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The Argument for Open Borders (with conditions)

Tea Flavored Harbor WaterMay 30, 2018, 3:35:05 PM
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As a minarchist, I do in fact believe in open borders. The problem is, much like anarchy or communism, open borders will not work unless everyone involved is on board. This is a tough consensus to obtain, since everyone on board in this sense means every man and woman in the country, as well as anyone that desired to immigrate into it.

Since I avidly embrace free market principles, I also believe people should be able to choose where they live as long as they do not violate private property rights. This would encourage less tyrannical governments around the world, since the populations they oppress with their tyranny would have the freedom to escape to a less tyrannical country.

Many regard open borders as a dangerous idea, and I don't blame them for feeling this way. Native Americans know all too well the kind of devastation open borders can bring, so it's not necessarily evil to be xenophobic in the interest of self preservation. People fear big changes like this, and it's not uncommon for people to overlook potential benefits of change because of potential dangers.

Therefore, my support of open borders is not absolute.  There are certain things a nation must do before implementing such a revolutionary policy.  


1.  No welfare state: 

Socialist programs are inherently dangerous for many reasons.  Not only were they used as a vehicle to consolidate power into the hands of tyrants much of the last century, but they also encourage dependence on the state.  This erodes at any incentive the public would have to be productive, as socialism inherently punishes the productive to reward the unproductive.  I'll use a disabled veteran as a real life example of this effect of social programs.  As a disabled veteran of age to receive social security, he received government benefits.  When he endeavored to start his own consulting firm, he received a letter from the government warning him that he would lose his social security and disability benefits if he established that business and earned income.  The veteran, like many people in his position chose to abandon his consulting firm as a result, foregoing the risk of starting his own business for the security of government social programs.  

Another danger that should be considered is that social programs would act as a magnet attracting unproductive people from other countries.  Even without open borders, much of the opposition of immigration in The United States is rooted in the fact that immigrants are potential welfare recipients.  It angers Americans that thought they were providing a safety net for themselves with their tax dollars to perceive that someone just entering the system paying next to nothing might receive those benefits.  Whether that anger is justified is a debate for another time, but the point is this line of thinking does exist and would serve to cause division instead of unity in the country, again creating a breeding ground for tyranny.


2.  No gun control

There's no question that a country with open borders would be much more susceptible to invasion by foreign enemies.  Luckily here in the US, we have a Constitution and culture that shields us from such threats quite efficiently.  The founders of The United States were wise to restrict the government from disarming its citizens, and while many people interpret the 2nd Amendment is referring only to militias, diving deeper into the Federalist Papers will make the founders intent and definition of militia as every armed man of fighting age.  

“Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.” Patrick Henry, 1775

“Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.” James Madison, Federalist 46

“…to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” George Mason, Virginia Ratification Convention, 1778

“…if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair.” Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 28

“Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped;” Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 29

“the constitutions of most of our states assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, … or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person; freedom of religion; freedom of property; and freedom of the press.” Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright June 5, 1824

The US isn't the only example of an armed populace discouraging foreign invaders and keeping the domestic peace.  Switzerland also provides a good example of an armed populace providing it's own security and domestic tranquility.

"The nation is ready to mobilise on a moment's notice. Said one Swiss citizen-soldier, "If we start in the morning, we would be mobilised by late afternoon. That is why the gun is at home, the ammunition is at home. The younger people all have automatic rifles. They are ready to fight." Citizen-soldiers on their way to mobilisation points may flag down and commandeer passing automobiles."  

-Excerpt from http://www.guncite.com/swissgun-kopel.html


3. Established (government recognized and affirmed) Natural and Civil Rights

Another real danger to open borders is massive shifts in the balance of power in a democracy.  Since democracy is simply tyranny by majority, it should be tempered with the republican form of government that recognizes and protects the rights of the minority.  As flawed as the republican form of government is, it is the least worst system of governance we've developed in our history, and I believe it could do much to keep a nation with open borders from spiraling into tyranny.


4. Strict voting requirements

There has been much concern over election tampering in recent years, and open borders would certainly add to those concerns.  Rival governments would send their populations temporarily across the border to change a nation's public or foreign policy in their favor.  While established natural and civil rights help to safeguard against this, it seems prudent to make sure anyone voting on such policies has a vested interest in the nation they are voting in.  How this is to be done presents other problems, as lines must be drawn on who can and cannot vote.  Requiring land ownership (once used to keep freed slaves from voting, so already an unpopular idea) proved ineffective as those without property would simply purchase a square inch of land from a land owner to obtain voting rights.  Another unpopular solution is a poll tax, which would only prevent poor people from voting.  However, if we could come to an agreement of a reasonable set of requirements based on a minimum amount of time as resident of a country, or even go so far as to restrict voting to those born within the country, this problem might be solved.  We have yet to come up with a perfect solution to this problem, so it seems quite the stumbling block on our way to open borders.


Without at the very minimum establishing what I have listed above, and hopefully more ideas we haven't thought of to make this idea work, I cannot advocate open borders.  This shouldn't stop us from exploring this idea.  I'm not advocating the dissolving of nations and borders for a one world government, as I think the diversity of countries gives us many options to choose how we want to live.  I simply believe in freedom of movement, especially if that movement is designed to escape oppression and tyranny.  If we do embrace the radical idea of open borders, we should do so only after safeguarding ourselves from the potential problems listed above.  After all, the whole point of open borders is to encourage liberty, not invite tyranny.