Voluntaryist Solutions to the Public Benefits and Immigration Problem

December 2018: I read this essay and added commentary for Editor’s Break 119 of the EVC podcast.

Ours is a world filled with organized crime, you may call them “governments.” These governments often, in their quest to legitimize and maintain their rule, offer benefits back to those they victimize on a continual basis. Some governments offer more than others. The United States government, and its many smaller federated governments, have created many different benefit programs for those it considers its citizens, and otherwise.

The funds for these public benefits programs ultimately come from citizens and residents. When people from other parts of the world move into the United States, they have more or less the opportunity to obtain these public benefits for themselves. If too many people move into the United States and exploit these public benefits (and eventually vote for more of them), this will have the very real effect of bankrupting governments if they don’t act to either limit public benefits or increase revenue generation, such as by what is euphemistically called “taxation.”

What’s a voluntaryist, who is a person who recognizes the criminal nature of governments, to do about the problem of immigrants exploiting public benefits? There are several possible solutions to this problem, many of which are consistent with the voluntary principle, that all human relations should happen voluntarily, or not at all, and many of which are not. As a voluntaryist, I do not care to consider or defend solutions that require the violation of the voluntary principle. Here are some which qualify as anti-voluntaryist:

  • Having governments maintain or increase its crime against its citizens in order to fund the building of a wall or other technological barriers to immigrant entry.
  • Having governments repel peaceful immigrants by the threat and use of violence.
  • Having governments increase its surveillance of its citizens in order to monitor for their aiding and abetting of unwelcome immigrants.
  • Having governments coercively interfere with its citizens voluntarily trading with unwelcome immigrants.

I could go on, but I’m sure that’s sufficient to give you an idea of the sorts of solutions that government brings to the problem of public benefits to immigrants. None of these obviously coercive and aggressive solutions appeal to me, nor are any of them compatible with my principles as a voluntaryist. All of them are totally unjust and necessarily violent against peaceful people. So what can be done about this problem? Here are some solutions which are compatible with the voluntary principle:

  • Having governments severely limit or abolish its public benefits programs. No public benefits, nothing for immigrants to exploit.
  • Having governments reduce its aggression against free markets and free trade with people in other places around the world. This would increase the economic opportunities for would-be immigrants at home, decreasing their incentive to leave.
  • Having governments abolish their wars on drugs and other illicit trades. These policies have had major negative effects on poorer places around the world.
  • Having governments end their foreign wars and occupations. These interventions have had major negative effects on poorer places around the world.
  • Having governments abolish gun control so that its citizens have the legal right to defend themselves from attacks by unsavory immigrants.
  • Having interested parties form voluntary education centers to expose immigrants to voluntaryist thought.
  • Having interested parties open their homes, churches, and community centers to immigrants for the purpose of befriending them and showing them how to survive in their new land without the need to exploit public benefits.

I’m sure if you really put your mind to it, you too could discover all sorts of peaceful solutions to this problem. It’s not difficult. At some point, however, you will realize that your enemy is not the poor immigrant trying to find a better life for himself and his family. Your enemy is organized crime, government. Should those who value peace, liberty, and justice pray to their enemy to coercively protect them from the non-enemies their enemy has incentivized in the first place? Seems stupid to me.

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Nationalism Is a Weird Ideology

Nationalism is a weird ideology. It would be easy to imagine that it was cooked up by rulers looking for a means of keeping their victims submissive and cooperative.

A nationalist gives moral priority to others within the boundaries of his nation-state, or at least to his fellow citizens there, and he acts accordingly in political affairs. Yet even in a small nation-state, practically all these people are complete strangers. One has never met them, never will meet them, has only the foggiest idea of the sort of people they are. Maybe they speak his language, but many do not. Maybe they are of the same race, but many are not; and even if they are, so what? Maybe they share his cultural affinities, but maybe they don’t. Maybe they are not even decent people; in fact, many are complete creeps or criminals. Why should anyone give any kind of priority to them merely because they happen to be located within the boundaries of the same tax farm?

Nationalism is, among other things, a gigantic aggregation error. It takes a huge, enormously diverse collection of people and imagines that each and every individual in the collection is somehow better than each and every individual in other nation-states. The more you think about it, the more idiotic it becomes.

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“Red Flag Laws”: Rights Can’t be “Suspended,” Only Violated

Hanna Scott of Seattle’s KIRO radio reports that prosecutors in Washington are wrestling with the question of whether or not the state’s “Red Flag law” applies to minors, and trying to stretch it to do so. Under the “law,” Scott writes, a judge can issue an “Extreme Risk Protection Order” to “temporarily suspend a person’s gun rights, even if they haven’t committed a crime.”

Scott gets that part wrong. Judges who issue ERPOs aren’t “suspending” their victims’ gun  rights and constitutionally mandated due process and property protections. They’re ordering police to violate those rights and ignore those protections. There’s a difference.

Rights are inherent characteristics possessed by all human beings, not privileges  to be granted or withheld at the whim of a bureaucrat in a black dress. And the point of the 5th Amendment’s due process clause is precisely to protect the life, liberty, and property of Americans against arbitrary judicial edicts. Under the US Constitution, “laws” which violate those protections are null and void.

Several state governments have passed, or begun more active implementation of, these “Red Flag laws” since a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida in February.

Maryland’s version of “Red Flag” went into effect on October 1. As of November 20, at least 172 complaints had been filed under the “law,” which allows courts and police to steal a victim’s guns and keep them until a judge decides whether or not that victim is “at risk of violent behavior or suicide.”

In one case, Maryland’s law has already put the victim at more than “risk” of violent behavior. Police officers in Ferndale, Maryland murdered 61-year-old Gary Willis when they showed up to steal his guns and he declined to cooperate.

Neither the cops who killed Willis, nor the judge who sent them to do so, will likely be held accountable for the killing of a man accused of no crime and minding his own business on his own property. That’s the very definition of lawlessness.

Why did a judge order police to steal Willis’s guns?  We’re not allowed to know. The contents of such orders are considered state secrets.

What might we call a system under which anonymous judges can secretly order anonymous police officers to expropriate property from citizens who have neither been accused of nor convicted of crimes, on pain of death for resistance?

The only term that seems to fit is “police state.”

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Elon Musk’s Innovative Education Blueprint

“I hated going to school when I was a kid. It was torture,” said Elon Musk while describing Ad Astra, the school he opened on the California campus of his SpaceX company’s headquarters. In 2014, Musk pulled his five boys out of an elite private school in Los Angeles and decided to open his own school for his children and the children of some of his SpaceX employees. He recruited one of his sons’ former schoolteachers to help run the school, which currently serves about 50 students.

Disruptive Alternatives to Traditional Schooling

In a 2015 interview about the school, the billionaire inventor said: “The regular schools weren’t doing the things that I thought should be done. So I thought, well, let’s see what we can do.” Ad Astra, which means “to the stars,” disrupts the very idea of school. It has no grade levels, an emergent curriculum, and no mandatory classes. As Fortune reports, “There are no grades given to students at the school and if the children don’t like a particular class they’re taking, they can simply opt out.”

At Ad Astra, young people work collaboratively on projects ranging from robotics and coding to chemistry and math. Creative problem solving is a guiding principle. According to the Washington Post: “There are no sports, music or languages taught. Musk believes computer-assisted language translation is not far from being widely available.”

A Growing Trend

Recognizing a mismatch between coercive schooling and the rise of a creative economy where human ingenuity will be our key professional advantage when competing with robots, innovative companies are increasingly launching their own unconventional schools. WeWork, the co-working office space company now valued at $45 billion, launched its alternative school, WeGrow, in 2017 in its New York City headquarters. It now has 46 students in grades pre-K through fourth grade. Like Musk’s Ad Astra, WeGrow sprouted because WeWork’s founding partner and chief brand officer, Rebekah Neumann, wanted a different educational experience for her five young children. In an interview with Fast Company, Neumann said: “These children come into the world, they are very evolved, they are very special. They’re spiritual. They’re all natural entrepreneurs, natural humanitarians, and then it seems like we squash it all out of them in the education system.” Neumann continued:

The whole format was created during the Industrial Revolution, so that people would grow up and learn how to take orders on an assembly line…A lot of parents say, “Schools are not doing it right. But we’re going to kind of go with that anyway because there’s no better option.” I just wasn’t willing to accept that, especially during such formative years.

WeGrow and Ad Astra share a similar educational philosophy focused on cultivating children’s passions, immersing them in authentic projects, and encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit. WeGrow hopes to expand its schooling network alongside its WeWork shared-office network, offering WeWork members and employees a flexible, on-site, alternative education option for their children. Neumann describes her vision for WeGrow: “We have WeWorks located all around the world, thank God. A lot of members don’t see their kids for many, many hours a day. So I’m passionate about actually opening these schools inside WeWork buildings, so that parents can bring their kids to school, see them possibly at lunch, maybe bring them home.” Neumann also sees the value of the WeGrow school network in an increasingly global economy:

The idea that once your kids enter kindergarten you cannot move around the world anymore is completely archaic…We have many global entrepreneurs, citizens of the world, who want to live global lifestyles or need to for work.

Entrepreneurs are notoriously ahead of the curve. It’s no surprise that successful, forward-thinking company founders are rejecting an outdated conventional schooling model and building something new and better—for their children, for their employees’ children, and, as is the case with WeWork, for their customers’ children, as well. With entrepreneurial parents at the helm, the future of education looks bright.

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The Art of the Smear — The Israel Lobby Busted

In 2016 and 2017 Al Jazeera produced a program that unmistakenly documents the Israel government and the U.S. Israel lobby’s all-out effort to spy on and smear American students and other activists who are working to build understanding of the Palestinians’ plight. The Lobby — USA, however, has never been broadcast by Al Jazeera. Reporting indicates that it was suppressed after pressure from the lobby on the government of Qatar, which funds Al Jazeera. Nevertheless, it is now available at The Electronic Intifada and on YouTube. Watch all four parts here and here. What the program presents is shocking.

The Lobby — USA, which features an undercover journalist who won the trust of key pro-Israel operatives and who videoed revealing meetings, demonstrates beyond question the lengths to which the Israelis and their supporters in the United States will go to prevent a change in American thinking about the beleaguered Palestinians. The effort aims to smear Palestinian students in the United States and pro-Palestinian American activists and political candidates who criticize Israeli policy as anti-Semites and enablers of terrorism. The paid pro-Israel operatives, guided by Israeli government officials and embassy staff, have used social media and other channels in an attempt to destroy the career potential of student activists who work to raise Americans’ consciousness about the Palestinians. Major targets are activists in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement.

Al Jazeera produced a similar program about Israeli interference in British politics, which led to resignations of a key Israeli embassy official and other reactions that confirmed Al Jazeera’s damaging charges.

I could not do justice to the program even in a long article. Instead, I will urge readers to watch it in its entirety — and think carefully about what it means.

As one critic of Israel asks on the program, if Russia or Iran or China were doing what Israel and its American friends are doing, most people would be outraged. This is hardly the first time that Israel and friends have been caught covertly and overtly trying to influence discourse and even elections here through smear campaigns against activists, writers, and political candidates, but this is certainly among the most flagrant examples.

Let’s step back from the poisonous trees for a moment to view the forest. In 1948 the leaders of a European and nominally Jewish movement, Zionism, unilaterally declared the existence of the State of Israel, which they proclaimed the nation-state of all Jews everywhere. It so happened this state was built on land taken by force from the long-standing majority indigenous Palestinian population, most of whom were Muslims and Christians. Hundreds were massacred, three-quarters of a million were driven from their homes, and the remainder were subjected to martial law for two decades, before being given third-class citizenship with no power to improve their legal status. Almost 20 years later, the rest of Palestine was taken through warfare, producing what are known as the occupied territories in the West Bank, with its apartheid-like regime and the Gaza Strip, which is nothing more than an open-air prison under Israeli blockade.

Why? Because a “Jewish State” could not be realized if it were populated by non-Jews. And if some non-Jews remained, the state could not be a liberal democratic state for obvious reasons. All this was aided from the start by European Christians who, apparently guilt-ridden over how the Jews of Europe had been tyrannized, especially by the Nazis, opted to assuage their guilt with the land, blood, and liberty of the innocent people of Palestine, long the plaything of colonial powers.

Since that time, Israel has repressed the Palestinians in a variety of ways, depending on whether they are in the state as it existed in 1949; the West Bank, which was seized during the June 1967 war; or the Gaza Strip (also called the Gaza Ghetto), also seized in that war. Meanwhile, millions of refugees — people (and descendants of people) driven from their homes by Zionism’s terrorist militias, have been confined to refugee camps, stateless, rightless, and destitute. At various time, Israel, with America’s backing, has cut deals with Arab states and Palestinian quislings for the purpose of keeping the Palestinians from winning their rights either in a single secular democratic state or through a two-state plan. Western political and media establishments have overwhelmingly sympathized with the Israelis and demonized the Palestinians (and Arabs and Muslims generally). It didn’t take long for the public to be propagandized, against all evidence, into believing that the Palestinians are the aggressors and the Israelis the victims. Apparently, someone is anti-Semitic if one objects to having his property stolen by someone who claims that property in the name of the Jewish People.

But after so many decades of Israeli wars, massacres, repression, and routine brutal dehumanization, the tide has started to turn. Israel pulverized Gaza and its people one too many times; it shot and broke the bones of too many children before too many video cameras. And so public opinion, especially among younger Americans — and particularly among younger Jewish Americans, has been turning against Israel. Then the BDS Movement arose to accomplish what a similar movement help to accomplish against apartheid South Africa: bringing world attention to an intolerable situation and take concrete steps to change it.

All of this has been too much for Israel’s ruling elite and its supporters in the United States, Great Britain, and elsewhere, and they are fighting back. They know they can’t win on the merits. Well-documented historical studies and basic morality have seen to that. So they smear their opponents. As one Israel lobby operator puts it in the Al Jazeera program, you discredit the message by discrediting the messenger — which is what The Israel Project, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Israel on Campus Coalition, Canary Mission, Emergency Committee on Israel, Israeli Embassy in Washington, Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, and the other co-conspirators have set out to do. Their goal, as their leaders themselves acknowledge, is to identify criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. (Also see this.)

But it goes beyond that. The Israel lobby realizes that the anti-Semitism charge no long sticks so tenaciously to people who merely indict Israel for its obvious mistreatment of the Palestinians. So the lobby has resorted to a broader brush: it says that those who support BDS and the Palestinians are anti-American, anti-democracy, and anti-all-blessed-things. BDS and Students for Justice in Palestinian, the lobby contends, are hate groups. This of course is patently absurd, but Israel’s side observes no limits it what it is willing to say and perhaps do to destroy the reputations anyone who realizes that the Israeli emperor has clothes.

Al Jazeera, the Electronic Intifada, Max Blumenthal’s The Gray Zone Project, and others have performed a much-needed service on behalf of freedom, justice, and decency. I urge you to watch this program and spread the word.

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Immigration isn’t a Real Problem

Emotions are running hot on the topic of immigration these days, both for and against, with most of the current drama surrounding birthright citizenship and migrant caravans.

Immigration is a government-caused problem that can’t be solved with more government.

I’m not talking about people being imported and settled by government; that’s not immigration. I completely oppose such government programs. I’m only talking about people making their own way to a new place.

People tend to move from places with less liberty to places with more. More liberty also creates prosperity. Despite the best efforts of the Department of Homeland Security and the government’s other alphabet soup agencies, America still has more liberty than some other places. I’m sure they’ll close this loophole as soon as possible so no one will want to come to America anymore.

Until they succeed, people will want to move here.

An inconvenient fact for those claiming to oppose only “illegal immigration”: there’s no such thing.

Regulating immigration isn’t allowed by the Constitution.

The parts commonly used to justify immigration control only allow government to regulate the importation of slaves and to set the rules for becoming a new citizen. Immigration restriction isn’t permitted. I’m not saying this is good or bad, but as it stands government immigration control isn’t legal.

Any government employee who enforces a law that isn’t allowed by the Constitution is a criminal, while those who break unconstitutional laws aren’t.

If you don’t like this, petition for a constitutional amendment, which allows government to control immigration.

Honestly, though, there’s no such thing as immigration. There are only people moving around. Either a person is where they have a right to be, through property ownership or an arrangement with the property owner, or they are trespassing. “Public land” can’t, by definition, be trespassed upon, regardless of the claims of government. Whether you allow others to use your private property is your choice, not the choice of your neighbors or voters.

If newcomers are a problem, there are ways to fix it.

  • Abolish all tax-funded welfare and replace it with voluntary charity.
  • Stop allowing politics, and votes, to violate rights. Natural human rights are never legitimately up for a vote nor subject to a law, no matter how many voters believe otherwise.
  • Stop criminalizing defense of life, liberty, and property, and encourage everyone to carry the proper tools of defense at all times.

Immigration isn’t a problem, unless you allow government to keep making it a problem.

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