October 23, 1925
'Tis not likely that any man of plentiful estate should voluntarily abandon a happy certainty to roam after imaginary advantages in a new world.
Robert Beverley, 1705
Soon you will no longer need a passport to go from France to Germany or to a number of nations in continental Western Europe. There will be no border control and going from one country to another will be the equivalent of going from one state to another. The only way that you will know that you are crossing a national border will be by a sign saying that you are now entering another country. When you stop, you will find that the people speak a different language that is more different than the language spoken in New York City is different from that spoken in Richmond, Virginia. It is an almost unbelievable sign of progress. As once commentator put it: a war between Germany and France is now almost unthinkable. Two generations of peace in Europe following W.W.II have been needed to accomplish this, plus the fact that all European countries now have high standards of living. A native of any country usually prefers to continue living where he was born and raised.
Could this happen in North America? I suspect that there would be no problem if the border between the U.S. and Canada was an open one, where people could travel freely without being checked. In terms of people movement, there is now little or no control, although there is a lot of control of the movement of goods. As it is today, citizens of both countries can move freely. The last time I crossed the Canadian border, there was no problem with me, but my portable computer resulted in a bureaucratic nightmare.
How about Mexico? I really don't know whether the problems would increase or decrease. The major problem is the wide disparity in the standard of living between the two countries. Poor but ambitious Mexicans would pour across the border in search of a better life -or would they? I suspect that many Mexicans would come here to make money and go back to Mexico to spend it, which they are doing now, but there would be more of it.
I think that it would be a good idea to take a closer look at the possibility of open borders on this continent. There is no doubt in my mind that the vast majority of people would prefer to remain where they are. In some border cities, this is exactly what happens. Many Mexicans come to the states to work during the day and return to Mexico at night. A large number of bilingual people live in two countries, to everyone's benefit.
The obstacle to open borders is the vast disparity in standards of living between nations. Open borders are really practical between economic equals, or at least near equals.
You will, of course, hear the familiar cries of "The Mexicans will take our jobs," and "they wouldn't know what to do with the money." The same bigotry that we have always heard would raise its ugly head.
What I am saying now may seem like a cry in the wilderness, but it wouldn't surprise me if my grandchildren, and perhaps even my children will see open borders in North America. Eventually, perhaps, there might even be a common currency. A major obstacle to it is that we have a European heritage of insularity and xenophobia.
Perhaps we might eventually, end up as One World -or as No World.
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