Libertarian Presidential Candidates on Coronavirus and Open Borders

I was one of the panelists tossing questions at Libertarian Party presidential candidates at the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvanias convention on March 7.  Kudos to 3L Productions for making a superb video of the debate. Larry Sharpe did a great job of moderating the panel.  I asked Sharpe earlier in the day whether I should wear my railroad engineer cap during my luncheon speech.  He replied, “Yes because the hat represents locomotion – which symbolizes freedom of movement.” Best damn reason I’ve heard yet for wearing that hat. And a hat tip to the other panelists – Jim Babb and Hesham El-Meligy.

42 minutes into the video, I asked the candidates, in light of their support for “open borders”: “There is an absolute stampede as far as public fear over the COVID-19 virus right now. How is it possible to reconcile open borders with public health on a crisis like this?”

Vermin Supreme gave the first and most direct answer: “I don’t know.”

Adam Kokesh pointed out that this is an “overblown threat.” He said, “Freedom of movement is not the threat because government is not effective” at dealing with problems anyhow. Kokesh also observed that “the government officials responding to the crisis were protected from accountability.” He also called for transparency.

Jacob Hornberger stressed out that America had “open borders” between states. “Everybody is accepting that this is part of the crisis, that this is part of the life process – but nobody domestically is saying let’s have a police state to protect us” from the other parts of the U.S., Hornberger declared. He concluded, “It seems to me that the same principles would apply internationally.”

Jo Jorgensen replied, “Is the corona virus 20 times more deadly than the flu? Ya, but it’s still only 2.3% deadly.” Jorgensen added that she still favored open borders and would not “restrict access” – except for people that were positively carrying a dangerous illness.

Ken Armstrong stated that it was a “weak epidemic” and “we can fight it through education.”

UPDATE 3/27/20: The assumption that the 50 states do not restrict citizens from other states in response to COVID-19 bit the dust today.  Rhode Island began a massive crackdown on people arriving with New York license plates.   Bloomberg reports, “National Guard members will be stationed at the T.F. Green airport, Amtrak train stations and at bus stops. The citizen-soldiers will be following up with people at local residences.”  Also, “On Saturday, the National Guard will help [police] conduct house-to-house searches to find people who traveled from New York and demand 14 days of self-quarantine.”

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7 Responses to Libertarian Presidential Candidates on Coronavirus and Open Borders

  1. Shane Skekel March 25, 2020 at 9:12 pm #

    Allow me to be frank, I used to support the US-Mexico border wall, but no longer.
    Reason One: The cost will exceed the benefits, especially considering the nature of government programs.
    Reason Two: They can always find a way in, meaning illegals are fungible.
    Reason Three: It will be “We, the People” who will pay for it, and the likes of Tim Pool and Tarl Warwick will find their (and our) Federal Tax Bills skyrocketing.
    Reason Four: Why should anyone take FAIR and The CIS seriously? Considering their histories of exaggerating crime and welfare usage statistics of legal immigrants, there’s hardly any reason to. (I often refer to the Center for Immigration Studies as The Center for Exaggerating Statistics.)
    There’s better ways to deal with illegal immigration, and if people living on the border want to fence it off on their own time and money, it’s their choice.

  2. Starchild March 27, 2020 at 2:40 pm #

    Jacob Hornberger makes a point here that I often make – the U.S. has mostly open borders now. Most cities, states, and counties have zero Big Government controls restricting movement between them, and the system works. The only places in the country that borders are not open, and not coincidentally the only places where you hear about border issues causing problems, disrupting lives and costing taxpayers large amounts of money, are on the periphery. There are no good reasons to treat these areas differently – the double standard is driven by nationalism and xenophobia.

  3. MrLiberty March 27, 2020 at 3:52 pm #

    But Hornberger at least puts WELFARE as the first policy plank he covers on this website. It is more than fine to talk about free movement of people, but you can’t simply leave giant piles of money on the table for them to STEAL as they move about. Free schooling, medical, housing, and so, so much more….MUST END for everyone, LONG before we simply throw open the borders.

    • Starchild March 27, 2020 at 4:35 pm #

      You seem to be overlooking the fact that border controls are also a form of welfare – they are subsidies to people who want that kind of government spending.

      People who want border controls should pay for them themselves, and do it on their own private property, not interfere with freedom of movement across the commons. Everybody else doesn’t necessarily share their priorities and see such controls as desirable, let alone want to be forced to assume part of the burden of paying for them.

      Various states, cities and counties often have taxpayer-funded benefits not available in other states, cities, or counties in the U.S., but there are still open borders between these jurisdictions and it’s not really a problem.

      As our Libertarian Party candidates generally recognize, national border controls are violations of individual rights which are incompatible with libertarianism and just another form of Big Government.

  4. Bill Stewart March 27, 2020 at 10:04 pm #

    Maybe I should have voted for Bumper rather than Jo, of the two candidates I know well and who were on the California ballot.

    Ken is dangerously wrong; this is a serious threat, death rates in China have been higher than 2.3%, and it’s an uncontrolled spread unless we control it.

    I can’t tell if Adam is saying the threat of the virus is overblown (it’s not, it’s underestimated), or if the threat that Them Furriners are going to get us all killed if we have open borders is an overblown threat (yes, it is), and I like the rest of his answer.

    Vermin’s “I don’t know” is an honest answer and not everybody knows everything about every issue, and he’d at least take the responsibility to find people who do if he had the office. I wish the current occupant of the White House would ever be than honest.

  5. Jim March 27, 2020 at 10:13 pm #

    UPDATE: 3/27/20: The assumption that the 50 states do not restrict citizens from other states in response to COVID-19 bit the dust today.  Rhode Island began a massive crackdown on people arriving with New York license plates.   Bloomberg reports, “National Guard members will be stationed at the T.F. Green airport, Amtrak train stations and at bus stops. The citizen-soldiers will be following up with people at local residences.”  Also, “On Saturday, the National Guard will help [police] conduct house-to-house searches to find people who traveled from New York and demand 14 days of self-quarantine.”

  6. Richard Kahn April 6, 2020 at 10:48 am #

    There is a middle ground here and it is the most simple and cost-effective at least in the short term. The problem is restricting people asking other’s immigration status. I suggest we put the burden on those nursing at the federal teat whether they are citizens or not. If people come to this country under an “open-borders” program, at the very least they are consumers. As soon as a person makes a claim on any taxpayer-funded program, that program has the right to see proof of citizenship. This includes education, health care, and welfare. Empower schools to demand immigration status. Even though schools are largely local and state funded, they get federal funds. Hospital ERs should be expected to treat all comers for life-threatening illness or injury, but as soon as they are stable, they either pay or if they are non-citizens, leave the country. Empower people to “just say no.”

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