, even though leaving your family is still frowned upon, people are less sharp against such deeds, as the mother isn’t in a position as bad as she would have been under a free market, which is precisely why more men leave their wives/partners with their children, than ever before.
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By Isaiah Minter | United States
Last month, the Finnish government rejected a proposal to extend its universal basic income trial. Contrary to most media reports, this does not mean that basic income in Finland has failed. Rather, the program is going to expire at the end of 2018, as planned.
Finland wants to gather data on the results of the program before making a decision on it, but one would never know this from the media.
To no surprise, however, political pundits have tried to explain this supposed failed UBI trial through one of two prevailing theories. The first theory, as offered by Dr. Gigi Foster of ABC News, suggests that the UBI creates a disincentive to work worse than traditional welfare programs. But there is no merit to this claim: unconditional cash transfers had no significant effect on Alaskan employment, nor did Iran’s UBI reduce employment.
It never occurs to Gigi Foster that a basic income is a cash supplement. Under a UBI, individuals receive a monthly check and remain free to earn more money through work. The measure does not, in stark contrast to America’s current welfare system, make it more profitable for recipients to collect benefits than to seek out employment. Nor does it cut the individual off from their monthly check in the event that they make enough gross income. Ultimately, a basic income, by its very nature, sets a minimum income floor under which people may not fall.
For those less critical of Finland’s failed UBI trial, the popular theory seems to be that it didn’t go far enough. This is the route that Leonid Bershidsky of Bloomberg took, and it’s one I want to steer clear of.
First, Finland has been practicing small-scale cash transfers for years, and with great success. Similarly, in an earlier piece of mine on UBI, I made note of the poverty reduction achieved by non-universal cash transfers throughout Africa. If Bershidsky’s claim was true, in the sense that a lack of universality is to blame, then one would expect these cash transfers to have failed. But that isn’t the case.
Similarly, even if he meant that Finland’s UBI failed because it didn’t do enough to reduce poverty, he is wrong. Finland isn’t extending its UBI trial because it wants to gather data on the program’s results and determine if it was a success or a failure. In other words, it’s too early to tell what the effects of the basic income trial are.
Somehow, Bershidsky’s claim manages to both lack evidence and run contrary to it.
But I want to get to his central theme, for it’s a dangerous one. The notion that we need to redistribute to level Y because level X of redistribution didn’t work pardons any bad outcome of wealth redistribution.
Allow an example: in America’s War on Poverty, we’ve taken over $20 trillion from the rich and given it to the poor. In the wake of this lies a destroyed black community and more than 40 million Americans in poverty. This was of little to concern to Sasha Abramsky of The Nation, who published an article some years ago titled “Why We Need a New War on Poverty.”
It never occurs to Leonid Bershidsky that the shortcomings of programs often stem from the very institution that enacts them: government. It is illogical to expect that imperfect humans with imperfect knowledge can come together and form a perfect government. With all the different incentives and motives of politicians in a government, there is often tampering with programs. Enough to the point where the actual program may differ greatly from the original model envisioned by policy proponents.
Indeed, Finland’s activation measure, apart from serving as an obstacle to the basic income trial, absolutely did more harm than good. In withholding benefits from unemployed persons who were determined to not be actively seeking work, the program restructured welfare policy for the worse.
In this, I am not saying that a basic income is inherently flawed, nor that we must avoid government action altogether. For, in fact, the tampering of said program may very well make it more effective than originally planned. Rather, I am suggesting that citizens be wary of the incentives politicians face and the finite knowledge they possess.
In the end, it would do us well to reject the approach of Foster and Bershidsky. While I am sure they mean no ill, both of their claims are baseless. Each of them looked at some facts of the case and drew conclusions supporting their beliefs. This confirmation bias behavior simply fails to benefit our current political environment, and us as individuals within it.