John Kerry (a.k.a “Bolt Neck” by the incomparable Chris Plante) upset quite a few folks with his open-borders comments in a commencement speech at Northeastern University last week.
Allow me to shock you by saying that I, too, believe in open borders — in theory, that is. Human beings have an inalienable right to be free, and that includes the right to live anywhere they so desire, without the permission of any government. This is how the anarchist libertarian side of my brain sees the issue.
But with age, I’ve come to realize that there are very few things in life that have simple answers, and the open-borders issue is a good example. The problem with allowing anyone who wants to live in the United States to do so is that the country he came from will not reciprocate in kind. You can confirm this very easily by trying to emigrate to Mexico or Canada without going through a long, drawn-out immigration process, a process that is likely to produce a rejection.
Which raises the obvious question, by what laws of logic and fairness can one country — with limited resources — give everyone in the world a free pass through the immigration door when the very countries they come from refuse to reciprocate?
When I lived in Australia, the political thugs (i.e., “government”) wanted a $600,000 shakedown payment in exchange for permanent residency. In the United States, by contrast, it seems like the only requirement to be admitted is to have no money and no profession. And promising to go on welfare immediately and engage in criminal activity probably increases a would-be immigrant’s chances of being allowed to stay in the country.
So-called free trade is a similar issue. Believe me, I have a lot of concern that Trump-imposed tariffs not only would increase the cost of living in the United States, but could also start a trade war (which history teaches us can lead to a real, live shooting war).
The problem again is that, as we have seen for so many years now, other countries don’t reciprocate. China, for example, has come up with myriad schemes (in addition to tariffs) to raise the price of American products and, in many cases, shut them out of the country entirely.
All this plays into my argument that in the real world, the ideology of total freedom is up against a number of other factors that need to be considered. And at the top of the list is that most people want their society not only to have rules, but a generally accepted code of conduct.
The reason the United States is hurtling toward the trash bin of history is that it has devolved into a society where many laws are aimed at law-abiding citizens rather than criminals and, at an accelerating pace, our once cherished Western civilization code of conduct is being dismantled.
Public safety is another factor that gets in the way of total freedom. A person is free to get alcohol inebriated, but when he drives while drunk (or while under the influence of drugs), he endangers the lives of others. If I were king, the penalty for killing someone with a two-ton machine would be something close to life in prison.
Ditto with killer animals such as poisonous snakes, lions, and tigers. It’s nice to say that a free person should be able to keep wild beasts on his property, but the reality is that if those creatures manage to escape their captivity, they become killing machines. You may remember that in 2011, a nutcase in Zanesville, Ohio released fifty-six killer animals from his farm — including lions, tigers, wolves, and bears — to take revenge on his neighbors.
Luckily, police reacted quickly and put down all but six of the animals, the latter being captured and put in a shelter. The perpetrator of the crime killed himself before police could get to him.
The point is there is ideological purity, there’s civilized culture, and there’s public safety, and the latter two are often in conflict with the former. Open borders sounds like a great idea a thousand years or so down the road when perhaps all of mankind will have become civilized. But right now, Mr. Bolt Neck, it’s in conflict with what’s important to most people — public safety, strict laws against criminal activity, and a civilized code of conduct.
If anyone had any doubts about this, the success of the Trump revolution should have convinced them by now how a majority of Americans feel about the current state of the union — with the question of open borders being at the top of the list.