Review: Frank George’s 30 Days with Illegal Immigrants

Morgan Spurlock's series

Frank George is passionate about stopping illegal immigration. He is a Minuteman. By placing Frank in the residence of a family of illegal immigrants for 30 days, Morgan Spurlock—in the truest possible form—placed reason against reason, and argument against argument. Temporarily—but long enough for significant revelation—Spurlock imprisoned the passions of one argument within the embodiment of its opposite. I cannot imagine a more honest approach to the immigration debate than the one set forth in these 30 days. I disagree with Frank’s position on immigration law. I also think the Minutemen should allow the federal government to enforce border security.

Frank’s reactions to illegal immigrants are often emotional and rarely rational. Although most illegal immigrants are committed to assimilating into American society by the second generation, Frank worries about “losing the country” to Mexican influence. He worries about immigrants taking jobs from Americans, which, from an economic standpoint, cannot be considered a rational fear; if there is, as Frank assumes, a shortage of jobs, the immigrants will not find work, and will soon stop coming. When illegal immigrants chant “U.S.A.,” Frank responds by claiming “they don’t mean that.” Instead of embracing them for their love of his country, Frank irrationally begins worrying about their non-existent plans for revolution.

“We are a nation of laws,” Frank repeats authoritatively, as if he is unaware that every country in the world is a nation of laws. The Minutemen have unwisely taken the laws of their country into their own hands. When a democratic government fails to create or enforce a law, it is not the role of the citizen to do the job for them; it is the role of the citizen to try to elect legislators and executives that will create or enforce the desired law.

I am most concerned by Frank’s unhealthy attitude toward law. For a democracy to function fairly, citizens must concern themselves with whether or not laws are good, but Frank concerns himself with whether or not laws are followed. In a democracy, this is not the proper role for an ordinary citizen like Frank, but is instead reserved for trained law enforcement employees. Frank’s emotional enforcement of laws is frightening, especially when we reflect that Frank has not seriously questioned the virtue of the laws he is enforcing. If enough voters in a free democracy develop Frank’s attitude—placing emotional reaction before rational deliberation—that free democracy will degenerate into a fascist one. When we consider the attitudes of the Minutemen, we should remember Friedrich Hayek’s warning about the origins of German fascism: “From the saintly and single-minded idealist to the fanatic is often but a step.”

I believe a free flow of people, money, goods and ideas between the United States and its neighbors will bring benefits that outweigh the risks. In addition to being the original source of American society, immigration has, in nearly every historical instance, contributed to prosperity and freedom in the United States. Therefore I believe current immigration laws—the ones being enforced by the rogue Frank George—are bad laws, and I think those who break them are actually helping the United States. I agree with Martin Luther King, Jr., that “one has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” Despite his extreme position, even Frank, upon witnessing the Gonzales’ quality of life in Mexico, had to admit that what is just and what is lawful do not always coincide.

But Frank’s realization is limited in scope. It is superficially commendable that Frank has stopped serving as a spotter on the border since visiting the Gonzales family, but his attitude has not changed. I think it is unlikely that Frank’s attitude will ever change, because it is deeply rooted in his collectivistic philosophy. Frank sees himself as a member of a privileged group—Americans—and to diminish the exclusivity of that group would be detrimental to Frank’s feelings of superiority as a member. Because I subscribe to the philosophy of individualism, I can see the folly of Frank’s collectivistic tendencies, but Frank cannot. When I see a Mexican crossing the border illegally, I see a rational, self-interested, individual human like myself. Frank sees an outsider and a criminal. Even presented with the evidence that illegal immigrants can be as human as he, as he acknowledged the Gonzales’ were, Frank rationalizes their human condition out of his conscience by considering them an exception to the rule, and continues to work with the Minutemen.

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A proposal to strengthen the dollar

and falling

If there is one plain economic truth in the United States, it is the steady rise of prices. Inflation is something every American can see and feel. It is a painful reality we know too well. It is an issue around which nearly all Americans find themselves rightfully united; as a whole, and as individuals, we hate higher prices.

Adding desperation to anger, the media’s experts tell us that inflation is normal, natural, unavoidable, and even healthy in modest doses, like red wine. This is a big lie. Inflation may give us headaches, but it is nothing like red wine. You never learned this in history class (blame government-approved textbooks), but between 1820 and 1913, prices steadily decreased, in much the same manner that they increase today–so we know that steady inflation is avoidable. It is not natural. It is not normal. It is not healthy. It doesn’t even give us a buzz. It’s bad for us, and we know it, so we should do what we can to remove the underlying cause of inflation, which is the creation of too much money.

Because my primary remedy for ending the creation of money out of thin air (disbanding the Federal Reserve and establishing a metal standard currency) usually yields only puzzled or horrified faces, I am offering an alternative that I hope will be more attractive in the mainstream. It’s very simple: force the Congress, President, Vice President, and all federal judges to keep all of their wealth in dollar form. Allow them to own one residence, and force them to keep the rest of their wealth in simple, FDIC-insured, U.S. demand deposit bank accounts (or, if they prefer, in their mattresses). If these accounts are a good enough store of value for the average American, they will surely suit the lawmakers who represent that American.

This proposal will more perfectly unify the interests of the public servants with the interests of the public, both financially and politically. It is Congress’ job to preserve the integrity of the currency, but most legislators do not actively seek to do so, and if asked to address inflation, many in Congress would not even know where to start. If all of the D.C. gang had their life’s work invested in the dollar, I imagine they would be more inclined to preserve our currency’s spending power.

There are advantages to this proposal beyond the obvious, the most important of which may be the reduction of conflicts of interest within our federal government. For example, we will be sure that our legislators are not packing unread bills with contractual assists for corporations in which they own stock, because they won’t own any stocks. Their only stock will be the dollar, and it’s the only stock every American owns, so when they help out their own stock, they will be helping out all Americans. This proposal will restore integrity to Washington and our dollar.

Nationalism, socialism, and empire

Those three things will soon destroy America. We’re wasting money on things that aren’t working. “But old people…” “But the terrorists…” “But poverty…” “But kids need things…” “But diseases…” Please.

“But universal health care…”  Stop.  If you have purchased cable television, or even electricity, but no health insurance, you obviously do not care much for your health.

America is like a guy who jumps from a rooftop to escape a honeybee, and is subsequently paralyzed.

It’s the Constitution, stupid.

Islamofascism, are you kidding me?

Don't fear the guy on the right.  He is harmless.

It’s 2008. Theocracy is not about to take over the United States, and if it did, it would be a safe bet that it would not be Islamic. I do not understand the level of irrational fear in this country. If you are an American who fears Islamofascism, turn off the corporate media, and please see a psychiatrist.

If we the people leave, do they the rulers win?

We have owners.  They own us.

“Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” – Ron Paul

The long-term economic outlook for this country is so grim–and this is well-researched and almost universally accepted–that I can hardly see myself sticking around to endure it. A free and great industrial republic has become a credit-addicted empire, propped up today not by human productivity and ingenuity, but by the artistic renderings of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving–a small bandage placed fruitlessly on a fatal systemic illness.

Americans, as a whole, are either unaware of their collective fate, or unwilling to alter it. Toss charges in whatever direction you wish; the real culprit is in the mirror. But no matter where we place the blame for our government’s fiscal mess, we would be wise to understand that economic laws cannot be ignored forever, that justice is a force of nature not to be denied, and that reality will set in–as soon as we accept this diagnosis, we can begin to treat the disease. Every American born today enters a society of bondage, accompanied by a $75,000 liability to a government that child did not elect. I am twenty-four years old, and I hope that in the future, American children will be born free. I am, however, reluctant to believe this will happen in my lifetime.

As we the people request greater freedoms, they the government tighten our chains, and we are left with a choice: we may stay in America and struggle against our rulers for what we once called inalienable rights, or we may seek refuge in another land. If I, as an advocate for liberty, leave America, have I allowed the totalitarian forces in this country to win? Is liberty like a game, with winners and losers? If so, is there any chance the people can ever beat the government? Should I stay and fight for America’s true cause, or should I go and find prosperity elsewhere? My dilemma is not a new one. In Hitler’s Germany, were the liberty-minded citizens who fled the country better than the liberty-minded activists who stayed and were imprisoned or killed for their beliefs? As I wonder which option is better, I am reminded of a couple of quotes:

“I am in Birmingham because injustice is here.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” – Thomas Paine

If I could find a truly free country, I would move there, but it seems the increasingly oppressive governments of the world have rejected the enlightened principles that many countries once embraced, and most individuals still do embrace. What keeps me here is best expressed by the following utterance, which, though relevant, is probably too clever and wise to appear alongside my earnest musings:

“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last, best hope of man on Earth, or we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness. Alexander Hamilton said, ‘a nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one.’ And in that sentence, he told us the entire story: if we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to; this is the last stand on Earth.” – Ronald Reagan

Let freedom ring.

Hayek’s road of wisdom

Hayek

The Road to Serfdom is real. Americans travel its course with eyes shut. Some of us have opened our eyes, but at this point, we feel powerless to change the direction of the masses, who march confidently in the dark, behind their eyelids. If you do not yet know what is wrong with this country, you will have a hard time understanding what those who have awakened are feeling, but I will try to describe it:

Imagine you are in a crowd marching toward the edge of a cliff, perhaps one hundred yards ahead. All the people around you–your fellow citizens, acquaintances, neighbors, friends, and family–are in a hypnotic trance. The most regarded intellectuals are there, alongside the blue-collared laborers. Your children are at the front of the line, looking not entranced but bewildered; and being good children, they obey the adults who pressure them forward. The crowd approaches the cliff’s edge without even acknowledging its existence. You try to point out the folly ahead. You plead with them, yell at them, shake their shoulders, pound their chests, and slap them in the face, until you grow weary and mad. They do not heed your warnings, but tighten their ranks, and move forward, trapping you inside their throng. You cannot remove yourself from their movement. The coming fall is as much your fate as it is theirs, but they refuse to see it coming. They appear completely senseless. You notice that they are looking up at something–some irrelevant nonsense from which you cannot steal their focus for even a moment. It is the song of the sirens that will bring about their fall–your fall. They are about to push their children–as well as your own–off the edge of a very high promontory, and there is nothing you can do to stop them.

If you can imagine a situation like the one I have just described, you can imagine how those of us who have awakened to the injustices of our government must feel. Now, imagine that it’s real. The warnings were summarized extremely well by F.A. Hayek in 1944, in his famous reflection of warning, about the socialistic economic causes of German fascism, The Road to Serfdom, from which I quote to drive home truth and rationality:

“If in the long run we are the makers of our own fate, in the short run we are the captives of the ideas we have created. Only if we recognize the danger in time can we hope to avert it.”

“There are few signs yet that we have the intellectual courage to admit to ourselves that we may have been wrong. Few are ready to recognize that the rise of fascism and naziism was not a reaction against the socialist trends of the preceding period but a necessary outcome of those tendencies.”

“Many who think themselves infinitely superior to the aberrations of naziism, and sincerely hate all its manifestations, work at the same time for ideals whose realization would lead straight to the abhorred tyranny.”

“Is there a greater tragedy imaginable than that, in our endeavor consciously to shape our future in accordance with high ideals, we should in fact unwittingly produce the very opposite of what we have been striving for?”

“How many features of Hitler’s system have not been recommended to us for imitation from the most unexpected quarters, unaware that they are an integral part of that system and incompatible with the free society we hope to preserve? The number of dangerous mistakes we have made before and since the outbreak of war because we do not understand the opponent with whom we are faced is appalling. It seems almost as if we did not want to understand the development which has produced totalitarianism because such an understanding might destroy some of the dearest illusions to which we are determined to cling.”

“The contention that only the peculiar wickedness of the Germans has produced the Nazi system is likely to become the excuse for forcing on us the very institutions which have produced that wickedness.”

“When the course of civilization takes an unexpected turn–when, instead of the continuous progress which we have come to expect, we find ourselves threatened by evils associated by us with past ages of barbarism–we naturally blame anything but ourselves.”

“That democratic socialism, the great utopia of the last few generations, is not only unachievable, but that to strive for it produces something utterly different that few of those who now wish it would be prepared to accept the consequences, many will not believe until the connection has been laid bare in all its aspects.”

“It must always be remembered that socialism is a species of collectivism and that therefore everything which is true of collectivism as such must also apply to socialism.”

“Anyone who has observed how aspiring monopolists regularly seek and frequently obtain the assistance of the power of the state to make their control effective can have little doubt that there is nothing inevitable about this development.”

“It is the very complexity of the division of labor under modern conditions which makes competition the only method by which such coordination can be adequately brought about.”

“The argument for freedom is precisely that we ought to leave room for the unforeseeable free growth.”

“While it is true, of course, that inventions have given us tremendous power, it is absurd to suggest that we must use this power to destroy our most precious inheritance: liberty. It does mean, however, that if we want to preserve it, we must guard it more jealously than ever and that we must be prepared to make sacrifices for it.”

“Although the state controls directly only the use of a large part of the available resources, the effects of its decisions on the remaining part of the economic system become so great that indirectly it controls almost everything.”

“The effect of the people’s agreeing that there must be central planning, without agreeing on the ends, will be rather as if a group of people were to commit themselves to take a journey together without agreeing where they want to go: with the result that they may all have to make a journey which most of them do not want at all.”

“Agreement that planning is necessary, together with the inability of democratic assemblies to produce a plan, will evoke stronger and stronger demands that the government or some single individual should be given powers to act on their own responsibility. The belief is becoming more and more widespread that, if things are to get done, the responsible authorities must be freed from the fetters of democratic procedure.”

“Hitler did not have to destroy democracy; he merely took advantage of the decay of democracy and at the critical moment obtained the support of many to whom, though they detested Hitler, he yet seemed the only man strong enough to get things done.”

“It is the price of democracy that the possibilities of conscious control are restricted to the fields where true agreement exists and that in some fields things must be left to chance.”

“When it becomes dominated by a collectivist creed, democracy will inevitably destroy itself.”

“The fashionable concentration on democracy as the main value threatened is not without danger. It is largely responsible for the misleading and unfounded belief that, so long as the ultimate source of power is the will of the majority, the power cannot be arbitrary. The false assurance which many people derive from this belief is an important cause of the general unawareness of the dangers which we face.”

“The more the state ‘plans,’ the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.”

“If the law says that such a board or authority may do what it pleases, anything that board or authority does is legal–but its actions are certainly not subject to the rule of law. By giving the government unlimited powers, the most arbitrary rule can be made legal; and in this way a democracy may set up the most complete despotism imaginable.”

“Most planners who have seriously considered the practical aspects of their task have little doubt that a directed economy must be run on more or less dictatorial lines.”

“It is we who have to solve the economic problems of our lives.”

“Nothing makes conditions more unbearable than the knowledge that no effort of ours can change them; and even if we should never have the strength of mind to make the necessary sacrifice, the knowledge that we could escape if we only strove hard enough makes many otherwise intolerable positions bearable.”

“It is only because we have forgotten what unfreedom means that we often overlook the patent fact that in every real sense a badly paid unskilled worker in this country has more freedom to shape his life than many a small entrepreneur in Germany or a much better paid engineer in Russia.”

“Who will deny that a world in which the wealthy are powerful is still a better world than one in which only the already powerful can acquire wealth?”

“While absolute equality would clearly determine the planner’s task, the desire for greater equality is merely negative, no more than an expression of dislike of the present state of affairs; and so long as we are not prepared to say that every move in the direction toward complete equality is desirable, it answers scarcely any of the questions the planner will have to decide.”

“When security is understood in too absolute a sense, the general striving for it, far from increasing the chances of freedom, becomes the gravest threat to it.”

“Either both the choice and the risk rest with the individual or he is relieved of both.”

“Every restriction on the freedom of entry into a trade reduces the security of all those outside it.”

“There has never been a worse and more cruel exploitation of one class by another than that of the weaker or less fortunate members of a group of producers by the well-established which has been made possible by the ‘regulation’ of competition.”

“The younger generation of today has grown up in a world in which in school and press the spirit of commercial enterprise has been represented as disreputable and the making of profit as immoral, where to employ a hundred people is represented as exploitation but to command the same number as honorable.”

“The totalitarian dictator would soon have to choose between disregard for ordinary morals and failure. It is for this reason that the unscrupulous and uninhibited are likely to be more successful in a society tending toward totalitarianism.”

“Socialism can be put into practice only by methods which most socialists disapprove.”

“The belief in the community of aims and interests with fellow-men seems to presuppose a greater degree of similarity of outlook and thought than exists between men merely as human beings.”

“To act on behalf of a group seems to free people of many of the moral restraints which control their behavior as individuals within the group.”

“The separation of economic and political aims is an essential guaranty of individual freedom and it is consequently attacked by all collectivists.”

“What is called economic power, while it can be used as an instrument of coercion, is, in the hands of private individuals, never exclusive or complete power, never power over the whole life of a person. But centralized as an instrument of political power it creates a degree of dependence scarcely distinguishable from slavery.”

“The principle that the end justifies the means is in individualist ethics regarded as the denial of all morals. In collectivist ethics it becomes necessarily the supreme rule; there is literally nothing which the consistent collectivists must not be prepared to do if it serves ‘the good of the whole,’ because the ‘good of the whole’ is to him the only criterion of what ought to be done.”

“From the collectivist standpoint intolerance and brutal suppression of dissent, the complete disregard of the life and happiness of the individual, are essential and unavoidable consequences of this basic premise, and the collectivist can admit this and at the same time claim that his system is superior to one in which the ‘selfish’ interests of the individual are allowed to obstruct the full realization of the ends the community pursues.”

“Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as the complete perversion of language, the change of meaning of the words by which the ideals of the new regimes are expressed. The worst sufferer in this respect is, of course, the word ‘liberty.'”

“It is not difficult to deprive the great majority of independent thought. But the minority who will retain an inclination to criticize must also be silenced.”

“Probably it is true enough that the great majority are rarely capable of thinking independently, that on most questions they accept views which they find ready-made, and that they will be equally content if born or coaxed into one set of beliefs or another. In any society freedom of thought will probably be of direct significance only for a small minority.”

“The very magnitude of the outrages committed by the totalitarian governments, instead of increasing the fear that such a system might one day arise in more enlightened countries, has rather strengthened the assurance that it cannot happen here.”

“We should never forget that the anti-Semitism of Hitler has driven from his country, or turned into his enemies, many people who in every respect are confirmed totalitarians of the German type.”

“Very frequently even measures against the monopolists in fact serve to strengthen the power of monopoly. Every raid on the gains of monopoly, be it in the interest of particular groups or of the state as a whole, tends to create new vested interests which will help to bolster up monopoly. A system in which large privileged groups profit from the gains of monopoly may be politically much more dangerous, and monopoly in such a system certainly much more powerful, than in one where the profits go to a limited few.”

“Private monopoly is scarcely ever complete and even more rarely of long duration or able to disregard potential competition. But state monopoly is always state-protected monopoly–protected against both potential competition and effective criticism. It means in most instances that a temporary monopoly is given the power to secure its position for all time–a power almost certain to be used.”

“There is no other possibility than either the order governed by the impersonal discipline of the market or that directed by the will of a few individuals; and those who are out to destroy the first are wittingly or unwittingly helping to create the second.”

“In their political beliefs and aspirations men are today more than ever before governed by economic doctrines, by the carefully fostered belief in the irrationality of our economic system, by the false assertions about “potential plenty,” pseudo-theories about the inevitable trend toward monopoly, and the impression created by certain much advertised occurrences such as the destruction of stocks of raw materials or the suppression of inventions, for which competition is blamed, though they are precisely the sort of thing which could not happen under competition and which are possible only by monopoly and usually by government-aided monopoly.”

“The mere preservation of what we have so far achieved depends on the coordination of individual efforts by impersonal forces.”

“It is sensible temporarily to sacrifice freedom in order to make it more secure in the future; but the same cannot be said for a system proposed as a permanent arrangement.”

“To aim always at the maximum of employment achievable by monetary means is a policy which is certain in the end to defeat its own purposes. It tends to lower the productivity of labor and thereby constantly increases the proportion of the working population which can be kept employed at present wages only by artificial means.”

“Only where we ourselves are responsible for our own interests and are free to sacrifice them has our decision moral value. We are neither entitled to be unselfish at someone else’s expense nor is there any merit in being unselfish if we have no choice. The members of a society who in all respects are made to do the good thing have no title to praise.”

“It is true that the virtues which are less practiced now–independence, self-reliance, and the willingness to bear risks, the readiness to back one’s own conviction against a majority, and the willingness to voluntary cooperation with one’s neighbors–are essentially those on which the working of an individualist society rests.”

“It is one of the most disheartening spectacles of our time to see to what extent some of the most precious things which England, for example, has given to the world are now held in contempt by England herself.”

“Neither good intentions nor efficiency of organization can preserve decency in a system in which personal freedom and individual responsibility are destroyed.”

“If we are to succeed in the war of ideologies and to win over the decent elements in the enemy countries, we must, first of all, regain the belief in the traditional values for which we have stood in the past and must have the moral courage to stoutly defend the ideals which our enemies attack.”

“To undertake the direction of the economic life of people with widely divergent ideals and values is to assume responsibilities which commit one to the use of force; it is to assume a position where the best intentions cannot prevent one from being forced to act in a way which to some of those affected must appear highly immoral.”

“It is fairly certain that in a planned international system the wealthier and therefore most powerful nations would to a very much greater degree than in a free economy become the object of hatred and envy of the poorer ones: and the latter, rightly or wrongly, would all be convinced that their position could be improved much more quickly if they were only free to do what they wished.”

“We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.”

“The young are right if they have little confidence in the ideas which rule most of their elders. But they are mistaken or misled when they believe that these are still the liberal ideas of the nineteenth century, which, in fact, the younger generation hardly knows.”

“If in the first attempt to create a world of free men we have failed, we must try again. The guiding principle that a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy remains as true today as it was in the nineteenth century.”

I hate to keep bashing “educators” but…

Notes from a university political science course, in which we were being taught about ideologies:

  • Libertarianism
    • “liberty from government control”
    • Opposes laws that limit drug use, abortion, speed limits, seatbelts, pollution control
    • Foreign policy focus on isolationism (troops @ home for only defense)
    • Different tenets disliked by conservatives and liberals
      • Conservatives dislike disrespect for traditional values
      • Liberals don’t like that it does away with social programs”

Given that I consider myself mostly libertarian, I was more than a little surprised to learn that my main goals are legalizing drugs, ending all traffic laws, killing babies, halting all trade with “threatening” countries, spreading disrespect for traditional values, and destroying the environment. I thought my main goals were economic freedom, self-reliance, and maximizing individual choices, but those broader and more important subjects did not even make it into the discussion. Unfortunately, in order to have a “political education” in this country, I only need to remember that libertarians hate seat-belts.  I can remember that, and make an “A” in the class for doing so, but it certainly does not make me any wiser; for some, it may actually have the opposite effect.

Libertarianism values individual liberty, private property and social contracts. My professor will admit that classical liberalism, or laissez-faire liberalism, was the primary philosophy behind America’s founding, and he will admit that he cannot name a difference between libertarianism and classical liberalism, but he cannot bring himself to say that America had a libertarian founding.

I pointed out to my professor that isolationism is not actually a tenet of libertarianism, because isolationism assumes non-intervention (which libertarians support) as well as economic protectionism (which libertarians condemn). I suggested he use the word “non-interventionism” instead of “isolationism,” because libertarians are staunch defenders of uninhibited international trade, and isolationists are very much opposed to uninhibited trade. Realizing his error, but caring more for his coercive power over his students than he cares for their proper understanding of politics, he stumbled to his chalkboard and underlined the word “isolationism,” muttering something about how libertarians oppose aid to struggling countries.