Free Borders

This chapter isn't proposing a novel mechanism for defining borders, but is simply making a claim I believe is obvious once you actually stop to consider it:

We should not meaningfully restrict migration across national borders.

Migration is a human right obviously related to Ownership of Body, and to prevent migration across a national border is an obvious infringement. It is reasonable to require someone to declare their identity at a border, but with no other requirements.

But I'll go even further:

The only requirement for citizenship should be residence.

A person who lives in a country should be a citizen of that country, no other requirements necessary. It's certainly reasonable to have some kind of time-based residency threshold, but merely to prevent abuse.

Let's go through some common objections to these ideas and see how our framework of rights, Persistent Democracy, and Common Resource Taxes alleviate them all.

What about dangerous people?

To this question I'll ask another question: what about dangerous citizens? We already must cope with the fact that any person at any time could be dangerous. We solve this problem not by arbitrarily separating people and restricting their travel, but with all the components of a justice system.

It makes sense to arrest and try incoming migrants who we have some credible suspicion have committed an unpunished crime that makes them an immediate danger to others, but we should do the same to already resident citizens as well. Nothing about migration necessarily suggests increased danger, even if we happened to have ironclad evidence some group of people was more dangerous on average than others. It is a violation of a person's human rights to assume their guiltiness before any evidence of guilt has been gathered.

What about free riders?

Many "welfare states" are worried incoming migrants will merely soak up public resources without properly contributing to society. Although I think this problem is overblown even in existing societies since granting someone citizenship necessarily requires them to pay taxes, all the systems in this book are specifically designed not to allow that kind of imbalance.

Common Resource taxes necessarily require any person living in a country to pay taxes on the land they occupy, either directly or indirectly through rent. The size of the tax is efficiently sized according to how valued that land is to everyone else in society. This by definition prevents true free riders. And of course transaction and externality taxes further assure any possibly interfering action is moderated.

Persistent Democracy allows efficient adjustment of budgets and prioritization of public resources. If it's really true that resources are getting more scarce, an electorate can quickly adjust and continue to support their shared goals.

What about vote swaying?

Some people are worried a large influx of people will quickly shift votes in unpredictable directions.

All the systems of Persistent Democracy are designed to encourage stable and welfare optimum consensus. Quadratic weighting makes it possible for a small group of people to defend things they truly care about from unconcerned majorities. Negative votes allow people to express disapproval for proposals they feel would harm them.

And again, what would you say if such an influx was composed of existing citizens? People move from city to city, and sometimes do so in large numbers. What's inherently different about incoming migrants that makes them more concerning?

What about cultural shift?

Some people are worried a large influx of people will shift the culture to be unrecognizable to existing residents.

If this is a concern you have, you need to consider not only your own feelings, but the human rights of others. No one has an inherent right to control the culture or composition of a place, even if they've lived there a long time. Please don't make the mistake of believing we should use government to enforce cultural permanence, since that would simply be a form of social authoritarianism.

And again, this can already happen with existing citizens. People from Durango Colorado have more in common with those in Chihuahua Mexico than those in New York City, and the presence of a national border does nothing to change that. Why aren't you similarly concerned about an influx of people from within the country?

What about our national values?

Some people are worried an incoming migrant won't properly share our commitment to freedom and human rights.

The single largest action anyone can take to demonstrate their commitment to the values of a nation is to sacrifice time and resources to migrate to that nation, establish residency, follow its laws, and pay its taxes.

If it's true someone doesn't share our values, we will only notice if:

  • They commit crimes, in which case the justice system will do what it is designed to do.
  • They run for public office and say things we disagree with, in which case we can use the very fair and efficient methods of Persistent Democracy to deny them any substantial power.

We guarantee our rights and freedoms with our democratic systems, not with the composition of our population.

This is obviously the right thing to do. Being scary doesn't change that.

Restricting borders does nothing directly to protect our welfare, and greatly harms others.

We didn't restrict national migration for the first one hundred years of our history, and only first did so when passing laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and the similarly racially motivated Immigration Act of 1924. This is an ugly part of our history that clearly violated the human rights of others, and we now have the opportunity to grow past it.

We already practice residency-based citizenship across our state borders. A person can move from Nebraska to Colorado, and only after establishing residence begin to vote as a citizen of Colorado. Asserting someone moving from outside the country is dramatically different than moving from outside a state is to assert that person is inherently more dangerous or unstable. Again, a national immigrant has made the single most demonstrative choice they possibly could to signal commitment to the destination nation's values.

If we truly believe in an ethics of real freedom and human rights, it's absurd to close our borders in any meaningful way. Quotas and visa requirements are mere infringements of human rights, motivated by nothing more than fear.

If you really believe in the power of markets and free competition, you ought to apply that ideal to systems of national governance as well. Welcoming all people on equal footing into our society places immense pressure on other countries to either reform similarly or risk losing their entire population. A truly free society has a powerful competitive edge in the global marketplace.

One can't assert to be the most free and just nation in the world without being willing to prove that assertion with action. If a nation is truly free and just, then not only will it tolerate large numbers of immigrants, but it will grow better as a result of them.

Table of Contents

In Defense of Pure Logic
Persistent Voting
Quadratic Range Voting
Persistent Documents
Persistent Prioritization
Persistent Endorsement
Persistent Commitments
Persistent Funding
A Theory of Minimum Necessary Rights
Markets and Rights
Common Resource Taxes
The Crowdsell Mechanism and Intellectual Property
Democratic Districts
Free Borders
Persistent Logistics
Democratic Adjudication
Misinformation Trials
Member Cooperatives and Economic Activism
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