Bryan Caplan  

Lind's Challenge for Progressives

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Frankly Signaling... "Rationally Inactive"...
Several of my friends were annoyed that Michael Lind's profile of me failed to mention my open borders advocacy.  They should be happy, then, that this piece makes the libertarian/open borders connection crystal clear.  Lind even says this:
If progressives really believe that the U.S. should become the only sovereign country in the world that does not assert the right to regulate entry to its territory and participation in its labor markets, they should team up with the only other tiny sect in America that believes in open borders: right-wing libertarians.
A left-right open borders team-up isn't just a great idea; it would make a great comic book.  Won't someone please draw me a cover?



COMMENTS (8 to date)
David R. Henderson writes:

I have zero drawing skills. My daughter’s skills surpassed mine when she hit 3rd grade. I also have only a 1950s/60s knowledge of superheroes. So, given that, how about Bryan in a Superman costume and Ezra Klein as Mighty Mouse?

MikeP writes:

Holy cow. Michael Lind addresses the arguments that open borders -- and outsourcing as well -- helps people who are much poorer than poor Americans with nothing but ad hominem. He doesn't address the arguments at all!

True anti-racism, these libertarians claim, means that you can’t prefer the well-being of your own country’s disadvantaged to the global poor who are longing for the poorly paid, non-unionized jobs that philanthropic multinational corporations generously bestow upon them.

It is surprising that any progressives are naive enough to fall for the insincere claim of conservatives and libertarians that their cheap-labor policies are motivated by altruistic concern for the foreign poor.

Using exactly identical logic, he would have been right at home writing pro-Apartheid screeds in South Africa.

Brandon Berg writes:

With the left and right wings working together, I think this could really take off.

shecky writes:

Progressives often seem to be all over the map on immigration. On the one hand, they seem to be sympathetic to immigration liberalization as a sort of act of mercy. At the same time, there's a protectionist impulse that seems to slightly embarrassingly spill out when giving some thought to how non selective immigration might affect welfare sustainability. Not surprisingly, there seems to be complete absence of of the economic incentives that drive immigration in the first place. Perhaps progressives like to view immigrants as victims in need of saving?

Conservatives these days seem to be more united against increasing immigration, end of story. Despite Tea Party's supposed libertarian streak, there seems to be little libertarian sympathies among modern conservatives.

Sure, it would be great to see some kind of across-the-spectrum consensus over immigration liberalization, but I'm not really seeing it.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Brandon Berg,
Funny! That just reminded me of the famous Pat Paulsen line (he was the guy on Laugh In) when he ran for President: “I’m middle of the bird."

MikeP writes:

Sure, it would be great to see some kind of across-the-spectrum consensus over immigration liberalization, but I'm not really seeing it.

There's certainly some kind of across-the-spectrum consensus over immigration restriction.

As Michael Lind tells us in this article...

Paul Krugman recognizes that you can have a high-wage social democratic welfare state or you can have unlimited immigration — but you can’t have both. Krugman observes that “open immigration can’t exist with a strong social safety net; if you’re going to assure healthcare and a decent income to everyone, you can’t make that offer global.”

I'm glad that the commenters on libertarian fora who love to quote Milton Friedman's one rushed insight on this point can just as readily quote Paul Krugman's more considered opinion.

Tom West writes:

Once again, I'll chime in with the fact that immigration is a tough topic for progressives. One of the primary rewards for trying to alleviate suffering is to have less suffering surrounding you so that you don't have to feel guilty for your success.

But what happens when the most effective way to alleviate suffering (if you value all humans equally) is to allow open borders?

You're going to see a lot more inequality surrounding your daily life...

Thus the "all over the map" tends to be generalized support to higher levels of immigration and support for those who are already here, but a lot of awkward silences when talking about truly "open boarders".

I will say, however, that I don't think extreme local inequality is good for Libertarianism either. My (limited) international experience is that when the possibility of your children's failure is truly absolute poverty, the drive to want to "guarantee" your children's success at the expense of freedom becomes almost overwhelming.

Tyler Watts writes:

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