Vale at 5 Months

Vale at 5 months laughs when we sprint in the church parking lot, and sometimes when we do squat jumps. She falls asleep on our way up the steepest hill when we take her out for night jogs. She laughs when Daddy’s beard tickles her face. She likes crunching on her Como Tomo and Sofie the giraffe chew toys (perhaps the fact I cannot stop referring to these things as chew toys reflects just how long we lived a DINK life before deciding to have a baby).

She started rolling over one day, then quickly started scooting across the floor almost overnight. She has started to eat some solid foods, and likes carrots and avocados. She’s had the privilege of eating mom’s bomb-ass butternut squash soup and dad’s spectacular split pea soup, but is somewhat lukewarm about these tasty creations. If she only knew how spoiled she is! Mom remembers her brother eating jars of store-bought Gerber as a baby.

We took her to Costco to get passport photos taken for our upcoming trip to Cabo, and Daddy had to hold her up above his head, while supporting her back with his hand in an awkward manner to carefully avoid being in the photo himself. This occurrence confused her, and she ended up looking like a concerned little old man getting his mugshot taken. She has proved amenable to eating in a cradle position, so we just might be able to venture out into public for extended periods of time soon, and if not – oh well. We’re going to Mexico anyway!

She attended two Superbowl parties, and had a blast at party number 1 playing on her buddy’s play mat, and watching football on the gigantic TV (unclear at this point where the enthusiasm for football comes from) while mommy enjoyed a grapefruit Sculpin. At party number 2, attendees fawned over her, bounced her around, made her laugh, and generally showered her with attention, which rendered her less concerned with the game.

Tijuana

So if it hadn’t been for a friend’s baby shower and a close call with mastitis #4, we were seriously considering going to Tijuana for new years with Vale. Add on top the fact she has been eating every hour and a half, and we decided against it, because I didn’t know what kind of TJ activities we could even do with her incessant need to feed.

However, I haven’t given up completely on a TJ trip in the near future, so I Googled “Tijuana with a baby” and was met with the following encouraging headlines:

  • Baby Found Dead in Tijuana, Left By Mom and Boyfriend
  • Mexico’s Bargain Babies
  • US-born Baby Found Dead at Empty Lot in Tijuana

You get the point. These aren’t the most encouraging links when planning a short trip down to TJ. I get it. TJ probably has a sketchy reputation for a good reason, but I still feel there’s a significant element of paranoia when it comes to Mexico. The odds of something terrible happening on a weekend in TJ is probably extremely low. There are plenty of crime-ridden cities in the United States, but fewer people seem to bring up murder as the first point of discussion when mentioning Chicago or Detroit.

As for us, our primary concern with traveling to TJ with a baby is a matter of logistics. Driving back on the way home is always hellish at the border crossing, which turns a 1 hour drive into a 5 hour nightmare. This is because the War on Drugs keeps border patrol employed and well-paid, cracking down on non-violent violations of the law, and because American immigration policy is full of shit. The border crossing located right on the edge of Mexico is the worst, but let’s not forget that there are border checkpoints all over southern California, as far as one hundred fucking miles north of the border.

Anyway, the government’s barbaric insistence on violating human rights is such that walking, rather than driving, across the border is the transportation method of choice. However, we have yet to figure out what baby items are absolutely necessary over the course of a weekend, and whether it’s possible to minimize our stuff to the point where we can carry these things and walk across the border.

Daydream II

When she is with him there is a wild-eyed vulnerability in his face that makes her fall again and again, something uncertain and anticipatory when he leans in and she had an urge to reach for his hand on the cliff, overlooking rippling forests in relentless existence. She traveled across Mexico with him in her mind, across several instances of levitation with the same sadness in his liquid slate eyes

Then she was in the old cafe again, dreaming she was feathery, ethereal, weightless hope gliding in the ocean night, losing her reality in the mirrors, so she could not belong to herself or anyone else

You Can Put a Fence Around Your House, But Not Mine: Property Rights as the Basis for Open Borders

The recent wave of immigrant children coming across U.S. borders from Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico has created a great deal of concern for the White House and the American public. While the influx of children presents some unique immigration issues, the immigration debate is not new.

Some are inexplicably unmoved by the plight of desperate children crossing artificial borders in search of a better life, and perhaps, American relatives. But putting emotion aside, the immigration problem is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding by Americans, and indeed, most parts of the world, of private property. As the United States becomes increasingly less free, Americans find themselves barred from, or even jailed for exercising dominion over their own bodies and their private property. It is in this context that the issue of immigration must be analyzed.

Police have the right to stop and frisk anyone they deem to have triggered a “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity. Resisting will most certainly result in arrest, if not a violent beating. The news is littered with examples of police sexually assaulting people – sometimes boldly, on camera – such is the extent to which the government believes it owns and is entitled to trespass upon the body of individuals. The TSA constantly subjects hordes of American travelers to either being groped by TSA agents, or alternatively, being viewed naked on a full body scanner. It is no secret that TSA agents have targeted attractive women for the privilege of going through these full body scanners (also see here).

The United States continues to have some of the most stringent alcohol laws in the world, and maintains the highest incarceration rate in the world, due largely in part to the insane and overreaching war on drugs (i.e. war on adults making decisions to ingest substances into their bodies). Police regularly steal property from victims who have been convicted of no crime, through the mechanism of civil asset forfeiture, and use the property and/or cash stolen to pad their own paychecks.

These results are not surprising in a society that encourages the forfeiture of the dominion over one’s own body and property to the whim of the government. At the most basic level, almost all Americans support taxation of some form, which is a forcible extraction of wealth from someone who has labored for it. All of these heinous violations occurred because people believe the rights to exercise control over one’s labor, body, and property, can be delegated to a collective of faceless politicians and the unwashed masses, regardless of what the individual desires. This belief is what drives people to support a system that forces them, through taxation, to fund the violations set forth above.

The problem with a collective analysis, and the belief that one has a right to force others to toil and pay for the things to which they feel entitled, is that others can certainly do the same. For instance, if one can acquire a simple majority and obtain the right to force their neighbors to pay for their health insurance, daycare, or food, then predictably, others can acquire a simple majority and obtain the right to force their neighbors to pay for prisons, wars, and police tanks to menace formerly idyllic streets.

Immigration law is yet another way the U.S. government has decreed that Americans do not have the right to do with their property and bodies as they please. The border between Mexico and the United States is a massive and expensive project that has drained unwilling taxpayers of countless dollars and resources earned through the labor from their bodies. It is by definition the case that a substantial portion of taxpayers are unwilling, because if taxes were voluntary, there would be no legal penalties or consequences for evasion thereof, and because people would voluntarily fund the building of such a border if they were truly agreeable and believed it to be in their best interests.

Behind every undocumented, or “illegal” immigrant in the United States, is an exercise in freedom and private property that anti-immigration Americans largely refuse to acknowledge. Undocumented immigrants do not come to the United States because they feel like needlessly imperiling their lives; they come because there are American citizens who want them here. Even as Americans decry floods of immigrants, there are countless corresponding Americans who rent homes to them, sell products to them, do business with them, and sustain their livelihood through mutually beneficial exchanges – whether they want to admit it or not.

If stores and business so desired, they could report all customers whom they suspected  to be undocumented immigrants to the INS; they almost never do. If businesses so desire, they have the ability to verify employee immigration statuses with systems like E-Verify; some businesses incur the expenses to do so, but many do not. If a landlord sees fit, he or she can require immigration status verification before renting to an undocumented immigrant; most landlords choose not to do this. Other Americans employ or hire undocumented immigrants for a variety of other tasks because they benefit from the more affordable services, with no regard as to immigration status. For almost every undocumented immigrant in the United States, there are multitudes of corresponding Americans who engaged in mutually beneficial transactions with this individual.

From a private property perspective, many Americans are in practice welcoming these “illegal” immigrants – by selling things to them, doing business with them, renting them homes, and even befriending them. These Americans have every right to rent their properties, operate their businesses, engage in hiring practices, and associate with people as they see fit.

As for the naysayers (arguably, racists) – those Americans similarly should be able to control their bodies and property as they see fit. They should be free to decline jobs, homes, or business opportunities to undocumented individuals. They may experience a drop in profit or popularity, but such is the concept of freedom; it embodies both the right to control one’s own property, but also entails bearing the consequences thereof. If they want to build walls, barriers, or electric fences of any kind, they are free to do so – only on their property, and at their own expense.

The often-raised complaint of undocumented immigrants abusing social services only bolsters this argument. Social services only exist because American citizens have voted (undocumented immigrants cannot vote) to institute a systemic theft and resulting accumulation of loot, which voters are then eager to fight over. In such a system, it is not hard to understand why voters would not want additional competitors flooding over the borders to divvy up the spoils, but this is hardly a justification for continuing to trample on property rights and freedom of both immigrants and American citizens who should be free to engage in mutual exchange.

If you’re afraid of undocumented immigrants, you can be the first to hang a “whites citizens only” sign in the windows of your home or business. Feel free to build an electric fence around your yard, or pay exorbitant fees for background check systems so you can discriminate against undocumented people to your heart’s content; you have every right. You do not, however, have the right to forcibly keep undocumented immigrants out of other peoples’ business or homes, or force others to pay for your paranoid nationalism.