Caplan, Weinersmith, and Open Borders

Caplan and Weinersmith, in their splendid forthcoming graphic novel, present some rebuttals to the “cultural critique” of open borders.  For instance (and here I am presenting their views):

1. The average immigrant has political views which poll as pretty close to those of the average American.  They don’t even by huge margins favor more immigration.  (The author do admit that low-skilled immigrants do favor significantly less free speech, in any case on all of these points they do present actual numbers and visuals.)

2. Support for the welfare state remains strong in Western European nations, even as they have taken in many more migrants.

3. Open borders once before produced American political culture.

4. In “deep roots” terms, the United States already has a mediocre ancestry score, yet America has very high gdp and relatively strong political institutions.

5. There is an extended response to Garett Jones on IQ which I do not feel I can summarize well.  Toward the end, it is noted that babies adopted from poorer countries into richer countries typically do very well later in life.

6. The end of this chapter proclaims: “Open borders won’t destroy our freedom.  It’s going to bring freedom to all of mankind.”

I will again repeat my earlier point: the value and import of this new book does not very much depend on your actual opinion of open borders.  Still, if you would like to hear my views, I’ll repeat my earlier discussion:

And no I do not favor open borders even though I do favor a big increase in immigration into the United States, both high- and low-skilled.  The simplest argument against open borders is the political one.  Try to apply the idea to Cyprus, Taiwan, Israel, Switzerland, and Iceland and see how far you get.  Big countries will manage the flow better than the small ones but suddenly the burden of proof is shifted to a new question: can we find any countries big enough (or undesirable enough) where truly open immigration might actually work?

In my view the open borders advocates are doing the pro-immigration cause a disservice.  The notion of fully open borders scares people, it should scare people, and it rubs against their risk-averse tendencies the wrong way.  I am glad the United States had open borders when it did, but today there is too much global mobility and the institutions and infrastructure and social welfare policies of the United States are, unlike in 1910, already too geared toward higher per capita incomes than what truly free immigration would bring.  Plunking 500 million or a billion poor individuals in the United States most likely would destroy the goose laying the golden eggs.  (The clever will note that this problem is smaller if all wealthy countries move to free immigration at the same time, but of course that is unlikely.)

In any case, do buy the Caplan and Weinersmith book.  I have now begun to think there should be a book like this, or two, for every major political issue of import.


'(and here I am presenting their views)' in my own words, which is a fantastic way to generate discussion that can be deflected in any number of ways.

'which I do not feel I can summarize well' - always the best way to avoid a subject which just might cause people to raise questions.

'... Switzerland, and Iceland and see how far you get'

Pretty far, as around 400 million people have the right, today, to live and work in each? Admittedly, this is not quite the same as open borders on a global scale, but any Greek citizen has the right to move to Switzerland. Since Romanians and Bulgarians will enjoy the same rights as all other EU citizens in Switzerland on June 1, 2019, it will be possible to see what happens when another (limited) open borders trial occurs.

That's actually a good point about the EU. I would be interested in the anti-open borders people's explanation for why Greeks have not poured in to Switzerland and Germany and why people from the worst neighborhoods within a country do not pour into the best neighborhoods, despite open intra-national borders.

"why people from the worst neighborhoods within a country do not pour into the best neighborhoods, despite open intra-national borders."

Because poor people cannot afford to live in rich neighborhoods and rich people--who may blather platitudes about the giving us your tired, poor, huddled masses--won't let them inside their gated communities.

And, of course, there are significant financial transfers from rich to poor within a wealthy polity. There's no similarity at all to what the Caplan book is talking about. Remember, people, prior is a troll who enjoys changing the subject for its own sake and derailing a discussion.

It's a reasonable challenge, the answer is "But they do!".

Switzerland has a quarter of the population of foreign birth. Generally, poor countries aren't allowed in; these people come overwhelmingly from other rich countries in the EU who are. And they are driven by a wealth delta which is much less than the delta between USA and Africa.

GDP per Capita $k

USA 60
Typical Africa 3

Switzerland 80
Greece 26 income delta of 3:1 will get you about 25% Immigrant population. Great /s. So how many will a 20:1 delta get you? 50%? 75%? More ? And Switzerland has many more "soft" barriers to immigration than the USA; language, job needed, small size and expense. Yet they still get 24% foreign. I'm figuring America would get half of Africa within a decade or two.

(I've picked Greece to give one of the poorest EU countries, I've picked a median African country for comparison, not the poorest. So I'm being VERY conservative here.)

'Switzerland has a quarter of the population of foreign birth.'

And this is where the discussion about immigration and residency becomes necessary. I know people who have been part of that 'quarter of the population' for the year or two they lived in Basel (both EU and non-EU citizens) - they were not immigrants, as they had no intention of living permanently in Switzerland, much less becoming Swiss citizens. It is certainly not wrong to talk about population and foreign birth, but as one has seen with Brexit and its effects, many of those EU 'immigrants' living in the UK were not immigrants by most measures, but simply residents who quite likely never planned to spend the rest of their life in the UK.

Another example in terms of foreign population can be seen by those older UK citizens living in Spain - by most reasonable measures, such people are not immigrants either. At least from an American perspective, where residency (in terms of a green card) is most certainly connected with the concept of becoming an American citizen (and why green card holders are also taxed on their global income, not simply their American earned income).

There are plenty of examples of people coming to work, then leaving again (Irish construction workers in a number of American cities before 2001 are a classic example of undocumented workers who never planned to stay, for example).

' income delta of 3:1 will get you about 25% Immigrant population.'

Um, 25% of Switzerland's foreign born population is Greek? Actually, according to this, the number is .58% of the foreign born is Greek, a third less than the percentage of Americans, which is .90%.

One assumes that this comment section would not argue that the U.S. and Switzerland do not share a meaningful income delta for this discussion (though who knows with how this comment section works).

'So I'm being VERY conservative here.'

Nope - more American 'immigrants' than Greek, and the Greeks are dwarfed by Italians and Germans. Portugal, with 12.8% of that foreign born share, comes much closer to being a good example. And the delta? With a GDP per capita $k of 33, it appears a delta of 2.4 will bring a much higher share of 'immigrants.' Though with a delta of 1.4, the Germans are still a larger percent of the foreign born.

Almost as if a simple story, at least in the EU, is not actually supported by empirical data. Of course, this is just a limited example of open borders within the EU, not a global example. Though one reason for that foreign born population is the significant number of Swiss based global companies and institutions, such as Roche or BIS.


Sometimes I forget you can't do general linear models with statistical variance and numerical reasoning. If we grant a positive effect from income delta to immigration, the existence of HIGHER proportion of immigrants from LOWER deltas implies Greece is negative outlier. The real coefficient will be bigger.

I was indeed being conservative. Thanks for the proof.

I would have thought this rather proved the point about open borders, I mean Switzerland with nearly 25% of the population as immigrants is hardly a hell hole. If Switzerland is what unrestricted immigration gives you, then lets have more of it!

I think many people can get on board with unrestricted immigration from Europe

Well, a Dutch citizen was denied Swiss citizenship because she complained about cowbells. She eventually won her citizenship, but I don't think the Swiss have opened their borders to the whole world just yet.

Well, what proportion of foreign born are you willing to tolerate, ChrisA? If 25% is about 50%? Or 75% Or 90%?

And does that threshold vary by "foreignness"? (i.e. are you equally comfortable if that 75 is Brits, Greeks, Iranians, Chinese, or Somalis?)

This is a question that I can easily answer as I have worked outside of my country for almost all my career in a wide variety of countries including many muslim ones. So yes I would be perfectly fine in a country where the vast majority of people were not the same ethnicity as me. But I think the idea, as discussed above with the EU example, that everyone in Africa will move en-masse to America in the case of open borders in pretty silly.

So, Anon7 says the poor can't afford to move into rich neighborhoods, while Alistair says wide wealth gaps actually lead to more migration. Apparently, the wealth gap between rich and poor countries is both too wide and too narrow for open borders.

Alistair also claims that language presents a soft barrier that limits Swiss immigration. That's interesting because a lot of immigration restrictionists complain that immigrants to the US don't learn English well enough. Apparently, a slow pace of assimilation is not a detriment to open borders because the slow pace will actually naturally limit immigration.

The welfare state provides enough income to subsist within the country (at much higher levels than in the third world), but not to afford real estate in the most exclusive and expensive neighborhoods.

People immigrate from the third world to the first world in order to receive welfare state benefits. These include not just direct cash transfers, but also public goods such as education, healthcare, law enforcement, and others benefits which the immigrant will never pay enough in taxes to come close to covering. Far from wanting to make it on their own, the primary motivation for coming to the first world is welfare and subsidy (this includes even immigrants who work low wage jobs, who will never pay for what they consume). I exclude from this our higher IQ Asian overlords.

There is not yet a welfare state benefit guaranteeing $5,000/month in housing vouchers so they can move into elite neighborhoods.

So the idea is that each of us should pay for as much government service as we individually consume, n'est ce pas? Or is it that if there is a government expenditure of $100 each of the ten residents should pay $10 in taxes? How do the 2 or 3 government employees fit in to this scenario? If the government borrows money to have lottery tickets printed, who loans it to them? Maybe the government could oblige immigrants to buy lottery tickets.


It's more that the Swiss "soft barriers" in language etc may be expected to depress the rate of immigration by lowering the returns to such, ceteris paribus. It's a rational expectations model; so people immigrate if the benefits outweigh the costs.

If a country speaks English, then it's has lower costs from a perspective of the average global immigrant, ceteris paribus.

@BC, one factor is that European nations are more compressed on consumption (as a measure of welfare) than they are GDP per capita. See - The incentives are weaker than you think they are.

Another is probably the logarithmic relationship between GDP/capita and stated happiness - .

People are presumably motivated to move by believed increases in life satisfaction. That's lower once you pass the threshold of $10000 GDP/capita. The relationship would probably be a bit tighter if it were looking at consumption rather than GDP, but I think it probably gets at a real point about where the sweet spot for migration is likely to be - probably in the $5000-10000 GDP/cap range where many people can afford to migrate, but still believe

The Preston Curve also suggests that gains after $10000 GDP/cap probably have less to do with welfare than gains leading up to that - Life expectancy gains after that amount have a very weak correlation with additional GDP. Again that supports why you might see larger amounts of economic migration from $10000 country like Greece.

So the main reason why we'd see less migration from "poor-rich countries" (like Greece or Spain) to "rich-rich countries" (like Germany) in the Eurozone is probably that there is just not that much difference in real standards of welfare (satisfaction, life expectancy, overall consumption).

The other is that lots of people do still move, particularly younger folk. Lots of Greeks moved during the economic crisis, more than you think.

(For a tentative third, migrating also interrupts, for individuals, the opportunity to gain prominence in the local market, which may be a better way to increase welfare at the margin. )

However, it is probably true that, given the relatively low differential in material welfare between Greece and Switzerland, there is a strong premium for Greeks on being around Greeks and around Greek culture and family (and a weather premium, etc.).

This is all not likely to be as much the case comparing Mexico and the United States where the gaps are somewhat larger and immediately apparent across a land border (though it surely applies to some extent), and far, far less the likes of Nigeria and the United States.

To add some emphasis on the point, if you're one of the "Billion Dollars Sitting On The Pavement" libertarian people who believe that there are substantial gains that exist from people moving between countries, then my above seems actually an explanation that would accord with your instincts; many Greeks don't move because they don't actually think there is welfare lying on a German sidewalk. Libertarians would tend to trust individuals to understand their own welfare so....

When countries like Nigeria and China are up with the Greece wrt life satisfaction, expectancy, consumption and ideally a similar sized gap to the US as the Greece has to Germany, then maybe you can talk about open borders with them as being a reasonable analogy, if still not a good idea.

Solid analysis. Control for PPP as well as the absolute wealth differences in countries. The hedonic effect will be logarithmic, so use ratios, not absolute wealth differences.

But EU nations do not grant birthright citizenship.

We are talking about people permanently immigrating to a country, not people just having their baby there. If your children are born in the UK (for instance) and you are from the EU and have lived there for at least 5 years they will get a UK passport. Alternatively if the kid lives in UK until they are 10 then they get a passport.

And when do they receive voting rights?

From Wikipedia, Switzerland has 24% of the population as immigrants (not born in Switzerland): "In 2013 there were a total of 1,937,447 permanent residents (23.8% of the total population of 8.14 million) in Switzerland" while in the USA it's about 41/323 = 13%. Quite a big difference, true, but more of degree than in kind.

@Ray: Switzerland has 24% of foreign citizenship population. The place of birth doesn't matter. Swiss citizenship requires: (i) at least one of the parents being Swiss, (ii) naturalization by marriage or 10+ yr permanent residency, (iii) since 2018: being a 3rd generation foreign citizen with permanent residency of grand parents and parents in Switzerland, (iv) be as rich as David Bowie or Tina Turner.

Around 400K or 5% of current population was born in Switzerland but has foreign citizenship. Therefore, only 19% of the population is foreign born.

I don't think that gets you out of the woods. You need those 5% to be "perfectly integrated" in productivity/outcomes to assuage the objection of the economics opponents.

You ALSO need them to perfectly match native Swiss values for the cultural opponents.

And even that wouldn't meet the objection of the ethnic identity opponents.

Probably safer to stay with 24% as a working number.

@c_p: Switzerland has "open borders" with the Schengen zone. However, open means open in both directions: in & out. The deportation rate of convicted foreigners is 69%.

Of course - any EU/Schengen country is free to deport anyone they wish, with cause (which can include things like not paying for health insurance, actually). A reality that tends to be obscured by those complaining about 'immigration.'

In a world of open borders, would the idea of deportation become a curious historical artifact? Would incarceration itself come to seem suspect? Will Caplan write a book telling us there are dollar bills lying all over the prison yard waiting to be picked up?

Just thinking of what other "things ordinary people take for granted" are waiting for a radical re-consideration. Or is open borders/end of nations the isolated exception to the otherwise sound judgment reflected by the status quo?

I think we should remember that the actual open borders area of Europe is relatively small. It is a rich country club which accepted a number of poorer countries with low fertility, low populations for their territory sizes and steadily inverting age pyramids.

The situation at global level is totally different, with part of the world still registering high fertility and with population increase far outstripping even current levels of migration, which are the greatest in history in absolute terms. Put simply, the Romanian, Polish, Bulgarians and Baltics are finite quantities, populations getting ever smaller and with young cohorts that are much smaller than the older ones. 38 million Polish have a much different population age composition than a representative sample of 38 million Nigerians, which will impact the levels of migration.

And let's not get into the whole culture and IQ issue, which also reflects on the quality of life back home. For better or worse, the average Eastern European nation is much less violent and dangerous and more functional than most other non-European countries with the same GDP per capita.

The smart move in the medium term is to defund the enforcement apparatus and encourage valiant organizations like Pueblos Sin Fronteras to organize as many caravans as possible. The system is untenable with court dates 2-3 years out. It will necessitate more and more asylum laws.

Nonviolent protest against injustice. Maybe we cannot get de jure open borders, but we can surely get de facto.

If you do this and succeeds I know a bunch of people ready to devote their life to making your life a living hell. Be forewarned the days of unreciprocated culture cracking are over. Are you ready to take that leap knowing that the gloves are off?

Count me in. I've even got the warden on board, and plenty of ammo.

Lol stupid internet tough guy. Are you going to start shooting people for doxxing you and using lawfare against you. How low are your T levels that you act like this to compensate?

I'm 68 so the T-level might be a little lower than in my younger days. But I think we're on the same side, SH, I'm aiming for the open borders traitors. Christ will guide my hand.

Mea maxima culpa. Drive by posting can result in friendly fire.

Let me guess, you wear a red hat.

Two instances of threatening of bodily harm/murder over an Internet comment about protecting refugees.

Back to 4chan, anon. Your fellow autists await.

Religious fanaticism.

Armed Americans will head to the border to stop the invasion. The Minutemen of the 2005-7 were puppy dogs, with rules against rifles.

If you think a caravan of third world invaders are tough to handle, just wait and see what comes next.

Yes, the fearless leader of your militia is already in federal custody. For being a felon in possession of a firearm, and impersonation of a peace officer.

Now he’ll get false imprisonment and assault by pointing added to his resume.

Southwestern states are turning a dark shade of blue already, and they won’t put up with violent armed felons scaring refugees.

I am not a felon. I am not in the "militia" and don't give a f*ck about some felon.

Btw, those states turned blue (free stuff states) because of illegal immigration.

It has to be stopped.

The immigrants might be awesome but what about their kids? Just asking.
And, for sure, immigrants made America "great" (at least, rich and powerful, nationally), but how does work out for the current residents? Just asking.

A little history goes a long way.
Recommnded reading:

Freedom Just Around the Corner (2004, Harper-Collins)
Throes of Democracy (2008 Harper-Collins)
Both by Walter A. McDougall

Apply that argument to the Italian and Irish immigrants in the 19C. So far that has worked out OK.

Indeed. I was just asking, as I said. Now I know. No need to read history books after all.

2016 PISA scores: Ireland 509, US 487, Italy 485, Mexico 411

Second and third generation Hispanics do not converge to the US average. They converge to the average of other Hispanics with regards to employment, college attendance and graduation, crime, etc. Some papers try to claim convergence, but they do this by holding education and skills constant. This is misleading because any discussion of net impact to the US should take into account their low skills and persistent later generation performance below the US average.

That is true even though they are beneficiaries of affirmative action. Note also that schools with high percentages of ELLs get more funding. In addition, in CA, the community colleges, State Universities, and University of California have all modified their curriculum and policies to accommodate the massive influx of Latinos - more remedial Ed, more ESL classes, and more affirmative action ( in disguise).

Press one for English!

Adios amigos!

Yes, the richest state in the union is collapsing because an old white bigot has to press 1 for English.

Pero supongo que siempre puedes aprender el idioma de la gente del estado tuyo.

But as the Kermit meme goes, that’s none of my business.

Well the "richest state in the union" also has the highest poverty rate and the highest net outflow of U.S. citizens

So, because I point out that Latinos are failing to converge, as the previous poster described, despite the enormous changes to school curricula and increased funding for schools with high percentages of ELLs that makes me a bigot.

Btw, I speak Spanish and Portuguese and even a little Mandarin. So f___ you.

The proponents of open borders make the mistake of assuming that most people are as open to, and tolerant of, diversity as they are. Most people don't like outsiders moving into and changing their community, even in "tolerant" places like Canada where I live. Open borders is a non-starter for most people and if it were forced upon them the backlash would be terrifying. It is not hard to find examples of this.

Please do give examples. My impression is that this is a highly over exaggerated concern. In the UK Enoch Powell made a famous speech highlighting this exact concern "Rivers of Blood" because of West Indian and other Commonwealth immigration. I do not recall the UK falling into any such turmoil. Turns out the vast majority of people are fairly tolerant and even prepared to be friendly to foreigners. I would have though that the US, where people are often less than one generation local would be much less likely to have such incidents than the UK where, as DNA evidence is now proving, families have been living in the same places for thousands of years.

Just do a search

While you're at it google "Rotherham rape gangs."

If it isn't reported by CNN, NYT, et al it never happens. Don't listen to the liars at FOX!

The narrative trumps the truth.

Does anyone even watch CNN or read the NYT anymore? No one sensible that's for sure. Normal Americans are done having their media lie to them.


As per usual, far-right trolls commit the base rate fallacy, citing isolated incidents and ignoring the fact that the vast majority of people in the UK - regardless of background - get on perfectly fine.

In the words of a brave woman, some people did something and everyone freaks out and wants to target minorities.

If anything, the only lesson is to make firearms illegal.

Good news, everyone!

Quillette is working up a petition in her defense.

That's a terrible joke about the systematic enslavement and rape of thousands of girls

UK ethnic relations are generally good. There is little racial animosity, as an American would understand it. There is a substantial ethnic middle class which has well-integrated. As always, East Asians and high-caste Indians do best, alongside the modest Jewish community (but that goes without saying).

However, significant cultural problems persist in many South Asian Muslim and West Indian groups. These have NOT integrated and remain enclaves of social failure, crime, terrorism or calls for sharia law.

The white majority (and the successful ethnic middle class not in the race-baiting industry) are getting tired of being told it is all their fault.

And before anyone shouts "racism", it is the ethnic minorities who are most likely to forgo mixing with others. White british have a good mix of associates relative to the population as a whole. In fact, the data clearly shows the white British are the least racist group in the whole country. But also the ones who keep being told how racist they are. Strange, eh?

British Indians are almost as likely to mix with others as white British people, their out-marriage rates are pretty high, and British Indian females have a high workforce participation rate.

Black Africans are also starting to integrate more into UK society. British Pakistanis, according to the latest data I saw, have remained stagnant, however, when it comes to integration.

You were right in the first instance to distinguish between different ethnic minority groups. And anyone who thinks that Enoch Powell's thesis hasn't been completely and utterly shattered is moving the goalposts.

Broadly agreed. I'd rank UK integration in best-to-worse as follows.

Jewish (small population)
European immigrants [Mostly east European]
East Asian (small population)
South Asian [mostly Hindu, high caste]

Mostly successful
Black African [Often high skilled / atypical Africans]

Mostly Failure:
West Indian
South Asian [Muslim]

Brexit opponents, even on this blog, consistently warn of the inherently murderous culture of Irishmen.

Brexit was partially motivated to regain control of the UK's borders so they can keep foreigners out.

The Americans recently elected a president who promised to "build a wall" to keep the "murderers and rapists" out.

Many Europeans are quite upset that they are having to deal with millions of Syrian refugees in their countries, causing an increase in the popularity of far-right parties.

In Canada, there is discontent with the "Chineseification" of the city of Richmond.

On a smaller scale, I see the backlash in my co-workers' views and comments.

Brexit was partially motivated to regain control of the UK’s borders to be able to choose which foreigners to let in. We have stronger historical ties to many non-EU nations than EU.

Re; "Rivers of Blood", it doesn't really happen so much that minority groups tend to pick a fight with the majority (the Armenians didn't really pick fight with the Turks; the Turks did with the Armenians). There's remarkably little group violence as the extent of self segregation and sorting between groups is fairly high (White Brits tend to practice an avoidant and 'White Flight' strategy or rely on the police rather than form ethnic gangs that will fight it out), and where it doesn't happen the anti-racist programming and guilt complex seems to work fairly well for the most part. Race riots, but nothing too much worse than that.

However, as group proportions change, and the groups who have been told that they are the historically oppressed by the current majority and that the current majority deserve to be dispossessed of their "privilege" come to be in the majority, we may see a lot more boldness from the current minority groups in terms of aggression towards the current majority (at first it'll be student radicals, then it'll branch out from there), and tolerance may crack. You probably won't ever reach open racial civil warfare, but it could be a sort of thing where you have a lot of low level incidents, terrorism, incitement to civil conflict on an ostensibly less ethnic basis (that still happens to be ethnically aligned).

It seems like there's basically no good argument against having open borders with any country above, say, $30k per capita GDP.

I know Caplan would complain that the biggest gains are for the poorest countries but it's hard to see how rich country open borders would fail to be a marginal improvement. Think how awful it would be if people had to go through an immigration process to move across states! Even moving to Canada is quite difficult in the current state of affairs, with minimal-to-no justification.

…or here's another idea, responding to Tyler's concern that "Plunking 500 million or a billion poor individuals in the United States most likely would destroy the goose laying the golden eggs."

What if we let in anyone who could get a job paying $100k. They have to hold it for a few years before their residency is made permanent, similar to the rules for spousal immigration. Far fewer than 500 million would be able to do this, but almost all would be contributing substantially to our economy and readily able to house themselves and contribute to their community. Again, not as much gain as Caplan's ideal, but surely a vast marginal improvement.

I have advocated in the past a similar idea - have an immigrant wage tax. The employer of any immigrant must pay say, $20k extra per year per non-US citizen employed. US citizens therefore always have a significant advantage vs any foreigner applying. We can be sure therefore that any immigrant is likely to bring significant benefits to the country if the employer wants to pay this tax.
I would also tighten up the law on employing immigrants without legal documents. This I think is a legitimate concern. I would make it a serious criminal act to employ people without properly checking their paperwork, and also give legal residence status to any illegal immigrant reporting someone who hired them without checking.

Some more thoughts on this - the current immigration approach in the US actually seems to favour low skilled immigration. The process is so onerous that people from say Europe are not likely to bother since they already have a pretty good life. If you made the system more fairer and more open I bet you would see a lot more Western European people coming to the US since then the EU and US job markets would be more connected. It is not a factor for me, but at least partly deals with this "cultural" issue.

Immigrant whistleblowers? That's innovative =)

All of these proposals are sensible and a marginal improvement.

I'm very much anti Open-Borders, but would be perfectly happy to entertain many of the above.

But I am suspicious why Caplan etc don't go for these low-hanging fruit? Why go for the much, much riskier option directly? I suspect ulterior motives.

Of course I have not yet read the book (though have pre-ordered it) but hearing Caplan talk about immigration, he is prepared to discuss many such schemes. I would be surprised if one or two aren't addressed in the book.

"What if we let in anyone who could get a job paying $100k."

Why is that preferable to that employer having to offer that job to an American at $125K?

"...let in anyone with a $100k job..."

That is a terrible idea but we already have it anyway, it's called the H1b visa and it is used to bring in young, less experienced, cheaper workers to replace older workers, who are thrown into the trash heal to die. One person here has already posted a link about the discrimination in Silicon Valley (and tech in general) against older workers.

Here's the strategy:
1. Bring on a young, less experienced worker (1-3, 2-5 years etc) on an H1b.
2. Dump the older workers.
3. For the good H1b workers, start the green card process.

Voila! Since the GC is tied to the sponsoring company the company now has a very compliant young slave. The B1b worker puts up with almost any abuse until they get the GC and their freedom. I have seen this unfold many times.

This is devastating to American citizen workers and DOES NOT BRING IN OUTSTANDING TALENT - THESE ARE MEDIOCRE WORKERS!

CS professor (emeritus?) Norm Matloff at UC Davis has written about this for decades. He points out that software engineers have a shorter career on average than other engineers. This has bit many of my friends and colleagues and forced them either out of the industry altogether or reduced them to living a precarious life in the gig economy.

So, NO, that idea sucks!

Here's professor Norm Matloff:

High skilled immigration makes a lot of sense for the US. It's the low skilled immigration that's problematic. Importing large numbers of people who pay less than the median tax rate is unaffordable. Furthermore, the US has plenty of low skilled labor. It's cheaper to pay a slightly higher rate for that labor, rather than importing additional labor to ensure the lowest possible rates for low skilled labor.

Personally, I don't think the barrier has to be nearly as high as $100K. Probably $40K would be enough to ensure there was no tax burden shift and that the assimilation process was working well.

Importing large numbers of people who pay less than the median tax rate is unaffordable.

The reason it's unaffordable is that financing the various public employee retirement benefit programs is becoming more expensive than conducting a world war. The USA needs more and bigger taxpayers to subsidize the fifty-something bureaucrats that are just too worn out to slide behind a desk a few days each week.

So republicans are suddenly worried about deficits and not enough tax revenue? But only when it comes to keeping out refugees fleeing terror and violence. In any other situation, it’s irrelevant.

Seems about right. #abolishICE #Warren2020

Get back to me when you have something better than a strawman argument.

Oh, who am I kidding......

It must be tough for you. Half of you fake "Anonymous," and the other half believe your own fakes.

Not that I really care, the #Warren2020 fakes and the people who fall for them are both kind of funny.

Plus, I have repeatedly committed to voting for Bill Weld. Or rather, I’ve committed to demanding that all Republicans vote for Bill Weld.

I will be casting my ballot for reasonableness, sanity, and a return to bipartisan normalcy: for Bernie Sanders when he wins the Democratic nomination for POTUS.

After all, we all have one vote in the Primary, and a responsibility to spend it where it will do the most good in the world.

Naitive Britons during the fall of the Roman empire, Mexican Tejanos in 1800's, Palestinians after WWII. All these people know the price of open borders.

I think you are making the common mistake in your last two examples of confusing the welfare of people with the status of the rulers. For instance in the Mexican case, who can doubt that living in the US rather than Mexico gave them a much better standard of living? Of course the Mexico rulers lost some status, but daily lives of the actual inhabitants were much better. I think Israel is also probably a better place to grow up than in many Arab countries, and is certainly much more democratic. Israel is basically the only developed country in that region. Of course if you highly value having someone of your own religion and race in charge you have lost something, but in all other measures you will have gained.

I am not sure what you mean by the first example? Is it that the native British lost when the Romans pulled out? I don't see what that has to do with immigration, it is sort of the opposite if anything.

I personally think it’s lame how the alt right pretends to care about Palestinians to own Israel but spare me this kind of BS as well. The Palestinians are currently being treated in manner that’s only going to get worse not better and even by that precarious standard they are clearly treated as a conquered people somewhat akin to how southerners were treated in the aftermath of the Civil war.

Now part of this is their leaders fault who calculated incorrectly they could outbreed the Israelis and then turned to terrorism when that failed but if tomorrow your poltical rivals were to treat you in the manner that the Israelis treat Palestinians you’d complain non-stop.

Most of this is going to be cherry picked, isn't it?

1. "Political views which poll next to the average American" - in what sense? In the sense of fairly empty questions like "Taxation is about right" or questions more on the fine grained detail of US institutions, and conflicts between values? What "political views" is Caplan selecting to test here?

If most potential migrants under an open borders system actually had the same views as US citizens, then Pew Global studies on world political diversity of ideas, and all that stuff on "WEIRD culture" would consistently come up empty (including those studies on long roots of kin and the Catholic church which your new GMU guys were boosting a few weeks ago, whatever I think of them). Clearly they don't!

This is the arrogant "Once they arrive and see the supremacy of our ideas and culture, they'll become 'a class of persons, X in blood and colour, but American in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect.'" that young American radicalized PoC increasingly seem to be rejecting (see- for the reference).

2. Duh. In terms of getting benefits from it, yes. But the interest in funding it has reduced beyond expectations of demographics, even with relatively small demographic changes in most states.

4. "Deep roots" shows a correlation, but I don't think we'd expect it to be totally linear. If you have a country that hits about 80-90% high on the "deep roots" scale (which the US did until the late 1980s), then it's quite likely that they can shanghai and oppress the remaining 10-20% to follow norms and institutions and you won't get a huge difference. That's less the case if we go down to 40-50%. You'll revert to the mean in time.

In any case, this is a case for American Exceptionalism, since it acknowledges that Deep Roots is right. If you don't believe in American Exceptionalism, then adjust your view of this accordingly.

5. Nope. Caplan's cherry picked on this topic before, and he'll cherry pick again. There is not really much evidence for convergence of un-selected individuals (though I think I believe IQ explains less than Jones believes it does and divergences on IQ may be less genetic than the most extreme ideas present, though still substantial).

1. Oh, probably in the same sense that the choice presented to us - showily, with much drama, "our sacred rights," the decision that defines you, &etc. - of a Republican or a Democrat, whether for CEO of the United States government, or for dogcatcher, represents a rich universe of ideas.

We gave you a choice, did we not?

"can we find any countries big enough where truly open immigration might actually work?".

No, immigrants are not the molecules of a fluid homogeneously spaced in the recipient called country. Immigrants tend to concentrate in the same neighborhoods. The immigrant assimilation capacity is limited at the neighborhood or municipality scale, not the country scale.

There may be several reasons for why immigrants concentrate: a large employer, cheaper rent, landlords willing to rent to immigrants, or simply that they're scared of the new culture and stay together with other immigrants from the same culture.

Immigrants are scared to be alone among the locals so they concentrate in the same place. The locals also get scared when they become the minority. How can both groups feel comfortable? I think there's no win-win scenario. Immigrants need to be proactive and get out of their safe space and integrate. Otherwise, they will always be regarded as a menace or 2nd class humans at best. Not fair, but people that loses the most in the current situation are the ones that have the incentive to act.

1. "Caplan dissembles in the by-now predictable fashion by confounding legal-high-skill-IQ cluster with the illegal-low-skill-IQ cluster. Guess which one Open Borders will give you more off, at the margin?"

2. Immigrants love welfare and voting for welfare. Natives can look forward to continuing to pay for welfare, only this time they get to share most of it with their new friends!

3. Pre-modern NW European migration through Open Borders produced "American" culture, which strangely enough resembled NW European culture. Obviously, the critical factor was the Open Border which transformed anyone who passed through it into a NW European. /s

4. Deep ancestry is just weak proxy for direct measures of political and cultural capital. As those give cleaner anti-immigrant results, we can dispense with the deep ancestry data in this argument.

5. "There is an extended response to Garett Jones on IQ which I do not feel I can summarize well."

TRANS: "Oh God, it doesn't make any sense. Caplan's given up on engaging IQ at all....he's lost it. "

6. Because Magic. Seriously, how exactly is this going to undermine the modern Asian, African, or Islamic autocratic model? At best - at very best - it might simply force them to close their borders a la Berlin Wall. At worst, well, let's hope Prof Caplan's freedom comes with high walls for his personal compound and easy options for capital flight.


1. Tyler should specify the issues on which the immigrants entering Europe from Syria and West Africa share typical political views with Americans. Otherwise people might suspect dissembling.

3. Open immigration destroyed the indigenous culture and polity in North America. It's insulting that this point is offered in its favor.

4. See 3. Good luck holding on to those institutions. As one example, British schools have already begun removing mention of homosexuality from the curriculum in heavily Muslim areas.

2. Would the authors believe that a decrease in support for the welfare state as the result of immigration be a feature or a bug? I suspect a feature. This is alluded to by other commenters, but lots of immigration of low skilled workers just adds to the army of lower skilled, lower paid voters already present, magnifying the division and class conflict that already exists in developed countries and increasing the pressure on democratic norms. On the other hand, true open borders would result in a world that is almost flat (to paraphrase Friedman) so no particular country or region would have a comparative advantage with low skilled, low wage labor; instead, comparative advantage would have to derive from (for example) nature (natural resources, climate, etc.) or investment (in labor, infrastructure, and productive capital). Thus, countries that are unwilling to invest in labor, infrastructure, and productive capital would lag behind those countries that do. As between America and China, which would prosper and which would lag behind?

Man who brags about living in a bubble shut off from the world wants open borders for everyone else!

I think someone pulled Bryan Caplan's block he lives on and it's the usual high income white/asian nexus that rejects diversity.

Journalists, pundits and academics can afford to tout open borders as few of the new arrivals would be competing for that type of job or moving into their neighborhoods.

The Guatemalans who have taken over our downtown are pretty nice people in general, but I guess a lot of the long-time workers here have had to move, retire or learn to code

One man's platitudes are another man's rebuttals, apparently

According to Google, the average transatlantic fare in 1908 was $81, also according to Google the average US wage of this era was something around $300 dollars.

Just paying for transportation required spending almost a third of average American income. I recall being told in college that American wages at the time were easily fourfold greater than the places like Italy, so the barrier to immigration back then was well over a year's worth of effective wages.

How about today? According to open borders people pay an average of $4000 to coyotes to be smuggled into the US. Or about one year's worth of income for the average Honduran.

How about in an open borders world? Well price ceiling would be $500 (current cost of a one-way ticket from Honduras to Chicago). The average Honduran would now be staking maybe 10% of their annual Honduran income.

Or in other words all the data behind the claims of open borders are derived from a setting where the only migrants tend to be either extremely independent (crossing on their own) or who are willing to pay out a large fraction of present income to immigrate. This will not be the case with open borders.

Making the assumption that the effects of immigration would be remotely similar when the cost of immigration falls 80% seems just a bit dubious. Assuming that it will be the same as the early 1900s is downright laughable; you had to be awfully impressed by your economic opportunities in 1908 to sink basically all of your savings into a one-way ticket out. It is far different world where if you want to go "home" you need to save for months or years than one where you can literally fly over for a month, work at some abysmally low local rate (say $5 an hour for 10 hours a day), and fly home in 4 months, and still earn more than your average annual salary.

Anyone who expects the unskilled in rich countries to have jobs after opening the boarders are deluding themselves. This is not going to be 1908 redux. We either will have to tolerate levels of poverty not seen in generations in the rich world, multiply the current welfare budget by an order of magnitude, or import the current massive geopolitical wealth and income imbalances into the domestic sphere.

Me, given how poorly the Reagan Amnesty's effects matched data driven expert prognostications, I am not going to make an even bigger leap off even less similarly set data.


Same goes for the point about how the median immigrant holds views that aren't that different from natives. Yeah, now...why would you assume that would remain the case with open borders?

As of 2016 the median voter chose a Russian stooge over the most qualified presidential candidate in the history of our ill-advised country. If more Latino immigrants contribute to the median voter choosing professionalism, technocracy, and a belief in science over madness, then we should be paying them to come.

We already give them Section 8 and SNAP, but maybe we could add an EITC bonus for Spanish speaking asylum seekers. They are clearly better at choosing leaders than our native white trash.

This has to be a parody comment, it hits too many of the right notes.

Two challenges.

1 Open borders guarantee a police state. The US security apparatus that is the furthest away from notions of freedom are the result of immigrants bringing their wars and ideologies to the US. Canada has a history of reasonably good policing, but it failed catastrophically when faced with a large immigrant population from South Asia who were intent on extending their civil war into the mountains of British Columbia. Journalists were murdered, terrorist acts killed hundreds. Open borders mean paramilitary police on the nude beaches of Southern France.

2 Canada, nice people as we are, poaches skilled people from places that don't have enough. We go to places who through enormous effort manage to train a few doctors to try to improve the lives of their people. We offer them a bit of money and they come to Canada. This proves we are enlightened.

For all the fuss about IQ research, what happens to communities when all the smart people leave? I suspect there is ample data to be looked at in Canada and the US, and i suspect that it would show that at one point a place hits a death spiral where there aren't enough cognitive resources left to counteract the drive to stupidity that characterizes groups of people.

Which means that inevitably open border supporters are advising for 'rubble makes no trouble' as a means of keeping a lid on the rougher parts of the world.

What will define the 21st century is the realization that there isn't anywhere left to run to, and the problems need to be solved.

TC says: "And no I do not favor open borders ..." The irony is that we already have open borders among the 50 States. Also, why does freedom of movement apply only finance and trade but not to people. File under: double standards

People are a bigger pain in the ass than manufactured goods.

Sorry, what is ironic about it? And why should there not be different standards for human beings and for money? You see human beings as chattel?

Didn't we just see that MR link about the lack of shade in Los Angeles? We just don't have enough trees to let in millions more people!

A graphic novel? A comic book for grad students, hoorah and hooray. (The format is de rigueur on post-secondary campuses for econ, business, poli sci, engineering, and physics majors already, no?)

Generous distribution along the DC-to-Boston Corridor anticipated? (If this academic propaganda works as well as many another piece, we could foment border disputes disruptive enough to mount skirmishes along our Northern Border, preliminary to our liberation of Canada: ALL Americans will be wanting coolish summertime vacation spots in only a few short years.)

"Graphic novel" (= "ironic adult sophistication" in aggrandized comic book form) formats concerning "every major political issue of import" (sic)--even those designed to appeal to post-secondary and post-grad academics--send VERY POOR SIGNALS concerning the intellectual ambitions and attainments of America's cognitive elites: while the cover art we saw looks dopey enough to appeal to primary/elementary grade students with low aesthetic standards, if the content is as dumbed down as the cover suggests it can only be, whatever pulp-grade of paper they're printed on could be better diverted for TP purposes, until such time as cellphones become equipped with TP apps.)

Maybe there's going to be a black-and-white edition readers can color in themselves

Me and my friends would prefer a colour version which we can just rub out. :-)

Looks like it won't be available for another six months. Shucks

5. There is an extended response to Garett Jones on IQ which I do not feel I can summarize well. Toward the end, it is noted that babies adopted from poorer countries into richer countries typically do very well later in life.

That's not a good sign. If your argument about IQ has to fall back on questioning its heritability, you are grasping at straws.

If you are worried about 90 IQ, it is still entirely reasonable to believe that good diet and good schools can get you to 100 IQ.

If you are worried about 130 IQ, there were never many of them in the first place.

I do not believe it is reasonable to believe that, no. The effects of schooling on IQ are close to nil, and the amount of material deprivation one has to suffer as a young'un to depress IQ that much is actually quite a bit, and that doesn't describe much of the world anymore. Fifty years ago, maybe, but not now.

For what it's worth, this is what changed my thinking:

"The scientists found that material rewards, such as money, boosted IQ scores noticeably, by about 2/3 of a standard deviation (SD), or about 10 IQ points."

For whatever stupid reason, I assumed everyone taking important tests was "high effort." When you think about it, that's not likely to be the case.

And if this "one neat trick" can get you 10 points, the results of mass testing are much softer than many of us assumed.

That study says that it doesn't matter though- whether it's intelligence or motivation, it's heritable and highly predictive. I don't see why it affects the results of mass testing at all. They are still just as predictive and heritable as before.

That made no sense at all.

It was actually worse than the typical unconvincing response, i.e. "I find these facts unconvincing."

Just because you didn't understand it doesn't mean it didn't make sense. Did you read the link that you put in your comment? It doesn't say IQ is not predictive, it says IQ may also be measuring inherent motivation- which is a persistent and heritable personality attribute. So as a practical matter is doesn't make any difference.

There was unsupported handwaving that maybe the no-bribe scores were more predictive of future welfare, but that was not backed by any longitudinal data(!).

Basically people say "we worry about all these less than 100 scores."

I say "here is how to move them."

You say "I don't care, I still still don't trust *those people*."

You don't really care that performance in this, and therefore other, settings have been proved malleable.

It's like the purest example of "incentives matter" is presented, and suddenly "we don't care!"

"Big countries will manage the flow better than the small ones but suddenly the burden of proof is shifted to a new question: can we find any countries big enough (or undesirable enough) where truly open immigration might actually work?"

Perhaps an interesting thought experiment here might be with DPRK.

No. 1 is factually incorrect. In 2018, according to Pew, Hispanics voted Democratic by a margin of 2:1 over Republican (69% v 29%). The margin was even greater for Asians, more than 3:1 (77% v 23%). Whites voted Republican 54% to 44%. Immigrants -- and Hispanics and Asians are more likely to be recent immigrants -- clearly felt markedly differently about political choices than did whites.

"2. Support for the welfare state remains strong in Western European nations, even as they have taken in many more migrants."

So if you take in immigrants, you're supposed to be happy about giving up your healthcare and social security? The question to ask is whether they are happy about paying higher taxes. What we see in Europe is an emerging fascist backlash, largely against immigration. People are not happy about immigration in many countries, in part because of the burden it places on the state and society.

"3. Open borders once before produced American political culture."

Well, yes, the political culture will be what the population's values produces. That's tautological. Right now, the reigning political culture has bankrupted New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois. It has created a massive structural deficit at the federal level. So, sure, the people you bring in will create whatever political culture you have. So what? You're saying that the US continues to function on its established institutions? Well, yes, they tend to endure. But the trend line doesn't not look particularly encouraging.

You say fascist, I say "well-dressed in black!"

Come for the torch-lit marching, stay for the bake sale. Worked for me.

I think these points, 1-6, are pretty good and I agree with Tyler that they are better put in service of immigration than open borders.

Or in service of more travel, more non-permanent visas.

> I have now begun to think there should be a book like this, or two, for every major political issue of import.

No, you only want one -- the one that echoes your views.

Why can't you be more like reasonable Transnational Pants Machine, always considering and understanding both sides of issues?

I presume Caplan is actively pushing for open admissions to GMU and the GMU economics program and his classes in particular?

There was a guy in the news a while back who attended a bunch of famous universities, just by showing up and sitting in.

It's an interesting hack. You don't get the certificate but nobody checks at the door, and most profs aren't going to mind well behaved "audits."

But these aren’t “audits”, i.e. “undocumented students”. They are just (open admissions) students, with all the same rights as any other students once they arrive on campus. He has to grade their papers and offer them office hours. If they can’t speak English, he’ll just have to arrange translators.

I was assuming that the "well behaved" audits would perhaps attempt, but not turn in, tests or homework.

> to Cyprus, Taiwan, Israel, Switzerland, and Iceland

Not open borders, maybe, but these are big immigration countries. Cyprus, Taiwan and Israel took in *a lot of* refugees, including poor ones, and did well. And Switzerland has one of the world's largest proportions of immigrants.

"Israel took in *a lot of* refugees, including poor ones"

They did?

Leaving aside the idea that Israel took in a lot of refugees (it didn't) or that its immigration policy is in any way liberal, since it expressly focuses on the very low Jewish minority in the world, all of the examples you cite are of very small countries which can afford to skim the cream off the top. You can't tell me with a straight face that you believe that the Cyprus experience translates well to the US. Cyprus, especially, takes in rich people as residents. It is supposedly the back door for non-English White South Africans to move to Europe.

"The author do admit that low-skilled immigrants do favor significantly less free speech"

Not exactly a trivial point, especially given the degree to which free speech is already under threat in the US.

It's a transitory problem.

Soon everyone will agree we didn't need that right. And that "responsible speech" is better. Or else.

Tyler, I'm sorry if I'm being dense, but I'm not really following your argument. Can you describe the mechanism by which immigrants would kill the golden goose? The one policy you mention is welfare, but as far as I know open boarders advocates are in favor of reducing the welfare state. Certainly if we can get as dramatic a policy change as open boarders passed in our hypothetical, we can also assume the passage of concurrent supporting legislation limiting immigrants' access to welfare, social security, voting rights, and other entitlements, no?

As for "people don't like it", well people don't like a lot of policies you favor, like free trade to name one, but that hasn't stopped you from arguing that we should do it anyway, and people should change their minds, rather than abandoning your support for the policy.

Collapse of important institutions, election of even worse politicians, sectarian violence.

"open boarders advocates are in favor of reducing the welfare state" But, third world immigrants are not. It really doens't matter what you pass, the 500M-1B new citizens will be the ones who get to decide.

Immigration =/= citizenship moron. And even if it did already addressed it above: add whatever voter id laws and restrictions on voting rights you want to the open boarders bill.

Nicholas The Moron apparently does not understand that admitting and disenfranchising/denying service access to a large population of third-world scum is not a stable strategy and will never produce an equilibrium.

As the third-world scum will demand and get (via violence and simultaneous appeals to morality to weak-ass, moronic scum like Nicholas The Moron) whatever they are denied initially.

But then again, all open-border supporters are moronic dumb evolutionary maladaptive scum so none of this is surprising.

You just cannot die soon enough.


It seems that, as a practical matter, it would be very difficult to defend that citizenship =/= Immigration in a liberal republic if you have significant minorities (majorities) of non-citizens present. Violent and social pressure for citizenship would be immense.

Qatar just about manages to handle it, but you need serious amounts of repression.

"most likely would destroy the goose laying the golden eggs". Your equilibrium thinking is simplistic, and you're not alone on this.

More importantly, while effects are important to know, not everything should be decided via consequentialism. Freedom to choose where to live should be a basic human right.

"Freedom to choose where to live should be a basic human right."

Why?? Should I be free to choose to live in your house?

This should always get the🏅 for worst reply. Like any travel visa is good for my spare bedroom.

This is the question that no open borders person can answer, so they try to straw man it and elide the real question, just like you are. A sovereign nation has the right to control its borders, just like a person has the right to control the borders of their property or a club has the right to control who enters their property.

Your response is like saying "As if membership in a club gives you the right to live in my spare bedroom!" It's inane.


If the Open Borders people don't want to answer the question, they have to say specifically WHY its a bad question. Not just "It's not like that at all! Waaaaah!"

If the Open Borders people want to claim that Nations are not collectively owned by their extant citizens, fine, but they should come out and say it.

It is impossible to "strawman" something that is as stupid as possible to begin with.

I mean where do you even go with it?

You are a citizen, that doesn't mean you can come in my house. Get over it.

Well, Anonymouse; perhaps you would care to clarify who owns/grants the following rights, if anyone?

Right of residence in a nation?
Right of protection by a nation? (Police and Army)?
Right to draw welfare in a nation?
Right to work in a nation?
Obligation to pay taxes.

Yes, clearly allowing movement between countries requires elimination of all property rights. (That was sarcasm BTW.)

You know, come on over. My wife's out of town anyway. I don't think you'll last long here. These things have a way of working out (see my other comment about equilbrium outcomes.)

Dumb, straw man response. You said freedom to choose where to live should be a basic HUMAN RIGHT. But now you concede that was a lie.

The question is only, what constraints should there be on where you can choose to live? You think a sovereign nation, representative of its citizens, should not get to choose who crosses its borders. I see absolutely no reason why that should be. You're trying to take rights away from people.

Open borders would likely not result in 1 billion people relocating to the US, because of economics - those people could not afford the rent and there would not be jobs for them. Even now, with closed borders, demand for labor affects flows of illegal immigrants across the southern border. With "open borders", there would certainly be more immigration, but it will still depends on labor market demand and wages relative to cost of living.

Also, I'm not even sure what the term "open borders" is supposed to mean. Does it mean literally taking down all the border crossings, and not having a border patrol or coast guard? Or does it mean "unlimited immigration"? Does "unlimited immigration" mean "numerical" or does it mean "no background security checks"?

Personally, I think that we have numerically unlimited visas, but still keep the border guards and checks for background and various other "limiting" factors like making sure people have a job lined up or means to support themselves. And don't have contagious diseases, etc.

In other words, I'd be more or less fine with the current system, just lift the annual visa caps and the labor certification part of the employment sponsorship. Let employers drive the level of immigration by making sure that people have to have a job lined up to get a visa.

But what about families? Are you saying anyone who can line up a job is welcome, but only them?

I see no reason why they shouldn't be allowed to bring family, as these would be permanent residents visas.

What kind of family? The Western style nuclear family is different from what counts as family in much of the rest of the world. There was a news item about a Somali man in Canada greeting his hundredth relative at the airport, on whose behalf he labored to convince the Canadian government to take them in.

Also, this op-ed is relevant

The author specifically states that he believes the Western definition of family as used by the government for family reunification is too restrictive. Uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews, parents and grandparents have to get in to.

Right, will there be health exams and criminal background checks, or will it be like just driving into Ohio, or walking into the public library to hang out and look at e-bay all day?

The open borders people need to come out from behind their security cordons and biometric ID scanners to clue us in on this

You say "those people could not afford the rent and there would not be jobs for them", but if you can't feasibly deport these people (which you can't really at anything like a reasonable enforcement cost if they can enter freely, and you don't have any information tracking them through a visa system, and you don't have their employers with a duty to check visas), you're gonna get them in "beds in sheds" and the black market cash economy, and they're gonna need only about as much pay as keeps them in those with a bare better standard of living than back home.

This is assuming you don't massively scale up the degree of regulation and monitoring and interference of people's living conditions and wages (you don't go full on 'statist'). Maybe you don't get 1000 million, but even 100 million is going to be well beyond the ability of any of your existing regulatory bodies to monitor with the relatively light touch they currently do, and will massively shift the structure of your economy and government.

As I say later on, I do think there should be a visa system with information tracking, and employers should drive it - so you only get a visa if you have job lined up (but without the labor certification stuff we have now). The first part of my comment was "what the heck do people mean by open borders?". The second part was "here's what I think, whatever you want to call it."

Back in 2012, Bryan Caplan savaged fellow economist Gruber's graphic novel advocating health care policy:

Given my interest in health economics and graphic novels, I was initially hopeful about Jonathan Gruber‘s graphic novel, entitled Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How It Works. But in all honesty, the book is awful. Gruber crafts his argument like a salesman, not an economic educator.

From the snippets I've seen of Caplan's graphic novel, it's intended to persuade and evangelize a specific point of view. I'm not sure how one could dismiss Gruber's graphic novel as arguing like a salesman, and exempt Caplan's graphic novel from the same accusation.

You can't compare immigration from the "poorer" parts of Europe into Switzerland with immigration into the USA from across the USA/ Mexico border.

The economic gradient across the US/Mexico is pretty steep. On one side is the richest country on Earth for all the history of humanity and on the other is a largely lawless third world CONTINENT!!!! A hundred million people would try to cross that border almost immediately. The logistics would be insurmountable. The cultural destruction would be immediate and permanent.

Some people, disingenuously, say that we once had open borders prior to the 1920s, but that was into an enormous country with lots of wide open space and tremendous demand for unskilled labor in the nation's industrial economy.

The situation is entirely different today. We do not have the demand for huge numbers of uneducated Spanish, Portuguese, or even indigenous speakers to fill low-skilled jobs. It's absurd.

Then there are the cultural differences. The Portuguese and Spanish diasporas are very different from the Anglosphere. There is a long legal and cultural history that extends from Magna Carta to the Mayflower Compact to the Articles of Confederation to the US Constitution. The culture, laws, and values came from people who considered themselves British Citizens. The culture was strongly influenced by Christianity and especially Protestantism. Even the wave of migration from Catholic Ireland, as trying as that was, involved English speaking citizens of Great Britain.

Tyler is correct, open borders would kill the goose that layed the golden egg, and the egg is indeed golden.

It's insane. I wonder about people who harp on about climate change but also support open borders. Both involve very serious tail risks, and I think open borders probably has a much fatter tail. Why would you take the risk of destroying the U.S., the economic engine of the entire world? You are risking plunging the world into chaos, regression and collapse. When you could allow unlimited high skilled immigration and have much better results for U.S. citizens, what is the justification for open borders? Just feels?

Yes, just feels - mood affiliation. These people are idealogues, and are unmoved by any rational discussion of the negative impacts. They don't care. Anyone who disagrees with them is painted a racist bigot.

Yes. Seems to be mood affiliation. They pass on the low-hanging fruit of open high-skill immigration, which you would expect them to grasp at.

Don't high skilled immigrants also have their own culture, political aspirations, passions and group identity affiliations? I am against both, to be honest, especially if you are beggaring some other country so you can get a low marginal value added doctor and depriving his community of critical service providers and important community elites.


See above for crude estimates of immigration as a function of wealth delta using inter-EU migration data. This data should be mined more under a proper model where P(immigrate) is a function of wealth delta, and fitted to the observed populations.

You'd think the clever economics types here would have done this already....

'You can't compare immigration from the "poorer" parts of Europe into Switzerland with immigration into the USA from across the USA/ Mexico border.'

Of course not - but how about Canada and the U.S.? And any guesses which way the totals might actually flow? Open borders as a concept is being tried in Europe, among European states - it actually provides at least a certain perspective on what actually happens when one opens borders of a nation of 15 (or 80, or 50) million people to 400 million or so people who are free to choose to live and work there, or not.

'On one side is the richest country on Earth for all the history of humanity'

This is the MR comments section, so of course that is presented as a fact (without even bothering to set it in any context).

'A hundred million people would try to cross that border almost immediately.'

Not even close, by at least one order of magnitude.

'are very different from the Anglosphere'

Amazing that the largest ethnic group in America is not from the 'Anglosphere,' isn't it? Here is some actual commentary about the dangers posed by that group, by the way - '“Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.”' (Yes, complexion - Germans, like Swedes were too swarthy to be worthy Americans in Franklin's eyes.)

"destroy the goose laying the golden eggs"
What does this mean exactly? Is there any example of too open borders that Tyler could point to?
Who should get restricted? I imagine Tyler feels that he and his fail y should be allowed to live and work where they like. How can he deny the same liberty to others?

Just to clarify, does Tyler really think that restricted movement of people could be optimal even in the cosmopolitan sense? It seems bizarre to believe that restricting someone's movements against their own desires could somehow still be in their own interests. I suppose it could happen if there is a big negative externality.. is this really the case though?

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