Three Arguments for Open Borders: Part II – Libertarianism

Will Rand Paul be calling for open borders? Not likely; but perhaps, as a libertarian, he should.

Rand Paul

Few of us have ever stopped to consider whether a country is justified in limiting who can enter its borders. However, it actually may be the case that justice demands open borders.

Libertarianism, a popular political movement at the moment, exemplified by much of the Republican party, actually implies that border control as we understand it is a massive violation of our rights. This is the second part of a series of blogs based on Joseph Carens’s “Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders.”

The foundation of libertarianism is that the state does not have any rights which an individual does not have in a situation without government. For instance, imagining a time without government, I have no right to take your property and distribute it as I see fit, so the state does not have such a right either – which is why libertarians fight against welfare programs. To redistribute property, on the libertarian account, is a violation of rights.

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Three Arguments for Open Borders: Part I – The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number

Whatever you think about the current immigration debate, you have likely never questioned our country’s right to dictate who can, and cannot enter our borders. But, what if we are all wrong about that?

Undocumented border crossing.

This is the first part of a series of blogs concerning arguments for open borders. However crazy this sounds, I will give three separate arguments for open borders, each from a very different ethical perspective – the greatest good for the greatest number, libertarianism, and from the perspective of impartial rights – which should cover most of my readers.

These arguments were originally conceived by Joseph Carens, in his groundbreaking paper, “Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders.” All I will do is reformulate and simplify his arguments in order to call into question one basic assumption we all share – countries have a right to prevent people from crossing their borders.

This first argument concerns utilitarianism. This is the ethic of bringing about the greatest good for the greatest number of people. The idea is that we should pursue policies that provide for the greatest overall level of well-being for everyone affected by the policies.

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The Hidden War on Public Education

We must not turn our backs on public education – it must not become a for-profit business.

Marco Rubio

In a recent opinion piece, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) championed a Florida program that provides tax dollars for low-income children to go to private schools. Such programs, in which the government gives people a “voucher” that they can use to pay tuition at a private school, have become a popular talking point, especially among libertarians.

However, such voucher programs are fundamentally flawed in that they miss the point of the problem. Supporters argue that children in low-income neighborhoods are forced into schools that cannot offer them a good education. This is assuredly true. Their solution is that we must get our kids out of these schools, and into the capable hands of private institutions. This, though, is the wrong conclusion.

Imagine that one of the walls of your house has fallen in. Your house is really no longer doing its full job as a house. Sure, it keeps the rain off of your head, but it lets in bugs and wind, and a big hole is of little deterrence to would-be burglars. So, what should you do about your broken house? Fix the wall, obviously. What you do not do is buy a new house.

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Marriage Equality, Democracy, and the Supreme Court

“We cannot let judges overrule the decisions of a democratic majority!”

Supreme Court Marriage Equality

This is the all to common response, often given in the tone of righteous indignation, to various courts deeming bans on gay marriage unconstitutional. With the Supreme Court bringing about marriage equality in 11 additional states last week, we have heard a new slew of charges that the Court is ignoring the democratic mandate of the people.

According to Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, when the supreme court makes such a move, it is “robbing the people of their vote and their voice.

However, this argument is not valid, and it is time to debunk this all to common reasoning.

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When Prisons Create Criminals

Is our prison system creating more crime than it prevents?

Prison Bars

There have been a flood of stories surrounding the death of prison inmates, often at the hands of prison guards. With the Justice Department releasing a scathing report on Rikers Island’s treatment of youth inmates, and another death of an inmate, possibly at the hands of overzealous guards, it is time to ask ourselves if our justice system is doing more harm than good.

The ethics of punishment is a very complicated issue, but this is not what I want to talk about. Instead, I would like to raise a very practical concern: does our system of justice actually create criminals?

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Why Atheists Cringe when Church and State Collide

According to two U.S. Supreme Court justices, atheism is not protected by the first amendment. For any atheist, this is a very worrying admission.

Antonin Scalia

In both a recent speech and a recent dissenting opinion (joined by Clarence Thomas) Justice Antonin Scalia has said that the first amendment specifically favors religion. In his speech to the Colorado Christian University last week, he said that it is “utterly absurd” that the first amendment protects freedom from religion.

I will not attempt to counter his interpretation of the first amendment – he is a Supreme Court justice, and I am not – but I would like to talk about a recent supreme court case.

In Greece v. Galloway, the court decided that prayers before local council meetings were constitutional as long as the prayer is not meant to convert people or disparage non-Christians.

This is one of those issues in which people often complain that atheists are really complaining about nothing, and are only trying to make life difficult for people of faith.

While I am sympathetic insofar as there are many atheists who really only seem intent on antagonizing Christians, we must recognize that there is actually a very good reason for atheists to be so hard-nosed about governmental displays of religion.

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