Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Liberty and Isolationism

I have a rebuttal to Scott’s post on foreign workers.  Actually, some of this will coincide with his post, but there is one big BUT that I want to throw out there.

 The anti-immigration argument is essentially that if enough anti-freedom people move into a free country with pro-freedom citizens, eventually the anti-freedom folks will outnumber the pro-freedom folks.  The anti-freedom citizens will vote anti-freedom, and that will be the end of freedom.  I believe they also assume that the US is a freedom island in a sea of anti-freedomers.

 BUT, I always cringe whenever I hear libertarians talk about closing the borders, protectionism, and isolationism.  I’ve heard hints of this from Ron Paul, as Scott mentions, and I believe there is a certain faction of libertarians who are essentially isolationists.  Vox Popoli is apparently another.  They believe in liberty in the US, but the rest of the world can go to hell.  Constitutionist may be another name for them.

 I tend to be one of those “borderless” doctrinaire libertarians, or at least it appeals to me the most.  I can’t say I’ve been fully indoctrinated or even studied enough of it to be called an expert.  But, it appeals to me for one reason:  It seems to be logically and theoretically sound.  As Scott says, a priori, he is not opposed.  He only has practical reservations.

 I would argue first that the beauty of libertarianism is its theory, its logic, its simplicity and purity.  I would then argue that the vast majority of libertarian philosophy is highly impractical.  Let’s take one plank in the libertarian platform:  The Fed:  Shut it down, return to the gold standard.  Theoretically sound, extremely impractical.  “But we’re in a recession!”  Social Security:  Close up shop.  “People will suffer!” …..the list goes on.

 What I’m saying is if the libertarians start turning to pragmatism or practicality, they will lose their souls and end up as washed up Republicans, denouncing the free market (i.e. Alan Greenspan and GW Bush) at best.  At worst, fascists.

 Now to this notion that the US is a freedom island.  Take a look at the Heritage Foundation’s economic freedom list.  Guess what?  We’re NOT #1.  The US is #6, losing 0.3 points from the previous year.  Hong Kong is #1, followed by Singapore, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand.  Another interesting list is the State of World Liberty Project (data from 2006), which factors in economic freedom, size of government and tax, as well as individual liberties.  On this list the US comes in #8, due to a dismal individual liberty score.  #1 here is Estonia.

 For now my only rhetorical question is:  do we believe in liberty or don’t we?


“Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.”

-Walter from The Big Lebowski

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