The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Immigration: Fallacies and Logic

Posted on | November 23, 2020 | Comments Off on Immigration: Fallacies and Logic

What’s wrong with open borders? Or, to be more specific, what’s wrong with “conservatives” who don’t see what’s wrong with open borders?

For more than 20 years, I have been mystified by those on “our” side who seem oblivious to the consequences of our broken immigration policy which is, in fact, so broken that it’s not actually a coherent policy but a confusing accumulation of blunders that have been piling up since Ted Kennedy pushed the 1965 “reform” bill through the Senate.

Peter Brimelow did arguably the best job of examining this in his 1995 book Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster, which became a bestseller, and also the occasion of Brimelow being purged from National Review. The fact that Bill Buckley evidently deemed it “racist” to express concern about U.S. immigration policy points to the depth of this problem. Among the several possible explanations for the open-borders “conservative” problem, many have long suspected that the answer is as simple as “follow the money.” Various funders of Conservatism, Inc., benefit directly from a steady supply of cheap foreign labor, and this Chamber of Commerce mentality is the most obvious explanation for why so many “conservatives” are such enthusiastic boosters of amnesty for illegals, etc.

A couple of years ago, Spencer Morrison wrote an excellent article directed at a particular open-borders advocate (Alex Nowrasteh) in which he made points that strike me as widely applicable:

Nowrasteh’s most important rhetorical trick is to shift the burden. That is, he makes claims requiring justification and demands that his opponent justify his opposite conclusions. . . .
Nowrasteh makes the radical claim that America should dissolve its border, and then has the gall to say the burden is on his opponent to show why this is bad. That’s not how logic works. The burden rests on the interlocutor proposing the change to show why it is beneficial. Doing otherwise violates the precautionary principle, which is deeply rooted in both our biology and empirical evidence.
Biological evolution is largely governed by one question: approach or avoid? Approaching something novel may yield a lucrative new food source or reproductive partner, but it might also kill you. In fact, death, maiming, or disease is usually the more likely outcome. For this reason, human populations evolved a genetic predisposition for neophobia (risk aversion) while only a small minority of humanity carries the , which predisposes one for novelty-seeking behavior.
Logic also favors the status quo. Consider the Lindy Effect, which implies that what survives is likely to continue surviving because of its proven utility. Meanwhile, most of what is new doesn’t last very long—time separates the weak from the strong. This explains why most new ideas don’t last, while classics have sticking-power.

Read the whole thing. Many intellectuals seem to have idea that any concern about immigration can be dismissed simply labelling such concerns “nativism” or “racism,” and the kind of rhetorical tricks employed by Nowrasteh are too often used as a substitute for sound argument. Another problem — certainly not limited to the immigration issue — is that most people are incapable of contemplating the secondary and tertiary consequences of policy. You see this in debates around healthcare, where mandating insurance coverage for “pre-existing conditions” is considered imperative by liberals who can’t seem to understand that such mandates will either (a) cause an increase in insurance premiums, or (b) cause employers to evade the mandate by hiring fewer fulltime workers, or (c) some combination of (a) and (b). In other words, a policy that changes one factor in a complex social or economic system will produce consequences that policy-makers have not contemplated, and these consequences may do more harm than good to the people the policy was intended to benefit.

This is true in immigration policy, as well. When the 1965 bill was being debated, Ted Kennedy specifically and repeatedly denied that the measure would have certain consequences that opponents of the measure warned against. Within a decade of this debate, it was apparent that the opponents were right and Kennedy was wrong. Rather than repealing the 1965 bill and returning to the status quo ante, however, instead Congress repeatedly passed “reform” bills that were promised to fix the country’s immigration problems, but which instead tended generally to make the problems worse. At no point in this long sad history of immigration “reform” were Republicans really more conservative on the issue than Democrats, because the open-borders lobby is bipartisan, a two-headed monster that no one has ever been able to slay.




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