Friday, May 22, 2009

Two Islands: A Libertarian Argument Against Open Borders

Let’s suppose there are two island nations. One is named Liberty Island and the other one is Statist Island. Both are democracies. Neither have a constitutionally constrained government. Both practice open immigration. Since both island nations are democracies, the people get the government they vote for.

On Liberty Island, the people prefer smaller government, one which protects life, liberty, and property. In general, the government doesn’t interfere unless a citizen violates someone else’s right to life, liberty, and property. For the most part, the role of government is to provide a small, defensive military. Consequently, the tax rates are very low. The people of Liberty Island are very prosperous.

On Statist Island, the people want their government to provide a wide range of services and to regulate the affairs of its citizens and companies. Consequently, the government consumes a very large proportion of the wealth. Statist Island has high unemployment and low growth rates. Over the past few years, things have been so bad that many have migrated to Liberty Island, not in search of liberty but primarily as a way to feed their families. They have brought with them many of their customs and culture which have made Liberty Island a more vibrant and diverse island.

Unfortunately, they have also brought with them their statist political philosophy.
The new arrivals join with a minority of Liberty Island voters and start winning elections. These elected representatives encouraged more and more Statist Islanders to migrate to Liberty Island. Soon the statists were in control of the Liberty Island legislative branches and the presidency. They then enacted statist policies and liberty was no longer to be found on Liberty Island.

Of course, this is just a story, it would never actually happen.


Bryan said...

Liberty Island, if it was what its name implies, would not be a democracy, nor would it require a constitution to keep the individuals in government from claiming for themselves rights greater than those of the rest of the island's inhabitants or the ability to legitimize violations of their rights. One cannot respect and defend rights by violating them. We should never give the individuals in government the power to violate anyone's right to migrate. Natural law is superior to man made legislation because natural law is immutable. Right and wrong, according to natural law is not altered by the passing of years, situation or geographical location. The right to migrate, (although violated by governments everywhere), is universal whether it be from one city to the next, or county, state, country or county. Giving the government the power to violate another man's right to migrate, opens the door to giving the the power to violate your right to migrate. Libertarians should fight for the rights of all men equally, not just those which we feel benefit ourselves at the expense of others.

l4k said...

Now don't go all Spooner on me. And in a perfect world . . .

Maybe I should have called the first island something like "The Democratic Island Where People are Generally Free" but "Liberty Island" sounds so much better.

Bryan said...

Democracy would be the catalyst which causes the downfall of Liberty Island. A few interesting notes and quotes on democracy. If you search the three most important US documents - The Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution, you will not find the word "democracy" once.

My favorite democracy quote is from Ben Franklin, "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner."

Followed by, "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine." Thomas Jefferson

"Democracy is the road to socialism." Karl Marx

"More socialism means more democracy, openness and collectivism in everyday life." "Democracy is the wholesome and pure air without which a socialist public organization cannot live a full-blooded life."
Mikhail Gorbachev

"Democracy is indispensable to socialism." Vladimir Lenin

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." "I confess I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing." H. L. Mencken

"Socialist democracy is not a luxury but an absolute, essential necessity for overthrowing capitalism and building socialism." Ernest Mandel

"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." John Adams

"And for well over a hundred years our politicians, statesmen, and people remembered that this was a republic, not a democracy, and knew what they meant when they made that distinction." Robert Welch

"The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the party that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections." Lord Acton

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." Winston Churchill

"Our country's founders cherished liberty, not democracy." Ron Paul

l4k said...


Agreed. Great quotes. I have used the Churchill quote on L4K before.

I am not for an unconstrained democracy. I used the term for my strawman two islands story because that more correctly describes present day America. I advocate a constitutionally constrained republic, you know, what Madison intended and once the Bill of Rights were added.