*Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration*

That is the already-bestselling graphic novel by Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith, and I would just like to say it is a phenomenal achievement.  It is a landmark in economic education, how to present economic ideas, and the integration of economic analysis and graphic visuals.  I picked it up not knowing what to expect, and was blown away by the execution.

To be clear, I don’t myself favor a policy of open borders, instead preferring lots more legal immigration done wisely.  But that’s not really the central issue here, as I think Caplan and Weinersmith are revolutionizing how to present economic (and other?) ideas.  Furthermore, they do respond in detail to my main objections to the open borders idea, namely the cultural problems with so many foreigners coming to the United States (even if I am not convinced, but that is for another blog post).  Even if you disagree with open borders, this book is one of the very best explainers of the gains from trade idea ever produced, and it will teach virtually anyone a truly significant amount about the immigration issue, as well as economic analytics more generally.

There is more actual substance in this book than in many a purely written tome.

It will be out in October, you can pre-order it here.


"Give me the child for the first seven years and I will give you the man." - Jesuit maxim widely attributed to Ignatius Loyola.

Sounds scary coming from a priest, doesn't it?

Or from a saint, for that matter.

I think the saint was using the editorial "me."

If that frightens you, it tells me more about you than I needed to know. "Christians evil!"

Did you do your Easter Duty?

There is still time. You have until Trinity Sunday.

Priests diddle with little boys though. That's evil in my book, it's not in yours?

Because every preist in all of history diddled boys, right?

The systemic rape of children exploded in the 60's and 70's and 80's when "tolerant" Catholics pushed for lower seminary standards. Thankfully, since 2002, this violation of the faith has fallen thanks to new procedures for reporting abuse and stricter standards

The Church also covered up the crimes of pedophile priests. That's evil too. I don't understand people who argue that it is not evil. They are sick in their hearts.

Sure would be nice if some state attorney general would investigate public and private schools at some point... bet there is more abuse in the single largest school system in the state over the last 70 years than all the diocese’s in the state combined.

It’s just more shocking to hear about priests because even the non religious, it seems, hold them to a higher standard. That’s the real scandal... the failure to distinguish themselves from the society at large... undermines the entire message.

If this was happening in schools on the scale it has in the Catholic church, it would have been blown open into an even bigger scandal. This is trivially obvious. Look at the Sandusky scandal, and that was just one guy.

There is a real difference: celibacy curdles the sexual impulse (for some), trust of clergy, kids spending more time with clergy in places and ways that allow abuse, etc. Don't be a 'war of Christians' guy, it's a real thing.

Well don’t let data and information get in the way of your preconceived biases then. Just bury that head in the sand then.

“The U.S. Government Accountability Office said the nation’s K-12 schools lack a systemic approach to preventing and reporting educator sexual abuse of students, despite a problem that the report said affects an estimated 9.6 percent of students – nearly one in 10 – who are subjected to sexual misconduct by teachers, coaches, principals, bus drivers and other personnel during their K-12 career. That figure is from a 2004 report made to the U.S. Department of Education and is the most recent estimate available, according to the Government Accountability Office.”

Look it’s a sad state we are in. Sexual abuse is an epidemic. It litters our society like a plague and like internet porn site litter the inter webs. We have no self control as a society it seems.

There are estimates (probably on the high side) that millions of children have been and are still subjected to some form a sexual misconduct from adults in school systems. Some have said the proble could be as much as 100 times worse than in the church. Doubt it but it’s being completely ignored while we focus on abuse in the church as far back as 70 years ago.

Why is that?

Because it's not true. "Some have said..." Gimme a break.

Not saying it doesn't happen in school, it surely does, but in a church, they are literally supposed to be better people.

Exactly. That’s why it’s so scandalous. The hypocrisy, the fact they aren’t living up to their own standards, and the coverups as a single hierarchical entity.

Maybe there was a trigger word in a previous comment, so here is a reformulation -

Sadly, the Catholic Church continues to have a real problem with abuse. To the extent that a cliched quote that has been around for centuries is put into a different light at this time in history.

Christians are not evil - those that abuse children are criminals, however, regardless of their faith or position.

Open the borders wide, real wide! Make the economy bigger and mightier than ever! And take extra delight in triggering Trump supporters!

At least your heart is in the right place; taunting the lower classes.

Fool, the lower classes will benefit from a bigger economy. Go back to econ 101.

Caplan, Weinersmith, and you-people persist in misspelling "invasion."

Anyhow, this makes me want to vote twice for President Donald J. Trump. And, I will buy another box of bullets.

File under "How Civilizations Collapse."

Be careful. If you vote twice, then Donald Trump and the Republicans will throw you in jail for voter fraud. They made it big deal about this recently.

Cutting off your nose to spite your face


open(ie; no) borders means the end of the nation state and sovereignty...good luck selling that idea to the majority

Tyler, I would like to hear more about the cultural problems you're worried about. Do you forsee similar problems for other countries with the US exporting so much of our culture to the rest of the world?

The US doesn't "export" culture. People in other countries choose to buy or adopt US culture - willingly.

You may consider Islamic terrorism a backlash against western culture.


There is that, but there is also exporting, when you intentionally dedicate resources to changing the local culture to suit your interests and preferences.

All of those NGOs funded from abroad promoting liberal values, minority rights including in an identity politics sense etc are a form of intrusion into simple purchasing or adoption. You are no longer waiting passively for people to mimic you. You are expressly funding an initial wedge of people who are receptive to your ideas to change the local culture by persuading, shaming and cajoling their co-nationals, sometimes in the face of heavy local opposition.

The popperian "open society" concept which is being promoted is an ideological wedge to reduce the defenses of the targeted society against this sort of conversion.

I am not trying to signal disapproval of the values themselves, just to highlight the mechanism, especially when behind this sort of proselytism are not private individuals or organizations but governments and their proxies.

And the values themselves and the culture being imparted are just political formulas that legitimize a certain elite or type of elite, and the policies which are in its interests (open borders for economics and political machines, for instance).

Good points.

Thank you.

Here is an interesting article I remembered


While China is building infrastructure in Africa, you are using State Dept funds according to the whims of an activist minority that browbeats you at hom,e and presents the issue as universally settled and acknowledged abroad, to the detriment of US interests.

I guess it depends on how you define sovereignty.

If you define it as a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence to enforce laws in a certain territory I am not sure why open borders would lead to a lack of sovereignty.

Yeah, that situation is called empire

That's what the Chinese government says about the Great Firewall. If a government can't control the inflow of information across its border, then there is no sovereignty and no country. Parents have the right to block websites in their own home, right? Well, the same thing applies to the country. That's our collective First Amendment right just like immigration control is a collective property right. [\sarcasm]

Looks like a collectably kitschy cultural artefact of the 2010s to preserve for the future (along the lines of a Jack Chick tract for the 90s-00s).

The one goofy looking white guy in the picture looks suspiciously like Caplan too.

Looks like Brian and his wife:


And the guy next to Tyler is Zach. They are the narrators.

I would support open borders under two conditions:
i) Public space can be made private, and it's access restricted. No welfare transfers. The true libertarian option.
ii) Genetic selection and fertility constraints on the poor. The fascist - utilitarian view that in my view would be the most effective and make humanity wealthier.

Why would you use libertarian in one place, yet fascism in the other? Why not go libertarian all the way?

Shouldn't poor and poor children have competitive against disadvantage against rich? If they do, then the problem is self-solving. If they actually don't, then there is no problem and you are incorrect in your assessment of the situation. If you believe that your answer to the situation of childbearing is correct and you are able to produce better breed of humanity (due to eugenics of your own family), find better partner and have as many kids, as you can. That should be the evolutionary choice, right?

I think sub-saharan fertility, combined with their average iq of 70, is a huge problem and the biggest reason to oppose open borders

I’m not worried about IQ as much as that 1% growth that was posted about on here recently. Abysmal for developing economies.

I wonder if economic growth and national IQ are correlated.

Can the question even be asked?

Garett Jones does exist.

Dangerous territory indeed!



"already-bestselling" "It will be out in October." "I picked it up..."

Alright, you got me. Googled "why does it take so long to publish a book" and after several minutes going down that surreal rabbit hole, I'm glad I have nothing to do with the publishing business.

'graphic novel'

Fiction is always enjoyable, particularly when the author insists it isn't.

'It is a landmark in economic education, how to present economic ideas, and the integration of economic analysis and graphic visuals.'

An educational graphic novel concerning economics - yep, fiction.

(And to think there was once something called an illustrated book, in the long ago mists of time before the Reagan revolution, before comic books were able to finally take revenge, and get culture down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.)

'Fiction is always enjoyable, particularly when the author insists it isn't.'

Yes, that's why I enjoyed your comment so much.

I'll write that in my diary, right up there with other significant events in the Trump restoration era.

Shades of George Santayana.

A little history wouldn't hurt this discussion. Following two are helpful:

1. The Fall of the Roman Empire (2006, Oxford UP)
2.Empires and Barbarians (2009, Macmillan)
Both by Peter Heather

I don't have a preference as to what the USA does wrt its borders, but the previous occupants of what has become the USA probably (I'm guessing) wished they could have chosen who to let in and who to keep out.

As often is the case, there's nothing very new about the current mania about immigration. Fear of immigrants is as American as Mom and Apple Pie (to borrow a phrase from H. Rap Brown, if memory serves).

While I'm at it, the current phony panic about China's alleged naval build-up is a perfect repeat of the phony panic over the USSR's alleged naval build-up in the early 1980's.

A little history goes a long way.

'but the previous occupants of what has become the USA probably (I'm guessing) wished they could have chosen who to let in and who to keep out.'

Actually, the Spanish (almost 3 centuries), the French (around 2 centuries), and the Dutch (only a half century, though they lost out due to a wider series of wars with the UK having basically nothing to do with North America) seemed to have taken a pretty relaxed attitude about who they chose to let in.

Perhaps I could have been clearer by "previous occupants" (I was trying to avoid saying "original"). I meant the indigenous peoples who were there when the Europeans began coming.

Your meaning was clear. Prior is simply a troll of long residence.

He wrote 'but the previous occupants of what has become the USA.' That includes the Spanish, the French, and the Dutch too. There have been numerous waves of human migration into the Americas over thousands of years - even the 'original' settlers were replaced by other settlers who are also often considered 'original.' There are several distinct groups of 'native Americans' - which one do you consider the original ones? And where, for that matter? That is, the original settlers where the Spanish conquered or the original settlers where the French set up shop?

America's history is just a bit richer than native Americans, Virginia, Plymouth, and voila, the U.S. And that is just documented history involving a few European groups. There were a variety of distinct indigenous peoples, a number of whom were successful at conquering other indigenous peoples thousands of years before the Europeans showed up.

Which just may make his point, in a sense. But then, the same applies to European history too - all sorts of groups showed up, displacing the 'indigenous peoples' who were there before. Is Cologne a Roman or a German city? How about London? Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Norman French, or English? The same applies to American cities like St. Augustine or New Orleans.

Considering the eventual outcome for the pre- Columbian inhabitants of North America, should they have had a more restrictive and consistently enforced immigration policy?

North American immigration policy, such as it was, from 1608-1965 was pretty good for me.

History is written by the winners and, other than a few deviants, they are pretty happy with the outcome.

'should they have had a more restrictive and consistently enforced immigration policy? '

Which group? There is more than one wave of 'immigrants' settling into pre-Columbian North and South America. Of course, the records are nowhere near as detailed as by European settlement, but there appears to be convincing evidence of more than one group of Pre-Columbian settlers.

Almost as if the idea that talking about 'original' in the context of how the Americas were settled is impossible to use meaningfully is impossible to grasp.

What makes this particularly amusing is that those so interested in a sharp split between pre-Columbian and European settlement are not even using the well documented settlement patters over thousands of years in Europe, where various groups displaced one another over time. The examples of Cologne and London are not random - but how many Germans or English citizens are bemoaning the fact that they inherited Roman cities as Roman civilization was unable to keeps its borders secure?


"I meant the indigenous peoples who were there when the Europeans began coming."

Who were themselves new arrivals who displaced the people who had previously been there. Turtles all the way down. They've been finding DNA traces of SE Asian populations in the Amazon that predate the Behring land bridge migrants. Crazy when you think about it.

I am not American and DNA tests show that none of my ancestors, to the extent that they still left traces in my DNA, have ever lived outside of my turbulent little peninsula going back thousands of years. But I think that the Europeans are just as indigenous now to the Americas, Australia and South Africa as the other indigenous peoples. More so, given that they created the political units and physical infrastructure on which life is reliant and which changed those areas so much.

The attitude is that a "nation of immigrants" must never be allowed to become a nation of natives.

I have no idea what motivates this sentiment. It's like a religious belief.

Over time we are all natives, and we were all once immigrants. Why should the labels matter?

Over time, natives come to think of the place as "theirs." So apparently we must forever seek out yet more exotic groups with no sense of rootedness in the geography and culture to lecture us about what "America" really is.

We could just do what we've always done in America, and let people strive to come here from all over the world and make their lives better and by extension the country better.

Except we haven't always done that. We kept out everybody but free whites for quite some time. We sharply restricted immigration in the early 20th century. We enforced the public charge doctrine, which I think is still in the statutes.

There are a lot of ex-ISIS militants wandering around the Middle East who are just looking to make their lives better. I hope we keep them out. Open Borders is a childish fantasy.

Yes, let’s exclude Central American families from providing their labor and grit to our nation of immigrants because some might be ISIL fighters.

Brilliant. Can we add that addendum to the Statue of Liberty?

We don't need their labor any more than we still need cotton-pickers, and most of them are net tax consumers.

We do need their labor because we like cheap stuff. You yourself can pay more to avoid this but millions of other consumers won't care what you think.


I did not know that the Statue of Liberty is a source of law, especially when it comes to immigration. Do the spirits manifest their will in writing on its skin?

I sometimes think that Steve Sailer's exaggerating, but that Zeroth Amendment to the Constitution stemming from Emma Lazarus' poem seems to be true. Maybe you can sandblast it off? If people can call for the Notre Dame to be updated, surely that poem can too.

Even during much less politically correct times, European descendants in the New World, Oz, South Africa, etc never considered themselves "native" or "indigenous", and would've been offended by the appellation. Those terms were reserved for the non-white locals. See for example the Natives Land Act and the Native Question in South Africa from a century ago.

History is hard and useless when it exposes or denies the narrative.

A Ivy League prof wrote a sweeping text (Ancient History, by Charles A. Robinson, Jr.; The MacMillan Co., NY ;1966) on ancient history, which I have from 1968 (when scholarship was scholarship not propaganda) freshman ancient history. He ends the book stating there are as many theories there are writers on the collapse of western Roman Empire. FYI the Dark Ages were not a good thing.

Exactly who is "letting in" 25 million poor, uneducated criminals ? No one asked me.

Of course, the Dutch, French and Spanish were "letting in others" to a relatively empty, huge continent.

Professor Robinson's opinion, "Historical experience shows . . . that among the conditions which contribute most to the deterioration of mankind are loss of freedom of the individual and of the local community, excessive government, the growth of cities to the injury of rural life, neglect of cultivation of the nobler mental faculties . . . literature, art, science, patriotism, righteousness, and religion, and lastly the commercialization of the mind and the narrowing of the objects of life to the pursuit of wealth, comfort, and self-gratification."

Sound familiar?

I wish it did sound familiar, but I've never heard of Charles Robinson, Jr. He sounds like a smart guy, probably why they had to bury him.

He should have written his thoughts in the form of a fantasy epic involving dragons and elves, men and hobbits: then he might have slipped past the academic gauntlet.

Or, for a post-literate generation, a comic book with simple, artless illustrations, of the sort they hand out free to kids on, say, the importance of brushing your teeth, or making friends by being a friend, or opening the border.

Finally someone with the guts to say it: orcs are brown people, like Mexicans and Africans. They aren't actually people really. They must be slain.

Is that how you see it? That's quite a violent imagination you have ...

It's how anyone sensible sees it. Why do you think I wrote the books that way?

Okay, this is going to sound nutty - but I think, being an antiquarian and linguist - "philologist," if you like - and enchanted with old words and epics and sagas and such, the way they echo even down the centuries in place names around Oxford, for instance, you decided, perhaps initially for your own amusement, to try your hand at inventing a language - and then, to write a legendary history, complete with map and monsters, as a natural extension of it. The importance of friendship, "brotherhood", amid darkness and trial, that perhaps came from your experiences - though not, that I'm aware, your experience of Mexicans - ? There was, I believe, some other formative experience, but I can't think of it ...

Oh well. Just a competing explanation, but you know best.

To the Butcher ...

"Sound familiar?"

Very much so.

Here's one narrative, according to Ed:

The Romans were successful, but expanded beyond their capacity to rule.

They let in a lot of foreigners, welcoming them into the military.

A lot of bad stuff started happening, including a slaughter of Romans in a German forest.

Just beyond their northern border - the Danube - invaders (Huns? Mongols?) raided the Goths.

The Goths fled south.

The Romans let the Goths cross the Danube.

The Goths defeated the fractious, wealthy, lazy, no longer Roman Romans.


The End.

In 2019 the U.S. is exactly like the Roman Empire, and immigrants are barbarian tribes, we are all doomed.

You think so?

Is there any other way to see it?

You forgot the other parts that made Rome fall like the looting by the elite families, the rise of Christianity, the eradication of Greco-Roman paganism, the lead aqueducts, stronger foreign armies, the constant infighting and civil wars, the inability to raise tax revenues, the weakening of the national government and the rise of local ones, etc. The point is there is no one answer.

I tend to emphasise the collapse of the tax base and army as the proximate causes. The distal causes are the political dysfunction as the late empire becomes just another self-looting state, groaning under the weight of its own patronage. I'm pure Acemoglu in this.

The Roman political economy is slowly going off the rails from the late Republic as it moves away from the citizen-soldier-farmer model (and the productive lands of the med) towards slaves-army-latifundia with vast numbers of plebians in service to a small elite. Towards the end, all economic and political energy of the elite is devoted to the purple / politics as rent-seeking consumes everything.

You need to take your own advice about history. The USA got better when those previous occupants got kicked out. America wouldn't be that great under King George. It would've been a bigger Canada.

This is the thing; better for whom?

Sure, better for the future US citizens. Not so hot for the former indigenes.

Caplan's social optima is not Pareto efficient. Utilitarianism run to it's berserk end as self-abnegation.

The rebellion against King George III was a 24 carat example of treason and the colonialists knew it. Their descendants, however, were not in favor of a similar tactic being put to use by the citizens of the southern states. And even now, a hint of trafficking with "the enemy", whomever that might be at the moment, brings calumny down on the head of the accused, who could be the chief executive of the country.

Yes, because Americans believe in democratic self-government. It's right to rebel when you have no vote; it's wrong to rebel when you don't like the way an election came out; and it's wrong to help undemocratic governments.

There is nothing "right" or "wrong" about it. Democracy is a process that human social groupings utilize or don't.

Chuck Martel,

What's your point?

Good job at Tours, btw ...

What's wrong with a far more populous Canada? Canada seems pretty nice

'What's wrong with a far more populous Canada?'

They would all want to go to Florida in the winter time?

Dunno. Its one those baffling USian things - "America without the American Revolution would just be an Australia with 200 million people!", as if this had some terrible consequence over reality that should be implicitly obvious to all.

Historian David Frye's recent book "Walls" is eye-opening. I'm reviewing it in Taki's Magazine later this week.

What did you think?


Frum is pretty good there. He's pointing out just how effing inadequate the economics modelling and assumptions are on which Open Borders rests. The lack of diligent investigation of such assumptions (and Caplan can be diligent if he wants to!) should make everyone paranoid.

Now, Frum's model is nowhere near as dark as my model yet (he still thinks productivity issues with 3rd world mass migration can be mediated by "education" - hah!) but at least he's getting there.

I read the Frum essay - scary stuff but not much new to me. Though it is novel coming from a liberal. He is correct - if the left doesn't fix this the authoritarians will. I don't think the left is going to heed Frum's warning.

It's going to get ugly.

'(he still thinks productivity issues with 3rd world mass migration can be mediated by "education"'

He's deluded. Even the American born citizen children of Hispanic immigrants are lagging way behind whites and Asians. I don't have the numbers handy , but the scope of remedial education at the community college level is astounding, same for CSU and UC. It is very expensive for the state - yet another cost.

English 1A (writing) is a requirement of UC often satisfied at the community college level. The follow-up class is English 1B ( literature). I looked at the catalog and there were around seventty sections of ESL and remedial English and one of English 1B.

We are running a big expensive experiment.

Just to clarify, I am talking about California - ground zero for the third-world immigration experiment.

Already the state has flipped from Republican to Democrat. In the last election, many Republican Congressional seats were flipped to Democrat. That even changes national politics.

Yeah, there are costs.

Judging from the attractive cover of this book, our new country is going to be great!

You can't argue with cover art! Everybody is happy there; even the statues!

(Seriously, anyone else think the art is creepy / patronising?)

They should have let Cathy Guisewite do the cover Cathy-style. Or maybe the Family Circus dude

We need to give more green cards and flight lessons to Saudi Arabian students. A pilot shortage is looming.

I wonder how many NPR fans celebrated 9/11 ... 🤔

All of them. Every last one. If there's one thing that's certain, it's that liberals are bloodthirsty subhumans who hate America and wants every white man killed. If that means Al-Qaeda has to help, so be it.


Hi mouse!

Fuck off, shitlib


No, this guy's not the mouse he's not nearly that bright.

That Steve can tell from the color, I mean cover, art tells you everything you need to know about the guy.

(When you do your "culture" piece Tyler, keep that in mind.)

Capitalizing the A will not make your identity less apparent.

So yes, Tyler. Please do not share your critique of open borders, Steve Sailer might find part of it agreeable. And that would be the true thought crime here.

First they said "trust free speech, and that sunlight will disinfect things like white supremacy, or white separatism."

Then, they said "what, transparent racism is a 'thought crime' now?"

You're exactly why I voted for Trump, and why I'll vote for him in 2020. And if Don Jr. throws his hat in the ring, then I'll vote Trump Jr. in 2024, assuming we're still holding national elections. Because at this point any Democrat is going to proceed with the following three-pronged agenda, by whatever means necessary:

"Hate speech" (as we define it) is not free speech.
"Assault weapons" (as we define them) are not covered by the Second Amendment.
Dry-foot immigration policy: if you can get one foot across the border, you're in and can't be made to leave.

The Democrats want to silence us, displace us electorally and demographically, and take away our threat to their ability to do these things.

Effete, intellectual conservatives and libertarians better get on the Trump Train if they know what's good for them.

Yer nuts, obviously.

But what I actually said was that if you are going to do the free speech, you better do the sunlight, and the disinfecting.

Because otherwise everything right down to 8chan gets normalized as "what some people think."

It's called the Internet. Literally everything said on it can be analyzed and critiqued by a million detractors, as opposed to the artificially scarce regime of network TV and copyrighted newspapers. If you don't like what I say on my blog, there are comment threads. Or you can start your own blog. Or take to Twitter. Whatever.

Now that the Internet is blowing up the networks' and newspapers' business models, the Left starts bleating about "hate speech."

Hate speech is already illegal in all the other Anglophone countries. USA is as usual a bit slow on this one.

We're not 'slow'. We've yet to allow twits in our administrative class and legal profession tell us what we may and may not say about public affairs. If Brits and Cannucks are capons, that's their problem.

Sunlight in one comment and warning Tyler that he’s about to commit a thoughtcrime by implying culture exists in another comment.

Schizophrenic or troll?

You aren't such a good reader.

A few people, Tyler included, have travelled widely and can make knowledgeable comments on culture and politics or economic development.

But I would also expect Tyler to catch the meaning of scare-quoted "culture." A lot of people use that word as a politically stand-in for "not European." I'm sure Tyler can spot when a "culture" argument is not a culture argument.

So your sentence becomes “when you do your “non European” piece, keep that in mind.”

You seem to be the only one reading culture as white.

Call it whatever you want, it’s still xenophobia.

All these gun toting red blooded Americans, terrified of children.

Who knew they were such cowards?

How many of them are you willing to pay for?

As much as practically needed. Border enforcement isn't free either. I'm not willing to trade my liberty for security theater. Cities within 100 miles of a border and around airports are turning into Constitution-free zones.


I pay for their labor through goods and services paid for in the market.


And they won’t be moving into my neighborhood or schools, and they don’t compete with my labor.

Open the gates

Generally speaking, we should craft policy - and be open to changing long-held custom - on the basis of, and with principal reference to, the shifting thoughts of the mentally ill.

Whoa! I coulda wrote that!

Better than great! It's going to be like living in a Sally Forth comic. Maybe we'll all pair up with a buddy the way whipped Ted and the daughter united, very slightly subversively, in the face of Sally Forth's relentless blandness.


I'm sure open borders will be just so-so-amazing. But, you know, why don't we do a test run somewhere? Just to silence the doubters? I'm sure open-borders advocates won't mind demonstrating the superiority of their theory.

Why not the state of Hawaii? Wealthy, easy to isolate for the experiments and I'm sure the Dems will welcome the added diversity.

You'd be up for a test run, wouldn't you, Caplan?

I'm aware of the Hawaii irony. Twice makes the charm.

Israel really should have been established in Bavaria, as the indigenous population wouldn't have a moral standing to protest, as Hitler enablers.

'Israel really should have been established in Bavaria'

Oddly, the people who established Israel decided to vote with their feet, hard as that might be to imagine.

'as Hitler enablers'

Such a kind formulation for the large number of Bavarians who actively participated in exterminating their fellow citizens when given the opportunity.

Perhaps their feet were not informed voters?

In any case, UK probably would have outvoted those skinny feet.

Ah, discussing the history of 1946-48 regarding the UK and Israel and people voting with their feet regardless of borders are out of bounds here. No surprise, somehow.

However, one hopes that Hawaii remains uncontroversial.

'Why not the state of Hawaii?'

You really aren't aware of the history that state, are you? Start with the 1887 Constitution, it should provide a good perspective in why Hawaii is a state today. (Hint - it wasn't the indigenes that wanted to become Americans.)

I’m going to pass because of the subtitle’s appeal to science to decide a political question.

Underlying the political question is an empirical question about the actual impact of open borders (and alternatives).

The answer to this empirical question matters greatly, and often the political debate is a debate about this (usually without actually being grounded in evidence).

I think it's helpful to illuminate the underlying science. Thus, for instance, the "gains from trade" from open borders that Tyler mentions are that American businesses would be able to purchase labor much more cheaply. The under-the-table economy would be immensely stimulated.

Anarchists have plagued America since its beginning. Indeed, anarchists and the threat to order and stability were motivation for the delegates in Philadelphia to create a federal government more powerful than what many of the delegates preferred. I must ask: Is Caplan being ironic, having made the case against education, he now presents a comic book approach to teaching economic ideas to an uneducated nation. But I agree with Cowen, that as Americans become less verbal, visuals are the future for education in America. Do economics students today even try to read Wealth of Nations or The General Theory? Why would they when economics is presented, not in words, but graphs reflecting the triumph of math over words. Indeed, it's no secret that economic journals are unreadable.

Recently, my son gave me a copy of Wealth of Nations. I started to read. I try to make notes as I read,. Couldn't do it. I had three pages of notes for the first three pages. Much info and principle in each sentence. I'd be dead before I finished. I'm 68 years old.

I recently commented on a young PhD featured is a Cowen post who had studied Adams' Wealth. I said getting through it is impressive.

I remember her - she hot!

The immigrationists do have to answer this:

The US builds about 1.2 million housing units a year, and perhaps 300,000 become obsolete. So we net add less than a million housing units a year, largely due to property zoning, No one wants to give up property zoning in their neighborhood.

We don't do infrastructure in the US anymore. Scott Sumner says we should not even try---too expensive for the results.

Okay, we do we put all these new people?

Hoovervilles? That is a positive?

'Okay, we do we put all these new people? '

Prof. Cowen, unsurprisingly, has an answer - all-American favelas.

No, really - 'We also would build some makeshift structures there, similar to the better dwellings you might find in a Rio de Janeiro Favela. The quality of the water and electrical infrastructure might be low by American standards, though we could supplement the neighborhood with free municipal wireless. Hulu and other web-based TV services would replace more expensive cable connections for those residents. Then we would allow people to move there if they desired. In essence, we would be recreating a Mexico-like or Brazil-like environment in part of the United States, although with some technological add-ons and most likely greater safety.' - Average is Over

In all fairness, the context seems to involve building these places for American citizens, and not immigrants. Nonetheless, count on Prof. Cowen to provide answers to problems in a way that shows no one should be complacent.

Have to give you +1 for reminding me of this.

And I believe he was endorsing destroying houses 9 or 10 years ago

Better a favela in the US than dead on the street in Honduras.

LOL. So they can enjoy criminality, single motherhood, casual violence, and exploitation in the dreary trailer park near the Iowa corn syrup plant as in the favelas back home. And all your good intentions will be for nought as US living standards converge to the global mean.

The enthusiasm for a national Darwin Award is malevolent.

Caplin should just move to Honduras today and reap the immediate benefits of his proposal.

It don't mean diddle if it ain't on Kindle
Doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah

New people with their new ideas and outlooks on life is what will keep Europe and the USA flourishing.

Our societies are build on values, not on race.

But as a national greatness conservative I’m most concerned about Israel flourishing. So I says to myself in addition to the 10 billion dollars we send Israel let’s also send them 10 million mestizos and 300K Somalis.

Israel isn't sent anything. It's granted $3 bn in credits to buy arms from American manufacturers.

Right. But a very distinctive group of people dreamed up the values and fought for them. The French and Russian Revolutions turned out very differently. So did Rhodesia's.

And how workable is this "values" thing? When you don't hold them, do we revoke your America-card, or can you stay here and do everything short of armed violence to undermine them?

What are these values, any way? Do we actually agree on them?

Can we just print up our values and mail them to everybody, so they can adopt them and we don't have to worry about stationing troops overseas to defend our values?

The values are clearly defined in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers - politics downstream of culture.

The founders knew what they were doing. They had already written state constitutions and had tried, unsuccessfully, to create a unifying document during the Seven Years War. They had 167 years of experience between the Mayflower Contract and the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

There is very little consensus on what those documents mean.

A little history on this subject is quite revealing.


Translation: "Those people don't deserve opinions."

Mr Butcher, you are always one for a provocative remark. I read this blog to better understand the Libertarian framework. May I ask you to expand on the following. It appears to me that the anti-vaxxer movement, especially measles, will result in a big increase in medical costs as a whole. Not to mention unnecessary pain, suffering and death. The insurance industry always passes their costs to us. How do Libertarians view this scenario and what are your solutions?

Libertarians understand that public goods exist, they just don't imagine them everywhere. Vaccination is probably the most clear-cut case of a public good.

Hayek was in favor of social insurance, which many people confuse with redistribution.

I don't consider myself a libertarian.

Every day we face issues and choices. In life there are no risk-free answers or acts; none are perfectly right or wrong.

If it is to be, it is up to me. I believe in personal responsibility. I strongly don't agree with any application of collective guilt.

Re: public health. Governments have a duty, and legislated authority to, promote public health. I think there are "quarantine" laws and regulations. I think schools have authority (legislated) to require vaccinations (I think, not certain). Being not a libertarian, I don't oppose necessary, limited government actions/requirements to try to resolve this measles epidemic.

My wife (the warden) is a retired ICU nurse. We (I have to) believe in health care, including vaccinations. [I don't take flu shots, but all winter I eat vitamin C pills and tablespoons of cod liver oil; wash hands - haven't had flu - my lung doc for asthma/chronic bronchitis says call him if I have symptoms and he'll get me Tamiflu.] The warden's been beating me up for 40 years about no-alcohol and no cigarettes/cigars. Since late March, two more granddaughters were born. One's mother is a neonatal ICU nurse. All will be vaccinated.

The "people don't deserve opinion" comment was aimed at the commenter's dig on "red asshats," not anti-vaxxers, who (I don't know) may be terrified that vaccines may cause (unproven?) autism in children.

FYI The warden was an early Trump supporter. I came to it late.

It is sad that you consider your wife your jailer. What a life of quiet desperation. Such is life in Trump's America.

Mr Donohue and Mr Butcher, thank you for your thoughtful responses. Mr. Butcher, I agree with everything you stated and I now understand why you made the remark you did. I took your remark to mean that the personal liberty and freedom of an anti-vaxxer takes precedent over the collective good. Question for EdR, do you have any data to support your claim?

Top of the hit list from a Google search:


Here in CA, one of the biggest outbreaks was at a Montessori School, though I haven't been able to find a news article for that.

Tyler wants to make it known that he doesn't favor open borders.... but my God, this book extolling open borders is Incredibly Groundbreakingly Awesome and needs to be read by EVERYBODY!! It is a LANDMARK of a PHENOMENAL ACHIEVEMENT!!!

Shocking that he would use his platform to promote his friend's work

Hillary voters were worried that 2016 was their last chance to vote for someone who voted for the Iraq War.

But nope -- here comes Joe Biden for 2020!

Ha! None of us voted for that awful war of Hillary's, that's for sure.

The discussion around highly skilled job-seeking immigration from all over the world and uncontrolled low skill benefit-seeking southern border immigration are two completely different conversations. One has assimilation as a likely outcome, one may not.

Are they really that different?

Importing an underclass may be worse than importing an overclass, but the latter is still pretty bad if the numbers are big enough or consistently refreshed enough that, instead of assimilation, you get an elite ethnic block. Highly skilled people don't necessarily sure X values or assumptions on race, good government, corruption, nepotism etc. They just have a high IQ and knowledge.

The fate of various market dominant minorities around the world is indicative of this, as are the conflicts stirred when you have a people lead by an alien overclass. You see it in the US as well, as the newly imported peoples want to have people who at least appear to be from their community leading them, leading to a displacement of prior ethnic pols - Ocasio-Cortez replacing Joe Crowley in New York.

The benefit-seeking of some in lower classes (and, let's be fair, the upper classes as they milk affirmative action for all it's worth) is one thing. But, as George Borjas noted in We wanted workers, there is also the problem that the welfare states of today are also weakened by people who do not arrive seeking benefits and who want to work but who ultimately are net tax consumers by dint of low productivity.

Hilarious watching all these libertarians argue against freedom.

What libertarians?

This blog, among others, has taught me that as much as I value freedom, there are other values to value. And I’ll never be an open borders libertarian.

Ah, freedom for me but not for thee.

You have walls around your living space, and you're probably posting from an office with key-card access.

Ah yes. The old "nation = house" analogy. These tend to do as well as "nation = corporation" which is to say not at all.

I smell a mouse in the house! 🐀

So let's be honest about a couple of things. There are places that have "open borders", most of Somalia, for instance have no functional control of their borders. Yet somehow this has not led to massive increases in welfare. Open borders, themselves are highly correlated in the real world today with terrible outcomes.

The other major thing that always irks me with this sort of "analysis" is how badly we try to apply data collected in one setting to make predictions in another. The US handled having immigration throughout its history ... before it had a welfare state or had fully utilized its most productive land. That's okay we have data that immigrants are not a net drain on welfare ... in an era where immigrating (legal or otherwise) requires investing literally multiple years of global per capita income.

But don't worry. The experts are sure that THIS time they have accounted for everything. It certainly won't be like in the 60s when they said free love could not lead to pandemics and somehow HIV rises because all our STI data came from heterosexuals. It certainly won't be like the bio-fuels movement where all the early data came from true waste consumption while the world post mandate is filled with useful resources being burnt in the hopes that over the next 50 years it will become "carbon neutral".

The truth is we have no idea what open borders would actually entail in the modern era. Rule and limitations have impacts even while people break them.

Ultimately, I look back at all the predictions of the Reagan Amnesty; we were supposed to see less illegal immigration and we received more. It was supposed to reduce crime, but border crimes steadily and dramatically climbed following passage. And above all it was to provide a solution to a political problem that somehow has grown every year since passage.

Past results are not indicative of future results. Why the stock market would be different from public policy I will never know

"It was supposed to reduce crime, but border crimes steadily and dramatically climbed following passage"

It got so bad that El Paso is now the safest city in the US!

I assume you missed that whole crime spike in the 90s.

El Paso's violent crime rate in 1986 was ~5 per 1000 residents. By the mid 90s it had skyrocketed to ~12.

I would submit that whatever happen in the Clinton, Bush II, Obama, and Trump eras is far more relevant for the crime rate today. All I can say is that we were promised a number of specific outcomes of a policy that is the first step in what this book puts forth. None of them came to pass within a decade of that legislation, why should I expect this scheme to have a better track record?

Why, El Paso is so safe that I bet if you put it to its residents in a referendum, they'd vote to get rid of the Border Patrol, the National Guard, the DEA; close Fort Bliss; and tear down the 57-mile long wall that lies between them and Ciudad Juarez. And rename the place Liberty to boot.

No academic here: as a former editor in scholarly publishing who dabbled in cover design, though, in no way can I think, feel, or believe that that comic book cover will do the first thing to stimulate sales.

Are the contents in comic book format, too?

Comic book academia (for professionals!): ahhh, the intellectual vigor and emotional maturity of our inglorious Boomers!

It's appropriate to the clown-world, fabulist content.

They can open the borders when I can stop paying the taxes.

Stop paying your taxes and watch what happens.

The contrived, unworkable legal fiction of immigrant disappears and invaders are shot as trespassers.

You go to jail

We are talking past each other, apparently.

The taxes go to keep up the legal fiction of the United States of America, delineated by the borders which I am now told are obsolete and do not reflect social and economic reality. My response is fine, stop extracting taxes from me to maintain this purported obsolete, anti-social and uneconomic entity, and you can draw the borders however you want. And since there's no State around at that point, myself and others can draw ours however we want.

Of course, that's not the libertarian ideal at all. The libertarian ideal is that the State exists to keep people from drawing borders.

Your position sure as hell hasn't been consistent.

Do you have any reason to think that the people who don't immunize are noticeably more right-wing than left-wing?

How about the spread of disease? Do you have kids? Poverty, ignorance and violence..Do we need more? The cost to the US taxpayer? Are the professors at George Mason going to feed, shelter, clothe, educate and find jobs for migrants?... I could go on... It would be cheaper to declare war on Cuba and put a stop to Marxism and drug cartels in Latin America once and for all.

Has caplan ever commented on Israel? I'd be curious to see what he has to say considering everything

Poland had completely open borders for over a hundred years.... and yet Poles are not eager to repeat the experience....

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