The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Trouble With Taxes

Nobody likes paying taxes. We grouse about them, even as we admit that they, like death, are inevitable. If we are honest with ourselves, we will also admit that they are necessary. Do we wish to live in a society without policemen, courts, jails, roads and other public infrastructure, and military defenses? If not, taxes are an essential part of our lives.

There are some who would argue that this is not so. Frank Chodorov, an American libertarian journalist of the early 20th century, wrote an essay entitled “Taxation is Robbery” that was originally published as part of his autobiography.(1) In this essay, Chodorov makes a very logical argument. First, he points out that taxation is by definition compulsory. Then he points out that if a “single unit of society” were to take our property by force, we would “unhesitatingly call the act robbery, a malum in se”. Robbery is defined by an ethical principle which the law “may violate but not supersede”. Therefore, taxation is by definition robbery.

That’s all nice and logical, but the problem is that something that sounds airtight on paper doesn’t always work out very well in real life. Lets imagine that Mr. Chodorov were actually living in the purely voluntary society that he dreamed of. He is sitting at home, minding his own business, when a couple of thugs break into his house, beat him up, and make off with all his valuables. What does he do about it? He goes to the phone and calls the police. He gets no answer, because there are no police. Since his society is purely voluntary, there are no compulsory taxes, and therefore no public revenue out of which to maintain a police service.

Mr. Chodorov leaves his house and by chance he comes across the men who robbed him. His recent experience with home invasion has taught him to never go unarmed and he is able to apprehend the men. Off he goes looking for a judge who will give him justice under the law. He never finds one, of course, for the same reason that the police did not come when he called them.

Eventually, one of the men he has apprehended asks him “Hey buddy, what do you think you are doing holding us captive like this?”

Chodorov responds “You have got a lot of nerve. You broke into my house, beat me up, and stole all my possessions”.

“Yeah, so what?”

“So what? It’s against the law.”

“There is no such thing as the law buddy. This is a voluntary society. Law is by definition compulsory. You cannot force another free individual to behave the way you want him too. There are no laws here.”

A society without taxes is a society without laws. Laws are as compulsory as taxes are. Indeed, they are even more so. Government can impose a voluntary tax. A sales tax on a non-essential item is voluntary. You don’t need the item, you don’t have to buy it, if you don’t buy it, you don’t pay the tax. You do not get to opt out of obeying the law however. You either obey the law or pay the penalty when you break it. If the compulsory nature of taxation makes it “robbery”, does the compulsory nature of law make all of us who live under law, slaves?

Samuel Johnson, the leading figure of eighteenth century English literature, saw the foolishness of this kind of liberal thinking when it was in its infant stage. In a pamphlet, originally published in 1775, entitled Taxation No Tyranny (2) Dr. Johnson argued that it was, a fundamental principle “considered, by all mankind, as comprising the primary and essential condition of all political society” that:

the supreme power of every community has the right of requiring, from all its subjects, such contributions as are necessary to the publick safety or publick prosperity.

Dr. Johnson wrote this tract in response to the rebellion of the American colonists, their position of “no taxation without representation”, and the arguments of their Whig supporters in Parliament. It is important to remember that while the tax Acts passed by Parliament following the Seven Years War were the catalyst of the crisis, the debate was not about the merits or demerits of any particular tax. The American colonies were challenging Parliament’s right (3), as a governing body, to pass taxes. It is to this, that Dr. Johnson was responding by arguing that the American colonies which had been founded by English citizens under a Crown charter, and who had enjoyed from the beginning British military protection of their settlements and trade, could not reasonably expect to enjoy the rights and liberties of English citizens while rejecting the duties of such.

Unfortunately, a question which Dr. Johnson did not raise, was at what point taxation goes beyond “such contributions as are necessary to the publick safety or publick prosperity” and becomes an abuse of government authority on the part of corrupt officials determined to squeeze every last drop of blood out of us possible. That such a point exists, there can be no question, and that we have crossed the line a long time ago in Canada, Britain and the United States, I suspect Dr. Johnson, were he alive today, would fully agree.

Government today, has expanded its role in society, far beyond its traditional functions of administering the law, providing for the common defense, and maintaining the infrastructure of the commonwealth. It now seems to see its role as being that of an all-purpose provider – providing us with education, health care, income security and everything else we may need or want. There are some who seem to see only a positive side to this – that with government providing education, health care, etc. these things are now universally available in a society, rather than limited to those who can afford them. There are, however, three major negatives which far outweigh this questionable positive. The first is that the quality of education and health care goes down when government is the provider. The second, is that the more the government provides for us, the more intrusive it becomes and the less freedom we have. (4) The third negative, and the one we are interested in here, is that it drives taxes through the roof.

The rise of the nanny state in the 20th and 21st centuries occurred, not coincidentally, simultaneously with the introduction of the income tax. Today, the income tax is something we are all used to, however much we dislike it. We look for every deduction possible, we race to get our tax paperwork in on time, we save our receipts for years in case the government audits us, and we grumble and complain about it, but we seldom think about how recent an innovation it is.

In Canada, the income tax was introduced in 1917. In the United States, the first income tax was passed in 1861 but the permanent income tax was not brought in until 1913 when the Sixteenth Amendment Passed. In Great Britain, the first income tax was introduced in 1799. (5)

The income tax raises far more government revenue than any other kind of tax. Why did governments in the English-speaking world wait so long to introduce them? The reason is that an income tax says something about the status of the people who pay it. It says that the product of their industry, whether they be farmers, businessmen, merchants or laborers, belongs primarily to the government rather than to themselves, that the government has first claim on their income, and will assert its rights by collecting a percentage of their income in taxes. This is the relationship, between a master and a slave. The English-speaking peoples, however, had long considered themselves to be free peoples, subjects but not slaves of their kings. Income tax was not for them.

Income taxes were therefore initially introduced as “temporary” measures to pay for wars. (6) In Canada, the Borden government brought in the income tax to raise funds for the first World War. They promised Canadians that the tax was temporary and would be lifted after the war was paid for. In Britain, Pitt the Younger made similar promises, when he introduced the first income tax at a time Britain was at war with revolutionary France. In the United States the Republicans brought in the first income tax to fund the North’s war with the South. (7)

The English-speaking peoples would never have accepted income taxes if they had not been introduced as emergency measures. The problem with government, however, is that things which begin as “temporary” often tend to become permanent.

What are the objections to an income tax?

First and foremost, there is the already mentioned objection that it is a form of slavery. This is not true of other forms of taxation. A poll-tax is the government charging you for the right to vote in elections. A head tax is the government billing you for the right to live under the security its laws provide. A sales tax is the government charging you for the use of the market system which is only possible because the rule of law protects property rights, enforces contracts, and penalizes fraud. (8). A tariff is the government charging people outside the country for access to a country’s domestic market. None of these taxes imply a master-slave relationship between government and people. The income tax, which asserts the governments prior “right” to the product of industry, does. (9)

Secondly, income tax enables the government to take much larger amounts from us than it otherwise would. The government can only charge so much in sales tax. If it raises the sales tax too high it drives people out of the legitimate market. Thus, sales taxes are set at a considerably lower rate than income taxes (10) and since the rate you pay in sales tax is charged on the price of what you are purchasing, a 5% sales tax will not take 5% of your income.

At present, the Canadian government charges 15% on the first $40, 970 of taxable income, 22% on the next $40, 970, 26% on the next $45, 080 and 29% on all taxable income over $127,021. Those are the federal tax rates and do not include the provincial income tax rates. In my province, Manitoba, the provincial income tax starts at 10.8% on $31, 000 of taxable income, goes up to 12.67% for the next $36, 000, and then to 17.4% on all income above $67, 000 (11) Thus, someone in Manitoba, is paying in federal and provincial income taxes combined, over 25% on their first $40, 000, and it gets considerably higher after that. (12)

That is obscene! At the lowest tier in the income tax system, we are already paying over a quarter of our income in taxes, in income tax alone. If the government were to try to take that much from us through other forms of taxation the rates would be so high they would never get away with it.

Thirdly, income tax requires a large government bureaucracy to collect the taxes, keep extensive records on people, and to investigate people if they are suspected of “cheating on their taxes.” Apart from being expensive, the problem with a bureaucracy like this is that it can be used by government to harass and persecute law-abiding citizens. (13)

A fourth objection to income tax, is that it punishes industry. Frank Chodorov argued that this is true of all forms of taxation and he may be correct on that, but it is not true of all kids equally. The income tax is particularly punitive of industry. The more productive you are, the more you earn, the more the government takes from you. This is a problem that could conceivably be removed by taxing all income at a flat rate but a flat tax will still have all the other objectionable qualities of an income tax.

From these objections it can be seen that the income tax is indeed an oppressive tax that demands of people far more than “such contributions as are necessary to the publick safety or publick prosperity” and reduces free people to the slavery which the American colonists claimed the significantly smaller customs and duties that the Parliament of the 1760’s and ‘70’s was reducing them to. It ought to be abolished, and replaced with a sales tax or tariffs, set at a rate high enough to raise revenue to support the essential functions of government, but low enough as to not seriously effect the economy. Government should be trimmed down to where it is small enough to be supported on these smaller taxes. It is there to provide society with the protection of the rule of law, with defences against foreign enemies, and the maintenance of roads and public properties. It is not there to provide every citizen with his every need and wish.

(1) Frank Chodorov, Out of Step: The Autobiography of an Individualist (New York: Devin-Adair, 1962). It can also be found as the second essay in the anthology The Paleoconseratives: New Voices of the Old Right, edited by Joseph Scotchie and published by Transaction Publishers (New Brunswick, New Jersey) in 1999, or as an etext at the Ludwig Von Mises Institute’s website:

(2) J. P. Hardy, ed., The Political Writings of Dr. Johnson, (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968) pp. 100-132. It can also be found online here:

(3) Poor old King George III is still much-abused in history books which often recycle uncritically, 18th century American claims that he was attempting to set himself up as a tyrant, but Johnson set the record straight ages ago:

The other position is, that "the crown," if this laudable opposition should not be successful, "will have the power of taxing America at pleasure." Surely they think rather too meanly of our apprehensions, when they suppose us not to know what they well know themselves, that they are taxed, like all other British subjects, by parliament; and that the crown has not, by the new imposts, whether right or wrong, obtained any additional power over their possessions.

(4) To demonstrate how this works, look at current anti-smoking legislation as an example. It is an obnoxious and oppressive abuse of power for governments to tell business and other property owners that they cannot decide for themselves whether to allow smoking on their property and in their own establishments. However, government can argue, when there is a universal, single-payer health system, that it has the right to pass laws like these, in the name of decreasing the cost to the public of treating emphysema and lung cancer. The more the government provides for the public, the more intrusive its regulations become, although it has disguised this loss of freedom by undermining the authority of other social institutions such as the family and the church.

(5) The tithe, in Ancient Israel and the Medieval Church, was not the same thing as an income tax, being paid to religious authorities rather than the secular power.

(6) In Britain and the United States, the first income taxes were temporary in a sense. Pitt’s tax was abolished by Addison, who replaced it with another one, itself abolished at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Robert Peel brought the income tax back in 1842, again promising it was temporary, but this time it stuck. In the United States, the initial income tax was repealed in 1872, and temporarly brought back by the Democrats in the 1890’s until the Supreme Court ruled unapportioned income tax to be unconstitutional in 1895, and so the Sixteenth Amendment had to be passed before the income tax could be brought back in 1913.

(7) The income tax would become the preferred tax of progressives and socialists. It is interesting, therefore, that the first income taxes were brought in by Conservative governments in Canada and Great Britain, and by the Republicans, widely if probably erroneously, regarded as the American “conservative” party, in the United States. Let this be a warning to conservatives. What you introduce as a temporary measure in times of war, may be used by progressives for other purposes in times of peace

(8) Liberal economists, for all their talk of “laissez-faire” and the wonders of the “free market”, often fail to realize that the market simply would not function very well in the absence of law.

(9)In chapter 2 of The Communist Manifesto, entitled “Proletarians and Communists”, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels list a series of measures that they regards as “unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production”. The second is “A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.” In practice, Communist countries reduced their populations to slaves of the Communist Party. Progressives in the West frequently offered the naïve opinion that this was because the Soviets or the Maoists or the Khmer Rouge were “not really Communists”, they were really fascists who were not living up to the ideals of Marx. In fact, however, universal slavery was a goal of Communism from the beginning.

(10) Unless, of course, the tax is on something like alcohol or tobacco, which the government wishes to punish you for using without actually declaring it illegal.


(12)Astonishing as these percentages are, these are not the highest rates in income tax that people have had to put up with. Before the Reagan presidency, the top tax rate in the United States was 70%, from 1951 to 1963 the top tax rate in the USA was 91%, and it was even higher briefly in the 1940’s. These are not the percentages an American would have had to pay on his total income, only on the highest bracket of his income, but even still it is amazing to think that a government would have the audacity to charge so much. Consider, however, the following:

Another means of reducing inequality was to tax both the profits of a firm and the personal capital gains of the owners. This could raise an individual’s tax rate to astronomical heights, approaching or even exceeding 100 percent. The height of absurdity was reached in 1976, when Sweden’s most famous citizen, film director Ingmar Bergman, was arrested on charges of tax evasion. The case was complex, involving the director’s corporate as well as personal earnings. The bottom line was that Bergman was being taxed at a rate of 139 percent. - Thomas Fleming, Socialism, (Benchmark: Marshall-Cavendish, 2008). p. 73.

(13) Dr. Mario Pei, in his book The America We Lost (New York: World Publishing, 1968) points to the example of gangster Al Capone, who the state of Illinois had been unable to punish for his actual crimes, but was finally incarcerated by the American federal government on charges of tax evasion. This, Dr. Pei argued, was nothing to rejoice over, for while Capone was hardly a law-abiding citizen, what could be done to him, could be done to others. Compare Edmund Wilson’s autobiographical account in The Cold War and the Income Tax: A Protest (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1963).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

This and That No. 2

I had hoped to have my next essay up before now but I have not had the time to write it out nor will I have the time in the upcoming week. I will, Lord willing, have it out before the end of the month. In the meantime here are a few random thoughts.

Micheal Coren's column for Sunmedia yesterday was excellent. In this column, entitled "A modern spin on sinful words" Coren discusses "the Seven Sins of the Secular State" mentioned by Piers Paul Read in his book The Misogynist. These are racism, misogyny, homophobia, elitism, smoking, obesity and religious belief. Coren's commentary is excellent, This is the first I have heard of Read's book, but I will be looking for it in the library and/or bookstores in the near future as it sounds very interesting. He has correctly identified the "sins" that people in the contemporary world waste their time getting their knickers all twisted into a knot over, instead of the real sins of wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony the church used to preach against.

Tonight is the Gala opening of the Winnipeg Chamber Music Society's 2010/2011 season. While I have season tickets, unfortunately, I had a previous commitment and so I had to give away my ticket for tonight to a friend. I hope to be able to make the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's opening at the end of the week. The WSO will be performing Mahler's Symphony No. 1 and the evening will feature Mark O'Connor performing his Double Violin Concerto No. 1.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Progressives’ Penance

What is immigration? While that question may seem rather basic a proper definition of immigration goes a long way towards clarifying our thoughts on the subject. Immigration is the noun we use when we wish to speak of the act of immigrating as if it were a concrete thing. Immigrate is the verb that describes the act of moving into a country/society/community, not as a tourist or guest, but with the intention of taking out long-term or permanent membership in that country/society/community.

I wrote society and community alongside country, because a) nobody can move into a country without moving into a society and a community within that society, and because b) immigration affects society and community even more than it affects a country. A country is a geo-political entity, a territory under a common law and a sovereign government. A community consists of families who live as neighbors, usually with common schools, recreational facilities, etc., and who therefore have social ties to one another. A society, in the sense in which I am using the term here, is usually coterminous with a country in size, but is organic like a community in nature.

By definition, to immigrate you require a pre-existing country to immigrate to. From this fact we see that the oft-heard “we are a nation of immigrants” argument for liberal immigration policies is wrong. There is no such thing as a nation of immigrants. It is a contradiction in terms. What the people who mindlessly repeat this mantra are referring to is that the people who founded countries like Canada and the United States moved to North America from Europe and the UK. As true as that is, those people did not move to North America to become members of pre-existing societies that were already here. The founders of the societies that would become English and French Canada, and of the United States of America, were not immigrants, they were settlers or colonists. For that matter, the people who were already living in North America when the English and French settlers arrived, were not immigrants either when their ancestors crossed what is now the Bering Strait.

“But isn’t that just quibbling?” someone might ask. No, actually, it is not. What proposition are those who think that “we are a nation of immigrants” constitutes a legitimate argument arguing for? They are arguing that our country/society has no right to turn immigrants away today, except perhaps if a particular immigrant can be shown to be a criminal or terrorist.

The implications of that proposition, however, are that no country has a right to be a country. An essential part of the definition of a country is political sovereignty and that concept is meaningless if a country does not have the right to decide who they will accept as immigrants or even whether they will accept any immigrants at all (some countries don’t). It is in the immigration debate that we most clearly see that liberalism is the enemy, not of tyranny and the abuse of state power as it purports to be, but of society.

Now demonstrating that a country has the right to decide for itself whether it will allow immigrants in or not, is not in and of itself an argument that a country should restrict immigration. If you have the right to do something it does not necessarily follow that you will be right or wise in doing it. If a country has the right to determine its own immigration policy why would it be wrong to decide upon a liberal policy of basically letting whoever wants to come in?

Before answering that question, lets take a look at what a liberal immigration policy consists of.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and virtually every other Western country embraced “liberal” immigration policies.(1) While these policies were different from each other, they had the following characteristics in common: a) more immigrants would be let in than in previous waves of immigration, b) the immigrants allowed in would be further removed ethnically and culturally from the societies they were immigrating to than in previous waves of immigration, c) this wave of immigration would be accompanied with efforts to change the country and society to accommodate the immigrants rather than with the expectation that the immigrants would assimilate into the existing society.

The governments of these countries never had popular support for any of these policies. Instead they silenced debate by loudly condemning their critics as “racists”, a tactic that was soon picked up by progressives in the media and academy.

What on earth was the purpose of all this?

It is important to remember that these policies were introduced in the era of anti-colonialism. Britain, France, and other European countries, devastated politically and economically by two World Wars, and under pressure from the new superpowers that had emerged from WWII to contend with each other for control of the world, were closing their colonial and imperial offices overseas. Progressives, who a century earlier had regarded European imperialism as a vessel to spread the blessings of modern science, technology, and reason across the globe so as to create a new and better world of the future, now saw colonialism and imperialism as being morally wrong and the cause of all the suffering and poverty in the Third World.

Against this backdrop liberal immigration looks suspiciously like a secular, collective act of penance. (2) Our countries either practiced imperialism or were established by colonists of an imperial power, therefore to make restitution, we will turn our own countries into colonies of the world. We will bring in people from all over the world and tell them they don’t have to adapt British ways to become British, Canadian ways to become Canadian, or American ways to become American. Instead we will adopt “multiculturalism” and change the definition of what it means to be British, Canadian or American, to include the newcomers.

So what exactly is the problem with this?

First of all, it involves a betrayal on the part of the governing elites of our countries, of the people whom they govern. Canada was founded in the 1860’s as a country united under a single political identity – a North American country, with a British-style parliament, under British Common Law, loyal to the British Crown. Within that unity, were a number of particular cultural societies - English Canada (English speaking, Protestant), French Canada (French speaking, Catholic), and Aboriginal Canada.

When the Liberal Party of Canada, under the premierships of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau changed Canada’s immigration policies in the 1960’s, they did not ask English Canadians if they wanted English Canada to disappear and be replaced by “multicultural Canada”. They did not ask French Canadians if they wanted French Canada to disappear and be replaced by “multicultural Canada”. French Canada is famous (or infamous depending on who you ask) for its attempts to preserve its cultural identity. English Canadians were and are no less opposed to the Liberal Party's efforts to dissolve the cultural identity of English Canada into their multicultural “mosaic”.

At this point someone might object “but shouldn't the government do what is right rather than what the majority want”? Yes it should, but we are not talking here about allowing the majority to vote away a minority's property or life. We are talking about a government dissolving its own people's cultural identity against their own wishes. This is a major betrayal on the part of government. One of the most basic purposes of government is to protect a society against foreign invaders. People who live in any given society wish to preserve its culture, traditions, religion, language, customs and ways intact for future generations. They expect foreign conquerors to try and take these things away from them and impose a foreign culture on them. It is a role of government to try and stop it. Yet in liberal immigration and multicultural policies, government has taken upon itself the role of foreign invader, towards its own society.

A second problem with liberal immigration policy is that it ignores the importance of cultural homogeneity within a society. “Diversity is our strength” the multiculturalists chant. Is it, however?

In one sense the answer is obviously yes. A society where everybody was a policeman, or where everybody was a doctor, or where everybody was a fireman, would not function very well. A society needs farmers, doctors, policeman, firemen, teachers, and people who specialize in all sorts of other work as well.

However, there are other senses in which diversity is a weakness not a strength. The story of the Tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis provides one obvious example. People need to communicate if they wish to cooperate and communication requires a common language. Language is vitally connected to culture. The national identities of continental Europe are largely distinguished by language – French, German, Spanish, Italian, Greek, etc. Why do we often say “England” when we mean “The United Kingdom”, which consists of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland? Because English is the language spoken there. It is through language that a people passes down to future generations the stories, songs, poems, history, and other traditions that comprise their cultural identity.

Clearly a society and a country need both unity and diversity. The question is what kind of unity and what kind of diversity? The modern progressive answer is that cultural diversity is what is needed. As we have seen above, however, the kind of cultural diversity the progressive has in mind is the diversity least likely to strengthen a society and most likely to weaken it. There is another kind of cultural diversity. Within a larger English speaking society, for example, regional and local dialects of the common tongue will develop as will local and particular variations on the common culture. This kind of cultural diversity is good for a society but it is not the product of immigration.

This brings us to our third and final objection to liberal immigration. It undermines community. Community requires more than just living in proximity to other people. Imagine six houses on both sides of a street facing each other, all occupied by families, none of whom ever socialize with the others or even know their names. Are they a community? No. To make a community out of a neighborhood requires knowing the people with whom you share sidewalks, streets, schools, playgrounds, and churches. This requires a degree of trust. The strongest communities are communities where the families have long roots, where families have lived together as neighbors for many generations.

Now a strong community will be open to newcomers. A closed community is not healthy for a number of reasons. There is a difference, however, between what happens when the son of a family long established in a community, comes back home and brings his new wife from out of town with him and what happens when a large number of families from a foreign country that nobody knows anything about or has any connections with, move into a neighborhood all at once. The latter undermines the basic sense of trust which binds the families in the neighborhood into a community. As John Derbyshire puts it:

Diversity seems to affect every kind of social connection. In places with more ethnic diversity, people have fewer friends, watch more TV, are less inclined to vote, trust local government less, and rate their personal happiness lower. (3)

Community is essential for society – and a healthy country must first be a healthy society.

To recap, the case against liberal immigration has been made on the grounds that it a) involves governments breaking faith with and betraying their own people, b) increases the wrong kind of diversity, diversity which weakens rather than strengthens a society, and c) undermines the trust needed to generate the social ties which keep communities together. (4) I will conclude by answering two objections that advocates of liberal immigration raise against restricting immigration.

The first objection is the compassion objection. “These people are just looking for a better life for themselves and their children, isn’t it cruel to turn them away?” The answer to this is that a liberal immigration policy which appears to show compassion to masses of immigrants is in fact unfair to them as individuals and families. Lets say a family is considering moving to Canada because prospects appear better for the future of their children here than in their home country. They are willing to come here, to become part of Canada, to integrate into our society, and work to better their condition and that of their children. It is easy to see how letting this family into Canada would be compassionate and would improve their circumstances without harming our country and society in any way.

Suppose however, that we admit the family, not on the merits of their own case, but as part of a flood of immigrants that are being admitted because their culture and ethnicity are different from that of Canadians, as part of a government policy designed at dissolving the traditional identities of “English Canada” and “French Canada” and replacing them with “multicultural Canada”. If we do that, then what we are saying to the hypothetical family of immigrants in this illustration, that we will admit them, but not to the Canada they were hoping to move to and become a part of. That Canada we are dissolving and tearing apart. This is not compassion. It is as unfair to prospective immigrants as it is to English Canadians and French Canadians.

The second objection is “Isn’t it racist to oppose immigration policy on the grounds that it weakens cultural homogeneity and increases diversity?” This objection is never raised in good faith but rather as an attempt to poison the well. It does not deserve an answer but I will give it one anyway.

No, it is not racist for English Canadians to want English Canada to remain English Canada. It is not racist for French Canadians to want French Canada to remain French Canada. It is not racist for the British to want the UK to remain British. It is not racist for the French to want France to remain French, or for the Germans to want Germany to remain German. It is natural and right and normal for people to form ties of loyalty to their own people and culture and society and to want their children and grandchildren to grow up and become part of the same society that they are attached to. It is immoral to accuse people of being racist for wanting these things.

“Racist” as most people understand the word, means disliking someone else because they are different from you in skin color and ethnic background. Wanting your own society to remain essentially the same is not about disliking other people and wishing them ill.

(1) In Canada, the Liberals under Pearson and Trudeau, introduced these policies in a most underhanded manner. They made a big show of bringing in the “points system” in 1967, a system which on paper looks pretty good – it awards points to prospective immigrants for knowing English and French, for education and skills, and for other things the government should be looking for in prospective immigrants. They stuck some pretty big loopholes into the system, however, and quietly relocated Canada’s visa officers to High Commissions and consulates in the Third World where they launched a recruitment campaign for immigration to Canada.

(2) In Christian theology, a repentant sinner is supposed to confess his sins and make restitution to those he has wronged if it is possible. If he has stolen something, for example, he is supposed to return it. In sacramental branches of the Christian tradition (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, etc.) the term “penance” refers to these things and an outward rite in which sins are confessed before a priest and the priest pronounces absolution (forgiveness). In lay language, however, the term “penance” is most often used in a limited sense to refer to the acts a person does to “make up” for what he has done wrong. It is in this sense that I use the term here. In chapter 2 of Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Toward A Secular Theocracy (University of Missouri Press: Columbia and London, 2002), Dr. Paul Gottfried, the Professor of Humanites at Elizabethtown College, argues that liberal Protestantism is the religious worldview which “gives direction to the managerial state’s progress toward a therapeutic regime concerned with the self-esteem of victims” (p. 66). It is interesting therefore, to read his remarks on page 65 of that book about the absence of the sacrament of penance from the branches of Protestantism that developed into “liberal Protestantism” and about the public rituals of repentance that these churches developed to fill the vacuum.

(3) John Derbyshire, We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism, (New York: Crown Forum, 2009), p. 19. This quotations is from chapter two entitled “Diversity: Nothing to Celebrate”. In this chapter, Derbyshire discusses among other things the findings of political scientist Robert Putnam regarding the impact of ethnic diversity on social capital. It is in the context of that discussion that this quotation appears. Derbyshire’s book is both informative and witty, and chapters two and ten are especially relevant to those seeking more information on the subject of this essay.

(4) Other objections could be raised, on a wide variety of grounds. Diane Francis’ book Immigration: The Economic Case (Key Porter Books: Toronto, 2002) provides economic objections to Canada’s immigration policy, for example. Last year the Fraser Institute published The Effects of Mass Immigration on Canadian Living Standards and Society, a collection of essays edited by Herbert Grubel criticizing the immigration policies of Canada (primarily – there are two essays devoted to France and the United States) from a number of standpoints (economic, demographic, social, and political).