Ron Unz has devised a tough reading-comprehension test for ideologues on both sides of the immigration debate. Already the shallow end of the restrictionist talent pool has failed: a number of commenters evidently didn’t get to the end of the article — not enough Ritalin? Too much Ritalin? — but that hasn’t stopped them from mashing their keyboards to express their feelings. Will the open-borders types fare as badly?

Among other things, Unz points out why America’s immigration policy has been completely one-sided, however heated arguments over it have been: Republican business interests and the ideologies of libertarians and liberals alike all converge to support de facto open borders. If you actually want to restrict immigration, as opposed to merely expressing your feelings about immigration, this is knot that has to be untied. Read on, and you may find that Unz even indicates how that might be done. Hint: it doesn’t involve a spontaneous uprising of Middle Americans panicked by a lot of neighbors with vowels or z’s at the end of their names.

For my part, it seems to me that treating a country as an arbitrary job market is a bad idea, just as applying an economic mindset to every aspect of one’s family would be a bad idea. (A libertarian friend of mine once pointed out that within the family, the Marxist rule of from each according to his ability, to each according to his need actually does pertain, and rightly so.) A country is not a family, but neither is it a market. That there are vast disparities of wages and wealth between nations proves the point: if the only thing people wanted to get out of nations or citizenship was economic efficiency, we wouldn’t have the borders we have — or perhaps any borders at all. To say that governments are responsible for these divisions is true but not true enough: if Switzerland or Japan had no central government — the Swiss barely have one as it is — the peoples of those places would still insist on remaining distinct from the global mass and maintaining cultural-political frontiers.

The human-rights and fairness claims of the liberal ideologues are spurious too, and the Swiss are hardly motivated by hatred in preserving their place and customs. But in any event, liberal arguments for mass immigration are not the primary driver of immigration policy in this country: Rick Perry and his supporters among the class that demands cheap labor account for much more of the problem than university-based diversity-mongers or other rogues in the gallery of political correctness. In seeing this, too, Unz is a better restrictionist than his restrictionist critics.