Thursday, August 15, 2019

To Pay For a Wall, Tax Remittances

Without fail, Donald Trump’s biggest applause line during the 2016 election cycle was his promise to erect a wall along America’s southern border and make Mexico pay for it.  During his successful White House bid, Trump did not produce a slew of wonkish policy proposals, but how Mexico would pay for the wall was addressed with specificity. 

Trump promised that if elected on day 1 his administration would amend regulations requiring proof of lawful residence before allowing outgoing wire transfers to Mexico.  The calculation was that threatening to restrict remittances would “encourage” Mexico to make a one-time payment of $10 billion to pay for the wall’s construction.

Hitting Mexico in the wallet would ostensibly provide the leverage needed to fulfill his most audacious—and popular—campaign promise.  In 2013, $22 billion were remitted to Mexico from the U. S. Total remittances to Mexico topped $31 billion in 2018.  “It’s an easy decision for Mexico,” said Trump in 2016.  “Make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion to ensure that $24 billion continues to flow into their country year after year.”

Trump could have imposed these policies by Executive Order, but for reasons that remain mysterious the changes were not implemented.  Legislation to tax remittances also stalled in the Republican-controlled Congress.  In 2017, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) introduced the Border Wall Funding Act, which would have imposed a 2% tax on all person-to-person wire transfers to Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean.  An earlier proposal in the Senate, which never made it out of committee, would have imposed a 7% fine on remittances if the sender could not prove that they are in the U. S. legally.

Because of the great migration of recent years, remittances are increasingly vital to many Third World countries.  According to the World Bank, remittances to low- and middle-income countries reached a record high in 2018, up nearly 10% from 2017.  In the United States alone, an estimated $148 billion was wired to individuals in other countries.  While Mexico is the largest beneficiary, China receives $16.1 billion while India tips the scale at $11.7 billion.  Remittances are also a significant source of wealth for Central America, ranging from 21.1% of El Salvador’s GDP to 12.1% of Guatemala’s.  One wonders why these regimes would work to thwart migration to the United States.  

That raises the question of why remittances are not taxed.  How often do politicians ignore a $150 billion dollar pile of cash?  Why the U. S. government does not tax remittances and why it does not prohibit foreign nationals on public assistance from sending cash home is one of the oddest phenomena in the immigration discussion.  Money flowing from the United States, whether to Mexico, China or the Philippines, does not support American truck drivers or waitresses and provides no benefit to local governments that frequently bear the cost of illegal immigration.

The state of Oklahoma provides an object lesson for how such a tax might work.  All out-going, out-of-state, person-to-person transfers of money are charged a 1% fee.  Technically this is not a tax but a deduction.  If the transmitter pays state income taxes, they can use these deductions as tax credits, effectively refunding the fee.  But according to state tax officials, 96% of the wire transfer fees are not used as income tax credits meaning that the revenue is taken from people who do not pay state income taxes. 

In a dismissive piece posted by the Cato Institute, Alex Nowrasteh says the fee raises a mere $133.65 per illegal immigrant.  But is this an insignificant sum as Nowrasteh implies?  A team of Yale and MIT researchers led by Mohammad M. Fazel-Zarandi produced a study estimating that there are 22.1 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.  According to the report, the number of illegal aliens could be as low as 16.5 million or as high as 29.1 million. 

Assuming that remittances from those outside of Oklahoma are similar to Oklahoma residents and assuming 22.1 million illegal immigrants, such a tax would yield nearly $3 billion in revenue.  Doubling the tax to a mere 2% increases the take to $6 billion. 

For decades, the federal government has failed to protect the border.  Politicians and business interests have turned a blind eye, thwarting the will of a majority of Americans who demand secure borders.  Taxing remittances is a means of accomplishing the goal that also shifts the costs to immigrants, including those here illegally.  Not only can a wall be built, but a stream of money to pay for border security and enhanced internal enforcement will have been established.  What’s not to like?

Saturday, August 03, 2019

The Roman Precedent

The combination of massive immigration from the Third World and a birth dearth among peoples of European descent is leading to what Pat Buchanan has called the “Death of the West.” The nations of the West have turned from their Christian heritage to worship at the twin altars of multiculturalism and economism, the myth that man is merely an economic animal and that free markets in and of themselves produce peace, prosperity and happiness.

 How did this come about? The short answer is that Christianity has lost its grip on our people. Feminism has liberated women from the “narrow” roles of wife and mother. Meanwhile, the siren song of the marketplace drowns out God’s command to be fruitful and multiply.

The Psalmist says that without a vision, the people die. Christianity provides adherents with a framework that encourages the consideration of others and produces a concern for the future. If history is the outworking of divine providence in time and space then Christians will be future-oriented rather than obsessed with the present, laboring for the expansion of God’s kingdom like leaven working through a loaf of bread. As Christianity has lost influence that future-looking perspective has been replaced by consumerism and self-indulgence.

With their new status in the work world, fewer women marry and those that do opt to marry later. In 1960, the median age of a woman’s first marriage was 20. By 2018, that had climbed to 28. In 1976, just 43% of women ages twenty to twenty-four had never been married. By 2014, 83% were in the “never married” category according to the Census Bureau.

Women are not just waiting longer to have children, but are conceiving fewer of them as well. In 1960, the fertility rate was 3.65 births per woman. By 2018, it had declined to 1.72 births per woman, a record low. The remaining children are increasingly shaped by institutions other than the family. In 1950, 88% of women with children under six stayed in the home. Today, 65% of American women with children under six are in the labor force.

Since the mid-1960’s cohabitation has risen dramatically while marriage and fertility rates have dropped precipitously. More than sixty million abortions have also occurred since its legalization in 1973. With women having children at a rate below the replacement level, policy-makers and business interests have sought another source of cheap labor and tax dollars and found it in a ready stream of immigrants. Between 1965 and 2015, immigrants—and their children and grandchildren—added 72 million to the nation’s population, accounting for 55% of population growth.

The flood of newcomers has reshaped American institutions, politics, and culture in ways unimaginable to our grandparents. No culture can absorb and assimilate endless numbers of outsiders who are unfamiliar with the customs, mores and traditions of the receiving nation. Santayana said, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” Unfortunately, thanks to public education, many of us never learned anything to forget. Read what Will Durant had to say about the fall of Rome. Does it sound familiar? Durant said that “biological factors” were “fundamental” to Rome’s collapse. Durant continues:
A serous decline of population appears in the West after Hadrian. It has been questioned, but the mass importation of barbarians into the Empire…leaves little room for doubt…A law of Septimius Severus speaks of a penuria hominum—a shortage of men. In Greece, the depopulation had been going on for centuries. In Alexandria, which had boasted of its numbers, Bishop Dinysius calculated that the population had in his time been halved. He mourned to “see the human race diminishing and constantly wasting away.” Only the barbarians and the Orientals were increasing, outside the Empire and within.
Durant adds that “infanticide flourished” and “sexual excesses may have reduced human fertility” while the “avoidance or deferment of marriage had a like effect.” Durant concludes:
The population of Italy had long since been mingled with Oriental strains physically inferior, though perhaps mentally superior, to the Roman type. The rapidly breeding Germans could not understand the classic culture, did not accept it, did not transmit it; the rapidly breeding Orientals were mostly of a mind to destroy that culture; the Romans, possessing it, sacrificed it to the comforts of sterility. Rome was conquered not by barbarian invasion from without, but by barbarian multiplication within.
With the Roman precedent clearly in view will we have the wisdom to turn back from the brink? Our Christian ancestors living in the ruinous culture of ancient Rome did not succumb to the culture of death that enveloped their pagan neighbors and we ought to follow their example.

Durant writes that, “Abortion and infanticide which were decimating pagan society, were forbidden to Christians as the equivalents to murder; in many instances Christians rescued exposed infants, baptized them, and brought them up with the aid of the community fund.”

Today the post-Christian West, like ancient Rome, is committing suicide. As Christians, what can we do to reverse the trend, win the war and reclaim the culture for Christ? Simply, we can live as counter-revolutionaries by marrying young, having many children and shaping their loves and affections by catechizing them in the Christian faith and traditions of their people.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Joel McDurmon Should Shave

In the wake of public discussion over the recent Gillette ad, Joel McDurmon unbosomed himself with a typically turgid piece of prose directed at Gillette’s critics. The drift of American Vision has been ongoing and precipitous, sadly picking up speed with every essay churned out by its contributors. One can only assume that Joel will be running to the local Wal-Mart today in search of a razor to publicly shave that beard, presumably in repentance for the sins of ancestors. Perhaps he can also swing by the tattoo parlor on the way home and paint an icon of Rosie the Riveter on his torso to demonstrate solidarity with oppressed Womyn everywhere.

One hopes vainly that leaders of “Christian Worldview” ministries will bring the bible or even the pretense of natural law to questions about sex roles and the ongoing cultural tumult unfurled by the #MeToo movement. Instead, McDurmon leads his essay with a quotation from….wait for it!!....Reason Magazine. And to think I’ve been accused of going overboard when I claim that modern theonomy has simply baptized the worst forms of libertarianism. (By the way, friend, have you asked John Locke into your heart?).

“The ad simply calls men to be men, and to be good men. Step up, take action, be a force for good,” says Joel. In truth what the ad shows is wicked white men harassing women and being corrected by non-whites thereby reinforcing a particular narrative about the wickedness and “privilege” not merely of men but specifically white men.

But how does this work out practically? How specifically do we act? Tell us, Joel, what then shall we do? “We are great at tolerating wrongs, especially those we perceive to be less severe, like mansplaining or minor bullying.” Mansplaining? Unfortunately, my concordance does not have an entry for “mansplaining.” Vainly I searched the Internet to see if it had been censured at one of the ecumenical church councils. Hmm, nothing. Perhaps it was condemned as sinful in the Gospel of Lilith or condemned as heresy at the Seneca Falls Convention.

McDurmon spends most of the essay mocking critics of the ad who, he says, are behaving like hysterical women, looking for safe spaces, launching “man-cotts,” etc.

The problem is that McDurmon is ignoring the broader context and is oblivious to the assumptions that are being reinforced within the culture. As an ostensible presuppositionalist, Joel should be looking for the foundational issues instead of swallowing gnats—such as “mansplaining.”

Just days ago the American Psychological association offered up a report which, said, among other things, that “traditional masculinity….is, on the whole, harmful.” On the heels of this “research”, Gillette’s ad begins with this question: “Bullying, the Me Too movement, and masculinity—is this the best a man can get?”

The assumptions behind even real problems (e.g., bullying and sexual harassment) raised in the ad are questionable. Rough play, which is healthy and necessary for boys, is now defined as “bullying” and boys are expected to suppress natural impulses and become feminized.

Likewise, everything a man does sexually is assumed to be predatorial. Flirtation, pursuit, male initiation, etc., are all suspect because of the underlying assumption, reinforced by advertisers and psychologists—the priests of the new religion—that men’s motives are abusive.

But there is a larger issue as well. The gist of the current orthodoxy is that traditional characteristics of manhood are the root of abusive behavior rather than, oh I don’t know—sin! Instead of locating sin in the human heart our “preachers” place sin in the context of patriarchy and seek a sacrifice of atonement. As with the Old Testament sacrifices a scapegoat must be found. That scapegoat for sin is men and it is masculinity that is to be driven from the camp as a propitiation for sin.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Tucker Carlson Vs. The Mini Cons Or Godzilla Vs. Bambi

On Wednesday evening, Tucker Carlson delivered a blistering indictment of America’s Ruling Class.  If you have not done so, please give it a listen.  Carlson ties together several strands into a cohesive and robust Paleo-Populist critique of the ossified and disconnected elite that currently rules what remains of Western nations.  It is heartening to see perhaps the most prominent voice on cable news sounding like Pat Buchanan, echoing traditionalist sentiments not merely when discussing economics but also foreign policy. 

Not surprisingly the Never Trump conservatives, increasingly a rump party with no constituency, are not pleased.  Over at National Review David French found Carlson’s stem-winder troubling, offering “perhaps the worst possible response” to our current predicament.  Carlson, claims French, is offering “victimhood populism.” 

French chides Tucker for offering up a view of politics that, while identifying a host of cultural and political maladies, offers truncated solutions that focus on political rather than personal solutions.  According to French, populism offers a false narrative which encourages Americans to see themselves as victims of an uncaring elite that worships Mammon, unconcerned about the hoi palloi from whom it increasingly segregates itself. 

Carlson,” writes French, “is advancing a form of victim-politics populism that takes a series of tectonic cultural changes — civil rights, women’s rights, a technological revolution as significant as the industrial revolution, the mass-scale loss of religious faith, the sexual revolution, etc. — and turns the negative or challenging aspects of those changes into an angry tale of what they are doing to you.”

Meanwhile Kosher Con Ben Shapiro, trying to get a glimpse of the landscape, ascended his perch at the Daily Wire to belch forth a reply to Carlson, offering up incense to the Golden Calf of the “invisible hand” and providing a conventional libertarian defense of free men, free minds, free markets and the “pursuit of happiness.”  Shapiro is so quintessentially American, is he not?

In his piece, Shapiro defends capitalism on moral grounds.  Carlson, both on his Fox show and new book, argues that markets exist to serve men rather than the other way around.  Free markets are certainly beneficial but rest on a set of cultural prerequisites and assumptions, a variety of meta-market phenomena that must be tended rightly to produce good rather than rotten fruit. 

Market capitalism is a tool, like a staple gun or a toaster,” says Carlson.  “You’d have to be a fool to worship it. Our system was created by human beings for the benefit of human beings. We do not exist to serve markets. Just the opposite. Any economic system that weakens and destroys families is not worth having.” 

Such perfectly reasonable observations constitute heresy to the guardians of the smelly orthodoxies of modern conservatism.  “This is a complete misread of market capitalism,” spouts Little Ben.  “Market capitalism,” which incidentally is not defined by Shapiro, is “not a value neutral proposition.”  Markets “allow us to act in liberty.”  

According to Shapiro “market capitalism” has not undermined the social fabric.  “The fault lies not in the invisible hand, but in us,” says Shapiro.  “The sooner we realize that, the sooner we’ll start taking the steps to rebuild the institutions that undergirded our free and prosperous society in the first place.”

The critiques of Carlson unfurled by Shapiro and French are disconnected from reality and ignore elements of the conservative tradition.  Building relationships and broader institutions requires time, resources, stability, social trust and security.  The globalization of the marketplace—and culture more broadly—has undermined all of these necessary ingredients.  The populist rebellion, which is now taking on a global character, is not a rebellion against the “free market,” rightly defined.  Rather it is the natural response to a globalization that disembeds traditional institutions, customs, and mores.  

By its very character globalization produces instability and insecurity.  Clearly globalization produces some benefits, particularly to the transnational elite that created its architecture and institutions.  But is also creates economic, border, and cultural (or existential) uncertainty for the unwashed masses who are left to entertain themselves with the modern Bread and Circuses of Netflix and X-Box.

Political institutions are in part shaped by economic structures.  The integration of European economies, to take one example, went hand-in-glove with the growth of broader “European” political institutions.  Similarly, a common American market over time produced national political institutions and the consequent diminishing of sub-national political structures.  In short, the desire of elites to foment the myth of Home Economicus and create a global market of homogeneous consumers fits quite nicely with the ideology that we are “citizens of the world.”  A globalized economy begets globalized political and cultural infrastructure.  Free market mania and multicultural platitudes are two sides of the coin, more similar than different.  

Consider, too, the changes wrought by technological advances and the imposition of drastic cultural and demographic changes.  The tectonic cultural changes that French enumerates were largely imposed by judges, bureaucrats, “newsmen,” and culture-shaping Cultural Marxists who captured the institutions of cultural dissemination.  The widespread acceptance of homosexuality and “gay marriage”, for example, were foisted upon Middle America by urbanized/globalized elites and propagated by Big Media, Big Business, and anti-democratic judges.  In our age it has become impossible to properly define “men” and “women” let alone have an honest discussion relating to characteristics defining a nation or what it means to be an American.  These are existential changes to the body politic and whether French or Shapiro admit it or not they have been imposed by an elite.   

Contra French and Shapiro, the levers of political and cultural power are not controlled by benevolent freedom seekers but by immoral corporate globalists—Democrats and Republicans, conservative, liberals and libertarians.  Their loyalties are international rather than national or local.  They are anti-traditionalist and their ideology is the heresy of Babel.  

As globalization steamrolls traditional customs and even threatens the existence of discrete nations in pursuit of a multicultural vision, opposition to the Zeitgeist will entail asserting traditional religiosity, kinship and grasping for national and local symbols that serve as resistance to the globalist hegemon
.  Part and parcel of this resistance must be the rejection of doctrinaire “free trade,” an adjunct of the ideology of Enlightenment Classical liberalism and 19th Century scribblers.

French, Shapiro and their ilk misunderstand and misdiagnose the times.  Globalism is sowing the seeds of its own destruction.  Carlson is merely identifying the birth pangs of the coming storm. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Trolling Doug Wilson

Doug Wilson casts himself as a man standing on the authority of scripture, battling mightily against wrong-headed bible teachers who have wandered to the right and to the left.  Wilson is a verbally-gifted writer and has demonstrated a willingness to pen controversial material, often challenging the dominant socio-political narratives of Neo-Calvinists and conservative Evangelicals.  In a landscape filled with pastors lacking in backbone, Wilson often writes with verve.  Nevertheless, when discussing ethnicity and race Wilson frequently misrepresents his opponents, relies upon logical fallacies, and peddles Gnostic arguments.  It is a curious form of triangulation that could be termed Clintonian. 

Wilson propounds a series of half-truths and outright fallacies.  He believes that race is a social construct.  He believes that God’s judgment at Babel alone dispersed mankind and has been reversed by the blessing of Pentecost in Acts 2.  He believes that Israel and the Gentiles were once separated but now Gentiles have been adopted into the covenant, erasing and dissolving race and nation. 

“White and black cannot get along because their blood is red in common, but they can get along because Christ’s blood was red and uncommon, and was shed for the express purpose of making one new man out of the two, and in addition to make one new man out of the seventy. God is building a new humanity in Christ, and there is no new humanity outside of Him,” writes Wilson.

But this is rhetorical sleight of hand.  Wilson is applying to race and nation passages that are intended for the covenant community.  Paul is clear in his letter to the church at Rome that Israel is not saved by her DNA.  Far from boasting in lineage, Israel can only be saved through repentance and faith in Christ, just as the Gentiles.  “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him” (Romans 10:12), writes the apostle.

While there is no covenantal distinction between Israelites and Gentiles that does not imply that the differences between them cease to exist.  Would Wilson argue that family ceases to exist as a result of faith?  May it never be.  But nations are mere extensions of families and kinship groups and surely do not cease to exist as discrete entities with powers, purposes, destinies and a right to protect themselves and their posterity.  Wilson’s argument here devolves to a form of Gnosticism. 
Why does this matter?  Cultures are created when religion is poured over a people. Therefore, part of the attempt to delegitimize any faith system is by undermining it through the debasement and subversion of its culture.  The Cultural Marxist attack on Christianity launched in the 20th Century was an attack on distinctions that have been shaped by Christian culture.  Cultural Marxism attacks the church by subverting other forms of attachment and institutions that make legitimate claims on our devotion and wield countervailing cultural power. Attachments—familial, ethnic, racial, national, denominational, etc.--have been systematically undermined in our age as a means of creating a (John) Lennonesque utopia. Radicals have been given aid and comfort by the church, particularly liberal denominations but increasingly in recent decades by “conservatives” as well, who are serving unwittingly as handmaidens and midwives of revolution. 

The offensive against the church and Christendom is an attack on God-ordained differences and distinctions in the name of egalitarianism.  That assault is not always aimed directly at the church but focuses instead on the institutions, mores, traditions, and PEOPLES that have carried the faith to the four corners of the earth.  Because the Christian worldview is total egalitarianism and revolution in one sphere of life migrates to other areas. When Wilson grabs verses regarding God's promises to his covenant people and applies them to races and nations, undermining and destroying God ordained boundaries (Acts 17:26), he unwittingly serves as an agent of cultural revolution and destruction. The same people engineering the assault on nations and national identity are also crusading on behalf of abortion, gay marriage and transgenderism in the name of equality.   

The elimination of God-ordained distinctions is rooted in rebellion against God’s order and grounded upon envy.  Egalitarianism denies the very principle of order and attempts to arrange creation on its own terms. Equality thus becomes a philosophical and religious faith that demands the fidelity of every individual and institution.   In this way, when Wilson and other Christian leaders work to undermine biblical nationalism they lay a foundation for the spread of egalitarianism and pave the way for a "new man"--only it's a Marxist New Man rather than a Christian version.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Pastors Fear Rise of Robot Elders

Technology has always been one of the great drivers of the U.S. economy, constantly creating jobs and eliminating some in the process.  But now technological advances, especially in the field of robotics, are threatening to put America’s pastors on the unemployment line.

Touchbionics, a Silicon Valley robotics firm, recently announced the creation of a prototype "Pastorbot.”  “The Pastorbot will perform the typical functions of a pastor, only more quickly and efficiently” said Hyman Goldberg, CEO of Touchbionics.  “Need to dig into a passage that requires specialized knowledge of Hebrew?  We can upload a limitless number of lexicons and commentaries.  The Pastorbot can write a sermon, plan the church pastor’s conference and still have time for home visits.  When was the last time you saw a pastor doing that,” added Goldberg.  

The potential conseqences of robot elders have many pastors worried.  "Technology was great when it removed the burden of carrying bibles to church, helped us eliminate hymnals, or allowed for the collection of tithes from kiosks instead of passing the collection plate," said Clatyon Johnson, pastor of Greater Second Baptist Church of Denver.  "I even used an I-Pad to play music at a funeral, but this is getting out of hand," added Johnson.  

Johnson worries that after six years of study and toil, his services will no longer be necessary.  "I attended seminary for six years and accumulated seventy-five thousand dollars of student loan debt even though my wife worked full time all through school while I stayed home with the kids.  But now these Pastorbots are walking around quoting John Piper and Wayne Grudem.  They seem to know more about racial reconciliation than Russ Moore and even have 'Robert's Rules of Order' memorized.  How can I compete?" 

Thursday, August 13, 2015


 “The fact that immigrants aren’t white or American doesn’t matter; questions about American citizenship are secondary. Christian immigrants—and there are many—are brothers and sisters; non-Christians are a mission field, conveniently dropped on our doorstep. What’s not to like? If America is ethnically diverse, so much the better, because so much the more does it resemble that final kingdom assembled from all tribes, tongues, nations, and peoples.”~~Peter Leithart

Dr. Peter Leithart recently posted an essay on immigration at his often entertaining and frequently updated First Things blog.  In the following, I will briefly respond to various shortcomings in his argument favoring open borders. 

In the past, I penned a number of essays covering similar ground while responding to Dr. Russell Moore.  But as Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun and the immigration issue continues to be raised among not merely prominent Christian intellectuals and ethicists, but in local churches and Christian media.  Thus it is time for another treatment with substantial revisions to data and an expansion of other arguments.  Be advised that this is not a full treatment of the immigration question.  I largely ignore discussion of downstream political consequences, immigrant crime, and other cultural manifestations of large scale immigration.  

It is difficult to criticize godly, faithful, and thoughtful men like Dr. Leithart, Dr. Russell Moore, or Dr. Albert Mohler .  I seek to reply without animus or rancor, sticking directly  to the issues at hand.  Having said that, I remain convinced that they are mistaken in their interpretation and application of scripture as it pertains to immigration.  Moreover, they broadly misread the times in which we live and that misunderstanding skews the manner in which they confront socio-political issues. 

A number of years ago as I was preparing to preach a sermon, my first and hopefully last, my then pastor, for whom I was pinch hitting, explained the importance of “exegeting an audience” when attempting to apply scripture.  The point was simple: know your audience and let that play a part in the application of the biblical text.  In a similar vein, I have found that many theologians speaking to issues in the public square engage culture in a way that is unhelpful because they fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the attack on the faith and the methods of the assailants.  They fail to exegete the times in which we live. 

To this point, the assault on the church has not necessarily been frontal.   That will likely change as the enemies of our Lord become more brazen and direct.  The attacks of the last century were subtle and deceptive.  Spawned by Gramsci as he rotted in an Italian Fascist prison, cultivated by the Frankfurt School, and applied by the likes of Saul Alinsky and other purveyors of propaganda, Cultural Marxism attempts to subvert the faith of our fathers covertly.  Traditional Marxists believed that the oppressed worker class (the Proletariat) would ultimately become alienated from the Capitalist class and overthrow it through the process of revolution.  But in World War I, working class Doughboys, Tommys and Frenchmen waged war against working class Krauts in trenches lining the Western Front. 

With the evident failure of traditional Marxist theory, Marxism was reinterpreted through a cultural lens, positing that violent revolution should be eschewed in favor of a “march through the institutions.”  By capturing the organs of cultural dissemination—media, government, colleges, arts, educational and academic institutions, etc.—Cultural Marxists could effectively rearrange the cultural landscape and shape the preferences of the populace via systematic propaganda.  They could also get to the heart of a people by being the authors of its stories. 

Fundamentally, Cultural Marxism is an attack on the Christian church and Christian peoples, but the battle is covert rather than direct.  By subverting other forms of attachment and various institutions that make legitimate claims on our devotion and wield countervailing cultural power, Cultural Marxists attack Christianity sideways.  Attachments—familial, ethnic, racial, national, denominational, etc.--have been systematically undermined in our age.  These radicals have been given aid and comfort by the church, particularly liberal denominations in the 20th Century, but increasingly in recent decades by “conservatives” as well.  Part of this subterfuge involves the destruction of Euro-Christian culture via the propagation of multiculturalism and public secularism, which rapidly descends into polytheism.  An important prong of multiculturalism is the ethnic, racial, and religious transformation of historically European and Christian peoples via mass immigration and coercive secularism, often aided and abetted by Christian pluralists, particularly those in Baptist and broadly evangelical circles along with traditional liberal denominations.  It is with the tapestry of multiculturalism in the background that Christians must thoughtfully apply immigration policy.

Dr. Leithart largely ignores the economic consequences of his proposal for open borders.  Economics is often considered a technical discipline or even a “science” but properly falls within the sphere of moral philosophy and is thus an adjunct of the queen of sciences, theology.  It must therefore start with a right view of anthropology. 

Leithart begins by quoting Kevin Johnson, an immigration adviser to Barack Obama, to the effect that the nation will benefit from freer and more mobile labor.  Ironically, Leithart has gotten a good deal of mileage from critiquing the ideology of individualism. But throughout his essay he unwittingly accepts the premises of classical liberalism and assumes an individualism that makes no distinctions in terms of human duties.  Though Christianity has universal, catholic tendencies, natural attachments and duties are not to be eschewed.  Even Jesus does not preach the abolition of ethnic, religious, and social distinctions.  When asked by a Phoenician woman to heal her child, He responds, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel…It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs” (Matt. 15:24-26).  Though he relents, an obvious anticipation of His ministry to the Gentiles, He displays His feelings as a Jew.  Jesus has no intention of overturning the Law (Matt. 5:17-19), which is a transcript of God’s holiness and a pattern for ethical conduct.  It is the law-word of God that also governs our social and interpersonal interactions. 

Men have concentric circles of responsibility.  For example, I have obligations to my widowed mother that others (including the church) do not (I Timothy 5:8).  Similarly, I have duties to my wife and children that do not extend to my neighbor’s wife or, for that matter, my Christian brother.  I am liable to care for my neighbor in ways that exceed my responsibilities to complete strangers.  Likewise, I have obligations to my countrymen that are greater than my duties to the other seven billion people inhabiting Earth.  This should be clear unless we define “neighbor” in a universal way that drains the term of any practical meaning. 

Leithart says that race, ethnicity, religious affiliation and citizenship status are tertiary concerns.  But according to scripture, while we render honor and justice to all men, we have a particular responsibility to care for our own, whether in the natural family or the family of God (Gal. 6:10).  Our duties begin with our family but emanate outward in concentric circles regulated by scripture.  Many Christian commentators connect the New Testament commands to honor civil authorities (Rom. 13:1; I Peter 2:17) as extensions of the 5th Commandment.  But racial, ethnic, and national groups are likewise mere extensions of family and thus the honor due to our parents flows outward to these broader extensions of family and they are to be given preference over and against foreigners. When natural relationships are subverted by forms of universal ethics the end result is not merely ethical confusion but welfare economics and socialism.

Leithart fails to account for, though he must understand, the distortive impact of the welfare state.  Immigration policy as currently constituted is immoral as it privatizes benefits for the wealthy and socializes cost.  As such, I hope to show that it is a massive form of theft.  

Consider first some of the costs of immigration.   There are numerous economic costs connected to immigration, both legal and illegal, that Dr. Leithart simply ignores in his essay.
According to Census Bureau figures poverty rates continue to increase and the number of Americans without health insurance has reached all-time highs. Mass immigration is a significant source of these problems and data shows a growing chasm between natives and the foreign-born. For example, consider median household income between 2011 and 2012, ostensibly a period of economic recovery.  While the income of Whites increased modestly, that of Hispanic households decreased 1.1% while non-citizen household income fell by 2.5%.  Meanwhile, the poverty rate for U.S.-born Whites was 9.7%, but 25.6% among Hispanics (which is higher that the poverty rate of non-citizens, indicative of the fact that Hispanic immigrants are not climbing out of poverty). .
Because immigrants typically have limited job skills and are very poor they frequently become a burden on the American welfare state.  Per Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, in 2010, the average unlawful immigrant household received around $24,721 in government benefits and services while paying some $10,334 in taxes, generating an average annual fiscal deficit (benefits received minus taxes paid) of around $14,387 per household.  Moreover, Steve Camarota finds that welfare use among immigrants remains high over time; immigrants in the country for more than 20 years still use the welfare system at significantly higher rates than natives.
Data pertaining to health insurance is likewise shocking. In 2012, 13.0% of natives lacked insurance coverage, while 32.0% of all (legal and illegal) immigrants, and 43.4% of non-citizens do not have health coverage. Immigrants account for 27.1% all Americans without health insurance. 

In 2012 there were approximately 12.9 million immigrants and their U.S.-born children lacking health insurance, 32% of the entire uninsured populace. In 2007, 47.6 percent of immigrants and their U.S.-born children were either uninsured or on Medicaid compared to 25 percent of natives and their children. Lack of health insurance is a significant problem even for long-time foreign born residents. Among immigrants who arrived in the 1980s, 28.7 percent lacked health insurance in 2007. In short, much of the “health insurance crisis” in America is the result of surging immigration. What was the consequence? More statism, in the form of Obamacare.

Finally there is education. According to a report by FAIR, expenditures for illegal immigrants from grades K-12 costs $52 billion annually, largely absorbed by states and localities, often in very disparate ways. School districts are dropping programs and closing schools at least in part because they are paying instead to provide services to the children of non-citizens.

The global median income is $1,225 a year.  The “middle classes” of the world are living in destitution compared to the living standards of the West.  Dr. Leithart’s proposal for open borders when combined with the magnet of the welfare state would result in a fiscal catastrophe for a nation already $19 trillion dollars in debt.  It would also create a coercive and massive transfer of wealth from productive tax payers to the world’s poor.  In short, Leithart is endorsing theft on a grand scale in the name of humanitarianism and Christian charity.    

A secondary issue of economic ethics completely ignored by Leithart and most Christian proponents of unchecked immigration is the redistributive impact of mass immigration. Like much public policy the benefits of immigration are largely privatized while costs are socialized. Benefits accrue to the upper-class while costs are borne largely by those on the lower rung of the economic ladder.  Indeed, immigration is responsible for half the decrease observed in the wages of high-school dropouts.

Mention this fact to Paul Gigot or Daniel Henninger at the Wall Street Journal and you are likely to receive little more than a shoulder shrug. Some immithusiasts appear to detest their own countrymen and impute to foreigners character traits that natives so obviously lack. But Christians ought to be more discerning and wise in counting the costs and cannot be oblivious to injustices resulting from such a policy. 

The insanity of America’s immigration “debate” has been chronicled for a number of years by George Borjas, a Harvard labor economist.  Borjas is widely recognized as academia’s leading scholar on the economics of immigration.  Moreover, he is an immigrant himself, having arrived here from Cuba penniless in 1962.

One myth Borjas explodes is that immigration adds substantial wealth to the American economy.  In fact, Borjas found that the actual net benefit accruing to natives is small, equal to an estimated two-tenths of 1 percent of GDP. “There is little evidence indicating that immigration (legal and/or illegal) creates large net gains for native-born Americans,” writes Borjas.

Even though the overall net impact on natives is small, this does not mean that the wage losses suffered by some natives or the income gains accruing to other natives are insubstantial.  Borjas reviewed the wage impact of immigrants who entered the country between 1990 and 2010 and found that this cohort had reduced the annual earnings of American workers by $1,396—a 2.5% reduction. 

As low-skill immigrants have flooded the labor market, opportunities for the least skilled workers have markedly decreased and the most vulnerable Americans have seen their wages decline as a result.  Borjas estimates that immigration is responsible for half the decrease observed in the wages of high-school dropouts.  “The biggest winners from immigration are owners of businesses that employ a lot of immigrant labor and other users of immigrant labor”, writes Borjas. “The other big winners are the immigrants themselves.”  The primary losers are native citizens with minimal skills and low levels of education.

Dr. Leithart fails to reckon with an important aspect the fall--the economic fact of scarcity. Resources are not infinite. In a world of scarcity, a result of God’s curse on the earth due to Adam’s sin, human beings necessarily make choices among competing alternatives effecting the distribution of resources. Ethically speaking do seven billion people have a claim on scarce and finite American monetary and economic resources? 

In an already overburdened welfare state, do Americans have a moral imperative to import poverty and in so doing divert resources and employment opportunities from our most vulnerable citizens?  Libertarians, and quite possibly Dr. Leithart, would argue that we ought to dismantle our unbiblical welfare state.  The problem is that immigration buttresses the welfare state.  If your bathtub is overflowing, your first act isn’t to head to the basement to secure a bucket and mop.  Instead, you turn off the water and then clean up the mess.  If only libertarians and Christian immigration enthusiasts would keep that metaphor in mind.

Mass immigration also undermines covenantal thinking by exalting the individual at the expense of family, community and nation. Individuals leave behind their communities and desert their homelands rather than laboring for their improvement economically and politically. In her recent book, Adios America, Ann Coulter reported that the average IQ of Indians is 82.  Yet Mark Zuckerburg would steal India’s best and brightest, dropping them in Seattle as programmers via the H1B program to pad his already burgeoning net worth.  Do such policies create the conditions for ethical economic choices or do they reinforce unbiblical notions of individualism?  

Immigration encourages families to move to different locales which are necessarily transformed culturally, economically, and politically by their presence in large numbers. Who benefits? Perhaps the immigrant himself and possibly those individuals acquiring whatever service he may provide. But community and the ties of natural affection that are produced by commonality are systematically undermined.

Research by the influential political scientist and Bowling Alone author Robert Putnam shows that the more diverse a community, the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone.

In the face of diversity people tend to "hunker down" and surround themselves entirely with the familiar. "We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us," Putnam says.

Putnam adjusted his data for distinctions in class, income, and other variables but still reached the "shocking" conclusion that untrammeled ethnic diversity is a breeding ground of distrust that spreads like an aggressive cancer, destroying the body politic. "They don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions," said Prof Putnam. "The only thing there’s more of is protest marches and TV watching."

Putnam found that trust was lowest in Los Angeles, that heaven on earth for mulitcultists, but his findings were also applicable in South Dakota.

Mass immigration also undermines the free market, which necessarily exists as part of social framework. While that framework needs a system of law to protect property rights, enforce contracts, prosecute practitioners of fraud, etc., it is also dependent on a rudimentary level of trust among the populace. If that trust is undermined the foundation supporting the entire edifice crumbles, with the state being the institution forcefully putting the house back together.

A classical liberal like John Stuart Mill knew that free institutions are "next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities." But speaking of immigration, Putnam allows ideology rather than fact to cloud his judgment, saying "that immigration materially benefited both the 'importing' and 'exporting' societies, and that trends have 'been socially constructed, and can be socially reconstructed.'"

Leithart’s open borders proposal would necessarily demand “social reconstruction” because it would tear asunder what little remains of the social fabric.  It would  irreversibly destroy the foundations of American social order.  “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps. 11:3).

The most important question when considering the movement of people is a simple one: “Who owns the property?”  In an anarcho-capitalist social order, property is owned privately.  In this Big Rock Candy Mountain utopia envisioned by libertarian ideologues, immigration and emigration would be free—and there would be precious little of it.  Likewise in a traditional monarchy the king, as sovereign and owner of the land, has an interest in maintaining immigration policies that enhance the value of the kingdom.  It is the king who thus determines immigration policy (we’ll see scriptural examples of this pattern shortly) and had an incentive to limit immigration to those who materially benefit his kingdom.

But once the government moves from the sphere of private ownership (monarchy) to public ownership, in the guise of democracy, there are different factors at work.  Unlike monarchs, democratic rulers are mere caretakers and do not bequeath a kingdom to their progeny.  Democracies are also inherently, and unbiblically, egalitarian.  Both theoretically and in practice, we see that the migration policies of democratic states tend to be “non-discriminatory”.  It matters little whether immigrants are entrepreneurs or vagrants.  Indeed, vagrants may be preferable as they create a greater number of social problems  and tensions which government must “fix” or “manage”, thereby enhancing the immediate power of its leaders, who are largely oblivious to and unaffected by the long term consequences of their policies.  “Thus,” writes Hans Hoppe, “the United States immigration laws of 1965, as the best available example of democracy at work, eliminated all formerly existing ‘quality’ concerns and the explicit preference for European immigrants and replaced it with a policy of almost complete non-discrimination (multi-culturalism).”  The migration policy of democracies winds up negating the rights of property owners and imposing a forcible integration with the mass of immigrants being forced upon property owners who, if given the choice, would have "discriminated" in favor of other neighbors.  An open borders regime is simply the above scenario on steroids. 

Aside from these philosophical consideration, Leithart also completely ignores the biblical evidence that borders are legitimate and enforced, even in the agrarian context of the Old Testament.  When Jacob's family fled famine they traveled to Egypt and asked Pharaoh for permission to enter, "We have come to sojourn in the land … please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen" (Gen. 47:4). With the appropriate permission secured from Pharaoh’s representative, Jacob’s family, which grew into the people of Israel, became legal aliens in Egypt. In short, they were allowed into the country by the host. This scenario finds its modern equivalent in the immigrant who has legally entered a foreign land with permission and secured proper documentation to that effect.

Later in the book of Numbers, after Moses and the Israelites had fled Egypt they wanted to pass through Edom.  Moses dispatched messengers to Edom’s king with the following request to pass through their land:

“And here we are in Kadesh, a city on the edge of your territory.  Please let us pass through your land. We will not pass through field or vineyard, or drink water from a well. We will go along the King's Highway. We will not turn aside to the right hand or to the left until we have passed through your territory.”  But Edom said to him, “You shall not pass through, lest I come out with the sword against you.”  And the people of Israel said to him, “We will go up by the highway, and if we drink of your water, I and my livestock, then I will pay for it. Let me only pass through on foot, nothing more.” But he said, “You shall not pass through.” And Edom came out against them with a large army and with a strong force.  Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his territory, so Israel turned away from him. (Num. 20:16-21)

In Judges, Jephthah refers to other denials of passage the Israelites experienced while journeying to the Promised Land:

Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites,  but when they came up from Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh. Israel then sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Please let us pass through your land,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. And they sent also to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained at Kadesh.
 “Then they journeyed through the wilderness and went around the land of Edom and the land of Moab and arrived on the east side of the land of Moab and camped on the other side of the Arnon. But they did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the boundary of Moab. Israel then sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon, and Israel said to him, ‘Please let us pass through your land to our country,’  but Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory, so Sihon gathered all his people together and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel.  And the Lord, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them. So Israel took possession of all the land of the Amorites, who inhabited that country. (Judges 11:15-21)
In his book, “The Immigration Crisis”, Old Testament professor James Hoffmeir also argues that Christ’s family clearly asked for permission to enter Egypt when they fled from Herod. 

It is worth noting that even a traveler, a foreigner, had to obtain permission when moving through the territory of another nation, let alone pitching a tent, taking up residence and getting on Medicaid.  These episodes clearly demonstrate that nations could and did control their borders and determined who was allowed passage. Open borders have never existed and are certainly not endorsed by scripture.  

There are other problems with Dr. Leithart’s essay, but if you have reached this point, you are surely tired of reading.  Leithart says that while “hardly a slam-dunk policy” the open borders stance is a “serious position, worthy of better than the wacky-nut treatment it’s usually given.”  I hope that I have demonstrated that the open borders position is radical in both its ethical shortcomings and economic consequences.