Arnold Kling  

Exit, Voice, and Borders

The Problem with (Some) Experi... Should Caesar Have Been Killed...

Nicolas Maloberti writes,

since they relax the constraints faced by governments, immigration barriers should be seen as a major contributor in creating the conditions for the perpetuation of the sort of political arrangements that classical liberals resist. If individual sovereignty is to be protected, the sovereignty of the state over a particular territory should not include a prerogative to determine who is to inhabit it.

There are two types of checks on power. Democratic checks are the ability to vote for different people and policies. Market checks are the ability of individuals to choose different systems. In A.O. Hirschman's famous terminology, voice is the use of the democratic check, while exit is the use of the market check. Exit is much more powerful. What Maloberti is saying is that the key to forcing improvement in government is gaining a better exit option. Do you agree or disagree? Leave your comments at this facebook page, where our host site is experimenting with discussions.

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COMMENTS (8 to date)
stephen writes:

Who inhabits a territory affects individual sovereignty too. If the majority of people are not interested in a market solution then there won't be one.

The biggest conundrum "border are bad" libertarians face is that increasing the proportion of non-classical liberals decreases the probability of a classical liberal society.

English Professor writes:

Believe it or not, there are some of us who do not belong to facebook and who do not wish to sign up. Does this mean that we will not be able to participate in the discussions?

R Richard Schweitzer writes:

It is surprising to me that Arnold Kling does not question the terminology "individual sovereignty" as a basis for these assertions about the the degree of authority to be recognized for a "state," and how individuals should deal with that authority.

Hi, English Professor.

You can comment here or on Facebook. Different venues appeal to different folks.

Arthur_500 writes:

Let's ignore many other countries at this point and utilize Mexico as an example.

Mexico has terrible infrastructure making it difficult for transportation of people and goods. Electricity is not available everywhere making life difficult from drinking water to irrigation. As a result many people are poor and they have decided to head north where there is better opportunity for them.

There people have exited and voted with their feet. They are not utilizing Mexican. sovereignity nor are they participating in the Mexican market. As a result the checks on power have been torn as these people insert themselves in both the market and the sovereign affairs of State.

It appears that if a society wants to have rules by which they desire to live then it is incumbent to eliminate challenges to those rules. Criminals are sent to prison and illegal participants in that society are to be removed.

They are not participating, in part, in the American economy and utilizing sovereignity of the US. However, while they are not utilizing thier voice in soverign American decision making they are utilizing the services of the governments.
In addition, they are participating in a market system in which the sovereign people have decided on certain parameters. Without utilizing a legal voice they have, in fact, lowered the standards that the sovereign people have set.

We can argue that a true market sets its own standards. However, a sovereign people have decided, collectively, to set artificial boundaries on those standards be it wages, time worked, benefits, working conditions, etc. By exercising a voice through the participation in the market those who chose not to play by those rules change the rules.

Jeremy, Alabama writes:

Thanks for the A.O. Hirschman pointer. How little I know - when it comes to philosophy, it pretty much has all been done.

John writes:

A priori I don't think one can say voice or exit is the more powerful. I think they clearly complement one another as well as function as substitutes.

Mark Brophy writes:

Exit is much more powerful than voice. It's easy to move to another city and only a bit more difficult to move to another state. It's harder to move to another country, but easier than it was 50 years ago, given the decreasing cost of airline flights.

The USA is unlikely to change political policies. The government will continue to incur debt, even though it cannot be repaid, and no amount of voting or letters to your congressman or the President is likely to change policies. However, when people emigrate, government revenues will decrease and that will attract the attention of legislators.

Imagine living with a responsible government like Hong Kong, in a Mediterranean climate like California.Chile offers a combination of pleasant climate and fewer government burdens than many others. If you’re ready to shed the debt your government has imposed upon you, it is a good destination to consider:

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