Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Trump's New Travel Ban: Mean and Senseless

It will do nothing to Make America Safe Again

President Trump's revised travel ban can no longer be fairly characterized as a Muslim ban. But just because it avoids the overt appearance ofRefugee KidsUnited Nations Photo via Foter.com / religious discrimination of the first couple iterations doesn't mean there's anything remotely rational about it. If anything, it shows that the president isn't really interested in "making America safe again." He mostly wants to settle scores with regimes he doesn't like.

Before the latest changes, Trump wanted to restrict travel from Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Iran. That ban was set to expire at the end of this month. The revised ban includes all those countries except Sudan, and bizarrely adds Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela. And there is no end date to it.

The administration maintains that it developed its list after a through worldwide review and targeted only those countries that don't comply with its minimal standards for improving security and identifying terror threats. For example, countries that don't already issue biometric passports to their citizens and share terrorism and criminal history with the United States (or haven't committed to doing so in the future) were included. And if they show progress, they could be removed from the list at some point. But the administration also admits that other broader considerations played a role.

At the level of politics, this list is clever. By adding North Korea and Venezuela, the administration dodges accusations that it is imposing a religious test on Muslim-majority countries while also sticking it to governments that the president has been tangling with for reasons that have nothing to do with terrorism.

At the level of policy, however, the new ban is cheap, cruel, and senseless.

It is cheap because it makes U.S. foreign policy a function of presidential whims and personal vendettas — not broader principles of what's good for the country or the world. There are many things wrong with the governments of North Korea and Venezuela, but their citizens haven't shown any inclination to come to America and harm Americans. (Stopping such would-be terrorists was the original rationale for the ban.) Indeed, North Korea doesn't even let its people leave the country lest it trigger a mass exodus of people trying to flee poverty and oppression. Last year, exactly 110 North Koreans came to the United States. If North Koreans actually could leave, America should embrace them with open arms, giving them safe passage rather than erecting barriers in their way. Depriving their communist dictatorship of victims, after all, might well be the quickest way of neutralizing the North Korea threat. Indeed, Soviet communism ended — without a single shot being fired — when the Berlin Wall fell and East Germans came pouring into the West in search of freedom and prosperity.

The ban's restrictions against Venezuela are more targeted, applying mostly to government officials and not the broader population. This is not as objectionable as banning citizens. But putting Venezuela on this list still smacks of mission creep and dilutes its original purpose. The simple reason State Department officials included it is to appease President Trump's disdain for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, with whom he's been openly sparring.

The ban is cruel because, as Amnesty International's Naureen Shah points out, it bars "whole nationalities of people who are often fleeing the very same violence the U.S. government wishes to keep out." Syria, along with North Korea, faces a complete ban on all new entries. Some Somalis will be allowed to come to the United States for tourist or business purposes with "enhanced screening." But they will no longer be able to emigrate by obtaining green cards, except, presumably, in very limited categories where they have a substantial relationship with an American citizen, something that the courts have instructed the administration to respect. Ditto for Chad, Yemen, and Libya. The citizens of these three nations won't get tourist and business visas either, except on a very limited, case-by-case basis.

As if all of this is not bad enough, the administration is also planning to radically scale back America's already rather meager refugee program, which Trump suspended pending review upon assuming office. That means there will be virtually no usable options left for people stuck in these countries to come to America.

And that brings us to senseless. If these restrictions actually did make America safer, we could honestly debate the tradeoffs of such a ban. There would be a coherent and supportable argument on each side. But this ban won't make America for safer — for the simple reason that the people who the ban excludes didn't pose a big threat to begin with.

Americans' risk of dying in a terrorist attack perpetrated by a foreigner on U.S. soil is one in 3.6 million per year (and this includes the deaths that took place during the 9/11 attacks, whose massive casualty count is something of an outlier). The chance of being struck by a refugee is even lower. But the real kicker is that migrants from the banned countries have killed precisely zero Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and 2015.

Shutting the door to millions of people without any appreciable security benefit for Americans isn't smart. It's hysterical.

This column originally appeared in The Week

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I often wonder how we can justify bringing in refugees from a libertarian perspective. By this I mean, how can we justify the government picking and choosing some people with special status and paying them to come?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Paying for them to come.

  • DJF||

    The taxpayer pays for the travel to the US. Once in the US seven so-called charities are paid by the taxpayers to sign the "refugees" up to all welfare benefits they can. (Under the refugee treaty anyone accepted as a refugee cannot be denied any welfare benefits.)

  • Memory Hole||

    Ponder this tonight before you sleep: What would libertarian Jesus do? WWLJD............ what would*?*LJ do?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I feel like he would fight for open borders and then allow for private entities to vouch and bring over refugees.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Doubtful--if he won't even institute open borders for his own home, why would he do it for a nation on earth?

  • Eric Bana||

    Look, there is no inconsistency between Star Trek seasons in relation to the Klingons. Klingons in the earlier season didn't have ridges on their foreheads because they had plastic surgery to better serve their roles as diplomats.

  • chemjeff||

    Ideally refugee resettlement should be entirely private. But one could probably make a utilitarian argument that the deprivation of liberty associated with domestic taxation is offset by the increase in liberty of the refugees themselves. I don't like these arguments because they involve placing relative value on different liberties and I don't think that is a balance sheet that can ever be reconciled. But it is IMO not a priori an illegitimate argument.

  • Episteme||

    I often wonder how we can justify bringing in refugees from a libertarian perspective. By this I mean, how can we justify the government picking and choosing some people with special status and paying them to come?

    As I suggest for everything...Thunderdome.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    But sometimes people survive that.

  • Brendan||

    Let's see if they'll compromise and accept a proposal to only allow people with verified net worths of $250K+ from those countries.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    We should stipulate no dudes (got to watch the ratio or it's a sausagefest) and no fat chicks.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "Not a problem!"

    -North Korea

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I also call no uggos.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "A little involuntary plastic surgery'll fix that right up!"

    -North Korea

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Well, alright then.

  • Presskh||

    Not a bad idea, actually. You don't get to immigrate to New Zealand unless you have a lot of money or, at least, a certain highly valued skill set that they need. Also, Australia has refused to take any Muslim refugees. We do not owe anyone political or economic refuge any more than any other country does. While this attitude may violate some of your "Libertarian" principles, I say forcing me to help pay for immigrant welfare or possible letting in potential terrorists violates mine.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "letting in potential terrorists violates mine"

    What about allowing people to own AR-15s that could be used to shoot your kids?

    Or allowing people to amass wealth that could be used to sue small businesses into the ground or fund out-of-touch plutocrats' campaigns?

    Or allowing people to imbibe dangerous narcotics that cause them to veer off the road and total an SUV with a family of four?

    A second violation of the NAP is never the solution to an initial one.

  • Bra Ket||

    Indeed, North Korea doesn't even let its people leave the country lest it trigger a mass exodus of people trying to flee poverty and oppression. Last year, exactly 110 North Koreans came to the United States. If North Koreans actually could leave, America should embrace them with open arms, giving them safe passage rather than erecting barriers in their way.

    But since you already noted they can't leave, it's rather moot isn't it? The question then becomes, who are these people that the psychopaths running North Korea choose to send here? I can think of a few categories:

    1. well-connected people or sports competitors receiving major favors.
    2. govt agents sent to watch over group #1 and prevent their defection.
    3. govt agents sent for some other nefarious reason.

    Clearly we should play along and welcome them.

  • CE||

    3A). Spies, obviously.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Uh. Shikha won't like your use of logic as it overrules her emotions.

    And Fuck you, Shikha. I still remember your twitter statements. You're part of the problem.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    And let me also say, you are why I didn't donate last year and why I won't this year. Reason doesn't get a dime until you leave.

  • Hidebehindyourcause||

    According to her bio, she's libertarian. I have yet to see it. It's fine that she despises Trump, but the article above makes it sounds like she supports the taxpayer-funded welfare state, at least when it comes to certain groups.

  • CE||

    I guessed the author from the headline (even though I agree that travel bans are a bad idea.)

    Assuming the USA has a travel ban, what's bizarre about adding Venezuela or North Korea? Chad I don't get -- have we started bombing them too?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    As I said in the other thread, we need to keep all these fucking Chads from fucking our bitches.

  • Lily Bulero||

    Don't forget that Chads can get pregnant.

  • Episteme||

    I'm guessing that Trump is just mad at some guy named Chad from the country club and added him to the list when he went overseas on vacation.

  • chemjeff||

    I agree that it is largely stupid and only a way for Trump to appease his base rather than do something affirmatively positive.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I don't think his base is crying out for this, so your comment doesn't make any sense. I also get the sense that you have a very childish way of looking at any and all decisions coming out of this administration based on your personal animus against Trump.

  • Sevo||

    "...If North Koreans actually could leave, America should embrace them with open arms, giving them safe passage rather than erecting barriers in their way...."

    I'm at the 'open borders' end of the discussion, but you really didn't help your or my case here. This sort of hypothetical is an indication of sloppy thinking.
    For starters, what have you read regarding the Norks and what makes you think this is true? I certainly is NOT self-evident.

  • jerryg1018||

    Sure, lets throw out our immigration laws and quotas set by Congress out the window and open our borders to anyone who wants to come here. I got news for you, there is no RIGHT to immigrate to the US and the US has a RIGHT to pick and chose who it allows in. There is no obligation to take whomever whats to immigrate here.
    There is already a major problem with people who have immigrated here who refuse to assimilate. learn the English language, customs and laws. They want to recreate their homeland's customs and laws here. That ain't the way it works.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "the US has a RIGHT"

    A collective right, huh?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Poor phrasing. What he means is that the federal government has the ENUMERATED POWER to control immigration and naturalization policy for the US. We the People have contractually granted this authority through the constitution. So don't start that collective right shit. This is actually one of the things the feds are supposed to do.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "We the People have contractually granted this authority through the constitution"

    Eg:

    *We the Collective* have contractually granted this *right of exclusion* to the government.

    Not unlike the collective (eg electoral majority) that declared they had a right of exclusion to alcohol. Say, wasn't the 18th Amendment an ENUMERATED POWER of the federal government too? Contractually granted by We the People and everything.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    You consider those two things to be equivalent somehow? One was repealed after fourteen years, and the other, part of the original document, will always be there, and for good reason.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Both are *collective* arrogations of *individual* rights (freedom of association and freedom of bodily self-determination, respectively), justified by false notions of collective ownership of people and property within the region of the United States and inspired by pseudo-scientific "common-sense" moral panic on the part of elderly upper-middle-class pundits in scaremongering media and gossiping middle-aged women in parlors.

    Just like gun control, socialized (insert industry), the drug war, the war on terror/TSA, abortion restriction, bans on encryption, censorship, protectionism, fear of automation, and so many more. All statism is alike- the assertion that collective interests supercede individual autonomy.

  • jerryg1018||

    Sure, lets throw out our immigration laws and quotas set by Congress out the window and open our borders to anyone who wants to come here. I got news for you, there is no RIGHT to immigrate to the US and the US has a RIGHT to pick and chose who it allows in. There is no obligation to take whomever whats to immigrate here.
    There is already a major problem with people who have immigrated here who refuse to assimilate. learn the English language, customs and laws. They want to recreate their homeland's customs and laws here. That ain't the way it works.

  • gphx||

    'Oh, that Trump is thuch a meanie!' SMH

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I need to get vanity plates for my car that say 'BGMEANY'.

  • buybuydandavis||

    WRNGFLZ

  • buybuydandavis||

    At the level of policy, however, the new ban is cheap, cruel, and senseless.

    Remember when Reason had more cogent arguments than "Wrongfeelz!" ?

  • vek||

    I have never got, and will never get, the idea that 100% open borders are a 110% requirement of libertarianism.

    Even if they are in the total "perfect" hypothetical libertarian world, I'm totally in favor of borders and immigration rules as a real world exception to theory. Totally open borders cannot function well in the real world. Too many different opinions, social norms, religions etc to cause personal conflicts. The levels of education of most people in 3/4 of the world is too low to allow anybody but the elite from those countries to move to industrialized countries without completely bringing down the standard of living of said nice countries. If true open borders happened Europe, America, Japan and the other wealthy nations would look like Mexico or India in no time at all. By that I mean we'd have enclaves of wealthy people still running around, but the other 90% of everybody would be dragged down. Our borders are all that keep our overall standard of living artificially high for most working stiffs, including most managers and even high skill jobs like programming etc.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The Libertarian Platform is very short, and makes every allowance for excluding ideologues brainwashed into berserker beheadings, kamikaze hijackings and plowing trucks through crowds of pedestrians. Republican sockpuppets would do well to invest half an hour in reading the thing before opening their mouths and removing all doubt.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Oh fuck off. Your babbling isn't clever, it just makes you sound like a mental patient that snuck onto a computer with internet access.

  • vek||

    I wasn't talking about Big L Libertarians, as in the actual party. Their official platform is irrelevant, and open to changing, although it's often more sane than some libertarian opinions, and may be on immigration too. I'm talking about the healthy percentage of small L libertarians who think that freedom of international movement should be an absolute right of all people.

    I get the principle. It's maximum freedom! It really is too. Problem is that a world that has standards of living that vary between countries as much as something like 100 fold (10,000%!), and education levels from "can't read or write in any language, or do any written math" to "can land probes on mars," there are simply real world practical reasons that make MY opinion be that we should not be extremists on that particular right. Allowing any old illiterates from anywhere in the world to plop down in the middle of Luxembourg in as great of numbers as they want is NOT going to be beneficial for most people in Luxembourg.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Letting people take food off of grocery stores in as great an amount as they want wouldn't be beneficial either.

    How fortunate, then, that we have a market system specifically designed to taper consumption of scarce resources by less productive market actors. Open Borders wouldn't "allow any old illiterates from anywhere in the world to plop down in the middle of Luxembourg in as great of numbers as they want": it would allow as many "old illiterates from anywhere in the world to plop down in the middle of Luxembourg" *as could afford too*. And I'm guessing that's not many- not that it would matter if there were. If they're living there, they are by definition going to be living off the wages paid to them by the literate locals, which in turn means by definition they are doing something useful for said locals- and the opinion of locals not paying or selling to the newcomers is irrelevant.

    The only potential problem derives from welfare payments, and persuading an electoral majority to deny access to benefits for immigrants is rarely a tough sell.

  • vek||

    Come back to the real world please so we can talk...

    I get your argument. But did you see how many people just poured into Europe with a very minor pretense of their law breaking, MAYBE being allowed to get overlooked. If it was straight up "anything goes" a ton more would find a way to come. Millions and millions and millions. We would indeed get cheap labor, and lots of it. Which is why many big business corporatists have always been in favor of it. So many would benefit. Not denying that. Hell I would probably benefit as a business owner! But most native people would not. They would see their wages slashed and their standard of living eroded, not to mention their native culture destroyed and replaced by a bunch of people with no respect or interest in their ways or customs.

    The end result would be exactly what I said: You'd have a society with a few wealthy, and a shit ton of peasants. Which is how most 2nd world and 3rd world countries are around the world. There are tons of rich people in 3rd world countries who benefit from super cheap labor.

  • vek||

    My point is that if you asked most Americans or Europeans if that was what they wanted, 90% would say "HELL NO!" But they're being sold of policies that push us towards that in slow motion, while being told that that's not what's happening. But many people can SEE it happening before their eyes. Neighborhoods going to shit being filled with illegal immigrants with 10 people to a house. Seeing their wages stay flat for 10 or 15 years. On and on. I've seen this stuff first hand in my life.

    And as far as welfare, obviously that would HAVE to go. Here in the REAL WORLD we actually have people fighting to give welfare benefits to illegal immigrants as is, soooo I'm not buying your argument that it would be easy to pass laws forbidding immigrants receiving benefits. Left wing virtue signalling has gone full on crazy nowadays, so can't count on sanity coming into play in making the argument against it.

    Maybe you want to live in a country that is structured like Mexico, but most people don't. I prefer to keep the borders intact and have a higher standard of living that is spread around a little more evenly. If you like the 3rd world model, why don't you move to somewhere that's already like that and take advantage of all that good cheap labor yourself... Just leave me out of it.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I'm struggling to actually respond to the sheer bulk of your comments, but to try to do so as succinctly as I can:

    A, denying welfare ceases to be a tough sell once the nativeborn actually start paying. See: Denmark. And all the rest of Europe is starting to seal their borders now for the same reason: there's no reason the antipathy driving that newfound restrictionism couldn't be turned to full withdrawal of benefits as easily.

    B, those "millions" of immigrants in Europe were only able to get there courtesy of coerced welfare. The market was distorted. Subsidizing something inflates its presence above market value.

    C, the wage stagnation you mentioned is A, somewhat the result of increasing healthcare costs (which usually aren't counted as wages), and B, the result of licensing, zoning regulation, and non-transferable welfare benefits keeping people in dying rural industries "locked out" of urban growth areas. Immigrants- and free trade and automation- caused the job losses, but government prevented new ones from being created.

    If Consumer Group A buys cheaper goods from Mexican C, Worker B loses his job. But Consumer Group A is now wealthier, and so spends more, creating a new job for Worker B- if the gov lets B move to where A lives.

  • vek||

    Open borders may well help many poor people/countries as it would level out differences in national wages as everything evened out... But I say fuck those people. I'd rather keep nice countries nice. Poor countries can pull themselves up. I think most people agree that they don't want their first world country to become Mexico, which BTW is actually quite wealthy by world standards. The fact that we in the USA use them as an example of a shit hole country when they're actually wealthy by global standards proves my point of how much we have to lose.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    As has been proven time and again throughout our history. Remember when letting in the Italians and Spaniards caused the Depression in the 30s? And let's not forget the Irish, whose introduction of Catholicism came within a hair's breadth of undermining the most fundamental infrastructure of our republic. Thank Almighty Providence that Eisenhower held the Lettuce-Picking Menace at bay for as long as he did.

    A free society simply cannot survive an infusion of affordable labor and dissenting voices.

  • vek||

    And yet those large influxes DID cause real short and mid term issues in their time. Italian organized crime caused many deaths in the country, caused general social tension, and almost certainly did suppress wages for people at the time in large ways. And that was when unskilled labor was actually in demand, and there wasn't a huge welfare state! It's way worse now.

    Also, I read once somewhere that RECENT IMMIGRANTS actually were the reason FDR won the presidency. They voted for him at well over 50%, and he wouldn't have won without their votes. Imagine that. It almost sounds like how the Dems still manage to get elected today, playing to identity/class politics and all. People from countries with socialist policies move here, and vote to recreate some of the worst parts of back home out of their own ignorance, against the wishes of the native born. But it's totally a great idea because completely unrestricted free movement of people is THE most important thing ever. We might not have Social Security, or any number of other stupid programs if immigration had been slower back in them days. Of course they're mostly "converted" NOW, but the point is that it takes TIME to assimilate people properly. Fresh off the boat Italians did not hold many of the important American values when they first got here.

  • vek||

    I grew up in California, and am part Mexican myself. I'm not saying Mexicans, as a for instance, would cause forever problems... But too many too quickly does. As an example, when I was a kid growing up there there wasn't nearly the level of animosity between Anglos and Mexicans. It was largely a non issue. That was because they didn't reach that "critical mass" point to where integration slows down because they can remain cliquish, which is a natural human tendency. They didn't feel the need to push "their" agenda, because they were just a few people floating around (and integrating fairly well anyway), and not a group to be targeted for identity politics by the left. Everything was pretty chill.

    As the number of them exploded, even as Americans became less and less racist, SOMEHOW it's been turned into a giant cluster fuck of us versus them. That is because of Cali and other states being flooded in a short period of time with people who don't assimilate, drive down wages, are now overriding opinions of native born Americans because many of the ones born here now can of course vote.

  • vek||

    Half of the reason California has gone full on commie is because of demographic changes. Almost my entire family on both sides, some of whom had been in California since the 1800s (we have a town named after my family!) have been Republicans. Keep in mind half my family is from the Bay Area, which didn't used to be a socialist haven back in the day. Combo of demographic change, and self sorting of liberals from elsewhere more recently, very directly caused this change. Even with the self sorting Trump (as a shitty proxy) almost would have won Cali without such voters.

    So soooorry if I'm pissed about my home state being completely changed, and for the worse, because of our bad immigration policies. And keep in mind I'm part friggin' Mexican here. My dad moved out of there because it was turning into such a shithole, and now I'm finding myself having to leave my current state because it's now being overrun with commies too. And yes, I'm a bit angsty about it. I don't want to have to move again, but I do because I can't stand the stupid in Seattle anymore. Statistical facts are facts. You don't have to like the way reality is, but an intelligent person will accept it for what it is and plan based off of reality instead of fantasy wishes they have in their head.

  • vek||

    I get the idea of absolute freedom above all else... I really do. And in many situations I am all for it. However with some issues it's just too easy to spot the real world pitfalls, and sometimes they outweigh the principle IMO. Absolute 2nd amendment freedom would reduce deaths in some ways (more defensive use), and cause more deaths in other ways (More criminals with better guns too!). Pros and cons. As someone who is pro gun, given the realities, I think pretty much anything short of nukes should be legal to have.

    I simply come to a different conclusion when it comes to free movement of people globally because of the particulars. The truth is that the only reason the USA isn't a total socialist hell hole right now is white middle class voters. NO OTHER DEMOGRAPHIC has EVER shown any interest in even paying lip service to limited constitutional government, or libertarian ideas. They all vote well under 50% even for watered down Republicans. If there were a REAL hardcore conservative/libertarian party that was viable they would likely support it even less, since almost all immigrant groups admit in polls they prefer bigger government.

    You can stick with extreme application of principles all you want... But when the country keeps going farther and farther away from what you want in every other way, just remember it is largely because of recent immigrants and their shit voting patterns.

  • damikesc||

    I simply come to a different conclusion when it comes to free movement of people globally because of the particulars. The truth is that the only reason the USA isn't a total socialist hell hole right now is white middle class voters. NO OTHER DEMOGRAPHIC has EVER shown any interest in even paying lip service to limited constitutional government, or libertarian ideas. They all vote well under 50% even for watered down Republicans. If there were a REAL hardcore conservative/libertarian party that was viable they would likely support it even less, since almost all immigrant groups admit in polls they prefer bigger government.

    Want to be harsh?

    They're the only ones to really oppose slavery also.

    The Western World basically forced the globe to give up slavery. It would have not happened otherwise.

  • vek||

    True fact! And I always bring up that inconvenient fact when discussing slavery with people, who almost never know anything about that. They don't know that the British empire LITERALLY fought wars to FORCE African/Arab nations to stop having slaves. Why don't they teach that to all the kids in college I wonder???

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    That's a lot to respond to. But I think I can break it down to 2 paragraphs:

    A, FDR was a de facto national socialist, yes. But he also fought one. And while I don't claim to know much about Wendell Wilkie, I know he was an isolationist at a time we couldn't afford to be. War with Japan was likely inevitable, but he might well have kept us out of Europe... Resulting in either the defeat of the USSR and an alt-timeline nuclear Cold War with Nazi Germany, or all of Western Europe from Berlin to Normandy being added to the Iron Curtain. Sooo... "yay immigrants", with reservations.

    B, all of the stuff about immigrants being inclined to leftism and the Ds rests on the fundamentally flawed claim that the right-wingers and red-Rs are more inclined to liberty. They are not. They want lower taxes and guns, but those are not the only metrics of liberty. Repubs vote for abortion restrictions, heavy-handed policing and asset forfeiture, restrictions on encryption, are the majority supporters of the Drug War and droning of Waziristan today, have recently become Protectionists, and until recently were for violating the civil rights of gays. Paul/Flake are lone wolves; most Rs are just as statist as blue Ds.

  • vek||

    A. I'm not even talking about just the one election. It's possible he may not have even been elected to his first term, which was long before war was necessarily on the table. Those vote breakdowns I read in the past may have been flawed, or not applied to every one of his elections, I can't remember exact details. Whatever the case fresh immigrants were a big part of his voting block. Whatever the case their extra support emboldened him, as a strong victory margin always does, to likely push his agenda farther than he would have with a narrower margin of victory. We will never know what America MIGHT have been without breaking through the "socialist acceptance barrier" as he did in the 1930s. If we weathered and recovered from the depression quicker than big government nations it might have really driven home the fact that freedom really is best, even if it has its rough patches. We could be living in a whole different, and freer, world today. We'll never know.

  • vek||

    B. I don't think I would say that new immigrants MUST vote that way... But in reality they tend to. The USA is basically the most conservative/libertarian country on earth, sad as that is. Everybody else is starting out waaay left of us. Their "acceptable norms" are simply crappier. So they show up with bad norms. In time I believe they can be converted under the right circumstances. I imagine Italians or Irish are probably every bit as likely to be conservative NOW as someone from earlier imported English stock, but they weren't day one. They needed time to be integrated and converted.

    Hence, from a pragmatic standpoint, if we want to maintain our center right political landscape that means you can't have too many "fresh off the boat" immigrants come in too quick. If we allowed 20 million people from ANYWHERE (including Europe IMO) in the world to move in as full voting citizens over saaay a decade, I don't think even a moderate Republican would ever win again without the 50 yard line being moved far to the left. In other words we would have Rs with Obama policies, and the Ds would shift to outright Bernie Sanders. This is essentially what happened to the US over the last couple decades already. I think it's mostly because of the shift in ethnic voters too, which I cover the "why" of more below.

  • vek||

    It's not an outrageous proposition. Not a single friend of mine from Europe has EVER been able to "get" the 2nd amendment. It's beyond their comprehension. Sure SOME do, but it's a small percentage because their foundational beliefs they are raised with are so far to the left of ours. Yet even many moderate liberals in America get it. We have a different middle point than the rest of the world. Too many imported from anywhere too quick will upset this.

    As far as ethnic immigrants, I think it has had to do with the Ds very cleverly wedging them into sticking with their left wing positions from their home countries. I think downtrodden (poor) minority groups are inclined to vote with their perceived interests, AKA socialism, just like poor whites historically were. Hence blacks and Hispanics have that leaning. I have never understood why Asians, who are successful immigrants, don't convert to being conservative/libertarian after the first generation or two though. I guess you have to chock it up to the Ds being very good at convincing them that freedom = racism or something. Or perhaps cultural tendencies simply hold for more generations than previously thought, and they need another generation or two to integrate. OR it's possible it is a simple subconscious Us vs Them thing they're doing without thinking it through. Whites vote conservative, so obviously everybody else has to go against that just because. Group dynamics are weird things, but cannot be ignored.

  • vek||

    Whatever the case, none of those groups tend to be trad con leaning OR libertarian to any great degree. It's a weird "white people" thing. I couldn't tell you why, but it just is. And it's not even a universal white people thing. It's specifically an "after a couple generations in America" white people thing. In short, it is white middle class American culture. It's a real thing, and nobody else seems to have it. It's highly degraded even amongst white Americans.

    All I know is when that culture completely dies, if it does, the world is going to fall into utter darkness. If anybody is expecting China or "throw you in jail for speech" Europe to uphold any traditional liberal/libertarian values they're smoking crack. America is all that is left, and it's fading fast.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Oh, and C, there is no statistical evidence that previous waves of immigrants did anything but add to growth (and its not as if anecdotal reporting from the time was trustworthy, given widespread racial animus), and it's ludicrous to suggest that if the Italian (or Irish!) mafia hadn't been present, there would have been less mob violence under the freakin' Prohibition. Bootleggers come in whatever shape, size and color is available.

  • vek||

    Adding to overall GDP and improving PER CAPITA GDP are different things. Adding 25 million illiterate Somalians to any country would raise GDP... But it would surely drag down GDP per capita in any industrialized country. People don't care about overall GDP, because it has next to nothing to do with the perceived prosperity of the country... That's all GDP per capita.

    I don't see how it is so hard for some to accept that flooding the labor market drives down wages like any other market, and hence can lower average standard of living for a time. In time it should level back up, but the labor market can't change overnight. A displaced USA born house painter can't become a scientist in his mid 50s when his wages get lowered due to low education immigrants. Maybe his kid can, but not him. That causes social problems if there are too many such cases. It's pretty simple.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "A displaced USA born house painter can't become a scientist in his mid 50s when his wages get lowered due to low education immigrants"

    As well then that there are lots of jobs to be had in the dog walking, cosplaying and boutique coffee industries. Humiliating, you say? Sure, but no more than painting rich guys' gazebos til your back breaks. Less strenuous to boot.

    Learning enough code to design apps or copy edit isn't beyond a 55 year old either, and chemistry classes actually aren't beyond him either. Don't underestimate people.

    Finally, under a true free market immigration policy, Americans would be able to freely move to the countries our immigrants came from. In China, even a basic knowledge of math and English can let you live large as a teacher or consultant. It would work both ways.

  • vek||

    I agree, in theory. In the real world it has proven to be far more problematic though. Theory dictates native born should just magically move up the ladder, and the new sub class should take over their low position. But it hasn't worked like that in the real world. When theory diverges from reality, you should probably look at revising the theory. In the 1800s I think the theory held more true than today. IMO things are just changing too quickly nowadays for people to adapt fast enough. It's not that the general idea of the theory isn't approximately right, but that it's a little rougher than people like to paint it to be.

    Well, just like real free trade in goods, other countries don't practice it. So I don't think we need to be the ones to take on the potential burdens without the upsides available. We blew it with not forcing China to drop their tariffs to gain entry to our market. Now we're in a weak position to negotiate it. Also, even if this were economically good for us, it still would fuck us politically if these people were given voting rights...

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I still disagree that Leftist voters are more tyrannical than Rightist ones. More Lefties = higher taxes and fewer guns, yes, but more Righties = more asset forfeiture- indeed, more Jeff Sessionses et al- more poll taxes on abortion, and more "we can't lower spending without pissing off old people on SSDI, but we're going to lower taxes anyway" Brownbackian mismanagement. WASPs, conservative or otherwise, are just as inclined to tyranny and stupidity as everybody else.

    But the reason "it hasn't worked like that in the real world" is because of regulation, not freedom per se. Trade and Immigration have destroyed half to a third of Rust Belt jobs, yes. (Don't lets forget, though, that 1/2 to 2/3s were lost to automation). But those workers could have moved to Cali, NY, Seattle, Texas and all the other job-making states... If it weren't for occupational licensing, zoning regulation, and punitive CoL taxes like Cali's gas tax that make it unaffordable, combined with the perverse incentive of welfare that encourages lethargy to get (eg SSDI) and which is difficult to transfer across state lines. They're locked in. All we have to do is get rid of those things- I favor using the Commerce Clause, frankly; this is the one time it would be appropriate- and the stillwaters of Appalachia will flow again, and the Trumps of the world will have a raison d'etre no more.

  • vek||

    As for crime, sure natives would have got involved with no WOPs around. However there is a repeating pattern of fresh immigrants turning to crime in greater numbers than native born middle class Americans. Other than African Americans anyway. How many white people are in organized gangs in the USA anymore? Basically none. It's 99% Hispanic and Black gangs. Maybe a few Eastern Europeans and Asians, which incidentally are newer groups to move here. It's kind of a "once your group makes it into the middle class in great enough numbers you never go back" kind of thing. I think the stability provided by being solidly grounded financially and morally simply prevents crime from happening. Stats back this up actually in many ways. So there likely would have been less crime as natives were better situated, and would have simply passed on some of the opportunities to profit illicitly. Plenty still would have, but it might have been less severe. Whatever the case it's a minor point.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Immigrants disproportionately go into crime because they're ostracized, in addition to poor and usually urban-dwelling. Ethnic enclaves where no one has any friends or relatives in the police force and everyone hates the coppers make great places to hide out with little chance of being reported by anyone; ethnic marginalization has the convenient side effect of reducing potential snitches.

    Meanwhile, the phrase "would have simply passed on some of the opportunities to profit illicitly" doesn't seem to describe the species Homo Sapiens as I know it. Do not insult my WASP ancestors by suggesting they were any less greedy, cocky and violent than those that followed them.

  • vek||

    Agreed. But that doesn't change the fact that having more newly minted poor, uneducated people is going to produce more crime. I bet with fewer immigrants crime would go down, simply because there would be fewer poor/uneducated people.

    People raised stereotypical middle class simply have different standards for behavior. As a for instance, I have known many people who sold drugs in my life. Most of them from working poor to middle class backgrounds. Not one of them is the kind of person who would have shot anybody over drug money. Freshly minted poor immigrants tend to do more of that kind of thing. Different standards/expectations. In a few generations they will probably be less likely as they will have better legal opportunities available.

    This is why I favor only letting in higher education immigrants. It's not total laissez faire, I know that... But I don't care. I don't want illiterate foreigners here. If we're going to let in hordes of foreigners I'd rather they start out on 3rd base so to speak. They're probably going to fuck up our political system either way, but if they can at least be positive contributing tax payers right off that bat that's one less thing to worry about.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Crimes motivated by opportunism or desperation are indeed correlated with poverty, but wealthy people have certain crimes all their own- a study in England, for instance, found that most shoplifting is done by upper-class teenage girls, and of course Bernie Madoff and other white-collar crims aren't oft to be found at Applebee's. More to the point, most drug smugglers are actually middle-class Americans and Mexicans, so while fewer poor people would probably reduce violence, it likely wouldn't reduce black market trading or non-violent property crime.

    Moreover, immigrants, even illegals, generally commit crime at a lower level than native-born folks of equivalent income. I make no claims about these studies' reliability, but they allege that Mexican illegals commit crime at roughly the national average (unlike native born poor folks, who obviously comprise the highest percentile in the average). There seems to be a selection bias at work even with unregulated immigrants: after all, if you were a mugger, rapist or embezzler, why would you want to leave the criminal playground that is Mexico?

    It isn't a dire problem, IOW, and would likely be alleviated by that aforementioned (and essential) reciprocity: lots of poor Americans would move to Mexico and China to cash in on their 1st-world background and get farther in life than they could here. More brown criminals here, but fewer white ones.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Since when is suicide-vest berserkerism a religion? Is ALL death-worship and "the coercive exercise thereof" now protected under the First Amendment?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    {moves to hide Skull Altar from Hank}

  • hammerhead||

    "...At the level of policy, however, the new ban is cheap, cruel, and senseless..."

    Yeah, you might think so but you would be very, very wrong.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online