Drug War

Why Drug Traffickers Laugh at Trump’s Border Wall

The profit incentives created by prohibition doom any effort to block the drug "pipeline."

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C-SPAN

"Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs," Donald Trump said last night while touting the merits of the "big, beautiful wall" he wants to build along the border with Mexico. The border, of course, is not a pipeline, even metaphorically. The pipeline is the route by which illegal drugs cross the border, and here is where the president runs into practical as well as semantical difficulty.

First of all, as Joe Setyon noted last night, illegal drugs that enter the country from Mexico are mainly smuggled through ports of entry, which would still exist no matter how much money the government spends on physical barriers. In 2017, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), only "a small percentage of all heroin seized by [Customs and Border Protection] along the land border was between Ports of Entry." The vast majority is carried through ports of entry by privately owned vehicles or commercial tractor trailers.

The DEA says illicit fentanyl enters the United States largely (maybe mostly, once you take purity into account) in packages delivered by mail or private courier services, either directly or through Canada. Nearly all of the fentanyl seized at the southern border in 2017 was coming in through ports of entry. The picture is similar for cocaine and methamphetamine, the two other drugs that Trump mentioned: The vast majority of the supply would be unaffected by a wall.

The pipeline metaphor is misleading because it invites us to imagine a single flow of drugs that could be blocked if only the government devoted sufficient resources to the effort. But drug traffickers react to enforcement efforts, and if one route becomes relatively perilous they can always switch to another. As Theresa Cardinal Brown explained in the May 2017 issue of Reason, "drug smugglers have already beaten Trump's wall" through a variety of evasive maneuvers. Those include not just hiding drugs inside vehicles going through the wall at points of entry (the currently preferred method) but also using tunnels to carry drugs under the wall, flying or catapulting drugs over the wall, and transporting drugs around the wall on boats and submarines. Thanks to prohibition, Brown notes, "the profit incentives to find ways over, under, around, or through any border infrastructure are high, and the cartels have more than enough money to spend on R&D."

That profit incentive—the huge "risk premium" that criminals can earn by producing, transporting, and selling illegal drugs—is the most fundamental problem with Trump's fantasy of stopping drugs at the border, whether with a wall or with any other conceivable method. "Traffickers can typically purchase a kilogram of fentanyl powder for a few thousand dollars from a Chinese supplier," the DEA says, "transform it into hundreds of thousands of pills, and sell the counterfeit pills for millions of dollars in profit." Taking the average of two actual sales cited by the DEA, a kilogram of fentanyl that costs $2,600 can be pressed into 666,666 fake pain pills, each containing 1.5 milligrams of the active ingredient, generating about $10 million in revenue at $15 each.

No feasible amount of interdiction will stop people from taking advantage of a business opportunity like that, although increased enforcement may push traffickers toward more potent drugs, as illustrated by the shift from diverted prescription pain pills to heroin, from heroin to fentanyl, and from fentanyl to fentanyl analogs. Each of those steps reduces risks for smugglers and increases profits, but it also magnifies the dangers that consumers face by making potency more variable and less predictable. The government's efforts to block the "pipeline" cannot stop drug use, but they can make it deadlier.

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241 responses to “Why Drug Traffickers Laugh at Trump’s Border Wall

  1. The most effective method would be to make drugs illegal.
    Do I have to do everything?

    1. Don’t you mean legal?

      1. I’m sure he means that the very next new regulation will solve the problem completely, just like getting the right people in positions in power over the rest of us will deliver us all instantly to nirvana.

  2. tl;dr: The raw resource is so cheap that they can afford to lose 99%, and in fact, as its flow is restricted, the retail price raises enough to raise total profits even more.

    Last thing the big dealers want is cheaper product.

    1. True. Something most people have no clue about.

      OTOH a wall is so cheap that even at $25 billion it’s less than 1/4 of what criminal invaders are currently costing us.

      Frankly, I think the invasion of America is a military problem, that we should shoot, blast, gas, bomb and fry invaders until they stop coming. Don’t need a wall for that – just sniper teams, mine fields, Predator drones and lots of napalm.

      For those already here – give them 6 months to get out – than 2 years in a desert tent prison followed by ejection.

      Any who return – execute them.

      In addition – KILL the criminal alien market. Anyone caught employing them or renting property – $1000/day fine.

      1. SIEG HEIL!

  3. Not saying I disagree with Sullum overall, but it’s a mistake to say, well, most drugs are seized at ports of entry, so we don’t need a wall to stop them. In fact, that’s the entire premise: we’re already seizing plenty at the ports of entry, so now we need to cover the space between them, where the drugs aren’t being seized at all.

    Again, I don’t think we should build a wall, but the logic of that argument doesn’t make sense to me.

    1. It’s called flailing.

      1. It’s called flailing.

        That’s the kindest label for Joe M getting everything backwards!

    2. Neither does the logic of ‘they’re not smuggling much between the POE – because despite current enforcement efforts they don’t have to – so we must spend 50 billion plus in order to prevent them from doing something they have no incentive to do and we have no possible way to force them in to’.

      1. Except that you have 0 proof of this being the case.

    3. Came here to say this. What an idiotic argument

    4. and to add I find it funny how everyone tells me the wall won’t do any good. How do they know? Have they seen the actual plan? Do they know what the $5B will be spent on and how? I would wager Sullum has no idea.

      1. In government, five billion dollars won’t even buy you a train to nowhere. It’ll buy, like, maybe 1/4th of a train to nowhere.

      2. Well, yes. We have seen the plan. Its been published. By the government’s own estimate that 5 billion will get you less than 250 miles of wall. And that’s the *government’s* estimate – real life suggests you’d be lucky to get half of that, if not a tenth.

        The border’s 2000 miles long. If we’re lucky we’ll get 200 miles of fencing.

        In any case – talking about drug smuggling here – do we care even if it were 100% guaranteed effective? Drugs shouldn’t be illegal and I don’t have a problem with people breaking the law in regards to them so I certainly wouldn’t be willing to pay for a wall to stop it.

        When it comes to arguments on building the wall, people need to focus on the immigration aspect – that’s the only place where you could have a legitimate conversation about its necessity. But to say the government has a legitimate role in deciding what materials you can ingest is ridiculous – next step is to let the government tell you what books you can read.

        1. Okay, I am sure you know that the length of the wall is really only one factor in how effective it is. If you know its going to be so ineffective can you tell me specifically why? Are you telling me there is no 250 mile stretch along that border in which adding a wall will not make border patrol efforts more effective?

          Oh and I don’t care about drugs so don’t bother. I am talking about reducing the number of illegals crossing the border.

          1. How about at all the stretches of desert that already have a wall on them and have for years? Are you telling me that you don’t know the state of the border? We have a good 500 miles of wall up already and its been up for a long time. Its not had an effect on traffic.

      3. That $5BB is going to balloon to $70BB before you know it.

        And it’s self evident seeing as how Hadrian’s wall did not keep out the Picts and the Great Wall did not keep out the Mongols.

      4. At the very least this is how I know it won’t work. I have a wall around my property, it still doesn’t prevent wildlife from tunneling under to get to my luscious garden. It still doesn’t prevent those pesky birds from shit bombing my nice patio set. It still doesn’t prevent my neighbors fucking tree from dumping leaves all over my nicely manicured lawn every fall. And it sure as hell didn’t stop unwanted individuals from breaking in to my property a few times. So yeah, walls don’t work so let’s stop beating the poor old dead horse!

        1. I am good with birds and rodents. thanks

          1. Well good for you – but who gave you the authority to determine what can come on to my property?

    5. It would also be a mistake to say Trump suggested a wall will stop the entry of drugs, but I’m guessing Sullum’s listening comprehension failures can be forgiven by the likely possibility of him having passed out from rage at the moment Trump appeared on his TV screen.

      Both Trump and Pelosi are asking for big $ to invest in drug-detection tech to stem the flow of drugs, not a wall as Sullum suggests, although that request was in the same speech, so he got that part right. Our political conversation is so pathetic that the teams have a tacit agreement to disagree even on the things about which they actually agree.

      I’m with Sullum on the stupidity of the war on drugs, but that argument won’t be won by obvious mischaracterizations like this. We may be losing the argument for such errors as this, however.

    6. so we don’t need a wall to stop them.

      WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH
      What he said — and Trumpsters refuse to accept — is that a wall would NOT stop the drugs. This is not rocket science.

      n fact, that’s the entire premise: we’re already seizing plenty at the ports of entry

      WHOOOOOOOOOOOOSH
      WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH.

      If that was true, we’d have no drug problem at all. Right?
      There is no such premise. You invented it. Pulled it out of your XXXX. Of the drugs we DO catch, NONE would be stopped by the wall.

      but the logic of that argument doesn’t make sense to me.

      WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH
      Does anything?

    1. ^ This. Drugs, immigration… both.

      1. Immigration isn’t illegal…idiot

        1. Neither are drugs…idiot.

          1. Maybe that was meant for someone else or you cannot read. I didn’t say they were.

        2. most of it is.

          and for most people doing it the legal way is impossible.

          …idiot

          1. I never said I thought it should be easy. I just said it wasn’t illegal.

    2. don’t criticize it.

  4. This misses the point. It is well known that drug smugglers are completely flummoxed by walls. Walls are essentially kryptonite to them. The mere existence of a wall on the southern border will prevent all smugglers everywhere from smuggling because they will know that kryptonite exists and the US is now using all the technologies at our disposal to keep America safe from drug smuggling supermen.

    1. The only thing that is really missing from Trump’s yuuuge byootiful wall proposal is the strings of garlic and crucifixes that absolutely need to hung from the wall every few feet. Our government has utterly failed to conduct the scientific research that is necessary to determine how far apart those need to be spaced. Because they are open borders traitors who hate America and want it to fall to the horde of blood-sucking third worlders disguised as bats.

      Can’t really blame Trump for this minor flaw in his proposal. He hasn’t read the Bible much so he doesn’t really understand the relevant passages that explain this.

      1. If you think the wall is going to be so ineffective, why do you care so much whether it is built? If the Democrats agreed to build the wall, they could extract all kinds of concessions from Trump in return. I have little doubt Trump would agree to legalize the DACA people in return for the wall. Give Trump the wall and you could kill off any momentum for e-verify for the forseable future. You could perhaps get an expansion and reform of the HB1 system and any number of other things that would do a lot of good from the open borders perspective. And get it all in return for funding a wall you claim won’t work.

        So, are the Democrats just stupid and unwilling to take advantage of the opportunity afforded them by selling closed border advocates a five billion dollar pig in a poke or are they and you lying through your teeth when you claim the border wall won’t be effective? Which is it because it has to be one or the other.

        1. If you think the wall is going to be so ineffective, why do you care so much whether it is built?

          Because unlike you I actually do give a shit about reducing illegal migration and changing our legal migration policy. And as long as assholes like you – who purport to give a damn about that issue even though you clearly don’t – jump up and down obsessing about a fucking wall, then everyone who does give a damn about the issue is tarred with your stupidity and racism.

          And no – I don’t give a shit about the whole DACA bullshit either. And agree that E-verify is an abomination.

          1. Because unlike you I actually do give a shit about reducing illegal migration and changing our legal migration policy.

            Then give Trump his wall in return for whatever measures you think are necessary. Ultimately, if you think the wall won’t work, then you should be happy to build it in return for getting something you do think will work.

            1. It’s not that I think the wall won’t work. It won’t but that is really beside the point. The point is that the wall is TOTALLY counterproductive. It won’t work to reduce illegal migration one bit. But it sends a very loud message that the US is racist as hell – which means that changes to legal migration policy won’t work unless those changes are to reduce LEGAL migration to zero.

              That’s really what the wall is about. Eliminating legal migration to zero because we view the world itself (and in particular non-white people) as a threat to the future of America. And there is no circumstance in which I view that opinion as worthy of even the slightest agreement with or the slightest acceptance of it.

              It is hyperbolic imo to even view immigration POLICY as some existential threat to America. It is fucking abhorrent to view individual migrants as that sort of threat.

              1. If the best argument you have against the wall is that it will make the world think we are racist, you don’t have an argument.

                1. No that just means you also understand that the point of the wall is to send a racist message. That it is ‘the individual immigrant’ that is the problem – NOT immigration POLICY.

                  1. The wall means racism to YOU.
                    That’s on you and your perspective, not the myriad interpretations of others.

                2. If the best argument you have against the wall is that it will make the world think we are racist, you don’t have an argument.

                  And you’re wrong about that too. If I were to go along with some wall – linking it with something that WILL actually work to reduce illegal migration along the southern border (reduce the judicial backlog from just under 2 years to something under say 3 months) – and my solution works (which it will if you understand the economics of poor people migrating); then you assholes will just claim it was the wall which actually worked and we will have to endure this racist dungheap shit until you jackasses die off.

                  No effing way. As I said I don’t think that even immigration policy is some existential threat to the US. But your attempt to drag the US back into your racist shithole view is FAR worse than even the status quo of cronyist immigration policy that serves only the elites.

                  1. Free, you make a good point about judicial backlogs. I’m with you there.
                    Unfortunately, I can’t agree that fixing that problem is all that’s required. The thing about active measures is that they can be made inactive when new leadership arrives.
                    Walls are passive. A new administration cannot simply make them vanish with a wave of his hand.

                    As far as your racism claims, they’re ludicrous.
                    Try thinking outside The Narrative.
                    Not everyone prioritizes race the way progressives, and apparently yourself, do.

                    1. Walls are passive. A new administration cannot simply make them vanish with a wave of his hand

                      So what? Walls also don’t do shit on their own. Even in areas with traffic, they only work when backed up by people who will chase other people around when they climb the wall. And guess what a new admin can make vanish? Unless you are arguing for electrified walls – and even so some active measures will need to be made to clean up the corpses.

                      And the racism is very real. It attributes the motive for immigrants to sucking on welfare or threatening the US. No different from the Birth of a Nation crap that black men are only interested in raping white women – which led to a few thousand lynchings.

                      And don’t pretend for a sec that I see a difference between the Dems racist pandering or the Reps racist fearmongering. You are all DeRps and America would be better off if you two just killed each other.

              2. You are an idiot or a shillbot. Racism? LMFAO.

                1. “You are an idiot or a shillbot. Racism? LMFAO.”

                  LMFRAO FTFY

              3. I think the wall is unnecessary too, but I don’t think for a minute that if the roles were reversed and the Canadians were the ones smuggling drugs, etc. and the Mexicans were the stereotypes we’ve crafted of Canadians, we wouldn’t be talking about a wall. It’d just be along the northern states and longer.

                1. “I think the wall is unnecessary too, but I don’t think for a minute that if the roles were reversed and the Canadians were the ones smuggling drugs, etc. and the Mexicans were the stereotypes we’ve crafted of Canadians, we wouldn’t be talking about a wall. It’d just be along the northern states and longer.”

                  https://tinyurl.com/ycvr3g44

        2. The ratchet of prohibition only turns one way. The Wall is just one more step up the ratchet but it won’t end there. Because walls have to be maintained and staffed 24/7 in order to be effective – otherwise it’s just Hadrian’s Wall. So that means more and more taxes. And if the wall is built, and it isn’t as effective as right-wingers demand it to be – because they are very good at finding every single story of an illegal immigrant behaving badly and using that to continue to demagogue the immigration issue in order to win votes, wall or no wall – then we WILL get mandatory E-Verify, and more Constitution-Free Zones, and mandatory national ID cards, etc., etc., etc.

          Do you really think that The Wall will end immigration as an issue? Republicans will continue to demagogue the issue forever in order to maintain power.

          1. And democrats will continue to pretend they care…so what is your point

          2. Who cares if it doesn’t? The issue continueing will not undo the good that could be obtained in return for agreeing to build it. And if you really believe that it isn’t effective, then this isn’t moving the ratchet you fucking half wit. You just admitted that it will be effective, otherwise you wouldn’t consider it to be moving the ratchet in your analogy.

            Thanks for playing.

          3. I like that you used the word prohibition to talk about how prohibitions are never repealed. Well, except for the prohibition.

            1. Can you point to where I said that “prohibitions are never repealed”?

              Sure, sometimes they are. But this immigration prohibition is not going to be repealed anytime soon. I hope it is some day.

        3. Uh, because its yet another 5 billion down the drain. Over time those little expenditures add up to real money.

          1. Oh, and because inevitably those walls will end up with guns on them. And inevitably those guns will be turned to face north.

            1. Yeah, soon Americans will be anxious to flee the persecution and slavery here for the safety and freedom of Mexico, Central and South America.

              Jaysus wept.

      2. Yeah, but his wife is from the Eastern Bloc so she should be well versed in the appropriate spacing of garlic and crucifixes.

        And you totally forgot about the Holy Water Cannons, you damn traitorus bastard!

  5. Good point on incentives. I’d love to read an article talking about the American wage bubble and how it exists to keep illegal immigrant labor under the table. It would be nice for a Reason author to make an honest case for deflating American incomes to benefit foreign labor.

    I suspect hell will freeze over first, though. The Koch brand can’t win with ideas, so they just create different emotive lies.

    1. Didn’t you know? The laws of supply and demand do not apply to labor markets. Reason and Cato assure me that increasing the supply of labor could never depress wages or have any effect on the country except to make it richer.

      1. Funny argument. You’re essentially saying that you want the government to artificially limit the supply side of the labor market (deny access to immigrant labor). It’s amazing that you would fault Reason’s logic, when “free markets” is right in their masthead. Aren’t you for free markets?

        1. It’s supply-side economics, Leo. It’s ok to have government regulation of the market if you are regulating the supply side, duh.

        2. If you’ve been paying attention for the past hundred and twenty years or so, yeah, American’s do like artificially restricting the supply of labor to inflate their own wages. Is this somehow news to you? Did you miss the ‘fight for $15’ crowd? Oh, and I should add that the same party that’s in favor of more illegal immigration are also the one’s behind the fight for $15.

          Logic, do you have any?

          1. So what exactly is your plan? You spend a lot of time criticizing the plans of others, but what is your proposed solution?

            1. I’ve spent a lot of time talking about that, too, but maybe you didn’t notice the many times I’ve talked about deconstructing the Federal regulatory beast that makes open immigration impossible. Maybe you’ve also missed the times I’ve said what I want literally makes no difference since my point of view is by far a minority of a minority in a nation where the majority looks to the government to answer all questions.

              Since my preferred solution is an impossibility, I must acknowledge that our current system (as broken as it clearly is) is the pragmatic middle ground. At least, that is, until progressivism is no longer on the rise. Since it’s been on the rise for about a hundred years or so I’m not holding my breath that American’s will suddenly embrace deregulation and agency busting as a solution instead of the reverse.

              The reason one does not start with immigration is because our immigration woes are an end result of wildly popular policies, and no amount of fiddling around the edges will solve immigration without solving much harder and much more contentious issues. If one were to try, it would bring pain and suffering on American’s by crashing everything. A controlled demolition is always preferable.

              1. I’ve spent a lot of time talking about that, too, but maybe you didn’t notice the many times I’ve talked about deconstructing the Federal regulatory beast that makes open immigration impossible.

                Guess I did miss it, through all of the passive-aggressive insults you like to throw around.

                Maybe you’ve also missed the times I’ve said what I want literally makes no difference since my point of view is by far a minority of a minority in a nation where the majority looks to the government to answer all questions.

                So? Advocate for what you think is right even if it is an extreme minority view. If you don’t advocate for it, who will? If everyone who believed as you did thought the same way you did, nothing would ever change. I am under no illusions about what I think is likely to happen in the next few years, but I argue for what I believe in anyway because I think it is right.

                Since my preferred solution is an impossibility, I must acknowledge that our current system (as broken as it clearly is) is the pragmatic middle ground.

                That’s even worse! At least a crony will advocate for a broken corrupt system for an understandable reason – because the crony benefits from it. But a person of good will shouldn’t advocate for a broken corrupt system without even trying to advocate for the system that he/she would like to see instead.

                1. Damn, and here I was shooting for aggressive-aggressive. Like plenty of other people here, I engaged with you until it was determined that you are incapable of listening to reason or logic.

                  If you think it’s ‘even worse’, than I’d invite you to notice that the United States has one of, if not the most, permissive immigration systems in the world.

                  1. And by “incapable of listening to reason or logic”, what you really mean is, “refuse to agree with me”. Problem is, you shift the goalposts so many times that I have no idea where you stand on anything or what I am supposed to be judged on. I think you are just a curmudgeon, frankly. I do not share your sense of hopeless resignation and frankly I resent being insulted just because I don’t.

                    For example, when you write

                    If you think it’s ‘even worse’, than I’d invite you to notice that the United States has one of, if not the most, permissive immigration systems in the world.

                    I am NOT referring to the immigration system itself. I’m referring to your defense of a system that you yourself admit is broken. And I think you know that, but you shift the goalposts in order to just get a dig in at me.


                    1. And by “incapable of listening to reason or logic”, what you really mean is, “refuse to agree with me”.

                      Wrong. It’s because your logic is either fundamentally flawed or left unstated. Admittedly, at this point I find it more amusing to simply tell you that there’s a logic flaw while seeing if you’re able to discover what it is on your own. It’s why I don’t think you have much in the way of critical thinking, actually.

                      I am NOT referring to the immigration system itself. I’m referring to your defense of a system that you yourself admit is broken

                      Calling something a pragmatic middle ground isn’t advocacy as such. The U.S. gets cheap unskilled labor, and the cheap unskilled labor gets a higher price for it in the U.S. than they would in Mexico. It’s broken because it’s impossible to enforce, but no system short of East and West Germany could be said to be even ballpark enforceable.

                    2. Wrong. It’s because your logic is either fundamentally flawed or left unstated. Admittedly, at this point I find it more amusing to simply tell you that there’s a logic flaw while seeing if you’re able to discover what it is on your own. It’s why I don’t think you have much in the way of critical thinking, actually.

                      Oh bullshit. You shift the goalposts and continually change your standards of judgment. You don’t point out logic flaws, you CREATE logic flaws, red herrings, diversions, distractions, just as devices for criticism.

                      You seem to have given up advocating for what you think is right, and are berating and criticizing people for trying to go beyond this ‘pragmatic middle ground’ that you claim not to be defending. If you are so pessimistic that you think libertarian ideas will never be realized, then fine, but can you at least cut down on the friendly fire with your pessimism?

                    3. The reason it might appear that way is because I’m trying to use your logical framework to arrive at conclusions. I’m quite definitely a pessimist and a contrarian, but I’ve found those things are usually more useful in life than idealistic optimism. I leave that to my wife. Yin and yang and all that.

              2. But I will at least agree that the problems associated with immigration are definitely intertwined with a whole host of other problems too.

        3. Funny argument. You’re essentially saying that you want the government to artificially limit the supply side of the labor market (deny access to immigrant labor).

          Yes I am saying that. And there is nothing funny about it. A tight labor market where people can easily get a job and have leverage over their employers makes for a much better country than one where everyone can be replaced by a hundred people waiting at the border to do their job for less money and under more miserable conditions.

          What is funny here is that you want to create such an economy where wages are low and employment security virtually non existent for all but the highest skilled workers and maybe not even then and think that said workers deprived of any bargaining power or security by the economy won’t turn to government for that security. Nope, they will just accept their fate. A tight labor market flooded with the world supply of labor won’t cause people to turn to socialism or be more willing to give up their freedom in return for security, Nope.

          You live in a fantasy world where everyone is just like you and nothing bad ever happens to anyone who doesn’t deserve it and everyone can have all of the security and prosperity they want if only they work for it. You are just as Utopian and stupid as the worst communist. Saying “the market is fair for everyone if only we let it operate” is no different than saying life is fair. Life isn’t fair.

          1. Yes I am saying that. And there is nothing funny about it. A tight labor market where people can easily get a job and have leverage over their employers makes for a much better country than one where everyone can be replaced by a hundred people waiting at the border to do their job for less money and under more miserable conditions.

            Well who cares about the employers then who have to endure high labor costs, right? They are just big fat cat corporations, right? They may be Americans, but they aren’t Americans who matter. They are the supposed dreaded elites who can just stuff it.

            And this is where the Tucker Carlson “government should rig the market in favor of American happiness” argument and the Bernie Sanders “government should impose economic controls on the market” argument come full circle.

            1. But, But…. Muh Boss’s Freedom!

          2. Here is another idea: don’t try to rig the market in any particular direction. Let free individuals make their free choices and let the chips fall where they may.

            Too much freedom for you to handle?

            1. it’s weird.

              the republican fake-libertarians on this website have never actually been pro-freedom, or pro-market.

              pre-trump that used to mean they were pro-business and thought that meant pro-market.

              but now they are pro-labor but think that means pro-freedom?

              it’s confusing as hell. it’s shocking to me how difficult a concept actual free markets are to humans.

              1. The reason free markets are confusing to human’s is because they have never been observed in nature. Neither, technically, has a black hole and those are pretty hard to conceptualize as well.

                1. River provides water. You provide urine to replenish the water you drank.

                  1. You are a fucking idiot.

                2. And it’s obvious you don’t understand economics at all.

                  Markets are organic and do not require any form of government intervention to make it work.

                  You are the economy. So am I and everyone else on this board, in this country and on this planet.

                  You seem to be standing too close to the forest to see the trees.

                  Everyday you freely make choices deciding what products to purchase (or not) from literally thousands of souces both foreign and domestic.

                  And all throughout the world that same exercise is practiced by virtually every other human adding up to trillions of independent decisions made daily that are part of the market.

                  It’s not hard to see.

                  You are either being obtuse or just an idiot.

      2. That’s because they really only mean open immigration for low-skill labor. They would shit their pants as soon as Doctor’s and Engineer’s started competing with American’s (or, heaven help them, journalists).

        Note that I’m not saying that competition is necessarily a bad thing, far from it. What I’m saying is that American’s writ large think that it’s a bad thing, and that outlets like Reason are lying through their teeth about what the end result of fully open borders would be. One might be shocked to find out that American’s love them some minimum wages and expansive labor protections, as wrong headed as they may be.

        Knowing they can’t convince a populace that they should take a huge pay cut in the name of foreign labor, they instead make the discussion about the morality of immigration. Well, if we have a moral obligation to respect the natural rights of foreign nationals what makes it especially moral to do it within our borders rather than by…toppling Dictators across the world?

        You know, the rationale for that was always to make them ‘more free’ which is more or less an argument for installing regime’s that better respected their populace. I don’t agree with that, but it’s curious that open borders types don’t agree with it. After all, border’s aren’t real right?

        1. as soon as Doctor’s and Engineer’s started competing with American’s

          Obviously you’ve never heard of H1B visas? Or is it Visa’s?

          1. Obviously you don’t understand that an H1B visa is an artificial limit on how many of them are allowed to compete, genius.

          2. Obviously you don’t know anything about HB1 VISAS and how they work. And a whole lot of people have been screwed by the abuse of that system not the least of which are the immigrants themselves, who thanks to the VISAs being tied to employment have no leverage over their employers. You don’t like how much I pay you or how well I treat you, fuck you and go back to Pakistan because I can fire you and you will be deported before you can do anything about it. As for any of the natives, if you don’t like how I treat you, fuck you and get out the door but not before you train your replacement brought over on an HB1.

            This is the system that people like you support and want to continue. But hey, I am sure there will be no second order effects of making everyone in the country just as valued as the next person at the border is desparate.

            1. This is the system that people like you support and want to continue.

              Absolutely not. It’s exactly the type of government permission slip to live and work here that I would love to abolish. Just think of the increase to individual liberty that would come from a no strings attached guest worker program! Pass a background security check and you’re free to live and work in the US.

              I wasn’t holding H1B visas as a system to strive towards, merely pointing out the inaccuracy of the argument that skilled labor doesn’t have to compete with immigrants.

              1. Maybe start with making professional associations illegal? Nah, that’s too hard. Lets go after something that’s been a fixture of nations for several thousand years. That’s much easier.

                1. Professional associations aren’t the problem. It is the government regulations that turn them into a monopoly and the ensuing regulatory capture that is the problem. No one complains about professional associations like the Society of Technical Communicators because they haven’t been given a legal position as gate keeper of Tech Writers in the United States.


                  1. Professional associations aren’t the problem. It is the government regulations that turn them into a monopoly and the ensuing regulatory capture that is the problem.

                    Who lobbied the government to give them that authority? I’m not disagreeing, but to pretend they have no culpability is naive. This is the core function of a professional association. Without it, they have little reason to exist in most cases.

                    1. This is the core function of a professional association. Without it, they have little reason to exist in most cases.

                      Again, professional associations like the Society of Technical Communicators do no such thing as lobbying to become the gate keepers for the Tech Writing profession. Instead, they organize conferences, provide certifications, and provide a forum of professional networking for career growth. These are all valid and useful reasons to have a professional association.

                      The fact that SOME professional associations have inserted themselves as regulatory gate keepers is no reason to ban them. It is as silly as saying we should ban all corporations since some corps have lobbied for and gained regulatory capture.

                      Rather than decreasing freedom by essentially disregarding a basic moral right (freedom of association), we should be focused on the specific problem: a leviathan government that continues to grow unchecked. This is generally how regulatory capture works. Government regulates an industry, and so a professional organization that exists or is created in response spends years turning those regulations from consumer protections to professionals’ protections by creating large barriers to entry.


                    2. Again, professional associations like the Society of Technical Communicators do no such thing as lobbying to become the gate keepers for the Tech Writing profession. Instead, they organize conferences, provide certifications, and provide a forum of professional networking for career growth. These are all valid and useful reasons to have a professional association.

                      Yes, it was hyperbole but this is why I made an attempt to add the caveat ‘most’. Using the same example twice isn’t really refuting the hundreds of associations who do so but I wouldn’t want to claim every group out there is equally culpable.

                      I also briefly looked up the organization mentioned, and it appears to be international so I’m not so sure it’s a very good example compared to, say, the American Medical Association. Or, hell, even a cosmetology board.

              2. …merely pointing out the inaccuracy of the argument that skilled labor doesn’t have to compete with immigrants.

                You missed the point. The point is that the amount of immigrants who are allowed to complete is kept small enough to have a negligible effect upon industry wages. Jesus Christ, do you know anything or do you know these things and just assume no one else does?

                1. The point is that the amount of immigrants who are allowed to complete is kept small enough to have a negligible effect upon industry wages.

                  I work in engineering. If you think the amount of H1Bs is low in this field then you don’t understand reality. The only real limitation is the amount of foreign nationals which are permitted to complete a MS degree in the US. Nearly all of them stay here and work under H1B. Based on my experiences with hospitals, I’d say that doctors are similar in nature.

                  1. How much has your wage fallen with all those H1B’s, then, one might ask? If it hasn’t gone down, than does this mean that economics is wrong or does it mean that the amount of visa’s that are approved are low enough to have a negligible effect upon wages?

                    Oh, wait, you’re an engineer. Was economics an elective of yours?

                    What you are saying without realizing it is that labor restrictions succeeded in propping up your wage. So have your professional associations. So have the universities by limiting graduates (this may or may not be true in your specific field. I know it is true in certain healthcare professions, so I extrapolate there.)

                    Now, if you had to compete on price point with every engineer on the planet in your field, including those with much less education but with a much better price point, I think you’d find your wages dropping. And dropping fast. That’s what we’d call a reasonable expectation.

                    If you’re lucky enough to be a rare specialist, congratulations. Your wages would likely go up. If you are not, congrats your wage would almost certainly go down absent mitigating factors.

                    1. Oh, wait, you’re an engineer. Was economics an elective of yours?

                      A minor in college, actually.

                      I don’t know how to quantify how much H1Bs have suppressed my wages. They’ve certainly grown the labor supply. However, you and I both know that if demand is constant, wages have gone down. Of course, the availability of labor tends to also help economic growth, so I suspect that there is a demand-side impact as well.

                      If you’re lucky enough to be a rare specialist, congratulations. Your wages would likely go up. If you are not, congrats your wage would almost certainly go down absent mitigating factors.
                      Isn’t that exactly how economics would suggest it should work? It’s unfortunate for those who see lower wages, at least in a first order analysis. However, I suspect that the downward pressure on prices from the lower wages, and the increase in productivity from a robust labor supply might help them out in the long run.


                    2. Isn’t that exactly how economics would suggest it should work? It’s unfortunate for those who see lower wages, at least in a first order analysis. However, I suspect that the downward pressure on prices from the lower wages, and the increase in productivity from a robust labor supply might help them out in the long run.

                      Yes, and note I don’t have problems with that.

                      My main point is that Americans have a problem with that and will never go along with it precisely because one would expect most professions to see a dramatic income drop. There are so many layers in both government and private industry to prevent that outcome that it seems safe to say that if people realized that was the end result they would reject it no matter the longer term average gain.

                      And it would be an average gain, which is to say it’s not an individual predictor of loss or gain. There will, as always, be losers although in this scenario most (if not all) would be short term losers at best.

                      This is why libertarians, especially the Koch brand libertarians, are lying on this issue in my view. They must know the consequences, and the ends don’t justify the means.

                  2. I work in engineering. If you think the amount of H1Bs is low in this field then you don’t understand reality.

                    Then you have been brainwashed, or live in a very specific locale like Silicon Valley. H1B workers represent only around 10% of the STEM employees in this country.

      3. Who cares if it depresses wages as long as it reduces prices in step. Since labor is a major cost, reducing the cost of that input will reduce the cost of the output.

        If you make 10 times as much but everything becomes 10 times as expensive – you’re in the exact same position you started at.

    2. The Koch brand can’t win with ideas, so they just create different emotive lies.

      Yes, I’m glad that the right (Trump, specifically) hasn’t declined to invoking emotion when it comes to selling their ideas on immigration.

      1. And here we have a non-sequitur. Tell me again how libertarians are above using shitty emotive logic to sell lies to the populace?

        1. I can’t speak for what others say on my side of the debate. I try to stick to economics and reason.

          Do you deny that invoking dead police men and hoards of evil, killing drugs as Trump did last night isn’t intended to be emotive?

          1. If you’re trying to stick to economics and reason, invoking non-sequitur’s isn’t the best way to go about it.

            If you wanted to make a moral argument about why it’s good to lie to people about the end results of your policies, feel free to do so.

            1. I was merely pointing out the hypocrisy of calling out only the open borders crowd (the Koch brand) for invoking emotion in the debate. I believe you did that in the OP.

              1. You can believe whatever you wish, but just because something pisses you off doesn’t make it an appeal to emotion.

  6. Pro immigration people need to pick a position. Is the wall ineffective and a waste of money or is the wall immoral and a hill worth dying for? If it is a waste of money, then it isn’t any more immoral than the thousands of other things the government wastes money and certainly isn’t a hill worth dying on. If you really think the wall won’t work and want open borders, you should want it built. Building it won’t control the borders but it will satisfy the public’s desire to try without enacting things like E-Verify that are much more restrictive of freedom and according to your own position more effective at controlling the border.

    The conclusion I can make from the various contradictory claims made by Democrats and Reason and other open borders advocates is that the wall is going to be very effective. Otherwise, building it wouldn’t offend their sensibilities so much for the reasons I list above. Moreover, it is an enforcement measure that can’t really be ignored or undone by future administrations. Once it is built, even the most liberal Democratic President will be very unlikely to tear it down. It will still be there having whatever effect it has. This is in contrast to other forms of border control which can be ignored, not funded or discontinued by future Congress or Presidents.

    1. The reason why open borders advocates are so fanatical about stopping the wall is because it is the one measure of border control that actually means something and can’t easily be undone or made into a dead letter in the future. Building represents an actual and irreversible effort to secure the border. And the fact that they won’t agree to it at any cost and will instead only agree to efforts that they know can be easily ignored and undone in the future, is pretty conclusive proof that they are lying when they say they care anything about border security and are anything except fanatics who will settle for nothing less than fully open totally unsecured borders.

      1. They hate Trump so much they’re willing to ignore physics.

        “Nearly all of the fentanyl seized at the southern border in 2017 was coming in through ports of entry.”

        So… directing more traffic toward ports will…. cmon lefties…. you can figure it out… Shake the TDS

        1. ignore physics.

          Yeah, physics, that’s it.

          1. “walls don’t work”

            Uhh… ok

            1. I notice you didn’t quote where I said that.

    2. I would not go so far as to call the wall “immoral”. It is however a horrible symbol for America. It symbolizes a nation that is scared and insecure and fearful. Which is IMO what is motivating Trump and his base right now when it comes to immigration. They are afraid of immigration broadly, they want the country to be “like it was before” in some mythical nostalgic past, and they are confused by, and don’t like the change that is occurring.

      1. So you would let the DACA people continue to be deported and any number of other positive things that could be obtained in return for building this wall that you say won’t make a difference because you don’t like how it looks?

        Actually, coming from you, I could believe you really do think that. The rest of these clowns, not so much.

        1. If I were Emperor, i would abandon all plans for the wall, grant immediate amnesty for DACA recipients (heck I’d probably grant immediate citizenship to most of them), abolish ICE, and permit free flow of labor across all borders. How about that instead?

          1. Good for you. As usual you miss the point. It really is hard to even respond to you most of the time because the arguments at hand woosh right over your head. The point is that you are not President, Trump is. And if giving him his wall allows Congress to get him to agree to things you consider valuable, you should support it, assuming you actually think the wall won’t work.

            1. Are you enjoying your time off from your job, John, so you can spend as much time here on Reason as your heart desires?

            2. At least we got out of Bacaulum again that he would like to be Emperor.

              He is the most Libertarian of all us Libertarians on here.

          2. as long as you personally pay for and house 10 immigrants at all times until they are gainfully employed and off all forms of government assistance for at least one consecutive year. You will be reimbursed all your expenses plus 20% for each one that does this in less than two years. deal?

        2. So you would let the DACA people continue to be deported

          Do you want them to stay?

          1. I don’t really care if they stay. But reason certainly wants them to stay. If Reason really thinks the wall won’t make any difference, why isn’t it demanding that the Democrats agree to build it in return for letting the DACA people stay? If you want them to stay, five billion dollars on a wall that won’t make any difference sounds like a small price for allowing millions of people a path to citizenship doesn’t it?

            1. $5B spent will obviously “make a difference.” That’s a lot of money no matter what.

              And it should be up to each DACA person if they want to stay or move somewhere else.

              If Reason really thinks the wall won’t make any difference, why isn’t it demanding that the Democrats agree to build it in return for letting the DACA people stay?

              So it’s like a hostage situation? Give me $5B and I’ll let these people go?

              1. “So it’s like a hostage situation? Give me $5B and I’ll let these people go?”

                No, it’s like a political situation. Fund my special project and I’ll fund your special project.

      2. Hungary built a big ass wall to deal with the migrant crisis. is the fact that the Hungarian government isn’t willing to expect its citizens to die in terrorist attacks and see their quality of life destroyed by an influx of migrants a scare on Hungary?

      3. I would not go so far as to call the wall “immoral”.

        Why not? It’s proposed to be built using extorted funds on seized land to prevent free travel.

        1. So is your current place of residence. Is that immoral?

          1. Wut.

            1. He’s probably an anarcho-communist who believes that all property is theft.

        2. It’s a good point, and it should be repeated, that there is nothing good about the government sizing land from the citizens to build a wall. If the government wants to build that wall, they should seize that land from Mexico via a land war if necessary.

          Maybe, with the threat of an actual war with Mexico, American’s would accept at minimum a 50% pay cut. No, seriously, why are you laughing?

          /semi-sarc

          Slightly more seriously, Mexico guiding refugee’s to our borders isn’t exactly a peaceful or friendly neighbors behavior. For what it’s worth, anyway.

          1. If seizing land from citizens to build a wall is bad (I agree), then how would starting a war with Mexico, killing some of their people, and then seizing some of THEIR land, be any better?

            1. How does one go to war with something without borders, one might ask? War is impossible in a world without borders. What we would be talking about is bringing violators of natural rights to justice, at least that would be so if one uses the logic of open borders.

              Note that I used the /semi-sarc tag, which might not be as clear cut as a simple /sarc but I assure you the ‘semi’ part is only included because I use the sarcasm to make a different point than the one that’s literally espoused.

              1. Is there someone around here who is completely opposed to borders? Who?

                1. You, if one is to believe what you’ve written about it. Just because you’re not bright enough to see past first order consequences is no reason to assume others can’t.

                  1. See there you go. You shift the goalposts and deflect the discussion in order to just insult me.

                    Me: “I believe in a permissive immigration policy.”

                    You: “Oh so you don’t believe in borders.”

                    Me: “No, I do believe in borders, but I don’t think borders should restrict the free flow of labor.”

                    You: “Oh so you’re just stupid then.”

                    Me: ???????????

                    1. You paraphrase for a reason. What restrictions do you agree with on immigration? Last I saw, your standing answer was ‘none’ based upon god Gaia given natural rights.

                    2. EVEN IF the answer is “no limits on immigration at all”, that is STILL not equivalent to “no borders at all”.

                  2. You, if one is to believe what you’ve written about it. Just because you’re not bright enough to see past first order consequences is no reason to assume others can’t.

                    This is inane. Do you really believe that the only point of borders is for delineating who may travel between regions? We have state borders and yet we are free to travel between them. The purpose of political borders is to delineate the jurisdiction of governing systems. If we threw open the gates tomorrow and allowed carte blanche free movement of people into and out of the country, we would still have borders and they would still serve a purpose.


                    1. We have state borders and yet we are free to travel between them.

                      A good example I use often myself. Namely to illustrate that if you really expect open borders your best bet is military conquest. That, or resign yourself to a one-way open border which isn’t really the same thing as an open border at all.

                      It is odd you mention ‘out’ when that isn’t something the American legal system has control over. Do you believe the America is the sole arbiter of emigration?

                    2. What does this have to do with anything? The fact remains that you are somehow insisting that if we have open borders, those borders cease to exist. This is demonstrably false. Borders define the jurisdiction of laws between neighboring polities. If those polities have immigration/emmigration laws or if they don’t have such laws, the need for (and existence of) those borders still remains.

                      I can freely travel to Canada. I can freely travel to and do business in the UK for up to 6 months. If the UK suddenly said no Visa was required for me to work there indefinitely the borders distinguishing our countries would still exist- if only to mediate whose traffic and tax laws I am subject to depending on my location.

                      The statements above have nothing to do with that fact. You are just trying to distract from the hyperbolic and unsupportable hyperbole you spouted- that if someone believes in free movement of populations across borders, then they are advocating for no borders at all.


                    3. If the UK suddenly said no Visa was required for me to work there indefinitely the borders distinguishing our countries would still exist- if only to mediate whose traffic and tax laws I am subject to depending on my location.

                      Say, what if Britain says fuck you you’re not welcome here? Or the U.S. said fuck you you’re not leaving?

                      It’s weird you use an example where both nations are open borders. Now do the same thought experiment in the real world. I’d wager you can’t.

                    4. Oh, and a fun follow up question is how much income is left after paying the income taxes for both the U.K. and the United States?

                    5. I feel obligated to rebut this:


                      The statements above have nothing to do with that fact. You are just trying to distract from the hyperbolic and unsupportable hyperbole you spouted- that if someone believes in free movement of populations across borders, then they are advocating for no borders at all.

                      Can you give me a real world example of what the ‘free movement of populations across borders’ looks like? Does it look like the British settlement of the America’s? The Spanish settlement of South America? The British expansion into Africa? Perhaps the Chinese movement across the Tibetan border?

                    6. Can you give me a real world example of what the ‘free movement of populations across borders’ looks like? Does it look like the British settlement of the America’s? The Spanish settlement of South America? The British expansion into Africa? Perhaps the Chinese movement across the Tibetan border?

                      Perhaps you could get to the point, because we are not arguing about the existence of borders any more. Populations move happily over all sorts of borders all the time. They do it in the EU. They do it (as pointed out above) between the UK and US. They even do it between Mexico and the United states- even legally. Upwards of a million Americans have retired to Mexico over the years.

                      A country that makes it legal for a person to enter, purchase residence and work there subject to its laws looks nothing like invading a country, deposing its government, and taking the land from those people.

                    7. Say, what if Britain says fuck you you’re not welcome here? Or the U.S. said fuck you you’re not leaving?

                      It would change nothing as to whether or not those borders existed. Immigration policy is but ONE law in each respective polity. Whether that law is extremely permissive in or extremely punitive in one or the other country doesn’t change the fact that both have borders.

                      It’s weird you use an example where both nations are open borders. Now do the same thought experiment in the real world. I’d wager you can’t.

                      Um…I did. Did you not know that both the US and UK exist in the real world? Do…they not exist in yours?

                    8. In order for people here to get out, someplace else has to let them in. Which, if memory serves, no other country just lets happen willy nilly.

                2. To my knowledge, nobody claims to be completely opposed to borders, just opposed to any effective means of controlling who enters through them.

    3. Pro immigration people need to pick a position. Is the wall ineffective and a waste of money

      Yes, it is ineffective and a waste of money. I don’t think the wall is immoral. The only people I see playing that angle are doing so for political theater.

      Now your turn.
      Are immigrants taking our jobs or our welfare?
      Is it individuals who commit crimes (when it comes time to argue against gun control) or groups of people who commit crimes (when it comes time to argue against immigration)?

      1. I should add that I don’t even really have a problem with the wall per se, except for the fact that it is a giant waste of money. By all accounts I’ve seen, it will cost significantly more than the $5B Trump is requesting. If the majority wants to build a wall, have at it.

        I’d hope that the “open borders people” though would us it to negotiate to increased individual liberty with respect to the border. IE a better guest worker system that allows for the free flow of labor across the border. Unfortunately, we’re stuck with the Democrats negotiating this thing and they’re not in this fight for the liberty either.


        1. I should add that I don’t even really have a problem with the wall per se, except for the fact that it is a giant waste of money.

          I think we have more in common than not, because that is exactly my objection as well. I mean, I also think walls are super easy to bypass but the fact they’re talking about billions in expenditures for a largely symbolic barrier is a bit absurd to me. It just goes to show how serious both parties are about inflating wages and keeping hold of their economic leash.

          1. I agree, I think we probably agree on a lot more than not. I appreciate the honest debate.

            1. Yeah, I need to work on being less of a douche but at least I’m a self aware douche.

      2. So you think it is ineffective. Now tell me why then building it will be such a bad thing if doing so gets Trump to agree to things that are important in return? Did you not understand my point or just not care and want an excuse to emmote about the sacred brown people?

        Come back when you understand the argument or are at least honest enough to respond to it in a topical and meaningful way. You have virtue signaled your love of the sacred brown people enough for this thread.

        1. Check the timestamp on my follow-up post. Maybe you should try to engage in conversation instead of just ad hominems.

          Care to answer my questions?

          1. Immigrants of course are using welfare. Do you really believe the CATO reason line that they are all validictorians who would never do such a thing?

            And unless you can explain to me why the laws of supply and demand do not apply to the labor market such that an increase in the supply of labor doens’t have a negative effect on wages, then yes immigrants are driving wages down. Indeed, the entire argument for importing low skilled labor into the country is that it will drive the cost of low skilled labor down and save us all money. It is another example of how mendacious the open borders people are. They claim on the one hand immigrants don’t lower wages for natives but then on the other hand laud the wonderful savings that immigrant labor brings to the economy. Both of those things can’t be true.

            1. And unless you can explain to me why the laws of supply and demand do not apply to the labor market such that an increase in the supply of labor doens’t have a negative effect on wages, then yes immigrants are driving wages down.

              I wouldn’t dream of arguing against that.

              They claim on the one hand immigrants don’t lower wages for natives but then on the other hand laud the wonderful savings that immigrant labor brings to the economy.

              It’s almost like you don’t believe in free markets. Should the government artificially raise wages by limiting the supply of labor, or not? I claim on both hands that free markets (which sometimes mean lower wages and prices) are good for the economy.

              If government inflated wages are so good for the economy then why not just keep raising the minimum wage?

              1. It’s almost like you don’t believe in free markets. Should the government artificially raise wages by limiting the supply of labor, or not? I claim on both hands that free markets (which sometimes mean lower wages and prices) are good for the economy.

                It is not almost but exactly like you don’t understand what free markets are or how they work. Just because the “free market” whatever that is, produces a result doesn’t mean that result is somehow morally sancrosanct and above questioning. Why should natives see their wages go down and their quality of life go down to benefit a very few people in the form of cheaper products? Sorry but “because the market says so” is a compelling answer only to the faithful of which since I see economics as a science not a religion, I am not one.

                1. The compelling answer is because more, and cheaper, labor does benefit everyone in the long run. That does not tend to comfort those who lose out today. That’s why they’re lying to those people.

                2. So then minimum wage is a good thing, or isn’t? Why should corporations pay people what the market says they’re worth to benefit the rest of us with cheaper products?

                  The idea of a free un-coerced market is exactly at the heart of libertarianism. It’s the individual actions of all people that make up the market. Some succeed, some fail. No other economic system on Earth has ever been more productive.

                3. Just because the “free market” whatever that is, produces a result doesn’t mean that result is somehow morally sancrosanct and above questioning.

                  Well, John, the result of a *truly* free market is by definition a result that is free from force or coercion. That might be noteworthy.

                  1. The only place a ‘truly’ free market exists is in a textbook, brotini. That is worth mentioning.

                    1. So since there is no such thing as a *truly* free market, we throw our hands in the air, give up, and say “to hell with it, bring on the regulations and the coercion!” Is that the answer?

                    2. No, I’m saying it doesn’t exist so you bitching about something not being close enough to a free market is basically bitching about the fact your horse doesn’t have a horn.

                      The United States economy is regulated to the point of virtual government control of at least a few industries. Actual complete control over some others. It’s a mixed economy, not a free market economy.

                      If you want to convince American’s that a free market where they make less money is better, you’re going to find yourself disappointed.

                    3. Should we advocate for what is right, or for what is popular?

                    4. Since it’s not a matter of ‘right’ I fail to see your point. In fact, realistically speaking, the more immigrants you have the more of a morally relative society you should expect. One might assume that you are fine with a nation that doesn’t reflect your notions of moral objectivity as that is specifically what you endorse.

                    5. Okay, so let me try again.

                      As it stands right now, the US economy is a mixed economy. I agree.

                      Do you think the US economy should move closer to a free market economy? Yes or no? I would hope the answer is yes.

                      Should we as libertarians advocate for this, even though it may not be immediately popular? Yes or no?

                    6. 1. Sure.
                      2. If you feel like it.

                      Know that lying to people about the results of your policies is generally considered bad form though, orange or not. And if you’re going to call out Trump for lying about the border, well, make sure you aren’t doing the same thing. Those who live in glass houses and all.

                    7. 1. Sure.
                      2. If you feel like it.

                      Well then at least we agree on something.

                      Know that lying to people about the results of your policies is generally considered bad form though, orange or not.

                      What is the lie? I have never claimed permissive immigration will lead to utopia. SOME people overstate, I think, the benefits of free migration. I agree. I try not to. All I claim is that free migration is more consistent with the ideals and principles of individual liberty. Like ALL liberties, the exercise thereof does not always produce positive results. Some people who exercise the liberty of gun ownership are terrible people who shoot kids. Some people who exercise the liberty of gun ownership are heroic people who defend kids from shooters. Restricting the liberty of ALL gun owners is not the answer to ameliorate the negative consequences of the BAD gun owners. It is the same deal with migration. There will be positive consequences from free migration. There will be negative consequences from free migration. No person can possibly predict what all of those will be. But whatever they are, they would have to be pretty fucking awful before I would come to the conclusion that “yes let’s restrict the liberty of everyone aforehand”.

                    8. It’s lying to purposefully ignore predictable negative consequences of an action while trying to convince someone yours is the correct path. I can concede simple ignorance to most people on that point since frankly not everyone gets taught economics or even simple reason. However, libertarians claim an out sized reliance on both things which means one could easily say they should know better.

                      In fact, I’m pretty sure it means that libertarians know their cause is lost or hopeless, and see the successes of progressive emotive reasoning and are starting to think that lying could be an acceptable way to try and gain power. Reasonable, but hardly moral.

                    9. It’s lying to purposefully ignore predictable negative consequences of an action while trying to convince someone yours is the correct path.

                      Okay, so if that is your standard – and I agree that it is a fair standard – then I’m going to insist that you also hold the border restrictionist crowd to the same standard. THEY need to be honest and upfront of the predictable negative consequences of what THEY proposed. Notably, that border wall fantasies and border restriction fantasies will lead to a loss of liberty for BOTH citizens and non-citizens. Very rarely do I see anyone on the pro-border-wall side even admit that there are downsides to a border wall, or more border enforcement, or more assholes with guns running around demanding papers of all the brown people they see. THEY also need to be upfront about the costs that they propose foisting on all of us.

          2. I gave up trying to debate John a long time ago. Dude just can’t help himself and the discussion descends into insults pretty quickly. Now I just joke around with him. Sometimes, he responds in good fun, and that way we can have an enjoyable interaction.

            My favorite conservative person to debate here was Just Sayin’. Too bad he disappeared a while back.

            1. I should add that of course it takes two for a discussion to descend into insult. I don’t have the patience of some other people here.

            2. I suspect, but have no proof, that Just Sayin’ is OBL.

            3. Baculum, you have loser arguments which is why John wipes the floor with you.

              Your one argument fails over and over, so then you switch to other bad arguments that fall flat.

              Kind of like what Reason does. hmm….

      3. Can’t it be both? They are depressing the labor market AND they are collecting welfare because the wages they are earning are too low to support them?

        1. It is, in fact, both.


      4. Are immigrants taking our jobs or our welfare?

        You’re dumber than I thought if you don’t understand how it could be both. It’s the same fucking thing poor citizens do. Work for cash under the table while drawing disability and medicaid.

        One thing we know for a fact that they do is steal American identities. Is that a crime?

        1. Work for cash under the table while drawing disability and medicaid.

          The issue at hand, then, is social welfare. I’d be all for a system where immigrants that want to come and work aren’t eligible for social welfare.

          I should add that it’s the draconian immigration laws that are driving the work under the table in the first place. The same way banning drugs or prostitution drives that behavior to black markets.

          One thing we know for a fact that they do is steal American identities. Is that a crime?

          Yes, but we should prosecute criminals for committing crimes, not for merely being associated with a group of people who might be likely to commit crimes. See the difference?

          For instance, gun owners have higher incidence of using guns to commit crimes. But I wouldn’t argue that we should prosecute all gun owners for merely owning guns.

          1. No offense Leo, but you’re way off base on saying that immigration is what’s causing our labor woes. Our immigration problems are the result of our labor legislation, not the other way around.

            1. Well, that wasn’t really my claim. I would certainly agree that our labor laws have created demand for immigrant labor. Immigration laws are certainly helping to keep that labor off the books as well. I can’t imagine that all immigrants are working for less than minimum wage.

              1. Not all immigrants, just specifically illegal immigrants. If you take away their comparative advantage to work for less, they stop having an advantage over domestic labor.

                Keep in mind you I do think you are right in certain cases. Specifically if you include benefits, taxes, and the costs of red tape in the cost of employment you could pay an illegal immigrant more than the minimum wage and still come out ahead over what it would cost to hire a citizen.

                I don’t find that exception to be terribly noteworthy beyond illustrating the cost imposed by government on domestic labor, though, or perhaps illustrate that an illegal immigrant could charge the same price and still be cheaper in real terms.

                1. The big problem is that you have low skilled workers in the US growing up in our standard of living while you have illegal immigrants coming in who are satisfied with so much less.

                  As an example, I have a family member who has been doing construction all his life. He had to move from a state with less of an immigrant population to one with much higher. He is competing with immigrant laborers who are happy to bunk up in a small house with ten other men who send their money over the borders, while he tries to pay for a house and a family with three kids.

                  I’m not saying that it is RIGHT to restrict these immigrants (and in fact if they were instead americans doing the same thing- getting roommates and saving money- most conservatives would laud them). I am merely pointing out that suddenly legalizing immigrants won’t make the downward pressure on wages disappear. It would help, but the problem would still exist.


                  1. The big problem is that you have low skilled workers in the US growing up in our standard of living while you have illegal immigrants coming in who are satisfied with so much less.

                    Probably true, although in your example you note they send a lot of money home (which is true of everything I’ve read, likely the same as you) where it should also be noted the American dollar itself has more purchasing power in Mexico so while they may ‘suffer’ a few years in the States living off comparatively nothing they can then ‘retire’ to Mexico with a very healthy savings in a much shorter period of time.

                    An American could obviously do the same, although in that circumstance you’re correct they would probably take a hit in their standard of living making it a less attractive option.


                    I am merely pointing out that suddenly legalizing immigrants won’t make the downward pressure on wages disappear. It would help, but the problem would still exist.

                    You’d also see a whole lot of immigrants going to jail or being deported for not following the law (e.g. minimum wage laws, licensure laws, etc.). Oh, wait, you couldn’t deport them or arrest them. What would the legal recourse be in your view?

                    1. You’d also see a whole lot of immigrants going to jail or being deported for not following the law (e.g. minimum wage laws, licensure laws, etc.). Oh, wait, you couldn’t deport them or arrest them. What would the legal recourse be in your view?

                      Uh, why couldn’t you arrest them or deport them? Just because you change immigration laws so that people can work freely in this country doesn’t suddenly make them suddenly immune to all laws.

                      People are fined and sometimes jailed for tax fraud all the time- specifically for performing work under the table. There is no reason the same wouldn’t happen if such people happened to be legal immigrants.

                    2. “You’d also see a whole lot of immigrants going to jail or being deported for not following the law (e.g. minimum wage laws, licensure laws, etc.). Oh, wait, you couldn’t deport them or arrest them.”

                      That’s a pretty severe non-sequitur.

                      Or are you proposing switching the label applied to them from “invading army” to “foreign diplomats” overnight?

        2. Actually, BYODB, there are many welfare programs that REQUIRE holding a job in order to be eligible for them. And a legal job, not work-under-the-table. This is primarily a result of the 1995 welfare reform.

          Furthermore, a lot of what is called “welfare” by folks like CIS, are things like “school lunches for children of immigrants”. That type of welfare is completely independent of whether or not the parents have jobs or not.

          1. I gave specific examples of the welfare I was talking about Jeff. Notably, those two examples are huge budget items and neither require working. Who are you talking to, and what point was this supposed to make?

    4. the wall is going to be very effective

      As effective as the currently ongoing drug war?

      1. I’d wager even less successful than that, if we’re being honest.

        1. Why not jack up drug war appropriations by about $6B and call the wall an effort to stop drugs rather than immigrants?

          1. I’d say the obvious answer is the government doesn’t give much of a fuck about either of those things. After all, it’s ‘do something’ not ‘actually succeed at something’.

            1. “After all, it’s ‘do something’ not ‘actually succeed at something’.”

              That seems to be the best argument amongst the pro-wall types. “Hey it’s not 100% effective, but it’s better than nothing.”

    5. Pro immigration people need to pick a position.

      Just because you encounter several different people with several different positions doesn’t mean they all need to band together and pick one position to advocate.

      Are you anti-immigration?

      The conclusion I can make from the various contradictory claims made by Democrats and Reason and other open borders advocates is that the wall is going to be very effective.

      It might be “effective”, but that’s not why Democrats oppose it. If that were the case, they would have opposed all the other walls and fences that have already been put up along the border. Democrats oppose this particular wall project because it’s the main thing Trump wants and they don’t want to give it to him. It’s a political contest of wills and that’s about all it is at this point.

      1. It might be “effective”, but that’s not why Democrats oppose it. If that were the case, they would have opposed all the other walls and fences that have already been put up along the border. Democrats oppose this particular wall project because it’s the main thing Trump wants and they don’t want to give it to him. It’s a political contest of wills and that’s about all it is at this point.

        They do oppose those things. But you miss my other point which is that the efforts that they do support are all things which can be undone and ignored by future Presidents. The wall is the one border security measure that can’t be renedered meaningless by future Congress and Administrations. That is why they are so fanatical about stopping it. If they really thought it was ineffective, they would happily give it to Trump in return for things that they really want.

        1. They do oppose those things.

          No they don’t. “They” (some of them at some point) voted for them and funded them.

          If Republicans wanted the wall so bad, then why didn’t they all vote for it before the House was turned over to the other party? The government shutdown started on Christmas Eve. If I’m not mistaken Republicans still controlled both houses of Congress at that point.

          But you miss my other point which is that the efforts that they do support are all things which can be undone and ignored by future Presidents.

          I didn’t miss it. I ignored it.

          Why can’t it be undone? Mr. President, tear down this wall.

          If they really thought it was ineffective, they would happily give it to Trump in return for things that they really want.

          No. Denying Trump something he really wants is the goal at this point. Period. They don’t really care about much else.

          1. It is a good point to point out that Republicans are not a hive mind like the Democrats are. It means that they will continue to lose ground on most issues.

            With state Supreme Courts usurping the authority of their legislatures and redistricting to favor Democrats, well, I think the writing is on the wall yeah?

            1. a hive mind like the Democrats are

              lol

              1. That’s how I think of them, since they are the party of compulsory agreement. Republicans are their own special brand of idiot evil, but there is little denying that Republicans have a lot more inner party strife and division than the Democrats do. Observe their differing electoral procedures to get an idea of how deep that runs.

                It hasn’t always been so, but while the blue dogs may technically still exist they still somehow managed to vote for the ACA last I saw.

                1. Did you miss the 2016 primaries? The Democrats were about evenly split between Hillary Clinton center-left liberalism and Bernie Sanders social democracy. Only by rigging the primaries could Hillary win her own party’s nomination. That doesn’t sound like a hive mind to me.

                  I think one reason why it may seem like Republicans have more intraparty turmoil is because they are the ones in charge right now so we see it all much more plainly in the news. Witness what we have seen once Democrats took over just the House – turmoil between the ones who want to impeach Trump right away, and the ones who don’t and who think it would all be just a giant distraction. That’s just one. I think they probably had those intraparty fights even before they took over the House but we just see it now because they share some power now too.

                  1. Oh, I saw those primaries all right. I saw how the party crushed all dissent with barely a peep from the rank-and-file.

                    I foresee that being a problem for them in a few years, maybe sooner rather than later, but Republicans have been there for something like twenty or thirty years now. I suspect we’ll see Democrats fracture a lot more once their elected-for-life party members die off.

                  2. I think the Republicans have a lot more little factions than the Dems do. But that may be colored by the news I read.

                  3. What differences exist among Ds, other than personalities?

                    “I want 75% free healthcare.”
                    “Well I want 100% free healthcare!”

                    “I want 75% free college.”
                    “I want 100% free college!”

                    “I want 75% gun control.”
                    “I want 100% gun control!”

                    “I want 75% regulations.”
                    “I want 100% regulations!”

                    C’mon man.
                    Progressivism is a hive mind.
                    Ds are all in on the hive mind.
                    Necessarily so

                    1. You have an active imagination. Or a weak grip on reality.

                    2. And you have nothing to contribute, James, which in this particular and singular instance is excusable.
                      Its excusable because there is no substantive difference of platform and dogma within progressivism/D party

                2. “Republicans have a lot more inner party strife…It hasn’t always been so, but while the blue dogs may technically still exist they still somehow managed to vote for the ACA last I saw.”

                  And despite the R’s being the party of “family values”, “free trade”, and “law and order” they have rallied around a tariff issuing, draft dodging, corrupt, 3 wife-cheating, former democrat…and anyone who dissents is shouted down, primaried, and considered a traitor or leftist. Anyone from the R’s that have spoken out against dear leader is immediately vilified by Trump, all of the conservative media machine, and all of the usual repubs on this board.

                  But ya, it’s DEF the dems that are the brainwashed hive mind 🙂

    6. Of course it wil be effective. If they really believed it isn’t, then they wouldn’t try so hard to stop it. It’s not like de ocrats give a shit about saving money.

      This is obvious.

  7. Your wall can’t stop my supplier. He’s an Important Exportin’ Man

  8. Way to shift the goalposts, there. Is there no mendacity of the left that REASON staff will not emulate in their ridiculous open borders mania? All these people I used to respect are whoring out for this goal, using arguments for the nation that they would NEVER put forth for individuals. i.e.: You would never advocate people to leave doors unlocked on the basis that such hateful selfishness hinders the free movement of the homeless into your house.

    But anyway, yes, the wall will reduce illegal immigration. And yes, it won’t slow the influx of drugs, keeping prices down.

    If that ain’t a win/win fuck you.

    1. How many anti Trump, anti wall, and open borders articles has Reason published since Monday? Ten, twelve?

      1. The better Trump does and momentum moves in his favor, the more the propaganda must be rolled out by the media hacks.

  9. What traffickers? Most of the enjoyables instantly available in Haight-Ashbury are not even criminal in today’s Mexico. The Antifascister Mauer is probably to keep Americans from day-tripping in Mexico, or moving across the border to escape National Socialized medicine with its fines and imprisonment. Ex-pats can tell Obummercare to shove it. The Texas legislature appears to have understood this without too many slide presentations.

  10. What’s their opinion on open borders? Asking for a friend.

    1. Milton Friedman didn’t care for a welfare state + open borders, or so I recall. The “Wall” is one thing, but I have concerns about unregulated immigration.

      1. That makes you literally worse than CommieNazis.

      2. You recall correctly. Milton Friedman touched on that subject at least once during a conference back in the late 70s/early 80s.

      3. but I have concerns about unregulated immigration.

        I’m trying to figure out who would blink first and/or hardest if we went back to the old system:

        A guy on Ellis Island signs you in with your family name and country of origin, then you toodle off to a tenement building in the 5 points neighborhood to be photographed by Jacob Riis.

        1. And that system was changed by more restrictive immigration law. And at that time we did not have the welfare state we have today as an incentive.

          Nobody in this country is Central American poor. Not even close.

      4. If memory serves Milton was for illegal immigration in a welfare state. They pay into the welfare state, but are ineigible for welfare benefits. Well, without identity fraud anyway.

        1. Good luck preventing identity fraud in this country. Try to rigorously enforce identity document law and a chorus of libertarians will bawl, “Ihre Papiere bitte as they assume that’s a valid and sufficient argument against enforcement; Democrats will howl “Racism, voter suppression, xenophobia”; and the Ninth Circuit will declare said enforcement to be unconstitutional.

  11. It’s all a bunch of political posturing. More physical barriers will work marginally to slow down illegal immigration but won’t help with drugs much. $5B is not needed to be effective. Shutting down the government until you get your campaign promise fulfilled is not the way most presidents have behaved in the past. If Trump was really a good “deal maker” he would have figured out a way to make a compromise with the Demos without the grandstanding and to make it seem like a fulfilled campaign promise as well. The shutdown rhetoric just caused both sides to dig in. Not paying federal firefighters, IRS people and slowing down the immigration court process is all counter-productive. There is useful work that federal workers perform.

  12. Why Drug Traffickers Laugh at Trump’s Border Wall

    Sullum knows a lot of drug traffickers.

    1. He also knows a lot of people who laugh at him.

  13. I find it interesting that the author bases his argument on the amount of drugs seized by law enforcement. It doesn’t take a leap of faith to recognize that the unseized drugs are the issue and the families that are affected by drug usage could care less where the drugs enter. It would seem important to me that every identified hole be plugged to the extent possible. If the author believes that most of the illegal drugs are coming through the ports of entry then he must also conclude that the system (people, dogs, technology) at the ports of entry are doing a very poor job catching the illegal drugs. In any case we need improved border security with policy and procedures best defined by the people working at the border and not by politicians in Washington D.C.

  14. A wall won’t stop drugs?
    Oh, thank God.
    For a moment there, I was getting worried.

  15. “Nearly all drugs are stopped at ports of entry” means some drugs do enter the country through mules who cross illegally.

    Let’s say a wall impedes drug flow by 1% by discouraging mules from entry or limiting their ports of entry. That’s a small side benefit to mitigating a huge burden placed on the border patrol, who will be tasked to contend with migrant every two to three years.

    If we do nothing then we watch the cost of housing, medical treatment and legal fees for migrant care surges. What’s the cost of providing additional housing, medical treatment and legal fees for thousands of new migrants detained at the border? And the salaries and pension cost for additional personnel?

  16. Perhaps “Summary Execution In-The-Field” would change their outlook?

  17. First of all, as Joe Setyon noted last night, illegal drugs that enter the country from Mexico are mainly smuggled through ports of entry, which would still exist no matter how much money the government spends on physical barriers.

    Try to reason with Trump supporters? I admire the optimism but question the practical judgment.

  18. Back in the 1770’s, the drug being smuggled into the colonies destined to become the United States was tea. The government (of England) tried to stamp out all that pesky drug smuggling. How’d that turn out? In the 1920’s, the drug being smuggled about the US was the demon alcohol. The government tried to stamp out all that pesky drug smuggling. How’d that turn out?

    In the 1990’s, the gimmick was to find a doc to write a script for your drugs… we decided to crack down on that, and… surprise? Turns out drug abusers STILL exist. Maybe this isn’t really a problem that can be solved by law enforcement, no matter how much effort you put into it.

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  20. First of all, as Joe Setyon noted last night, illegal drugs that enter the country from Mexico are mainly smuggled through ports of entry

    No, that’s not what that moron noted last night. What he noted last night was that most smuggled drugs are CAUGHT at ports of entry. Which is as obvious and meaningful as saying 1+1=2.

    The two of you are actually paid journalists? I’ve seen better arguments from Artie and the Hihnfection. Jeez.

    1. Agree, its seems obvious but a lot of folk then extrapolate to say no drugs are being smuggled across the unsecured portions of the border. Which of course they are. We just are not catching them there as much because its less SECURE!

    2. Agree, its seems obvious but a lot of folk then extrapolate to say no drugs are being smuggled across the unsecured portions of the border. Which of course they are. We just are not catching them there as much because its less SECURE!

  21. MS-13 runs illegal immigration like the Mafia ran alcohol here during prohibition.

    They make money on trafficking, drugs, prostitution.

    You can be for immigration reform but not protecting the border is not that . We are not going to pass immigration reform that just says show up and you get a free pass on entry.

    Can any of you open border idiots see a problem with just allowing caravans of folks to enter.? Geez

    That being said you have to be a special kind of moron and if you can’t see that to deter illegal entry you need a combination of a barrier, electronic surveillance and patrols.

    And who carries illegal drugs into the country, illegal aliens, not all but some.

  22. Seriously the walls don’t work and we catch all drugs at ports of entry points are completely moronic.

    I’ll bet we catch most under age drinkers at places that check ID’s versus those that don’t.

    I’ll bet we catch most speeding in areas that police patrol versus those they don’t. DUHHH!

  23. Having been a federal contract worker during the Obama shutdown, they are exactly right. While the civil servants have a nice vacation with backpay, federal contract workers (who do most of the actual work) were not getting paid.

    My problem with the shutdown is that it’s an utter waste of money. The civil servants are getting paid, and we aren’t getting the benefits of their working. It’s a lose-lose situation.

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  25. An argument against illegal immigration rarely heard relates to cultural costs. In the following excerpt from the novel, “Retribution Fever”, some of the characters espouse that which many would consider a draconian plan to deter illegal immigration. Judge their plan by its consequences not just your own personal opinion or ideology:

    Article IV, Section 4 of the original Constitution demanded that the government defend our sovereign territory.
    Accordingly, adult aliens attempting to enter these United States illegally outside regular channels such as by crossing the Rio Grande River will receive a single warning in English then a single warning shot from a firearm. If they ignore those warnings, they will be shot with intent to kill. Children clearly pre-pubescent will be detained for immediate deportation.
    For those attempting to enter illegally by ship, the detected vessel will receive a single, verbal warning to alter course then a single warning shot across its bow. If it fails to do so, it will be sunk. Passengers and crew will be evacuated firstly, placed into detaining camps in the Aleutian Islands, then returned to their native countries at minimal expense consistent with humane treatment.
    In 1953 with “Operation Wetback”, President Eisenhower proved that we can defend our southern border effectively with a minimum of manpower at a minimum of expense provided that we employ sufficiently potent and immediate contingencies. We will. We must.

  26. Abolish the “War on Drugs” which has done far more harm than good. Learn more: http://chasingthescream.com/

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