"Not un-libertarian per se"

I visit the webzine LewRockwell.com quite frequently, as its articles do a great job of de-bunking mainstream authoritarianism in general and the neo-cons' arguments in favor of the War on Everything in particular.

But on certain topics, such as evolution vs. creationism or illegal immigration, these guys really drive me crazy. Case in point is a recent article from lawyer Stephan Kinsella in which he advances a supposedly libertarian argument in favor of immigration control. You can read the article yourself, or if you'd rather not, I'll summarize it: Since government owns the roadways whether we like it or not, then it is not "un-libertarian" to advocate that rules of the road reflect the desires of the majority of taxpayers. And since the majority of taxpayers want immigration controlled, it is not un-libertarian for the rules of the road to prohibit or limit access to foreigners.

Herewith is the rebuttal I have sent to Mr. Kinsella, cc'ing Lew Rockwell:

Interesting column of yours, defending the libertarian-ness of immigration restrictions. The idea that "public property" land should be used in the way the majority of taxpayer-victims desire, of course, can be applied in other areas.

All "commercial" airports in the United States are government-"owned." And the majority of Americans seem to like the post-911 security regimen, because it makes them feel safer. After all, if they were afraid to fly, the public airports would be less useful to them. Therefore, having one's right to privacy nullified in order to fly a commercial aircraft is not un-libertarian per-se, right?

Similarly, the subway system in New York City is owned by the city government. The new bag-searching procedures they've instituted since the London subway bombing is favored by the majority of New Yorkers, because it makes them feel safer, thereby maintaining the usefulness of the government-owned resource. So the bag-searches for subway passengers isn't un-libertarian per-se, right?

But let's look at the big picture. We have this enormous "national defense" apparatus which was financed by taxation. Naturally, as you argue, the default libertarian position is that the apparatus should be dismantled. But since that happy event is not likely to occur anytime soon, we have to deal with reality as it is, right? Now, having this national defense apparatus just sitting around doing nothing provides no utility to the taxpayers, does it? If the overwhelming majority of taxpayers want to use that apparatus to bomb the stuffing out of some hapless third-world country which has offended them, there's nothing un-libertarian per-se about that either, right?

If I get a response, I will post it here.


Blogger Liberty Jack said...

About time you got a BLOG!

I had the pleasure of arguing with Kinsella once too. Give him this -- he will debate you without slipping (too far) into personal attacks.

I concur with you. The rockbed principal is property rights. A lot of paleos try and have it both ways with a "black box" argument that if the state is doing something they want to do anyway, they can pretend it's not there -- sort of an algebraic "transitive property" of property rights. You can apply their sloppy thinking to anything -- like being allowed to act as if you own your money (until the state decides it wants it) is libertarian.

One argument with Kinsella is enough. I skip his columns except for the ones that deal specifically with intellectual property. Life is too short.

11:57 PM  
Anonymous John Lopez said...

Kinsella has brought up that argument before, here:


11:18 AM  
Blogger Scott Bieser said...

Thanks for that note, John.

This sort of explains what prompted Kinsella's recent LRC article -- he was trying to fashion an argument that using the state to keep foreigners out of the country was somehow not really initiating force.

Next I expect we'll see him argue that busting pot-heads or tax resisters isn't really inititating force either.

"No Treason" sounds like a really lively place and I think I need to visit it more often.

4:04 PM  

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