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Free to Choose - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Jun. 2nd, 2006

02:52 pm - Free to Choose

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From a discussion with ernunnos

[Note: I don't think Walmart is a particularly bad corporation. I picked it because ernunnos thinks it's a bad corporation.]

Border laws don't cause hardships.

Suppose my house catches on fire. Now you stand at the door with a shotgun and threaten to kill me if I leave. If I die in the fire, have you caused me harm? After all, you didn't kill me, the fire did.

Assumes that individuals have no say in their own governance, and no ability to determine their own political and cultural environment.

Do you think that Walmart's policies would change for the better if everyone were forced to shop there? If not, why do you think that a country's policies will change for the better if the citizens are forced to live there?

After all, you could try to change Walmart's policies the same way we do in politics. Write letters to the BOD, and the president of the company. Buy stock, and vote your stock in the way that you think that the company should be run. Unless you have a lot of money, good luck with that strategy.

Or you could just take your business elsewhere. You immediately get what you want, without spending enormous amounts of time and money trying to change a huge monolithic system. And if enough people shop elsewhere, then Walmart will either change their policy or go out of business.

I think people should be as free to choose their government as freely as they choose where to shop. You want to force people to live under the political Walmarts of the world.

Moreover, it's easy to say, "Why don't you Mexicans just reform your government?" You're in the top 1% in world wealth, yet how would you respond to someone who said, "Ernunnos, you live in a democracy, why don't you stop your government from [implementing insane policy X]?"

Now suppose you're a Mexican making $8/day. How exactly are you going to have the time and energy to pursue politics? Most people in such circumstances are going to spend most of their time just putting a roof over their head, and a burrito on the table.

The more Mexicans who get high-paying jobs in the U.S., the more money they can send back, the higher the standard of living, and the more time and money there will be left over for activism. And if it weren't for border laws, more Mexicans would move back permanently, after making their fortune in the U.S.

Moreover, if you've always lived in Mexico, how are you going to know what a "good" institution looks like? The more they're exposed to U.S. culture, the more they come to expect that their institutions should operate efficiently, without corruption.

Your policies would prevent all of that from happening.

Comments:

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From:pasquin
Date:June 2nd, 2006 07:40 pm (UTC)
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Suppose my house catches on fire. Now you stand at the door with a shotgun and threaten to kill me if I leave. If I die in the fire, have you caused me harm? After all, you didn't kill me, the fire did.

I support open borders, but not this metaphor for it. Their country is not imminently combusting, it is merely too hot for comfort. How this gives them moral license to use my air conditioner, I'm at a loss. What you are suggesting is altruism.

Moreover, if you've always lived in Mexico, how are you going to know what a "good" institution looks like? The more they're exposed to U.S. culture, the more they come to expect that their institutions should operate efficiently, without corruption.

Whether it is hard or easy to reform a nation's policies is of no concern, anymore than a person's bad upbringing gives them latitude to perform harm.

Open borders is a good idea not because some are suffering without it, but because this individual will profit because of it.
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From:crasch
Date:June 2nd, 2006 07:58 pm (UTC)
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I support open borders, but not this metaphor for it. Their country is not imminently combusting, it is merely too hot for comfort. How this gives them moral license to use my air conditioner, I'm at a loss. What you are suggesting is altruism.

Most mexicans are not in imminent danger of combusting, it's true. However, they do face poverty which will reduce their lifespans otherwise. And they are not the only immigrants. Given the threat faced by the citizens of some countries, I think the analogy is quite apt.

And no, it doesn't give them license to use your air conditioner. I oppose all subsidies for anyone, immigrant or otherwise.

However, I do think that U.S. citizens should be free to offer jobs, housing, friendship, etc. to anyone in the world, and that non-U.S. citizens should be free to accept the offer. That's not altruism, that's trade. And as a happy byproduct of that freedom, many people would be able to escape poverty and death.
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From:ernunnos
Date:June 3rd, 2006 02:33 am (UTC)
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However, they do face poverty which will reduce their lifespans otherwise.
So if I get a health condition, I have a right to demand some of your income to extend my life? Good to know.
I oppose all subsidies for anyone, immigrant or otherwise.
No you don't. Population density or lack thereof has value. When you propose policies that could easily result in a sudden doubling of the American population, a halving of my available space, massive social disruption, and the destruction of my way of life, that constitutes a taking.

You can't say you oppose subsidies and then tell me how you want me to pay up to support your political philosophy and expect me to take you seriously.

However, I do think that U.S. citizens should be free to offer jobs, housing, friendship, etc. to anyone in the world, and that non-U.S. citizens should be free to accept the offer.
"It's not charity if you're using someone else's money."
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From:crasch
Date:June 3rd, 2006 06:36 pm (UTC)
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Population density or lack thereof has value

If you want open spaces, buy the land yourself. Don't presume to tell me who I can, and can't sell to.

in a sudden doubling of the American population

The U.S. had effectively open borders prior to 1900. We did it before, and we can do it again.

massive social disruption

Of course, whenever I present statistics that refute your doom and gloom (land prices, commute time, food prices) you retreat behind unrefutable complaints about decreases in "quality of life".

and the destruction of my way of life,

I'm sure slaveholders weren't too happy about the disruption of their way of life either. Forgive me if I favor immigrants, most of whom just want the freedom to work, over a rich native worried about an increase in his commute time.

"It's not charity if you're using someone else's money."

You're the one who favors massive government programs to build a wall along our border, keep peaceful people from freely working and living where they choose, and otherwise increase the size and power of an already massive police state. Don't talk to me about spending other people's money.

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From:ernunnos
Date:June 3rd, 2006 07:26 pm (UTC)
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If you want open spaces, buy the land yourself.
The price of land is based on demand. When you massively increase the demand, you're massively increasing the price. I'm sorry, I don't think I want you to reduce the value of my land-buying dollar by 50% or more.
The U.S. had effectively open borders prior to 1900.
The U.S. also had 200 million fewer people in 1900. And those open borders weren't without severe social consequence, which is why they got slammed shut in 1924.

You one of capitalists. You is crook man too. Put me in electric chair. I no care! Get to hell out of here, you son of a bitch... I go sit down all by myself... Viva Italia! Goodbye to all poor peoples everywhere!... Lousy capitalists! No picture! Capitalists! No one here to take my picture. All capitalists lousy bunch of crooks. Go ahead. Pusha da button!"

Of course, whenever I present statistics that refute your doom and gloom (land prices, commute time, food prices) you retreat behind unrefutable complaints about decreases in "quality of life".
Actually, you haven't cited land prices, just home prices, which are remarkably stable because we aren't yet cheek-by-jowl, and we can still build out. Of course, by the time we are—like China or Japan—it'll be too late, won't it? Everyone will be free to buy land at prices nobody can afford!
I'm sure slaveholders weren't too happy about the disruption of their way of life either.
There you go again, assuming the point at issue. Open migration is not a right like self-ownership, which trumps all economic considerations. You want to assert that it is, but that's just an assertion.
keep peaceful people from freely working and living where they choose

Another point not in evidence. You don't know they're peaceful. And if you want to make that distinction—and I do—you're going to need a wall and government programs to do so. Conveniently enough, making that distinction happens to be one of the Constitutional powers of the U.S. government. To accomplish what you're talking about, you'd have to ignore or abolish the Constitution, and you haven't come close to justifying that by any standard anyone but a pure anarchist would find convincing.

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From:crasch
Date:June 5th, 2006 04:57 am (UTC)
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Actually, you haven't cited land prices, just home prices, which are remarkably stable because we aren't yet cheek-by-jowl, and we can still build out

http://ernunnos.livejournal.com/1132013.html
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From:ernunnos
Date:June 5th, 2006 07:31 am (UTC)
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Ok, I stand corrected. You have managed to cherry pick one estimate for one state, which isn't supported by anything more comprehensive.
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From:crasch
Date:June 8th, 2006 07:31 am (UTC)
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If I were cherry picking, Texas seems an odd choice.

"The Hispanic population represents the largest minority group in Texas. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, 4.3 million Hispanics resided in Texas in 1990, a population that is larger than the entire population of the state of Louisiana. Over the last several decades, it has become increasingly obvious that the social, economic, demographic, and political future of the State largely is tied to the Hispanic population. Indeed, during the 1980s approximately half of the growth in the Texas population was due to growth in the Hispanic population. In 1990, one in four Texans was Hispanic, although population projections suggest that by 2030 Hispanics could account for between 36 percent and 45 percent of Texas inhabitants."

Texas shares the longest border with Mexico, and has the second largest hispanic population, after CA. If immigrants don't drive up the cost of land in Texas, where _would_ they drive up the cost of land?

As for the prices you cite in the link above, I bet you $100.00 that they are not adjusted for inflation.
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From:ernunnos
Date:June 8th, 2006 08:02 am (UTC)
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If immigrants don't drive up the cost of land in Texas, where _would_ they drive up the cost of land?
Any number of places. If overpopulation puts more stress on water supplies, then that increases the cost of irrigation. With the cost of production on the land increased, the value of the land itself decreases. But the value of land in more fertile areas may well go up even more due to the decline in the overall supply. Since agricultural products can now be shipped all over, the effects may be felt far and wide. That's why picking one state is so pointless.
As for the prices you cite in the link above, I bet you $100.00 that they are not adjusted for inflation.
I'm sure they aren't. However, those numbers are outstripping inflation. Most people would be fairly happy with a stock portfolio that performed that well.
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From:crasch
Date:June 8th, 2006 09:16 am (UTC)
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Since agricultural products can now be shipped all over, the effects may be felt far and wide.

Right. Of course, the inflation-adjusted price of food has dropped as well. Furthermore, as of 1999, the US government paid farmers $1 billion to keep 40 million acres of cropland out of production. Otherwise, the price of both the land and food would be even lower.






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From:ernunnos
Date:June 8th, 2006 02:47 pm (UTC)
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Exactly. The cost of food has many inputs, including little things like gasoline and herbicide. Those other factors are currently more important than the cost of land. Which is really good, because by the time it does, we have a serious problem. It's a good idea to prevent serious problems before they happen.
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From:dogofjustice
Date:June 2nd, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC)
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Do you think that Walmart's policies would change for the better if everyone were forced to shop there? If not, why do you think that a country's policies will change for the better if the citizens are forced to live there?

If you have the right skills, it isn't difficult to legally immigrate to a variety of countries. Market forces are already in action, and nations that refuse to admit highly skilled immigrants tend to suffer for it.

I think people should be as free to choose their government as freely as they choose where to shop. You want to force people to live under the political Walmarts of the world.

Should we make Google employ anyone who shows up on its doorstep? You don't want to force people to work under the bad employers of the world, after all.

Good luck convincing Japan to stop enforcing its immigration restrictions, by the way.

Moreover, if you've always lived in Mexico, how are you going to know what a "good" institution looks like? The more they're exposed to U.S. culture, the more they come to expect that their institutions should operate efficiently, without corruption.

This is an argument for imperialism. It has nothing to do with immigration.
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From:dogofjustice
Date:June 2nd, 2006 11:43 pm (UTC)
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I am completely in favor of fixing the legal immigration system. As Paul Graham puts it, "A country that got immigration right would have a huge advantage. At this point you could become a mecca for smart people simply by having an immigration system that let them in."

But as for "janitors, restaurant workers, and other low-wage immigrants", it is obvious that Japan, for all its faults, uses a better solution for this. I don't know about you, but I'd prefer that we converge to a world where all the jobs Americans don't want to do are done by robots or otherwise mechanized. By artifically inflating the supply of cheap labor and imposing the cost on the middle class (by degrading their schools and other public services), we prevent this from happening.
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From:ernunnos
Date:June 3rd, 2006 02:25 am (UTC)
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Exactly. The Japanese are creating new efficiencies while we just take advantage of the availability of cheap labor. That didn't work for the American South, and it won't work for us. A society where a few benefit on the backs of cheap labor is essentially medieval. It may be a necessary stage of economic development, but it's certainly nothing to be proud of or to cling to.
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From:crasch
Date:June 3rd, 2006 06:59 pm (UTC)
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I'd prefer that all energy in the U.S. come from solar and nuclear. However, due to the cheap supply of oil, everyone uses internal combustion engines instead. If we banned the import of oil, it would force the development of solar and nuclear energy.

I hope that you can see the fallacy in this line of reasoning.
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From:dogofjustice
Date:June 3rd, 2006 08:32 pm (UTC)
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(i) Employers do not bear most of the costs of hiring illegal immigrants. Oil prices are fairer. (Though yes, this is an argument for reduction of the welfare state rather than enforcement of immigration laws.)

(ii) The loss to our economy from reducing the cheap labor supply is extremely different from what would happen without oil. I probably wouldn't lose anything at all if illegal immigration was cut off -- cheaper land prices, better schools, and shorter commute times compensate for border enforcement costs and various increased prices. I would very obviously lose something if we stopped importing oil.

One argument remains for open borders: shouldn't we care about the welfare of Mexicans just as much as we care about Americans? This is a legitimate utility function. But it is maximized primarily by fixing Mexico; having an open border means diddly-squat compared to that, and indeed it may have a net negative effect because it facilitates Mexico's current dysfunction.

Also, have you noticed how the Mexican government puts pressure on our government to accept its illegal immigrants... while it ruthlessly enforces its own immigration laws on the Mexican southern border? They definitely do not think low-skill immigration is a win-win. Shouldn't we listen more to what they do, rather than what they say?
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From:white_lies
Date:June 3rd, 2006 03:06 am (UTC)
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completely unrelated to your posting...

you want to go tango-ing again sometime?
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