March 2019: I read this essay and added commentary for Episode 291 of the Everything Voluntary podcast.
Justin Faber, who I had a chat with on the podcast and has published at EVC, wrote recently, “You: Open borders are incompatible with a welfare state. Me: A welfare state is incompatible with open borders.” And therein lies the difference between libertarian types who disagree on the borders question.
Neither disagrees that private property owners have the right to close their property borders. That’s not what’s under dispute. What’s under dispute is the role the [admittedly criminal] government should play vis a vis it’s arbitrarily placed lines on a map. Should the government enforce strict border controls in order to protect its welfare state supporting taxpayers? Or should the government leave borders alone and allow the free migration of peaceful people who may or may not become a burden to the welfare state?
I have two biases that I bring to these questions. The first is my very strong bias against so-called government solutions to any problem under the sun. Simply put, government doesn’t and can’t have all the knowledge required to solve a problem of this magnitude efficiently and effectively, all the while minimizing or eliminating unintended consequences. The second is my very strong bias for the freedom to migrate wherever the hell I want to. I demand the liberty to travel to France, New Zealand, and Japan as easily as I travel to Oregon, Texas, and Illinois, regardless of the duration I’m choosing to spend at each location. If I want to move and work anywhere else in the world, I should be totally free to do so as long as someone is willing to sell or rent to and employ me. It’s none of your goddamn business. Learning the language and adapting to the culture is my challenge, not yours.
In my opinion, the libertarian solution to the problem of welfare statism and open borders, a problem created by government, is not more government in the form of border and immigration control. The libertarian solution is the abolition of the welfare state. Obviously, the welfare state is incompatible with open government borders, but open government borders are the libertarian position. The welfare state is the intrusion. Why should my liberty and your liberty be curtailed because of a government intrusion?
Tell me: why should libertarians demand more government intrusion into the lives of peaceful people just because government has already intruded into the lives of peaceful people?
They shouldn’t, and to do so makes them accomplices to aggression.