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The Nation Is Not A House - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Dec. 18th, 2008

04:50 pm - The Nation Is Not A House

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The Nation Is Not A House

Let’s reflect on the rhetoric used by those who oppose greater freedom for people to move back and forth across political borders. Opponents of the freedom to move frequently analogize a nation to a house. “You lock your house, don’t you?” these anti-immigrationists ask—implying that what makes sense for a home makes equally good sense for a nation.

Analogies are useful for analyses, debate, and persuasion. But just as they can enlighten, analogies can also mislead. They must be used, and heard, always with care.

The analogy of a home to a nation is more misleading than helpful. Unlike a home, a nation—at least each nation whose citizens are free—is not a private domain; it does not belong to anyone in the way that a house belongs to its owner. Also unlike in a home, living space within a free country is allocated by market transactions rather than by the conscious, nonmarket decisions of the residents of a house. A person who enters a country and purchases a place to live displaces no one in the way that an intruder into a home would displace a resident from his bed and favorite chair. In addition, of course, every intruder into a home likely intends to inflict some harm on the household’s residents. In contrast, the vast majority of persons who enter a country intend no harm to anyone.

Original: craschworks - comments

Comments:

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From:adam__selene
Date:December 19th, 2008 12:05 am (UTC)
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On the other hand, if the nation were a house, would you want the government telling you who you can and cannot invite into your home or business?

That is exactly the situation we have. A daughter invites her mother to visit, but mother is denied a Visa. A hotel accepts reservations of a client, but the client is denied right to travel to said hotel.

If the nation were a house, anyone in that house ought to be free to extend an invitation to enter it.
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From:pasquin
Date:December 19th, 2008 12:38 am (UTC)

A Mis-metaphor

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Which explains why so many anti-immigrant types talk of doing violence to people who — for better or worse — are economic opportunity seekers. I wonder if those same people would advocate roadblocks to stop the freeflow of people from one town to the next?
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From:lds
Date:December 19th, 2008 03:56 am (UTC)

Re: A Mis-metaphor

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Yes, of course. They're called "gated communities," and not only do they advocate them; they pay large sums of money for their maintenance and operation.
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From:crasch
Date:December 19th, 2008 05:01 am (UTC)

Re: A Mis-metaphor

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However, gated communities do not, to my knowledge, try to dictate who can enter or exit _my_ home or community.
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From:ernunnos
Date:December 19th, 2008 05:11 am (UTC)

Re: A Mis-metaphor

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Sun City does. They have age limits. This has made the news several times when grandkids tried to live or stay for more than a few days with grandparents.
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From:azalynn
Date:December 19th, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)
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A person who enters a country and purchases a place to live displaces no one in the way that an intruder into a home would displace a resident from his bed and favorite chair. In addition, of course, every intruder into a home likely intends to inflict some harm on the household’s residents. In contrast, the vast majority of persons who enter a country intend no harm to anyone.

This strikes me as plain old basic common sense, to the point where I want to say "duh". I was trying to explain this sort of thing recently and ended up using a sort of similar analogy -- i.e., that someone wanting to enter a country is NOT the same as someone who wants to beat you up and steal your underwear.
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From:ernunnos
Date:December 19th, 2008 04:20 am (UTC)
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No, a nation is not a house. It is a common. See "tragedy of".

Galt's Gulch did not have an open borders policy. Ask yourself why.
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From:crasch
Date:December 19th, 2008 05:23 am (UTC)
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"Galt's Gulch did not have an open borders policy. "

Galt's Gulch was the private property of "Midas" Mulligan, one of the early strikers to follow John Galt.

I don't think Rand ever specified exactly what criteria he used to decide whom to sell or rent to.

But given that Rand was a Jewish immigrant from Communist Russia, I don't think the principle criteria would've been "where were you born?"

And the decision would certainly not have been left up to some Wesley Mouch in Washington.
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From:ernunnos
Date:December 19th, 2008 07:05 am (UTC)
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Galt's Gulch was the private property of "Midas" Mulligan, one of the early strikers to follow John Galt.

So? It was a community. If open borders are beneficial for a community, open borders are beneficial for a community. The fact that one individual holds the deed doesn't change that. More people are better. Criteria for membership in that community are bad. The moment you say otherwise, you destroy your own case.

I don't think Rand ever specified exactly what criteria he used to decide whom to sell or rent to.

Any at all constitute borders which are not open.

But given that Rand was a Jewish immigrant from Communist Russia, I don't think the principle criteria would've been "where were you born?"

Given her penchant for ideological purity, I suspect they would have run along those lines.

And the decision would certainly not have been left up to some Wesley Mouch in Washington.

In a democracy, such decisions are generally made... democratically. Communities elect leaders. Maybe a Mouch, maybe a Galt. But neither simply says "Come on in! Everyone's welcome!" You may like the criteria one sets more than another, but "none" is not an option. Never has been. Never will be. The community that accepts it is self-destructive, and hence, self-refuting.

Just ask the nearest native American how well open borders worked out for them.

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