Bryan Caplan  

Ethnic Diversity and the Size of Government: A Belated Reply to Sanandaji

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I've repeatedly argued that libertarians exaggerate the political externalities of immigration.  One of my arguments is that immigration increases diversity, which undermines solidarity, which mutes public support for the welfare state.  A well-known 2001 paper by Alesina, Glaeser, and Sacerdote (henceforth AGS) presents evidence that, on net, racial fragmentation makes the welfare state smaller.  AGS is heavily cited, but the best of my knowledge, no one has ever published a critique in an academic journal or book.  The most thoughtful response to AGS remains a blog post by Tino Sanandaji, Ph.D. student in Public Policy at the University of Chicago.  Consider this a belated point-by-point reply.

Sanandaji begins with a correct explanation of the AGS mechanism:

[E]conomists believe that solidarity is diminished in ethnically heterogeneous societies. According to this theory voters care more about people with the same race and ethnicity as themselves, and are less willing to help the unfortunate if they have a different skin color...

Some libertarians want to rely on this mechanism to tear down the welfare state through open borders and the ethnic tensions they believe that migration will cause.

Sanandaji's first reaction:

[I]f that is the price of limiting the welfare state... I would oppose it... I understand that some free-marketers have turned against the very notion of "solidarity", because the left has exploited the term so much. However this should not let us lose sight of the fact that solidarity and national cohesiveness are social goods, not something that we should want to destroy through an immigration shock doctrine.

This is a straw man.  The claim isn't that open borders will "destroy" solidarity or the welfare state, but merely that open borders will undermine both.  And while free-marketers may well agree that some degree of solidarity is good, it's also hard for free-marketers to deny that current levels of solidarity are excessive.  Solidarity stands in the way of free-market reforms in pensions, education, health care, taxation, agricultural policy, and much more.

Sanandaji then turns to the heart of his critique:

Ethnic diversity overall tends to expand the welfare state, not reduce it. While the research only focuses on one effect of unskilled immigration (reduced fellowship), there are at least three effects that go the other way. Here are the main effects of increasing the share of low income minorities:

1. Solidarity is diminished and social ties are weakened, so that the majority population becomes less willing to pay taxes to help "the other". This limits the size of government. The ethnic-diversity-and-redistribution-literature has almost entirely focused on this sole effect.

This is a strange way to describe the state of the argument.  It would be more accurate to say that (a) Almost everyone assumes that immigration increases the size of the welfare state; (b) AGS identified a mechanism going in the opposite direction; and (c) AGS showed that on international data, the net effect of diversity on the welfare state is indeed negative.  There is a -.66 bivariate correlation between social spending as a percent of GDP and racial fragmentation, and this relationship persists controlling for per-capita income, region, and age distribution.

I freely admit that AGS's results for the U.S. states are indeed subject to Sanandaji's critique here.  AGS only show that states with larger black population shares spend less per person, not less in total.  But even this weaker result shows that the standard story is overstated.

Now let's turn to Sanandaji's "three effects that go the other way":

2. Increasing the share of low income individuals increases the welfare state through a mechanic effect. This means even if you don't vote for any changes to the welfare state, the use of preexisting welfare programs such as unemployment insurance and public health care increases.

True enough, but this "mechanic effect" is precisely the kind of thing that economics rightly teaches us to second-guess.  You could just as easily say that the "mechanic effect" of raising the price of iPhones is to increase profits.  In both cases, you need to consider how the mechanic effect interacts with behavior. 

Sanandaji's next mechanism tries to do just that:

3. More disadvantaged citizens increases the need for a welfare state. To the extent that the welfare state reflects a desire to reduce social problems, having more deprived individuals increases the demand for more government to solve problems.

This sounds good, but it's theoretically confused.  The standard microeconomic story is: (a) the more poor people there are, the higher the cost of reducing the poverty rate; (b) voters will respond to this higher cost by spending less per person; (c) the net effect on total welfare spending (number of recipients times spending per recipient) is therefore ambiguous. 

Sanandaji continues:

The welfare state exists largely because the middle classes and the rich feel sorry for the poor. The left is not stupid or irrational, they rarely demand government intervention where there are few problems.

Once again, this sounds good - until you remember that "poverty" is relative.  By global standards, almost everyone in the First World is rich.  But First World countries still have Social Security, Medicare, free public education, etc.  And few of these benefits are means-tested!  Contrary to Sanandaji, the welfare state exists largely because (a) people receive money whether they need it or not, and (b) the middle classes and the rich constantly redefine poverty to ensure its continued existence.  Not just the left, but the entire political spectrum is indeed irrational, and habitually demands government intervention for no good reason.

Sanandaji's fourth point:

4. Though ignored by proponents of the ethnic-diversity-and-redistribution, minorities also get to vote, and they vote overwhelmingly for the left.

I'm puzzled by this claim.  AGS's Table 10 econometrically confirms that blacks are much more in favor of redistribution than the general population.  Their whole story is precisely that the indirect effect more than offsets the direct effect.  AGS's case would be even stronger if they had a measure of total spending on the y-axis rather than a measure of per-person spending.  But contrary to Sanandaji, they're not "ignoring" this point.

Sanandaji also neglects the possibility that immigrants vote "overwhelmingly for the left" primarily because right-wing parties treat them with such hostility.  Bush's share of the Hispanic vote in 2004 was probably overstated (39%, not 44%, is a reasonable estimate), but he still made impressive gains simply by treating Hispanics with respect and taking a relatively pro-immigration stance.

Sanandaji continues with what is arguably his best point:

This effect is dominant when we are discussing free migration, because with open borders in a world where 700 million people have told Gallup they would like to migrate right now, sooner or later the immigrants will become the majority of voters and make the political preferences of the natives irrelevant.

AGS show that in the United States, higher black population shares predict lower welfare benefits (but not total welfare spending), even controlling for median income.  But if you study their Figure 5 closely, you'll notice that blacks are a minority in every U.S. state.  What would happen if blacks actually formed a majority?  Maybe, as Sanandaji suggests, there would be a U-shaped effect - beyond 50%, AFDC benefits would start to rise.  Indeed, I bet that is precisely what would happen.

However, there is a crucial difference between African Americans and immigrants.  African Americans have a shared group identity.  Immigrants do not.  They identify at most with other people from the same country.  And even there, internal divisions between "early" and "late" arrivals are common - see Jews or Cubans.  By the time that "immigrants" form a majority in any First World country, most of them will probably no longer consider themselves to be "immigrants."  See the United States, where the grandchildren of immigrants often have trouble pronouncing the word "immigrant" without reproach.

In the conclusion of his post, Sanandaji provides two graphs in support of his skepticism.  For a blog post, they're impressive graphs; if you read Sanandaji's comments, he diligently responds to criticism with additional legwork.  Nevertheless, AGS's graphs and regressions are better, especially their Figure 4 and Table 9, which show social spending as a function of diversity controlling for the leading confounding variables.  Until I see contrary evidence of comparable quality, AGS's story remains the one to beat.

P.S. I just noticed that Sanandaji replied to my earlier post on AGS.  He argues that if we limit AGS's sample to the OECD, their result goes away:

Ethnically fragmented societies tend to be poorer and less well organized, which makes a large welfare state hard to finance. But we are discussing immigration to the west, not to Guatemala.

A fair point, but instead of throwing away most of the data and variation, it's better to keep the data and add control variables.  That's precisely what AGS did, and found that their result held controlling for per-capita income.



COMMENTS (26 to date)
Chris writes:

"Bush's share of the Hispanic vote in 2004 was probably overstated (39%, not 44%, is a reasonable estimate), but he still made impressive gains simply by treating Hispanics with respect and taking a relatively pro-immigration stance."

Bush won so many hispanic votes because Janet Reno had recently seized Elian Gonzales at gunpoint. When you exclude Cubans, Bush only won 1/6th of the hispanic vote.

McCain did not do well with hispanics despite being the champion of immigration reform. Like most poor people, hispanics vote economic interests first.

"remember that "poverty" is relative. By global standards, almost everyone in the First World is rich. But First World countries still have Social Security, Medicare, free public education, etc."

Redistribution is a leaky bucket that incentivizes socially destructive behavior. People tolerate it when they must, but the middle class does not welcome its expansion.

Steve Sailer writes:

92% of elected Hispanic officials are Democrats. So, self-appointed Hispanic leaders tend to be overwhelmingly liberal. One reason is affirmative action. Most of these self-annointed leaders are affirmative action beneficiaries, and they have two self-interests: preserve ethnic preferences for Hispanics and increase the number of Hispanics in the country to make themselves appear more powerful.

The way out of this trap is for Republicans to eliminate all affirmative action (including disparate impact discrimination lawsuits) for Hispanics and to close the borders. After a period of wailing and gnashing of teeth, new Hispanic leaders will arise who actually represent the interests of Hispanic voters, not of themselves.

Nathan Smith writes:

To our everlasting shame, we're already trying pretty hard to close the borders. We're going as far as to rip families apart, as in the times of slavery. We've reduced illegal immigration to a trickle relative to the number of those who want to come. At the end of the day, any kind of limited, non-fascist government, that behaves with some degree of humanity, is inconsistent with the crazed, vicious, evil fantasy of Steve Sailer and his fellow nativists. Sorry, I know I'm a broken record, but there are some views too nefarious to be allowed to go unrebuked. We need to maintain the line between civilized discourse and barbarism.

Now, in response to the very interesting point raised in the post: Is "solidarity" or "national cohesiveness" a good thing? I think the distinction I make in my book, Principles of a Free Society, may shed some light on the question:

"Nationalism is the prison-gang instinct writ large. I've got your back if you've got mine. A nationalist thinks he owns his nation, or a bit of it. He does not want outsiders to cut in, lest he get a smaller share of the pie. A nationalist asks what his country can do for him. Love and hate are instrumental to group solidarity, and hatred for others is a good substitute for love of one's own. If one loves the next nation as much as one's own, this is a threat. Because nationalism is self-seeking, a nationalist has no particular reason to be scrupulous about the means which his nation uses to achieve its ends.

"Patriotism is *love* of one's country. From a patriot's point of view, his feelings of love reflect the fact that his country is *objectively* admirable, a truth which has nothing to do with the accidental circumstance that it happens to be *his* country. He feels it an honor, even a surprise, that he is part of it, and fear that he will not deserve that honor drives him to try to be a better person. A patriot asks what he can do for his country, because he loves his country and wants to serve it. Patriotism has nothing to do with hating other countries, just as loving the mountains has nothing to do with hating the beach. There is no inconsistency between being an American patriot and an Anglophile or a Russophile.

"I do not think it is possible to be a patriot and a nationalist at the same time, any more than it is possible to feel, at one and the same moment, the mean smugness of a bully, and the humble rapture of a person in love.

A patriot desires the good of his country, including its *moral* good, therefore he will desire for it do right as much as he desires for it to prosper. He may defy the ruling regime in his country for patriotism's sake, if he thinks the ruling regime is leading his country to disgrace or failing to live up to the ideals to which is country is or ought to be committed."

If "solidarity" means patriotism, it's good. If nationalism, it's bad. The term covers a mix of good and bad phenomena, and we need more information before we can form a judgment.

8 writes:

Look at the ethnic make up of libertarians. Look at what countries are closest to the libertarian ideal. Minnesota has a left-wing party at the state level that is similar to the politics of Scandinavia. Wisconsin has has a far left contingent: many communists forced out of Germany by Bismark migrated to Wisconsin. Why does the Free State Party exist, who's very goal is emigration from the general population?

Increased immigration reduces national solidarity and increases racial solidarity. If your goal is secession and the creation of a smaller state, with closed borders and highly homogeneous ethnic population, then open borders is a good strategy for breaking apart the U.S. Once people lose national solidarity, they will fall to the most base solidarity:ethnic and geographic. Not only will they not support a welfare state, but they won't care if there's a white nationalist nation out West and a black dictatorship in Alabama, any more than they care what goes on in Belarus or Haiti.

Ari T writes:

I've also had the intuition that welfare states would become less popular in more diverse communities as people don't have the solidarity to other ethnic groups as much. Good thing there's a research to back this up.

However I think Bryan has an uphill battle. Most libertarians are ex-conservatives and thus are going to hang off to any argument they can find to defend closed borders. Some of it stems probably from massive risk aversion. For the same reasons, it is hard to push anti-IPR stance to the right or make left accept "deregulation" as a good thing for product safety. I'm not saying neither are necessarily (in)efficient but its an analogy.

Also, I must say I share Nathan Smith's concern. The mentality that Steve Sailer endorses can be very harmful. Part of the problem stems from Hayek's knowledge problem. Making national decisions on who to take and who not to take can cause massive harm to families and people who are stuck in horrible countries. States, cities and other institutions can overcome these problems locally. "One size fits all" kind of immigration policy has same kind of problem as "one size fits all" medical policy. The latter just happens to be endorsed by left so its "evil socialism" while right has no problem with the former.

Secondary issue with this is the nationalism, and concept of "us" and "them". Most libertarians would cringe at the idea of someone ("us") telling them who ("them") they can do business with or who to enjoy company with. Indeed such ideas are associated more with fascism than liberty. While you can twist closed borders to be natural rights argument, it really is a consequentialist argument an sich. I mean if a person would say that people whose descendants are more likely to vote Democrats shouldn't be allowed to reproduce, most libertarians would listen in horror. How is immigration any much different?

I think the fundamental problem with libertarians is that they are very (over) confident of their own reasoning. This means any amount of evidence is unlikely to sway them, and Bryan is going to have hard time doing that. I've had same kind of overconfidence in some areas; the sooner one gets rid of it, the better.

Here at least, an anti-immigration politician is using US as an example of country that attracts positive immigration while our welfare states attract negative immigration. The anti-immigration movement is very active in using statistics, for example here is our unemployment stats for foreigners. As one can see, some of the numbers very quite high. Of course the movement has very little to do with free markets, so they are unlikely to accept free-market explanations for the high numbers. Likewise, the movement is unlikely to understand why immigration benefits the economy as a whole. When people develop these biased views of the world, they're very unready to accept contrary evidence.

Sometimes discrimination is efficient, at least some shops here have tried to do it, albeit possibly immoral. However on national level immigration restrictions are very likely highly inefficient and cause a lot of social harm.

CF Harkins writes:

Mr Caplan, you are arguing this issue on the wrong front. This is a matter of justice, not bivariant correlations. The telling point is that every argument for closed borders is a recycled argument against emancipation. Borders are chains by another name.

Peter Schaeffer writes:

Obvious point. Why is Tino Sanandaji banned from EconLog? What exactly was his capital offense?

Is posting information about the consequences of low-skill immigration really so odious?

Peter Schaeffer writes:

Ari T,

Welfare states may be become less popular (for a while until the immigrants vote). However, that effect is more than offset by more welfare users. Check out Tino's posts over at Super Economy.

State level immigration policy is immpossible for the same reason that state level trade policy can't work. Goods and people move freely between the states. If Texas doesn't enforce its border, all of America suffers. Not a hard concept.

Restrictionists don't object to immigration because of the (likely) politics of the immigrants. They object because of the impact of immigration on the USA. Not a hard concept.

"The anti-immigration movement is very active in using statistics"

This should not be allowed. Knowledge is a dangerous thing.

I find it amusing that you are posting from Finland (apparently). Finland is a model of how much a country can gain by restricting immigration. Finland currently ranks at the top of the PISA standings. Import enough low-skill immigrants and you will be bringing up the rear.

Peter Schaeffer writes:

Nathan Smith,

"To our everlasting shame, we're already trying pretty hard to close the borders"

Not a shred of truth to this. Legal immigration is running well over 1 million a year. With zero job growth, that means steady displacement of Americas by immigrants.

"We need to maintain the line between civilized discourse and barbarism."

I guess Eisenhower was uncivilized and barbaric. See below. Who knew?

"We're going as far as to rip families apart, as in the times of slavery."

Not a shred of truth to this. The U.S. never presents the families of illegals from returning home with them. Legal immigrants take their U.S. born children home all of the time. Why would you deny illegals the opportunity to do so?

Eisenhower removed 1-2 million illegals in 3 months with just 1000 agents. Was Eisenhower a fascist? Nativist? Inhumane? Try again.

"A nationalist thinks he owns his nation, or a bit of it."

And that is so true. However, lets not stop at Open Borders. Why not Open Doors? There are billions of people around the world who would be better off living in your home. Please don't tell me that you are going to discriminate against them by closing your doors to those in need. I've got dozens of folks eager to share your house right now. For a very modest fee they will even cook and clean for you.

Don't be some kind of closed minded bigot and deny them an opportunity for a better life.

The Anti-Gnostic writes:
One of my arguments is that immigration increases diversity, which undermines solidarity, which mutes public support for the welfare state.

In practice, it just means more tribes fighting for their share of the loot, with increasing public choice problems correlating to the increasing number of welfare state constituencies. Also the State uses the increased diversity to justify its immense national security and civil rights bureaucracies.

I agree that ultimately, increased diversity will bankrupt the welfare state and it will devolve into its constituent ethnic/geographic nations. Oh, and there'll be economic collapse and irregular warfare that will be part of the process as well.

The Anti-Gnostic writes:
Borders are chains by another name.

Uh, no. In fact, freedom is impossible without borders within which a people can immanentize their idea of what it is to be free. Should a libertarian society be compelled to let in communists? Should Jews be compelled to let in Arabs? For that matter, how has Jewish immigration worked out for West Bank Palestinians?

If borders are "chains," what are property lines? When the State is gone, there will only be owners, tenants and trespassers. That's why immigrants who venture outside the State's protections drown at sea, die in the high desert or get shot by ranchers.

Severn writes:
Solidarity stands in the way of free-market reforms in pensions, education, health care, taxation, agricultural policy, and much more.

That's a peculiar claim, though one which libertarians are apt to repeat.

America had much greater "solidarity" in the 1950's and 1960's, and the welfare state was a fraction of its current size. As "solidarity" has decreased in subsequent decades, we have seen the welfare state explode in size and intrusiveness.

To be blunt - as America turns increasingly into a multi-national Tower of Babel, the state grows exponentially.

If America still had the "solidarity" of the 1980's (which as we all know means white people acting in their own best interests) then Obamacare would not currently be the law.

Libertarians keep promising that diversity will lead to less government, even though we have several decades of empirical evidence to show us that this promise is completely false, and that diversity actually leads to ever bigger government.

Severn writes:
on net, racial fragmentation makes the welfare state smaller.


Ah. So that's why New York City, the most racially fragmented spot on the globe, has no welfare state whatsoever!

That's why racially diverse American cities are the backbone of the small government movement, while the more homogenous white areas send full blown socialists to Congress.

It all makes perfect sense now.

Severn writes:
Sanandaji also neglects the possibility that immigrants vote "overwhelmingly for the left" primarily because right-wing parties treat them with such hostility. Bush's share of the Hispanic vote in 2004 was probably overstated (39%, not 44%, is a reasonable estimate), but he still made impressive gains simply by treating Hispanics with respect and taking a relatively pro-immigration stance.


It's easy to test this hypothesis - just examine the results of the 1986 amnesty. That "pro-immigration stance" should, according to Caplan, have paid dividends for the GOP in terms of Hispanic vote share.

But in fact, while Reagan pulled 37% of the Hispanic vote in 1984, Bush managed only 27% in 1988.

You can also look at the John McCain campaign for President in 2008. McCain was the leading Republican in Congress fighting for amnesty in the 2004-08 period. He pandered shamelessly to the Hispanic vote in the presidential campaign. (He said that his favorite movie is "Viva Zapata"!) And after all that he managed a whopping 27% of the Hispanic vote.

Hispanics vote for Democrats because they are people who want bigger government and the Democrats are the party of bigger government.

Peter Schaeffer writes:

@Severn,

Actually, Los Angeles is probably more racially fragmented than New York (according to R. Putnam at least) and does have a smaller welfare state. However, that's a time delay anomaly. California politics have lagged California's demographics for decades. Citizenship and political participation takes time. When they catch up, the welfare state gap will probably close as well.

The right question is what politics would California have today, if had the same demographics as in 1960? The answer is pretty obvious. It would be much closer to a small government, individual responsibility ideology.

Libertarianism is a self-destructing worldview.

Peter Schaeffer writes:

@TAG,

"Borders are chains by another name."

Locked doors are fences by another name. By what right does anyone close their front door to those in need? Their are billions of people who would be better off living in Nathan Smith's home.

It is shameful that he excludes them.

Severn writes:
AGS show that in the United States, higher black population shares predict lower welfare benefits (but not total welfare spending), even controlling for median income. But if you study their Figure 5 closely, you'll notice that blacks are a minority in every U.S. state. What would happen if blacks actually formed a majority? Maybe, as Sanandaji suggests, there would be a U-shaped effect - beyond 50%, AFDC benefits would start to rise. Indeed, I bet that is precisely what would happen.

I bet you are wrong. There does not exist some infinite supply of dollars which can be spent on welfare. States with a large black population spend less per capita on welfare because the same amount of money is spread more thinly. If Minnesota suddenly became majority black instead of overwhelmingly white, the average welfare recipient would receive less money - because there would be less money.

Individual welfare benefits decrease as the white percentage of the population declines because you are shrinking the size of the golden egg, not because those whites suddenly decide they don't want to pay taxes. White minority states actually tend to have very high tax rates. But when you shrink the size of the tax base and increase the number of welfare recipients, the average welfare recipient must receive less.

Taking this to its logical conclusion, we can reduce welfare payments to close to zero if we completely impoverish America.


The notable things about the countries with low social spending as shown by AGS is that they are poor. Ecuador has negligible social spending, true. It's also a dirt poor country. I'm not sure you want to pick places like Ecuador and Peru as exemplifying libertarian principles at their best.

Peter Schaeffer writes:

@Severn,

Ecuador is in some respects a failed state. Ecuador is a rare example of country that was forced to dollarize because its national currency collapsed. Not exactly a model for libertarian principles.

Of course, Somalia has more or less lost its national currency. It doesn't really have a government either. A libertarian paradise?

Jose writes:

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Raphael writes:

Bryan is right about one issue - leftist whites who are in charge of the United States (especially in the government/university/journalism complex) implement policies at least in part because a surfeit of perceived underdog solidarity and egalitarianism. They enforce affirmative action for blacks and women, who are arguably less capable, hence more pitiable. They viciously discriminate against Asians, and less so against white males, precisely the groups most able to take care of themselves. They pull losers up and drag winners down, just as hunter-gatherers do in-group.

As the society becomes more fragmented, leftist whites will no longer see it as their in-group. They will become less leftist, will eventually lose their penchant for Black empowerment.

Just as Bryan says, many of the destructive policies caused by malfunctioning self-transcendence in whites will eventually disappear, if multiracial mass immigration proceeds. The problem is, what replaces them could be worse. As a staunch free-marketer I would love to live in a minarchist state but I am afraid that the current regime will be followed by something resembling the governance of Peru, Brazil, or Kazakhstan (all very multi-racial), rather than Singapore.

That is, unless we import some more Asians.

Severn writes:
Bryan is right about one issue - leftist whites who are in charge of the United States (especially in the government/university/journalism complex) implement policies at least in part because a surfeit of perceived underdog solidarity and egalitarianism.


I'm afraid you have failed to understand what he wrote. When he mentions solidarity, it is not the cross-racial "solidarity" of rich (white) liberals with their poor (brown) clients. He means ethnic and racial solidarity in general, and white racial and ethnic solidarity in particular.

aandrews writes:

Nathan Smith
Posted September 21, 2011 7:03 PM

"He feels it an honor, even a surprise, that he is part of it, and fear that he will not deserve that honor drives him to try to be a better person."

God! That's almost enough to make you want throw up!

M Schwartz writes:

Surely it's obvious that immigrants from a population with lower levels of academic achievement, who require ongoing affirmative action, are going to favor income redistribution to the poor.

You get the same thing in New Zealand where the polynesian population largely vote for the left wing Labour Party. Again, you can predict this to some extent looking at academic outcomes, and a basic understanding of human biodiversity.

Steve Johnson writes:

Let's put on our economist hats for a moment and imagine that there is a group of people with specialized knowledge of how to decrease the amount of liberty in a society - the permanent government and its propaganda arms. They gained this knowledge because the people who were bad at doing this were driven out of These people have a vested interest in more dependency and less liberty. You could say that it's their business.

What do those people prefer?

Again, let's put on our economist hats. If an entire competitive industry does something one way and you think it's a bad idea for their interests you should probably consider the idea that it's them who know what they're talking and not you. Speaking as an economist of course.

Mercy Vetsel writes:

To repeat Peter Schaeffer's relevant question, why is the author of "The most thoughtful response to AGS" addressed by this very post, banned from comments?

-Mercy

Tino Sanandaji was temporarily banned several years ago for getting into a flame war with another commenter that involved name-calling. The email record makes it very clear that the name-calling, which is strictly forbidden on EconLog, was the sole reason for the ban. He was not banned for anything having to do with his viewpoint--as he suggests on his blog. Neither did the EconLog blogger for the post weigh in on the ban in any way. It was a very straightforward matter and it was a clear violation of our stated EconLog civility policy--if you badmouth people here or engage in ad hominem remarks, flame wars, rudeness, or name-calling, you will end up banned.

As it happens, the ban was temporary. Tino Sanandaji is not currently banned and has not been banned since that brief incident back in 2007. The IP address which he used to post here was removed from our ban list after the thread expired, at which point presumably the two commenters had both calmed down enough to have a civilized discussion. If Mr. Sanandaji is still having a problem posting here, he is welcome to email me at webmaster@econlib.org--or at my personal email address where we corresponded at the time and which I gave him to facilitate the discussion--so we can sort it out.

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