walls and fences.

25 years….don’t they go by in a blink.

A quarter-century ago, the Wall between East and West Berlin finally came down, and a divided city and country began growing back together after 45 years of enforced separation.

I was in the military at the time. When the Iron Curtain became porous, and the flow of refugees went from a trickle to a steady flow and then a tidal wave, I was a young private, barely 18. It felt momentous at the time, but it was mostly a punch-drunk rush, so many things of such magnitude happening so quickly that you lost your sense of being firmly anchored in history. We didn’t know what was going to happen in the following years when those first Trabis came across the border, but we knew that things would never go back to the way they had been.

Whenever some starry-eyed campus Marxist waxes on about the failures of capitalism and the free market, I know that they never got to cross from West Germany into the East, and have their world turn from color to gray. And I tell them that the truth of the matter is this: no capitalist free market society has ever had to use walls and guns and barbed wire to keep their population from leaving, but every socialist or communist country does.

The East German legal system had a term for the felony committed when trying to leave the country without (almost impossible to get) permission: Republikflucht, “flight from the Republic”.  Tens of thousands were arrested and imprisoned for the offense, and many hundreds were killed attempting to cross.

And that’s why I flinch whenever someone runs their mouth about putting a similar border fence up along our southern border. When you advocate that sort of thing—when you call for armed guards on that wall—you have to be aware what “closing the border” would entail. Who is going to machine-gun unarmed men, women, and children trying to cross that river and climb those fences? Will it be the people who wanted that wall there? Will it be their children? Or will they just pay some barely-out-of-high-school kid twenty grand a year to do that unpleasant work for them? And to what end?

Free people and free markets don’t require fences and armed guards, whether it’s to keep people in or out. I’ll never be a fan of walls and fences, no matter which way the barbed wire on top is pointed.

41 thoughts on “walls and fences.

  1. Despite the fact that i DO agree that a fence in the border is a bad idea, there is a big difference between building a fence to block people from LEAVING and building it to avoid people from GOING IN.
    Trying to compare the Berlin wall to the mexico/united states border makes no sense at all.

    • A truly free society has no more to fear from people coming in than it does from people leaving it.

      • and who says we’re truly free? I pay all sorts of taxes to support other people, will that go up or down after being flooded with low-skill immigrants?

        Also, one does have a LOT more to fear from people coming in, that’s why cities have had walls since cities have been around, they allow you to vet people first.

        If someone’s already in your society they’ve already been through the de facto vetting process, otherwise they’re in jail…with fences and walls.

      • Er… to try to get a person I thought was quite intelligent to grasp that there is a distinction for a sovereign country in trying to keep people IN (evil, bad, the country is a prison), and trying to keep people OUT (absolutely correct)….

        How would you have felt about letting in, oh 2 or 3 million Russian illegal immigrants in the mid 80’s?

        Seriously.

      • um, wrong. The absolute stupidity of that statement is mind boggling. If that “truly free” society did not desire to feed, clothe, house, provide healthcare, income, safety and on and on, ad infinitum; they would require that any seeking to join them be “contributors”; productive members of said society, instead of those who seek to simply tag along for the benefits without assuming any of the responsibility…. to compare the wall used to contain the east from the west, to the wall proposed to keep the central and south out of the north… is… like comparing a walking stick to a Saturn 5.

  2. Marko,
    While not not always agreeing with you, I always respect and appreciate your well-reasoned points of view. This time, however, I completely agree. The fault lies with the businesses who hire undocumented workers and create the incentive to come here.

    • No kidding.

      Theoretically, what Marko is talking about would probably work well, in that perfect world.

      Here on this planet, not so much.

  3. Yeah, here in the US, the IRS just sends you a bill if you leave and don’t come back. I assume the machine gun part is involved if you ever come back.

  4. Sorry Marko You are totally off point…Everyone born on this planet can constitutionally become an American Citizen,But we have Rules in place.My grandfather fled Austria during WW2 legally entered the US,learned English,got with the program and thrived…My great grandparents came from Switzerland,England, and Ireland(Ellis Island)Legally,and Thrived.They respected American Sovereignty,Culture and Law,and wanted to participate.In those days there wasn’t welfare,unemployment,free passes,affirmative action,diversity,bla ,bla bla…There was only personal struggle and personal opportunity,excuses or free meals…Your argument and position is based on nothing more than orphans reunited with their parents being the same as a horde of locusts.

    • Are you telling Marko about immigration? I just want to make sure that’s what you’re doing.

      • Apparently he has forgotten that a nation that does not maintain control of its borders is no longer effectively a nation. I am doubly flabbergasted that someone who served to defend his nation from actual threat of invasion could neglect this.

      • No wonder Tam is hostile to comments that disagree. After all, she has turned her own blog into an echo chamber, with no dissent possible.

        • Tell you what–with the amount of outright drive-by insults I’ve had to clean out of the comments queue just for this immigration post alone, I am considering turning off my comments as well. Spirited dissent and contrary opinions are something I don’t mind, but they have to be civil. I have no obligation to host shit smears on my virtual wall.

  5. Living in a small, reasonably happy country we are only recently facing the immigration issue. We hear a great deal of rhetoric about who is moving in and where they come from, but what it boils down to is upper and middle class white people who don’t want to share with others. They fear that healthy competition will undermine their advantages and strip them of their privilege. In a country with an ageing population and a very low birth rate closing ourselves off from immigration is unhelpful to our future.
    This seemingly natural, yet truly stupid, fear spits in the face of reason. A larger economy will stimulate job production, and while there is much hand wringing over housing prices (which seems bizarre in a country that’s damn near empty, there being only 4 million of us), it seems to me to be more a fear of brown, “strange” people moving in next door and looking at your daughter.

    • Kathryn, do you also believe that people oppose Obamacare because of racism? I’m serious.

      • I don’t see how Obamacare is in any way linked to my post. Your strange response is the first mention of Obamacare at all. Hmmmmm.

        I was not commenting on any particular person’s basis for political views regarding immigration. I was speaking about what is happening here, where immigration has only recently become a national political issue.
        Thankfully, we will never face the “build a wall” issue. We are surrounded by water and one cannot accidentally stray into New Zealand.
        However, I do agree with Marko about building walls, either to keep people out or to keep them in. People will always risk their lives to get out of a bad situation or into a better one, especially if they have a family. It is a natural, almost irresistible urge to better the lives of our offspring. If we didn’t we’d still live in caves.
        Building a wall doesn’t solve the problem. A wall adds new problems on top of the original problem.

        • The reason I inquired was because there were tons of people here criticizing opponents of Obamacare, that their opposition to it was because of racism, which is oddly similar to your criticism of people wanting immigration to be tightened, and that occurs here as well. It’s a very effective political tactic, some use it for that reason and others use it because they actually believe it, I just wanted to better understand where you’re coming from.

          • Fair enough. No, I wasn’t commenting on Obamacare. I don’t feel in a position to do so. While we hear about it through the news media, we don’t know the details.

        • Well, not many people can WALK to New Zealand. 200 miles from where I sit, King Barry the first has flung open the gates to 150 MILLION Mexicans and who knows how many others. Yah, they live in a shithole and their corrupt government is more obvious than our corrupt government but you know what? IT’S NOT MY PROBLEM! And King Barry only wants more dimorat voters and if he busts this country by adding a few million/tens of millions to the welfare roles, so what? PS, as many people get in by overstaying their VISA as crossing the border on foot. But they ALL need to leave.

          • I’m not saying there aren’t problems with immigration in the U.S., I’m saying that building a wall is not the best way of dealing with the issue.
            I do wonder why Mexican immigrants would necessarily take up welfare rolls. The illegals already in the U.S work, doing hot, hard and dusty work so they clearly have a work ethic and the jobs they currently fill would still be there were they allowed to stay. So why would they suddenly change those work ethics and go onto welfare the moment they were no longer illegals?
            And so what if the immigrants are more likely to vote democrat? If they are allowed to stay they would have the right to any political view they like, the same as you.
            So is it jobs you worry about? Welfare? Or is it a worry that you may end up out voted through the democratic process?

          • I’m not saying there aren’t problems with immigration in the U.S., I’m saying that building a wall is not the best way of dealing with the issue.
            —————————-
            And a wall is ONE WAY of dealing with ILLEGAL immigration. There is also following up on travel visas, about 40% of ILLEGALS just overstay their visa and criminal charges for employers that don’t e-verify their employees.

            I do wonder why Mexican immigrants would necessarily take up welfare rolls. The illegals already in the U.S work, doing hot, hard and dusty work so they clearly have a work ethic and the jobs they currently fill would still be there were they allowed to stay. So why would they suddenly change those work ethics and go onto welfare the moment they were no longer illegals?
            ————————————————-
            Honey, about 35% of welfare payments already GO TO ILLEGALS! States, that is who administers welfare, are forbidden by law from inquiring about citizenship. And while Jose is off mopping floors or finishing concrete, mamasita and the 2,4,6,8 kids are sitting down at the welfare office or the Medicaid office. So how much of MY COUNTRY are you willing to give away?

            And so what if the immigrants are more likely to vote democrat? If they are allowed to stay they would have the right to any political view they like, the same as you.
            ————————————————
            Oh, “citizen of the world” are we? So, do I get to vote for the president of MEXICO? Or Honduras? How about Russia? See, there is this quaint process called CITIZENSHIP. So I can’t vote in another COUNTRY if I am not a CITIZEN.

            So is it jobs you worry about? Welfare? Or is it a worry that you may end up out voted through the democratic process?
            ————————————
            It’s not a “democratic process” when ILLEGALS that are ineligible to vote, get to vote. The number of voters in Texas was down from the last mid-term. I believe it was because you had to provide ID to VOTE! And the people that did not vote, COULD NOT VOTE BECAUSE THEY ARE ILLEGALS! And had been voting for years ILLEGALLY

  6. Markos,

    I Must Disagree. I want a fence on the border for the same reason I put a lock on my front door and he windows. I want to know who is coming into my house. I want to be able to let in my family, friends, and acquaintances. I want to keep out thieves, murderers, and drunks. I welcome good people through my front door.

    Same for my country. I want to keep out the criminals, the drug smugglers, and the terrorists. I want to welcome good people into my country to visit, to work, or to become citizens of the U.S. I want them to come through the front door, not under the fence.

    I want people that come here to work legally with all the protections of the law that I and my family enjoy. No sweatshops, sub-standard pay, coerced sex, or paying for “protection.” I do not want some teen-aged MS-13 stone killer, or professional kidnapper sneaking into our country to prey on citizens or illegal aliens.

    I do not hear people saying we need to machine gun illegals crossing the Rio Grande. That is a straw man argument. But I do want a border we patrol and control. Stop the illegals and drug mules. Prevent them from trashing, defecating in and destroying the Nat’l Parks and monuments, and the local ranches. Prevent them from dying of thirst in the desert after they get lost or abandoned by the “coyotes.”

    After we build a fence that works, we can talk about immigration reform.

  7. What an incredibly disingenuous post coming from someone who champions the individual’s right to protect and defend self, family, and property with deadly means.

    “Who is going to machine-gun unarmed men, women, and children trying to cross that river and climb those fences…will they just pay some barely-out-of-high-school kid twenty grand a year to do that unpleasant work for them?”

    Yes, that’s what the military is; paid government agents for the defense of national sovereignty, arguably the only legitimate function of gov.

    Immigration coupled with entitlements very nearly brought down many well-meaning societies recently when overwhelming taxation required cutbacks that resulted in riots in the streets…even in Sweden for crying out loud. If the USA doesn’t see that as a foretelling microcosm of our own future, maybe we deserve to devolve into the class, race, and economic warfare that it portends.

    You lock and man your front door to ensure that those who enter will not harm you, and arm yourself to defend against those who try. The immigration door should be locked and manned and defended for the same reasons and by the same means.

  8. I’m with you, Marko. It’s weird to me that so many who distrust government on other issues are willing to trust government on border control. Increased border control means more checkpoints, more government goons asking, “papers, please.” More vehicle searches to make sure you aren’t smuggling people. Do we really think government will manage to stop the “bad people” and allow the “good people” in? More likely, they’ll create an even more massive pile of paperwork to deter the law-abiding, implement measures that still won’t deter criminals, and trample everyone’s rights in the process.

    • Do you support getting rid of our criminal justice system? Because I could make the same argument about that, I mean why would we want to trust the government with law? It would mean bands of armed agents which won’t actually deter criminals but rather just trample people’s rights, with tons of paperwork in the process.

  9. The one question I would ask that I have not ever heard being asked before. What is the limit of illegal immigrates would you be willing to allow into the United States before you would shut down our borders? What number would tip the scales of our fragile economy into bankruptcy? What number would shift the societal makeup of the United States so that we as citizens would be expelled from the political structure of our own country? Do you have a number written down somewhere that you’re not telling us? The numbers are growing at an accelerated rate and with the current administration’s policies of “I have a pen and I’m not afraid to use it”, there is no sign of putting a stop to the tsunami of illegal immigrates flooding across our borders. See below for the estimated costs of not securing our borders.

    • 11 million – The estimated number of undocumented immigrants (UI) in the United States today. That’s an increase of roughly one third since 2000, when there were 8.5 million UIs, according to the Center for American Progress.
    • $11.2 billion – Amount that UIs paid in taxes in 2010, according to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. About half of all illegal immigrants pay some form of federal taxes.
    • $4.2 billion – Amount the federal government paid to individuals with children in 2005 whose tax bills dip below zero. The Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) is heavily claimed by UIs, according to Factcheck.org.
    • $4.3 billion – Annual estimated cost of taxpayer-provided health care for uninsured UIs, as of 2010, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. About half of that goes to people with incomes below 133 percent of poverty.
    • $2.6 trillion – An estimate of costs that could result from putting roughly 10 million adult illegal immigrants on a guaranteed pathway to citizenship, made in 2007 by the Heritage Foundation.
    • $48.6 billion – The estimated cost to taxpayers of covering 3.1 million amnestied immigrants during the budget period 2014-2019, in which Medicaid expansion takes effect, according to the same source.
    • $40 billion – The annual cost of educating illegals and their offspring in this country, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. – See more at: http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/…/21-Surprising-Facts-About-I…

  10. At what point is Marko opening his home to all strangers, to enjoy the fruits of his labour?

  11. Nice words, from a guy living a long way away from that southern border. I moved a widow away from her house in Benson, Arizona after she was repeatedly robbed and abused by those illegal immigrants you espouse. Her dog was clubbed to death, her chickens stolen, her house broken into, and she was held at knifepoint (the last straw). Now she lives in a condo, all she could afford after selling her house at a loss.

    How would you feel about your dogs being killed, your chickens stolen and your family terrorized, Marko? Would you shoot someone who is ‘simply trying to get to a better life for themselves and their family’?

    Say, you just got a new van. How would you like it stolen, and find that the van was driven to Mexico, no chance of recovery? Or get hit by an illegal and watch them walk away – No ID, no insurance, No Habla Engles? Police shrug their shoulders, nothing they can do. I got to pay to fix my truck and the insurance increased as well.

    In Arizona, a fifth of the people in prison are illegals. We could shut down two prisons if the border was controlled. Can you send some tax money over here, Marko?

    As a teenager, I made spending money cutting lawns and such. A group of Mexicans decided that they wanted the business and beat the crap out of me after I didn’t back down. As a large kid, I could take any one of them, but they had four. I came back with my dad, and we dealt with them (Dad was once a Golden Gloves and the 5th fleet heavyweight boxing champion, I watched his back and he did the rest). I was the last teen holdout, and when I went off to the Navy those guys moved back in. Now it’s almost impossible for a teenager to get into the lawncare business, those guys are protecting ‘their’ turf with knives and guns. For that matter, you need Spanish to order fast food here at the local Burger King. Unemployment sucks, why are we importing more of it?

    I would end with a quote by Robert Frost: Good fences make good neighbors.

  12. If you believe that there is no difference between using a wall to protect people from invasion and using a wall to prevent people from escaping, then how do you differentiate between using a firearm to protect people versus attacking them.
    Sorry, Marko, but your logic in this post is no different than that peddled by Bloomberg. You’re saying that an object (wall or gun) is evil and the intent is irrelevant.
    I disagree.

  13. “So why would they suddenly change those work ethics and go onto welfare the moment they were no longer illegals?”

    Probably because they won’t be nearly attractive to employers, who like them precisely BECAUSE they’re illegal.

    So, we’ll have millions that don’t offer much benefit to employers which will just create the demand for millions more to come illegally to take their place.

    Keep in mind bringing in all these people to do low-skill job depresses wages for those jobs, which means Americans on the bottom have even less financial incentive to get off welfare and join the workforce.