Thursday, March 31, 2005


Once a week, my son goes to a tutor. The intent is not to help him with his schoolwork, per se. Sometimes, the tutor might cover things which we feel are glossed over in the school curriculum and which might bear more attention, but usually, the intent is to spend some time on things which might help my son see the 'larger picture,' of life and to keep him from getting bored.

I used to reserve this particular teaching process to myself. My son and I have always talked about everything under the sun. When he was five or six and I took my turn at putting him to bed, he either asked me questions about my own childhood or exhorted me to teach him about life with the words: "I want to learn, Daddy, learn." We discussed political philosophy, religion, various human foibles and frailties and anything else that came to mind.

We still talk, about many different things. Those times are very special to me. Still, one thing that I have always insisted on is that my son be exposed to diversity of opinion. My views are pro-liberty and anti big government, pro-individualism and anti-collectivism. I have explained to my son that I am in the minority and that most people want to be told what to do and to feel that they are part of a larger 'whole.' I want him to decide on which side of the fence he wishes to position himself and, just as importantly, to understand why. In order to understand the adoption of any position or belief system, it is of utmost importance to understand the opposing position.

My son's assignment from the tutor this week is to write an essay on immigration. He is to take a position as to whether it should be expanded or restricted and why. As part of his position, he is to consider the effects of immigration on other citizens, particularly in the area of crime and employment.

I am an immigrant. My wife's parents were immigrants. We lived among other immigrants. We all worked hard, took responsibility for ourselves and prospered. Not surprisingly, I agree with the libertarian position on immigration: the government should not control the free movement of people to wherever they can find work and prosper. Walter E. Block states the libertarian position well:

"Libertarianism is the view that all behavior should be allowed, with the one exception that threatened or actual violence against a person or his legitimately owned property should be proscribed. So, is immigration per se an invasive act? Of course not. The claims that immigrants are like invaders in that they can vote, go on welfare, commit crimes, take away jobs from citizens, are either factually incorrect, or can be countered by eliminating the offending institutions (e.g., welfare). If these arguments were correct, moreover, they would mitigate against giving birth to babies, for, in a dozen or two dozen years, newborns can be "guilty" of all charges now made against immigrants. This being the case, the libertarian view on immigration, as it is on free trade and the international movement of goods, is one of laissez faire."

The economic reality in North America is that birth rates are too low to maintain the population. In order for Canada and the United States to have sufficient taxpayers to support the aging baby boomers, we necessarily have to rely on immigrants. There is no question that some immigrants abuse our taxpayer-supported systems, health and welfare in particular. There is no question that some immigrants embark on a life of crime. The way to deal with these issues is not to close our borders but to tweak our existing systems, which by their very design encourage abuse. Immigrants should arrive strictly under a 'sink or swim' arrangement. Get here on your own steam, or with the help of a sponsor and then you're on your own, baby. Let's see what you can do. That's the way it was when my family (1949) and millions of other immigrants arrived seeking a better life in North America in the first half of the twentieth century. As welfare and 'free' health systems developed, abuses rose in concert.

The other real problem with immigration is that increasingly people arrive from various international hellholes determined to create better versions of the places they just ran away from. That might mean sytems with even less freedom that what we have been used to in North America to date. With majority rule, it is entirely possible that as populations skew from one type of philosophy/religion/ or other 'ism,' to another, their preferences will be imposed on the rest of us. I don't care if my neighbours worship Buddha, Krishna, Allah or Jehovah. I just don't want to be forced to attend their church. I don't care if they are communists, socialists, capitalists or anarchists. I just want to be free to live my life as I alone see fit and not to be a forced participant in someone's utopian pipedream because to me it will likely be more like a nightmare. Nor do you or anyone else need to become a Libertarian or a laissez-faire capitalist to suit me. If you want to join a commune and pool all of your resources and share them equally with other members of your group, go ahead. I don't want any part of that, so I don't want to pay taxes to support you.

I can't wait to see what my son comes up with. Whatever his views, they will give us lots to talk about in the weeks ahead.


  1. Dad,

    It's me, your son. I think the government's lax attitude towards immigration is ridiculous. I'm going to write Paul Martin a letter, begging him to put a stop to it.

  2. Nice try, Anonymous. You almost had me convinced that your comment was actually the work of my son. After all, there were no spelling errors. Punctuation and grammar were good. You used strong words like 'ridiculous' and 'lax' just like he might have done.

    However, even at twelve years of age, my son knows that immigration is a complex affair with no easy solutions and that, of all people, Paul Martin is not going to be the man to come up with workable fixes.

    So, you must be someone else's son or daughter. Still, that doesn't preclude our having a dialogue on the issue. Let me make you a pretend hot chocolate and myself an imaginary coffee and we can discuss immigration in more detail.

    What do you think the real problems are with immigration? How would you solve them?

    I'm listening.