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.