First Things First
Libertarians, by and large, live in their navels, a condition which permeates virtually every aspect of their solutions to life's and society's conundrums. Libertarians don't simply live in their navels, they count the whiskers on the navel-lint bunnies they construct, and perform other epistemological masturbations.
Libertarians are — as I have been telling the rest of them for years — long on theory, short on practicum.
Political theory which does not offer practical solutions to the real issues facing a society will never be acceptable to the masses in any society which has governance built upon democracy; theories are useless. "People" don't want theory; they want — and need — jobs, quality education so their kids can get jobs, roads to get to and from their jobs and school, civic protection so they can get to and from in relative safety, and national defense so the barbarian hordes don't interfere with it all, besides … and to just generally be left the hell alone the rest of the time.
Frankly, all people regardless of their political stripe hold the same views. It's just that most people from shhhh! those other political viewpoints want the government to leave them alone but pester everyone else. Libertarians usually, but not completely, declare that the government is not to pester anyone.
But a government that doesn't pester anyone is a government that doesn't exist — a reality that anarchists happily celebrate, without the consequential understanding that the nonexistent government can therefore not protect well-meaning anarchists from their less noble neighbors, or from the barbarians. Anarchy is proto-monarchy, a historic reality that anarchists refuse to reconcile to their preferred delusion.
To be safe from the ignoble and the Huns, there must be government. When government, it will pester. The idea is to pester only in ways that the masses, at least at one point, gave their permission for. "The consent of the governed", to put it in terms of US history.
Much has been said and, given recent circumstances, much more is being said and will be said about free trade and open borders than at any time in recent history. This discourse is due in no small part to the election of President Cheeto. His election is due in no small part to the utter failure of false free trade put into practice and the mostly-closed borders creating porous border realities.
In other words, what libertarians want and how reality handles them are two different things, and reality informs anyone paying attention that libertarians are never going to get what they want in the ways that they are being provided. To be fair to libertarians, it is not libertarians who are providing porous borders and false free trade; libertarians don't have political clout. But the political terrain is so littered with Other Peoples' Politics that there is no way to get what libertarians want in any direct manner. As the down-eastern saying goes, "Ya can't get theh from hyuh."
Most libertarians, when asked about the open borders they idolize, will point back to the immigration policies this nation had in the last third of the nineteenth and first quarter of the twentieth centuries. Yet those were not open borders; this nation — as a nation — has never had open borders. There have always been rules for immigrants to follow before being allowed in. During the heyday of immigration, the rules were simply very few and easily accomplished: sign your name [in English] and don't be carrying any infectious diseases. Tens of thousands of immigrants who got off the boat in US ports died without setting foot outside the entry port hospital.
And then the borders closed. They were virtually airtight during the Depression, and only reopened slightly after World War Two, mostly to war refugees and ex-nazi rocket scientists. Today, thanks to the liberal legislative moronitude of the 70s, the rules for immigrants are cumbersome, inexplicably complex and so arcane that it's simply easier to risk death by diamondback in the Sonoran Desert than to obey the law. And immigrants by the millions have done exactly that.
Porous borders — anyone who wants to can sneak across the border. And they do. Among them are drug dealers and criminals and jihadists, and those who do not work, even under the table, and then live off the support of the American Taxpayer. As many criminals and jihadists as the paranoid closed-border types claim? No, but still there are some. It is dishonest and counter-productive to claim otherwise as the liberals do. As many government benefit leeches as some wish to claim? Again, no, but there are still some, and it is still dishonest and counter-productive to join the liberals and deny it.
Of course the libertarian response would be to say, "but we should also end the War on Drugs, be able to deport unnaturalized criminal immigrants, and those who act out Sharia Law rather than simply believe in it. And we have to end the Welfare State as well. Then those problems wouldn't be problems." And of course they are correct. But therein lies the disconnect; libertarians only concede these after being beaten over the head with reality. Left to themselves, most libertarians want open borders first, before ending the disastrous War on Drugs and the equally disastrous War on Poverty, double-checking Syrian civil war refugees, and closing down sanctuary cities.
We effectively have open borders already since foreigners who wish to come here but not fill out reams of paperwork are still arriving. What are the results? Black market drug turf wars and thousands dead, hundreds of billions of dollars spent annually on policing, prosecuting and paroling, hundreds of billions more in government handouts, and self-righteous liberal twit mayors flopping their arms across their chests, pouting, "they may be criminals, but they are MY criminals and you can't send 'em away!" The libertarian solution is already in effect and it doesn't work.
Yes, it is true that, in general, US-made products are better quality, but that is not as universal a reality as free trade enthusiasts would like everyone to believe. The quality difference between domestic products and foreign competition accounts for a very small fraction of their large price differentials. Long gone are the days of snickering at Made in Japan; that luxury died with the invention of the Plymouth K Car, Chevy Monza, and anything Ford churned out in response to the Arab Oil Embargo. Hecho en Mexico is, today, just as good as Made with pride in the USA. Generally because the company who hechos in Mexico is probably the same one who used to make it in the US.
What is not irrelevant is the price. Price is determined, in large part, by the costs of production. These costs, in the US, are astronomical. Most such costs are needless and are imposed by the government for the purpose of furthering government. These costs consist of mandatory minimum wages, mandatory minimum employee benefits, contracted wages and benefits made mandatory because government requires union participation, regulatory costs, fees, taxes …
Other nations, including declaratively socialist nations, have nowhere near the same government impositions upon businesses that the US does. As a result, US goods cannot compete with foreign goods because the consumer will nearly always choose the less expensive foreign-made item. US products enter the free trade debate at a severe disadvantage.
As a direct result of this disadvantage, any free trade agreements the US enters into has the net effect of selling US jobs to other nations, either through the free market preference of lower-cost foreign production, or because US manufacturers move their operations out of the US where they can make the same things the same way but far less expensively. What passes for free trade is, therefore, not free but suicidal. This is seen in the true rate of unemployment standing between 15-20% despite nearly a decade of Great Recession Recovery®, and a Labor Force Participation Rate hovering at a historic low of around 60%.
The way to address this false free trade is to remove the government-perpetuating Cost of Government from US manufacturing, or — number two — to force all our foreign nation trading partners to adopt the same cost of government intrusions into their own manufacturing, or — third — ham-fist a price-equalizing tariff on goods imported into the US. I don't think I need to remind anyone what our newly-elected orange snack food with a bad comb-over wants to do.
Yes a tariff on imported goods will — at least in the short-term — do little more than increase the drain on Americans' wallets; it will take time to increase US manufacturing to compensate, and put the 20% unemployed, and the 40% underemployed Americans back to work so they can afford the price increase. And it may inspire a tariff war with some of the foreign competition who have been subsidizing their own manufacturers. But at least it's something, and it's significantly better than the option offered up by navel-gazing libertarians, which is to stick their fingers in their ears, and squawk their theories about free trade at the tops of their lungs.
More-open borders and free trade are the libertarian end-game, not the path. Eliminate the War on Drugs and the welfare state first and then — but not before — we'll talk about more-open borders; end hyper-regulation of wages, benefits, and taxes first and then — but not before — we'll talk about free trade. Few libertarians can be bothered with the necessary order of events reality requires to get what they want. Most libertarians would rather stroke their navel-lint bunnies.