Apr 082013
 

In this video of her interview with John Stosell, Ann Coulter says many objectionable things…

…but the worst is probably that we shouldn’t even talk about drug legalization until the welfare state is dismantled. That’s bad enough in and of itself, but it’s even worse given that conservatives don’t want to dismantle the welfare state, but rather merely to shape it in their image. Hence, on her approach, the gross injustices and dangerous police state engendered by the War on Drugs will go on and on forever.

Conservatives say the same in opposition to immigration reform too — with similar results. I discussed that view on the this February 2013 episode of Philosophy in Action Radio. If you’ve not yet heard it, you can listen to or download the podcast here:

The road to hell is paved with such conditional defenses of liberty, which are really just rationalizations for statism.

 

Gary Johnson offers an excellent analysis of the 2012 election results in this op-ed published in Huffington Post: Standing Still On A Down Escalator. He’s right that the Democrats don’t have any kind of mandate. His truly telling comments, however, concern the GOP’s defeat:

As for the Republicans, we are reading and hearing widespread shock that they couldn’t win an election after having systematically alienated virtually every voting group in the nation other than white men over the age of 40.

It was a great plan for the Republicans: Go to shameful lengths to tell Hispanics they aren’t welcome, even though they are the fastest growing demographic in the country. Tell women their bodies really aren’t their own to manage. Call themselves small government “conservatives” while espousing that government should tell us who we can marry and supporting laws like the Patriot Act, FISA and the NDAA that give government powers the Founders never dreamed of.

While doing and saying all this, on the key issues of the economy and war, the GOP managed to conduct an entire campaign without demonstrating enough difference with President Obama to compel anyone’s vote one way or the other. “Debating” which decade in which we might expect a balanced budget and simply putting a slightly different wrapper on the same foreign policies obviously didn’t cut it as real challenges to business-as-usual.

Combine this lack of differentiation on the budget and foreign policy with scary stances on the so-called social issues and immigration, and the result is the Republicans’ embarrassing failure to replace a president who is presiding over the worst economy and the most dangerous foreign policy in a generation.

Hear, hear!

 

Recently, Leonard Peikoff posted some comments urging people to vote for Mitt Romney. I’d recommend that you read it for yourself before continuing with this blog post.

I’m not insensitive to his argument: I agree with many of his observations on Obama and Romney.

For example, I am worried by the concentration of power in the executive branch under Obama. Yet such concentration of power seems to happen just as much under Republicans as Democrats: George W. Bush was hardly a paragon of restraint, and Obama has merely taken up where Bush left off. We have every reason to expect that Romney would do the same, albeit perhaps at a slightly slower rate than Obama. But maybe not… perhaps Romney would only differ from Obama by the areas in which he usurps even more executive power.

Also, I’m not remotely upset about the particular case that Peikoff cites of “Obama’s practice of ruling by executive order” … (e.g., his latest edict on immigration).” In fact, Obama’s policy change is really excellent, and it’s hardly clear that Obama overstepped his authority. In general, our immigration laws are a disgraceful mess of unpardonable rights violations, not to mention a major drag on the economy. They should be liberalized, with or without welfare reform. However, Peikoff has expressed strong support for heavy restrictions on immigration given our current welfare state in his podcast, so that might explain why he cited that example.

Also, I disagree with Peikoff’s approval of Paul Ryan. Ryan is only a fiscal moderate, not a fiscal conservative. Even if he were to become president, the deficit would continue to expand under his watch. Plus, Ryan is far more theocratic than Mitt, as can be seen from his support for “personhood” for zygotes.

Those are minor quibbles. My major disagreement with Peikoff concerns voting strategy. As I’ve argued in this blog post and this podcast segment, fiscal conservatives need to stop trying to “buy time,” as Peikoff advocates. (As Paul said about the second presidential debate: “We’re now seeing just how little time Romney would buy us.”) Instead, we must demand that the GOP earn our vote by refusing to vote for GOP candidates who are not true fiscal conservatives. That means accepting some pain in this election for the sake of major gains in future elections.

America has time for that, in my view: we’re facing slow and steady decline over the course of decades, not a sudden crash into dictatorship. Hence, for reasons explained in this podcast segment, I reject Peikoff’s apocalypticism: Obama will do significant damage in a second term, but likely far, far less than opening the door to totalitarian dictatorship, as Peikoff suggests.

Recall that Peikoff predicted sweeping repression and theocracy if George W. Bush were elected to a second term in 2004. Nothing remotely that bad came to pass. Instead, major damage was done on other fronts, particularly thanks to Bush’s “forward strategy of freedom” in foreign policy and his explicit repudiation of capitalism in his response to the financial crisis.

So Peikoff was wrong in his predictions in 2004, but that’s hardly surprising. Accurate political predictions are nearly impossible, even for professionals immersed in the political news. (That’s not Peikoff, by his own admission.) Such predictions depend too much on unforeseeable events, including the free choices of many, many people. Hence, I just don’t place much stock in anyone’s political predictions over the next four years, except to say that that apocalyptic predictions will very likely be very wrong. (Again, my reasons why can be found in this podcast segment.)

Mostly though, Objectivists need to understand that we might as well vote for the Man on the Moon as Mittens. We are a completely insignificant voting block. Our votes just don’t matter. So for Objectivists to make asses of themselves based on the pretense that a person’s vote reveals his deepest character is pointless and destructive. (Just to be clear: Although I’ll be voting for Gary Johnson, I don’t fault anyone for voting for Mittens based on their own personal judgments, so long as they’re based on fact.)

That doesn’t seem to be happening so much in this election, and I’m pleased about that. Or maybe I’ve just unfriended most of the asses. Either way, here’s to another crappy four years of American politics!

Save the Welfare State!

 Posted by on 3 April 2012 at 7:00 am  Abortion, Immigration, Politics
Apr 032012
 

Kelly and Santiago Valenzuela offer a good reductio ad absurdem of the argument that immigration must be limited due to the burdens that illegal immigrants impose on us via the welfare state on Mother of Exiles:

A common argument I hear against immigration is that we don’t need a further drain on the American welfare state (i.e., health care, social security, school system, etc.) As we’ve pointed out before, the problem with the welfare state is the existence of the welfare state, but many like to claim that stopping the flow of immigration into this country will somehow help or solve the problem.

Under that logic, we should make having kids illegal. After all, every child born becomes a burden to the system, another mouth to feed, another brain to educate, another job to eventually fill. Of course this is preposterous, especially coming from a pregnant woman, but hear me out.

There are arguably 10-20 million undocumented immigrants in the country, which have accumulated over the past couple decades. By contrast, 4 million children are born each year in the US. If you want to worry about the welfare state from the standpoint of adding people to the welfare rolls, the second number is way more worrying than the first.

The next time that I hear some conservative trot out that argument, I’m going to propose — with tongue firmly planted in cheek — that a better option would be to force abortion on any pregnant women living below the poverty level. Why not?!? After all, conservatives claim that the government is entitled to massively violate the rights of peaceful, hard-working people seeking a better life for themselves, plus the rights of Americans who wish to employ or trade with them, in order to save the welfare state, which massively violates rights in and of itself. To compel poor women to have abortions would simple be a more effective way to keep those welfare payments manageable. Sure, doing so would violate rights, but clearly, that’s not something of concern to anti-immigration conservatives.

Of course, conservatives would be horrified by that argument — and that’s precisely the point. It’s never okay to violate rights, and it’s particularly vile to systematically violate rights in one way in order to be able to persist in systematically violating rights in another way. (Notably, most conservatives regard abortion as a violation of rights, which is completely wrong. Abortion is a woman’s right, and forcing her to abort is just as much a violation of rights as preventing her from doing so.)

The fact is that the argument about welfare is just a rationalization for conservative opposition to immigration. Perhaps a good reductio is just what they need to break through it.

Conservative Tripe on Immigration

 Posted by on 12 March 2012 at 12:20 pm  Ethics, Immigration, Politics, Rights
Mar 122012
 

Just a few moments ago, a conservative Facebook friend of mine posted the following:

Oh. My. Hell. I was stopped dead in my tracks, and before I knew it, I wrote the following:

So we should be more like Iran, Afghanistan, and North Korea?!? Really?!? Instead of creating a police state, how about we we open immigration to any honest person willing to earn a new life for themselves, as America used to do?

Right now, our impossibly byzantine immigration laws force almost anyone eager to make a better life for himself and his family to break the law. That’s neither just nor consistent with individual rights. The fact is that immigrants are the victims of awful laws, and they are right to break those laws.

What would you do if you happened to be born in some repressive pest-hole, rather than in the land of opportunity? Would you passively resign yourself to suffer and die? Or would you break an unjust law for the opportunity of a life worth living for you and your family? If you have any ambition to live a successful and happy life, you would become an illegal immigrant.

As with all statist laws, responsibility for the many problems with illegal immigration are the responsibility of anti-immigration lawmakers and voters. Don’t blame the victim.

AMERICANS are the reason that America is in debt. Illegal immigrants didn’t vote us into our current vast welfare state: we did that all by ourselves — and yes, I mean not just Democrats, but Republicans too. We’ll not fix that by pointing fingers at scapegoats.

For rational ideas on immigration, see Mother of Exiles.

Update: See also Craig Biddle’s article Immigration and Individual Rights and my webcast discussion of proper immigration policy.

 

In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I took an early look at the 2012 election, then surveyed four GOP candidates — Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Gary Johnson. I’ve posted all five questions as videos, and so here they are!

The first question was:

What’s your view of the upcoming 2012 election? By what standards do you judge the presidential candidates?

My answer, in brief:

In a presidential candidate, I’m not looking for either John Galt or “Anyone But Obama.” I’m looking for someone who will do more good than harm to the cause of liberty in America.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

The second question was:

Should I support Mitt Romney for US President? What’s the proper evaluation of his principles and record on the budget and the debt, health care, foreign policy, immigration, the drug war, abortion, and gay marriage? Does Romney deserve the vote of advocates of individual rights in the primary or the general election?

My answer, in brief:

Mitt Romney is a smooth talker, but his proposal reveal that he has no understanding of individual rights or the economic problems facing America. He’s no better than Obama – and likely worse, because the opposition will vanish. I cannot recommend voting for him in the primary or the general election.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

The third question was:

Should I support Newt Gingrinch for US President? What’s the proper evaluation of his principles and record on the budget and the debt, health care, foreign policy, immigration, the drug war, abortion, and gay marriage? Does Gingrinch deserve the vote of advocates of individual rights in the primary or the general election?

My answer, in brief:

Newt Gingrich is explicitly theocratic, and a major threat to the separation of church and state. He advocates and practices “active governance,” meaning right-wing social engineering, not liberty. Like Obama, he is enamored of bold transformative ideas, which could be okay or horrible for liberty. I cannot recommend voting for him in the primary or the general election.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

The fourth question was:

Should I support Ron Paul for US President? What’s the proper evaluation of his principles and record on the budget and the debt, health care, foreign policy, immigration, the drug war, abortion, and gay marriage? Does Paul deserve the vote of advocates of individual rights in the primary or the general election?

My answer, in brief:

Ron Paul is not even libertarian, but a neo-confederate conservative Christian, albeit with some grasp of basic economics. He’s a rationalist, driven by ideology, and not open to facts. He would be very dangerous to elect as president, not just for actual policies, but as a supposed advocate of liberty. I cannot recommend voting for him in the primary or the general election.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

The fifth question was:

Should I support Gary Johnson for US President? What’s the proper evaluation of his principles and record on the budget and the debt, health care, foreign policy, immigration, the drug war, abortion, and gay marriage? Does Johnson deserve the vote of advocates of individual rights in the primary or the general election? Also, should supporters of Gary Johnson vote for him on a Libertarian Party ticket?

My answer, in brief:

Gary Johnson is not John Galt. However, he’s fundamentally oriented toward facts, plus he has good basic principles about liberty. Alas, he was shut out from the race by the media and the establishment GOP. I recommend voting for him in the primary, as well as in the general election, if he runs as the Libertarian Party candidate. I still reject the Libertarian Party, but a protest vote can be delimited to endorse him and not the party.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

If you enjoyed these video, please “like” them on YouTube and share them with friends in e-mail and social media! You can also throw a bit of extra love in our tip jar.

All posted webcast videos can be found in the Webcast Archives and on my YouTube channel.

Aug 182011
 

In Sunday’s Rationally Selfish Webcast, I discussed the proper immigration policy of a free society. Here’s the 21-minute video, now posted to YouTube:

Also, here’s the video of the webcast segment on cryonics and life extension.

Mother of Exiles

 Posted by on 21 October 2010 at 7:00 am  Activism, Announcements, Immigration, Politics
Oct 212010
 

I should have posted this announcement from Kelly Valenzuela ages ago, but better late than never!

I’m pleased to announce that my new immigration blog, Mother of Exiles, is up and running at www.motherofexiles.org.  A few of the tabs are still under construction and there are a few technical issues I’m still working on, so pardon the dust.  I’d like to thank my friend, Berenice Ugalde, for designing the logo and Diana Hsieh for helping me with the technical details.

If any of you have comments, suggestions or immigration-related posts to share on MoE, please email them to me privately.  We are always looking for guest bloggers and immigration stories!

I expect Mother of Exiles to become a great resource for activism on immigration — and with the Republicans likely coming back into power come November, we’re going to need it!

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