TCS Daily

Tribal Politics

By Arnold Kling - April 3, 2006 12:00 AM

"Suppose you could give American high school dropouts a 1000% raise by exterminating every man, woman, and child in Latin America. Would that be the right thing to do?

No? Why not? Your answer, hopefully, is that murder is wrong, even if it financially benefits low-skilled Americans. In fact, when you put it that way, it's hard not to exclaim, 'What's so great about low-skilled Americans? Are they the master race, in whose service any crime is justified?'

OK, suppose you could give American high school dropouts an 8% raise by deporting every man, woman, and child from Latin America back to their home countries. Would that be the right thing to do?"
-- Bryan Caplan

In today's political discourse, the term "Nazi" serves no intellectual purpose. It is merely an epithet, used to indicate anger. Calling someone a Nazi is like calling someone a bleeping bleep.

For me, this creates a problem of terminology. I want to describe the beliefs of someone like George Bush, who worries about "national competitiveness" (fear the peril of Asian scientists!) and who wants No (American) Child Left Behind. I want to describe the beliefs of someone like Paul Krugman, who is worried about the wages of "our" unskilled workers, or who wants "our" health care to be paid for by taxes.

What should you call someone who wants government to provide for our education, competitiveness, and health care but whose concern about "us" stops at the border? The obvious label would be national socialist. But George Bush and Paul Krugman are not Nazis. So, I need an alternative term. Call their ideology statist-collectivist.

Transnational Libertarianism

The alternative ideology that I would propose might be called transnational libertarianism. The ideal libertarian world would have no economic borders. There would be no problem of illegal immigration, because all forms of immigration would be legal.

If transnational libertarianism were to become sufficiently popular to emerge as the ideology that determines the world's institutions, then governments would be local rather than national. Their main role would be to prevent outbreaks of violence among individuals or groups. In the nightclub of life, government would be the bouncer, not the owner or the manager or the dance instructor or the disk jockey.

Transnational libertarianism would be based on a system of individual rights, like our Bill of Rights. The purpose of individual rights is solely to protect individuals from abuse of government power. We would not have a "right to health care" or a "right to education." We would have rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association. I would like to see these individual rights made fully portable, so that freedom of movement becomes a basic right. I would like to see Hispanics free to live and work in the United States, Palestinian Arabs free to live and work in Israel, and Jews free to live and work in Palestinian territory or other Arab lands.

Individuals would have the right to choose to live under strict religious law. However, no one could be forced to live under strict religious law. Any conflict between religious law and the basic rights of the individual would be resolved in favor of the rights of the individual.

Individuals would have the right to associate only with people who have similar ethnic origins, although I believe it is in one's best interest instead to have an inclusive set of associates. What is important is that government not engage in or support ethnic discrimination.

Governments should be strong enough to protect basic rights, and no stronger. Today's national governments are too strong. A "world government" that is even stronger would be a transnational libertarian's worst nightmare. Local governments, with plenty of checks and balances, would be better. To improve accountability and reduce government over-reach, I have suggested breaking up the United States into 250 states.

Tribal Identity

I believe that people have a strong need for tribal identity. We want to belong to a group that has common customs and rituals that distinguish the group from other groups. One sees this phenomenon at work in all forms of human social organizations, from ethnic groups to sports fans to religions to corporate departments to professional associations.

Tribal identity motivates people to help others. People naturally join clubs, religious organizations, and other groups. In the absence of strong national governments, these associations could share resources in order to alleviate problems among their members, satisfying the needs that today are answered by the welfare state.

Tribal identity is a mixed blessing. For those people who belong to groups where norms include resistance to work, school, or responsibility, one could argue that tribal identity is a handicap.

Tribal identity is used to motivate people to engage in violence against outsiders. Tribal identity is one of the reasons that we need bouncers in the nightclub of life.

Politicians in nation-states attempt to use tribal identity to foster cohesion. In my view, they do this all too well. One result is that statist-collectivist ideology has a deep hold on most of us. Often, as in the case of Paul Krugman's recent writing on immigration, tribal identity is mixed with folk Marxism.

Another consequence of tribal identity is war. Statist collectivism elevates tribal war to a colossal scale. However, pacifism is no refuge in a world where violence based on tribal identity is often unchecked and many individual thugs as well as mass movements are prepared to trample individual rights.

The Internet Example

I do not expect the world to move toward transnational libertarianism in the foreseeable future. Right now, other ideologies predominate. Islamofascism, an ideology of tribal domination, is very prominent. Transnational progressivism, which favors world government and socialism, is the opposite of transnational libertarianism. And then there is statist collectivism, which is far more popular than transnational libertarianism.

I am cautiously hopeful that the trend might be away from statist collectivism and toward transnational libertarianism. This hope is based on the Internet.

First, the Internet itself serves to demonstrate the workability of an institution that relies relatively heavily on individual rights and responsibilities and relatively little on national government. On the Internet, borders tend to be highly porous, and in fact this is contributing to the increased porousness of borders in general, as is illustrated by the phenomenon of overseas outsourcing of service work.

Second, the Internet provides a medium that can be used to counter statist-collectivist propaganda. The mass-market media of the twentieth century were easily and naturally drawn into the service of politicians with statist-collectivist agendas. The Internet has allowed other voices to challenge the mainstream media, and perhaps some day this will challenge the hegemony of mainstream politicians.

My point is not that we can expect soon to see transnational libertarianism put into practice. However, I do think that it represents a more positive vision for society than statist collectivism. I think that with the medium of the Internet available, those of us who believe in transnational libertarianism are better able to articulate our views. As the Internet continues to take hold, it will become more difficult to dismiss libertarianism than was the case during the era dominated by mass media.

The Immigration Issue

Back in the real world, the immigration issue raises some concerns. First, there is the issue of assimilation. My idea of an assimilated immigrant is someone with a strong commitment to the Bill of Rights, separation of powers, and federalism. My opinion is that immigrants who are fleeing from ethnic cleansing or political repression are more likely to assimilate, because with a first-hand experience of tyranny they can really appreciate American liberty and ideals. I would not want to see economically-motivated immigrants or guest workers crowd out the more desperate refugees from other parts of the world.

Another concern I have with either immigration or guest workers is reconciliation with our welfare state. We do not want immigration or guest work to be a way to extract benefits from the welfare state, such as Medicaid or public education. But I think we want guest workers to pay taxes. One approach, which is rather harsh, would be to tell guest workers that they have to pay taxes that help support Social Security, Medicaid, and public schools, but they are not allowed to obtain benefits from any of these programs.

If we lived in a transnational libertarian utopia, the issue of immigration policy would be simple. Open borders would be the right approach. There would be no concern with immigrants coming to take advantage of our welfare state, because we would not have one.

But we do not live in a transnational libertarian utopia. For now, immigration policy must cater to the inclinations of national socialists.

Arnold Kling is an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute and author of Learning Economics.



Transnational libertarianism
Once in a great while Arnold will come up with a good idea. If we believe that globalism is the way the world economy should be going, there is no justification for enforcing national borders that restrict the flow of labor.

The world economy has three components: capital, labor and goods. Currently we have established the desirability of the unimpeded flow of capital and of goods across national borders. What is so sacrosanct about labor?

With labor moving across borders manufacturers would no longer have to move their factories to Asia-- Asia could come to them. It would be an exercise in Social Darwinism, where the most competitive workers would survive and the rest could move where they pleased.

Citizenship could be granted on a renewable basis, like drivers' livenses. Too many points off on your record-- like felony convictions, long stretches of unemployment, etc-- and your papers could be revoked. Likewise any individual speaking basic English who could show, say, a three year record of employment and no criminal record, could be sworn in as "one of us".

Noncitizens wouldn't have to move, but they wouldn't be able to vote. They could volunteer in the armed services and have their privileges restored.

One important corollary of this plan is that companies would have to pay taxes where they work. They couldn't have 100 percent of their plant in the states and somehow be incorporated in Bermuda or the Caymans.

Defending US Borders is Justified
"there is no justification for enforcing national borders that restrict the flow of labor."

I disagree.
1) The US Government should(is required by Constitution to) defend US borders in order to prevent terrorists, criminals and other hostiles from entering the US.
2) The flow of labor should be negotiated within the infrastructure of trade agreements, and be subject to security clearance.

Sovereign Individuals
This books outlines part of the concept in that the internet will permit some to live where ever they wish and still earn income from a profession.
Switzerland is competeing, or was, by having an income tax ceiling. I noticed the founder of IKEA lives in Switzerland. (Why not Sweeden?)
Why should only the wealthy have the option to live in whatever tax environment they wish?

Saudi Arabia part way there
In some respects, Saudia Arabia is partially on the path Kling describes.
Within compound walls, nearly any lifestyle is possible, and probably is there.

Open Borders
If the USA opened its borders to all with valid pasports, no criminal history and no diseases, and did not restrict their employment or business opportunites, how would thier home countries respond?
Certainly some would restrict thier emmigration while others, we could hope, would provide incentives for these people to stay and prosper at home.
The later would be win-win for the USA and for those countries.

A better definition of "Tribal Identity"
I disagree with your use of "tribes" to include all forms of human "association" whether voluntary or not. I use the term "tribe" only to refer to a group of people who self identify with characteristics which are not chosen: eg. race, ethicity, lefthandedness, sexual orientation.

A libertarian is essentially an individualist who respects anyone's "identity" following these principles:

1. First and foremost he respects and values you for your shared humanity. This is primary. However:

2. He judges you by the morality of your individual choices and actions whether good or bad: Do you use or advocate force in human relations or not? How do you choose to lead a productive life? All choices are made by individuals. Your life choices define your essential individual "identity" (i.e. distinguishes you from humanity in general).

3. If you celebrate the cultural heritage of your ancestors by wearing kilts or dreadlocks or playing the zither, that's great, but that does not define your essential identity for him. If you believe what your ancestors believed just because they were your ancestors, he is not impressed.

4. He gives you no credit or debit for any aspect of you which is an accident of birth (i.e. over which you had no choice): your skin color, nose size, lefthandedness .... whatever. These are merely the genetic and geographic history of your "tribe".

People define their own primary "identity" by what they think is most significant about themselves.
Identifying yourself primarily by the individual life choices you make is best called "individualism".
Identifying yourself primarily by your race or ethnicity is best called "racism" or "tribalism". This is not a basic human need. It is an ethical mistake and the source of most human conflict in history.

How about Mugabe?
A perfect example of tribal politics is Mugabe's Zimbabwe. Those people of his tribe survive. Those in the other tribe are just starved to death. It is a political way to remove one's enemies.

This libertarian
"2. He judges you by the morality of your individual choices and actions whether good or bad: Do you use or advocate force in human relations or not? How do you choose to lead a productive life? All choices are made by individuals. Your life choices define your essential individual "identity" (i.e. distinguishes you from humanity in general)."

I don't care if you lead a productive life, just don't ask me to pay for your mistakes, without expecting to change your behaviour if I take pity on you.
And your rights stop at the point where they affect my rights, and vice versa.

Stupid Libertarianism
One of the greatest crosses to bear for any rational libertarian is the guys who want to make great changes in current practice with (at best) little transition and resort to cheap name calling of even potential allies who aren't as "pure" as them. I call this stupid libertarianism. Now Arnold Kling doesn't usually drink from that kool aid bowl but this time it seems he's made an exception. Fisking of the individual facets to follow underneath this comment.

Income adjustment isn't the driving force behind restrictionist argument
If the net effect of restricting illegal immigration was a 2% drop in income to poor americans, I think you'd find that immigration restrictionist sentiment wouldn't change a whit. The intensity might go down but most people against the current porousnous of the border would still be against it.

Thus the whole top 3 paragraphs become nonsensical with a little dispassionate thought. Propose to increase the minimum wage by 8% or even better increase the EITC to add 8% to poor incomes and you'll have an entirely different political coalition in favor and against.

The idea that poor citizens are leading around this massive restrictionist bloc by the nose just doesn't stand up to any reasonable critical thought. Something else is going on, something that is entirely missed by the "stupid libertarian" faction.

"Islamofascism" an ideology of tribal domination? You gotta admit, The author is creative.
Islam is a religion and fascism is a sociopolitical system based on capitalism where government and corporations are intertwined. So the term “islamofascism” does not really make any sense. I do not see any sociopolitical fascist system in the Islamic world, except perhaps Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. But I am not familiar enough with their political systems to comment.

Can someone help me out here?

"Transnational progressivism" is a new one on me too. There is nothing passive about the United Nations unless, of course, the major participating nations are passive.

But looking toward the end of the last century, this was definitely not the case. The US, in particular, was engaged in UN police actions. Perhaps the UN can be classified as passive under the present administration. But their days are numbered as right and left both turn against them for shaming America.

lack of border enforcement - THE REAL REASON!
The idea that poor citizens are leading around this massive restrictionist bloc by the nose just doesn't stand up to any reasonable critical thought. Something else is going on, something that is entirely missed by the "stupid libertarian" faction.

Indeed something else IS going on, and it explains quite nicely the abject refusal of the US government to enforce our immigration laws and control our borders.

Please download and read the PDF document at this link:

This link is to a "task force report" on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations. Here is an excerpt from the report:

The Council-sponsored Task Force applauds the announced "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America," but proposes a more ambitious vision of a new community by 2010 and specific recommendations on how to achieve it.

Pointing to increased competition from the European Union and rising economic powers such as India and China in the eleven years since NAFTA took effect, co-chair Pedro C. Aspe, former Finance Minister of Mexico, said, "We need a vision for North America to address the new challenges." The Task Force establishes a blueprint for a powerhouse North American trading area that allows for the seamless movement of goods, increased labor mobility, and energy security.

"We are asking the leaders of the United States, Mexico, and Canada to be bold and adopt a vision of the future that is bigger than, and beyond, the immediate problems of the present," said co-chair John P. Manley, Former Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. "They could be the architects of a new community of North America, not mere custodians of the status quo."

What this sounds like to me is a North American "superstate" on the order of the European Union! Interestingly, nobody seems to have asked the citizens of the United States whether they want this plan for their future or not. It will merely be "implemented" by political elites with agendas that are not loyal to the United States of America as a nation state!

Don't believe me? Then do a Google search on the phrase "North American Community" and read the articles on the Council on Foreign Relations website.

It's all there in print, exactly what they propose to do by 2010, apparently whether the public likes it or not.

So why enforce borders when in 4 years you plan to all but eliminate them??

Baby Boomers
Great idea to eliminate the borders.
How many millions of baby boomers will be retiring in the next 15 years?
What better place to go than sunny Mexico! (Many Europeans are retiring in Costa Rica.)
All the Mexicans need do is change thier laws allowing foreign ownership of property and Americans will invade Mexico.

The term is only used by outsiders to describe Islamic radicals. It is generally used to describe a totalitarian, Islamic, nationalist movement. "Fascist" is used both because of the intertwined nature of religion and government and because of the violent anti-semitism associated with it.

Here is the Wikipedia entry for it:

No Sunshine
Once again, Kling proves that his head is so far and firmly planted where the sun doesn't shine that when he coughs -----

Of course, roy-bean will disagree, but then, on his part "it is all sound and fury; signifying nothing."

I'm outta here!

Restrictionists are neither ***** nor collectivist-socialists as a defining trait
***** like exercise, does that make every gym a nest of 4th Reich sympathizers? Restrictionists can be in favor of small government, large government, and various political, economic, and social arrangements. One policy preference generally doesn't make for either a nazi or a collectivist/statist unless you're among those that have decided that any deviation from ideological purity is a grave sin in the church of libertariansim.

Collectivist/statists are looters who feed off of the productive and destroy free systems to further their lust for power. Immigration restrictionists don't have any position per se on state power whatsoever. They would like an orderly border where those who get in do so legally and they are overwhelmingly concerned that the illegal and legal numbers admitted are straining our current systems. You can believe in a pretty small government and hold that view on immigration.

ideal libertarian economics would have borders
Unless libertarianism is to be consigned to the happy fantasyland of utopian dreamers, we have to make room for the reality that people do stupid things. They do it all the time and are unlikely to break such a longheld habit no matter what system is adopted. People will run ponzi schemes, they will catch fire and suck in huge amounts of money before their inevitable collapse. Allowed to run long enough, the collapse can econoically depress a pretty large area. Without economic borders, the potential growth of economic pathologies is far less limited and we'd end up in a worse world for it.

Now the nature of those borders might or might not be geographic in an ideal libertarian world but they certainly would exist for the protection of the general population from the foolish enthusiasms which will strike any crowd once in awhile. To deny human nature is just stupid libertarianism.

Thanks So even Wikipedia says that it is a misused term
The "term can be highly offensive, and many argue that the comparison is inaccurate and merely a political epithet"

The wiki goes on to state that "critics view it as an oxymoron and a rhetorical device or propaganda. Juan Cole, professor of modern Middle East and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, argues that the term "Islamofascism" is offensive and tantamount to hate speech, because it is a desecration that is profoundly insulting to Muslims."

So let see, racist "hate speech". Doens't that come close to describing another WWII idiology?

This may be hard to believe
But I find nothing to disagree with here.

Maybe a few picyune details, but nothing important.

The closest I come to disagreement is that I agree with taBonfils that we have to come up with a mechanism for reconciling security interests with free movement of people.

idle question
marjon has an interesting point, which when combined with Roy's statement about paying taxes, gets even more interesting.

Let's presuppose a company making software, so they have no "plant". Because of the interet, the members of the "company" live all over the world. Where does the company get taxed?

definition of tribe
I disagree that the term "tribe" must imply some kind of physical identification.

Look to the tribes of North America. Typically, the only way to differentiate between tribes living close together, was through social means, usually clothes or some form of identification. There was enough genetic sharing between the "tribes" that there physical appearances always remained close. These tribes were always willing to adopt individuals who had proven themselves worthy, regardless of physical appearance.

I don't see Kling making any kinds of demand regarding immeadiate transition from what we got, to what he's describing. I didn't see any discussion regarding transition at all.

I also don't see any cheap name calling. I see some labeling, but no name calling.

who's agin it.
I see only two groups opposed to wide open immigration.
Those to whom current security needs trumps everything else.
And those who are very vocal in how immigration hurts wages.

Just who are these mysterious "others" to whom you allude?

now that qualifies as a cogent counter argument

Economic discontinuities matter
The discontinuity in economic legislation between Mexico and the US matters. The cure can either be that Mexico reforms its laws and conditions improve there or that mexicans leave Mexico and enter the US. One can be an immigration restrictionist and want the US' laws to move closer to Mexico's or for Mexico's laws to move more toward the US'. In either case, the reduction in economic legislation difference will reduce the impulse to migrate and the restrictionist is happy.

When a frenchman or japanese immigrant cross the border, the transition cost is much less than when a romanian or mexican cross because the culture shock of going from the 3rd world to the 1st matters. All things being equal, it would be a good thing for the laws of Mexico or Romania to become freer. Mexico, having the option of either reforming its own legislation or exporting the workers it chooses to keep unemployed with its economic system has chosen to thrust an enormous burden on the USA. That we can make lemonade from these lemons doesn't mean that today, right now, they aren't lemons. It is not right that another country can force us to make investments, even if the investments will pay off. This is just another form of economic statism, imposed internationally by the Mexican government. Unfortunately, the stupid libertarians never seem to protest this form of forced investment.

No cheap name calling?
If I could edit my comment, I'd pull out the bit about transitions. While it is a hallmark of stupid libertarianism, Kling doesn't go so far. You have to be willfully blind to not see the name calling, though. By proceeding as he's done he's created an association between collectivism/statism and naziism and slapped both labels onto the immigration restrictionists.

One can believe in a tighter border and simultaneously a much smaller government with much greater individual freedom. To tar the small government restrictionists with the pejorative label statist or collectivist is just not right.

Tribalism Or Community
I would argue that this business about Tribal identities is cynical to the extreme. What is missed by Arnold's column here is the injustice wrought on a community by large inflows of those not in the community.

If a community does exist, there are principles of justice that are in operation regarding that community and the other communities to which it is adjacent.

One of those principles is that one does not enter the community without permission from the community. And one does not take from the community without first being accepted into the community and giving to that community. This is not tribalism or national socialism, it is justice as it pertains to the community. It is how the burdens and benefits within the community which are imposed upon the members of the community are upset by the unauthorized inflow of non-community members.

This upset of the balance within the community has more consequences than just economic ones. It has consequences for the culture of the community and the very survival of the community.

To say that this is tribalism and that we are really on some idealist path towards transnational liberalism is to completely misunderstand or ignore the nature of community and the issue of justice that are entailed by the establishment of a community.

Idealism (whether it be transnational liberalism) or some other utopian political vision is to be regarded with deep suspicion.

Solialist: A control freak with a gun!!!

Easy answer
Such "companies" consist only of the contents of people's brains. Therefore they are taxed in whatever jurisdictions the principals reside in. A partnership where one partner lived in Hong Kong, one in London and one in California would be taxed 33-33-33.

This presupposes, of course, a lot of comity between nations. Right now the IRS would be unlikely to trade info with, say the Caymans regarding the tax ID's of individuals or corps. Corporate tax law currently is an unworkable mess, and one that would be incredibly difficult to overhaul even if Congress weren't being bribed to err in the direction of gross inequity.

Small businesses normally make up the tax burden the big boys don't have to pay. It's not a good way to run a country. (IMO)

This whole topic raises some questions
Isn't labor an asset that we should want?
Wasn't NAFTA supposed to send all our jobs south so people wouldn't need to come north for jobs?
Why is the Mexican economy unable to provide sufficient jobs?
Would the problems of border control, illegal immigration and the Mexican economy be solved by offering them Statehood and adding another star to our flag?

such a thing as evil
Juan Cole is not a good authority. He tends to defend the most vile and radical ideologies while criticizing America.

Look at what Bin Laden and other Muslim militants espouse. Come up with a realistic description of it. Someone will accuse you of "hate speech." But don't let such accusers bully you into denying the reality of what you see.

I would think the taxes would be based on what each person got from the company. Whether it be straight pay, pay plus bonuses, pay plus dividends.

I could be blind
or you could be seeing things that aren't there.

Right. They would pay personal taxes on their pay, bonuses, dividends and perhaps benefits and allowances. But the corporation they formed would also pay corporate taxes. And that was the point I was addressing above-- where does the corp, being a disembodied entity-- pay its taxes?

The issue is identity based on life choices not accidents of birth
I did not say that "tribe" necessarily involves physical characteristics. Many tribes define themselves in ethnic, cultural, language, geographic or religious terms. Before the birth of the US, virtually all states, and most states still today, were formed around historical "tribes" based on intermarriage of an extended group of people related by birth.

My point is that this world view, that you identify and stick with your birth tribe, is primitive and precivilized.

The enlightened view is to discard accidents of birth as a basis for grouping human beings for any important purpose. The fact that so many people still do this with themselves and others is a sign of how uncivilized humanity remains.

Tribes - Stribes
Forget this business about "tribes." We live in a civil condition under the rule of law. Under a rule of law there are principles that govern the actions within a community and between communities. Uncontrolled immigration violates those principles.

Until a community is defined on a larger geographic basis, the boundaries of a country define a community at least to some extent.

How much power would Mexico's elite have to give up to become a state?
There is a lot of money and power to be had in the sovereignty game.

taxation and community
Taxation is an incident to being in a community. One pays taxes and gets some say in how burdens and benefits are distributed in the community. Your question underscores the fact that we have not identified a way to have a community that has no geographic boundaries - at least not without rampant unjustice in the form of freeloading on the community.

I don't see anyone advocating that people stick with their birth tribes.

Calling the kettle black
"Juan Cole is not a good authority. He tends to defend the most vile and radical ideologies while criticizing America."

Of course, when defending the USA nowadays, one does defend the right of pre-emptive invasion of other sovereign nations, the right to torture prisoners and the right to hold people incommunicado in black holes, bereft of any sort of right of redress or access to law. So let's not get too crazy on that high horse.

In terms of general principles of jurisprudence, one would tend to want to hold a nation proclaiming itself the most highly evolved democracy the world has ever known, the upholder of the rule of law, the world's policeman, etc. to a higher standard than one would expect from gaggles of criminals and crazies, wild-hair militias and just plain angry people who resent our presence in their land.

So the answer? Torture them in basements where the liberal press can't see what we're doing. We can call it something snappy, like democrato-fascism.

Not a lot, since they already have to political power necessary to get elected to state and local offices. Pretty much the offices that they now control.

Over time, as the FBI et. al. start looking for corruption, they would loose portions of their income, but these would be made up for as a growing economy boosts other portions of their income.

That said, I doubt most of them would appreciate no longer being top dogs, even if their total effective power did not change that much.

I object to the use of the word "tribes" and the phrase "tribal politics." It is prejudicial to the issue.

Puerto Rico
Think it would be any different than Puerto Rico?

Good question
"Why is the Mexican economy unable to provide sufficient jobs?"

After the Revolution the government broke up the large old latifundias (large landholdings) to create ejidos-- commenly held tracts to provide sustenance for small farmers. This worked fine until NAFTA.

Fine print in the paperwork allowed massive government ag subsidies to major corporations, which enabled them to dump commodities like wheat, chickens and even corn in Mexico at below the prices small farmers needed to survive. So they left their plows and moved north to provide for their families.

These subsidies grow ever larger, whether it's a D or an R in the White House. And it's all legal under NAFTA rules. So all those "illegals" out there? They haven't come to take OUR jobs, they've come to take THEIR jobs.

I have several thoughts on several issues like this. They are over at

Everyone is invited to come over and leave comments. I'd love to start some conversations on all the issues I raise on my blog.

Dr. Troy Camplin, Ph.D.

All ethnological research shows that humans are deeply, fundamentally tribal, that it is a deep human need. I wish as much or more than most that this were not true, but it is. THere is no gettting rid of human tribalism. Thus, we have to figure out what to do about it. What one can do is replace racial and ethnic tribalism with voluntary forms of tribalism. If one is a member of a church, various clubs, a school, a group of friends, a group of people who hang out at Starbucks, etc., then one is a member of multiple tribes of various stripes which make things like racism more difficult. Especially when there is little overlap. Are you really going to hate someone who doesn't hang out at Starbucks? Or who is a fan of some other sports team? People still do it with religion, that is true, but there are even there attempts at interfaith dialogue. Much such dialogue takes place at Starbucks, bars, clubs, etc. The key is to make any "tribal hatred" into a ritual -- such as rooting for or against a certain sports team. We can ritualistically hate the Dallas Cowboys or the Philadelphia Eagles, and do so in such a way that harms nobody, and is easily dissipated or blown off.

SOme recent work has even shown that human tribalism abides by a 150-member rule. We optimally deal with 150 people. Churches are optimally this large. Business or corporate departments are optimally this large. The number of people you can name is optimally 150 (try it). By becoming engaged in a variety of tribes, we are able to expand this somewhat, to allow us to have more complex societies. Which, in turn, erases the problems of tribalism, while maintaining the benefits of them (not the least of which are psychological, since human beings are social mammals, after all -- we are neither isolated individuals like tigers nor social insects like ants.

All interesting
but so what.

It was a specific response to a specific claim that human beings are not naturally tribalist. Context is important

This libertarian meets agreement.
Marjon, I am no libertarian, but if I were, you'd be my kind of libertarian.

Tribalism-hey, makes sense. Great input.
A very interesting and informative input on the magic of 150. Witout further investigation, I suspect that it is very true, and suspect it agrees with my experience. If you have time, please give the citations.

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