14 September 2009

How to end illegal immigration

"We don't want the government to do anything."

That's the mindset of some folks, despite the fact the U.S. Constitution actually calls for government to manage things such as defense, domestic tranquility, etc. Oddly, by doing away with the government, we no longer have illegal immigrants. We also do away with pundits pretending to be objectively covering politics and all those ads during the election. That's a fair trade-off for no more taxes, right? In a way, it's interesting - it's utopian:
I don't need anybody regulating the food I buy; I don't need anybody checking the efficacy of the drugs I use; I'm never going to need a fire-fighter or a policeman! I don't need roads and bridges built or maintained by some big agency - no not me! I'm fine with private, "free market" solutions to everything, including education, defense, and immigration.
Call it a little naive, maybe, but... the sound bites seem appealing until you ponder little things such as: who deals with pollution in the streams you fish in, or how a family living in a hut copes with forest fires, hurricanes, or immigration (at least there'd be no more illegal immigrants.)

The problem seems to stem from how any given person views and values their community. If you believe you can be totally self-sufficient, that there's no gain from being able to drive to the grocery store, have utilities connected to your property, or turn to an outside authority about a potential dispute about just what IS your property, well, then there's not much the government offers, I suppose. But if you value other people (say, for instance, somebody who will make your bullets, or mine copper to help make pipes so you can build solar heating panels, or simply to keep your descendants from inbreeding,) then unless you always get along perfectly with everybody it follows that there's a certain value in civilization - which is to say, society.
Community values, shared vision and common goals, lead to things such as fire departments, public beaches, Navies to deal with piracy on the seas so you can get certain goods you can't grow or make yourself, the FDA, even bridges and national parks - but none of that is without a cost, that we must share. Even hermits benefit from agencies that limit the pollution in the water and connect the dots between pesticides and reproduction in wild animal populations, after all. What will the mountain man, living on the fish in his stream, do when somebody removes that food supply?

Debating the role of government is great...

Look, I'm no fan of paying for somebody else to sit around doing nothing, and I think the IRS rules are needlessly obscure and convoluted for the wrong reasons -- but as long as my share of the taxes collected is fair I'm not against taxes or governments in principle. The process of democracy in the U.S. is obviously not perfect; I envy the Iraqis who have health care access guaranteed by their new constitution, but I'm very fond of what we've built in this country and I'm fine with contributing to the betterment of my community - which extends considerably beyond the edges of my little chunk of land.

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