Friday, June 11, 2010

Reactionary Imbecility

One of the dangers of working at a place like Cato is living with a constant target on your back. Any time you do something that can possibly be construed the wrong way, chances are it will be -- and often very publicly. This just happened to a colleague last night after he tweeted something with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

Predictably, Think Progress went ape:
Michael Cannon, a health policy expert for Cato, the libertarian think tank founded by Charles Koch of the oil conglomerate Koch Industries, took to Twitter today to trade jokes about the oil spill. Responding to a tragic story about a New Orleans area sheriff asking federal authorities to investigate reports that undocumented workers are involved in the oil spill clean up, Cannon tweeted that undocumented workers “are very absorbent.”...While Cannon might have gotten a good laugh out of his comment, pervasive anti-immigrant rhetoric leads to dehumanization and sometimes violence.
Never mind that Charles Koch is no longer associated with Cato. Never mind that Cannon has previously tweeted about the unfair and racist anti-immigrant law in Arizona. And never mind that the person he was responding to is herself a child of an immigrant and is a grandchild of Japanese internment camp victims--camps, of course, established by heroic lefty icon Franklin Roosevelt. No, we at Cato are racist shills for big oil because we believe in private property and free markets. We are fully incapable of holding views in line with the Left and joking at the expense of irrational sheriffs who make headlines with their idiocy. We are evil people whom deserve no benefit of the doubt--or even simple fact-checking our policy stances.(PDF)

Kudos to Dave Weigel for debunking this baseless nonsense over at his WaPo blog.


Anonymous said...

Please enlighten me on why it is that there is a strain of libertarians that cant see the parallel between private property and laws that protect the border from illegal immigration?
Do you feel that Mexican or Canadians should be allowed to flow freely over the border without asking for access? Do you allow folks in your neighborhood to freely access your home or property without asking for access? Just wondering.

JPB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JPB said...

Illegal immigrants aren't setting up on other people's private land -- or public land, for that matter. The parallel you describe is a false one. They come here, they get jobs, they pay rent. There is no infringement upon private property by simply being here.

Your analogy is flawed: 'Do you think people should be able to just walk freely into a park? Well, do you believe they should be able to walk freely into your yard?' It's incongruous. 'This land is your land' isn't to be taken literally.

I didn't say I was for open borders, but it shouldn't be as hard as it is to come work in this country.

Dave said...

Part of the reason we have so many illegal immigrants is because of how difficult it is to come here legally. If you think I'm full of shit, ask anyone who married a foreigner and then had to go through the tortuous, convoluted, error-prone, process of bringing them to the U.S. to live.

Unknown said...

I didn't say I was for open borders, but it shouldn't be as hard as it is to come work in this country.

Then campaign to FIX THAT PROBLEM. Don't create a new one by accepting and protecting those who flaunt the law. This is lazy logic that would not be accepted anywhere else:

"It's too hard to get into Harvard the honest way, they should just let the guy who faked his way in graduate"

"The process to get a driver's license is too complicated, they should just let anyone drive"

"It's too hard to graduate medical school, they should just let the guy working in the ER keep at it."

"The INS is too hard to deal with, we should just let anyone cross our borders to come look for work."

JPB said...

@Pete: Um, we do want to change that, hence the comment. (see link above on Cato immigration stance)

The practical matter is, we have roughly 12 million undocumented aliens in this country. Deportation on that scale is logistically out of the question. So, we could either get them documented, on the books, paying taxes and what not, and make them not afraid of dealing with law enforcement investigating property or violent crime --OR-- we could continue to live in a childish nativist fantasy that 'building the danged wall' addresses any real problems. I choose the former.

Insofar as my logic is concerned, you (again?) use fallacious analogies. If there were a reasonable legal way for laborers to work here legally, most would use it. (an excellent chart on the pitfalls of legal immigration by my former colleagues at reason is here: That the current immigration procedures are arcane, arbitrary, punitive and lack any ties to demand (on both sides of the border) is not something to be brushed aside. If applying to work legally in the United States were a matter of staying an entire day in the DMV, most immigrants would be happy to do it. A legal mechanism just wasn't and isn't there for most of the people who end up becoming undocumented aliens. It would be fairer to say that cops are busting people for not having licenses even tho there is no way to get one.

Honestly, it's funny that you mentioned the drivers license since undocumented immigrants can't take drivers' ed, apply for licenses and thus get insurance in most states--making them less likely to be good drivers or have the coverage if and when poor driving causes accidents. That, and they would also be more easily identified. Keeping them in a virtual black market living situation makes it that much easier for the VERY VERY few criminals among them to hide. (I can't emphasize the percentage of criminals among that population versus the American population enough.) But the point remains, if you don't give people a legal option, you can't very much fault them for not taking it.

bob42 said...

Oddly, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's plan for enforcing SB1070 includes an amnesty provision.

Anonymous said...

"Health policy expert"? What is that? Where do idiots find other idiots jobs like that? How much public money goes to pay salaries through grant money and ther BS?

JPB said...

You don't know much about Cato, do you?

Not a dime of public money goes to fund Cato.

The Truffle said...

Nobody suggested that Cato types are, as you put it, "fully incapable of holding views in line with the Left." Someone simply didn't like Michael Cannon's tweet. That's all.

(Says this liberal who likes Kerry Howley and Julian Sanchez's work.)

FollowTheMoney said...

Here's a thought experiment. If I went back and time and prevented Charles Koch from becoming obscenely wealthy would anyone be talking about libertarianism in mainstream media today?

JPB said...

FTM: Honestly, I don't know if you'd be calling "libertarianism" it as such. But given the 50+ year influence of Ayn Rand, the economic work of Nobel Laureates like Friedman and Hayek, the free market administrations of Reagan and Thatcher, I don't our way of thinking would be much less prevalent, especially given current conditions.

Of course, you can't say the same about the Left, given that it's generally about accumulating power and other people's money. You don't need billionaires like George Soros to fund that machine, but he's happy to oblige anyway.