Yes, this is about right

So just to make sure I’m up to speed: being a “conservative” means you are for allowing goods to cross borders but not people and being a “liberal” means you are for allowing people to cross borders but not goods?

63 thoughts on “Yes, this is about right”

  1. Because people aren’t goods. The last time people thought that, slavery, you know. It is actually quite reasonable to consider them differently, because These Things Are Not The Same and all that.

    Or to put it another way, my desire to freely trade with my next door neighbour is not compatible with my desire that he not wander into my house uninvited and take up residence. People have property rights. Goods are property.

    Ergo, the “liberal” (American definition of liberal) is an inversion of the correct answer (goods but not necessarily people). The other issue is that this is a bit of a straw man anyway, it’s not really about, as a general concept, “people should be allowed or not to cross borders”, but whether the owners of borders should be allowed to control them.

  2. What’re we called if we want to get rid of bloody borders and let anyone go where they like?

    Naively suicidal.

  3. You can be against both the free movement of goods and the free movement of people. I’m not sure what adjective covers American trade unions and the French Front National, though.

  4. Two distinct reasons for opposing mass migration often seem to get cnflated:

    1. Migration is good but some countries, eg. The UK, suffer an unacceptable pressure on public services and resources and so need to set limits.
    2. Opposing migration in principle.

    The first is clearly arguable. The second isn’t if you genuinely believe in liberty.

  5. abacab
    So you’re in favour of the free movement of one and not the other. As an expat in the lovely city of Zurich, which is which in your opinion?

  6. Ironman,

    There are two issues with immigration – quantity and quality.

    Quantity – the EU and unfettered numbers.

    Quality – too many dumb as shit perpetual welfare claimants.

    We’re failing to manage on either score.

    UKIP are the only party trying to address this, but they’re you know WAYCISSSST….

  7. Or to put it another way, my desire to freely trade with my next door neighbour is not compatible with my desire that he not wander into my house uninvited and take up residence.

    Yes. And migration involves the fellow buying or renting the house next door to yours, not seizing yours.

    We don’t impose one-in-one-out migration, or compulsorily purchase citizens’ houses to give to migrants, despite the delusional fantasies of Express readers.

  8. Ironman: it’s much simpler than that. We definitely want high-skilled, high-productivity workers: they pay more to the state than they claim. Australia’s points-based system is a way of achieving that goal.

    We don’t need any more cleaning ladies or minicab drivers: minimum wage workers pay no income tax, they claim working tax credits, and their use of state-funded schools / health / transport means they are a net drain on the exchequer.

    Singapore’s guest-worker policy is insightful (some people would consider it nasty). You can import a Filipino maid, but she can’t bring her family, and she must undergo pregnancy tests every six months. If she tests positive, she has a choice: abort the pregnancy and continue working in Singapore, or keep the child and be deported. This is how the country’s productivity is so high.

  9. bloke (not) in spain

    I might point out, “conservatives” proscribe certain goods from passing that border, whereas “liberals” are keener on abandoning the proscription. But just for those goods.
    It’s mighty complicated, innit?.

  10. “abacab
    So you’re in favour of the free movement of one and not the other. As an expat in the lovely city of Zurich, which is which in your opinion?”

    I am not an absolutist in either case, particularly in the real world where we have generous welfare states and it would be a bit silly really to allow anyone to move somewhere and then directly live off welfare. Like the Green party wants to do in the UK.

    Can we get beyond the fallacy of the excluded middle please?

    And you couldn’t pay me enough to live in the “lovely” city of Züriich…

  11. “Dumb as shit welfare claimants”.

    So don’t pay them benefits, simple. And what, we don’t have dumb as shit welfare claimants ourselves?
    Look, this is just not the reality of immigration. We don’t have hoards of people coming over to claim benefits. Indeed Ukip’s election poster was quite explicit: “Coming over here TO TAKE YOU JOB”. That’s YOUR JOB folks; not your benefits.

  12. Abort your child or be deported. No, let’s ignore that.

    Let’s go with “we don’t need any more cleaning ladies or minicab drivers”. Who represents ‘we’ and who decides ‘need’? Have all Ukip candidates been given a copy of The Courageous State as compulsory reading?

    My take: when a cleaning lady is employed, the employer has decided their need.

  13. You can’t get benefits immediately on entering Britain. Even British citizens returning from overseas work or gap yahs have to satisfy a habitual residence test.

  14. So Much for Subtlety

    Ironman – “2. Opposing migration in principle. …. The second isn’t if you genuinely believe in liberty.”

    On the contrary, liberty in the West is only possible if we have low or no immigration. Given people do not shift their politics. Their cultures are too strong. If we import people from very repressive dysfunctional cultures, they do not suddenly stop being repressive and dysfunctional. The US can no longer remain a classically liberal society because immigration since 1965 has been so high, America no longer had a large enough liberal voter base.

    Ironman – “Abort your child or be deported. No, let’s ignore that.”

    By all means let’s remove the abortion from the table. They can be deported.

    “Let’s go with “we don’t need any more cleaning ladies or minicab drivers”.”

    That is not the choice on option. What you mean is that we do not need cheap labour that only benefits the Upper Middle class by providing them with cheap and submissive Third World nannies. If we had zero immigration we would still have cleaning ladies and minicab drivers. They would just be paid more.

    “Who represents ‘we’ and who decides ‘need’? Have all Ukip candidates been given a copy of The Courageous State as compulsory reading?”

    Indeed. The voters perhaps. Who have never liked mass immigration but have been consistently ignored by our treasonous ruling class.

    “My take: when a cleaning lady is employed, the employer has decided their need.”

    That is irrelevant. Cheap labour is bad for an economy. The West has always had expensive workers and that has driven a large part of the industrial revolution – it was easier to industrialise when so many workers were paid so well they could start up their own businesses. Unlike much of Asia.

  15. Roue, afaik

    Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
    Income Support
    Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
    Pension Credit
    Housing Benefit
    Council Tax Benefit

    are all subject to the habitual residence test. So if a British pensioner returning from overseas wants to claim pension credit and/or housing benefit (say), he will have to satisfy the habitual residence test in addition to the normal tests for those benefits.

  16. This is bonkers.

    Ironman: do you, like the Green Party, believe in open borders?

    If yes, and during the next 5 years to 2020, some 30 (or 60 or 120) million people from Africa and the Asian sub continent decided they wanted to come and live and work in Britain – because very clearly, compared with what they currently have, they could be immeasurably better off in the UK (despite earning relative pittances and paying pittance taxes) due the benefits of free schooling, the free NHS, etc – is that what you are firmly supporting?

    Or am I misunderstanding “open borders”?

  17. On the contrary, liberty in the West is only possible if we have low or no immigration. Given people do not shift their politics. Their cultures are too strong. If we import people from very repressive dysfunctional cultures, they do not suddenly stop being repressive and dysfunctional.

    Sad to say, this is true: but depends to some extent on the push-pull incentives in the respective departure/arrival countries. But yes, if the UK allows completely free immigration then London will end up like Lagos due to the influx of people whose values, culture, and behaviour have made Lagos like Lagos.

  18. We could abolish all immigration restrictions (ho ho ho!), but we’d have to accept the following:

    * the NHS, unemployment benefit, child benefit, housing benefit, state education, state pensions and every other part of the welfare state would have to go. Can’t have a welfare state and unlimited immigration – not for long. I’m in favour of abolishing all those things, but the vast majority of British people are not.

    * Our country would soon cease to exist in any recognisable form. Good news for Mad Max fans, not so good news for people who prefer period dramas.

    Apart from that it’s all gravy.

    Ukliberty – You can’t get benefits immediately on entering Britain.

    Hmmm. Not long ago I was in Glasgow city centre for a morning meeting, and I walked past a Jobcentre office. There was a large queue of immigrants waiting outside. Were they queueing because they’re all so eager to work? Ha! Maybe. More likely it was to sign on and get their benefits before going to their real, off the books, jobs in petrol stations, shops and ethnic restaurants.

    But I’m educatedly guessing those guys hadn’t been in Britain for very long. Just 15 years ago you wouldn’t have seen so many African and Asian chaps gathered in one spot in Glasgow – of all places.

    Yes, racist of me to notice. I know.

    You can and do get benefits immediately on entering Britain, if you know how to play the system. We have tons of “refugees”, living in taxpayer funded housing, doing exactly that.

    And all those schools in London where English is a minority language? Or GP surgeries swamped by demand from immigrants? Or Council-funded translators? State funded education and healthcare are benefits, too.

  19. On the subject of natives being elderly, thick & useless or a drain in some other way, so what?

    In what way is it not sensible to run a country for the benefit of its ‘natives’ (i.e. those who live in it presently), rather than for those who might wish to live in it in the future?

    Immigrants might wish to come to the UK for a range of reasons, no doubt rational, but also utterly selfish. The UK should be similarly selfish.

    As has been noted on here before, minimum wage workers take far more out of the state coffers than they put in. So low-value migrants are, overall, a cost not a benefit.

    Keeping large quantities of natives unemployed and importing people to fill vacancies is a piss-poor way of running affairs.

  20. Or you could just make the benefits system contributory. Many countries do.

    …not so good news for people who prefer period dramas.

    Apart from that it’s all gravy.

    You lost me there. What else is there besides period drama? The whole bloody country is a period drama.

  21. Well Steve, there’s no reasoning someone out of a belief he didn’t reason himself into. The fact is that “large queue of immigrants” (did you check their passports btw?) will have been disappointed if they went to the JobCentre immediately after arriving in the UK with the expectation they would be given money there and then.

    As for asylum seekers, I think you’re a bit of a bellend if you begrudge them the little support they get if they are unable to support themselves, particularly given that they are usually not permitted to work. If they are granted refugee status – which isn’t immediate – they are broadly entitled to the same benefits as British citizens, subject to the same tests (e.g. being refugees from overseas they are unlikely to have made sufficient contributions in the UK for contributions-based benefits).

  22. Roue le Jour – What else is there besides period drama?

    Ant and Dec?

    ukliberty – Well Steve, there’s no reasoning someone out of a belief he didn’t reason himself into.

    True dat.

    The fact is that “large queue of immigrants” (did you check their passports btw?)

    No, you’re right. They were probably from clan McSomalia. I denounce myself any my racist, racist eyes.

    will have been disappointed if they went to the JobCentre immediately after arriving in the UK with the expectation they would be given money there and then.

    Right. So get a job working in your cousin’s petrol station, wait a bit, and then… bingo. At that point, your wives, children, cousins, etc. can all come over too. Immigration is the gift that keeps on giving.

    As for asylum seekers, I think you’re a bit of a bellend if you begrudge them the little support they get if they are unable to support themselves, particularly given that they are usually not permitted to work.

    Oh, I’m an absolute bellend. I’d send every single one of them packing, unless they came here directly from an adjacent country, rather than travelling through a string of safe countries en route to soft touch Britain. And I do begrudge subsidising their presence in my country, and all that entails.

    That’s harsh, I know, but they’re not my problem. I’m supporting enough of our own needy cases with sob stories as it is.

    Steve’s new immigration policy for Britain: “Fuck Off, We’re Full!”

  23. Not to question your knowledge of the rules, ukliberty, but one can’t help wondering how rigorously those rules were applied in Lutfur Rahman’s Tower Hamlets, for example.

  24. Roue le Jour – Not to question your knowledge of the rules, ukliberty, but one can’t help wondering how rigorously those rules were applied in Lutfur Rahman’s Tower Hamlets, for example.

    This is the thing. Rules are rules, but they don’t apply themselves. People do. The complexity of our benefits system is such that those people have degrees of latitude in how they apply those rules, and – shockingly – people have been known to lie in order to claim benefits.

  25. The simple answer is applying economics to people like we do to goods. We don’t buy a product that makes us “poorer/less happy” and we should do the same for people.

  26. BiF:

    You can be against both the free movement of goods and the free movement of people. I’m not sure what adjective covers American trade unions and the French Front National, though.

    Try “collectivist”.

  27. Incidentally, this year is the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II and Britain’s socialist coup. I’m surprised we haven’t heard more about that.

    Seventy years, pretty good run for socialism?

  28. PF

    Thank you for your question.

    I would refer you to my 2 options as set out at 8.45am. Guess which one I fall under.

  29. Ironman

    Just to avoid any nuance or misinterpretation – would that be a “yes” or a “no” in answer to my question “is that what you are firmly supporting”?

  30. PF

    You know, I don’t see how there could be any misunderstanding. I offered up two alternative views and gave a very clear opinion on them. It’s really not difficult.

  31. Ironman
    April 27, 2015 at 8:45 am

    Two distinct reasons for opposing mass migration often seem to get cnflated:

    1. Migration is good but some countries, eg. The UK, suffer an unacceptable pressure on public services and resources and so need to set limits.

    Even hard-core ‘smash-the-state’ libertarians would agree with this – we would just say that the limits need to be put on the *public ‘services’* (IOW – welfare) and not on the migration.

    Over here its always seen as a given that there will be a huge welfare state that you can’t get rid of while immigration is supposed to be something you can control.

    The reality is that its far easier to cut back on the welfare state than it is to control immigration – which is nearly impossible to stop.

  32. UKL

    “You can’t get benefits immediately on entering Britain.”

    Yes you can. All you have to say is ‘asylum’.

  33. UKL

    “Well Steve, there’s no reasoning someone out of a belief he didn’t reason himself into.”

    Like your belief – tirelessly reiterated on the unlamented Liberal Conspiracy – that same-sex marriage is “equal marriage” even though the two forms of marriage are asymmetrical and so not equal.

  34. OK, I’ll interpret that as a firm “No” to my second question (30 million etc), rather than “clearly arguable” as per your 8.45 am quote, if you can’t see “how there could be any misunderstanding”…

  35. Andrew M:

    “We definitely want high-skilled, high-productivity workers: they pay more to the state than they claim.”

    Until they grow old or become sick; or their children decide to live off the state, or engage in terrorism. Importing skills is ultimately a Ponzi scheme.

  36. The reality is that its far easier to cut back on the welfare state than it is to control immigration – which is nearly impossible to stop.

    No, that is just pure nonsense.

    You CAN put reasonably effective border controls in place, if you want to. We have done it before, we can do it again.

    But you cannot increasingly have a society where very large numbers, in genuine poverty, do not have access to any benefits, food, schooling, health etc, without the whole place potentially descending into chaos and worse.

  37. SMFS:

    “… we do not need cheap labour that only benefits the Upper Middle class by providing them with cheap and submissive Third World nannies. If we had zero immigration we would still have cleaning ladies…”

    Up to a point, you are right, but try finding members of the indigenous lower orders to do the work and you’ll find they are not motivated. I once suggested to a long-term unemployed woman that she might try cleaning, and her reply was ‘I’m not going to be anyone’s fucking servant. I have rights, you know.’

  38. Agammamon

    My apologies – let me rephrase that.

    Yes, you can cut back the welfare state (I mistakenly read your comment first off that you meant cut back, but only for immigrants), but few would argue that that is preferable, as a concept, just so that we can enjoy open borders.

    Ie, there are lots of very good reasons for “improving” the welfare state, but open borders sure as hell would not be the justification?

  39. Theophrastus,

    Well Steve, there’s no reasoning someone out of a belief he didn’t reason himself into.

    Like your belief – tirelessly reiterated on the unlamented Liberal Conspiracy – that same-sex marriage is “equal marriage” even though the two forms of marriage are asymmetrical and so not equal.

    I don’t think I would have said same-sex marriage is equal marriage. I might have used the phrases interchangeably in some contexts, perhaps you were confused by that. Anyway, I’m flattered you remember me – I don’t recall your name from there.

    But it is true that humans experience cognitive biases and suchlike to varying degrees. However, some people don’t/won’t try to take into account their own biases.

  40. If a UK born child can’t claim any benefits until they are over 16 (or is it 18 or even 25 these days? ) why not change the rules so that that becomes a criteria of eligibility? You can claim to your hearts content once you’ve lived here for that amount of time, until then, you pay your own way.

    Such a policy is unlikely to dissuade the high flyers such as doctors, accountants and other high earners that we keep being told that we need, but should make Johnny Goatherder think twice.

    I don’t think that the British people are anti-immigrant, I do think that they are against having the piss took out of our system.

  41. As for fraud, it would be silly to claim there is no fraud. But, given how crap people are on average at guessing I mean estimating such things, I’d bet the level of fraud committed by immigrants is lower than what people on average would guess.
    Ipsos MORI has asked a question about welfare fraud: when asked “Out of every £100 spent on welfare budget, can you tell me how much of that is claimed fraudulently?” the mean answer was £24 when the official estimate was 70p.

  42. I have a dream. A dream that Ironman will once say something vaguely sensible. I’m a hopeless optimist.

    The issue is not “migration” as an abstract. It is whether people should be obligated to open their borders or not. If you have a border, you have the right to choose who enters your territory. That is what property rights are; they are borders.

    Johnb78 confuses where “next door” is. The issue is that in the analogy “my house” is the bordered territory, not subdivisions within that territory.

    Now if you take the anarchist line that all nation states are ideologically unjust, that’s one way of looking at it. But humans are territorialists; we form societies that share a territory and consider it collectively owned, which is what a nation is. Most of history has consisted of maintaining territories. Whatever your ideological position, the “tribal land” is very normal to humans.

    Back with Ironfuckwit: liberty is founded, fundamentally, on property rights. The violation of the border around your body is assault or rape, of the one around your goods is theft, the one around your land is trespass. If you want to take a communist view that property rights are unjust, go ahead. If you believe in property- in land- you believe in borders. Nobody under propertarianism is obligated to allow the crossing of their borders. It is their choice. Where a people share a territory, it is their choice.

    Also, on the utilitarian or econometric arguments, the naive assertion that “migration is good” is shown to be false by the economic mess of the past 40 years of ideological migrationism.

  43. Anyway, it still comes back to the basic issue here, which is that the implication that treating goods and people differently is somehow inconsistent, when it is not, since goods and people are qualitatively different things.

  44. Ian B – Anyway, it still comes back to the basic issue here, which is that the implication that treating goods and people differently is somehow inconsistent, when it is not, since goods and people are qualitatively different things.

    Yes. I’m reminded of Milton Friedman’s wonderful little speech about the pencil.

    Look at this lead pencil. There’s not a single person in the world who could make this pencil. Remarkable statement? Not at all. The wood from which it is made, for all I know, comes from a tree that was cut down in the state of Washington. To cut down that tree, it took a saw. To make the saw, it took steel. To make steel, it took iron ore. This black center—we call it lead but it’s really graphite, compressed graphite—I’m not sure where it comes from, but I think it comes from some mines in South America. This red top up here, this eraser, a bit of rubber, probably comes from Malaya, where the rubber tree isn’t even native! It was imported from South America by some businessmen with the help of the British government. This brass ferrule? [Self-effacing laughter.] I haven’t the slightest idea where it came from. Or the yellow paint! Or the paint that made the black lines. Or the glue that holds it together. Literally thousands of people co-operated to make this pencil. People who don’t speak the same language, who practice different religions, who might hate one another if they ever met! When you go down to the store and buy this pencil, you are in effect trading a few minutes of your time for a few seconds of the time of all those thousands of people. What brought them together and induced them to cooperate to make this pencil? There was no commissar sending … out orders from some central office. It was the magic of the price system: the impersonal operation of prices that brought them together and got them to cooperate, to make this pencil, so you could have it for a trifling sum.

    That is why the operation of the free market is so essential. Not only to promote productive efficiency, but even more to foster harmony and peace among the peoples of the world.

    Trading goods makes us more dependent on each other and fosters peace, harmony, and growing prosperity in countries that need it the most.

    Mass immigration achieves the opposite.

  45. UKL

    “… when the official estimate was 70p.”

    Indeed it was; but the officials in question have very strong incentives to minimise the problem.

  46. Officials have an incentive to play down problems, politicians and the media have an incentive to appeal to the prejudices of their audiences.

  47. True, UKL, as far as it goes. But politicians and the media have many and various prejudices they can indulge, whereas the officials who made that estimate had an obvious and deep interest in minimising the problem – performance bonuses, promotions, careers, even jobs, probably turned on convincing their political masters that all was well.

  48. I always took it to be that being a sovereign nation means we get a choice on both, provided we make the effort to enforce it.

  49. So Much for Subtlety

    Gareth – “People vote, products don’t. That makes it reasonable to treat them differently imo.”

    Products don’t brutalise children in Rotherham either.

  50. So Much for Subtlety

    ukliberty – “Officials have an incentive to play down problems, politicians and the media have an incentive to appeal to the prejudices of their audiences.”

    But that has not what we have been seeing with the serial brutalisation of British children by Pakistani immigrants. In those cases, the officials, the politicians and the media were all on the same page. They were insisting that there was no problem and it was racism to notice any Hate Facts.

    It was left up to Nick freakin’ Griffin to say anything. For which he was locked up.

  51. Goods go to where the demand is greatest, people are less reliably rational. That’s the difference.

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