Rothbard and Open Borders

I return to the compilation of Rothbard’s essays originally written for the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, entitled “The Irrepressible Rothbard.”  This essay is entitled “Education: Rethinking Choice.”

You might ask: what does education choice have to do with open borders?  Walk with me, and keep an open mind.

Rothbard sees vouchers, allowing parents a choice in where to send their children to school, as a “half-a-loaf” step.  He is perfectly fine with half-a-loaf if it moves the needle toward liberty.  Vouchers move the needle the wrong way:

I have always opposed the voucher scheme bitterly; because it enshrines in “libertarian” favor a policy forcing taxpayers to pay for the education of other people’s children.

The issue being that taxpayers would, with vouchers, thereafter be required to pay for both public and private school tuition.

Myths, Misunderstandings and Outright lies about owning Gold. Are you at risk?

Try it this way:

I have always opposed open borders bitterly; because it enshrines in “libertarian” favor a policy forcing taxpayers to pay for all manner of social and welfare schemes for all comers. 

Irrepressible Rothbard... Rothbard, Murray N. Buy New $2.99 (as of 03:52 UTC - Details) Not convinced by that?  It gets better:

One argument that paleoconservatives make about libertarians is that we tend to become so enamored of our “abstract” though correct theory that we tend to underweigh concrete political or cultural problems, and here is a lovely example.

Libertarians stuck in the purity of their abstract theory?  Libertarians who underweigh political or cultural problems?  Libertarian theorists who do not consider that humans are…humanI have never heard of such a thing (wink, wink).

Once we focus on the question, it should be clear that, in our present rotten political and cultural climate, there is no way that the State would allow parents to choose genuinely private schools in a tax credit system. (Emphasis in original.)

Try it this way:

Once we focus on the question, it should be clear that, in our present rotten political and cultural climate, there is no way that the State would allow private property owners to discriminate regarding access to their private property.

And if libertarians aren’t first and foremost standing in defense of private property, all that is left is the traditional left-right continuum (with those pushing for open borders clearly on the left).

I move to another essay in this compilation, “Big-Government Libertarians.”  There is so much meat in this essay, but I will remain focused on the topic at hand:

At bottom is the point which many of us had to learn painfully over the years: that there can be no genuine separation between formal political ideology and cultural views and attitudes.

This statement speaks volumes to those who suggest that the non-aggression principle is for everyone on earth.  Too many still refuse to accept that cultural attitudes matter.  Thanks to my examination of Hoppe (who, of course, studied under Rothbard) and my further writing and dialogue on this topic, I was spared similar extended pain.

Rothbard goes on to note the rejection of the right by the larger libertarian movement in the early years:

And so, flying in the face of their former supposed devotion to the absolute rights of private property; the libertarian movement has embraced almost every phony and left-wing “right” that has been manufactured in recent decades.

Like the supposed “right” to “immigrate.”

The “Official Libertarian Movement,” as Rothbard describes it (or the “libertine libertarian movement,” as I describe it), has embraced every conceivable “civil right” to the detriment of support for absolute property rights.

I hear the murmurs in the audience: “bionic is just putting words in Rothbard’s mouth.  Rothbard hasn’t said word one about immigration and open borders.”  Just you wait, you wise guy….

California, this November has on the ballot a wonderfully simple Proposition, called the “Save Our State” Proposition…. The Save Our State Proposition simply bars any use of taxpayer funds in behalf of illegal aliens.

Not spending taxpayer funds on something.  How could any libertarian be opposed to that?  Well…the head of the San Francisco Libertarian Party came out against this initiative, per Rothbard “a first among libertarians in opposing a tax-cutting measure.”

Because “civil rights” trumps property rights – in other words, left-libertarians are left, not libertarian.

Still think old bionic is stretching things a bit too far?

Borders, apparently, are not only supposed to be open, that openness has to be encouraged and paid for heavily by the U.S. taxpayer.

Given the current climate, this is the reality.  Does this sound like the only possible libertarian position on the topic?  I think not.


Returning to the essay “Education: Rethinking Choice”:

So do we have any transitional demands left in education, short of abolishing the public-school system?

Rothbard goes on to list the abolition of compulsory schooling, fight against every school bond issue and expansion of public school budgets, and to try to decentralize and localize education decisions as much as possible.  He then asks: “Is that enough to do?”

Open borders advocates attempt to frame the discussion as black and white. “If you aren’t for open borders, you are for a police state.”  A strawman, pure nonsense, and evidence of elementary thinking.  It is possible to be both against open borders and against the current schemes and intrusions offered by the state.

I cannot speak for others who hold a view similar to mine on this topic, but I will offer my transitional demands: go back to air travel as it was pre-911; stop all internal checkpoints; allow immigration by private invitation – a sponsor, a job offer, and a place to live; hold the sponsor responsible for any financial support if necessary, such that the immigrant is not a burden to taxpayers; hold the sponsor liable for any breeches in behavior or conduct; respect the private property owner’s right to discriminate.

To quote Rothbard: “Is that enough to do?”

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.