Yet One More Reason Why I Refuse to Vote

by Don Boudreaux on August 18, 2011

in Business as usual, Immigration, Politics, Video

It is the rare politician who doesn’t disgust me.  Michele Bachmann is not among those rare few.

The only wall I want to build is one that protects from the swarming hordes of politicians and government functionaries people who simply wish to be left alone to mind their own business.

UPDATE: In light of the debate going on here, Cafe patron Matt Gleason asks me to re-post this video from 2003.

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Dick Fitzwell August 18, 2011 at 11:31 am

Sort of reminds me of the last few sentences from Civil Disobedience:

“I please myself with imagining a State at least which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow-men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which also I have imagined, but not yet anywhere seen.”

JS August 18, 2011 at 11:43 am

I don’t vote either.

The wall would first come in handy to prevent commercial interests from trying to set up outside the borders. The State seeks to track all assets. If large deposit holders of funds became fearful of bank runs and shutdowns and the possible disappearance and/or confiscation of their money, and as a result sought to withdraw the money, the Feds would be all over them. The government would demand to know what you’re intending to do with the cash.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm

As for not voting, since my ‘vote doesn’t matter’ or ‘will not change things’, I am disappointed. because, as the more informed and wiser choose to ‘walk away’, then the rest of us are doomed to the perils of the totally asinine. Interestingly enough, we have seen a few jackasses win elections over those who are a little more benign on govt abuses. They socialists have sometimes won by a few hundred amongst voting of tens of thousands. Amongst those tens of thousands and small margins of winning/losing percentages, may it be fraud or not, does it not seem that there are hundreds if not thousands who are like minded and could have, at the very least, changed the vote for the more benign or least of the two whom you find disgusting?
Not voting in protest, if that is thinking, is the surest way to continue the cycle as the least knowledgable amongst us are the one’s making your life worse off with horrible choices of people who will bring you further into serfdom.
I need your help. I need your wisdom. My children need the hope that discouraged or disgusted folk, but wise and knowledgeable, will still try.
I learn from you and look to convince others. Honestly……… I am having successes.
Don’t turn your backs. You engage here. Some of you teach. You engage in discussion with others, maybe to little avail, but I am guessing with some advancements. Maybe not now, but sometimes those statements or arguments have to marinate.
I implore you to not abscond from a simple task. For better or worse, win or lose, don’t give up. Just an easy task of a vote. Hell, you just might help to put in a Ron Reagan. Full of faults, but still far better than most.

Josh S August 18, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Agreed. Anarchism only exists as a fantasy, so we have to make the best of what we’ve got. The reason the left got so far in the first place was that it learned how to compromise and choose its battles. If we don’t survive the battle for the currency, then there won’t be a battle over free trade in labor to fight.

Jim August 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I believe that Don doesn’t vote because he feels that, on the margin, his time and influence is far more effective through doing things like this blog, teaching, etc. To take the time away from doing these things to stand in line and cast his vote is a tradeoff, and one in which the cost exceeds the benefit. That’s what I would think Don might be thinking. I currently still vote, however I am more and more disgusted by the whole process. My time is also becoming more and more precious, so the cost of voting is greatly increasing for something that provides less and less benefit to me.

Dan J August 19, 2011 at 9:59 pm

You guys stand in line? Vote by mail. The 2004 presidential lines were disgustingly huge. But since then, there is barely a ten minute wait.
I stand by previous statement. I am greatly disappointed. But, we are all to be disappointed by those we respect.

Jim August 22, 2011 at 10:12 am

I have yet to wait in line for more than 5 minutes at my precinct. Either I have a heavily under-utilized location or not many people vote in my part of Indianapolis.

Greg Webb August 18, 2011 at 11:46 am

Another sad case of an “applause”-seeking politician playing on people’s fears in order to further strengthen the power of the federal government. It is right out of the statist playbook — big government needs to protect the poor dumb citizen from either foreigners, other citizens. or himself.

maximus August 18, 2011 at 11:49 am

Give ‘em enough rope….

Slappy McFee August 18, 2011 at 11:53 am

As someone who has had the pleasure of being represented by Ms Bachmann, she is the one that convinced me that writing in my own name makes feel better than not voting at all.

Slappy McFee 2012!!

Or as always

Vote for Pedro

Frank33328 August 18, 2011 at 11:59 am

I understand not voting “in some cases” as a matter of principle, but not voting “ever” seems pessimistic (fatalistic?).

PoliteEdward August 18, 2011 at 12:21 pm

The likelihood of your vote changing the outcome of a government election is effectively zero (much less than the chance of dying on the drive to or from the voting station). Seems like a very inefficient way of trying to improve the world and counterproductive use of your time. Also, even if your vote does change the outcome of a government election, the most likely scenario is that you changed the winner from AuthoritarianScumbag1 to AuthoritarianScumbag2.

Until those probabilities change, I don’t think it is pessimistic or unreasonable to refrain from voting in government elections. August 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm

“Until those probabilities change…”

What would ever change those probabilities? Short of political action of ‘some sort’ the only thing that can change them is a miracle. I personally am not that religous to expect a one.

carlsoane August 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Why should an individual soldier fire his gun when he can only kill one of a million enemy soldiers? Why should an individual fire fighter try to prevent a single tree from burning when there are a million trees on fire in the forest? Both seem pretty inefficient ways of protecting something precious.

MWG August 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Those are actually not very good comparisons as one soldier or fire fighter can make more of a difference than another based on his own ability. A voter, OTOH, is limited to a single vote regardless of wealth or intelligence (not that that’s a bad thing).

carlsoane August 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Still, on average, each fire fighter only puts out a few trees and each soldier only kills a few enemies but, the aggregate effect of these ostensibly insignificant actions is a better situation for all. The aggregate effect would otherwise be a catastrophe.
I realize the other part of the assertion is that all politicians are the same and that there is, therefore, no possibility for one vote to have a better result than another. Just check the voting records of Ron Paul and Nancy Pelosi or John Kerry and James Inhofe and tell me if you think there is no difference in electing one over the other.

PrometheeFeu August 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Because the soldier and the firefighter get fired (no pun intended) if they don’t fire their gun or try to prevent a tree from burning.

Also, when you save a single tree, that tree is now there for people to enjoy. When you fight as a soldier, you often do so protecting the other soldiers in your unit who are quite happy to be alive. When I vote, nothing has changed. Nobody can tell the difference. If the candidate I voted for wins, he would have won anyways. If the candidate I voted for loses, he would have lost anyways. (Yes, it is theoretically possible that my vote will break the tie and change the outcome, but in practice, it never happens.) Furthermore, politicians all lie during their campaign so even if there was a politicians whose stated agenda was significantly better than every other politician, when in office, the now elected official would do whatever he wanted with little regard to what he said. So I don’t see any reason why one should vote for one candidate as opposed to another.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Thank goodness for your unique perspective. I am sure that there are not hundreds or thousands within a ten square mile of your abode that conjured up that thinking. So, all of you, and your thousands, in aggregate, derelict your duty or task, Which will affect the outcome, and leave it up to us dip wads who think that govt is needed to protect us from the big bad world of rich people and those who wear turbins.
So far, so good, right?
You like the results from the rest of us determining your fate with govt. Obamacare is such a great idea. What could go wrong?

PrometheeFeu August 18, 2011 at 7:13 pm

That nonsensical argument seems to always come up in discussion of voting: “If everyone else thinks like that, it will affect the election.” That is just shooting the messenger. Your vote doesn’t count. It’s true whether people say it or not. It’s true whether people vote or not. I can only affect the voting behavior of myself and maybe a dozen or so people. The fact that millions of other people are choosing not to vote for the same reasons that lead me not to vote does not mean there is a flaw in the argument. It just means many people believe the argument that their vote doesn’t count.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 9:28 pm

I disagree.
I feel confident that you will not vote for a person known to be like Obama and I want you voting.
If you skip presidential….. Ok. But, please take part in more local one’s to offset the progressives and ignorant.

Gil August 18, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Some would agree in both cases the soldier and firefighter did next to nothing and wasn’t worth it either.

Ken August 19, 2011 at 1:03 am

Who are these “some”? If you mean you, then just say so and stop being such a pussy.


Gil August 19, 2011 at 1:47 am

If a soldier kills one enemy while losing the war then the soldier did nothing. If the firefighter tries to save house when whole town is otherwise burned to the ground then the firefighter did nothing. Likewise if a handful of voters voted for Ron Paul but everyone voted for a Democrat or a Republican then those voters did nothing.

Ken August 19, 2011 at 2:15 am

See, Gil, that wasn’t so hard to actually make an argument, instead of standing behind “some”, was it? However, you are wrong.

“If a soldier kills one enemy while losing the war then the soldier did nothing.”

I’m pretty sure this dead enemy soldier’s family and friends would disagree.

“If the firefighter tries to save house when whole town is otherwise burned to the ground then the firefighter did nothing.”

I’m pretty sure that the owner of the house and all those that live in it would disagree.

You are also wrong about politics. Voting for a minority that lost doesn’t mean those voters did nothing. The voters who voted for Ross Perot in 1992, did not “do nothing”. They insured that Bill Clinton was able to gain the presidency with only 43% of the popular vote. Those who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 did not “do nothing”. They insured that George W Bush won the presidency with only 48% of the popular vote.

Bill Clinton found out in 1994 that he was the minority candidate, when the voters in the midterm elections handed the republicans control of the house. Your reasoning is flawed because you misunderstand what the votes mean.

There are only a handful of Tea Party politicians in the house and for the first time since the creation of the debt ceiling its increase wasn’t simply rubber stamped and the growth of the federal government slowed.

In short, just because your candidate lost, or are even a tiny minority, or your individual contribution is small in comparison to the whole, does NOT mean you “did nothing”.


carlsoane August 19, 2011 at 2:41 am

What you say is only true in hindsight which the soldier and firefighter did not have the benefit of at the time they acted.

Gil August 19, 2011 at 6:11 am

I wrote “some would agree” in the sense of the argument that PoliteEdward and many Libertarians have towards voting and thus by extension similar acts are equally meaningless.

Frank33328 August 18, 2011 at 4:31 pm

My concern is more generic. If it is not citizen participation in selecting representation then what drives political change? I have no objection to someone that decides not to vote and have myself abstained on my occasions, but to conclude that the process is “always” of no value strikes me as throwing-in-the-towel.

No single drop of water believes that it is responsible for the flood.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 4:38 pm

See my request, nay begging, of abstainers far above at post 3.

Frank33328 August 18, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I have no problem with abstaining from voting on a particular issue or event on principle, but to universally abstain on principle means that you disagree with the process itself (i.e. voting). To those that hold this position I wonder what you see as the alternative.
Analogies are imperfect but I think the parallels between participating in voting and participating in the free market are many. In each case you are one of millions (or billions in the case of markets) that are voting for products. Ford versus Toyota, and no you will not singlehandedly put Toyota out of business, so why bother? Clear that is not the way consumers behave when they vote dollars. I am lost why the same logic doesn’t apply to voting ballots as to voting dollars. The big difference I see is that voting is a winner-takes-it-all situation, but I don’t see how this invalidates the process.

Randy August 18, 2011 at 6:22 pm


I don’t disagree with voting. I disagree with politics. Voting is a method used by a group of people to reach a decision. Politics is the art of exploiting human beings. So while the process of voting can and often does serve a productive purpose, politics serves only exploitive purposes. A vote to further an exploitive process is not something I wish to participate in.

Frank33328 August 18, 2011 at 6:29 pm

A minor re-write

I don’t disagree with MARKETS. I disagree with CORPORATIONS. MARKETS a method used by a group of people to FULFILL DESIRES. CORPORATIONS ARE the art of exploiting human beings. So while the process of MARKETS can and often does serve a productive purpose, CORPORATIONS serve only exploitive purposes. A MARKET to further an exploitive process is not something I wish to participate in

Frank33328 August 18, 2011 at 6:33 pm

A better version, (more Muirgeo-esque)

I don’t disagree with BUYING. I disagree with MARKETS. BUYING is a method used by a group of people to FULFILL DESIRES. MARKETS ARE the art of exploiting human beings. So while the process of BUYING can and often does serve a productive purpose, MARKETS serve only exploitive purposes. A PURCHASE to further an exploitive process is not something I wish to participate in.

Randy August 18, 2011 at 8:12 pm


Your rhetorical method is interesting, but I really do believe that politics is the art of exploiting human beings, and I don’t find your inserted replacements compelling.

Gil August 18, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Or should that read “voting is okay when the voters have private co-ownership interests and thus have the right to vote” as opposed to politics where the majority have no ownership in most private assets and thus are legal looters?

Josh S August 18, 2011 at 11:38 pm

No, there really is a difference. Read Gulag Archipelago and tell me again that no politician or political system is really worse than any other. What the left knows, and what libertarians refuse to learn is that you build coalitions by picking a battle to win *today* and winning *that* one, while compromising on other issues. If they’d gone after the socialist agenda with the same kind of dogged, ideological purism that libertarians have, there would be no Medicare, no Social Security, no Obamacare, no Medicaid, no welfare, no housing projects, no farm subsidies, no Wagner Act, none of it.

Refusing to fight because you insist on winning every battle right now means you lose every battle forever.

Frank33328 August 19, 2011 at 6:34 am

One final question on this topic to those who ‘on principle’ don’t vote and don’t believe that voting is purposeful/useful: “what is your proposed alternative for steering government?”

If there is none, then sadly those that criticize that this is a group of do-nothing intellectuals appear to be correct.

Randy August 20, 2011 at 4:37 pm


I don’t believe that there is a solution to politics. More precisely, as there have been political organizations throughout recorded history, I see little probability that there will be a time when there are none. But none of that means that I have to be a part of it. “Death and Taxes” may be inescapable, but I don’t have to have a part in killing anyone… or taxing anyone.

Economiser August 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm

The issue isn’t the wall. The wall is proper in the face of massive illegal immigration. The issue is the ridiculous limits on legal immigration.

I’m all for Mexican immigration. But I want immigrants to come through legal channels, not through underground channels where they become part of the black market.

The federal government has a legitimate reason to know who’s coming into the country (e.g., census-taking, eventual citizenship rights, infectious disease control). A wall fosters that purpose.

Don Boudreaux August 18, 2011 at 12:11 pm

The “legal” channels are virtually non-existent. It simply isn’t true that people who come to America “illegally” – that is, without Uncle Sam’s formal permission – can get in “legally” if only they’d be more patient. Most of these people can’t get in at all; there is no line, no queue, for them to wait it.

Economiser August 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Agreed. I would prefer that the debate shift to making legal immigration easier.

Methinks1776 August 18, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Good luck with that.

After all, “they will take our jobs!” and all that jazz.

Ocaine August 18, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Dr. Boudreaux, could you point me to something that supports this statement: “Most of these people can’t get in at all; there is no line, no queue, for them to wait it.” I could be quick to change my position if there is any merit to it.

Methinks1776 August 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm

I’ve been through the process twice – once for me and once for my husband. It is sheer hell, takes many years and it’s expensive.

You can’t just arrive in this country and say “I think you have a lovely country here. I’d like to live and work here.” There’s no queue for that.

Unless you’ve got family willing to sponsor you (read: take financial responsibility for you), as a poorly educated Mexican, your best bet is to take your chances crossing the border illegally.

MWG August 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm

It does appear that the numbers of tourist visa being approved (out of Brazil anyway) has increased dramatically. Obama isn’t all bad apparently.

MWG August 18, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Having been through the immigration process on behalf of my wife and a number of her family members I can say that Don is absolutely correct. In fact, my own experience with immigration is largely responsible for my conversion from conservatism to libertarianism.

In case you think my experience amounts to nothing more than anecdotal evidence, check out this chart that Reason created:

The issue isn’t illegal immigration, but the lack of avenues to legally immigrate.

Ocaine August 18, 2011 at 3:03 pm

To both MWG and Methinks1776. I appreciate these responses and I wouldn’t dare try to discount the aggravation you both have endured. If what you say is true, then I don’t understand why the debate isn’t about improving the process to encourage legal immigration rather than all of the other arguments we are constantly hit with. For me, I could care less about how many people come in or where they come from. But I do prefer a reasonable vetting process to guard against some of the basic concerns of immigration. A free and wide open border isn’t quite practical yet, although it is ideal in theory.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Its govt….. Of course its obnoxious and cumbersome. Followed by the encouragement of expanding welfare state, an open border isn’t practical. The balancing out assumed in Libertarianism would take decades, if not longer.

MWG August 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm


You are correct. The debate is misguided.

Arguing for absolute ‘border security’ before any liberalizing of current immigration restrictions (as many on the right seem to be doing) is a bit like arguing for absolute compliance before removing the prohibition on alcohol.

Henri Hein August 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm

MWG, thanks, you beat me to it.

I can corroborate MWGs and Methinks’s accounts. It took me 8 years to get a green card. I am a software engineer and I have a good job. I pay my taxes. I have a clean record — completely clean, not even a parking ticket. I have all my vaccinations. Yet, I often have to go through lengthy interviews to enter the country, sometimes missing my connections because of them. I was once made to wait three extra hours at the Mexican border (that is, after getting through the line which took almost two hours) just for another brief interview with a supervisor. As immigrants go, I consider myself one of the lucky ones.

Methinks1776 August 18, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Oh yes, Henri. I forgot about the “advance parole” document you must obtain to leave the country and how I was stuck in baggage claim as my husband was asked idiotic questions in the immigration room upon re-entering the country.

Your clean record doesn’t count and they’ll give you another cavity check if you ever apply for citizenship (I wouldn’t advise it unless you hold citizenship in a complete sh*thole). I mean, every one of you foreigners is a potential criminal. They have to be careful, you know.

Methinks1776 August 18, 2011 at 4:16 pm


IMO, the debate is where it is for the same reason it’s always been there – people are xenophobic, economic illiterates, reasonably afraid of a higher burden on the welfare system and since it doesn’t affect most Americans personally, they don’t care.

Very few people are willing to think beyond step one on this issue.

James Strong August 18, 2011 at 6:54 pm

I can verify this statement.
I’ve been living in Mexico for 12 years and know quite a few people who have crossed into the US “extralegally.” Most of them are poor and destitute and the reason they can’t get a legal visa is because the U.S. government demands that they have most of their possessions in Mexico, as proof that the person trying to immigrate is planning on immigrating only temporarily for a job, not permanently.

The problem is that a lot of the poor people trying to immigrate into the U.S. simply do not the level of wealth the U.S. gov expects them to have as proof that most of their assets are in Mexico. They are poor!

I don’t know the actual laws but this is the story personal friends of mine frequently give me.

James Strong August 18, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Err, small typo:
The problem is that a lot of the poor people trying to immigrate into the U.S. simply do not HAVE the level of wealth the U.S. gov expects them to have as proof that most of their assets are in Mexico.

PrometheeFeu August 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm

I’ll add my agreement here. I came here on a student visa which allowed me to work for a year after graduation. I found a decent job and my employer agreed to hold my job until they issued me my temporary work authorization. However, the immigration services issued a preliminary denial (meaning no temporary work authorization) because I did not have sufficient income! Those jerks make me quit my job and then blame me for not making enough money. Eventually, I got my green card but it took a year and a half so obviously, my employer had found a replacement.

Recently, my sister was forced to quit college because she could no longer afford it. Because she works hard and is smart, a professor and 3 other people immediately offered her jobs so she could save and hope to get a loan. However, that would have been illegal and she did not want to jeopardize her student visa and had to leave the country. (Apparently, “right-to-work” laws are “right-to-work if you are a citizen” laws) She recently tried to come back to visit and was denied entry at the border because she did not have a flight out. They locked her up overnight, handcuffed her and escorted her back to a plane which obviously she will have to pay for. What kind of a government treats people like criminals for wanting to visit but not having a round-trip ticket?

In other words, I have no sympathy at all for this country’s immigration policy and those who promote it. The likes of Michele Bachmann are despicable.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I am sorry, where in right-to-work laws was it about you have the ‘rite’ to a job. It was and always has been about not having to join an organized union, like UAW or SEC, for employment.
I am sorry to hear about your sisters misfortunes. But, Govt. is one size fits all management.
As for immigration policy. No advancements are made due to politics. Groups and individuals want glory from it. They want voters from it. Dems want a new base to entrench themselves with, while republicans are sold on their constituents who have decided protectionism is best.

MWG August 18, 2011 at 4:24 pm

You don’t have a right to a job, that’s correct.. You do, however, have the right to come to mutually agreeable terms of employment. You shouldn’t have to get permission from ‘Big Brother’.

PrometheeFeu August 18, 2011 at 7:16 pm

I understand that “right-to-work” laws were always about not having to join a union. (Well actually they are about not allowing employers require you to join a union as a condition to employment which seems like a restriction on the freedom to contract but anyways…) My point was that “right to work” laws are promoted by people who use the rhetoric of free-market and competition while many of them at the same time oppose competition if it comes from abroad.

Henri Hein August 18, 2011 at 3:48 pm

PromeetheeFeu, your sister has my sympathy. I hope she’s alright. It really is insane. Calling the US immigration system Kafkaesque would be an insult to Kafka.

Methinks1776 August 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Oh yeah. Sounds familiar. Obviously, all foreigners are just criminals we have to be very careful with lest they engage in productive activity.

It may actually be easier to come here illegally.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Well, what gets more attention…. The ten immigrants working and living hardly making a wave or the tsunami from one immigrant who at worst killed another or in the very least robbed a gas station?

I would want to hand pick my team, too, rather than leave it up to chance as to who is playing for my team. Hopefully, this is representative of character, not the toilet bowl of assuming I am Giving secret code words for race, as progressives do.

Methinks1776 August 18, 2011 at 7:44 pm

That’s a lovely sentiment, Dan J, but you don’t get to “pick your team” anyway. You have no control over who and what is naturally born in this country.

Moreover, the people who happen to occupy the same bit of continent as you are not “your team”. They are not a team at all.

Checking people’s backgrounds is one thing, keeping people out just for the sake of keeping them out is another thing.

Seth August 18, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Productive activity seems to be becoming taboo for natural born citizens as well.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 9:39 pm


‘Checking people’s backgrounds is one thing, keeping people out just for the sake of keeping them out is another thing.’

I agree. I have said, that govt is an obnoxious and cumbersome beast. I am all for free movement with caveats.

I only said that I would want to pick my ‘team players’, not that it should be the case. And, to one degree or another, I do see most Americans as ‘my team’. People are people and I wish them all the best. Only, I do jot wish o be their lifeline for sustenance nor do I want an authority to dictate such caregiving.

I am mostly raising questions to pick brains.
An open border sounds nice, as does a more streamlined immigration process. One is practical, the other is not.

Methinks1776 August 18, 2011 at 10:28 pm


Why bother being productive? The politicians just sees you as a revenue stream for themselves. It’s not taboo, it’s just becoming an unwise decision. The moment you become successful, the IRS and the state audits you every year, the regulators show up and you are suddenly the bastard flying on private jets while the people who take no risks and work only 9 to 5 and take vacations are relegated to commercial airplanes where the government sexually abuses them before each flight. I would never even dream of starting a new business now.

Methinks1776 August 18, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Dan J,

You can never be assured that a person who gets citizenship here will not eventually receive welfare. In fact, they will as long as they live long enough to collect social security and medicare.

Your beef is with the welfare system, not immigration.

Krishnan August 19, 2011 at 6:50 am

Re: methinks1776

“foreigners are just criminals we have to be very careful with lest they engage in productive activity”

Quote of the day!

Dan J August 20, 2011 at 2:29 am

SS, Medicare, housing, EBT cards, cell phones, cars (Baltimore) , medical care, water, tv’s, cable, electricity, etc., etc., etc, etc., etc., ………..
All in the name of…….. Compassion? Ha! For some, they think they are doin a good thing. For politicians, it is about securing their agenda and power.
Practical to streamline immigration process. Not practical for open border.

Josh S August 18, 2011 at 11:44 pm

As someone married to a Mexican, tell me about it. But it’s like drugs. You really only have two options: Legalization or enforcement. Non-enforced criminalization allows a flourishing underworld governed by the laws of the black market and organized crime. And that’s what we have. We have one set of rules for the law-abiding, trained professionals (like my wife and like, I suspect, Methinks1776), and a different set for the lawless (who are often poor, often merely trying to find a way to feed their families, but still must enlist the services of lawless men in order to come here).

I prefer legalization. Conservatives prefer enforcement. I have meaningful arguments with conservatives. I can’t have meaningful discussions with people who just wring their hands at the intrinsic social costs of law enforcement, but can’t bring themselves to get serious about legalization.

Richard Stands August 18, 2011 at 10:29 pm

I’ve heard of incentives for and against immigration reform and find myself wondering if they have any basis in reality:

1. Immigrants tend to vote for one party over another, making them valuable to that party and a threat to the other.

2. Immigrants who are undocumented represent a coercible population. Employers can treat them criminally and the immigrant has little recourse.

3. Immigrants offer cheaper labor, or labor in positions not readily filled by citizens, which can help producers compete.

I’d support a major overhaul of immigration laws towards leniency and consistency. Everyone in America is descended from immigrants. Even “Native Americans” spring from folks who walked across the Bering land bridge.

vikingvista August 19, 2011 at 1:38 am

It’s the government and their laws that are the problem, and not the folks walking across the government’s virtual borders so that they can exercise their right to interact with me and others. Immigration control isn’t a protection of your property. It’s a prohibition of your free association. It’s wrong, and I’m glad millions flagrantly and successfully violate those immoral rules–to most of our benefits–on a regular basis. Those who are kidnapped by the government and forcefully removed are the victims.

Methinks is a perfect example. It is a true crime that anything other than an invitation was hindering her from coming here and staying as long as she wanted.

The government takes it upon itself to decide who they want to let come in and stay (almost always for crass political reasons as usual), as if they own everything within their borders. If it were instead my choice who could stay, it would be the government I’d kick out.

Vangel August 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

What is wrong with Ron Paul? He argues that the US should mind its own business and avoid political and military entanglements while it trades with all nations. And he is an advocate of a limited government and individual freedom. What more could you ask for?

Martin Brock August 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Ron Paul is the only Presidential candidate I’ve ever actively supported, and I’ll support him again this time, but some of his immigration positions bother me. He represents a south Texas district, so maybe he can’t be elected otherwise, but I still don’t like it.

robert_o August 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Paul follows Friedman wrt immigration. You can find interviews where he details his position. It’s basically:
Step 1: Diminish the welfare state.
Step 2: Reduce barriers to immigration.

I can respect that, even though I disagree.

Chucklehead August 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm

I am conflicted about immigration. On the one hand, I see the need to limit it because of the welfare state. Residents on the dole in this country have a higher standard of living than hard working middle class in poor countries, why wouldn’t open boarders lead to a saturation of immigrants on the dole? Why do I have obligations to more people I have not met or dealt with?
When I would visit Mexico for a sales call, lack of proper clearances and papers lead to a fine of $10,000 day for illegally working in Mexico.
If we had no boarders, would we still be a nation? Would this lead to a one world government? When others are free to come here and escape the corruption of their local government, what is their incentive to fix their local corruption?
Isn’t it the obligation of a nations’ government to serve it’s citizens, and not to provide opportunities to non citizens? But what do I know, I am just a selfish, racist, nationalist, xenophobe.

PrometheeFeu August 18, 2011 at 7:25 pm

“I am conflicted about immigration. On the one hand, I see the need to limit it because of the welfare state. ”

As part of obtaining my green card, my sponsor had to sign an agreement to reimburse the state for any welfare benefits I might get. Seems to me we could simple require all immigrants to have a sponsor that signs such a contract. Or just require proof of citizenship before handing out welfare checks.

“If we had no boarders, would we still be a nation?”

Not sure why we should care either way. Nations are social constructs which are independent of states. Generally nation and state intersecting is a sign of bad things to come. Some form of fascism generally.

“Would this lead to a one world government?”


“When others are free to come here and escape the corruption of their local government, what is their incentive to fix their local corruption?”

Again, why should we care? But to answer your question, if I am a corrupt leader, I am better off by ruling over more people. So, if my people are leaving it’s going to make being a corrupt leader being much less attractive.

“Isn’t it the obligation of a nations’ government to serve it’s citizens, and not to provide opportunities to non citizens?”

Nobody is asking the US to provide opportunities for foreigners. Just asking to not actively deny foreigners opportunities that are offered by private parties. If a person in the US wants to purchase the labor of a foreigner, why is that any of the government’s business?

Henri Hein August 19, 2011 at 1:50 am

“just require proof of citizenship before handing out welfare checks”

If it was possible to opt out of the welfare system altogether, I would have been interested. Say you don’t collect social security taxes from me, but also perpetually block me from eligibility, immigrating would be even sweeter.

PrometheeFeu August 19, 2011 at 11:04 am

As part of immigration, my sponsor had to agree to reimburse the federal government for any means-tested aid I might receive. As for social security and medicare, that’s a bit more of a problem because I am paying for it this entire time. So if I don’t have to pay, I don’t mind setting that money aside and not benefiting from social security or medicare later in life. But if I pay social security taxes, I better get my check in the mail when I turn 65. (or whenever that is)

Martin Brock August 19, 2011 at 9:12 am

PrometheeFeu is on the right track. We can encourage sponsorship, and we can offer very limited welfare benefits to immigrants losing a sponsor while deporting them. I favor unrestricted immigration, but these options are available.

Paul’s positions that bother me include his occasional support for border walls and his opposition to birthright citizenship. He’s far from the worst on these issues, but he’s not as pristinely principled as he is on other issues.

Martin Brock August 18, 2011 at 12:24 pm

The population density of the United Kingdom is eight times the population density of the U.S. We’re all crying because we can’t sell our houses, but we don’t want to have kids anymore, and we don’t want any stinkin’ immigrants either.

Justin P August 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm

And this is why the media is frantically trying to push Bachman as a “Top Tier” candidate. It will just make their chosen one look better in comparison.

khodge August 18, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I’m going to take my football and go home? Not voting is rather childish and why I long ago ceased to be libertarian. Politics is the art of taking 350 million people and finding some way of keeping each of them happy. It cannot be done. Seriously, is there anyone with whom you agree 100%? The winners are those who, realizing that one vote is useless, find a way to gather up the most supporters possible by softening the edges. By titling your posting “Why I Refuse to Vote” you make yourself and, by extension, all libertarians, irrelevant. Why should Bachmann bother soften her anti-immigration edge for self-proclaimed abstainers?

SweetLiberty August 18, 2011 at 3:47 pm

“Why should Bachmann bother soften her anti-immigration edge for self-proclaimed abstainers?”

Good point. Politicians reflect the will of the voting electorate. The real question isn’t whether or not Bachman or Paul or Perry represents the perfect libertarian, but whether or not, if elected, they will make enough of a difference to change enough policies to create a net prolonged improvement for libertarian-minded individuals.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Indeed, ‘disgusted’ folk won’t vote, so there is little reason for her or any other to market herself to you. I am pretty sure a majority of Americans, according to polls, want the strongly controlled border. Right or wrong, it is not an issue a candidate can go against the grain on to win. Both Bush and McCain had softer stances and were harangued over it. With the filth of the drug cartels, you are not going to gain support for a more fluent system.

SweetLiberty August 18, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Another reason to legalize drugs – but that’s another fight for another day.

Martin Brock August 19, 2011 at 9:40 am

Bachmann is a lunatic, rapture ready, war monger. She literally pines for Jesus to return and a wage bloody, global war destroying most of the human race, and she literally believes that we’re on the cusp of this event. That also makes an anti-Christian in my way of thinking, but she’s not running for pastor in chief.

The President of the U.S. is not commander in chief of sexual preference or domestic partnership or even the U.S. economy either, despite what people now commonly think, but s/he is commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces and has exclusive authority to withdraw U.S. forces from outposts around the world. Obama has well enough demonstrated that s/he effectively has authority to make war anywhere and everywhere whenever s/he feels like it.

Anything else Bachmann, Perry and Paul advocate is irrelevant. Bachmann and Perry are extremely anti-libertarian on the only issues that matter.

Dan J August 20, 2011 at 2:23 am

And I can find such factual information, where?

As for what one believes……. Can I borrow you to read some other minds.

Obama is one….. Intentionally harming the economy? Really believes in Marxism? What?
And…. My neighbor….. Kind of kooky…. Can you tell me what he literally believes?

Seth August 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm

This is one of the best points I’ve seen today.

Not voting makes yourself and your points irrelevant to politicians (unless you happen to influence voters).

Makes me think about Perot. His fiscal responsibility message got 19% of the vote, helped put a Democrat in the White House and move the Republican party in the direction of fiscal responsibility to absorb that 19%.

Cast a vote for Paul and folks (left and right) might call you crazy, but then might ask you why you did it and you might get somewhere. Don’t vote and they’ll turn you off entirely.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Clinton was less ideology and more about his legacy. Obama is more about ideology. Clinton was a governor. Obama did nothing of consequence that measures up.

Conor August 18, 2011 at 1:00 pm

What if it’s the case that Mexican immigrants are more likely to favor an intrusive government than native born Americans; would a wall or other immigration restrictions then be appropriate?

PrometheeFeu August 18, 2011 at 7:27 pm


PrometheeFeu August 18, 2011 at 7:29 pm

OK, fine, I’ll make the argument: If that’s your issue with Mexican immigrants, it seems to me a better policy would be to take all the people who favor more intrusive government and throw them out of the country no matter where they were born.

Josh S August 18, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Who needs force? Maybe we could persuade them to secede.

PrometheeFeu August 19, 2011 at 11:06 am

All I’m saying is that if you want to use force to prevent Mexicans to come to the US because they don’t hold the right set of beliefs, you might as well kick out everyone who doesn’t believe the right thing.

Sam Grove August 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Phew, I almost clicked on the link.

DG Lesvic August 18, 2011 at 1:58 pm

And what happened when I tried to tear down the mathematical wall around economics? I was assassinated, and the assassin hailed as one of the most valuable contributors here, a contributor, as far as I can see, to nothing more than the walls around your minds.

John Dewey August 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Rick Perry has long opposed building a fence along the border with Mexico. Furthermore, in a 2007 speech, Perry said that he supports a work visa program which would allow a:

““free flow of individuals between these two countries who want to work and want to be an asset to our country and to Mexico.”

Although I agree with Professor Boudreaux that the legal channels for immigration are presently non-existent, I am confident that President Rick Perry would try to change that situation.

SweetLiberty August 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm

I’m like Fox Mulder from X-files regarding Rick Perry – I WANT TO BELIEVE! Attacking Bernanke, threatening liberal use of the Presidential veto in order to pass a Constitutional balanced budget amendment, etc. are all things Perry has said that are pushing my right buttons. However, what a politician says and what a politician does can be two very different things. I think Perry may have a better chance of electability than Ron Paul (given the media’s blind eye towards him), but will Perry truly walk the walk? I admittedly don’t know enough about him yet to make that determination.

John Dewey August 18, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Good question, Sweet.

As I responded on an earlier post, I’ve been a Ron Paul fan for 31 years. But I’m not so sure his strict adherence to principle would allow him to be an effective president.

I believe Perry is a politician. He’s principled, but pragmatic. If faced with a divided Congress, he’s going to setle for the best deal he can get.

As I see it, the electorate is still sharply divided. A compromise that is totally satisfactory to any part of that electorate is probably unlikely. I’ll be happy if the next president can continue turning the ship around in the direction of less government power.

Richard Stands August 18, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Is it possible that Paul’s stances on drug decriminalization and non-intervention could woo some from the Democratic side that Perry could not?

Josh S August 18, 2011 at 11:51 pm

The problem his stances on secret CIA conspiracies and saying we really had 9/11 coming to us turn off about 60% of the voting public.

Richard Stands August 19, 2011 at 3:28 am

I’m not sure what secret CIA conspiracies you’re referring to, but I’d agree that his foreign policy is a sticking point for some, especially neoconservative war hawk factions.

I used to be one of those back in the Reagan years, so I remember the feeling. I’m not sure when it finally dawned on me that the Cold War was over and superpowers controlling the world via proxy conflicts might fade with it. Empires are expensive. The Soviets found out just how much they cost. I’m concerned that the U.S. might not have “won” the Cold War, but simply lost it later.

Over time, I’ve come to question why some believe the U.S. should police the world. I don’t believe it’s possible or affordable, and have come to see its unintended consequences as nearly identical to well-meaning domestic economic intervention. The same fatal conceit that constantly screws up a complex economy at home manages to screw up relations abroad. Hence the 9/11 blowback following U.S. Cold War interventions in Afghanistan and Iran. Not the fault of Americans, but arguably the result of the American Federal Government’s foreign policies.

Still, this line of reasoning does not convince war hawks any more than it convinces domestic progressive looking for “social justice”. Either one trusts government to “fix” these unfathomably complex issues or one doesn’t.

Decades of watching the wreckage has me in the latter group.

yet another Dave August 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Josh S,

Describing Ron Paul’s position as “saying we really had 9/11 coming to us” is a gross distortion that’s not even similar to what he’s said.

Josh S August 19, 2011 at 6:37 pm

-His comments are widely perceived as endorsing the “blowback” theory of 9/11.

-If you want to be President, don’t ever deliver a keynote at a meeting of the John Birch Society. Yes, I know that Democrats can address La Raza and go to racist churches and be fine. Tough shit; you have win elections in unfair reality, not the fair world of imagination.

-He’s said stuff in his newsletter which sounds downright crazy, and will be quoted and requoted again and again in the mainstream press until even staunch conservatives are voting for Obama. It’s easy to mine the Internet for quotes where Paul talks about the “New World Order,” how the CIA secretly controls the Pentagon, the secret satanic Skull & Bones club, disparaging remarks about black people, etc. Doesn’t matter if they’re taken out of context or not. All the NYT has to do is publish the headline: “Ron Paul: ‘only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinion’” and his candidacy ends right at that moment.

-No one on the right buys his theory that if we’d just leave tyrants and aspiring tyrants alone, they’d leave us alone, and no one on the left is going to vote for a Republican. So that leaves…who, exactly?

Regardless of whether you agree with 100% of Ron Paul’s views or 5%, it should be patently obvious that a Ron Paul nomination means a landslide win for Obama.

yet another Dave August 19, 2011 at 8:47 pm


My only point was:
There’s a huge”/b> difference between talking about the well known reality of blowback and “saying we really had 9/11 coming to us”

They’re not even slightly similar.

yet another Dave August 19, 2011 at 8:48 pm


fat-finger typist strikes again!

tdp August 19, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Ron Paul never said a damn thing about black people. That was a ghostwriter in a newsletter to which he contributed and he was unaware of the columns until their publication. There was no name attached to the editorials, so people assumed they were Paul’s. If you listen to anything Ron Paul says, you’ll know he’s not a racist. In fact, he harps on drug policy and the death penalty as being applied in a manner discriminatory to blacks. He was even defended by the head of the Austin chapter of the NAACP.

tdp August 18, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Whoever runs needs a clearly articulated platform. Not only that, he/she (although if Bachmann runs I’m putting Ron Paul as a write-in) must be able to take down Obama’s policies with specifics. Call out his statistics, explain the negative economic effects of his decisions, ie parallel Reagan. If there is one thing everyone can agree on, it is that Reagan was as effective a campaigner as there ever was.

If I ever ran, my platform would be:

-The Fair Tax minus the prebate system, which as YADave pointed out, is ripe for defrauding. Instead, I would exempt food(only the things you actually need- ie the kind of stuff food stamps cover), mortgages, rent, clothing, etc. I might also lower the rate or change the way it is calculated. Again, no loopholes. I’d be open to just one or two tax brackets with no loopholes, too.

-Make it much easier to open a business. In Hong Kong, you only have to fill out ONE form and it takes all of 15 minutes to get your business up and running. Obviously the federal gov doesn’t have jurisdiction here, but bringing it up might encourage some places to try it.

-Repeal ObamaCare and instead allow people to buy across state lines, get rid of mandates, encourage HSAs, and encourage things like the cash-only clinics mentioned on this blog earlier.

-Welfare would consist of vouchers to buy health insurance on the free market, plus other programs to be run at state and local levels in the form of block grants.

-Steep and universal spending cuts. Abolish all subsidies and all forms of corporate welfare, and negotiate as many FTAs as possible (unlikely that a total reduction of all tariffs would result in other countries removing tariffs on our goods, and ideally I’d like completely free trade everywhere). Audit every federal agency and program for efficiency, publish the results, and eliminate all inefficient programs. Consolidate Defense and Homeland Security into one department and merge or remove all duplicate agencies.

-Entitlement reform. Means-test social security, raise the age, and turn it into a set of interest-earning, personal retirement accounts. Voucherize medicare and make it only available to poor seniors and raise the eligibility age.

-Liberalize the legal immigration system (shorter wait time, etc.) and let the illegals living here stay. If they sign a waiver admitting they broke the law, they can live here until there kids turn 18, unless they apply for citizenship. They aren’t eligible for benefits/welfare of any sort unless they admit they broke the law and apply for citizenship or serve in the army.

-Push performance pay for teachers, more school choice, and reduce standardized testing and cookie-cutter curriculum. Give schools more discretion over what is taught.

-Withdraw from Iraq, don’t get involved in Libya, withdraw from Afghanistan completely within 4 years.

-Legalize marijuana and change drug sentencing policies. Come down harder on violent crime and leave peaceful drug offenders alone.

Would anyone here vote for me?

tdp August 18, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Oh- another part of my healthcare reform platform- exclude health insurance from any sales tax.

Josh S August 19, 2011 at 12:02 am

-Exempting stuff you “need” creates a huge lobby to define things as “needed.” And good luck defining “income” without deductions.


-I hope by “encourage” you simply mean “do not prohibit or regulate out of existence”

-Why vouchers? Who defines health insurance? Just give them cash…if they really want health insurance, they’ll buy it.

-”All forms of corporate welfare” I assume means “all tax deductions,” and again, good luck defining “income” without deductions. Every President since at least Carter has proposed reducing “inefficiency,” and none of them have done it. Not one.

-How do you define what the vouchers pay for? Half the reason Medicare is a mess is it’s political suicide to define what is and isn’t real medical care.

-Not my favorite idea, but not totally naive.

-Since when is education the federal government’s job? Here’s a better idea–abolish the Department of Education.

-Nope. Terrible idea. When you get in a fight, you win. Even if you got in for the wrong reasons, losing always, always, always makes things worse. Bone up on your military history. Seriously. What you need to do is define victory, achieve it, THEN go home (even Nixon did that in Vietnam, but was reneged on by Congress, something history forgot). The reality is that regardless of the reasons for the fight, we’re in three of them. The last two presidents forgot to do that first part, which is why they couldn’t do the second part, so we haven’t done the third part (note there are still troops in Germany).


I don’t think I’d vote for you. You sound too idealistic and naive, and as a consequence would probably fail so badly at most things that you’d end up coming off as weak and ineffective, and people with far worse ideas would end up trampling all over you.

tdp August 19, 2011 at 11:28 pm

-Whatever you can get with food stamps, medical insurance, medical treatment, rent, cars are exempted. That’s it.

-Fine, give them cash instead of vouchers. Or, make vouchers voluntary (not automatic)- people can’t get free money and the gov doesn’t have to pay for people who don’t want insurance. HSAs, HMOs, and any other “health plan”= health insurance.

-Reduce inefficiency with public audits of every program, balanced budget amendment, line item veto, and a hard spending cap of roughly $2 trillion a year in 2011 money. No corporation gets a red cent from the gov in exchange for replacing the corporate income tax, dividends tax, and capital gains taxes, etc. with the national sales tax.

-Medicare vouchers cover part of the cost of a private insurance plan. Also possibly partial coverage for major procedures, maybe prescriptions, but it would only be available to poor seniors, so for a vast majority of people, nothing.

-Shift focus in Libya to NATO (whose funding and troops should come from more European sources and fewer North American ones). Declare some sort of victory in Iraq and focus on Afghanistan, where again, declare some sort of goal that can be accomplished within a few years. As Sun Tzu said, “There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare). Once it starts bleeding the state dry, you have to wrap it up. I don’t know a whole lot about military strategy, but I will hazard a guess that our policies there thus far have been less than ideal.

tdp August 19, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Also, exclude utilities from the national sales tax, and if any federal agency goes over budget they get a 10% cut for the next year.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm

And, would you build a wall around your garden that you toiled over, to keep out those who take without asking while you sleep?
Do you lock your doors at night?
I only advocate for control so long as the welfare state remains intact.
I worry not about the ‘taking of jobs’. The jobs are available because the American is inundated with entitlements to afford having no employment save their hustle of the productive thru govt channels who confiscate and redistribute. Americans can sit at home and eat cheetos while watching Jerry Springer, instead of seeking employment since govt has relinquished the ‘poor’ American of any responsibility to to sustain himself/herself.
I have far more respect for the immigrant that works than I do 90% of American who don’t and claim victimhood.

MWG August 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm

“And, would you build a wall around your garden that you toiled over, to keep out those who take without asking while you sleep?
Do you lock your doors at nigh?”

You’re confused about private property rights (Something the govt. does not have).

A more legitimate comparison would be the US as a complex of condos. We all live in the same complex, but it’s really none of your business who I invite over to my condo.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm

I speak of the ranchers on AZ border amongst others. And, should some of your guests be criminals, who harass and intimidate or engage in risky behavior that risks my safety, than I object and will do whatever in my power to prevent. Considering, moving will only change the scenario for a small time.
Now, your guests are not assumed to be of any trouble and I don’t care until I am being harmed or assume the behavior is risky enuf to cause harm.
It is impractical to have a fluent border with Mexico, right now. It is not impractical to reform govt for a more efficient and fluid manner of immigration.

Fluid.. I mock myself

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm

So….. Walgreens in phx, az……… Like any other….. Business in business out…….. Next to a communal area or small park area………. An influx of immigration and need for jobs has the folk seeking by hanging out in this visible area for hiring. Everyday, 40-50 loiter. Walgreens begins losing business, enuf to have concern. Business is lost on fears, maybe unfounded, or a case or two of slight to medium harassment of walgreen customers.
Walgreens options???

Now, we could go deeper into the cause of a park being the place to loiter for employment rather than the folk just doing what millions of other do who ads unemployed……. Sit at home watching tv waiting for their EBT card to be recharged.

I mean other unemployed folk who submit resumes and walkup asking if a business is hiring…….

PrometheeFeu August 18, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I think an interesting analysis would be to figure out the proportion of the illegal migrants who do such “pick-up” jobs. It seems to me that if those people were not illegal, they would probably go submit resumes or find longer-term employment using more efficient means. But more efficient means usually means paper-trails which are anathema to illegal aliens for obvious reasons. So let’s legalize their status and see if they still spend their time waiting in front of the Walgreens after a couple years.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 9:42 pm

MAybe……… And the potential of adding half or more of the 10-12 million onto entitlements?

PrometheeFeu August 18, 2011 at 11:07 pm

That one’s an easy one. Just deny entitlements to immigrants.

Dan J August 19, 2011 at 12:02 am

Easy to say. As we are learning with Obamacare, entitlements will be handed out.

PrometheeFeu August 19, 2011 at 11:19 am

Fair enough. But if that’s your argument, it would also hold for newborns and population growth, not just immigration. After all, poor families tend to have lots of babies while richer more educated families tend to have fewer babies. (At at least, poor families do tend to have more than 0 kids) So why treat immigration and birth differently?

I remember hearing Bryan Caplan arguing that if we had open borders and lots of immigrants come in, common xenophobia would tend to shrink entitlement spending. Not sure that would work and that seems kind of ugly.

Finally, I would tend to argue most libertarian policies are unlikely to be implemented in full and when implemented in part might do more harm than good. For instance, lower-taxes in this Congress does not mean closing distortionary loopholes and lowering rates. It means adding more distortions. Does that mean we should stop advocating the libertarian solution of lowering taxes or supporting the liberals who want to remove loopholes even if they don’t lower the rates? This is the same problem here. The full solution is let the immigrants in, cut entitlements. But we probably can’t get the cuts in entitlements. Does that mean we should stop supporting open borders? I don’t think so. But I’m a bit biased obviously.

Dan J August 19, 2011 at 9:48 pm

And I am biased against growing entitlements. I am not against sparing a dime. But, I do lean toward the teachings of Williams and Sowell about how entitlements today and continued amounts cause everyone harm.

Krishnan August 18, 2011 at 2:35 pm

The Chicago Tribune piece is amazing. I was not aware of it, I appreciate knowing about it.

We are stuck between two philosophies – One that seems willing to consign people to tyranny of communism and the other to the tyranny of welfare.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 3:34 pm

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)
Thanx for helping to usher in evil. Ya know…… You always hear of the bad things from Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Castro, Chavez, etc.,….. The stories, the pictures, death and destruction……But, you never really get the feel for it from afar…. No you don’t…… Hhmmmmm, I always wondered…… Yeah, I do……. What would it be like….. Was it that bad? Supposedly, people died….. Life was miserable… But, if you had ties to the officials…. Or, if you were a very pretty girl….. Not so bad… Yeah….

SweetLiberty August 18, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Economists are notorious armchair quarterbacks, preferring to snipe from the sidelines rather than get in the game. One individual vote may have no measurable chance to turn an election, but it can send a message to current and future politicians at the margin. Holding out for libertarian utopia won’t happen without encouraging the baby steps towards such idealism.

Yes, when the choice is between dumb and dumber (ex: Obama vs. McCain), vote libertarian or independent or whatever to send a message. But if we can possibly elect a candidate who can alleviate a significant number of regulations, reform entitlements in a meaningful way, and reduce government involvement and bureaucracy, then I will encourage this individual with my vote (even if they spend time building fences which I don’t agree with). I will vote not because I imagine a candidate will solve all problems, but because I believe they will solve more problems than they cause, thereby however marginally improving the future for me and my family.

Dan J August 18, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Just get Obama the hell out…. Then, I can gripe on my porch about the new president and yell at the kids who go on my lawn…..harrumph!

SweetLiberty August 18, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Clearly the kids who go on your lawn have no respect for property rights. Obviously liberals. Perhaps you should build a fence to keep the little immigrants out…

John Dewey August 18, 2011 at 6:52 pm

“Economists are notorious armchair quarterbacks, preferring to snipe from the sidelines rather than get in the game.’

Perhaps that’s a good thing. Scholes and Merton were probably less respected after their Long Term Capital Management hedge fund collapsed.

Jen August 18, 2011 at 5:48 pm

OK Don,
it would be easier for me to pay you than convince you. How much for your vote? (please don’t slander it as “vote selling”, as I refer you to your more recent post on “baby selling”).

Ken August 18, 2011 at 6:20 pm


I think this is illegal, but it is something that needs to be discussed seriously. If I didn’t care either way which candidate won a particular election, should I be able to sell my vote? Upon first reflection, I think yes, but I haven’t thought too hard or read too much on the topic.

The most important thing about an election, though, should be that for the most part it shouldn’t matter who is in office. Limited government is the most sensible way to do this, as well as proper incentives for politicians and bureaucrats to do the right thing (which I fully admit is incredibly difficult). If a government has little to no authority over most things, fewer people will need to be or want to be engaged in politics. Politics in general suck and it’s incredibly annoying that I have to pay so much attention to them because of the terrible and widespread consequences of political abuse and government expansion beyond constitutional constraints.


Josh S August 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Why should it be illegal for you to sell your vote when Congressmen sell theirs?

vidyohs August 18, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Walls and votes, oh my!

Walls are like encryption systems, both can be penetrated. The better ones just slow down the penetration. The really good ones delay penetration long enough that things can happen behind the protection, but they will sooner or later be penetrated. “What one man can put together, anther man can take apart.”

If immigration is seen to be a problem, tis better that we look deeper than just penetration to find and fix the problem. Why do they come? If we can’t fix Mexico, then we can certainly fix the USA so that when they come we know for sure that they are coming to work and not latch on to the tit to suck.

Voting is an exercise in which one can find victory if one’s choice is chosen, or one can feel defeat if one’s choice is rejected; but, one irrefutable fact is that no matter how one voter educates and prepares him/her self on the candidates and issues, in a democracy that vote will most certainly be negated by some ignorant airhead who is voting an emotional issue alone.

A part of the reason I don’t vote is for the same reasons Don has expressed; but, also for deeper reasons than just those. If I had a government worthy of my vote, worthy of my support, I would do so. As it is I prefer just to sit it out and pay my way via the excise tax.

Dan J August 20, 2011 at 2:15 am

You will never see that govt.

tdp August 18, 2011 at 11:06 pm

If Bachmann or Romney wins the general election, we’re screwed, because they can’t govern. If Perry wins, we’re screwed because he can’t win the election. Great. Why are all candidates either awful or totally unelectable?

brotio August 19, 2011 at 12:09 am

I think more of the conservative right would be amenable to open immigration if giving illegal immigrants an easier path to citizenship wasn’t such a desire of the socialist, regressive, liberal Left. The Left only wants an easier path to citizenship because they envision twenty or thirty new Democrat voters for every Methinks.

Coming to the United States should be relatively easy. Becoming a citizen of the United States should not be.

brotio August 19, 2011 at 12:11 am

My post was intended to go to the larger thread, which is why it has no bearing on tdp’s comment


Henri Hein August 19, 2011 at 1:46 am

brotio, I’m glad it’s not just me ;-)

Dan J August 20, 2011 at 2:18 am

For most, the politics is the only reason for legalizing.
At some point, it must happen.

vidyohs August 19, 2011 at 6:33 am

You’re quoting a Reuters article and treating it as if it isn’t slanted steeply to the left. Reuters is not going to publish and article that shows the democrats are on the weak side. Reuters publishes articles that bolster the morale and strength of the left.

Bachman, Perry, or Romney all three could govern as effectively as Obama does now.They would have a Republican house and possibly a Republican Senate, plus they have two powers that all presidents can exercise, Excutive Order, and appointments. It would all hinge on whether or not the three had the balls to suffer the howls of protest from the political left and the leftist MSM.

vidyohs August 19, 2011 at 6:38 am

“If Perry wins, we’re screwed because he can’t win the election. Great. Why are all candidates either awful or totally unelectable?”

Huh? If he wins the election, he can’t win the election?

Why is Bachman, Perry, or Romney worse than Obama. Obama is your benchmark for preference if you are on the right side of the rift. I’d elect Ronald McDonald as president because at least he isn’t Obama and at least he has brushed up against a business.

With Obama as benchmark it is very difficult in my opinion to label any other right wing candidate as awful. Hell, I’d even take Nixon if he was still alive.

Josh S August 19, 2011 at 6:43 pm

At least with Nixon in the White house, we’d see an improvement in ethics and transparency.

tdp August 19, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Romney is Obama Lite and he won’t do a god damn thing to reduce spending, free up the economy, or repeal ObamaCare. Bachmann is, as someone correctly pointed out, a rapture-ready war-monger.

Dan J August 20, 2011 at 2:12 am

War monger? It is possible that a bigotry or discrimination of homosexuals is within her. I don’t particularly care for that. I don’t particularly care what heteros or gays do. I must admit that I would be uncomfortable witnessing daily affirmations of one’s homosexuality. Just as there are men whose Testosterone is in overdrive, there are homosexuals whose preference for flare is in overdrive. I find that man and that gay person obnoxious and would choose to where they are not.
But, is her bigotry unhealthy, to where she would look to use the office to cause harm?
Like Eric Holder, I believe (my opinion), is a bigot and it clouds his better senses that he acts out on it.

ArrowSmith August 19, 2011 at 2:04 am

Why not vote? It only takes a few minutes to fill out the voting form, seal the envelope, apply the stamp and return address label. Believe it or not, you can have more impact at the local level.

vikingvista August 19, 2011 at 2:04 am

Immigration control isn’t a protection of your property. It’s a prohibition of your free association. It’s wrong, and I’m glad millions flagrantly and successfully violate those immoral rules–to most of our benefits–on a regular basis. Those who are hunted and kidnapped by the government and forcefully removed are the victims.

Methinks is a perfect example. It is a crime that anything other than an invitation was hindering her from coming here and staying as long as she wanted. Our masters tell us such prohibitions are to protect us from terrorists, but the only problems we’ve had with terrorists were people selected by the government (approved visas) or native borns.

The government takes it upon itself to decide who they want to let come in and stay, as if they own everything within their borders. I’ve never had anything but a rewarding interaction with an immigrant–legal or otherwise. I certainly cannot say the same about the government. If immigration laws were truly about protecting us from bogeymen, it would be the government we’d hunt down and kick out.

Steven August 19, 2011 at 8:38 am

I was denigrated in this space recently for accusing some libertarians (and “conservatives” since so many of you see a distinction) of merely whining about politicians while not running for office or even voting themselves. I consider myself vindicated by this column.

However, on the issue of open borders I am glad to see Boudreaux doesn’t vote. A commitment to free and open trade does not require a commitment to free and open borders, and demanding the former while deploring the latter is not inconsistent with liberty. Among the many examples I could raise, I present just one, in the spirit of Boudreaux-style comparisons:

I challenge all of you who own a company and advocate open borders to do the following: stop screening candidates for employment in your company; advertise your “open borders” policy and give a job to all who come, without regard to ability or fitness, and without rejecting anyone merely because you “don’t have enough work for them to do;” then let anyone who so desires to sleep in your offices and even in your home, for surely they will be more productive that way. While a few of the takers of your offers may turn out to be freeloaders, surely your free and open market for employment and housing will net you a positive return in the long run. Your company should grow in such size and stature that all other companies will be required to imitate you or succumb to your superior competitive advantage. Soon the entire nation–nay, the entire world–will subscribe to your open borders policy.

vikingvista August 19, 2011 at 10:45 am

Your analogy shows that you are of the opinion that this country is the property of government agents. How is your denial of private property consistent with liberty?

MWG August 19, 2011 at 1:21 pm

While most of your comment is pretty craopy, your last paragraph is particularly shitty.

There is no such thing as ‘private govt. property rights’, and therefore any attempt to compare immigration to the US with a home invasion or, in your case, a business, shows a lack of understanding of property rights on your part.

Secondly, no one here who advocates the right of free association and movement is advocating the ‘right’ to a job as you suggest.

Advocating for ‘free markets’ with ‘limited government’ intrusion while advocating for a collectivist top down central planning of the labor market is absolutely inconsistent with liberty.

Steven August 20, 2011 at 12:09 am

The comments written by vikingvista and MWG against my analogy are nothing short of astonishing, given the comparable analogies between international trade and personal trade that are almost daily offered by Boudreaux himself, the vast majority of which I agree with. As Boudreaux constantly suggests, and I almost uniformly applaud, determining what is “good” for the country as a whole can only be determined by first determining what is “good” for the individuals who make up the country. If more companies in the US will benefit from an unskilled, uneducated, unhealthy, unvetted labor force, then by all means, let those people into the country by the millions. If such immigrants are more of a burden than a benefit to most companies, then opening the borders to those types of immigrants because of a religious adherence to a simplistic notion of “liberty” will produce a nation that benefits no one.

As for vikingvista’s non sequitur, I uphold your (and everyone’s) right to private property and still challenge you to do–for your own good!–exactly what you demand the nation as a whole do: open the borders of your private property!

vikingvista August 20, 2011 at 1:04 am

You seem to think “non sequitur” means something that you can’t understand. Let’s try this again…

“open the borders of your private property!”

If I were a free man, who wholly owned my property, your challenge might be possible. But the government won’t let me–that is, the government thinks it owns me and my property.

I want people to have the choice over their own property to accept your challenge. You want people forcefully deprived of that choice, because it is, in your opinion, for their own good.

A more appropriate immigration analogy, is for McDonald’s to assemble a small army to stand in the way of Nike and people Nike may want to hire or sell to. McDonald’s doesn’t own Nike.

If you cared about property rights, which your post attests against, you would oppose all immigration laws, so that people could exercise their rights to property and free association. The government is an unwanted interfering third party in my relationship to Juan Valdez. Our business is none of the government’s business.

And the government’s claims about how beneficial it is for me and Juan to be forcefully separated don’t hold water with any but the most thoroughly brain-washed statist mystics.

Dan J August 20, 2011 at 2:02 am

Can’t agree with ya on this one VV. I am fully married to mt perception of Mexico and the dangers it posses, especially from the dangers present who would use Mexico as place to then enter US or the North American Continent…… Global citizenry….. Continental inhabitants ….. Whatever…..
The dangers posed by individuals who have aligned themselves with others who have no objections to killing as many people who are not in their group, whether it be racially or religiously, will not disappear with emergent order of the globe and magically becoming ‘free’ in a libertarian kind of way.
Whatever you wish to assume about my thinking or bigotries…. Or any lack of intelligence, knowledge, etc.,….
Whatever flaws you wish to point out, I cannot see things working out well. I cannot see jihadists simply saying ‘ well, alrite then. I guess it’s all over. No worries. Have a good nite. No hard feelings. Not interested anymore in submitting others to Allah. ‘
Or, I can hear The Chinese Authoritarians proclaiming ‘oh, the US has become one giant open land mass that spans the whole western hemisphere and the dictators of Southern and Central America have said that they have no intent on exploiting this new ‘free lands’. So, I guess we won’t either’

I believe, beyond a shadow of doubt that at least 10% of all humans have no problem with attempting to make themselves king. That these people would do what they could to implement chaos, death and destruction for their own gains.
That an open border would exploited and Much harm would come to many people who live in the US. In turn, higher amounts of xenophobia Would build and them harm would come to others as well.

vikingvista August 20, 2011 at 11:59 pm


Immigration laws don’t protect you from offenders. There are plenty already here and native born, and those who aren’t, like most AQ terrorists simply flash their passports and your Great Protector lets them fly in first class. The government can hardly even claim that it is for your protection. What does setting racial quotas and holding green card lotteries have to do with protection? If they are protecting anyone, it is politically-connected anti-consumer labor groups from competition.

But the most important point is that if you are a free man, who owns his own property, nobody can tell you who your friends, employees, guests, or clients are. YOU can close your doors to whomever you want. It isn’t the government’s job to close your doors for you, and against your will.

Steven August 19, 2011 at 8:41 am

I challenge all of you who own a company and advocate open borders to do the following: stop screening candidates for employment in your company; advertise your “open borders” policy and give a job to all who come, without regard to ability or fitness, and without rejecting anyone merely because you “don’t have enough work for them to do;” then let anyone who so desires to sleep in your offices and even in your home, for surely they will be more productive that way. While a few of the takers of your offers may turn out to be freeloaders, surely your free and open market for employment and housing will net you a positive return in the long run. Your company should grow in such size and stature that all other companies will be required to imitate you or succumb to your superior competitive advantage. Soon the entire nation–nay, the entire world–will subscribe to your open borders policy.

vikingvista August 19, 2011 at 10:50 am

Unfortunately, government immigration laws violently prohibit American companies from having such a policy. Apparently all American companies are the property of the US government.

Positive Motivational Quotes August 20, 2011 at 8:58 am

I agree not voting to such corrupted people who have indulged the country’s economy to danger.The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.Government is going off the people , buy the people,and far the people.

Duncan August 20, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Why not vote for Gary Johnson for President. I think any that follow this discussion would agree with his approach on most issues. He is a Libertarian with a practical agenda.

tdp August 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

You think he’ll get a single vote in Iowa? He’s my ideal president, but no way he wins against fund-raising machines like Bachmann, Perry, and Romney, and his views on social issues will make it hard for him in the primary, especially since people who vote in primaries tend to be far from center in either direction.

Duncan August 22, 2011 at 9:54 am

True and brings up the issue of how we vote. Do we vote for the candidate we most favor, or a derivative involving voting for the candidate we think can beat the candidate we favor least. Probably and an area for game theorists. I like Johnson and will cast my vote there and I would encourage you to do the same.

Ian Random August 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Repeat after me there is a difference between illegal and legal immigration, most democrats and true libertarians cannot comprehend this.

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