Courtesy of the International Man, which writes (emphasis added).
Preventing people from leaving has always been the hallmark of an authoritarian regime. Unfortunately, the practice is growing in so-called liberal democracies for ever more trivial offenses. In the U.S., for example, the government can cancel your passport if they accuse you of a felony. They don’t even need to convict you.
Many people think felonies only consist of major crimes like robbery and murder.
But that isn’t true.
The ever-expanding mountain of laws and regulations has criminalized even the most mundane activities. It’s not as hard to commit a felony as you might think. Many victimless “crimes” are felonies.
A study by civil liberty lawyer Harvey Silverglate found that the average American inadvertently commits three felonies a day.
So, if the U.S. government really wants to cancel your U.S. passport, it can find some technicality for doing so…for anyone. That, of course, is not unique to the U.S. government. Any government can revoke or cancel the passport of its citizens for any reason it sees fit.
When people talk about open borders, they typically are referring to the right of anyone to enter the country. But that paints an incomplete picture. Unrestricted emigration is more important than unrestricted immigration, and it has to exist first before allowing the latter.
Open Emigration Before Open Immigration
A society that allows anyone to leave but not enter can still be a free society, but a society in which anyone can enter but not leave is as free as light once it enters a black-hole. In other words, open immigration is a possible feature of a free society, but not required. Open emigration, on the other hand, is a fundamental requirement for a free society. So before we can have open borders for immigrants, we need open borders for emigrants.
And once more, I cannot help but note that the entire frame of the discussion is on open immigration but not emigration. People who are serious about open borders should be talking about both equally, not just one.
I would remind you all dear readers that while we can technically leave the country, as long as we are citizens we are not allowed to financially leave. The irony of the whole “if you don’t like America then you can get out!” quip is that it isn’t true. Even if you don’t like America, you can leave but you still have to pay income tax no matter where you go in the world. We are one of the few nations that do this. You also can’t open bank accounts in foreign banks if you are an American citizen.
What this means is that even if I were to leave this country today, I would still have to pay taxes. And if I got married and had children, if they are considered American citizens they can still be forced to pay income taxes to the United States government without ever having stepped foot on American soil. The only way to get out of this is to renounce your citizenship, which as time goes by the government will make more and more difficult, and they might possibly even ban you from ever reentering the country as punishment. I shouldn’t have to renounce my citizenship to stop paying taxes to a government under whose thumb I have escaped.
I am as concerned as the next libertarian about reducing the power of the state when it comes to borders, but it’s impossible to overlook the setup we have right now, where as they bring people in who we’re told won’t be a financial burden, they make it harder for people to leave and take their money with them. If things are so great, why are the wealthy renouncing their citizenship in record numbers while penniless people are doing just about anything to get in? What do these trends tell you about the incentives offered by our government, both state and federal? Why is the US government so hostile to anyone who wants to open a foreign bank account, if there were no liabilities to doing so in the U.S.? What type of society rewards immigration of have-nots and punishes emigration of the haves?
Not a free one.