Art Carden  

Open Borders Bingo!

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Haidt and the Moral Foundation... The Ethics of Individualism...

Note: I took this down earlier in response to a thoughtful and provocative comment on ideological bingo cards because I wanted to think about it a little more. I apologize for making the post disappear without the promise of an eventual explanation. Here it is again, though, in lightly-edited form. I'm going to save the shirt for a different (and better) contest, and I present (again and for your amusement) Open Borders Bingo!

I've gone on record defending relaxed immigration restrictions (here's one example, and here's another). Many of the arguments I encounter in the popular press and casual discussion are really not very good. In that light, I offer the embedded Open Borders Bingo! card below.

Immigration Bingo by artcarden



COMMENTS (6 to date)
vikingvista writes:

Very nice. But there are so many you could use:

"You want 300 million Africans or Chinese showing up on American shores tomorrow?"

"We need to secure our borders! (against the ominous threat of children, field workers, mothers reuniting with daughters, and nannies)"

"Murderers and drug dealers are stealing across the Southern border!" (as opposed to interstate borders).

"Punish employers who don't verify worker's citizenship"

"Our lax immigration policy has lead to the human tragedy of abused children collecting along the southern border" (as opposed to the overly strict policy of preventing their parents from coming with them).

"build a fence on America's southern border on every mile, on every yard, on every foot, on every inch of the southern border" -- Rep. Michelle Bachmann.

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." -- Emma Lazarus. Chuckle.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." -- Thomas Jefferson. Double chuckle.

"Scrap the Statue of Liberty and use it to build a Great Wall of Mexico!" Okay, I made that one up.

Anonymous writes:

Ideological bingo cards are lazy, and promoting them makes us all worse off. I can't sum it up any better than this post which is almost entirely unrelated except for the bingo part:

This tendency reaches its most florid manifestation in the "ideological bingo games". See for example "Skeptical Sexist Bingo", feminist bingo, libertarian troll bingo, anti-Zionist bingo, pro-Zionist bingo, and so on. If you Google for these you can find thousands, which is too bad because every single person who makes one of these is going to Hell.

Let's look at the fourth one, "Anti-Zionist Bingo." Say that you mention something bad Israel is doing, someone else accuses you of being anti-Semitic, and you correct them that no, not all criticism of Israel is necessarily anti-Semitic and you're worried about the increasing tendency to spin it that way.

And they say "Hahahahahhaa he totally did it, he used the 'all criticism of Israel gets labeled anti-Semitic' argument, people totally use that as a real argument hahahaha they really are that stupid, I get 'B1' on my stupid stereotypical critics of Israel bingo!"

You say "Uh, look, I'm not really sure what you're getting at. I recognize that there is real anti-Semitism and I am just as opposed to it as you are but surely when when see the state excusing acts of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank we..."

And they say "Hahahhaha G1, I got G1, he pulled the old 'I abhor real anti-Semitism' line this is great, guys come over here and look at what this guy is doing he's just totally parroting all the old arguments every anti-Semite uses!"

So it may be scary when your opponent is unaware of your arguments, but it is much scarier when your opponent has a sort of vague dreamlike awareness of your arguments, which immediately pattern-match cached thoughts about how horrible a person you would have to be to make them.

I understand that it can be frustrating when you argue with a thousand different people, all individually making similar weak arguments in support of their position, and I understand that not everything in life needs to be super serious discussion so you may just want to cut loose and blow off steam sometimes. But playing ideological bingo is giving up on engaging with your opponents' best arguments by making fun of their worst arguments, and we should at least try not to do that. Or at least keep it far away from EconLog.

Dan W. writes:

What does "Open Borders" mean? Is the phrase used to simply indicate an ideological stance or can one attach descriptive policies to it? What policies?

Is "Open Borders" any different as a label than "Pro-Choice" or "Pro-Life"? I expect Art & Bryan want it to be something more significant than that. If so what?

vikingvista writes:

"What does "Open Borders" mean? Is the phrase used to simply indicate an ideological stance or can one attach descriptive policies to it?"

I expect from a policy standpoint, the policy regulating the border between North and South Dakota is probably a pretty close model for many open border advocates, though a simple return to peacetime 19th century national border policies would probably be acceptable.

For me, if there is going to be a policy, it would be one of restraint--to not violate property rights. In other words, if I want to fly in an Estonian clerk to work in my shop, or give driving directions to a guatemalan nannie to live in my guest room and watch my children, or invite my wife's Russian mother-in-law to live with us in perpetuity, it would be a violation of both my and their endowed-by-their-creator property rights to forcefully prevent that. Political borders are naturally at odds with boundaries established by individual property rights.

But your question is a good one, as I expect it varies among open border proponents.

Art Carden writes:

Thank you all, especially "Anonymous," for excellent, thoughtful, and provocative comments. I took this post down for a bit to ruminate on it and decide whether I really wanted to keep it up: what can and can't be gained from such exercises? Am I trivializing good arguments against a more liberal immigration regime?

I've decided to revise it so that it's no longer a contest but so that it's still there. I'll admit that the "Bingo" tropes are probably a little played out and potentially divisive, but I think they do make an important point. In the case of immigration, many arguments have become conventional wisdom through sheer repetition, and they're rarely backed up by clear theory and evidence. Indeed, almost any time I end up in a discussion of the economics of immigration I find myself not facing compelling evidence that my position is wrong, but a string of cliches.

I expect exercises like these won't trivialize the opposition's good arguments; rather, they will highlight the bad ones. On reflection, Bingo cards are fun ways to score a few rhetorical points with our ideological allies, but they can also serve another purpose: highlighting the arguments for or against a position that simply haven't passed theoretical and empirical muster. At the very least, this particular card shows the immigration restrictionist where he or she needs to make better arguments.

Thanks again for excellent, thoughtful, and provocative comments, and again, I apologize for making the post disappear without explanation.

vikingvista writes:

Of course you are right to keep it posted. There is a world of difference between posting a bingo game of common arguments, and responding to a thoughtful comment with "Hahahaahah G1!" You certainly do not deserve the characterization in Anonymous's description.

Bingo games are common light-hearted posts, including on respectable and respectful sites. The bingo game alerts people that here you need to go to the next level, since these arguments have been encountered and discussed *often* before. There is no reason to let Anonymous's sense of humor, or lack thereof, affect yours.

That being said, I did get a kick out of Anonymous's selected quote: "every single person who makes one of these is going to Hell." I'm stealing it next time I'm annoyed by some repeated behavior.

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