Debate with CEI Part III: Libertarians Preclude the Application of Reason in Immigration Policy

Actually, libertarians like David Bier preclude the application of reason, period. But since he has taken specific objection to my application of it with regard to immigration policy, let’s stick to that.

In my previous blog I wrote that “we humans have the intellectual capability and moral obligation to make choice that serve a greater good.”  I went on to note that “economies and markets exist to serve humans, not the other way around.” In the eyes of the absolutists at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) that makes me an “Occupier” (as in the folks who camped out in Zuccotti Park last year).

Bier responds that in arguing for human mastery of the market, “Mehlman somehow separates ‘the market’ from ‘people.’ But what is the market?” he asks rhetorically. “It is people,” he answers (his emphasis).

Okay, David, try this one: What is a mob? It is people (my emphasis), acting without reason, making irrational and immoral decisions which cause great harm. As a civilized society we have the right to restrict the freedom of a mob to act like a mob. Without the application of reason, we will lose our freedoms and our liberties.

A market, operating without reasonable restraints and without any imperative to serve a greater good is a mob (emphasis on reasonable). We know that the application of unreasonable restraints not only doesn’t work, but leads to tyranny. (See: USSR, 1917-1991). Under that failed, immoral and unlamented system people existed to serve the interests of the state, instead of the other way around. That theory posited that if everyone just contributed according to his ability and took according to his needs that a utopian society would emerge. We know how that turned out.

Radical libertarianism is simply the flip side of the communist coin. Radical libertarianism preaches that people exist to serve markets and economies, instead of the other way around. Applying that philosophy to immigration means that if there are people who are willing to come to this country who will work more cheaply and malleably than Americans, then Americans must step aside, or be shunted aside because the market or the economy demands it. The radical libertarian philosophy posits that if we just feed the insatiable market’s demand for worker bees that we will all be drowning in honey.

Radical libertarians fundamentally do not understand what a nation is and why it exists. A nation is more than a collection of people and workers who all live within defined geographic boundaries. A nation is not just an economy or a market. A nation demands the allegiance and sacrifice of its people for a common good. In exchange, the nation promises that it will look out for the best interests of its people.

When people look at a nation simply in terms of where they can make the most money (and move on when greener pastures appear elsewhere), and the nation looks at people as expendable and interchangeable cogs in a machine, then the bond between the nation and its people is irreparably broken. When social order and stability disintegrate, when nations become nothing more than associations of convenience, then economies and markets (at whose altars radical libertarians are piously prepared to sacrifice the interests of their fellow citizens) crumble along with them.

When it comes to both immigration policy and freedom, FAIR may find itself at odds with the luminaries of Social Darwinism who guide CEI’s philosophy. But that’s okay. We find ourselves in agreement with the likes of Shakespeare, who said, “Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied.” When it comes to maintaining an orderly and governable policies FAIR is in philosophical agreement with Theodore Roosevelt (who expressed misgivings about excessive levels of immigration in his day) who said, “Order without liberty and liberty without order are equally destructive.” On the need to rationally choose to set limits in defense of  freedom and liberty, we are on the same page with the French statesman Georges Clemenceau who stated, “Liberty is the right to discipline ourselves in order not to be disciplined by others.” We’re comfortable with that.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.


  1. avatar

    There is a simple solution to all of our problems. Remove 537 people from their elected office and put in 537 conservatives and limit their term to one year. Then they know if they don’t produce they will be replaced and only pay them when they are in office and no retirement and they pay taxes and Social Security just as we have to do. THEMN YOU WILL HAVE CONTROL OF OUR COUNTRY.

  2. avatar

    Many posters here and on other sites, are quick to say, “I’m all for legal immigration.” Why? Our government brings in 100,000 legal immigrants every 30 days! Do the math! This number is on top of the untold numbers of illegals sneaking in, refugees, wet-foot, dry-foot insanity and anyone who can get here by whatever means. How long can we sustain the number of people that will require food, living space, jobs, schools, and all that goes into subsisting in our country? We send hugemounts ofmoney to third world countries and we have to take their people too. Something is very wrong here. Legal, loyal, taxaying, voting Americans are being replaced by primarily uneducated, poverty-stricken, low-skilled people who will immediately go on welfare. We need a moratirium on all immigration, deportation of illegals, military on the border and the misinterpreted birthtright law recinded. Maybe then we’ll survive.

  3. avatar
    cynthia curran on

    While a lot of tea party folks don’t like illegal immirgation the libertarians con them by saying you don’t need ids and you should be able to hire who you want. That’s why with some tea party groups you have trouble getting them to accept e-verify, they just believe in border security not fining employers after the illegals get jobs if the employers are guility. Most do support deporation of illegal immirgants caught though.

  4. avatar

    I am all for legal imigration but any here ilegal should be sent home, our borders need to be shut, and we need to make it clear to this generation of lazy people in america that want work(who think all the entitlements are free) we aint gone suport you or yours any more, and get our own house in order and deal with these overwhelming problems we face our selves and start by getting plain old working people in all offices and stopping all the money in politics either you want to serve or get paid you cant do both service is for free for the good of the people and work is for pride and money either you love the concept of america and want to serve the people in that mind frame or not and if not we dont need you,we the people are getting tired of all the sorry *** polititians and their own agenda’s. To many ilegalimigrants in this country and we dont need to fix it for them we need to send them home to stay,We dont need them we need to get off our high horses and do the work ourselves again we aint no better than any.Laborers built this country and defended it to. all the great days of old were made by common ol laborers not no supper educated people but simple simple simple people.We at our best are simple people who physicaly work hard no gyms or fittness clubs a good days pay for a good days work and the country thrived,no sissy whinning about sore backs it was a badge of honor(soar backs and rough hands ),MOTHERS AND DADS FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT AND WORKING IT OUT STAYING TOGETHER AT HOME,no excuses no easy ways out. Christ said it best you cant put your hands to the plow and then look back and be considered worthy in the end.No dought we in bad shape but all of our own doing and wants,We see today but sadly we dont see tomorow it seems anhy way…..

    • avatar

      In a Fast Times Dec/Jan 2012/2013 Issue

      It partially alleged that experience doesn’t matter anymore, the youth will use innovation to replace the old workers…..what a bunch of hogwash. We don’t make anything hardly anymore in America and the few jobs the older workers still work do require special skills and mentoring; that’s why they haven’t been outsourced, they can’t be.

      Jimmi Hendrix and Eric Clapton had to work a lifetime to play guitar that good, now we have new computer keyboard retro music I could learn to play in 3 weeks….no one wants work hard and there’s no jobs out there anyway. They think a college degree will immediately give ’em 6 figures and they won’t need to hardly work, just 4G and 5G each other texting.

  5. avatar

    A beautiful market mechanism that protects labor is the labor shortage. Radical libertarians want to destroy this market mechanism by rewarding employers who underpay their workers (which is how you get a labor shortage) with the right to import labor that comes tied to the employer.This is almost like slavery. Even the open borders left tends to distance itself from this ugly approach to immigration.

  6. avatar

    The People in a Democratic Republic Like America Are Suppose to Matter

    But when Fascism of the foreign/corporate elite replaces American democratic voting; let’s put it this way, remember Hitler.