Thursday, July 24, 2014

Judge Dredd Political Economy

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." - Winston Churchill

"If you can't have a five minute conversation with the average voter, listening to C-Span on the way to work will suffice." - Sam Wilson

I had the misfortune of exercising Wilson's Lemma this morning as callers-in cited statute law time and again against the Honduran & Guatemalan exodus knocking on the southern border of the US.

Consider the following claims:

  1. There is a moral imperative to offer sanctuary to the distressed. The children and families fleeing drug-related violence deserve basic humanitarian consideration. This is consistent with nearly all commonplace Western moral code (yes, there are a few minor exceptions).
  2. It is unjust to force American taxpayers to cover the costs of feeding and housing these refugees, particularly when local, county, state, and federal budgets are already well in the red.
  3. US immigration quota statutes have force but no moral authority, similar to the Jim Crow laws of the 19th and 20th centuries. 
  4. Individuals retain ordinary property rights over their own land and may exercise standard anti-trespassing measures consistent with long-established common law prescriptions.
  5. Individuals retain the common law rights of association and are able to contract peaceably with whom they see fit. 
  6. Individuals retain the common law rights of association and are able to refuse association with whom they see fit, for any reason, or for no reason at all.
  7. Men and women of good conscience should strive to overturn unjust legislation, and to that end enjoy moral justification for civil disobedience. Letter from the Birmingham Jail was written by a prisoner held under the auspices of dishonorable, unjust laws. King is rightly remembered as a national hero, not as a petty criminal.
  8. Liberalizing immigration statutes will have a positive marginal effect on the propensity for migration.
  9. Immigrants tend to identify with the Democratic Party at greater rates than native-born citizens.
  10. Immigrants tend to identify as "liberal" or "very liberal" at greater rates than native-born citizens.
  11. Immigrants do not tend to hold specific policy positions consistent with their self-identified party affiliation or political views. The left-right political axis has less predictive power over their policy preferences than it does for native-born citizens.
  12. Free migration could strain the resources of a welfare state in the short run.
  13. Immigrants, even low-skilled immigrants, tend to be net tax payers, rather than net tax consumers. And when this is not true, the fault lies with the legislature rather than with the immigrants.
  14. The private costs of estimating the justice of statute law almost always exceed the private benefits, particularly when the bulk of the benefit accrues to outside groups. There is little natural incentive for ordinary constituents to be especially reflective about the contents of the U.S.C..
Now I ask you: are these claims internally consistent? Is it possible to believe each of these to be true, jointly and severally? If you can, as I do, hold these claims to be both true and consistent, you might come to the same conclusion as I: immigration restrictions are unjust, unnecessary, and quite likely to remain intact.

"It's the law" is a fine defense so long as the law is just. But if the law is unjust, then I encourage he who utters it to consider carefully whether or not he is begging the question.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?