Thursday, March 08, 2007
The following passage, from Victor Davis Hanson's followup blog posting at City Journal to his article on "Mexifornia", reminded me somewhat of the emerging concept in Europe of "anarcho-tyranny", where multiculturalist welfare states simultaneously shut down public debate while failing to uphold law and order.
All these now-neglected or forgotten rules proved costly to the taxpayer. In my own experience, the slow progress made in rural California since the 1950s of my youth -- in which the county inspected our farm's rural dwellings, eliminated the once-ubiquitous rural outhouse, shut down substandard housing, and fined violators in hopes of providing a uniform humane standard of residence for all rural residents -- has been abandoned in just a few years of laissez-faire policy toward illegal aliens. My own neighborhood is reverting to conditions common about 1950, but with the insult of far higher tax rates added to the injury of nonexistent enforcement of once-comprehensive statutes. The government's attitude at all levels is to punish the dutiful citizen's misdemeanors while ignoring the alien's felony, on the logic that the former will at least comply while the latter either cannot or will not. [bold added]There is much regarding immigration and government interference in the economy that I disagree with here and in the rest of Hanson's piece. The essence of my disagreement is directly pertinent to the passage in bold above. To wit, as I have stated several times before: "[O]bserve how many [conservatives] oppose immigration because it strains the welfare state -- rather than opposing the welfare state."
Here, we are not observing censorship (although it does have a foothold in America in the form of "hate crime" legislation), nor are our Latino immigrants harming us (or plotting to do so) in any way save by taking advantage of the welfare state. But the basic pattern -- of the government acting against the individual rights of its citizens while also failing to protect them from the actions of a non-assimilated population -- remains the same as the more blatant example we see in Europe. The question is: Why?
The welfare state is premised on the notion that government exists, not to protect individual rights, but to redistribute wealth on the implicit assumption that whatever property anyone holds is not his by right, but by permission. This is the original idea behind California's original presumption that it could tell property owners what standards their buildings had to meet and it is the premise behind its current high taxes.
Needless to say, those who are productive almost always have more property as a result and so will get the lion's share of attention from the welfare state. After all, they are the targets of the welfare state's attempts to gather funds for redistribution, whether this takes the form of forcing owners of buildings not to lease "substandard" units to the poor during a time of increasing prosperity, or simply taxing them to finance the educations and medical care of the poor during times of decreasing prosperity.
That immigrants are so frequently the beneficiaries of such plunder is a direct result of the fact that they came here to escape poverty in the first place. The main concern of the welfare state with the poor is of passing them whatever loot it can. Leaving aside the validity of current immigration law, that the immigrants may be guilty of felonies is of little or no concern to such a state.
This does not explain the whole story behind "Mexifornia's" gradual sliding towards anarcho-tyranny, but it does point to the explanation. America is no tyranny. People could vote in the next election to begin dismantling the welfare state on the principle that it violates individual rights, most prominently, the right to property.
Instead, the best California has been able to muster was a half-hearted attempt, in 1994, to stop permitting illegal aliens to avail themselves of public funds. This measure was struck down by a federal court and then allowed to die during appeals by Gray Davis, doomed by the overwhelming acceptance by the public in California and America at large of the basic premise behind the welfare state. If only more Americans felt righteous indignation at the notion that the state could ever simply take their property (vice mere annoyance at who was receiving it), they would not be so modest in their political aims or lacking in determination to see them enacted, and this aspect of the "immigration problem" would evaporate.
Our culture's acceptance of altruism, which manifests in the broad mandate for the welfare state, is not just resulting in the violation of our rights as individuals. It is having the additional direct consequence of transmuting the gold of a vast supply of incoming, highly motivated labor, into the lead of new welfare state dependents. The solution does not lie in building a fence, or "improving" the welfare state. It lies in fighting against the idea that the individual human being does not exist for his own sake.
Today: (1) Added a clarification in last paragraph. (2)Deleted one sentence.