While I respect Mr. Farah and appreciate his allowing me to voice my opinions here each week, I must respectfully disagree with some of his reasoning.
He begins by telling us why the federal government must make our borders “sacrosanct.” But his arguments against open borders are based on an understandable – but critical – error that is widespread.
He tells us why the government should keep the borders closed. But he doesn’t tell us how the government will do that. Governments have been trying for millennia to keep people in or out of their jurisdictions with very little success.
Libertarians understand a very simple fact of life: Government doesn’t work. It can’t deliver the mail on time, it doesn’t keep our cities safe, it doesn’t educate our children properly. But people love to play a gigantic game of “let’s pretend”: Let’s pretend the War on Poverty really does help poor people. Let’s pretend the War on Drugs really does reduce drug abuse and crime. Let’s pretend the right government program can keep the wrong people out of the country.
Too many people who recognize the terrible threat that government poses to their liberties and to the economic health of the country still act as though government can achieve whatever it sets out to do – just so long as it’s trying to achieve something they want.
Rather than pretend government can keep undesirables out, libertarians work to reduce the welfare state – so that only those who are looking for freedom and opportunity will want to get in. Libertarians know that a free country has nothing to fear from anyone coming in or going out – while a welfare state is scared to death of poor people coming in and rich people getting out.
Those awful drugs
In the same way, Mr. Farah agrees that the federal government has made a mess of the Drug War but he upholds the right of state and local governments to outlaw drugs in their jurisdictions. In that, he’s constitutionally correct, and most libertarians would agree with him.
But here again, libertarians recognize that wherever you try to enforce victimless-crime laws, you will see an increase in violent crime, an increase in civil-liberties intrusions, and an increase in law-enforcement corruption. Libertarians instead support non-government programs to help addicts shake the drug habit, while recognizing that drugs were far less dangerous when they were completely legal in the U.S.
Offense and defense
As I did in this publication three weeks ago, Mr. Farah points out that this country has an overwhelming national offense but practically no defense. I think most libertarians agree with us that what we need is not a bigger offense budget, but less offense and more real defense.
But libertarians have also been pointing out for years that the inevitable consequence of America’s fearful national offense would be retaliation by foreigners who are fed up with America’s bullying. Would that more people had recognized this before Sept. 11.
Mr. Farah says, “Libertarians make a fundamental mistake about the nature of man. Man is not inherently good.”
Precisely: Man is not inherently good.
Thomas Jefferson recognized that when he said, “Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him?”
Because men are not angels, we have a Constitution to limit government strictly to just those functions that most people can’t comprehend being handled outside of government.
But libertarians aren’t the ones making a fundamental mistake.
Government is force, pure and simple. There’s no way to sugar-coat that. And because government is force, it will attract the worst elements of society – people who want to use government to avoid having to earn their living and to avoid having to persuade others to accept their ideas voluntarily.
And so libertarians don’t want to leave the governing of our morals to society’s basest members.
When Mr. Farah says that too few libertarians understand that “a laissez faire society can only be built in a culture of morality, righteousness and compassion,” I think he has it backward. It is a society in which politicians possess power that could work only if morality, righteousness, and compassion were universal. Until such a culture exists, we need to keep all matters of morality, economics, and business practices away from the politicians.
Libertarians are the only ideological activists I know of whose actions are consistent with their own principles.
They don’t say that government is too big and then propose ways to make it bigger.
They don’t say our government shouldn’t meddle in foreign countries and then demand that it run to the aid of some foreign nation.
They don’t criticize government programs on fundamental grounds and then propose that government give them something they want.