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Dennis: Where in the World Are We Going

Bill Dennis

in the World Are We Going?
Sunday Morning Session
The Philadelphia Society National Meeting
Philadelphia, April 2, 2006

I began with two extemporaneous points that were designed
to be commentaries on some of the Saturday talks: 

  1. Whatever
    one may think of the Iraq war, our military has fought a magnificent
    operation. For a military to be great it must be used once in awhile, as
    awful as that is, and the young officers now serving in Iraq are now gaining
    the experience necessary to provide us a superb officer corps for decades to
  2. Our
    economy is booming—not on the brink of collapse—if we cannot do what we
    need to do in the world today with this economy, we will never be able to
    anything at all, for as a nation we are rich, entrepreneurial, creative, and

I then planned to defend globalization and a greater and
more open policy of immigration along the following lines:

Conservatives are supposed to be the party of
realists—those who know the limits of policy and possibility, and make the
best of whatever situation they find themselves in (which for us humans is
always bound to be problematic). If Thomas Sowell is right about a conflict of
visions, then we are the party of constrained vision. 

But some conservatives seem to have come a bit unhinged
over the globalization of the world’s economy and culture and the great
contemporary movement of largely Hispanic immigrants into the United States.
Rather than taking realistic positions they seem to have adopted false hopes, as
if they were setting out to sweep the beaches clean with a broom. 

Increased globalization of the movement of peoples, ideas,
cultures, and goods has been gathering speed for several hundred years. Only the
accelerated pace of globalization since WWII is new. Barring global warfare or
some other cataclysmic event this movement will continue and that is largely a
development to be welcomed not condemned. 

–For business, competition will be unrelenting 

–For Americans generally, we continually will be confronted with new
ideas, tastes, and cultural mores. Holding on to the familiar and tried and true
will be increasingly difficult. 

–At some level of discomfort we will find ourselves associating on a
daily basis with people from around the world with customs, faiths, and
backgrounds, which differ on some margins significantly from those of our
European heritage and some of which we may not like much. Nevertheless, this
globalization cannot be thwarted, but only accommodated. 

–For friends of liberty, globalization will provide some particular
puzzles, for while the Environment for Liberty, slowly gained over the ages, is
the only environment that provides the prosperity and the life opportunities
that the peoples of the earth seem to desire, liberty itself remains in many
quarters unpopular and on the defensive. (Even in America the future of liberty
is not secure.) 

Only those nations prepared to embrace the possibilities of
globalization will thrive, and through their successes have the better hope of
protecting and enhancing the positive aspects of their nation’s
characteristics and traditions. Since America is a nation of immigrants,
multi-cultural in fact and tradition, populous, creative, growing, and since we
are also a relatively free society, we should be more able to meet the
challenges of globalization that any other society on earth. But our success is
not guaranteed. We need to move quickly and dramatically on a number of fronts
if we are to assure that the 21st Century will be another century of
American achievement and dynamism. 

We need to adopt policies that improve the competitive position of
American business—in short hand, these policies can be reduced to two—lower
taxes, limited and more flexible regulation. 

Move swiftly and unilaterally to abolish international barriers to trade.
So-called “fair trade” developments will never occur and multi-national
reductions in trader barriers are slow and cumbersome. Let the other nations tag
along behind. With lower taxes and fewer regulations our people will quickly
adapt to a real regime of free trade. 

Reform pensions, social security, and medical entitlements to encourage
the personal responsibility and freedom that individuals will need to cope with
new world situations and to create new pools of savings to fuel American global
economic expansion. 

Free the American children from the union education monopoly so they will
be prepared to compete successfully with ambitious youth from other parts of the

Abolish death taxes so that families can pass on property over the
generations and thus carve out private refuges and cultural havens from the
economic turmoil of the Globalization Age. This is the economic policy necessary
for the Burkean notion of obligation across generations to thrive and flourish. 

Open our borders to all comers who are educated, ambitious, and eager to
participate in our exciting future possibilities. (more on this below). 

Stop fighting expensive battles that can’t be won such as drug wars, UN
reform, illegal immigrants, and crusades for environmental purity. 

Above all work to bring the ideals of liberty to the four corners of the
earth and make friends of liberty our friends wherever we find them. 

Specifically on immigration, I would like to make the
following points:

Be realistic. We
aren’t going to build a wall or a fence between the U. S. and Mexico. It will
cost too much; it will be litigated to death; it cannot pass an environmental
impact statement; and if finished would only be partially effective.

We probably can and maybe should increase the Border Patrol
somewhat, but the supply of such forces is limited and we may need the sorts of
people who like this kind of work more elsewhere (such as in the regular

We are not going to ship 11 million illegals back to
Mexico. Again due process, moving personal stories, and the sheer injustice of
such an effort, and the size of the project will make this an impossibility. 

So what can be done?  Conservatives
above all people should know that some laws are bad laws and insisting on
enforcing bad laws is bad policy. 

So, give everyone currently in the US a green card.

Increase the number of legal entry permits.

Aggressively seek out the well educated and ambitious and encourage them
to come to America.

Change the policy towards Cuba—instead of dry feet meaning asylum, say
anyone who manages to get past the Cuban three-mile limit gets a free pass.
Empty out Castro’s island prison.

Insist on English only.

Make citizenship (as opposed to work permits) harder to obtain.

Protect legal voting; crack down on voter fraud.

Free up  international trade
so that more opportunities will exist in “home” countries and reduce the
immigrant stream. For example, end the tariff on sugar imports.

Tell Mexico, in no uncertain terms, that it cannot continue for another
100years on our border as a failed state from which its own people flee. Our
patience is limited. If Mexico will not do better and continues to encourage
both emigration and irredentism we will have to consider new border arrangements
and configurations.

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