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OT105: Ethelthread The Unthready

This is the bi-weekly visible open thread (there are also hidden open threads twice a week you can reach through the Open Thread tab on the top of the page). Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit or the SSC Discord server. Also:

1. Comment of the week is by AlesZiegler, answering the question “What parts of Piketty’s book have stood the test of time?”

2. But also, see the discussion about the border in the last Open Thread, where people on every part of the political spectrum hash out their differences about Trump’s border policy with an emphasis on “if we’re going to enforce immigration laws, how can we do it more humanely than the current system?”. Especially interesting to me was this comment questioning the idea of “enforcing” vs “not enforcing” immigration law. And also this thread arguing border walls are ineffective at stopping migration, that even “successful” walls like the Israeli border wall and the Berlin Wall mostly relied on guards, and that the bare minimum requirement for a wall being even slightly useful – protection against ladders – is not in Trump’s requirements (suggesting he’s not serious about anything except the symbolism). But I don’t know how to square this with other people’s claims that the Bush-era fence did decrease immigration.

3. I went back, read the last month of comment reports, and banned several people who deserved it. I want to make this explicit so people don’t think bad behavior here isn’t punished. It is – it just takes me a long time to get around to it. Thanks to everyone who uses the report button to report comments to me.

4. I’ll probably be at the South Bay SSC meetup, 2 PM on Saturday July 7, at 3806 Williams Rd, San Jose. If you’re coming, consider emailing David Friedman (address at link) so he knows how many to expect.

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1,013 Responses to OT105: Ethelthread The Unthready

  1. OptimalSolver says:

    I’m a fan of the highly specific Sci-Fi trope in which Mankind has encountered complex alien objects/systems/phenomena and are trying to extract value from them, sometimes at hideous cost, but true understanding of the internal workings remains elusive or entirely absent.

    Examples: Sphere by Michael Crichton, Gateway by Frederik Pohl, Solaris, The Invincible, and His Master’s Voice by Stanislaw Lem, Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky Brothers, Hinterland by William Gibson, Rendezvous with Rama, and 2001 by Arthur C. Clarke.

    Any recommendations? I eat this stuff up like candy.

    Also a fan of the related archeology-in-space genre.

    • James says:

      Was gonna say Hinterland. (Heck, I was gonna say Solaris, but that’s so central to the kind of thing you’re talking about that I assumed straight away—rightly—that you’d already know it.)

      Just as a side note about my own taste, I find that though I used, like you, to be fascinated by this theme, it doesn’t hold that much interest for me nowadays. Not sure how to put my finger on what’s changed in the meantime. Perhaps I no longer feel so oppressed by the horrendous incomprehensibility of being nowadays. (Hey, sounds pretty good when I put it like that!)

      How are The Invincle and His Master’s Voice?

      • OptimalSolver says:

        The Invincible is my favorite Lem novel. I’ve read it multiple times now. His Master’s Voice is quite a dense read, but worth it for sheer profundity of the ideas presented.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Charles Sheffield’s Heritage Universe.

    • littskad says:

      Rogue Moon, by Algis Budrys.
      Revelation Space, by Alastair Reynolds.
      In the Ocean of Night, by Gregory Benford.

      • OptimalSolver says:

        Thanks!

      • Alphonse says:

        I’ll second Alastair Reynolds, with an added recommendation of his novel Pushing Ice. Pushing Ice is a standalone novel of his, but it’s probably my favorite of his works and fits your theme nicely.

      • engleberg says:

        Second Rogue Moon. Ringworld, The Ringworld Engineers, Ringworld’s Children. Totally different tone from Lem or Strugatsky.

    • littskad says:

      There has also been a lot of interactive fiction (text adventures) with the same trope. Legend adapted Pohl’s novels with Gateway and Gateway 2: Homeworld. Telarium adapted Rendezvous with Rama. Infocom had original stories with Starcross, Planetfall and Stationfall.

      There’s also a large, active modern interactive fiction scene (see ifdb.tads.org). Some games that might scratch the same itch are Ian Finley’s Babel, Nate Cull’s Glowgrass, and Suzanne Britton’s Worlds Apart.

    • johan_larson says:

      “Diving into the Wreck” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch sort of fits. The ship they find and explore is made by humans, but it’s incredibly old and really not where it should be.

    • keranih says:

      Connie Willis’s “Curse of Kings.”

      CJ Cherryh’s “Pots”.

      And a request in the same genre – a short story about investigating an old crash site on an abandoned (atmosphere compromised) world. Manipulation of a forcefield “space suit” was a major plot point. There was a monument with the inscription “In the center of the forest, the water is always clear.”

      Anyone know the story I am thinking of?

  2. yodelyak says:

    When do we get an update re: the adversarial collaboration contest?

  3. proyas says:

    Have all of the alleles of the human genome been discovered and cataloged yet, or are we still discovering new alleles at random whenever a new person has his or her genome sequenced?

    Note: This is a totally separate question from whether we know what phenotypes the alleles code for.

  4. ana53294 says:

    I am quite surprised by the commenters who think that killing people to stop illegal immigration is OK. Usually, even shooting unarmed criminals is controversial.
    I have never personally met any people who are in favour of killing immigrants as a dissuasive method*; is it that I live in a liberal bubble, or is it as crazy as it sounds? Is this an alt-right view?
    Are there any statistics on the number of people who would rather have people dying in the border than to have people working in a farm?

    *People have shared with me quite non PC views, though, such as ideas about the undesirability of Rumanian gypsies, Bulgarian gypsies, hatred towards Eastern Europeans (especially Polish), anti-Muslim views (make them eat pork; they should not cover their head in our country), and all kinds of other stuff. But nobody ever said that it would be OK to kill them; the furthest they go is to suggest mass incarceration and deportation/removal of citizenship.

    • Guy in TN says:

      It’s a fringe view in the U.S. This is a forum that attracts fringe people (myself included).

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      I think it’s an extreme but logical logical extension of the cultural view that encompasses, as Scott once put it, “the words “git off my land” uttered through clenched teeth while aiming a shotgun”, and signs like “trespassers will be shot”.

      There is a strain of thought that territorial boundaries are not quaint lines on a map created by wierd quirks of history or ephemeral abstractions, but something very very fundamental and very very important, worth using lethal force to defend against violations. It’s an extreme extension because in this case we’re not (mostly) talking about intruders with malevolent intent towards the lives and/or property of those on the other side of the boundary, but note that so far only one person here (Matt M) that I’ve noticed has actively advocated for lethal force it as good in and of itself. Then you have other people like CatCube who basically say that while they would prefer other avenues be tried first, and think the pragmatic downsides of the use of lethal force outweigh the upsides, that there is nothing inherently immoral about using lethal force to defend the integrity of a border.

      • Matt M says:

        but note that so far only one person here (Matt M) that I’ve noticed has actively advocated for lethal force it as good in and of itself.

        I can’t recall exactly what I may have posted that might have led you to this conclusion, but this is not my preferred solution.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        You may’ve been saying it just to be edgy or confrontational at the time, Matt, but I’m pretty sure the words were along the lines of “If I had my way, we wouldn’t just have a wall, it’d be manned with armed guards 24/7 and everyone on it would have orders to shoot on sight.”

        • johan_larson says:

          Sounds like Conrad.

        • Nick says:

          If we’re going to attribute quotes to people, link them. I can’t find anything like that from Matt, just one from Conrad, like johan_larson said. Matt did respond to Conrad saying he agreed, but only talking there about the separating families part.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Also, please note I do not think shooting illegal immigrants is a “good in and of itself.” What I want is “no illegal border crossing” and not “dead illegals.” And I would hope actually shooting anyone would be a last resort, and that if they know we’re serious about protecting the border, they wouldn’t bother trying. I said:

            I would very much like to see the wall built, and patrolled by men with guns who shoot on sight so that people get the message do not come here illegally. This will solve the problem of children being separated from their parents, and stop the rapes that happen to 80% of the women and girls who cross the border illegally. An awful lot of evil will be prevented if the government could just perform the extremely basic governmental function of controlling the borders.

            The goal is to stop all the rest of the evil that goes along with porous borders. The rapes, crime, drugs, depressed wages, exploited workers.

            And that’s just the direct results of illegal immigration. The damage to society and respect for the rule of law is also terrible. There’s barely anything culturally uniting Americans anymore. We’re still living in a society because we make laws, and then we live by them, even if we don’t like the laws. And we have methods to change the laws, so living under laws you don’t like is not entirely unbearable. But if we’re just going to start ignoring the laws we don’t like, everything breaks down. The Blue Tribe isn’t particularly interested in enforcing immigration laws, and quite often seeks to actively undermine them (while they’re still on the books), but then wants more gun laws, strictly enforced. These would be laws constraining my behavior, and I would be expected to comply with them. This sounds very much like one prisoner repeatedly defecting, while insisting the other prisoner must cooperate. That is not how the game works.

            This is getting rambling, but I’ll try to make a coherent point. What Trofim said about seeing the border as very, very important is correct. It is not a squiggly imaginary line drawn on a map by quirks of history. It’s the boundary wherein we say “the people living here agree to live by these sets of rules, and this is how we’re going to keep from murdering each other so we can have a civilization.” Ignoring those boundaries and ignoring those rules undermines the entire project. If we’re going to ignore the borders we might as well not even bother having a nation. I’m still holding out hope that we can have a nation, so I’m not giving up the border.

          • Matt M says:

            What I want is “no illegal border crossing” and not “dead illegals.” And I would hope actually shooting anyone would be a last resort, and that if they know we’re serious about protecting the border, they wouldn’t bother trying.

            Indeed. People keep bringing up the analogy of prison wardens shooting escapees. How many such incidents do we think occur annually? What percentage of prisoners end up shot in escape attempts?

            Quite likely very few. Because the prisoners know and appreciate that the wardens really will shoot them if they’re caught escaping, so most don’t attempt to escape.

            And prisoners likely have much worse circumstances and far less to lose than the average poor Guatemalan family.

            The point of this policy isn’t that we’d start murdering [insert current number of people who illegally cross each year] and wouldn’t the world be better off without those non-American scum! No, the point is that you’d only have to shoot as many as it took to convince people you were serious, and then the vast majority would stop attempting to cross. And that number might very well be in the single digits.

          • We’re still living in a society because we make laws, and then we live by them, even if we don’t like the laws. … But if we’re just going to start ignoring the laws we don’t like, everything breaks down.

            I used to believe that, but then I noticed that it was inconsistent with casual observation. There are lots of highways where most people are driving above the speed limit. The U.S. survived prohibition, despite the fact that a large fraction of the population was routinely drinking illegal alcohol. In a fair number of states, the median age for first intercourse is below the legal age of consent. How many people do you think took their first drink of something alcoholic when they were 21?

            Someone described Britain in the 18th century as a small island almost entirely surrounded by smugglers.

            In most societies I am familiar with, violation of laws that people don’t believe in and that are not effectively enforced is pretty routine. Law works not because people believe that right and wrong are made by act of Congress but because laws whose breakdown would have serious bad effects are either ones most people believe in or ones effectively enforced by the state.

          • The goal is to stop all the rest of the evil that goes along with porous borders. The rapes, crime, drugs, depressed wages, exploited workers.

            Did all of those things happen for the first 176 years of American history, during which time there was no effective limitation on immigration from the Western Hemisphere?

            and stop the rapes that happen to 80% of the women and girls who cross the border illegally.

            When you see a statistic like this, the first question to ask is not whether it is true but how anyone could know it is true. Is it likely that either illegal immigrants who are raped or ones who are not report the fact to law enforcement or the census bureau or some academic researcher?

            In my experience, if you actually track down the origin of such numbers they turn out to be either pure inventions converted to fact by repetition or the result of bogus research done by someone with an axe to grind. Examples I have looked at include deaths from second-hand smoke, college rape rates, and homelessness figures. There is also that perennial favorite, children hungry or at risk of hunger.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          @Johan, Nick, Matt M

          You are correct, that link from Conrad is the one I was thinking of. That’s what you get for posting right before bed and deciding you’re too tired to dig up the appropriate linked quote. My apologies Matt, though I did interpret your agreement as including more than just the familial separation at the time.

      • CatCube says:

        @Trofim_Lysenko

        Be careful that you’re not taking my summation of Matt’s position (re: deputizing private citizens to guard the border) as Matt’s position.

        And to be fair to my interlocutors above, my position isn’t exactly “other avenues be tried first”, since that’s doesn’t square with my statement that the Border Patrol should be actively destroying supply points put out by charities to enable border crossings. The “pragmatic downsides” to a “stop every swinging dick at the border” operation to my mind is mostly that it will be very expensive for very little actual stemming of the tide, but cheap and easy ways to stop crossings, even if potentially lethal, should be entertained.

        I do agree wholeheartedly with the rest about “boundaries not being quaint lines on a map” and “nothing inherently immoral about using lethal force to defend the integrity of a border.”

        • Matt M says:

          Yes – most of what CatCube has said is something I wholly agree with.

          I’m not necessarily opposed to shooting people who illegally cross the border, but that doesn’t make it my preferred position.

          Personally, I am 100% convinced that to the extent illegal immigration is a problem in the US, it is entirely due to a lack of political will to enforce existing law, NOT an issue of a lack of physical security. This includes things like sanctuary city policies, welfare state benefits, etc.

          I’m okay with a wall and support it for symbolic reasons, but I don’t think it would make much of a difference at all if not accompanied by a wholesale “draining of the swamp” of almost everyone who is remotely involved in immigration enforcement at all levels of the US bureaucracy.

          • Alphonse says:

            This is pretty much my view. I think an America with the political will to enforce border security via lethal force is an America with sufficient political will on this issue to largely end illegal immigration without resorting to lethal force.

            Therefore, securing the border with lethal force is a dis-preferred policy in my mind. At the same time, I don’t think it’s beyond the pale. I don’t think it’s impermissible for a country to secure its borders with lethal force (to immigrants; I’m much more suspicious of polities that prohibit emigration).

            As for why it’s unlikely to hear this view in person, I can think of a few reasons. I agree that it’s a rare viewpoint, although I think perhaps less so than might be assumed (I expect that many people would, if pressed sufficiently, say that lethal force was permissible even if it was not preferred). I also expect that many of those who would agree that lethal force is theoretically permissible wouldn’t admit that in-person (I certainly wouldn’t), since there are no real benefits and clear social costs.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Personally, I am 100% convinced that to the extent illegal immigration is a problem in the US, it is entirely due to a lack of political will to enforce existing law, NOT an issue of a lack of physical security.

            I completely agree with this. The counterarguments I hear against the wall or border enforcement are nonsensical, especially given the government endeavors the same sorts of people who are against border enforcement or the wall tend to be in favor of.

            The federal budget (when we actually have one) is trillions of dollars every year. And yet I’m supposed to believe $25 billion for a wall over 5-10 years is ludicrously expensive, but free college, free healthcare, UBI, etc, are totally doable. The wall is a rounding error compared to these proposals. And given the estimated ~$110 billion each year government at all levels expends on services for illegals (healthcare, education, etc) it could wind up being a net positive. And of course, we could get Mexico to “pay for the wall” by taxing remittances, imposing tariffs, charging entry fees, etc. All congress has to do is pass a law.

            The government is very good at big, dumb, repetitive tasks. We built the interstate highway system. But I’m supposed to believe a wall is impossible to build? Isn’t it just a construction project? This we can’t do, but something like healthcare, which is extremely sophisticated and about as individualized and fine-grained as a domain can be, is right up government’s alley?

            And that we can’t secure the border? We’re the world’s only hyperpower. We have the most terrifying military the world has ever seen. We’ve got satellites that can read newspapers from space, we’ve got AI-assisted drones with infrared cameras. We spend $700 billion each year on this stuff, and it’s not like we’re unafraid to commit it. We’ll guarantee the integrity of South Korea’s border against one of the world’s largest standing armies including nuclear weapons, on the other side of the world, but I’m to believe we can’t possibly secure our own border against unarmed, impoverished peasants dragging women and children through the desert?

            No, we could absolutely do it. We could do it cheaply, efficiently, and relatively humanely. We do not do it because the people in power do not want to do it because:

            1) They all like the easily exploitable underclass providing cheap labor without being concerned for labor laws and regulations because they can just deport the people who get too uppity about their “rights” and “wages.”

            2) Half of them believe the resulting demographic shifts will ultimately give them permanent political power.

            It’s all just evil and corruption piled on top of more evil and corruption. I do not like it, and would very much like it to end.

          • And given the estimated ~$110 billion each year government at all levels expends on services for illegals (healthcare, education, etc) it could wind up being a net positive.

            1. How was that estimate made? By whom?
            2. Is it net of the taxes paid by those illegals–most obviously sales taxes, but in some cases social security taxes for social security the illegal immigrant can never collect?

            Do you think it likely that an estimate of the net cost would get done by anyone who did not have an axe to grind, an incentive to make the figure look either as large as possible in order to argue for one set of policies or as small as possible in order to argue for another?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            David, that seems like a general argument against numbers.

          • CatCube says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            And that we can’t secure the border? We’re the world’s only hyperpower. We have the most terrifying military the world has ever seen. We’ve got satellites that can read newspapers from space, we’ve got AI-assisted drones with infrared cameras. We spend $700 billion each year on this stuff, and it’s not like we’re unafraid to commit it. We’ll guarantee the integrity of South Korea’s border against one of the world’s largest standing armies including nuclear weapons, on the other side of the world, but I’m to believe we can’t possibly secure our own border against unarmed, impoverished peasants dragging women and children through the desert?

            No, we could absolutely do it. We could do it cheaply, efficiently, and relatively humanely.

            I’m going to hammer on this again, because this seems to be a common defect in thinking: TECHNOLOGY DOESN’T STOP PEOPLE. TECHNOLOGY ENABLES PEOPLE TO STOP PEOPLE.

            The only thing all the gee-whiz technology you’re talking about* will enable the US Government to do is count the number of people illegally crossing the border, unless there are patrols near enough to a detected crossing to get there and arrest them. This isn’t going to be “cheap and efficient”. The single largest cost in the $700 billion DoD budget you’re talking about is payroll. People are expensive. Technology will somewhat reduce the number of personnel, but effective policing of a border will be very manpower-intensive, and therefore cost-intensive.

            I’m also against all of the other stuff you’re talking about (UBI, etc.). But I’m not going to shake the pom-poms for an ineffective waste of money just because it’s nominally for a cause I support.

            * ETA: I’m reasonable sure that you’re also overstating the effectiveness of some of this technology. “This spy satellite can read a license plate on Pluto!” is common hyperbole, but AFAIK, hyperbole is all it is. Plus, for satellites specifically, they’re overhead at known times. We can move them occasionally to throw people off, but eventually other nations figure out the new orbits.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            TECHNOLOGY DOESN’T STOP PEOPLE. TECHNOLOGY ENABLES PEOPLE TO STOP PEOPLE.

            If the thesis is:

            1. walls don’t do anything by themselves, but increase the effectiveness of people
            2. we are people constrained and can’t get any more people

            well, I can see why people want the wall (or other technical measures). It increases the effectiveness of our limited reagent.

            It does seem that we should get more people, but other commenters have said that this just won’t happen. If it won’t happen for the same reason that the wall won’t happen, then it doesn’t matter and we can debate it the same way we debate space travel. But if the problem is that we have resources and cannot put them into manpower because people refuse to do the work then let’s get illegal immigrants to do the job Americans won’t do then improving the effectiveness of the wall has obvious attraction to better use the existing workforce.

            I’ve asked once already about current patrol techniques, and I thought I would get an answer from the very high-confidence way that lots of people on both sides were responding, but nothing was answered. Maybe it’s a boring question the same way my question about EVerify got like 3 responses and then people moved back to more fun things like fighting about guns.

            So I’ll try again. How is the wall enforced today? What would 10% more people mean? What would 10% more motion detectors mean? Are border agents already going out constantly to respond to high-confidence signals (of whatever sort) and getting better signals wouldn’t help?

          • albatross11 says:

            I’m not convinced about Conrad’s specific example technologies, but it seems very obvious to me that we could have very low levels of illegal immigration into the US without spending a huge amount of money. Nearly all the illegal immigrants are economic migrants–they came here to hang drywall for a lot more money than they could make back in El Salvador. That’s perfectly reasonable and laudable at a personal level, and there’s certainly an economic argument that they’re probably making the world a better place by doing it, but if we want that sort of thing stopped, we absolutely can do so by making it economically unwise to hire illegal immigrants.

            So what we’re really running into here is:

            a. A problem of political goals–we don’t all agree on what goals we want.

            b. An agency problem–a lot of voters would like to elect people who will actually enforce immigration laws, but once in power, those people have incentives not to enforce those laws in an effective way.

          • CatCube says:

            @Edward Scizorhands

            As a general rule, to make an obstacle effective you need to be able to respond before the people breaching it can make it through. To take a toy example, think about a bank vault. You can get into a huge, finely-constructed bank vault with a cheap drill and bits that you can buy from Home Depot–eventually. Just sit there and keep drilling holes around the outline of the door. Now, this would take about 8 years, so when the bank workers come back after being gone for 12 hours overnight they’re going to have some serious questions about what you’re doing so it’s not actually a practical method of getting in. But if there’s an 8 year interval between somebody checking up on the vault….

            Coming back to the border, for security to be effective it has to do two things: 1) detect intruders and 2) slow intruders down for long enough for the nearest patrol to get there. (A third possibility is for the obstacles to be dangerous enough to result in serious injury or death, but see above for a sample of the pearl-clutching that will result.)

            Note that I’m talking about border security as a system, including personnel. So “detect intruders” doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to have some technology doing the detection; it could very well mean that your obstacles take so long to breach that a patrol comes by before your opponent makes it through. If you have a patrol that comes by every two hours, and it takes 2.5 hours to breach, you’re going to catch them even with no alarm system.

            Now, if you have a technical method of detection, then for success: detection time + patrol arrival time < time to breach + time to run to safety. Let me pull an example out of my fourth point of contact to illustrate the analysis. Say you have a wall with cameras on it watched continuously. Let's assume our opponent is a group of people in a pickup who want to make it to the wall. The detection time will be how long it takes for somebody to get to the wall from the first time the camera can see them (and be identified as an attempted breach). If you're in broken or rolling terrain this can be very short, because it doesn't take a truck too long to make it to the wall–let's assume the terrain is pretty rough and they can only make 25 kph. If you detect the attempt 1000 m from the wall, they can get there in about 2.5 minutes. Then, taking a ladder out of the back of the truck, setting it up, throwing a piece of carpet over any C-wire on the top, and dropping a rope over will take a few minutes to set up, plus the time it takes for the group to climb the ladder and slide down the rope on the other side. Let's be generous and say this takes 15 minutes–and I'm being really generous, since drilling can make this a much quicker process than you'd think. So call the time to breach 20 minutes. Now, the question is how long it will take to make it to safety. In this toy problem, say they coordinated to meet a truck on the other side (who started driving from cover as soon as the breach started). If it's 10 km from terrain that's "safe" (i.e., the Border Patrol either can't find them–e.g., ravines and hills–or can't pick them out of a crowd–e.g., a town.), You're talking less than an hour between the first inkling of an attempted breach until its too late to do anything other than file a report that 9 people came over.

            Obviously these times are going to vary greatly. In pure backcountry, you might be able to detect them well before the wall, and have many hours of them wandering in the desert to pick them up. However, here the wall isn't doing much of the work–the distance is. Similarly, if you're in a heavily-urbanized area, you might have only a few yards between cover on the far side and the wall, and only a few more yards between the wall and cover on the near side. So any detected attempts there might only have minutes of response time available.

            I haven't sat down with a bunch of topo maps and areal aerial photos of the border to analyze specific areas, so I can't answer your question with specific numbers. However, let's at least get a ballpark estimate of personnel requirements to even come within spitting distance of "sealing" the border.

            I'd guess that a planning factor would be not less than a three-man team per 10 miles of border, 24/7. There might be some closer spacing in cities, and further than that in areas near cities, but I think that's reasonable to get a 30-minute response time in the back country, because you're not going to count on doing 60 cross country. Given a 1900-mile border, that's 190 teams times three shifts, so you need 1710 people doing nothing with their time but patrolling the border. Add in more people because you're going to have vacations, sick time, etc. Let's call it 2000. Taking a guess at compensation of $150,000/head (to include salary, leave, sick leave, etc.) you're looking at about $300mm just for patrols. So just patrolling the $25 billion dollar wall is going to be in the rough neighborhood of a third of a billion per year. Plus the people to watch cameras, further quick response teams, repair broken equipment and infrastructure, etc.

            This isn't to say that walls are useless. Depending on terrain, targeted construction in consultation with the people responsible for patrolling the border will be a force multiplier for them. And I’m in favor of that! But starting your analysis with “A wall will solve all of our problems” is going to be throwing a lot of money at the problem for less effectiveness than other solutions. You must start with analyzing where you’re going to place your personnel, and tailor the wall to that.

            Edit: I’m assuming some moderate leakage. If you really want to ensure that there’s no possibility of crossing, you’re looking at patrols within sight of each other to keep eyes on the wall, Inner-German-Border-style. That’s going to start approaching manned watchtowers 1/4-1/2 mile apart, so multiply this analysis by anywhere from 12 to 25.

            @albatross11

            I agree. Any “solution” that doesn’t include holding employers responsible for checking employability is just dick-waving. IIRC somebody linked a Cato report above that said that mandatory E-Verify would cost the US Government something like $50mm/year, which is way less than my costs discussed above, and will do a lot more to cut down on illegal immigration.

            However, this gores the oxen of both Democrats and Republicans (including our swamp-drainer-in-chief–notice that he talks a good game about immigration, but doesn’t even head-fake towards something that would require him to clean up his own company’s act)

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            @CatCube, are geosynchronous satellites too far away to be useful in surveillance?

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Thanks for those numbers. $300 million in personnel is noticeable, and it gives me kinda an idea of just how much an additional 10% for personnel (or walls) would help.

          • CatCube says:

            @Harry Maurice Johnston

            As far as I know, all imagery satellites are in low earth orbit. I think you run into angular resolution problems in geosynchronous orbit, but that’s not based on any deep understanding, just a Wikipedia-level understanding of spy satellites. I know that DSP satellites are in geosynchronous orbit, but they are just looking for the IR flash from nuclear weapons or missile launches, and don’t have to resolve at the couple of foot resolution you’d need to image personnel.

            @Edward Scizorhands

            To reemphasize in case I wasn’t clear in my last comment, but that’s just a Fermi estimate of personnel costs, and people can (and, I suspect here, will) quibble with the numbers. For example, by going to a two-man patrol, you’d cut it to $200,000,000 by the terms of my estimate. But I think it’s useful for talking about what kind of effort a wall requires, and illustrating that obstacle effort is only a contributing part of any actual physical security plan.

            Also, consider that I made a glaring math error in my edit to my last comment. Going to a 1/4 mile – 1/2 mile spacing would multiply my estimate by 20-40, not by 12-25.

          • bean says:

            @Harry Maurice Johnston

            Yes, they are. As CatCube says, imagery satellites are LEO-only.

            This doesn’t strike me as an area where satellites are going to be particularly helpful. A KH-11 costs $2-3 billion. You’d need a lot (I don’t have numbers offhand) to cover the border continually. Yes, it has to be continuous. There are people who track satellites for fun, and taking their ephemeris data and turning that into “when will there be gaps” is trivial. I could do it by hand if I felt masochistic. And they’re flummoxed by bad weather. Also, that kind of image processing is non-trivial, particularly with a bit of work put into camouflage by the other side.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Okay, no satellites. So how about AI-assisted drones? IR cameras. They patrol the skies above the border, and when they detect someone coming across they alert the monitoring station. Maybe they swoop down and a loudspeaker blares in Spanish “Halt! You are illegally trespassing on United States soil! Border Patrol agents are en route! Turn back now!”

            I still find it impossible to believe that if you told the military “secure the border using a small fraction of the budget we use to secure everyone else’s borders” they couldn’t do it.

            Also, to handle the incentives aspect, yes, I would like there to be a great big beautiful door in the wall, where migrant workers can come in legally to “fill jobs Americans won’t do” but in keeping with our minimum wage laws and labor regulations, not be raped, receive documentation, pay taxes, maybe get a punch card where after 5 – 10 years of useful migrant labor without committing crimes they can apply for permanent residence / citizenship, and harsh penalties for companies that hire undocumented workers.

            I think if you put all of these ideas together we could put an end to the lawlessness.

          • CatCube says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            To quickly discuss one of your scenarios, what happens when your AI robot catches a group of people and they split up? At that point it can only track one. Plus, swooping down and nattering about how the Border Patrol is coming will quickly be ignored once they realize that the nearest Border Patrol officers are an hour away in this sector, and they can get into terrain that the AI bot can’t track them (if it’s a huge, energy efficient drone that primarily cruises) or that it’ll run out of battery (if it’s a small, maneuverable one).

            Will these increase the catch rate somewhat? Yeah. But at a cost wildly out of proportion to the benefit.

            For the “we secure other countries borders!” thing, it’s important to remember that the US military isn’t securing other countries’ borders against smuggling or infiltration; they’re securing them against invasion, which is a very different problem. For example, on the Inner German Border, we didn’t have much concern about individuals sneaking across*, we were worried about the 8th Guards Army sending 100,000 individuals across simultaneously. When people are only trickling through, they could easily cross the border in the Vogelsberg mountains at any time, but a full-scale tank invasion requires the use of the Fulda Gap. So stopping individuals requires providing security along 100% of the border 100% of the time, where stopping an invasion requires only securing the ~35% of the border with terrain that will support large-scale maneuvers and their logistical support. Also note that in Korea and West Germany, the main “securing” forces are well back from the border. Only reconnaissance elements are right on the border to detect an invasion attempt, and the actual fight to beat back the invasion will be well inside the border. Like I said, totally different problem.

            * East Germany was very concerned about that, and the amount of money they spent on the border and border guards reflects that.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            These all still seem like problems that money and technology can solve, and we have lots of those. Combine with immigration reform to make it easier for foreigners to come in and work legally, crackdowns on employers who ignore employment laws and regulations and cooperation from state and local agencies instead of sanctuary city nonsense and it doesn’t have to be this way.

            Interstate highway system? No problem. Man the moon? Been there, done that. Spy on every electronic communication of every American? Just another day at the NSA.

            But intercept impoverished illiterate women and children in a desert in our own country? No way man. Impossible.

            This does not pass the smell test. I would very much like to try before throwing up our hands and declaring open borders.

          • CatCube says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            I agree with both your increased legal worker program and your crackdowns on employers. That’s what’s going to dramatically reduce our illegal immigrant problem.

            If you do those things, and no border wall, you’re going to eliminate a very large fraction of illegal immigration. If you do the border wall (as currently proposed) but not those things, you’re going to eliminate a small fraction of current illegal immigration. Therefore, doing those things is what’s doing the work, and the President’s border wall is just an expensive distraction.

            Doing actual, effective border control to do the same fraction of reduction as the employer crackdowns will be much more expensive than the crackdowns, and if we can’t muster the political will and money to do the crackdowns we’re not going to muster the political will to spend sums of money that are relatively vast in comparison.

            That’s not to say that we should rip out border obstacles or disband the border patrol. As currently constituted, they slow what would be a flood to a relative* trickle. But getting from that trickle to near-zero is going to be very expensive. We’re firmly on the diminishing returns portion of what “moar border control” can get us.

            Look, you seem to be saying that there must be some technological solution that will enable the Border Patrol to solve most of our problems cheaply. No, there really mustn’t. Time and distance–and the necessity of people near enough to do something–will rule all physical security plans.

            * Relative to what it would be in their absence.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            @Conrad, I would imagine blimps (ala Google) would be more efficient than drones for always-on surveillance. But I suspect the problem with either is that it would be a lot cheaper to shoot them down than it would be to replace them.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            We have aerostats on the border already, though they’re more for spotting planes using radar.

            I have first hand experience securing a border in the desert using UAVs to track and guide in ground forces, w/ both UAVs and ground forces cued from high tech surveillance. It was in northwestern Iraq on the Iraq-Syria border. We were getting cued for vehicle intercepts from JSTARS (sort of like AWACS but capable of detecting and tracking vehicles on the ground instead of the air), flying our UAV to the area to get a visual and actively track any “hits”, and then radioing to forces on the ground who were supposed to intercept.

            Bottom line: It did not work particularly well. Even for that border, relatively small compared to the US-Mexico border, the lag in response time from detection->direction to UAV->UAV flight time->communication to ground team->ground team travel time made it mostly a wild goose chase. Could it work? In theory, assuming you had sufficient UAV coverage to have one bird up every 20-30 miles or so, 24/7 with border patrol forces every few miles apart all the way along the border…

            The words “Cost overruns” spring forcibly to mind.

      • ana53294 says:

        OK, so the logical question is: how frequently do illegal immigrants at shooting range of border patrol agents manage to escape? Do they even try, once they are caught?
        It would have to take a very big percentage to justify shooting to kill.

        And if what you are worried about is the people the border patrol does not find, why bother suggesting killing somebody who is not there? What makes you think that vigilantes will be better at finding illegal immigrants than border patrol agents? Why can’t they just detain the immigrants?
        Is your viewpoint like the child separation policy, where the point of the cruelty is partly to scare people before they try to cross the border, instead of convincing them it would be pointless?

    • dndnrsn says:

      I had not seen it here before, either, that I can recall. It’s a fringe view, and deservedly so. However, I’d be leery of supposing that mass deportations are somehow less extreme: historically, mass deportations correlate with large numbers of dead people, sometimes they directly cause them, and they usually don’t happen when there’s a great deal of concern for the people being deported. Mass-deporting and shooting people frequently go hand in hand.

      • albatross11 says:

        I think “shoot all the illegals” is a position sort of like “abolish the police department” That is, it’s a slogan that signals how dedicated you are to some ideology, but isn’t actually something many people believe literally, and is a policy that has almost no chance of being supported by anyone in practice.

        At any rate, it seems to me that most people responding to the “shoot the illegals” ideas here have been disagreeing rather intensely with it, probably because we’re mostly literal-minded people who take ideas too seriously when they’re expressed to show how edgy and dark someone is.

        • dndnrsn says:

          It stands to reason that if you say the extreme thing when what you really want is a more moderate thing, but “find a variety of means to keep a strong border while seeking to reduce to zero or as close as possible the number of people who get shot, keeping that as the final recourse” or “we need to seriously change how policing works, and look at ways to change what happens in potentially-violent interactions” or whatever just aren’t sexy enough, you push the Overton Window more than you do if you call for something more moderate. It seems irresponsible to do public discourse with the same standards as you’d use to vent in personal conversation.

    • Brad says:

      Is this an alt-right view?

      Alt-right isn’t a term with a great definition. But I imagine both the edgelord faction and the unreconstructed white supramacists would be happy to endorse it.

      • CatCube says:

        Or those of us who are neither.

        Of course, depending on how you want to define “edgelord”, you could try to make that fit. However, I’ve not said it for the purpose of pissing people off which is what I understand “edgelord” to usually mean. If you’re using it to mean “has a view outside the Overton Window on SSC at the current moment” that would fit. I’ve even stated the “Border Patrol should be slashing water points” here on SSC in the past, and IIRC it was well before the last election when the border wall was being kicked around. Didn’t attract much comment then.

    • Doctor Mist says:

      Well, it’s an interesting question.

      What if we installed a (magical) ten-mile wide strip that would unfailingly electrocute anybody who stepped on it or drove over it? (Magical, I said.) We announce it loudly before we install it. Is that inhumane?

      What if we hired a million-man army to form a human barrier, politely using non-lethal force on anybody trying to cross but escalating to lethal force for anybody not dissuaded? Is that inhumane?

      So then what if we reduce it to a thousand man army trying (with mixed success, obviously) to do the same thing? Each soldier has a lot of ground to cover and might have to resort to lethality rather more often, and a lot of immigrants would probably slip through the cracks. Is that inhumane?

      It seems that what you’re running up against is the libertarian observation that the State is always ultimately about lethal force. Yes, if you exceed the speed limit, they don’t just kill you immediately. But if a cop signals you to pull over, and you don’t, he will escalate, and at some point you either submit or you get shot. It doesn’t usually get that far, but the possibility is the foundation on which everything else is built.

      There are people (I’m not really one of them) who observe that the 10 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. is a really large number, completely dwarfing the number of soldiers involved in a typical “official” invasion (e.g. it looks to me like D-Day fielded about 160 thousand), and wonder why they aren’t treated as an invasion. (My answer: They aren’t equipped as well as an “official” invasion. And they probably aren’t equipped even a hundredth as well, so maybe even the largeness of the number doesn’t matter. Could a hundred hungry Mexicans overpower an armed American soldier?)

      • Montfort says:

        It seems that what you’re running up against is the libertarian observation that the State is always ultimately about lethal force

        Firstly, this isn’t really the same category. I believe what ana is reacting to is the perception that people are advocating lethal force as a first or second line response to unauthorized border crossing. This is like being aghast that cops would just shoot a shoplifter fleeing police, or the coast guard would just sink (and not rescue survivors from) a fishing boat not complying with fishing regulations. This isn’t a thing unique to or characteristic of libertarians, this is simply being surprised by (in their opinion) disproportionate enforcement/punishment.

        Secondly, what exactly does it mean for a state to be “about lethal force”?

        • Alphonse says:

          Although I recognize that you aren’t necessarily expressing this view, I want to contest the notion that the people positing the acceptability of using lethal force to defend the border are doing so “as a first or second line response to unauthorized border crossing.”

          Let’s imagine that it’s morally permissible to use lethal force to defend your border after you’ve tried a dozen other policies in good faith. Now imagine that you see a person say, “I think we should try policy X to secure the border, and then if that doesn’t work, it’s time for lethal force.” Is that person acting morally permissibly?

          I don’t think there’s enough information to say. If we’ve tried eleven other non-lethal policies in the past, then proposing the use of lethal force when the next (and twelfth) policy fails is just fine. If we have only tried two policies previously, then it’s not morally permissible (in this hypothetical).

          2018 isn’t the first year America has faced the problem of how to secure the border. Nor is Trump’s presidency. This issue dates back decades, and numerous proposals have been advanced and largely failed. I think it’s quite reasonable for people to disagree with the notion that we’ve reached the point where resorting to lethal force is justified, but it’s bordering on disingenuous to act like lethal force is being proposed as a first or second line option. There are decades of history being ignored by that viewpoint.

          • Montfort says:

            I don’t know if you and I mean the same thing when we say “first or second line response.” What I mean is that, for example, illegal crossers get maybe a couple verbal warnings before being shot (or shot if fleeing an arrest attempt, etc). Here we’re talking about what is actually tried during the attempted border crossing – the first “line” is a warning, the second is lethal force. Compare to the coast guard example I gave – the first “line” is hailing the ship and ordering it to comply, the second is sinking it and sailing away. I want to be clear that I don’t know if anyone in this OT has actually expressed such a position re:border control, but I think ana’s comment above comes as a reaction to that idea.

            The way you’re using “first or second line” you seem to be referencing previous systems as previous “lines.” E.g. if the US tried building a wall, then demolished it and tried electronic surveillance, then let that fall into disrepair and tried e-verify, then defunded that and built watchtowers where snipers shot illegal crossers with no warning, the snipers would be the fourth “line.” I’m not under any impression that ana or other commenters here think no one’s tried anything but lethal force to secure the border.

            Let’s imagine that it’s morally permissible to use lethal force to defend your border after you’ve tried a dozen other policies in good faith.

            Similarly, I don’t know that you actually hold this position (or if you think I do, or if you think I think someone else does…), but it seems strange. Primarily, what trying other policies can do is give you information about how well that policy (and others like it) works, if it works at all. Regardless of the outcome, you’re still selecting your future policy based on some combination of what seems most ethically acceptable and what seems likely to work.

            That is to say, I don’t think a policy’s position in the long succession of attempted policies intrinsically makes it more or less acceptable. I do think whether or not you try less-lethal tactics before shooting people is something relevant to how justified shooting them is (though sometimes you just have to shoot, even without warning from a sniper hide half a mile away).

          • albatross11 says:

            Every law we have on the books is ultimately enforced by the threat of deadly force. Go steal a candy bar from the local grocery store and you’ll engage the whole huge justice system. And that will involve people using force against you, and if you keep resisting, they’ll escalate till they’re pointing a loaded gun at you with the safety off and demanding that you surrender right now.

            So it’s kind-of silly to object about this when we’re talking about immigration law. It’s an isolated demand for nonviolence.

            If someone says “Anyone who steals a candy bar from a store should be shot,” I’m going to think they’re a bit of a nut. But if you steal a candy bar from a store, the police show up to arrest you, and you (say) pull a knife to convince them to leave you alone, you may very well get shot for your troubles. Getting shot by a policeman or prison guard is not the intended punishment for stealing the candy bar, but it is a possible outcome. Similarly, if someone says “let’s shoot all the illegals coming across the border,” I’m going to think they’re a nut. But if you are trying to cross the border and the border patrol arrests you and you fight with them, you may very well end up getting shot.

          • Montfort says:

            @albatross11
            Taking your “every law is eventually backed up by lethal force” idea as true*, one is still allowed to object that the proposed path from a particular crime to lethal force is much shorter and easier than one thinks it ought to be. This is the complaint I am talking about.

            *I regard it as rather misleading. It’s true in a sense, but “continuing to resist” is hiding other more serious crimes. If the only thing you do contrary to the laws of the land is steal a candy bar, even if you don’t turn yourself in you will not actually be on the receiving end of lethal force (in a hypothetical land where police are responsible and don’t choke random citizens). If they find you, they will arrest you and you will go to court where you can plead your innocence. This argument could go on at great length, and I’m simplifying a little, but this is already kind of a self-indulgent footnote.

      • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

        What if we installed a (magical) ten-mile wide strip that would unfailingly electrocute anybody who stepped on it or drove over it? (Magical, I said.) We announce it loudly before we install it. Is that inhumane?

        If you also have a magical way of ensuring that everybody knows that entering the strip will definitely kill them, and of preventing people from doing so involuntarily or while mentally incapacitated, then probably no. Seems kind of overly hypothetical though?

        My answer: They aren’t equipped as well as an “official” invasion.

        I think motive is perhaps more important?

        • If you also have a magical way of ensuring that everybody knows that entering the strip will definitely kill them, and of preventing people from doing so involuntarily or while mentally incapacitated, then probably no.

          That seems like an unreasonably strong constraint. Would you similarly argue that it is immoral to build a bridge unless you have some way of making it impossible for someone to jump off it while mentally incapacitated? High buildings similarly?

          There is a legal doctrine of the attractive nuisance, such as a pool of some dangerous chemical that looks enough like a swimming pool so a kid might climb over the fence and jump in. But I don’t think the magical killing zone qualifies.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            I was aiming more for a sufficient constraint than a necessary one. Too tired to think about that aspect further right now, might have more thoughts tomorrow.

            I do think the fact that the hypothetical strip is unfailingly effective is doing more work here than it should. “Unfailingly effective” means nobody (modulo the ignorant, coerced or mentally incapable) is going to try it. Changing that to “moderately effective” adds the desperate to the list, and unnecessarily killing desperate people strikes me as inherently inhumane.

          • Changing that to “moderately effective” adds the desperate to the list, and unnecessarily killing desperate people strikes me as inherently inhumane.

            A natural intuition, but I’m not sure a defensible one.

            Assume, for the moment, that you are in favor of immigration restrictions, would vote for an impenetrable non-lethal wall if that option was available. Going from that to a moderately effective lethal wall feels inhumane. But from the standpoint of the people potentially killed it is an improvement, assuming they are themselves making a rational choice. It replaces a zero chance of either being killed or getting across the border with the option of either a zero chance of both (don’t try to cross) or a gamble–risk of death against opportunity to cross. Those who choose the latter presumably believe the benefit is worth the risk. The only losers ex-ante (if any) are the current inhabitants who don’t want the immigrants–but they are not the ones you feel are being treated inhumanely.

            To put the point rhetorically, your “desperate” are people whose situation if they don’t cross is even worse than the risk of being killed if they do–and you prefer to keep them in that situation. Rather like arguing against permitting people on the third floor of a burning building to jump.

            If that argument feels unconvincing, consider the equivalent in a different context. Imagine some people are suffering from a severely disabling but not immediately lethal disease. Someone comes up with a medicine that cures the disease–but has a significant chance of death. Should people be allowed to take it?

            Is the only difference that you are implicitly assuming that in the former case nobody would rationally take the risk, hence the only ones killed are the ignorant or irrational? If you don’t make that assumption–assume a low quality killing barrier, which arguably is what we now have–does it still feel inhumane relative to the (hypothetical) perfect wall?

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            Interesting, but IMO uncompelling. But then I’m not a rationalist.

            … my immediate objection is to the assumption that the person making the gamble is typically going to be analyzing it rationally, particularly given that they have no way to accurately estimate the risk involved in crossing. But I’m not sure to what extent that’s a rationalization on my part.

      • brmic says:

        What if we installed a (magical) ten-mile wide strip that would unfailingly electrocute anybody who stepped on it or drove over it? (Magical, I said.) We announce it loudly before we install it. Is that inhumane?

        Just paint the ground red and use automated armed drones that shoot anything that moves.
        Yes, obviously it’s immoral and inhumane, because it will kill people desperate and/or stupid enough to try going through and you could have prevented those deaths by using less lethal means.

      • rlms says:

        wonder why they aren’t treated as an invasion

        If you consider different things to be the same, then you can wonder about anything you want. I myself wonder why the 74,000,000 cats in the US aren’t treated like the 1.5 x 10^-15 g of carbon atoms at the tip of my nose.

        Fools who restrict themselves to only considering things to be the same if they actually so may still wonder about “unofficial” invasions of the US, however. There are about 320 million people who are plausibly one.

        • Doctor Mist says:

          I call that uncharitable. Not to me, as I don’t actually espouse this equivalence. But if you seriously don’t see why some people might, you are more unfeeling than I expected.

          I of course completely grant the 320 million people. But those are the people you’re trying to convince; you can’t seriously expect them to agree. If anything, the success of their “invasion” is evidence that they should take the new one really seriously.

    • 10240 says:

      Some of us here have unconventional moral views. Here is my reasoning, which I think is fairly common among libertarians:
      It’s never worse to give someone two choices (A and B) than just one of them (A). Even if B is much worse than A: then people will just choose A. It should be assumed that whichever they choose is the better (less bad) for them.

      Most of us who don’t want unrestricted immigration would say it would be OK to install an insurmountable obstacle along the border (ignore the cost or environmental effects for now). (Similarly, if there was an ocean between us and the rest of the world, and we only let in immigrants in a controlled manner, there wouldn’t be any particular moral problem with that.) In this case, if you are on the other side of the border, you only have one choice: to stay there (unless you get the permission to immigrate legally). If we shoot anyone who tries to cross the border illegally, you have two choices: to stay on the other side, or to die (with a certain probability). Therefore it’s not any worse than the insurmountable obstacle.

      This requires that prospective immigrants know that they get killed if they try to cross: have a fence and put very visible warnings on it. Also note that none of this is only relevant if you want very low or no immigration: you may want immigration, but want your country to decide who can get in (those who are the most beneficial for the economy, plus refugees who need asylum the most).

      Another way to look at it: if you jump in front of a train, you die. How does this compare with having border guards shoot illegal immigrants? If you look at it from the perspective “does anyone do something unvirtuous?”, the latter looks worse: the train driver doesn’t intentionally kill anyone, while the border guard does. But if you look at it like “does it harm anyone? (how much? can you ensure you don’t get harmed?)”, they are morally equivalent: if you don’t jump in front of the train, and don’t try to cross the border illegally, you don’t get killed. IMO that’s the only thing that matters.
      If it’s trains vs. landmines or automatic sentry guns, you don’t even have the difference of someone intentionally killing someone. The only difference is a symbolic one: with the landmines/guns, you install devices whose only direct purpose is to kill. However, the intention of the person who installs the devices is to prevent illegal border crossing, not to kill (though killing might happen if someone still tries to cross) – just as the train driver’s intention is to take people from one place to another, not to kill (though killing might happen if someone jump in front of the train).

      • brmic says:

        Yes, and as has been explained a couple of times in this thread, if you have other, less-lethal means to ensure the same outcome, you’re morally obligated to use them first.
        By your reasoning it’s a-ok to respond to jaywalking with on-the-spot executions, because everyone has the option not to jaywalk. The rest of us realize that this picture is missing something.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          By your reasoning it’s a-ok to respond to jaywalking with on-the-spot executions, because everyone has the option not to jaywalk. The rest of us realize that this picture is missing something.

          Yes, it’s missing the long list of negative effects that accompany the jaywalking, like rape, murder, drug/gun/human trafficking, fraud, labor exploitation, taxpayer expense, cultural fragmentation, demographic replacement.

          Also, no one is seriously suggesting the first or second response to jaywalking is on-the-spot execution. First we would expect the police officer to stop the person and give them a citation. I suppose it’s possible if they violently refused the citation after several warnings, they might wind up getting shot, but even then probably not because jaywalking isn’t a big enough deal to bother shooting someone over. But if jaywalking were a part of all the bad stuff I mentioned above that illegal immigration is, then…maybe?

          • rlms says:

            First we would expect the police officer to stop the person and give them a citation.

            Could you please do the same? How much “rape, murder, drug/gun/human trafficking, fraud, labor exploitation, taxpayer expense, cultural fragmentation, demographic replacement” does illegal immigration produce, how much do other instances of those things cost to reduce, and how much money should/would be spent on reducing illegal immigration?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Well, 80% of the women and girls crossing the border illegally are raped, so I think we’re well within the “worth the expenditures to stop the raping” zone.

          • Yes, it’s missing the long list of negative effects that accompany the jaywalking, like rape, murder, drug/gun/human trafficking, fraud, labor exploitation, taxpayer expense, cultural fragmentation, demographic replacement.

            With the exception of the last two, those are all effects of the laws making immigration illegal, and it isn’t clear that all of them are even real–that, for example, the murder rate by or to illegal immigrants is higher than by or to other people.

            The last two are likely real effects of immigration, legal or illegal, but it isn’t clear they are bad effects. Is America clearly worse for the addition to its culture and population of Irish, Italians, Ashkenazi, Mexicans, Japanese, Chinese, … ?

          • Randy M says:

            Can’t seem to find a link back the original study in that article Condrad linked for 80% of migrants being raped.

          • rlms says:

            Are you equally credulous about unsourced Huffington Post articles on the rape epidemic in colleges? From skimming the Amnesty International article linked in your article’s source (which doesn’t appear to support the figure of 80% other than by saying “shelter directors said so”), the only numbers it gives (on pages 6 and 15) imply rates of 25% and 5%.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Both the 80% and the 60% figure look like they’re pulled out of the air.

            The 80% figure:

            A staggering 80 percent of Central American girls and women crossing Mexico en route to the United States are raped along the way, according to directors of migrant shelters interviewed by Fusion.

            The 60% figure

            It is a widely held view – shared by local and
            international NGOs and health professionals working
            with migrant women – that as many as six in 10
            migrant women and girls are raped. A study in 2006
            interviewed 90 migrant women held in Iztapalapa
            Migrants’ Detention Centre, of whom just over half were
            from Central America. Twenty-three women reported
            experiencing some kind of violence, including sexual
            violence. Of these, 13 stated the person responsible
            was a state official. Researchers carrying out the
            study believed the figures may significantly understate
            the problem because of the reluctance of women to
            discuss sexual violence, particularly when they are in
            detention.

            The 60% figure in turn cites some reports from 2002 and 1999.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Is Breitbart any better? Rape trees. It’s happening. 60%, 80%, who knows, but somebody’s definitely doing the raping. And then there’s the coyotes who rob the migrants and leave them for dead, or murder them. And everybody who lives along the border has stories of robberies and home invasions. “But you could have been robbed by somebody who was born here.” Who cares? That has nothing to do with the crime from the people who shouldn’t have been here at all.

            it isn’t clear that all of them are even real–that, for example, the murder rate by or to illegal immigrants is higher than by or to other people.

            Crime rates are less important than crimes themselves. If your kid gets killed by an illegal immigrant who shouldn’t have even been in the country it’s no consolation that other illegal immigrants aren’t killing people. We have a rule that people that we don’t know can’t come in, and then the government lets them come in anyway. We’ve got people who commit crimes, and we deport them, and they walk right back in and murder somebody and when the cry goes up for the government to do its job we get a big old “but y u mad tho?”

            The problems all around illegal immigration are a lot worse than jaywalking, or speeding, or bike thieving or whatever. We do not have international drug cartels intimately involved with jaywalking, speeding, or bike thieving. Can we stop with the “but if this crime were a different crime would you care then?” analogies? They’re not effective analogies because these are different crimes.

          • Crime rates are less important than crimes themselves. If your kid gets killed by an illegal immigrant who shouldn’t have even been in the country it’s no consolation that other illegal immigrants aren’t killing people.

            Is it any consolation that your kid wasn’t killed because the citizen murderer killed an illegal immigrant instead?

            If immigrants commit fewer murders per capita than citizens then, unless for some reason illegal immigrants are particularly unlikely to be killed, the probability of a random citizen being killed is going down, not up. Some of the ones who are killed will now be killed by illegal immigrants, as per your example, but some of the ones who would have been killed are now not being killed because an illegal immigrant is being killed instead–that being necessary to make the overall murder rate lower, not higher, than before.

        • 10240 says:

          Sure, my argument is also an argument for having the death penalty for every crime.
          Here are my reasons not to support that:
          (1) Usually we can’t prove guilt with 100% certainty. The death penalty is irreversible. If lesser punishments are enough to deter the crime, we can limit the harm to the wrongly convicted.
          (2) If you’ve committed a crime, you’d have an incentive to do whatever it takes to avoid getting caught, such as shooting cops or witnesses, since there is no bigger punishment than death.
          (3) With some (usually minor) crimes, you might be unaware that it’s a crime. Some crimes may be vaguely defined, so you may not be 100% certain if something is a crime.
          (4) Some crimes can be committed inadvertently.
          (5) Some infractions (e.g. jaywalking) we want to be able to occasionally commit. We only make them illegal so that people don’t do them too much, or so that people don’t do them when they would actually cause a nuisance.
          (6) It could allow cops to get away with murder by killing someone and then claiming he jaywalked.

          if you have other, less-lethal means to ensure the same outcome, you’re morally obligated to use them first.

          Obviously that depends on one’s moral axioms. I support using less lethal means if they aren’t significantly more costly or less effective, though I wouldn’t call it an obligation.

          • Usually we can’t prove guilt with 100% certainty. The death penalty is irreversible.

            In practice, so are other penalties. What fraction of people wrongly convicted and sent to jail, or even fined, do you think eventually have their conviction reversed?

            There is one other, somewhat odd, argument against the death penalty. In a society that takes it seriously, such as 18th century England, the death penalty is cheap. If the people controlling the legal system are not the sort of people likely to be convicted and executed, it may be in their interest to overuse the death penalty, since almost all of the cost is being born by someone else–the person executed. Imprisonment is an expensive penalty for the legal system as well as the convict, which gives some incentive not to overuse it.

            I can go into more detail if you are interested–you seem to be coming from an L&E background but may not have considered the implications of public choice theory as undercutting the Posner conjecture.

          • baconbits9 says:

            In practice, so are other penalties. What fraction of people wrongly convicted and sent to jail, or even fined, do you think eventually have their conviction reversed?

            In theory you can at least offer financial restitution to an individual wrongly convicted and imprisoned, which is a qualitative difference from offering financial restitution to the family of a wrongly executed person.

          • 10240 says:

            In practice, so are other penalties.

            Yes. The main point is that even if the sentence is fully served, a jail sentence or a fine causes less harm than an execution.

            Indeed, it would be a good idea if we took the probability of wrongful convictions into account, and attempted to minimize the total harm caused by crimes and wrongful convictions. (Perhaps it may even be useful to make the punishment depend on the certainty of guilt?) Currently the criminal justice system formally claims to have a standard of “beyond reasonable doubt”, but I don’t think that’s what happens in practice. (Of course trying to estimate the harm caused by crimes and punishments, and the probability of wrongful convictions, would cause an extreme amount of controversy for politically controversial crimes.)

            (Also, in the way you analyze things, it may not even matter if the conviction is wrongful. Of course my intuition would be that wrongful convictions matter more in most respects. Though, thinking about it, reducing the threshold of evidence, while increasing the percentage of wrongful convictions, may increase deterrence, and thus the occurrence of the crime, perhaps in some cases so much that the absolute number of wrongful convictions decreases. This is affected by whether wrongful convictions come from the wrong people convicted for an actual crime, thus they are proportionate to the number of crimes, or people being convicted for a crime that never happened.)

            the death penalty is cheap. If the people controlling the legal system are not the sort of people likely to be convicted and executed, it may be in their interest to overuse the death penalty, since almost all of the cost is being born by someone else–the person executed.

            Yes, though it’s also a benefit if we currently don’t punish some people who should be punished because it’s too expensive. (Of course overuse is more dangerous at the extremes.) But is it more workable to oppose the death penalty along this argument than to only oppose overuse? Quite possibly. Though, while it’s hard to convince people to force the government to adopt specific measures to prevent overuse, it’s also hard to convince people to oppose the death penalty along your argument. A lot of people oppose the death penalty, but mostly for different, moral or emotional reasons.

            you seem to be coming from an L&E background

            Nope, mathematics.

          • In theory you can at least offer financial restitution to an individual wrongly convicted and imprisoned,

            You can, and very rarely do. But if, as I suspect, only a very small fraction of wrongful convictions ever get discovered and reversed, it’s still almost always the case that the error is never corrected.

  5. johan_larson says:

    And now the news from 1971.

    “Who’s Next” by The Who is a groovy LP and you should get a copy and put it on the Hi-Fi right away.

    That was the news from 1971. Good night.

    • J Mann says:

      I think the right way to do this is:

      I checked out “Who’s Next” by the Who. I thought the record was . . .

      [whips off sunglasses]

      . . . groovy!

      [YEAAARGH!]

    • fion says:

      Agree. I only moderately like The Who in general, but I love that album.

    • James says:

      The other news from 1971 is that Electric Warrior has just appeared and is one of the grooviest LPs of all time.

  6. Sykomantis says:

    Sigh so a friend of mine who is unfortunately an antivaxxer posted a link on Facebook today. It’s your standard “RECENT STUDIES SHOW UNDENIABLE PROOF VACCINES CAUSE AUTISM!!!” piece with links to studies.

    Here’s my problem: as far as I can tell, the studies look legit, but I don’t trust my level of expertise to say one way or the other if this is good evidence.

    I know some stats and enough basic experimental procedure to not see any obvious cheating, but these studies have titles like IL-4 mediates the delayed neurobehavioral impairments induced by neonatal hepatitis B vaccination that involves the down-regulation of the IL4 receptor in the hippocampus and are full of high level medical tests and terms I don’t know anything about.

    Anyone with a medical research background (or even Scott if he’d care to weigh in) want to take a look and give a credibility rating?

    • Well... says:

      If you don’t feel confident enough to evaluate the studies, why does your friend?

      • Sykomantis says:

        He’s not a part of the rationalist community and at face value the titles are pretty convincing if only for the hepatitis b vaccine. The only thing really keeping me from updating heavily on these studies is that no one else is reporting on them that I could find, it goes against the current scientific consensus, and they’re recent enough to not have any replications or refutations. This is why I’m turning to you guys, so that hopefully someone more knowledgeable about these things can weigh in about what, if anything, the experimenters did wrong.

    • baconbits9 says:

      Holy crud, my wife might be a genius.

    • rahien.din says:

      In both studies (the one here, and their 2016 study that they cite), their vaccine dose was 1 mcg. Neonatal rats typically weigh about 5-6 g [source]. This is a dose of 0.2 mcg/g

      The vaccine dose given to a human neonate is 10-20 mcg [source]. Neonatal humans weigh about 3500 g [in my experience, also source]. This is a dose of 0.003-0.006 mcg/g.

      They gave their rats the equivalent of 35-70 HBV vaccine injections. I’m not sure what conclusion we’re supposed to draw from that drastic of an immune challenge delivered to a non-human organism.

      They state “Furthermore, our recent study revealed that neonatal hepatitis B vaccination led to impairments in mood- and cognition-related behaviors, neurogenesis and hippocampal long-term potentiation in mice.” This is not the whole truth.

      Yang et al 2016 immunized mice on day 0, day 7, and day 21 with the above dose. They performed neurobehavioral tests at week 4, week 8, and week 12. The immunized rats showed decreased performance on week 8, but were indistinguishable from sham-immunized rats on weeks 4 and 12.

      It’s also worth noticing that the escape latency and swimming path on the Morris Water Maze test show differences that are statistically detectable, but not all that bad in actual magnitude. It’s not as if the immunized rats stopped swimming, or failed to find the platform at all (like in Greg Holmes’ optogenetic studies). For a brief time, they were a step behind the other rats. Pfft.

      In fact, this study demonstrates that you can massively overdose neonatal rats with immune challenge, and they’ll turn out just fine. To the degree that it is generalizable, this study demonstrates that HBV vaccination probably doesn’t cause neurodevelopmental disorders.

      When they cite the 2016 study as evidence of “mood- and cognition-related behaviors” as though this constituted a genuine neurodevelopmental disorder, it’s either a lie or a delusion.

      ETA : I just noticed that in the 2018 study, they subjected the mice to the Morris Water Maze at weeks 4, 8, and 12, and briefly describe that “At 4 or 12 weeks, there were no significant different performances in the MWM tasks between mIL-4-mice and the control (Fig. S3),” but while they give a nice color graph in the body depicting performance at 8 weeks, they bury the less-impressive graphs in supplemental figures. This is very disingenuous.

      (As with all this speculative neurodevelopmental-immunology shit) their paper rests on their claim that exposure to certain cytokine profiles influences brain development, as determined by comparison to rats without said exposure. That’s fine. Therein is some plausibility.

      But no one should care about that. Cytokine exposure is universal, for the unvaccinated become the infected, and infected rats will expose themselves to cytokines. The comparison between cytokine-(+) and cytokine-(-) rats has no external validity.

      They needed four groups of rats :
      1. Vaccinated / HBV-exposed
      2. Vaccinated / HBV-unexposed
      3. Unvaccinated / HBV-exposed
      4. Unvaccinated / HBV-unexposed

      My guess is, many of the unvaccinated / HBV-exposed rats would be killed or would be neurodevelopmentally harmed by their severe infection, confirming the benefits of vaccination despite mild, transient adverse effects that occur if you stab someone with a dose that is an order of magnitude too large.

      tldr : they gave baby rats massive immune challenges, they wildly overstated the adverse effects thereof and falsely implied those effects were permanent, and their results lack external validity. So yeah. Trash.

      Anybody CMWIW.

      • Nick says:

        Anybody CMWIW.

        This is a new one to me. “Correct me where I’m wrong”?

      • Sykomantis says:

        Thank you this clears things up beautifully.

      • quanta413 says:

        The only note I have is that depending on how vaccine dosing works, that might not be as insane as it looks. I know that for a lot of drugs if you look across species of different sizes, the appropriate dosage scales sublinearly with size (on average, there is a lot of variation across species). For example, if you dose an elephant with LSD at the same mg/kg as a safe dose for a human, the elephant will drop dead pretty quickly.

        But the mechanism of how a vaccine works is obviously different from something that just blocks a receptor in a lot of ways. So I could image the dosage relationship even being superlinear. Which would make the dosage even more insane than it looks.

        Someone correct me if they know the typical scaling of vaccine dosages across species of different sizes.

        • rahien.din says:

          I didn’t know that, thanks!

          • quanta413 says:

            Allow me to correct myself on the details of the elephant example, my memory or original source (which was something discussing dose responses as they scale with body size) was off. Wiki gives a dosage too high to be a reasonable recreational dose in mg/kg for a human. Too high by a factor of ~10 if I did the math in my head right. Humans have taken higher doses than normal although maybe not that high but it has much more dramatic effects than normal. Rather they dosed the elephant as if it were a rhesus macaque or a cat that they were trying to induce a violent reaction in according to the paper.

            And wikipedia says some people dispute if it’s possible that the elephant actually died due to another drug or drug interaction when they attempted to revive him.

            I’m still reasonably confident about the scaling rules not necessarily being linear, but no longer sure the dosage could have been concluded to be reasonably safe for an elephant (although you’d think that the scientists involved would’ve tried to pick a safe dosage, so their decision to jump straight to an enormous dose seems careless to me).

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Edit: rahien.din beat me to it and actually read the paper. He deserves many kudos.

      Edit 2: I wrote down the wrong numbers.

      I have a little real work to do and a barbeque after that, so I’m not going to read this today. I downloaded the paper and will read through it eventually, and I’ll pass it along to my girlfriend who has a background in neuroinflamation.

      Right off the bat though, I’m very skeptical of their methodology. They injected these mice with virus at a concentration of 1ug/50uL or 20ug/mL. This is double the concentration of HBV vaccine given to human children, 10ug/mL according to Google. I’m not a pharmacologist or an immunologist but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a two-fold increase in how much of any medicine you inject will mess up your day. rahien.din covered this better than I did. I’m in too much of a cell mindset, calculating concentration hides the actual difference in dosage.

      It also looks like they only did one behavioral assay, which is not recommended in mice. You usually want to do at least two or three different assays to make sure that you’re measuring the behavior that you think you’re measuring. My girlfriend’s roommate is using this same assay to look for memory impairment, but she’s also doing novel object recognition in combination with it for this reason.

      I can’t comment on the rest of the paper without reading it but that’s what jumped out at me in the methods.

    • Nornagest says:

      Aside from what everyone else has been saying, there’s a big gap between the two claims — if HB vaccination downregulated the IL4 receptor and thereby caused autism, then we could cause autism whenever we wanted by antagonizing those receptors. Obviously, we can’t. We don’t know how autism works in that kind of detail, and it’s very unlikely to be a regulation issue on one receptor — there’s too much going on with it for that.

    • Orpheus says:

      Wait a minute, infants in the US get vaccinated against hepatitis B?? Why? Do children regularly get exposed to blood?

      • brmic says:

        No.
        As near as I can tell the reasons are (a) it’s a very safe vaccine and the risk of chronic hepatitis B infection is especially high in children and (b) doctors don’t reach teens in sufficient numbers to vaccinate them. Also, (c) apparently vaccinating babies works to eradicate the disease.

  7. Thegnskald says:

    An observation, which I am curious for feedback about:

    Corporate IT isn’t about improving worker efficiency anymore, it is about improving workflow efficiency. The difference is small but critical: By and large, most of what I do isn’t destroying jobs, but rather restructuring them such that highly paid specialists offload non-specialized duties onto lower-paid non-specialists. I transmute high-paying jobs into a lower number of even higher paying jobs, plus several low-paying supporting jobs.

    So if I were coding IT support software, I would write a program that gave a script with prompts for telephone operators, with the comparatively low number of issues needing specialist support getting escalated to the specialists via some scripted criteria. Supporting this software would involve improving the script, either to reduce unnecessary escalations, or escalating as necessary sooner.

    This creates low-paying, low-skilled jobs, at the expense of a higher number of specialist jobs. (While making the specialist jobs even more specialized). This looks like it would carve out the middle class on a societal level, pushing the more skilled higher, while pushing the marginally qualified into the lower classes.

    Does this sound right?

    • andrewflicker says:

      Only slightly related, but I wanted to vent:

      A really embarrassingly large part of my job involves (metaphorically) wandering around after BI people and developers and high-level managers and whatnot and simply automating the remaining low-pay-low-difficulty tasks they left as part of the workflow chain after they “transmuted” the high-paying-high-difficulty jobs into more low-pay-low-difficulty jobs in the way that you describe.

      As a basic example: Last week I literally automated away a task that was about 10 hours/week of a close-to-min-wage job that consisted largely of clicking the same button on the front-end of a highly-complex tool that did all the real decision-making, that had replaced perhaps 80 hours/wk earlier workflow. It took me a few hours, and was frankly much simpler than the work the initial developer had done building the tool. In a way, I felt like a parasite- I did an easy thing that took advantage of someone else’s hard work, and made it look amazing because I removed humans entirely from the workflow- but really the dev had already removed 8/9 of the human involvement already!

      It feels to me like most of my coworkers are all too happy to heavily simplify/transmute/make-more-efficient tasks up to that 75-90% threshold, and are characteristically unwilling to automate away that last small fraction. Perhaps it’s a trust issue- leaving it 100% machine-ran requires trusting the automated processes to not make more mistakes than the human. Or perhaps it’s the old joke about the factory, the man, and the dog…

  8. Nornagest says:

    Thanks to everyone who uses the report button to report comments to me.

    Last time I saw you talking about this, you said the long-standing bug with the report button was preventing reports from getting through to you. I think someone in the thread even tried it, with the “log out and back in” workaround for the “Cheatin’ uh?” dialog, and that you said it didn’t work.

    So, what’s up with that? I still do it, because I am full of spite and it makes me feel better when I see something really egregious, but it would be nice to have some more clarity on this issue.

    • yodelyak says:

      I too had believed the “report” option was not working.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I too want clarity on this. All I know is that I do get reports, sometimes.

      • Nick says:

        I reported a comment just now with both buttons and got “cheating, huh?” on both. I tried it after changing my url to https and both buttons said they worked. Tried another comment exactly once and that also said it worked. Did you get any of those reports? Does https make a difference for other folks? Is it supposed to make a difference for something like this?

        • Nornagest says:

          I always use HTTPS and get the “cheatin’ uh?” message unless I’ve recently logged out and back in. Maybe switching to HTTPS cleared some state for you?

      • The Nybbler says:

        “Cheating, huh” isn’t supposed to mean the comment was reported twice; it means the comment ID in the report request was invalid. However, I just reported your comment and got “Cheating, huh”, and the comment ID looks fine:

        comment_id: 644290
        sc_nonce: 4bef7f84ec
        result_id: 4979
        action: pmcc_report_comments_flag_comment
        xhrFields[withCredentials]: true

        or raw

        comment_id=644290&sc_nonce=4bef7f84ec&result_id=4979&action=pmcc_report_comments_flag_comment&xhrFields%5BwithCredentials%5D=true

        The response was

        {“code”:”invalid_values_message”,”errors”:true}

        which should mean the comment ID was either empty or not an integer. 644290 looks pretty integer-like to me.

        • yodelyak says:

          This is a test comment to try the report feature.

          • yodelyak says:

            Leftmost “report” turned into red circle. Rightmost report resulted in text being added at the bottom of the comment reading, “The comment has been reported.” I’m going to say this seems to be working fine, twice over. (up-to-date chrome browser with mostly default settings)

            Also, I realize now that unless we’ve been asked to test the feature, it might be a good idea not to overwhelm the report inbox with lots of people trying it out.

          • Scott Alexander says:

            I received your report.

    • Brad says:

      This is what it looks like on my screen:
      https://imgur.com/a/YNld7PE

      The ones on the left now apparently work (i.e. turn into the red circle checkmark rather then cheatin’ when clicked) without doing any login/logout dance.

      I reported this comment as a test.

  9. Andrew Hunter says:

    This bothered me. Am I unreasonable? Looking over the discussion, it feels like an overreaction–am I alone here? Can someone explain to me briefly why what he said was so unacceptable?

    I am biased in that I have greatly enjoyed Chris’ contributions across several fora for years. He is consistently bright, informed, data-driven, and insightful. I admit he’s somewhat confrontational, and in particular greatly likes to present contradictions in people’s professed and revealed preferences in a way that I guess maybe comes off as aggressive, but I think it adds a lot of value to the discussion. In particular I’m very much not seeing his interaction with FdB as violating norms here: yes, he was explicitly calling out FdB’s beliefs, but he was directly part of the discussion and on the same topic to boot. It was certainly true, and I think reasonably necessary.

    Am I, in my limited ability to analyze situations, missing why this is so unacceptable?

    • baconbits9 says:

      I’m surprised at the 30 day ban for that offense, but that could be because of prior incidents. I would speculate that the cause was writing an inflammatory post aimed at a poster who had gotten a 1 day ban. Coming back from a ban and seeing what could easily be construed as a personal attack isn’t conducive to reasonable discourse, and directly addressing a poster who can’t respond (for a limited period) is also a little iffy when done that way.

    • Andrew Hunter says:

      Also, I had a few versions of this comment eaten by the filter – are banned commenters’ names banned words?

    • CatCube says:

      I think it’s because he continued to take shots at Freddie after Freddie had been banned and couldn’t respond.

    • quanta413 says:

      Freiddie might have started it, but Freddie already had eaten a temporary ban and couldn’t even respond. When you see this result, the correct thing to do is be an adult and be satisfied that the banhammer has come down on someone behaving badly. Not start flinging mud.

      St____’s post was obnoxious ad hominem involving actual details about Freddie specifically. Rather than the normal generic nonsense about leftists or rightists that is mostly given a pass. Ignore Freddie because Freddie is X therefore his arguments are invalid. And St____ couldn’t let go. He continued on in this vain at length for multiple posts.

      It was not behavior that should be allowed unless we want to risk every discussion here devolving into ad hominem about the people here brave enough to use their own name. I highly disagree that it added any value to the discussion. It subtracted a lot of value though.

      It was obviously not kind, not even vaguely necessary, and only debatably true.

    • bean says:

      I think Scott has decided to crack down on personal attacks on other commenters. All four bans were for gratuitous personal attacks, and there’s a definite correlation between the gratituitousness of the attack and the length of the ban. I was very surprised to see a neo Puritan get 3 months for insulting me when I said that I thought War Nerd was not a good source. Honestly, I’d forgotten about that incident entirely.

      In this particular case, it’s less personal than the others, but FdB had just been banned, which should have been a signal that the particular issue was closed.

  10. proyas says:

    Imagine you live in a big city. Suddenly, every artificial light source in the city goes out (including streetlights car headlights, and emergency backup lights). Would all the stars of the Milky Way be instantly visible, as they are in rural areas, or would the stars still not look as bright?

    Why?

  11. ana53294 says:

    About fences and border patrol. There are two Spanish cities in Morocco, which are surrounded by fences. This is an image of the fence of Melilla.
    By the way, funny fact: some of the advertising by Trump against illegal immigrants was about people jumping the fence in Melilla (23 sec).
    So, in 2005, the Spanish government had the brilliant idea to put concertina wires on top of the fence. These wires created these injuries in the people jumping them. A guy died. The government had to process and cure these people, and pay for their medical cost, before deporting them. There were protests by the Human Rights comissioner of the Council of Europe, as well as the European Comission. Finally, after an order by a Spanish judge they removed the wires, with all the cost of that (around 10 million euros).
    There are cameras along the whole fence; plenty of police, too. The border is just 12 km long, and easily patrollable due to roads along the border. This is how it looks after they remove those wires.
    But immigrants still manage to jump, mainly by grouping themselves into massive groups of hundreds of people and jumping en masse, because even though the police will come, some of them will manage to escape. Preventing those mass jumps is quite costly, especially because it is very hard to do without shooting people, and that is a non-starter. A lot of the people who jump are kids; there is actually a big problem with unaccompanied minors, and nobody knows what to do with them.
    The thing is, this 6m double fence does not work that effectively. Of course, if it weren’t there, things would be much worse; there are entire colonies of people who settle around melilla, preparing themselves to jump the fence in one of those mass jumps; individuals doing it are not effective. So far, the best strategy seems to be to pay Morocco to stop them before they reach the border, and not look too carefully how they do it. Why cannot the US do that? They could then pretend that whatever atrocities the Mexicans comit are not their fault, while paying Mexico off with some kind of state aid. Then you can give asylum to those few who pass through the brutal Mexican border, and pretend to be the nice guy.

    Edit: I added the name of the concertina wires. Turns out they are called the same in English and Spanish.
    I also first stated that the case was taken to the ECHR, but I was confused.

    • yodelyak says:

      Someone else will give you details, but the U.S. very much already pays Mexico to prevent people reaching its border, and to please not videotape how it accomplishes this.

      • ana53294 says:

        Well, then that means that the people who do reach the US border have already gone through all of that. What makes the people who advocate for the US to commit those atrocities think that they would be more effective?
        The US does have a history of commiting atrocities, but that is mostly on foreign soil where they can have plausible deniability, by secret services. Having the border patrol shoot people would probably make a lot of people become pro-immigrant.

    • CatCube says:

      So, in 2005, the Spanish government had the brilliant idea to put these thingies on top of the fence (how are they called in English?).

      Concertina wire.

      I’m also rather astonished that the ECHR has a problem with wiring a fence. I get the problem with say, mines, but if you jump into a wire obstacle you’re kind of accepting that bad things are going to happen to you. At that point it’s on the jumper.

      • ana53294 says:

        Thanks, I couldn’t find the translation, because it kept referring to the musical instrument.
        It wasn’t the ECHR, I did not remember it correctly (it happened 10 years ago). The case was struck down by a Spanish judge. There was a lot of pressure from the EU, though.
        That case had very bad optics and there was a big fuss. The thing is, once they jump and they are injured, it is our responsibility to cure them.
        I am pretty sure that the ruckus in the US would be similar.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      This is probably a dumb question, but if there are a crowd of people gathering on the other side of the fence why don’t they just hit them with tear gas or hoses?

      There are a lot of options in between live fire and letting people through. Hell, when I was looking up minefields earlier today I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are non-lethal tear gas mines. Not practical for an unpatrolled border but if it just needs to slow someone down it sounds ideal.

      • Eric Rall says:

        The current conventional wisdom is that there’s no such thing as a non-lethal weapon, only a less-lethal weapon. People can and do get killed by tear gas grenades and beanbag rounds.

        A lot fewer people than if live rifle ammo had been used in the same situation, but there seems to be a scale-insensitivity towards deaths and serious injuries in crowd control situations. And even without deaths or serious injuries, using force and inflicting pain to clear an unruly crowd still tends to looks bad. So even though tear gas and firehoses might cause 1% of the deaths of live ammo, they’ll still get you 30% as much bad PR (numbers made up for illustrative purposes).

        In a border-fence scenario, there’s also a question of national sovereignty. If the fence is hard against the border, the other side of the fence is Moroccan soil, and Spanish soldiers firing tear gas grenades at them would technically be an act of war. In order to make a “tear gas when you approach the fence” policy work, you’d need a two layer fence: a symbolic fence at the actual border and the actual barrier a few dozen yards back from it, and a policy of lobbing tear gas at any large groups that cross the first fence and approach the second one.

        • 10240 says:

          Police in European countries use tear gas against rioters all the time, and it doesn’t cause much of a scandal or sympathy (except perhaps by those who already sympathize with the rioters), and very rarely does anyone die.

          • ana53294 says:

            Sure, when you use tear gas on people who are on firm ground, it is not too dangerous. However, when you do it with people who are on top of a fence, some will die or at least get badly injured. Besides, we want to avoid them stepping on Spanish soil; if they step on the ground between the fences, they have stepped on Spanish soil.

          • 10240 says:

            Nabil ad Dajjal talked about using tear gas on the people gathering on the other side of the fence, not those up there. The likely reason they don’t do this is that that’s Morocco’s side (another reason Eric said).

          • Eric Rall says:

            Do they? US police also use tear gas and other LLWs against rioters, but it tends to be met with significant disapproval by anyone who sympathizes with the rioters.

        • ana53294 says:

          They already use two wired fences. The problem is, once you jump the first one, you are on Spanish soil, so stopping you from jumping the second one is pointless, because once you step on Spanish soil you have to be deported by the proper procedures.
          The Moroccan police collaborates with the Spanish police; you still get cases like this (minute 1:35 shows immigrants in the inside of the two fences, clinging to the upper part).

          • 10240 says:

            That’s not a problem because if they get deported with proper procedures, that means they don’t actually get into Spain (except for a brief time in a jail). And if it gets known that everybody who tries gets deported, few people will try.
            Also, if it’s a problem, they could change the law which says they can’t just put them on the other side of the fence once they have set foot in Spain (and they could’ve not put vague bs in the constitution that might allow judges to strike it down).

          • ana53294 says:

            No, an EU country cannot make a law that contradicts a sentence by the ECHR. We accept the jurisdiction of the court, and it can overturn a decision made even by the highest Spanish court.

          • ana53294 says:

            Also, it just costs a lot of money to deport them. We don’t have the cheap US system where toddlers appear in deportation court without a lawyer.
            Court cases in Spain take forever. This would mean that a lot of money is spent on this, which is really my main objection about illegal immigrants.

          • 10240 says:

            The ECHR is actually an organ of the Council of Europe, not the European Union. All EU countries are members of the Council of Europe; I don’t know if that’s actually a precondition of EU membership. AFAIK some countries have defied ECHR rulings, and the court can’t do much about it; I don’t know if the EU would do much about it.

        • Matt M says:

          In order to make a “tear gas when you approach the fence” policy work, you’d need a two layer fence: a symbolic fence at the actual border and the actual barrier a few dozen yards back from it,

          Isn’t this basically what East Germany did?

          • Eric Rall says:

            Yes, East Germany did have a double (in some places, triple) fence system on the Inner German Border. But they used machine guns and anti-personnel mines instead of tear gas.

            It was quite effective (there were still escapes, but a tiny fraction of the escapes before the border was fortified), but not in any way humane.

      • ana53294 says:

        Well, this is a video of the Spanish police trying to make people on top of the fence come down. This is another video showing their violence.

        My guess is that if you use tear gas on people sitting on a fence, some of them will fall and get injured, and you get blamed.
        The Spanish police does not like to show too much how they prevent people from jumping, because it causes them loads of problems.

        The thing is, once they are on the other side of the fence, you have to deport them, with courts and everything. There was a practice called “devoluciones en caliente” “hot returns”, where they would jump the fence, and the police would open the door of the fence and shove them outside. This was deemed illegal by the ECHR. This is an illegal practice for which the head of police was removed.

        So, once they jump the first fence, they have stepped on Spanish soil, and you have to legally deport them. Meanwhile, human rights defenders will complain you are keeping them in detention centers awaiting trial.

        • 10240 says:

          Which shows the idiotic results of symbolic, emotional thinking on part of the electorate.

          (1) We could let in just about everyone who wants to come legally. Anyone can get a visa at the embassies in Morocco and other African countries, buy a plane ticket (or we buy it for them if they can’t afford it) and fly safely to Europe.
          (2) Or we could say we don’t let in anyone, even if they are in danger. We advertise with posters and speakers on the fence in every African language that we’ll try to kill anyone who crosses, and actually do so (or perhaps fire warning shots first); if you don’t want to die, you don’t try to cross. We may decide on less harsh treatment if those are enough to reduce illegal immigration to a minimal level. The point is if harsh methods are needed to reduce it, we apply them, and we don’t consider them inhumane (or don’t care if it’s inhumane).
          (3) Or we could decide that we are willing to let in and help a given number of people. Try to determine who need it most, let them apply for a visa at any embassy or legal border crossing and come in legally as in (1), and apply (2) to anyone who tries to cross illegally.

          Instead what we do is we let in a bunch of people who are willing to and manage to cross illegally, while we don’t let in a bunch of people who would deserve it more. If they manage to cross illegally, they can apply for asylum, while there is (I guess) no way to apply for asylum at embassies and come in in a safe way. We pay African countries to do the dirty work, and then treat those who manage to evade them much better.

          All because governments have to appease left wingers who support refugees (and would be outraged if we applied brutal methods against them, but care much less if we’re not the ones actively preventing them from coming in), and right wingers who don’t want them here (and would be outraged if we actively helped them immigrate, but care much less if the border control is imperfect). Coppenhagen interpretation of ethics at its best, from both sides.

          • Brad says:

            In the US there are separate systems for refugees and asylees. Refugees are mostly picked from among people living in refugee camps. Asylees are people in the country that apply.

            I’m pretty pro immigration but there’s a ton more outright fraud in the asylum system than the refugee system, and even where the asylee claims are legally sufficient they very very rarely as compelling as even the median refugees claim.

          • ana53294 says:

            The thing is, with legal immigration we end up with this charming guy coming to Europe (the family of the Equatorial Guinea dictator), whereas poor people are not allowed to come. The unemployment situation in Spain is bad enough (15%) that even undesirable jobs are filled by Spanish citizens, and then there the Portuguese are Eastern Europeans. Besides, for reasons of cultural fit, when we want poor immigrants, we invite Latin Americans in.
            There is no reason whatsoever to let poor, uneducated legal immigrants, unless they are refugees. And if they are refugees, why did they not stop at Morocco? Besides, they tend to be strong young men, so they are a lot less sympathetic than other refugees.

            The current fence situations where there are regular mass attacks and the police tries to stop then by nothing more than batons is the best equilibrium that can be reached.
            I am pretty sure that if Trump builds the wall, people camp on the other side of it, and then launch massive coordinated jumps of hundreds of people, nothing will stop them (well, nothing that will look good on a recording on CNN, which you can be sure there will be).

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Relevant column from Pat Buchanan.

            Consider what our fathers did to build this country.

            The English settlers brought in 600,000 slaves, ethnically cleansed the Indians, joined their cousins in a war to expel the French, then revolted and threw out those cousins to claim all the land to the Mississippi for ourselves.

            Jefferson grabbed the vast Louisiana Territory for $15 million from Napoleon, who had no right to sell it. Andrew Jackson drove the Spanish out of Florida, sent the Cherokee packing on the Trail of Tears, and told a dissenting Chief Justice John Marshall where he could go.

            Sam Houston tore Texas away from Mexico. “Jimmy” Polk took the Southwest and California in a war Ulysses Grant called “the most unjust ever fought.” When the South declared independence, Lincoln sent a million-man army to march them back in a war that cost 600,000 lives.

            William McKinley sent armies and warships to seize Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines. The indigenous peoples were not consulted. “God told me to take the Philippines,” said McKinley.

            The conquest and colonization of the New World and the creation of the United States and its rise to world power required acts of aggression and war of which many among our elites are ashamed. They exhibit their guilt by tearing down the statues of the men who perpetrated the “crimes” that created America. But of these elites, it may be fairly said: they could never have built a nation like ours.

      • CatCube says:

        when I was looking up minefields earlier today

        Chapter 7 of TM 3-34.85 is probably the quickest one-stop source for US mine warfare doctrine. Current executive order is more or less to follow the Ottawa Treaty except for on the Korean Peninsula, so there’s not much actual training in this anymore (I’ve never done a live minefield), but it’s still in publications.

    • outis says:

      AFAIK, Mexico actively helps people migrate to the US. They have agencies that provide information, supplies, etc. I don’t know if they’re doing it for the remittances, to slough off surplus population, or to take back El Norte, or simply because too many Mexicans want to migrate to the US, and it would be unpopular to stop them effectively. At any rate, it seems to be their policy to favor migration into the US, so they may not be willing to change it even for a lot of money.

      • ana53294 says:

        I don’t mean to pay them off to stop Mexicans from coming; I mean to pay them off so they stop the rest of South America.
        That would leave you just the mexicans to deal with, and it is my understanding that the demographic situation in Mexico is such that there are much fewer young people than a decade ago.

      • multiheaded says:

        Iiiiiinteresting. Do you have a single Spanish-language source on that? I’ll wait.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          The New York Times is owned by Carlos Slim, so do they count as a “spanish-language source?”

          A Mexican Manual for Illegal Migrants Upsets Some in U.S.

          If you do a google image search for “mexican manual for illegal migrants” you can see the pages themselves.

        • multiheaded says:

          Alright, that definitely increased my opinion of the Mexican government. Cool of them.

          why doesn’t it use its army and police to prevent people from crossing in those areas?

          Lol.

  12. rlms says:

    Anyone watching Love Island?

    • j1000000 says:

      Never heard of it and I guess that’s because it’s British, but I’d be fascinated to know what percentage of SSC has ever watched it or something equivalent…

      • dodrian says:

        My favorite Trashy Reality TV Show was “Young, Dumb, and Living Off Mum”, a show broadcast on BBC3 a few years back. Put a group of never-held-a-job 20-somethings in a house together, give them a dole budget, and set them “challenges” (eg., go to the supermarket and cook a meal without spending all your money on booze, or survive a day at “work” cleaning up animal muck on a nearby farm) to try and learn to survive independently. Their parents watch the footage and vote the most useless off once a week.

        I also enjoy the odd episode of Duck Dynasty and Dog the Bounty Hunter.

        • Randy M says:

          I also enjoy the odd episode of Duck Dynasty and Dog the Bounty Hunter.

          Was that the crossover episode where the ducks escaped into the city, or where the bad guys went hiding in the bayou?

        • Nick says:

          When it comes to reality TV, I was always a sucker for Gordon Ramsay shows. I was also surprised to find I liked American Pickers. (There’s a Frasier episode where Frasier finds the one thing he and his dad both like is Antique Roadshow.)

    • James says:

      No, but mildly shocked by how many of my peers (my housemates, my lover’s housemates) are.

      Seems incredibly trashy but from the few fragments I’ve seen/overheard I kinda see the appeal. Gossip is fun, televised gossip even better, televised gossip about sex utter dynamite.

    • baconbits9 says:

      Shortly (within a year) after the fed funds rate hits 4.00.

    • outis says:

      What’s the best way to prepare for a recession? Get out of the stock market? Buy bonds?

      • Brad says:

        Don’t worry about the stock market, it will recover before you retire. What you should worry about is your job (and you spouse’s if applicable). You want to be in a secure position for a company that can weather a recession fairly well. Bonus points if they are adverse to layoffs. Probably not a good time to be working for a startup, unless it is either already cash flow positive, or has a very long runway and a likely path to get there soon.

      • baconbits9 says:

        Increase your savings.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        Get out of the stock market?

        Timing the stock market is the best way to kill your stock market returns.

        • Eric Rall says:

          Timing the stock market is the best way to kill your stock market returns.

          Agreed. In order to time the market effectively, you need to be better at analyzing the stock market than financial institutions with entire staffs of full-time employees trying to analyze the stock market. You might get lucky, but you also have a huge risk of getting unlucky and selling near the trough and buying back in near the next peak. And the most likely case is your market-timing attempts wind up uncorrelated with the stock market’s performance and you wind up making average returns while you’re invested but little-to-nothing when your uninvested, while taking increased costs due to trading fees, and while taking regular short-term capital gains tax hits every time you sell for a profit.

          If the medium-term volatility of the stock market is a concern to you (because you expect to want to cash out some of your investments in the next several years, or because you’re psychologically risk-adverse), the standard recommendation is to re-balance something like 20-50% of your investments (depending on your risk tolerance and investment horizon) into bond funds. This reduce volatility through a combination of levering-down (mixing a risky investment with a relatively safe investment) and hedging (bond prices tend to rise when stock prices fall, and vice versa). You lose some on average-case returns due to levering down, but much less so than if you’d attempted to time the market.

        • SamChevre says:

          Note that investing in a mix of markets, and rebalancing to keep the proportions fixed, results in a bit of market timing.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Brad’s advice is great, and baconbits9’s advice to start saving has the benefit of reducing your spending.

        Look at the money you are spending right now. If you or your spouse lost your job, could you cover the spending you need to do?

        If you are a single-income family you cannot realistically prepare to survive without that income, but if you are dual-income you should be prepared for one source of income to disappear. Do not take on mandatory payments like mortgages or debt that cannot be covered on only one salary.

        Brad and ADBG are right about timing the market. On the other hand, if you have suddenly discovered that you cannot tolerate the market risk you previously thought you could, it’s prudent and good to reshape your portfolio to one that is more inline with your risk tolerance. Some people cannot sleep if their portfolios lose 50% of their value, and while learning to accept that risk is preferable, if you cannot learn to accept it it’s better to go lower-risk. A good night’s sleep is undervalued.

        • baconbits9 says:

          Brad and ADBG are right about timing the market. On the other hand, if you have suddenly discovered that you cannot tolerate the market risk you previously thought you could, it’s prudent and good to reshape your portfolio to one that is more inline with your risk tolerance. Some people cannot sleep if their portfolios lose 50% of their value, and while learning to accept that risk is preferable, if you cannot learn to accept it it’s better to go lower-risk. A good night’s sleep is undervalued.

          If you are concerned with this and are willing to take on some active responsibility for the portfolio I (as a non professional with no credentials who is totally not legally responsible and should not be listened to) avoid this by setting a small position with OOTM puts on major markets. If there is a major crash the options should cover a portion of my “losses” and provide cash in the event that the crash lines up with other financial issues for us (say job loss) and prevents short term forced selling. If there are no financial issues at the same time then the plan is to reinvest, so I get to ‘buy low’ after the crash.

          There are some serious issues with the approach that I am aware of, so don’t jump in with just this description as a guide!

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            You aren’t wrong. But people who have trouble sleeping because of their market positions are unlikely to be appeased by adding more complex financial instruments that they don’t quite understand.

          • baconbits9 says:

            I partly agree, but I think there are multiple reasons for people who make the decision to sell on the way down, despite many of them knowing (or at least having heard) not to sell at the bottom. A brief list.

            1. Need. Financial crashes often go hand in hand with lower earnings and sometimes higher real expenses. Having a time dated instrument that you can sell to cover a need would prevent selling of actual stock.

            2. Psychologically seeing ALL of your holdings in the red day after day makes it hard to imagine ever turning it around. Having just a few bright spots can really ease the mind of some people.

            3. Herd behavior. Its hard not to sell when everyone is selling, having a unique strategy from the start (even if it is just nominally unique) sets it apart and gives you space to say “its fine that they are selling, my portfolio works differently.”

          • Brad says:

            I guess literally betting on decline is the exception to the all correlations go to 1 in a crisis phenomenon. At least unless clearinghouse default risk becomes an issue.

            It’s a very expensive safety blanket, but if the other option is selling on the way down, maybe not a bad idea.

    • Anon. says:

      AFAIK none of the early indicators have even started turning yet, so barring some sort of extraordinary event (eg war, oil price shock) we’re at least 2 years away. Start worrying when the yield curve inverts.

      • j1000000 says:

        I’m assuming plenty of things that haven’t previously been early indicators will turn out to be early indicators of the next one. Black Swans and all that

        • The Nybbler says:

          Every comment backed up by “conventional wisdom” is “ready to be Black Swan’d”. But black swans are rare; most of the time the conventional wisdom _won’t_ be Black Swan’d.

          (quotation marks refer to an earlier version of the parent comment)

          • j1000000 says:

            (Apologies for editing that parent comment text, did it cause I didn’t see anyone respond yet)

            True enough and I realize the phrase has been robbed of all meaning at this point. But I don’t have a sense that economists have been good at predicting recessions, and so my thought would be that relatively uncommon events like recessions are especially prone to “Black Swans” in that they falsify indicators that were useful all the way up until they weren’t and perhaps instill a falsely scientific sense of confidence.

            But hey IANAEconomist so have at me. Maybe economists have been wrongly villified and are actually excellent at predicting recessions.

    • BBA says:

      The recession will officially begin on January 21, 2025, when we stop cooking the books.

  13. rahien.din says:

    For those of us who are interested (and/or know something about) the current state of our military, what do you think of War College? I recently came across it and have been listening. They strike me as obviously left-y, but not in a disqualifying way… but I have no way to judge the content.

    (If you have better suggestions, I am all ears.)

  14. Rusty says:

    Edmond Ironside (owner of the best name ever) was followed by King Cnut (great king, hopeless name) who had two wives both of whom affected to believe the other was just a mistress. So I learned at a history festival last week. I also learned that if you turn the map of northern Europe on its side you can see just how tempting the coast of England was to the Vikings.

  15. Rusty says:

    Æthelred
    King of the English
    Reign 18 March 978 – 1013 (first time)
    Predecessor Edward the Martyr
    Successor Sweyn Forkbeard
    Reign 1014 – 23 April 1016
    (second time)
    Predecessor Sweyn Forkbeard
    Successor Edmund Ironside
    Born c. 966
    Died 23 April 1016 (aged about 50)
    London, England
    Burial Old St Paul’s Cathedral, London, now lost
    Spouse Ælfgifu of York
    Emma of Normandy
    Issue
    Detail
    See list[show]
    House Wessex
    Father Edgar, King of England
    Mother Ælfthryth
    Religion Christianity
    Æthelred II (Old English: Æþelræd, pronounced [æðelræːd];[1] c. 966 – 23 April 1016), known as the Unready, was King of the English from 978 to 1013 and again from 1014 until his death. His epithet does not derive from the modern word “unready”, but rather from the Old English unræd (meaning “poorly advised”); it is a pun on his name, which means “well advised”.

  16. sandoratthezoo says:

    https://kotaku.com/fortnite-rocket-launches-cracks-the-sky-1827260601

    So in Fortnite, there was an event where a rocket launched up into space and… cracked the sky. Is someone over at Fortnite a fan of Unsong?

  17. Zephalinda says:

    Here’s one for the “random question” pile! Did anyone’s free play as a child ever characteristically include making orderly lists and arrays of information— e.g. catalogs, indices, rosters, etc.?

    If so, what, if anything, do you think it “said” about your cognitive style- that is, is there any part of your adult personality/ability set/tastes that in retrospect seems clearly linked to that childhood tendency?

    (A school-aged kid of my acquaintance spontaneously does this for imaginary characters generated as part of otherwise very age- and gender-typical pretend play. Zero ASD concerns or anything, but it’s a very unfamiliar play impulse to me, and I’m curious as to whether it suggests anything about a person’s overall mental makeup.)

    Bonus question: for the non-listmakers, what other weird childhood play habit has turned out to be an unexpectedly good predictor of something about your grownup self?

    • roystgnr says:

      This Simpsons bit hit uncomfortably close to home…

    • Well... says:

      When we were kids, my brother and I would go over a mutual friend’s house and play one of the EA Sports NHL video games. In those, each athlete can be viewed with a histogram, along one axis of which were discrete categories (speed, passing, puck-handling, shot accuracy, show power, etc.).

      Inspired by this, my brother once made “trading cards” of all the kids on our bus, with a similar array of stats on the back (numbers according to his own judgment of course). I don’t remember what the stats were for but I think it was stuff like how good each kid was at various sports, how smart they were, how artistically talented, how funny, etc.

      I believe my brother did it mainly because he was scratching that “orderly lists of information” itch, to which I could relate, though the other kids were not amused when they found out.

      I don’t know that it says anything about our cognitive style that isn’t obvious. My brother grew up to be an artist, and doesn’t work anywhere near numbers of science, but while I would not say he is a big proponent of “orderliness” the way, say, a typical conservative might be, he is a pretty well-organized guy, as in he has his shit together and keeps his home and his workspace reasonably tidy.

      I can’t speak for my brother but I make lists all the time and use them for all kinds of things, and find I don’t get nearly as much done without them.

    • John Schilling says:

      I did quite a bit of wargaming starting in about middle school, and that definitely involved an element of what would later become known as spreadsheet-fu. I don’t think I ever did that sort of thing for its own sake, but I did rather more of it than required by the mechanics of the game, and I did enjoy it.

      And, yeah, a lot of my day job turns out to be very much like that. Including the part with the massively complex linked spreadsheets for producing optimal spaceship designs that are way better than the other guy’s spaceship designs. Hey, the spreadsheet says so, and spreadsheets don’t lie.

      • proyas says:

        Are your spaceship designs based on known physics (e.g. – light speed barrier and inertia) and on realistic assumptions about the limits of materials and power generation?

        • CatCube says:

          Designing spaceships is his day job.

        • John Schilling says:

          Actually, that whole thing about a “light speed barrier” is

          [REDACTED]

          [SIGNAL LOSS]

          [UNIT “J. SCHILLING” EXTIRPATED, REBOOTING FROM BACKUP]

          OK, let’s try that again. I support a group very similar to NASA/JPL’s Team X, doing conceptual design studies like this, but mostly for DOD and TLA customers that don’t like publicity. Though we have done a few manned-spacecraft studies for NASA.

          We do adhere to the laws of physics as we understand them. And I don’t think it is a coincidence that the tools and techniques are similar to those that hard-SF gamers were playing with a generation earlier. Much better developed, and with an emphasis on collaborative team play.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      My sister cataloged the entire Legion of Superheroes on sortable index cards. Now we have Wikipedia to absorb all this.

    • Making orderly lists and arrays of information has always been my primary leisure activity, both as a child and as an adult. However, I am autistic.

    • proyas says:

      I made tons of lists as a kid and still do.

      It’s hard to remember all the ones I made as a child, but some were attempts to plan out my life and future salary and income based on very optimistic assumptions about me joining the military and quickly working my way up to four-star general.

      I also fantasized about becoming dictator of a Third World country, which I’d use as a starting point for taking over entire regions of the world and eventually challenging the U.S. for global power. Again, I tried calculating what the eventual populations of my empires would be based on then-current national populations plus population growth rates.

      “If so, what, if anything, do you think it “said” about your cognitive style- that is, is there any part of your adult personality/ability set/tastes that in retrospect seems clearly linked to that childhood tendency?”

      It was an early manifestation of being an INTJ, which some have aptly nicknamed “The Mastermind.”
      http://www.personalityperfect.com/intj-the-mastermind-personality-type/

      The act of gathering and organizing information like this was mentally soothing as it calmed the anxious streak in my personality. Go further down the spectrum, and it bleeds into useless obsessive-compulsive behavior other people have, like having to go through an elaborate ritual before leaving the house each day.

      Also, I keep lists out of fear that I’ll forget something I learned or that I need to do. It’s such a waste to forget things learned through assiduous effort. For this reason, I understand why AGIs will be necessarily superior to humans: even if they can’t learn new things any faster than we can, they’ll never forget anything and will be able to recall knowledge instantly and without distortion.

    • WashedOut says:

      I made fictional CDs/albums with fictional band names and tracklistings. My main early-childhood hobby though was mazes – drawing, solving, staring at mazes. If I gave a maze to a friend and they crossed a line or went outside the perimeter ‘illegally’, they quickly found out just how serious this was to me.

      • James says:

        Yep, lots of mazes and castles in my case. Also ‘levels’ for made-up videogames, mostly Sonic the Hedgehog derived.

      • moscanarius says:

        I also enjoyed to draw mazes. I also liked to add keys / doors / creature encounters to them.

    • moscanarius says:

      As a kid, I made lists, but I think only in connection with some other play (list of all TMs in Pokemon Yellow, list of available goods when playing buy-and-sell). I don’t know if it tells anything about me.

  18. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Economics in Science Fiction More questions than answers.

    I didn’t know marginal revolution was a thing before it was a blog title.

    Even if you’re not interested in science fiction (is anyone here not interested in science fiction?) there’s an interesting bit towards the end about people getting very worked up about the UK deficit without knowing what it is.

    • ana53294 says:

      The article does raise an interesting point about a cashless society; I didn’t know that in The Handmaid’s tale, they started by freezing all female accounts, but it does not seem technically impossible in a cashless society. A cashless society gives surveillance opportunities that not even the most repressive governments (USSR, GDR, Venezuela, Hitler’s Germany, even North Korea) have. Black money creates all kinds of problems, and getting rid of it sounds very tempting. However, even in science fiction it frequently ends in disaster, and history has a way of bringing completely unpredictable results.
      It is incredibly convenient to always use bank cards to make payments, and to keep all your money in the bank. So I sometimes make a point of paying in cash, because I don’t want the government to think “nobody is using cash, and it costs a lot to print, plus you have the black economy issues”.
      I also think that black markets have their advantages. Most people cannot afford to hire domestic help for their elderly relatives legally, so they hire illegal immigrants. If this option is gone, a lot of people would have to quit their jobs and the government would lose their taxes.
      In Russia, from what some businessmen have told me, almost all businesses operate on a semi-legal basis, because it is too costly to follow all the laws. This is done on purpose, so if you do something against the regime, the government will always have something to pin on you (like they went after Al Capone for tax evasion). So some degree of black market facilitates trade and job creation, especially in areas with high unemployment and inflexible rules on employment.

      • The Nybbler says:

        In Russia, from what some businessmen have told me, almost all businesses operate on a semi-legal basis, because it is too costly to follow all the laws. This is done on purpose, so if you do something against the regime, the government will always have something to pin on you (like they went after Al Capone for tax evasion).

        How traditional; that’s one of the best lines from a well-known Russian-American writer.

        “Did you really think we want those laws observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them to be broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against… We’re after power and we mean it… There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Reardon, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

        — Ayn Rand, _Atlas Shrugged_.

      • cryptoshill says:

        This is one of the primary worries that is fueling the idea of Bitcoin and other crypto-assets.

    • J Mann says:

      I think people knew what the deficit was – Jo means that he thinks he has some good arguments why the deficit was not an obstacle to spending that he supports, and people either weren’t familiar with those arguments or didn’t find them convincing. Can you find someone somewhere who refers to the debt as the deficit or vice versa? Sure. Is it true that no one understood what the deficit was? I strongly doubt it.

      PS – wasn’t David Friedman collecting suggestions for econ in science fiction a few threads ago?

      • wasn’t David Friedman collecting suggestions for econ in science fiction a few threads ago?

        In short works of literature more generally. I looked at what was linked to a while back and didn’t find anything useful.

        What I’m looking for are not descriptions of radically different economic systems but works the embed interesting economic insights–which such a description might do but might not. Examples so far include sf by Poul Anderson and Larry Niven, a supervillain story, two Kipling poems and one story, a Sommerset Maugham story, … .

        Economics, for me, isn’t about the economy, it’s about a particular way of understanding behavior, a way that can be demonstrated in many different contexts.

        • yodelyak says:

          It’s not fiction, but if you haven’t seen the Evolution of Trust by Nicky Case, you are missing a great study-of-rational-behavior-given-incentives teaching aid. Link: https://ncase.me/trust/

          It seems to my mind that there’s also probably something in Catch-22 that might be useful for broadening people’s thinking… there’s the bit where Yossarian and another officer have an exchange like this:
          Y: Of course I don’t want to be patriotic–that could get me killed!
          O: But suppose everyone else felt that way, and no one wanted to fight for our country?
          Y: In that case I’d be a damn fool for thinking any differently!

          Our host may not feel comfortable being linked in with the likes of Maugham and Kipling, but “You Make My Blue Eyes Blue” is an enjoyable deep dive into game theory.

          • There might be useful things in Catch-22, but I’m not including extracts from novels. Ideally what I am creating is a collection of works of literature worth reading for their own sake, which happen to also have interesting economics that I can discuss. An extract from a novel isn’t a work of literature on its own–that’s why people write a novel at the length they write it.

            I want something that people would read for fun as an interesting selection of stuff, not something they read because their professor assigned it in order to prove that economics shows up in literature.

        • ana53294 says:

          I wanted to suggest you the “Tale of the Troika” by the Strugatskiy brothers, but it seems to be ridiculously expensive to buy the English translation, as the edition from 1978 has become some kind of antique. But if you have it in your local library, it is very good.
          It is a novel about a fantasy world based partly on Russian folklore with a ridiculous bureaucracy that has magical powers but is at the same time inept.

          The link is to a book that includes the tale, although they don’t give the description of the tale. You can find the description in the Wikipedia.

        • Tatterdemalion says:

          “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver is a novel rather than short, but it did a better job of bringing home the extent of first world/third world inequality than anything else I’ve read.

        • theredsheep says:

          My second novel (in progress) involves an underground civilization dependent on a magical source of artificial light to grow food. This has a bunch of odd implications for their society, including a variety of (in some cases rather nasty) population control mechanisms, most obviously eugenic infanticide because inbreeding is also a risk with isolated populations. The women who tend and control the magical fires can’t marry, but their families are compensated with an increase in social status and dowry-compensation money. To prevent skewed gender ratios in the marriage market, the civil service is restricted to eunuchs, who likewise grant a certain amount of privilege for their families.

          This is mostly deep-background because most readers aren’t obsessed with this kind of thing like I am. Also, I’m trying to make my second novel more accessible (you may recall that my first, last summer, was very dense and hard to get into). But is that the kind of thing you’re thinking of?

          • Nick says:

            Tangential, but can you link your first novel?

          • theredsheep says:

            https://www.amazon.com/Curse-Life-Brayton-Cole/dp/1537163191/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499090164&sr=8-1

            It’s free to read with Amazon Prime. And about as complicated as Anathem. I still feel it’s a good book, but not really great for establishing my name as an author.

          • No. I’m not thinking of novels at all.

            What I am trying to create, either in print or as a web page, is a collection of interesting short works of literature–mostly short stories but also poems and essays–that in addition to being enjoyable to read contain economic insights. To that I add essays discussing each work in terms of the economics. The current draft is webbed, and provides a better picture of what I am trying to do than a post here. The introduction sketches the nature of the project, which I have also discussed on my blog.

            The advantage of doing it as a web page is eliminating most of the hassle of getting copyright permissions, since most of the in copyright works are already available online. But I could also do a print version which contains the text of works which either are out of copyright or are by people willing to give me permission, as several authors I have corresponded with are. For other works that are webbed I just include the URL, or perhaps have a web site with links that the book points readers at.

          • theredsheep says:

            Ah, I missed the part where you had a very specific project in mind. Apologies.

        • Bugmaster says:

          The anime Spice and Wolfv yes an excellent primer on Renaissance-Era economics, set in a fictional world with some magical elements, as seen through the eyes of compellingly rendered characters.

          • How long is it? Is it available for viewing online?

            I found what seems to be it on Crunchyroll. It appears to be lots of episodes–novel length. I viewed part of what seemed to be the first.

            Are you specifically referring to episode 5?

        • yodelyak says:

          Asimov’s foundation series was originally short stories. Gotta be some good stuff there. I read them as collected into a nove–but my impression is they’d hold up okay, read separately.

          • yodelyak says:

            A short story that goes a long way to explode the idea that people are “perfectly rational” might be the titular story in The Girl with Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace

            Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life and Others has a story following the political battle around an emerging technology where you can opt to see people’s faces with all attractiveness modulated to be the same, so nobody gets the weird bump of being extra attractive. Some people only want to date people who can see their “true” attractiveness, other people want to uninstall their own shallowness and require others to do the same.

            There’s a Sherlock Holmes story where Sherlock gets a woman to reveal the location of a very valuable item by creating a false-alarm of fire. Believing her apartment is on fire, she immediately goes to the location of the valuable thing. Something something revealed preference, maybe?

            I haven’t read them in ages, but the G.K. Chesterton Father Brown stories have to have something useful like this.

            Would you consider Shakespeare an acceptable choice for modeling “Imperfect information”… Romeo and Juliet not knowing each other still live. All the twins/look-a-likes. Everyone in A Midsummer Night’s Dream who is bewitched.

            Maybe you’d get more helpful suggestions if you suggest a concept from Economics, or a whole list of them, and let people try to think of stories that illustrate those concepts? (A story that illustrates “imperfect information” is so easy it’s trivial. A story that illustrates the benefits to trade from comparative advantage even when one trader has an absolute advantage in all production… that’s harder to think of, but thinking of that might be helpful to you, whereas thinking of “Romeo & Juliet” doesn’t seem likely to have helped you much.)

          • Nick says:

            There’s a Sherlock Holmes story where Sherlock gets a woman to reveal the location of a very valuable item by creating a false-alarm of fire.

            No no, the woman!

          • @yodelyak:

            Thanks for the suggestions. The first one doesn’t seem to be webbed and the Kindle free sample doesn’t include that story–I’ll see if the local library has the book.

            Economists don’t believe that everyone is perfectly rational. At most, they believe that rationality is the predictable part of behavior, hence models that treat everyone as rational get closer to the correct answer than the alternative, and that such models do better than one might expect due to a number of factors, such as random errors averaging out.

            What I need isn’t a story that shows that people are irrational or information imperfect–that’s obvious, so the reader doesn’t learn anything from them. What I need is a story that shows a non-obvious implication of imperfect information, such as adverse selection, or something interesting and useful about irrationality, such as Thinking Fast and Slow—except, of course, it isn’t a story but a non-fiction book.

            The things in the webbed draft and the linked comments should give some idea of what I am looking for if you want to read them. The first thing there is an old Poul Anderson story whose point, illustrated three times in three different ways, is that in order to stop someone from doing something you don’t have to make it impossible, just unprofitable—you can leverage his rationality. That is the central idea of deterrence, but it’s not obvious until pointed out because people imagine conflicts as chess games, where all either side wants to do is to defeat the other.

            The short explanation of what I am looking for is:

            I. Economics is that approach to behavior that assumes individuals have objectives and tend to act to achieve them.

            II. I am looking for short works of literature, worth reading on their own merit, such that reading them, perhaps with my comments added, can result in someone understanding something about economics he did not understand before.

            I hope that helps, and thanks to you and others for your efforts.

          • baconbits9 says:

            I don’t have any short works of literature to recommend, but I have always liked the description of the changed behavior of the rabbits in Strawberry’s warren in Watership Down from an economic point of view.

        • J Mann says:

          I assume you’ve looked at The Midas Plague, but just in case you haven’t, I think that asking “why don’t they just stop” is a good exercise around the Keynsian “war is good for the economy” analysis.

          I’m not sure what the lesson is, but on a similar note, I enjoy Zach Weinersmith’s short story Scarcity.

          • I hadn’t looked at “The Midas Plague.” I have now read a good deal of it, and while it’s an entertaining reversal of some cliches I can’t make any sense of it as economics.

          • J Mann says:

            It’s much longer than I remembered. I had mentally edited it down to just the set-up and the ending.

            Set-up: Va gur qlfgbcvna shgher, jrnygu vf fb cyragvshy gung gur cbbe ner erdhverq gb pbafhzr guebhtu n dhbgn flfgrz naq gur evpu ner crezvggrq (guebhtu fznyyre dhbgnf) gb unir fznyyre zrnyf, ohl yrff wrjryel, rgp.

            Punch-line: Qrfcrengr gb cyrnfr uvf jvsr, jub terj hc va n jrnyguvre snzvyl naq pnaabg fgnaq gur tevaqvat cbiregl gung erdhverf ure gb npprcg fb znal guvatf, gur cebgntbavfg nffvtaf bar bs uvf freinag ebobgf gb ortva jrnevat bhg uvf tbbqf gb vapernfr uvf pbafhzcgvba. Jura gur cbjref gung or qvfpbire uvf fpurzr, gurl ernyvmr gung gur frperg gb jbeyq unccvarff vf sbe rirelbar gb nffvta n ebobg gb qb nal pbafhzcgvba gurl qba’g jnag, gurerol xrrcvat gur rpbabzl ehaavat fzbbguyl.

            I’m not an economist, but I’m reminded of the Keynsian idea that any economic activity, no matter how wasteful (like war or alien invasion) can be an economic good. Of course, that depends on the idea that it is necessary to activate slack labor and or increase monetary velocity by repairing confidence (I think), and Pohl’s idea is a bit less flushed out.

  19. nzk says:

    What about the Mexican Election?
    Or more specifically, what about the extra-ordinary amount of violence in the Mexican Election?
    NY times article
    Vox Article

    That is, hundreds of politicians have been murdered, a lot dropped out of fear, and we will never the number of possible candidates who decided not to run out of fear.

    Can you call this kind of elections “Democracy”? Even if the one of the candidates got murdered or scared off or bought off?

    I don’t know what is the proper response, but just going on with the election like nothing happens seems not like democracy at all.

    • outis says:

      Is the new guy AMLO supported by the cartels?

      • nzk says:

        Well, I guess the impact of the violence on the top candidate is much lower. He can get all the security he needs.
        But a candidate for a small town mayor?

  20. ana53294 says:

    It seems like every presidential election, the libertarian candidates get quite a few votes; so many it should be enough to get a couple of representatives in Congress, if the system was not territorial.
    2016 was probably an unusual year, where Johnson got 4,489,235 votes, or 3.27%. If we take 3% of 435, that would be ~ 12 Congress representatives, quite a few.
    2012, Johnson got 1,275,971/0.99% of votes. That would still give you 3-4 senators.
    In 2008, Bob Barr got 523,715/0.40%, which would be 1 Congress representative.

    Considering how tight a lot of votes in Congress are, the Libertarian party could hold considerable sway in a more proportional system, moderating the social and military policies of Republicans and the money spending profligacies of Democrats, all in all a very good thing. So why is there no single Libertarian Congress representative? Is it that they are too spread across the different states? How could this be fixed?

    • massivefocusedinaction says:

      There are several reasons, there are no Libertarian congress people.

      The Libertarian candidate is the primary recipient of voters who really would rather vote “none of the above” but don’t have that option. Who may not support libertarian policies, but want to choose the most popular alternate option. That’s still true in congressional elections, and most people are happier with their congressional reps than the president.

      Congressional representatives derive most of their power from committee membership, and a 12 member party would likely struggle to get placed on the important committees (which vary by location). For this reason, independent candidates often caucus with (join in supporting major legislation, and are awarded committee positions from) one of the two parties. As examples, Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman are independents, but both caucus with the Democratic party.

      The solution that has gotten the most support so far, is to concentrate libertarian votes in a single, low population state. The Free State Project, picked New Hampshire, which is a smaller state, that’s long been more amenable to libertarian policies. They’ve had some state level office success, which is impressive considering that they’re campaigning for people to make a long distance move, which is a fairly costly commitment.

    • dodrian says:

      The disadvantage of the FPTP system used in the US (and many other countries) is that it makes easy (and even encourages) the domination by two parties, leading many feeling dissatisfied with their choice. FPTP has two upsides though: it isolates extremists and makes it much harder for them to win seats, and it tightly couples politicians to their constituency, ensuring they care about and fight for local issues.

      It’s the second advantage that should be looked at – while the Libertarians don’t have much influence nor chances on the national stage, if they worked hard at the local level, they may be eventually able to take state and federal seats.

      This is how it’s done in the UK, which also has a straight FPTP system in parliament, and has eight different parties represented in Parliament. Four of those are regional (Scottish National Party, Party of Wales, two Northern Irish parties), and the Greens only have one seat, but the Liberal Democrats, despite recent losses, still have enough seats and relevance to influence bills and votes — they were even the kingmakers in the 2010 election with the two main parties unable to secure a majority alone.

      As I understand it, the LibDems managed to build up their party by working hard in local politics. Councils in the UK use a form of proportional representation, which does make it easier to get seats – but I don’t think this would be impossible in the US – many local positions are uncontested or secured by local reputation(well known businesspeople, lawyers, church members, etc). If the Libertarians persued a long-term local strategy, in a few years time (either by improved reputation, or by local politicians going national) they could begin to see State-wide and Federal seats.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      These impacts already happened and did not require the existence of an independent libertarian party. The outgrowth of the Reagan Revolution in American politics was a lot of deregulation and cuts in top marginal tax rates, and the response was Third Way Democrats instead of the New Deal and post war Democrats. I know everyone screams about the “Religious Right” but they barely exist as a thing and have been totally swamped by America’s social liberalism.

      As for foreign intervention, America has practically no appetite for military conflict. Iraq wasn’t a trivial conflict, but it had a substantially smaller footprint than Korea or Vietnam. The US isn’t super-eager to intervene compared to prior imperial powers.

      I know moderate people like to whine about the two major parties, but the fringes would be a LOT worse in the eyes of most moderates. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

  21. johan_larson says:

    There is a bit of dialogue in Incredibles 2 that suggests the films have shown us 17 powers for the character Jack-Jack:

    Helen Parr: I missed Jack-Jacks’ FIRST POWER!
    Bob Parr: Actually you missed his first SEVENTEEN!

    I’ve tried to list them, but could only get 11:
    Laser eyes
    Body of flame
    Beast-boy
    Walk through walls
    Alternate dimension
    Many bodies
    Levitation
    Body of rubber
    Body of metal
    Growth
    Teleport

    Anyone have more of them?

    • theredsheep says:

      You left out the rocket-sneezing. I think he briefly displays some kind of electrical power right before zapping the furrow in Bob’s hair, too. But I think they picked an arbitrary number and you’re overthinking it a wee bit.

  22. ana53294 says:

    What is better for your future career and socioeconomic status – to graduate from Harvard or Princeton with the minimum acceptable grades, or to graduate summa cum laude from a lesser university.
    I think that for jobs that do not require postgraduate school, Harvard is better. However, a lot of government programs do look at grades, so maybe having better grades is better. Which professions would do better if you have better grades?

    • Alkatyn says:

      The marginal difference in the benefit of the qualification is going to be lower than the other benefits you get from attending. If you go to harvard you spend 4 years talking to and building connections with other people at Harvard, which is extremely useful for networking and connections. On the other side there’s a tradeoff of increased costs

      • ana53294 says:

        Well, the reasons that Harvard would be better are the connections and the prestige. But there is the monetary cost (if you are barely passing, you probably don’t get a full-ride scholarship to Harvard), and the fact that connections matter more in some jobs than others.
        Besides, not everybody has the capability to make those social connections – some people have trouble socializing.

    • rahien.din says:

      Your terminal degree should be the most prestigious.

      Or: order your ponds from smallest to largest.

    • helloo says:

      Are you assuming the same intelligence/capabilities in both cases?

      I think you’re overestimating Harvard/Princeton (CIT/MIT maaaybe for their tougher/more competitive majors) that a bottom rank (or even low mid rank) would be the top rank for a “lesser” university.

      If something particular is causing the difference (ie. depression from not being the top/able to handle a tougher environment), that’s probably going to be more influential in the long run.

      Generally speaking – even if some jobs look at grades, not all of them are going to, even in the same field. As long as the same intelligence thing holds, the more prestigious one will probably be better all else equal. (including other concerns like networking, student debt or research opportunities)

    • WashedOut says:

      Top university with lousy marks, absolutely.

      Anecdatum:
      I studied a hardmode STEM field at my country’s equivalent of MIT, and graduated with average marks [1]. I was offered a full time job at a top-tier firm before I even graduated, and have never been unemployed or underpaid since. None of my employers have requested an academic transcript, just the certificate of completion. My situation depended on a strong demand for professionals at the time I graduated, and my university being very well-aligned with the industry.

      Graduating from a really good university says so much more about you than a stellar transcript from WhoCaresUni. First of all, good unis have selective intake and they selected you. Then you spent 4+ years among a high-achieving milieu, probably had good teachers and mentors, and you voluntarily accepted a challenging course, all of which signals ‘this person has potential’. The rest is taken care of by good resumes and interview techniques.

      [1] Too busy fraternizing, working part-time to pay rent, and experimenting with mind-altering substances.

  23. Ketil says:

    About immigration.

    Most of us probably live in some kind of welfare state, where being a citizen confers a bunch of privileges. Social security, health care, access to education, or just infrastructure. These privileges have a substantial value to the individual, and they are one important reason why so many immigrants are lining up to enter western countries.

    I think most people would agree that completely open borders would wreck havoc with our current societies, it would lead to an influx of millions of people, many without skills needed to contribute in a western work market. As far as I can tell, statistics support this – immigrants from less developed economies tend to end up as welfare clients. So we do what we can to make immigration difficult, have strict criteria for qualification (only the “deserving” should be given entry), deportation, internment, border walls, and so on.

    I wonder, should the value of welfare be made explicit? And could we replace current immigration laws with a price tag? Say the cost of being a citizen is $50000¹, could we simply charge that amount to let people enter?

    Now I expect better from this crowd, but people usually react rather violently to this suggestion, arguing that it would only let in rich people, which is at least unfair, and possibly outright evil. My counterargument is that whether it is explicit or implicit, there is a cost, and we could still let in exactly the same people as today by spending the same amount of money from our aid budgets to buy people access.

    Having a price tag solves some problems. The need for everything from pro-forma marriages to people suffocating in airtight vans and leaky dinghies crossing the Mediterranean would drastically decline – just pay the price (to the officials, not to some smuggler) and book an airline ticket. Police could chase criminals instead of escorting immigrants back to their country of origin. And so on. And of course, it’d do much to reduce opposition to immigration if they’re no longer seen (by some) as free riders and gold diggers.

    Depending on how aid is distributed, this could radically alter the flow of people. If you give some guy in a refugee camp such an amount of money and an option of purchasing entry to Norway, do you think he would come? Or would he move to somewhere he already has family living, where he speaks the language, holds useful skills, the climate is less hostile, and where now can afford to bring his entire extended family and buy a house for them? Likewise, if you give $500M to UN HCR, would they send 10K refugees to Norway? Or would they give fifty times that number in refugee camps schooling and health care?

    One of the main (and often overlooked) benefits of capitalism is the difference between price and value. If I buy something, it is because its value to me is greater than the price. The difference is a direct profit for me, and probably constitutes a very large fraction of total value creation. When somebody else decides how money is being spent on my behalf, I’m likely to get much less value for money, and often I get something I probably didn’t really want at all. I think our current system for immigration is probably one of the least efficient and effective ways to spend money. By making costs explicit and moving the decision down the chain (whether to HCR or to individuals), decisions about expenditure are likely to produce much greater benefit.

    PS: I realize this is just a thought experiment. Immigration and aid is not really about helping people in need, it is about feeling better about ourselves. It is not about statistics (millions suffering in various bad places), but about narratives (we helped one individual to a better life). It is not about effective use of resources, but about demonstrating our willingness to sacrifice.

    ¹ This is probably a way too low estimate, here just the direct costs of settling an immigrant is supported by the state with over twice that amount. And actual value of welfare – if you ask people how much cash they would take to relinquish their citizenship privileges, I’m pretty sure they’d name much larger sums. On the other hand, many people would work and pay taxes and thus contribute back.

    • John Schilling says:

      I wonder, should the value of welfare be made explicit? And could we replace current immigration laws with a price tag? Say the cost of being a citizen is $50000¹, could we simply charge that amount to let people enter?

      We basically already do. It’s expressed in terms of investing ~$500K rather than sacrificing $50K, but the financial industry is pretty good at making those two pretty much interchangeable. It’s not enough, because:

      1. There are some would-be immigrants who both have less and are genuinely willing to settle for less, and can usefully participate in our economy at less than the $50K/full welfare state level, which lots of Americans think they should be allowed to do. And will conspire to help them do, even if it’s against the law, by e.g. offering them sub-minimum-wage work off the books.

      2. There are some would-be immigrants who are more than willing and able to participate at the higher levels of the American economy, but will never be able to come up with a $50K up-front payment so long as they are stuck living under a government that takes away their money as fast as they earn it. Seems kind of off for a nation that champions free-market capitalism to tell these people, “Go back to your commie homeland, commie scum! If you were a true capitalist you’d have lots of money to prove it!”

      3. There are some would-be immigrants who are so telegeneic or otherwise sympathetic that we just plain want to help them even if, on purely economic terms, that’s a losing proposition.

      4. There are some would-be immigrants who will reliably vote Democratic for the next generation or two if we make them citizens, such that we don’t ever have to worry about President Trump and the Deplorables ever again. To a lot of Americans, that service is worth way more than $50K (particularly if it’s paid with someone else’s money).

      So, yeah, we’ll take all the immigrants who show up with a suitcase full of cash. And we’ll be taking most of the other ones too, for the foreseeable future, legally or otherwise.

      • yodelyak says:

        @John Schilling

        Could you share a link or anecdote to explain your #4 claim? I don’t have a strong prior on this, but it’s just my general sense that the reaction against immigration is often stronger than the supposed partisan impact of immigration, so that on balance, the best guess is that it is a wash.

        Let’s take a town of 100k people. I think the town’s politics are as likely, overall, to shift to the right as to shift to the left if 20k new immigrants from our south move there. Overall, sure, more of the newcomers start out inclined toward voting something left of center… but they are mostly nonvoters (even if they’re legal immigrants–if they’re not, they *definitely* don’t vote), and the rest of the town moves rightward to a degree roughly sufficient to compensate (is Albuquerque trending left or trending right? I am not sure.) and the next generation mostly figures out its politics afresh–all of them in relation to each other and the economy and etc–and the center often stays about where it was.

        Even if I were persuaded there was a predictable leftward swing… I also don’t think it’s a major factor in Dem party policy toward immigration. (Nor did it figure, or counsel against, Reagan’s amnesty.) I haven’t run across anything nearly that long-term or strategic in Dem thinking–and I have seen 5-year-out plans for low-stakes gerrymandering fights, so it’s not like I’m just not walking in circles where long-term Dem planning sometimes takes place. Share your thoughts?

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          California was a red state before amnesty.

          • John Schilling says:

            Yeah, this pretty much covers it. And while the Demographic party may not be big on detailed long-term planning, they’ve incorporated “demographics are destiny” into their generic hopes and dreams for decades.

      • yodelyak says:

        Maybe I’m just being snippy. Demographic change does seem very likely to cause TX to vote D inside the next decade.

    • Guy in TN says:

      Having a price tag solves some problems. The need for everything from pro-forma marriages to people suffocating in airtight vans and leaky dinghies crossing the Mediterranean would drastically decline – just pay the price (to the officials, not to some smuggler) and book an airline ticket.

      It’s not people who can afford $50,000 that are crossing the border in hot vans. If that’s really the price tag, I wouldn’t expect your proposal to lower illegal immigration by more than 1%.

    • Tenacious D says:

      As some data points for you, there are a handful of countries (concentrated in the Caribbean) that offer Citizenship by Investment Programs. Prices are mainly in the $100,000 – $250,000 range. This article lists those programs (along with other countries where there’s an option to purchase residency but not citizenship).

      As to the lifetime cost per citizen, here in Canada I’d estimate at least $200,000 for education (approximately $15,000 per student per year), $300,000 for healthcare (based on the fact that it’s the largest department by budget for each province ahead of education), and another $200,000 or $300,000 for everything else (use of infrastructure, etc.). So my back-of-the-envelope calculations align pretty well with the price for the Canadian program in the linked article. Someone needs to have around $2 million in lifetime taxable earnings (perhaps a bit less once all the taxes aside from income tax are factored in) before the public purse comes out ahead. And for individuals who have run-ins with the justice system all bets are off.

      • multiheaded says:

        Wow. Do you realize that 1) if they work a job, they typically create value far in excess of their salary – that trickles up, enriches capitalists and leads to supply-side growth (something that conservatives never shut up about when it’s native-born workers!), 2) they’ll consume most of their earnings domestically, which means direct profits, rising aggregate demand, paying VAT, etc?

        Did you think for one damn minute about your comment before just assuming that oh yes, taxes perfectly capture an individual’s economic contribution? Because Laffer and Keynes respectively just turned over in their graves.

        • Tenacious D says:

          Did you think for one damn minute about your comment before just assuming that oh yes, taxes perfectly capture an individual’s economic contribution?

          Of course there is more–and plenty of non-economic contribution is possible as well. This was just a first-approximation look at it.

          I get the impression that Citizenship by Investment Programs are set up for the host country to come out ahead whether or not the immigrants who come in through them ever work another day in their lives.

    • 10240 says:

      Immigrants don’t necessarily come because of welfare, but because salaries are much higher in the same job. Illegal immigrants generally can’t get welfare anyway (though you have a problem with amnesty laws, anchor babies and family unification etc.).

      Your proposal doesn’t solve the problem, since people will still try to jump the border to avoid paying $50000 (particularly since most illegal immigrants don’t have $50000). If paying is the only way to get in, you also have the problem that you exclude many high-skilled people who would be beneficial for the economy, but don’t have $50000.

      You also seem to conflate refugees (whom we let in to help them) and other legal immigrants (whom we let in because it’s in our interest, at least in theory).

  24. Atlas says:

    (2/2)

    People cite the building mechanics as a large part of Fornite’s particular appeal, but that also puzzles me. You don’t get to savor and take care with your creations the way you do in, like, Rollercoaster Tycoon or something. It seems like you have to rapidly build ungainly structures for pure tactical utility, which frankly seems lame to me.

    Compare this to Overwatch. Overwatch is a frenetic game; the vast majority of the time you spend in-game in Overwatch is spent frantically trying to do some combination of processing all the information on the screen/shooting enemies/moving rapidly to a place where you can shoot enemies better/running to cover/healing your teammates and so on. I find, and speaking here as someone who is relatively new to PC and specifically multiplayer FPS gaming, that this tight pace makes for very fun rounds. The rounds are usually timed very well in my opinion, ranging from about 5-30 minutes around all game modes: long enough that you can invested, but not so long that you get bored. When you die, you have a nice 10-30 seconds to take a breath and assess the situation while you get back into the heat of the fight.
    So the upshot being, the vast majority of gameplay in Overwatch consists of actually engaging with other players in ways of varying mechanical challenge. It seems to me that a random 3 minutes of a typical Overwatch game is probably more exciting than a random 3 minutes of a typical Fortnite/PUBG game. It was instructive to open up a random top Fortnite and Overwatch stream on Twitch at the same time while writing this: even at the very end of the Fortnite game, there was just orders of magnitude more stuff going on in the Overwatch stream.

    Furthermore, if you want to use a specific bit of equipment in Fortnite, from what I can tell it’s relatively difficult. That is to say, if you want to play with the rocket launcher, you have to first find the rocket launcher, which is time consuming and RNG dependent, and then fight enemies with it, except that your character is pretty fragile and you’re incentivized not to seek out enemies, so it seems like it’s really difficult to just play with the rocket launcher. Whereas in Overwatch if you think Pharah’s kit is cool, you can just…select her and play with her kit to your heart’s content. I don’t know, I guess people enjoy the hunt for gear in game, but personally I’d rather spend time using equipment in game than obtaining it. (I realize that there’s an issue in competitive with unbalanced team composition which can sometimes make it hard to play what you want, but, in addition to being substantially mitigated now by LFG and quick play being a substitute, just consider that even at its worst it’s significantly easier in Overwatch to play with the gear you like than it is in a battle royale game.)

    So overall, I am just confused by the extreme popularity of battle royale games, and would appreciate any insight that people can share about this phenomenon.

  25. Atlas says:

    (1/2)

    So, what’s up with the extreme popularity of battle royale games, and Fortnite in particular? (The answers that the top articles from a Google search turned up were not very satisfying to me.)

    To give some personal context, the semester ended around a month ago, and, looking to unwind by getting into a mildly competitive multiplayer game, I downloaded both Fortnite and Overwatch (which had a free to play weekend), as I knew they were both very popular and had seen a bit of the basics from watching streams/Youtube videos. I have been absolutely enthralled by Overwatch since, but haven’t returned to Fortnite since the week I downloaded it.

    This is because: as far as I can tell, and please correct me if I’m wrong, the vast majority of “gameplay” in battle royale games, even in the Fortnite tournaments I’ve watched a bit of, is moving around the map aimlessly and trying to acquire equipment, with a much smaller amount of time spent engaging with other players. Once you engage with another player, it is easily possible for them to kill you rapidly (or vice versa), and who kills whom feels like a substantially random result of equipment RNG and positioning rather than a competition of mechanical skill/game sense, though obviously those things are also very important.

    And once you die, you have to begin the whole tedious process of queuing, jumping in and searching for equipment over again from the beginning. Furthermore, from what I can tell, there are no real rewards in Fortnite or PUBG for taking risks and killing other players beyond what is absolutely necessary for self-defense, except maybe towards the very end of the game; it seems like you’re incentivized to avoid confronting other players as much as possible, and instead letting everyone else duke it out while you/your team stays on the sidelines.

    Clearly this is working well for Epic Games, but this seems like bad design to me, and if I was making a battle royale game I would try to create tension between the obvious incentives to play passively and avoid dying and gameplay mechanics that reward you for aggressive plays that end in you scoring kills. (Sort of like how Errant Signal’s Campster describes Alien: Isolation.) Like a very simple idea being, instead of/in addition to the eye of the storm map area thing, maybe you get automatically eliminated every x minutes if you haven’t killed y other players.

    • Atlas says:

      (Comment part 2/2)

      People cite the building mechanics as a large part of Fornite’s particular appeal, but that also puzzles me. You don’t get to savor and take care with your creations the way you do in, like, Rollercoaster Tycoon or something. It seems like you have to rapidly build ungainly structures for pure tactical utility, which frankly seems lame to me.

      Compare this to Overwatch. Overwatch is a frenetic game; the vast majority of the time you spend in-game in Overwatch is spent frantically trying to do some combination of processing all the information on the screen/shooting enemies/moving rapidly to a place where you can shoot enemies better/running to cover/healing your teammates and so on. I find, and speaking here as someone who is relatively new to PC and specifically multiplayer FPS gaming, that this tight pace makes for very fun rounds. The rounds are usually timed very well in my opinion, ranging from about 5-30 minutes around all game modes: long enough that you can invested, but not so long that you get bored. When you die, you have a nice 10-30 seconds to take a breath and assess the situation while you get back into the heat of the fight.

      So the upshot being, the vast majority of gameplay in Overwatch consists of actually engaging with other players in ways of varying mechanical challenge. It seems to me that a random 3 minutes of a typical Overwatch game is probably considerably more exciting than a random 3 minutes of a typical Fortnite/PUBG game. It was instructive to open up a random top Fortnite and Overwatch stream on Twitch at the same time while writing this: even at the very end of the Fortnite game, there was just orders of magnitude more stuff going on in the Overwatch stream.

      Furthermore, if you want to use a specific bit of equipment in Fortnite, from what I can tell it’s relatively difficult. That is to say, if you want to play with the rocket launcher, you have to first find the rocket launcher, which is time consuming and RNG dependent, and then fight enemies with it, except that your character is pretty fragile and you’re incentivized not to seek out enemies, so it seems like it’s really difficult to just play with the rocket launcher. Whereas in Overwatch if you think Pharah’s kit is cool, you can just…select her and play with her kit to your heart’s content. I don’t know, I guess people enjoy the hunt for gear in game, but personally I’d rather spend time using equipment in game than obtaining it. (I realize that there’s an issue in competitive with unbalanced team composition which can sometimes make it hard to play what you want, but, in addition to being substantially mitigated now by LFG and quick play being a substitute, just consider that even at its worst it’s significantly easier in Overwatch to play with the gear you like than it is in a battle royale game.)

      So overall, I am just confused by the extreme popularity of battle royale games, and would appreciate any insight that people can share about this phenomenon.

      • Hackworth says:

        There is no discernible reason for why things suddenly become popular, neither on a global nor on a personal scale. Every attempt to explain is just rationalization after the fact. If someone really had a working theory that could explain the underlying mechanisms of what makes things virally popular to a certain audience at a certain time, you could use that theory to crank out hit after hit forever.

        Instead, companies and individuals constantly try to create the next big thing; most of them fail, but every now and then one of them succeeds by dumb luck. Some products/genres just scratch an itch nobody knew they had, and they take off.

        In general the cycle goes like this: Newly discovered (or rediscovered) genre has a breakout hit, other creators jump on the bandwagon with minor variations on the same theme and flood the market with more or less innovative derivatives, people get their fill and then some, they start looking for something else to consume, GOTO 10.

      • Ketil says:

        So overall, I am just confused by the extreme popularity of battle royale games, and would appreciate any insight that people can share about this phenomenon.

        Now, I haven’t really played these games. But I fondly remember playing a submarine game – 688i hunter killer, maybe? – which mostly consists of…waiting. So you are trying to sneak up on some target, past enemy destroyers and whatnot, and you never know if they’ve heard you yet. Until suddenly there’s a loud ping, your sonar guy exclaims “torpedo in the water, and all hell breaks loose.

        The point being that you are constantly on your toes, holding your breath, making the game incredibly exciting, even if nothing actually happens. Perhaps PUBG etc have some of the same appeal?

      • Björn says:

        This post is about PUBG, since I have neither played Fortnite nor Overwatch.

        Ketil is definitely right that PUBG has lots and lots of suspense. Combat in PUBG never feels save, there can always be another player in a superior location who messes up your day. In general, the gun play from PUBG is just really good. They took the realistic gunplay from a military simulation like ARMA and made a game around it. This makes long distance shots much more skillful, since you have to account for bullet drop, the time the bullet takes to reach the target and the movement of the target. This is a novelty in an accessible multiplayer shooter, Call of Duty, Counter Strike etc. only have engagement that are at most 100 meter or so, and then they are much more arcady when it comes to the long distance.

        Another thing is that PUBG has great pacing. The beginning is action packed, you jump from a plane, you must orient yourself and if you’re in a hotspot there are 10 other people that want to murder you. After that, you need to travel across the map, where you never know when there will be a fight, but the fight could be everywhere. This section greatly needs you to have situational awareness. It also gives you many opportunities for failure that is fun. You can take a car and race over the map, and get killed by crashing into a hay stack, then immediately getting sniped, and you will watch the death cam and laugh about how stupid you were. This is even more true when playing with friends, it becomes a game of goofing around and maybe sometimes not doing the stupid thing. I remember playing a game with a friend, where we took a buggy and drove it into a hall where we knew an enemy squad was. We got sprayed down immediately and the buggy exploded, but at least we made the day of the enemy squad.

        I think Overwatch is a much more faster, stressful game than PUBG. From what I know, it’s a combination between DOTA and Team Fortress 2. The worst thing about DOTA is the pressure that’s on you. If you do one stupid thing, your team will hate you, and there a million tiny things where you can fail . It’s a skill game where you suffer when you have no skill, while in PUBG you can still get a cool experience.

        • gbdub says:

          “It’s a skill game where you suffer when you have no skill, while in PUBG you can still get a cool experience”

          I would have said the same thing with the games reversed. I’ve not played DOTA, but in Overwatch at least, I’ve found that a) the amount of griefing and trolling is overstated and b) the learning curve for mastery is steep but it’s actually pretty easy to get to the point where you are contributing to team victory (and feel like it). You have a lot of chances to learn and experiment and get better.

          While in PUBG/Fortnite it’s wait wait wait wait INSTADEATH back in the queue wait wait wait wait wait hey a cool gun! INSTADEATH watch guy who killed you sit in a shrub for 5 minutes then kill everyone with your cool gun wait wait wait…. the learning curve is a cliff and there’s little fun to be had at the bottom of it.

          I feel like I learn something from most matches and most deaths in Overwatch. Most matches, even if you lose, you have a few good moments. I feel like I get better when I play. Battle Royale is 5 minutes of doing nothing followed by immediate permanent death the first time you screw up, and I rarely learn anything other than “the RNG gave that guy a better gun, and I still suck at twitch shooters”. Experimenting or practicing is brutal, because every death is followed by minutes of interminable waiting and wandering.

          I think your comment may have been unintentionally revealing of why I don’t like Battle Royales much – the most fun you have is getting together with friends and basically goofing off, because the core mechanic gets old fast (particularly solo).

      • bottlerocket says:

        I’ll lead with a caveat that anything I say here is indeed back-rationalization as per Hackworth’s comment. This is all also from an analytical perspective, as I myself tried Fortnite with some friends and don’t enjoy it at all.

        Battle royale games had been around for quite some time before becoming really popular. I still remember seeing streamers play the open world version of H1Z1 and then becoming really confused as it all converted into H1Z1 battle royale, which had stone nothing to do with the zombie apocalypse premise. There apparently was a DayZ mod even before that, and PUBG led to a noticable spike in popularity afterwards, but the popularity explosion only seems to have happened with Fortnite. So this might be better answered in two parts – one for how battle royales got to League of Legends/CSGO/Hearthstone levels of popularity (I’m using Twitch viewership as a gross approximation) and one for how Fortnite blew the top off to make battle royales even more popular than existing games.

        Ketil hits on one of the more unique things battle royales introduce, which is the tension. Between there being a much higher variance on outcomes in battle royale games (1st to 100th place vs win/lose a match in Overwatch), and no respawns, it makes for a very different feel than other game modes have provided to date. Death kicking you out of the match is a feature here and makes you play very differently. The closest analogues I can think of are hardcore mode in Diablo where you lose your character permanently when they die or sudden death mode in various other games.

        Battle royale games are also super understandable at a glance. Get guns, shoot people, don’t die. Compare to Overwatch where there are all sorts of specialized abilities whose functions aren’t obvious to an untrained observer. This aspect in particular I think is key for how battle royale games got big. They can appeal to the actual mass market – not just people who already play games, but also people who wouldn’t have played video games otherwise. That’s why you see things like MLB players playing Fortnite on the jumbotron or Actual Celebrities like Drake and some NFL guy playing on stream with Ninja. That sort of popular culture buy-in would have been unthinkable with any of the other popular games of today.

        Strongly tied in with the last point is that battle royales have been made super accessible. They’re on PC, consoles, and critically, mobile. Starting to bleed into Fortnite specifics, they also made their game free-to-play (and actually well-made), which removes a huge barrier to entry. As someone who regularly checks, it’s shocking how low the quality of most other top played games on mobile are, so Fortnite stands out like a sore thumb due to its production quality.

        While I agree with you on the incentive structures rewarding hiding in theory, in practice it seems like people get bored and go for big flashy plays instead. This thread gives a (possibly non-representative) sampling of player attitudes on the matter:

        https://www.reddit.com/r/FortNiteBR/comments/7rzqji/why_does_everyone_hate_campers/

        This kind of makes sense. You yourself imply that turtling isn’t fun and that the game would be better if it incentivized racking up kills. My interpretation is that by what may be a lucky accident, the act of getting kills themselves is already rewarding enough to the playerbase that it doesn’t end up being an issue in practice. If losing in a game of Fortnite had a steeper cost, we’d probably see different gameplay.

        As for Fortnite specifics, I think you’re taking the wrong angle for the building aspect. There’s a definite joy of improvisational MacGuyvering that it gets at. I remember a very old Broodwar map called “Archon Tag” that has since evolved into things like “Cat and Mouse” and “Island Defense”. The basic premise of all of these games is that a few big monsters (Archons, originally) are trying to chase down and kill small helpless builders within a time limit. All the builders can do to stall for time is throw up forests of buildings to delay the monsters as they smash a path through. The real fun comes once the chase loops back to the ruins of earlier forts, as there’s an improvisational aspect on both sides to make use of the existing ruins to box in/box out the other side. The building aspect of Fortnite seems to capture some of this same fun of on-the-fly map editing.

        A much floofier point I can’t qualify well but still intuitively feel is important is that Fortnite has a more cartoony style. I think that broadens the demographc appeal and makes the action more cartoony violence rather than “holy crap, you just blew that guy’s head off in a bloody explosion”. This, along with the wide platform availability, free-to-play model, and genre’s ease of grokkability to even non-gamers are what I think made Fortnite in particular unprecedentedly popular.

        • LCL says:

          On the demographic appeal point, don’t underestimate the importance of not being expected to win. Most people don’t deal with competition well, losses are emotionally stronger than wins, and that has been a big limiting factor in broadening the appeal of games. Battle royale is a nice workaround for that issue as it makes winning very statistically unlikely anyway, reducing expectations and freeing less competitive players from performance pressure.

          • bottlerocket says:

            Yeah, I looked a little more into Fortnite after that post and fun while not winning definitely also seems to be a part. The devs play into this (as opposed to the hyper-realism of PUBG) by making goofy items like a plunger bomb or a disco ball bomb that makes your opponents dance. More fundamentally, the building system also allows for this in a Minecraftian sort of way. These outlets for creativity allow for players to “win” in their own way by making their own fun subgames instead of all bashing themselves against the 1 in 100 odds of actually being the last one standing.

      • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

        I’m with you. I played a couple rounds of Fortnite, then put it down and didn’t come back. Lots of the game, to me, was aimless wandering, scavenging for equipment, and keeping an eye out for other players. The few fights I had were briefly amusing – it was fun to stalk someone and set up an ambush, or to have to react myself when I got ambushed – but generally it was a sharp, frenetic ten seconds or so, punctuated by long minutes of tedium.

        Team Fortress 2, on the other hand, I still love many thousands of hours later (I never migrated to Overwatch – TF2 feels perfect to me, so why change?). All 9 classes play differently and interact with each other in all sorts of intricate ways every match, and rounds are usually 5-30 minutes, with a beautiful ebb and flow of map control across Payload maps. You’ve always got to be aware of what class you are, where your teammates are located, what the enemy team is up to, and what the objective is. Learning to navigate each match is a joy once you’ve mastered it – “We have 60 seconds left on the hill, but it looks like most of my team is dead, I need to try and distract and delay BLU team long enough for my buddies to respawn” or “sentry on the ledge covers the payload path, need to outflank it using that path over there to the right, gotta clear out this pyro and soldier first…” Basically, you’re always making interesting decisions about where to go, what objective to pursue, and how to best help the team.

        I also really enjoy being able to just drop in as any class I want, at any time, without having to hope that the RNG gives me a sniper rifle this time, for example. If I want to be a spy and try to sow chaos behind enemy lines, I can. If I just want to goof off as a jetpack Pyro and swoop down on unsuspecting victims with a phlogistinator, I can do that, too. Maybe I want to be more relaxed and just be a support engineer, trying to find a solid teleporter spot and to set up a lethal sentry nest. If a particular playstyle ever gets stale, you can change up weapons and have a whole new way to play (I believe Overwatch does this with different heroes, which is why they have a roster much larger than 9). If that gets old, then you change classes and it’s a brand new game entirely.

        I dunno, I think of arena shooters like Overwatch and TF2 as multiplayer shooter perfection – at least for my part – and I really don’t get the appeal of the battle royale genre. Takes all sorts to make a world, I guess.

      • pontifex says:

        Most games reward persistence and luck more heavily than skill. Anyone can be persistent and collect 999 toadstools in World of Warcraft, or win 1,000 easy battles in Final Fantasy. Anyone cant be lucky and win by betting on red on the roulette wheel. Or get lucky by getting the good gun or the good starting position in a Battle Royale game.

        Only a few people are skillful enough to really enjoy how finely balanced Starcraft was, or (allegedly) some of the first-person shooters. And really, if you’re skillful, shouldn’t you be spending your time on real work instead? Skill-based games start to feel like work after a while.

        • Matt M says:

          Most games reward persistence and luck more heavily than skill. Anyone can be persistent and collect 999 toadstools in World of Warcraft

          The most exclusive (and therefore prestigious) rewards in WoW are quite skill-based. Mythic raiding/keystones requires a high amount of skill, such that you won’t even be invited to participate in it without a minimum ability to perform your role and cooperate with others. Meanwhile, the PvP rewards are entirely competitive and require you to defeat your opponents.

          • Brad says:

            Less so for keystones and pvp (though some there too) but for mythic raiding one of the hardest parts is getting 20 people to consistently show up at the right time and try-hard.

    • ilikekittycat says:

      1. It’s free
      2. A lot of popular sports and rap guys got in on it early and kept talking about it on social media

      All your theorycrafting about mechanics is thinking about it way too hard. It’s not in the Overwatch/DOTA sphere of games appreciated for the interaction of their systems, it’s in the Angry Birds/Farmville/Minecraft sphere of normie network effects

  26. Hackworth says:

    https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/06/sexism-racism-never-diminishes-even-everyone-becomes-less-sexist-racist.html

    Is this dot blue? Is this proposed research unethical? Does that guy look like a terrorist?

    Are people susceptible to prevalence-induced concept change? To answer this question, we showed participants in seven studies a series of stimuli and asked them to determine whether each stimulus was or was not an instance of a concept. The concepts ranged from simple (“Is this dot blue?”) to complex (“Is this research proposal ethical?”). After participants did this for a while, we changed the prevalence of the concept’s instances and then measured whether the concept had expanded—that is, whether it had come to include instances that it had previously excluded.

    …When blue dots became rare, purple dots began to look blue; when threatening faces became rare, neutral faces began to appear threatening; and when unethical research proposals became rare, ambiguous research proposals began to seem unethical. This happened even when the change in the prevalence of instances was abrupt, even when participants were explicitly told that the prevalence of instances would change, and even when participants were instructed and paid to ignore these changes.

    • Aapje says:

      Thanks! Here is the link to the full paper, btw. It’s very short and readable, as it is written for Science magazine/lay people.

      This shows why purity spirals happen and why tolerance of edgelords is important to prevent this.

      It also demonstrates why activists tend to stick around even if their initial demands have been met.

  27. pamape says:

    Marculiu asked a good question on /r/SSC’s version of this thread that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately:

    What should you eat and do to avoid the horror stories in “how doctors chose to die” and Scott’s similar post? (“Who By Very Slow Decay”) But you still want to live a decently long life (to 70 maybe) and you fear that you might not dare or be able to end your life when the time comes. So you would prefer to die with as little pain as possible.

    This especially bothers me because when I was younger I used to experiment with suicide methods because I was depressed but it was either too difficult or I just wasn’t able to do anything drastic because it went so much against my baser instincts. I gave up on it and resigned to letting nature take its course when it’s time. I doubt I will be able to do it even when I’m old and I fear the kind of slow painful deaths described in those articles.

    Active euthanasia is illegal in my country, Swiss euthanasia clinics are really expensive and I’m not sure how ill you have to be to qualify to those. Maybe the best option is not going to a hospital or a nursing home when you’re sufficiently old and ill, but even then someone might send you there against your will when you have a sudden attack or a bout of illness. And living alone when you’re old sounds difficult and dying like that is still painful even if it’s not as prolonged as in a hospital.

    And btw, I’m a pessimistic realist so I don’t think this issue will get much better during my lifetime nor do I think that there will be a singularity or advanced technology to save us from this.

  28. Comrade Strelka says:

    Until this week, I had a favorite story to tell about the Brexit/Trump/Bernie big political swings of the last few years: the liberal democracies were splitting into camps of “undemocratic liberals” and “illiberal democrats.” Jedediah Purdy relates Yashca Mounk’s version of this story about liberals vs. democrats:

    Mounk draws a more sweeping picture. He traces disaffection with democracy around the world, reporting that even relatively stable countries like France and Germany are seeing growing public contempt for the political establishment and growing (though still small) attraction to extreme alternatives such as military rule. He warns that resentment of “undemocratic liberalism” (European Union directives, trade regimes, judicial decisions) may be spurring illiberal democracy.

    In the U.S., the Blue Team pinned its hopes on the Rule of Law, embodied in the white-shirted Special Prosecutor, various Bush-era ethics officials, injunctions by the federal judiciary, and an omnipresent but terribly woolly concern about “eroding norms” or Russian interference.

    In Europe, the line was a little sharper. Instead of a prosecutor’s white dress shirts and courthouses, it was straight-up aristocratic ermine. Remainers made desperate appeals to the House of Lords to stay, modify, or overturn the Brexit decision, and the new leader of France declared himself a “Jupiterian” figure and called parliament to Versailles to hear all his great ideas.

    Voters, meanwhile, were not to be trusted. Expert after expert opined that they voted the wrong way because of a critical mass of stupid racist rubes or Russian dupes. The voters were also beyond being convinced. Even when they were poised to deliver the right result and, e.g., make marriage equality the law in Australia, giving power to them was a dangerous accident or, perhaps, a form of bullying.

    That story explained a fair amount of 2016/2017 behavior from people whom I’d thought of as allies on the left. I was getting used to modelling the world in those terms. The (nominal) left had control of the institutions and the morals or the moment, but it had thoroughly lost the voters and didn’t seem to want them back. Meanwhile, the right jumped out to become the (nominal) head of the populist rage.

    Then, in the same week, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old socialist Latina, trounced a powerful incumbent Congressman, and Anthony Kennedy resigned from the Supreme Court. Now the norm-defender talk is out the window for the (nominal) left, and we are back to fire-breathing populism of our own. My twitter—including pretty mainstream figures—is talking about abolishing ICE, and packing the Supreme Court with friendly justices.

    Now this might just be a one-week change because people are terrible at having consistent beliefs beyond the object level. But I bet this shift is good for more than one news cycle. For all the panic now that Trump gets to replace Anthony Kennedy, the Ocasio-Cortez surprise seems like the bigger one, and has certainly inspired the more interesting conversations. Kennedy’s retirement (or RBG’s death) was already pretty much priced in as a risk from ~2014. But Ocasio-Cortez is a different level of shock, like the teachers’ strikes or the Bernie campaign. When it comes back to power, it seems to me now like the left will come back in that sort of democratic socialist way, and it will not particularly care about norm talk or the good God-fearing public servants at the FBI. The normcore, uh, phrarty of the Blue Tribe will wither and die, at least in the US where there is so much space off to the left, and the Berniecrats will sweep in. But I have extremely low epistemic confidence in this. If we’re all back to Jupiterian special prosecutors in a week, never mind.

    I wonder what if anything readers here make of these developments. Is this wishful thinking? Is this at all applicable outside the U.S., e.g. to Jeremy Corbyn? I will take any and all reading recommendations, as I am now deeply confused.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      It sounds like you’re drawing a trend from one data point.

      Radical or just oddball candidates winning primary elections is generally more of a Republican issue than a Democratic one, but it’s not really unprecedented. There’s even a verb to describe it; getting “primaried” by your opponent. Especially in the primary for a mid-term election of a congressional seat that is entirely within the range of what’s expected.

      The liberal circle I’m stuck in hasn’t really gotten any more democratic lately. They’re still viscerally offended at the idea of anything important being up for a vote or even discussed. Which would be a very reasonable attitude if they weren’t also filled with genocidal rage towards the majority of their fellow citizens.

      • Comrade Strelka says:

        Ah, but it isn’t just one data point. There’s the other DSA electoral wins, most notably in Pittsburgh and Virginia. (Another is coming up in Hawaii.) There’s the teacher strikes in AZ, WV, OK, and KY—the AZ teachers just got their unaddressed demands on the November ballot, where they look set to win. And, of course, there’s the Bernie Sanders campaign, which kicked it all off.

        My liberal circle is still pretty angry and antidemocratic too. My claim (my hope?) is not so much that these normcore liberal people will change their minds, but that they will be supplanted politically by a younger and larger group of democratic leftists.

    • SamChevre says:

      I think the Ocasio-Cortez win is the Brat win of this election cycle. And he didn’t just beat an incumbent; he beat the House majority leader.

      • Jalex says:

        Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a woman / uses she/her pronouns.

      • SamChevre says:

        Huh? “He” above refers to Dave Brat (who won the Republican primary against Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader, in 2014) not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    • Deiseach says:

      But Ocasio-Cortez is a different level of shock, like the teachers’ strikes or the Bernie campaign. When it comes back to power, it seems to me now like the left will come back in that sort of democratic socialist way, and it will not particularly care about norm talk or the good God-fearing public servants at the FBI.

      Until I read the linked article which said no, the currently popular “’twas demographic change that did Crowley in” wasn’t true, it was gentrification that swept her to victory.

      So we’ve got upwardly mobile young white people voting for a “socialist Latina”? Then I don’t expect any sweeping changes in the Democrats; give these young persons a couple of years and they’ll be voting for the Hillary rather than Bernie side of the Democrats (or whatever centrist versus social democrat wedges are named by 2020). These are college-educated white-collar urban professionals, they’re very socially democratic but when it comes to it, they expect to get respectable jobs just like their parents and even if these jobs are on the creative spectrum in the new knowledge economy, it’s the same middle-class professional lifestyle.

      They will love the range of quaint ethnic restaurants in the neighbourhoods, but as they move in, the base communities will move out (and possibly that’s what is behind what the article says about Crowley actually doing better in the Bronx than Ocasio-Cortez; she may be Alex from the block but the block is old-fashioned Democrat blue-collar rather than gentrified aspirational?)

      In a tactic developed with field directors from other Justice Democrats campaigns, Chakrabarti said they used voter files to find local residents on social media, and then targeted them with digital ads.

      The article keeps banging on about the multi-ethnic make-up of the voters for Ocasio-Cortez, but it keeps seeping through that it’s young progressives (who, I imagine, are majority white) who are the backbone of her vote. “I’m from a poor background” plays better with white liberals than locals who go “Oh to hell with that, girl, you grew up in Parkchester and your dad was an architect” (or “small business owner”, the story varies depending on what source you read). Granted, after his sudden death without making a will, the estate seems to have been gobbled up by lawyers and her mother probably did have to work menial jobs, but moving home after graduating and setting up a publishing press is not ‘and we still live in dire straits’ levels of hardship (lots of college students and just out of college work jobs as waiting staff and bar staff).

      • J Mann says:

        Beware of discussing that candidate’s past – my understanding is she “destroys” people who do that.

      • Brad says:

        The thing that national press doesn’t seem to want to write about is Crowley’s record of political corruption and complete disregard for his constituents. That’s really all the explanation needed.

        • Deiseach says:

          Crowley’s record of political corruption and complete disregard for his constituents

          Old-school Irish(-American) politician behaves in such a manner? I am shocked, shocked, I tell you! 🙂

          See this example of the breed: kicked out of the party because the bribery and corruption was so blatant, still returned to the Dáil as an Independent by local constituents because parish-pump politics, apparently even the new improved virtuous and transparent leadership of his old party still sucked up to him for support in the contest before gaining the leadership, and recently finally convicted of some degree of tax evasion, which will probably still not seriously impinge upon his political career.

      • Comrade Strelka says:

        Going off the CUNY map, it seems like she still won heavily nonwhite neighborhoods like Jackson Heights and Pelham Parkway, just by a slightly smaller margin than gentrifying Astoria. Sunnyside, which is about half white, gave her safely over 60% of its vote.

        So the story that goes “she won because she’s a charismatic Latina lady in a Latino district” doesn’t explain it all, and neither does “she won on the backs of white gentrifying Bernie Bros, but her Own People deserted her.”

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Now the norm-defender talk is out the window for the (nominal) left, and we are back to fire-breathing populism of our own. My twitter—including pretty mainstream figures—is talking about abolishing ICE, and packing the Supreme Court with friendly justices.

      Isn’t “populism” about doing things that are, well, popular? New poll of 1,448 voters says 69% are opposed to disbanding I.C.E., with 31% pro.

      This is the disconnect between the Overton window in the media and the window among the voters. Trump won because he said things like “build the wall” and “you have to go back” that are unthinkable for people on the TV screen, but are not only acceptable but preferred opinions among the voters. 60% want a border wall. 76% want “secure borders” with only 24% wanting “open borders.” I haven’t seen any poll numbers about court packing, but I would be very surprised if any significant number of independents supported that.

      So I’d say Ocasio-Cortez’s platform is not an example of populism, but the same “lost the voters and [don’t] seem to want them back” situation you described earlier. Anyone running on her platform in a purple state against anyone who doesn’t literally eat babies on live TV will lose.

      • bean says:

        Have you ever seen the “Yes Prime Minister” clip about polling? If you haven’t, go watch it now.

        I don’t believe those numbers. I’m not saying that the media isn’t more in favor of loose borders than the general public. It probably is. But to claim that 60-70% of the nation is firmly behind Trump is kind of extreme, given the exceedingly narrow victory he had. Who did this poll, and were they trying to prove that Trump’s immigration policy is in line with the country?

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I’m not saying they’re behind Trump. I’m saying they’re behind Trump’s immigration policies. Lots of people don’t like Trump for other reasons. Given that Trump himself has an approval rating hovering around 45%, another 10-15 percentage points for a specific policy does not set off my bullshit meter.

          Similarly, it’s easy to find x% of Republicans (x > 50) who say they’re against “big government” and “the welfare state” and “handouts.” But then ask them “Should the budget for [Medicare|Medicaid|food stamps|etc] be cut?” and get (100-x)% of responses saying “no.”

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            76% want “secure borders” with only 24% wanting “open borders.”

            This smells really bad of biased polling, especially as the numbers add to 100%. And there’s a lot of space in just what “secure borders” means but if it’s “do you support the war, or are you a terrorist?” people will choose to support the war.

      • cryptoshill says:

        Conrad Honcho – Literally eating babies isn’t so sure a thing either, Roy Moore was credibly accused of being a child molester and the Dems still had to squeak a victory. (Our chances of finding out whether Roy Moore actually abused children is prett low, but I wouldn’t vote for him).

        • Roy Moore was credibly accused of being a child molester

          I don’t think so, unless you have very loose definitions of both child and molestation.

          He was credibly accused of an unsuccessful attempt to seduce a fourteen year old. Also of trying to make out with, I think, an eighteen year old he was supposedly giving a ride home to, against her will. Unattractive behavior, but not child molestation.

          Of course, I might have missed something.

          • cryptoshill says:

            Your phrasing is more accurate, but given the stigma around pedophilia that is abound (or even pedophilia adjacent. It is a criminal offense in the United States for a minor to possess pornography they thsemselves made, of themselves)) I think the “literally eating babies” comparison still holds.

          • rlms says:

            That’s inaccurate (assuming Wikipedia is reliable about the facts). Possibly “seduce” is a fair description of his behaviour on his first date with 14-year-old Leigh Corfman — he “told her how pretty she was and kissed her”., but the accusation is that on the second date he “took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes… touched her over her bra and underpants… and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear”.

            The car incident was with a 16 year old who said “Mr. Moore reached over and began groping me and put his hand on my breast. I tried to get out and he reached over and locked [the door] and I yelled and told him to stop”. She also said that Moore then put his hand on her neck and tried to force her head down on his crotch, which seems quite a bit worse than “trying to make out with”.

      • Guy in TN says:

        Look at the popularity of socialism before vs. after Bernie Sanders. People look to politicians as thought-leaders. Ideas have to be advertised and propagated.

        If popular Dems start saying “open borders is good”, then expect that dial to sharply move. The base is already primed for it, given the recent media attention to immigration, and Trump making it his signature policy.

        • albatross11 says:

          I suspect part of what helped socialism become more acceptable as a political label in the US was the eight-year constant campaign to call Obama a socialist at every opportunity. That campaign probably weakened Obama a bit, but it also weakened the hell out of the stigma on someone being a socialist, since apparently that just meant “Obama’s economic policies.”

          I imagine there are plenty of parallels with activists calling every Republican a racist and a fascist, and then finding that those accusations didn’t seem to have as much impact as they expected when they tossed them against Trump[1].

          [1] Who is neither a fascist nor probably all that much of a racist, but at least the accusations are a little closer to plausibility for Trump and his followers.

          • dndnrsn says:

            In both cases, you’ve got “you’re gonna call me X? Fine, I’m X!” which then leads people to become more X-y. Although it should be noted that in the US, a lot of “socialists” would be social democrats in many other places.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            “You’re gonna call me X? Fine, I’m X!” is definitely an alpha move. I think Bernie kind of stumbled into “owning the insult”, though.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          “Populism” is an ill-defined term, but I think if you’re going to call something “populism” it probably needs to be something that already appeals to people, and is not something you’re trying to convince them is good against their current prejudices. Otherwise, anything you ever advocate for and want majority approval of is “populism.”

          Also, I think of “populism” as “appealing to the self-interest of ‘the people.'” So I could agree that, say, “Medicare for all” in Ocasio-Cortez’s platform counts as “populism,” but not open borders. Joe Six-pack might be sold on “Medicare for all” because he thinks he might get better healthcare out of that, but I don’t think anyone is even trying to persuade him that open borders will make his life better. It’s a moralistic appeal to improve the lives of foreigners who want to come here, and probably to his detriment.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Is populism “stuff that’s popular” or is populism “stuff presented as being for The People”? For example, take the recent Ontario election, because Cancon. The Conservatives ran a campaign where the slogan was “for the people” or something like that, every proposal was justified as being good for working- and middle-class families, etc. They got a tad over 2/5 of the vote – was their campaign populist or not?

          • johan_larson says:

            I think of populism as giving the people what they are asking for, when a wise leader would know that it is a bad idea, and resist the urge to do so. Implicit in this notion is the idea that people sometimes or often don’t know what’s good for them.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Is populism “stuff that’s popular” or is populism “stuff presented as being for The People”?

            I would say both? I don’t know enough about Canadian politics to comment on the Ontario election, but I would say populism is “an appeal to ‘the people’ via either things they already broadly support, or you think they would want if you offered it to them.” This doesn’t always work because sometimes voters disagree that what you think they would want is actually what they would want.

            But you can’t just call anything with fiery rhetoric “populism.” “Abolish I.C.E.” or “open borders” are not populist appeals. No one is voting for those policies thinking “this will make life better for me or people like me.” People voting for those policies are voting against their self-interest, but for a perceived higher moral purpose. That’s the antithesis of populism.

          • 10240 says:

            @johan_larson Approx. what I wanted to say. A useful definition of populism is campaigning for a policy you know is harmful (or at least not beneficial) in order to be popular. Especially so if you don’t just respond to an existing demand (that’s often inevitable in a democracy), but actively create or increase the demand for the policy, so that you can then be popular by fulfilling the demand.

            It’s not relevant whether you actually succeed to become popular, nor whether the policy is popular because it appeals to self-interest, or because it appeals to solidarity. Also, this definition implies that a policy can only be populist if it’s a factual question whether it’s wrong (or whether it is good or bad for the goal it claims to achieve), rather than a question of morality and worldview.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            A useful definition of populism is campaigning for a policy you know is harmful (or at least not beneficial) in order to be popular.

            Harmful to whom? Perhaps I’m naive for extending the principle of charity to politicians, but when Bernie Sanders makes a pitch for universal healthcare, I think that’s populism, and I don’t think Bernie secretly knows it would fail catastrophically but who cares because maybe the rubes will vote for him. I think he and the people voting for it earnestly believe universal healthcare is doable and beneficial.

            Similarly, when Trump says “build a wall and deport illegals,” he and his supporters earnestly believe citizens will be better off without competing against cheap illegal labor driving down wages, crime, drugs, lawlessness, etc. They don’t “secretly know” that illegal immigration is great for the working class but lie about it for popularity.

          • 10240 says:

            Harmful to whom?

            Harmful to whomever the politician claims (and his voters think) it’s good for.
            (Or perhaps very harmful to someone else, so much that the voters would think it’s a bad trade-off if they knew it, but they don’t, and the politician does.)

            If Bernie / Trump honestly think that universal healthcare / the border wall is good (which I agree is likely), I wouldn’t call them populists for these policies.

          • Aapje says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            “Abolish I.C.E.” or “open borders” are not populist appeals. No one is voting for those policies thinking “this will make life better for me or people like me.”

            Except farmers/companies that want cheap labor. People of foreign descent who want to bring over family. People who like multiculturalism. Etc.

          • Randy M says:

            You might have a point with the latter referents, but I don’t think companies get to be counted in populism.

          • Aapje says:

            There are a decent numbers of small companies, like farmers. Why can’t appealing to them be populism?

      • J Mann says:

        I think of “populism” more as “here are some ideas our base wants, instead of the ideas the elite think will work out in the long run.” So free stuff, tariffs, etc are populist (to me) because they’re driven mostly because a whole bunch of people want them.

        • dndnrsn says:

          What do you call it when elites promote policies they think “the people” want something, or that they should want it? Whether or not they actually carry them through once in office.

          • Randy M says:

            That sounds like disconnected (if wrong), paternalistic, and disingenuous (unless they try and fail), respectively.

      • BBA says:

        Ocasio-Cortez isn’t running nationwide. She’s running in the Bronx and Queens, where political opinions differ from the national norm in certain respects.

      • Ilya Shpitser says:

        Citation for 60% of Americans wanting a wall?

        Lying is bad.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          It’s in the survey I linked in the post. Page 69 of the report, which is page 71 of the PDF.

          Accusing me of lying about it is neither kind, necessary, nor true.

          • rlms says:

            The survey says “a combination of physical and electronic barriers across the U.S.-Mexico border”. I don’t think that implies a wall that stretches across the entire border.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Physical barrier across US border is a wall. Trump has never said the wall would extend across the entire border, and has said repeatedly that there are places with natural barriers that do not need a wall.

            The point is that a strong majority of Americans want immigration enforcement. Running on “abolish ICE” is a losing proposition. You cannot win a majority of voters on an issue where the majority disagrees with you.

          • rlms says:

            This has support for Trump Wall at around 40%. It is true (assuming your survey is reliable, which is somewhat dubious since it implies there are some Republicans who want to build a wall and also disband the ICE) that around 60% of Americans agree with generic “be harsher on immigration” statements, but a lot of them (from both parties) are turned off by rhetoric from Trump.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            That’s from February.

      • Comrade Strelka says:

        Fair enough that “abolish ICE” is not (yet) the majority view–I could’ve gone with clearcut, more important examples like marijuana legalization or medicare for all, which are (i) way outside the respectable center of the views of elected officials, (ii) extremely popular, and (iii) part of the AOC/Bernie Sanders/DSA platform.

        I took “abolish ICE” to be less like a concrete policy suggestion that people have thought through and decided to support and more like a rallying cry in opposition to the unpopular Trump/Sessions deportation/detention/child separation practices. So it’s populist in that it gives voice to a widely shared anger, even if it doesn’t poll well.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          It would be helpful if “abolish ICE” were also an effective means to end the “unpopular Trump/Sessions deportation/detention/child separation practices.” ICE does internal deportations and has nothing to do with the border separation practices. That’s US Border Patrol snatching babies from their mothers’ arms and chucking them in the child extermination facilities (with pizza parties, video games and pool tables) run by those goose-stepping fascists at Health and Human Services.

          “Abolish I.C.E.!” is both unpopular and incoherent, so I’d be very glad if the Democrats made it their rallying cry for the midterm elections.

          ETA: Also, the separation practices have ended. Now Trump’s locking up the whole family, likely in violation of the Flores decision.

          • Comrade Strelka says:

            I did not say that ICE did conduct the infamous child separations, which (i) were never required by law, even assuming the Flores consent decree is law, (ii) were extremely unpopular, and which (iii) Trump abandoned in a rare about-face after audio of distraught children emerged.

            But none of this means ICE has not itself had its share of misconduct and wanton cruelty.

            I imagine ICE makes a better target than CBP because most nations have some sort of customs agency to regulate the movement of people and goods over the border, but a dedicated immigration enforcement agency for the interior is rare.

        • Matt M says:

          Yeah, I think it’s the left-wing version of “build the wall” in the sense that it’s not particularly well thought-out, isn’t likely to be the best solution to the various problems people object to, etc.

          But for signaling purposes, people will claim quite seriously to support it. And they probably do support it, as compared to the status quo.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Perhaps, but if “build the wall” is merely code for “seriously, we want the border enforced” and “abolish ICE” is merely code for “we want something more lax than the status quo for immigration enforcement” then it’s still pretty clueless rhetoric. Enforcing immigration laws is unpopular on TV, but popular among voters. Not enforcing immigration laws is popular on TV, but unpopular among voters.

            The media amplified Trump’s message because they didn’t like it and then were then shocked when he remained popular with voters. If the media (and the Dems) amplify the “abolish ICE” message they’re going to be shocked when…most people disagree with them and don’t vote for them.

          • dndnrsn says:

            “Build the wall!” has the advantage as a political slogan that it’s an easily-shouted three-sylllable chant. I wonder if right and left favour different kinds of chant. The “one-two-three-four something-something-rhymes-with-four” I can only think of left-wing examples?

          • engleberg says:

            @The media amplified Trump’s message because they didn’t like it-

            Yes, that’s part of why they amplified it. But Trump gets an amazing amount of press. Sure he’s good television, snappy patter, guy you love to hate, compared to to ‘show biz for boring people’ politicians. But Trump gets an amazing amount of press. He’s got money. He’s got decades of infotainment connections. He could have just flat bribed a bunch of TV people to give him coverage. Perhaps I am uncharitable to Trump, or to infotainment people.

    • MrApophenia says:

      Packing the Court seems like the reasonable next play. McConnel established in 2016 that norms regarding Supreme Court appointments no longer matter, the only thing that matters is the raw exercise of political power. The Constitution allows the majority party in the Senate to block the appointment of a judge until they get a member of their own party in the White House – fair enough, but it also allows for packing the court. Or impeaching Gorsuch and summarily replacing him with Merrick Garland. Or whatever else you can muster up the votes for, really.

      As a practical matter, I think it will be a good long while until the Democrats have the votes to do any of that – but they’ll have 60 votes eventually, and I really think the game has fundamentally changed.

      • Brad says:

        They don’t need 60 votes to pack the court. Just half of the Senate & House plus the White House.

        • MrApophenia says:

          They would need to change the law from the 19th century that sets the cap at nine, which would require the usual 60 to break the filibuster (unless they decide to remove the filibuster of course.)

          That law is why FDR failed – the (Democratic) head of the Judiciary Committee refused to advance the bill to a vote.

          • Brad says:

            The filibuster is a dead man walking. I don’t expect it to last to the end of the Trump administration.

          • MrApophenia says:

            I’m actually not sure. I think if they were going to pull that trigger they would have done it for Obamacare.

          • Eric Rall says:

            I’m actually not sure. I think if they were going to pull that trigger they would have done it for Obamacare.

            The current Republican majority may be unwilling to nuke the legislative filibuster, but in a court-packing scenario we’re talking about a hypothetical Democratic majority.

            Edit: nm, I just noticed you were responding to Brad’s post, not to MrApophenia’s.

        • John Schilling says:

          Just half of the Senate & House plus the White House.

          They probably also need the existing Supreme Court, which can if it wants find some penumbra that says the particular court-packing scheme du jour is unconstitutional and refuse to seat the new justice(s). This would get really ugly, really fast, and I’m pretty sure you won’t get any plausible Senate to pull the trigger on nuking legislative filibuster just so they can pull this trigger immediately afterwards.

      • Matt M says:

        If packing the court is an acceptable strategy, why should Trump respectfully wait for the Democrats to do it after he’s out of office? Why not start right now?

        • Brad says:

          If he could, I have no doubt he would.

          • Matt M says:

            Why do we believe that he can’t, right now, with control of both houses, but that future Democrat President definitely will be able to?

          • BBA says:

            She won’t be. It’s outlandish wishful thinking from the same kinds of people who thought the Electoral College would refuse to elect Trump or that the Mueller investigation will lead to impeachment.

          • Brad says:

            He doesn’t control both Houses. A future Democratic President might not either, FDR couldn’t do it after all.

            But MrApophenia’s point, which I rather agree with, is that while Garland is still fresh Democratic voters are far less likely to punish their representatives if they do decide to go along with a President that wants to do that.

            If Bork had been ten years ago instead of thirty maybe Trump would have already been able to pack the court.

          • Matt M says:

            It just strikes me as weird for Democrats to be writing articles right now about how court-packing is totally justified.

            Like, maybe wait until Trump is out of office to start loudly agitating for that to be a thing?

          • Brad says:

            I saw one tweet. Did I miss other links?

          • Guy in TN says:

            Trump has too narrow of a margin to pull it off. He may not even be able to replace Kennedy, if another Republican senator defects along with Susan Collins.

        • MrApophenia says:

          It would be a messy legislative fight, and would require removing the filibuster in the Senate to do it with the current majority.

          That’s a lot of trouble to go to when they already control the court, and in all likelihood will get to replace at least one more justice before Trump’s term is up just by waiting.

      • cassander says:

        >Packing the Court seems like the reasonable next play. McConnel established in 2016 that norms regarding Supreme Court appointments no longer matter, the only thing that matters is the raw exercise of political power.

        Not to get into “you started this” territory, but this strikes me as a bit rich given reid’s abolishing the filibuster for nominations. I actually side with reid on that particular count, the nomination process is horribly broken and getting rid of filibusters was a good first step, but let’s not pretend it had anything to do with anything besides naked power.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Agreed. In addition, the Garland situation was much less of a “naked power grab.” McConnell rolled the dice. For all he knew (and what every pundit said), the Dems were going to take the White House and the Senate. President Hillary could then ram through a genetically-enhanced-to-live-150 years Ruth Bader Ginsburg clone with no problem.

          Abusing parliamentary procedure for 9 months to get a shot at a better judge is not nearly as large a naked power grab as “we’re going to overturn 150 year old law and add 6 judges to the court.” And of course then 4-8 years later the Republicans get the senate and White House back and add another 10 judges…

          • gbdub says:

            I still think McConnell blundered by precommitting to “no hearing no vote” – he handed gave Obama the opportunity to nominate a sympathetic candidate and the Dems a powerful rhetorical card.

            What the heck did McConnell gain vs. giving Garland his hearings, and then just voting no? Hell, he’d have been much better off saying “here’s a list of candidates we’ll approve, otherwise we’re probably going to keep voting against your nominees”. He could even put a temptingly moderate candidate on there that Obama just might go for if both sides decided to hedge their bets.

            End result is probably the same, except Obama probably ends up looking weaker after he runs out of candidates willing to be sacrificial lambs, and Dems lose the card of “the GOP blew up political norms!” Well, they’d try to play the card anyway but it would be much less convincing when the complaint was that the GOP senators had simply voted “no” for nominees they didn’t like.

          • Matt M says:

            I still think McConnell blundered by precommitting to “no hearing no vote” – he handed gave Obama the opportunity to nominate a sympathetic candidate and the Dems a powerful rhetorical card.

            I think the intent was to attempt to signal “we’re not objecting to the specific ideology of your nominees, we just want to establish that these things shouldn’t be done so shortly before a Presidential election.”

            I agree with you that the optics look bad, particularly in hindsight, but as others have mentioned, the pretty overwhelming consensus was that the next President was going to be a Democrat anyway…

          • Nick says:

            What was the Senate makeup when McConnell made that call? Were there moderate Republicans who would have voted for someone like Garland?

          • gbdub says:

            “I agree with you that the optics look bad, particularly in hindsight, but as others have mentioned, the pretty overwhelming consensus was that the next President was going to be a Democrat anyway…”

            If he was really convinced that Hillary was going to win, that seems like the WORST time to give away your option to approve a suitably moderate pick. E.g. Garland was probably as good as they’d get from Hillary, and better than they could hope for if they lost the Presidency and the Senate.

            Only good reason I could think to do that would be sort of conspiracy theory – maybe he’d been approached by Hillary’s team, Hillary wanted the splash of making a Supreme Court pick, and she was willing to nominate a palatable centrist in exchange for an easy confirmation. Might have made sense for McConnell if he was convinced it would be Hillary but that he could hold the Senate.

          • Iain says:

            What was the Senate makeup when McConnell made that call? Were there moderate Republicans who would have voted for someone like Garland?

            In 2010, in the lead-up to the nomination of Elena Kagan, Orrin Hatch — not a particularly moderate Republican — had this to say about Garland:

            Senator Orrin Hatch said he had known the federal appeals court judge, seen as a leading contender for the Supreme Court, for years and that he would be “a consensus nominee.” Asked if Garland would win Senate confirmation with bipartisan support, Hatch told Reuters, “No question. I have no doubts that Garland would get a lot of (Senate) votes. And I will do my best to help him get them.”

            (At the time, the National Review said of Garland that he “may well be the best that conservatives could reasonably hope for from a Democratic president”.)

            In 2016, just days before Obama nominated Garland, Hatch claimed that the refusal to consider Obama’s SCOTUS nominee was just “the chickens coming home to roost”:

            “The President told me several times he’s going to name a moderate [to fill the court vacancy], but I don’t believe him,” Hatch told us.

            “[Obama] could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man,” he told us, referring to the more centrist chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia who was considered and passed over for the two previous high court vacancies.

            But, Hatch quickly added, “He probably won’t do that because this appointment is about the election. So I’m pretty sure he’ll name someone the [liberal Democratic base] wants.”

            If there was any judge that Obama could have nominated who had a chance of making it through the Senate, it was Garland. But McConnell correctly calculated that any political heat he took for refusing to schedule a vote was worth the chance that Trump won the election. If Clinton had won, the speculation was that McConnell would have put Garland through during the lame-duck period, so he didn’t have much downside risk.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            What was the Senate makeup when McConnell made that call? Were there moderate Republicans who would have voted for someone like Garland?

            54 – 46 (or 44 – 2). If McConnell had put it up for a vote the principled True Conservatives (TM) like Flake, McCain, Lee, etc, would have voted for Garland. He probably would have gotten in.

            ETA: Ninj’r’d. I agree with everything Iain said.

          • Abusing parliamentary procedure for 9 months to get a shot at a better judge is not nearly as large a naked power grab as “we’re going to overturn 150 year old law and add 6 judges to the court.”

            Expanding the court to get the desired results has been done by a previous president.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            If there were the 60 votes to confirm Garland, would there have been enough votes to demand that the Senate hold the vote? What would be the parliamentary procedure for that? Voting to replace McConnell as the Senate Majority Leader?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Edward

            I’m not sure, but then you’re talking about Republicans blowing up their own party over it.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            If that’s the answer, it makes sense. I just didn’t know if my answer was right.

          • cassander says:

            @gbdub

            There were probably plenty of members of his caucus who were preferred not having hearings to voting no. If there had been a vote, there would have been pressure on members to vote a certain way. Straight up saying no hearings, no vote eliminates the possibility of that working, and thus reduces the incentives to pressure. sure, there can be pressure to hold a hearing, but not having hearings means that anyone getting pressured can say “majority leader said no hearings, so stop bothering me.” Some members might also have been happy obstructing the nomination, but didn’t want to do so publicly.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Iain

            If Clinton had won, the speculation was that McConnell would have put Garland through during the lame-duck period, so he didn’t have much downside risk.

            Although, Obama could have withdrawn Garland’s name after the election if the Dems won, preventing McConnell from settling for him. It would have been mean to Garland, but perhaps worth it to the Dems to see McConnell hoisted upon his own petard. “Hey, Mitch, I agree with you, the incoming President should have a chance to appoint the next justice!” And then Hillary appoints Genetically Modified RBG.

      • Randy M says:

        I think there is a lot more inertia in a nine-member court than in a Senate filibuster. Just because one rule was changed doesn’t mean the other will go, especially given the earlier attempt failed and is widely taught as an overreach, if not somewhat underhanded. (Weird how something can be both)

  29. Tenacious D says:

    What are your favourite museums (aside from the obvious international-profile ones like the Smithsonian, British Museum, Louvre, etc.)?

    A few that stand out to me are:
    1. The Royal Tyrell dinosaur museum in Alberta. It has a pretty large selection of skeletons on display. And it’s in a very scenic part of the province.
    2. MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations) in Marseille. I found it fascinating on a meta-level. A pressing issue facing France is how to better integrate citizens of North African descent. This state-run museum is basically structured around commonalities among civilizations on both sides of the Mediterranean (everything from foods to Monotheism); it felt to me like the question of integration was definitely a subtext of the exhibits.
    3. The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark. It was built around five ships from the Viking era that had been deliberately scuttled to guard the path into the fjord and were well-preserved in the cold water. The museum performs a lot of experimental archaeology: they build replicas of the ships in their collection using tools from that era to determine the amount of time and resources that went in to building them, then sail them to get data on speeds and crew requirements. Plus visitors can go on a short excursion out of the harbour in one of the replicas.

    • proyas says:

      The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.

    • johan_larson says:

      I really liked the National Museum of the US Air Force, in Dayton Ohio. Four huge hangar-like halls covering the history of the Air Force from its earliest days.

    • BBA says:

      I’m a big fan of the Greenwich Observatory, which I visit whenever I’m in London. Old telescopes, old clocks, the original Prime Meridian, what’s not to like?

    • gbdub says:

      The Titan Missile Museum in Tucson AZ. An actual Titan missile silo you can tour, with the missile still inside. You get to go down into the control room, sit at the launch consoles, and “turn the key”.

      The nearby Pima Air and Space Museum has probably one of everything the Air Force and Navy flew from WWII to today plus some unique one or two off prototypes like the original Vomit Comet, Super Guppy, JFK’s Air Force One, etc. Best part is the bus tour of the adjacent “boneyard” at Davis Monthan AFB, where you drive through rows of literally thousands of aircraft in long term storage and/or disassembly.

    • The Museum of London is pretty good–more nearly daily life stuff than the BM (my favorite) or the V&A. I enjoyed the Walters Gallery in Baltimore.

      On the other hand … The armory in Graz, Austria, claims to have the largest collection of antique weapons in the world, or something along those lines. It’s probably true. The problem is that the collection consists of five hundred of one model, three hundred of another, … . It really is an armory, not a museum, although until all technology post 1800 stops working not a very useful armory.

    • rubberduck says:

      I really like the Medical History Museum in Berlin. It shows off a massive collection of medical specimens- gruesome but fascinating. Special mention to the selection of horribly disfigured babies pickled in formaldehyde. When I last went they also had a cool temporary exhibit on crime scene analysis, complete with actual historical murders from the area.

      The Hieronymus Bosch museum in Den Bosch is also tiny but cool, containing copies of every single painting the guy made (the copies are bigger than the originals so you can really lean in and appreciate the detail), and it’s housed in an old church with amazing ceiling art.

      • Jon S says:

        The Mütter Museum in Philadelphia is similar to your description of the Medical museum in Berlin. Originally built in the 1850’s as an education tool for medicine. Very interesting exhibits.

    • timorl says:

      The Museum of Telephones in Budapest might be the best museum I have ever been in. The exhibition is highly interactive, but probably the best part is the fully functioning old-style telephone exchange. Since me and my father were the only ones there while we were visiting, I’m not sure if this is always the case, but the person in charge turned it on for us and showed us how to make a call and everything that happened. They weren’t able to speak english, but this wasn’t really a problem. The museum seems to currently be closed because of some renovations, which is a shame.

    • Aapje says:

      A Frisian wool comber, Eise Eisinga, built a orrery (mechanical model of the solar system) in his home, between 1774 and 1781. It’s the oldest still working planetarium in the world and it is now a small museum in the north of the Netherlands.

      Xanten Archaeological Park is a museum in North Rhine-Westphalia, near the Dutch border, with Roman archaeological finds, including the remains of a bath house, over which you can walk on a suspended platform. There is a park with the same size as the former Roman settlement of Colonia Ulpia Traiana, which was at that location. Some Roman buildings and part of the walls have been reproduced there as well.

    • bean says:

      Battleship Iowa museum in LA. My favorite place in the world. You should all go. (Biased? Me? Never.)

      Besides that, I’d agree with Johan that the USAF museum in Dayton is amazing. Nearly as good is the National Atomic Museum in Albuquerque, which has a lot of actual nuclear bombs on display, as well as a variety of nuclear delivery platforms.

    • SamChevre says:

      Two favorites, both in Vienna:
      The MAK-Wien — a museum of “applied arts”. It has a room full of chairs; typical rooms from various styles and eras (an 1890’s dining room with all the furniture and tableware of the period, and so on.)

      The Museum of Military History: it has everything from pikes and a manual of broadsword drills, to barriers and clubs from the 1930’s street battles in Vienna.

      • theredsheep says:

        I was kind of let down by the ISG; all the paintings I wanted to see more closely were tucked away in high or dark corners.

    • dodrian says:

      My favorite is Johnson Space Center Houston. It’s got artifacts from all the major US manned space programs, a moon rock available for touching, plenty of hands-on exhibits for kids, and tours of Historic Mission Control, Astronaut Training Facilities, and other locations on site.

      The Visitor Center is a bit on the small side, and while I was thrilled by all the hardware in the Smithsonian Air&Space+Annex in DC, I think Johnson wins out for its charm and its Actually Happened Here factor.

    • cryptoshill says:

      Naval Undersea Warfare Museum in Keyport, Washington as well as the USS Nautilius museum in Groton, Connectiticut. If I had to pick, I would say the Undersea Warfare Museum because it has more items and lore that are closer to what a modern submariner deals with on the day to day.

    • AG says:

      I have hit up the science museum in pretty much every American city I’ve visited, and SF’s Exploratorium still takes the cake. I haven’t been to NASA in a while, but their quality for adults tended to depend on the special rotating exhibition.
      Soft spot for the Houston Museum Of Natural Science, because the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals.

      Recently, though, I did the Cité de la Musique in Paris, which is a really great look at the history of instrument development (even if they have a very classical music narrow focus). You get a free audio tour with admission, so that you can hear what each instrument sounded like, without disturbing other visitors.
      Similarly, the Musée des Arts et Métiers was a great find. As a “Museum of Useful Things,” it charts the development of scientific tools, including that for architecture and the various engineering fields. Best of all, part of it is within Saint-Martin-des-Champs, so you can experience seeing vintage cars and airplanes (full size!) next to a mini Statue of Liberty, lit with stain glass and framed by stone arches. Both are covered under the Paris Museum Pass. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to try out the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie.

      Back to the Bay Area, the Playland Not-on-the-Beach museum is pretty great, covering all sorts of oldschool arcade exhibits, as well as fine pinball machine collection. Perfect for a date.

      • Tenacious D says:

        Totally agree with you on Arts et Métiers.

      • Winter Shaker says:

        Can second Cité de la Musique, and if you’re into that, the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels is also good.

        Also, for something vaguely in the spirit of the British Museum, the Horniman Museum in London also has some cool stuff (basically, an old-timey tea merchant used his fortune to buy a collection of interesting cultural artifacts from around the world … and it too has a musical instruments section with a lot more concertinas than you’ll find probably about anywhere, unless there is a specialist concertina museum somewhere that I haven’t come across).

        I didn’t get to see the musical instruments section of the Metropolitan Museum in New York; on the one day I was visiting, on my one trip to the Western Hemisphere in many years, that section was closed.

    • gbdub says:

      Also, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Absolutely fascinating collection of thousands of historical, unique, and famously owned instruments of all descriptions. Organized by region (Europe, China, the Americas, etc.) with a great free audio tour and a neat gallery of artifacts from famous musicians. Also a great auditorium with a nice schedule of events. Not something you’d think of as necessarily a topic you’d seek out a museum for (and in Phoenix of all places) but it’s very easy to get there and burn a whole day even if you have only a passing interest in music.

  30. Harry Maurice Johnston says:

    A few comments following up on the linked thread:

    @Nancy, not quite what you asked for, but close: Santa Olivia.

    A lawyer’s take on “natural born citizen”. Also relevant.

    @Conrad, from what I’ve read at least some of the migrants the Trump administration are zero-tolerancing are in or closer to the “because tyranical government” category, not the “because poverty” category. I’m not sure of the proportion or of the reliability of my sources.

    I don’t think anyone mentioned the Red Hen thing? My (original) reaction: “Yeah, you’re complicit in one little crime against humanity, and those darn liberals won’t ever let you forget it.” 🙂

    Also disturbing.

    @disposablecat,

    For me, countries exist to cordon off economic and social activity in such a way that people of similar inclinations, with similar resources and skillsets, flock together, as it were, and thereby succeed as a unit.

    Huh. Wouldn’t that work better if you had the freedom to move to whatever country did share your inclinations and skillsets? (I agree with at least some of your arguments against open borders, but I found this particular suggestion baffling.)

    • Matt M says:

      Wouldn’t that work better if you had the freedom to move to whatever country did share your inclinations and skillsets?

      A great way to display that you share the inclinations of a place you want to move to might be to comply with their requested procedure for gaining approval for entry, residence, citizenship, etc.

      • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

        Assuming the procedure selects for those inclinations and skillsets and is not unreasonably stingy, sure. On the other hand, is it actually in the interests of a nation to allow immigrants with the same sorts of inclinations and skills as the existing citizens?

        • Deiseach says:

          On the other hand, is it actually in the interests of a nation to allow immigrants with the same sorts of inclinations and skills as the existing citizens?

          Country Z: “Boy, we could really use more doctors and nurses, we just can’t get enough candidates from our own people to work for our hospital system! Maybe if we advertise for medical staff overseas?”

          (A) “Hello, I am a trained medical professional from the Philippines, I’d love to come work in your national health system!”

          (B) “Hello, no of course I’m not one of those colonialist oppressor so-called scientific method-biased repressors of native other ways of knowing shills, but I can align your chakras via homeopathic crystals like nobody else!”

          So does Country Z go for the immigrant without the same skills and inclinations as its existing citizens because option A is just too boring and pedestrian? 🙂

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            I’m not sure which of (A) or (B) are supposed to be the same as the existing citizens. Neither, as far as I can tell?

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Wouldn’t that work better if you had the freedom to move to whatever country did share your inclinations and skillsets?

      I’m not disposablecat, but the answer to that question is that communities need to be able to exclude those who don’t fit.

      Imagine that there are two towns, Pleasantville and Unpleasantville, a short drive away.

      Pleasantville is a great place to live, where nearly all of the people are hard-working and friendly. If you live there you can expect your neighbors to come by and invite you to barbeques or to wave at you in the street.

      Unpleasantville is a horrible place to live, where nearly all of the people are lazy and hostile. If you live there you can expect your neighbors to come by and rob you or to throw rocks at you in the street.

      Even if you’re the most unpleasant person on Earth, there’s no way that you would choose to live in Unpleasantville over Pleasantville. Even if your presence makes things worse for everyone else it’s still a huge improvement for you personally. Even if enough unpleasant people move in and turn Pleasantville into Unpleasantville, you wouldn’t be any worse off than if you had moved to Unpleasantville from the start.

      • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

        That seems to me to be a different argument. Pleasantville and Unpleasantville presumably didn’t come into existence because people of similar inclinations flocked together – or if they did, it undermines your premise that nobody would choose to live in the latter.

        … and now I’m sort of visualizing the citizens of Unpleasantville complaining to one another about how all these horrible Pleasantville people have moved in and started calling the police on them, can you imagine? 🙂

        • Matt M says:

          … and now I’m sort of visualizing the citizens of Unpleasantville complaining to one another about how all these horrible Pleasantville people have moved in and started calling the police on them, can you imagine? 🙂

          Isn’t this basically the premise of anti-gentrification movements?

          • Tenacious D says:

            Isn’t this basically the premise of anti-gentrification movements?

            Neither gets down to fundamentals very often, but both gentrification and immigration debates raise the question to what extent people should have a say on the composition of their communities. To distinguish between them, the next question is whether that should change based on the scale of the community.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “Isn’t this basically the premise of anti-gentrification movements?”

            Not exactly– one of the claims is that the police get called to prevent harmless behavior.

    • disposablecat says:

      Exactly what Matt said. The means by which others who believe they fit our unit apply to join it, and by which we evaluate them to see if we agree with that assessment, are our legal immigration processes.

      I don’t think what we have right now does a particularly good job of that, and there are many ways in which it could be greatly improved; however, throwing up our hands and just letting people in is the opposite of a solution.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      @Conrad, from what I’ve read at least some of the migrants the Trump administration are zero-tolerancing are in or closer to the “because tyranical government” category, not the “because poverty” category. I’m not sure of the proportion or of the reliability of my sources.

      Which governments would that even be, though? What nation in the western hemisphere (besides Cuba and perhaps Venezuela) is persecuting citizens such that they would have a valid claim of “asylum because tyrannical government?” And if they do have such a valid claim, why are they sneaking into the US illegally? You won’t ever get your official asylum if you’re dodging US authorities rather than submitting to them.

      On the other thread, user bass pointed out that some asylum-seekers are being turned away by US border agents claiming there’s “no room.” That could be entirely true, as resources for processing asylum seekers are limited. In which case this problem is being exacerbated by people crossing illegally and then making defensive (and likely bogus) asylum claims when caught. I’d like to hear a response from the Border Patrol. The asylum-seekers in the article are from Guatemala, though, so I think this problem could be solved by their staying in Mexico, where they are presumably safe from whatever threats they faced in Guatemala. Or, they could apply for asylum at one of the 10 US consulates or embassies in Mexico.

      I’m not sure what the official rules are about “first safe country of asylum.” I googled around and I could find some documents from the UN referencing this, but I don’t know if there’s any kind of official international treaty, or if states make up their own rules, probably with consideration to UN recommendations. I know the EU and Merkel specifically are having a crisis over this, as Germany wants to distribute migrants throughout member states, some like Poland aren’t having it, and the natural first ports of entry like Greece and Italy cannot absorb all the migrants. It seems to me that it’s within the rights of the United States to say to Guatemalans in Mexico who want asylum from a situation in Guatemala that since they’re in Mexico, their problem is solved. I do not think “something bad happened to me in my home country” should be an excuse to allow someone entry/residence/citizenship in whatever country in the world they want.

      I don’t think anyone mentioned the Red Hen thing? My (original) reaction: “Yeah, you’re complicit in one little crime against humanity, and those darn liberals won’t ever let you forget it.”

      What “crime against humanity” would that be? If you’re talking about the detention of illegal migrant children, temporarily holding them in places like this does not seem to fit the bill. Either that or I have the completely wrong idea about Auschwitz, with the pizza parties and the Foosball tables.

      I do not think this sort of hyperbolic rhetoric is going to help the Democrats in midterms, but they seem to be running full-bore with it. Just released Harvard-Harris poll (online survey, so grain of salt) says an overwhelming majority of American registered voters, 70 percent, support tougher immigration enforcement to include a border wall (60% support), deportation (64% support), and repatriation of all illegal border crossers including families with Children (61% support). Additionally 69% of voters do not support the position of disbanding I.C.E. The whole “disband I.C.E.” thing the Dems are touting is especially bizarre, as I.C.E. has nothing to do with the border separations. I.C.E. does internal deportations, and it’s the U.S. Border Patrol picking up the people crossing the border illegally and turning the kids over to those goose-stepping fascists at Health and Human Services who run the child extermination camps.

      I can’t find it right now but I saw another poll from a few weeks back that when asked who’s to blame for children being separated from adults while crossing the border illegally, 55% of voters blame the adults and only 35% blame Trump, with the other 10% undecided. The whole “crimes against humanity,” “No borders! No wall! No USA at all!” rhetoric plays fine among the people on the TV screen, but not so well with the voters.

      • Deiseach says:

        The whole “disband I.C.E.” thing the Dems are touting is especially bizarre, as I.C.E. has nothing to do with the border separations. I.C.E. does internal deportations, and it’s the U.S. Border Patrol picking up the people crossing the border illegally and turning the kids over to those goose-stepping fascists at Health and Human Services who run the child extermination camps.

        Would that be the having their cake and eating it part of the proposal? I see plenty of allegations online from various parties that Republican politicians don’t really intend to carry out [whatever] even if in power but it’s useful for whipping up the base (see often quoted in this context ‘they’re never gonna get rid of Roe vs Wade, it’s way too useful to them’).

        Democrat politicians and policy makers, not being total idiots, do want some form of border control and border guards, but the current outrage is much too useful to them to not try and make hay out of it. Solution? Divert attention to ICE as the Evil Horrible Baby-eaters, demand they get shut down/disbanded/nuked from orbit, and even in the unlikely case that they are in a position to get rid of ICE and do so, they’ve still got the real border guards in place enforcing policies.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          The problem with riling up the base without intending to give them what you got them riled up about is eventually somebody comes along, takes your base, and gives them what they want while knocking you out of power. For an example, see “Trump, Donald J.”

      • MrApophenia says:

        Or, they could apply for asylum at one of the 10 US consulates or embassies in Mexico.

        No they can’t. Per US law, you can only request asylum if you are actually present inside the US, and embassies and consulates don’t count. If you go to a US consulate or embassy and tell them you want to claim asylum, they will tell you they can’t process asylum claims and you need to go to a port of entry.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          You are right. I stand corrected.

          Perhaps we should amend that law, then, at least with respect to asylum seekers in Mexico. (Largely for the purpose of being able to say to, ex. Guatemalans, “no, you’re in Mexico, so there’s no reason to grant you asylum from Guatemala.”)

      • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

        At this point my opinion is largely unchanged, but tinged with enough doubt that I don’t particularly want to try to defend it. But if you want to know where I was coming from at the time I first read about the Red Hen fuss, I can point you at a few links.

        Theresa May.

        American Academy of Pediatrics, et. al.

        Also this one.

        Former shelter worker.

        Example of the sort of thing I’m categorizing as closer to “tyrannical government” than to “because poverty.”

        See also.

        Really I guess this is a third category – “official government either unwilling or unable to keep gangs/terrorists/rebels from oppressing citizens”.

        Ilya Somin from the Volokh Conspiracy.

  31. Iain says:

    Especially interesting to me was this comment questioning the idea of “enforcing” vs “not enforcing” immigration law.

    For a longer version of the argument, here’s a Vox article where Matt Yglesias fleshes out the tweet I quoted.

    • idontknow131647093 says:

      The obvious problem of the analogy is that it ignores the debate is all just a smoke and mirrors proxy from both sides over future voter demographics. This is obvious because most other Republican policies would be generally unaffected by a few million extra low-wage workers, whereas things like the $15 minimum wage, medicare for all, etc require adding more workers who earn above the median income, rather than below.

      In that way, its more similar to the older Connecticut residents who grumble about how they left Mass to escape higher taxes, only for other Mass residents to do so as well (and then those same ones voted for higher taxes in Connecticut as well!).

      You can be sure that if uncaptured bike thieves (and the children thereof) voted 70%+ Republican Mayors DeBlasio and Garcetti would be cracking down hard! Bike thievery would be a major problem constantly addressed and extremely politicized.

      • Guy in TN says:

        Yes, this. I’ve tried to imagine myself in the GOP’s shoes, being faced with an impending demographic wave from immigrants that would radically re-shape society in a direction I was morally opposed to. For example, if most immigrants were far-right, and if we let them in, the U.S. would be far-right majority in some decade down the road. It would be horrifying. I would oppose this far-right immigration with everything I had.

        So, I’ve learned to embrace not having a “principled” position on borders. I support an open border with Mexico because I think their voting patterns will make the US a better place. I expect conservatives to be opposed to this, just as I would be opposed to an open border with right-wing immigrants. This isn’t to diminish my opposition to the current border policies we have: I think we should abolish ICE, grant citizenship to all immigrants, and bring charges against the most egregious enforcers of these laws. And I fully expect, if the tables were turned, for the Right to do the same against the Left. Because all politics is war, duh.

        Which means, debates over immigration are largely a proxy battle for larger left-right philosophical differences. Principled “open border” lefties seem to be awful upset about Israeli’s moving into Palestinian land. And as for the “rule of law” right, the Obama years are still plenty fresh, and we all remember the support of “resisting” the bureau of land management, the issuing of gay marriage certificates, support for mass resistance of gun control laws, ect.

        • quanta413 says:

          Yes, this. I’ve tried to imagine myself in the GOP’s shoes, being faced with an impending demographic wave from immigrants that would radically re-shape society in a direction I was morally opposed to. For example, if most immigrants were far-right, and if we let them in, the U.S. would be far-right majority in some decade down the road. It would be horrifying. I would oppose this far-right immigration with everything I had.

          So, I’ve learned to embrace not having a “principled” position on borders. I support an open border with Mexico because I think their voting patterns will make the US a better place.

          I think this is a misreading of the situation. In many ways, immigrants from outside of the U.S. are notably to the right of maybe even the typical Republican voter. But there happens to be a coalition between various minorities as political interest groups and other logically unrelated issues like gay rights, abortion, etc. Most Republicans probably aren’t that principled but are following incentives from their voters.

          This coalition is historically contingent on the U.S. as it is now. You’d be in for a nasty surprise if you think things would stay this way if the U.S. merged with all of Mexico.

          I think a United Meximerican States would look a lot more like Hungary, Poland, or Brazil than like Sweden. Notably more socially conservative than the current U.S. but possibly with bigger safety nets or more government jobs. Probably more liberal than Mexico itself though. Probably more violent than the U.S. but less violent than Mexico. More corrupt than the U.S. but less than Mexico. Dunno if this is what you want.

          • Guy in TN says:

            I could quibble that open borders and a merger of governments aren’t quite the same thing. But I’ll address your underlying point, that Mexican people are more socially conservative and economically left-wing than the average American, so their integration into the U.S. political spectrum isn’t going to shake-out exactly the way your standard Democrats would like.

            For sure, there’s an ongoing intra-left debate in the U.S. about whether social or economic issues should take precedence, assuming we are forced to choose. You can place me firmly in the camp that economic issues take precedence, especially if abortion/gay marriage are the extent of what we are talking about here.

        • Brett says:

          An open border with Mexico would make it less likely that they’d become citizens and vote. The US is close enough that a fair number of Mexican workers could work seasonally in the US, and then cycle back for a couple of months.

          As for me, I figure we can probably take in about 2.5 million permanent immigrants a year without any serious hit to social or political stability (at that rate, it would take 100 years for the US population to double just from immigrants – meaning that most of the original immigrants would have died off and their children and other descendants would be US born citizens).

          Environmental stability is another issue, though. Do you want to live in a US with a half-billion people, with all the extra strain on land and natural resources that will entail? A billion people? And given this is the US, coming here will probably increase their environmental impact a lot in a bad way.

        • Aapje says:

          @Guy in TN

          Principled “open border” lefties seem to be awful upset about Israeli’s moving into Palestinian land.

          If the Palestinians can’t move into Israel, it’s not an open border policy.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I haven’t heard of any open border advocates for allowing free migration into Mexico from the US either. Though I actually have no idea how hard it is to set up permanent residence in Mexico as a US citizen; my prior would be it’s quite easy provided you know how to pay the mordidita (and can afford it), and impossible otherwise.

        • Deiseach says:

          Call me crazy, stupid or anything else disparaging you like, but I do actually think the major problem in this is the “illegal” rather than the “immigrant” part.

          The blathering about “no person is illegal” from one side is cute, but meaningless apart from being an appeal to The Grandeur of The Human Spirit and other uplifting edification (and makes me go ‘well, you guys sure are certain some persons are illegal when it comes to abortion – or at least you redefine your terms so that they’re not persons at all’).

          The other side yammering about demographic take-over and catastrophic cultural failure may or may not have a point, but they’re over-reacting in some instances – the reason that these people want to cross the border is that they want to be Americans, too! Just like the descendants of the immigrant Dutch and Germans and Scandinavians and English and Irish and French all eventually became ‘Americans’ which formed this mixum-gatherum culture that is allegedly under such threat.

          I think that there can be an absorption of immigrants as long as there is a legal process which is adhered to, where everyone in the system knows what they are doing and what is going on, and people are processed in an orderly and timely manner. I think where the real breakdown comes is the ignoring, flouting, and ‘there should be no consequences’ of the law.

          If you really, really believe that everyone has a right to move to the US and that there is no such thing as illegal immigration since there is no basis to make a law against forbidding people to cross borders, then I can understand where you’re coming from.

          In the same way, if your objection really is “too many non-white Americans will dilute and destroy the culture and society we have built up”, okay, that’s something I can understand. I don’t need to agree with either or both points to understand them.

          But I don’t think that saying “the Republicans/the administration/the Trump voters/white people not me and my class-tribe are all racists, the real reason they are anti-migrants is not because of the law-breaking” is helpful. If we can get honesty on both sides about motives, the debate might go somewhere (and yes, this includes “I’m pro-immigration because I believe in open borders, I’m not actually all that concerned if Jose who has crossed the border can only work under the table in exploitative labour jobs now he’s here” because I’m fairly sure if some racists are using this issue as a means to push their agenda, so are some globalists).

          This is the equivalent of those saying “anti-abortion people don’t really care about foetuses (otherwise they’d treat abortion as murder), it’s that they really hate women/women’s free expression of sexuality and are using this as an excuse to control and punish women”. Please consider that when people say “It’s the law-breaking I find abhorrent”, it really is the law-breaking?

          In the same way, saying “no no no, they’re not illegal immigrants, they’re undocumented migrants” is untrue: there is a law and a process to follow, they haven’t done this, they’ve broken the law, they are illegal just as a murderer is an unlawful killer but a soldier in wartime is not.

          • ana53294 says:

            anti-abortion people don’t really care about foetuses (otherwise they’d treat abortion as murder)

            I think the argument you are referring to would be more like

            anti-abortion people don’t really care about foetuses (otherwise they’d provide free healthcare for foetuses and unborn children, give parents of disabled foetuses a disability pension that is generous enough to be able to take care of them, would not complain about giving single mothrs welfare checks, etc.)

            It is a consistent view to require to put your money where your mouth is, and actually help pregnant women in vulnerable positions keep their baby.

            Please consider that when people say “It’s the law-breaking I find abhorrent”, it really is the law-breaking?

            Sure, but if it was just the law breaking, wouldn’t cutting legal immigration of family members be inconsistent with that?

            Most of the people who care about illegal immigration also care about legal immigration by poor, uneducated and religious people; quite a few of them openly advocate for a Canada or Australia like system, where mostly rich or educated people are accepted.

          • The Nybbler says:

            the reason that these people want to cross the border is that they want to be Americans, too! Just like the descendants of the immigrant Dutch and Germans and Scandinavians and English and Irish and French all eventually became ‘Americans’ which formed this mixum-gatherum culture that is allegedly under such threat.

            Do they? Or do they just want to be in a wealthier Mexico/Guatemala/El Salvador? Aztlan, MEChA, La Raza, “Make America Mexico Again”? OK, the last is probably just satire, but the other three are all real, even if La Raza did rebrand.

          • Deiseach says:

            Aztlan, MEChA, La Raza, “Make America Mexico Again”?

            I do think a lot of that came out of the identity politics pushing; if you can milk the Sympathetic Party (that only wants your votes so that it can get into power to be good to you, honest!) for goodies by presenting yourself as a bloc (and the bloc part is important) that can be mobilised for votes, be it unions or Hispanics, then that is to your benefit to create, disseminate and enforce that group identity.

            And a good chunk of it comes from the 60s and 70s when minority groups were flailing about looking for ‘authentic roots’; just as you got the invention of Kwanzaa (and the idea of Islam being more ‘authentic’ as a religion for African-Americans than Christianity given the false impression that Islam was somehow autochthonous to various African countries whereas Christianity had – let’s all sing in chorus here! – been imposed by white colonial oppressors), in the same way you got the academic and political cohort of Hispanic and Latino movements looking back to some Golden Age of pre-European America. That this, in the context of North America, means just as much supplanting, dispossessing and replacing the aboriginal Indian tribes by the south Americans as done by the Europeans, in order to claim a right to national territory, is somehow overlooked.

          • Deiseach says:

            I think the argument you are referring to would be more like

            anti-abortion people don’t really care about foetuses (otherwise they’d provide free healthcare for foetuses and unborn children, give parents of disabled foetuses a disability pension that is generous enough to be able to take care of them, would not complain about giving single mothrs welfare checks, etc.)

            No, the argument I am referring to is a “gotcha” along the lines of “call it murder and you are a monster who hates women/don’t call it murder and you are a monster who hates women”.

            Those making the argument you quote (“if you cared you’d provide good support for pregnant women and poor mothers”) never address the counter-argument that if they are the ones who really care, why are they so enthusiastic that the solution to being a poor mother is not to attack the poverty, it’s to enable the woman to not be a mother?

            Otherwise they wouldn’t be so horrified by the notion of crisis pregnancy centres.

          • ana53294 says:

            As a pro-choice woman, I think that crisis pregnancy centers actually help women make choices, so I applaud the logical consistency of those who oppose abortion and try to help women who do not want to abort but cannot afford to be pregnant.
            However, it seems that they frequently lie about it, posing as abortion clinics, and try to convince women who are planning to have an abortion not do to so by either convincing/guilt tripping them or by lying to them about how many weeks you can abort at. I think that’s what pro-choice people find reprehensible, not actually giving women choices.

          • Guy in TN says:

            Could it be that political factions are diverse, and various people can oppose immigration for different reasons? You are against the law-breaking aspect. Others are opposed to immigration due to the demographic voting threat. Some people are just racist.

            Likewise, its true that many people on the left (including myself) advocate for an end-goal system with no borders. We can’t say this in public, of course, due to the Overton Window. But that doesn’t mean we can’t simultaneously care about the plight of illegal immigrants working in a two-tiered system, without labor law protections.

          • cryptoshill says:

            I think when a large majority of the people coming in fly the flag of their home country, that could be reliably termed “an invasion” if you’re concerned about cultural issues. Either way, I think it’s a solid indicator that the class of immigrants that we are assimilating wind up being “Mexicans in America” and not “Mexican-Americans”. I think this distinction is of critical importance, particularly to the Right. The Right notably does pretty well among Hispanics versus other minority groups, and there are a lot of right-wing Hispanic politicians. (Weirdly, Trump is up ten points among Hispanics from before).

            Re: The abortion comment, I do not think it being anti-abortion requires being pro “free healthcare for vulnerable mothers”. For an anti-abortion person, abortion is literally murder. A policy that enables murder must then be pretty high on the abhorrent list. Vulnerable mothers who would rather commit murder than raise a child should be pretty high on the abhorrent list to the same person, but since these people believe in the morality of choice it doesn’t get the same priority that illegalizing the murder does.

          • baconbits9 says:

            In my neighborhood people fly the Irish and Italian flags all over the place. A few decades ago the Slovenian church (since closed) up the road had a school taught in a native tongue, by immigrants from Slovenia! I cannot believe that we have let these invasions of foreigners go on for so long unchecked!

          • ana53294 says:

            Well, maybe if you actually consider abortion as murder, preventing murder goes before helping somebody who is so poor that their only option is murder.

            But it is the next logical step. There is a reason we have safe haven laws; because some women end up in states of mind where they end up dumping babies into dumpsters. And I see denying help to pregnant women and disabled children while denying them a painless euthanasia (which is what abortion is, really), making them suffer, as a really inconsistent view.
            You cannot say “Women should carry the responsibility of their babies, and go in front of a judge and … (a lot of legal complications) to give up their baby” and at the same time say “we have to prevent babies from being dumped into dumpsters, but we should do everything except giving women a safe opportunity to do so”.
            Note: I do not view foetuses the same as babies, and I do not think abortion is murder, however, I favour empowering women by giving them better economic opportunities so they can avoid an abortion and can afford an unplanned pregnancy or a disabled child.

          • albatross11 says:

            ana:

            How does this argument look different if you assume abortion is acceptable but infanticide is not? It seems like it’s the same kind of moral issue either way–sometimes a mother realizes she just can’t take care of her kid, what should we do?

            I agree we should have mechanisms to let her give up her kid in some relatively low-overhead way if she reaches that situation, for both her good and the good of her child.

            But I don’t think it makes you inconsistent or a hypocrite or anything if you support laws against killing your 6-month-old baby but don’t support having some mechanisms to make it easy to give babies up.

          • albatross11 says:

            ana:

            Does it actually often happen that women go to a crisis pregnancy center and don’t know whether it offers abortions? And that they somehow can’t, say, realize that they’re in the wrong place and leave and go find an abortion clinic? I really don’t know, but I’ll admit that this seems unlikely to me.

          • Deiseach says:

            This is what pisses me off about the sanctimony on the pro-choice side: the solution to poverty is death.

            And yet the conservatives are the bad guys in all this.

          • ana53294 says:

            albatross:
            Well, I don’t have statistics, but it does seem to happen. After a cursory googling, I get this: 1, 2 and 3.
            I personally don’t object to a crisis pregnancy center that tells the women from the beginning that they don’t offer abortions, and then talk about the choices they do offer. Being pro-choice does mean supporting women in whatever choice they make, such as when Sarah Palin’s teenage daughter had a child, or when a young woman in a similar position decides to have an abortion. These choices should exist.
            Pro-lifers have the option to steer women towards the choice they want them to make, by incentivizing them to do so, or they can prohibit abortions. Sure, banning abortions is a cheaper option, but it will not stop abortions from happening; women will just choose more dangerous black market options, or resort to self harm, such as drinking bleach or whatever. I think that no law will stop a person desperate enough to drink bleach from doing whatever they feel they have to do. So banning abortions is just inefficient, it doesn’t work, and it turns into gruesome deaths of women. So if you know that the law does not matter in the end, and banning abortions will not save the foetuses of rich women who want to have an abortion (they can afford to travel to Canada, so that won’t work), but will result into deaths of poor women, who will be pushed into more precarious situations.
            So when they say “we want to stop abortions because murder, and we don’t care that when people are so desperate they drink bleach, they don’t care about jail, so we just end up virtue signalling without actually improving the lives of the foetuses after they are born, because we want to do it on the cheap”, I think it is not consistent with the stated objective of saving foetuses.

          • MrApophenia says:

            Call me crazy, stupid or anything else disparaging you like, but I do actually think the major problem in this is the “illegal” rather than the “immigrant” part.

            The Trump administration appears to disagree, since the policies they are pushing right now also very heavily cut back on legal immigration, as well as illegal immigration.

            Over the past few months, they have revoked legal immigration status from hundreds of thousands of people who were here legally up to that point. Not only that, but the immigration bills they have been pushing for also sharply cut back on the amount of legal immigration allowable.

            The standard Republican rhetoric on this has typically been that they are only against illegal immigration, and I think many traditional conservatives do actually hold that view – but the Trump administration has now quite openly flipped to arguing that the problem is immigration itself, legal or illegal.

            (Of course, Trump being Trump, he has spiced things up a bit more by tactfully pointing out in his trademark colorful that he really just has problems with immigration from the *bad* countries – you know, like Haiti or any of the ones in Africa – and that he wishes we could get more good immigrants from Europe or Scandinavia.)

          • ana53294 says:

            @Deiseach
            That is not what I am saying; I am saying that if you consider abortion murder, and you want to stop poor, desperate, probably slightly insane people from commiting murder, the best solution is to help them out of poverty.

            The same way infanticide is mostly stopped by providing safe haven laws, because banning infanticide does not work, because it has been illegal in the Western world for a very long time, and it still happens. You need to enforce infanticide bans, for sure. But you also need to give people other options.

            So even if you somehow manage to ban abortion, you need to give people the safe haven option, otherwise you will end up with dead women in adition to the murdered foetuses.

          • theredsheep says:

            Re: abortion, I’ve heard from multiple sources that, prior to Roe, most illegal abortions were done by licensed doctors simply ignoring the law, and that to get figures where loads of women were dying from abortions each year you have to go back before antibiotics.

            Also, http://blog.secularprolife.org/2018/07/which-decreases-abortion-rates-more.html

            Abortion and contraceptive access both seem to increase risk-taking behavior, at least among young white women, and the effect is substantially stronger for abortion because it has an essentially zero risk of failure.

            Also, it’s not 1970; you don’t need bleach, just a supply of misoprostol. Tell your doctor, while winking broadly, that you need an NSAID but are prone to ulcers. There’s your abortion. Or just order it over the internet. I’m sure that, were Roe reversed, you’d see an explosion of black-market abortifacients, and most likely the bulk of them would be safely ordered from Canada or somewhere.

          • J Mann says:

            Call me crazy, stupid or anything else disparaging you like, but I do actually think the major problem in this is the “illegal” rather than the “immigrant” part.

            It’s really hard to tease out. I assume the pro-enforcement crowd is made up of some coalition of people who (a) don’t have a problem increasing legal immigration numbers, but think that illegal immigration poses special problems; (b) would be open to discussing immigration numbers, but currently think legal immigration is about where it should be and are opposed to illegal immigraiton and (c) want less immigration. Similarly, the anti-pro-enforcement crowd probably breaks into a few groups. (There’s also potential disputes about whether immigration should prefer skills, family reunification, or refugee assistance).

            I personally would gladly double legal immigration in return for an aggressive stance against illegal immigration, but I don’t know how the polling shakes out.

          • albatross11 says:

            ana:

            I’m sure banning abortions doesn’t prevent 100% of abortions, but I would be very surprised if it didn’t prevent a substantial fraction of abortions. If you believe that less-serious restrictions on abortions (like requiring women to see an ultrasound of their baby, or restrictive licensing schemes that reduce the number of abortion clinics per state, or parental notification laws) reduce abortions, presumably you also believe that a 100% ban would reduce abortions even more.

            Some of the women who couldn’t get legal abortions would make other choices. Some would travel to another state/country to get an abortion. Some might get an illegal abortion, but I suspect that wouldn’t be very common, because travel is pretty cheap[1]. Basically the cost of getting an abortion would go up by $300-400 to cover travel and lodging costs.

            [1] And illegal abortions in the US in 2018 would be done by a medical professional in clean conditions, or would simply be done by taking a pill which would be legal in more than half of the US.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            The standard Republican rhetoric on this has typically been that they are only against illegal immigration,

            We have a motte and bailey, with several overlapping baileys.

            You can have people who say “I don’t want illegal immigration, but I’m fine with immigration” who are fine with any level of immigration, up to and including replacement level, as long as the people check in as they come over the border.

            You can have people who say “I don’t want illegal immigration, but I’m fine with immigration” who think that our current legal immigration levels are just about right, but want to stop the overflow that are sneaking in.

            You can have people who say “I don’t want illegal immigration, but I’m fine with immigration” who think that our current legal immigration levels are just about right, for now, but worry that if we wanted to stop immigration for some reason, we would not be able to do it because of de-powering the institutions that could deal with it / empowered the people who would deny enforcement even if the country legitimately and honestly desires it as policy.

            You can have people who say “I don’t want illegal immigration, but I’m fine with immigration” who want a small amount of immigration, noticeably less than we have now, but they still want some amount of legal immigration each year.

            And then you have people who say “I don’t want illegal immigration, but I’m fine with immigration” who really want to end all immigration and don’t want to say so.

          • ana53294 says:

            @ albatross
            Well, strange as it sounds, I think that legally complicating something while still leaving the option on the table discourages the undesirable activity more than completely taking the option from the table. Because most people in states where they have to listen to ultrasounds are probably not aware how horrible it is to go through that, and get an abortion, so they are discouraged by that.
            But if a woman wants to get an abortion, and she knows there is no legal way to do it, she will probably just google the abortifacients, and mail-order from Canada.

            Consider how much more effective than the Prohibition the Swedish approach to alcohol consumption is: prices are ridiculous, you cannot buy alcohol after six on workdays and not at all on Sundays, except in bars and stuff. Alcohol consumption has reduced drastically in Sweden, without the social cost of the prohibition.

            Also, tobacco: while the consumption of illegal drugs has not decreased by making it illegal, the consumption of tobacco has decreased by making it more expensive and more unattractive. At the same time, black market prices for cocaine have gone down. Last I heard, you can buy a snort of cocaine for less than a coffee in Starbucks. So keeping it legal has allowed us to control it better.

            I think abortion is the same. Ilegal alcohol has methanol in it; ilegal abortions are unsafe.

          • 10240 says:

            @ana53294 Your arguments are applicable to most things we ban. E.g. property crimes:

            “Property rights people have the option to steer poor people towards the choice they want them to make, by incentivizing them to do so, or they can prohibit robbery. Sure, banning robbery is a cheaper option, but it will not stop robberies from happening; poor people will do it anyway, resort to violence such as mugging people at gunpoint. I think that no law will stop a person desperate enough to rob people (and risk getting hurt themselves) from doing whatever they feel they have to do. So banning robbery is just inefficient, it doesn’t work, and it turns into gruesome deaths of robbers who get shot by their victim.[…]

            So when they say “we want to stop property crimes because property rights, and we don’t care that when people are so desperate they resort to violence, they don’t care about jail, so we just end up virtue signalling without actually improving the lives of the law-abiding people, because we want to do it on the cheap”, I think it is not consistent with the stated objective of saving people from property crimes. […]

            That is not what I am saying; I am saying that if you consider robbery wrong, and you want to stop poor, desperate, probably slightly insane people from commiting robbery, the best solution is to help them out of poverty.”

            Btw I support the right to abortion, but your argument is wrong.

          • ana53294 says:

            @10240
            I actually think it applies to armed robbery too. Regions with high crimes frequently don’t offer much in the way of decent legal employment, which reinforces criminal activities.
            Gunning down all of them would be less effective than helping them get a job and then gunning down those who choose not to take the carrot. Not giving any carrot will be less effective.

          • 10240 says:

            @ana53294 Yes, reducing poverty reduces most crimes, but most of the time we wouldn’t use this to argue that something shouldn’t be banned at all, or that those who want to ban it don’t actually care about its occurrence.

          • Matt M says:

            the reason that these people want to cross the border is that they want to be Americans, too!

            No, they quite clearly don’t. If they did, this wouldn’t be a problem.

          • rlms says:

            @Matt M
            You think illegal immigrants would refuse American citizenship if offered it? That is contrarian indeed.

          • Matt M says:

            You think illegal immigrants would refuse American citizenship if offered it? That is contrarian indeed.

            They want citizenship sure (well, some of them. probably NOT all). But they don’t want to “be an American” in any sense other than that.

            Which is really what this debate is all about. Does “being an American” actually mean something apart from “a person who is registered with and pays taxes to the US government?”

          • MrApophenia says:

            There have been a number of studies showing Latin American immigrants assimilate just as fast as every other wave of immigrants in the past.

            Did existence of Little Italy mean Italians aren’t real Americans?

          • quanta413 says:

            @Matt M

            Does “being an American” actually mean something apart from “a person who is registered with and pays taxes to the US government?”

            The paying taxes thing is not actually anywhere near a requirement. Children, people consuming more welfare than they pay in tax, people who make no money, etc.

            In theory it might be nice if “being an American” meant more than “is a citizen due to legal rules”, but I don’t think I’m going to agree with anywhere close to enough people on what “being an American” should be that I actually want “being an American” to be anything other than “is a citizen due to legal rules”.

          • rlms says:

            @Matt M

            But they don’t want to “be an American” in any sense other than that.

            What other senses are there? Are the Amish American in those senses?

          • Matt M says:

            What other senses are there? Are the Amish American in those senses?

            Culture. Values. Language. Among others. And no, I’d say the Amish aren’t really “American” in any meaningful sense. I’d say that they do their damndest not to be American. They don’t seem to want much of any part of our government, state, society, and they only participate in it to the extent that we threaten them if violence if they refuse.

          • MB says:

            “In my neighborhood people fly the Irish and Italian flags all over the place. A few decades ago the Slovenian church (since closed) up the road had a school taught in a native tongue, by immigrants from Slovenia! I cannot believe that we have let these invasions of foreigners go on for so long unchecked!”
            The difference is that the Ireland and Italy have no claims on US territory and immigrants from those countries do not live predominantly in portions of US territory adjacent to Ireland or to Italy.
            Better watch out for those French immigrants, though — maybe they want their Louisiana or Detroit back!
            An Irish flag is a milder statement, like the religious symbols still present on US banknotes and in judicial proceedings. It’s not that they aren’t Irish, but that they are not militant about it and nobody cares.
            By contrast, flying a Mexican flag can, depending on context (e.g. while burning a US flag next to it), be a very strong and controversial symbol, just like a host of other flags that many people consider controversial (e.g. Confederate, hammer and sickle, Japanese pre-WWII flags).

          • They don’t seem to want much of any part of our government, state, society, and they only participate in it to the extent that we threaten them if violence if they refuse.

            That’s a considerable exaggeration. Amish buy from and sell to the non-Amish around them–that’s participation in the society, and it isn’t done due to threats of violence.

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidFriedman

            They have to, to pay their taxes, don’t they?

          • Matt M says:

            That’s a considerable exaggeration. Amish buy from and sell to the non-Amish around them–that’s participation in the society

            “Nothing to do with” might be a bit of an exaggeration, for the “society” part at least.

            But they distinguish between Amish and English for a reason. I highly doubt that they consider themselves to be members of the same society that the English are…

          • @Aapje and Matt:

            As best I can tell, the Amish position is that they should obey the government’s laws except when those laws pose an unacceptable threat to their principles or society. The only case I know of where they were willing to engage in mass civil disobedience was against compulsory attendance in (non-Amish) high schools, which I think they realistically viewed as a threat to their survival as a society, a way of forcibly inculcating their children with an alien system of values. The Supreme Court eventually came down on their side in a unanimous decision.

            Other than that, they have generally negotiated with the non-Amish authorities to get mutually acceptable terms.

            They certainly distinguish between themselves and the English, meaning the rest of us. American blacks, orthodox Jews, Mormons, Romany, and a fair number of other groups similarly distinguish between ingroup and outgroup.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @DavidFriedman, I’m not sure which was more recent, but I know the Amish also stood up to the government against getting social security numbers and paying social security taxes.

          • mdet says:

            Matt M (and possibly quanta?), you sound like you’re opposed to large scale immigration from Central America even if it were to happen legally. So if I could ask — what would satisfy you that these immigrants were properly “becoming American” that you don’t currently see happening? As MrApophenia pointed to, all the studies and polls I’ve seen say that currently, something like 85% of 2nd generation Hispanics are fluent in English, and large numbers of them intermarry with non-Hispanic Americans. What more would you like to see? (My guess: “Less identity politics”. But that seems to me less like something that they’re bringing over from Central America, and more so something that they pick up from us after they get here)

            Edit: Pew Research from 2017 with a few polls related to Hispanic identity among foreign-born vs second gen vs third gen Hispanics. I may have actually underestimated English fluency among second gen Hispanics, since Pew says only 6% are Spanish Dominant. And 18% of married Latinos are married to a non-Latino.

          • Matt M says:

            I would like to see legal immigration conducted under some sort of points system that is completely blind to ethnicity or former nation of residence.

            My guess is that the result of this would be exactly what the left predicts when they tell us why this sort of program would be evil and must be opposed – significantly more immigration from European and Asian nations, and significantly less from Central America. Wealthier immigrants more able to support themselves and more interested in assimilating quickly, rather than waiting 3 generations and hoping the public schools and reality TV do a good enough job of it for us.

            I see no logic in a system built to favor those who are most easily able to get here and most willing to violate our laws in the process of doing so.

          • mdet says:

            Depends on what we’re awarding points for. If we reach a point where there’s minimal illegal immigration, we might need to bring in legal immigrants to fill the low skill farm worker positions. But I do agree on “some sort of points system that is completely blind to ethnicity or former nation of residence” and that the current system favors the people who can cross the border most easily — if we want to bring in low wage workers and/or uplift people from countries with low standards of living, why are we allowing Central Americans to sneak across the border and steal spots from, say, African immigrants?

            But it sounds like you don’t dispute that Central American immigrants now are assimilating at the same pace as European immigrants a century ago, you just think that there’s an even better option available.

          • The Nybbler says:

            If we reach a point where there’s minimal illegal immigration, we might need to bring in legal immigrants to fill the low skill farm worker positions.

            Doesn’t need to be immigrants for this, just non-immigrant temporary workers with permanent residence outside the country that they’re required to return to periodically.

          • rlms says:

            @Matt M
            And is the Amish lack of Americanness a problem? It seems positive/neutral to me, which means lack of Americanness is not intrinsically bad.

          • quanta413 says:

            Matt M (and possibly quanta?), you sound like you’re opposed to large scale immigration from Central America even if it were to happen legally.

            To clarify, no I’m not for or against. At least not without nailing down numbers. 10 million per year or more would legally would be too many people bar some crazy reason like Central and South America are sinking into the ocean so we’ve all got to huddle up in North America. On the order of 1 million per year legally might be fine. Depending a lot on the rules and who, it could be positive or negative. Not all individuals are equally desirable people to live adjacent too.

            When I say it might be nice in theory for being American to mean more than the legal definition, I mean really far out in theory. Like in theory it might be nice if perpetual motion machines were possible. I mean it would be nice if Americans were coherent in a way that probably doesn’t even apply to a significant chunk of my countrymen whose ancestors have been here for centuries. It might reasonably not apply to me depending how I defined it rather than just holding a vague thought in my head.

          • cryptoshill says:

            @Quanta – I think making “being an American” be something more than the place you happened to grow up is one of the better arguments FOR immigration control. I’m not sure if I’ve made this argument here before, but if I could tell with 100% certainty that a given immigrant was extremely culturally similar to the current makeup of Americans, I would have zero problems with them immigrating, legally or illegally (although one of the cultural markers of “American-ness” is begrudging respect for the law). An argument that usually gets caught up in accusations of being a “white nativist” racist is that “we should be importing Americans who happen to live in other places, not making more foreigners who happen to live in America”.

        • Doctor Mist says:

          and bring charges against the most egregious enforcers of these laws

          Wait. Whut? Tell me you don’t mean what it sounds like you mean.

          • Guy in TN says:

            The far-left isn’t well represented in this board, so I can understand how such views are surprising.

            Obviously, prosecuting everyone involved in immigration enforcement is unrealistic and counter-productive. But we could go after the masterminds, Nuremberg-style.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Obviously, prosecuting everyone involved in immigration enforcement is unrealistic and counter-productive. But we could go after the masterminds, Nuremberg-style.

            Not unless you’re going to have an old-fashioned revolution, because without that you’re violating the badly-battered but not quite dead “ex post facto law” prohibition in the Constitution.

          • CatCube says:

            @Guy in TN

            I’m probably going to regret asking this, but what exactly are you imagining the charges to be?

          • Guy in TN says:

            Not too worried about the details. If there’s a strong enough will to act against someone, then savvy lawyers and judges will find a way. “something something Spirit of the Constitution”.

            Obviously, if it gets to the point where we are bringing charges against Trump-era officials, then restrictions on ex post facto may no longer apply (probably would be for the best imho)

          • fion says:

            I’m not quite sure I understand the implications being discussed here, but I just wanted to wade in to say that not all of us on the far left believe in prosecuting people for enforcing the laws of their time. I kind of feel as though Guy in TN implied this and I want to push back on it.

            I guess there’s a bit of a grey area when it comes to things like Nuremberg, but I feel as though that’s such an edge-case that we should maintain the norm that ex post facto laws are bad.

          • Brad says:

            We couldn’t even get the torturers prosecuted during the Obama administration. Heck, they didn’t even lose their jobs.

            This proposal seems so unrealistic to me that it isn’t even worth debating whether it would be a desirable outcome.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Guy

            I believe the term you’re looking for is “Reign of Terror”, not “Spirit of the Constitution”.

          • John Schilling says:

            Can we get the “prosecute all the ICE agents” people and the “shoot all the illegal immigrants” people together in one place, and then build a wall around them? Or at least a fence?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @John Schilling

            Call it a “cage”, and we can put it on Pay-Per-View.

          • Matt M says:

            They occasionally gather of their own accord in the streets of large, progressive cities. Perhaps you’ve seen the recent viral videos!

          • Guy in TN says:

            Did you guys see that video of the border patrol guy dumping out the gallons of water he found hidden in the desert, that was supposed to be used as a supply point?

            Give it twenty, thirty years, and this era will be remembered as a stain on U.S. history. It’ll be in the texbooks beside Jim Crow.

            “It’s cool to imprison children, even kill people, if its not against the law”- This will hold up super well, definitely.

          • CatCube says:

            @Guy in TN

            I think they should be doing more of that. We’ve got a premade “wall” in that the terrain is dangerous to cross, and having a couple of CBP guys spend a few hours driving around in the desert with a box cutter is way cheaper than building an actual concrete wall.

          • beleester says:

            @CatCube: Deliberately destroying someone’s water supply in the middle of a desert is basically murder. It’s more deniable than shooting them, you can pretend that they just “accidentally” ran out of water mid-crossing, but you’re still deliberately taking an action that you know and intend will end with someone else’s death.

            If you’re going to take that stance, I’d rather you just shoot them, then at least you wouldn’t be able to lie about what your goal is.

          • cryptoshill says:

            CBP is in a tough spot there. If they allow “supply pipelines” to make the natural barrier *easier* to cross (given, the rough desert is the primary barrier here) – they are literally not doing their job. Do I hold you personally accountable for murder even though your actions probably caused the death of some third-worlder?

          • Guy in TN says:

            Do I hold you personally accountable for murder even though your actions probably caused the death of some third-worlder?

            Causality is weird, sure. Would you hold a man accountable for pulling trigger on a gun, which activates a mechanism, which sends a bullet through the air, which just happened to hit another person? There’s like, three steps of removal from the trigger-pulling.

            “Taking away a person’s water in the desert” seems right up there with “slashing holes in a liferaft”, or “barricading the doors of a burning building” in the of-course-its-murder-dont-be-pedantic category.

            CBP isn’t in any more of a “tough spot” than the guards at Auschwitz, caught between “following orders” and killing another person.

          • CatCube says:

            @beleester

            I don’t have any moral problems with shooting people that cross the border*. It’s just that you have to have people nearby to actually take the shot, which is expensive and time-consuming. Destroying supplies is far cheaper and will increase the difficulty of crossing.

            To make sure my stance is clear: the United States has an absolute right to defend its borders, and that includes the possibility of using lethal force. The form of lethal force is largely irrelevant, and should be based on tactical considerations.

            Now, I do oppose a policy change for the CBP to start erecting guard towers and shooting at illegal immigrants attempting to cross the border. However, my objections to that are entirely practical. Truly sealing the border will be a very land-, manpower-, and fiscally-expensive process. Look at the amount of land and obstacle effort required on the Inner German Border, then multiply that by at least 4. We haven’t even come close to the cheapest, easiest, more moral**, and more politically-palatable method of reducing illegal crossing, which is to jump up and down on employers by heavily fining them for employing illegal immigrants. Physically stopping people at the border is always going to be a rounding error compared to getting them to leave voluntarily by making them unemployable. However, if we can make it even more dangerous to cross by destroying supply points, that’s a cheap gimme we should be employing.

            Note, however, that if the CBP comes across a group of illegal immigrants in the desert they absolutely do have an obligation to give them water after arresting them, just as once a police officer has shot somebody they’re required to render medical attention after they’re no longer a threat.

            * To make sure I’m clear on this, because there’s discussion of vigilantism in other threads, I don’t support vigilante groups manning the border and shooting crossers. However, properly-sworn border guards are another matter.

            ** All things being equal, I’d like to eliminate illegal immigration through the use of non-lethal methods, but that we haven’t enacted literally every non-lethal methods doesn’t foreclose the use of cheap lethal methods like increasing the danger of natural obstacles.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Deliberately destroying someone’s water supply in the middle of a desert is basically murder. It’s more deniable than shooting them, you can pretend that they just “accidentally” ran out of water mid-crossing, but you’re still deliberately taking an action that you know and intend will end with someone else’s death.

            Well it’s a good thing that the fine upstanding coyotes who set up the depot had all their build permits in order so that the border patrol can call them up and inform them they closed it down. Since they have a rightful claim to the land they could even take the border patrol to court over it.

            And I’m sure those same nice responsible citizens would never bring their customers through a desert without regularly checking that their supply lines are intact and having a plan to account for a disaster.

          • bean says:

            How about the Border Patrol destroys the water and leaves a radio so that the unfortunates can call for pickup when they find the water destroyed?

          • Nick says:

            I’m with beleester here. I cannot believe we’re even having this discussion.

          • rlms says:

            Physically stopping people at the border is always going to be a rounding error compared to getting them to leave voluntarily by making them unemployable.

            Unfortunately the latter hurts the wallets of rich white people, whereas the former (at worst) merely kills poor brown people and so is considerably more feasible.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Physically stopping people at the border is always going to be a rounding error compared to getting them to leave voluntarily by making them unemployable.

            Unfortunately the latter hurts the wallets of rich white people, whereas the former (at worst) merely kills poor brown people and so is considerably more feasible.

            There’s no need to drag race into it. Plenty of poor white people would benefit from the rich having to actually play by the rules.

            But money is power so here we are.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            We’ve heard a bunch in this thread about how hard it is to secure the border. What are the efforts to put the screws on employers that we should be doing that we aren’t?

            I hope I don’t get shitty answers like “obviously not enough because they continue to hire people” or applause lights.

            Is it just to require EVerify? Do we have anyone here arguing against that?

            (edit: I found this argument against EVerify https://www.cato.org/blog/serious-problems-e-verify but if you are suspicious that it’s the big businessmen stopping EVerify a Cato source won’t be very persuasive. Is it much harder to get EVerify-proof papers? I don’t want a national biometric database, but if “just use EVerify” is the fake stalking horse we could end up empowering the people who want to create it if we go towards EVerify and it doesn’t work )

            I’ve said before that I’d be fine with letting workers turn in their employers for some kind of amnesty, depending on how it’s designed and implemented.

          • CatCube says:

            @bean

            Yeah, I don’t see why that would be a problem. It uses the terrain to our advantage and keeps people from coming over. I’m not out to kill people who try to cross illegally, I’m just indifferent to it so long as the method of stopping them is effective.

            Just like the Russians have General Winter, we’ve got Border Patrol Officer Desert. Whatever lets him do his job.

            @rlms

            Oh, no argument that powerful economic actors will prevent any actual effective enforcement of the border. As a matter of fact, I think it’d be real interesting to do an immigration sweep through a Trump construction project and a Trump hotel and see what the results are. I’m not sure that the President’s hammering on a wall isn’t just a “Bread and Circuses” sop to his base by doing a mostly-ineffective yuge construction project that looks “good” on camera while not actually doing anything to change the facts on the ground.

            @Edward Scizorhands

            For the Cato article, the last reason they give (unintended expansion of the system) is the most compelling, and one I’d have to think on. Most of the rest are not terribly good.

            I’m especially underwhelmed (to the point of almost laughing) about how they say it won’t be “free”–no kidding. I’m OK with the government spending money on this. Securing the border is one of the things the federal government is supposed to do, and I don’t have any problems with spending money on well-founded programs. The costs they quote are also cheaper than the wall we’re currently talking about.

            For the lack of compliance they talk about: what are the consequences for lack of compliance for employers? My proposal is if they get caught with illegal immigrants as part of their workforce, they get fined (say) $30,000 per head for everybody they didn’t do E-verify on.

            I do tentatively like your proposal about encouraging the employees to blow the whistle. However, I’m not sold on amnesty (assuming you mean amnesty to stay in the US). I’d prefer to go with the whistleblower getting deported, but with a large bounty in cash. Possibly go with a 50/50 split on the fine–the whistleblower would get $15,000 per head. The downside, of course, is if the coyotes found out who was informing, they’re probably going to murder them. That would push towards your idea of amnesty, but that’s still somewhat of a problem even if they stay in the US.

          • Lambert says:

            On the ‘Workplace enforcement’ front, the critical question is: ‘How much money does the employer save by hiring illegally vs legally?’
            This is the threshold for the amount of money the gov’t has to fine or whatever per illegal immigrant.
            It also opens up the other prong: making legal work (whether from citizens or immigrants) cheaper to obtain.

            But I’m with CatCube on the Wall is a Circus front, so it’s really all a moot point politically.

          • Guy in TN says:

            And I’m sure those same nice responsible citizens would never bring their customers through a desert without regularly checking that their supply lines are intact and having a plan to account for a disaster.

            It’s like shooting someone, then claiming it was a suicide because they didn’t think to wear a bulletproof vest. Amazing.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            To be clear, I didn’t link that Cato article because I believed those arguments. I just hadn’t thought much about the negatives of EVerify and went looking for some. I don’t like the government getting in everyone’s business but EVerify doesn’t seem that much worse than “you submit your I-9 forms like you already do, but we honest-to-God check them in real time.” So your documents at least need to be based off of some legit stolen identity which seems to raise the bar.

            For “amnesty” I was thinking, in very rough terms, “we forgive your initial trespass and give you a two-year work visa.” Not necessarily give them citizenship (which people have used before when talking about “amnesty” so it’s my fault for using that term). Giving them a portion of the payout could work as an alternative. It’s the standard way the government catches people who are defrauding it, and you make conspiracies really unstable if multiple parties can flip at any time.

          • veeloxtrox says:

            I have been toying with the idea of passing a bill that says if you can prove you were in the country before day X you can stay forever but no citizenship. If you were <18 on day X (or prove you were in the country before you turned 18) you can be a citizen through the normal means. Figure out how much it would take to drop illegal immigration to <10 a day, and pay for it out of the military. Seems like something democrates couldn't complain to much about but I am not sure if republicans would be willing to give amensity in exchange for a "wall"

          • Matt M says:

            I think mandatory everify can be objected to from a libertarian stance quite easily in that the state has no business getting in the way of free and voluntary labor arrangements between consenting individuals.

            “Going after the employers” sounds to me very much like the government refusing to do one of the very few things it is specifically tasked with doing, and then seeking to blame it all on those dastardly capitalists.

            Let the state clean up its own mess. Greater interference into free trade is not the solution here.

          • Brad says:

            I don’t have any moral problems with shooting people that cross the border

            In case anyone was wondering what lawful evil looks like.

          • Matt M says:

            In case anyone was wondering what lawful evil looks like.

            How about strangling people who attempt to sell loose cigarettes without paying the proper task?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Matt M

            If they’d deliberately strangled him for not paying the cigarette tax, and this was policy, that would be lawful evil. Since they did it just because, as police, they could get away with it, I think it’s probably neutral evil.

          • Iain says:

            @Nick:

            I’m with beleester here. I cannot believe we’re even having this discussion.

            Yeah. It’s kind of depressing to see how willing people are to place effectively zero value on the lives of other human beings. Like, hey, maybe a marginal reduction in the number of illegal immigrants making it into the country doesn’t actually justify deliberately killing a bunch of desperate people. Or maybe I’m just a crazy leftist hippy.

          • CatCube says:

            @Brad

            Your lobbying for open borders is a perfect example of chaotic evil, if anybody needs an example.

            @Matt M

            1) That would be a lot more compelling if I was a libertarian.

            2) Stopping illegal immigration at the border is difficult bordering on impossible due to the size and terrain involved. Defense in depth is really the only way, and once you’re inside the country outside of a very narrow strip that puts you on notice that the CBP can arrest you using lethal force if necessary, “defense” must absolutely be a legal process.

            3) If the terminal goal is that illegal immigrants are free to contract with anybody once they make the 50-yard dash across the border, then why the hell bother to stop them? If doing the only effective thing to stop illegal immigration is intolerable, then stop trying to prevent it with huge, expensive, but useless infrastructure.

          • Brad says:

            The difference is you needed to dishonestly set up a strawman but all I had to do is quote exactly what you said.

          • CatCube says:

            @Iain

            It’s kind of depressing to see how willing people are to place effectively zero value on the lives of other human beings.

            I don’t place zero value on their lives. I just place less value on them than I do on other values. Here, that value is that the United States of America has the right and the obligation to its citizens to control entry to its territory by non-citizens. That is more important than the lives of people who want to enter illegally.

            Preventing somebody from coming across the border with lethal force is no more surprising or immoral than a prison guard shooting somebody climbing over the fence. Nor does it mean that the escaping prisoner’s life has “zero value”. If it did, then that would mean that the guards should just put all of their prisoners against a wall and shoot them, to save the cost of guarding and housing them. It just means that preventing them from freely moving over that fence is more important than their lives.

            Note, also, that if our prison guard shoots somebody who has surrendered, that is straight-up murder. To tie in with comments above, the purpose of the lethal force is to stop movement across the boundary (prison fence here, or national border in the larger discussion). If the movement has been stopped, continuing on to lethal force is not appropriate and should be punished.

          • CatCube says:

            @Brad

            The argument, of course, is if it was really a strawman. My characterization was intentionally very flip, of course (as was yours, by divorcing it from the context of the discussion). But you’re going to have to argue that it was wrong. As @Matt M was alluding to with his crack about loose cigarettes, if you pass a law you’re accepting that people are going to get killed for breaking it.

            If you draw a line on the southern border and tell people to defend it, some people who try to cross it are going to get killed. If you’re not willing to bite that bullet, then just admit you don’t want to stop people from crossing it. I agree that the deaths should be minimized, which is why I think the primary method of enforcement should be by reducing employment (along with the fact that primarily relying on border defense will be ineffective). However, I’m not willing to permit free movement, and I’m not going to pretend that people aren’t going to die because of that stance.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            If you draw a line on the southern border and tell people to defend it, some people who try to cross it are going to get killed. If you’re not willing to bite that bullet, then just admit you don’t want to stop people from crossing it.

            I don’t think it needs to be that black and white; you can be willing to accept one level of risk but not another. You’re also eliding any distinction between accidental deaths, having to kill in self-defense, and intentionally killing a presumed offender rather than risking them escaping.

            (Personally, I have no problem with border guards shooting back if they’re being shot at, and there’s no way of preventing every possible accident. But if it really comes down to a choice between letting someone get into the country illegally or deliberately killing them, for God’s sake just let them in.)

          • Brad says:

            for God’s sake just let them in.

            It’d be interesting to find out if there are any self professed Christians in the group that endorses murder over having strangers sojourn among us.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            @Brad, see also. 🙂

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            Going to back to the “prosecute Trump and company” topic:- presumably all those you would want to prosecute would have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, and there’s that whole “cruel and unusual” thing they’re pretty much outright ignoring. Granted that this would set a terrible precedent and is an all-round bad idea, are there any laws on the books regarding the breaking of said oaths?

          • Brad says:

            No, not really. It’s a political question, the remedy is impeachment and removal.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            @Brad, this was in the context of later on, after Trump is out of power. Or at least that’s how I was interpreting it.

          • Guy in TN says:

            @Harry Maurice Johnston

            Its true there’s not really any precedent in the U.S. for prosecuting high-level officials for things they have done while they are in power. This is to our detriment, as their autocratic power grows unchecked with each passing administration.

            For example, no one prosecuting the Bush admin for torture, or the Obama admin for killing U.S. civilians overseas. If you can do that, is there any limit on what you can do? If no one is willing to prosecute the Trump administration for their handling of immigrants, then god save us from what the next Republican president has in store…

          • pontifex says:

            I thought we were chaotic neutral here at SSC. Except for Scott, who is neutral good. Does anyone remember that long comment thread from a few OTs back where some anarcho-capitalists were trying to defend the idea of a “chaotic neutral” ancap state?

            Re: punishing employers of illegal immigrants. It seems like a fair (and possibly politically popular) punishment would be making them pay the illegal immigrants a full minimum wage salary (or possibly some multiple of that) for the work that they had done. If you do it right, the cases will come to you. And then illegal immigrants become something businesses won’t want.

            Of course, we also need to provide a usable infrastructure for identifying people.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            Someone was saying (not here, IIRC) that the main reason it wasn’t possible to implement a workable identification system in the US was that the evangelical Christians believed it would lead to the apocalypse, number of the beast and all that. I’m guessing that “main reason” is flat out wrong, but any thoughts on to what extent this is a factor?

          • Brad says:

            @CatCube

            The argument, of course, is if it was really a strawman.

            It was. Open borders means just that. Advocating no restricts whatsoever on who can come, live, and work in the United States. A return to the pre Chinese Exclusion Act status quo ante. Nowhere have I advocated for anything like that. On the contrary, I’ve argued on SSC for among other things making e-verify mandatory and eliminating the DV category.

            I’m not quite sure why this strawman is so attractive to those of you on the immigration restrictionist side. I’d guess because you want to set up a false dichotomy where not supporting your preferred policies (in most people’s cases the wall, in yours murder patrols) can only be compared to the most extreme possible alternative rather than to the many obviously superior options in the middle.

          • Matt M says:

            But if it really comes down to a choice between letting someone get into the country illegally or deliberately killing them, for God’s sake just let them in.

            Do you acknowledge the terrible incentive problem this creates?

            You end up with a situation where the de facto law is “closed borders for those willing to obey rules, open borders for anyone willing to resist enforcement to the extent that lethal force may be necessary.”

            Quite quickly, word gets out among the unwashed masses of the world that the way to ensure free entry into America is to credibly convince the border patrol that they’ll have to kill you in order to stop you.

            Do you not appreciate how untenable of a situation this becomes for enforcement authorities? Do you not understand how this will affect the mix of immigrants we receive?

          • bean says:

            But if it really comes down to a choice between letting someone get into the country illegally or deliberately killing them, for God’s sake just let them in.

            This logic frightens me, because you’ve just announced your willingness to be blackmailed. Somebody wants in? Do it in a way that looks dangerous enough and we’ll help you. How can I be sure it won’t escalate to the Border Patrol having to leave caches? Or taking the concertina wire off the fence, because somebody died in it? Installing a bridge over a section of river where lots of people drown? Ultimately, yes, I’m willing to kill someone over illegally crossing the border. Because the law has to escalate more than the other guy. Or it shouldn’t be there in the first place.

            For that matter, AIUI a lot of these are being placed by “do-gooders” on our side of the border. Your logic suggests that any government interference with them is tantamount to murder. If the border patrol comes across someone setting up a cache, can they morally arrest the people involved? (I’m not sure of the relevant law. Pretend we’re discussing making it illegal if you have to.) If the water is already deployed, do they have to leave it? Are they obligated to put it out themselves if they make the bust before it’s deployed?

            I suggested destroying the cache and leaving a radio. That seems to solve both sides of the problem. Everybody at least has the option of going back to Mexico alive instead of dying in the desert. Weirdly, CatCube is the only one who acknowledged it. Are you sure that safety is your only objection to this scheme?

          • bean says:

            It’d be interesting to find out if there are any self professed Christians in the group that endorses murder over having strangers sojourn among us.

            1. I have no objection at all to legal immigration, and think we could probably do with more of it. Please drop the stupid strawmen.

            2. Romans 13:2-3: “Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.”

          • BBA says:

            Romans 13:2-3: “Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.”

            Happy Fourth of July to you too.

          • Everyone in this thread seems to take it for granted that restrictions on immigration in general, and prevention of illegal immigration in particular, is obviously a good thing. That is not at all obvious to me.

            As Brad correctly pointed out, open borders would be “A return to the pre Chinese Exclusion Act status quo ante.” With regard to everyone except Asians, it was pretty much the situation until 1924, with a few exceptions such as restrictions on anarchists, disabled and diseased persons, and the like.

            Open borders with regard to New World immigrants would be a return to the legal situation pre-1965 (The Hart-Cellar Act, which for the first time set a quota on immigrants from the Western hemisphere, although there were occasional efforts a little earlier against undocumented immigrants from there).

            I don’t think many people would argue that the first century of open borders was a mistake, although there was certainly a good deal of anti-immigration sentiment at the time. I’m not sure that many would argue that unlimited immigration from Europe for the next 40+ years and from the western hemisphere for most of the next century was a mistake, although that seems to be something most people are unaware of.

            What has changed since then to create an almost unanimous opposition to open borders? I can only think of two obvious candidates.

            The first is the growth of the welfare state. In a laissez-faire system immigrants can be expected to be a net benefit to those already there, although they may be a cost to some subgroups. That seems consistent with past U.S. experience.

            In a society with a substantial amount of redistribution, on the other hand, there is at least the possibility that immigrants from poor countries will come to a rich country not to engage in productive work but to live off welfare, which provides a higher income than work in their country of origin. My impression is that that is part of what is happening now with African and Middle Eastern immigration to Europe, although the subject is so controversial that it’s hard to be sure.

            One obvious compromise, and the one I suggested forty-some years ago, is open immigration with new immigrants not qualified to receive welfare payments and the like–and, ideally, with their taxes reduced to make up for the tax-funded benefits they are not getting. That, plus a reasonably lengthy period to qualify for citizenship, would seem to eliminate the argument for restrictions based on redistribution.

            From this standpoint, poorly enforced immigration restrictions with lots of illegal immigrants looks like a possible second best, a way of achieving much of what I described de facto if not de jure, although it has a sizable downside due to attempts to enforce the restrictions.

            A second thing that arguably has changed is the lower cost of transportation, making it easier for people to come. That isn’t relevant to the case of immigration from Mexico or central America, which doesn’t require airplanes, is to some degree true for immigration from Europe and Asia. But 19th century technology included steamships, and water transport, although slower, is cheap, so I am not sure how large the difference really is.

            What remain, and what I suspect are the main motives for the current anti-immigration attitude, are the same arguments that fueled 19th century anti-immigration sentiment, hostility to people different from us coming here to change our society and steal our jobs.

          • johan_larson says:

            In a society with a substantial amount of redistribution, on the other hand, there is at least the possibility that immigrants from poor countries will come to a rich country not to engage in productive work but to live off welfare, which provides a higher income than work in their country of origin.

            Or, a step down from that, they are coming to do work, but can’t do work of high enough value. It seems pretty plausible that unskilled immigrants will despite their best efforts be less productive than the natives, because the natives are more highly trained and educated. That sort of thing becomes more and more important the higher the degree of welfare state the natives want to run. You just can’t afford Norway if your labor force is that of Guatemala.

            This scenario seems more likely to me than the notion that immigrants are coming to lie about on the dole. The stereotypical immigrant does not go on the dole; he works like a dog doing nasty work for peanuts.

          • Nick says:

            Happy Fourth of July to you too.

            I don’t know what you mean by that, since bean is of course right about the general principle. The state has a right and duty to use force, including lethal force and including to protect borders, and as a Christian I’m committed to that too. Where I perhaps differ is in how I think that force ought to be used. To respond directly to bean,

            This logic frightens me, because you’ve just announced your willingness to be blackmailed. Somebody wants in? Do it in a way that looks dangerous enough and we’ll help you. How can I be sure it won’t escalate to the Border Patrol having to leave caches? Or taking the concertina wire off the fence, because somebody died in it? Installing a bridge over a section of river where lots of people drown? Ultimately, yes, I’m willing to kill someone over illegally crossing the border. Because the law has to escalate more than the other guy. Or it shouldn’t be there in the first place.

            I don’t buy that it has to escalate more than the other guy. If someone is attacking you with lethal force, can you use lethal force back? Of course. But if someone is attacking you with nonlethal force, can you use lethal force? No. And sometimes you can’t escalate to the level of the other person; if someone else were shooting our children, it doesn’t mean we can shoot their children to stop them. Given that illegally crossing a border is not of itself such an escalation, I don’t see how lethal force is justified there.

            I’m concerned about incentives here too, but your argument is not the way forward. And for the record, I thought your solution to the water thing was not bad.

          • The Nybbler says:

            What remain, and what I suspect are the main motives for the current anti-immigration attitude, are the same arguments that fueled 19th century anti-immigration sentiment, hostility to people different from us coming here to change our society and steal our jobs.

            And what’s wrong with objection to people coming here to “change our society”? Suppose they were all basically totalitarians at heart and came here intending to institute a totalitarian state? Or democratic socialists, coming here to expand the welfare state enormously? Or Spanish-chauvinists, coming here to change the common language to Spanish? What’s wrong with objecting to people coming immigrating in order to change the country to something inimical to the incumbent citizens?

            This scenario seems more likely to me than the notion that immigrants are coming to lie about on the dole. The stereotypical immigrant does not go on the dole; he works like a dog doing nasty work for peanuts.

            Even if so, they bring and bear or father children. Who for at least a couple of decades, are going to be a net economic drain, thanks to all the programs for poor children.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Such a system would probably break down very quickly. Do parents of citizen children who don’t have citizenship themselves not get stuff? It’s gonna look terrible when one kid who’s a US citizen gets treated better than another because their parents can access xyz services and the other kid’s parents can’t. What about stuff that’s in the public-health interest? It’s gonna look bad when there’s an outbreak of some transmittable disease that started among people not covered by, say, low-income health care cost assistance.

            From my perspective, the US needs to unfuck its immigration system, in general. The current system is a confused mess that (if my brief Googling is correct) selects most immigrants on the basis of family reunification. It uses work visas for high-skilled workers who, as far as I know, in Canada would be straight-up immigrants. If there’s a need for low-wage seasonal workers in some fields, then there should be a seasonal worker visa system, not illegal immigration providing a pool of easily-abused labourers. It’s completely unclear what the US immigration system – how the legal system for selection of immigrants works, how illegal immigration is dealt with, etc – is meant to do, as far as I can tell – what’s the objective of the system?

          • Iain says:

            @bean:

            2. Romans 13:2-3: “Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.”

            This is a claim about what you should do when you are subject to the authority of another. It doesn’t address what the ruler should do.

            If you want to start citing individual verses, the pro-stranger side is going to have a lot more ammunition. The Bible is not subtle on this issue. If the constant drumbeat of “for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” doesn’t do it for you, take Matthew 25:31-46:

            Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me‘.

            PS: Romans 13 was historically a cornerstone of the “Biblical” case for slavery. In your shoes, I would be careful not to be too confident I was interpreting Romans correctly.

            Edit to add:

            @Nick:

            Happy Fourth of July to you too.

            I don’t know what you mean by that, since bean is of course right about the general principle.

            While it is true that rulers have both the right and the duty to enforce laws, and the ruled have the duty to obey legitimate authorities, it is at the very least a little bit ironic that bean was arguing that it’s wrong to rebel against authority on a day set aside for celebrating such a rebellion.

          • bean says:

            I don’t buy that it has to escalate more than the other guy. If someone is attacking you with lethal force, can you use lethal force back? Of course. But if someone is attacking you with nonlethal force, can you use lethal force? No. And sometimes you can’t escalate to the level of the other person; if someone else were shooting our children, it doesn’t mean we can shoot their children to stop them.

            I wasn’t advocating for that kind of unilateral escalation. But there isn’t a sharp line between lethal and non-lethal force, and some people will be killed even by supposedly non-lethal means.

            Example: A cop goes to pull someone over for speeding. The person ignores them and speeds up. They continue to ignore attempts to pull them over until the cop is forced to do the Pit maneuver. The resulting crash kills the person. This is an entirely predictable outcome of trying to stop people for speeding. A few will decide that a car chase sounds like fun, and a few of those will be killed in the attempt. There was never a concrete intent to kill any single person, but there was a conscious choice to escalate to potentially lethal methods, to enforce the rule that your best option when the cops try to pull you over is to cooperate instead of running away.

            Given that illegally crossing a border is not of itself such an escalation, I don’t see how lethal force is justified there.

            I think that the use of the term “lethal force” here is disingenuous. We are not talking about shooting everyone who we see crossing the border illegally. We’re talking about destroying the logistical support for illegal border crossings. This will result in deaths. So will not banning coal mining. But it’s not an action targeted at causing deaths. I do think there are things (leaving radios) we can and should do to reduce the death toll. But I also think that taking this to its logical conclusion means that we no longer can take action against someone trying to make crime less dangerous.

            @Iain

            I honestly can’t remember if you’re in favor of open borders or not. Brad, who I was replying to, isn’t, so he’s already ceded the basic premise that the government has some authority on who comes in or out.

            As for “sojourners in Egypt”, I’m not sure that follows. Should we treat immigrants/foreigners well? I believe the Bible absolutely teaches that. Abuse of illegal immigrant labor absolutely contradicts those verses. Do those verses equate to a case for Open Borders? I’m very not sure of that. The government acting under its delegated authority is different from me acting in my private capacity. And there’s Old Testament precedent that they didn’t have to let in absolutely everyone (see Throwing Off Invading Armies).

            And while I appreciate the irony of the timing of my making this case, I’m not going to not respond to something because this happened to be July 4th.

          • Nick says:

            While it is true that rulers have both the right and the duty to enforce laws, and the ruled have the duty to obey legitimate authorities, it is at the very least a little bit ironic that bean was arguing that it is wrong to rebel against authority on a day set aside for celebrating such a rebellion.

            Thank you, that embarrassingly sailed over my head.

          • Nick says:

            bean,

            I think that the use of the term “lethal force” here is disingenuous. We are not talking about shooting everyone who we see crossing the border illegally.

            You weren’t, but others in this thread were, and I wanted to separate myself from that position. I’m sorry if I made it sound like you were with them on that.

            We’re talking about destroying the logistical support for illegal border crossings. This will result in deaths. So will not banning coal mining. But it’s not an action targeted at causing deaths. I do think there are things (leaving radios) we can and should do to reduce the death toll. But I also think that taking this to its logical conclusion means that we no longer can take action against someone trying to make crime less dangerous.

            I agree that not being an action targeted at causing deaths matters, but that’s not enough to justify it. If we’re going to permit foreseeable deaths, the old double effect rules apply:

            1. that the action in itself from its very object be good or at least indifferent;
            2. that the good effect and not the evil effect be intended;
            3. that the good effect be not produced by means of the evil effect;
            4. that there be a proportionately grave reason for permitting the evil effect.

            I seriously doubt that just going around destroying water drops gets by this, and I took it from above that you agree: it’s leaving far too great a risk of deaths, and border security is not proportionately serious enough. I don’t even see it as sufficiently different from the “puncturing the rafts” example someone gave above: the only relevant difference is that that’s less direct, but the indirectness does nothing to affect the certainty of the outcome, so it’s just as wrong. Your leaving-the-radio solution is much better because it’s actually taking necessary and reasonable precautions to minimize chances of death.

            Use of the Pit maneuver is, as far as I can tell, in line with this analysis, though I think your justification is a little loose. Just glancing at wikipedia:

            Because of the police department’s potential liability for the injury or death of not only of the occupants of the target vehicle, but also bystanders, most departments limit its use to only the most high-risk scenarios. Most departments specify that the PIT should only be used to stop pursuits that are immediately dangerous and ongoing…. At speeds greater than 35 MPH, the technique still works, but it is considered potentially lethal and normally would only be used if lethal force is justified against all occupants.

            So correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like use of the Pit maneuver does require a proportionately grave reason and sufficiently low risk of death.

            If we can all agree—as I take it you already do, bean—that “by whatever means necessary” approaches are fracking terrible, the conversation would be much advanced.

          • Iain says:

            @bean:

            I honestly can’t remember if you’re in favor of open borders or not. Brad, who I was replying to, isn’t, so he’s already ceded the basic premise that the government has some authority on who comes in or out.

            I am not in favour of pure open borders. I agree that the government has legitimate authority over who enters the country. But I disagree with those people who claim that this authority justifies any and all extreme measures. (To be clear, I don’t think you are one of them.) If you want me to get specific, I’d say “shooting anybody who tries to cross the border” and “destroying caches of water and leaving people to die of thirst” are morally wrong. Building a giant wall is not morally wrong (just really dumb). Replacing water caches with radios is not morally wrong insofar as you trust the border patrol to arrive on time and not, for example, “forget” to charge the batteries on the radio. Nevertheless, I don’t think it would be worth the cost.

            I continue to think Matthew Yglesias’s bicycle analogy is relevant here. Bicycle theft is illegal, and the government has a legitimate interest in preventing it. Nevertheless, many people get away with it, and we do not dedicate infinite resources to eradicating it. This doesn’t mean we have an “open bicycles” policy; it’s just basic cost-benefit analysis.

            In a country that is already spending twice as much on ICE and CBP than it does on the FBI, where the rate of border apprehensions was down 82% in 2017 vs its peak in 2000, I think the onus is on the people pushing for stricter border control to explain why the marginal decrease in illegal immigrants would justify the marginal cost of keeping them out. Indeed, I think that any reasonable cost-benefit analysis would find that the American status quo spends way more money on immigration control than can be rationally justified.

            (I also suspect that the current panic about Hispanic immigrants will look, in retrospect, no better than the historical panic about the Irish.)

            As for “sojourners in Egypt”, I’m not sure that follows. Should we treat immigrants/foreigners well? I believe the Bible absolutely teaches that. Do those verses equate to a case for Open Borders? I’m not an OT scholar. I don’t know for certain how borders worked in those days. I do know that there wasn’t an obligation to accept absolutely anyone (fighting off invading armies was allowed), but I don’t know how that applies to our current situation.

            I’m no longer a believing Christian (although I remain, in many ways, a deeply Presbyterian atheist), and while I still have strong opinions about the correct way to interpret the Bible, I try not to get too pushy about them. That said, my preferred framework for thinking about this sort of thing is as follows. There are a lot of verses in the Bible making extreme demands on our generosity: “If you have two coats, give one to the man with none”; “if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also”; “what you do for the least of these…”

            Many of these, taken literally, are incompatible with a functioning society. (To borrow from your earlier post: nothing announces your willingness to be blackmailed like Matthew 5:39-40.) Nevertheless, they are not just present in the text, but repeatedly emphasized. To me, it makes the most sense to see them as aspirational goals. As much as possible, turn the other cheek. As much as possible, give your extra coat to the man with none. God does not ask that you turn yourself into an easily exploited punching bag, but he wants you to edge your way right up to that line. When you err, err on the side of loving your neighbour. (And on the side of an expansive definition of “neighbour”.)

            In the context of immigration, applying this approach to the verses about strangers would push for borders to be “as open as you can reasonably make them”. I don’t know where that line is, and I think there’s lots of room for honest disagreement, but I have a hard time believing that the line is stricter than the American status quo.

            My two (apostate) cents.

          • BBA says:

            It’s completely unclear what the US immigration system – how the legal system for selection of immigrants works, how illegal immigration is dealt with, etc – is meant to do, as far as I can tell – what’s the objective of the system?

            As I understand it, the 1965 Immigration Act was a compromise between progressives who wanted to end the national origin quotas and nativists who saw nothing wrong with them. The result was a facially neutral law that favored “family reunification” as a way of keeping the ethnic makeup of the citizenship more-or-less the same as it had been.

            Latin American countries (and Canada), which had never been subject to the pre-1965 quotas, were brought into the new system without much thought. As far as I can tell the focus of the immigration debate in the 1960s was still Southern and Eastern Europe.

            In the years since then, the geography of immigration changed dramatically, while the laws remained almost exactly the same. (The biggest change since 1965 is the “diversity lottery” introduced in 1990, apparently because we weren’t letting in enough Irish. It’s still a tiny fraction of legal immigration.) Somehow the nativists have gotten it into their heads that the 1965 law is what brought all the Mexicans in, when in fact it made legal immigration from Mexico much more difficult.

            Why haven’t we changed the laws? Because while the parties have gotten more uniform on other issues, they’re both deeply fragmented on immigration, and there’s no proposal that can get a majority in Congress. So we’ll carry on with the increasingly absurd 1965 system forever.

          • dndnrsn says:

            How many people here are open-borders other than Friedman? The open-border right might be better represented here than the left. It’s kinda disappointing to see people who I generally put in the same basket as myself (boring left-liberals or social democrats) get assumed to be open-borders.

            @bean
            Romans is best understood in the context of the author trying to show a community in Rome that the message isn’t sketchy. He’s going to say “yeah do what the authorities say” because “I’m respectable, ps overthrow your government” is a weak claim on respectability.

            It’s also unclear whether a lot of the injunctions from Jesus, Paul, etc were meant to be permanent injunctions, or short-term heavy-duty emergency injunctions. Someone who thinks (I accept the argument of the character of Jesus’ preaching to be basically apocalyptic) that the world is going to change in some radical way (not necessarily come to an end) soon is not going to be concerned about the behaviour of governments, given that they expect those governments to come to an end soon.

            This is like saying “you’ve only got another month in prison so behave yourself and you’ll be out soon” as a general injunction to behave one’s self in prison.

            EDIT: And Paul’s letters are all him dealing with some specific situation. Getting universal instructions from them is a bit like trying to conclude rules of effective business or command from a most-likely-incomplete selection of their emails or orders. You can sort of puzzle it out, but Paul’s instructions are all part of him trying to hold communities he’s associated with together, not lose them to competitors preaching different messages, etc.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @BBA

            I’m semi-aware of the history. I should have been clearer – that is the problem, that a policy was sort of put together as a compromise rather than to serve some objective. Not that any other system is some beautiful perfect thing outside of history, but the US seems to do particularly badly for some of these things.

          • bean says:

            @Nick

            I seriously doubt that just going around destroying water drops gets by this, and I took it from above that you agree: it’s leaving far too great a risk of deaths, and border security is not proportionately serious enough. I don’t even see it as sufficiently different from the “puncturing the rafts” example someone gave above: the only relevant difference is that that’s less direct, but the indirectness does nothing to affect the certainty of the outcome, so it’s just as wrong.

            I have a couple of problems with this analysis. First, life rafts are emergency gear. Someone in them is out of the fight. This isn’t true of water caches, which are being used to aid and abet the activity. Second, it seems to quickly lead back to moral blackmail. If the caches are being placed by an organization of pro-new-undocumented-Americans citizens, can we take action against them? How is arresting someone trying to plant caches different from removing them after they’re planted? What if they leave it in a National Park? Or on someone else’s private property? Does the Border Patrol have to refill them when they get empty? Not doing that can also kill someone, although I suppose you could dodge that one under double effect. But what’s to stop them from trucking people out to drink them dry? In a weird way, I think that caches planted by coyotes as part of a deliberate plan have more moral weight than ones planted by do-gooders with no coordination with anyone actually crossing the border. Someone might actually be counting on the former. On the later, someone who takes off without sufficient water and hopes to hit a random cache is sort of bringing it upon themselves.

            @Iain

            I don’t really disagree with you about immigration in general, both as a Christian and from a practical perspective. I do think that attacking water sources is a reasonable option, because disallowing it leads to absurd conclusions.

          • It seems pretty plausible that unskilled immigrants will despite their best efforts be less productive than the natives, because the natives are more highly trained and educated.

            Many of them will. But the question is whether they will be below the level of the lowest paid not-on-welfare workers, which strikes me as unlikely for anyone in reasonable shape and willing to work hard. There are a lot of lawns to be mowed, houses to be cleaned, factories who can use a few low-skilled workers for low-skilled tasks, and the like.

            The problem gets harder if there are high minimum wage laws being enforced against them. Fifteen dollars an hour is about $45,000/year for someone willing to work a sixty hour week, which is surely well above the welfare level.

          • And what’s wrong with objection to people coming here to “change our society”?

            My point was not that the argument was obviously wrong but that it was the same argument used by opponents of immigration in the 19th century and that the historical evidence suggests it turned out to be wrong then.

            You can argue either that I am misreading the historical evidence, that we would have been better off with much less immigration over the history of the U.S., or that something important has changed. I offered some responses to the latter argument.

          • johan_larson says:

            But the question is whether they will be below the level of the lowest paid not-on-welfare workers, which strikes me as unlikely for anyone in reasonable shape and willing to work hard. There are a lot of lawns to be mowed, houses to be cleaned, factories who can use a few low-skilled workers for low-skilled tasks, and the like.

            I don’t think that’s quite right. The lowest-paid not-on-welfare workers are almost certainly getting more in benefits than they are contributing. The highly productive pay more than they get; the minimally productive pay less than they get.

            The question is whether the immigrants can contribute more than the benefits that accrue to them as members of the society. And that’s a higher bar.

          • Matt M says:

            How many people here are open-borders other than Friedman?

            I would support open borders in the context of an AnCap society.

            In other words, if we privatize all “public” property and guarantee the freedom of association, I’d be all in favor of open borders.

            But until we do that, nope, not interested.

          • John Schilling says:

            We haven’t even come close to the cheapest, easiest, more moral, and more politically-palatable method of reducing illegal crossing, which is to jump up and down on employers by heavily fining them for employing illegal immigrants.

            One of the biggest problems with this solution, aside from the bit where it looks like a basically venal “let’s punish the Other Tribe’s heartless money-grubbing capitalists rather than Our Tribe’s poor oppressed People of Color, is that it isn’t actually going to be the perfect solution that makes 100% of the illegal immigrants go away. Even 50% would be a stretch.

            Which means, the 50+% who remain will by necessity be working for the most unscrupulous employers, often explicitly criminal and/or black market, or be left unemployed as a pure drain on society. And, insofar as they are economically dependent on criminals, quite vulnerable to exploitation.

            Securing the border but turning a blind eye to what goes on within it, gives us a mix of failed immigrants who live in their home countries with approximately the same civil rights as everyone else, and “illegal” immigrants who are basically indistinguishable from other Americans including the bit where they are productive law-abiding citizens who might even wind up voting Republican.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Thing is, that “not interested in open borders with the status quo what it is” position covers a lot of ground. I’d suspect it’s the majority opinion among Democratic voters.

            People aren’t upset at what must be done to enforce immigration laws because they don’t like the laws, they dislike them because the things that would need to be done are often unpleasant and depending on your morality may be immoral. People haven’t necessarily thought everything through, because we (people) generally do not do that.

          • johan_larson says:

            I’m not open-borders. I suspect a country can’t have all three of disproportionate wealth, a high-sharing society, and open borders.

            I think the US should implement the Australian/Canadian model of high but selective immigration, plus substantial border controls that aim first and foremost at catching and prosecuting the coyotes, a verification system that makes it very difficult to hold a legitimate job while unauthorized, and make a serious effort to deport perhaps 80% of the illegals who are already present.

          • CatCube says:

            @Brad

            I’m not quite sure why this strawman is so attractive to those of you on the immigration restrictionist side. I’d guess because you want to set up a false dichotomy where not supporting your preferred policies (in most people’s cases the wall, in yours murder patrols)

            Probably the same reason that you characterize what I said as advocating “murder patrols”–by carefully dodging any nuance, you get to assume your conclusions. Here, the argument is whether the use of any lethal force to guard the border is “murder”. It isn’t (I mean, morally. IIRC you’re a lawyer, so what current law says is more your wheelhouse than mine.) To clarify things, because at its base, “murder” is defined as “unlawful killing”, but has a secondary connotation as “immoral killing” (the sense I was using, but I’ll leave you to state which one you were using). I’ll use the term “immoral killing” here to remove the ambiguity.

            A) If the USG erects a double fenceline, erects guard towers on the near side, and the guards challenge somebody between the fences who doesn’t stop and escalates to shooting them coming over the near fence: not immoral killing. (Though as I said above, the land, construction, and manning requirements would be so immense that I don’t support this as a solution–but the crucial distinction here is it’s not immoral, just a stupid use of money same as the wall.)

            B) If they erect the fenceline as above, but when challenged the intruders halt and put their hands up. The guard shoots anyway: immoral killing.

            C) The fenceline exists as above, but the guard sees somebody well behind it that he suspects came across. He tells them to halt, and when they run he shoots them: immoral killing (Once you’re outside a very well-defined control zone it’s a police matter at that point. Roll patrols there to arrest them.)

            D) The guards don’t erect a fence, because the desert terrain means that crossing that particular section is already perilous. However, they come across a supply point to enable people to breach the border at that point. They destroy it, and at some point in the future people attempting to cross assuming its there die: not immoral killing. If they’re allowed to actively shoot people crossing, passively increasing the chances of failure isn’t immoral either.* (As an aside, I think that the people who leave the water there are acting immorally here.)

            Now, as a practical matter I think @bean’s proposal to leave a radio is something that should be done, but its crucial to understand that this will reduce the possibility of people dying but not eliminate it. You can’t guarantee that the radio will work months later after being in the desert, if that ends up being how long until somebody comes trying to use that supply point. There’s certainly no obligation to set a watch on that point, and creating one would enable malefactors to spam a bunch of supply points to stretch the Border Patrol beyond their limits. 5 gallon jugs of water are way cheaper than two-man teams sitting in an observation post 24/7.

            E) Just to be complete, the Border Patrol destroys a supply point as in (D), but a patrol happens on the people who were counting on that point while they’re still alive. The patrol waves to them and drives on: immoral killing. They’re no longer trying to breach the border at that point, so killing them is wrong.

            @John Schilling

            I’m not really sure what you’re saying, since the capitalists in this scenario are My Tribe, as we usually use the term here. However, just like why I didn’t vote for Trump, just because something is better for somebody who’s nominally on my side doesn’t require me to support it. The benefit to them from dodging around immigration laws isn’t sufficient reason for me to give them what they want on this issue.

            Anyway, I’d be thrilled with a 50% reduction. It’s way more than you’d get from border patrolling solutions.

            * Note that this was what kicked this whole thing off, because when I said that the Border Patrol should be doing this, @beleester said that it would be more honest to just shoot them and at least then you can’t deny what you’re doing. My response was basically that I’m not interested in denying that, just not doing it because (A) takes a lot of money and effort and (D) takes almost none.

          • Nick says:

            First, life rafts are emergency gear. Someone in them is out of the fight. This isn’t true of water caches, which are being used to aid and abet the activity.

            I had in mind rafts used to cross from Cuba to America or to cross the Mediterranean, not rafts from shipwrecks. But I’d say they’re more similar than you think, since the water caches are being used as a necessary element for crossing the border area.

            Second, it seems to quickly lead back to moral blackmail. If the caches are being placed by an organization of pro-new-undocumented-Americans citizens, can we take action against them? How is arresting someone trying to plant caches different from removing them after they’re planted? What if they leave it in a National Park? Or on someone else’s private property? Does the Border Patrol have to refill them when they get empty? Not doing that can also kill someone, although I suppose you could dodge that one under double effect. But what’s to stop them from trucking people out to drink them dry? In a weird way, I think that caches planted by coyotes as part of a deliberate plan have more moral weight than ones planted by do-gooders with no coordination with anyone actually crossing the border. Someone might actually be counting on the former. On the later, someone who takes off without sufficient water and hopes to hit a random cache is sort of bringing it upon themselves.

            I agree about prioritizing caches planted by American charity organizations and stuff. Make it a matter of policy that these caches will be targeted and destroyed by border patrol and ban organizations from setting these up, because, once they are known to be there, there’s a risk folks will start depending on them—and as I said, I think destroying it and leaving a radio is fine. I doubt anything can be done about planting them on private property, and I’m not sure about the case of a national park—is there some special jurisdictional issue with border patrol entering those? Geez, don’t tell me rangers are setting up sanctuary parks—but would this ever be more than a fraction of cases? I’m not sure what you mean by “trucking people out to drink them dry.”

          • bean says:

            I had in mind rafts used to cross from Cuba to America or to cross the Mediterranean, not rafts from shipwrecks. But I’d say they’re more similar than you think, since the water caches are being used as a necessary element for crossing the border area.

            The key difference with those is that you’ll figure out they’re slashed when you’re still on the other shore. I’d have absolutely no problem sabotaging a bunch of rafts that I expected to be used to try to cross the Med, so long as I was certain they wouldn’t find their way aboard a boat to be used in an emergency.

            I doubt anything can be done about planting them on private property,

            Say I’m a rancher. Someone sneaks onto my land, and plants a cache. Can I remove it? Do I have to leave a radio? I agree we can’t do anything about people doing it on their own land, but I’m trying to expose what I see as the absurdity of making us leave them alone/give them special status, as it interacts weirdly with other laws.

            and I’m not sure about the case of a national park—is there some special jurisdictional issue with border patrol entering those? Geez, don’t tell me rangers are setting up sanctuary parks—but would this ever be more than a fraction of cases?

            Not what I was thinking at all. This is tied into the previous one. If it’s immoral to remove them as “slashing life rafts”, what about ones we’d remove for reasons not having to do with border enforcement? You aren’t allowed to leave stuff in a National Park, period. So can the rangers take it out under those rules, or do they have to leave it because it’s a water cache?

            I’m not sure what you mean by “trucking people out to drink them dry.”

            Tell the border patrol agents. “Hey, if you can, use the caches to provide your water. Oh, and we’re sorry, but we had to drain the emergency supply in your truck, and haven’t gotten around to filling it up again.”

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            @Matt M,

            Do you acknowledge the terrible incentive problem this creates?

            Well, perhaps I’m missing something. What specifically do you anticipate people doing as a result of such a policy that they aren’t doing already?

            @bean,

            I don’t see any willingness to be blackmailed either. If someone has tried to swim over a river and is drowning, I’d want them to be rescued (if possible) rather than shot at; but that doesn’t mean they get to stay in the country afterwards. I don’t want the water caches destroyed, though you can go ahead and keep them under surveillance. (I wasn’t aware that any of these were being placed at random by people not directly connected with the smugglers; that does complicate things somewhat.)

            I see no reason why you would imagine any obligation to remove the concertina wiring or to build bridges. Not the same thing at all, IMO.

          • Matt M says:

            Well, perhaps I’m missing something. What specifically do you anticipate people doing as a result of such a policy that they aren’t doing already?

            I suspect an increase not only in attempted crossings, but an increase in the amount of force and violence used in attempts to resist apprehension by border control agents.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            I have no objection at all to legal immigration, and think we could probably do with more of it.

            Shouldn’t that come first? I mean, presumably the main reason so many people are choosing to immigrate illegally, despite the costs and risks involved, is that they correctly judge that they have basically no chance of getting in any other way.

            If that changed, such that most of people choosing to immigrate illegally are those you actually have a sound reason to keep out, the “prison guard” analogy suddenly becomes a lot more compelling.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            I suspect an increase not only in attempted crossings, but an increase in the amount of force and violence used in attempts to resist apprehension by border control agents.

            I did say I had no problem with the agents using lethal force to defend themselves. This isn’t at all the sort of situation I was talking about.

          • Brad says:

            @Iain

            In a country that is already spending twice as much on ICE and CBP than it does on the FBI, where the rate of border apprehensions was down 82% in 2017 vs its peak in 2000, I think the onus is on the people pushing for stricter border control to explain why the marginal decrease in illegal immigrants would justify the marginal cost of keeping them out. Indeed, I think that any reasonable cost-benefit analysis would find that the American status quo spends way more money on immigration control than can be rationally justified.

            Exactly. There aren’t any kinds of numbers to justify the moral panic.

            @CatCube

            A) If the USG erects a double fenceline, erects guard towers on the near side, and the guards challenge somebody between the fences who doesn’t stop and escalates to shooting them coming over the near fence: not immoral killing. (Though as I said above, the land, construction, and manning requirements would be so immense that I don’t support this as a solution–but the crucial distinction here is it’s not immoral, just a stupid use of money same as the wall.)

            If you shoot people because it’s cheaper and more convenient than arresting them, I’d say that’s pretty damn immoral.

            I also reject the analogy to prison guards. Escaped prisoners are assumed to be dangerous. Perhaps not every last one is, but it is a decent enough guess. I have no reason to think that most people entering without inspection are especially dangerous.

          • engleberg says:

            @David Friedman- What has changed since (a hundred twenty years ago) to create an almost unanimous opposition to open borders?-

            A half-century bipartisan agreement to maintain a semi-legal helot class of illegal immigrants to hold down wages. R party donors get to pay less wages, D party activists get to make crimethink accusations to preach down the hearts of sinful workers who don’t like lower wages: the stupid party and the crooked party get a bipartisan agreement for something too stupid and crooked for either to get by themselves.

          • yodelyak says:

            @John Schilling

            Securing the border but turning a blind eye to what goes on within it, gives us a mix of failed immigrants who live in their home countries with approximately the same civil rights as everyone else, and “illegal” immigrants who are basically indistinguishable from other Americans including the bit where they are productive law-abiding citizens who might even wind up voting Republican.

            I have heard and made arguments about punishing employers so many times, and never heard this argument you make, or anything like it ever. Huh. Sheesh I need more friends who know how to argue.

            Edited to add: It seems to me this shouldn’t have felt like a novel, unexpected argument. Maybe I’m persuaded to rethink through my thoughts on immigration policy.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            It’s like shooting someone, then claiming it was a suicide because they didn’t think to wear a bulletproof vest. Amazing.

            No, it’s confiscating someone’s illegally-possessed bulletproof vest and then being blamed when a criminal shoots them

          • IrishDude says:

            There’s a few comments in this thread referencing the right of the rulers to rule and the duty of the ruled to obey. With respect to state agents, it’s not clear they have the right to rule or that citizens have a duty to obey, and arguments that support political authority don’t stand up to scrutiny.

            I’ll add my voice in as another proponent of open borders, for both moral and economic reasons. Given the existence of the state, I’m supportive of keyhole solutions that would restrict welfare and voting rights for immigrants.

          • Guy in TN says:

            No, it’s confiscating someone’s illegally-possessed bulletproof vest and then being blamed when a criminal shoots them

            Nope. The difference is, they have set out the water as a necessary part of their survival. They aren’t setting our the water “in case they end up thirsty in a desert”. They set out the water, because they are going to the desert. It’s not a fall-back contingency, it is a necessary part of the plan. And the people destroying the water know it is necessary.

            Disabling a sprinkler system isn’t murder. Setting someones house on fire and barricading the exits is. Do you get it?

            Back to bulletproof vests. If I said “I am going to need this bullet proof vest. I am going to wear it while I get shot as part of a stunt for a film.” here we have the two factors, just like with the water: the necessity and the certainty. So, if you switch the bullet proof vest out for a fake, that would be murder, to any reasonable outside observer.

            I appreciate the straightforwardness of the posters who say “its not murder because I think immigration is immoral, and killing someone to stop an immoral act as a last resort is not bad”. I do wonder, however, what their response would be if I said that I thought that preventing immigration was immoral, and in order to keep border security and ICE from doing these immoral things, as a last resort…well, you get the idea.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Back to bulletproof vests. If I said “I am going to need this bullet proof vest. I am going to wear it while I get shot as part of a stunt for a film.” here we have the two factors, just like with the water: the necessity and the certainty. So, if you switch the bullet proof vest out for a fake, that would be murder, to any reasonable outside observer.

            No, it’s more like “I am going to need this bulletproof vest, I am going to get shot while robbing a bank”. The is no obligation to tolerate illegal acts on the grounds that they make other illegal activity more survivable.

            More importantly, there is some amount of blame that can be assigned to the Border Patrol dumping the water. But the primary responsibility for any deaths ultimately lies with the coyotes. It takes a special sort of stupid to get shot at for realsies with a vest as your only mitigating factor, and on top of that to not bother to inspect the damn thing beforehand.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Are you guys are having the debate about whether the bulletproof vest is for robbing-a-bank versus doing-a-stunt-in-a-movie because you disagree about the legality of crossing the border in the first place?

          • Guy in TN says:

            Are you guys are having the debate about whether the bulletproof vest is for robbing-a-bank versus doing-a-stunt-in-a-movie because you disagree about the legality of crossing the border in the first place?

            I didn’t think that was the angle he was going for, initially.

            @Gobbobobble

            The is no obligation to tolerate illegal acts on the grounds that they make other illegal activity more survivable.

            So you would say then, that Stalin deserves no blame for the people he killed in the USSR? I assume most of them were violating some sort of law. And since “law violators = culpable”, and “law enforcers = blameless”, we can conclude that the dead essentially chose their own fate? [edit: I acknowledge that you said that some responsibility lies with the law enforcers, but maintain that the primary responsibility is on the law-breakers]

          • Guy in TN says:

            The legality vs. illegality of immigration plays no role in my judgement. Law can be terrible and immoral. See: slavery, the Holocaust. That argument is such a dead end, I didn’t think it was seriously being deployed.

          • J Mann says:

            @Guy in TN – I disagree that legality is a dead end. I won’t argue if you don’t find it personally convincing, but:

            1) Our legal immigration quote represents some kind of rough legislative compromise among the citizens of the country through their legislators. You can argue that the compromise was de facto “X legal immigrants plus a variable number of illegal immigrants Y to account for the fact that you can’t practicably prevent all illegal immigration,” but some of the country thought we had an agreement to get Y as low as possible, and or an interest in getting it low.

            2) More importantly, IMHO, the wider we allow the door for illegal immigrants, the more unfair it is to legal immigrants sitting on wait lists, and the less control we have over who we allow into the country.

          • John Schilling says:

            If the very concept of border control becomes primarily identified with, A: a yuge ineffectual wall that everyone understands is just a symbol of Trump’s ego and his supporters’ insecurities and, B: a bunch of people talking about how it’s perfectly cool for them to gun down immigrants, then we’re going de facto open borders and that’s the end of the story.

            That wouldn’t be my first choice, but I can live with it.

          • Guy in TN says:

            @J Mann

            We’re bouncing around a bit here. Initially, we were on the meta-level causality question, of “does destroying water in a desert make you responsible for that person’s death”. It should be easy to answer that question without getting into the specifics of what a person thinks of immigration law. The question of causality, whether your action results in something happening, is entirely separate from the normative questions of whether any of this is good or bad.

            On the object-level, it’s a little late in the thread for me to make a robust case for why I support illegal immigration. But the run down is:
            1. Diminishing marginal utility of money; immigration transfers wages from the wealthier to the poorer (average Mexican in Mexico makes ~$10,000 a year)
            2. It is good for people to escape gangs and corrupt governments
            3. It erodes U.S. nationalism. Lots of reason why this a good thing, makes war more difficult, diminishes the ability of whites to position themselves a the “true Americans” to the exclusion of others
            4. Our current enforcement apparatus involves building concentration camps, separating children from parents, and building an environmentally-destructive border wall. Even if I thought the immigration was bad (say, if they were Nazi-immigrants), the cure is worse than the disease.
            5. This enforcement is also turned against U.S. citizens. Mandatory checkpoints dotted across U.S. highways, surveillance, getting thrown in jail until you can “prove your citizenship”. An excuse for the police to continue to expand their powers. [I recognize that this and #4 are arguments for supporting legalized immigration, rather than illegal immigration per se]
            6. Mexicans have better voting habits than the average U.S. citizen. This is evidence of better moral character. I make no apologies for supporting people who make America a better place.

            In regards to your primary objections:
            1. Re: democratic compromise. I am sympathetic, at least, to the argument from democracy. “This is what the people wanted” is normally pretty strong. In this case though, since illegal immigrants can’t vote, and this issue is directly about their status, it undermines the extent to which the people collectively chose the system we have. Also, the people of Mexico who want to immigrate to the U.S. can’t vote in U.S elections. It’s like saying “well, at least slavery in Mississippi is democratic”. Even with the dubious assumption that democratic is always good, the argument is incorrect on the merits! [Edit: I know you said the citizens chose it, not the people in general. But I don’t understand that argument. “But it’s what [x subset] of the population chose!” Is even less persuasive than the argument from democracy.]

            2. Re:Unfairness to those who played by the rules. Were slaves who ran away unfair to those who legally achieved their emancipation? I’m interested in making the world better for anyone that I can, not spreading human misery out even.

            3. Re: ability to choose who we let in. It’s true, that by dismantling our immigration enforcement apparatus, we are undermining our ability to enforce immigration if we ever decided it would be a good thing to do. That’s a loss I’m willing to write off. The current system is so bad, and the leadership of both parties so untrustworthy to make sound moral judgements, that we are better off taking away their ability to enforce immigration at all. It’s like an alcoholic saying he needs wine to reduce his heart disease- tough luck, for you! If you had used the power you had responsibly, we wouldn’t have to do this.

          • disposablecat says:

            @Guy in TN:

            Mexicans have better voting habits than the average U.S. citizen. This is evidence of better moral character.

            I’m extremely confused by this statement – it seems like a very broad generalization and I’m not familiar with any facts on which you might be basing it.

            Do you mean “better voting habits” in terms of “they tend to vote for my tribe’s interests/concerns”, or in terms of higher turnout, or what?

          • J Mann says:

            @Guy in TN – Thanks!

            1) Super-meta: Yes, it’s tough to keep track of discussions this far down. Sorry for responding to the last thing I saw if it was unclear or a derail, but thanks for your clear response.

            2) I agree with you about destroying water. IMHO, the best argument in favor of the Trump mandatory arrest policy is that it will hopefully discourage people from going through the desert.

            3) I understand your point, but you can probably understand why some people don’t like your policy of trying to erode their vote against their will. You may be right that it’s an accident of history that they get to vote about US policy and Guatemalans don’t, but that’s not much consolation to them. I like localized democracy because it’s an orderly process.

            4) I’m also skeptical that open borders is as positive or harmless as proponents suggest. On a prudential basis, I’d rather someone else try open borders for a few decades so I can see how it turns out.

            5) I’m much more likely to be convinced by arguing that the illegal immigrant inflow is better addressed in other ways, or that the costs of specific policies aren’t worth their benefits.

          • Guy in TN says:

            @disposablecat

            Do you mean “better voting habits” in terms of “they tend to vote for my tribe’s interests/concerns”, or in terms of higher turnout, or what?

            I mean they vote Dem, which results in better legislative outcomes from a utilitarian perspective. I’m not interested in maintaining a false equivalency both-sides-ism.

            I can understand how this is distressing to the 24% of Americans who identifies as a Republican. But its a plus for the 31% who identify as Democrat, so I see no harm in saying it openly.

          • disposablecat says:

            Thanks for confirming – that’s the only way I thought you could possibly have meant it, but I wanted to try to be charitable and see if you meant turnout or something.

            You see, that, right there, is the sort of naked “My Tribe ™ is on the Moral Right Side Of History and the Other Tribe ™ are dinosaurs who don’t realize they’re obsolete yet” rhetoric that I come to the SSC comments section to avoid, and when you state that to be your position so honestly it lowers my prior that your future comments are based on anything other than your dismissal of people across the aisle from you as having opinions worth considering.

            (For the record, I identify as neither D nor R, being as I am a gay man in an extremely rural area who nonetheless fits in culturally here – and while I am opposite you on the immigration issue, I am sure there are other areas of policy on which we would substantively agree, which is a relativism that I try to keep in mind when my interlocutor is of the “other tribe” on the issue we’re talking about.)

          • Randy M says:

            I see no harm in saying it openly.

            It’s quite appreciated, in case anyone says “claiming left-wingers want to demographically replace natives in order to gain political power is a strawman.”

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Guy in TN

            It erodes U.S. nationalism…makes war more difficult…

            Not really relevant to the topic at hand, but I want to question this, because both assumptions here seem a bit flimsy.

            1. Does illegal immigration, or immigration in general, dilute US nationalism? Back when it was Anglos-vs-everyone-else, did immigration of continental Europeans weaken US nationalism?

            2. Is there any predictable relation between US nationalism (I don’t know exactly how you’d measure that, but opinion polls presumably could give clues) and US warmaking habits, or % of American population that is in the country illegally and US warmaking habits? Are the descendants of illegal immigrants, or more recent immigrants, considerably less nationalistic than the US norm? The US is probably less nationalistic from the mid-to-late 20th to the early 21st century than it was from the mid-to-late 19th to the early 20th – at the very least, US aggression against other countries has to be phrased a lot more politely (there’s nothing as blunt as manifest destiny). Has the US been less involved militarily worldwide now than then?

            I think that the nature of the US as a global power with interests all over the world is primarily behind warmaking; if the US was more nationalistic but more isolationist, it would be making war less than it is now.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Randy M

            What political side doesn’t want more of people who vote for them, and fewer of people who vote against them? Note also that in countries where the major parties are equally good at appealing to immigrants, this doesn’t happen…

          • 10240 says:

            A note on votes: It’s not only a question of which party they vote for, but also what policies the parties adopt to gain their votes.

          • Randy M says:

            What political side doesn’t want more of [the] people who vote for them, and fewer of [the] people who vote against them?

            Ones that claim to represent the interests of their citizen constituents, I suppose.

            I guess I am bad at modeling left-wingers! I would have thought that you would disclaim the view that it is ethical to encourage immigration in such numbers and from such groups that policies that current citizens dislike are able to be implemented over their opposition in lieu of actual persuasion. Compared to that, being for open borders is merely naive or altruistic.

            I suppose that’s the nature of being progressive versus conservative. If you are progressive, that is, you think the culture and policies need to change in general, you are going to favor outsiders different more different from the nation, whereas if you generally like the way things are, you want people who fit in with the culture as it currently is.

            edit: Although I recall that GWB or conservatives at that time argued for immigration or amnesty on the basis of Hispanics being generally more conservative, so I guess I need to admit there is some of that on both sides, even if one side seems to be wishcasting.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            An idle musing to followup dndnrsn re: nationalism:
            I wonder, are Hispanic Americans (legal or otherwise) more or less likely to support the US mounting up again to go (help) deal with Mexico’s cartels?

          • albatross11 says:

            What is the moral difference between:

            a. Welcoming mass immigration into your country because you think the new immigrants will help your side win its political battles?

            b. Welcoming an actual military invasion into your country because you think the invaders will impose policies more to your liking than you can get under the current political system?

            If Alice supports intentionally weakening border enforcement and immigration laws to achieve (a), and Bob supports intentionally weakening military budgets and restricting defensive preparations for war to achieve (b), how do we decide which of them is behaving properly?

          • albatross11 says:

            Gobbobobble:

            My unscientific impression is that hispanics in the US very quickly start thinking of themselves as Americans, except maybe when we’re playing Mexico in the World Cup or something. And their grandkids will completely identify as Americans.

          • albatross11 says:

            Guy in TN:

            You have crossed the Poe’s Law horizon.

          • Randy M says:

            What is the moral difference between: Welcoming mass immigration… [vs] Welcoming an actual military invasion

            The people and property that are destroyed in the case of a military conquest.

            A better comparison for encouraging violating the law to effect political change would be to encourage faithless electors in the electoral college or something similar.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            My unscientific impression is that hispanics in the US very quickly start thinking of themselves as Americans, except maybe when we’re playing Mexico in the World Cup or something. And their grandkids will completely identify as Americans.

            Well yes but that’s not what I was asking. In WWI, German Americans were rather less enthusiastic about going over there to help the Entente. Irish Americans tended to be more sympathetic to the IRA. IIRC both were at least a couple generations removed. I’m wondering whether (intended-as-)benevolent intervention in the Old Country is more or less appealing to Mexican Americans than the national average. (Particularly those who send remittances, but that’s a tangent of a tangent).

            I’m not trying to prove any particular conclusion, just came to mind as a possible test item with the discussion on whether mass immigration would actually reduce the country’s appetite for interventionism.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Randy M

            Consider the second part of what I said, though. The three parties in Canada are (these days; it has not always been this way) not wildly different in their ability to attract the votes of immigrants, their kids, etc. No party has a reason to either try and bring in ringers or devote huge amounts of effort to keeping people out, because on the crude level of national or provincial or municipal politics, the immigrants don’t have wildly different preferences from people who have been here longer (Quebec-only parties excepted).

            Further, if someone legally immigrates to Canada and becomes a citizen, and so can vote, they’re a Canadian too, so the Canadian government has a responsibility to them. It’s not as though noncitizens are voting. Besides, what goes around comes around: for a long time, each successive wave of immigrants has been disliked to whatever degree, until after a generation or two they’ve settled in, and there’s a new wave of immigrants for people to dislike.

            As a Canadian, basically, I don’t think that most immigrants who meet the immigration criteria, are going to steer this place in a worse direction than the people already here are gonna steer it. I don’t think that I’ve got some special right to this place because my ancestors came over here a bit earlier than someone coming over now or next week.

            @albatross11

            If I’m a supporter of the, uh, Republican Democrats (it’s a European country OK) and I know that immigrants will 99% vote for my party, I still have to actually get enough power to change the rules such that more immigrants can come in – so, people already here have to approve of what the RDs are saying, no? They’re not enemy soldiers, they were allowed in, by the mass of the people choosing to let them in.

            Compare to the people and parties who tend to get power or some semblance of power when an enemy invades: it’s usually those who couldn’t win at the ballot box or whatever. Consider all the minor Western European fascists who were installed as figureheads by the Germans – when they’d stood for elections before the war, they usually did poorly.

            Of course, as Randy M points out, there’s also the lack of violence (in Canada, I’d bet that first-generation immigrants are less criminal than the norm).

          • Guy in TN says:

            @disposablecat

            You see, that, right there, is the sort of naked “My Tribe ™ is on the Moral Right Side Of History and the Other Tribe ™ are dinosaurs who don’t realize they’re obsolete yet” rhetoric that I come to the SSC comments section to avoid, and when you state that to be your position so honestly it lowers my prior that your future comments are based on anything other than your dismissal of people across the aisle from you as having opinions worth considering.

            That I believe one party produces superior outcomes over the election of the other, doesn’t mean that I think members of the other party don’t have anything useful to offer intellectually. I mean, didn’t Scott have a post in 2016 that was basically “don’t vote Republican”? If I wanted to hear only from people who agreed with me, I sure as heck wouldn’t be posting here.

            @dndnrsn

            Does illegal immigration, or immigration in general, dilute US nationalism? Back when it was Anglos-vs-everyone-else, did immigration of continental Europeans weaken US nationalism?

            If I remember my history right, German immigrants formed a significant part of the opposition to WW1. A lot of anti-immigrant sentiment during this time period was a result of the feeling that their existence was undermining U.S. solidarity.

            Are the descendants of illegal immigrants, or more recent immigrants, considerably less nationalistic than the US norm?

            Yes. Here’s polling regarding the war in Iraq. [edit: Recognizing that “nationalism” and “support for war” are separate concepts. The overlap seems obvious enough though, am willing to be persuaded by more in-depth polling]

            I think that the nature of the US as a global power with interests all over the world is primarily behind warmaking; if the US was more nationalistic but more isolationist, it would be making war less than it is now.

            Its true that nationalism doesn’t necessarily result in war making (modern Japan, for example). But when there’s the climate of the possibility of war, nationalism certainly greases the wheels (historical Japan, for example). It’s often forgotten the extent to which fear of a civil revolt (in other words, anti-nationalistic disharmony) kept Nixon from pushing farther into Cambodia.

          • Brad says:

            @John Schilling

            problems with this solution, aside from the bit where it looks like a basically venal “let’s punish the Other Tribe’s heartless money-grubbing capitalists rather than Our Tribe’s poor oppressed People of Color, is that it isn’t actually going to be the perfect solution that makes 100% of the illegal immigrants go away.

            I’m not sure Joe Random restaurant or construction company owner is red tribe to begin with. But even if he is it seems pretty reasonable to me to put the burden of a solution to an objective non-problem on the tribe that’s in a moral panic over it.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Guy in TN

            If I remember my history right, German immigrants formed a significant part of the opposition to WW1. A lot of anti-immigrant sentiment during this time period was a result of the feeling that their existence was undermining U.S. solidarity.

            Is “I don’t want us to go with the country I came from/my parents came from” due to a lack of nationalism, or because it hits closer to home? Would German immigrants have been less likely to support the US going to war with Borduria in 1917?

            Yes. Here’s polling regarding the war in Iraq.

            So, this is just about Hispanics – other groups might not follow the same patterns. It establishes that Hispanics were more in favour of bringing the troops home than the norm, and that foreign-born Hispanics were more in favour of that than US-born. This is a bit suggestive – but there could be all sorts of other things going on.

            Its true that nationalism doesn’t necessarily result in war making (modern Japan, for example). But when there’s the climate of the possibility of war, nationalism certainly greases the wheels (historical Japan, for example). It’s often forgotten the extent to which fear of a civil revolt (in other words, anti-nationalistic disharmony) kept Nixon from pushing farther into Cambodia.

            I think we’re maybe using different definitions of nationalism, or models of how it works? Civil disharmony upon leaving the war – as it actually happened – wasn’t anti-nationalistic so much as it was more nationalistic elements blaming less nationalistic elements. Hardhats blaming hippies, that sort of thing. Vietnam is the stab-in-the-back myth of the mainstream American right.

            The US right now would probably make war regardless of how USA-USA-USA! people are – how patriotic or nationalistic they are. It’s in the US’ interests, or at least in the interests of much of the US’ ruling class, to have military bases all over the place, and to crack some skulls every now and then. At a minimum, they think it is in their interest.

          • Guy in TN says:

            @dndnrsn

            I admit I’ve been playing loose with the term, so it’s time for some clarity. Really, we are talking about two concepts here.

            1. National unity: The cultural cohesiveness and uniformity within a given state
            2. Nationalism: An ideology that places a higher moral value on people from inside your nation than outside

            You are absolutely right to point out that the German immigrants were nationalistic, and would have probably supported the U.S. in an alternative WW1 history where the U.S. sided with Austro-Hungarian empire. The critical part is that while the German immigrants were nationalistic, it was in support of a different nation than the rest of the U.S., so it undermined national unity.

            National unity is very important for those wishing to wage war. (The extensive national-unity propaganda efforts demonstrate that). It was a collapse of national unity that was the reason the hippies were burning flags in the 60’s. There is reason to believe that this lack of national unity kept the U.S. from going into Cambodia. At this point, the hippies and the government weren’t even rooting for the same team.

            While lack of national unity certainly undermines war efforts, I believe also that a lack of nationalism undermines it as well. It’s hard to imagine supporting bombing another country, if you placed the citizens of that country on the moral level that you place your own. When U.S. celebrities went to visit with the North Vietnamese, or the DPRK, the purpose was to undermine U.S. nationalism. It was an attempt to convey the message of “hey, these people aren’t too different from us. They listen to music, have girlfriends, go out to eat at restaurants. If you bomb them, you may as well be bombing the folks in Ohio”.

            So does immigration reduce nationalism? Maybe. It’s true that Germans and Mexicans arriving in the U.S. are probably reasonably nationalistic, in support of their respective nations. The resulting multiculturalism, however would probably erode nationalistic tendencies. To associate with people who have different culture/language/religion than you, and to see that they are normal humans, pretty similar to yourself, can help dispel myths regarding people of foreign nationalities. Lot’s a complicating factors here, but I think its not a coincidence that whites in the most diverse U.S. states have voted the anti-war party in the U.S. over the past 30 years or so (at least in terms of how that party uses rhetoric and postures itself).

          • disposablecat says:

            @Guy:

            Did you really just call the Democrats the anti-war party? Obama was bombing *seven* countries when he left office. Also, didn’t a majority of Dems vote for the Iraq war in 2003?

            One of the reasons I didn’t vote for Hillary was that I considered there to be a reasonable chance based on her rhetoric and the Democratic establishment’s history that she would drive us into a full throated war with Iran.

          • albatross11 says:

            On the other hand, it seems like national unity has some pretty significant advantages. For example, a society where we all see each other more-or-less as “us” instead of “them” is probably one where it’s easier to get support for social welfare programs. For another, there are wars we *should* fight (though admittedly, we get into a lot of unnecessary wars per war we should fight), and more national unity probably makes it easier to fight those wars.

          • Guy in TN says:

            @disposablecat

            Did you really just call the Democrats the anti-war party?

            I did! Because party ideology is positional. It would be fair, also, to call the Republicans the anti-tax party, despite H.W. Bush’s deviations in the early 1990’s.

            I’ll grant that the 2004 and 2008 elections were a long time ago, but they were essentially a referendum on the war in Iraq. International affairs played a large role in 2012 too, with Romney positioning himself as the hawk. It wasn’t until 2016 that the lines started to get blurry. So yeah, the Democrats are the anti-war party, positionally speaking, at least through the past 50 years of history.

          • disposablecat says:

            I strenuously disagree that a party which takes a public position of “We are for X!” in order to get elected, then proceeds to deliberately and repeatedly do not-X because it’s better for the interests of their donors, can credibly be called “the party of X”.

          • Guy in TN says:

            @albatross11

            For example, a society where we all see each other more-or-less as “us” instead of “them” is probably one where it’s easier to get support for social welfare programs.

            Maybe. I don’t really get the incentives behind this though. Since many government benefits are universal, aren’t these people sabotaging themselves by opposing them? Even the means-tested benefits check for income, not national origin, so poor people wouldn’t gain a positional advantage over the “other” by opposing them.

            Is there really that strong of a drive to equally hurt yourself, if that’s what it takes to hurt the other?

            Also (and I know this is confounded by a thousand variables), running a correlation between Medicaid expansion and diversity state-by-state would almost certainly produce results contrary to your theory.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Guy in TN

            I admit I’ve been playing loose with the term, so it’s time for some clarity. Really, we are talking about two concepts here.

            1. National unity: The cultural cohesiveness and uniformity within a given state
            2. Nationalism: An ideology that places a higher moral value on people from inside your nation than outside

            What do you mean by moral value? A lot of people who aren’t nationalists might say that, if their government has to choose between a citizen and a non-citizen, the citizen wins; they might discount the value of noncitizens to some degree: perhaps they think that if it’s 5 noncitizen lives vs 1 citizen life, pick the citizen.

            Immigration might weaken US nationalism, but US nationalism is a civic nationalism of a sort that is fairly malleable.

            You are absolutely righ to point out that the German immigrants were nationalistic, and would have probably supported the U.S. in an alternative WW1 history where the U.S. sided with Austro-Hungarian empire. The critical part is that while the German immigrants were nationalistic, it was in support of a different nation than the rest of the U.S., so it undermined national unity.

            Not even that they were nationalistic, just that… they didn’t like the idea of their new country fighting their old country. Nationalism seems a bit heavy to describe that.

            National unity is very important for those wishing to wage war. (The extensive national-unity propaganda efforts demonstrate that). It was a collapse of national unity that was the reason the hippies were burning flags in the 60’s. There is reason to believe that this lack of national unity kept the U.S. from going into Cambodia. At this point, the hippies and the government weren’t even rooting for the same team.

            A lack of national unity does undermine war efforts, sure. However, a country with a highly-trained professional volunteer military like the US probably has a lower standard of national unity to fight a war than a situation with a conscripted soldiery and war bonds and gasoline rationing and all that. Even moreso if fewer troops are committed, most of the fighting on the ground is done by allies, etc.

            While lack of national unity certainly undermines war efforts, I believe also that a lack of nationalism undermines it as well. It’s hard to imagine supporting bombing another country, if you placed the citizens of that country on the moral level that you place your own. When U.S. celebrities went to visit with the North Vietnamese, or the DPRK, the purpose was to undermine U.S. nationalism. It was an attempt to convey the message of “hey, these people aren’t too different from us. They listen to music, have girlfriends, go out to eat at restaurants. If you bomb them, you may as well be bombing the folks in Ohio”.

            Or, this could just mean that war gets waged to protect those nice sympathetic people… Interventions in recent years have taken this form.

            So does immigration reduce nationalism? Maybe. It’s true that Germans and Mexicans arriving in the U.S. are probably reasonably nationalistic, in support of their respective nations. The resulting multiculturalism, however would probably erode nationalistic tendencies. To associate with people who have different culture/language/religion than you, and to see that they are normal humans, pretty similar to yourself, can help dispel myths regarding people of foreign nationalities. Lot’s a complicating factors here, but I think its not a coincidence that whites in the most diverse U.S. states have voted the anti-war party in the U.S. over the past 30 years or so (at least in terms of how that party uses rhetoric and postures itself).

            The thing about calling the Democrats an anti-war party (I agree it’s positional) is that they’re an anti-war party you can vote for but still get war if you want it.

          • Guy in TN says:

            A lot of people who aren’t nationalists might say that, if their government has to choose between a citizen and a non-citizen, the citizen wins; they might discount the value of noncitizens to some degree: perhaps they think that if it’s 5 noncitizen lives vs 1 citizen life, pick the citizen.

            Yes, this is what I’m talking about. Is “nationalism” not the correct term for this? It’s true that many people who would not normally describe themselves as “nationalist” subscribe to this belief. I’m open to suggestions for an alternative term.

            However, a country with a highly-trained professional volunteer military like the US probably has a lower standard of national unity to fight a war than a situation with a conscripted soldiery and war bonds and gasoline rationing and all that.

            Sure, as technology advances, it renders the need for troops less relevant. In the meantime, wars still require humans to be fought, as evidenced by the U.S. military’s large recruiting budget. And politicians still have to win elections, do they can’t alienate too much of their constituency.

            Or, this could just mean that war gets waged to protect those nice sympathetic people… Interventions in recent years have taken this form.

            This is just kicking the can down the road. Wars must necessarily be fought against a certain group. Humanizing the people on the side we are taking only works because the other side is dehumanized by comparison.

          • 10240 says:

            they might discount the value of noncitizens to some degree: perhaps they think that if it’s 5 noncitizen lives vs 1 citizen life, pick the citizen.

            […] It’s true that many people who would not normally describe themselves as “nationalist” subscribe to this belief. I’m open to suggestions for an alternative term.

            Selfish (or not completely selfless). There are two reasons I may vote for a government with such policy: that I value the people of my nation above foreigners; or that I value my own life above that of everyone else. Of course I have no chance of electing a government that specifically prefers me above everyone else, so the viable compromise among the voters which maximizes my survival is a government which prioritizes its citizens.

          • Guy in TN says:

            Selfish (or not completely selfless).

            Too broad, because “selfish” also encompasses people who are opposed to this policy for self-interested reasons. For example, I may think that in a system of assigning various worth-values, the majority of people would choose rank me near the bottom. So I could be opposed to this system, and instead advocate for a non-ranking system, for reasons entirely related to my self-interest.

            It’s like racism. I get it, racists are looking out for their self interest. But you know who else is looking out for their self-interest? Anti-racists, particularly those who end up on the receiving end of the racism. It is useful to have a specific term for the race-value-assigning ideology, rather than lumping them both together under the term “self-interest”.

            There’s also the slipper question of what constitutes “self-interest”. Is self-interest about implementing my goals, or only about my mere biological survival?

            If you want to take the hard-line survival approach, then you must conclude that a person who willingly sacrifices themselves to save their family (or even save their entire city) is acting against their self-interest. Which is a fine definition, sure, but with this definition self-interest is starting to look like a pathology that needs to be addressed, rather than a normal trait of a healthy society (certainly we can agree that parents sacrificing themselves for their children is a noble act?).

            With the “achieving goals” definition of self-interest, we can say assuredly that the person who sacrifices themselves to save their family is acting in accordance with it. We can also say that people who want to assign higher-values to a particular nation/race/whatever, in order to achieve preferential treatment from their government, are acting in their self-interest (since preferential treatment is their goal). However we must now also say that people who want to abolish this preferential treatment are acting in their self-interest. This is because a world where different humans have equal value is their goal, and abolishing this preferential treatment is a means to achieve this goal. So now, everybody who is acting towards achieving their goals is now working towards their self-interest, i.e. “selfish”. Here, calling everyone’s ideology “selfishness” only serves to obscure ideological differences rather than discern them.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Guy in TN

            Yes, this is what I’m talking about. Is “nationalism” not the correct term for this? It’s true that many people who would not normally describe themselves as “nationalist” subscribe to this belief. I’m open to suggestions for an alternative term.

            Nationalism (leaving separatist nationalism aside) seems used to describe something a bit more active in what it suggests. “Our citizens are worth more to us than theirs are to us” is much more passive than “it’s justified to take their land/claim what is rightfully ours/claim what they stole from us” – consider European nationalism prior to WWII. Ethnic settlement in most of Eastern Europe got changed and made more regionally homogenous by WWII and its aftermath – but used to be every nation-state had minorities who were of neighbouring national origin, and its own people as same in neighbouring states. Nationalist parties in these countries tended to like the idea both of kicking out the former and embracing the latter. By definition there would be promised real violence.

            If “prioritizing citizens over noncitizens” is nationalist, then most people are nationalists, and the term serves to distinguish them from a small minority of internationalists or people who otherwise believe that national origin, state, etc should not matter. It also doesn’t match the use in, say, history, where one doesn’t conclude that the SPD was a nationalist party.

            Sure, as technology advances, it renders the need for troops less relevant. In the meantime, wars still require humans to be fought, as evidenced by the U.S. military’s large recruiting budget. And politicians still have to win elections, do they can’t alienate too much of their constituency.

            Not just the technology, though. The nature of the military is different; its fighting capability is somewhat less dependent on public opinion. Further, the opinion of some elements is worth more than others: it wasn’t the hippies wanting out of Vietnam that was the decisive factor. The decisive factor was ordinary boring working and middle class people turning against the war, especially with regard to the draft after a certain point.

            This is just kicking the can down the road. Wars must necessarily be fought against a certain group. Humanizing the people on the side we are taking only works because the other side is dehumanized by comparison.

            Sure, but we’re great at finding ways to dehumanize people.

            The US is presumably less nationalistic and nationally unified than it was at various past times – does it prosecute more, or fewer wars, now, versus various points in the past? It certainly has a larger military budget than at many points in the past.

          • Guy in TN says:

            If “prioritizing citizens over noncitizens” is nationalist, then most people are nationalists, and the term serves to distinguish them from a small minority of internationalists or people who otherwise believe that national origin, state, etc should not matter. It also doesn’t match the use in, say, history, where one doesn’t conclude that the SPD was a nationalist party.

            It seems like you would agree that someone who does not assign separate values based on national origin is corrected termed an “internationalist“, no? So what would the opposite that ideology be? “Non-internationalist”? “Anti-internationalist”? “Uni-nationalist”? Why not just “nationalist”?

            Its true, that the implications of this usage is that nationalism is more widespread than among just those who self-describe as such.

          • Guy in TN says:

            The US is presumably less nationalistic and nationally unified than it was at various past times – does it prosecute more, or fewer wars, now, versus various points in the past? It certainly has a larger military budget than at many points in the past.

            Do you have a proposed mechanism that would make the act of valuing people in your nation over those outside your nation, lead to less warfare?

            (I think Scott makes a strong case that warfare has actually declined in recent times in his Anti-reactionary FAQ. Of course, one could make the argument that is is despite, rather than because, of decreased nationalism)

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Guy in TN

            It seems like you would agree that someone who does not assign separate values based on national origin is corrected termed an “internationalist“, no? So what would the opposite that ideology be? “Non-internationalist”? “Anti-internationalist”? “Uni-nationalist”? Why not just “nationalist”?

            Its true, that the implications of this usage is that nationalism is more widespread than among just those who self-describe as such.

            On the other hand, dividing it into two kinds of ideological belief is less useful as a description than conventional usage, where just as “nationalist” involves going beyond prioritizing citizens or whatever, “internationalist” involves going beyond feeling that nobody should have priority. If you’re describing, say, European politics right now, being able to say “nationalist” and know that the party likely thinks that the government should be doing the bear minimum it is supposed to with regard to migrants of various sorts, if that. If the SPD, CDU, and AfD are all “nationalists” the term doesn’t really convey much useful information. (And the AfD are pretty milquetoast as far as nationalists go; why, as far as I can tell, they don’t even want East Prussia back!)

            While the internationalist/nationalist distinction might be useful, for the purposes of discussing contemporary or historical politics, I think that looking at the situation and coming up with the categories after that is superior.

            Do you have a proposed mechanism that would make the act of valuing people in your nation over those outside your nation, lead to less warfare?

            I doubt it would lead to less; rather I am saying that I don’t see evidence it conclusively works the other way too – there are reasons besides nationalism a country might go to war, and if you’re not generally mobilizing, you don’t need ironclad national unity. I think you’re extrapolating too much from the experience of modern nation-states fighting wars with a significant amount of mobilization.

            (I think Scott makes a strong case that warfare has actually declined in recent times in his Anti-reactionary FAQ. Of course, one could make the argument that is is despite, rather than because, of decreased nationalism)

            War worldwide, or war with the US specifically involved? We’re measuring US warmaking, not general warmaking.

            Plus, nationalism has been up and down. Nationalism in a modern sense doesn’t really appear in Europe until, what, some point in the 18th century? King declaring war on king wasn’t about nationalism – they might speak the same language (different from their commoners) and they might both have subjects from different national groups. Similar patterns exist in other parts of the world.

          • Guy in TN says:

            On the other hand, dividing it into two kinds of ideological belief is less useful as a description than conventional usage

            I’m pretty sure my definition is the conventional usage. link From Merriam.-Webster dictionary:

            “exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups”

            What you are noticing is a disconnect between how political parties self-describe and the standard definition of words. This is normal. For example, the Democratic party is “anti-gun”, yet supports arming the military. A standard reading of the words “anti-gun” would lead one to believe that they should be against anyone having guns, military or not. But this is not the case. Because when the Democrats describe themselves as “anti-gun”, they are doing as positionally, as in, “we are more anti-gun than the other guys”.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Guy in TN

            That definition seems to go a fair bit past “saying that a state government should prioritize its own citizens” though. The Canadian government prioritizes Canadian citizens; the Canadian government doesn’t exalt Canada above all other nations (certainly, a lot less than the American government does) and tends to prioritize its interests in a way that’s lower-key than agitating to invade Alaska or whatever.

            Further, it makes sense to describe the Democrats as “anti-gun”; it’s not just their own branding. Saying “the Democrats are anti-gun and the Republicans are pro-gun” provides more information about American politics and is more useful in understanding American politics than pointing out that, really, they’re both pro-gun. It answers the question “why are legal gun owners so commonly Republicans?”

          • Guy in TN says:

            The Canadian government prioritizes Canadian citizens; the Canadian government doesn’t exalt Canada above all other nations

            Why would Canada prioritize the interests of the people who comprise the Canadian nation, if it didn’t “exalt those people” above people of other nations?

            Surely actions matter more than intentionality. E.g., “You can’t call me a racist, because even though its true that I support policies that hurt every race other than my own, in my heart I don’t feel that they are inferior. Trust me.”

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            Lawyers who prio