I Don't Get It

Column by Paul Hein.

Exclusive to STR

There are things I simply do not understand. I hesitate to mention it, because I seem to be the only person who is puzzled by these things, thus indicating that I possess the savvy of a turnip. Still, I have reached--and surpassed—an age where I don’t much care what other people may think of my intelligence, or lack of it.

There is, for example, the whole question of “climate change,” AKA “global warming.” I’ve asked before, and having gotten no answer, ask again: Where is the thermometer? If, as I’ve read, the temperature of the entire earth can be measured from a satellite, how can we know that the earth’s temperature has risen by a couple of degrees in the last century? Did they have global satellites measuring the earth’s temperature a hundred years ago?

We have a couple of indoor-outdoor thermometers which register the temperature on the front porch and the back yard. They are very rarely in agreement, and the difference is often more than a couple of degrees. Yet I’m expected to believe that scientists can measure the temperature of the entire globe—and with such accuracy that a difference of a couple of degrees in a century can be ascertained with certainty. Wow! I’m more than impressed--I’m skeptical.

But the current cause of my intellectual confusion involves immigration. Until now I’ve been afraid to admit it, but the time has come. As I mentioned above, I’ve become too old to care. So here goes: What is the problem? Have the laws of trespass been repealed?

When an alien steps across the line that is the border, where, exactly, is he? Is he in somebody’s back yard? If so, that property owner can build a fence, get some aggressive dogs, or load a shotgun with bird shot after posting Keep Out signs. If the problem is greater than he can cope with, he can call for help from his neighbors, or the local police.

If it is maintained that the alien has stepped into, for example, Texas, then that state might be expected to deal with the problem, but the border is long, and there are only so many Texas rangers, or whoever is supposed to handle the situation. So you know what happens next! Call Uncle Sam!

The greater the distance from a local problem to a local solution, the worse for everybody. Getting two large bureaucracies—the state and the feds--working on the same problem can only result in confusion, controversy and, ultimately, injustice. Consider jurisdiction, for instance.

The Constitution, to which both state and federal officials piously swear allegiance, says little, or anything, about federal crimes, except treason. But in 1790, the Founders promulgated “An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes Against the United States.” The crimes they listed were treason, piracy, counterfeiting, crimes committed on the high seas or against the laws of nations, as well as offenses in areas of exclusive federal jurisdiction, such as the “seat of the government,” federal enclaves, and federal territories. Texas, and the other border states, are not “federal enclaves or federal territories.” And foreigners stepping across that imaginary line are neither counterfeiters, pirates, traitors, nor on the high seas.

To my muddled mind, the matter of illegal immigration, therefore, boils down to property rights. Is a fence to be erected along the border to dissuade the would-be immigrants? It certainly could not be permitted on the foreign side of the border. But if erected on “our” side, just where will it be? On private property? State property? Can it be placed in your backyard absent your permission? If soldiers are to police the border, will they be on your property in the course of their duty? If so, will they be trespassing in order to prevent trespassing by non-American trespassers?

It is widely acknowledged that aliens cross the border to obtain the benefits available to them. I can’t recall hearing anyone suggest that they simply be denied those benefits, although I will surely admit that someone might have suggested it. If the illegals were to be denied driving licenses, free education, medical care, etc., would their numbers decrease? Why not try it and see? Might the rulers who grant those boons to the illegals actually WANT them to be here? The more dependents upon government the better, after all. (Better for the rulers, of course, not necessarily the rest of us.) Do those who strenuously object to taxation (i.e., robbery) to provide benefits to aliens also object to being robbed to provide benefits for native-born Americans? Robbery is robbery, after all. You can disapprove of the way the robber disposes of his loot, but wouldn’t it be better to object to the robbery, period? Does it matter, except, perhaps, emotionally, whether you are robbed for the benefit of Michael or Miguel?

My preference is for the local handling of the problem. Dobermans, fences, and bird-shot loaded shotguns might handle it. The only rule for the government ought to be the denying of benefits to the “illegals.” Indeed, one should question the legitimacy of providing federal “benefits” to anyone, illegal or not.

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Paul Hein's picture
Columns on STR: 150


Paul's picture

"The only rule for the government ought to be the denying of benefits to the “illegals.” Indeed, one should question the legitimacy of providing federal “benefits” to anyone, illegal or not."

The first is not a solution, since it props up the institution of welfare. The second is the correct solution. Government SHOULD NOT pick winners and losers in the free bennies sweepstakes. Instead if it does anything at all, it should invite all and sundry. If we can't kill welfare through the ballot, maybe we can kill it through over-subscription.

Of course it is silly for me to say what government should do. For some reason they don't seem to care about my opinion. We will just have to wait until a crashing economy solves both the welfare and immigration problems.

BTW I have been shocked at how many libertarians (e.g on lewrockwell.com) have looked to government to solve this government-created problem. I guess their support of liberty has its limits.

KenK's picture

@paul bonneau
Yeah sadly everyone's a libertarian until it's their rice bowl that's being messed with.

ReverendDraco's picture

"I can’t recall hearing anyone suggest that they simply be denied those benefits, although I will surely admit that someone might have suggested it."

We tried in California back in 1994, with Prop. 187 - some silk-robed cretins decided that it wasn't legal for Californians to refuse to allow some foreigner to come and mug them under color of law.

Which has caused an approximately $10Bn budget shortfall in Cali: $23Bn paid out to illegals in "benefits" minus the approx. $13Bn in taxes generated by the few Criminal Trespassers who "work" for a living.