Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“No state has an inherent right to survive through conscript troops and, in the long run, no state ever has. Roman matrons used to say to their sons: "Come back with your shield, or on it." Later on, this custom declined. So did Rome.”     Robert A. Heinlein,    The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

July 6, 2007

The Allure Of Exclusion

by Brad Warbiany

I got an interesting perspective on sociology this week. I was up at Lake Arrowhead in the mountains north of San Bernardino, California with my family. My brother-in-law has a boat, so he managed to get it into the lake to watch the fireworks on the 4th.

Lake Arrowhead is a popular lake due to its proximity to LA, but it’s quite a small lake. So the lake association is extremely restrictive on who can put a boat in the lake. There’s hoop after hoop to jump through. After we got home, of course, the entire family was talking about how happy they are that they restrict access to the lake so much. After all, even with a busy 4th of July day (the busiest day of the year for the lake, due to the fireworks display), the lake wasn’t overcrowded.

But in its own right, I was shocked to hear their reaction. After all, they’ve spent the last month trying to jump through all the hoops the lake association put in front of them, and cursing those hoops the whole time. In order to get the boat in the water, they had to add my brother-in-law to the title of the house (with a tiny share) to make sure that the name on the title of the house matched that of the boat’s registration. In addition, the lake association requires exorbitant insurance levels on the boat, which were in excess of the added insurance he already has on his boat. That doesn’t even consider the myriad of fees and schmoozing. When all was said and done, it was not even a reasonable amount of money.

What struck me was the response of the family. If they hadn’t gotten the boat in the water, they would have been cursing the lake association all weekend, all the more so because we were staying in a house without air conditioning in 95-degree weather. They would have complained about why it’s so hard to put a boat in, especially since they own a home in town. But because they did get a boat in, suddenly they were big fans of the exclusivity.

This is another example of government policies which reward either the rich and/or those willing to grease the wheels, and screws everyone else. But it was particularly interesting to see the same people who were being excluded and had to work their butts off to get a boat on the water immediately turn around and praise the exclusivity once they got in.

This is one of those things is a constant when government is involved. So much of economics doesn’t involve zero-sum games, and yet much of government does. The premier example is that of immigration. Americans have this innate belief that because our ancestors were brave enough to leave their home countries and come over here 1, 2, or 10 generations ago, that we deserve access to special treatment that everyone else does not. But this extends to much of government. Corporations receiving subsidies are against welfare programs, while rationalizing why their own subsidies aren’t really “welfare”.

Exclusion is pretty nice, when you’re on the inside. When you’re on the outside looking in, though, it’s not so nice. When you know it’s someone giving access to private property, at least it’s understandable. When you’re being held out of public property by some petty bureaucratic regulation (supported, of course, by the voters who are invariably included, not excluded), though, it’s a bit maddening. And to watch the position of someone change as they move from exclusion to inclusion just shows you how tied to principle most people are.

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17 Comments

  1. This happens over and over again. People seldom think the rules are fair until they become a member of the club that enforces the rules, at which time the same rules become sacred.

    Comment by sadcox — July 6, 2007 @ 6:33 am
  2. I’ve seen this time and time again in the government bureaucracy. People complain about all the red tape, yet when asked to solve a problem, they add more of the same, adding stupid restrictive rules to a system they were already complaining about in the first place! People don’t really think about it, but government really doesn’t have the profit incentive to get better and more efficient like corporations do. If businesses don’t change, they don’t make money. But many government departments are guaranteed levels of funding, so who really cares if they are efficient or not. It pisses me off beyond belief.

    Comment by Adam — July 6, 2007 @ 6:58 am
  3. Amen, Brad…that pretty much sums up my gripe with government regulation and anti-immigration types right there. And in the interests of full disclosure, I’ve never been in a position where I’ve been a victim of such exclusions…but I recognize that there’s always the possibility that I (or anyone else) could be, which is why I’m opposed to them. There’s nothing moral about using government to carve out a special entitlement for yourself at the expense of others.

    Comment by UCrawford — July 6, 2007 @ 10:13 am
  4. And so just how many of the 9 billion “on the outside looking in” are we obligated to allow entry, and how fast? Might it have something to do with things like:

    a. How much WATER we have left

    b. How much LAND is left to build more freeways on

    c. How much more MONEY is left to be squeezed out of the already crushed American middle class to pay for welfare benefits, hospital care, schooling, etc. for a few hundred million more third world uneducated and unskilled breeding machines who don’t want to be “excluded”

    My guess is that you don’t have any posterity whose future you need to be concerned about.

    Comment by Richard Brodie — July 6, 2007 @ 10:41 am
  5. I have some posterity to be concerned about, which is why I am against the welfare benefits, hospital care, schooling, etc you mention.

    If we were to stop stealing from the producers in this country and giving their resources away to the masses, there would be no incentive to come here from another country except for the opportunity to work hard and achieve.

    Giving free services to someone here illegally is no more wrong than giving them to someone born here. Theft is theft, and it is wrong in both cases.

    Comment by sadcox — July 6, 2007 @ 10:47 am
  6. Richard,

    Leaving aside the fact that the population of the Earth is only around 6 billion people (the U.N. estimates that it won’t grow to 9 until 2050) and that your water argument is an illogical non-sequitur, all of your arguments are based around the premise that public ownership of land and welfare systems are somehow good things that should be preserved…which is a ridiculous position to take.

    Whether or not the immigrants would overload the welfare system (which there’s been no definitive proof they would) is beside the point. The welfare system, which you claim is crippling the middle class, is bad policy to begin with…it’s just government-sponsored theft, like sadcox said. Poor Americans are no more entitled to it than poor immigrants are and if you actually cared about the status of the middle class you’d be pushing to abolish welfare, after which you’d really have no legitimate reason to oppose immigration.

    Frankly, if opening the borders to the immigrants illustrates just what a horrible system welfare is by overloading it (forcing its reform or, even better, abolition) I’m all in favor of letting everyone in.

    Comment by UCrawford — July 6, 2007 @ 11:20 am
  7. Richard,

    I will have some posterity due in August, so yes, I do have something to worry about. And I’m more worried that my son will grow up in a crumbling nation that has taken away freedom, than worrying about him having to learn to speak Spanish.

    Like the above commenters, I’m interested in getting rid of those crippling government costs, rather than using those infringements on freedom to justify even further infringements on freedom.

    Funny how you point out whether we’ll have enough water, freeways, or social services. All are things we ask government to provide. You don’t ask whether we’ll have enough clothes, food, cars, cell phones, etc. Those are all things provided by the free market, and the market seems to provide them to a level of abundance.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — July 6, 2007 @ 11:48 am
  8. Richard,

    I’ll also take note that your comment about immigrants being a bunch of “third world uneducated breeding machines” pretty much validates my beliefs that a large portion of the anti-immigration crowd are nothing more than lazy, economically-ignorant, and marginally talented racists who don’t want to give up the welfare benefits they steal from their betters. Given a choice between living in a nation of “breeders” or living in a nation of xenophobic parasites, I’ll choose the immigrants every time.

    Immigrants were responsible for building our country and Constitution after all. And when the beneficiaries of those efforts pass laws to strip future immigrants of the ability to contribute, all it really demonstrates is that we aren’t worthy of the free society our ancestors created for us. Frankly, I’ve got more respect for my predecessors (and what they built) than that.

    Comment by UCrawford — July 6, 2007 @ 1:08 pm
  9. sadcox,

    “Giving free services to someone here illegally is no more wrong than giving them to someone born here.”

    True. But until those free services are eliminated, it is wrong to require Americans who work and don’t use those free services, to pay for them for unlimited hordes of immigrants. Is it right that one of my sons had to pay full maternity costs for his new child, when a pregnant illegal alien can come across the border and have her kid for free? We must work to halt immigration at the same time that we work to eliminate government mandated welfare. The former can probably be achieved faster. Then when the latter is achieved, immigration restrictions can be loosened.

    UCrawford,

    “your water argument is an illogical non-sequitur, all of your arguments are based around the premise that public ownership of land and welfare systems are somehow good things that should be preserved”

    See my answer to Brad below.

    “if you actually cared about the status of the middle class you’d be pushing to abolish welfare, after which you’d really have no legitimate reason to oppose immigration.”

    You’re assuming that welfare can be eliminated immediately, before the effects of massive immigration decimate the middle class. See my answer to sadcox above. Just as a welfare/warfare state cannot be sustained, so a welfare/unlimited-immigration state is a formula for disaster.

    Brad,

    “Funny how you point out whether we’ll have enough water, freeways, or social services. All are things we ask government to provide. You don’t ask whether we’ll have enough clothes, food, cars, cell phones, etc. Those are all things provided by the free market, and the market seems to provide them to a level of abundance.”

    The free market cannot provide more water when the population in a certain geographical area maxes out on the amount that nature can provide. There ARE planetary resource limitations. The US Geographical Survey predicts that at the current rates of consumption only aluminum, of the major important industrial metals, will last for more than a hundred years (silver will run out in about 25.) The only deposits remaining in the Earth’s crust will be at inaccessible depths. This is the reason I don’t worry about China. But ultimately the world cannot sustain a First World living standard for billions of inhabitants.

    I hate to have to tell the corporate/banking trillionaire fat-cats and their billioniare shareholders this disturbing fact, but growth for its own sake as the highest human value will soon have to be replaced by being content with what we have. The reality of this little globe we live on is quite simply inimical to their expectation that the population, and thus their globalist bottom lines, can continue to grow without limit.

    Comment by Richard Brodie — July 6, 2007 @ 1:48 pm
  10. Richard,

    Malthus was preaching about how we’d run out of resources on this little rock over 200 years ago. He was wrong. Why are you right?

    Human history has shown that when given freedom, we are able to constantly do more with less. There’s plenty of water on this planet. The only problem is how to make it drinkable cheaply enough to meet our needs. There are two ways to do this:

    1) Find new ways to extract and prepare that water much more cheaply.
    2) Increase our standard of living to the point where we can afford the higher price of drinkable water.

    Capitalism can provide either solution. Trying to convince people not to breed (the government solution) won’t do either.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — July 6, 2007 @ 2:08 pm
  11. Brad: “Malthus was preaching about how we’d run out of resources on this little rock over 200 years ago. He was wrong. Why are you right?”

    Malthus was not wrong. He didn’t have access to the data that we have now, and so he could not predict when the crunch would hit. But he was right about the unsustainability of limitless population growth.

    I quote from an article on EETimes:

    “The world may soon find itself running out of rare metals used to form key components in high-tech devices from cell phones to semiconductors to solar panels, according to a report in New Scientist magazine.

    In the respected British publication’s audit of “Earth’s natural wealth,” David Cohen writes that reserves of elements from platinum (used not only in every pollution-reducing automobile catalytic converter in use today but also in fuel cells) to indium (used in flat-screen TVs and computer monitors) and tantalum (used in mobile phones) are “being used up at an alarming rate.” These metals are chemical elements — no synthetic replacement can be developed.

    Even more common metals like zinc and copper are in increasingly short supply as they are used in rapidly developing economies like India and China. Over the last year thefts of copper from power lines and electrical substations have soared, as has the price of copper.

    Cohen cites the work of researchers like Armin Reller, a materials chemist at the University of Augsburg in Germany, who has predicted that supplies of indium, used in liquid-crystal displays, and of hafnium, a critical element for next-generation semiconductors, could be exhausted by 2017. The world’s zinc will be gone by 2037, Reller contends.”

    Comment by Richard Brodie — July 6, 2007 @ 2:40 pm
  12. Richard,

    a) I agree with your comment about rapidly increased demand eventually overwhelming the welfare system. I also suspect that it’s the only way the politicians will revise or abolish welfare, especially the Democrats, so I’m all in favor of creating the short-term crisis to protect the long-term health of the nation. Theft from the wealthy to the parasitic class buys the Democrats votes, same as giving extra drug benefits to senior citizens bought the Republicans votes. Nothing short of impending economic collapse is going to make them reform the system and alienate their constituencies. Frankly, I see a crisis imposed by immigration as the only way the welfare system will be abolished…which it needs to be, because it’s nothing more than theft no matter who’s drawing on it (immigrant or American). And once it’s abolished, the only legitimate argument you had for unrestricted immigration will have been removed.

    2) Your water argument is illogical because an area devoid of sufficient water resources will not support continued economic growth or attract new residents. If Los Angeles, for example, hypothetically hit the absolute limit of water supplies for their population and people had a choice between staying in L.A. and dying of thirst, or relocating to an area where water was more plentiful and surviving, they’d relocate. Or they’d die and the problem would self-correct. The same thing applies to any other essential commodity…work, food, air. Populations for any species cannot grow beyond their environments’ capability for sustaining their numbers, and that holds true on a local or planetary level, regardless of what Malthus said. Public welfare systems and restricted immigration do screw with that model, however, by interfering with the individual’s ability to freely relocate or provide for himself…yet another reason I oppose them.

    3) “Corporate/banking trillionaire fatcats”? Accept social stagnation? Global free trade is bad? Oh yeah, that’ll really win us pro-capitalists over. Sorry comrade, go ahead and stay poor and stupid if you want, but I like economic growth and the evolution of mankind…mainly because I have a job, I’m not scare of competition, and therefore don’t need to leech off other people. And just to clarify with a lesson from history, your ideology’s credibility died with the Soviet Union.

    4) So the government says all our resources will run out in 100 years? Guess that must be true since the doomsayers are never ever wrong (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil). Reduced resources will mean reduced population, which I’m really not worried about since our country’s generally pro-capitalist stance tends to put us on better economic footing to compete against the rest of the world for resources. And I suppose if the threat of human extinction gets bad enough, there’s always the possibility of space exploration, interstellar relocation and terraforming. Necessity is the mother of invention after all.

    Comment by UCrawford — July 6, 2007 @ 2:40 pm
  13. Richard,

    And since you like Malthus’ ideas so much, you should be all on board with abolishing welfare and starving the poor out. Malthus did lay the brunt of the blame for overpopulation on them after all…mainly so the “fatcats” could survive.

    P.S. Malthus didn’t take into account humanity’s ability to adapt to changing circumstance through technological or societal improvement. That was the fatal flaw in his reasoning…something you seem to have missed as well.

    Comment by UCrawford — July 6, 2007 @ 2:50 pm
  14. UCrawford,

    There is nothing racist about having a concern for the effects of an unskilled Third World population swarming into the country by the tens of millions every decade, bringing with them a mentality that regards old age security as being a matter of having as many children as possible. That is cultural, not racial.

    This degree of immigration pressure is orders of magnitude greater than anything our nation has ever experienced, happening at a time when the middle class is already being crushed between the twin wage pressures of the outsourcing and insourcing of skilled labor. The only thing good about it is that encouragers of this “transformation of the neighborhood” will get to live in the hellhole that they so greatly deserve for fostering it.

    Comment by Richard Brodie — July 6, 2007 @ 3:00 pm
  15. Richard,

    We can agree or disagree on world population. But wouldn’t you agree that if what you say is true, it’s a world problem, not an American problem? I’d say right out that in the age of world transport of goods and services, it won’t matter whether you’re in America or Tunisia when some of these problems hit.

    How about we get back to the original question: What entitles you to stop these people from coming here? Are you simply better than them? Does the accident of your birth in the United States entitle you to more rights and freedoms than it should to other human beings? Are you so indispensable to the US that you are somehow needed, but some industrious immigrant from Peru is not?

    What entitles YOU to exclude them?

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — July 6, 2007 @ 3:40 pm
  16. Richard,

    The racism comes in assuming that the majority people from other countries have no work ethic and immigrate to this country looking only for a handout. I’ve traveled the world enough to realize how inaccurate that stereotype is. And, like I said, abolish the welfare system and the handouts won’t be an issue.

    Outsourcing is usually created largely by factors like coercive unions, an overpaid U.S. labor force, high corporate taxes, and the welfare state. Cut back on those, turn the system over to the free market and you’ll slow the outsourcing and take the pressure off the “middle class”…or at least those members of the “middle class” who aren’t too useless, unskilled or lazy to get a job.

    Of course, outsourcing does have the effect of reducing immigration, since the majority of those jobs tend to go to countries with cheap labor and high unemployment (India and Mexico, for example) so there’s less incentive for people from those countries to come here to work. So if you’re really against immigration then it should follow that you’d be for outsourcing…so you can keep all those nasty little “breeders” out.

    So which is more important to you? Keeping jobs in America, or keeping the immigrants out? Because if you’ve got any grasp of how economics work, you’ll realize that it’s unlikely you can have it both ways.

    Comment by UCrawford — July 6, 2007 @ 3:48 pm
  17. As an outsider (English) the irony is not lost on me how ironic a debate on immigration is in a country such as the US. You decimated the native population (the dominant European origin ‘settlers’) with various forms of genocide, and now you have made the US ‘the land of the free’ (no irony there – with your constitution written during the time of slavery), free to decide that brown skinned immigration is the problem. I know that these are obvious points, but hey, I just had to make them. Not claiming any superior status from my land of faded imperialist power, but I always like to get my oar in when people go on about immigration and welfare.
    Interestingly it has taken on a whole new complexion (pun intended) in England, as we now have a plethora of white skinned immigrants from countries such as Poland coming here. They seem to engender as much hatred as the brownskinned immigrants, so maybe the English aren’t as rascist as may first appear! They assume that anyone will want to take advantage of our free health care and education systems (and I couldn’t possibly say if they are right).

    Comment by caroline — July 14, 2007 @ 5:16 pm

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