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Post 20

Saturday, May 13 - 4:53pmSanction this postReply
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The problem that Steve (among many others) is unable to solve is the a priori definition of common sense.  What is the difference between illegal aliens sneaking into America to get jobs cleaning bathrooms and Pancho Villa's raid on Columbus, New Mexico?  To Steve Wolfer, there is no difference because he has no rationalistic premise that can place those into their proper contexts. He thinks that he owns this country, but that I do not.  If a majority of people voted for open borders, that would be illegitimate to Steve, but if they voted to close the borders, that would be right and proper.  



Post 21

Saturday, May 13 - 4:55pmSanction this postReply
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Steve, if my comments were based on my misunderstanding the meaning of your posts, I'm sorry. 

 

I thought you argued that the commons in the US includes not only courthouses, but the right to enter or leave the boundaries over which the government has jurisdiction. (Okay, you didn't mention "leaving", but your argument could be stretched to encompass that, from my perspective.)

 

My counter was courthouses are properly owned by people who funded them--in the US that's nearly everyone, through taxes, fines and monetaary inflation. Government "owns" the courthouses in a strict agency relationship with its citizens. For proper government is a limited agent, of course, not a ruler. The president should not be a Majestic figure with Vision. He should be the executor of the laws. 

 

Anyway, I don't believe the government has moral justification to exclude people from moving to the USA, or to prevent them from leaving the USA, unless the people coming or going have committed (properly defined) crimes. This claim is consistent with the right of individuals to take care of themselves, to promote and sustain their own lives with their own efforts. To prohibit entry or exit is to violate their right to pursue life. To impose entry-exit demands is to overturn natural rights of those affected, including Americans who want to bargain with the excluded.

 

People who enter must not trespass on private property (a crime), or blow up court houses (another crime), or seek government benefits and support (extracted by force from citizen-subjects) But if people involved mind their own business, then their entry or exit is none of government's proper business. That voters select representatives who institute laws that violate the rights of immigrants or expatriots by halting their migrations is not justification. Government representatives have no moral authority to expand the tiny commons of a free society into a dragnet to coercively direct migration. 

 

In my understanding, the only defense of immigration restriction is the need to defend against big problems caused improper government meddling into our lives, such as setting up various welfare and other schemes. The solution is to end welfare-warfare and move toward a free society. Until that happens, some restrictions--the fewest possible--are necesssary.  

 

The idea of targeting populations for exclusion, based on prior restraint, is really unjust. Recall that immigration restrictions resulted in the murder of untold numbers of Jewish people, trapped in Germany and its territories in the nineteen thirties. Americans were unsympathetic to immigrants then, as many are today.



Post 22

Saturday, May 13 - 6:10pmSanction this postReply
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Marotta writes:

 

What is the difference between illegal aliens sneaking into America to get jobs cleaning bathrooms and Pancho Villa's raid on Columbus, New Mexico?

 

And he is concerned with my grasp of common sense?  What is the difference between a homeless man sneaking into Marotta's home to find a warm corner to sleep in, and a burgler sneaking into his home to rob him?  I don't know about anyone else but I have no problem what-so-ever seeing both the similarities (both are acts of trespass) and the differences (one is simply an uninvited guest versus the other who is engaged in outright theft).

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He [Steve] thinks that he owns this country, but that I do not.  If a majority of people voted for open borders, that would be illegitimate to Steve, but if they voted to close the borders, that would be right and proper.

I made it very clear, for those that read and think, that I recognize the concept of public ownership and that what is owned in common is managed by those we select and that we select those in government by voting.  Now  does that sound like "Steve thinks he owns the country, but Marotta doesn't"?

 

Does Marotta think that property rights can be violated by vote?  What about rape, if a majority of a group of men vote to rape the one woman that is there, is it suddenly okay to ignore her property rights in her body and enter it against her will? 

 

And the difference isn't between open borders and totally closed borders, just as the front door to Marotta's home is closed or open so as to allow him to control who has access to his property.
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Take a look at my last post and notice the arguments I made that Marotta stays silent on:
- Doesn't he believe he has a right to lock the doors on his home?
- What justification does he have for implying that those who don't support totally open borders are racists?
- Does he really believe that there are no uniquely American values?
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Progressives and many anarchists are blinded by a cult-like relationship to their theories such that they are immune to evidence and indifferent to outcomes.  Nothing can challenger their beliefs which are given a scripture-like reverence apart from logic.  It is a danger inherent in accepting floating abstractions. 



Post 23

Saturday, May 13 - 6:44pmSanction this postReply
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Mark,

 

I did say that the government has the right to control entry into our country by those who are not citizens and have not been given some form of legal residency (like a green card).

 

In no way does keeping out selected aliens amount to telling people they cannot leave.  My argument cannot be stretched to encompass that.  I can tell someone that he cannot come into my house because I own it and he has no legal right to enter or be in it.  But if he is in my house, by invitation or otherwise, I cannot tell him he can't leave.  I can't imprison him.  I can use force to defend against initiation of force, but I can't morally initiate force.  People can exercise property rights, but only where they have property rights.

 

Here is the heart of my approach:  You have the right to pursue your life.  But that doesn't mean you can do it in someone else's house without their permission.  That is a simple application of property rights.  I assume we agree on that.

 

If you want to bargain with someone and your bargain includes them being in my house, they are going to have to have my permission to be in that house.  Their right to bargain with you, and your right to bargain with them does not override my right to exclude them from my house.  I assume we agree on that.

 

Entry into a country is a civil matter.  It is only a moral right to enter this country if a person is a citizen (one of the owners).  We have geographic boundaries that mark the jurisdiction of our laws.  A difference of just a few feet means the huge difference between our laws and the laws of Mexico, for example.  Those few feet can be reasonably seen as very valuable.  We pay taxes, vote, fight wars and maintain our nation, its structures and its laws.  We, as a nation, own that special value that those few feet represent.  An alien has no more right to that value then he would to come into your house and eat your food.  There must be an invitation.

 

It is a fallacy to imagine that there is no value in being here.  It is a fallacy to think that this value is not owned (as you said, the county court house is owned by those who funded them and run by the government in a strict agency relationship).  It would be wrong to think that open borders wouldn't cause great harm to our nation.  Only proper assimulation can transfer those American values from the existing citizens to the new citizens.  What ever liberty still remains to us, will be lost if the next generations citizens vote it away and proper assimulation helps to pass on the torch.

 

We agree that welfare and the excessive amount of public property with all of its attendent costs massively aggrevate this problem.  And that welfare and excessive government managed property should be reduced for reasons quite apart from immigration complications.

 

But I'd say that government representatives have a moral duty to protect the not-so-tiny commons of a free society with very rational immigration policies.  It is protecting property rights and the property being protected is a key component in a nation of laws and our liberty. 

 

We agree that in a truly free society immigration numbers could be much higher before they caused any problems.



Post 24

Sunday, May 14 - 5:59amSanction this postReply
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I sanctioned Steve's post in #13 a couple of days ago because I appreciated his making the time to explain his reasoning.  As much as I agreed with his approach, I disagreed with his conclusions.  My brief comments above outlined my objections and stated my own conclusions.  

 

Many problems worry at Steve's overarching theory of "national ownership." Steve likens the United States of America to a corporation. I point out that the shareholders of a corporation or their elected board of directors are prohited from illegal or unlawful actions, such as declaring war on Spain, or buying and selling human beings.  In fact, while many corporate charters include the phrase "... or any other activity lawful within this state" that is nonetheless a limitation in action and in place.  A corporation cannot just vote to open a branch office in a place that does not allow it.  (Banking regulations are an example of that.)  

 

Moreover, Adam Smith and Ludwig von Mises both were suspicious of joint stock corporations. I do not find their arguments compelling, but they must be addressed. For one thing, while our political institutions are firmly based on "one person one vote" corporations grant votes based on shares owned. That, to me is reasonable, but would change how we vote in the USA and how our representatives vote in Congress. In other words, the "standard" district might have 700,000 people with some representatives having 1.2 votes and others 0.98.  We might decide that the average American pays $1300 a year in taxes and grant some people 0.1 votes and other 1000 votes.  At this point, we are no longer discussing immigration policy, but restructuring the USA.  I called that "science fiction."  It is the long and winding road that dedicated ideologues take when trying to fix all of the world's problems at once, starting with a single limited problem here and now.  

 

Smith and Mises also disliked the fact that corporations are credit-based enterprises. They both legitimized only those whose assets come from savings.  Again, we would have to restructure the American constitution (and the Constitution) to reconcile that problem because the Constitution allows the federal government to borrow money on the full faith and credit of the United States.

 

 In point of fact -- and this speaks to a deeper problem: Wolfer's lack of "boots on the ground" experience with the problems of immigration -- my wages in the Texas Military Department come from funding for Operation Secure Texas.  We guard 1300 miles of border between the United States of America and the United States of Mexico.  In addition, our Operation Lone Star is an annual medical mission, in which the Medical Rangers of the Texas State Guard deliver free treatment to communities in the border counties, serving as many as 10,000 people per day - with no questions asked.  

 

As Objectivists, we can ask many cogent questions about those activities, but I point out that the conservative, patriotic voters of Texas apparently support the elected representatives who have made that funding available for about 30 years. This is traditional to Texas.  And that raises a Constitutional issue that Steve Wolfer has not addressed.

 

The US Constitution, Art I Sec. 8 gives Congress the power to establish uniform rules of Naturalization.  Beyond that, it falls to the States themselves to regulate immigration into their own jurisdictions.  Steve Wolfer apparently takes the position that the USA is a unified, centralized nation-state in which the voters in Florida have as much say in Alaska as the voters in Hawaii do about what is proper in Maine, which ultimately denies the very concept of a federal republic of 50 states.

 

Steve keeps drawing analogies between my home and the USA but those analogies fail on the very point he insists: ownership.  If I have as much ownership right in the USA as Steve then I have as much right to allow in any visitors I choose -- and even choose to make them "family" members with full voting rights, if that is how I choose to run my home.  The fact is that such "Crusoe concepts" require much closer analysis than Steve has given them.

 

In fact (again) as much as I appreciated the efforts that Steve put into Post #13 (and some others), he ultimately failed to make a consistent case. Rather, in response, he resorted to name calling, which is typical of neo-Kantian range-of-the-moment, context-dropping muscle mystics in denial of the Law of Identity. (Just sayin'...)

 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 5/14, 6:15am)



Post 25

Sunday, May 14 - 9:47amSanction this postReply
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I applaud Marotta's approach in post #24.  He is replying with arguments worth addressing (even though they fail to make his case).

 

He wrote:

 

Many problems worry at Steve's overarching theory of "national ownership." Steve likens the United States of America to a corporation. I point out that the shareholders of a corporation or their elected board of directors are prohited from illegal or unlawful actions, such as declaring war on Spain, or buying and selling human beings.  In fact, while many corporate charters include the phrase "... or any other activity lawful within this state" that is nonetheless a limitation in action and in place.  A corporation cannot just vote to open a branch office in a place that does not allow it.

I likened the shared ownership of corporations and the shared ownership of aspects of our nation.  Clearly they are not alike in all respects.  As to the shareholders of a corporation or their elected board of directors being prohibited from illegal activities... I don't see the point in mentioning that.  After all, elected members of the federal government, and the taxpayers who elected them are also prohibited from illegal activities.  The government itself is limited by the constitution.  I don't believe that this in anyway diminishes my arguement for the citizens of a nation being the owners of what the federal government manages for them.
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Marotta wrote:

 

Moreover, Adam Smith and Ludwig von Mises both were suspicious of joint stock corporations. I do not find their arguments compelling, but they must be addressed. For one thing, while our political institutions are firmly based on "one person one vote" corporations grant votes based on shares owned. That, to me is reasonable, but would change how we vote in the USA and how our representatives vote in Congress.

Here he goes off on a tangent NOT indicated by anything I wrote.  I compared ownership and voting as having similarities between the nation and a corporation - not that they are, or should be, identical. 


NOWHERE did I suggest that we change the nature of the votes to elect people to national office.  You could have 10 people get together and sign a contract that in fact made them a kind of partnership, and they put money into a common bank account, and they write in their agreement that each person will have an equal vote in decisions they make as an organization... Or, they write in their agreement that each person will have a vote equal to the their portion of the common bank account.  I don't care what these 10 people do.  I think that equity arrangement with shareholders (where you can have many different classes of stock) is fine for them.  And I think that one man, one vote is the best arrangement for electing people to office.
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With all due respect to Smith and Mises, the modern corporation is the finest engine ever created for organizing the productive efforts of humans. 

 

From The Hurricane Years, by Cameron Hawley:

 

"The modern corporation is so much more than just a commercial enterprise.  Its the primary instrumentality of an entirely new civilization.  Other societies have been built with other instrumentalities - the city-state, the feudal demesne, the temple, the church - there has to be some way to organize and control man's pluralistic effort.

...  The corporation is the most efficient and effective instrumentality we've devised to organize human effort.  Take this terrific forward thrust we've had in the physical sciences, this enormous expansion of technology - is it because of a simple accumulation of knowledge?  No, it is because the corporation is using scientific research and development to promote the growth of a whole new civilization.

There's been scientific discovery for hundreds of years, but so little was ever done about it.  Science was no more than an exercise in intellect.  Its the corporation that's given it a point and purpose.  We call this the scientific age, but its not just science and technology that's changing the world - its planning, its organization, its management, its direction."

 

A productive theme is chosen, a corporation formed, people invest, people are hired, competition rules, success evolves, and with the shareholder-investor side handled by the equity markets very little of the corporations efforts are tied up in fund raising - instead they are left to pursue the theme (which could be anything from the production and sale of kitchen utensils, to a non-profit pursuing a cure for cancer).  We should revere the corporation as one of the truly great inventions.
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Marotta writes:

...this speaks to a deeper problem: Wolfer's lack of "boots on the ground" experience with the problems of immigration... (Where upon Marotta informs us that he is such a member)

 

It is true that I am not, nor ever have been a member of the Texas Military Department.  But honestly, does anyone think that disqualifies me from speaking intelligently about issues of political philosophy, law, or moral issues that revolve around immigration?  Seriously?
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Marotta wrote:

 

The US Constitution, Art I Sec. 8 gives Congress the power to establish uniform rules of Naturalization.  Beyond that, it falls to the States themselves to regulate immigration into their own jurisdictions.

 

My argument is that the federal government has the duty to protect the property rights of the owners of the common property under the care of the federal government, just as it has the right to protect against unlawful trespass into a military base.
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Marotta wrote:

 

Steve Wolfer apparently takes the position that the USA is a unified, centralized nation-state in which the voters in Florida have as much say in Alaska as the voters in Hawaii do about what is proper in Maine, which ultimately denies the very concept of a federal republic of 50 states.

 

No, that misstates my position.  When we vote for a president, the voters of Florida may very will have had more of say as to who will be president than will the voters of Maine.  Because the president is the president of all the nation, the majority of electoral votes rule.  The voters of Maine will select their own senators.  The borders we are talking about are the borders of the nation because it is entry into the nation.  It makes no sense to have Texas voting to have immigration control over the border with Mexico and Arizona voting to have the border with Mexico wide open.  Context.
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Marotta wrote:

 

Steve keeps drawing analogies between my home and the USA but those analogies fail on the very point he insists: ownership.  If I have as much ownership right in the USA as Steve then I have as much right to allow in any visitors I choose -- and even choose to make them "family" members with full voting rights, if that is how I choose to run my home.

 

Again, Marotta is ignoring the heart of the argument I made: shared ownership.  Like a corporation, or even a house where there are more than one person's name on the deed.  If someone has their wife on the deed to their house, the wife will need to sign papers to sell the house.  Marotta (and perhaps his wife, however they choose to share their home) can choose who comes into their home.  But not into my home.  And I can't make rules about his home.  That is simple property rights.  Control goes with ownership.  With shared ownership the actions you can take are limited.  You can sell your shares in a corporation but not someone elses. Marotta can vote for a candidate who believes that immigration should be increased above current levels and I can vote for a candidate who believes differently.



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