A couple of weeks ago, we had Jim Goebel on the podcast to take us to task about some of the things that we’d said about libertarians. Jim is host of The Side Project Live podcast and, in episode 125 of that podcast, he talked about being on the show. He and his co-hosts also talked about his vacation to Arizona and his encounter with the border patrol.
I have to admit, I spent most of the 75 minutes of the show yelling at my computer.
For those who don’t want to go listen, and I encourage you to do so because it was a fun show, Jim went on vacation in Arizona to a national park and while there, he had to go through at least two border checkpoints. At one, the agent was an asshole. At the other, it sounds like there were no issues. It sounded like he was surprised that the checkpoints were that far inland but, living in California, the 25 or so miles that he described is nothing. The checkpoint that I’ve been through most often is in Temecula and it’s 75-80 miles to the Mexican border. I’ve probably been through it 20-30 times and I think I’ve only been stopped once or twice, most of the time it’s not even open and the few times it is, you just slow down a little and they wave you through. I don’t think I’ve even had to roll my window down. I can’t speak for how it is in Arizona, but that seems to be a state-specific thing, not a border control thing.
And yes, I’ll agree that there are probably a lot of assholes in the border patrol, just like there are in the TSA. Those kinds of jobs tend to attract shitheads who want power over others. I absolutely think that the government ought to rethink their hiring policies and qualifications and even have “secret shoppers”, independent people who go through the lines several times a year to see how they’re treating people and write back to the government for correction, but that’s not really here nor there with regard to this story.
They said that illegal immigration would be less of an issue if we didn’t have a welfare state or if drugs were not illegal and while I agree on the former, I entirely disagree on the latter. But let’s take these one at a time. Yes, to some degree, I think that if we didn’t have such a big welfare state, where people can come and get “food stamps” and a free education for their kids and all of that, you would diminish the flow to some degree. I’ll be the first one to say that we ought to do that, not just for the sake of illegal immigration, but to get away from the liberal stupidity that’s overwhelmed our nation. However, it wouldn’t stop them from coming entirely. The fact is, the United States, even in a recession, has a stronger economy than Mexico and the Central American states. Coming here, even if you take a less-than-minimum-wage job, you’re going to make more money than if you stayed in your home country and worked a similar job there, if you could even find a job to do there. There are many illegals who come here for a season or two and go back to their homeland with enough money to live on for several years, then they come back and do it again. Western Union does a brisk business sending money from the U.S. to Mexico, primarily from illegals sending their paychecks home. Then those workers get assistance from the government, such as Section 8 housing and food subsidies, to live here on the American taxpayer dime. Very little of the money they make is taxed, a lot of them work under the table, so the idea that they are good for the economy is entirely nonsense. Even if we got rid of the welfare state, they’d still come, they just wouldn’t be able to send as much money home, they’d probably just stay with friends, in overcrowded hovels, than pay for apartments. So while I agree with the concept for other reasons, I don’t think it would stop the flood of illegals into this country.
The other, and I’ve talked about my opinions on drugs before, I don’t think would change anything. The drug cartels in Mexico wouldn’t just dry up if we legalized pot, they’d just switch to harder drugs that are still illegal, or they’d smuggle in cheaper drugs that don’t have to go through the U.S. regulatory machine and don’t have taxes paid on them. I’m honestly more worried about the former than the latter, there is no rational way we would ever legalize every single drug out there, from LSD to heroin to crack cocaine to Ecstasy. The cartels would just adapt to the new paradigm and start smuggling harder drugs into the country. Even if we did legalize all drugs, the cartels would branch out into other crimes. These groups are not Boy Scouts, they are not going to give up their life of crime and get real jobs because the U.S. decides to change drug policy. They’ll find something else to do and they’ll keep sending their couriers across the border to do it. I really don’t want to get into my views on drugs, except to say that I find the typical libertarian views on drugs entirely stupid.
So what else? There is the language issue, and while they talked about Spanish-speaking workers (and this goes for people who speak all foreign languages) being unable to communicate in English, apparently these people haven’t lived in a state where illegals are the norm. It’s not just a matter of them not speaking English, it’s a matter of the touchy-feely liberals demanding that these non-English speakers be catered to. There are many places where, at taxpayer expense, it is mandated by law that signs, forms, documents, etc. are printed, both in English, Spanish and a whole shit-ton of other languages, just because some people here don’t speak the language. There is a reason why, to become a naturalized citizen of the United States, you have to demonstrate a functional understanding and usage of the English language. I’m not going to argue that we need to enforce that for national cohesion or anything like that, but purely for practical reasons. I don’t care what you speak in the privacy of your own home or among your friends, but when it comes to communicating with the general public, you must speak English and speak it well enough to be understood. The idea that we have to make an extra effort and go to an extra expense because some people who shouldn’t even be here at all can’t learn the local dialect is absurd. And for the podcasters, Illinois does provide required employment posters in English, Spanish and Polish. That’s 200% more work and more expense than they should have to go to.
And now the minimum wage. They were convinced that if we just dropped the minimum wage, that suddenly Americans would start doing all these low-wage jobs that illegals usually get stuck with and therefore, many industries wouldn’t need illegal workers at all. I find that to be rather absurd, even though I don’t really buy into the concept of jobs Americans won’t do, let’s be honest, there are some that Americans are far less likely to do, jobs that require heavy physical labor for very little money. The agriculture industry is one that, like it or not, doesn’t pay well and that uses a high percentage of migrant workers in their fields. Now there are studies that show that if the agriculture industry simply paid American workers minimum wage to work in the fields, the net effect on the cost of vegetables is negligible, but I honestly don’t think you’d get many Americans willing to go work in the fields under the hot sun for minimum wage. Maybe I’m wrong, that’s just my feeling. I look at the minimum wage as a safety net, it stops people from being taken advantage of if they are in a desperate situation. While in a perfect world, business transactions ought to be between the employer and the employee, we just don’t live in a perfect world.
My biggest reason we shouldn’t legalize the illegals, shouldn’t open up the borders is pragmatic. We have a right, as citizens of this nation, to decide who gets to come in and who does not. A majority of Americans want illegal immigrants deported. We don’t want to throw open the floodgates and let any Tomas, Ricardo and Geraldo who show up with their hands out. That’s not racist, it applies to anyone, from any country, of any ethnicity. I’d be just as adamant about the British showing up on our shores illegally. Or the Chinese. Or Nigerian princes. We just so happen to have a major problem with people coming up from Central and South America. The reality is that these people are breaking some of our most basic laws and if they can’t be bothered to even attempt to do it the right way, and let’s be honest, the overwhelming majority don’t even make an effort to come legally, how can we think that they’re going to follow the rest of the rules? This is a nation of laws, that’s how it was founded and that’s how it remains to this day. So why are we giving anyone a pass who is proving to us that they don’t give a damn about our nation? If they’re going to break the law to come here illegally in the first place, how can we think they won’t steal or rape or murder if they think they need to?
I’m not going to disagree that our current immigration laws are flawed, any more than I’ll disagree that our current drug policies are flawed. That doesn’t mean we just throw them out entirely and start over from scratch, it means that we evaluate what we’re doing wrong and make corrections to the current system. We have a lot of problems in the U.S. and changing course in mid-stream, just because a small group of people don’t respect the law and don’t have any expectations that people follow and respect the law, want things to be different.
Sorry, I just can’t respect this plank in the Libertarian platform, it is one of several that guarantee that I will never, ever, ever be a part of, or even truly respect, the libertarian position. They might have some good conservative ideas here and there, but so many of their ideas are just absurd and self-destructive. I can’t give any assent to that.