Politics versus Policy in the New “Public Charge” Rules

On August 12, the Trump administration announced new rules for immigrants seeking permanent residence status (through issuance of a “green card”)  in the United States. Those rules apply a longstanding prohibition on immigrants likely to become “public charges” (that is, dependent on government benefits) to  applicants who have received certain of those government benefits — among them Medicaid, SNAP (“food stamps”), and housing assistance — for more than 12 months.

The politics of the move are obvious: Trump is throwing more red meat to his anti-immigration “base.” The new rules are of a piece with his border wall project and high-profile ICE raids on workplaces where undocumented immigrants are employed. They’re not intended to solve a problem. They’re intended to keep his voters enthused as the 2020 election cycle heats up.

As actual policy, who can really complain? Well, some people can and will. But if the US government is going to regulate immigration at all (I don’t believe that it should, and the Constitution says it can’t), “pay your own way or go away” doesn’t sound like an unreasonable rule.

Interestingly, though, the policy conflicts with the politics. It discourages the “legal” immigration most Trump voters claim to be fine with, and encourages the “illegal” immigration he campaigned on a promise of “fixing.”

Suppose you are a would-be immigrant to the United States.

You can “get in line,” fill out forms, show up for meetings, submit to questioning, bust your hump meeting various requirements, and still find yourself turned away (or sent back) for any number of reasons.

Or you can walk across the border in the middle of the night and go to work, with a much lower chance of being found out, and sent back, than if you interacted with US immigration authorities.

Adding to the burden of the first approach doesn’t mean fewer immigrants. It just means that more immigrants will take the second approach.

Is that the outcome you signed up for, Trump voters?

Anti-immigration agitators fondly quote economist Milton Friedman: “[I]t is one thing to have free immigration to jobs. It is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. And you cannot have both.” The rule change is a sop to that sentiment. But it leaves out another thing Friedman said about what happens when we try to have both:

“Mexican immigration, over the border, is a good thing. It’s a good thing for the illegal immigrants. It’s a good thing for the United States. It’s a good thing for the citizens of the country. But, it’s only good so long as it’s illegal.”

If Americans want fewer “public charges,” the solution isn’t to single out immigrants for exclusion from government welfare benefits. It’s to eliminate, or at least drastically reduce and toughen  eligibility requirements for, those welfare benefits. For everyone, not just for people who happen to  hail from the “wrong” side of an imaginary line on the ground.

Two evils — immigration authoritarianism and welfare statism — do not add up to one good. We should ditch both.

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Government is Irrational

Government– specifically, statism– is irrational. Let’s look at what “rational” means:

adjective:

1. agreeable to reason; reasonable; sensible:

a rational plan for economic development.

2. having or exercising reason, sound judgment, or good sense:

a calm and rational negotiator.

3. being in or characterized by full possession of one’s reason; sane; lucid:

The patient appeared perfectly rational.

4. endowed with the faculty of reason:

rational beings. 

5. of, relating to, or constituting reasoning powers:

the rational faculty.

I already see a flaw. “a rational plan for economic development“. If it’s a plan which involves anti-economics– politics– it isn’t rational. And you know that’s the kind of “plan” they are referring to. This is why I’ll check dictionary definitions, but don’t automatically trust them. They have a lot of biases included.

But, back to the irrationality of government.

Government, specifically statism, is not “agreeable to reason”. If it were, there would be no statists. Instead, it is based on a superstition; a “just so” story written to explain something in a fictional manner to simpletons who are assumed to be too stupid to understand reality.

You can’t disprove it with reason because it isn’t based on reason. It is based on feelings and wishes. This is why the perfectly logical, reasonable, sensible, ethical statement “taxation is theft” sways so few statists. They are not agreeable to reason.

And the rest of the definition hinges on that first one. Government fails the first one so it, therefore, fails them all.

Government is irrational.

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Homeschooling, Ideology, and The “Culture War”

Homeschooling, as characterized by someone who prefers “public” [sic] schools: “it’s all about ideology first; creating soldiers for the culture war“.

Sure. In some tragic cases, that is what is going on.

And how exactly is that different from government schools? What does he think government schools are doing?

Yes, some people use home education to teach their kids harmful lies while insulating them from competing ideas (truth, reality, and ethics). That’s bad. They should not do this to vulnerable children.

Yet, government schools do the exact same thing— even teaching some of the same harmful lies the worst of the homeschoolers are teaching.

If you are teaching your kids to pledge allegiance to a flag, to honor political “authority“, that government is good or necessary, you are teaching a toxic ideology to kids too young to know any better– whether they are being taught at home or in a theft-funded kinderprison.

If you expect these kids to go out and become “good citizens” while promoting your favorite flavor of statism, you’ve done nothing but indoctrinate these trusting children into your death cult religion. The religion of Statism. You are training them to be soldiers in the culture war, fighting for the side of statism.

It’s kind of pathetic to criticize someone for doing the same thing your preferred cult is doing– even if the details differ a little.

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Don’t Fall For The Borderists’ Dishonest Trap

I recently encountered a question asked by a borderist. He wants to trick you into falling for his trap. I’ll spare him the embarrassment of mentioning his name.

Here’s the dishonest setup followed by the dishonest question:

“The question that no open-borders advocate has ever answered is, How many illegals should be allowed into the United States?”

He’s a liar.

The question is phrased dishonestly so as to manipulate his audience.

have answered a similar question. Many times. I’ve seen several people answer such a question in excellent ways. It’s just that the correct and honest answer to a more honest version of the question doesn’t serve his agenda so he’ll never acknowledge it, no matter who answers.

But I’ll answer the “question” again.

I’m not an “open borders advocate”, I’m simply against government “borders” and for property rights. Those two things are completely at odds with one another, and the borderists should know it. They just pretend they can have it both ways. All I know is I’m opposed to his position of maximum statism. But call my position “open borders” if it makes you happy.

Second, there can be no such thing as an “illegal” if you are referring to people deemed so because they ignored unconstitutional and unethical statist “laws” against crossing an imaginary line. Just like there’s no such thing as an “illegal gun” regardless of the unethical and unconstitutional “laws” the anti-gun bigots have made up. Counterfeit “laws” are without foundation no matter what they pretend to address. Again, he’s using a lie to trap you into answering the wrong question.

Third, “should be allowed”? “Should” in this context is a word calculated to trip you up. No one “should” be dictating numbers of visitors to other people’s property. And government “borders”? Who has the “authority” to “allow” or forbid people to cross these imaginary lines? The criminal gang known as government? Make another joke. The only ones with the right to allow or forbid entry onto their private property are the property owners making this decision for their own property. Period. Government doesn’t qualify.

This is why I can’t take borderists seriously. Not even when they are reasonably principled on other issues. They can’t even ask an honest question where government “borders” are concerned but have to pile lies on top of lies to get the narrative they hunger for. Borderists simply aren’t credible, and they’ve done it to themselves.

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Erich Fromm on “The Authoritarian Character”

While reading a couple of days ago, I ran into a passage that resonated with me and seemed very timely:

Not only the forces that determine one’s own life directly but also those that seem to determine life in general are felt as unchangeable fate. It is fate that there are wars and that one part of mankind has to be ruled by another. It is fate that the amount of suffering can never be less than it always has been. Fate may be rationalized philosophically as “natural law” or as “destiny of man,” religiously as the “will of the Lord,” ethically as “duty”– for the authoritarian character it is always a higher power outside of the individual, toward which the individual can do nothing but submit. The authoritarian character worships the past. What has been, will eternally be. To wish or to work for something that has not yet been before is crime or madness. (Added emphasis is mine) ~  Escape From Freedom, Erich Fromm

That passage is from a part of the book where he is describing how masochism and sadism are embraced by some as a way to avoid the isolation of freedom*. The authoritarian character, as he calls it, is sado-masochistic. It seeks out ways to suffer to distract itself from the scary aspects of freedom, and it likes to make sure others suffer along with it.

I see the above traits of the authoritarian character, especially the parts I emphasized, in almost everyone who is promoting statism. You can see it in FB posts, in YouTube comments, in comments left on this blog. and anywhere a no-compromise libertarian point is made. I’ve come to recognize and expect this tack, yet was surprised to see it– and see it explained so clearly– in a book from 1941.

I don’t agree with Fromm on everything. I think he made good observations but came to an erroneous conclusion.

He was a supporter of toxic authoritarianism when he obviously– from his own observations– should have known better. Why? Maybe he was just genetically inclined that way. Maybe he wasn’t able to rise above his early brainwashing. But who knows?

You can find truth and wisdom in anyone’s words if you look, even if they are wrong about everything else.

I realize I apparently lack the brain software that makes some fear the “isolation” of freedom. Even though I usually feel isolated due to all sorts of other things, I don’t mistake those things for freedom. That’s like blaming your good health for your fear that you might someday get a disease.

*Fromm uses the word “freedom” (inconsistently, but at least part of the time) for the concept I call “liberty” but that doesn’t alter the truth of these words.

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A One-Sentence Recipe for Civilizational Revival

Today’s anti-civilization is a mix of economic authoritarianism (“do whatever you are told”) and social infantilism (“be whatever you want”). Civilization requires the very opposite: a mix of economic libertarianism (“do what you want”) and social maturity (“be what you ought”).

Hence the following one-sentence recipe for civilizational revival: get rid of scientism and “postmodernism” in favor of Aristotelian Thomism, get rid of legal positivism in favor of natural and common law, and get rid of social democratic statism in favor of classical liberalism/libertarianism.

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