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Reflections on Ron Paul:

Various people have asked me what I think of Ron Paul's presidential campaign, and whether it will be good for libertarianism. Here's my take:

Ron Paul deserves credit for his strong commitment to limited government on many issues, including taxes, regulation, federal spending, and federalism-based limits on federal government power. Nonetheless, I am skeptical that his candidacy will provide much of a boost to libertarianism. There are also a number of major nonlibertarian elements to Paul's issue positions, some of which are extremely disturbing. The worst is his highly statist position on immigration. I should also note that I strongly disagree with Paul's foreign policy positions. But I'm not going to focus on those issues in this post, because I think libertarianism leaves room for extensive disagreement in that field.

I. Why Ron Paul's Candidacy Won't Provide Much Help to Libertarianism in the Long Run.

The big problem with claims that Paul's candidacy will provide a major boost to libertarian prospects is that he has virtually no chance of winning the Republican nomination or even coming close to doing so. Virtually all polls have Paul running under 10%. Despite the understandable enthusiasm of Paul's supporters, I doubt that he will even come close to winning a single primary, let alone the nomination. I don't see how libertarian ideas are helped by becoming associated with a presidential campaign doomed to abject failure. To the contrary, if libertarianism more generally becomes closely associated with Paul, his virtually inevitable crushing defeat will be viewed as a major setback for all of us.

Some Paul advocates compare him to Barry Goldwater or George McGovern, presidential candidates who advanced their ideology's longterm prospects despite suffering overwhelming electoral defeat. The big difference between Paul and these predecessors is that they managed to win control of their respective political parties, even though they went on to lose in the general election. Paul, by contrast, has no realistic chance of taking control of the Republican Party.

II. How Libertarian is Paul?

Even if Paul has no chance of winning and little chance of providing a major boost to libertarian prospects, it might be reasonable to support him as a protest candidate, in order to express support for libertarian views for its own sake. I might be willing to go along with this view if it were not for the fact that some of Paul's major issue positions are distinctly nonlibertarian.

As the Club for Growth describes here, Ron Paul has opposed virtually all free trade agreements. Few ideas are more fundamental to libertarianism than free trade. As the Club has documented, Paul also has opposed school voucher programs. In both of these cases, in fairness, Paul claims that his position is based on the idea that some other approach - unilateral free trade or home schooling - is even more libertarian than what he opposes. Even if he is correct on these points, I see no libertarian virtue in supporting the far less libertarian status quo against free trade agreements and school vouchers respectively. Even if trade agreements and vouchers are not the optimal libertarian policies, they are surely superior to the status quo of tariffs and government monopoly schooling.

Perhaps worst of all, Paul has bought into the conservative nativist line on immigration. He not only favors a massive crackdown on illegal immigration but even seems to endorse the view that immigration should be "reduced, not expanded" whether legal or not. To my mind, the freedom to choose where you live and the right to move to a freer and more prosperous society are among the most important of all libertarian principles. From a libertarian perspective, our relative openness to immigration is one of the most admirable aspects of America.

Unlike in the case of free trade and school choice, Paul doesn't even pretend to argue that his position is based on the idea that there is some other policy that will be even more libertarian than the one he opposes. Instead, he clearly endorses the big goverment option of a "allocat[ing] far more resources, both in terms of money and manpower" to cracking down on illegal immigration and perhaps reducing legal immigration as well.

Lastly, like David Bernstein, I am troubled by Paul's refusal to repudiate the Stormfront neo-Nazis, racists, 9/11 "Truthers," and other assorted wackos who have endorsed him. Paul is not responsible for the views of these people, and I do not believe that he personally agrees with them. However, his apparent unwillingness to distance himself from them suggests that he is insensitive to the despicable nature of their views, and the significant damage that association with them could do not only to his campaign, but to libertarian causes more generally.

On some of the above issues, I might be willing to swallow Paul's shortcomings if he had a real chance of winning. A successful campaign necessarily requires compromise, and I'm not naive enough to believe that I can find a viable candidate that I agree with on everything. A libertarian protest candidate, however, must be judged by higher standards. If I am to support a candidate not because he is the lesser evil among those with a chance of winning, but as a statement of libertarian principle, he better actually reflect those principles. By that standard, Paul clearly falls short.

Chris Bell (mail):
Thanks for the info on his free trade stance. That paradox has been puzzling me.
11.20.2007 5:22pm
tab (mail):
I think I share much your same views on Dr. Paul, Professor Somin. However, what disturbs me about his refusal to repudiate the Stormfront type folks is that the controversy seems manufactured. I'm not sure his repudiation would count for much among those who don't agree with him on other things.

I'm glad he's around to shake things up a bit.
11.20.2007 5:27pm
The Emperor (www):
He's against free trade agreements, not free trade itself. He would prefer unilateral free trade, i.e., the U.S. unilaterally abolishes all tariffs.
11.20.2007 5:30pm
The Emperor (www):
To follow-up, he believes current free trade agreements represent "managed" trade, not free trade.
11.20.2007 5:31pm
The Emperor (www):
woops, just read the next sentence, and I now see you addressed that point.
11.20.2007 5:32pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
I think Paul illustrates well that different people mean wildly different things when they say "libertarian." Paul, with the exceptions you note, is a libertarian in the strong-federalist sense. He's certainly no civil libertarian, though -- leaving aside more typically disputed issues like abortion, he rejects the entire incorporation doctrine.
11.20.2007 5:33pm
Jeff R.:
The Immigration stance is of a piece with his foreign policy, in which there is a divide among libertarians between those seeking to build a libertarian society in one country and those who believe that lack of liberty is a global problem that only invites global solutions. (There's a Stalin/Trotsky analogy that's ironically apropos...)
11.20.2007 5:36pm
Adam J:
Wow, I didn't know there was government monopoly schooling, I should tell the private school I went to about that.
11.20.2007 5:39pm
vaduz (mail):
What I will never be able to understand about libertarians, at least in terms of their electoral chances, is their embrace of unchecked immigration. Immigration, both legal and illegal, destroys any possibililty of libertarian policies coming to fore. California is a prime example. A libertarian, or at least a conservative, has a snowball's chance in hell of winning an election in that state. And that can be attributed, in large part, to the influx of poor Mexicans, who will understandably vote for increasing public services. Not supporting a restrictionist such as Paul is a case of biting the hand that feeds. The more immigrants, especially from the third world, socialist countries, the less chance of libertarian success. They expect, and in some cases, demand government services when they arrive here. Libertarian is simply not in their lexicon.
11.20.2007 5:42pm
Ken Arromdee:
Theoretically, libertarians want free immigration, but that's in a world where a lot of the things that the government provides which attract immigrants would be eliminated. Not many unskilled laborers will immigrate from Mexico if there's no minimum wage in the US, and if immigrants can't get social services because there are no social services. Implementing parts of libertarianism which cause problems without implementing other parts that ameliorate them may be a bad idea.

You can also make a case that libertarian theory would only require free immigration from other countries that are also libertarian; allowing the government of a non-libertarian country to foist off its problems on us isn't really libertarian, any more than the government buying things on the free market is libertarian.
11.20.2007 5:50pm
SMatthewStolte (mail):
I hate to sound daft, but can someone explain Paul's refusal to repudiate Stormfront, etc? My question is whether reporters have asked him to do this and, if so, how he has responded, or whether we're expecting him to repudiate simply by virtue of the fact that they support him or what. I'm not looking to be convinced that Paul should or should not do this or that. I'm only looking for clarification.
11.20.2007 5:51pm
jim:
Tis a brave thing to have an open comment thread on a post about Paul. Who knows how long before the Paul defenders inundate the thread? ;)

I have a different opinion on Paul as a protest candidate than Prof Somin. As a protest candidate I am willing to tolerate Paul's unwillingness to compromise for the greater good. Since I know he will never control the Presidency I can forgive the fact that in that office he would likely sacrifice opportunities to advance liberty because they weren't the "optimal" libertarian position. Were Paul a real candidate several of his positions would give me pause.

I suspect that I am not alone in this position. While a lot of people will defend all of Paul's specific positions, I think even more simply treat him as a symbol of libertarianism as they rally around a general message of liberty. That seems particularly to explain why Paul's campaign is not as closely associated with him than is the case for other candidates
11.20.2007 5:54pm
Russell Hanneken:
I agree that Paul is wrong on immigration and trade, but I think there's a good libertarian case to be made against vouchers. With government money comes government control--if you don't believe me, ask the people at Hillsdale College. If private schools are all required to meet the same government standards, they're not going to provide much of an alternative to public schools. Moreover, school vouchers are just another government program, and as such they create a new constituency for the expansion of State power.

A better solution would be to simply cut taxes. If parents get to keep more of their own money--and as people generally become wealthier--they'll naturally end up creating more demand for alternatives to public education. The only disadvantage is that no libertarian policy wonk gets to see his pet scheme put into practice.

This kind of argument against vouchers has been presented many times before in libertarian circles. I'm surprised Ilya Somin hasn't heard of it. Tyler Cowen has advanced a similar case against Social Security "privatization." Does that make him as disreputable as Ron Paul?

Finally, I think Mr. Somin misses the point when he argues that the failure of Ron Paul to win the nomination could be a setback for the libertarian movement. The point is, he's doing much better than anyone expected, despite all of his weaknesses. If politicians decide this is because of the libertarian part of Paul's message, they may decide they need to become more libertarian.
11.20.2007 5:55pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I’m not a fan of Ron Paul the presidential candidate but as far as Ilya’s specific criticism of Paul’s positions on immigration and trade, they seem contradicted by his original statement that “libertarianism leaves room for extensive disagreement in [foreign policy].” Trade and immigration as are much a part of a country’s foreign policy as treaty-making and military conflicts.
11.20.2007 6:02pm
jim:
Ex-Fed wrote:

he rejects the entire incorporation doctrine.


Can you give us a link for this. I could only find that he rejects incorporation of the establishment clause (which has some historical merit).
11.20.2007 6:07pm
bla bla (mail):
I think it's really difficult to view the support of Ron Paul as an unequivocal endorsement of libertarianism. Ron Paul is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I think a larger number of people support Paul because of his opposition to the Iraq War, and his isolationist foreign policy stance in general, than for his libertarian policies.
11.20.2007 6:11pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
jim:

I'm in the middle of drafting a post about it, so here are a couple of links

Here he is discussing it in connection with the Fifth Amendment while discussing Kelo.

here he is discussing it in the context of the First Amendment.

My co-blogger Patrick points out that he seems to take an inconsistent position with respect to the Second Amendment.
11.20.2007 6:12pm
Cold Warrior:
I guess I haven't been paying attention.

What on earth is "Stormfront," and if Ron Paul has never endorsed their views or taken contributions from them, why should he be required to disavow them?

Does anyone doubt that among the 40+ million voters for Bush/Gore/Kerry (or the similarly huge number of Clinton/Giuliani/etc supporters) there is a sizeable crackpot contingent in favor of each? Doesn't this amount to one of those "David Duke supported Bush, so Bush is a Nazi" arguments?

I do agree with Ilya Somin that Paul doesn't seem to be creating any kind of sustainable libertarian coalition. I see a lot of single-issue types swarming around him; I haven't questioned them when I see them carrying signs around major events (for some reason, the World Series attracted a pro-Ron Paul demonstration ...), but I kind of doubt that the pro-legal marijuana crowd is also fervent about reducing taxes and the size of the federal government.

Then again, pretend we're starting from scratch here: what are the chances that one could gain control of both houses and the presidency through a coalition of

"federalists" who support a constitutional amendment banning abortion

supporters of big increases in federal spending, particularly in education, agriculture, and transportation,

supporters of massive military commitments overseas, supporters of "faith based initiatives,"

and supporters of federal legislation banning gay marriage?

Hardly sounds workable, but that's exactly what we had until a couple years ago ... is Ron Paul's "coalition" really any more irrational?
11.20.2007 6:18pm
Cornellian (mail):
I don't think it's intuitively obvious that libertarian principles require supporting an open borders immigration policy. That's a case that needs to be argued specifically and explicitly.
11.20.2007 6:19pm
Kelvin McCabe:
Yes, these are legitimate points. And i know Dr. Paul ran on a libertarian ticket before - however, i am wondering if some of his stances on particular issues is related to his particular brand of constitutionalist viewpoint - as opposed to a strictly libertarian political viewpoint?? That is, there is more to Dr. Paul's behavior and principles than simply he is a libertarian.

For the record, this is one of Dr. Paul's statements on international organizations and free trade agreements:

"So called free trade deals and world governmental organizations like the International Criminal Court (ICC), NAFTA, GATT, WTO, and CAFTA are a threat to our independence as a nation. They transfer power from our government to unelected foreign elites.

The ICC wants to try our soldiers as war criminals. Both the WTO and CAFTA could force Americans to get a doctor’s prescription to take herbs and vitamins. Alternative treatments could be banned.

The WTO has forced Congress to change our laws, yet we still face trade wars. Today, France is threatening to have U.S. goods taxed throughout Europe. If anything, the WTO makes trade relations worse by giving foreign competitors a new way to attack U.S. jobs.

- - - - - - - -
Let’s not forget the UN. It wants to impose a direct tax on us. I successfully fought this move in Congress last year, but if we are going to stop ongoing attempts of this world government body to tax us, we will need leadership from the White House.

We must withdraw from any organizations and trade deals that infringe upon the freedom and independence of the United States of America."

This last sentence is telling. Maybe he is signaling that his views on say "free trade" do not trump his view that American independence and freedom come first. Or maybe he is just saying that "free trade" agreements like NAFTA arent really "free" at all and in fact, bring on a whole host of restrictions and work to restrict America's freedom. If the latter be the case, then maybe he is being more liberterian than the libertarians who support NAFTA. Or maybe Dr Paul isnt properly classified as a libertarian at all - but ill leave that discussion up to others who know more on this topic than myself.
11.20.2007 6:23pm
Kazinski:
Ilya doesn't address Pauls two biggest weaknesses, National Security, and executive experience. The first he fails miserably, the second he has no experience on his resume. Add to the fact that he advocates a return to the gold standard, and he just fails any sort of seriousness test.

Ron Paul does bring some interesting ideas to the campaign, but a candidate has to be more than sum total of their positions.
11.20.2007 6:23pm
OrinKerr:
Vaduz writes:
What I will never be able to understand about libertarians, at least in terms of their electoral chances, is their embrace of unchecked immigration. Immigration, both legal and illegal, destroys any possibililty of libertarian policies coming to fore. California is a prime example. A libertarian, or at least a conservative, has a snowball's chance in hell of winning an election in that state. And that can be attributed, in large part, to the influx of poor Mexicans, who will understandably vote for increasing public services. Not supporting a restrictionist such as Paul is a case of biting the hand that feeds. The more immigrants, especially from the third world, socialist countries, the less chance of libertarian success. They expect, and in some cases, demand government services when they arrive here. Libertarian is simply not in their lexicon.
Doesn't this assume that all immigrants are immediately given the right to vote, that their votes will be outcome-determinative, and that they will not change their minds? If so, I think those assumptions need to be justified.
11.20.2007 6:24pm
Jim Hu:
Cold Warrior: I hadn't been paying attention either, but Googling... Apparently Stormfront is a neo-Nazi organization that made a $500 contribution to the Paul campaign. There's a kerfuffle over whether he should return the money, or as some have suggested, donate it to the ADL.
11.20.2007 6:28pm
SIG357:
To my mind, the freedom to choose where you live and the right to move to a freer and more prosperous society are among the most important of all libertarian principles. From a libertarian perspective, our relative openness to immigration is one of the most admirable aspects of America.




That is a complete misunderstanding of the libertarian position. That freer and more prosperous society has rights also, including the right (and obligation) to be disciminating about who it admits.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig5/cox2.html

http://www.lewrockwell.com/kinsella/kinsella18.html

http://www.mises.org/journals/aen/aen198.asp
11.20.2007 6:30pm
bittern (mail):
This thread is enough to make me think that the point of being a Libertarian is that you can arrange your beliefs in any pattern without ever having to see how it works out.

Ken Arromdee makes as much sense as anyone above. But Ken says, for instance,
Not many unskilled laborers will immigrate from Mexico if there's no minimum wage in the US

Ken, who's the white people, once they can legally work for less than they can now, that will be landscaping and roofing and chicken slicing or whatever undocumented workers do now? Please explain.

If Ron Paul doesn't want all levels of gov't to divest all the roads, I say he's a pansy of a libertarian.
11.20.2007 6:30pm
A.:
Russell Hanneken: The response to the libertarian argument against vouchers and social security privatization is both pragmatic and moral: it is unacceptable to have children with no educational option and old folk with no money, even in the face of all arguments about their (or their parents') responsibilities to the contrary. Specifically, the increase in demand for private education and private savings will in all likelihood not be sufficient (e.g., not all parents will send theirs kids to school if it costs money). Unpleasant though the implied paternalism is, the alternatives are too unsavory to seriously consider. In any reasonable incarnation, a libertarian society still provides baseline services, though perhaps not on the federal level.
11.20.2007 6:34pm
PersonFromPorlock:

I don't see how libertarian ideas are helped by becoming associated with a presidential campaign doomed to abject failure.

I agree, but isn't "abject failure" a step up from the Libertarians' usual showing? I ask that seriously.
11.20.2007 6:38pm
A.:
Also, RP's affection towards the gold standard is comical.
11.20.2007 6:39pm
SIG357:
Perhaps worst of all, Paul has bought into the conservative nativist line on immigration.




This may not have penetrated to the ivory tower, but resentment about Americas open borders crosses all sorts of political and class lines. The determined efforts of Americas political classes to fost a gigantic amnesty on the courty were not beaten back by that favorite bogy of the left, "conservative nativists".

Even the people of New York, not generally associated with "conservatism" or "nativism", drew the line at the latest attempt to treat those who came here illegally as if they were citizens.
11.20.2007 6:42pm
Rich Rostrom (mail):
Your "freedom to choose where you live" ends where you enter a community of other people. No country or society is morally required to accept all entrants.

Freedom of association (and non-association) can be abused. That doesn't make it void, anymore than theoretical abuses of property rights void the idea of property.
11.20.2007 6:47pm
SIG357:
I always find it fascination to observe the passionate support for a version of laissez faire on steroids which is held by people who are lawyers, college professore, or lawyers who ARE college professors.

Why is it that the most feverent supporters of the free movement of labor are so heavily concentrated in medieval guild systems rather then in the free market?
11.20.2007 6:48pm
rekinom:
Radley Balko's take on the stormfront check:

Would I give the check back? Probably. But Paul's campaign convincingly explains that once you start screening donations for ideology, you risk giving the implication that you then do agree or endorse the positions of those people who send the checks you don't return. Paul's a huge underdog. I don't see anything offensive about his campaign's position: We'll take money from anyone. Again, it's not as if there's any reason to think that the guy is going to be influenced by campaign contributions from shady sources. He has spent his entire political career taking unpopular positions that would've sunk most candidates for federal office. Appeasing campaign donors--or anyone or anything other than his own conscience--isn't a high priority for him.


The problem is that people look at his record to judge him, and other people bring up his record to defend him, but his record is that of a contrarian legislator. We don't know what he would do as an executive, except for what he says, such as continuing to support the people living off from the social programs. As a legislator, he might vote down school vouchers, but as an executive, he might support it.

I've donated to the guy, and here I can't even vote for him, thanks to NY state and their obscure election laws.

Thank you, Ilya, for the thought provoking and pejorative-free post.
11.20.2007 6:51pm
Milhouse (www):
Ex-Fed:
My co-blogger Patrick points out that he seems to take an inconsistent position with respect to the Second Amendment.
On this point I think Patrick is wrong. It seems to me that the federal legislation Paul proposed is based on the Full Faith and Credit clause, which explicitly gives Congress the right to say how it should operate. Right now states are free to say that they'll only recognise such permits if the holder would have qualified for one under the state's own laws, just as they are free not to recognise marriages that their own laws would not have allowed. Paul wanted Congress to say that the FFC clause, as it applies to concealed carry permits, requires each state to treat such a permit as if it had been issued by that state, even if the holder would not have qualified for one under that state's own laws. That seems clearly within Congress's power as laid down in the clause itself. No incorporation doctrine is needed for this to be constitutional.
11.20.2007 6:51pm
JosephSlater (mail):
SIG357:

You should hear conservative/libertarian law profs on the tenure track talk about unions and just cause discharge protections in employment. Me personally, I'm in favor of both those things and tenure, but it strikes me as more than a bit inconsistent to bash the former two while pursuing the latter.

Oh yeah, and vouchers are essentially and inevitably government subsidies of religious schools. Which may not be the pure libertarian position.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, the rest of you can go back to debating Ron Paul.
11.20.2007 7:00pm
Republican for Ron Paul (mail):
Ron Paul may not have as much of an effect on the GOP as Goldwater did, but that's not to say he won't have a sizeable effect. Thousands of people are participating in Republican politics through the Paul campaign that would not have if this libertarian Congressman had not been in the race. My hope is many of them will stay with the party after Paul (very probably) loses in the primaries. They will then be there to help make the GOP more safe for libertarian ideas, and elect some libertarian legislators and Congressmen.

Isn't that advancement for the cause of libertarianism, and isn't it much more of an advancement than just about anything else in the last two decades? I mean, for libertarians, what the hell else is there to look forward to?
11.20.2007 7:07pm
Jam:
Mr.Somin: Thank you for opening the comments.

I think that many, including supporters, which I am, misunderstand Dr. Paul label as a libertarian.

Dr. Paul has stated that he is addressing the issues at the Federal level. Hence, he argues,for example, that the Feds have no authority to ban the use of drugs. That is a State issue. The Feds can certainly regulate inter-state commerce but growing vegetables, or whatever, in your backyard is not inter-state commerce. And regulation is not prohibition.

As to the furor over the source of the $500 donation. Dr. Paul is on record stating that racism is a form of collectivism and he repudiates such ideas.

Nazis are national socialists. Can anyone really accuse Dr. Paul of being socialis(tic)? No. Is there a history that shows that Dr. Paul is racially bigoted? No.

Whoever gave the $500 wasted it if he expect Dr. Paul to advance socialism or [white] racial preferences.

True story from memory: The owner of a bordello, near Ponce, Puerto Rico, in late 1970's, died and left all her money to the Catholic Church. The amount was over one million dollars. There was a big debate as to whetherthe CC should accept the money. The CC, I think, did accept it. Does that mean that the CC was now endorsing prostitution?

Dr. Paul, like the CC, have never endorsed the views/life style of the donor and are under no obligation to the donor.
11.20.2007 7:07pm
Milhouse (www):
Thorley Winston:
... as far as Ilya’s specific criticism of Paul’s positions on immigration and trade, they seem contradicted by his original statement that “libertarianism leaves room for extensive disagreement in [foreign policy].” Trade and immigration as are much a part of a country’s foreign policy as treaty-making and military conflicts.
Free trade is the founding issue of the entire liberal (now libertarian) movement. Libertarianism can tolerate short-term trade sanctions against specific countries, with the object of compelling them to change some policy that is against ones own country's interests, or to prevent them from becoming a military threat to ones own country. But general protectionism of any sort, i.e. any restraint of trade that is permanent in nature, or that is not geared to achieve some specific foreign policy objective, is anathema to libertarianism.

A similar argument applies to immigration. Libertarian theory is broad enough to accomodate many positions on immigration - except one: immigration restrictions whose purpose is to prevent foreigners from competing with locals in the market for goods or services cannot be justified. They are protectionism, not foreign policy. One sign of a protectionist immigration policy is when it doesn't discriminate among nations.
11.20.2007 7:10pm
U.Va. 3L:
This Brian Doherty article from Reason--written back in July--effectively refutes many of the complaints Professor Somin raises in his original post, IMO. (It doesn't discuss the Stormfront issue, as that had not yet come up.)
11.20.2007 7:18pm
shecky (mail):

Your "freedom to choose where you live" ends where you enter a community of other people. No country or society is morally required to accept all entrants.


A country or society that regulates entry to such an extent is a collective where individuals have lost rights. Freedom of movement says you can live wherever you want. As log as you can pay for it.

That's gotta be one of the most basic freedoms people can have.

And it works well. Manhattan, for instance, has open borders. Anybody can live there. All you need to do is find a place to live. Mysteriously, it manages to thrive, even with all those people. The only thing that says you can't live there is perhaps your pocketbook. Not some elected official trying to engineer the population. (At least not directly)
11.20.2007 7:27pm
SIG357:
A country or society that regulates entry to such an extent is a collective where individuals have lost rights. Freedom of movement says you can live wherever you want.



How have I, as an American, "lost rights" by the practice of regulating who may immigrate to this country?


How has a person in China "lost rights" from such regulations?


And it works well. Manhattan, for instance, has open borders. Anybody can live there.




No, that is not true. Manhattan is within the borders of the United States. It is not the case that anyone who wants to from anywhere in the world can live there. Manhattans borders are open only to Americans.
11.20.2007 7:40pm
Sigivald (mail):
As SIG357 says, and elaborated by Nozick (in Anarchy, State, and Utopia, in the final section on Utopia, IIRC), a libertarian state has no obligation to take anyone who wants to come to it; it has only the obligation to let them leave.

(And IIRC, Nozick even allows that they might have strings on leaving corresponding to a freely chosen condition upon entry in exchange for benefits.)

shecky: Anybody can live in Manhattan if they can enter the US. Manhattan, you see, is neither a society nor even a state, but merely a city.

Further, other people have a "basic freedom" to enter into compacts among themselves that might restrict the ability of others to buy in, later, to a given geographic area.

(For instance, a group pools resources to buy a housing development, and enters into a free compact that only their immediate kin can inherit or purchase the space there.

Nobody can buy in, but nobody's rights are violated, either. This is true even if they freely purchase and compact in an area the size of the United States.

This does not provide a pure-libertarian justification for immigration restrictions in the US, as the US was not constituted in such a manner - but it does tell us that there's no inherent right to live anywhere simply because you want to and could pay for it; other considerations can prevent that with no assault on your rights, such as they are.)

Also, you say individuals in such a country have lost rights. Which rights have they lost? They're not being prohibited from doing anything, remember - nor is anyone outside the country being prohibited from doing anything they want with their lives where they are.

"Freedom of movement" needs a clearer definition and justification before it'll be accepted as a basic right conferring the things you want it to confer.

I, for one, see a difference between the freedom to go anywhere, and the freedom to leave where you are to any place that will have you. Lack of the latter makes you imprisoned. Lack of the former means that other people's rights and yours conflict, which is inevitable and not obviously something that must be resovled in your favour.

That's the problem with arguments from basic freedoms; there are multiple ones, and they not just can but inevitably do conflict.
11.20.2007 7:43pm
EricH (mail):
Re Paul and foreign policy. Two questions for his supporters/defenders:

I'll admit my ignorance (agnosticism?) upfront but hasn't the libertarian view on US involvement in the world emanated from the view that excessive entanglements (as Washington called them) corrupted the US more than we corrupt others? That is, having an extensive involvement internationally necessarily leads to greater centralization of power, larger armies, the national security state, diminished sovereignty, et cetera?

And contra that, Paul's view is that our excessive entanglement has made us the enemies of others. That is, the world is not corrupting us; the US is corrupting (and angering) the world.

A non-libertarian view of why we need to lessen our involvement internationally.

Second: If the US should diminish its role in the world, another nation (or nations) will replace that vacuum. History shows that there has always been, if not a unipolar world, a multipolar one where several nations/states/powers balanced off one another.

So, what nation do the Paul supporters wish to supplant the US in its current dominant role? Because someone will replace us if we do withdraw from it.
11.20.2007 7:45pm
SIG357:
Libertarian theory is broad enough to accomodate many positions on immigration - except one: immigration restrictions whose purpose is to prevent foreigners from competing with locals in the market for goods or services cannot be justified.



If true, that would make Libertarian theory not broad at all, but extremely narrow. It permits one and only one position on immigration. But as it happens, there is nothing in libertarian theory which says anything of the sort. You'll look long and hard in the works of Smith, Mises, Hayek, or Friedman to find any such notions.
11.20.2007 7:45pm
Ken Arromdee:
Ken, who's the white people, once they can legally work for less than they can now, that will be landscaping and roofing and chicken slicing or whatever undocumented workers do now? Please explain.

This is off the top of my head (I'm not actually a libertarian (I disagree with them about antidiscrimination laws and public libraries, among other things), but I'd imagine they'd have to do without (since the immigrant would not be motivated to come here if he can only make the same salary he could make in Mexico) or pay the immigrant more. Paying the immigrant more might make the minimum wage issue moot, but not the social services issue--to make a US job as attractive to an immigrant as one is now, the employer would have to pay the benefit that the immigrant now gets free from the government. This might not stop immigration, but would certainly lessen its impact.

Of course, it depends on exactly what problems you see as caused by immigrants. If you're offended merely by seeing brown people, I admit libertarianism won't do much to stop that. If you're concerned about the economic impact of immigrants, though, it should help.
11.20.2007 7:49pm
SIG357:
JosephSlater

I've always found it incongrouous that the most enthusiastic advocates of a world-wide free market in labor are so often themslves employed in positions which are more insulated from competition than the head of the AFL-CIO.
11.20.2007 7:53pm
bittern (mail):

Which rights have they lost?

SIG3 and Sigi,
Shecky may want to express this better, but you're interfering with my ability to hire a Tuvalu throat singer at my wedding. Etc.

Maybe Ron Paul's schtick is that he's a Constitutionalist, not really a libertarian.
11.20.2007 7:55pm
SIG357:
Shecky may want to express this better, but you're interfering with my ability to hire a Tuvalu throat singer at my wedding.




That may be. But the question was, what rights have they (you) lost?
11.20.2007 7:59pm
rho (www):
So unless the libertarian candidate can win big, right out of the gate, there's no point voting for the libertarian candidate? All or nothing?

Also, we should support pseudo-libertarianism so we can grow the movement incrementally? A little is better than nothing?

Right, gotcha. What's the HTML tag for an eye roll?
11.20.2007 8:04pm
bittern (mail):
Ken, thanks for the response, but I disagree. I was chatting nine years ago, near Cape Town, South Africa with a guy from Angola. This guy came from a country that hardly has any government whatsoever, and technically illegally moved to a country that has, if not enough jobs for its own people, at least better jobs at better pay than his own country. Same as nearly anyone from Mexico coming here, IMO. Even without minimum wage laws, wages in the US are going to be higher than in Mexico. That's the constant pull. It's not likely that the natives here are going to let the weeds grow, the rain pour in, and cook whole chickens. A "real" libertarian would not want to interfere with the free flow of goods, capital, or labor. But each real-life "libertarian" has his own policy druthers.
11.20.2007 8:13pm
Russell Hanneken:
SIG357: How about the right to control who is allowed on your own property (or the property of someone who has consented to give you authority over who is allowed)?
11.20.2007 8:16pm
Jerry F:
Can someone clarify Paul's position on free trade -- is he saying that the U.S. should not impose tarriffs on other nations regardless of what tarriffs other nations impose? If so, is that not putting the U.S. at a clear disadvantage, which is the point of having free trade agreements in the first place? Relatedly, are there any agreements with foreign nations that Paul supports or any international organizations to which he thinks the U.S. should be a member?
11.20.2007 8:20pm
Russell Hanneken:
SIG357: Never mind, I misunderstood the context of the question.
11.20.2007 8:20pm
Anonymouseducator (mail) (www):
Clearly illegal immigrants don't come here because of the minimum wage.
11.20.2007 8:26pm
bittern (mail):
SIG357, you're using government force to prevent both me and the Tuvalu from pursuing a mutually agreeable trade. That may well be Constitutional, but it ain't libertarian.

Libertarians believe that people will be both freer and more prosperous if government intervention in people's economic choices is minimized.

Boaz at Cato

It would appear that the vast majority of libertarians favor “open immigration”. This is clearly the position of the Libertarian Party, as laid out on their web site.


Random blogger
11.20.2007 8:27pm
SIG357:
Russell Hanneken

Are you saying that all your desired immigrants will stay on your property, forever? That they and their children will never vote in our elections? That they will impose zero burden on the rest of us, be essentally invisible?

If you could say that, and make it be true, I'd go along with you. Since you can't, I won't.

Didn't we have this discussion back when the country was founded? No American has the right to import people. No foreigner has the right to come here.
11.20.2007 8:31pm
FZappa (mail):
'The big problem with claims that Paul's candidacy will provide a major boost to libertarian prospects is that he has virtually no chance of winning the Republican nomination or even coming close to doing so.'

I stopped reading after that weak opening sentence.
11.20.2007 8:35pm
bittern (mail):
Jerry F:
Can someone clarify Paul's position on free trade -- is he saying that the U.S. should not impose tarriffs on other nations regardless of what tarriffs other nations impose? If so, is that not putting the U.S. at a clear disadvantage, which is the point of having free trade agreements in the first place?

Short answer: Not if you're a consumer.
Long answer: If you're a mercantilist, or a government or media person unduly influenced by mercantilism, you want U.S. firms to sell lots of stuff into other countries and get paid. If you're Ron Paul, you figure the benefit to the U.S. of cheap stuff from other countries is reward enough; the net effect of dropping our tariffs is beneficial to us. Whether it's true or not, it's pretty standard economics.

Jerry F:
Relatedly, are there any agreements with foreign nations that Paul supports or any international organizations to which he thinks the U.S. should be a member?

Hah! Now you've gone beyond my expertise ;-)
11.20.2007 8:36pm
SIG357:
SIG357, you're using government force to prevent both me and the Tuvalu from pursuing a mutually agreeable trade.




And how, pray tell, am I doing that? If you wish to have a Tuvalu throat singer at your wedding, go to him. Give him money. Have your wedding where he is, if his singing matters so much to you.

I'm under no obligation to faciliate the destruction of the country, and MY property, in order to accomodate your whims.

This is the "spoiled child" aspect of libertarianism. If somebody cannot do exactly what they want, where they want, when they want, they act as if their constitutional rights are being violated.
11.20.2007 8:40pm
Robert O'Rourke:
A "real" libertarian might not want to interfere with the free flow of labor, but a real libertarian would demand as a prerequisite that the labor market not be distorted, subsidized and socialized with welfare, food stamps, section eight housing vouchers, "free" medical care etc. for the millions flowing in here.
11.20.2007 8:41pm
SIG357:
Russell Hanneken

I just saw your "never mind". So, never mind.
11.20.2007 8:50pm
bittern (mail):

A "real" libertarian might not want to interfere with the free flow of labor, but a real libertarian would demand as a prerequisite that the labor market not be distorted, subsidized and socialized with welfare, food stamps, section eight housing vouchers, "free" medical care etc. for the millions flowing in here.

RO'R, you're asserting that a real libertarian would balk at reaching part of a libertarian goal until another part was included. Now there I really couldn't say. It's almost the inverse of Ilya's complaint that Ron Paul won't support half-way trade deals.

As far as supporting free immigration, given your prerequisites, we're not going to have the opportunity to find out, I don't suppose. But I doubt most people would really change their minds. Anyway, it's the jobs most people are flocking to, not the housing vouchers.


This is the "spoiled child" aspect of libertarianism. If somebody cannot do exactly what they want, where they want, when they want, they act as if their constitutional rights are being violated.

SIG 357, that's roughly my take as well.
11.20.2007 9:05pm
Thoughtful (mail):
Paul's position on free trade, while not mine, is not unlibertarian. Many a libertarian economist would point out that if you want free trade, all you need to do is eliminate your own state's tariffs. It doesn't take 1700 pages NAFTA documents to say, "Let's have free trade between our countries."

Paul's position on immigration is sad, as is the loss of principle among many libertarians on this issue over the last decade. Bryan Caplan's "The Myth of the Rational Voter" lists the overwhelming and enduring fear non-economists have of immigration as one of the main examples of voter irrationality, given that economists routinely and consistently from across the political spectrum note, on studying the issue, that there are and have always been net gains to the host country from immigration. (And if you don't like immigrants getting govt benefits, no libertarian is going to oppose a move to cut those benefits.)

But most disturbing is Prof. Somin's (to say nothing of Prof. Barnett's and Prof. Bernstein's) ahistorical view of libertarianism in the realm of foreign policy. All are experts in law, but none have PhDs in the history of social thought. When you talk with libertarians who have THAT background, it becomes clear that for several centuries, and certainly throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, libertarians have always been advocates of international peace through a non-interventionist foreign policy.

Consider Washington's Farewell Address urging the avoidance of entangling alliances to JQ Adam's recognition that his new nation should not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.

Consider Cobden and Bright's Manchester school opposition to the Crimean and Boer Wars, Cobden condemning these from his seat in Parliament. Best known for their successful efforts to end the "Corn Laws", these principled free market proponents also fiercely opposed English involvement in foreign wars.

Herbert Spencer, the famous libertarian theorist, said of English soldiers fighting in (forgive the irony) Afghanistan,“When men hire themselves out to shoot other men to order, asking nothing about the justice of their cause, I don’t care if they are shot themselves.” Then as now, there were government apologists screaming that the country would be in mortal danger if it didn't DO something, but libertarians typically saw through that kind of propagandistic rhetoric.

Yale founder of sociology William Graham Sumner gave a famous speech in the late 1800s about The Conquest of the United States by Spain, explaining that while the US had easily won a military victory against Spain, Spain had won on the field of ideas, as we moved from a republic to an empire, and took on the trappings and costs of empire: building up a fleet, higher taxes, a larger standing army, war, the draft, higher deficits, a growth in the power of the executive, until, like Spain, we would begin to wither and fade in history, bereft of the principles that gave a free republic birth. You can judge for yourself how prescient Sumner was.

During WWI, classical liberal Randolph Bourne spoke of War being the Health of the State. He would not have been surprised to see, had he lived long enough, a War on Poverty, a War on Drugs, and now a War on Terror, all related by the fact that they are wars without end.

So I disagree with Professor Somin that foreign policy is just something various libertarians are free to tack on to their political philosophy willy-nilly as they see fit. The connection previous generations of libertarians found between full free trade among the world's peoples, minimal political relationship among the world's governments and peace were seen for more than a century as fundamental to a libertarian world view. The destruction on 9/11, which comes not after years of non-intervention, but after decades of extensive US intervention in the Middle East, does not change that. Paul is right on the question of war and peace, an issue of such immense import that I can ignore his extremely poor position on immigration.
11.20.2007 9:06pm
SIG357:
given that economists routinely and consistently from across the political spectrum note, on studying the issue, that there are and have always been net gains to the host country from immigration.



It'd odd then that nobody can ever quantify those supposed gains. The fact is that economic growth in America is comparable to that in other Western countries with much lower immigration rates.


(And if you don't like immigrants getting govt benefits, no libertarian is going to oppose a move to cut those benefits.)




No. But the tens of millions of distinctly non-libertarian immigrants will oppose it vehemently. And they are the people government is pandering to, not libertarians.

And there lies the real problem for libertarians with immigration. People are not fungible items like bushels of wheat or barrels of oil. They come preprogrammed with all sorts of ideas.

Libertarianism is a minority position in the US. And it is non-existent outside of it. The influx of tens of millions of people with distinctly socialist leanings kills any hope of limited government stone dead.
11.20.2007 9:19pm
Jay D:
I think people misunderstand Ron Paul's position on gold. He just wants to make gold and silver banking legal. You should be able to buy a gold bond if you want to, for example.
11.20.2007 9:36pm
J_A:
SIG 357


Libertarianism might indeed be a minority position in the US, but by claiming that it is non-existent outside of it, you are showing that you know little about what does or does not exist outside the US
11.20.2007 9:48pm
locofoco:
Illya: I hope you will be just as critical as your fellow members of the Conspiracy who openly support candidates who, if anything, support less libertarian positions on immigration and abortion than Paul. Paul isn't for free immigration but, unlike Thompson, Rudy, or Mitt, at least he he has not played up the "nativist" aspects of that issue. As to the theory that "Paul can't win," please note that Thompson, a favorite at VC, is sinking in the pollls and now behind him New Hampshire.
11.20.2007 9:49pm
bittern (mail):

People are not fungible items like bushels of wheat or barrels of oil. They come preprogrammed with all sorts of ideas. Libertarianism is a minority position in the US. And it is non-existent outside of it. The influx of tens of millions of people with distinctly socialist leanings kills any hope of limited government stone dead.

As demonstrated in the past by the arrival of Pilgrim theocrats, Virginia planters, assorted Papists, and our own czarist law professors. SIG, much as I agree with your dismissal of modern libertarians, I'm afraid "Thoughtful" done blew you away. Sorry.
11.20.2007 9:55pm
CDU (mail):
I hope you will be just as critical as your fellow members of the Conspiracy who openly support candidates who, if anything, support less libertarian positions on immigration and abortion than Paul.


Since when does criticizing a candidate on ideological grounds bring with it the obligation to criticize people who support other, less desirable candidates?
11.20.2007 9:59pm
TLB (mail) (www):
Ilya Somin says: To my mind, the freedom to choose where you live and the right to move to a freer and more prosperous society are among the most important of all libertarian principles.

I'm sure there are even bright five-year-olds who realize the massive downsides of that. If we ever declared libertarianism here, it would be gone within a short period as immigration was used as a means of political control (sound familiar?) For instance, further massive immigration from Mexico would give even more power to far-left racial demagogues like AntonioVillaraigosa. (Hint: he's not a libertarian and never will be). AV would use that power to push through completely non-libertarian policies.

Even worse, Ilya Somin would allow countries like China to obtain political power inside the U.S. by sending us people and making parts of the (former) U.S. essentially a Chinese colony.

And, by doing that, Ilya Somin would have violated the supposed libertarian precept of national defense.

There really is no way to deny that other countries would seek to take advantage of a libertarian U.S., so perhaps Somin should choose a more grown-up ideology.
11.20.2007 10:06pm
Mack (mail):
There is no reason why a Libertarian should support illegal immigration. As it is practiced it is nothing but corruption. Politicians ignore the stated law for campaign contributions from businesses that ignore businesses that ignore it get an unfair advantage over those who follow the rule of law.

In so far as legalized open borders - I don't agree with all of it, but this demonstrates the insanity of an American Libertarian supporting open borders.
11.20.2007 10:21pm
Mack (mail):
Should be:

Politicians ignore the stated law for campaign contributions from businesses that gain an unfair advantage over those who follow the rule of law.
11.20.2007 10:22pm
frankcross (mail):
Maybe I'm missing something, but if Ron Paul rejects the Bill of Rights incorporation doctrine, doesn't that make him into the least libertarian of the candidates? He favors the right of any state to deny free speech, or freedom of religion, or any other freedoms. Now, he might oppose the particular state taking those actions, but he wouldn't actually legally prevent them from, say, closing down all newspapers and television stations. Could you get more anti-libertarian than that?
11.20.2007 10:22pm
NH (mail):
It would be nice if you knew that NAFTA is NOT 'free' trade.. but since you don't I can't put much stock in this bogus article.
11.20.2007 10:23pm
Jay D:
Maybe I'm missing something, but if Ron Paul rejects the Bill of Rights incorporation doctrine, doesn't that make him into the least libertarian of the candidates?

No, he just disagrees with you on the best mechanism to promote the liberty of individuals. How can the Federal Government ensure that none of the 300 million citizens had their rights violated today? It can't. It is a false promise, which leads to a false sense of security that the Federal Government will take care of everything. The best it can hope to do is selectively protect rights here and there, which makes the situation politically charged.

I have a more cynical view of the Federal Government where we are doing pretty good if the Federal Government can insure that it itself won't violate anyone's rights today.
11.20.2007 10:49pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Sig347, fwiw, Manhattan isn't a city, either.

Just a me too. Open borders would be nice, but as part of a broader utopia, not as a starting point. The current situation is particularly bad, because so much immigration is outside legal channels. Others can say it better than I.

I'm more torn than usual this year. Just when I'd given up on the Libertarian Party, I've got a favorite son (Phillies) runnng for the party nomination. So where will my one protest vote do the most good? Getting my preferred Libertarian on the LP ballot, or raising the vote total of the closest-to-libertarian Republican? If I'm not going to vote LP, am I better off compromising even more, voting for the one of the candidates with a reasonable chance of winning his Democratic or Republican nomination who would do the least unlibertarian damage?
11.20.2007 10:57pm
newscaper (mail):
Robert O'Rourke said:


A "real" libertarian might not want to interfere with the free flow of labor, but a real libertarian would demand as a prerequisite that the labor market not be distorted, subsidized and socialized with welfare, food stamps, section eight housing vouchers, "free" medical care etc. for the millions flowing in here.



**Me: Absolutely correct. A dissenter tried to say that the flaw with your objection was the nonsensical suggestion that libertarians couldn't do anything until they could do everything. THAT is nonsense -- and there's a perfrect example from 20 years ago the danger of out-of-balance libertarian advances in the S&L crisis. Deregulation while keeping FSLIC protection was a disaster.


bitern said in response to someone else:


The influx of tens of millions of people with distinctly socialist leanings kills any hope of limited government stone dead.


bitern replied:As demonstrated in the past by the arrival of Pilgrim theocrats, Virginia planters, assorted Papists, and our own czarist law professors. SIG, much as I agree with your dismissal of modern libertarians, I'm afraid "Thoughtful" done blew you away. Sorry.



**Me: nonsense. In terms of proportion, compared to the 'native' American population, in terms of more shared core values, and the whole-hearted and, for most, irrevocable commitment to the new country, your reference to the past is way off base. Crossing the ocean on a one-way trip meant our predecessors had to buy in to the fundamental idea of America. And it was not un-PC back then for various public and private instititutions to expect/push a modicum of assimilation. By comparison, for a large portion of th eimmigrants from Mexico, their stay is just an extended commute, if not effectively a colonization -- being geographically adjacent changes things radically from the 19th century paradigm of immigration.

FWIW I am NOT a Paul supporter due to his foreign policy.
11.20.2007 10:57pm
Thoughtful (mail):
It is simply factually incorrect to assume, as many anti-immigration posters here seem to assume, that those emigrating to the US from country X are typical of the average citizen of country X. It may well be, for example, that the lack of liberalism (of the classical sort) in Russia for several hundred years makes it difficult for the average Russian to appreciate the pre-conditions of a free society (a rule of law, secure private property rights, etc.), but I am confident many of those emigrating from Russia with the name "Volokh" are fully aware of these pre-conditions and can likely enunciate them and apply them in principled fashion far better than most native born Americans.

It takes a lot of blood, sweat, energy, and effort to migrate to another country. I doubt many posters here could manage spending a week outside in bitter heat or cold while crossing a desert and evading animals and patrols, climbing barbed wire fences, etc. All the more difficult for VC posters if they had to come, not from nearby Mexico, but countries further south. Are these posters really serious in their belief that people put themselves--and sometimes even their entire families (young wives, infant children)--through all that just to get here so they can get govt. benefits? If that's what they're coming for, why are people so upset they're after our jobs (picking lettuce, mowing yards, cleaning houses, etc.)?

And for all those non-economists in border states concerned that Mexicans are taking "their" jobs, what are their thoughts on intra-national immigration? An Arizonan who loses a job to a new arrival is equally out that job whether the new arrival is from Mexico or Massachusetts, Pennsylvania or Peru. Shouldn't they really be favoring an end to free travel and movement within the United States?

And if people oppose Massachusetts liberals moving to other states to take advantage of government benefits, libertarians are in favor of eliminating the benefits.

(Granted, SIG357, as things currently stand, those damn former Massachusetts socialists might outvote us libertarians...but you do realize, don't you, your complaint isn't with immigration, it's with modern welfare-state democracy.)
11.20.2007 11:00pm
More-than-half-serious Ron Paul supporter:
EricH: So, what nation do the Paul supporters wish to supplant the US in its current dominant role? Because someone will replace us if we do withdraw from it.

Who cares, as long as I'm not paying for their misadventures with a debased currency?
11.20.2007 11:00pm
Robert O'Rourke:
Bittern;

I'm asserting that you cannot possibly attain the one goal (a "free" labor market) until you attain the other(ending taxpayer subsidization of at least imported labor).

How do you dismantle the welfare state if you're yearly importing millions of ready made welfare recipients on the path to voter registration?

It makes no sense at all.

Unless the plan is to bankrupt and collapse the nation so we start over from scratch.

People may flock here for the jobs, but many get the housing voucher and a lot more. Immigrants over the past 30 years are fully 50% more likely to be on welfare than the native born.

Heritage study shows average low wage immigrant consumes $20k per year more social services than they pay in taxes.

That is massive taxpayer subsidization of business labor costs. How libertarian is that?
11.20.2007 11:06pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
“To my mind, the freedom to choose where you live and the right to move to a freer and more prosperous society are among the most important of all libertarian principles.”

How is the elimination of national sovereignty a libertarian principle? How is it that people from other countries have a “right” to immigrate to the US? Particularly since the reverse does not hold. An American of European decent cannot immigrate to Japan, Korea India and many other countries. You might get a temporary work permit, but you will not get citizenship.
11.20.2007 11:10pm
Tom Hanna (www):

Lastly, like David Bernstein, I am troubled by Paul's refusal to repudiate the Stormfront neo-Nazis, racists, 9/11 "Truthers," and other assorted wackos who have endorsed him.


Not repudiating whackos is probably something he picked up during his association with the Great Whacko Debating Society in 1988.
11.20.2007 11:16pm
SIG357:
Thoughtful

It is simply factually incorrect to assume, as many anti-immigration posters here seem to assume, that those emigrating to the US from country X are typical of the average citizen of country X.



It is not nearly as factually incorrect as to assume the opposite, that they are the best their country has to offer, which most pro-immigration people seem to do.

It is an established fact that immigrants tend to vote for the more statist of our two parties. No assumptions are needed.



I am confident many of those emigrating from Russia with the name "Volokh" are fully aware of these pre-conditions and can likely enunciate them and apply them in principled fashion far better than most native born Americans.





I have met a fairly large number of people from the former Soviet bloc here in America. They bring their assumptions of an all encompassing state with them.


It takes a lot of blood, sweat, energy, and effort to migrate to another country.


All it takes is a short ride on a plane. Most illegal immigrants came here on a visa and never left.


And for all those non-economists in border states concerned that Mexicans are taking "their" jobs, what are their thoughts on intra-national immigration?



Set saide the sneering reference to "non-economists", which suggests that people are unable to make accurate economic assessments of their own situation, a left wing trope.

Intra-national "immigration", as you put it, is clearly spelled out in the US Constitution. Americans are supposed to look out for their fellow Americans, ahead of looking out for people from Peru. Yes, really.


(Granted, SIG357, as things currently stand, those damn former Massachusetts socialists might outvote us libertarians...but you do realize, don't you, your complaint isn't with immigration, it's with modern welfare-state democracy.)





No, that is not correct. The modern welfare state exists because there are people who want it to. The people coming here as immigrants are the ones who desire it most. These two things, the welfare state and the immigrants cannot be separated.

If you want to get rid of the welfare state, starve it for clients. The Democrats are not frantic to flood the country with poor immigrants because they are nice people. They know they are growing the welfare state by doing so.

And the Republicans who support immigration know it too, but since they get to concentate the profits in their own pockets and distribute the costs to everyone else, they don't care. The worst elements in each party, working for the common ill.


I'm dropping off the thread, but .here
is a link you should read
11.20.2007 11:40pm
Thoughtful (mail):
It is well known, psychologically, that we often have much stronger disagreements with those who we mostly agree with. People we have little in common with are beyond the pale, not worth getting exercised over.

This might explain why Ilya and Dr. Bernstein, who calls himself a libertarian, seem much more incensed about what they see as Ron Paul's deviation from "party line" positions, while not seeming to care much about, say, Fred Thompson's position on the drug entrepreneurship, or what Rudy Guiliani did to Michael Milken.
11.20.2007 11:46pm
SIG357:
J_A

Libertarianism might indeed be a minority position in the US, but by claiming that it is non-existent outside of it, you are showing that you know little about what does or does not exist outside the US





FYI, I come from outside the US. People look at you as if you are insane if you describe the libertarian position in other countries. They have never heard it before.
11.20.2007 11:47pm
Russell Hanneken:
SIG357: Just to be clear, I believe in property rights. If some people want to form a gated community and keep people out, that's something they're entitled to do. But if I haven't bought into their arrangement, they're not entitled to tell me to whom I can rent an apartment, or whom I can hire to work in my factory, or whom I allow in my store, etc. It seems to me that anti-immigrationists do presume they're entitled to do just that. I don't have to guarantee to anyone that one of my guests will stay on my property; my guest just has to avoid trespassing where he isn't wanted.

As for guaranteeing that immigrants won't be a "burden": if two American citizens have a child, can they guarantee the child or its descendants won't be a burden on anyone? If not, should we regulate procreation?

I'd be perfectly happy to see government "benefits" withheld from immigrants. As a libertarian, I'd be perfectly happy to see them withheld from citizens too.

The question of who may or may not vote is an entirely separate issue from immigration.
11.20.2007 11:54pm
SIG357:
The question of who may or may not vote is an entirely separate issue from immigration.





No, it is most emphatically not. For the Democrats, that is the entire point of immigration. If the people in America don't approve of your policies, just replace then with people who do. The Democrats have SAID that this is their thinking.


People ARE policy.


But if I haven't bought into their arrangement, they're not entitled to tell me to whom I can rent an apartment



As an American, you HAVE bought into the arrangement known as America. Part of that arrangement is that you can't import your own people. If that irks you, you can always leave and try to find someplace else in the world which will indulge you. You wont.

As an American you are bound by American laws. If those laws say you cannot rent to illegals, you cannot rent to illegals. Your right to make money does not override everyone elses right to have a country. Without a country, you won't have any money. It's a classic commons problem.
11.21.2007 12:04am
A. Zarkov (mail):
“Add to the fact that he advocates a return to the gold standard, and he just fails any sort of seriousness test.”

I agree that Paul’s position on a return to the return to the gold standard is a major weakness. However his position, as I understand it, comes from our government’s abuse of fiat money. The dollar is falling and that’s going to hurt the economy of the US. Ron Paul is critical of the Federal Reserve, and I agree with him on that. Just listen to Ben Bernanke’s testimony before the House and Senate— it doesn’t inspire confidence. The Fed has failed us and continues to fail us. The Fed should have raised the margin requirement on stocks to dampen the stock bubble—it didn’t. It helped engineere another bubble— housing. It should have taken a firm stand on the expensing of options. This institution is now rotten and needs to be abolished. That does not mean a return to the gold standard. Been there done that.
11.21.2007 12:07am
Thoughtful (mail):
Sig makes several points that are just WRONG. Let me respond to some of them BRIEFLY:

Me: It is simply factually incorrect to assume, as many anti-immigration posters here seem to assume, that those emigrating to the US from country X are typical of the average citizen of country X.

Sig:It is not nearly as factually incorrect as to assume the opposite, that they are the best their country has to offer, which most pro-immigration people seem to do.

No reference. I know of no one who thinks they are the best other countries have to offer. [Those people obviously have less reason to leave.] I think the standard assumption is they are on average more industrious and more interested in living in a land of greater freedom and opportunity. Perhaps like our own ancestors.

Sig: It is an established fact that immigrants tend to vote for the more statist of our two parties. No assumptions are needed.

No references. Hispanics in California typically voted Republican before Republicans made it clear they thought they could get more votes by using "illegal immigrants" as scapegoats. Why would hard working people just starting out a family business, as many immigrants do, vote for the party in favor of higher taxes and more regulations on businesses?

[Me}I am confident many of those emigrating from Russia with the name "Volokh" are fully aware of these pre-conditions and can likely enunciate them and apply them in principled fashion far better than most native born Americans.

Sig: I have met a fairly large number of people from the former Soviet bloc here in America. They bring their assumptions of an all encompassing state with them.

I find it hard to believe that the average Russian immigrant is similar in most significant aspects to the average Russian. But on this blog we need not guess. Many of our hosts can enlighten us if they choose to.

Me: It takes a lot of blood, sweat, energy, and effort to migrate to another country.

Sig: All it takes is a short ride on a plane. Most illegal immigrants came here on a visa and never left.

No references. Are these plane-riding visa-overstaying immigrants the ones picking the lettuce or the ones playing welfare queens? I'd have thought they were the students getting graduate or higher degrees. We certainly wouldn't want educated foreigners making a home in our country. Think what it might do to the quality of our public schools!!

Me: And for all those non-economists in border states concerned that Mexicans are taking "their" jobs, what are their thoughts on intra-national immigration?

Sig: Set saide the sneering reference to "non-economists", which suggests that people are unable to make accurate economic assessments of their own situation, a left wing trope.

It is not a "left-wing trope", Sig. It's a well known and documented fact. See Caplan's "The Myth of the Rational Voter", where he provides all the documentation. The entire problem with "non-economists", people not schooled in economic principles, is NOT that they can't make "accurate economic assessments of their own situation," it's that they improperly generalize their own situation to the nation. So, if they lost their job, America must be losing jobs.

Sig: Intra-national "immigration", as you put it, is clearly spelled out in the US Constitution. Americans are supposed to look out for their fellow Americans, ahead of looking out for people from Peru. Yes, really.

First, Sig, I guess you have a problem with hypotheticals. Of course it is against the US Constitution. My point is if you take the economics seriously, you'd be calling for an amendment to the US Constitution. Secondly, I'm not familiar with the ethical theories that say "treat your neighbor like yourself, if he's up to 3000 miles away as long as no arbitrary national boundries are crossed. Otherwise f-ck him." Sounds like nationalism to me, which has become a state religion of sorts, and ultimately has played a major role in warfare over the last century. I'm a little tired of it myself, but some people, it seems, just can't get enough.

Sig: The modern welfare state exists because there are people who want it to. The people coming here as immigrants are the ones who desire it most. These two things, the welfare state and the immigrants cannot be separated.

Yes. This is why immigration to America was so extensive 100 years ago, because of our huge pre-WWI welfare state.
11.21.2007 12:45am
Richard A. (mail):
Has anyone asked Ron Paul whether he's stopped having the Stormfront beat his wife?
11.21.2007 12:55am
Thoughtful (mail):
Sig: As an American you are bound by American laws. If those laws say you cannot rent to illegals, you cannot rent to illegals. Your right to make money does not override everyone elses right to have a country. Without a country, you won't have any money. It's a classic commons problem.

And as a Southerner, you are bound by Southern laws. If those laws say you cannot rent to blacks, you cannot rent to blacks. Your right to make money does not override everyone else's right to have a southern state with a certain culture.

And as a German, you are bound by German laws. If those laws say you cannot rent to Jews, you cannot rent to Jews. Your right to make money doesn't override everyone else's right to have a country.

Thus the problem of legal positivism...the belief that everything the legislature does constitutes law (worthy of commanding allegiance).

And, not to keep rubbing salt in the wound or anything, but Sig: what you wrote above is not merely NOT a CLASSIC commons problem, it is not a commons problem at all in the sense economists talk of it. If you disagree, please clarify what is the resource used in common without well defined property rights and how is it being overused and undermaintained?
11.21.2007 12:59am
Russell Hanneken:
SIG357, if it concerns you, we can talk about putting restrictions on who can vote. I gather you're not satisfied with the current restrictions.

You say that "As an American, you HAVE bought into the arrangement known as America. Part of that arrangement is that you can't import your own people." I don't remember agreeing to anything. Can you show me my signature?

You go on to say, "If that irks you, you can always leave and try to find someplace else in the world which will indulge you." SIG357, I'm going to insist that you pay me yearly tribute and follow my rules from now on. If you don't like it, you can always leave and find someplace else where you don't have to abide by my rules.

If I don't have the right to push you around if you stay, why would you have the right to push me around if I stay?

No one has a right to have a country that violates the rights of individuals to associate peacefully.
11.21.2007 1:25am
Kazinski:
A. Zarkov,
I'm not saying that the Fed is infallible, but having an inelastic money supply would be a disaster. The dollar is based on the taxing power of the most stable government in the world, and the strength of the strongest economy in the world. The reason the dollar is sinking is not mainly due to deficit government spending, it is due to deficit consumer spending; our balance of trade is out of line and has been out of line for quite a while. We've gotten away with it because the dollar is such a strong currency because the Fed has done such a good job evening out shocks to the economy over the last 75 years.

If the Fed wants to pump the dollar up in relation to other currencies the prescription is simple: cut back on the money supply, raise interest rates to give foreign dollar holders a greater return on their money. Congress would also have to cut back on spending, or raise taxes, to service the debt. Now this would send the entire world into a steep recession, pop China's bubble economy, and a raft of other intended consequences. I'd just as soon keep things the way they are for at least a while longer, at least until I pick up that 52" LCD I have my eye on.

But a dropping dollar can help self correct the imbalance, it makes imports more expensive, and lowers the prices of our exports, theoretically that will eventually bring the balance of trade back into line and the dollar will rebound. Frankly that seems like the best solution to me, things ain't so bad now, and 9% unemployment seems like quite a drastic fix for the current level of the dollar.
11.21.2007 1:31am
Russell Hanneken:
Incidentally, SIG357, when did freedom of association become simply about a "right to make money?" FYI, I married an immigrant several years ago, and she moved into my apartment in the US. (We divorced recently.) There was no money involved, I assure you. The government, of course, still insisted it had the authority to decide whether she would continue living with me.
11.21.2007 1:38am
godelmetric (mail):
Ilya:
...I'm not naive enough to believe that I can find a viable candidate that I agree with on everything. A libertarian protest candidate, however, must be judged by higher standards. If I am to support a candidate not because he is the lesser evil among those with a chance of winning, but as a statement of libertarian principle, he better actually reflect those principles. By that standard, Paul clearly falls short.


In my mind, I am replacing "Paul" with "[Nader]" and "libertarianism" with "[liberalism]" (or whatever it is Nader stands for -- wackoism). The notion that the "protest candidate" should be judged by higher standards may be the most precisely correct response on this point that I've ever read.

However, based on my experience with Nader supporters, I predict that your arguments will not be taken well, if at all.

A bit further with the analogy: A trivial amount of research reveals that Nader's commitment to "Green" or even liberal issues is spurious at best (union-busting in his own offices; opposition to "feticide"; letter to Jeb Bush demanding Terri Schiavo be saved by any means necessary; etc. etc.). However, in general, Nader debates amongst liberals are nothing but a litany of polemics alternately accusing the other side of being sellouts and turncoats for supporting or not supporting Ralph Nader.

Having participated in a number of such discussions, I have never once managed to get anyone to engage, let alone acknowledge, the possibility Ralph Nader -- the candidate -- isn't even remotely the candidate that everyone (supporter or detractor) takes as a given that he is. (And not for lack of effort.)

I think that my -- and your -- premise in approaching these issues is flawed. Ralph Nader and Ron Paul are not judged by their environmentalism nor their libertarianism, respectively -- in fact, neither their positions nor those labels are relevant to the "discussion." They're merely proxies for secondary argument, an argument amongst people -- often at the "fringes" -- who feel not just disenfranchised and frustrated, but deceived, and about the visceral response they have to that feeling.

The key is that the issue isn't political per se -- the common conceptual element is conspiracy. Not necessarily "conspiracy" in the tinfoil-hat sense, but merely a pervasive, incessant feeling that the game is irretrievably rigged. That's what people like Ralph Nader and Ron Paul tap into -- an ideology of radical skepticism. (Not radicalism -- but a willingness to be skeptical about anything -- call it an ideology of distrust.)

Consider: if you read a few conspiracy websites, you'll quickly notice that they rarely discriminate between "stories" from the far-left, far-right, or any political "pole" ... the same sort of discordance exists among the supporters of radical anti-establishment candidates, and even the positions of the candidates themselves. Though you'll find neo-Nazis supporting Paul, you'll find even more former Naderites.

The radicalized strains of "libertarianism" and "liberalism" are vessels for these candidates not because of their principles, but because those political schemata can accommodate the level of skepticism and distrust necessary to sustain the conspiracy. Though political legitimacy demands that they profess principles, they can at the same time be repurposed.

So while generally the campaigns hew towards the commonplace principles and bywords of their chosen labels, they're also often stretched when necessary -- that conceptual flexibility is why they're useful. But ultimately, it's the ideology of distrust that's driving these campaigns, not whatever name they happen to use. Real libertarianism and liberalism recognize the contingency of politics and the possibility of deception, but their fundamental narratives are fundamentally functional, humanistic, rational. They have an internal logic which can be tested against reality.

But the ideology that drove Nader's campaigns and that now animates the Paul campaign is not about politics or even ideology, but meta-politics; a fundamental -- even epistemological -- viewpoint on the rationality of the political world. This viewpoint can't be challenged by demonstrating internal consistency; the presumption of rationality is in fact contrary to the basic principles of this radical doubt.

Political debate requires falsifiability. And even vehement politics can accommodate distrust or even a strong presumption of deceptiveness -- e.g., libertarians and the government; liberals and the market. But a politics that turns on "conspiracies" and inscrutability is not in fact political at all -- it's merely a dogma, and should be taken on those terms.
11.21.2007 2:29am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Kazinski:

The US consumer has a negative rate of savings. Our total rate of savings (including corporate) is still very small. An economy cannot grow without investment from savings. Unfortunately almost all our investment capital comes from foreigners, and like oil we have become addicted to these capital inflows to sustain our economy. I can’t predict the future, but it sure looks like the dollar is headed for a free fall, and this will cause massive inflation in the near future. The Fed needs to raise interest rates even if this causes a recession, but it won’t because it’s trying to bail out Wall Street—another “Greenspan put.” I rather have a recession than destroy the dollar as the world’s currency. I would rather have elected representatives controlling the money supply instead of a bunch of private bankers. While flogging his book in an interview, Greenspan let the cat out of the bag. He advocates “suppressing” the salaries of skilled workers by “augmenting” (his words) immigration. In other words, destroy the middle class.
11.21.2007 5:29am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Trade and immigration as are much a part of a country’s foreign policy as treaty-making and military conflicts.
No, they're not. The latter two involve relations between governments. But governments don't trade; people do. And governments don't emigrate; people do.

If I want to buy a product from a Japanese factory owner or a Brazilian farmer or a Swiss watchmaker, why is that a matter of foreign policy rather than a private matter between me and the factory owner, farmer, or watchmaker?
11.21.2007 5:49am
J_A:
SIG


I too was born and raised in a different country. I have in my last count been to 34 different countries, and travel abroad for work probably half my time. My job requires me to follow politics and economics in several countries (and btw, I work for a very Texan company, not a multilateral agency, in a very immigrant friendly city, Houston). I read regularly foreign publications, including the quite libertarian (small "l"), yet foreign, The Economist. If you believe that there is NO libertarianism outside the US, none, then I won't even try to change your mind. It's a pity, because if you want to promote libertarian policies in the US, pointing out to successful libertarian policies abroad might help you (does the Estonian tax code ring a bell with anyone?)
11.21.2007 6:54am
Anoymous (mail):
Since David Bernstein doesn't believe in comments, I'll use this thread to comment on one his points -- the idea that Ron Paul's opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act was a sign that he falls somewhere between out-and-out racism and just not liking or caring about minorities very much.

Don't get me wrong. I think this is a valid point about people opposed to that law -- people like Ronald Reagan. I just wonder why someone like David would selectively employ this particular attack just against Ron Paul and not against Reagan, etc.
11.21.2007 9:36am
Ken Arromdee:
If I want to buy a product from a Japanese factory owner or a Brazilian farmer or a Swiss watchmaker, why is that a matter of foreign policy rather than a private matter between me and the factory owner, farmer, or watchmaker?

If those people lived in completely libertarian countries themselves, then of course it's not a matter of foreign policy.

If, for instance, the Brazilian farmer got to sell you cheap goods because he's subsidized by the government of Brazil, then it is, for obvious reasons.
11.21.2007 9:39am
Francine (mail):
Let me get this straight.

Republican/Conservatives "Leaders": Ron Paul is too Liberal and/or Left-Libertarian.

Democrat/Liberal "Leaders": Ron Paul is too Conservative and/or Right-Libertarian.

Libertarian/left-libertarian, right-libertarian, neo-libertarian(oxymoronic label) "Leaders": Ron Paul is too Conservative and/or Liberal.

So to summarize, according to these self-appointed political elitists i shouldn't support Ron Paul because he is too Conservative or Liberal or Libertarian and/or not Conservative or Liberal or Libertarian enough.

Huh?

And they wonder why Paul supporters ignore the talking heads...
11.21.2007 10:19am
Fluffy (mail):
Something tells me that if you scratch the surface of these so-called libertarian objections to Ron Paul, you'll find warmongery as the motive and nothing else.

Are tuition tax credits a better libertarian alternative than vouchers? Maybe they are, and maybe they aren't. But I know this much - when you find a libertarian who suddenly tells you that this policy dispute is a big deal, the odds are that they are being disingenuous, and what really motivates them is a desire to kill lots and lots of Muslims.

When antiwar libertarians start making these criticisms in large numbers, wake me up. While it's still a bunch of Dondero-esque Giuliani lovers, count me out.

It's funny, and a little sad, to me that the so-called libertarians who pretend to be all hot and bothered because Paul's way of getting the state out of education is different from theirs can somehow see their way clear to supporting Giuliani, despite the fact that their boy Rudy stands for torture, concentration camps, aggressive war, and the shredding of the Bill of Rights.
11.21.2007 10:20am
frankcross (mail):
I want to get back to incorporation. Jay D's response makes no sense. Nothing about the incorporation clause puts reliance on the federal government to protect rights. It simply empowers the courts (both state and federal) to protect individual rights from denial by the state governments. Taking away this legal protection for rights would mean that a state could expropriate property without compensation. That still seems to me to be a crazily anti-freedom position held by Paul. Ron Paul would apparently have no problem, with torture, concentration camps, and the shredding of the Bill of Rights, so long as those actions are taken by, say, Texas, rather than the federal government.
11.21.2007 10:33am
c.gray (mail):

They're merely proxies for secondary argument, an argument amongst people -- often at the "fringes" -- who feel not just disenfranchised and frustrated, but deceived, and about the visceral response they have to that feeling.


This is just about the smartest once sentence summation I've ever read of the underlying political dynamics of protest candidate campaigns. You could apply it to the campaigns of Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan or even George Wallace just as well as to those of Ralph Nader or Ron Paul.
11.21.2007 10:37am
Fluffy (mail):
C Grey, grow the hell up.

Let me see if I understand you: YOUR political positions are the result of reflection, but those of other people are just "visceral responses" to "frustration".

Thank you for being a patronizing jerkwad.

There can be absolutely no dispute that advocates for small government have actually been deceived by the Bush wing of the Republican party [which still means essentially the entire structure of the party]. It's not a "feeling". It's not a "proxy for secondary argument". Every word uttered during the 2000 campaign by George Bush about his views on the role of the state in society was an out and out lie. That means that people who are angry at Bush and the Republicans for reasons centered around the concept of small goverment ACTUALLY WERE deceived, and that responding in an aggrieved fashion is the appropriate and rational response.

The Bush administration has been the worst administration on small government issues since Lyndon Johnson's. It's been the worst administration on civil liberties in American history, largely because it recapitulated the civil liberty failings of just about every administration before it and worsened them by an order of magnitude. Some people may think they had good reasons for this, but I don't. In response to this record of abysmal failure, some Republican voters are now supporting the one candidate who is actively opposing the Bush administration's policies. What is so difficult to understand about that? On what basis can you label that a mere "protest" campaign?
11.21.2007 11:02am
Jay D:
Ron Paul would apparently have no problem, with torture, concentration camps, and the shredding of the Bill of Rights, so long as those actions are taken by, say, Texas, rather than the federal government.

If Ron Paul was governor of Texas he would certainly have a problem with that.

The question is how to prevent Texas from becoming an oppressive state. What if, the people of Texas knew for a fact that no help would ever be forthcoming from President Ron Paul out there in Washington D.C.? Would they, be more vigilant? Take more responsibility for the state of their own government? Take care of their own business?

If Ron Paul became president, and Texas was already that bad, fixing it from above would be a nightmare. It would be almost like invading Iraq to impose a funcioning democracy. People have to want to make democracy to work in order for it to work, which they obviously didn't if they let Texas get so bad.

In other words, promisies of the Federal Government to protect the people from their own State creates a moral hazard. It tends to encourage carelessness.
11.21.2007 11:17am
godelmetric (mail):
That means that people who are angry at Bush and the Republicans for reasons centered around the concept of small goverment ACTUALLY WERE deceived, and that responding in an aggrieved fashion is the appropriate and rational response.
Since I wrote the statement you're responding to, I will try to clarify that I was not referring to the position you describe.

First -- I would be the last person to call someone irrational for feeling deceived by the government or George W. Bush. I am positing that there is a difference between political distrust (everyone distrusts the other party, for example) and a distrust of politics in general ("it's a conspiracy and a rigged game").

Feeling that you've been lied to is, in this ontological sense, the opposite of radical distrust, because you clearly believe that there is a truth or goal to be lied about. That is an inherently rational position, regardless of whether one agrees with the reasoning.

Second -- in referring to the "underlying" debate, I'm referring to the fundamental-distrust position. My point was merely that this is not a discussion about issues, which is how Ilya approaches it and how you appear to be approaching it; after all, Paul is not, as Ilya says, libertarian. Libertarianism, like radical leftism, is merely a conceptual framework that can be extended to accommodate political nihilism. E.g., many Naderites will defend political positions, but trying to pin them down on Nader's actual politics is like grasping at smoke.

In other words, arguing with conspiracy theorists -- even the ones who are nominally on your side -- is never a debate about specific issues or ideology. No one will admit to a politics of nihilism -- often not even to themselves -- so Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, et. al. become their proxies for that belief, a way of acquiescing to futility while maintaining some symbol of a tangible "position."
11.21.2007 11:51am
frankcross (mail):
Jay D, it's not promises about the federal government taking some bureaucratic action. It's about protections from the courts, including the state courts. I doubt any state would be radically oppressive, but look at the takings found to be unconstitutional, conducted by state and local governments (not to mention those deterred by the threat of unconstitutionality). Do you care about property rights?
11.21.2007 11:55am
Wintermute (mail) (www):
Paul is a breath of fresh air both to the Republican Party and to American libertarianism, which needs to shed the silly immigration platform plank stuck in by the handful of guys who started the Party.
11.21.2007 12:01pm
Mark Bahner (www):
Or maybe Dr Paul isnt properly classified as a libertarian at all,...


If I know one thing about libertarians and libertarianism, it's that Ron Paul is a libertarian.

He was the *Presidential* candidate of the Libertarian Party in 1988. He's a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party.

If one looks at the mentions of the word "libertarian" on news and political commentary shows over the last 3 years, I'd bet that fully half of those mentions of the word would have been related to Ron Paul's candidacy.

There are plenty of things to find fault with regarding what Ron Paul has said and done in his 30+ years in politics. (As there are plenty of things to find fault with regarding even the greatest of men, such as Washington, Jefferson, and Madison.) But no one should doubt Ron Paul’s libertarianism. If Ron Paul isn't a libertarian, then no one is. People who are libertarians can hold opposing views on issues.

II. How Libertarian is Paul?


As much or more than any author or commenter on the Volokh Conspiracy!
11.21.2007 12:26pm
Jay D:
frankcross:Jay D, it's not promises about the federal government taking some bureaucratic action. It's about protections from the courts, including the state courts.

State courts? You mean a state court reading the bill of rights and 14th amendment directly and striking down some state law? I'm fine with that. But what if they don't strike down the law to your satisfaction? It would take some kind of federal bureaucratic action then, wouldn't it?

but look at the takings found to be unconstitutional, conducted by state and local governments

Funny you should bring that up. It is an example of the Federal Government *failing* to protect the people from their local government. What is now the remedy? Try to change the Federal Government so that it will now, in turn, protect you from your own local government? Or should you try to change your local government? Which is easier?

Did the assumption that the Federal Government would protect people from this sort of thing contribute at all to the problem? Were the people then not watchful enough of their local government because they figured Washington D.C. would protect them?

Do you care about property rights?

Yes, that is why I, as president, would not take any of your property. Now go ask your mayor if he too cares about property rights. Frankly, I'm too busy as it is to worry about that new shopping mall in your neighborhood.
11.21.2007 12:31pm
frankcross (mail):
So, I guess you are saying that you don't really care about state and local governments taking property. I think that would be a significant libertarian concern, though, as they are more likely than the federal government to engage in a taking. And the federal courts have prevented many of those. Though when you say you are "fine" with state courts using the US Constitution to strike down a state law, you are making exactly my point about what's wrong with Ron Paul's approach.
11.21.2007 12:39pm
Cold Warrior:
I must say that Bernstein's comments are unfair.

And I am not a Ron Paulie, or whatever they're called. I think he's performing a useful service to the country in that he has some people thinking seriously about the role of government. But I don't want him to be elected President of the United States.

Coming from Bernstein -- a contrarian if there ever was one; the Lochner revisionist -- an attack on Paul for his skepticism regarding the legal underpinnings of the Civil Rights Act (Bernstein = Advocate of Extraordinarily Broad Reading of Congressional Powers Under the Commerce Clause?) is downright bizarre.

One can also argue (sensibly/rationally/in a very non-racist way) that the Civil Rights Act was counterproductive in the long run. [NOTE: I do not agree with these arguments, but I do not accuse the proponents of such arguments of "racism."] Indeed, lots of people argue that Brown vs. Board of Ed. was counterproductive in the long run, assuming that the societally "productive" result we were seeking was an improvement in the standards of education for southern black students. If the "productive" result we were seeking was some kind of concrete action on the part of the Court that "racism is wrong," well then Brown v. Board of Ed. succeeded. But since when is Bernstein a believer in the notion that the federal Government should supplant the churches/synagogues/whatevers as the primary force for morality in America? Should the federal government also expand hate crimes legislation because its failure to do so would "send a message that the American people think violence against gay Americans is o.k.? Should the federal government ban "hate speech" against gays because the failure to do so would also send a message that we think it's o.k. to hate people based on their sexuality? Didn't Bernstein write a semi-popluar book saying that this is exactly what government should not be trying to do?

Why are the rules different when it comes to picking on Ron Paul?
11.21.2007 12:45pm
Connecticut Lawyer (mail):
I don't buy Mr. Paul's position that he'll take money from anyone, no questions asked.

As far as I can see, a fair amount of his support comes from rabid anti-semites, neo-nazis, troofers, et al. I can't even begin to take him seriously so long as he doesn't denounce all these folks and send their money back.
11.21.2007 12:46pm
Mark Bahner (www):
I want to get back to incorporation. Jay D's response makes no sense. Nothing about the incorporation clause puts reliance on the federal government to protect rights. It simply empowers the courts (both state and federal) to protect individual rights from denial by the state governments.


There are huge problems with "incorporation." The Ninth and Tenth amendments (which are clearly not enforced) protect us from the federal government having minimum wage laws. So does "incorporation" mean that we're also protected from minimum wage laws set by states?

Or to give another example...the First Amendment's freedom of speech is absolute ("Congress shall make no law"). Is the freedom of speech absolute regarding state laws also?

The Fourteenth Amendment is a mess. Ron Paul would go much, much (much!) further than any other candidate to restore the Tenth Amendment. The Tenth Amendment was what Jefferson correctly labeled as the most important part of the entire Constitution. (And the amendment that is least obeyed by the federal government.)
11.21.2007 12:46pm
Conservative Activist Judge:
Open borders is a utopian position which assumes humans will have no group loyalty, tribal identity, or cultural characteristics. I believe the goal is worthy, but it should be one of the final acts of a libertarian government, not one of the first. If you want to go back in American history, take a look at who elected FDR and created the New Deal. The Democrats had heavy support from immigrants. The country moved left and has never returned to its previous political position. Libertarianism is as much a cultural movement as a political one, and immigration changes the culture.

Just look at the U.S. as an example. People in New Hampshire hate people coming from Massachusetts. People from Massachusetts flee the high taxes in their state. What are they trying to do in NH? Pass a state sales tax and income tax. The same thing is occuring in the Ssouth as northernors are attracted to the faster growing economies, and with Californication in the West. Yet Libertarians think letting in millions of people from countries where the right-wing party is socialist is somehow advancing their goals. Why do you think the American Communist Party advocated open borders during the Cold War?
11.21.2007 12:53pm
Jay D:
frankcross: So, I guess you are saying that you don't really care about state and local governments taking property.

I would personally care, but I, as president, would not think it prudent to "do something about it."

Think of it as tough love.
11.21.2007 1:00pm
Jay D:
Connecticut Lawyer: I can't even begin to take him seriously so long as he doesn't denounce all these folks and send their money back.

If you are that concerned with gestures, there are pleanty of candidates for you.
11.21.2007 1:03pm
Cornellian (mail):
I read regularly foreign publications, including the quite libertarian (small "l"), yet foreign, The Economist.

I'd make every Presidential candidate from either party subscribe to The Economist, read the last two year's worth of back issues, and make them pass a 2 hour exam on the topics covered in it as a pre-condition of being nominated. I'll even give them a break and exclude the magazine's fiction, music and visual arts reviews from the exam.
11.21.2007 1:05pm
Fluffy (mail):
Comments like that of Connecticut Lawyer justify all the vitriol Paul supporters spill online on people like the posters here at Volokh.

For encouraging him in his delusion, you deserve to be verbally abused and harassed. It's really that simple.

The overwhelming majority of Paul supporters are libertarians of the Reason.com stripe or LewRockwell.com stripe, libertarian-leaning Republicans who have been driven into a frothing rage by the Bush administration's many perfidies, and independents who are drawn to his anti-war stance.

Claiming that a plurality of his support comes from the sources you list is a gross libel, and despite the admonitions below, I feel compelled to tell you that you are a douchebag.

I suppose Volokh will now selectively remove my post for being insulting or abusive, even though Connecticut Lawyer gets to declare that I must be a rabid anti-Semite, a neonazi, or a troofer. If we're going to use a "dinner table" test, I have to tell you that if he called me any of those over the dinner table I'd punch him right in the mouth.
11.21.2007 1:17pm
c.gray (mail):

C Grey, grow the hell up.

Let me see if I understand you: YOUR political positions are the result of reflection, but those of other people are just "visceral responses" to "frustration".

Thank you for being a patronizing jerkwad.



Suuuuuuuuuuuuure. Do you honestly think a statement like this will convince anyone that your particular views on politics, or anything else, are the "result of reflection" instead of "visceral response."


Every word uttered during the 2000 campaign by George Bush about his views on the role of the state in society was an out and out lie. That means that people who are angry at Bush and the Republicans for reasons centered around the concept of small goverment ACTUALLY WERE deceived



What a crock. To anyone who actually paid attention during the 2000 campaign, Bush was the guy who promised to involve the federal government deeply in education issues traditionally decided at the local level and spray out federal money to church-based non-profits. If one heard that and thought "small government" the problem is not Bush's lies, it's the listeners comprehension skills.
11.21.2007 1:24pm
Cold Warrior:
Here's the link that has Bernstein all fired up:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul188.html

Ron Paul did not support a House resolution in which the House pats itself on the back for passing the Civil Rights Act 40 years ago.

Read it. Then tell me: what about this shows a lack of understanding of racism?

It seems to me that Paul stands for two things:

1. A strict constructionist view of the Constitution.
2. A libertarian view on the proper scope of Government.

It's awfully easy to conflate the two (deliberately, perhaps?). But intelligent people -- lawyers, in particular -- shouldn't.

I think discrimination against people based on sexual orientation is wrong.

I support gay marriage.

I do not, however, believe that Congress should use its authority to "regulate commerce between the states" to outlaw discrimination by private businesses based on sexual orientation. (This is Paul's constitutional argument, Point 1).

I also do not believe the federal legislation banning private discrimination against gay men and women would be productive right now in changing societal attitudes. We've lived without such legislation up till now, yet surveys show a tremendous increase in the level of acceptance of gay men and women in the workplace. In fact, federal legislation (or the attempt to pass federal legislation) could be counterproductive right now. It could cause a backlash. We should never assume that the federal government has the power to change attitudes through legislation. (This is Paul's libertarian policy argument, Point 2).

So perhaps Bernstein will tell us: what exactly is offensive about what Paul said on the 40th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

Bernstein seems to be saying, "You Can't Say That!" (ironically the title of an oft-remaindered period piece you might find stacked in your local bookstore)
11.21.2007 1:46pm
c.gray (mail):

One can also argue (sensibly/rationally/in a very non-racist way) that the Civil Rights Act was counterproductive in the long run.


And statements like this are pretty much why Ron Paul backers and apologists are perceived by some of us as a mix of ignorant hicks and ideological fanatics, leavened by a sprinkling of openly racist "yeast."

I can grasp, and even sympathize with on some level, a purely theoretical argument that a business owner ought to be allowed to engage in racial discrimination in the interests of preserving the business owner's freedom of association. But its hard to read a statement that the various Civil Rights Acts were "counterproductive in the long run" without immediately wondering what actual practical consequences the speaker believes to have been so damaging.

For instance, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 essentially mandated that hotels, restaurants and retail stores had to provide the same services, on the same terms, to paying Black customers as they did to everyone else. What "counterproductive" consequence do we live with now in 2007 as a result?

Neither Holiday Inn nor their black guests seem to be complaining about the situation four decades later. Any explanation?
11.21.2007 1:50pm
Connecticut Lawyer (mail):
Hi Fluffy,

I guess since you are not a rabid anti-semite, neo-nazi or troofer you have no problems personally in rejecting their support for Mr. Paul and in encouraging him to return their funds.

Thanks for writing.

Have a nice Thanksgiving.
11.21.2007 1:54pm
Cold Warrior:
I think Ron Paul addresses some of the "counterproductive results." See the link (unprecedented expansion of federal powers, the development of racial quotas and the expansion of racial categorization, and many other negative outcomes).

I was just born as the Civil Rights Act was being debated, but I can tell you that from everything I know, I would have supported it in 1964 and I believe that the positives have outweighed the negatives.

But what if it hadn't passed? What then?

The South would've become increasingly marginalized. Remember the boycotts (for major corporate conventions) of states that would not create a Martin Luther King Day holiday? Would major businesses have been willing to locate in those states? Wouldn't the American South have become the Western Hemisphere's South Africa?

Let me ask you a question, C. Gray:

Who did you support for President in 2004? In 2000? In 1996? In 1992? Did any of those candidates come out in support of a new Civil Rights Act for gays and lesbians?

If you still supported these candidates, by your own definition you are an ignorant hick leavened by a sprinkling of homophobic yeast.
11.21.2007 2:03pm
newscaper (mail):
c.gray said:

For instance, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 essentially mandated that hotels, restaurants and retail stores had to provide the same services, on the same terms, to paying Black customers as they did to everyone else. What "counterproductive" consequence do we live with now in 2007 as a result?


I'm in the deep south, in Mobile, Alabama, and no, I don't fit any redneck stereotypes. In so much as the Civil Rights Act led to such things as court ordered busing to integrate schools, yes there were certain 'counterproductive' aspects. Cross-town busing to bring inner city black kids into middle class white neighborhoods caused all kinds of problems -- that's not to say the net benefits weren't worth it, but there sure as hell *were* costs, downsides, some of which persist even to this day, years after 30years of busing were allowed to end by the court.

Examples? Busing further eroded poor black parents involvement in their kids schools because they were across town. Discipline suffered in the schools to the kids were bused -- a class thing, not a race thing. The elitist bleeding hearts talked "no separate but equal" but privately hoped the middle class white kids would "rub off" on the lower class black kids (in terms of values). Instead, the reverse happened and the ghetto was imported into the suburbs. Further, as misbehavior and disrespect by the new kids was treated with kid gloves to avoid charges of 'racism', the white kids learned by example that they could get away with more too.
Things have generally got better again with the return to neighborhood schools. That doesn't mean de facto segregation has returned -- rather, integration has occurred more 'naturally' as middle class neighborhoods have become more mixed in terms of home ownership -- the owners tend to have more values in common with their neighbors.

How do I know this? My wife has taught in the public schools for ~18 years, both in a poor neighborhood and a middle class one.
11.21.2007 2:36pm
JosephSlater (mail):
I'm afraid I must conclude from this thread that the Estonian tax code does not, in fact, ring a bell with anyone.
11.21.2007 2:52pm
c.gray (mail):

Who did you support for President in 2004? In 2000? In 1996? In 1992? Did any of those candidates come out in support of a new Civil Rights Act for gays and lesbians?

If you still supported these candidates, by your own definition you are an ignorant hick leavened by a sprinkling of homophobic yeast.


Bush. Bush. Dole. Clinton. Although "support" is a strong word. I mostly voted against the alternative, which in each case I perceived as "god-damned-awful" instead of merely "bad." And I admit I was wrong in '92. After the last 15 years of foolishness, Bush the Elder is looking merely "bad", not "awful" like I thought at the time. And Clinton has gone down a notch in my estimation from "bad" to "embarrassing".

And your analogy is, quite frankly, poor. In the real world, which appears to be an unfamiliar place to some Paul apologists, there is a big difference between considering the theoretical ramifications of legislation that has not yet been enacted, and that one has never even heard of, while voting, and making claims about the "counterproductive results" of laws that have been on the books for decades while arguing one should vote for a particular candidate.

If one is going to claim I should consider voting for Ron Paul, in part because a law that requires hotels to to rent rooms to Black people has had "counterproductive consequences" decades later, while Ron Paul appears on talk radio programs run by Neo-Nazis and takes money from Stormfront's founder, it's only natural on my part to wonder if "counterproductive consequences" might not include the fact that I see Black guests when I stay at the Holiday Inn. That would, in fact, pretty much make one a racist.

If one reacts to this suggestion by claiming that I should understand that the "counterproductive consequences" refers to a similarly vague phrase like the "unprecedented expansion of federal powers" I begin to think one is either lying, in which case we are still stuck with the racism thing, or extremely obtuse, in which case "ignorant hick" sort of applies.


But what if it hadn't passed? What then? ...
Wouldn't the American South have become the Western Hemisphere's South Africa?


Ummm....maybe. But that thought just makes the "counterproductive consequences" statement MORE alarming to to me, not less. I fail to see how that would have been a better outcome than the present.

/shrug

I'm honest with myself. If I had been of age when Barry Goldwater was denouncing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 I'd have probably supported him. I'm sympathetic to libertarian arguments.

But with the benefit of hindsight, I know Goldwater was wrong on this particular issue. The effects of the various Civil Rights acts passed in the 60s have been overwhelmingly positive. And their "counterproductive consequences" have remained pretty much purely theoretical to this day. Unless, of course, one is a white supremacist. Then complaining about the various Civil Rights acts makes actual sense.
11.21.2007 3:07pm
Sharpton critic:
I want to know why a protest candidate like Paul is pressured to disavow a silly $500 check, while cycle after cycle, the Democrats go kissing the ring of a racist, anti-Semtitic thug like Sharpton. He's been treated like a "real" candidate in debates, given a platform to speak at the party convention, etc. Where's the pressure on Gore, Kerry, or the current crop to disavow him? His role is much more than a 500 check.
11.21.2007 3:34pm
Cold Warrior:
C. Gray, I think newscaper has done a superb job of pointing out some of the less-than-desirable results of the ways in which America tried to eradicate the impact of racism in the 1950s and 1960s.

Again, nobody here is defending the pre-Civil Rights South as an ideal. It was an ugly apartheid system. It needed to end.

My point is one that you refuse to address: if anyone says anything controversial about the manner in which America addressed its race problem in the 1950s and 1960s, is that person immediately susceptible to claims of "racism?" I fail to see that.

Many intelligent, well-meaning people thought that it was morally repugnant to be doing business with apartheid South Africa. Some others thought that "engagement" with South Africa would be a more effective strategy.

Many people today believe that completely cutting off North Korea or Sudan from the international community is the only morally correct thing to do to express our outrage at the way in which these governments treat their people. Many think that engagement will likely be more fruitful.

Many people thought invading Iraq and expelling Saddam Huessein was the only morally defensible approach. Others thought that economic sanctions would encourage good behavior. Still others thought that sanctions made things worse, and just exacerbated poverty and lack of access to medicine, and allowed the corrupt government to profiteer on the black market. Still others thought that diplomacy and further integration of Iraq into the world economy would provide the best "carrot" for reforming Saddam's behavior.

You know what? Assuming these beliefs were earnestly held, none of the above factions were "evil." None of them liked the way things were in Iraq, or in South Africa, or in North Korea, or in Sudan, or in the pre-Civil Rights Era American South.

It is simply not fair to impute racist or immoral purposes to those who disagree with you regarding the most effective means to end an evil. I'm sure Bernstein has been berated as a "racist" because while he would like to see the vestiges of racism in our educational system eliminated, he doesn't think quotas for minority admissions to colleges and graduate schools is the way to achieve that objective.

Tell me how Ron Paul's take on the Civil Rights Act is different?
11.21.2007 3:45pm
Mike Z (mail) (www):
Perhaps worst of all, Paul has bought into the conservative nativist line on immigration. He not only favors a massive crackdown on illegal immigration but even seems to endorse the view that immigration should be "reduced, not expanded" whether legal or not. To my mind, the freedom to choose where you live and the right to move to a freer and more prosperous society are among the most important of all libertarian principles. From a libertarian perspective, our relative openness to immigration is one of the most admirable aspects of America.

That's where I part company with libertarians. No country (there's a quote about this somewhere) can survive uncontrolled immigration - let alone that from the lower layers of a third-world country. Keep in mind that illegal immigrants from Mexico are not people like Carlos Slim (one of the world's richest). They are people that Calderon - and Fox before him - want out of their country. Mexico keeps a sharp eye on their southern border, and complains bitterly that we do the same. The benefits to Mexico are immense: each person that leaves Mexico saves their government the $27.50 a year they spend on social services. And each person is likely to send back around $100/month (if not more).

That stance, in fact, may be the only thing I can agree with Paul on.

His other problem is that he attracts a vulgar and extremist audience. Among other things, there's a Mulsim website, "Vote for Paul".

There's a larger point: presidential candidates will promise the voters anything, to get elected. But they never seem to worry about the fact that once elected, there are a lot of things they cannot do without the support of Congress.
11.21.2007 3:54pm
c.gray (mail):

I'm in the deep south, in Mobile, Alabama, and no, I don't fit any redneck stereotypes. In so much as the Civil Rights Act led to such things as court ordered busing to integrate schools, yes there were certain 'counterproductive' aspects.


I think school busing was often bad, too. But the various Civil Rights Acts did not require busing. And they did not "cause" busing in any meaningful sense. In fact, the only time busing is brought up is in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which states ""nothing herein shall empower any official or court of the United States to issue any order seeking to achieve a racial balance in any school by requiring the transportation of pupils or students from one school to another or one school district to another in order to achieve such racial balance, or otherwise enlarge the existing power of the court to insure compliance with constitutional standards.""

In Swann, and the other desegregation busing cases that followed, the courts acknowledged that the Civil Rights Acts could not be construed to mandate busing. They then claimed that based on Brown v. Board of Education, which pre-dated the Act by a good 10 years, the judiciary had the power to order busing as an equitable remedy, whatever the language of the Civil Rights Act.

Want to gripe about busing? Fine. But it can't really be blamed on the Civil Rights Acts....except by the ignorant, of course. By they can blame anything for anything.
11.21.2007 4:00pm
Cold Warrior:
Doesn't Raich give you pause regarding the use of the commerce clause?

If not, you are not a libertarian and you are not committed to a textual approach to the constitution, and your argument is simple: I don't like that Ron Paul is both of the above, and I impute racist intent (rather than heartfelt belief) to his positions.
11.21.2007 4:10pm
Cold Warrior:
One final thought before Thanksgiving, and then no more from me about Ron Paul, a man I do not even support for President, but a man unfairly maligned:

Isn't it worse to have spoken at Bob Jones University?

If Paul took money from some wacko group and then uses it to advance a campaign that really has nothing to do with that group's agenda, isn't he really just taking them for a ride? Meanwhile, actually using your own time to go speak at a "university" committed to a racist principle clarly puts one's stamp of approval on that university; you won't see me defending Ron Paul if he does that.
11.21.2007 4:19pm
c.gray (mail):

My point is one that you refuse to address: if anyone says anything controversial about the manner in which America addressed its race problem in the 1950s and 1960s, is that person immediately susceptible to claims of "racism?"


I'm not "refusing to address" anything. You're changing the subject. A presidential candidate becomes susceptible to claims of racism when he begins spending lots of time with, and accepting money from, people who are openly racist and advocate the reintroduction of segregation...or worse. After that, when his supporters blather on about the terrible consequences of the Civil Rights Acts, its perfectly sensible to ask "what exactly do you mean by that?"


It is simply not fair to impute racist or immoral purposes to those who disagree with you regarding the most effective means to end an evil.


Maybe not. But we are not really arguing about the most effective means to end a present evil. We are arguing about whether or not a specific historical effort (The Civil Rights Act of 1964) to end a great evil (pervasive economic discrimination against Black Americans) four decades ago has had "counterproductive" consequences in the present. And so far, the only "counterproductive consequences" anyone has been willing to actually describe have either been vague platitudes, or not honestly attributable to the Civil Rights Acts themselves. So what am I supposed to think?

Besides, I specifically impute racism to a leavening (i.e. small minority) of Paul's supporters. I think the vast majority fall into one of two categories. Many are motivated by a combination of ideological blindness and simple ignorance....much like Ron Paul himself.

Most of the rest of "fringers" motivated by rage at a political system that refuses to take their ideas and theories seriously. They identify with Paul not because he actually agrees with them, but because he openly expresses the same kind of anger they feel. Like Paul, what they fail to realize is that the system does not take their ideas seriously because the overwhelming majority of the voting public thinks they are bad ideas.

Frankly, we are not going to repeal the Civil Rights Acts, return to the Gold Standard or abolish Social Security. We aren't even going to put George Bush on trial for war crimes or withdraw from the UN, at least not without a LOT more convincing. And a man who runs for President but refuses to repudiate political support from Stormfront is probably not going to convince the broader public any of his other ideas are good ones. John Q. Public simply does not expect people who act like they have the political equivalent of Aspergers syndrome to produce good ideas.
11.21.2007 5:04pm
Ken Arromdee:
We are arguing about whether or not a specific historical effort (The Civil Rights Act of 1964) to end a great evil (pervasive economic discrimination against Black Americans) four decades ago has had "counterproductive" consequences in the present. And so far, the only "counterproductive consequences" anyone has been willing to actually describe have either been vague platitudes, or not honestly attributable to the Civil Rights Acts themselves. So what am I supposed to think?

You don't think encouraging the abuse of the Commerce Clause is a counterproductive consequence?
11.21.2007 5:47pm
happylee:
Amen to the comments by Sharpton critic. Poor Ron Paul had to reach a certain level of popularity before the smears could begin.

Fyi: "Free trade" is not setting up extra-national super bureaucracies that are accountable to no one.

"Racial justice" is not forcing one race to pay tribute to another.

"Strong foreign policy" is not bombing and bullying those who don't follow our plan. Our jeans and sodas have done more to make amerika popular than all our foreign policy bullcrap put together.

"Freedom" doesn't mean some politician's limited grant of permission to do something.

"The libertarian view on Immigration" is not what it used to be. If this were a free country where everything was privately owned, including the roads, then immigration would be, by definition, a non-issue. The issue is the presence of gov't roads and laws that mandate every border crasher can camp right on your doorstep. Paul's position is worth studying and pondering. It is not the same as Buchanen's (and I am not saying Pat is wrong). It is more subtle and profound.

He makes the perfect protest candidate precisely because he is 100% the old fashioned idealist. His books and speeches deserve careful study.
11.21.2007 5:58pm
Fluffy (mail):
I would support the Civil Rights Act of 1964, if I was a utilitarian.

I'm not.

It definitely had a positive impact on race relations in the United States, by using the simple blunt-force expedient of forcing people of different races into associations that would not have occurred organically as quickly otherwise.

But if you "grasp on a theoretical level" that the laws violate the individual business owner's right to free association, then every judgment obtained under those laws and every act of enforcement undertaken under those laws has been an injustice. Are we not allowed to consider thousands of individual injustices a "negative consequence", because you think that a broader social goal was achieved?
11.21.2007 7:55pm
Mark Bahner (www):
I'm honest with myself. If I had been of age when Barry Goldwater was denouncing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 I'd have probably supported him. I'm sympathetic to libertarian arguments.


Supporting opposition to laws that give the federal government the unconstitutional power to ignore the Tenth Amendment has nothing to do with "libertarian" arguments. It's a matter of the law (the Constitution). Does one support the law (the Constitution), or does one support ignoring the Constitution when following it seems inconvenient to desired goals?

Apparently, "with benefit of hindsight," you support the federal government ignoring the Constitution, when following it seems inconvenient to desired goals.

P.S. These comments only refer to section II of the Civil Rights Act, which deals with discrimination in "public accommodations" (which are really private accommodations, when they’re owned by private citizens).
11.21.2007 9:01pm
SIG357:
J_A

If you believe that there is NO libertarianism outside the US, none, then I won't even try to change your mind.




Libertarianism as a political philosphy has even less clout in other countries than it does in the US. In fact, taking to people in other countries, they have never heard of such a thing.

I'm referring here to ordinary people, the man in the street, taxi drivers, etc. There may well be certain individuals in certain professions who have a vaguely libertrian outlook, which in its vulgar form simply tells people that they have the right to do whatever they wish.

But the typical illegal imigrant from Mexico, China, or El Salvador has as much of a grasp of libertarianism as they do of general relativity.
11.21.2007 9:25pm
SIG357:
David Nieporent

If I want to buy a product from a Japanese factory owner or a Brazilian farmer or a Swiss watchmaker, why is that a matter of foreign policy rather than a private matter between me and the factory owner, farmer, or watchmaker?




If you want to bring the Japanese factory workers, or the Brazillian farmer, or the Swiss watch maker, to the US then it IS a matter of both foreign and domestic policy.
11.21.2007 9:27pm
SIG357:
Incidentally, SIG357, when did freedom of association become simply about a "right to make money?"




You have no right to bring anyone you wish to America in order to freely associate with them.
11.21.2007 9:32pm
TLB (mail) (www):
I'll take Thoughtful's thoughtful ideas one step forward and suggest that we stock the Rio Grande with sharks. Not to keep people out, but to make sure that only the best make it through. As for the ones that don't make it, well I guess they weren't cut out to be good, libertarian-friendly Americans in the first place.
11.21.2007 9:34pm
c.gray (mail):

But if you "grasp on a theoretical level" that the laws violate the individual business owner's right to free association, then every judgment obtained under those laws and every act of enforcement undertaken under those laws has been an injustice.


How the hell is this true? Its logical nonsense.

I might as well say that "In theory, professional judges could do a better job of determining guilt or innocence in criminal trials than juries. Therefore every conviction rendered by jury instead of judge is unjust."

The latter statement does not automatically follow from the former.


Are we not allowed to consider thousands of individual injustices a "negative consequence", because you think that a broader social goal was achieved?


This only makes sense if you can explain why requiring a corporate organization that owns hotels to rent rooms to black people on the same terms it rents rooms to white people constitutes an "injustice". And frankly, there is no plausible explanation to anyone who is not a white supremacist, or some other flavor of kook on the political fringe.
11.21.2007 9:40pm
SIG357:
Dear Mr Thoughtful

In spite of your complaint that I did not provide references to back up what I said, you did not, and do not, do this yourself. Curious.


Hispanics in California typically voted Republican before Republicans made it clear they thought they could get more votes by using "illegal immigrants" as scapegoats.



In 1988, Bush beat Dukakis all cross the country. He failed to capture the Hispanic vote, either in the country or in California. In fact, even though Bush, like Reagan before him, captured California, he lost in that state among Hispanics.

This was long before Prop 187, which did not take place until 1994. (And did not, in any case, "scapegoat" anybody.)

Just this once, I'll do what you failed to do, and provide a link.

Reagan was never able to capture the Hispanic vote. I'm not going to give you a link, you need the exercise, but Rudy Giuliani never won the Hispanic vote in the three times he ran for mayor of NY. And there is no politician who has courted illegal immigrants more assidiously than Giuliani.

I am confident many of those emigrating from Russia with the name "Volokh" are fully aware of these pre-conditions and can likely enunciate them and apply them in principled fashion far better than most native born Americans.




I'm pleased that you are confident, but I still need references.

Are these plane-riding visa-overstaying immigrants the ones picking the lettuce or the ones playing welfare queens? I'd have thought they were the students getting graduate or higher degrees. We certainly wouldn't want educated foreigners making a home in our country. Think what it might do to the quality of our public schools!!



References?

See Caplan's "The Myth of the Rational Voter",




I'm familiar with Mr Caplans left-wing nonsense, which repudiates every free market thinker from Smith to Friedman.


My point is if you take the economics seriously, you'd be calling for an amendment to the US Constitution.



Strawman.

Secondly, I'm not familiar with the ethical theories that say "treat your neighbor like yourself, if he's up to 3000 miles away as long as no arbitrary national boundries are crossed." Sounds like nationalism to me ..



To left wingers, just about everything sounds like the second coming of the Third Reich.

Yes. This is why immigration to America was so extensive 100 years ago, because of our huge pre-WWI welfare state.


Strawman.
11.21.2007 10:45pm
Mark Bahner (www):
This only makes sense if you can explain why requiring a corporate organization that owns hotels to rent rooms to black people on the same terms it rents rooms to white people constitutes an "injustice".


It's very simple. It's unlawful. It violates the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Constitution does not give the federal government the authority to require any private citizens to treat any other private citizens equally.
11.21.2007 11:09pm
Gaius Marius:
Bernstein is just picking on Ron Paul because Paul has made it clear that he thinks U.S. Middle East policy is to intertwined with Israel and that Israel can fend for itself.

Also, as someone who has successfully run for a low level public office, I can assure you that Ron Paul has more pressing concerns running for the office of POTUS than scrutinizing and addressing the ideological background of every supporter. I seem to recall reading from Barry Goldwater's autobiography that he never refused a campaign donation from anyone because his votes were always dictated by his conscience and not by the campaign donors' desires.
11.22.2007 6:37am
Fluffy (mail):
It's only logical nonsense if you didn't really mean it when you acknowledged that business owners have a right to free association, just as everyone else does.

If that's your position, that's fine. But don't act like you're trying to be reasonable and consider both sides by rhetorically nodding to the idea of free association, and then act as if it doesn't exist.

If business and property owners have a right to free association, then every time you use the police power to violate that right, you are committing an injustice. This is true whether they would actually have employed that right in a particular situation or not. [You violate my right to free speech if you make it illegal to speak against the war, even if I'm pro-war and never would have spoken against it; similarly, you violate my right to free association if you compel me to associate with people, even if I would have associated with those customers anyway]. It's also true whether you like the way that right would be exercised or not, or whether it would be exercised nicely or in a mean-spirited way.

It's only not an injustice if you think that there is no right of free association.

Frankly, the entire concept of a "public accomodation" is farcical to begin with. There is only property. The use of that property does not change its nature. If you cannot rightfully be obligated to accept unwanted visitors into your home or church, then you cannot rightfully be obligated to accept unwanted visitors into your restaurant or church.

I do think it would be possible to contrive a law that would accomplish the goal of removing the most overt and offensive racial discrimination from public accomodations, while preserving the property rights and association rights of business owners: you simply write a law that states that applying a price tag to an item, printing a menu, or advertising a price in any way, constitutes an affirmative offer to sell that is open to all comers. That would allow property owners and business owners to fully retain their property rights and association rights, but only if they administratively returned to a "bazaar" style of doing business, where every sale has to be individually negotiated. [Under the "bazaar" model of negotiated sales, there can be no question of discrimination, since every sale price and even the existence of the sale itself is subject to direct and individualized negotiation.]
11.22.2007 8:34am
Fluffy (mail):
Sorry, that sentence above should read: "...your restaurant or hotel."
11.22.2007 8:35am
Thoughtful (mail):
Cold Warrior: I must say that Bernstein's comments are unfair. ---

Stop the presses!! What an amazing relevation!! (Why do you think Berstein doesn't allow comments?)
11.22.2007 11:08am
Ron Boozell (mail) (www):
Libertarians are Pro-Choice on Everything.
If they are not, then they are not.
Don't you own your own body?
Can you be free if you do not?
Ron Paul won't win the RP nomination anyways.
Why should I compromise my principles,
and turn my back on better libertarian representation that supports me?
I cannot win with Ron Paul because
he does not support my Body-Ownerships-Rights.
DON'T WASTE YOUR VOTE
Shouldn't you support a Candidate that agrees with you?
Don't you own your own body?
Can you be free if you do not?
One of the stated goals of the Libertarian Party
is cultivate and to promote LP Candidates.
THE LP HAS THE BEST LIBERTARIAN CANDIDATES
They all support or Body-Ownership-Rights,
and they need our support! We asked them to run,
and now some of the LP leadership have betrayed us
and now openly support a Republicant against Choice!
As members should we not expect our leaders to
do their jobs and pursue stated Party goals?
Christine Smith &George Phillies &Steve Kubby
should expect, and receive, our exclusive dedication.
Please make sure that their campaigns will carry on the
message of limited government and personal responsibility.
They need your contribution today.
Libertarians are Pro-Choice on Everything!
Shouldn't the Candidate that you support agree?
Ron Boozell aka stoneman76
Founder &Host, Liberty Bandwagon
LPO Board member
LPDC Secretary
yahoo's largest libertarian group:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LibertyBandwagon/
I do not believe in or advocate
the initiation of force (or fraud)
as a means of achieving political or social goals.
11.22.2007 11:43am
Thoughtful (mail):
I really don't understand this argument about "illegal" immigration. The US government MAKES THE RULES about what is "illegal".

If the US government said, "We accept one immigrant per year into the US" would any of you opposing illegal immigration say, "Well, we support LEGAL immigration, of course, it's just that all the rest of you except one will have to wait..."?

Given that the government sets the rules, the question comes up: are the current rules reasonable or overly restrictive? Clearly they are dramatically more restrictive when compared to 100 years ago, when many of our ancestors arrived on these shores. Then you had to get off the boat, make a pledge, sign a form, and be on your way.

What standards should one use to assess the reasonableness of legal immigration requirements? If the many economic studies that indicate immigrants remain net benefits to our society are correct, they should be relatively liberal and easy to comply with. (And if you don't believe these economic studies, your concern isn't really about ILLEGAL immigration, it's about immigration per se.)

So if it is the case that immigration laws in the US today are overly restrictive relative to what is economically best for our own country (to say nothing of libertarian conceptions of the natural right to travel and migrate to improve one's condition, one's pursuit of happiness), it follows that all these millions of immigrants who every day go to work and enhance our economy, pay their bills on time, do not engage in theft, murder, or other violent crimes to a greater extent than native born Americans...it follows that all these people are guilty of merely paper crimes, like not fully complying with some IRS paperwork.

Why does something like that incense so many people that allegedly otherwise believe in free markets and small government?
11.22.2007 12:27pm
James Bowery (mail) (www):
Do you or do you not support Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
11.22.2007 12:52pm
c.gray (mail):

It's only not an injustice if you think that there is no right of free association.


No, its only an injustice if the right to free association is applicable in all conceivable circumstances AND is never outweighed by other considerations.

Since neither of those things are true, let alone both, breaching a business owner's theoretical "right to free association" is not _always_ an injustice.


Frankly, the entire concept of a "public accomodation" is farcical to begin with. There is only property. The use of that property does not change its nature.


Thats an interesting philosophy, but it has little to do with the law, either in the present or the past.

The common law recognized that property used for hotels and restaurants was different from that used for private residences LONG before the adoption of the US constitution. The concept of "public accomodation" did not start with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it goes back centuries in the common law.

Its also a view that has nothing to do with the US Constitution, which has always given Congress the power to regulate business enterprises engaged in interstate commerce, which has meant ALL business enterprises since the rail net was built in the 19th century, especially those dealing directly in travel, such as hotels and restaurants.
11.22.2007 4:40pm
Mark Bahner (www):
No, its only an injustice if the right to free association is applicable in all conceivable circumstances AND is never outweighed by other considerations.


And it's not an injustice if you think that it's just for the federal government to break the law for a "good cause."

Its also a view that has nothing to do with the US Constitution, which has always given Congress the power to regulate business enterprises engaged in interstate commerce,...


So...why don't you site some historical evidence for why you think that the Founding Fathers intended Congress to be able write laws telling owners of taverns and inns whom they might or might not serve? In what Federalist paper was that suggested as being a proper function of the federal government under the Constitution? What early (say, the first ~50-75 years following ratification of the Constitution) federal law is similar to what Congress did regarding "public accommodations" in the Civil Rights Act?

In fact, what historical evidence do you have that the Founding Fathers intended the phrase "among the several states" as anything but an attempt to prohibit state governments from erecting barriers to free trade?

Here is an assessment of history prior to the Constitution:

Before adoption of the Constitution, states, under the Articles of Confederation, had erected protectionist barriers that interfered with the free flow of trade in the new country. One of the main reasons for the Constitutional Convention was to remedy that problem. The framers' solution was the commerce clause, which was intended to make a free-trade zone out of the United States.


Do you agree or disagree with that assessment? That is, do you think the commerce clause was meant to address ***state government*** barriers to free trade, or do you think there was some other reason (e.g., to make sure Congress could write laws telling tavern and inn owners how they should run their businesses)?
11.22.2007 6:31pm
ed clark:
Is there another candidate more libertarian?

Your speculation on whether Dr. Paul can win is just that -- speculation. Or rather, it is wishful thinking on your part.

Trade Agreements are not free trade. They are tax policies.

Paul has never said "perhaps" to reducing *legal* immigration. He has been consistenly pro-immigration.

His stance on illegal immigration is libertarian in that it is a needed response to socialist transfer payments and socialist school system expenses used to support illegal immigrants. Any reasoned look at the numbers shows the crisis created by the huge wave of population growth in the last 15 years, most of it illegal immigration.

Why are you so worried about Neo-Nazis? They are an insignificant bunch of losers who will never have any influence in this country. Only an idiot politician would give them any attention at all, even to "refute" them, as you say. (Refute what? That they are simpleminded?!).

I'd be far more interested in seeing you and other critics demand that the other Republicans refute the Neo-Cons, a far more dangererous and influential "neo" group. Their policy is a mixture of Wilson and Trotsky, neither anywhere close to libertarian.
11.23.2007 12:54pm
Ron Paul Campaign On Its Supporters:
An excerpt from a letter to the National Review by the Ron Paul Campaign regarding certain supporters:


4. Dr. Paul is a modest man with a sparkling record and unimpeachable personal integrity. I understand why you need to attack him by linking him to less-than-savory individuals (there is simply nothing else to use), but it is just not going to work. Some of your charges are silly. Dr. Paul’s “Texas Straight Talk Column,” for example, is public record and anyone, from the American Free Press to Cat Fancy, has the right to reprint it.

Yes, Ron appears on the Alex Jones radio program. But you know who else talks to Alex Jones? People like Judge Anthony Napolitano. Guess who hosts Alex Jones? FOX’s John Gibson and National Public Radio. Dr. Paul has said time and again that he does not believe 9/11 was an inside job. He does, however, think we should always question authority. When, by the way, were conservatives supposed to become trusting of big government?

Dr. Paul stands for freedom, peace, prosperity, and the protection of inalienable individual rights. He knows that liberty is the antidote for racism, anti-Semitism, and other small minded ideologies. Dr. Paul has focused all of his energy on winning the presidency so he can cut the size of government and protect the freedom of every American. Neither he nor his staff is going to waste time screening donors. If a handful of individuals with views anathema to Dr. Paul’s send in checks, then they have wasted their money. I cannot profess to understand the motivations of Don Black as neither Dr. Paul nor I know who he is, but a simple Google search shows that his $500 contribution has netted him at least 88 news hits, including Charen’s column. Perhaps a better explanation for his “contribution” is not support for Ron, but the attention he knew he would receive.
11.23.2007 6:51pm
Westmiller (www):
1. ... Virtually all polls have Paul running under 10% ...

A few weeks ago, it would have been "under 5%", a few months ago "under 2%." By the time there's actually an election, it will be "under 20%" until the votes are counted, then it will be "under 50%."
Interesting that, for all these variations, it's a reason why Ron can't get elected.
After the election, "under 60%" will mean that he has no "mandate" to do anything he said he would do.
11.24.2007 5:11pm
Pip (mail):
Is it that absurd to think that elements of the US government (or associated NGOs) were behind 9/11? Or is it more absurd just to talk about a viable THEORY that has scary implications?

I think this is the key issue on this point. I agree that many of the 'Truthers' probably WANT the conspiracies to be true, but that's no more unscientific than refusing (as most of the country does) to honestly consider the evidence in the first place.
11.25.2007 2:21pm