Practical gradualism vs. moral absolutism, for immigration and revolution

by on February 16, 2014 at 7:33 am in History, Philosophy, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

After reading Alex’s post I was a bit worried I would wake up this morning and find the blog retitled, maybe with a new subtitle too.  Just a few quick points:

1. There is a clear utilitarian case against open borders, namely that it will — in some but not all cases — lower the quality of governance and destroy the goose that lays the golden eggs.  The world’s poor would end up worse off too.  I wonder if Alex will apply his absolutist idea on fully open borders to say Taiwan.

2. Alex’s examples don’t support his case as much as he suggests.  The American Revolution compromised drastically on slavery, among other matters.  (And does Alex even favor that revolution?  Should he?  Can you be a moral absolutist on both that revolution and on slavery?)  American slavery ended through a brutal war, not through the persuasiveness of moral absolutists per se.  The British abolished slavery for off-shore islands, but they were very slow to dismantle colonialism, and would have been slower yet if not for two World Wars and fiscal collapse.  Should the British anti-slavery movement have insisted that all oppressive British colonialism be ended at the same time?  You may argue this one as you wish, but the point is one of empirics, not that the morally absolutist position is generally better.

3. Gay marriage is like “open borders for Canadians.”  I’m for both, but I don’t see many people succeeding with the “let’s privatize marriage” or “let’s allow any consensual marriage” arguments, no matter what their moral or practical merits may be.  Gay marriage advocates were wise to stick with the more practical case, again choosing an interior solution.  Often the crusades which succeed are those which feel morally absolute to their advocates and which also seem like practically-minded compromises to moderates and the undecided.

4. Large numbers of important changes have come quite gradually, including women’s rights, protection against child abuse, and environmentalism, among others.  I don’t for instance think parents should ever hit their children, but trying to make further progress on children’s rights by stressing this principle is probably a big mistake and counterproductive.

5. The strength of tribalist intuitions suggests that the moral arguments for fully open borders will have a tough time succeeding or even gaining basic traction in a world where tribalist sentiments have very often been injected into the level of national politics and where, nationalism, at least in the wealthier countries, is perceived as working pretty well.  The EU is by far the biggest pro-immigration step we’ve seen, which is great, but we’re seeing the limits of how far that can be pushed.  My original post gave some good evidence that a number of countries — though not the United States — are pretty close to the point of backlash from further immigration.  Rather than engaging such evidence, I see many open boarders supporters moving further away from it.

6. In the blogosphere, is moralizing really that which needs to be raised in relative status?

Addendum: Robin Hanson adds comment.

And: Alex responds in the comments:

Some good points but only point number #5 actually addresses my argument. I argued that strong, principled moral arguments are most likely to succeed. Point #5 rests on mood affiliation. I know because having a different mood I read the facts in that point in entirely the opposite way. Namely that it’s amazing that although our moral instincts were built on the tribe we have managed to expand the moral circle far beyond the tribe. Having come so far I see no reason why we can’t continue to expand the moral circle to include all human beings. The open borders of the EU is indeed a triumph. Let’s create the same thing with Canada and then lets join with the EU.

Do not make the mistake (as in point #2) of thinking that the moral argument only succeeds when we make fully moral choices. It also succeeds by pushing people to move in the right direction when other arguments would not do that at all.

1 Michael February 16, 2014 at 8:02 am

You guys want to argue the morality of open borders, fine. But then this isn’t a blog about economics–it’s a blog about libertarian politics, philosophy, and morality. Which is fine, but maybe a blog retitle is in order.

2 Adam Smith February 16, 2014 at 8:16 am

I could not disagree with your second sentence more. I have much to say on this topic, but here’s one bit:

“The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Avarice over-rates the difference between poverty and riches: ambition, that between a private and a public station: vain-glory, that between obscurity and extensive reputation. The person under the influence of any of those extravagant passions, is not only miserable in his actual situation, but is often disposed to disturb the peace of society, in order to arrive at that which he so foolishly admires.” ~Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

3 False claimant February 17, 2014 at 10:13 am

Kinda proves the point when you quote a moral philosopher instead of an economist.

4 Rahul February 16, 2014 at 9:32 am

You got your wish. Look at the brave new title. 🙂

5 casey February 16, 2014 at 6:45 pm

For those that didn’t notice the new title..
REVOLUTION – Big steps towards a Much, Much More Moral World.

6 Corporate Serf February 17, 2014 at 8:05 am

Can you please change it back? It looks weird on the chrome tabs

7 Nathan W February 16, 2014 at 4:16 pm

The philosophical roots of economics are moral philosophy. Adam Smith was a moral philosopher, and that’s what he taught at the University of Edinburgh. You could hardly be getting more back to roots than bringing politics, philosophy and morality together under the banner of economic questions.

8 ladderff February 17, 2014 at 7:26 am

That the philosophical roots of economics are moral philosophy—specifically Whig philosophy—is a historical accident. The true parent of economics is thermodynamics, with an emphasis on information theory.

9 Adam Smith February 17, 2014 at 9:31 am

I beg to differ, you berk.

10 CPV February 16, 2014 at 8:11 am

Very well said. Contra Alex. in the real world, the practical is the moral.

11 Brian Donohue February 16, 2014 at 9:44 am

Well, if you’re scoring at home, Tyler’s ‘moral high ground’ observation on Caplan was the fatal misstep that got the latest ball rolling, tho Alex did apply copious gasoline to really get the nativist fuming to a fever pitch.

Not a productive tack, IMO.

12 Chip February 16, 2014 at 8:13 am

How does Alex grade his students?

Does he give them all As so they all get what they want, or does he assess them on their merits, so some proceed to degrees and grad school and others fail to do so.

The moralistic argument is ridiculous without logic. Morals differ from person to person and culture. If they all pursued their particular moralistic arguments it would be chaos – or war.

It is logic that got us where we are. To suggest otherwise is to triumph instinct and feeling – and abandon our higher functions.

I’m somewhat shocked anyone out of childhood is even making this argument.

13 Michael February 16, 2014 at 8:27 am

Brilliant response–succinct, to the point, and accurate.

Those who enjoy taking the moral high ground have difficulties with the awkward possibility that their morals have limited value.

14 A Berman February 16, 2014 at 10:18 am

“Morals differ from person to person and culture.” +1.

15 Rahul February 16, 2014 at 10:25 am

Indeed. But we don’t really condone, say cannibalism, by pointing out that in some tribal moral calculus it might be an acceptable act?

The fact that morality is not absolute is a red herring: Most of our policy & law is based on some consensus moral principles that the western world subscribes to. Gauging immigration by that yardstick is what matters.

16 Michael February 16, 2014 at 11:09 am

Well, we can’t really gauge immigration by that yardstick if we’re going to open the borders to those cannibals.

17 Nathan W February 16, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Or we could learn to agree to disagree, or to appreciate the reasoning behind alternative moral perspectives, while offering outlets for them within democratic processes.

18 FYI February 16, 2014 at 8:13 am

As it has been said so many times, open borders and welfare states are incompatible. You open all borders and a billion Chinese/Indian/name your African country would come rushing into Europe and the US. The speed of the movement would also be a huge problem, since expanding capacity in cities is not easy (you see this easily in huge 3rd world cities like Sao Paulo).
I totally agree with Tyler here. A gradual approach is the way to go. I am very conservative but I think a “North America Union” would be a great thing. Mexicans already come to the US anyway, and Canada is in so similar to the US. The economic results would be great, including the end of all these thorny immigration debates. It is unfortunate that my fellows conservatives are so wrong on this area (alas not as much as Alex).

19 Nathan W February 16, 2014 at 4:44 pm

And now that Canada has become more conservative than America, opposition from the Canadians would not be so virulent. The fear of calling the likes of GWB our national leader will still probably stop this from happening.

20 Inane Rambler February 17, 2014 at 5:34 pm

If you believe that Canada is more conservative than the US I have a bridge to Russia to sell you.

21 Peter Schaeffer February 17, 2014 at 12:47 am

FYI,

“I am very conservative but I think a “North America Union” would be a great thing”

That so brilliant. We can solve all of our national problems by adding 121 million people to Obamacare, food stamps, WIC, disability, SSI, Social Security, EBT, TANF, Medicaid, Medicare, etc.

Genius, just genius.

22 QWERTY February 16, 2014 at 8:15 am

Dear Tyler,

Tell us a little about your ideas of inheritance in general. Do you think everything belongs to the state due to the “accident of birth” , we must assume Alex and Caplan support this idea.

It is very strange that people who believe strongly in property right , can change their argument around when it comes to immigration. Suddenly the japanese dont have any collective ownership to Japan evenhough they have been living there for so long and build a lovely society, invested in public goods and so on. Apperently Alex cbelives he has a right to move there tomorrow and he will then claim he has the same right to enjoy the “golden eggs” as the japanese.
THis viewpoint is clearly not the moral highground, but instead just an idea that support freeriding over responsibilty.

I simply dont understand how anybody can hold such a view.

23 Z February 16, 2014 at 11:08 am

The B-side of this accident of birth stuff is this. The dimwit in one of these unpleasant places Tyler and Alex fret over so much is trapped there as well. Harvesting the smart fraction, which is what Tyler is interested in here, leaves the dimwits trapped in a land run by other dimwits. They want to apply the same policies that made Detroit a violent reservation to whole swaths of the world. Condemning a billion people to live in Detroit is beyond immoral.

Frankly, if we are searching for a moral answer, a revival of missionary work is in order. In a prior age, Christian nations would send priests to convert the savages. I suggest socialist nations start sending their priests, lawyers and economists, off to the corners of the globe to fix up these poor people and their broken cultures. Alex and Tyler would do a ton of good preaching to Fang people of Equatorial Guinea.

24 Nathan W February 16, 2014 at 4:46 pm

The “dimwits” probably never had a chance to go to school because their parents had access to only a few hectares to grow some millet, and if they did get any schooling, there were probably no textbooks, etc.

Your post exudes ignorance. And yes, those “socialist nations”, including the US of A through USAID, are sending priests, lawyers and economists to various corners of the globe to help them get on their feet.

25 ho February 18, 2014 at 7:49 am

“The “dimwits” probably never had a chance to go to school because their parents had access to only a few hectares to grow some millet, and if they did get any schooling, there were probably no textbooks, etc.”

Yes because those that do are so much better. (c.f. Darkies in America)

26 ho February 18, 2014 at 7:51 am

In case you didn’t get it, I was mocking you. Unintelligent people are unintelligent regardless of their possibilities.

27 Enrique February 16, 2014 at 8:18 am

As an aside, “open borders” works well within the United States (among the 50 States), so it does seem arbitrary not to extend an open border system to Mexico or Canada … But only if Mexico and Canada are willing to reciprocate and open their borders to us … Also, although absolutism is a dangerous and overrated approach, Alex at least is logically consistent: why free trade in goods but not in labor?

28 Jody February 16, 2014 at 9:07 am

All else being equal, goods have significantly fewer externalities than people.

29 Enrique February 16, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Positive externalities or negative ones?

30 Peter Schaeffer February 16, 2014 at 4:24 pm

“Why free trade in goods but not in labor?”

Imported toasters don’t consume handouts, undermine public education, demand racial quotas, impose linguistic divisions, bring a 50%+ illegitimacy rate, raise crime rates (a lot), make housing unaffordable, increase gridlock, consume scarce natural resources, etc.

People are not goods. Its an easy point (we fought a Civil War over this very subject). However, the market mania (and dominant cosmopolitan elitism) of our time has obscured this lesson. In the words of the late Swiss writer Max Frisch:

”We wanted workers, we got people.”

Max Frisch had something else to say that’s just as important. He wrote a play, “THE FIREBUGS,”

The play is a classic cautionary drama from 1958 in which a city is terrorized by unknown arsonists. Frisch compares the advent of the arsonists to the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia and to Hitler’s rise to power.

A quote from Frisch

“What everyone could see coming for so long duly came in the end: stupidity, never to be extinguished, now to be called fate.”

One of the best condemnations of Open Borders, ever.

31 Jody February 16, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Both positive and negative. The extent of each depends on the person and the society.

My point being, comparatively, the movement of goods across borders is simpler to analyze than the movement of people across borders because of the larger number of externalities associated with people.

32 Peter Schaeffer February 16, 2014 at 10:07 am

E,

Imported goods don’t yield multigenerational poverty, failing schools,welfare dependency, crime, gridlock, unaffordable housing, societal chaos, etc. Let me quote from Gail the Teacher (writing in opposition to Bryan Caplan).

“Let me guess: you don’t (nor have you ever) lived in a community, a neighborhood, in which open borders has resulted in welfare lines at the HHS building two miles away, with anchor baby mothers and their little ones being served your tax dollars. You haven’t waited in a doctor’s office while MediCal patients, armed with their anchor babies, sit five to a row, a mother with four kids (each child about 14 months apart–oh, and btw, not all the kids are actually “anchor” children…maybe only one or two were born here but in your open borders world it’s a moot point anyway). You haven’t stood in the line at Food-4-Less, trying to save a few bucks on your families’ grocery bill while the open borders crowds in front of you pay the bill with food stamps and merrily walk out, only to find a dent they left in your car door. (Funny how they have no appreciation of MY car). Let me guess: you’re thinking, “What a small-minded person, worrying about such little things while I, Caplan the Economist, think of the large ideas of life, the trivial daily problems of regular ole working Americans and their families be damned.”)

You haven’t had the principal tell you that because he needs an extra teacher for the new ESL section he’s opened, he’s pulling out one of your colleagues from the English Department, leaving 37 kids from her former class to be absorbed by the four other sections of the course; thus, you’ve not been told to be ready the next day to receive your “share” of the change.

You haven’t had meeting after meeting to determine some way, ANY way, to encourage the Open Border kids and their parents to learn English, to see to it homework is done–or at least attempted– and most importantly, to see to it they don’t remove their kids from school for five weeks around Christmas and ten days around Easter. (“How is it ‘poor people’ find the money for all that gas or airfare,” you never have to wonder.)

You don’t ever get to see first hand, do you, Bryan, that there are indeed peoples and cultures that don’t want to live the “American Dream” as YOU understand that dream, which includes an education and a grasp of at least the basics of such an education?

Nor do you understand that there are people who don’t wish to assimilate, do you? Nor do you need to ponder why they should when the border is open, when they can cross it any time they wish, and when their real home, the home of the heart, is tanks of gas and a cheap plane ride away.

You do not send your children to these schools, do you, Bryan? You live in no such neighborhood, do you, Bryan? Nor would you because you know the performance of a school is really the performance of the children of that school and your children would learn next to nothing in such a school, but you don’t think anything’s wrong with the children of other Americans who are middle and working class sending their kids to this school, this school of kids who aren’t really (oh, oh, this is probably a really sore spot with you) not_ very_ bright. No, Bryan, not bright. In fact, the occupy the lower end of the Bell. Is it any wonder they don’t show an interest in school? How does one learn algebra, how does one care about algebra with an IQ of 87 or so when multiplication tables are difficult enough?

Indulge in all the intellectualism you wish. It changes nothing. You are intellectually dishonest, and face it, a hypocrite. Or, surprise me by having a new baby, moving to a community like the one I’ve described, living in the neighborhood, and sending your son or daughter to the neighborhood school there. “

33 RPLong February 16, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Can I trouble you to define the phrase “intellectually dishonest” for me? I want to know how it differs from regular dishonesty.

34 Peter Schaeffer February 16, 2014 at 4:08 pm

RPL,

Actually I am quoting from ‘Gail the Teacher’. However, let me try to answer anyway.

Ordinary dishonesty usually involves stealing money, cheating on your wife, taking bribes, etc.

Intellectual dishonesty is more typically claiming you believe one thing, when you really believe another.

“Or, surprise me by having a new baby, moving to a community like the one I’ve described, living in the neighborhood, and sending your son or daughter to the neighborhood school there.”

Alex doesn’t really believe in Open Borders. He believes in a system where the government fails to protect our national borders so that he can personally profit and where the same government rigidly protects his personal property, neighborhood, etc.

35 RPLong February 16, 2014 at 4:27 pm

I see. That’s quite a claim.

36 Christopher Chang February 17, 2014 at 12:02 am

Can you elaborate a bit more on why you’re confident that Alex Tabarrok is being dishonest? I admit I have not closely followed his writing; but I have closely followed Bryan Caplan, and I am fairly confident at this point that Caplan is not meaningfully dishonest. To the contrary, I believe Caplan is a strikingly honest religious zealot, and people like him have made many contributions to Western Civilization in the past. Tabarrok is closely associated with Caplan, so I’m curious if there’s something you’ve seen that clearly distinguishes the two. (I will outline my case for Caplan if you think there is none to be made.)

In contrast, RPLong himself *is* dishonest. See http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/02/meditations-on-steve-sailer-and-bryan-caplan.html#comment-158046428 . Given how easy it is to argue in bad faith on the Internet *without* being caught–one can withdraw from a discussion at any time without any need to defend their action–when something like this happens, it’s a very, very strong indication of chronic bad faith on Ryan’s part. This is only likely to happen to someone who has become grossly overconfident in the effectiveness of the dishonest “claim open borders folks have all the ‘good’ arguments, then find any excuse to dismiss the counterarguments” sort of approach after using it over and over (and one can verify that Ryan has indeed used it over and over), rather than an isolated misjudgment. There are still some types of arguments, requiring no subjective judgment on his part, which he can effectively make for the open borders cause; but it is now correct for everyone to assume that all his subjective judgments–such as claiming that all the arguments against open borders are “bad”–are ludicrously biased, and his claims of open-mindedness are made in bad faith.

In addition, while “linking does not imply endorsement”, actually letting someone continue to blog for you does constitute endorsement. If openborders.info continues letting Ryan blog for them after their admins are aware of what he has done (and I’ll make sure that happens), they endorse his tactics and it becomes correct to assume bad faith from ALL of their bloggers who don’t explicitly distance themselves from Ryan.

37 Peter Schaeffer February 17, 2014 at 1:04 am

CC,

“Can you elaborate a bit more on why you’re confident that Alex Tabarrok is being dishonest?”

Not to hard. From a prior post (of mine) over at Caplan’s weblog.

“However, lets not stop at Open Borders. Why not Open Doors? There are billions of people around the world who would be better off living in your home. Please don’t tell me that you are going to discriminate against them by closing your doors to those in need. I’ve got dozens of folks eager to share your house right now. For a very modest fee they will even cook and clean for you.

Don’t be some kind of closed minded bigot and deny them an opportunity for a better life.”

AT is perfectly willing to embrace Open Borders as long as he can profit from Open Borders, by sacrificing other Americans. When it comes to his home, his neighborhood, his family, his schools, etc. he is a full bore restrictionist. To quote from Gail The Teacher (again)

“Indulge in all the intellectualism you wish. It changes nothing. You are intellectually dishonest, and face it, a hypocrite. Or, surprise me by having a new baby, moving to a community like the one I’ve described, living in the neighborhood, and sending your son or daughter to the neighborhood school there.”

38 RPLong February 17, 2014 at 12:13 pm

CC, I don’t know what you think you’ve managed to prove, but you haven’t even come close.

39 Christopher Chang February 17, 2014 at 10:01 pm

@PS: Well, Caplan defends himself from that with an incredibly unpopular, but honest, piece: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2012/03/my_beautiful_bu.html . He’s happy to live in an atomized society, and think it’s “perverse” (that’s the word he uses in another post) that others don’t want to. He’s fine with his neighborhood and schools, at least, being exposed to the market, and I strongly disagree with his case/preference that home/family is the only domestic unit that protection is appropriate for but I wouldn’t characterize it as dishonest.

There is of course the problem that his open borders advocacy, while ineffective at persuading normal people, does provide cover for traitorous political elites, and he should know this (http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2013/08/sympathy_for_th_1.html , 4th paragraph). But his writing is so far from optimal for that purpose–others have honestly wondered whether he’s covertly trying to support the other side, though one can demonstrate that his writing isn’t close to optimal for that purpose either–that I’m willing to give him a pass here. If he ever selectively stops voicing his most unpopular views to improve the quality of the intellectual cover he gives, he loses innocence, but I don’t think that will ever happen.

I suppose that does make Caplan a special case, and maybe it’s my responsibility to search for evidence that Tabarrok also qualifies for the “unpopular honesty” exception. If you’re aware of anything Tabarrok has written that demonstrates that he’s less honest and more intent on providing intellectual cover for native-screwing elites than Caplan is, though, that’d be helpful.

@RPLong: Let’s walk through this again, shall we?

After an unexceptional disagreement with me, you

– took one of my arguments you *hadn’t* addressed, and instead of addressing it, you represented me as saying something ridiculous instead (“irritating-but-true”), and saying that was a bad argument. (I agree that that’s a bad argument! That “Christopher Chang” guy who made it, and people like him, must be selfish pricks!)
– Then you linked to your post from Tyler’s comments section. (Otherwise I wouldn’t have seen it.)
– Then when I called you on this, you tried to deny what you were doing, claiming that your blog post was *only* about people like Tyler, not about me. Even though (i) your blog post was written before the relevant Tyler post, and you didn’t mention Tyler or link to one of his earlier posts, (ii) you DID mention me by name and put a quote from me as the centerpiece, and (iii) in any case, Tyler clearly states that he doesn’t think what Bryan says is true, either.

And what haven’t you done?

– Address the arguments I actually made, instead of misrepresenting them and attaching my name to the misrepresentation.
– Stop claiming that your side has all the good arguments when you suspect or know there are opposing arguments you haven’t addressed.
– Even indicated that you were previously familiar with, or have looked up and understood, what type I error and type II error are and how they’re relevant to the discussion.

Of course, there are lots of other people who engage in idiotic behavior on the Internet. The rest don’t misrepresent me and link to those misrepresentations from very popular blogs, though. Can you imagine Bryan Caplan or Vipul Naik behaving like this? I can’t either. Especially since Vipul is aware of what I’ve done in real life, and in particular, knows that I’m very, very good at proving things. (It doesn’t matter if you don’t accept the “proof”, it’s what the community thinks that matters.)

The best thing you can probably do now, if you want to limit the damage and don’t want to get in the way of genuine altruists like Vipul, is quietly resign from the Open Borders blog. That’s a slap on the wrist that still holds you accountable for what you’ve done, and lets us all move on. Things are likely to get ugly if you’re too proud to even do that.

40 Floccina February 17, 2014 at 10:21 am

I do not think that there is much evidence of this:

your children would learn next to nothing in such a school

I am sure that Bryan’s children would do well in almost any school.

41 Peter Schaeffer February 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm

F,

“I am sure that Bryan’s children would do well in almost any school”

Perhaps they would. However, revealed choice shows that Caplan and others of his kind don’t believe it. They (essentially) never send their own children to schools swamped with underclass immigrant children. Open Borders definitely stops at the school house door. Of course, even unanimity on this point is not limited to libertarians, traditional liberals are in lockstep agreement. See Losing School Choice – Why Did Mark Thoma Move His Kids? – http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2008/01/losing-school-c.html

“[What did I do? Initially, my kids went to their neighborhood school, and the elementary school was one of the lowest average income schools in Eugene. I volunteered a lot – e.g. I led science experiments in third and fourth grades – and what I saw was a learning environment was less than optimal. Test scores were awful and many of the higher income families had moved their kids elsewhere. But I believed kids should go to their neighborhood schools, partly for social reasons, so I started them in their neighborhood school. But after a couple of years we moved to a new district and things changed dramatically. You pretty much had to take a number to help in the classes, the parents in the school used fundraisers to hire extra science and music teachers to come in once a week, all sorts of things like that. The state sent the same amount per pupil to both schools by law, but because of the difference in parent involvement and differences in income, and the use of devices like external fundraising and volunteers, the disparities were pretty large. If I had to do it over, I would likely transfer my kids much sooner, i.e. from the start.]”

If Mark Thoma believes (both in word and action) that getting his kids out of underclass schools is a worthy goal, why should anyone be surprised that libertarians (who actively embrace radical inequality) would do the same.

42 QWERTY February 16, 2014 at 11:29 am

“why free trade in goods but not in labor?”

Thats a tricky one. Maybe because people and “goods” are very different. Goods are made by people and for people. People are made by people and – if you like to phrase it like that for people.

I can byu a car and cut it in half. Can I buy a person and cut it in half?

It ought to be pretty clear that “goods” and “labour” are not the same. Even basic intro econ books have different chapters dealing with the differences between labour and goods markets.

BTW: Alex is not consistent. He believes in property rights, hence he actually own a house and an tell you, that you are not welcome there due to the fact that it is his house. But – according to Alex – the japanese shouldn’t be allowed to tell you, that you are not welcome in Japan.
It is very strange, and Alex jsut like Caplan are cherry-picking arguments and what they call “moral-frameworks” – it is funny, but not “consistent”

43 Al February 16, 2014 at 12:34 pm

It’s also interesting that, in the libertarian worldview, where people have individual rights and individual differences of opinion are highly valued, such differences are not taken into account in the open borders argument.

Individual differences of opinion and behavior seem to be casually ignored when it comes to incoming people from other countries. It seems to assume that all of these people will simply think and behave in a manner consistent with the host country. And sometimes these differences will cause problems for the host country, run afoul of host country regulations, etc. The open border argument seems to hold that, incoming people are some kind of standardized, undifferentiated, work-unit provider which exists only in the realm of an economic model.

But the truth is much more complicated. New people from other countries will have all of the rights and individuality which the Libertarian celebrates. These new workers will be people, complex, variegated, sometimes uninformed, sometimes uneducated, sometimes unhealthy, often alienated and needy. Their presence in the society and the economy will often be disruptive.

How can any nation which embraces an actual open-border policy fairly manage these new complications and needs? How exactly can its government operate and provide basic services and infrastructure maintenance? Where will the money come from? And how will you ever get the existing constituencies to embrace your answers to these practical, but critical questions?

Until the open borders movement provides real, practical answers, people will ignore it. At this point, it is nothing more than a naive oversimplification, an unwarranted extrapolation.

44 asdf February 16, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Most open borders advocates, when not flat out plutocrats doing it for personal advantage, are spergy libertarian nerds that are probably only capable of understanding human beings as fungible worker/consumer units because they are not aware of anything higher due to their damaged minds.

45 Nathan W February 16, 2014 at 4:54 pm

When goods can move freely but people can’t, you can only expect that this will benefit capital holders (who produce and sell goods) far more so than the workers involved in producing the goods. Since capital holders (the rich) usually have more ability to pull various strings in power, the current setup is a priori (if possible) easy to expect.

It is also easy to expect that people who live in rich countries will prefer to maintain exclusionary policies whereby they can benefit from better access to the jobs associated with producing those goods. But now that companies can usually set up in most countries if they want to, I believe the end effect is that capital holders get the best of both worlds (can produce and sell anywhere) whereas workers have constrained negotiating ability because a) they can’t move and b) capital can if they negotiate too hard. Not a very good bargain for workers unless you’re in a rich country and are in a segment of the labour market that does not face competition from workers in poor countries.

46 Peter Schaeffer February 17, 2014 at 1:12 am

NW,

“When goods can move freely but people can’t, you can only expect that this will benefit capital holders”

This explains why every corporate lobby in the world pours millions of dollars in promoting Open Borders and the opponents are (almost invariably) middle-class citizens concerned about their country.

Your argument is trivially refuted by the most basic political facts about immigration. Quote from “John Gay’s Unholy Alliance – ‘Big Immigration’ Terrorizes Washington”

“His name is John Gay and at the moment he’s the most feared man in Washington.

Politicians are so freaked out by Gay that a sizable segment of the Republican Party, including the president, is willing to risk the party’s control of Congress after this fall’s elections to keep him happy.

If Gay gets his way, within 15 years the GOP will have a hard time winning a presidential race again because the 60 million largely Hispanic immigrants Gay wants to bring to this country vote Democratic at least 60 percent of the time. Yet the GOP is still struggling to decide — Gay or the future of the party?

The Democrats, not to be outdone, have included an identical version of the immigration legislation Gay’s buddies wrote in their bills, too. That’s because what John Gay wants, John Gay gets.

It’s not that Gay is particularly powerful or fantastically wealthy in his own right. He’s not. Technically speaking — and I emphasize the word “technically” — Gay is the head lobbyist for the National Restaurant Association, which is how most reporters on the Hill still identify him in print.

But it’s his other “side” affiliations that have politicians so antsy. Simply put, on the Hill, Gay is the face of the most unholy political alliance ever created. Big oil, big tobacco and the entire defense industry could unite behind an issue and they couldn’t touch this.

As the head of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC), Gay represents a fearsome coalition of businesses. The depth and breadth of its membership and its member organizations’ membership is such that if you attempted to boycott the businesses backing open borders and massive immigration, you’d have to go naked and stop eating.

EWIC is the immigration lobbying arm of the US Chamber of Commerce, which by itself represents more than 3 million businesses, hundreds of industry organizations and thousands of chambers of commerce. The Chamber’s board is stacked with executives from BellSouth, the National Restaurant Association, Verizon, Nike, Pepsi, State Farm Insurance, Xerox, Dow Chemical — and that’s just a small sample.

EWIC’s own membership list includes more than 40 of the most powerful industry groups in America, each of which represents the biggest names in every industry. Take just one EWIC member organization, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, for example.

Unofficially known as “Wal-Mart’s baby,” the NACDS board also includes execs from Rite Aid, Kroger, Walgreen, CVS, Eckerd and Kerr — among two dozen others. The NACDS membership base operates more than 36,000 retail community pharmacies with annual sales totaling more than $650 billion and more than 1,000 suppliers of goods and services to chain community pharmacies.

And that’s just one of EWIC’s 48 member organizations. The others are just as daunting.

But EWIC and the Chamber are only one part of the centralized, highly organized immigration movement Gay and his bosses keep tightly under their thumbs. About six years ago, the EWIC crowd joined forces with a coalition of many of the former member organizations of the AFL-CIO, which together represent millions of workers and hope to capitalize on the new immigrant labor base.

Then there’s the media side, which is run out of the National Immigration Forum, which, not-so-coincidentally, Gay also happens to chair. This coalition of immigrant rights, union, and Hispanic groups like La Raza and UNITE has been the face and the voice behind the immigration issue, the folks charged with making it look like this movement came out of the grassroots rather than the corporate boardrooms. So the organizing side brings together hundreds of thousands of bodies to march in the streets while the business cabal fronts the money, pays for the advertising and leads the lobbying effort on Capitol Hill. Brilliant.

When reporters interview the “immigration” side — like La Raza — and then scurry off to get quotes from the “Hispanic” and “business” sides, they probably don’t realize that they are interviewing the same incestuous organized group of people all talking off the very same immigration talking points EWIC has been passing around Congress for years, the same set of talking points that many members of Congress use.

But don’t let any of this fool you. This isn’t about what’s good for immigrants or the country. It’s about what’s good for business.

Gay’s mission is to ensure that American business has an endless supply of low-skilled, exploitable labor. If he only succeeds in ramming a guest worker program through Congress, he will have failed, because legal workers have rights. Without wide open borders and a federal government that deliberately undermines its own border patrol, American business can’t ensure a simultaneous inflow of illegals to depress wages and create a climate of fear among legal low-skilled immigrants that they will lose their jobs to illegals. That’s why Gay’s groups have given lip service to border security but have been violently opposed to anything that would actually accomplish it.

As Congress moves closer to an immigration bill, I watch and wonder: Will John Gay get his way?”

47 Peter Schaeffer February 17, 2014 at 1:16 am

NW,

“But now that companies can usually set up in most countries if they want to, I believe the end effect is that capital holders get the best of both worlds (can produce and sell anywhere) whereas workers have constrained negotiating ability because a) they can’t move and b) capital can if they negotiate too hard. Not a very good bargain for workers unless you’re in a rich country and are in a segment of the labour market that does not face competition from workers in poor countries.”

If this was true, business would be supporting border control and immigration restriction. That the exact opposite of the truth. The line about “they can’t move” is funny. Life would be so much better for American workers if they could move to Mexico, Nigeria, India, China, etc. Is that a joke or what?

However, you are onto something with “unless you’re in a rich country and are in a segment of the labour market that does not face competition from workers in poor countries”

Like university professor?

48 AlanH February 17, 2014 at 12:46 pm

It seems to me the point of so-called ‘open borders’ in the US, and as recently attempted in the EU, is completely misrepresented in the dialogue here: The point of free movement of people within the US, which the EU (Brussels…) is attempted to mimic, is not to open any border, but rather to redefine in some polity’s mind which border is the important one. In the US the point was to create as the main shared political identity that of the nation rather than a citizen’s state. So, too, in the EU of today the goal is to reduce if possible a person’s cultural and loyalty bond to their nation, and transfer that loyalty to a supra-national entity (for the time being), the EU.

The requirement for this redefining of the most valued border is an agreement that the larger boundary provides the mass of individuals (or businesses…) with a preferred political (and eventually moral and economic) environment. It assumes that the various newly-enclosed states’ citizens will want to harmonize with the beliefs of the other enclosed populations while (if there are such ‘entitlements’) sharing its wealth, its infrastructure and revenue, with these citizens of other states, and being willing to compete as equals in the labor markets.

The removal of a justified sense of ownership in one’s land of citizenship is the result if an enlarged border is converted to a false explanation of the move as one to ever more open borders. That was not the purpose in making US national boundaries the limit of free movement of people, and it certainly is not the purpose of the EU’s moves.

Spend some time in Scandinavian countries if you don’t get it.

49 Alex Tabarrok February 16, 2014 at 9:31 am

Some good points but only point number #5 actually addresses my argument. I argued that strong, principled moral arguments are most likely to succeed. Point #5 rests on mood affiliation. I know because having a different mood I read the facts in that point in entirely the opposite way. Namely that it’s amazing that although our moral instincts were built on the tribe we have managed to expand the moral circle far beyond the tribe. Having come so far I see no reason why we can’t continue to expand the moral circle to include all human beings. The open borders of the EU is indeed a triumph. Let’s create the same thing with Canada and then lets join with the EU.

Do not make the mistake (as in point #2) of thinking that the moral argument only succeeds when we make fully moral choices. It also succeeds by pushing people to move in the right direction when other arguments would not do that at all.

50 Rahul February 16, 2014 at 10:14 am

Although I don’t agree with Open Borders, but I think Alex makes some good general points. e.g. What’s moral might be at odds with what’s efficient & one ought to acknowledge that.

51 jdm February 16, 2014 at 10:36 am

Actually, point #1 directly addresses your claim that open borders would be, without qualification, desirable in a utilitarian moral framework.

52 QWERTY February 16, 2014 at 11:33 am

Funny, how you just missed #1

“to expand the moral circle far beyond the tribe”

What does this even mean?
I thought you believed in classical liberal values. It is hard to see why closed borders should be something opposite to “expand the moral circle” – you wouldn’t say such a stupid thing when it comes to all other kinds of property right.

53 Chip February 16, 2014 at 11:50 am

Open borders with Canada and Mexico. Because it “feels” right presumably.

Yet Canada has free-at-use healthcare. So are Americans to simply cross the border and get free treatment? America hands out food stamps like candy these days. How many Mexicans can avail themselves?

Alex’s incentive in this is to feel righteous, to engage in moral exhibitionism. Some migrants will have work and success as an incentive. But many, perhaps most, will have free or cheaper stuff as an incentive.

And that has a price.

54 We live in interesting times February 16, 2014 at 12:57 pm

We are like Canadians so join with Canada and then the EU?

Our ancestors left for a reason.

We are citizens. We bow to no one. They are still subjects.

55 Corporate Serf February 17, 2014 at 8:11 am

Canada does not have free-at-use healthcare for foreigners. Only for citizens/residents.

56 A Berman February 16, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Alex: Re: expanding our moral circle: Would you agree that America should encourage Democracy everywhere, even through military means if necessary? Do you believe that there is a single ‘best’ morality and thus we have an obligation to seek it out and enforce it through a world government?

57 Peter Schaeffer February 16, 2014 at 3:26 pm

AB,

It should be no surprise that Bush believed in both Open Borders and using the military to impose our system, on the rest of the world, starting in the Middle East. It should also be no surprise, that his administration ended in disaster. Bush was infected with some extreme Blank Slate ideology that held that low-skill immigrants would somehow become ideal Americans (all evidence to the contrary) and that the Middle East was eager to become Kansas.

Perhaps the greatest failing of the Open Borders worldview is that it rejects diversity. Not the racial quotas diversity of the left, but the reality that people are different and given a chance will create radically different societies and bring those societies with them, if they area allowed to immigrate.

Call it the denial of Human Nature.

58 Eric February 17, 2014 at 6:30 pm

You think Bush really believed that nonsense?
I always had the impression that he probably had to fight back the laughter when he was saying it.

59 Peter Schaeffer February 17, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Eric,

“You think Bush really believed that nonsense? I always had the impression that he probably had to fight back the laughter when he was saying it”

Fair question. If he didn’t believe it, then he was even crazier and evil than his worst critics (such as myself) imagined.

What you are saying is that he was willing to destroy America at home to provide cheap labor for his greedy cronies and that he was willing to destroy America abroad so that a bunch of Neocons could feel good about themselves, before their ideas imploded.

My view of Bush is downright idealistic compared to yours.

60 Free Speech February 16, 2014 at 3:12 pm

The notion that the advocates of Open Borders enjoy the “high moral ground” is absurd. In real life, they are just the latest (and most arrogant and ardent) advocates of Slave Power. They claim a position based on some notion of superior principles. In truth, they are united only by their base greed and selfishness. The connection between Slave Power and Open Borders is apparent today and throughout American (and world) history.

For several millennium, there has always been an overclass eager to profit from cheap labor, preferably cheap labor with a different hue. The desire of the overclass to exploit some class of helots, rather than pay wages to their own citizens shows up time and time again. It shows up in antiquity, Europe after WWII, and in America today. Of course, it appears in many other places and times as well.

Rome provides one example. The Roman plutocracy eagerly exploited an ever greater quantity slave labor in the years leading up to Julius Caesar. Of course, the position of ordinary Romans declined as the plutocracy cast off the citizenry of Rome in favor of slaves. Welfare dependency (food handouts) expanded. Julius Caesar imposed laws limiting the use of slaves in favor of free Roman citizens, a step that did little to endear him to the aristocracy.

Overall, part of the story of Rome in the time of Julius Caesar, is expanding exploitation of slaves and rising welfare dependency. Can anyone fall to see the parallels with Open Borders and exploding food stamps in our own era?

One of the defining characteristics of Slave Power was the love of radical inequality, both economic and racial. No one can be surprised that the Open Borders movement shares these nightmare visions. At the height of Slave Power the instruments were whips and chains. Now we have the supposed virtues of cheap labor and the polite idea of ‘complementary immigration’. The reality that ‘complementary immigration’, means a society of ever more radical inequality is left out, though the advocates of Open Borders know the plot all too well.

Of course, we should not ignore the racial element of Open Borders. A decade ago, a prominent Mexican intellectual, Fredo Arias King wrote about the desire of white American politicians (both parties) for a more docile, subservient electorate. The politicians complained that their constituents were “too demanding” and how importing a new electorate would “solve” this problem. They eagerly embraced the Patron-Client relationship that mass immigration would make possible.

Why is it important to Slave Power that the immigrants be notably different? Because while Slave Power is greedy without limit, it has no desire to embrace and integrate those that it eager to exploit. The more different the slaves, the easier it is to keep them at a distance. In the 19th century Slave Power imposed draconian Black Codes to maintain their position. The Slave Power of our time, Open Borders, uses gated communities, restrictive zoning, and inflated real estate prices to maintain the same separation between those who profit from Open Borders, and the immigrants themselves.

Open Borders has been directly linked to Slave Power throughout much of American history. The Know Nothings were clearly xenophobic and anti-catholic. They were also the first anti-slavery party (in the North) in American history. By contrast, the Democrats captured the immigrant vote and worked tirelessly to expand slavery.

After the Civil War, Slave Power demanded an endless supply of cheap imported labor, regardless of the impact on ordinary Americans. Samuel Gompers, himself a Jewish immigrant from the UK put it well.

“America must not be overwhelmed.

Every effort to enact immigration legislation must expect to meet a number of hostile forces and, in particular, two hostile forces of considerable strength.

One of these is composed of corporation employers who desire to employ physical strength (broad backs) at the lowest possible wage and who prefer a rapidly revolving labor supply at low wages to a regular supply of American wage earners at fair wages.

The other is composed of racial groups in the United States who oppose all restrictive legislation because they want the doors left open for an influx of their countrymen regardless of the menace to the people of their adopted country.”

In our own time, we have Karl Rove demonstrating that Open Borders is just a new name for Slave Power. Let me quote

“I don’t want my 17-year-old son to have to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas”

Here we have the greed, racism, and segregationist worldview of Open Borders / Slave Power in just one sentence. Paul Cella captured the intrinsic connection between slave power and Open Borders when he wrote.

“Karl Rove is not alone in his expression of this trend. We have heard its like many times. It is rather horrifying to see this brazen appeal to class interests; and the horror is only magnified by the denigration of some category of honest work. A rather provocative way to state the problem is that the Republican Party, under its current leadership, is advancing a plutocratic theory of politics: an aristocracy of wealth. But even this does not capture the full ugliness of the thing, for in a true plutocracy, no form of wealth is derided. That a man made his fortune by, let us, “picking tomatoes” or “making beds,” does not bar him from entry into power. But here it is indicated that some occupations are dishonorable by nature, and that even success at them is contemptible.

It is noteworthy to me that this position flips the whole “jobs American won’t do” argument on its head. It’s not that there are jobs Americans won’t do: it’s that there are jobs we shouldn’t, because we are better that. Some are born to be served; and some are born to serve.”

The struggle against Open Borders is the struggle against Slave Power for today. Those who took up Slave Power in another time, now cloak their despotism under the pretense of Open Borders. Far being the upholders of some superior morality, they are the modern heirs of an ancient and endless desire to exploit those of a different race, creed and color. Anyone who takes up Open Borders has made of himself an advocate of Slave Power, a disciple of Slave Power, and an agent of Slave Power. All men and women of good will must oppose Slave Power and commit themselves to its abolition.

61 Nathan W February 16, 2014 at 4:57 pm

I think expanding the moral circle to include all human beings was actually the intended meaning of some of the most important messages of that God-like character worshiped by a significant portion of America (Jesus). Instead, too many of these folks focus on demonizing anyone who doesn’t ascribe to whatever interpretation of Christian scripture they ascribe to.

Love your neighbour. In a globalized world, everyone is your neighbour.

62 Jamie_NYC February 16, 2014 at 9:42 am

“1. There is a clear utilitarian case against open borders, namely that it will — in some but not all cases — lower the quality of governance and destroy the goose that lays the golden eggs. The world’s poor would end up worse off too.” Thanks you Tyler, you are indeed a wise man. The title of Steve Sailer’s next post will be: “Tyler Cowen has Seen the Light, and It Is Us.”

63 asdf February 16, 2014 at 9:59 am

Still feels like a boil the frog slowly type thing. In 2100 are any of us going to care how slightly faster/slower Mexicans completely took over and transformed our country? The damage has already been done. It’s true that open borders fanatics might speed things up/make their silliness obvious, but I feel like Tyler is just presenting some “moderate” middle ground that elites can feel comfortable belonging to now that we’ve already passed the tipping point and they can just let the status quo do its thing from here on out.

64 Locke February 16, 2014 at 11:51 am

What ‘damage’?

65 asdf February 16, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Based on current immigration patterns and birthrate projections the country will be majority non-white (mostly due to Mexicans) within not that long. If no changes are made this is the natural status quo outcome.

66 Psmith February 16, 2014 at 2:37 pm

So…what damage?

67 Peter Schaeffer February 16, 2014 at 4:33 pm

What Damage? See below.

The question is what is likely to be the impact of these immigrants on our nation. This topic has been extensively researched and the results are highly negative. A number of references make this point all to clearly.

1. The 1997 National Academy of Sciences study found that each low-skilled immigrant costs $89,000 over the course of his/her lifetime. Of course, the numbers would be much higher now (thanks in part to Obamacare).

“The NRC estimates indicated that the average immigrant without a high school education imposes a net fiscal burden on public coffers of $89,000 during the course of his or her lifetime. The average immigrant with only a high school education creates a lifetime fiscal burden of $31,000.”

2. There is little evidence that the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of illegals will do much better. Samuel Huntington looked at this subject in his book, “Who Are We”. See Table 9.1 on page 234. The bottom line is that educational attainment rises from the first to the second generation and then plateaus at levels far below the national average. For example, even by the fourth generation only 9.6% of Mexican-Americans have a post-high school degree.

3. The Heritage foundation found that low-skill immigrant households impose huge tax costs on Americans. See “The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer”. The summary is

“In 2010, the average unlawful immigrant household received around $24,721 in government benefits and services while paying some $10,334 in taxes. This generated an average annual fiscal deficit (benefits received minus taxes paid) of around $14,387 per household. This cost had to be borne by U.S. taxpayers. Amnesty would provide unlawful households with access to over 80 means-tested welfare programs, Obamacare, Social Security, and Medicare. The fiscal deficit for each household would soar.

At the end of the interim period (after the Amnesty is complete), unlawful immigrants would become eligible for means-tested welfare and medical subsidies under Obamacare. Average benefits would rise to $43,900 per household; tax payments would remain around $16,000; the average fiscal deficit (benefits minus taxes) would be about $28,000 per household.

Amnesty would also raise retirement costs by making unlawful immigrants eligible for Social Security and Medicare, resulting in a net fiscal deficit of around $22,700 per retired amnesty recipient per year.”

4. Heather MacDonald has written extensively on the bleak realities of mass unskilled immigration. I recommend “Seeing Today’s Immigrants Straight”. Key quote

“If someone proposed a program to boost the number of Americans who lack a high school diploma, have children out of wedlock, sell drugs, steal, or use welfare, he’d be deemed mad. Yet liberalized immigration rules would do just that. The illegitimacy rate among Hispanics is high and rising faster than that of other ethnic groups; their dropout rate is the highest in the country; Hispanic children are joining gangs at younger and younger ages. Academic achievement is abysmal.”

5. Edward P. Lazear’s (CEA / Harvard Economics) paper “Mexican Assimilation in the United States” has a wealth of statistics showing the raw deal from south of the border. Summary quote.

“By almost any measure, immigrants from Mexico have performed worse and become assimilated more slowly than immigrants from other countries. Still, Mexico is a huge country, with many high ability people who could fare very well in the United States. Why have Mexicans done so badly? The answer is primarily immigration policy.”

See also “Lazear on Immigration”. Money quote

“Immigrants from Mexico do far worse when they migrate to the United States than do immigrants from other countries. Those difficulties are more a reflection of U.S. immigration policy than they are of underlying cultural differences. The following facts from the 2000 U.S. Census reveal that Mexican immigrants do not move into mainstream American society as rapidly as do other immigrants.”

68 Peter Schaeffer February 16, 2014 at 4:35 pm

What Damage? See below.

From “Honesty from the Left on Hispanic Immigration – A provocative new book doesn’t flinch from delivering the bad news” (http://www.city-journal.org/2008/eon1008hm.html)

“John McCain and Barack Obama have largely avoided discussing immigration during the presidential campaign. But when it comes to the legal side of the issue, they both seem to support the status quo: an official policy centered around low-skilled, predominately Hispanic immigrants. A forthcoming book shows just how misguided that policy is, especially in light of the nation’s current economic woes. The Latino Education Crisis: The Consequences of Failed Social Policies, by Patricia Gandara and Frances Contreras, offers an unflinching portrait of Hispanics’ educational problems and reaches a scary conclusion about those problems’ costs. The book’s analysis is all the more surprising given that its authors are liberals committed to bilingual education, affirmative action, and the usual slate of left-wing social programs. Yet Gandara and Contreras, education professors at UCLA and the University of Washington, respectively, are more honest than many conservative open-borders advocates in acknowledging the bad news about Hispanic assimilation.

Hispanics are underachieving academically at an alarming rate, the authors report. Though second- and third-generation Hispanics make some progress over their first-generation parents, that progress starts from an extremely low base and stalls out at high school completion. High school drop-out rates—around 50 percent—remain steady across generations. Latinos’ grades and test scores are at the bottom of the bell curve. The very low share of college degrees earned by Latinos has not changed for more than two decades. Currently only one in ten Latinos has a college degree.”

69 msgkings February 16, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Yep…I’d like to hear that too. Life in this country has never been better for the vast majority of people, of any race.

70 Nathan W February 16, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Majority non-white by 2100. C’mon now, get with the program. We may has well hand the keys to the Pentagon to space invaders.

71 asdf February 16, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Like in the united states has been stagnant or worse for the average person since about the 1970s measured by any metric you can come up with. Those at the bottom, especially blacks, have gotten the worst of it.

72 Floccina February 17, 2014 at 10:42 am

Peter the negatives you point out seem to mostly among Hispanic immigrants how are the immigrants from China doing?

73 Peter Schaeffer February 18, 2014 at 12:50 am

F,

“Peter the negatives you point out seem to mostly among Hispanic immigrants how are the immigrants from China doing?”

You mean like Amy Chua? Of course, Amy’s family isn’t from China (they are from the Philippines) and she isn’t all Chinese (part Filipino on her father’s side). However, the answer should be pretty obvious. Highly skilled Asian immigrants do rather well in the United States (and lots of other places as well).

My notes focus on all immigrants in some cases, Hispanic immigrants in others, and the multigenerational descendants of those immigrants as well. Given that U.S. immigration (legal and illegal) is the least diverse in U.S. history, with just one language, one region, and one country dominating (which has never been true before), this makes sense.

74 Martin February 16, 2014 at 10:10 am

The open borders of Europe are reported here as some progress from some monolitic past. I recall Stefan Zweig describing his extendes journeys e.g. to the US and Brazil in “Die Welt von Gestern” (“The World of Yesterday”). The interesting thing here is that he mentioned how he did all this (plus some successful job applications in the US) without any papers of identification. Most notably, he explicitly constrasts this to the consequences of WWI, one of which was that everybody had to have a piece of identification everywhere.

This is a bit anecdotal, but if Zweig’s memory was right, open borders (for whoever was free to move in the first place, not to forget…) was a common feature before nationalism got violent in Europe – and on an international level, at that. And we are only halfway back to where we were. How is this progress, or even a “triumph”? Compared to what?

Anyway, I’d be gateful if people with more knowledge in history could confirm or rebut Zweig’s account (after all, he tended to romanticize the world of yesterday a bit).

Another possibility is, of course, that open borders were possible because people didn’t move that much back then as they would nowadays – and that borders where open for the simple reason that not so many crossed them anyway.

75 jdm February 16, 2014 at 10:50 am

Zweig’s account is accurate. Other travelers from the same period like Bertrand Russell made similar remarks. If the demographics of the world in 2014 were similar to those in 1914, open borders would indeed be extremely desirable. The problem now is simply demographics. Because of advances in public health and the drop in fertility rates in rich but not in poor countries, the population of poor countries has exploded relative to that of rich countries. The population of poor countries exceeds that or rich countries by almost an order of magnitude. Together with the relative ease of picking up and moving, and the relatively generous benefits provided by rich countries to its residents, this simple demographic fact makes open borders impossible in practice. No country could accommodate the huge influx of poor, mostly uneducated, people who would quickly show up on its door steps.

76 chuck martel February 16, 2014 at 11:33 am

Are we to believe then that entire populations of countries like Libya or Malaysia would move en masse to Italy or Singapore if open borders were a world-wide phenomenon? That the poorer countries would become ghost nations? If that’s the case, I might be wiling to trade my over-priced condo in suburban Philadelphia for a cheap but sturdy brick house in a now-deserted Casablanca.

77 jdm February 16, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Not the entire population. But a good fraction. How many of Egypt’s 80 million people would jump at the chance to leave that miserable, corrupt, soul crushing country for a chance to make a new life in Europe? Can one doubt that the percentage isn’t small? And Egypt is just one country, and far from the poorest.

78 chuck martel February 16, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Interesting reply. What’s keeping the current Egyptians from leaving their “miserable, corrupt, soul crushing country” for somewhere else? Is it impossible for them to leave? There are, after all, pockets of misery all over the world, corruption is endemic and there’s no shortage of folks in the most sophisticated of societies that complain of their souls being crushed. You could easily be speaking of West Memphis, AR or Brooklyn, IL. Or even Los Angeles. People still live in those places. It’s a good bet that there are lots of Egyptians that are proud to be Egyptians and like it along the Nile among their friends and relatives. Some of them are probably making a pretty good living, too, maybe as part of the corruption complex. Not everybody is looking at life from the purely economic standpoint of maximizing their income, however.

79 jdm February 16, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Well I guess they would need immigration visas and work permits, which are not so easy to get, at least when it comes to wealthy desirable countries. (If that weren’t the case, this whole topic would be moot.) It’s true that many places in the US are poor and miserable and soul crushing. A lot of people who grow up in places like that and end up moving elsewhere. Some people choose to stay. No doubt many people in Egypt profit from the corruption and are perfectly happy living there, and no doubt not everyone is driven by the desire for more money and a better material life. But lots of people are, and unfortunately there are now so many poor people in poor countries that rich countries realistically can’t accommodate all of them without massive social upheavals.

80 Peter Schaeffer February 16, 2014 at 3:58 pm

CM,

“What’s keeping the current Egyptians from leaving their “miserable, corrupt, soul crushing country” for somewhere else? Is it impossible for them to leave?”

It is easy for them to leave, much harder to arrive. In other words, no country will take them. With Open Borders every country in Europe would be obliged to admit them and provide legal residence. That means jobs, welfare, health care, education, etc.

Big difference.

81 QWERTY February 16, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Did anyone claim that “entire population” would move?

Maybe just a lot of people. World population is probably going to increase from 7 billion to 10 billion during the next 50 years.

The poor countries are not going to become ghost nations. But open borders would have consequences far beoynd just the limitid immigration that Italy and Singapore have seen so far.

What do you think would happen with open borders?
Start with Israel. Then Sweden.
Everything will just be the same, quality of institutions, crime levels, social harmony ?

82 chuck martel February 16, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Sweden and Israel have their own issues. Maybe the continental land mass between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and Hudson’s Bay and the Gulf of Mexico can’t stand a mass immigration that would destroy the society and culture of the inhabitants. But that already happened, beginning in the 16th century. If it was OK to run over the native Americans, take their property and sovereignty and remove them to reservations or simply kill them, why would a Somali or Guatemalan or Mexican think any different now? The current inhabitants might wish their part of the world to remain in a steady state but that probably ain’t going to happen. If there’s one thing that you can count on, it’s that you can’t count on anything. The omniscient and all-powerful nation/state can try to maintain a status quo but none of them have ever succeeded.

83 Brenton February 16, 2014 at 6:26 pm

“If it was OK to run over the native Americans, take their property and sovereignty and remove them to reservations or simply kill them, why would a Somali or Guatemalan or Mexican think any different now?” << because culture changes? Humans are a lot more civilized now than centuries ago? Not many people believe in the 'right of conquest' today, not even in Somalia or Guatemala.

84 chuck martel February 16, 2014 at 9:11 pm

The US government had a policy of exterminating uncooperative natives a little over an hundred years ago.

85 asdf February 17, 2014 at 1:08 am

“Humans are a lot more civilized now than centuries ago? Not many people believe in the ‘right of conquest’ today, not even in Somalia or Guatemala. ”

LOL

86 RPLong February 16, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Exactly, chuck. The more people move to X, the less appealing X becomes. Basic diminishing marginal utility. After a certain point, one starts to wonder, why not take advantage of all that cheap real estate opening up in Kuala Lumpur?

87 Nathan W February 16, 2014 at 5:03 pm

FYI, Casa is practically a European city in the sense of its infrastructure, economy, etc. Open borders would probably see Casa fill up with West Africans rather than Moroccans leaving. Pick just about any other city in North Africa and you might get the ghost town to yourself.

88 QWERTY February 16, 2014 at 11:37 am

“common feature before nationalism got violent in Europe ”

“Nationalism” got violent a long time before Zweig.

Dmographics is important.

But a couple of other things you should remember; It is easy to have open borders, when only very few people migrate, when transportion cost are high.
Oh, and dont forget – there were no welfarestates and most countries were not democrazies. “immigrants” had to behave pretty nice.

89 Peter Schaeffer February 16, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Martin,

It is quite true that government restrictions on movement, including immigration, were much lower in the past. However, it is also deeply misleading. Why? Because non-state restrictions were overwhelming, eliminating the need for government controls.

1.The cost of movement was 1-2 orders of magnitude higher than it is today. Depending on the year and location, it could take a worker months to years to save up the cost of steamship ticket. Indeed, in many of the poorer parts of the world, it was essentially impossible for anyone to buy a ticket out. As a consequence, immigrants tended to be much better educated than non-immigrants and to come from higher income countries.

Eventually, improvements in transportation made it economically feasible for poor people to emigrate. Opposition to immigration arose worldwide as a consequence. In the United States this was called the ‘old immigration’ vs. the ‘new immigration’. However, the basic distinction between high income, high skill immigrants and low skill immigrants was observed everywhere.

2. In the 19th century there was no welfare state. The economics of low-skill immigrants were considerably superior to the what they are today. Total government spending on social services was quite low setting a rather low upper bound on the potential burden of unskilled immigrants. Clearly that is not true today. ironically, there may have been more expressed concern about the economic cost of low-skill immigrants back then (when it was low) than now (when it is huge). Political Correctness is a wonderful tool of social oppression.

3. Income differentials between rich and poor nations were lower before 1900. The economic incentive to migrate was commensurately lower.

For a good discussion, see “Immigration to Sweden 1860-1914 [Updated]”. (http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2012/12/immigration-to-sweden-1860-1914.html) Quote

“Cato institute’s Johan Norberg argues that unrestricted immigration to Sweden is not “urealistic”, because Sweden had unrestricted immigration between 1860-1914.

”This proposal [open borders] is not based on an untested utopia, but on the realization that World War One is over. In 1860, Sweden and other European countries introduced open borders. Anyone was allowed to migrate and work freely.”

In this period there simply was no immigration pressure on Sweden. This is because the costs of moving from the third world to Sweden were prohibitively high compared to the gain, so virtually no one was able to migrate.

Of the Swedish population of five million, fewer than two thousand were non-western immigrants in 1900. That year according to SCB only 0.7 percent of the Swedish population was constituted by immigrants, and only 0.04 percent by immigrants from outside of Europe and North America. The number of immigrants from outside the West to Sweden was a rounding error a century ago. Nor was there any large scale migration from the other Nordic countries.

In the entire five decade period 1871 to 1920, only around 3700 individuals moved to Sweden from outside of Europe and North America. By comparison during the last decade alone the number of such migrants was over 400.000.

In the period Johan Norberg uses as evidence for open borders functioning well, immigration to Sweden from poor countries was virtually impossible, so the government didn’t bother to regulate it. This teaches us nothing about the effects of open borders today.

You cannot draw far-ranging policy conclusions when the underlying technology changes dramatically between two periods. This is like saying that in 1860, we had no laws regulating seatbelts and no car accidents, which proves that we should abolish seatbelt laws are today. Or writing that the Moon has unrestricted migration, anyone can move to the Moon and work without causing any problems, which prove that open borders work.

Obviously we now also have the welfare state which makes things different from 1860. The classic libertarian argument “I support open borders and abolishing the welfare state” does not hold under closer scrutiny.

The welfare state is part of objective reality; not something you can simply assume doesn’t exist to make your answer to the dilemma easier. This is like saying “I support raising taxes on the rich, but I don’t support the rich investing less” and be proud of yourself for having solved the marginal-tax problem in a bi-partisan way. The policy question is that given that the welfare state exists and will exist, do you support open borders or not?

Many libertarians are not acting like adults in the immigration debate, relying too heavility on lightweight arguments. Concluding that that open borders today are realistic because Sweden had open borders in a historic period when there was virtually no immigration is not serious policy analysis ”

“In an article about historical regulation of immigration, sociologist Brendan Mullan writes: “Until the second half of the twentieth century Europe experienced no sustained major migration inflows and consequently with no pressing need for regulation“

Because very few poor people could migrate to Europe in this period due to costs, policy makers and liberal intellectuals simply did not deal with issues related to open borders we face. The experience of 1860-1914 is virtually worthless for deciding how open borders would work today (note too that we already have what they had in practice, namely open borders within Europe). Writing “World War I is Over so let’s open the borders again” is hence an invalid argument.”

90 Nathan W February 16, 2014 at 5:06 pm

One false premise. Immigrants do not use disproportionate amounts of public services. Aside from that, I very much appreciate your post.

91 Peter Schaeffer February 16, 2014 at 9:07 pm

NW,

“Immigrants do not use disproportionate amounts of public services”

Of course, they do. Both theory and empirical data make this all too clear. This should be obvious to anyone with even one ear or eye open. Everyone agrees that America’s own poor people are a burden. Why would anyone expect that imported poor people would be any better? Let me quote from George Borjas (America’s leading immigration economist).

“There’s also been a lot of fake fog thrown into the the question of whether immigrants pay their way in the welfare state. It’s time for some sanity in this matter as well. The welfare state is specifically designed to transfer resources from higher-income to lower-income persons. Immigrants fall disproportionately into the bottom part of the income distribution. It is downright ridiculous to claim that low-skill immigrants somehow end up being net contributors into the public treasury.”

The literature is full of references to the negative tax impact of low-skilled immigrants. In the pre-welfare state era, this wasn’t true. The poor got little or nothing from government (even education was very cheap), and they worked long hours for low wages. The were clearly complementary to higher income groups. That era is over. Health care and education are extremely expensive and the poor are major consumers, to say the least. It would be essentially impossible for a poor person today (other than a single working age male / female with no children) not to be a burden on society. A few specific data points.

1. “Guest Contribution: The ageing, crisis-prone, welfare state is bad news for welfare migration”

“Edmonston and Smith (1997) look comprehensibly at all layers of government (federal, state, and local), all programs (benefits), and all types of taxes. For each cohort, defined by age of arrival to the U.S., the benefits (cash or in kind) received by migrants over their own lifetimes and the lifetimes of their first-generation descendents were projected. These benefits include Medicare, Medicaid, Supplementary Security Income (SSI), Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), food stamps, Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI), etc. Similarly, taxes paid directly by migrants and the incidence on migrants of other taxes (such as corporate taxes) were also projected for the lifetimes of the migrants and their first-generation descendents. Accordingly, the net fiscal burden was projected and discounted to the present. In this way, the net fiscal burden for each age cohort of migrants was calculated in present value terms. Within each age cohort, these calculations were disaggregated according to three educational levels: Less than high school education, high school education, and more than high school education. Indeed the findings suggest that migrants with less than high school education are typically a net fiscal burden that can reach as high as approximately US$100,000 in present value, when the migrants’ age on arrival is between 20-30 years.”

2. “Los Angeles and Welfare”

“I am sure that I’m not the only one who’s noticed how almost all of the discussion over California’s budget problems managed to avoid using such words as “immigrant” or “illegal”. So I decided to do a few calculations using the 2008 Current Population Survey to follow up on Instapundit’s remark. Well, here are some interesting results for your perusal–no remarks are needed:

All statistics give the fraction of households in the LA metro area that receive some type of assistance–either cash, food stamps, or Medicaid:

All households: 20.9% Native households: 12.7% Immigrant households: 33.2% Immigrant households with a citizen head: 26.4% Immigrant households with a non-citizen head: 40.1%

Just to put things in context, 40% of households in the LA metro area are immigrant households.”

3. “Impact of Mexican Immigration on Public Coffers”

“The most comprehensive research on this subject was done by the National Research Council (NRC), which is part of the National Academy of Sciences. The study, conducted in 1997, found that more-educated immigrants tend to have higher earnings, lower rates of public service use, and as a result pay more in taxes than they use in services. In contrast, the NRC found that because of their lower incomes and resulting lower tax payments coupled with their heavy use of public services, less-educated immigrants use significantly more in services than they pay in taxes. The NRC estimates indicated that the average immigrant without a high school education imposes a net fiscal burden on public coffers of $89,000 during the course of his or her lifetime. The average immigrant with only a high school education creates a lifetime fiscal burden of $31,000. In contrast, the average immigrant with more than a high school education was found to have a positive fiscal impact of $105,000 in his or her lifetime. The NAS further estimated that the total combined fiscal impact of the average immigrant (all educational categories included) was a negative $3,000. Thus, when all immigrants are examined they are found to have a modest negative impact on public coffers. These figures are only for the original immigrant, they do not include public services used or taxes paid by their U.S.-born descendants.”

That last sentence is important. Low-skilled immigrants produce low skilled children who will cost even more.

4. “The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Immigrants to State and Local Taxpayers”

“In 2004, there were 4.54 million low-skill immigrant households. The average net fiscal deficit per household for federal, state and local spending combined was $19,588. This means that the total annual fiscal deficit (total benefits received minus total taxes paid) for all 4.54 million low-skill immigrant households together equaled $89.1 billion.”

“In FY 2004, the average low skill immigrant household received $30,160 in direct benefits, means-tested benefits, education, and population-based services from all levels of government. By contrast, low-skill immigrant households paid only $10,573 in taxes in FY 2004. A household’s net fiscal deficit equals the cost of benefits and services received minus taxes paid. The average low-skill household had a fiscal deficit of $19,588 (expenditures of $30,160 minus $10,573 in taxes).”

5. “The High Cost of Cheap Labor: Illegal Immigration and the Federal Budget”

“This study is one of the first to estimate the total impact of illegal immigration on the federal budget. Most previous studies have focused on the state and local level and have examined only costs or tax payments, but not both. Based on Census Bureau data, this study finds that, when all taxes paid (direct and indirect) and all costs are considered, illegal households created a net fiscal deficit at the federal level of more than $10 billion in 2002. We also estimate that, if there was an amnesty for illegal aliens, the net fiscal deficit would grow to nearly $29 billion.

Households headed by illegal aliens imposed more than $26.3 billion in costs on the federal government in 2002 and paid only $16 billion in taxes, creating a net fiscal deficit of almost $10.4 billion, or $2,700 per illegal household.”

Note that this is just the Federal impact. Illegals and other low-skill immigrants have a greater impact on state and local governments (education, health care, crime, etc.).

92 Peter Schaeffer February 16, 2014 at 9:36 pm

NW,

One more note. U.S. health care expenditures are around $12 per hour for the entire economy. The minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. If a minimum wage worker paid 100% of his income in taxes (or health care premiums), America would still lose $4.75 on health care costs alone.

And Alex wants to flood American with low-skill immigrants to drive wages down further (presumably after repealing the minimum wage)? Is this meant to be a parody of ‘privatizing profits and socializing costs’? Perhaps it is.

Of course, it can be argued that low-skill immigrants don’t cost $12 per hour in health care costs. As long as they are young and single that is true. However, low-skill immigrants have children and grow old just like everyone else. Even if they don’t cost $12 per hour in health care costs now, they will cost far more than $12 per hour in the future.

Health care alone shows that low-skill immigration will always be a burden on society. It can not possibly be profitable.

The welfare state and low-skill immigration don’t play nice. One or the other has to go. Since the welfare state is only expanding, it should be obvious that mass immigration has to end.

93 Das February 16, 2014 at 10:12 am

While I am pro immigration I am certainly very much against “open borders”.
.
I liked Alex’ post. I didn’t read it like it was meant as a serious and logical policy proposal. I read it like it was describing how politics work. The essence of it: People are moved when you make them feel good about themselves. Few things feel as liberating as the impression of having the moral high ground.
.
Being able to say: “I am a better person than you” is powerful. Ever since we record history ordinary people were able to commit the most horrible atrocities in the name of being better persons, having the moral high ground.
.
Alex, I think, is absolutely right that in the long run you can’t defend a position if you allow your opponents to occupy the morale high ground.
.
Being against open borders you cannot argue your position is less nice but smarter – you.will.lose! You need to argue that open borders are immoral. If you can’t do that, you are lying to yourself. You then are not truly against open borders.

94 Nathan W February 16, 2014 at 5:10 pm

What you allude to a is also major problem in the USA, where the moral high ground of freedom and democracy, which are real but constantly (perhaps increasingly) threatened, justifies the infliction of massive intimidation and violence, only in cases where it also serves geopolitical interests.

95 Rahul February 16, 2014 at 10:21 am

Re. #1: There may be a clear utilitarian case against totally open borders, but is there a clear utilitarian case for borders as closed as they currently are?

Might the goose lay tastier eggs if we had open borders, say, for any G-10 nation physician?

96 asdf February 16, 2014 at 10:45 am

Immigration has been too high for a long time, I would argue the correct number is much lower then it has even been in real life.

I mean we know what Alex’s goals are here. He wants to import a third world serf caste to enrich his corporatist masters at the expense of everyone else. In exchange he will be given a sinecure as a paid propagandist who manufacturers consent. There even seems to be some hope that the whole arrangement will net the lot of these assholes multiple wives in addition to an army of male serfs who will do all the hard labor to maintain their gated communities.

97 Rahul February 16, 2014 at 11:29 am

It is entirely possible that immigration might be too high & yet immigration of the right kinds may be too low. For the latter goal I think the utilitarian & moral directions align.

98 QWERTY February 16, 2014 at 11:41 am

But then your not talking about “open border”, but instead of “more immigration of a certain kind” – thats something else than Alex and Caplan are talking about.

99 Anthony February 16, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Ask a young American physician still paying off his student loans whether he thinks it a good idea to allow any G10 physician in to compete with him.

100 Rahul February 16, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Did you ask the American assembly line worker if it was a good idea before allowing imported iphones that were assembled in Asia?

101 Nathan W February 16, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Touche. American pays too much for every kind of health care, yet achieves pretty mediocre results compared to most other wealthy nations. Why is that?

102 Peter Schaeffer February 17, 2014 at 12:14 am

Rahul,

“Did you ask the American assembly line worker if it was a good idea before allowing imported iphones that were assembled in Asia?”

A few years ago a friend asked me my opinion on outsourcing, then a controversial topic with significant media coverage. Of course, outsourcing is still controversial (ask Romney) although the media ignores it unless it can be used to bash Republicans.

My answer was as follows

“It is absurd to turn the outsourcing of white collar jobs into some political cause célèbre when this country has been shipping millions of blue collar jobs abroad for years without anyone noticing or caring”

I would, therefore, answer your questions with “yes, you do”.

103 Rahul February 17, 2014 at 1:41 am

If importing better doctors reduces the wages of some US doctors but on the other hand makes millions of Americans better off, I think you ought to do it.

Policy need not benefit every American, just all Americans on net.

104 Peter Schaeffer February 18, 2014 at 12:51 am

R,

“Policy need not benefit every American, just all Americans on net”

A low threshold to be sure, but still far too high for the United States.

105 Finch February 16, 2014 at 3:12 pm

I don’t think this is a complete argument, but as long as you need to be making well into six figures for a long career to pay for the government you receive as an American, and otherwise you’re a net loss, then immigration ought to be mostly made up of young people without dependents who will earn enough to pay their own way.

There are a lot of other things to consider, but this one is key, I think.

106 Finch February 16, 2014 at 3:21 pm

This is true even if you are importing, say, Canadians, so the cultural issues are smaller. It still doesn’t make sense to import problems. And we’ve designed our country so that most people are problems.

107 Millian February 16, 2014 at 11:48 am

The slave trade was easier to abolish than colonial slavery, and Wilberforce and pals limited their famous campaign to that aim. We remember more people as absolutist moralists than there actually were.

108 lxm February 16, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Proposed new titles for this blog:

ON HIGH GROUND: I can see forever and ever!
ON HIGH GROUND: We smoke no dope.
AFTER BIRTH: Crossing Borders
MARGINAL INEFFICIENCIES:
MORAL REVOLUTIONS: To the Ramparts!
MORAL REVOLUTIONS: If you are not right, you are wrong

I don’t like any of them.

Why don’t you just stick with MarginalRevolution.

109 ladderff February 16, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Stop for a second and note that as far as their little debate goes, “moral” simply means “left-wing.”

110 Turkey Vulture February 16, 2014 at 2:01 pm

IMMORAL, adj.
Inexpedient. Whatever in the long run and with regard to the greater number of instances men find to be generally inexpedient comes to be considered wrong, wicked, immoral. If man’s notions of right and wrong have any other basis than this of expediency; if they originated, or could have originated, in any other way; if actions have in themselves a moral character apart from, and nowise dependent on, their consequences—then all philosophy is a lie and reason a disorder of the mind.

MORAL, adj. Conforming to a local and mutable standard of right. Having the quality of general expediency.
“It is sayd there be a raunge of mountaynes in the Easte, on one syde of the which certayn conducts are immorall, yet on the other
syde they are holden in good esteeme; wherebye the mountayneer is much conveenyenced, for it is given to him to goe downe eyther way and act as it shall suite his moode, withouten offence.”

– Ambrose Bierce

111 leftist conservative February 16, 2014 at 2:06 pm

This flowery prose is all just obfuscation.

Advocating mass immigration/open borders is, to put it simply and directly, aiding the enemies of this nation (the elite and their armies of foreign cheap labor invaders).

I have a one word description for “giving aid to the enemies of america.”

But censorship will not permit me to write that word.

112 Nathan W February 16, 2014 at 5:20 pm

I think you missed the part about caring about everyone and rather than the “Save America, damned-the-rest-of-them” sort of mentality that justified dropping not one (almost definitely enough) but TWO nuclear bombs on Japanese cities.

Given that the US is seen as the number one threat to global security (recent WIN/Gallup poll), with three times as many people identifying the US as the number one threat relative to second place, Pakistan, perhaps this could be one step in making amends and offering proof that Americans actually care about the lives of people outside their borders.

I don’t think that’s the argument that will win you over, just trying to induce some possible interest in giving a rat’s a** about those “enemies”.

113 leftistconservative February 16, 2014 at 6:20 pm

I am for an “open doors” policy. When you go to work next week, leave your door to your house open. I will come in and take your plasma tv. I am more deserving of it than you.

As for your comment on the american military, it is under the control of the elite. Always has been to some degree, and now much more so than ever before. It is used to ensure the returns on investment for plutocrats and to open new markets for corporations.

You see, america by natural rights belongs to the working class majority. I realize that is not the meme that CorpGovMediaAcademia pushes on us via 12-16 years of edu-propaganda, but if I and 4 like minded others get on the SCOTUS bench, and there will be radical change in this nation, much for the better.

114 Brenton February 16, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Allowing your neighbor to sell their house to an immigrant is not the same thing as allowing an immigrant to trespass and steal. The “let them into your house” analogy isn’t helping the debate at all.

115 leftistconservative February 16, 2014 at 8:15 pm

mass immigration is theft of citizenship

116 Peter Schaeffer February 17, 2014 at 12:33 am

NW,

The history of the atomic bomb and it usage has been very well documented. There is little evidence that Hiroshima was enough to persuade Japan to surrender. The U.S. saved up its very limited supply of fissile cores so that we could drop two in quick succession. The idea was to convince Japan that we had a large arsenal of these weapons and would use them. Of course, at the time, the U.S. had no fissile cores left after Nagasaki.

The Japanese didn’t know any of this and after Nagasaki took the American threat of unlimited nuclear destruction very seriously. One drop on Hiroshima wasn’t enough. From Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki#Events_of_August_7.E2.80.939

“After the Hiroshima bombing, Truman issued a statement announcing the use of the new weapon. He stated, “We may be grateful to Providence” that the German atomic bomb project had failed, and that the United States and its allies had “spent two billion dollars on the greatest scientific gamble in history—and won.” Truman then warned Japan:

If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth. Behind this air attack will follow sea and land forces in such numbers and power as they have not yet seen and with the fighting skill of which they are already well aware.[148]

Leaflets urging quick surrender were dropped over Japan by the 509th Composite Group on the bombing mission

The Japanese government did not react. Emperor Hirohito, the government, and the war council considered four conditions for surrender: the preservation of the kokutai (Imperial institution and national polity), assumption by the Imperial Headquarters of responsibility for disarmament and demobilization, no occupation of the Japanese Home Islands, Korea, or Formosa, and delegation of the punishment of war criminals to the Japanese government.[149]

The Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov informed Tokyo of the Soviet Union’s unilateral abrogation of the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact on August 5. At two minutes past midnight on August 9, Tokyo time, Soviet infantry, armor, and air forces had launched the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation.[150] Four hours later, word reached Tokyo of the Soviet Union’s official declaration of war. The senior leadership of the Japanese Army began preparations to impose martial law on the nation, with the support of Minister of War Korechika Anami, in order to stop anyone attempting to make peace.[151]

On August 7, a day after Hiroshima was destroyed, Dr. Yoshio Nishina and other atomic physicists arrived at the city, and carefully examined the damage. They then went back to Tokyo and told the cabinets that Hiroshima was indeed destroyed by an atomic bomb. Admiral Soemu Toyoda, the Chief of the Naval General Staff, estimated that no more than one or two additional bombs could be readied so they decided to endure the remaining attacks, acknowledging “there would be more destruction but the war would go on.”[152] American Magic codebreakers intercepted the cabinets’ messages.[153]

Purnell, Parsons, Tibbets, Spaatz and LeMay met on Guam that same day to discuss what should be done next.[154] Since there was no indication of Japan surrendering,[153] they decided to proceed with dropping another bomb. Parsons said that Project Alberta would have it ready by August 11, but Tibbets pointed to weather reports indicating poor flying conditions on that day due to a storm, and asked if the bomb could be readied by August 9. Parsons agreed to try to do so.[155][154]”

117 RPLong February 16, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Moralizing is persuasive to people who are receptive to it, and highly unpersuasive to people who tend to believe that any moral case is a critique of the audience’s morals. Some people are persuaded one way, other people are persuaded another. All this talk about what is more convincing or what is more honest is a little silly. There are a number of important facts involved in this issue, and after that, it’s a value judgement. Learn the facts, hear the arguments, and then make your decision.

Saying that one would have otherwise been convinced but for the fact that someone else put forth the wrong argument is not being fully truthful with oneself. It’s a clear indication that you’ve already made up your mind, whatever the argument being offered.

118 Brett Dunbar February 16, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Colonialism and abolitionism aren’t necessarily in conflict. During the late nineteenth century abolishing slavery was one of the major drivers in Britain’s participation in the scramble for Africa. Britain was strongly anti slavery and quite prepared to use force to secure abolition. At least some of the time anti-colonialism and abolitionism were in direct conflict.

119 Millian February 16, 2014 at 3:11 pm

The Atlantic slave trade was near-over by 1880 and little was done against the East African trade. Britain’s colonisation in Africa at the time was due to many factors, but primarily the desire to defend its merchants, against both potential colonisation and protectionism by other Europeans and, to a lesser extent, resistance from Africans. The British anti-slavery and anti-imperial campaigns joined forces against the Belgian Congo.

120 Engineer February 16, 2014 at 3:26 pm

The strength of tribalist intuitions suggests that the moral arguments for fully open borders will have a tough time succeeding

Indeed. But once you intellectuals finally succeed on the open borders, don’t forget to keep moving forward and dismantle the institution known as “family”. Family behavior is the most tribal behavior that there is. Why should accidents of birth determine who gets to live in a loving home, have their education subsidized etc,?

121 qwerty February 16, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Well said.

I have another problem; I’m kind og ugly, thats not good for my love-life.

And that is all due to “accicent of birth” – I believe it must be a moral duty for a nice looking ladies across the world to offer “servies” to me and other ugly fellows. You know, we haven’t choosen to be ugly, and the good-looking ones are just lucky. I think ALL moral frameworks straightforward supports this idea.

Why should the accident of birth determine who gets to have fun with the most attractive ladies?

Why are our “intellectuals” not discussing this injustice?

122 Nathan W February 16, 2014 at 5:22 pm

You should try that one on craiglist and see how it goes, lol 🙂

123 Brenton February 16, 2014 at 6:44 pm

A more appropriate analogy would be if the government made it illegal for ugly people to have sex with attractive people. It’s hard to take seriously the nativist argument that living in a country with open borders is comparable to forced prostitution.

124 Brenton February 16, 2014 at 6:42 pm

I don’t see how your analogy makes any sense. People are allowed to adopt, aren’t they? They are also allowed to treat strangers as family if they want to, right? Adults voluntarily adopt children who have been abandoned/abused/etc despite the child’s lack of choice of what family they were born into. Adults are also allowed to move away from abusive relatives.

125 M February 17, 2014 at 8:00 am

1. Children can’t voluntarily move in the present day situation. Moreover, adults cannot unilaterally move into other people’s property, rather other people discriminate in allowing their family (children, other relatives) to move in with them.

A situation where homeowners have discretion to allow anyone in they want or don’t want isn’t like open borders – it’s like closed borders where the homeowners are equal to the citizens, allowing in who they want.

2. The argument by Alex is not phrased in terms of enabling human freedom, as this would not serve his purposes. Are humans more or less free if they are allowed to work together to have their own community, while a minority of dissenters are not allowed to choose, or in the obverse case, where a minority of intellectuals destroy the freedom of people to maintain their own communities? Not resolvable. The argument is phrased in terms of dismantling inequalities due to birth, and this is the sense in which Engineer appears to have responded to it.

126 Brenton February 17, 2014 at 7:05 pm

You’re missing the point that allowing immigrants into a country isn’t the same thing as destroying citizens families, or forcing citizens to let immigrants squat in their back yards, or forcing attractive people to have sex with ugly people.

I don’t know how to make it more simple and clear than to say that a citizens do not have the same right of control over other citizens property that they have over their own property.

M, you and others keep twisting the discussion away from whether open borders is right or wrong to discussing whether “our government shouldn’t be allowed to pass laws that we don’t like” as if open borders proponents are arguing that a minority of intellectuals be allowed to destroy peoples freedom. Did Alex ever say that? I don’t know if it’s grasping at straws, arguing in bad faith, or off topic frustration with American politics.

127 Peter Schaeffer February 18, 2014 at 12:57 am

B,

“You’re missing the point that allowing immigrants into a country isn’t the same thing as destroying citizens families, or forcing citizens to let immigrants squat in their back yards, or forcing attractive people to have sex with ugly people”

Let me quote from Gail the Teacher (writing in opposition to Bryan Caplan). Immigration does indeed devastate families and neighborhoods.

“Let me guess: you don’t (nor have you ever) lived in a community, a neighborhood, in which open borders has resulted in welfare lines at the HHS building two miles away, with anchor baby mothers and their little ones being served your tax dollars. You haven’t waited in a doctor’s office while MediCal patients, armed with their anchor babies, sit five to a row, a mother with four kids (each child about 14 months apart–oh, and btw, not all the kids are actually “anchor” children…maybe only one or two were born here but in your open borders world it’s a moot point anyway). You haven’t stood in the line at Food-4-Less, trying to save a few bucks on your families’ grocery bill while the open borders crowds in front of you pay the bill with food stamps and merrily walk out, only to find a dent they left in your car door. (Funny how they have no appreciation of MY car). Let me guess: you’re thinking, “What a small-minded person, worrying about such little things while I, Caplan the Economist, think of the large ideas of life, the trivial daily problems of regular ole working Americans and their families be damned.”)

You haven’t had the principal tell you that because he needs an extra teacher for the new ESL section he’s opened, he’s pulling out one of your colleagues from the English Department, leaving 37 kids from her former class to be absorbed by the four other sections of the course; thus, you’ve not been told to be ready the next day to receive your “share” of the change.

You haven’t had meeting after meeting to determine some way, ANY way, to encourage the Open Border kids and their parents to learn English, to see to it homework is done–or at least attempted– and most importantly, to see to it they don’t remove their kids from school for five weeks around Christmas and ten days around Easter. (“How is it ‘poor people’ find the money for all that gas or airfare,” you never have to wonder.)

You don’t ever get to see first hand, do you, Bryan, that there are indeed peoples and cultures that don’t want to live the “American Dream” as YOU understand that dream, which includes an education and a grasp of at least the basics of such an education?

Nor do you understand that there are people who don’t wish to assimilate, do you? Nor do you need to ponder why they should when the border is open, when they can cross it any time they wish, and when their real home, the home of the heart, is tanks of gas and a cheap plane ride away.

You do not send your children to these schools, do you, Bryan? You live in no such neighborhood, do you, Bryan? Nor would you because you know the performance of a school is really the performance of the children of that school and your children would learn next to nothing in such a school, but you don’t think anything’s wrong with the children of other Americans who are middle and working class sending their kids to this school, this school of kids who aren’t really (oh, oh, this is probably a really sore spot with you) not_ very_ bright. No, Bryan, not bright. In fact, the occupy the lower end of the Bell. Is it any wonder they don’t show an interest in school? How does one learn algebra, how does one care about algebra with an IQ of 87 or so when multiplication tables are difficult enough?

Indulge in all the intellectualism you wish. It changes nothing. You are intellectually dishonest, and face it, a hypocrite. Or, surprise me by having a new baby, moving to a community like the one I’ve described, living in the neighborhood, and sending your son or daughter to the neighborhood school there. “

128 M February 17, 2014 at 7:55 am

Exactly, we should dissolve the notion of private residential property first.

The idea that a person can live in a “house” and their children, if they have any, can thus benefit from access to particular nearby schools, workplaces, and other opportunities, while strangers are not able to.

What better example of the accident of birth? People should renegotiate their residential property daily on the basis of merit.

(On a side note, one of the interesting things about “accidents of birth” are that they seem likely in future to intensify the demand for genetic engineering. After all, being born with “good genes” is apparently the one morally acceptable accident of birth there is in our society, the one form of enhancement that exists for kids’ or co-ethnics’ chances that is deemed unproblematic, so why not put all your capital into making sure your kids get that “accident of birth”? It’s not just that this “accident of birth” is treated by society as unfortunate, but irresolvable, in fact it’s celebrated as a reason to accumulate more and more power and wealth to those who benefit from that accident.).

129 dirk February 16, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Another way to lift the world out of poverty is to kill the poor. Do we really need 7 billion people on this planet? For most of history, the planet didn’t need 7 billion people. Why not kill the 2 billion who are in the deepest poverty? That seems like a better solution than letting them take over America. Since Open Borders is inevitable (because all liberal ideas will be implemented eventually) we should start killing the world’s poor now so that by the time the border is open at least we’ll have a slightly more competent group running across it.

130 Nathan W February 16, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Wow. WOW, WOOOWWW! Did you just say that? And you have the nerve to call yourself a human being?

131 Nathan W February 16, 2014 at 5:26 pm

I dare you to send that message, with your home address attached, to the editorial of the main newspapers of each capital city in West Africa.

132 dirk February 16, 2014 at 6:04 pm

You say you want a revolution? Well, radicalism on one side leads to radicalism on the other side.

133 Nathan W February 16, 2014 at 6:50 pm

I said it should be on the table. The exercise would make us aware of injustices so we could address them.

Also, to keep the government in check and to keep elite interests from (excessively) trampling other non-elite interests. For example, if you woke up tomorrow and found that we’re 90% of our way to 1984, could we stop it? Oh, that already happened … and what can anyone do about that?

You propose murdering 2 billion people based on the basis that they are poor.

You see these are equivalently radical statements?

134 dirk February 16, 2014 at 11:38 pm
135 Nathan W February 17, 2014 at 7:05 pm

From wikipedia, on “moral luck”.

“Moral luck describes circumstances whereby a moral agent is assigned moral blame or praise for an action or its consequences even though it is clear that said agent did not have full control over either the action or its consequences. This term, introduced by Bernard Williams, has been developed, along with its significance to a coherent moral theory, by Williams and Thomas Nagel in their respective essays on the subject.”

I still think you should send that letter to the African editorials, home address attached, of course.

136 dirk February 16, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Morality is nothing more, nothing less, than “what other people think”. As long as we are all on the same page, it is moral.

137 dirk February 16, 2014 at 5:04 pm

In some communities, killing a human in the womb is considered murder. In others, it is only surgery. Surely we could learn to think of killing those who are living sub-human lives as something more like surgery than murder.

138 chuck martel February 16, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Read William Cobbett’s letter to Thomas Malthus.

139 chuck martel February 16, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Actually, there is an interesting parallel between abortion and immigration. Both immigrants and babies are an inconvenience, maybe an expensive inconvenience. Sure, either or both could turn out to be an asset but why take the chance? The existing placeholders have priority.

140 Al February 17, 2014 at 12:45 am

every child a wanted child. every immigrant a wanted immigrant.

141 Anonymous February 16, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Bring to an end tiptoeing around the biggest. Profesor MacDonald painstakingly explained why America’s borders are wide open. Jews racially secure themselves in countries where white ethnic and political balances are out of whack. Culture of Critique makes everything clear as a crystal.

http://www.kevinmacdonald.net/Immigration.pdf

Jewish Involvement in Shaping American Immigration Policy, 1881-1965: A Historical Review

By Kevin MacDonald

Based on Chapter 7 of The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements. MacDonald, K. B. (1998/2002). Westport, CT: Praeger; paperback version: Bloomington, IN: 1stbooks Library, 2002. Also available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

142 David S. February 16, 2014 at 7:24 pm

That is right out of the neo-Nazi playbook, and I therefore cite Godwin’s Law. Time to move on.

143 A.B Prosper February 16, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Godwin’s Law has nothing to do with refuting White Nationalism or any sort of Neo-Nazi ideology and its especially not a tool to avoid critique of unpleasant ideas on immigration either.

It states specifically : “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”[2][3] In other words, Godwin said that, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably makes a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis.

That said the anon at 6:02 would do well to post a few of the evo psych and immigration ideas Professor McDonald has rather than a drive by PDF link.

144 ladderff February 16, 2014 at 9:30 pm

You don’t really get Godwin’s Law.

145 John Trevor February 16, 2014 at 10:36 pm

ART, CELEBRITIES, REVIEWS AND MORE!

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146 WRD February 16, 2014 at 11:08 pm

I am fascinated by the fallacy of mood affiliation. I suspect this comment will be buried but:

To what extent are “extremist” views necessary for marginal progress? Points 2, 3, and 4 may indicate that such views play an important role in achieving marginal revolution. Society has adopted abolition, gay marriage, and variations of women’s rights/children’s rights/environmentalism (to varying degrees). Abolitionists, gay marriage proponents, and women’s/children’s/environment’s rights activists seemed…well absolutist (or at least non-marginal) at various times.

For example, the abolitionists played an important role in influencing (pushing) the Lincoln Administration toward freeing the slaves. Would such activity have occurred with a coalition full of marginalists?

The rational, cold-blooded way may approach such questions with the following attitude: will my (marginalist/absolutist) argument achieve marginal progress? Maybe Alex is looking at his goal of open borders and making arguments he believes are most likely to marginally advance that goal.

147 Ray Lopez gets the last word in February 17, 2014 at 11:43 am

Re TC’s point #1, it is patently false:
Collier’s fears that immigration will someday doom dense countries are also undermined by evidence showing that even massive inflows of people constitute an economic boon. The most dramatic modern example is the desegregation of South Africa. With the fall of apartheid in 1994, black migrants who had been exiled to remote areas flooded to major cities, where they began competing with white workers for jobs. The scale of this change dwarfed Collier’s worst nightmares of mass immigration to Europe. Yet the results are a staggering rejection of his simple analysis of supply and demand. As the economists Murray Leibbrandt and James Levinsohn have shown, between 1993 and 2008, the average income of black South Africans rose by 61 percent. And white South Africans suffered, well, nothing. Their average income also rose over the same period: by a staggering 275 percent. Recent U.S. history is not so different.
The Problem With Strict Migration Limits
Michael Clemens and Justin Sandefur
Foreign Affairs, Jan 2014

148 NRFPT February 17, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Ray Lopez,

If your model of reality was correct, whites should be migrating to South Africa to take advantage of newly available cheap labor population (created by the end of apartheid). In real life, South Africa has lost 1/5th of its white population in spite of the governments efforts to keep them and the political stability South Africa has enjoyed since the end of Apartheid.

Of course, in your theory, South Africa should have no border controls and should welcome everyone from every corner of the planet. Strangely, the government of South Africa doesn’t see it that way. As for the people, South Africa has had many violent anti-immigrant riots.

As for just the economics, the numbers your cite are obviously wrong. From 1993 to 2008, real per-capita GDP rose by 48.67% (or 2.67% per year). That makes 61% and 275% growth in black and white incomes impossible. Of course, the another problem is that 1993 and 2008 just happen to be a trough and peak in prices for metals. Nice exercise in cherry picking. Bad economics. Indeed, commodity prices were the strongest determinant of economic performance during Apartheid and since.

Although the Pass Laws were a much hated feature of Apartheid, they had far less impact than you might think. South Africa was 52% urban in 1990 and 62% urban in 2011 (World Bank). In other words, South Africa’s urban areas were largely non-white well before the end of Apartheid.

149 Peter Schaeffer February 18, 2014 at 5:09 pm

RL,

Actually, the world has a far better test of the consequences of mass migration than South Africa. We can take a look at the largest migration of people in world history (by far) and one of the most successful (in some respects). That would be the truly gigantic movement of Chinese people from rural China to the east coast. The number of people involved is clearly vast. Estimates range form 100 million to well over 250 million. This migration has also been highly successful in raising living standards and making China into an economic superpower. For example, in a cherry-picked period when South Africa’s per-capita GDP rose by 48%, China’s per-capita GDP far more than tripled.

What can we learn from China about the virtues of Open Borders? A lot actually and none of it favorable to Open Borders.

1. The migrants inside China have an important characteristic that distinguishes them from other potential Open Borders immigrants. I could define that characteristic in a number of ways, but to be polite, let’s just say that they are ‘related to Amy Chua’.

2. The migrants inside China share the same language, culture, historical background, nationality, etc. as the pre-mass migration population of China’s east coast. They are citizens of a country that is very homogeneous and mass migration doesn’t change that.

3. China has no welfare state. Internal immigrants can not be a burden on the state, because the state does not tolerate burdens.

4. China has no democracy. Internal immigrants can’t bring a dysfunctional culture with them and impose it up on Eastern China because they have no rights. Of course, they don’t bring a dysfunctional culture in the first place.

5. China has no democracy. If additional infrastructure is needed to handle mass population movements, it just happens. If people protest, that is what the army and police are for.

6. China gives its internal migrants, essentially no rights. As Kam Wing Chan, a Chinese migration and hukou expert at the University of Washington, puts it, “Under this system, some 700-800 million people are in effect treated as second class citizens, deprived of the opportunity to settle legally in cities and of access to most of the basic welfare and state-provided services enjoyed by regular urban residents.

7. Of course, Chinese people score very high by many (but not all) of the measures of culture and social performance. Chinese education has been legendary for centuries if no Milena. China and the Chinese also rank high in their work ethic, saving rate, entrepreneurship, family life, etc.

Do the advocates of Open Borders recognize anything about what makes mass migration in China a success and dooms it elsewhere? Of course, not. Can the unique aspects of China’s migration be replicated anywhere else in the world? Sure, Singapore comes pretty close. In some respects, the oil fifedoms of the Middle East have replicated China’s model (with far less success).

Can nations dedicated to freedom, democracy, and ‘human rights’ adopt Open Borders and get China’s outcomes? Given that the EU, Japan, and developed Asia lack every institution China enjoys, a sensible person would have reason to doubt the results. To state this bluntly, the developed world lacks even one of China’s success factors. Expecting success under these circumstances is absurd. Indeed, we already know that low-skill underclass immigrants fail in the developed world. Adding billions more will only lead to a bigger disaster.

150 The Anti-Gnostic February 17, 2014 at 12:53 pm

The moral position for a libertarian is simply, no borders.

But that means people get to draw their own, and market actors, not state bureaucrats, decide who’s in and who’s out. So as soon as you remove all those “artificial” lines on the maps, they will just start getting re-drawn on the ground. I’m not allowed to just wander on to Google’s corporate campus or into Disney World. If we accept that collectives like corporations can draw lines around their real estate and keep people out, why can’t nation-states?

Does anybody doubt that if national boundaries were erased people wouldn’t draw their own?

151 Jordan February 17, 2014 at 5:00 pm

The Anti-Gnostic,

I’d respectfully disagree that the moral position for a libertarian is “simply, no borders.” Private property is, in effect a great complex map of borders, and rightfully so.

I would say that corporations can draw restrictive borders, but nation-states cannot (should not) because corporations own private property legitimately (generally) whereas the immigration policies of a nation-state impose binding legislation on all private property owners, effectively superseding their ownership in this regard, and treating all privately owned property in question as publicly owned in respect to immigration policy. It undermines private property. It is also, of course, violently enforced. The state effectively tells me that I cannot sell or lease my property to a Kenyan or a Brazilian who would like to live there. If I go ahead and do so, bad things happen to me. Who is the aggressor? Who is in the wrong?

152 Peter Schaeffer February 18, 2014 at 12:24 am

J,

” Private property is, in effect a great complex map of borders, and rightfully so”

The borders of private property have no more legitimacy than the borders of a nation. Your pleasant home would be a very welcome improvement for dozens of Nigerians, Bangladeshis, and Chinese. You have no more right to exclude them, than does America. Any claim, that you do is just a flimsy intellectual pretense for greed, selfishness, and hypocrisy. Indeed, you entire position amounts to the exultation of personal greed and rapacity above all other values. You want the peculiar combination of borders that just happens (surprise, surprise) to maximize you personal depredations.

Nice. No, actually ugly.

153 8 February 18, 2014 at 1:24 am

But what if 1 million of my closest friends and I own contiguous land and wish to declare ourselves a unit?

You need to drop your conception of the nation state as it exists today and imagine there are no nation states, but that there are groups of people numbering into the tens and even hundreds of millions who prefer to organize. The idea of no borders is as ludicrous as the idea of no property; at the extreme Libertarians have as absurd an understanding of human nature as the Communists.

154 Jordan February 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm

On Alex’s point that moral absolutism is the more effective means for desired outcomes:

Writing on William Lloyd Garrison:
“His life shows modern libertarians that uncompromising radicalism in defense of justice, even if most of your culture sees your cause initially as more madness than justice, can enflame souls and effect real change.” – Doherty in Radicals For Capitalism, p. 39.

155 The Anti-Gnostic February 17, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Depends on how many rifles are deployed for which side’s notion of justice.

In my opinion, you will have a hard time getting citizens taking up arms in support of the cause of getting more numerous and more exotic people into their school districts. It’s a lot easier to foresee the converse.

156 Jordan February 17, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Yes, regardless of the method, it is definitely a difficult thing to do to get citizens to really go after such a cause as more open and free immigration. In the current U.S. political climate, I’d say it will be an exceedingly difficult task.

But the main question is, back to Alex’s original point, what is the better approach for a proponent to take to shape actual outcomes? What will actually change the mind of the median voter and get them to “take up arms” in support of such a cause? It seems plausible that a radical and forceful appeal to morality is more likely to produce change than incremental approaches. More people may react more strongly to the notion that restrictive immigration keeps hundreds of millions languishing in deep poverty, rather than proposing statistics on crime, tax burdens/gains, economic growth effects, etc….

157 The Anti-Gnostic February 18, 2014 at 6:32 am

restrictive immigration keeps hundreds of millions languishing in deep poverty

Lack of property rights and the rule of law and no marketable skills keep hundreds of millions languishing in deep poverty.

This is cargo-cult thinking. If hundreds of millions of people emigrate to the US, what do you think happens to the price of labor in the US? What do you think happens to the price of decent housing, education, energy, waste disposal and infrastructure? What happens to a culture of transparency and the rule of law?

158 Brenton February 17, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Simon Cranshaw commented previously with a good question for everyone: “Does use of a Rawlsian veil of ignorance change your views? As a thought experiment, if you knew you were to be born somewhere in the world but didn’t know where, would it change your view of the optimum US immigration policy?”

159 Peter Schaeffer February 18, 2014 at 12:35 am

Brenton,

Wrong question. I am an American. Try.

“As a thought experiment, if you knew you were to be born in America but with unknown intelligence, skills, parental income, race, etc. would it change your view of the optimum US immigration policy?”

Here is an another one

“As a thought experiment, if you knew you were to be born somewhere in the world but didn’t know where, would it change your view of the desirability of your (unknown) birthplace adopting Singapore’s economic, social, and political policies?”

The answers are pretty obvious. The cosmopolitan advocates of Open Borders would be building 30-foot barbed wire fences if they had to compete with low-skill immigrants for jobs. It is also true that the cosmopolitan critics of Singapore would be begging for Lee Kuan Yew, if they thought there was a 1% chance of living in Lagos or Cairo.

160 Brenton February 18, 2014 at 2:53 am

I don’t think you understood the question. Asking “would it change your view of the optimum US immigration policy?” is not the same thing as “would it change what would be in your own self interest?”

People don’t always ask for public policy to be based on their percieved self interest but rather ask for it to be based on their principles. For example, it might hurt my bank account for some of my income to be taken as taxes and given to poor sick people, but that doesn’t mean I would vote against such actions. To put it simply, being selfish isn’t the same as being right.

Indeed your first question is a fair one to ask Open Borders proponents. That doesn’t mean that they would all say yes, or that if they did, that they would necessarily be right rather than selfish (or not) in doing so. Your assumptions of their answers are speculative and in bad faith.

I do feel that as people gain more understanding and empathy of foreigners and what their lives are like, people will have stronger support for more open immigration policies. There are a lot of political views that have changed over the last 100 years as people gradually gained more understanding and empathy for other humans in different circumstances from theirs. To give some examples: blacks, gays, poor people, Jews, immigrants, women, and illegal drug users…

(Please excuse my other 2:52am post… I made a mistake with my text editor.)

161 Brenton February 18, 2014 at 2:54 am

Those who want to open their eyes to what other peoples lives are like around the world can find out more easily than ever, and those not looking will continue to incidentally come across such experiences as well.

162 Peter Schaeffer February 18, 2014 at 4:40 pm

B,

“There are a lot of political views that have changed over the last 100 years as people gradually gained more understanding and empathy for other humans in different circumstances from theirs. To give some examples: blacks, gays, poor people, Jews, immigrants, women, and illegal drug users.”

What you see as an expanding circle, I view as a moving circle. Some people get added, others get tossed aside. Obama was only telling the truth (as he sees it) about ‘bitter clingers’ who are definitely not part of his circle (or any part of the dominant elite).

However, let me use a specific well documented example. At one time, elite universities limited Jewish enrollment. They didn’t restrict it severely (Jews were vastly overrepresented anyway), but they did limit it. These days, those restrictions are treated as a crime against humanity only slightly below the Nazis (and linked to them of course). Now we have well organized discrimination against Asians and virtually no one (including Asians) seems to object. The fact that discrimination against Asians follows identical logic to restrictions on Jews in the 1920s doesn’t seem to be a problem.

However, the story gets better. There is not considerable evidence that Jews are being admitted to elite schools in numbers greater than their actual qualifications. In other words, more talented WASPs and Catholics are being excluded in favor of Jewish students. Indeed there is definitive evidence of deep discrimination against rural WASPs (and Catholics).

You can call it an expanding circle. A moving circle with new favored groups and new victims of discrimination is closer to the truth.

163 Brenton February 18, 2014 at 2:52 am

People don’t always ask for public policy to be based on their percieved self interest but rather ask for it to be based on their principles. For example, it might hurt my bank account for some of my income to be taken as taxes and given to poor sick people, but that doesn’t mean I would vote against such actions. To put it simply, being selfish isn’t the same as being right.

Indeed your first question is a fair one to ask Open Borders proponents. That doesn’t mean that they would all say yes, or that if they did, that they would necessarily be right rather than selfish (or not) in doing so. Your assumptions of their answers are speculative and in bad faith.

I feel that as people gain more understanding and empathy of foreigners and what their lives are like, people will have stronger support for more open immigration policies. There are a lot of political views that have changed over the last 100 years as people gradually gained more understanding and empathy for other humans in different circumstances from theirs. To give some examples: blacks, gays, poor people, Jews, immigrants, women, and illegal drug users. Those who want to open their eyes to what other peoples lives are like around the world can find out more easily than ever, and those not looking will continue to incidentally come across such experiences as well.

164 The Anti-Gnostic February 18, 2014 at 10:44 am

Do you realize that to a “foreigner” you’re foreign?

Do you know how much you sound like a Victorian-era imperialist? Except now instead of taking up the White Man’s Burden in the Global South and Asia, you’ll just import the wogs here instead. And then you’ll set to scrubbing off all that dusky skin to reveal the Occidental social democrat you just know is inside everybody.

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