Larry Kudlow: I've Changed. This Is War. Seal the Borders. Stop the Visas … A hardline shift from an immigration reformer. I know this is not my usual position. But this is a war. Therefore I have come to believe there should be no immigration or visa waivers until the U.S. adopts a completely new system to stop radical Islamic terrorists from entering the country. A wartime lockdown. And a big change in my thinking. ISIS and related Islamic terrorists are already here. More are coming. We must stop them. Until FBI director James Comey gives us the green light, I say seal the borders. – National Review
Dominant Social Theme: Shut the borders. Shut 'em down. That's the way to control terrorism.
Free-Market Analysis: As more and more incidents of terrorism afflict the West, we will probably see more articles like this one from Larry Kudlow, renouncing previous positions on immigration and calling for more severe actions.
Fortunately, Ron Paul has just published a column that can help us rebut Larry Kudlow's point of view. Paul points out that government programs do not deliver on their promise of security even as they reduce liberty and increase authoritarianism.
Another point ought to be made about such programs, which is that they also degrade the economy and reduce prosperity. The more difficult it is for businesses to function, the fewer jobs will be created. Entrepreneurial activity will suffer as well. Government can use various federal policies to enhance sociopolitical and cultural control, often in ways that are detrimental to free markets.
For instance, Kudlow wants to reduce and even "pause" immigration. But currently, governments in both the US and Europe are using immigration as a tool to reshape domestic culture.
Ideally, as we've long pointed out, a specific region would be composed of private property and thus government would not be in the position of creating an "immigration policy." People would immigrate based on landholder needs.
But such is not the case with today's immigration and thus immigration is very much the result of political policy. And there can be little doubt that the Obama administration is interested in using immigration to change the US's cultural texture.
In Europe it is much the same. Immigration is intended to vitiate culture and ensure that what we have called the "tribes of Europe" have less cohesion and thus less impact in slowing the expansion of the Union and its assumption of new powers.
There is another reason to pursue aggressive immigration if you want to reduce the impact of the private sector on the government policy. The EU has a North-South divide in which the "North" is a good deal more productive than the "South." It is perfectly possible that Brussels seeks to make Europe's North less efficient with the additional immigration and the social difficulties that can come in its wake.
Many in the US suspect something similar, with mass immigration from Latin America eroding wages, benefits and what's left of the clout of private (non government) unions. Certainly aggressive immigration can set communities against each other and raise the level of citizen polarization and suspicion.
For this reason, both in the US and Europe, the "central government" is not apt to close borders. Immigration provides government with a powerful tool for shaping society and one that politicians will forego only reluctantly.
Of course, Larry Kudlow surely understands that his suggestions will only be adopted reluctantly, if at all. But he makes it clear that he believes in his solution, regardless. He writes:
Here's what we must do: Completely reform the vetting process for immigrants and foreign visitors. Change the screening process. Come up with a new visa-application review process. Stop this nonsense of marriage-visa fraud. And in the meantime, seal the borders. I agree with Jessica Vaughn, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, who argued many of these points in excellent detail on the National Review website on Friday.
… We are at war. That changes everything. Let me emphasize that my support for wartime immigration restrictions is not based on religion. I think Donald Trump made a big mistake here. Instead, I agree with this Rupert Murdoch tweet: "Complete refugee pause to fix vetting makes sense."
Kudlow's approach would have its own economic impacts, making it more difficult for businesses to find qualified people abroad to work domestically and exposing industry to even more red tape. It would probably make the lives of existing immigrants more difficult.
Contrast Kudlow's approach with Ron Paul's latest column on immigration and security from terrorism, entitled "If You Want Security, Pursue Liberty." His point is that open, rather than closed, societies are better able to ensure the kind of safety that citizens desire and expect.
Ron Paul points out that Barack Obama's final year "will be marked by increased militarism abroad and authoritarianism at home." The president is demanding that anyone on the federal government's terrorist watch list be forbidden from purchasing a firearm. Ron Paul writes:
There has never been a mass shooter who was on the terrorist watch list, so this proposal will not increase security. However, it will decrease liberty. Federal officials can have an American citizen placed on the terrorist watch list based solely on their suspicions that the individual might be involved in terrorist activity.
Individuals placed on the list are not informed that they have been labeled as suspected terrorists, much less given an opportunity to challenge that designation, until a Transportation Security Administration agent stops them from boarding a plane. Individuals can be placed on the list if their Facebook or Twitter posts seem "suspicious" to a federal agent.
You can also be placed on the list if your behavior somehow suggests that you are a "representative" of a terrorist group (even if you have no associations with any terrorist organizations). Individuals can even be put on the list because the FBI wants to interview them about friends or family members!
Ron Paul points out that the terrorist watch list is riddled with mistakes. Members of Homeland Security and even several members of Congress have been placed on the list. And getting off is very difficult.
Additionally, such lists give the IRS and FBI enormous power and anyone who looks at US history ought to be well aware that both agencies along with others have abused their power in the past.
There is no evidence, Ron Paul writes, that expanded government surveillance has prevented even one government attack. The French mass surveillance system is far more intrusive than the US one, but it didn't stop the recent mass attacks. It also didn't prevent guns from getting into the hands of "terrorists" – though it did ensure their victims were unarmed.
"Americans will have neither liberty nor security," he writes, "until they abandon the fantasy that the US government can provide economic security, personal security, and global security. "
The economic impacts of the kind of authoritarian moves that Obama is planning cannot be underestimated. The more government expands surveillance powers, the more it retards the ability of the private sector to function smoothly and efficiently. Red tape and regulations create further problems.
Additionally, the kind of immigration policies now being pursued in Europe and the US are having a negative impact as well. Kudlow, Trump and others certainly have a point that a reduction or even a pause in immigration might help the US's security situation, though it can also be said that government actions of any kind will not necessarily prove effective when faced with determined terrorism.
Within this context, Ron Paul's perspective that the US should stop its overseas adventurism is probably the most sensible approach of all. If one stops making enemies, then terrorism will subside. So far, the West's military adventurism seems to be expanding rather than contracting.
Countries that utilize the power of government aggressively will reduce prosperity as well as security. Unfortunately, this is a trend in the West and one reason we suggest that those seeking other places to live look in regions outside of the West. Perhaps this trend will be reversed but that certainly doesn't seem to be the case at the moment.