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Dismantle the International Checkpoints

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Yesterday, I was returning to the United States from Canada on the train, which is my favorite form of travel. As I (and everyone else on the train) was being made to wait at the border for about two hours by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials, I had plenty of time to reflect on the inanity of the delay.

I assume that on the Canadian side people are free to travel about Canada and between provinces without going through the types of government checkpoints that exist at the U.S-Canada border. No one seems overly concerned about the possibility that among all those freely moving individuals there might be some drug users, drug dealers, communists, and even possibly some terrorists. If there is a concern for such things, it’s obviously not big enough to warrant checkpoints within the country like the checkpoints that we had to go through at the U.S.-Canada border.

The situation is pretty much the same on the American side. Of course, on the U.S.-Mexican border there are Border Patrol checkpoints for travelers going east west (just like they have in communist countries). But I can only assume (and I could be wrong) that such checkpoints haven’t yet been established within the United States for east-west travelers on the U.S.-Canada border.

Nonetheless, except for those checkpoints within the United States, by and large people within the United States are free to move about, including freely crossing state borders, without encountering the types of checkpoints that exist at the U.S.-Canada border. As in Canada, no one seems overly concerned about the possibility that among all these freely moving people within the United States there might be drug dealers, drug users, communists, and possibly even terrorists. At least they’re not so concerned that they’re calling for checkpoints at state borders and even local borders similar to the type of checkpoints between the U.S. and Canada.

Okay, so you’ve got all those freely moving people within Canada about whom no one over there is overly concerned. And you’ve got all those freely moving people here within the United States who no one over here is overly concerned about.

But as soon as you propose that all those freely moving people within Canada be free to cross the border into the United States without government obstruction and to move freely about the United States, U.S. officials have a conniption fit.

By the same token, if you propose that all those freely moving people within the United States be free to cross the border without obstruction and move about freely in Canada, Canadian officials have a conniption fit.

You see, what’s fascinating is that Canadian officials aren’t overly paranoid about the people moving freely within Canada but U.S. officials are. Conversely, U.S. officials aren’t paranoid about people moving freely within the United States but Canadian officials are. Each side thinks the other side is just filled with drug dealers, drug users, communists, and terrorists who would immediately cross the border and start freely moving within the adjoining country if there were no checkpoints between the two countries.

Why do people have a system that permits such nonsense? Because they have all grown up with it and therefore they just accept that it’s a permanent part of life, one that people can never get rid of. Even worse, since people are inculcated with the notion that they’ve been born and raised in a free society, they automatically assume that such checkpoints are an essential part of living in a free society. Worst of all, given the mindset of conformity and deference to authority that is molded in people by the government’s schooling system, most people are unable to ask and contemplate the most important question of all: “Why?”

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.