Milton friedman open borders
Alex Tabarrok's "Open Borders and the Welfare State" vs. Peter Schaeffer's Comment Tsunami
Thumb sailer
September 23, 2015, 07:14 AM
Print Friendly and PDF
From Marginal Revolution, a pretty perfunctory, numbers-free bit of Open Borders rationalization followed by supercommenter Peter Schaeffer’s demolition job. You can read the comment thread in order at MR (including impressive performances by many other commenters), but here I’ll just excerpt Schaeffer’s replies.
Open Borders and the Welfare State

by Alex Tabarrok on September 22, 2015

Milton Friedman famously said that you can’t have a welfare state and open borders. I disagree. In many respects (not all), you can have open borders and a welfare state.

What we think of as the welfare state encompasses many different programs, many of which are not handouts. Social Security for example is mostly a forced savings program. For these types of insurance programs there is no problem at all as, for the most part, a person has to work and pay into the program to get money out of the program. For programs like schooling there is also no problem–even if the schooling is provided free to immigrant children–because the schooling leads to higher wages later in life which are taxed. In these cases, the immigrant children are really just receiving a loan which they will have to pay back from their own earnings later in life. The story for basic health is similar. Thus, the only cases where there is a worry about excessive transfers from citizens to immigrants is in pure handouts or health benefits to say the elderly. In these cases, I would simply say that such benefits are not available to immigrants or only available after five years or some such time period. …

In reply …

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 3:20 pm


This would be funny if it weren’t so sad. The fiscal impact of Middle-Eastern immigration has been extensively studied in Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, etc. The results are always dismal (just like the USA). Indeed, in Germany, a prominent leftist (Thilo Sarrazin – SDP) wrote a book about it (among other things). Note that we aren’t talking about 200-350 Euros per month.

From a prior post…

A report just came out in Norway showing that each Middle-Eastern immigrant costs taxpayers $700,000 (net). From “Immigration Will Bankrupt Norway” ( Quote

” Non-Western immigration is unprofitable

Finansavisen [Norwegian financial newspaper] has gone through figures released by SSB [Norwegian Bureau of Statistics] and concludes that each non-Western immigrant, on average, costs Norwegian society NoK 4.1 million ($700,000).

The sums are astronomical, especially when considering that in 2012 alone, 15,400 non-Western immigrants arrived in Norway.

When Sigrun Vågeng was the director of NHO [The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise] she presented a study which concluded that the entirety of Norwegian oil-generated wealth would disappear if this non-profitable immigration wasn’t halted. Back then the story was mostly ignored. In the meantime several years have passed, and today the numbers are even higher. Even so the MSM and politicians keep describing the official immigration policy as strict.

The figure is NoK 4.1 million:

This figure includes all taxable incomes minus public expenditures,” according to Erlend Holmøy, senior researcher for SSB.

Based on the approximately 15,400 non-Western immigrants that arrived here in 2012 this means an outlay of NoK 63 billion ($11 billion). This is the equivalent of two foreign aid budgets, or roughly half of the NoK 125 billion ($21 billion) taken from the Norwegian oil fund (wealth fund) that the authorities intend to spend this year.

“The cost of it all will have to be covered by the average Norwegian taxpayer, or it will lead to a reduction in capacity and quality of various publicly funded services,” says Holmøy to Finansavisen

If the non-Western immigration continues on a level equal to 2012, the funding costs will soar to NoK 2,900 billion ($493 billion) in the period between 2015-2100.”

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 5:34 pm


A few more notes for fun…

“For programs like schooling there is also no problem–even if the schooling is provided free to immigrant children–because the schooling leads to higher wages later in life which are taxed.”

In corporate land, this is called “accounting fraud” and is considered to be a civil or criminal offense. What is wrong here? “Later in life” people have children imposing a new generation of costs dwarfing any tax receipts that might accrue. Even without a new generation of children, the taxes “later in life” don’t approach the education boondoggles.

“The story for basic health is similar.”

As I have pointed out (a few times), health care costs more than low-skill immigrants earn (by far). If low-skill immigrants paid 100% of their incomes in taxes, they would not even come close to covering their health care costs

Health care costs $12 hour for the entire economy. Low-skill immigrants don’t even make $12 hour much less pay that much in taxes.

Here is a more honest statement “low-skill immigrants impose vast education costs on society that will continue for generation after generation because each new generation will never generate enough taxes to cover the costs of its children”. Not PC, but quite a bit more accurate.

“For these types of insurance programs there is no problem at all as, for the most part, a person has to work and pay into the program to get money out of the program”.

On which planet is this true? Certainly not the third rock from the sun. The vast majority of programs (in numbers and dollars) do not require any input. Ever heard of food stamps, WIC, Medicaid, Medicare, Disability, Section 8 housing, Obamacare, food stamps, SSI, Social Security, TANF, etc?

Do any of these programs require immigrants to pay in, even a very tiny fraction of what they collect? Of course, not. claiming otherwise is just an effort to promote Trump as an intellectual heavyweight.

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 3:32 pm


Farmers will either mechanize, pay natives enough to get them to work (a tragic thought), or switch to higher productivity crops. Remember, that immigrant labor is taxpayer funded welfare labor. In other words, a scheme where the plantation plutocracy profits and the American people get screwed. We tried this before. The results were not positive

Of course, slavery had its fans back then. Apparently, it still does..

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 3:39 pm


Adjusted for the local cost of living, California is one of the poorer states. California is also #1 in poverty and has (almost) the worst schools in the U.S. If California is an immigrant “success” story, that’s a rather strong argument for closed borders.

See “Census Bureau: California still has highest U.S. poverty rate” ( for a typical article.

Did I mention that California is a real leader in inequality? I guess that just another success story for you.

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 11:35 am


“Social Security for example is mostly a forced savings program”

If an Econ 101 student wrote something that poor, they would get an F. However, Open Borders propaganda is not required to have any bearing on the truth. Social Security is not a “forced savings program”. It is a PAYGO system where current Social Security taxes pay current Social Security benefits. Singapore has a genuine forced savings program for retirement. The U.S. does not. Claiming that it does may impress low information readers in Brazil (how many Brazilians are expects on U.S. retirement programs?). However, it the U.S. it won’t fly because it’s just not true.

Social Security does have an eligibility and benefit mechanism that restricts payouts (to some limited degree) in accordance to what a person has paid in. However, the linkage is weak and exceptions (“disability”) abound. In absolutely no sense is it a “forced savings” program. The even larger point is that Social Security is designed to be very progressive. Low income workers get far more out of the system than they put in. That means that low-skill immigrants are a disaster for Social Security.

From a prior post

“Low-skill immigrant households are extremely expensive tax consumers. The tax costs of low-skill immigration alone, make it a terribly bad deal for Americans. Everyone who looks at the numbers, for even a few minutes knows this. From Heritage

““In 2010, the average unlawful immigrant household received around $24,721 in government benefits and services while paying some $10,334 in taxes. This generated an average annual fiscal deficit (benefits received minus taxes paid) of around $14,387 per household. This cost had to be borne by U.S. taxpayers. Amnesty would provide unlawful households with access to over 80 means-tested welfare programs, Obamacare, Social Security, and Medicare. The fiscal deficit for each household would soar.

At the end of the interim period (after the Amnesty is complete), unlawful immigrants would become eligible for means-tested welfare and medical subsidies under Obamacare. Average benefits would rise to $43,900 per household; tax payments would remain around $16,000; the average fiscal deficit (benefits minus taxes) would be about $28,000 per household.””

Like it or not claiming that low-skill immigrants and the welfare state play nice is about as far removed from the truth as you can get. Statements like this make Donald Trump look like a model of rigorous intellectual integrity (which compared to the Open Borders crowd, he is).

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 4:02 pm


As you point out, the Social Security trust fund has long since been spent. However, even if it hadn’t been spent, the numbers and conclusions would be the same. The Trust Fund would cover roughly 3 years of spending at present. A real “forced savings” system would have enough money for decades. Note that private, state, and local pension system are required to have enough money for decades (and are considered to be unfunded if they don’t). Calling Social Security a “forced savings” system is overtly dishonest at several levels. The size of the Trust Fund is only one. The overt lack of individual accounts (you know, with money in them) and the sharply progressive nature of the system are two other material points.

Calling Social Security a “forced savings” program is just a way of (dishonestly) avoiding the harsh fact that low-skill immigrants are massive burden on the welfare state and Social Security is just another example. In real life, health care and education are even bigger problems.

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Mike D,

“I think we can all trust that Alex knows exactly what SS is but, for the purposes of benefits, illegals pay in (or their employers do, at least) and are ineligible to receive. Social Security is forced savings with a grossly negative return, in that sense.”

I wouldn’t assume that at all. People who know how something works, generally try to describe it honestly. You can reach your own conclusions about the role of mendacity vs. ignorance at work here.

However, the notion that illegals pay into Social Security, but won’t benefit has three rather big problems. First, via the EITC illegals have (in many cases) stopped paying in. Second, they only way they can be prevented from collecting is by keeping them illegal. Does Alex favor that? Clearly not (Friedman did by the way). Third, the use of the “forced savings” phrase is a deliberate reference to a system where people pay in (involuntarily) and then later collect. Collecting Social Security taxes from people who will never receive any benefits would not be called a “forced savings” system.

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 11:43 am


The U.S. has 14 million people collecting disability. That number has soared in recent decades even as the number of dangerous jobs has plunged (and even dangerous jobs are now much safer). Male LFP (Labor Force Participation) has plunged by astounding percentages over the last 30 years ago. Like it or not, vast number of people are now living off of the system rather than working.

However, the deeper point is that even immigrants who work are still a shocking burden on society. Take look at the number above. A typical low-skill immigrant household (with workers) consumes more handouts (net) that it earns. In other words, the difference between handouts consumed and taxes paid (the net cost) exceeds all of the earnings of the household.

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 11:52 am


AT is playing off of the ignorance of Brazilians (how many Brazilians study American retirement programs?) and the Open Borders crowd in the U.S. Of course, Social Security isn’t a “forced savings” program. However, part of being an Open Borders advocate is that you are not bound by the truth. You can get away with saying things that are laughably untrue because the sympathetic media won’t challenge you. As a consequence, Donald Trump is a model of intellectual integrity compared with AT. That may not be saying much. It’s still true.

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 12:00 pm


Immigration is (almost) always marketed to the American people as a benefit to them. It’s not true. That’s why such intense marketing is required (along with a bitter effort to suppress any contrary opinion).

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 4:25 pm


People who study the issue will be glad to tell you that legal low-skill immigrants are typically a greater burden than illegals. Legal high-skill immigrants are not. Illegals are particularly offensive because they are both a burden and have no right to be here. Folks who take immigration reform seriously (not the Open Borders / Amnesty crowd) want to slash low-skill legal immigration and end illegal immigration.

Stated differently, low-skill legal immigration (typically chain migration) is well known to be a substantial economic drain, but is tolerated (more than illegal immigration) because it is within the law.

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 1:25 pm


Let me offer a set of empirical tests of whether the U.S. is suffering from a shortage of unskilled labor or not.

1. Are wages for unskilled labor rising or falling? What is the medium and long-term trend?

2. Is LFP for unskilled labor rising or falling? What is the medium or long-term trend?

3. Is income inequality (say the 80/20 or 90/10 ratio) rising or falling?

The answers here should be pretty obvious. The third point is very important. A labor scarce society will see declining inequality as the returns from unskilled labor rise and the returns from employing unskilled labor fall. Clearly, that’s not the United States. As for “not being able to find enough people to work”… At what wage level? 10% of what the owners expect? or 5%?

Antebellum plantation plutocrats complained about the price of slaves. Some things never change.

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 12:17 pm


“That’s all well and good, but the numbers I saw suggest that male illegal immigrants 25-54 in this country are more likely to be working than their native-born counterparts”

The numbers I see, show them to be roughly equal. However, let’s assume you are right for a moment. Here are the gigantic problems.

1. They are taking jobs (a four letter work to be sure) and wages from Americans who need them. Those Americans don’t disappear, they go on welfare one way or another.

2. Male illegals have rather high crime rates. Every serous study has found that a huge portion of the jail and prison population is illegals (see the GAO work on the subject). Fox News has also (more recently) looked at this as well and come up with numbers that mach the GAO. Like it or not crime is a cost to society.

3. Illegals have wives, girlfriends, children, abandoned girlfriends, abandoned children, etc. They are all eligible for the most expensive handouts the U.S. has (health care and education) without restriction. On paper, the U.S. does impose some restrictions on welfare use by illegals. In practice, enforcement is essentially zero.

4. In a welfare state, even low-skill immigrants who work are a stunning burden. Why? Because the welfare state costs exceed their entire earnings, not just what they pay in taxes. In other words, even if low-skill immigrants paid 100% of their income in taxes (they don’t) they would still be a crushing burden.

5. The argument that male illegals work (and impose few costs) is a trope of the pro-Amnesty crowd. However, the contradiction should be obvious. Illegals can only be profitable as long as they remain illegal. Once they become legal they are eligible for everything (much of which they are using anyway) and can now import their families to burden America. Using the (supposed) low costs of illegals to justify Amnesty makes no sense at all, but is typical of the Open Borders crowd.

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 11:57 am


Peter Schaeffer’s estimate of health care costs is $12 per hour, not $12K per year. For a family of four, that’s roughly $40K per year. In other words, even if low-skill immigrants paid 100% of their income in taxes, they would impose vast costs on society via health care alone Of course, the costs of low-skill immigrants are not limited to health care. “Education” (attempts at education), housing, food stamps, WIC, prisons, etc. are all extra.

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 12:21 pm


In a narrow age range (say 20-30) most people are not a net drain. In that age range health care costs are very low and utilization of public services isn’t that high. Of course, an immigrant female with two out-of-wedlock children (very common) is a massive burden on society. So is her native-born counterpart. However, we have (should have) a choice about who crosses our borders.

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 4:31 pm


“That sounds way, way too high– probably because it’s an average and it is skewed high by the relatively small number of very sick (and very expensive) people.”

Of course, the median is far below the mean. However, the mean is what counts because it reliably predicts (even under-predicts) the costs low-skill immigrants will impose on our nation. The low-skill immigrant population clearly incorporates an equal (or greater) share of “very sick (and very expensive) people”.

All insurance programs (public or private, medical or property, etc.) are based on medians that are far below the average. That doesn’t change the fact that premiums are based on averages.

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 5:12 pm


My original post.

“Yet another nail for the coffin. U.S. health care expenditures are around $12 per hour for the entire economy. The minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. If a minimum wage worker paid 100% of his income in taxes (or health care premiums), America would still lose $4.75 on health care costs alone.

And Tyler wants to flood American with low-skill immigrants to drive wages down further (presumably after repealing the minimum wage)? Is this meant to be a parody of ‘privatizing profits and socializing costs’? Perhaps it is.

Of course, it can be argued that low-skill immigrants don’t cost $12 per hour in health care costs. As long as they are young and single that is true. However, low-skill immigrants have children and grow old just like everyone else. Even if they don’t cost $12 per hour in health care costs now, they will cost far more than $12 per hour in the future.

The welfare state and low-skill immigration don’t play nice. One or the other has to go. Since the welfare state is only expanding, it should be obvious that mass immigration has to end.”

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 12:27 pm


“Some days you hide your racism well. This is not one of those days.”

I guess the definition of “racism” is “facts I don’t like and can’t refute”.

The Urban Dictionary has a definition of “racism” that may help you.

“Anyone winning an arguement with a liberal. It does not matter what the arguement is, if a conservative is winning it, they are a racist. Also anyone not supporting all liberal ideas and beliefs.”

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 12:36 pm


“I think it’s around the 30th percentile.”

In word, no. Remember that the public sector (local, state, federal) as a whole is running large deficits. That means that the average (not median) taxpayer is still a net tax consumer. Of course, I am including all households (not just those that pay taxes) in this calculation. Since that average taxpayer is more affluent than the median taxpayer, most folks are (probably) not net taxpayers. You probably have to get to the 6th or 7th docile to be a net tax payer in the U.S.

For a typical data point, see “60 Percent of Households Now Receive More in Transfer Income Than they Pay in Taxes” (

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 1:12 pm


Perhaps you might actually read what a Jihadist thinks of Syrians. The Jihadist in question doesn’t appear to be constrained by commonplace notions of Political Correctness. Calling him a “racist” isn’t going silence him.

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 1:03 pm


“Alex, it seems the most elementary economic mistake in your post is that inasmuch as public schools are financed largely by property taxes, immigrants are already paying for their kids to go to school because even if they rent, their landlord has priced his property taxes into the rent. Also, schools as well as sometimes the majority of state and local services are financed by sales taxes, which immigrants also pay.”

Where do you come up with this stuff? The cost of educating the children of low-skill immigrants typically exceeds 100% of their income. Try some “math” (a dangerous four letter word). Say a low-skill immigrant earns $10 per hour and pays 20% in taxes (including indirect property taxes). That’s $4k per year. Education runs around $12K per student per year. With two kids, that’s a net loss of $20K and we haven’t even started with WiC, food stamps, EITC, health care, etc.

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 1:07 pm


“because the illegal immigrant cannot claim EITC or the refundable child tax credit”

Oh yes they can. The system pays EITC automatically without any checking for legal status. The following quotes are from “Karen”

“My brother does some work for the federal government’s farm insurance program and he has to go around and measure fields, determine what percentage is ruined etc. Anyway, he talks to farmers. Several have told him that their workers used to throw out the W-2 forms when he handed them out in January, just throw them right in the trash. Now they pester him to get them out fast because they are eager to file income tax returns and get the Earned Income Tax Credit. Its thousands of dollars.”


:”The farmers tell my brother, “They’ve got better papers than you have.” I suspect they are illegal though I don’t know if they might not be in some huge guest worker program. The farmers also say that the first generation are good workers – provided they are supervised – and very obedient. And they are rather small people, the first generation. The second generation want nothing to do with farming. They work at gas stations or stores. The third generation is thoroughly at home in the US and go on welfare any way they can. (That sounds like at least these imported farm workers and their descendants aren’t joining drug gangs. I hope that’s true, at least.)

Of course, if they have a medical expense they do not pay it because the bill comes in with an astronomical figure. If you have insurance, you see that the insurance company might pay 10% of what the hospital bills or less or even disallow it entirely but these folks don’t have insurance and they can move away very easily.

Another kind of immigrant my brother hears about in the vegetable farming industry are Koreans who buy from those farmers. The Koreans are all cash businesses. They negotiate with a combination of hand signals and writing numbers and when they reach an agreement, they pay cash and a bunch of other Koreans appears from out of no where and takes the vegetables away. Do they pay any income taxes?”

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 6:18 pm


“You have to provide a valid SS# for most forms of welfare”

That’s not much of an obstacle. SSN’s (fake, real, stolen, etc. are commonplace) Our government “helps” by giving out EITN’s to illegals with no checks on status.

E-Verify is a relatively rare. From a prior post (of mine).

“Only in theory are illegals inelligible for health care. In real life, the restrictions are far fewer than you might imagine. First of all, hospitals are required to provide emergency care irrespective of legal status. Second, the American born children of illegals are always eligible.

However, the third point is probably the most significant. Most of the social welfare apparatus simply doesn’t check the legal status of anyone seeking benefits (apparently). If legal status is ‘checked’, the applicants are allowed to ‘self-certify’ their legal status. The GAO did a study of illegal alien criminals a few years ago and found that on average they had been arrested 7 times with zero checks for legal status. If the police weren’t checking legal status, do you really think Medicaid applications were / are being carefully scrutinized? Note that because of Secure Communities the police do make some attempt to check legal status these days.

A few years ago, I saw a long online debate on about immigration. Some folks claimed that illegals collect all sorts of benefits that they are theoretically ineligible for. Others claimed that this was impossible because of the law. The facinating thing was the number of people who actually work in welfare departments who posted comments to the effect ‘we never check’, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell is the rule’, ‘I would be fired if I checked’, ‘we aren’t allowed to check’, etc.”

Obama’s own family provides excellent case studies in the pervasiveness of immigrant (even illegal immigrant) welfare fraud.

From a prior post (of mine)

“Take a look at Obama’s family. Onyango Obama was ordered out of the U.S. in 1992 (by a court) and was busted for a DUI last year. He’s still here of course. Then we have Zeituni Onyango. She was ordered out in 2004 but is also still around (with the help of high-priced lawyer and presumably family). Quote from

“The Continuing Saga of Obama’s Illegal Alien Aunt & Uncle”

“If you want to get angry, really angry, watch this video. Americans were rightfully livid after hearing the story of this unapologetically arrogant woman who blamed our system for giving her so much; a place to live in public housing, $51,000 in disability payments and regular welfare payments of almost $700 per month, not to mention the taxpayer-funded hospital stays and treatments.”

So much for illegals not being able to exploit the welfare system. Of course, the only unusual thing about Obama’s relatives is that they are his relatives. In other respects, they are just commonplace illegals. Welfare abuse, DUIs, ignoring court orders, etc. are nothing unusual in the immigrant community.

Michelle Malkin wrote a book about this ” Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces (2002)”. The bottom line was simple

“It ain’t over until the illegal alien wins”

Her summary of the book follows.

“Invasion shows how every component of immigration enforcement has failed — from overwhelmed consular offices, to overwhelmed borders, to overwhelmed detention centers and deportation proceedings. I tell the buried stories of dozens of Americans who died as a result of lax and incompetent immigration enforcement: grandmothers, teenagers, rookie cops and veteran troopers brutally murdered by criminal aliens on the loose. I analyze the immigration failures that led to September 11, and I expose the shocking stories of torturers and other suspected war criminals who waltzed through our front doors along with foreign terrorists”‘

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 12:54 pm


“This isn’t quite as transparent as Kathy and ‘Carol’ Fata, but you do wonder why a pair of academic economists should be so intent on open borders that they offer swiss-cheese arguments”

Because Open Borders is a dominant ideology. In other words, people who believe in Open Borders are generally willing to sacrifice everything else they believe in on the altar of Open Borders (fanatical religious cults come to mind here). It wrong to think of AT or TC as “libertarians” because Open Borders is overtly in conflict with everything “libertarians” purport to believe in (low taxes, limited government, freedom of speech, personal responsibility, etc.) Like it or not, AT and TC are cosmopolitans for whom a borderless world is a goal of such merit, that anything and everything can be sacrificed to attain it.


Kris September 22, 2015 at 4:13 pm

people who believe in Open Borders are generally willing to sacrifice everything else they believe in

That’s uncharitable, and you know it. Libertarianism is about freedom, first and foremost. And the unfettered right to movement is a core freedom. If that has the effect of decreasing public support in other libertarian ideals such as free speech, low taxes, limited government (as you assert), that would be a second order effect of applying a core libertarian principle, and hardly inconsistent with libertarianism. And there’s no guarantee that every group of immigrants will be hostile to the libertarian ideology; it’s not like you can mathematically prove that certain people will rigidly hold on to certain kinds of beliefs. So a true libertarian would advocate his/her package of beliefs, which includes free speech, etc. plus the freedom of movement, and that’s in no way self-contradictory. Libertarianism is an ideology, and a fringe one with minority appeal; its adherents do not now and will not ever (because of an aversion to collectives) think of it as a political program to be fulfilled in increments and bounds, sometimes surreptitiously if need be; libertarianism is not Communism.


The Anti-Gnostic September 22, 2015 at 4:36 pm

There is no such thing as an “unfettered right to movement.” In a libertarian regime, all movement off your own property would require the permission of adjacent owners.


Kris September 22, 2015 at 5:09 pm

OK, “unfettered right to movement” in public spaces (commons) then. I’m trying to imagine what a land without any public spaces (i.e., every square inch being someone’s private property) would function as; it would seem to be an unstable equilibrium, as no one could ever move without signing thousands of bilateral “treaties”; something like a constitutional arrangement with regulation of public spaces must necessarily be the result. And when it comes to public spaces and collective ownership, libertarians just happen to be at one extreme end advocating non-discrimination even on the basis of nationality, which is anathema to most other people (not just conservatives.)

Peter Schaeffer September 22, 2015 at 6:41 pm


I don’t buy the “Libertarianism is about freedom” line, but let’s assume I did. Life and public policy are about choices and trade-offs. If you are wiling to sacrifice everything (freedom of speech, low taxes, limited taxes, personal responsibility, etc.) for Open Borders, then you aren’t a Libertarian anymore. You are an Open Borders zealot.

Let me offer an analogy. Freedom on speech is (used to be) regarded as a core Libertarian value. If that value came info conflict with Open Borders (it does, ask the editors of Charlie Hedbo) a Libertarian might recognize the conflict and decide what tradeoffs were in order. When a so-called Libertarian advocates sacrificing all core Libertarian values for just one (Open Borders), we aren’t talking about Libertarianism anymore, just the religion of Open Borders.

Of course, the very idea of Libertarianism is just an ideological mask. Without exception, so-called Libertarians insist that their home, their property, their life of privilege, their bubble (a quote actually) is sacrosanct and must be rigidly protected at all costs by the very same police and government authorities who must never (ever) attempt to enforce borders.

Basically, doors and walls for me, but not for thee. Honest Libertarianism must accept that if people who right to live in whatever country, they find most congenial, they also have the right to live in whatever property they find most congenial. The moral logic of Open Borders doesn’t end just when it stops being personaly expedient for Alex. The ideology of personal greed does, but that’s not Libertarianism.

[Comment at]