The Open Borders Manifesto

In honor of March 16, Open Borders Day, here is the Open Borders Manifesto to which I am a signatory.

Freedom of movement is a basic liberty that governments should respect and protect unless justified by extenuating circumstances. This extends to movement across international boundaries.

International law and many domestic laws already recognise the right of any individual to leave his or her country. This right may only be circumscribed in extreme circumstances, where threats to public safety or order are imminent.

We believe international and domestic law should similarly extend such protections to individuals seeking to enter another country. Although there may be times when governments should treat foreign nationals differently from domestic citizens, freedom of movement and residence are fundamental rights that should only be circumscribed when the situation absolutely warrants.

The border enforcement status quo is both morally unconscionable and economically destructive. Border controls predominantly restrict the movement of people who bear no ill intentions. Most of the people legally-barred from moving across international borders today are fleeing persecution or poverty, desire a better job or home, or simply want to see the city lights.

The border status quo bars ordinary people from pursuing the life and opportunity they desire, not because they lack merit or because they pose a danger to others. Billions of people are legally barred from realising their full potential and ambitions purely on the basis of an accident of birth: where they were born. This is both a drain on the economic and innovative potential of human societies across the world, and indefensible in any order that recognises the moral worth and dignity of every human being.

We seek legal and policy reforms that will reduce and eventually remove these bars to movement for billions of ordinary people around the world. The economic toll of the modern restrictive border regime is vast, the human toll incalculable. To end this, we do not need a philosopher’s utopia or a world government. As citizens and human beings, we only demand accountability from our own governments for the senseless immigration laws that they enact in our name. Border controls should be minimised to only the extent required to protect public health and security. International borders should be open for all to cross, in both directions.

See here to join as a signatory.


If somebody added these words to the Open Borders Manifesto:

"We specifically demand Open Borders in Israel"

by how much would the percentage of signatories fall?


The evidence that Bryan Caplan gives a rat's ass about Israel (or about much else outside his own household and office) is precisely nil. We have a professional-managerial bourgeoisie who consider the rest of us to be pairs of hands and your reaction to that is to fixate on the Jewish portion of that professional-managerial bourgeoisie (most of whom have no affection for Israel which can trump their domestic political affiliations).

While we're at it, there are 52 signatories thus far of whom fewer than ten have Jewish surnames.

Suggesting that Jews are in the vanguard of this issue, and over-represented by a factor of 10.

Uh, no, he's suggesting that half to four-fifths of the signatories are (a) Jews and (b) Jewish particularists. They obviously are not, but that's how he rolls and how you roll. That 18% of the signatories are Jews (more or less, in Caplan's case, less) is of little account when you consider that it's a petition signed by a bunch of academics. Jews are clustered in certain occupations, among them the professoriate, and there is no reason to believe they're any more loyal to world Jewry than academics are to the working class in their own countries.

No, you have it backwards, Art Deco. I'm suggesting that if the Open Borders manifesto dared mention Israel as needing Open Borders, its gentile signers would be in career danger of being targeted as anti-Semitic. Jews have more leeway to recommend policies destructive of the Jewish State. By way of analogy, see the recent NYT denunciation of four gentile undergrads at UCLA who support BDS:

Of course, the point of publicly endorsing Open Borders is to raise your status, not lower it, so we aren't going to hear much about Israel from the Open Borders ideologues.

Israeli academics are pretty loyal to their country.

They didn't just support BDS, they accused a girl of being irredeemably biased because of her ethnic background (as she clearly isn't religious). That makes them antisemites, which is unreasonable, not anti-Israel, which is.

Kind of like you.

Follow the link above: the real story is more interesting than the one in the New York Times.

I want my five minutes back. There's no new information (which is implied by "real story") in that link. Just the paranoid rantings of an obsessive.

And how is that different from just about every other political, literary, academic, scientific, financial, artistic field? But don't blame me, I'm doing my part for Jewish underachievement.

its gentile signers would be in career danger of being targeted as anti-Semitic

Where, Steve? Not on a standard-issue college campus, where there is little organized antagonism to the Arab cause (other than a scatter of students who might write letters to the editor).

Israeli academics are pretty loyal to their country.

Some are and some are not. Ilan Pappe, and the historian (a 19th century European specialist) promoting the Khazar nonsense had long histories on Israel's college faculties. They were not alone there.

He should care about Israel since it, far more than America, is violating those supposedly universalitst principles he espouses. On college campuses nationwide many liberals, including principled Jews, are actively protesting against Israel's policies. What libertarian of note has joined them? Leftists have more balls than "libertarians."

No question.

He should care about Israel since it,

Fairfax County, Va. is not in Israel and Israel has a population less than 3% that of the U.S.

"What libertarian of note has joined them?"

American Libertarians are often critical of American aid to Israel or interfering in Middle Eastern politics. But as a group, they generally don't protest against Israel’s policies, because they don't care. Why should a group that's known for isolationist tendencies be protesting the actions of one foreign country regarding another when the action is unlikely to affect the US?

How can people preening for open borders be considered isolationist in anyway?

That's not really the correct usage for preening but it should be for cases like this.

There is strong evidence that they have quite an affinity for Israel, in general. Also, "the Jewish portion" accounts for the majority of economic and media support for communism.

Tabarrok and Caplan and Cochrane are tuning out the good, intelligent counter points, and repeating their stump speech elevator pitch points. I give the first two some credit for not deleting good counter points in the comments.

I'm surprised there are no PhD blogger economists who are well articulating the downsides of mass immigrations. Cowen is slightly neutral. Arnold Kling says the whole issue is not an economic one, it is presumably a race/family/political one, and otherwise avoids the topic. Sailer is amazing, but he is a fringe non-academic.

Quick counter points highlight: The entire historical premise of a nation is an extended tribe or family. Most of the open borders arguments can be equally applied to "open famliies" or "open universities". Open borders really strictly targets gentile whites which is a politically popular target in today's climate. Japan and Israel are the two wealthy countries with extreme anti-immigrant measures. South Africa is a recent open borders type experiment, that really has a lot of politically suppressed down sides; the whites who gave up their autonomy are quite aggressively persecuted. Alain Finkielkraut eloquently articulates some negatives of mass immigration of Arab+Africans to Europe that are politically suppressed and evaded by the likes of Tabarrok+Caplan.

I challenge Tabarrok+Caplan+Cochrane and the open borders type to actively debate Sailer + Finkielkraut and the good counter points.

Japan and Israel are the two wealthy countries with extreme anti-immigrant measures

Those countries don't do anything unpleasant to immigrants. Probably you mean to say that they have restrictive immigration policies.

It would be incorrect to state that that at least Israel's policies are merely restrictive. Restrictive means not letting anyone in. Once they get in by whatever method, indeed, they are doing something 'to' the immigrants. Israel detains and deports thousands of refugees explicitly to maintain an ethnic majority for a people with strong racial bonds. Any other Caucasian group that attempts this is pilloried as racist and is forced to keep such refugees largely under pressure from Jewish media as well as Europe and USA based advocacy groups.

"The entire historical premise of a nation is an extended tribe or family."

Way wrong. There is no such thing as an extended tribe.

Did a Jewish Latino cuckold you?

I've been betting he had an argumentative and ill-mannered boss named named something like "Marty Kleinman".

Perhaps famous goyim Art Deco could let us all know which specific criticisms of Jews as a group are allowed, if any.

I'm not motivated to criticize collectivities 'as a group' (though I might criticize social practices or cultural phenomena within those collectivities), so I'm not giving any thought to those boundary conditions. In any case, courtesies for the malicious are not my stock in trade, so you'll just have to take the shrapnel you get when you do what comes naturally to you.

look at art get all flustered and verklempt lol

btw Steve, this is what you get for trying to have a calm discussion with someone from the tribe, he'll just hysterically denounce you as a "rabid anti-Semite" (this is called working the ref) until you give up and stop talking about certain subjects. And then he's achieved his goal.

Is there some sort of system to let you brownshirts are needed to defend your hero? A giant swastika bat symbol goes out to the white trash web maybe?

"elder of zion" lmfao

But can you really say that? The typical neocon line is that it's "anti-semitic" to suggest that the behavior of Jews is what makes people "anti-semitic."

There are no 'typical neocon lines' because 'neocon' is a nonsense term (accept, of course, as a six letter synonym for 'Jew').

no one has ever called himself a neocon, BIGOT

lmao at Art Deco...I guess Irving Kristol was the biggest anti-semite who ever lived!

I am largely Jew, I love my Jewish family and other Jews (and most other demographics), but the hypocrisy is striking between Israel with razor wire closed borders and openly ethnic segregation policies and the more open border integrationist doctrine Jews have aggressively pushed on every gentile country on Earth. Tabarrok, Caplan, and Cochrane have dodged the issue of Israel and South Africa and dodged the issues of race, but those are so central to the issue of mass immigration.

You realize you can be Jewish and not zionist, right? You need not even be zionist or anti-zionist, you can just not particularly care.

It's funny in a sick sort of way that the rabid antisemites, like Sailer, and the likudniks are both pushing the same false equivalency. It's a bootleggers and baptists coalition.

Sailer isn't antisemitic. If he was an anti-semite, and wished harm upon me or my Jewish relatives, I wouldn't be a big fan of his. Ilana Mercer is another very Jewish political writer who is ideologically similar.

Argument by vigorous assertion is not very convincing.

It's not just that they're dodging it; Caplan at least, selectively invokes it in support of open borders. He believes that antipathy toward immigrants who "aren't like us" will restrain the growth of the welfare state under an open borders policy regime, but that this antipathy won't boil over into ethnic conflict because......well, I don't know why, exactly. It's sort of a Goldilocks argument. Too little ethnic tension and you wind up with runaway entitlement spending. Too much, and you get a rerun of Gangs of New York.

"the more open border integrationist doctrine Jews have aggressively pushed on every gentile country on Earth."

Elites are pushing open borders. Jews happen to be a significant percentage, though clearly a minority, of intellectual and business elites.


Zogby asked respondents to choose whether they thought “We need to allow more immigrants into the country to fill (unskilled labor) jobs because there aren’t enough Americans willing or able to do them” or “There are plenty of Americans already here to do these jobs; if employers can’t find workers, they should pay more and treat workers better.”

The Catholic Church’s position is that legal immigration should be increased to provide employers with more unskilled laborers and that there should be a “path to permanent residency which is achievable/verifiable.” Yet 69 percent of Catholics believe there are plenty of American workers available to do the jobs. Just 12 percent sided with the Catholic bishops.

The numbers are similar for mainline Protestants (73-10), Evangelical Protestants (75-7), and Jews (61-16), all express general opposition to the positions taken by their leaders.

A clear minority?

Not quite.

Then you could wipe out most of the other signatories by demanding the right of non-Muslims to visit, work and live in Mecca.

Or perhaps Bhutan.

I'm also a little wary of losing entire cultures. I'd like my child to be able to visit Sweden, for example, and it be remotely Swedish and not Somali/Arab.

(And if she visited Saudi Arabia, it would be Arab and not get the idea. This is not a racist issue, but one of retaining cultural diversity much like biological diversity. America being an exception due to our history.)

I suppose with airplanes and the internet this really won't work. You see on reddit, for example, young people now sharing memes worldwide.

And maybe its not even possible before: Sweden was pagan and is now Christian. So even now its not "truly Swedish."

So, its more likely we end up with Global Los Angeles with everyone all mixed in, but with some pockets for dining, culture, etc.

Indeed. The one constant in the world is change, and it accelerates in many areas. The world evolves.

I've got great news I just talked to me yardman and his kids school sucks. I let him know your house is open and ever evolving. Expect them in a couple days. There a six them and they really like pizza.

You're right accerlated change does work well for everyone.

How is relocating Africa and the Middle East to Sweden, and every other white country, Evolution? I wasn't aware that these people were the evolutionary standard, cultural or otherwise. I also wasn't aware that the natural homogenization of western cultures with African and ME cultures was "evolution", the latter cultures having quite a bit of unmolested space in the world where they will survive relatively unchanged. Also, notice your depersonalization of the human made decisions that led to this. This process is not an act of evolutionary nature, but rather a process born of human elite decision making that conveniently left the opinions of the affected populaces out. Nice try though.

Calm down. Evolve has more than one meaning. He wasn't referring to the scientific principle you don't understand.

I didn't say the eternal changing of the world and its nations makes everyone happy. Just that it happens, and nothing anyone types here can stop it. Nor does it threaten the survival of the species.

In the long run we're all dead anyway. Try to get some Buddhism in ya.

Don't worry, your fans at Taki would more than make up for it.

That'll show you to have fans Steve. Better to be like Bryan Caplan and just have paymasters.

There's a lot of room between the open borders crowd and Taki readers (i.e. Stormfront with grammar).

Thanks in advance to everyone for their well-reasoned, nuanced responses on this complex subject.

Open Borders is the central issue in the Israeli election, right? One side is demanding to tear down all the razor wire border fences, right?

> Thanks in advance to everyone for their well-reasoned, nuanced responses on this complex subject.

TC is asserting some of his religious dogmas. Any post that is essentially an assertion of religious dogma is going to lead to the same kinds of responses as this post.

It's Tabarrok, who might improve the level of good citizenship in Fairfax County by self-deporting.

What don't you make like a tree, if you don't care for the bloggers here?

Art, do you do anything but whine and snivel?

He is trolling his own blog, responses in a similar spirit are to be expected.

Ever considered that you and your kind are the intended audience? It's not bad enough you ruined the comment section of the volokh conspiracy, now you have to expand to the econo-blogs?

*are NOT the intended

I checked out Volokh for the OU-SAE Frat thing and those comments were full of shitlibs citing the OU CODE OF CONDUCT as a basis for signing away your first amendment rights.

>> I checked out Volokh for the OU-SAE Frat thing and those comments were full of shitlibs citing the OU CODE OF CONDUCT as a basis for signing away your first amendment rights.

That's the third wave. They come from the larger Washington post readership. The second wave, including bob from ohio, are right wing internet warriors. The first, and only decent, wave were people actually interested and knowledgeable about legal topics (with a somewhat libertarian bent, but that's wasn't the dominant characteristic).

This blog is firmly in the second wave now. The number of regular commentators that actually understand or care about posts on real economics is rapidly approaching zero.

"you ruined the comment section of the volokh conspiracy, now you have to expand to the econo-blogs"

Ruined it all by myself? Thanks for the compliment.

After 15 years at volokh conspiracy, time to expand my evil reach.

You don't much like conflicting views, I guess.

How about No Borders, Alex? Then people will be free to draw their own.

Open Borders don't seem to be working out very well in the Middle East. Israel doesn't seem to think they're a good idea, unless it's to plop settlements down in the West Bank or maintain garrisons in the Golan Heights.

Another Jew-obsessive. Israel has the Golan Heights because Syria lost them in a war. You do not want to lose territory, do not sign on to Gamal Abd el-Nasser's schemes. Israel has the West Bank for much the same reason, with the qualification that Jordan does not want it back and the local population and political class want it back only as a staging ground for attacks on Israel.

Does it occur to you I actually admire the nation-state of Israel and think the US could learn a lot from them?

No it doesn't because your signature is free-floating resentment of the domestic Jewish population. If you want to piss on Leon Wieseltier for pretentious and ethnocentric intellectual frauds, do so. You can do so and leave my vascular surgeon out of it.

Jews have the highest rate of homosexuality of any ethnic group.

The Jews are obsessed with non-Jewish people in Europe and the USA. What goes around comes around.

Come again? They live in a world where 97% of the population is gentile (in America) and over 99% is (anywhere in Europe). Yes, when they contemplate the world around them, they notice all the gentiles.

Look at this guy conflate "notice" with "obsess". JIDF trained!

No borders seems the more interesting idea.

I guess they still want them for legal purposes, so you'd know if you have to label your fruit in kg or lbs?

The arguments for Open Borders are overwhelmingly sound, but I suppose it would be prudent to try them out first in just one country, just to make sure it's really a good idea.

I was looking at a map and it turns out the closest first world country by land routes to the burgeoning population of Africa is Israel. All it would take to carry out a test of Open Borders is one bulldozer to knock a hole in those 20 foot tall razor wire fences Israel has built over the last few years to keep out economic migrants from Africa (or as the Israeli state calls them "illegal infiltrators).

You can have your welfare state and you can have open borders, but not both.

Here's another economics-related issue. The insufficient supply of ammunition.

"You can have your welfare state and you can have open borders, but not both. "

My thoughts exactly. I'd be OK with largely opening up the US for immigration, as long as we severely reduced our welfare state. I'm completely against Open immigration (at least for low skilled immigrants) with the current level of social spending. It's a recipe for fiscal disaster.

I suspect that a high skill immigration system would eventually allow for some more low skilled immigration as demand opened up.

""""Freedom of movement is a basic liberty"""

There is no right to movement in a market based world

In such a world the US would have up to 300 million borders and the world up to 7 billion borders. Your only right would be to move on your own property, moving on any other property would require the permission of the land owner.

Borders are not anti-liberty, they are the basis of liberty, because they are the basis of property ownership. Unfortunately governments have used massive force to consolidate borders down to the present 200 number and there is a continuing effort to reduce the world to a no border status by imposing world government. Anyone asking for no border world is asking to create the most powerful government of all, world government.

No borders is a socialist idea aimed at destroying true liberty

Lool, "Borders are not anti-liberty, they are the basis of liberty, because they are the basis of property ownership" ???!!! .... I agree the main goal is to create a world government one step at a time... but this is not a "socialist idea"... it is an idea shared by virtually all the political/corporate establishment in private at least (bilderberg meeting, ....) and in public by a few lunatics (specially the "European federalists", though that idea is not so popular anymore, so they had come back to their closet!)

I call it real socialism, which is what always happens no matter the theory, its a one way socialism, the leadership says, ‘What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is up for negotiation”

You realize that land is no longer an important means of production, right?

Someone watched too many cowboy movies ...

You still need land to make things, to move things, to exist

G Cochran:

Speaking of which, one has to wonder which is the greater threat – the increasing dumb fraction of this country, or the increasing crazy fraction.

Open borders, or free trade. Your pick, Alex. Let's see if you really are committed to wealth maximization, or something else...

Free trade should lead to open borders (European Union)...

And a massive expansion of government. None of the old government is gone, but a all new level put on top.

It's every bit of that. In fact, it's the social democratic State enlarging its constituency.

Or, as Peter Brimelow puts it, if war is the health of the State, immigration is its Viagra. Open Borders are political and cultural suicide for libertarians. I have no idea why they hump this policy.

I love it when Tabarrok posts these Open Borders things. Whatever credibility he had quickly vanishes, making the other nonsense he spews much less palatable to people outside his little niche.

The Bartley J. Madden Chair in Economics at the Mercatus Center is thoroughly content to remain within his little niche - as likely would anyone else who receives that sort of renumeration.

The only reason I come here is to find out what my adversary is thinking.

Hopefully some day open borders could be implemented without disastrous consequences. But that day is far off.

I agree 100% that liberty of movement is a human right. And that it is immoral to forbid let's say african immigrants from establishing in Europe/US/Others, But...

Tell it to the pied noirs.

Great example.

Right now I'd say there are more barriers to becoming a permanent resident in China, than in the USA.

Although, my experience is more with Taiwan. They actually went from not allowing foreigners to own land to now having a permanent resident system for non-immigrant foreigners. You can also become a full Taiwan citizen, too. I think this has served them well.

Here is how my employer's IT security reacts to this manifesto...

"Content blocked by your organization
Reason: This Websense category is filtered: Marijuana.
Your Websense policy blocks this page at all times."

The border status quo for the US is immoral. This does not mean the remedy is to eliminate the border. This is recognized by the very first sentence which proclaims: "Freedom of movement is a basic liberty that governments should respect and protect unless justified by extenuating circumstances." A later sentence declares: "there may be times when governments should treat foreign nationals differently from domestic citizens."

So what are these extenuating circumstances and what are these times when immigration controls are warranted? Who is deciding? The manifesto acknowledges such concerns exist but then it plows forward as if the question has been addressed and answered, to the satisfaction of the manifesto authors. Clearly there is no bias in their judgment!

The acknowledgment that there may be times and circumstances where border control is warranted dictates an apparatus that is always prepared to impose such controls.To believe otherwise is to live in fantasy land. So there will be a border control and there will be immigration enforcement. The discussion should start with this agreement and then explore what controls and what policies best serve the interests of the nation and its citizens.

So, if I understand exit theory correctly, this is really a a call for neo-facism in the 3rd world?

Pregnancy takes about nine months, and is usually an intentional endeavor by the mother. She also has a pretty good idea of what general geographical location she will be when she gives birth. But I guess if you squint hard enough that process can be considered an "accident".

By accident of birth I grew up in my childhood home instead of Alex Tarrabok's home. Now my parents were really affluent so that worked out well for me, but there's a lot of people that would love to have the luck of living at Tarroback's house. Wonder if he's sympathetic and ready to adopt a lot of kids. He can screen them for measles of course but other than that he can't be picky.

Parents have full freedom over their household to selectively invite and exclude foreign children. That freedom overrules the freedom of a child to chose the household they live in. What's contested in the immigration debate is whether a host tribe/community/nation-state has the freedom to selectively invite and exclude foreigners or whether the freedom of a foreigner to live wherever they want should override that.

What's being discussed is rhetorically ridiculous use of "accident of birth." If the acidental nature of it bothered Tarroback he'd do his best to correct other "accidents" of birth.

Believe me I've heard the tendentious libertarian arguments about why their property lines are inviolable, but the US's property lines are endlessly permeable a billion times. It's the quintessential just so argument.

Many libertarians would support the right of a community, tribe, or nation state to exclude or selectively invite others. Milton Friedman comes to mind. I am completely libertarian and anti open borders. There is a libertarian argument on both sides of this issue. Beyond that, you are awesome!

It's quite a puzzle. The benefits of open borders are so significant and wide-ranging and yet not one country has stumbled into this source of riches.

Not one. Alex must be so frustrated to be sitting on this key to eternal wealth and moral doublegoodiness and have no one see it's undeniable truth.


have you ever heard of the *United* States? How about the European *Union*?

Alex Tabarrok

Have you ever heard of "Great Britain?" Do you wonder why it includes a place called "Northern Ireland?"

Is that what makes it great?

Actually, it does..."Greater Britain."

We're not affluent because of our immigration policy (or lack of one). See Japan and Israel for a pair of countries who are affluent with very different policies.

Japan and Israel have very similar immigration policies: you basically can't immigrate if you aren't a member of the national ethnic group (e.g., Japanese in Brazil) or marry one.

Missing the obvious point. The states of the US would be much poorer in general if they were 50 separate countries with immigration restrictions between them.

So bigger and more government makes people richer?

There are plenty of small countries which are wealthy, there are plenty of countries with immigration restrictions which are wealthy

Not really a counter example. Vermont might be just as wealthy, but other states would probably be much poorer. You can cherry pick small countries, if you want, but the point is when immigration restrictions actually improve the prosperity of a region. I guess you can hold that the region that is currently the US would be better off on net had it been 50 separate countries with immigration restrictions, but I really doubt that.

No, I am not. Affluent countries with a full complement of academic, medical, and financial institutions can be had with populations just north of 4 million and core cities just north of 1 million. See New Zealand and Norway and Singapore for examples.

You can cherry pick small countries,

You're engaging in arbitrary and completely unsubstantiated counter-factuals. You've got some nerve.

Yes, these counterfactuals are mostly based on priors, but that's part of the point. Do you think that the US would have been better off as 50 separate countries with immigration restrictions between them? If you don't (which I imagine most people wouldn't), then you need to think about why it wouldn't be better off and see what similarities (and differences) exist between that case and more global cases.

Yes, these counterfactuals are mostly based on priors, but that’s part of the point. Do you think that the US would have been better off as 50 separate countries with immigration restrictions between them? If you don’t (which I imagine most people wouldn’t), then you need to think about why it wouldn’t be better off and see what similarities (and differences) exist between that case and more global cases.

No, you're expecting me to pay attention to whatever you pull out of your rear end as if it were demonstrative of anything but what you wish might have been true. Regarding Vermont, a state which has one city which comprehends about 15% of the population therein as 'probably' affluent and the generic state as not is just prejudice.

There is no doubt (because examples abound) that scale is not a necessity for affluence.

If I were to engage in a counter-factual, I would have to imagine some alternative political geography and a state system dynamic which attended it. "The Fifty States" were an artifact of Congress. Your posited alternative state system would have had fewer parties and an uncertain intramural hierarchy. Northern and Central Europe built an affluent economic order which comprehended 9 notable states with a mean population of about 18 million in 1914 (and that does not include the affluent portion of the Hapsburg dominions or northern Italy).

And to entertain a counterfactual world where I didn't just sneeze, I would have to think of a universe with completely different starting conditions. Obviously that is impossible, so I can't know anything about that counterfactual.

The United States is a pretty poor example to pick. It was founded on open borders, but really just for people of similiar cultures and religious backgrounds. Violently supressing and eliminating the indigenous peoples and cultures across the width of the continent is hardly "open borders". Mexicans could probably tell Alex the story of how "open borders" to Texas and California didn"t work out so well for Mexicans.

So given the current ethnic makeup of, say, Texas compared to Vermont, do you think states should start restricting immigration from other states?

That's a more complex question than you are making it. States used to curtail travel by refusing to extend welfare to US citizens from other states, in order to avoid being 'welfare magnets.' Then SCOTUS told them they couldn't do that.

I have seen Arizonans complain about 'Californication.' Most of the issues are fairly mild, the cultural and ethnic differences between Arizona and California are pretty slight. But it doesn't take a lot of imagination to see differences getting pretty big, pretty fast. If a bunch of Texans move to Vermont and start out-voting them, then I bet Vermonters would be pretty upset.

Speaking of Vermont, that State looks like it could use a large infusion of diversity, and they've got plenty of room for it too.

I'm not using the standard "who would be upset" as a guide for immigration policy.

Violently supressing and eliminating the indigenous peoples and cultures across the width of the continent is hardly “open borders”

No, they were just shoved out of the way (as they had ejected the previous inhabitants of the territories they occupied). The country was actually quite sparsely populated prior to the close of the frontier.


I think everyone has heard of United States and the Europen Union.

I dont get your point. Neither of those have OPEN BORDERS.

They have free movement between the member states, but thats something very different from having OPEN BORDERS for everyone.

The U.S. had open borders until the Chinese Exclusion Act. Just not open citizenship.

Annual immigration prior to 1840 averaged about 0.125% of the resident population per annum, just about what it was during the low immigration regime which prevailed between 1924 and 1965. We did not need the restrictions. Now we do.

So it had open borders for less than two centuries. An experiment that ended the second new means of travel meant large scale immigration and immigration from different ethnic backgrounds. So basically exactly as Peter put it above. And we effectively have open borders with no open citizenship with Mexico right now. Has that been satisfactory to the various ethnic activist?

But it is the *European* Union. *European,* get it?

Glad you brought up the U.S. and the E.U. You should ask the Taino, the Navajo, or the Aztecs how good open borders were for them.

Or ask the Romans. Remember, the Romans weren"t destroyed by invading German tribes, the Empire was hollowed out over decades and destroyed by Germanic tribes that had been invited to live inside the Imperial border. By the 5th century AD these German chieftains imagined they themselves were the new elite of Rome and were continuing the Empire as they sacked Italian cities and wiped out the old Roman families.

If the argument for open borders is "neighboring nations with a large common core of shared values will evolve into closer and closer ties which will ultimately result in open borders" then I'm all for it.

If the argument for open borders is "neighboring nations without a common core of shared values should open their borders because libertarian freedom demands it" then it's something I put into Orwell's category of "some ideas so absurd only an intellectual could believe them."

Oh please, the U.S. was an empty continent with no to little government. it was basically becoming a country rather than being a country.

As for the EU, open borders between similarly developed countries on a case by case basis isn't a problem and certainly isn't what you have in mind. Open them to Asia, the Middle East and Africa - as you suggest with your open borders manifesto - and then what.

You do realize many in the EU have free at use healthcare and education?

"Billions of people are legally barred from realising their full potential and ambitions purely on the basis of an accident of birth: where they were born."

How many billions do you want living in the US?

There should be a tax on manifestoes. Anybody who signs a manifesto should have to pay 1/100 of the per capita potential cost of the manifesto.

I'm an immigrant, having moved from one developed country to another as a child.

I oppose open borders. The citizens of a country have a complete moral right to pursue their own best advantage in who they decide to let in.

We can offer the poor in the third world access to markets, ideas, capital, and technology and they can make of it what they want. They do not need to move to the West to be better off. They need to address institutional failures at home.

The border status quo bars ordinary people from pursuing the life and opportunity they desire, not because they lack merit or because they pose a danger to others. Billions of people are legally barred from realising their full potential and ambitions purely on the basis of an accident of birth: where they were born. This is both a drain on the economic and innovative potential of human societies across the world, and indefensible in any order that recognises the moral worth and dignity of every human being.

"Accident of birth?" Strange, because my birth wasn't an accident, nor was that of my children, nor was that of my mother or my father. Nor, I strongly suspect, was that of the members of our hostile elite. On the basis on "accident of birth," libertarian millionaires would love to be able to inherit millions of dollars, tax free, money and property they could do what they want with, to keep out vibrant diversity out with high walls. "Equality" is only a virtue when it's convenient for them.

"We can offer the poor in the third world access to markets, ideas, capital, and technology and they can make of it what they want. They do not need to move to the West to be better off. They need to address institutional failures at home."

Yes. Open borders is at least partly a way to keep poor countries poor and no competition.

Beyond that, there is the question, how many billions of people does Alex think can or should live in the US?

The US is 4th globally in area but 180th in population density, so probably lots more people than currently live here?

Ignoring that quality of life will be badly degraded long before we're number one in population density, what then?

Is there literally no limiting principle to immigration--one million immigrants a year are good, ten million a year would be even better? One billion people in the US will be Heaven on Earth?

Quality of life for whom? Those with the good fortune to be in the country already or those immigrating to the country?

My quality of life, which the government is degrading without my consent.

Does it occur to you that increased demand for housing and jobs replicates the conditions in the immigrants' homeland? You can find sob stories in various newspapers about how low their pay is at fast food outlets and how they have to crowd into apartments to make the payments--all without putting two and two together.

Now, can you get around to answering my question--is there literally no limiting principle to immigration to the US?

Well if at 10 times the current density, there would be only 3 billion people (less than a third the population density of Bangladesh!)

Are such immigrants genuinely no better off, even though they have low-paying jobs by US standards?

And I don't know if there is a limiting principle. I personally prefer policies that maximize global welfare. Current immigration laws in most states aren't doing that. I don't know if open borders does, but I'm willing to bet that looser immigration restrictions would increase global welfare.

I'll worry about "global welfare" when I live globally as opposed to locally.

I had forgotten the touchstone of Progressivist thinking: hate humans, and love humanity.

How much land in the US is not capable of supporting any significant habitation?

The Glorious Libertarian Revolution would last exactly one election cycle as a billion Socialist peasants would immediately move in.

But libertarians gotta libertarian.

Open borders is a Fringe idea even with respect to Libertarians.

The Libertarian Party website did an on-line poll:
Yes 18%, Maybe 9%, No 73%


That's because libertarians are few in far between, even amongst self proclaimed libertarians. The latter group mostly consists of people that hate taxes and love guns.

libertarianism, is a philosophy that wants to maximize personal freedoms. That can be interpreted as open border, and allow individuals to move where they want, or the opposite, and allow communities and nation states the freedom of association to selectively invite only those that they want to. Does Japan have the freedom to be Japanese as they are choosing? Or does a non-Japanese individual have the freedom to live in Japan and override the wishes of the host population? I'm guessing most libertarians side with the freedom to exclude, but that is a less feel-good message, and the open border types are more vocal.

The word you are looking for is communitarian. It's an antonym of libertarian.

Wasn't there a scene in Reds, where the communists are translating speeches to each nationality, adjusting the actual translation for each ethnic group? I believe they were promising jihad to the Uzbeks or something.

The Left must be ecstatic when the Libertarian loons push Open Borders for them.

"Libertarian loons" I think you repeat yourself.

Libertarians With Tenure are so cute when they preen while social climbing.

The commentators are so hostile to this manifesto (which has been hedged) that I hate piling on.

But yeah, you can't have a nation state if the government isn't going to control at least who comes into the country, almost by definition.

People like Alex would get more traction, and be doing s service, by focusing on particular idiocies of the US immigration policy. Every government policy has these, and its good to police them.

For example, the freedom of Americans to emigrate (never mind immigration) is being curbed through FACTA, the most prominent of several measures aimed at this. It would also be good to put open borders between the US and Canada -the state which existed twenty years ago- on the agenda.

Why is open borders with Canada a good idea? They've been flooded with gruesome Asian immigrants. You sound like another open borders kook who is living in the past and thinks open borders means a few novelty accents in your social circle. Kill yourself.

Right now there is an oversupply of labor, worldwide, and this site has been pretty good at documenting that with other posts. This in turn was caused by a huge worldwide population boom in the second half of the twentieth century, which at a minimum the world still has to digest (posters and commentators tend to be in denial on this one).

So immigration policy has to be crafted in view of its effect on the local labor market, and also on how much you want the country's population to grow. Of course you could take the attitude that the greater the oversupply of labor, the better, but there are lots of ways this could wind up backfiring. I think the trend in the next century will be for tighter controls on immigration, and countries that buck the trend will wind up with a really large hetrogenous impoverished population, eg be really dysfunctional places.

Let's not confuse libertarianism with the 'open borders' movement. There are plenty of libertarians who think a complete 'open borders' policy is suicide for liberty. I happen to be one of them.

This notion that it's a 'human right' to live anywhere you please is just ridiculous. A country is more than just a walled geographic region. Each country has its own form of social contract, and its wealth is in part the result of lifetime investments by the citizens of that country.

If you want to have open borders in modern mixed economies, you need to change the nature of the social contract. For example, you can't have people come to the U.S. at age 60 and expect full Medicare and Social Security Benefits at age 65. That would bankrupt the system if many chose that path. And yet, we can't simply tell them they can't have those benefits, as we aren't about to let poor people starve to death in the streets or die from lack of basic medical care.

Many of our social programs and laws are based on the assumption that the citizen will pay lifetime taxes to pay for them. If too many people short-circuit that process, the whole system breaks down. I have yet to hear a decent argument against this from the supporters of open borders.

Then you have the problem of differing lifestyles/political viewpoints. I suspect that a lot of the 'open borders' support exists because of the assumption that new immigrants will vote Democrat or otherwise be reliable leftist voters. I'd love to see how the list of signatories of 'open border' manifestos would change if the typical immigrant strongly supported smaller government, private ownership of guns, and a restricted welfare state.

My guess is that if Mexicans were rock-ribbed conservatives, the Democrats would be calling for a border fence and the Republicans would be championing unlimited immigration from Mexico.

Unlimited immigration of people who don't share the same values as other citizens has sure worked out well for France and the Netherlands, hasn't it?

"That would bankrupt the system if many chose that path." Bankrupting the system is one of those unintended consequences that turns out to be the whole point. The OB crowd are accelerationists who see OB as the way to accelerate the contradictions of the welfare state in order to ultimately destroy it. So there's no point in pointing out the contradictions in the OB position - the contradictions are the whole point.

The OB crowd are accelerationists who see OB as the way to accelerate the contradictions of the welfare state in order to ultimately destroy it.

At which point, there are property lines, contracts and armed landowners as opposed to public highways and due process and 501(c)(3)'s with their noses in the trough. That's why Alex calls for "Open Borders" instead of "No Borders" because in the case of the latter people get to draw their own.

That's a retarded idea. You know what will happen when they "run out of money?" They'll print more.

So if the welfare system buckles under the strain, I think there are two scenarios for how our leaders would respond.

Scenario 1: Our leaders will say, "Oh, we've been such fools! Now that we have seen the contradictions inherent in the welfare system, we must get rid of welfare and embrace libertarianism!"

Scenario 2: Our leaders will say, "Our welfare system is cracking under the strain! Clearly we need stronger government so that we can 'scientifically' manage the problem."

I would lay 20:1 odds that scenario 2 would be the result.

Not if capital is so powerful that there is no countervailing force. And in the OB scenario, there is no people holding the state accountable. The people have been disbanded by the open borders. Ultimately OB is a way for the elites to cashier democratic accountability. The libertarian utopia is British-occupied Hong Kong.

You realize for some of these characters, it begins with 'assume people are widgets'.

It should begin with, "Assume Art Deco is a tiresome JIDF stooge who litters comments with his banal middle-of-road observations and resentments."

There is more Diversity than I would have expected in that list. Are some of those people liberals?

Come on, folks, why be so pessimistic? Elysium, here we come!

The right to spread third world infectious diseases to first world countries is a fundamental human right.

If open borders has the potential for such overwhelming prosperity, why isn't some country in the bottom third of the GDP rankings jumping all over open borders?

Instead, it's always about the USA and Europe. These are countries that are already well off. Making such a radical change would be risking their current prosperity for an unknown outcome. This seems so obvious -- I don't know what motivates open borders advocates.

I actually wish some country tried this. I think it could work.

Singapore might be such an example, where they attracted a lot of foreign investment and probably have ways for skilled people to have permanent residency.

One bulldozer, one country, one experiment.

It sounds better in the original German.

Some advice given in 1907 to Europeans planning to emigrate to the United States:

"Every individual should be in such condition of health as to be able to pass examination by the Board of Trade doctor and the ship’s doctor. Special attention should be paid to the condition of the emigrant’s eyes. If suffering from trachoma the emigrant will be rejected; also in the case of any contagious disease. Individuals, young or old, who are crippled, or likely for any reason to become a public charge on reaching America, if not in company of parents or guardians, or fortified with sufficient affidavits from blood relatives who will care for them after reaching their destination, will not be allowed to land. Idiots and insane persons will also be turned back or sent back.

"No adult emigrant is allowed to pass the customs officials who has not in his possession, and able to show it, the sum of thirty dollars. anyone under contract to perform labor in America will also be excluded. Each emigrant must be perfectly free as regards engaging in any kind of employment; if sent for by some person, company or firm with the understanding that he or she will repay in labor the money advanced for transportation, the emigrant will be refused permission to land, or will be deported."

Sounds like there was a de facto open border for people (well, at least Europeans) who had the skills and resources to take care of themselves. Also, don't forget, all parts of the world ruled by Europeans or subservient to them (which was almost the entire world back then) had de facto open borders for Europeans. Non-Europeans had no such rights.

I have thought a bit on how much immigrants wish to change their new country to their own ways.

Some might be cautious to attempt this, if they are fleeing oppression.

But some might not, especially purely economic immigrants.

For example, if I moved to Europe, I think I would propose more gun rights. I think its more freedom.

And maybe someone else feels the same about socialism (the state should own all the oil!) or Sharia or whatever.

Maybe the best system would be open borders residency, but not citizenship.

Typically across the world, the only thing that distinguishes a citizen from a resident is the ability to vote. Most people in democratic countries don't exercise that right most of the time anyway. So in practice, open borders residency will be identical to open borders citizenship.

Instead of adopting the socialist ways of other countries like the former Soviet Union, why not have other countries adopt our ways, like freedom, rule of law and individual rights? Let's stop blaming the world's problems on the US and dumping the cost on the US taxpayer. Costs should be something you understand. Why don't you look at the immigration laws in Canada or other countries?

Borders in the U.S.S.R. were pretty darn closed. Just look at the difference between Manchuria and SE Russia.

Oy vey, these goyim think they can have their own countries.

Again, how many billions of people in the US is acceptable to Alex (and Caplan et al)?

Essentially, they want that decided by the market.

If they want immigration decided by the market, then they also need to call for repeal of all welfare, procedural and civil rights mandates, and the public ways and the category of 'immigrant' disappears and is replaced by owner, tenant or trespasser. So if you want migrant workers from Guatemala to pick your strawberries in California, you have to negotiate the appropriate easements and cover any extra burden on the infrastructure yourself instead of socializing the costs on the taxpayers. I doubt that's their position because they describe freedom of movement as a "basic liberty" and there is no such right in a market-based system. As I keep saying, the argument seems to be for Open Borders not No Borders because if it's the latter people get to draw their own.

I think their view is freedom of movement contingent upon market prices. So the Guatemalan migrant worker would not be able to move into a nice neighborhood because he can't afford the rent there. He might on the other be able to afford a worker dorm or share a hovel or trailer. They want prices and how much money one has to determine everything.

My view is that the "market" should exist to serve the nation - not the other way around.

What Alex, Caplan et al are essentially calling for is One World Government to implement a completely market and money mediated social order.

@Clover: markets are eternal, nations are ephemeral.

You know, India has no welfare system. Everyone is leaving.

>March 16, Open Borders Day

Making up your own days is awesome.

I say March 18 is Thank God That Literally No One Takes Alex Tabarrok Seriously Day.

Hey now, there are people who take Prof. Tabarrok very seriously. Unfortunately, the several times I have posted information about one of them (like their biography as found at an institute's web site), that information has a very short shelf-life here. Almost as if the Bartley J. Madden Chair in Economics at the Mercatus Center doesn't want anyone to know anything about the sort of people that endow something like the Bartley J. Madden Chair in Economics at the Mercatus Center.

Well, who endows it? Is it the Koch brothers? I bet it's the Koch brothers. Won't someone please clarify for me if it's the Koch brothers?

Wonderful post! We are linking to this great content on our site.

Keep up the good writing.

Great post, Alex. Here is another blog seconding your points:

Sending all the free money away....

But then, when have Jews ever been good with money?

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