Wherein Coyote Learns to Troll

I have never made for a particularly good Internet troll.  Seeing too much nuance can disqualify one.  I have made a number of climate posts that have gotten a lot of attention and backlash, but that is a debate where saying even obvious things like "20 degrees C is not twice as warm as 10 C" will get one a swarm of comments labeling one as an extreme Koch-funded denier [as an editorial aside, this is not a joke example -- I have actually had experiences like this multiple times, trying to correct media articles that say that, say, an increase of 3C over current average temperature 12C represents a 25% increase.  Mark Steyn has a great riposte to this, arguing that if they would just switch to Fahrenheit, then the percentage warming would be reduced.  The same journalists making this mistake have likely labelled skeptics as "anti-science".]

All that being said, and I am not sure why I can't produce a simple one sentence post, I have hit some sort of record for this blog, with over 200 comments on this immigration fence question.


  1. NL7:

    Oh yeah, sorry. I did like 60+ out of that 200+. Open borders is so niche an argument that most people have annoyingly simplistic arguments about the issue. I'd prefer they just say "immigration should be illegal because I don't want too many immigrants here and I think somebody should use force to stop them." But lots of quasi-libertarians think very uncritically about the issue.

  2. Frank Ch. Eigler:

    Are you saying your fence post was playing a troll, so people were wasting their time explaining the difference?

  3. Paavo:

    It was trolling? So you do understand the difference?

    Countries, like property owners have right to deny from entering, but not someone leaving to another property that is willing to take them.

    It was a glib, arrogant argument. I live in Finland, and it is expensive just to keep the asylum seekers warm, clothed and fed. It's a big strain on the economy and infrastructure even if you are not talking about possible crime and cultural and demographic changes.

    But please help voluntarily. Many europeans are forced to help and adapt.

  4. Frank Ch. Eigler:

    "I'd prefer they just say ..."

    Yes, it is easier to burn that straw man.

  5. jhertzli:

    Is immigration the global warming of the Right?

  6. chembot:

    The problem is that pure moral theory often runs into practical limits. I've responded to similar posts here that while an open border policy may well be rooted in a moral idea that a basic right of a free people is free movement and borders are nothing but government artifice but that that stance is not very practical. That moral stance is all well and good, but it is not compatible with a citizenship based welfare state and saying that doesn't mean you are some sort of racist holding it against the brown people of the world.

    Additionally, you don't have to think that all migration results in the host country collecting a bunch of parasites and jihadists to think that unrestricted immigration may not be such a grand idea. Resources are finite; needs infinite. While it may be caring and charitable to let a person fallen on hard times spend a few nights on the couch to put themselves back together, it doesn't necessarily follow that letting 35 other people permanently move in to your house in the name of "People gotta be free" is a sensible thing to do.

    So yes, directionality does matter. Fences can be used both to protect and to oppress and by declining to make that distinction you are not really taking your ideological opponents seriously and not doing your moral cause much service. (To me this is akin to the pro-choice folk bashing pro-life/pro-capital punishment folk for sanctioning the death of criminals while abhorring the death of potential children.)

    And before I get called some restrictionist quasi-libertarian know that I too would like to see 80% of government devolved to the states or handled by private parties. That day will never come however because too many people are meddlers at heart. Game theory would suggest that the anarchocapitalists will never win because too many people would either a) have to give up their crony benefits or b) give up the idea that other people should live exactly as the meddlers think they should.

  7. obloodyhell:

    Wow. It's STILL not clear if you were just being a deliberate TROLL or not.

    Because most of us PRESUME you are smart enough to see the distinction you asked about outright.

    Or are you saying we should presume you're much, much stupider than we give you credit for being? LOLZ

  8. obloodyhell:

    No. Immigration is not a completely stupid, made up problem that utilizes hack "science" as its basis.

    So, your analogy is FAIL.

  9. obloodyhell:

    The essential failure of any pro-immigration libertarians is to take a moral concept and attempt to use its pure form in a Real World.

    There are limits to everything. This is why libertarianism exists in the first place, otherwise they'd all be anarchists. But the simple fact is, Government, while an evil, is a necessary evil to preclude greater evils. The devil is in the details of how to balance.

    Immigration can and should be GOOD for the country, but we no more want open immigration than we want zero government. To not see this is beyond retarded.

  10. chembot:

    And to expand on obloodyhell's point, I think Coyote makes a valid point here that the only two choices we have at the moment are "bar the gates" or "offer them a citizenship path". An alternative to that would be a largely unrestricted work visa program that does not allow for naturalization or citizenship-based social program eligibility.

    You would quickly remove the permanent underclass of easily exploitable illegal workers and get around most of the welfare state issues with open borders. It would also retain some semblance of fairness for the immigrants who don't queue-jump and slog for years to go through the process becoming resident aliens or naturalized citizens. Unfortunately, even these kinds of ideas are looked at as "amnesty" programs.

    Currently, it doesn't seem politically possible to institute such a program, but who knows? If there is one thing the current gay rights business has told us, it is that the landscape can change dramatically in a short period of time if the conditions are right. Maybe it can happen with this issue as well.

  11. naturaljag0ff:

    The CC evangelists are losing, and they know it. They are losing for the same reason(s) that HRC is losing her bid for the Dem nomination... lies & propaganda not only fail but backfire in the internet age. There are just enough factually & technically informed people in the world to undermine even the 'best' state-sponsored propaganda - this is being proven over and over again with each statist/globalist issue that is thrust onto Page One by the MSM... the establishment propagandists are losing.

    There is not a single shred of evidence supporting AGW (man-made global warming) that was not produced by a grant-funded, politically-motivated organization. Many leading globalists have ADMITTED that CC is first-and-foremost a wealth redistribution scheme, and not a serious effort to reduce emmission/save the planet. Case closed, debate over... the recent screaming from climate alarmists is just the usual foul protests hurled by the condemned on their way to the gallows.

  12. Clare Steen:

    Trolling is like making a joke: if you have to explain it, you're doing it wrong. I sympathize.

  13. jdgalt:

    Most of the immigration comments say nothing new. They just repeat themselves. And they're going to keep doing it until others stop responding to it (fat chance), or until you decide to step in and do some moderating. Or appoint somebody to do it.

    I don't say this to urge you to one course or another -- just to point out the predictable cause and effect. TANSTAAFL.

  14. NL7:

    It's not a strawman if somebody believes it, it's just a more ethically consistent that is also very unpopular. I think regarding immigration law most people would rather be inconsistent or hypocritical than hold an unpopular position. The problem is pretending that two contradictory positions are not contradictory.

  15. NL7:

    It sounds like your argument boils down to "it would be bad for America if there were unlimited immigration." Meaning a government is empowered to restrict privileges and/or rights when there is a pressing need. So if a government tried to limit emigration because too much emigration would be bad for East Germany, then why would that not also be justified?

  16. NL7:

    The most politically palatable position is to not fiddle with the number of immigrants too much in any direction, and to stall until the conservatives stop caring about the wall. In a generation or so, conservatives are going to act all wounded that Hispanic Americans don't vote for conservatives and get collective amnesia about the current fervor to call Mexicans sex criminals and call for ever-larger wall construction plans.

  17. NL7:

    In Finland, why not lower the transfer payments and just allow migrants to find employment and support themselves? They could either find work or find more generous transfer payments elsewhere.

  18. obloodyhell:

    Because the freaking GOVERNMENT has obligations to its citizens, but NOT to non-citizens, that's why. Effin' DUH.

    The citizens of a nation have a compact with their government to protect the citizens from their (the citizen's) enemies, internal and external. And no, if you don't control the border, you cannot keep out either actual enemies or inadvertent ones, such as the humaniform version of a locust eating you out of house and home. Effin' DUH.

    And if you can't see any of this, let me know where you live, and I'll find you some people to come and crash at your place. All of them can use a better place than they're at now, and, after all, you clearly have no right to keep them out.

  19. obloodyhell:

    }}} There are just enough factually & technically informed people in the world to undermine even the 'best' state-sponsored propaganda

    When you can explain, then, the popularity of a RINO like Trump, I'll agree with you.

  20. jdgalt:

    I don't believe Trump is that popular. I believe his polls and demonstrations are fakes paid for by the Clinton campaign.

  21. obloodyhell:

    This has nothing to do with conservative-vs-liberal-vs-libertarian. And accepting the "fact" of their locust-like presence will be overwhelmed by the collapse of government that will follow from opening the borders to all and sundry... so by the time it matters who the fucking vote for, it won't matter, because the system will finally have collapsed under the insane load being placed on it to deal with absurdist promises that had no business being made in the first place.

    Explain, please, why THIS is the only nation ON the planet -- in the entire HISTORY of the planet -- which does NOT have the right to control its borders and allow -- or not allow -- people in as it chooses.

    No, it doesn't MATTER what happened in the past, that was a very different time -- we did not have a massive array of social programs that such individuals get automatically enrolled in. There was a process of verification applicable to voter rolls. And we also didn't have an array of enemies looking to come here and destroy the place and everything it stands for.

  22. obloodyhell:

    Nice of you to create your own invisible strawman to answer the argument with.

    Which "two contradictory positions" do you imagine are being used, here? The notion that there is a government which is responsible first and foremost to the residents of the nation more so than the rights of people external to that nation?

  23. obloodyhell:

    I'm going to repeat this, YET AGAIN.

    To ANYONE who claims that there is NO DIFFERENCE between the current insurgence of immigrants, most of them ILLEGAL, I challenge you to examine the following:

    Using THIS NYT, US-census-based infographic (note it does not include 2010 census data, but there's no reason to presume it would not follow suit):
    Click on the link.
    Run the Slider back to 1880
    In the pulldown at left, select a country -- say, "Italy"
    Now advance the slider decade by decade, noting the manner of the bubbles that appear -- which are proportional to the local, intrinsic population vs the size of the immigration.
    Run the Slider back to 1880 again
    In the pulldown at left, select a country -- say, "Poland"
    Now, again, advance the slider decade by decade, noting the manner of the bubbles that appear
    Run the Slider back to 1880 again
    In the pulldown at left, select a country -- say, "Sweden" (I've picked demos with a large, over-time influx of people to this nation -- feel free to use your own choices, EXCEPT hispanics)

    Now, again, advance the slider decade by decade, noting the manner of the bubbles that appear

    Note the overall size of the bubbles, and see how they compare to the local population, showing the comparative influx of people to the areas into which they have gone over time.

    Run the Slider back to 1880 again
    In the pulldown at left, THIS time, let's select "Mexico"
    Now, again, advance the slider decade by decade, noting the manner of the bubbles that appear -- through 1960, it's pretty much identical to the previous "invasions" by other countries' peoples.

    Since then, it's a whole different ball of wax.

    Q.E.D., Warren & Defenders -- your stance that this influx is "no different from previous ones" is absolute fucking BULLSHIT. The influx from Mexico is literally an **order** of magnitude greater than ANY previous influx, and it's getting WORSE every decade.

  24. chembot:

    Do you really think the situations are equivalent, or are you trolling me? Very well. I assume you are referring to my consumption of resources argument. If so, then immigration and emigration are certainly different in terms of the impact on social service systems of the original and receiving countries.

    It is easy to cudgel me with the idea that I an some sort of hypocritical closet xenophobe with the east berlin example, but I could just as easily point out that if every day were another mariel boatlift coming to our shores our ability to absorb and assimilate such populations would eventually be overtaxed. As much as you want to make it a pure moral issue, numbers do matter. if a million refugees try to enter a country of 10 miillion, that will have considerably stronger impact on the countries culture and economics than if the same number of refugees enter a country of 300 million. For us, we are a large and rich enough country that a single boatlift has a marginal long term economic impact. (Although it is interesting to note the political impact was not so marginal) Flux also matters. Maybe that small country can absorb 1 million refugees if the time frame is long enough to not considerably adversely affect the host culture.

    Now you may give no credence to those thoughts and may think them oppressive and xenophobic, but the practices of the ~196 countries in the world show yours to be the minority view. There are some rare quasi exceptions like the schengen agreement countries and some other smaller economic unions, but even there the borders are not truly open in the form that you would desire. The relative similarity of systems that have arisen around border control produced by wildly different cultures should tell you that there is something deeper about human nature being revealed here besides a universal malicious intent to stifle the masses.

  25. chembot:

    Alas, the hallmark of the american political system is inertia. The founders did a reasonably good job of ensuring that factionalism would produce incremental rather than dramatic change most of the time. That very feature, I think, is what frustrates the average voter the most. They expect change within a single election cycle and get cynical and disillusioned when it doesn't happen at the pace they desire. True change in our system is usually the work of a generation starting with getting people in on the ground floor of the major parties and building a state a national caucus for change.

    This is why I have mixed feelings about a libertarian party. It may be cathartic to rage against the "coke and pepsi" parties and be a righteous loser 1 percenter in voting libertarian, but that does not advance the ideals in the slightest. The most successful libertarians of our time have probably been the Pauls, and they have run as republicans. Ironically, if anarchocapitalists and other libertarians really want to effect some change they are going to have to take the realities of our political ssystem seriously and start organizing themselves in a more effective manner, and participate (and probably try to co-opt one of the major parties)

  26. ano333:

    "Countries, like property owners have right to deny from entering, but not someone leaving to another property that is willing to take them."

    But consider a country closed to immigration, but with a current property owner inside that country who is willing to take migrants? Whose right wins?

  27. obloodyhell:

    That would be amusing but I can't believe that the entire media system would fall for that. LARGE CHUNKS, yes, but they aren't ALL that corrupt and/or incompetent. Too big a secret. That one sounds as to suffer from the same problem as the 911 conspiracy crowd fails to see.

    No, I think there really are that many LIV conservatives as to fall for the conservative version of Hope And Change.

  28. mlhouse:

    I think that everyone that is arguing that we should take in more illegal immigrants and "refugees" should put their money were their mouths are. For each bedroom you have in your house, put an extra bed in there. It isn't that big of a deal to sleep 3 to a bed, so until you tell others what to do, I want 6 people in every bedroom of your house. THen, you can put cots in your common areas and basements. My guess a typical liberal could easily house 20 or more immigrants or refugees in their homes. The really rich liberals with multiple mansions could house 500 - 1000 each.

    I am sure that they are all lining up to do this.

  29. NL7:

    It's contradictory to believe that people have freedom of movement when they are fellow citizens but not when they are foreign citizens. Most people would rather hold two contradictory positions than either defend open borders or defend situations like the Berlin Wall.

  30. NL7:

    So can a government oppress and kill foreign citizens for any reason, since they have no ethical obligations to them?

  31. NL7:

    No countries should initiate force or violence against peaceful people. All countries should allow open borders. Talk about a strawman; I never said that freedom and ethics only apply to the US.

  32. NL7:

    It's not a troll. I want you to admit that the positions are ethically contradictory and either that you are okay being inconsistent or that you will revise your opinion of one of the two situations. Since I don't expect you to embrace open borders, I'm asking you to admit that prohibiting emigration may be ethically justified under your worldview.

    So once again, you are not identifying any ethical principle other than the ill effects of excessive immigration. There are plenty of potential ill effects of excessive emigration: who will grow the food and work in the factories, who will police the streets and service in the army, who will raise children and who will pay taxes, and what do we do about the constant espionage efforts of foreign intelligence services recruiting defectors?

    There are plenty of potential ills from leaving. Lots of countries, from feudalism to the renaissance to socialism, had laws that prohibited people from moving within countries in a way that deprived one region of laborers - including England for most of the last millennium, pre-1917 Russia, and many Soviet Bloc countries. They all specifically cited the harm from laborers moving to cities, or moving abroad, and thought that the harms were too great to allow freedom of movement and emigration.

    So I'm just asking you to admit that the situations are not different in principle, and that if emigration hurts a country then the government is justified in prohibiting it.

  33. NL7:

    I think the most effective political change is wrought by the courts. IJ, FIRE, Cato and ACLU promote actual legal changes and only need to persuade some educated and insulated judges, rather than lazy and venal legislators.

  34. chembot:

    It could be that you are setting up a false dichotomy, no? "Believe what I believe or just be honest a stand up for oppression like the closet fascist you are" is not debating anyone but instead offering a headbutt to the people you disagree with. Don't expect them to like it or be convinced to change their mind by it.

    My position on this issue is much like my position on a lot of other issues that rights are often tempered by physical realities. As much as I am against gun control, I understand the restrictions regarding destructive devices like bazookas for the general citizenry. I am all for the right of contract, but I understand why we have some limitation on the types of contract that can be entered into. Saying that some practical restrictions should exist does not mean you oppose the basic idea or right.

  35. naturaljag0ff:

    Trump IS popular... why?

    1) the guy has been on TeeVee non-stop for a decade, all of which burnishes his brand image: success, money & more success. It's the PERFECT american brand, and the sofa zombies LOVE it.

    2) DT is NOT part of the "plan". DT was not selected/groomed by the GOP. He's not beholden to politics, political parties, establishment interests, or donors. People trust DT's personal interests more than they trust our obviously corrupt political system. People are CRAVING a candidate that is NOT of/from the political establishment.

    From my POV, DT's popularity is very simple to understand. If you are having trouble understanding it, it is probably because you don't want to admit/believe 1) & 2) above. You have to look at this country for WHAT IT IS - a herd of brand-identity consumers, well-trained by decades of marketing & behavioral controls. Those who think DT can't win the nomination/general election are viewing the US the way they wish it was, but they are not recognizing the US for what it actually IS. This is simple cognitive/personal bias, and it's the same reason polls/pundits have been increasing wrong for years now... objectivity is VERY difficult to achieve, esp. among those with strong opinions.

    Addendum: the term 'RINO' tells me that you still subscribe to the 20th century red/blue right/left paradigm, which no longer applies/works. This paradigm is DEAD, but it's carcass is still being paraded around by a media/political establishment that can not & will not adapt to a new emerging paradigm. Trump may technically be a RINO, but he is straight-up conservative populist on the BIGGEST issues: immigration & economics.

  36. naturaljag0ff:

    OBH - correct. There ARE that many populist conservatives.

    Ironically, the GOP will be the last to figure this out, and that party will be gone/fatally marginalized by the time they figure it out. BTW, dems are dangerously close to imitating this same mistake... they are ignoring Bernie in favor of HRC... in which direction do you think future liberals will vote/support? They are abandoning their future base for the sake of corrupt/failed/established interests... just like the GOP has done.

    The US is ripe for a 3rd/multiple party political disintegration, and it will be the youth/technology-enabled generation that makes it happen... just a matter of time. The one-party (i.e. two-party) system is a dead-man-walking.

  37. naturaljag0ff:

    "Explain, please, why THIS is the only nation ON the planet -- in the entire HISTORY of the planet -- which does NOT have the right to control its borders and allow -- or not allow -- people in as it chooses"

    The answer: short-term political triangulation, a process/cycle that repeats itself over-and over again. In a corrupt two-party system, immigration is the ultimate political prize... neither side will close the door on the other for fear of not having the ability to open the door when their party inevitably comes to power... very similar to precinct re-districting/gerrymandering.

    Your perception is correct - the US has the MOST liberal (dangerous) immigration policy in history. Our corrupt one-party FEDERAL political system loves it, while view of 80+% of citizens continues to be ignored.

  38. naturaljag0ff:

    In theory, open borders makes sense and is the right thing to do.

    In reality, disease + violent threats + diminishing natural resources make an open border policy dangerous & downright impossible.

    The open border crowd MUST recognize the absolute necessity for a VERY STRONG border/immigration filter. The world is not some benevolent place where all people respect each other. It is a dangerous, unstable place where those w/ respect for rule of law are forced to protect their society/system/success lest it be diluted/destroyed by those who do not respect the rule of law. To deny/ignore this reality is a mistake, and it's why the anti-immigration movement is winning the battle right now... the pro-immigration crowd has allowed themselves to be defined by naive & purely political (not practical) "policy".

  39. NL7:

    Why do you assume prohibited emigration is oppression but prohibited immigration is not oppression? If the latter is justified by the needs of the public, why can't the former also be justified by the needs of the public?

  40. NL7:

    I have to say that disease, violence and resources are not terribly convincing arguments, any more than they were convincing arguments when naysayers presented them in 1840 or 1900.

    I'd buy disease as an excuse, except that we do virtually nothing to check for diseases among foreign tourists and returning Americans. So this rings very hollow.

    If you are concerned about violent threats, legalizing immigration would make it easier to find and react to them. We'd want more people on the books, named on leases, and logged in bank account, phone records, and other records.

    Diminishing natural resources is a red herring in a globalized world. Markets will determine the pricing of resources and stem overuse, while free trade allows resources to move to the places where they are most needed.

    I think the closed borders crowd needs to realize that human beings are
    the greatest resource, and this country is economically prosperous and
    culturally vibrant because of a long history of immigrants. If you
    prefer a population that dwindles and then slowly dies off, like a
    once-great city rusting its way into a sad twilight, then I can't
    convince you to embrace change. But if you want a prosperous and
    influential country, then dynamism and immigration will provide a
    continuing infusion of new ideas and new entrepreneurs.

  41. NL7:

    It sounds like your argument is that sometimes freedom is too extreme and must be weighed against the costs. You think the cost of unlimited immigration justifies restrictions on the freedom to immigrate. Why is it impossible to think the cost of unlimited emigration could ever justify restricting the freedom to emigrate?

    Why are you unwilling to compromise or limit the freedom of emigration due to practical concerns? Why isn't unlimited emigration excessively libertarian?

  42. Adriana:

    This entire post is just a gigantic fallacy of the golden mean. That somewhere between total freedom and total oppression lay the truth. Please. You're just avoiding having a discussion about real ethics under the guise of being reasonable.

  43. Adriana:

    I don't see a false dichotomy. I see an argument that contradicts an earlier stated principle.

  44. CapitalHawk:

    Cool. So I can build a wall, which is a peaceful act. And then if people use any amount of violence in trying to go around, through, over or under said wall, i can then use violence against them. Agreed?

  45. NL7:

    You can build a wall on your property, not on other people's property. Immigration restrictions stop individuals from choosing to invite foreigners onto their properties or working in their businesses.

  46. Adriana:

    What if restricting emigration is beneficial for most citizens? Politicians talk all the time about punishing American business owners who take jobs overseas. In that vein, why shouldn't we restrict the movements of some Americans for the benefit of other Americans?

  47. CapitalHawk:

    The Fifth amendment allows the government to transfer private property to the US governments ownership and pay a just price for such property. And then build on its land. Peacefully.

  48. NL7:

    That's not what you asked; you said you'd personally build a wall so you could attack people who crossed it.

    And it's not peaceful just because it's legal. It's forced transfer under the threat of arrest and violence. Governments are force.

    Nevertheless, even if the government legally bought all the property along every border and every ocean or river, it'd still be disingenuous to say people couldn't use helicopters to fly immigrants well over the wall and onto their property. Helicopters and airplanes do not trespass the property they are flying over, provided they are some minimum distance from the ground.

  49. naturaljag0ff:

    "legalizing immigration"

    You write as if immigration here in the US were a closed, illegal, impossible process. The US has the most liberal & open immigration policy in the world - a policy that has brought real problems along with it. Most people on the 'anti-immigration' side (like myself) are merely interested in common-sense & safety filters (particularly at the borders), not closing borders entirely.

    The problem here is that immigration is largely unchecked, and we DO NOT record "people on the books, named on leases, and logged in bank accounts, phone records, and other records". Too many immigrants gain entry w/o record/ID/etc. Judging by your description, I have to assume that you HAVE NO IDEA how legal & illegal immigration actually works in the US. Your assumptions are misinformed, and the consequences are far less idealistic than the utopia you presume. Our current immigration policy is relatively WIDE OPEN, and real unemployment is approaching 20%, almost 50% of residents are dependent on government for some level of income, and 45 million residents use food stamps. So are you advocating that we open our borders even wider than they already are?

    That we don't screen visitors/tourists for disease/violent history is also stupid & dangerous. Your argument is that if stupidity/hollow is tolerated in one place then stupidity/hollow should be tolerated across the board. Nice logic.

    Natural resources ARE a problem, because the marketplace is not pure. Resources like water/fuel (among most others) are strategic and their cost/availability depend largely on factors other than simple end-user demand. If your idealistic logic were actually true, then the cost of food & fuel would be the same everywhere in the world right now...

  50. CapitalHawk:

    Of course governments are force. What's your point? The only disagreements libertarians have with everyone else is the amount of force the government will use and for what. Because otherwise you move into Anarchist territory. If you are an Anarchist, just let us know and we can stop talking to you about this.

    I would be fine to limit the movement of illegal immigrants in the US to solely by helicopters and airplanes. However, I don't see how you could do that safely given that they wouldn't be able to utilize any services provided by the FAA nor land at any public airport or helipad.