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Kleppner: Open Borders

06/10/10 5:55PM By Bram Kleppner
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(HOST) Commentator Bram Kleppner works in socially responsible sales and marketing. Today, he has some thoughts on how to secure both the U.S. and the Canadian borders.

(KLEPPNER) Last month, a Vermont man was arrested for walking down the street. He'd gone for a pizza, as he had for years, but he was in Derby Line and the pizza parlor was across the Quebec border, and the rules had changed about whether he could still walk down that street.

The barrier of gates, walls and rules along the Vermont-Quebec border is getting higher. Homeland Security now requires passports or enhanced licenses to cross the border, and they are building new fences, gates and crossing stations. They say that all this will keep us safer from terrorism, but I think we're going in exactly the wrong direction.

If ever there were a border in the world that should be open, it's the U.S.- Canada border. This is especially true since Homeland Security's concern isn't Canadians who wish the U.S. harm, but people from other countries coming into the U.S. by way of Canada, like the 9-11 hijackers.

Wouldn't we be better off taking all the people and money both countries now deploy on the U.S.- Canada border and redeploying them to the external borders of both countries? Wouldn't the U.S. be safer if both we and the Canadians were doing a better job of keeping violent people and dangerous cargo out of North America entirely?

We'd be safer, and we'd be freer and more prosperous, too. Just imagine the Vermont-Quebec border as open as, say, the border between France and Germany - no border guards, no passports, no visas, no customs - just a sign that says "Welcome to Quebec" that you zoom by at 70 miles an hour.

Open borders do require a lot of work. We'd need a full free trade agreement between the U.S. and Canada, harmonizing commercial laws, safety standards, residency requirements and external border security, so products, services, money and workers could flow freely back and forth across the border.

Besides reducing border crossing hassles when we go to Montreal for the weekend, open borders would be a boon for all the companies doing business across the border - all the costs of customs brokers, border delays and international paperwork would just disappear, and big new markets would appear.

It's hard to imagine any large-scale migration in either direction, but how nice for Americans who want to go live in Vancouver or Quebec City or Alberta for a year or two, and for Canadians who want to spend a year or two in the US, to be free to do so.

I dream about a whole world of open borders, where every person on the planet has the right to live and work wherever he or she chooses, but while a free planet is a sadly distant fantasy, a free North America doesn't seem so far away at all.

(HOST TAG) For more commentaries by Bram Kleppner, go to vpr-dot-net.
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