Posted by: L | May 27, 2007

The politics of anti-politics

I offer this to a reader who criticized me for not examining the good parts of the immigration bill more closely.

It’s true that some good may come out of the thing. That may not really be relevant. Some good might also result if I parked myself on my neighbor’s lawn, on anarchical principles, until I acquired squatter rights. We can’t judge actions by outcomes alone. [This is simply an analogy – there is a distinction obviously between priavte property and the state; still, it’s not entirely dissimilar because immigrants also use public services – from roads to schools – that are paid for by taxes. That some illegal immigrants pay taxes is true, but not all do. And what they pay in is, from the latest Heritage report, less than what they take out. The Cato institute disputes that research, but even those who are pro-immigration suggest that the costs are higher than we have been prone to believe].

Not that I dispute the existence of squatter rights. Or claim that migrant workers don’t theoretically have every right to move to find work wherever they wished.

Actually, I fervently wish that there were no borders and no laws about migration anywhere in the globe. I personally don’t feel the state has any right to curtail commerce and migration.

But my wishes and my rights under the law as it is constituted are two different things. And since nowadays, law is the only language in which we can meaningfully converse about rights — especially with people different from us in their beliefs and culture, I want to stick to it.

Migrants are free to move, but they aren’t equally free to be subsidized by the state or to violate its laws.

Ex-post facto legislation that subsidises migrants is, I think, practically unviable. But even if it were viable, I don’t think it can be justified under laws easily.

But, you will argue, what about all those other people who break the law in other areas and are then absolved of the consequences? Why pick on vulnerable people on this issue?

I don’t disagree here. Certainly, it’s not migrant workers who have dismantled habeas corpus or undone privacy laws or circumvented the ban on torture.

But the correct response to the objection is that every extension and intrusion of government power needs to be attacked constitutionally and limited – if not entirely dismantled. It’s no defense of a wrong-headed position in one instance to point to other instances where it has prevailed.

And, to my mind, the laws governing citizenship should be observed – at least theoretically – with more zeal than others, especially in times like these, when they are vulnerable to being diluted. And that is a danger that haunts us increasingly.

I may be wrong, of course. But, we can’t justly claim the protection of the law to save us from being stripped arbitrarily of our rights as citizens, if at the same time we trivialize the law by arbitrarily investing people with those rights.

My practical position is this: the matter can be dealt with at the local level by the communities involved. There doesn’t need to be a power grab by the federal government. A small fine (not the huge one in this new bill) can be imposed on people who’ve entered illegally, but it should be proportionate to their means and not harsh. It shouldn’t be so large that it creates a perverse incentive for corruption among the government agents who would be in charge of collecting it. Legal immigrants from the same communities could help in sending back those who’ve come here illegally to prevent any abuse. The “illegals” needn’t be barred from re-entering lawfully, but I think they should re-enter the process, after those who’ve followed the law. That’s only fair.

And maybe the government could make the legal entry simpler and quicker, so that people wouldn’t be motivated to break the law in the first place.

Those are my thoughts, for now, so far as I’ve studied the matter. It boils down to this – don’t have a law and then not follow it.

As I said, I could be wrong….

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Responses

  1. Reader M. Johnson from Arizona offers this quote in support:

    “I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in
    their purpose, or that impose on the people an nwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is ‘needed’ before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ interests, I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I
    can.”

    And another letter from a reader who disagrees:

    Lila Rajiva,

    I thank you for your article on “Aliens”.

    Appended is a bit of a rant on the “War” and “Aliens”
    In the great immigration in the early 1900’s, ticketed first class passengers did not have passports or “required” I.D. to go hither and youn to Europe or the U.S.A. . . . . they just paid the fare and took off to wherever and lived where they pleased as evident at the turn of the 20 century. There were no such things as “Illegal Aliens” excepting the enemy, whoever that was, then if need be we killed them or shiped them back to where they came from.. Stearage passengers on the other hand had to prove they had money and the means to live and were not in bad health or diseased. If you could pass those simple tests, you were in, just as my Grand Mother and Grand Father did.

    On the other hand, my rich Great Uncles came first class. They just came and settled. Of course they learned English, started their own buisnesses, recognised we were a Christian Nation and acted accordingly.

    This “Illegal Alien” stuff is a lot of bunkum and congress . . . . by the , . . . “Constitution . . . THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA . . . (Sect. 8.. The Congress shall have power: . . . .”To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes; To establish an uniform rule of naturalization, . . . “(please note, naturalization is not immegration) can’t by law do anything about it! That is why they have not been able to pass a “law” about the matter excepting working for U.S. government agencies, institutions and organizations and excetera of which the law applies to ONLY!

    Raymond Paul LAST NAME DELETED

    P.S. , you need to read the law! See U.S. title 8 http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/> the regulations and get an understanding of what United States, State and state means in law. Definitions in the law explains these terms clearly, including what are U.S. insular possesions in the states of the union and what a corporation, employer or employee is and are.

    And . . .

    Iraq And The Dilemma We Are In

    In WWII we declared War. It had to be fought. And we won big! We paid the price for sure by restrictive
    bungeling governmental interventions and trade policies which fomented war.

    Today, Moslem people are held captive by a religion that denies reality and the Creator.
    They pray to a demonic moon god, a false god who masquerades as a peacfull being. A god who does not show love.
    I believe most people are just blind to what is called Moslem and no amount of teaching will cure that.
    Only God can do that with the mind. Europe in the name of choice, A.K.A.
    religious freedom, are allowing themselves to be overrun by Moslems. The Moslem leadership
    know what they are doing and must not be allowed to continue unabated.

    If you come into a country, you MUST acknowledge the foundation, the language, habits
    and ways of that nation accepting you. We are to treat foreigners as home born, which on
    their part, must accept what we are and not bow down to a strange god
    who is an imposter. It is in the Bible if you care to look.

    We had no problem with Iraq, but Afghanistan is a different story. We should have gotten
    the Congress to declare war and go to it. Iraq is a waste of lives and money. Our real war
    is with that demonic moon god and till folks understand that, it will be no deal. Morally we are fighting
    a war of attrition. Democrats or Republican ideology will not solve any problems here it just gets us in deeper.

    How Do We Cure This Dilemma?

    Perhaps we ought to apologize and give the Iraq people a lump sum under a contract and
    leave. No matter what we do, they will continue as before, just as brutal as always. Or they
    might just see the light by us doing what is correct conduct? If they want, give them civilian
    non governmental aid to build as needed which they pay for and we do repairs on the stuff
    we broke at our cost. That, will not cost us any more lives, just some money which we now
    print by the bushel-full.

    We fought WWII on two fronts and won it in 3.5 years. We are into our fourth and on to the
    5th year in Iraq and six years in Afghanistan. We have not made any ground, Osama is still
    out there and we have wounded and dead soldiers, brave fellows who have been duped
    by a government as usual. What is wrong with this situation?

    Part Of The Cure?

    Free trade and no real money has cost us dearly. Centralization, phony income taxes and
    government “ownership” of the most productive land and property in the world, add a phoney
    climate” change ideology and removing us from our possessions by false beliefs,
    junk science and outrageous “laws” which intrude on the peoples freedom. Instead of
    trying to cure the worlds ills, might we concentrate on our own? Hold Congress, the
    President and the Courts to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
    Understand the people are sovereign, land is allodial, money is gold or silver and real
    Law is the Common Law rooted in the Bible, Old and New Testament. If the other
    nations see us prospering and curing our ills and weaknesses, building wealth by honest
    work and productivity, they will want to know what we are doing and are about.
    That is a Biblical principle, being an example for all the world to see!

    Raymond Paul

    Lila Rajiva

    – I don’t disagree with you at all on many of those points – about the need for sound money, minding our own business and freedom of commerce. I do part company with you on the moon god and demon bit, though, although again, cultural factors involved need to be examined more openly, free both from the blinkers of political correctness on one hand and of unfounded prejudice on the other.

  2. MJ in Arizona writes in support:

    “I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in
    their purpose, or that impose on the people an nwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is ‘needed’ before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ interests, I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.” –

  3. And RPM offers this:

    Lila Rajiva,

    I thank you for your article on “Aliens”.

    Appended is a bit of a rant on the “War” and “Aliens”

    In the great immigration in the early 1900’s, ticketed first class passengers did not have passports or “required” I.D. to go hither and youn to Europe or the U.S.A. . . . . they just paid the fare and took off to wherever and lived where they pleased as evident at the turn of the 20 century. There were no such things as “Illegal Aliens” excepting the enemy, whoever that was, then if need be we killed them or shiped them back to where they came from.. Stearage passengers on the other hand had to prove they had money and the means to live and were not in bad health or diseased. If you could pass those simple tests, you were in, just as my Grand Mother and Grand Father did.

    On the other hand, my rich Great Uncles came first class. They just came and settled. Of course they learned English, started their own buisnesses, recognised we were a Christian Nation and acted accordingly.

    This “Illegal Alien” stuff is a lot of bunkum and congress . . . . by the , . . . “Constitution . . . THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA . . . (Sect. 8.. The Congress shall have power: . . . .”To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes; To establish an uniform rule of naturalization, . . . “(please note, naturalization is not immegration) can’t by law do anything about it! That is why they have not been able to pass a “law” about the matter excepting working for U.S. government agencies, institutions and organizations and excetera of which the law applies to ONLY!

    RP M

    P.S. , you need to read the law! See U.S. title 8 the regulations and get an understanding of what United States, State and state means in law. Definitions in the law explains these terms clearly, including what are U.S. insular possesions in the states of the union and what a corporation, employer or employee is and are.

    And . . .
    Iraq And The Dilemma We Are In

    In WWII we declared War. It had to be fought. And we won big! We paid the price for sure by restrictive
    bungeling governmental interventions and trade policies which fomented war.

    Today, Moslem people are held captive by a religion that denies reality and the Creator.
    They pray to a demonic moon god, a false god who masquerades as a peacfull being. A god who does not show love.
    I believe most people are just blind to what is called Moslem and no amount of teaching will cure that.
    Only God can do that with the mind. Europe in the name of choice, A.K.A.
    religious freedom, are allowing themselves to be overrun by Moslems. The Moslem leadership
    know what they are doing and must not be allowed to continue unabated.

    If you come into a country, you MUST acknowledge the foundation, the language, habits
    and ways of that nation accepting you. We are to treat foreigners as home born, which on
    their part, must accept what we are and not bow down to a strange god
    who is an imposter. It is in the Bible if you care to look.

    We had no problem with Iraq, but Afghanistan is a different story. We should have gotten
    the Congress to declare war and go to it. Iraq is a waste of lives and money. Our real war
    is with that demonic moon god and till folks understand that, it will be no deal. Morally we are fighting
    a war of attrition. Democrats or Republican ideology will not solve any problems here it just gets us in deeper.

    How Do We Cure This Dilemma?

    Perhaps we ought to apologize and give the Iraq people a lump sum under a contract and
    leave. No matter what we do, they will continue as before, just as brutal as always. Or they
    might just see the light by us doing what is correct conduct? If they want, give them civilian
    non governmental aid to build as needed which they pay for and we do repairs on the stuff
    we broke at our cost. That, will not cost us any more lives, just some money which we now
    print by the bushel-full.

    We fought WWII on two fronts and won it in 3.5 years. We are into our fourth and on to the
    5th year in Iraq and six years in Afghanistan. We have not made any ground, Osama is still
    out there and we have wounded and dead soldiers, brave fellows who have been duped
    by a government as usual. What is wrong with this situation?

    Part Of The Cure?

    Free trade and no real money has cost us dearly. Centralization, phony income taxes and
    government “ownership” of the most productive land and property in the world, add a phoney
    “climate” change ideology and removing us from our possessions by false beliefs,
    junk science and outrageous “laws” which intrude on the peoples freedom. Instead of
    trying to cure the worlds ills, might we concentrate on our own? Hold Congress, the
    President and the Courts to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
    Understand the people are sovereign, land is allodial, money is gold or silver and real
    Law is the Common Law rooted in the Bible, Old and New Testament. If the other
    nations see us prospering and curing our ills and weaknesses, building wealth by honest
    work and productivity, they will want to know what we are doing and are about.
    That is a Biblical principle, being an example for all the world to see!

    RPM

  4. Lila Rajiva,

    I thank you for your article on “Aliens”.

    Appende is a bit of a rant on the “War” and “Aliens”

    In the great immigration in the early 1900’s, ticketed first class passengers did not have passports or “required” I.D. to go hither and youn to Europe or the U.S.A. . . . . they just paid the fare and took off to wherever and lived where they pleased as evident at the turn of the 20 century. There were no such things as “Illegal Aliens” excepting the enemy, whoever that was, then if need be we killed them or shiped them back to where they came from.. Stearage passengers on the other hand had to prove they had money and the means to live and were not in bad health or diseased. If you could pass those simple tests, you were in, just as my Grand Mother and Grand Father did.

    On the other hand, my rich Great Uncles came first class. They just came and settled. Of course they learned English, started their own buisnesses, recognised we were a Christian Nation and acted accordingly.

    This “Illegal Alien” stuff is a lot of bunkum and congress . . . . by the , . . . “Constitution . . . THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA . . . (Sect. 8.. The Congress shall have power: . . . .”To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes; To establish an uniform rule of naturalization, . . . “(please note, naturalization is not immegration) can’t by law do anything about it! That is why they have not been able to pass a “law” about the matter excepting working for U.S. government agencies, institutions and organizations and excetera of which the law applies to ONLY!

    RPM

    P.S. , you need to read the law! See U.S. title 8 the regulations and get an understanding of what United States, State and state means in law. Definitions in the law explains these terms clearly, including what are U.S. insular possesions in the states of the union and what a corporation, employer or employee is and are.

    And . . .
    Iraq And The Dilemma We Are In

    In WWII we declared War. It had to be fought. And we won big! We paid the price for sure by restrictive
    bungeling governmental interventions and trade policies which fomented war.

    Today, Moslem people are held captive by a religion that denies reality and the Creator.
    They pray to a demonic moon god, a false god who masquerades as a peacfull being. A god who does not show love.
    I believe most people are just blind to what is called Moslem and no amount of teaching will cure that.
    Only God can do that with the mind. Europe in the name of choice, A.K.A.
    religious freedom, are allowing themselves to be overrun by Moslems. The Moslem leadership
    know what they are doing and must not be allowed to continue unabated.

    If you come into a country, you MUST acknowledge the foundation, the language, habits
    and ways of that nation accepting you. We are to treat foreigners as home born, which on
    their part, must accept what we are and not bow down to a strange god
    who is an imposter. It is in the Bible if you care to look.

    We had no problem with Iraq, but Afghanistan is a different story. We should have gotten
    the Congress to declare war and go to it. Iraq is a waste of lives and money. Our real war
    is with that demonic moon god and till folks understand that, it will be no deal. Morally we are fighting
    a war of attrition. Democrats or Republican ideology will not solve any problems here it just gets us in deeper.

    How Do We Cure This Dilemma?

    Perhaps we ought to apologize and give the Iraq people a lump sum under a contract and
    leave. No matter what we do, they will continue as before, just as brutal as always. Or they
    might just see the light by us doing what is correct conduct? If they want, give them civilian
    non governmental aid to build as needed which they pay for and we do repairs on the stuff
    we broke at our cost. That, will not cost us any more lives, just some money which we now
    print by the bushel-full.

    We fought WWII on two fronts and won it in 3.5 years. We are into our fourth and on to the
    5th year in Iraq and six years in Afghanistan. We have not made any ground, Osama is still
    out there and we have wounded and dead soldiers, brave fellows who have been duped
    by a government as usual. What is wrong with this situation?

    Part Of The Cure?

    Free trade and no real money has cost us dearly. Centralization, phony income taxes and
    government “ownership” of the most productive land and property in the world, add a phoney
    “climate” change ideology and removing us from our possessions by false beliefs,
    junk science and outrageous “laws” which intrude on the peoples freedom. Instead of
    trying to cure the worlds ills, might we concentrate on our own? Hold Congress, the
    President and the Courts to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
    Understand the people are sovereign, land is allodial, money is gold or silver and real
    Law is the Common Law rooted in the Bible, Old and New Testament. If the other
    nations see us prospering and curing our ills and weaknesses, building wealth by honest
    work and productivity, they will want to know what we are doing and are about.
    That is a Biblical principle, being an example for all the world to see!

    RPM

  5. LR:

    I sympathize with some of the concerns here – I do believe that the government intrinsically has no right to interfere in commerce or migration. I also agree with the need for sound money. But I think I’ll part ways with the bit about moon gods, though…. although more debate on the cultural question won’t hurt, as long as we can steer clear both of political correctness on one hand and of unfounded prejudice on the other.

    Again, reducing the extent of the federal government will get rid of the need even to address some of these questions.

  6. Lila

    My problem with your argumentation is that “breaking the law” line is something utterly… sorry, I can´t say what I think about that without being agressive. The apartheid followed the law, the Nuremberg Laws and the Jim Crow Laws either.

    And there is another problem: it´s very difficult to know to witch extent federal and state anti-immigration laws can comply with the Tenth Amendment and the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution. And I think that comparisons between private property and a state are also horrible too.

    And I never saw a research about immigration showing that immigrants consume more welfare than the amount of taxes that they pay. This immigration bill is horrible, but there is another ways of attacking it.

    But, I shouldn´t be worried about that. To me, less immigration in the US is good. Most of the agricultural products that my country produces competes with american producers in the international market. Less immigration means higher wages for the american orange and soybean producers that competes with brazilian producers.

  7. Hi Andre –

    Yes – except that these laws aren’t Nuremberg laws are they?

    I don’t think I am saying by any means that any law by the state is correct – that’s why I appeal to the Constitution.

    We have to distinguish between positive law and fundamental rights and values underlying them for which we, of course, still use the language of law – but which actually are rooted in justice, natural law (if we subscribe to it), ethics, common law, and so on..

    I would not otherwise be able to distinguish between the law which protects us from detention without trial (habeas corpus) and the law of any particular government which violates that protection. Nazi jurisprudence failed to make that distinction.

    If we want free migration, then we shouldn’t have a law. Pure and simple. But unequal application of a law is inherently unjust and doubly so when it’s with reference to citizenship.

  8. Neither am I opposed to immigration at all…I am all for it.

    But we can’t have laws that are imposed on some and not on others. It creates perverse incentives.

    And I am not sure that the statistics produced to support the argument that immigrants are not a burden on the community are accurate – they are very partisan – on both sides. They also do not take into account the issue of crime. I have seen very different statistics thrown around by each side.

    But for me the argument is also about the increase in federal power and bureaucracy that will go with it – far more than any good that comes of it. Read Martin Hutchinson’s argument on it…I will try to find and post it.

    By the way – part of the problem is the way the federal government’s power was extended almost infinitely to anywhere and anything through the commerce clause…(my understanding anyway)…which is why we DON’T have a free market at all, but a very distorted market.

    Feel free to correct me…but this was how I understood constitutional history when I read it.

    And it’s no skin off my nose –

    The more migrant workers get into the country, the easier it is for the average middle-class person who needs cheap hair cuts and services. So I am arguing against my self-interest too.

    It is just that I think I know a Federal government boondoggle when I see it, and this is one.

    Run by Chertoff? And with detention camps being built inside the country? And what if there is labor activism mixed up with counter-terrorist ops on the border – it will end up a human rights nightmare…not to mention the financial headache and burden.

    LR


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