Borders and Neighbors

I used to live near an Orthodox Synagogue. Because of their religious belief, Orthodox Jews do not drive on the Sabbath; they walk to services every Friday night; therefore, they strongly prefer to live in close proximity to their synagogue.

Since this synagogue was on a major venue, I walked through often, and came to recognize a distinct style, big bushy beards, a certain kind of flat-brimmed hat, the cut of overcoat, the somber colors.

I’m sure, for natural reasons, that these birds do flock together. But there are no hard-and-fast boundaries. If we were to inspect the demographics, we’d probably find many Orthodox families grouped in distinct clusters. We’d also find some areas where Orthodox and Gentile intermingle to some degree.

There was no “border control.” Nobody barred my passage through the neighborhood. It’s quite probable that if I’d taken a shine to some potential mate therein, the family would have steered us apart. There were no artificial barriers to conversation and commerce, but my actual intercourse with these neighbors was slight.

Bordertarians leap from these natural groupings of people to a demand to draw arbitrary lines and borders and post guards to create and enforce physical separation. That’s quite a extrapolation. They’ll go even further, and claim that the mere proximity of people whose hues of skin or ideas or religion differ from one’s own is “forced integration.”

The lack of an artificial border did not prevent my neighbors and I from respecting each other’s person and property. The border controls proposed by bordertarians would disrespect both person and property, and impede voluntary associations and the right to use and dispose of one’s own property.

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The Destruction of Property Norms

Private borders are not in dispute, except as straw men, or by Marxists. Bordertarians fail to recognize that many Real Life private borders are “open” for good reason. Consider a shopping mall built by a reputed builder like US Florida Property Management, LLC: borders to the privately-owned property are open. The privately-owned access roads and parking lots are open on purpose, because the mall wishes to attract people. The mall itself usually locks its doors at night; it is usually open to anybody except those who have been banned for cause, such as known shoplifters. The stores within close their gates after hours, but are open to all, with similar exceptions, during business hours. Within the stores, there are areas with more restrictive borders, such as employee areas, management offices, and so forth. There are still more restrictive borders where it matters, such as the door to the bank vault.

Privately-owned borders include examples of all degrees of open and closed, depending on the requirements of the owners.

Bordertarians seek to apply a single one-size-fits-all “solution” to the entire external border, and to every border within. They effectively collectivize access to all property, since they mandate who may and may not be on all property. This is destructive of private property norms, as anyone who has been raided by immigration authorities may attest.

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Talk Early, Talk Often

What can you as a parent do to help your children develop their language skills?

Workbooks? Flash cards? No, my advice is much simpler. Talk to them. Talk early. Talk often. Talk about all the interesting aspects of your life together.

My fans may remember the 30 million word research. Today, I discovered an extensive interview with one of the authors, Dr. Todd Risley. It’s long, but well worth reading or listening to the end.

Doctors Hart and Risley observed very young children – 0 to three years of age – trying to find out why some have rich vocabularies in the preschool years, and discovered something unexpected. Children hear on average 1500 words per hour, but some hear as few as 600 per hour, and some 2100 words per hour. The children whose parents or caregivers talk a lot, come away with richer vocabularies than those with taciturn caregivers.

It’s not just quantity. Ever child hears a certain amount of “business talk” – do this, come here, stop that. These directives tend to be simple and repetitive. The additional talk is varied, complex, interesting, and vocabulary-rich. It entices the child with pictures and rhythm and back-and-forth engagement. It helps to develop important centers of the child’s brain.

You’ll find that the correlation between this sort of speech and measures of children’s reading, IQ at age 3, and academic success is strong. And it does not matter what the socio-economic status is. A poor minority parent who engages with her child – or is able to place her child with such a caregiver at an early age – will impart a great gift to her child; the gift of a rich vocabulary, learned during the crucial early years of the child’s life.

I stress again – this is early development, the development of babies and toddlers. Conversation, back and forth, as you change the baby’s diaper or nurse her or clothe her or take her shopping. You needn’t spend money; you needn’t do any more than converse with your little children. Early and often.

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No Such Thing As Free School

Remember the saying? There’s no such thing as a free lunch? This is true for all “free” goods provided by the government. First off, obviously, taxpayers cover the costs. Second, government is seldom or never the most efficient provider of services.

But most importantly, “free” school (the topic of this article) comes packaged with a bundle of problems. Someone else, not you, gets to decide which hours children should attend school; which subjects should be taught; and what the content of those subjects might be. Some one else decides which spin of history and economics and philosophy shall be taught.

It should come as no surprise that, when the government teaches, it happens to teach that government is a positive good, and that without government, there’d be no roads, and we’d all be at the mercy of war lords and other horrible creatures. So shut up, submit, pay your taxes and follow the rules.

We are discovering, however, that many things which were presumed to need government intervention, do not. Parents are teaching their children at home and in co-ops, independent of government. In India, millions of parents are spurning government schools, in favor of parent-funded government-free schools. Millions of customers use ride-sharing services, breaking the stranglehold of licensed taxicab drivers. People are using Bitcoin to transact business. In a myriad of ways, people are discovering that government isn’t free; that freedom works better and at lower cost.

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Nativism Self-implodes

I’ve opposed nativist know-nothings for decades, for many reasons. Their theory of wall-building-as-panacea rests on many shifting assertions, including the belief that immigrants necessarily vote for more government, and/or necessarily vote Democrat.

Both parts of that theory have always seemed suspect to me. In addition, the last claim – that immigrants tend to vote Democrat – seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you spend a great deal of time advertising your dislike of immigrants, are they supposed to happily rush to endorse your pogrom, excuse me, program?

Alex Nowrasteh tackles this fallacious marketing strategy in his commentary Saving the GOP from Modern Know-Nothingism

California’s Gov. Pete Wilson took another path. Facing a tough re-election campaign in 1994, the Republican decided to blame illegal immigrants for all of the state’s troubles. The result was that he and the rest of the state GOP were perceived as blaming all immigrants for California’s woes. Mr. Wilson won re-election but doomed the GOP for decades in that state.

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Against Intellectual Property

This will raise the ire of some libertarians, but I can see no merit in arguments that a copy of the product of one’s mental effort is “property.”

Suppose I make a clay pot. Assuming that the clay was mine, and the tools were mine or were legitimately in my hands, and I had no prior commitment to produce the pot for others, that pot is mine.

If a replicator then makes an exact duplicate, the pot belongs to whoever owns the replicator, just as a copy machine produces copies of paper documents. So-called IP laws seek to claim property in copies and even sort-of-vaguely-like “copies” of the arrangement of bits, blobs of ink, or physical stuff. If taken to extreme, you would owe royalties to the first creators of every word you utter, in perpetuity.

There’s a lot to be said on this topic. Recommended reading list:

The Case Against Intellectual Property
Against Intellectual Property
The Case Against Patents

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