Apostate of Liberalism
Aside from the economic demerits of his and the "limits to growth" school's views, as enunciated by Joseph P. Martino ("Two Hands, One Mouth," Sept.), Colorado governor Richard Lamm's solution of banning all immigration flies in the face of the moral and social elements of the liberal ideology of which he would credit himself with being a staunch apostle. Does Governor Lamm propose, for instance, to ban, under what he misconceives as Americans' material self-interests, the boat people of Southeast Asia or Soviet Jews or blacks escaping apartheid in South Africa?
Governor Lamm's views, if implemented, would permanently dim the image this country has always represented abroad, and destroy the philosophic basis on which we were founded and built. Would internal population controls then be far in the offing, to be followed by ethnic, sex, and religious quotas?
New York, NY
I enjoyed the September issue of REASON. It is the first one I have read. However, I don't like Joseph Martino's apparent advocacy of unlimited immigration into the United States as stated in his article, "Two Hands, One Mouth."
If a nation won't control its borders it will become ungovernable. Read the epilogue of Will Durant's book Caesar and Christ to find out what happened to Rome and see the parallels to the United States today. Also, no nation can allow physically or mentally ill persons, criminals, or unemployable persons to enter it without incurring grave problems. Remember the Mariel boatlift of 1980, for one example.
One of the greatest things about the United States is the land it encompasses. This is a magnificent land, and I'd hate to see it become like Hong Kong, a city Mr. Martino admires so much, with 4,900 persons per square kilometer. Finally, why can't people stay in their native lands and create new jobs for themselves there instead of everybody coming here and causing great cultural changes in our society?
Mr. Martino replies: As I state in my article, the degree to which we open or close our borders is another subject entirely, which I did not address. However, I agree we have every right to limit immigration if we choose. My point was simply that when we decide how many people to allow in, we should make the decision for the right reasons. Immigrants will not take jobs away from citizens, nor will they deplete our resources. However, that does not mean that there may not be valid reasons for excluding people, including criminals.
Most would-be immigrants, however, are not criminals. They are simply people looking for the opportunity to create wealth, just as Dr. Townsend's and my ancestors once did. They are denied this opportunity in their homelands by governments that discourage productivity and confiscate wealth.
Finally, even if the entire world population of 4.57 billion occupied the 9.363 million square kilometers of the United States, the population density would be 488 per square kilometer, about a tenth that of Hong Kong. We are in no immediate danger of becoming overcrowded.
Europe's Free Defense Ride
Ted Galen Carpenter's "Standing Guard Over Europe" (Aug.) presents a clear examination of one of the major aspects of the US budget deficit: the large expenditures by the Defense Department, not for the defense of the United States, but for other countries. Recent reports from the Congress that 58 percent of the American military budget is for the defense of Europe confirms the analyses made by Earl Ravenal, most recently in Defining Defense (Cato Institute, 1984).
When the debate on the first commitment of troops to Europe occurred, no one believed that for decades the American taxpayers would patiently pay for the defense of Europe (and Japan), while the latter received a free ride on defense taxes and thus could sell their goods more cheaply. The "Great Debate" of 1951 brought forth some of the greatest criticism, by Herbert Hoover, Robert Taft, and Joseph Kennedy, of the bases of interventionist foreign policy. (Taft's critique can be found conveniently in Prophets on the Right by Ronald Radosh.)
The criticism of the noninterventionists of the 1940s and 1950s has been confirmed completely, yet the dominant post-war bipartisan foreign policy continues its destructive way unchallenged except in a few magazines such as REASON.
Leonard P. Liggio
Menlo Park, CA
A Familiar Story
It is indeed easy to see the parallel between the Melanesian chieftains and our own central-planning advocates, as suggested by John Baden and Tom Blood in "Abracadabra Prosperity" (Sept.). One can imagine that the failure of the "airstrip" to attract the bounty of the "Cargo Gods" would be blamed not on the chieftains who concocted the scheme, but on the average working stiff. The chieftains (being chieftains) would simply state that the people were spending too much time tending their livestock and gardens and that henceforth all must give more of their productivity to the project. Sound familiar?
Jack Douglas's proposal to make Congress a one-term job ("Reining in the Imperial Congress," Aug.) is just a case of "good governmentism." It may (or may not) be an improvement, but by its very nature of trying to clean up the government, it ignores the fundamental flaws of government and can be of no more than minor importance.
A Congress limited to one term might do less looting, but might not: not having to worry about reelection, congressmen can concentrate on feathering their own nests. But in either case, the money wasted by Congress on Congress is a relatively small part of the budget. We must cut other spending, such as defense, welfare, etc. This, Douglas shows no evidence that an inexperienced Congress would be any more likely to do.
Note that seniority among congressmen started climbing in 1910, while government did its growing in wartime and during the Great Depression. Average seniority has been declining for the past decade or so, which is not the case for the government. The two factors are not related.
Experienced or not, Congress—and government in general—knows it can rob Peter to please Paul, with a percentage for itself. No limit on terms is going to change that.
David Carl Argall
La Puente, CA
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".