Category: Politics

Politics

The Libertarian Case for a Border Wall

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.

Walls Work

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.

Government spending over time
Government spending over time

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.

Welfare use

Welfare use, excluding social security

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.

Hispanic party affiliation, from Pew Research Center

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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Waiting for the Collapse: A Liberty Revolution

Atilla Sulker | United States

The world of libertarian thought is far from being insufficient in regards to ideas. Interdisciplinary scholars have emerged all over the world with a vast interest in this doctrine, and have built upon the works of such great scholars as Rothbard and Mises. Rothbard himself was, in fact, an exponent of Mises, and to this day, thousands of great minds continue to carry the torch and bring a plethora of new and fascinating ideas to the conversation.

One could say such ideas are far more dense than those of mainstream thought. They provide a fresh basis for solving various problems in the world, rooted in the old classical liberal tradition of private property. It is from this foundation that so many new ideas have been derived. Whether it is libertarian applications of chaos theory or Walter Block’s privatization of oceans and space, a clear causal link can be seen between such ideas and property rights.

But the main problem in contemporary libertarianism is not the lack of good ideas. There are indeed plenty. It is not even the disunity between so-called “thin” and “thick” libertarians, or any factions for that matter. It is rather the means to the realization of the desired ends. Libertarians today have great ideas for the ideal free society but seem to be lacking when it comes to finding a means to implement such ideas.

How Should Liberty Be Spread?

I have always viewed this area as the hardest to deal with. It is not the development of ideas that is troublesome- it is outreach. Just how do libertarians spread their ideas? How do they do so without tainting their ideas with a populist gloss? To what extent must libertarians work with people from other political leanings? What is the proper outreach model? These are the fundamental questions one will end up asking themselves when trying to solve this dilemma.

There is no doubt that up to this point, libertarianism has grown significantly. What was once seen as a movement for those on the fringes of society now receives significant attention, especially following the presidential campaigns of Ron Paul. A change of heart and mind has occurred in many people already, but beyond this, the leviathan state continues to tighten its grip on our property, and consequently, our liberties.

Trying to get “freedom candidates” elected has been the traditional method that libertarians have been pursuing for so long, whether under the banner of the Libertarian Party, or in the form of electing populist, or libertarian-leaning Republicans. This phenomenon is the heart of why libertarians are struggling to bring forth political change. It is very much evident that the flaw is not necessarily in the efforts espoused by libertarians, but rather in the methodology, i.e., the idea that we can “vote our way to freedom”.

This is a deeply flawed view. While this does not necessarily invalidate the concept of a night watchman state or a decentralized constitutional republic, if it is actually carried out properly, it trumps the idea that the current state of affairs can magically be reversed. Robert Higgs’s ratchet effect theory clearly underscores this phenomenon. The Higgsian doctrine asserts that once a major crisis is over, government will shrink, but never back to the level it was at before the outbreak of the crisis. Hence we are all like the frog waiting in the boiling pot.

Data put out by the IMF shows that before the U.S. committed to being involved in WWI, less than 2 percent of GDP was public spending. After the war, the lowest public spending sunk down to was around 3.6 percent. Following the Great Depression and WWII, public spending came down to a level of about 14 percent, but never got any lower than this. A classic representation of the ratchet effect.

Is Voting Really a Solution?

The question becomes- can we really vote our way to freedom? Have we traveled too far into the void to repeal the leviathan state? The U.S. national debt is already 21 trillion and continues to grow. We have become more than a leviathan state at home, but also an empire abroad. It would be foolish to think that this could be reversed gradually with the stroke of a pen. And electing so-called “freedom candidates” does no good unless elected en masse. Cherry picking certain races to work to elect such candidates has little to no effect on the legislative process.

I had the opportunity to ask Lew Rockwell about this at the Mises Supporters Summit earlier in September. My question was along the lines of this: “Can we vote ourselves to a smaller government via electing “freedom candidates”, or do we need to scrap our government completely and rebuild political society from scratch?”. Upon answering, Rockwell described voting as a “sacrament of the state”, proclaiming that it is not the answer to our freedom. Rockwell then cited Hans Hoppe, stating “the wider the franchise, the more people voting, the less freedom there is.”. He closed off his remarks saying “ as a country, we were far better off when people had their own property… now everybody can vote, we have a leviathan state, and these are not unconnected things.”.

DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University Randall G. Holcombe did an excellent study on the gradual democratization of America, and its drifting away from its roots of constitutional republicanism. Holcombe cited the changes in the electoral college and the growth of populism in the Jacksonian era as the chief causes of the gradual shift to majoritarian rule and consequently, the decline of freedom. It is democracy that relies on voting, and democracy is far from liberty. Democracy has lead to the rise of mass scale, “national pork barrel politics”.

This is not to say that is it fallacious to vote for or support a candidate who may have good qualities. To see voting as a solution to the current state of affairs is an expression of great naïveté, but it can still be used as a tool to numb the pain, so to speak. The role of running for office or getting elected can be used as a bully pulpit position.

Regardless of this, the collapse is imminent. This is not to be an open invitation to further the growth of the empire, however. Where the leviathan state can be curtailed, it ought to be, if the opportunity becomes apparent. But it would be foolish to think the empire could be curtailed to such an extent as to enact a clean repeal.

Collapse as an Opportunity

It is with this mindset that one can begin to deduce a better solution to the problem of realizing libertarian ends. Though it may seem counterintuitive, perhaps the solution is not to vote our way to freedom, but to wait for the eventual collapse. Only then will there be a vacuum for libertarian ideas to be injected into. This vacuum is indeed the best solution, but for libertarians to prevail, they must make sure to fill it when they have the chance.

Spreading the ideas to fill the vacuum is by no means a spontaneous process. It must be done before the vacuum is created. It is the prevailing mindset of the population before the collapse occurs that shall determine how the vacuum will be compensated for. If the mindset preceding the collapse is one of socialism and dicta, then the vacuum will be filled with such. If the mindset preceding the collapse is that of neocolonialism and empire, then the vacuum will become compensated in such a way. In this same way, if the mindset is that of liberty and voluntarism, the restructuring of the political society will occur in favor of such principles.

Crane Brinton’s great work, The Anatomy of Revolution, underscores the causal connection between political change and prevailing ideas. In his book, Brinton compares the development of a revolution to that of a fever. He lays down four stages: 1. Incubation; 2. Symptomatic; 3. Crisis; 4. Convalescence. The incubation stage is that of underlying causes coming into contact with the political apparatus. The symptomatic stage is that of political struggle becoming observable and evident. The crisis stage is the breaking point, i.e., the collapse of the empire. And the convalescence stage is the recovery from the crisis.

The model does not necessarily have to be violent. It can be assessed and applied in such a way that it may be able to guide a peaceful revolution of ideas. We are well past the first stage and are in stage two. The problems associated with the leviathan state are very much evident now. The breaking point will be the collapse, but for libertarian ends to be properly realized, libertarian ideas must become more widespread first. The prevailing attitude of the public will ultimately determine what will happen following the crisis stage.

The 1917 Russian Revolution and the 1910 Mexican Revolution well exemplify the prevailing passions of the public determining the course of political society. It was the prevailing attitudes of the Russian public which lead to the crisis of the February and October Revolutions. As Lew Rockwell explains: “The Russian war itself was funded through money creation… the inflation affected every last person and inspired massive unrest that led to the triumph of Communism.”.

Ron Paul delivered some excellent remarks in regards to this issue at the September Mises Supporters Summit. “I just don’t think that the answer is in Congress and voting”, asserted Paul. “I don’t believe we’re gonna have, all of a sudden, an influx of libertarian-minded people”. “I think there’s gonna be a collapse. I don’t think we’re gonna transition out of this”. “It all depends on the education and changing people’s minds”.

Preparing for the Collapse

To wait for the collapse and expect change all of a sudden would be naively foolish. The second part, the education aspect, is integral. For if the prevailing attitude of the public is not changed, no political change can be expected. This is why organizations like the Mises Institute which focus on education rather than public policy are very important to the success of the libertarian movement. The prevailing attitude must become one of free markets and voluntarism before the collapse occurs. And as of now, it is beginning to lean towards socialism and economic interventionism. This is why libertarians must walk away from the political box for good and focus on education. They must shed light on the injustices of the leviathan state and the destruction the Federal Reserve is inflicting. They must underscore the lack of economic calculation under socialism as exposed by Mises. They must underscore the causal link between empire and socialism at home.

At the September Mises Summit, I had the honor to meet Louis Carabini, founder of Monex Precious Metals. Carabini released his new book Liberty, Dicta, and Force very recently. It is indeed a masterpiece. A truly “red pilling book”, so to speak, it connects the libertarian conscience to our daily acts of volition and voluntarism, and to the workings of the human mind. What the book fundamentally asserts is that it is foolish to have faith in the political process. All politics does is turn us against each other when in our everyday lives, we get along mighty fine. When government is factored into the equation, using force against each other is justified. In our personal lives, we would never justify using force against our neighbors, even if it were for benevolent causes.

It is perhaps the abandonment of the political process that will end, or at least significantly relieve the “thick-thin” libertarian debate. Personal views will simply be personal views, not horizons for political change. Libertarians will be able to unite under the banner of voluntaryism and leave personal beliefs to themselves.

Only when the prevailing attitude of the public yearns for liberty and when libertarians abandon the political box will there be hope for the liberty movement. Only then will the human will be set free.


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Tulsi Gabbard: The Ideal New Face of the Democratic Party

Ian Brzeski | United States

Both the Democratic and Republican parties need a change in leadership. They both need to break away from the establishment and become the parties they claim to be. There was a point in time where the parties stood for principles they truly believed in; however, this piece has long since passed. Though both parties are guilty of this, The Democratic party has specifically failed to live up to its promoted ideal of being the “anti-war” party.  Through the party leaders’ continual lying and corruption, the Democratic Party needs a fresh face to restore some of the party’s integrity, and that face should be Tulsi Gabbard.

The Democratic Party has failed when it has fallen under the control of those who think in terms of dollars instead of human values – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tulsi Gabbard and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Once a party that seemed to care for the citizens, the Democratic Party has now become a joke due to deceitful politicians who have succumbed to the evils and temptations of the establishment. Power corrupts and money talks, and these colloquialisms are more relevant now than ever before.

The Democratic Party needs to replace the outdated and corrupt leaders of Pelosi and Schumer with the new. If they want to align with their boasted ideology they claim to have, they have to replace them with the likes of Tulsi Gabbard and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who care for the welfare of the people and maintain consistent values without compromise.

Of course, I am not saying you have to agree with Gabbard or Ocasio-Cortez on political issues. In fact, you could disagree with any one of them on virtually every single point they stand for. However, even feeling that way; you cannot dispute that they care for their constituents and seem to uphold values the Democratic Party claims to prioritize. I have respect for both, but Tulsi Gabbard is better suited to lead the party.

An Ideal Figurehead

Gabbard is a better fit than Ocasio-Cortez for a few reasons. First of all, Gabbard makes more of an effort to stress pulling out of Syria and Afghanistan. She also vehemently advocates for allowing Venezuela to maintain its sovereignty. Ocasio-Cortez does not make as much of an effort to talk about these issues, as she seems to focus her efforts on internal matters.

With people like Gabbard at the forefront, the Democratic Party would start to become more respectable by bringing back their “anti-war” values. Another reason Gabbard is a better fit is that she is more of a moderate Democrat while Ocasio-Cortez states that she is a democratic socialist. As intriguing as radical ideas are, they are not usually politically wise to promote. There would be more tension amongst people in the party. Most importantly, though, Gabbard holds steadfast to her beliefs and doesn’t succumb to pressure from political parties.

Values Over Party Politics

Tulsi Gabbard is not afraid to call Donald Trump out when he does something wrong, but she also is not afraid to praise him when she feels it is right to do so. People like her are next to impossible to come by today, not just in politics but also in everyday life.

Take, for instance, never Trumpers who will cry about every little thing he has ever done. Believe it or not, the man sometimes makes good decisions. You also have the people who worship Donald Trump in the same way that the poor people in Medellin worshipped Pablo Escobar. To them, the man can do no wrong. Famous conservative pundits who sometimes criticize Trump often suffer bitter blowback.

Many people in both groups here may not like Gabbard. She slams Trump often, so the latter group is likely to take issue. But she also applauds Trump sometimes. Thus, the former group also has reason to be wary. Regardless, Tulsi Gabbard is still able to maintain her values with her original thoughts. Without a doubt, we need more people like her representing the people of the United States. Whether you agree or disagree with them, the inherent value that comes from a genuine person who is committed to the betterment of society far outweighs any potential tiffs one may have over party affiliation.

Warranted Criticisms

I support Tulsi Gabbard simply because she is the best option for the DNC. Despite this, many people have claimed she is not who she seems. One common criticism is that Gabbard is not truly anti-war and really is in fact quite hawkishEvidence of certain statements she has made as well as evidence from her voting records supports this notion. Thus, it appears she is not unilaterally opposed to war.

However, she is better than the other democrat representatives. She has some foreign policy opinions that I feel hold weight. Tulsi brings a kind of non-interventionist background with her, unlike most Democratic leaders, and I think that this is what the DNC needs more of.

I am not a Democrat and I don’t agree with Tulsi Gabbard on many of her claims. Certainly, she is not my ideal candidate. Despite those things, because of her passionate emotional and logical appeals to pull troops out of Afghanistan and Syria and her unwillingness to back down when faced with pressure from those in and outside of her party, she has garnered my respect.

She is not afraid to critique people she historically agrees with when she truly believes they are wrong. She is certainly not one to shy away from praising her opponents when they deserve it. We need more of this in politics if we ever hope to diminish the hatred that comes with political polarization. Therefore, Tulsi Gabbard should be the new face of the Democratic Party.


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Libertarians Can Make the Most Progress in Local Government

Josh Hughes | United States

The Libertarian Party has proven that on the federal level, it is largely inept and incapable of winning elections. In fact, it has not had much success at the state level, either. The 2016 and 2018 elections were a huge opportunity for the party growth, but both were a flop. The national party is a mess without a clear leader or strong candidates. Many state parties are suffering from the same dilemma. Rather than wasting time and resources on national elections, the libertarian party needs to think local. Libertarians can not only have a better chance of success in local elections but also can do the most good for libertarianism. 

The Impact of Libertarians in Local Government

It is true that many local level seats are largely nonpartisan. “What difference does it make if a Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian is in charge of zoning regulations?” one may ask. The Libertarian party desperately needs elected officials in local government, before they can dream about a Libertarian in the Oval Office. 

City Council and Mayors Office

When it comes to the partisan seats, Libertarians can be very instrumental. The mayor and city councilmen control a lot of what happens in terms of city taxes and spending. Libertarians on a city councilor in a mayors office can lower local sales tax. They can also promote small business operation within their jurisdiction. They can decide what major projects the city will invest in. In some rare instances, cities can even decide whether to prosecute certain crimes. An example of such would be Baltimore recently deciding to not prosecute marijuana possession cases. Cities also have the power to decide what the minimum wage will be in the city. Combatting the left-wing cries for raising minimum wages, city by the city could be instrumental to the liberty movement. There are many things that local governments do that impact the everyday lives of citizens. 

State Legislature

Of course, growing their presence in state Assemblies and Senate could prevent either party from passing big spending bills. They could even form coalitions with liberty leaning members of either party to pass libertarian legislation. Peoples’ lives are much more directly impacted by local and state governments then they are the federal government. 

Looking To The Future

The Libertarian Party is not going to win any big elections in the near future. The next few years should be a period of rebuilding for the party, where they can develop a unified platform and leadership. It will also be a good time for them garner more support from the average American, who is currently facing a very polarized and divided nation. If the Libertarian Party wants to experience success in the coming years, it is important that they become more involved in local level politics, as well as work to gain the respect and trust of the average voter. You can’t win the presidency overnight, but you can certainly grow the movement in local governments, state legislatures, up to the House, up to the Governor’s office, the Senate, and then maybe one day, the White House. 


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Ocasio-Cortez Needlessly Opposed the State of the Union

Michael Ottavio | United States

Tuesday night, President Donald Trump gave his 2019 State of the Union address.  With the country’s partisan divide growing larger every day, there was no question Trump needed to bring Americans together over issues that we all agree that we should address. And boy, oh boy, did Trump deliver for not only himself but for his party.

There will always be some in the opposition that abstain from clapping during the mention of more right-wing policies. However, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is getting attention this morning for appearing unhappy with achievements that should make any freedom-loving American happy.

During the State of the Union

Pictures of a stoned-face Ocasio-Cortez started surfacing during the SOTU address. She seemed to be unmoved by a speech that has earned a 76% approval rating. Ratings like that show that even many Democrats approved of the president’s State of the Union.

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With such high approval ratings, it is clear Trump did something right last night. But apparently, Ocasio-Cortez did not think so. She appeared on Rachel Maddow shortly after with a friend claiming that “it was clear he did not do his homework,” insinuating that President Trump did not prepare for the State of the Union address. This claim is a little bizarre, seeing how Trump both had an extra two weeks to prepare thanks to Democrats blocking his speech and read a scripted speech. Let’s be honest, Donald Trump did not write that himself nor did he just prepare notes last-minute.

This was a very calculated and planned out speech to boost his approval ratings, and it looks like it will do that. Trump needed a boost in the eyes of independent voters and to narrow the partisan divide. It appears he accomplished both last night.

Strange Reactions from Ocasio-Cortez

Since Ocasio-Cortez is Trump’s opposition, it is no surprise she would refrain from applauding at times. However, particular things she did not cheer for were shocking to many. During his speech, Trump made multiple comments about how unemployment is at an all-time low and that the economy is thriving. These remarks which got a rise out of both Democrats and Republicans, but not Ocasio-Cortez.

The most shocking moment for Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez came when she sat there stone-faced when Trump announced border patrols tackling the human trafficking problem at the border. This issue disproportionately affects women over men. One would think that a president making it a priority to combat human trafficking would be worth celebrating. But sadly, she sat there with the same discontent face she had on most of the night. Ocasio-Cortez continued to stay visually discontent throughout the speech, making no affirmative reactions during talks of programs that will help minorities and criminal justice reform, both issues that should be bipartisan.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did stand up and clap once. This occurred when Trump mentioned how there are more women in Congress than ever before. While this is something to celebrate, it’s funny how Ocasio-Cortez only celebrates herself. Though it’s obvious she was out to make a statement, she appeared to not care about how the country is actually doing. She didn’t care about helping to repair the divide; her only concerns were for herself and her message while the president she calls divisive gave one of his most unifying speeches ever.


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