"No State" Tuition for All

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Writing for the Boston Globe, conservative columnist Jeff Jacoby makes what passes today as a strong argument against the brain-dead anti-immigration faction of the conservative movement:

A couple from Brazil, seeking a better life for themselves and their 2-month-old daughter, enter the United States unlawfully. They settle in Massachusetts, where 18 years later the girl graduates from a public high school, as assimilated and acculturated an American as her classmates in every respect - except that they are US citizens, and she, by virtue of a decision made when she was a baby, is not. Her classmates can attend the University of Massachusetts, paying $9,704 a year in tuition, the price tag for Massachusetts residents. She can attend only if she pays the out-of-state rate of $22,157; if that's more than she can afford, she's out of luck.

How is that a rational public policy? How is Massachusetts improved by making it impossible for an accomplished high-school graduate, a lifelong resident of the state, to gain a university degree? Who benefits when her education - along with the higher earning potential it would lead to - is cut short? She doesn't. You don't. Massachusetts taxpayers certainly don't. [links dropped, other minor format edits]
Jacoby notes that current Governor Deval Patrick's recent proposal to allow illegal immigrants residing in Massachusetts to pay in-state college tuition is driving conservative voters into the arms of Charlie "If you're illegally here, you're illegally here." Barker. He correctly notes that this xenophobia contradicts the idea that "what matters most about any of us ... is personal character and achievement."

Right he is, but his level of analysis is wrong, and that causes him not to raise the question he should. What, exactly should "improving" Massachusetts entail in the context of the proper function of the government? Put another way, since a proper government protects individual rights, "How is Massachusetts improved by forcing anyone to pay for anything that anybody else needs?"

I agree with Jacoby that our current immigration laws are largely preventing from coming here, "just the sort of newcomers Americans should embrace," but these aren't the only laws in need of reform. As I have argued before, the real problem is not that immigrants are sucking up social services like education, but that the government is providing these services in the first place rather than private enterprise.

As I put it before in a slightly different context, "I doubt anyone would complain if these [kids] were paying customers of American schools." I would also doubt that anyone would complain, if they needed help to attend, about them being recipients of voluntary charity, winners of academic scholarships, or participants in industrial work-study programs.

That fact that Massachusetts is running schools that it should not, and that those schools charge out-of-state tuition for some students to attend is not "making it impossible" for anyone to receive an education, but it is making it impossible for many people to benefit from the fruits of their own labor. It is probably also harming the economy of Massachusetts in myriad other unseen ways. Finally, Massachusetts, in the proper sense of its being a state founded to protect the rights of individuals, is inarguably placed in great peril by the fact that such systematic violations of our rights are happening at all, and all the more so that such violations are business as usual.

-- CAV


mtnrunner2 said...

The immigration issue seems to push my buttons like few others.

I guess it's because it's so nakedly mean-spirited and protectionist in nature. It's like standing in a Coast Guard rescue boat in rough seas and kicking in the face anyone who tries to climb the ladder to safety.

It's also the "We want our undiluted share of the public loot and you can't have any of it!" attitude. Yea, looting!

AND as if that's not enough, the idea that everyone except native Americans came from somewhere else, and may simply have been lucky enough to arrive during a time when we didn't treat immigrants so poorly. I always want to ask such people: "Where did your ancestors come from, did they just pop out of the ground in America?"

Gus Van Horn said...

"It's like standing in a Coast Guard rescue boat in rough seas and kicking in the face anyone who tries to climb the ladder to safety."

What's interesting is WHAT makes people act this way: Altruism.

On a subconscious level, people rightly see it as a threat, but since they regard it as a moral ideal, they don't reject it, so they look for ways to scapegoat, like the "You're here illegally," canard, despite the manifest irrationality of our immigration laws.

madmax said...


What do you make of the arguments that the human-bio-diversity (HBD) advocates make that science shows that different races have different temperments and that history shows that multi-racial societies don't succeed and in fact fail. They base this on research done by Phillip Rushton and others which argue that the different races have different sexual mating "strategies" (K vs R) and that mixing them is dangerous. They also base this on IQ and Executive Function.

HBDers would argue that even in a society approaching laissez-fairre non-whites (and non-Asians) would as a group still be on the lower end of the achievement scale and that resentment is inevitable. In essence, they are arguing that there *are* inherent conflict amongst humans.

I ask because I am a non-scientist and I have tried to counter these - what I would call - racist arguments with Objectivist principles but I am repeatedly attacked for not being scientific. I also ask because the only anti-immigration arguments that I worry about are those made by the HBDers or the Traditionalists. The rest of the Conservatives are making pro-welfare-state arguments as in "they are stealing our pie" stuff.

But the HBDers (and Trads) are saying that non-whites are fundamentally incompatible with whites and will undermine a stable society *and* that *science* proves this. And they have a group of social scientists to back them up (Rushton, Lynn, Murray, Watson, etc.). They also use crime statistics and other social science data to make their arguments. It does in fact seem that there is great anti-white violence being perpetrated by non-whites. I have even seen horrible reports of Asian violence against whites like for example amongst the Hmong Chinese.

I am an advocate of laissez fairre and that means open immigration and an individualist republic. But if so many of today's immigrants are tribalistic and today's egalitarian welfare state unleashes the worst elements of today's foreign immigrants, I wonder if immigration should be stalled until we have a healthier culture. Mass 3rd world immigration seems problematic to me.

Gus Van Horn said...

"What do you make of the arguments that the human-bio-diversity (HBD) advocates make that science shows that different races have different temperments..."

The technical term is, "hogwash."

That's just determinism with a pseudoscientific facade.

"HBDers would argue that even in a society approaching laissez-fairre non-whites (and non-Asians) would as a group still be on the lower end of the achievement scale and that resentment is inevitable."

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that some ethnic group is generally of lower IQ. That is a difference of degree, not of kind. They are no more determined to feel threatened or impressed by the achievements of others than anyone else.

Rand never says (that I can recall) what race Eddie Willers was, but he's a good example from fiction of someone of limited ability who definitely does NOT resent people like John Galt or Dagny Taggart.

Members of other races are individuals. They will have individual reactions to things of that sort.

"I am repeatedly attacked for not being scientific."

You would be amazed at the kinds of ridiculous notions held by many scientists. Determinism is a BIG one. Basically, you can expect many, if not most scientists to equate you with a religious nut if they know you hold that men have free will. And many pseudo-scientists probably latch on to things like determinism, too, since it probably sounds "scientific" to them.

Determinism in both guises -- by racists who think that nonwhites resent success, or are criminals; or by scientists who think we're all just a bunch of robots -- is a philosophical notion, not a scientific one. But good luck getting some of these twerps to see that.

Also, while we're on the subject of crime and class envy, these are both manifestations of how people act on philosophical ideas. Back in the early 20th century, people could safely sleep outside in Harlem, New York, which was a black area then. (And, lacking AC, people did that.) I bet you couldn't now, and I bet you couldn't in many white areas today, either.

"Mass 3rd world immigration seems problematic to me.

Done the way Obama would want, it would be. But done rationally, where residence is not the same as citizenship, it would not, to the degree that you really could have mass immigration, in a laissez-faire society.

On a final note, I have a question for you to ponder: Does it bother you for a racist to call you unscientific? If so, you might mosey over to this post and consider a fascinating thing Rand once said about people who knock themselves out trying to make unassailable arguments.

In a nutshell, some people are going to disagree with you no matter what you say. That's their problem, not yours.

Hope that helps, or is at least interesting!

Neil Parille said...


Do you support open borders for Israel? I mean if millions of Arabs move there and vote the Jewish government out of existence and allow the Taliban in, would you oppose it?

Another example is Greece. Because of its relative prosperity and location, if it adopted open borders it would become Islamic.

Say what you want about immigrants, they tend to be of the leftist persuasion.

-Neil Parille

Gus Van Horn said...


As I've told you before, residency does not equal citizenship. And open immigration is not the same as open borders. A nation does have the right to prevent foreign belligerents out.

That said, of course I don't support open borders for Israel


Mo said...

as an immigrant myself to New Zealand I am in support of an open immigration policy. Of course the government does create a lot of problems with their welfare dependency and their silly regulations and anti-free trade policies. I do credit the country for allowing me the opportunity to receive a thorough University education although I must admit that the public educational system here is pretty crap compared to back overseas. After finishing my masters I plan to get some experience and go back and work for ExxonMobil, the big "evil" oil company.

Gus Van Horn said...


I don't know about your personal situation, but it reminds me of one problem open immigration can help alleviate.

From past reading, I know that there are lots of good people trapped in Middle Eastern countries (a sad story about a guy in Egypt I recall from, I think, Baghdad without a Map comes to mind) who want to better themselves and can't.

People like this being educated here could return to their countries and introduce better ideas and, by example, a superior way of life to their native countries -- if they don't stay and live as productive residents (and perhaps eventually citizens) here.


Mo said...

thanks for the response Gus

I enjoyed my time overseas and do consider NZ my second home. There are a lot of good things I learnt from living here and good people who I will always cherish.

However I have to say I'm a very productive person and my productivity is better served overseas. The idea of welfare is foreign to me. Also the anti-wealth and anti-man mentality is a killer.

Gus Van Horn said...

"I'm a very productive person and my productivity is better served overseas."

I'm happy for you, then, that you got the chance through immigration to pursue your education.