Bryan Caplan, Borders Abolitionist

Nick Land takes note of Tyler Cowen’s admission that “Plunking 500 million or a billion poor individuals in the United States most likely would destroy the goose laying the golden eggs.”

Land comments: “This sentence twists deeper into delirium with every reading. It has to be a candidate for the most insane splinter of sanity in history. (It makes me wonder whether an object the size of Jupiter, consisting of pure neutronium, colliding with Manhattan Island at 90% light speed, would most likely depress property values.)”

I really like that: “the most insane splinter of sanity in history.”

Bryan Caplan, on the other hand, reacting to Cowen’s remark, launches straight into insane insanity, comparing the cause of open borders to that of the abolition of slavery: “Yes, enslaving a Haitian is plainly worse than forbidding him to accept a job offer anywhere on earth except Haiti. But they’re both dire harms. How would you react if the world’s laws barred you from every non-Haitian labor market on earth? With weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Well. I must admit that, yes, I’d be pretty unhappy if I were barred by “the world’s laws” from every non-Haitian labor market on earth. But, then, I’m not Haitian. The people, culture and language of Haiti are utterly foreign to me. Forcing me to find a job there would be a social, if not a physical, death sentence. Obviously, this is not true of native Haitians – who, after all, grew up there, have both shaped and been shaped by their society, and presumably know the ropes sufficiently well to get along and go along and – who knows? – possibly even do their bit to improve the place.

The question Caplan ought to ask me is how I would react if “the world’s laws” barred me from every non-USA labor market on earth…to which I would reply that, in the first place, I am, pretty much, so barred, and, in the second place, I neither weep nor gnash my teeth about this. I don’t even lose any sleep over it – even though I’m stuck in a low-pay dead-end zero-security job the very thought of which would, no doubt, reduce Caplan to “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Besides, Caplan’s characterization of the position of immigration restrictionists – that they want the “world’s laws” to forbid anybody “to accept a job offer anywhere on earth except” their original place of citizenship is utterly unhinged.

In the immortal words of Margaret Thatcher, “No, no, no, no no!”

(1) I don’t want there to be any “world’s laws” at all bearing on employment.

(2) I have no problem with anybody anywhere accepting any job offer whatsoever.

(3) But I do have a problem – a very big problem – with people who have contributed nothing to the extremely expensive (a) infrastructure and (b) welfare system (now including Obamacare!) of my country coming here and exploiting said (a) and (b) without first proving that their presence will be a net benefit to all, or at least most, of those of us who have so contributed, and not just to themselves and to a small political and economic elite.

(4) And I have an even bigger problem with the fact that the minute anybody “of color” crosses the desert or steps off the boat or gains admission in any other way, s/he/it instantly qualifies for “affirmative action” – i.e., racial preferences that privilege s/he/it over my kin and kind.

(5) And I have an even bigger problem than that with the fact that all this is taking place within an ideological climate, imposed from on high by the powers that be, of politically correct multiculturalism, which, far from requiring immigrants to change so as to accomodate themselves to the traditional culture of America, instead positively encourages them to maintain their own separate identity, insisting that it is, precisely, the traditional culture of America that must change to accomodate itself to them.

So far as I can tell, Libertarianism Inc. is barely even trying to do anything about the welfare state and affirmative action these days, and when it comes to multiculturalism, the Cowen’s and Caplan’s of the world seemingly just can’t wait to sell their fellow Americans’ birthright for a mess of pottage cheap chalupas.

In any case, given Caplan’s evident inability to paraphrase the position of his opponents on this issue accurately or honestly, he ought not to try: he should confine himself to responding to actual quotations.

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16 thoughts on “Bryan Caplan, Borders Abolitionist

    • Can’t find any posts where Caplan has weighed in on Israeli border-control. Who knows? He strikes me as the sort of moral fanatic who might favor open borders even in Israel.

  1. Hmmm yes, what would I do if I were forced to work to improve my own society instead of moving to where somebody else has already done all the hard work of creating civilization…. tough question there Mr Caplen.

  2. I seriously doubt that it has ever even occurred to Bryan Caplan to apply his gigantic brain to the question of whether or not it might be possible to turn Haiti into a reasonably well-functioning society – let alone whether allowing free immigration of Haitians into the USA might promote or impede that goal.

  3. I thought that libertarians were suppose to be concerned about individual freedom, not basing their actions on what is good for a group.

    He might as well say that we should all have equal pay or “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”. The people with good standard of living in their country must sacrifice in order to allow those from countries with worse standard of living to improve their lives

  4. Pingback: They Wont Fix It First | Handle's Haus

  5. Indeed. Another one is that they “want the best and brightest from all countries to be able to come to America”…. leaving the source country without their best and brightest, presumably, making it less able to advance itself, and more likely to remain indigent.

  6. You’re very kind, AWC, but of course this is only a start. The real, underlying issue is moral “universalism,” or, as I prefer to call it, “impartialism.” I’m currently teaching a course on moral theory, so I’m thinking a lot about this issue, just now. Maybe something will come of it.

  7. No chance we could concern ourselves with what is good for America and let Haiti worry about Haiti?

    Of course not. America has to solve everyone’s problems. Close the borders. Let Mexico et al melt down I don’t care.

  8. Why not note that Haiti has to be one of the most unsustainable countries in the world, overpopulated, ecologically degraded, resource poor. That there is a lesson here. That there are limits to everything, and providing rewards and welcoming millions of people each year is making sure to be on a quick road to becoming a future Haiti.

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