Post Apartheid

I endorse the Manifesto for the Abolition of International Apartheid and Open Borders.

California nightmare

Monday, February 11th, 2008

Some of the best points are blindingly obvious. Will Wilkinson on good peopleracists who advocate apartheid:

Presently, whites are well less than half the Cailfornian population. Hispanics make up just more than a third. Asians at 12 percent are nearly double the black population. I’d guess it won’t be long before Hispanics pass whites to become a plurality.

Now, if my fearful commenters aren’t simply making things up in their paranoid dreams, wouldn’t California be a complete disaster already? Of course, we all know that, were it a country, California would be the fifth or sixth largest economy in the world. The median household income in California, $54,385, ranks 11th in the U.S., and would put California right near the top of the world rankings.

More data: California population born in a non-U.S. jurisdiction: 26.9%, entire U.S.: 11.8% (excluding California should be about 9.8% for the proper comparison).

Some people do think California is a giant burning parking lot, but that isn’t remotely true, even relatively. There are things to dislike about California (e.g., San Francisco is a pathetic parochial town instead of Sanhattan, Scientologists in LA), but approximately none of them have anything to do with the presence of non-U.S. citizens. I’ll take California over Oklahoma (4.2%) any day.

The American citizen race

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

Where have the immigrants gone? in the Chicago Tribune on the impact of Oklahoma’s new apartheid law, HB 1804, the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection[ist] Act:

“You really have to work hard at it to destroy our state’s economy, but we found a way,” said state Sen. Harry Coates, the only Republican in the state Legislature to vote against the immigration law. “We ran off the workforce.”

No, they didn’t run off the workforce, they kept the American citizen race pure:

Carol Helm, director of Immigration Reform for Oklahoma Now, says the Oklahoma law was necessary to stop a burgeoning population of illegal immigrants from “multiplying faster than the American citizen race” and overwhelming the state’s social services.

I’d like to offer Helm amnesty.

According to the article, HB 1804 does the following:

  • Makes it a felony to harbor, transport, conceal or shelter unauthorized immigrants
  • Restricts access to driver’s licenses and identification cards
  • Terminates several forms of public assistance
  • Expands authority of local law-enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law
  • Requires verification of employment eligibility using a federal database

Tear down this fence!

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

It may not last, but the breaching of the Gaza-Egypt border for voluntary movement and trade is a wonderful thing:

Official reaction to the day’s events ranged from dismay to embarrassment to outright anger.

For ordinary Gazans, it was a day of joy and plenty.

“Freedom is good. We need no border after today,” said Mohammed Abu Ghazal, a 29-year-old out-of-work Gazan.

Of course the Gaza border is atypical in many ways and at least initially this breach will satisfy pent up demand for goods and travel rather than provide opportunity for labor, but the release of this demand paints the ongoing massive cost of borders in vivid fashion (if there were no cost the opening of a border would result in no border crossings).

Ron Paul Hatevolution

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

I’ve been asked or told about Ron Paul many times over the last months, usually on the assumption that I’d respond positively. It always pained me to explain that while I broadly agree with Paul on policy (with some glaring exceptions like immigration and abortion), I could not work up significant enthusiasm for the campaign, nor even support it (apart from joining his Facebook group, which I’ve left).

First, Paul’s supporters wildly overestimate the chances of the campaign’s success, whether that be election, nomination, or even just effectively growing the constituency for freedom. He never had any chance of winning and I’m happy for the demonstration that merely speaking the truth on national TV doesn’t change anything. Of course many libertarians will ignore that truth and continue throwing money at false hopes.

And while there were bright spots, Paul was an extremely problematic messenger for freedom. He’s a marginal kook, he attracts hardcore kooks, and the fundamental basis of his argument — the U.S. constitution as holy writ — is about the least interesting and least convincing argument possible. In other words, Paul is an embarrassment. (Of course almost every politicianhuman spouts nonsense almost continuously, but more or less conventional nonsense that is not accorded the kookiness factor richly deserved.)

However, I had no idea how problematic and embarrassing Paul would be. While it is conceivable that Paul is not a racist and did not write any of the racist items in his newsletter and did not authorize or know about any of those items, I assign these probabilities ranging from medium to almost nil. Paul’s response is evasive and painful to watch, despite his attempt to redeem himself by focusing on the drug war.

If you really need to read more go here. I urge anyone who has supported Paul in public or private to reverse that support, immediately.

Bill Richardson > /tmp/dictator

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

I endorse for temporary dictator of the U.S. jurisdiction. His positions on executive power seem acceptable, his overall domestic policies and record as governor of New Mexico are better than most politicians (i.e., not abominable), and his foreign policy is not insane. Regarding the last, Richardson outlines his principles in this video.

True, ‘s more radical foreign (and general) policy is mostly closer to my preferences than Richardson’s. However, in spirit and delivery, Richardson’s foreign policy is a viable and positive alternative to interventionism, approximately the Wright thing, in contrast to Dr. No’s.

And Richardson is in theory electable, while Paul is not. Traders are probably correct in giving Richardson essentially zero chance of winning the Democratic nomination at this point, but they are certifiably insane to give Paul even a smidgen of a chance of winning the GOP nomination (currently about 7%), let alone the dictatorship (4%).

I also think that to the extent the Paul campaign gives some libertarians (entirely false) hope of revolutionary change for the better through electoral politics, the campaign and whatever success it has is a bad thing. It makes me sad to see libertarians impoverish themselves by sending a “moneybomb” to a hopeless electoral campaign.

However, I probably would not have bothered to tack on this anti-endorsement of Paul had I not seen this excrement from his campaign.

Paul is also a religious kook (but then so is every candidate, of one sort or another). At least Barack Obama admits doubt, which I’d challenge any other candidate to do. As Richardson doesn’t have any chance of nomination, this post is effectively an endorsement.

Via Freedom Democrats and Sheldon Richman.

Migration toward equality now, handwaving later

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

I recommend Guests in the Machine: Guest worker programs may be the best hope many of the world’s poorest people have for improving their lives.

If guest worker programs are the most feasible weakening of international apartheid in the immediate future, they should be pursued with gusto. To the extent they appear exploitive or corrosive, the problem is not with the guest worker program, but the underlying birth-based system of restrictions on movement and ability to work and live. Toward the abolition of international apartheid!

Addendum 20071227: The author of Guests in the Machine has two great posts on the subject the last two days. Please read  The Migration Package Deal and The Myth of the Migrant.

Smash international apartheid

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Charles Johnson’s post of a couple weeks ago titled Sin Fronteras:

Perhaps the only consolation is that Sensible Liberals’ attempts to intervene in the debate and shift the rhetoric towards moderation have been so completely ineffectual. This controversy, like the debate over slavery, like the debate over abortion, and like all other controversies over simple moral issues, is and should be a debate between extremists, not a case for middle-of-the-roader rhetoric or halfway-house solutions. It is immoral for the government to stop, harass, restrain, confine, and exile peaceful people from their current homes, solely on the basis of their nationality. It is criminal that even one refugee cannot immediately escape from danger, or must live even one day longer penned up in a refugee concentration camp, simply because governments in the U.S. and Western Europe continue to enforce the SS St. Louis immigration policy. It is inexcusable that even one undocumented worker should have to live in fear of emergency workers, neighbors, or her boss, simply because she failed to get a signed permission slip from the federal government before she set out to make a living.

Read the whole thing. I link to it because it is a fine essay, but also because it ends with a link to the most excellent Manifesto of the Abolition of International Apartheid, which now has its own domain (and at this point, a mediocre website). The first of many times I have and will promote the Manifesto.

Knowledge migration

Saturday, October 13th, 2007

Two points riffing off Paul Graham’s Why to Move to a Startup Hub (alternate titles: Why to Move to the Startup Hub or Why to Move to Silicon Valley). Probably more obvious, but it’s a theme of this blog:

Immigration difficulties might be another reason to stay put. Dealing with immigration problems is like raising money: for some reason it seems to consume all your attention. A startup can’t afford much of that. One Canadian startup we funded spent about 6 months working on moving to the US. Eventually they just gave up, because they couldn’t afford to take so much time away from working on their software.

(If another country wanted to establish a rival to Silicon Valley, the single best thing they could do might be to create a special visa for startup founders. US immigration policy is one of Silicon Valley’s biggest weaknesses.)

I suspect a jurisdiction would have to include far more than just startup founders in such a program to have any noticeable impact. But it’s not a bad sentiment. Even on purely nationalistic grounds, any jurisdiction (and especially large ones like China, India, Brazil, and Russia) ought to allow unlimited skilled immigration, preferably permanent, including citizenship.

Graham also points out the importance of specialized knowledge, emphasis added:

Boston investors will admit they’re more conservative. Some want to believe this comes from the city’s prudent Yankee character. But Occam’s razor suggests the truth is less flattering. Boston investors are probably more conservative than Silicon Valley investors for the same reason Chicago investors are more conservative than Boston ones. They don’t understand startups as well.

West coast investors aren’t bolder because they’re irresponsible cowboys, or because the good weather makes them optimistic. They’re bolder because they know what they’re doing. They’re the skiers who ski on the diamond slopes. Boldness is the essence of venture investing. The way you get big returns is not by trying to avoid losses, but by trying to ensure you get some of the big hits. And the big hits often look risky at first.

I’ve been meaning to do a post on the below for awhile but don’t have a whole lot to say, so I’ll use this tangent: New business practices and models have a whole lot going against them, even if superior to existing practices in theory — nobody has experience making them work. I suspect this applies to peer production in spades. Building up a critical mass of knowledge about how open source works has been slow going and still has a long way to go, and I’m fond of speculating that open content/free culture is a decade or two behind free software. Prediction markets are obviously in the same boat, and futarchy is far out to sea.

And so is every useful business, social, political, or other change (but keep in mind that some things don’t work, even in theory).

By the way, a startup considering a move to Silicon Valley should make the decision with the aid of prediction markets.

Via Tim O’Reilly.

International Ghettos

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

I’ve been enjoying Tim Lee’s post on international apartheid and mostly pro-apartheid and weak responses and am happy to see that the Free Exchange post cited by Lee calls ending international apartheid “perhaps the biggest and most controversial idea in development circles.”

The most interesting, anti-apartheid, and strong response came from Kerry Howley in Reason, throwing throwing cold water on the idea that the option to leave is bad for poor areas:

Health care workers who immigrate to the United States may never have acquired those skills were immigration not an option.

Exactly. As I’m fond of saying, brain drain means increased returns to education.

Howley’s post makes another nice analogy:

Applied domestically, the alternate policy would be rather like forcing people to stay in undeveloped inner city ghettos. It would mean telling the children of poor parents that they could never leave the economically backward neighborhood they happened to be born in, even if that neighborhood offered no education or employment opportunities. It would entail prohibiting suburbanites from inviting inner city residents onto their property to perform an economic service.

However, my favorite recent post on this subject falls outside the above conversation — Nathan Smith on The Hawley-Smoot Border Policy:

One factor in the downturn has been little noted: immigration. The Feds have, alas, been getting nasty lately, sending out letters to employers warning them about “no match” Social Security numbers. That started in August. Lower immigration expectations naturally reduce house prices, since part of the price of a house comes from capitalized expectations of its future value, which is a function of demand, which is a function of, among other things, immigration. Rising house prices have done much to sustain the boom in recent years, as people’s rising net worth has spurred them to spend. Current house prices probably reflect the market pricing in immigration expectations. In that sense it could be justified; but an immigration crackdown could turn it into a bubble and deflate it. Falling net worth could create more credit crises, and would surely reduce spending.

Now, there’s a certain justice in people who agitated for deportation seeing their home prices collapse, or — still better — for getting evicted. What they have desired to do to others has been done to them. But here’s the problem: lots of people who are innocent of animosity against immigrants are being punished too. That’s the problem with big government programs: we’re all in the same boat, and wise dissenters have to pay for the stupidity and wickedness of others.

The general economic disruption caused by apartheid enforcement goes well beyond housing, even ignoring (as usual) the direct and tragic loss of utility suffered by enforcement targets.

Trends in international apartheid?

Monday, August 6th, 2007

Last month in an editoral titled Free people movement is the way to global prosperity, Mirko Bagaric makes the obvious case that most are oblivious to: birth jurisdiction is a bogus moral category and all of the usual objections to open borders are highly suspect. Go read the column, but I want to call out one interesting claim:

For most of human history there have been few migration limits. Now we are moving to an age of “anti-migration”. In 1976 only about 7 per cent of UN members had restrictive immigration policies. This rose to 40 per cent in the early part of the 21st century. Advanced (western) economies are at the forefront of this regrettable trend.

The first sentence really annoys me, as it is difficult to make non-glib historical comparisons, in this case as in many others. The last sentence seems highly suspect–I have not heard of poor jurisdictions with liberal immigration policies and I have heard of many with illiberal policies.

The figures in the middle are rather interesting, and probably come from the World Economic and Social Survey 2004, Chapter III on International migration policies (pdf), page 75 (as numbered; 7 in the pdf) which says that in

1976 when few Governments had explicit policies to modify migration flows; 7 per cent had a policy to lower immigration

while in 2003

some 40 per cent wish to lower immigration.

which says very little about whether legal barriers to migration and their enforcement have actually increased.

If you read the chapter it appears that migration is a policy issue for many more jurisdictions than in the past and the overall policy mix has become much more complex, except that explicitly race-based policies have mostly disappeared.

It is too bad Bagaric felt it necessary to ruin an otherwise excellent column with unfounded things-are-increasingly-bad rhetoric.

I found the aforementioned column via Nathan Smith’s well-titled End World Apartheid post. I agree with Smith that South Africa is a useful analogue to the world:

South Africa is an interesting country because about 15 years ago it was a microcosm of the world. Like the world, it was about 15% white, the rest African and Asian. Like the world, the whites were segregated from the non-whites by law (of course the West does have some blacks and Asians, but it segregates the vast majority of them). The whites lived in prosperity, the blacks in poverty, their opportunities severely restricted by laws that were supposed to shut them up in “sovereign” native states, against their will.

South African apartheid has been abolished; world apartheid remains. But the end of South African apartheid has caused a surge in crime. So it’s a legitimate concern.

However, it is a far from perfect analogue. Bryan Caplan cites evidence that immigrants to the U.S. commit crimes at a far lower rate than U.S. citizens. There is a case to be made that extraordinarily high crime rates in South Africa are the result of Apartheid and its antecedents, not its end. For an example of this case, see Human Rights and Policing in South Africa: A Historical Perspective by Gary Kynock (pdf; abstract only, let me know if you find the full paper):

In other words, violence in South Africa is considered a post-conflict phenomenon.

This popular analysis is limited by its failure to consider the longer term dimensions of the prevailing crisis. This paper investigates the historical origins of South Africa’s pervasive criminal violence, suggesting that it was produced by a unique combination of a longstanding culture of violence interacting with large-scale political hostilities. While acknowledging that the politically driven violence of the past two decades has contributed to contemporary South Africa’s critical situation, I argue that these conflicts did not create a culture of violence. A historically grounded analysis clearly demonstrates that the political rivalries found fertile ground for escalation partially because a culture of violence was already ingrained in township society. This position is supported by a comparison between South Africa and other post-conflict societies. Many countries recovering from horrific civil conflicts have been relatively untroubled by criminal violence. Lebanon, Mozambique, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Congo-Brazzaville are but a few examples. Beirut, Maputo, Sarajevo and Brazzaville are all much safer cities than Johannesburg. What differentiates Johannesburg is the level of violence township residents experienced before the outbreak of political hostilities. South Africa’s endemic violence, in other words, is not a “post-conflict” affair, but rather a continuation of pre-existing township violence.

Organised criminal violence dates back to the establishment of the Johannesburg townships in the 1880s and I argue that policing, criminal gang activity and vigilantism were critical factors in determining the patterns of violence over several generations of political, economic and social change. The poverty, social dislocation, and institutionalised racism that were a direct result of state policies governing African urbanisation undoubtedly created conditions that encouraged violence. However, we need to probe more deeply to understand the forces that shaped and sustained a culture of violence in the townships and the ways that different segments of township communities coped with the violence. The nature of township policing encouraged both criminal gang activity and the emergence of a vigilante culture. These three particular dynamics became inextricably intertwined over the years and were a driving force behind the culture of violence that developed in the townships.

This paper concentrates on the historical role of the South African police and discusses why the police have failed to become more effective and accountable in the post-apartheid era.