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Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration

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Economist Bryan Caplan makes a bold case for unrestricted immigration in this fact-filled graphic nonfiction. American policy-makers have long been locked in a heated battle over whether, how many, and what kind of immigrants to allow to live and work in the country. Those in favor of welcoming more immigrants often cite humanitarian reasons, while those in favor of more re Economist Bryan Caplan makes a bold case for unrestricted immigration in this fact-filled graphic nonfiction. American policy-makers have long been locked in a heated battle over whether, how many, and what kind of immigrants to allow to live and work in the country. Those in favor of welcoming more immigrants often cite humanitarian reasons, while those in favor of more restrictive laws argue the need to protect native citizens. But economist Bryan Caplan adds a new, compelling perspective to the immigration debate: He argues that opening all borders could eliminate absolute poverty worldwide and usher in a booming worldwide economy—greatly benefiting humanity. With a clear and conversational tone, exhaustive research, and vibrant illustrations by Zach Weinersmith, Open Borders makes the case for unrestricted immigration easy to follow and hard to deny.


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Economist Bryan Caplan makes a bold case for unrestricted immigration in this fact-filled graphic nonfiction. American policy-makers have long been locked in a heated battle over whether, how many, and what kind of immigrants to allow to live and work in the country. Those in favor of welcoming more immigrants often cite humanitarian reasons, while those in favor of more re Economist Bryan Caplan makes a bold case for unrestricted immigration in this fact-filled graphic nonfiction. American policy-makers have long been locked in a heated battle over whether, how many, and what kind of immigrants to allow to live and work in the country. Those in favor of welcoming more immigrants often cite humanitarian reasons, while those in favor of more restrictive laws argue the need to protect native citizens. But economist Bryan Caplan adds a new, compelling perspective to the immigration debate: He argues that opening all borders could eliminate absolute poverty worldwide and usher in a booming worldwide economy—greatly benefiting humanity. With a clear and conversational tone, exhaustive research, and vibrant illustrations by Zach Weinersmith, Open Borders makes the case for unrestricted immigration easy to follow and hard to deny.

30 review for Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration

  1. 5 out of 5

    Einzige

    Nicely illustrated but there are certainly some pretty serious troubles with its reasoning. The first and most significant is the issue than naturally pops up is that it simply equates increased production of wealth with progress and flourishing, which is view of reality that can only make sense if money in itself is treated as having an intrinsic moral value and human worth. The other trouble is the author is fond of false comparisons. In particular there is a tendency to take the benefits of t Nicely illustrated but there are certainly some pretty serious troubles with its reasoning. The first and most significant is the issue than naturally pops up is that it simply equates increased production of wealth with progress and flourishing, which is view of reality that can only make sense if money in itself is treated as having an intrinsic moral value and human worth. The other trouble is the author is fond of false comparisons. In particular there is a tendency to take the benefits of the current controlled system of immigration and simply multiply them by the increased quantity that would result from open borders. Ill illustrate an example used in the book, the author claims that open immigration would have no burden on the welfare state as new immigrants would provide a net gain in tax revenues due to their productivity. He bases this argument on the fact that as immigrants to the US are predominantly of working age hence not incurring the same welfare costs that the very young and very old do. Hence the unjustifiable assumption is that the young and the old would continue to behave as though there were no open borders and choose not to seek a better standard of living. So essentially the author is pulling an intellectual sleight of hand. Of course there are also some impressively dodgy hand waving - for instance when discussing the issues of democracy and socially conservative immigrants voting illiberally his response is literally that is not worth worrying about because "immigrants have low voter turn out" and that the government won't pay attention to them anyway.

  2. 5 out of 5

    paula

    I read a graphic novel about immigration policy written by an economist and if that doesn’t sound like compelling reading to you, allow me to SHOVE THIS BOOK AT YOU AND URGE YOU TO READ IT. If for no other reason than it provides a rebuttal to that moronic Skittles argument.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gavin

    Beautiful stuff, perhaps the clearest economic argument I've ever seen, and more moving than expected. I've seen people dismiss it as narrowly economic ("people value more than money ya know") but this is stupid: fully half the book is about morals and culture. There are dozens of lovely little easter eggs in Weinersmith's art too (e.g. "Conspicuone Pecansumption" icecream). The arguments: 1. Closed borders lead to incredible suffering - not just the obvious oppression of camps, raids, struggle an Beautiful stuff, perhaps the clearest economic argument I've ever seen, and more moving than expected. I've seen people dismiss it as narrowly economic ("people value more than money ya know") but this is stupid: fully half the book is about morals and culture. There are dozens of lovely little easter eggs in Weinersmith's art too (e.g. "Conspicuone Pecansumption" icecream). The arguments: 1. Closed borders lead to incredible suffering - not just the obvious oppression of camps, raids, struggle and drownings, but also the unnecessary perpetuation of poverty. 2. He argues that it's a human rights issue: "If a foreigner wants to accept a job offer from a willing employer or rent an apartment from a willing landlord, what moral right does anyone have to stop them? These are contracts between consenting adults, not welfare programs." The regulation is an apartheid with comparatively little outcry and great popularity. 3. America had completely open borders until 1875 and comparatively-free undocumented immigration until 1924. It did pretty alright. 4. Immigrants on average have been fiscally net-positive. Doing our best to isolate the effects, moving to a rich country seems to multiply your productivity. (For a few reasons: more co-operation, a larger market for your work, no tropical disease, coastal trade, IQ gain if you're young.) This model predicts trillions of dollars of gain from open borders. If true, this massively reduces global poverty. 5. Immigrants are on average culturally positive, allowing the recipient country to select from the best of everything in the world. The first generation are quite a bit more law-abiding than average natives. (Nowrasteh estimates that just one in seven million immigrants turned out to be a terrorist.) Assimilation is high, usually complete within 2-3 generations. "Political externalities" (the idea that your good culture will be voted out by bad culture once you let immigrants vote) have not in fact been seen. Residual points: The data is mostly from our current highly-restricted high-skill-only immigration regime. It's not clear which effects would change in the dramatically different world Caplan promotes, though he does his best to look at saturation effects and the low-skilled who are currently persecuted-out. (For instance, a large part of his cultural argument depends on the low-skilled continuing to not vote, as they haven't.) The biggest risk by far is the damage caused by irrational native backlash against foreigners. This produces things like Brexit and the Jobbik and Austrian 'Freedom' governments. Chapter 6 addresses some of this by suggesting ways to make things unfair for the migrants (limiting their welfare access, entry tolls, language tests, slow naturalisation) to mollify the local problems / backlash and so protect people's right to move in the first place. I glumly suspect this wouldn't work, because much of the backlash isn't based on real effects, and so can't be mollified by policy. (Indeed, he notes that most of the suggested hobbles already exist in US law in some form, and might have somewhat dulled anti-immigration sentiment.) He sometimes implies that he'd open borders in one big bang - but this size of policy shift should basically never be done, just out of epistemic modesty and reversibility. His counter is that the magnitude of the gains is too large to be possibly less than zero. It's mostly based on US data and US policy is the target, which is completely fine but limits the inference. This is sensible; general theory, general policy usually fail. To my surprise he doesn't much emphasise the macropolitical benefits of immigration: if people could just leave countries with terrible policies, taking their taxes with them, this would be a new and powerful check on government abuse. Voting with your feet, and governments actually trying to attract and retain people. Though its evidence checks out (as far as I can tell), it's still a polemic (like The Wealth of Nations before it!). As such it's simple, too simple. The Center for Global Development has a sadder, equivocal summary congruent to the limits of social science: No case study or academic paper can—ever—spell out what “the” effect of “immigration” is. Asking this question has as little use as asking whether “taxes” are inherently “good” or “bad.” The answer depends on what is taxed and what the revenue is spent on. Those choices make the policy harmful or beneficial. The same is true of migration.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Julian Michael

    I was looking forward to enjoying this book, but I left it disappointed. Maybe I'm not the right audience, because I'm already somewhat sympathetic to the idea of open borders, and Caplan approaches the issue as if he's arguing from outside the Overton Window. But in my point of view, the book's arguments are shallow and misguided. The most amazing thing about this work is how much time it spends discussing the disparity in wealth and living conditions between the developed and developing world, I was looking forward to enjoying this book, but I left it disappointed. Maybe I'm not the right audience, because I'm already somewhat sympathetic to the idea of open borders, and Caplan approaches the issue as if he's arguing from outside the Overton Window. But in my point of view, the book's arguments are shallow and misguided. The most amazing thing about this work is how much time it spends discussing the disparity in wealth and living conditions between the developed and developing world, without an inkling of insight on *why* this disparity exists. And yet, it presents open borders as a grand solution: a great generator of wealth and prosperity that can lift the living standards of the entire globe. How can you trust Caplan's solution to the problem when he gives absolutely no account of its cause? Okay, to be fair, there is a section devoted to this issue. But the answer is offensively reductive: Culture. Caplan says (or rather, assumes) that the entire difference in prosperity between the first and third world is due to, essentially, "Western values," laissez-faire capitalism, and democracy. Never mind that one of the greatest examples of mass poverty reduction (which Caplan himself cites as an example of the benefits of free movement) was under the aegis of the authoritarian Chinese government. And never mind the long, bloody history of Western colonialism that ravaged much of the developing world leaving it at an enormous disadvantage. And never mind the current neo-colonial, capitalism-fueled world order which maintains a global pool of desperate, cheap labor to supply the consumerist and military demands of the developed world. I *would* say what "Western values" have done well for their societies is exporting the negative consequences of this order onto other countries... but in the case of my country (the USA), we have plenty of the suffering underclass right here at home. So what does this mean for the arguments in the book? Again, you can only appreciate the impact of a change to a system if you understand the forces keeping it how it is. The world is not as simple as the economic model of independent actors making voluntary transactions. If the global underclass suddenly all had the ability to migrate into the developed world at will, the capitalist order that relies on their exploitation and desperation would be threatened. The conditions under which the West has prospered would cease to hold. There would be qualitative changes at various levels of the global economy. And I'm not talking about a cabal or conspiracy or anything. It's just forces of nature. Consider the example of housing. In the USA, people are free by law to live and work anywhere. And yet many struggle to find jobs that can consistently put food on the table. Is it that there are no jobs? No: it's that people go where the jobs are. This increases demand for necessities (e.g. housing) and drives up their price. And since there is a large supply of desperate labor in certain sectors (particularly low-skilled work), the employers set the terms, and the result is a race to the bottom where wages are the minimum amount that can hardly support an individual. And the cost of housing doesn't go down because the housing supply is restricted: by the inherent scarcity of space, our system of property ownership, and especially local (democratic! Western!) laws and NIMBYism limiting what can be built and lived in, in order to protect existing interests and wealth. So the result is that you have many workers barely scraping by while commuting many hours to and from job centers like San Francisco or its South Bay every day. So what would happen if the whole world's population could just up and move where the good jobs / living conditions are? Demand for housing in desirable areas would skyrocket and the issues plaguing San Francisco would be reenacted at huge scale. Local problems would become global problems. It wouldn't be as simple as workers walking out of desperation into paradise: unless something more fundamental and structural changes, there is reason to think the conditions of their exploitation will follow them. Perhaps it is not best to globalize the labor pool before we have figured out how to structure an economy that is fair to the laborer, or we will just globalize and perpetuate our mistakes, our market crashes, and our vectors of oppression. Perhaps it is better to have some isolation between economies so we can run more experiments and find better answers. But I don't necessarily believe the argument I just gave. I just think it's an angle that needs to be addressed, and that's just one example. I also doubt his view that maximizing wealth is the right goal to have, especially considering the short-sightedness with which economies tend to do this: preferring immediate gains in private share value at the expense of trashing common goods like our natural resources and our atmosphere. Can we confidently say that tossing immigrant coal into the engine of the capitalist machine will maximize human happiness in the long term, after accounting for the potentially catastrophic externalities of climate change? Given Weinersmith's role in this book, I had assumed (being a fan of SMBC) that some nuanced discussion of these kinds of issues would show up. But given that the real writer seems to be Bryan Caplan, it's no wonder that it's disappointing. You can never trust economists to do the kind of thinking that extends outside of their models, even when their models clearly don't fit the situation. The sad part is: on balance, I think I might support open borders! Or something very close to it. But this book really made a woeful case.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris Chester

    I'll preface this by saying that I've been a regular reader of Zach Weinersmith's webcomic for years. I would never have picked up a book like this normally, but since he specifically asked his normal readers to help him out with it, I preordered sight unseen because... you have to support the creators whose work you enjoy! Having said that, this is a strange book and I'm not entirely sure who the audience is supposed to be. Obviously, Caplan is making an argument for open borders. The crux of hi I'll preface this by saying that I've been a regular reader of Zach Weinersmith's webcomic for years. I would never have picked up a book like this normally, but since he specifically asked his normal readers to help him out with it, I preordered sight unseen because... you have to support the creators whose work you enjoy! Having said that, this is a strange book and I'm not entirely sure who the audience is supposed to be. Obviously, Caplan is making an argument for open borders. The crux of his argument is an economic one. The developed world makes people more productive, he says, so if we allowed an influx of people into the developed world, they would produce more with an ultimate net benefit of doubling the wealth of the entire world. That's it, really. He spends much of the rest of the book addressing the natural criticisms of open borders. He argues that it would still be a net benefit for natives. That cultural assimilation usually takes more than one generation, but it does happen. That immigrants wouldn't actually vote much differently than citizens, and even if they did politicians wouldn't listen to them anyway. (It's true, but it's so strange that he frames it this way...) On the whole, the arguments seem to be mostly with people on the rightward end of the political spectrum. See: the fact that he addresses concerns that immigration would lower the average American IQ, citing studies that show south Asia, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa are less smart than the rest of the world. Yikes! Arguments for immigration that I find compelling aren't even mentioned. For example: the moral imperative we have to support Central America countries that our foreign policies have largely destroyed. Or the simple fact that immigration restrictions let big businesses exploit migrants without fear of legal repercussions. Or the fact that global climate change, largely precipitated by the emissions, pollution and rapacious extraction of natural resources that we caused, will only make conditions less livable in much of the world. Caplan is an economist, so most of his arguments are centered on economics. But it makes for a pretty ghoulish work on the whole that speaks to people with already ghoulish opinions about an idea that seems, even from a fairly liberal perspective, pretty pie in the sky. And that gets back to my audience question. If he's essentially arguing with conservatives and libertarians using this economic logic... what are the odds that those people are going to pick up a graphic novel with the title "Open Borders" at all? Slim to zero! He seems to address this himself towards the end, by telling himself and his readers that part of the project is simply moving the Overton window for the immigration discussion. Don't tell us that, bro! It makes it seem like you don't even really believe the message that you're peddling, but are deploying it cynically for some other purpose. I don't know. The Weinersmith art is still good, and there are some little SMBC-style nuggets to be found here and there. But the book isn't even really funny enough to make me overlook the major problems I had with the text. This is the problem about working with economists, I guess.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Srdjan

    The book itself is good, but not great. It's good because: - It presents the standard arguments for open borders well - It somewhat competently rebuts a number of common objections - It's fun to read. It's not great because: - He [weak-mans](https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/05/12...) opposing arguments. - His arguments in a few key areas are pretty weak or use bad evidence. - There's nothing here that you won't have heard before if you're somewhat interested in libertarianism/migration ethics. His Case: L The book itself is good, but not great. It's good because: - It presents the standard arguments for open borders well - It somewhat competently rebuts a number of common objections - It's fun to read. It's not great because: - He [weak-mans](https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/05/12...) opposing arguments. - His arguments in a few key areas are pretty weak or use bad evidence. - There's nothing here that you won't have heard before if you're somewhat interested in libertarianism/migration ethics. His Case: Letting people move from poor, low productivity countries to rich, high productivity countries will make both the poor people and most people in the rich countries drastically better off. It's also good because borders are morally arbitrary and unjust. The objections he tackles: 1. Immigrants destroy our culture - They don't tend to commit more crime than natives - Terrorism is a non-issue - They tend to converge to natives language proficiency/values over time. 2. Immigrants are a drain on resources - Migrants increase the supply of labour, but also increase demand for goods/services meaning they don't reduce wages or increase unemployment. - High skilled migrants contribute more than they take. - Low skilled migrants do so as well provided they're young. - It's wrong to discriminate against net drain migrants because we don't do that for net-drain citizen babies. (It's a really weird attempt to conflate restricting reproductive autonomy with borders as both are stopping certain kinds of people from being citizens.) 3. Immigrants are low IQ - They converge to higher IQ's when in rich countries. - Even assuming no convergence and the worst case estimates for IQ/GDP correlation, global GDP would still rise by 88% with open borders. Some of the weak-manning: 1. Culture - The fact that immigrants integrate now does not mean that will continue to be the case when they form a far larger share of the population. - His evidence for immigrants skills is largely based on data from the USA. The USA does a particularly good job of integrating immigrants. He's cherry picking evidence. - He ignores the real concerns and instead focuses on easy to rebut things like immigrants not learning english. The real concern is immigrants respect for basic liberal values like individualism, free speech, freedom of religion, secularism etc... 2. Drain on resources - It seems like a policy of accepting high-skill migrants and rejecting low-skill ones is a viable mid-point between open borders and the current system - The assumptions about additional labour not reducing the price of labour is uncertain. In a country like spain, which already has 30%+ youth unemployment, it's not clear that the economy is constrained by labour supply and would grow if more were added. I may write a more thorough, chapter by chapter rebuttal at some point later in the week.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jim Angstadt

    Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration Bryan Caplan This graphic novel has a surprisingly large and thoughtful amount of analysis on the pros and cons of open borders. It doesn't read as quickly as one might expect with a graphic novel, due certainly to the content, but a lot quicker and more comprehensive that some other readings.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    Bryan Caplan makes a persuasive case for deregulating immigration and opening borders. I'm not sure it will change the minds of those dead-set against immigration, but it's good debate fodder for those of us who would like to see a loosening of immigration restrictions. And, hey, it's all in graphic novel format, so even the math and statistics bits stay breezy and light.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    Fascinating! Bryan Caplan, with the help of ace cartoonist, Zach Weinersmith, makes the case for open borders. He makes a fairly compelling case, actually. He addresses the standard arguments against open immigration, and offers plenty of evidence in support of their groundlessness. He also offers what he calls “keyhole solutions” that address some anti-immigrationist fears in ways that are less restrictive than outright closed borders. Admittedly, even before reading this book, I was in favor of Fascinating! Bryan Caplan, with the help of ace cartoonist, Zach Weinersmith, makes the case for open borders. He makes a fairly compelling case, actually. He addresses the standard arguments against open immigration, and offers plenty of evidence in support of their groundlessness. He also offers what he calls “keyhole solutions” that address some anti-immigrationist fears in ways that are less restrictive than outright closed borders. Admittedly, even before reading this book, I was in favor of more liberal immigration policies, so it's not like I needed much convincing. I suppose it's possible that there are flaws in Caplan’s logic, and I’m just not knowledgeable enough on the topic to spot them. Anyway, I enjoyed this book. It's a shining example of how to do non-fiction comics well. Recommended!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Caplan and Weinersmith make a strong case for open borders that doesn’t belittle the views of their detractors. I would consider myself a strong proponent of increased immigration, but there are some arguments in this book I hadn’t heard of before such as the reply to concerns of lowered national IQ. The Overton window on immigration policy has been too narrow for too long. I hope this book changes that.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jerzy

    A quick, easy-to-read tour of the main arguments for and against open immigration. However, it skimmed over some concerns about immigration too superficially. Even though I agree with the conclusion that the USA's borders should be much more open (full disclosure: I'm an immigrant here myself!), I would have liked to see a more sincere engagement with several of the arguments against immigration. (See also this review by Julian Michael for better-stated criticisms of the book.) In particular, Cap A quick, easy-to-read tour of the main arguments for and against open immigration. However, it skimmed over some concerns about immigration too superficially. Even though I agree with the conclusion that the USA's borders should be much more open (full disclosure: I'm an immigrant here myself!), I would have liked to see a more sincere engagement with several of the arguments against immigration. (See also this review by Julian Michael for better-stated criticisms of the book.) In particular, Caplan claims that more immigration should lead to vast economic gains overall / on average, and his argument sounds reasonable enough. But as a statistician, I know that averages can hide a lot of variation at the individual level. First of all, pages 30 and 187 repeat the argument that "While progress always hurts someone, the secret of mass consumption is mass production... Consumers' living standards rise when workers produce more stuff." The book ignores the problem of who gets hurt by progress, and how badly. Sure, if we can make widgets 5% less expensive for everyone by hiring more immigrants or outsourcing overseas, the net effect "improves" the USA's living standards on average -- but what about the local widget factory that has to shut down, killing the factory town, destroying an entire community? (That basically happened here in my town in Maine...) The economists' utopia of mass consumption sounds like a nation of bland strip malls and Walmarts, where most of us get to buy tons more unnecessary plastic crap at cheaper prices, while the rest of us have our livelihoods completely destroyed but it gets swept under the rug. Caplan does sort of address this on p.38 by graphing the effects of immigrant competitors vs immigrant consumers, but it rings hollow from my vantage point here in a collapsed mill town, where low-skilled locals used to have safe jobs until the mills closed. We're unlikely to get a flood of low-skilled immigrants here, but if we did, it's hard to see how the local low-skilled workers would be managing and training them. Maybe that argument works better in a big city, where there's more flexibility to shift careers gradually or more resources to retrain yourself for an entirely new line of work. Or maybe my intuition is completely wrong and Caplan's is right -- again I'd have liked to see more detail here. (And his claim to be in the same boat thanks to near-open borders for professors, on p.39, rings completely hollow. The difference between Caplan working at Harvard vs at George Mason U is nothing compared to the difference between having a low-skilled job vs having no job at all.) Besides, it's true that most of us now have access to vastly more goods at lower prices, but do we actually need all that crap? Does it actually improve our quality of life? I don't know if the alternative nostalgic vision (mostly prudent spending on what you actually need, in vibrant downtown Main Streets all throughout small town America) ever really existed, but I wish the book had actually addressed these real harms of economic efficiency, instead of glossing over them in half a sentence. Finally, Caplan emphasizes the benefits of mass consumption partly in terms of new technologies like refrigeration and antibiotics, which seems like a completely separate argument, not actually a point in favor of mass production itself. (The new tech argument does still favor open borders, as more immigrants should lead to more people with bright ideas and new inventions -- but it just seems like a separate point.) Okay, one more complaint -- even if nobody were to be economically harmed by open borders, where would the benefits accrue? On p.34-38, Caplan argues that open borders could double the gross world product, and average natives would reap much of the benefit. I'm more cynical about this, and I suspect that if there is indeed a lot of money to be made by opening borders, that money will accrue mostly to the wealthy, as it so often does. For instance, as I understand it (though I might be wrong), Google and other San Francisco tech startups have caused a zillion dollars to flow through the area -- but those dollars are going largely to the well-educated elites running or working for these companies, while the average residents are getting priced out, and very little trickles down to the poor or homeless. Admittedly, Caplan's argument rests largely on the benefits that accrue to immigrants themselves by moving to a country with more opportunities and higher standards of living, which might be a bit harder for monocle-wearing capitalists to exploit. So... Immigration might lead to real harm such as job losses for many typical natives. And the folks who do benefit most from immigration might not be the typical natives, but rather the wealthy natives as well as the immigrants themselves. Even if we should still open our borders for ethical reasons, we should be more honest about the economic shortcomings, not gloss them over with averages. If we want to push open-border legislation through, we'll need to understand -- and address/alleviate -- the typical native's realistic concerns about immigration. All that said, though I worry about the details, I do agree with the book's central tenet: Opening borders isn't charity to immigrants at the expense of natives, generally speaking. Enough of the immigrants would pay their own way (and more!) in terms of taxes and increased prosperity, so that economic arguments shouldn't delay us from correcting the injustices that closed borders cause. And I do think this book did a great job of pulling together many other pro and con arguments, especially the ethical ones and historical ones: * The US had pretty much open borders until the 1920s and still managed to be prosperous. * Forcibly barring people from crossing the border to a country where they can escape poverty and starvation is not morally different from forcibly placing someone into poverty and starvation. * If a qualified foreigner wants to accept a job offer from a native employer, these are contracts between consenting adults -- why does the government have the right to stop them? * Yes, some immigrants commit murder, but so do some redheads -- should we punish all redheads, or only the guilty ones? * Adult immigrants don't always learn the local language and culture well or assimilate completely, but their kids pretty much do. * If we're not ready for full-fledged open borders, there are many partial (Caplan call them "keyhole") solutions to specific concerns about immigration. We can still give advantages to natives without completely locking out immigrants. Some of these approaches are already partially in place -- for instance, immigrant college students pay higher out-of-state tuition than in-state residents -- so expanding these keyhole solutions could be a politically feasible starting point. * Chapter 7 does a nice job of presenting some philosophical frameworks for ethical decision-making and how they might view the question of open borders. PS -- page 116 shows some charts of US natives' vs immigrants' political opinions using General Social Survey data, and page 203 shows some maps comparing the foreign-born population share to percent voting for Brexit across the UK. These seem like interesting datasets -- I should try to find them for students interested in this topic in my Intro Stats course.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I actually read a lot of middle grade and YA nonfiction comics, so I’m well aware there’s a decent audience who reads NF GN for fun and not just formal academic purposes. With that in mind, this had a good narrative thread and is very reader friendly-from my perspective as someone who dabbles in Econ and politics podcasts but has no background in this area at all. Charts and graphs are sprinkled throughout to support the auth This ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I actually read a lot of middle grade and YA nonfiction comics, so I’m well aware there’s a decent audience who reads NF GN for fun and not just formal academic purposes. With that in mind, this had a good narrative thread and is very reader friendly-from my perspective as someone who dabbles in Econ and politics podcasts but has no background in this area at all. Charts and graphs are sprinkled throughout to support the author’s perspective, and he does a good job of disassembling anti-immigration arguments that I hear commonly. I wish the author had done more to present data that immigration opponents use and dissect why he feels their interpretations are wrong—it’s easy to make one side of an argument lack credibility if you don’t let those folks speak for themselves. That said, I’m pretty sold on the idea of open borders after reading this, and the massive humanitarian good it can do for the world. I did feel that the retelling of the parable of the Samaritan was ineffective, because nothing shuts the mind of a conservative Christian than having an outsider quote the Bible at them. So there’s that. I highly recommend everyone who’s thinking about how they want to vote in 2020 give this book a read to see if maybe they could view our current debate over immigration in a different light.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    Open Borders is a graphic novel about immigration from the perspective of economics and policy. It advocated for Open Borders and lays out a case for why people on both sides of the aisle in American politics should also support it. I had mixed feelings about this one. I like what it's trying to do and think that much of the information in her is interesting and useful. However, it really reads more like a graphic version of a textbook and the organization doesn't always work that well. It can b Open Borders is a graphic novel about immigration from the perspective of economics and policy. It advocated for Open Borders and lays out a case for why people on both sides of the aisle in American politics should also support it. I had mixed feelings about this one. I like what it's trying to do and think that much of the information in her is interesting and useful. However, it really reads more like a graphic version of a textbook and the organization doesn't always work that well. It can be a little dry to read and jumps around a lot. I appreciate the inclusion of humor, but sometimes that resulted in jokes that feel elitist and low-key racist. This was definitely a mixed bag, but I do think they make the case well. I received an advance copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Required reading for anyone with a conscience.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Ray

    Open Borders, Bryan Caplan, drawn by Zach Weinersmith, comic book, 2019, 248pp., ISBN 9781250316967 Caplan wants open borders. It's heartening to read a plea for more humane immigration policy. But he's an ivory-tower economist, at Koch-funded George Mason University economics department. [My take, in brackets]:(view spoiler)[ We already have open borders for money and goods--just not for people. Moreover, The US government subsidizes agribusinesses, that then dump commodities on the world market a Open Borders, Bryan Caplan, drawn by Zach Weinersmith, comic book, 2019, 248pp., ISBN 9781250316967 Caplan wants open borders. It's heartening to read a plea for more humane immigration policy. But he's an ivory-tower economist, at Koch-funded George Mason University economics department. [My take, in brackets]:(view spoiler)[ We already have open borders for money and goods--just not for people. Moreover, The US government subsidizes agribusinesses, that then dump commodities on the world market at less than cost, making it impossible for people to make a living in agriculture. Immigrants work hard for low pay: we can buy more for less because they're here: they make us wealthier. Immigrants mostly come when they're already ready to work: we didn't have to pay to educate them. Their country of origin is subsidizing the US, by raising them until they're ready to work. Age-group populations charts p. 60 show this. Unauthorized workers pay taxes, including social security and medicare taxes, which they're NEVER eligible for benefits from. Immigrants' kids are fully bilingual, and their grandkids are English-only. It's the same with today's Spanish- and Asian-language speakers as in past generations with Polish, Italian, German, Scandanavian immigrants. (hide spoiler)] Keeping workers unauthorized, ineligible for protections from wage theft, sub-minimum wages, mistreatment, drives down wages and conditions for all of us. If we want to earn living wages, the only way we do that is by making sure /everyone/ gets living wages--in this country and everywhere goods are produced that enter this country. We need to: 1. Authorize the unauthorized workers, get them decent pay and conditions. 2. Stop issuing visas that tie people to a particular employer. That's an invitation to abuse, up to and including slavery. See The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today, Kevin Bales, https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... 3. Stop subsidizing agribusiness to dump US-Government-funded cheap commodities on the world market at below cost. 4. Import only from countries that ensure decent pay and working conditions, and environmental protections. [But all of the above is me talking.] Here's Caplan: Caplan trots out 7 worldviews that he says all argue for open borders (p. 165): 1. Utilitarianism. J.S. Mill: Maximize the sum of human happiness. [No. Making a majority happy by preying on a minority is wrong.] 2. Egalitarianism. John Rawls. Inequalities must benefit the worst-off. [This is much closer to the mark.] 3. Libertarianism. Robert Nozick. "From each as he chooses. To each as he is chosen." [No. Laissez-faire is a licence for the powerful to prey on the rest.] 4. Cost-benefit analysis. Richard Posner. Maximize the total value of social resources. [No. A high maximum that accrues to a few barons, while the masses suffer, is bad.] 5. Meritocracy. Lee Kuan Yew. The best job for the best person. [That person had the benefit of an expensive education, paid in part by working people's taxes. He's able to to that best job /only/ because everybody else is doing all the other jobs that have to be done, to keep him and all the rest of us alive and comfortable and provided with what we need to have, to do what we do. Being a surgeon or lawyer or banker should not be a license to pile up unspendably ever-increasing wealth, while the working people you rest on have too little.] 6. Christianity. Jesus. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. [Wouldn't /that/ be nice!] 7. Kantianism. Immanuel Kant. Treat every person as an end in himself, never as a mere means. [Amen.] Now Caplan says how, in his view, each of these ideas supports open borders: 1. Utilitarianism. p. 167. Caplan has J.S. Mill say, open borders increases global GDP: therefore increases the sum of human happiness. [Ever-increasing global GDP doesn't equal happiness. In the last 60 years we've gone from around 3 billion to near 8 billion humans; caused the extinction of half the species of plants and animals on Earth; started a self-reinforcing polar melt, increasing storms, floods, droughts; and continue destroying the last natural areas, faster and faster. As Naomi Klein says. /This Changes Everything/. Caplan and his profession don't get it. Plus, maybe I could earn a higher wage in Japan or Norway. I'd be away from family and friends; I'd be forever seen as a stranger; I wouldn't know the language; I wouldn't even like the food. Migration costs the spirit a lot. Even the higher wage would be worth little, where a hamburger is $25, versus $5 in the U.S..] Caplan's J.S. Mill also says, open borders decreases inequality, so it's good. [Immigrants who find work here may survive in the U.S. where they wouldn't've at home. So their migration does /decrease/ inequality. Yet it's /still/ true that the /entire increase/ in wealth, more or less, accrues to a few people who have no use for it but inflating speculative bubbles and increasing their dominance.] 2. Egalitarianism. p. 168. Caplan's John Rawls says, do what's best for the worst-off. [Yes, open borders would help the global poor. But there's a lot else that would help too: Stop using the U.S. military & CIA to prop up governments that subjugate the people to multinational corporations & banks. Stop using trade agreements for the same purpose. Stop dumping U.S. government-subsidized agricultural commodities.] 3. Libertarianism. p. 169-170. Caplan's Nozick says, property owners should rule, with no government curbing them. [That's a vile world, the aristocracy of wealth, that we were supposed to have left in 1776.] Caplan's Nozick would support the liberty of a plantation owner to import all the low-wage or no-wage labor he wants. 4. Cost-benefit analysis. p. 171. Same as utilitarianism, but unconcerned about inequality. Whatever piles up the most dollars is best, regardless of the suffering and destruction. Open borders would double global GDP, so go for it. [Again a vile world: despoiled land, water & air, people worked to enrich a fat cat.] 5. Meritocracy. p. 172. Hire the best person for the job, wherever they're from. [One more "what's best for wealth" perspective. The employer & immigrant are happy. But the working American will work harder for less, if he can get a job; and pay more for housing, if he can afford housing at all.] 6. Christianity. pp. 173-174. Whom would Jesus deport? [This simple moral statement is Caplan's strongest argument. But we need to recognize there are winners and losers. Open borders lets those with money buy more with less. It forces those who work, to compete with hardworking, low-paid, frugal people, and so earn less for more work. In Caplan's fantasy world, Americans mostly manage immigrants, not compete with them. p. 38. Outside the ivory tower, unknown to Caplan, most Americans work for a living. And increasingly in low-paid, no-benefit, gig-economy jobs. Open borders gives those who /collect/ rent or mortgage interest, more, in a tighter housing market. Open borders extracts more from those who /pay/ rent or mortgage interest.] 7. Kantianism. pp. 175-180. Here Caplan equates borders with a "collective" claim to "own the whole country"--which he says is (prepare to be scared!) "socialism!" (illustrated by the Red Army on parade, amid immense pictures of Lenin). [Nazis & Soviets /called/ their politics socialist--but really they were just dictatorships. Real socialism is public schools, public universities, public fire departments, public parks, public roads, public transportation, public post offices, public utilities, public hospitals. We still have some of that; we could use some more. Caplan's equation of socialism with military dictatorship is irresponsible. Several places in the book he has Communists holding "Property is Theft" signs as an example of scary, unhinged immigrants. It would not occur to Caplan to realize that property /is/ theft. p. 25.] In Caplan's world, life is better in the U.S. because of efficient production. p. 30. [He doesn't consider the extent to which the U.S. economy rests on plundering resources and exploiting labor of the rest of the world.] p. 5 In 2013, there were only 800 million people living on $1.90/day, down from 1.8 billion in 1993. [is that inflation-adjusted?] Caplan says there's plenty of room: everyone on Earth could move to the U.S., and it'd only be as densely populated as Los Angeles. [Yikes. Caplan says it without irony.] p. 8. You /can/ have open borders and a welfare state, as immigrants /more/ than pull their weight. p. 75. Caplan says immigrants have lower IQ, [without recognising that IQ /measures/ cultural assimilation, privilege, and wealth]. p. 127 People with /least/ contact with foreign-born neighbors are most xenophobic. Maps of Britain, p. 203. "The Overton window," Joseph P. Overton. There's a vast range of possible policy options. Only a small slice of which is considered politically possible at a given time. Constant pushing your take on it, shifts the window. p. 208. [The all-for-the-rich crowd has moved the window far its way in recent decades. This book is a worthy attempt to push for more humane immigration policy. But it's also pro-wealth policy, which is why servants of wealth, Presidents Reagan & Clinton, both granted amnesty to unauthorized immigrants.] The author is a professor at George Mason University's economics department, which is largely a Charles Koch pro-billionaire, anti-protection-for-the-rest-of-us think tank. https://publicintegrity.org/politics/... http://www.unkochmycampus.org/george-... Caplan's voice in this book is to present the ideas of other people rather than his own--but his perspective is Koch. See also Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move, Reece Jones https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... permalink: https://www.worldcat.org/profiles/Tom... https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Max

    Caplan's and Weinersmith's comic is "the sort of thing that you hear about and you're like, 'I can't believe that doesn't exist already. That's just the perfect thing to exist.'" - Julia Galef in her podcast interview with Caplan [1] Overall, I think Caplan makes a very compelling case, but my conservative gut could still spit out enough "but"s to keep me dissatisfied. Mostly because I don't live in the U.S. and wonder about how much his arguments apply to the EU. But there are also some other th Caplan's and Weinersmith's comic is "the sort of thing that you hear about and you're like, 'I can't believe that doesn't exist already. That's just the perfect thing to exist.'" - Julia Galef in her podcast interview with Caplan [1] Overall, I think Caplan makes a very compelling case, but my conservative gut could still spit out enough "but"s to keep me dissatisfied. Mostly because I don't live in the U.S. and wonder about how much his arguments apply to the EU. But there are also some other things where I'd like to hear his response: A) He uses the opening of the borders between Puerto Rico (PR) and the US around 1920 as evidence that immigration would start slow if you'd open your borders today. When I looked into the history of PR during the 1920's, I found that PR's economy boomed during the time after the opening [2]. And my rough model is that economic hardship would be, next to fear for safety, the most common reason to leave your homecountry. And people today already risk their lifes by the thousands to enter western countries, so I still wouldn't expect a slow takeoff. B) At one point he suggests people are egoistical if they oppose open borders because of the fact that they don't want to see the misery associated with poverty. I understand where he is coming from, I would love if people would start recognizing the misery and started donating and doing political advocacy against poverty. But, I also understand that you don't want to be confronted with poverty. Poverty is sad and bad and I, too, would prefer living in a society where everybody has more than enough. I would've preferred more empathy for this. C) He suggests "keyhole solutions" that should significantly reduce the supposed negative effects of open borders. I think it's great practice to suggest ways to ease everyone's worries. But, I found some of the keyhole solutions unconvincing. He suggests that immigrants could pay more taxes, or that you could ban certain groups of people from crossing the border, for example muslims. Caplan himself finds those solutions unfair, but still fairer and better than no open borders at all. In my mind, these keyhole solutions are so unfair, even if their implementation would comfort the doubters, the doubters should really not expect the solutions to be implemented. D) I was surprised to see him arguing against the importance of trust, and I found his arguments rather unconvincing. Before the book, I thought that trust would be one of the key variables that will weigh on the overall merits of open borders. Trust, here, is measured as the percentage of people that respond positively to the question "Can most people be trusted?". He grants that wealthy nations have higher levels of trust, but argues that a) people coming from poor/low-trust gradually adopt to the level of trust in their new country b) too much trust is inefficient! When plotting percent GDP growth against the level of trust, the maximum lies around 40% of people saying they can trust others. a) is not really interacting with the worries about the trust decreasing effects on the rest of the population. b) looks kinda weird to me. The curve he draws through the data looks a little bit like fitting noise, but... I trust Caplan that it's a reasonable model for the data. [page 103] But! If one would take this seriously, shouldn't we decrease the level of trust in places like Sweden, the Netherlands or Norway, in order to increase their GDP growth? That sounds absurd to me and suggests that the reason for the connection between higher trust and slightly lower GDP growth lies somewhere else. Caplan also links this supposed inefficiency of high levels of trust to studies that show that people that are "overly trusting" are performing worse in the economy and get cheated more. 1) This seems sloppy because "overly trusting" does not mean that this is a person living in a society with high trust, but a person that gave the highest responses to roughly the question "From 1 to 10, how much can you trust other people?" 2) The study he cites from Butler et al. [3] links the economic underperformance of high-trusters to "[assuming] too much social risk and to [being] cheated more often". I don't know what exactly they mean with social risk, but reading the OWID article on trust [4], I came away with the impression that high trust leads to people being more entrepreneurial, and this being great. So this leads me to believe that the levels of trust are not the reason for the lower levels of GDP growth. Finally, this his concluding slogan about trust: "We need so much trust to make credit cards work". It seems like he doesn't consider what I see as central: Even if trust were not economically relevant, I *want* to live in a high trust environment. And I can imagine that many people find the idea of decreasing trust in their community painful. At least I think I would. E) This last point about trust is connected to a topic where I would have loved to hear his opinion: right wing populism. How does the strategy of championing open borders interact with the increasing popularity of right wing parties? I would be much more comfortable with increasingly open borders if we hadn't so much resentment against immigrants in Germany, which seems to lead to hordes of dissatisfied people voting for a very not good party. In the podcast with Galef, Caplan mentioned that immigration works less well in Europe compared to the U.S., due to less efficient labor laws. My gut feeling also says that Germany is doing worse in cultural integration, which may come down to the same thing, as a job seems to be a main gateway into a new culture. I feel like I am probably pretty biased by my own wealth in and living in a first world country. But... I still don't feel like I can trust Caplan's arguments enough to be able to trust a country like mine to deal with open borders. [1] http://rationallyspeakingpodcast.org/... [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History... [3] https://academic.oup.com/jeea/article... [4] https://ourworldindata.org/trust

  17. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Open borders is one of those ethical questions, like slavery, that people in the future will back look back on with order. How could everyone convince themselves it was okay for one group of people to draw an enormous line and use force to keep other people out? How could they debate the economic and cultural effects, argue over the morality of minor policy changes, while taking for granted the validity of the whole evil premise? My political views have changed a lot since I was a 14-year-old an Open borders is one of those ethical questions, like slavery, that people in the future will back look back on with order. How could everyone convince themselves it was okay for one group of people to draw an enormous line and use force to keep other people out? How could they debate the economic and cultural effects, argue over the morality of minor policy changes, while taking for granted the validity of the whole evil premise? My political views have changed a lot since I was a 14-year-old anarchist, but this is one thing they get absolutely right. This book actually captures the somewhat surprising continuity of that shift really well. Bryan Caplan is not the sort of person I would have taken seriously until a few years ago. He's a libertarian economist, the most pro-capitalist you can get. He's also not the sort of person that the contemporary online Left would respect, mostly for that same reason but also because he takes IQ seriously. I know someone both sides of that political split might not see it this way, but I moved to a place where I see both Caplan's camp and my online Lefty pals as right on some issues and wrong on others but fundamentally well-intentioned and prepared to fight for things that make the world better. So it seems natural to me that we should converge and focus our efforts here, on an issue that is an ethical no-brainer and a high political priority for all of us. I hope that this book can make a big enough splash to catalyze that cooperation. As for the book itself, I think it's fantastic. It covers a lot of ground, addressing a lot of common objections and presenting a range of possible policies but never losing sight of the fundamental goal of human justice and the enormous economic opportunities presented by free movement of labor. It was preaching to the choir for me, of course so I don't know how persuasive actually is. I'm curious to give it some of the people in my life who I've been appalled to hear anti-open borders arguments from and see what they think of it. It's a very quick read, enthusiastic for its points and entertainingly stylized by Zach's quirky illustrations and visual gags, but never shallow. The depth and breadth of Caplan's reading on all different dimensions of this issue are always apparent, especially in the range of experts he brings into the comic to speak on aspects they study. Now that I think about it, the presentation actually kind of reminds me of the MO of Leftist YouTube, too--breaking down anti-immigrant propaganda patiently and reasonably with the nagging worry that only people who already believe will be convinced. Except now after years of watching Left YT, I'm aware that isn't true, and have a greater appreciation for the way simply reframing the debate with such a clarity of purpose can build new communities that advance your cause more than you might think. I'm pretty optimistic that this book will do that.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jason Furman

    Loved this. A graphic novel that is a sympathetic polemic for Open Borders—exploring the economics, ethics, and policy of it in a way that is meant to move and persuade without shaming or condescension. It manages to convey a lot of information and arguments in a format that is easy to absorb and sometimes amusing. The core argument is that world would be about twice as rich if people were free to move from less productive countries to more productive countries, this would also be more moral und Loved this. A graphic novel that is a sympathetic polemic for Open Borders—exploring the economics, ethics, and policy of it in a way that is meant to move and persuade without shaming or condescension. It manages to convey a lot of information and arguments in a format that is easy to absorb and sometimes amusing. The core argument is that world would be about twice as rich if people were free to move from less productive countries to more productive countries, this would also be more moral under a variety of approaches (Bryan Caplan emphasizes the libertarian argument that you should not deny people the freedom to locate where they want, but also goes through how this follows from a variety of other moral frameworks like utilitarianism, Kantianism, Rawlianism, and more. Caplan goes through all the potential objections, generally finds them wanting, but also offers what he calls “keyhole solutions” that he argues would accommodate these objections (e.g., make immigrants pay an entry fee or temporarily higher taxes, delay citizenship and make it conditional on a tough test, delay access to government benefits, etc.—in many cases he views these as compromises that are better than the current system which is denying people entry). Caplan’s book definitely filled in some holes in my understanding (especially on the cultural assimilation side) and provided some new powerful moral arguments (e.g., if someone was starving, wanted to buy food in a store, and you forcefully turned them away and they died that would be like murder—but it is the equivalent of turning people away at the border who are willing to trade labor services for money and voluntarily exchange that money for housing and food in America). Caplan de-emphasized some of the ambiguities about the impacts of immigrants on wages and definitely did not fully grapple with how his arguments would expand to the very rapid and large-scale immigration that might occur with open borders (he does address this and based on previous experience thinks it will take a while to build up). He also is overly dismissive of the notion of nation states, even though it is hard to ground them in any abstract philosophy (although Rawls did think Rawlsianism stopped at the border, a point Caplan didn’t make), they are a unit that allows a greater degree of sympathy and sharing than humans seem capable of doing at the unit of the entire planet. Personally, any amount of expanded immigration within what is politically possible would be fine with me. I’m not sure if advocating open borders is more likely to freak people out and if it is better to reassure with a combination of expanded immigration, legalization for people here, and tougher border enforcement. But Caplan makes a good case for the importance of expanding the Overton Window and if he succeeds in doing that it would raise the odds of any outcome I would personally find desirable.

  19. 5 out of 5

    MundiNova

    Fully support the argument, but the execution made it too easy to poke holes in the proposal. This book is best used by liberals to educate themselves on how to have immigration conversations with their conservative family members over Thanksgiving. The talking points are easy to understand and light enough to banter but lack depth for meaningful discourse. Economic theory is fascinating! So finding a comic book about immigration economics was a delightful surprise. While I agree with the ideas, Fully support the argument, but the execution made it too easy to poke holes in the proposal. This book is best used by liberals to educate themselves on how to have immigration conversations with their conservative family members over Thanksgiving. The talking points are easy to understand and light enough to banter but lack depth for meaningful discourse. Economic theory is fascinating! So finding a comic book about immigration economics was a delightful surprise. While I agree with the ideas, the way Caplan makes his case is less than satisfactory. First, let's focus on the good: - Highly complex ideas are (somewhat) successfully distilled into comic book form - Art style, pacing, and arguments are well organized - THERE ARE SOURCES!! For each statement or example, Caplan has a wealth of sources listed in the back, broken down by page and panel. So tired of reading pop nonfiction that excludes sources. - It's delightfully entertaining! The concerning bit: - His arguments can be easily picked apart by asking basic questions. Each one had me mentally saying "but this doesn't apply to your argument of unskilled labor" or "The data sources are different! This is a generalization." - There's very little on how open borders will impact the distribution of wealth, which is a global concern. All talk of increasing wealth is by GDP. If I were more invested, I'd use the sources listed in the back of the book to dive deeper into my concerns. Maybe the original sited authors already answered my questions or addressed my concerns. But I'm not that invested and I'd rather read the epic fantasy novel I've got lined up instead. Message: 4 stars Argument: 2 stars Writing/Art: 3 stars https://readingbetweenthestitches.wor...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marks54

    The author is an economist at George Mason University. In “Open Borders” he has written a serious argument in favor of a US national immigration policy regime of open borders. The general argument is that this will be a good idea solely on the grounds of the increased productivity it will bring to the US. Throughout the book, he encounters and addresses various arguments against his position and he responds to them all by a combination of principled argument (from a wide range of ethical perspec The author is an economist at George Mason University. In “Open Borders” he has written a serious argument in favor of a US national immigration policy regime of open borders. The general argument is that this will be a good idea solely on the grounds of the increased productivity it will bring to the US. Throughout the book, he encounters and addresses various arguments against his position and he responds to them all by a combination of principled argument (from a wide range of ethical perspectives) and reporting on various research results that support his position or that fail to support the alternatives. Overall, this is a reasonable argument, stated well, and backed up with current data and other supporting materials, including US history on open borders prior to the 1920s. ...oh, and did I mention that the book and its arguments are presented as a comic book (graphic novel??) format that is highly entertaining, funny, and surprisingly effective. I must confess, he had me from the first page. I have long appreciated that the US was built on immigration and that efforts to restrict immigration have coincided with some dark periods of US history. Sure there are costs, but the overall case is compelling, at least as a theoretical and rhetorical starting point while the practical and political details are worked out. Don’t hold your breath. Do read the book. Oh that other serious policy efforts could be produced this way!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Thomas C Regan

    This book is both hilarious and informative. I’ve been slowly coming around to the idea of open borders since 2016 or so, at first on the basis of, “If Republicans want to tarnish HRC by falsely claiming she’s in favor of it, it’s probably a good policy.” While I doubt that I’d agree with the authors on everything with regards to politics and economics, the arguments in favor of open borders seem smart, as do the examples of how to overcome arguments against them. I think the authors give short This book is both hilarious and informative. I’ve been slowly coming around to the idea of open borders since 2016 or so, at first on the basis of, “If Republicans want to tarnish HRC by falsely claiming she’s in favor of it, it’s probably a good policy.” While I doubt that I’d agree with the authors on everything with regards to politics and economics, the arguments in favor of open borders seem smart, as do the examples of how to overcome arguments against them. I think the authors give short shrift to how powerful out and out racism and xenophobia will be in terms of fighting against the common sense benefits of more open borders (see Brexit), but I think that’s a bad reason not to advocate for them at all. I think regardless of where you are on immigration as a policy, this book is worth a read and the novelty of its presentation makes it very much worth the price to pick up your own copy.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Appelcline

    I'd expected this book to be about the advantages of immigration in the modern day. What I hadn't expected (probably because I don't remember where I got the recommendation for it) was a full-throated call for entirely open immigration, with no borders to work or to live in any country. It was an interesting premise that I had never even considered, but Caplan did a good job of first of all presenting it as a moral issue or freedom and second of all doing his best to knock down many fears about I'd expected this book to be about the advantages of immigration in the modern day. What I hadn't expected (probably because I don't remember where I got the recommendation for it) was a full-throated call for entirely open immigration, with no borders to work or to live in any country. It was an interesting premise that I had never even considered, but Caplan did a good job of first of all presenting it as a moral issue or freedom and second of all doing his best to knock down many fears about open borders (and third of all offering halfway suggestions to get us partway there, for the fearmongers). Overall, an intriguing, thoughtful, well-considered argument, in a nice graphical format.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Coop Williams

    Anyone who's even mildly interested in immigration should read this. It presents all the strongest arguments for increased immigration in a form that even young teens can engage with. My main criticism is that opponents' arguments are presented in pretty weak form in the text itself. They're covered more in-depth in the endnotes (which are frustratingly not numbered), but I personally wanted the text to involve more of an all-out tussle of ideas. The good news is that Caplan has prolifically pub Anyone who's even mildly interested in immigration should read this. It presents all the strongest arguments for increased immigration in a form that even young teens can engage with. My main criticism is that opponents' arguments are presented in pretty weak form in the text itself. They're covered more in-depth in the endnotes (which are frustratingly not numbered), but I personally wanted the text to involve more of an all-out tussle of ideas. The good news is that Caplan has prolifically published and debated on this subject elsewhere. The bibliography gives a curious reader a great jumping-off point for further study.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris Callaway

    I had high hopes, and it exceeded them. This book brings an important issue to life. It's a wonderfully clear explanation of why we should have (or at least try to have) open borders. But the artwork (by Zach Weinersmith, of the web comic SMBC) nis what makes the book truly wonderful. The drawings interact with the text ingeniously. So the book is a great achievement not only in popular social science but also in terms of visual storytelling.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Arend

    Skeptical of any book that leads with a solution (not a problem), but more than willing to be convinced about open borders, I was mostly turned off by the relentless rhetoric, the weird libertarian/jehovas witness vibe, the breathless American exceptionalism, the condescending lecture on numeracy, the reductive treatment of socialism, the simplistic economic world view, and the characterization of free movement in the EU. Exhausting.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Hudson Jr.

    A really informative and enjoyable graphic novel. Probably the best case for open borders for general audiences. There were times that the arguments felt too convoluted for this particular format, and some counter-arguments seemed overly simplified. However, if you’re going to read a non-fiction comic in your lifetime, this is the one to read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    The format of this book (graphic novel) is probably second only to catchy short videos with personal stories as a way to push an arbitrary agenda to people. Unfortunately, while it makes some arguments, it also commits one big statistical/logical fallacy repeatedly: if 1 x A is good, then 100 x A will be 100x better than 1 x A. A lot of things are non-linear. Making an argument that the entire population of earth migrating to the US will produce effects which are just linearly estimated from curr The format of this book (graphic novel) is probably second only to catchy short videos with personal stories as a way to push an arbitrary agenda to people. Unfortunately, while it makes some arguments, it also commits one big statistical/logical fallacy repeatedly: if 1 x A is good, then 100 x A will be 100x better than 1 x A. A lot of things are non-linear. Making an argument that the entire population of earth migrating to the US will produce effects which are just linearly estimated from current trends is insane. Aside from the changing marginal quality of immigrants as you go from the best to the average to the last (even within a given "educational level"), there are non-linear effects on society due to different proportions of immigrants. Another area which is largely glossed over is the political consequence of immigration. "Low-education voluntary immigrants are only slightly left, and they don't vote very much anyway" isn't a convincing argument. The assumption that the government will do X and Y together is also usually wrong -- often they just do X and then forget about the corresponding Y, so it's reasonable to oppose X even if you think X + Y is better than no-X no-Y. Due to statistics recording children of immigrants as citizens (due to birthright citizenship in the US), it's harder to identify total costs of immigrant + offspring. I respect the book for putting forth an argument (and in a particularly persuasive format), but it's not complete or convincing.

  28. 4 out of 5

    David Hill

    This is not a book I'd have read on my own, but a friend loaned it to me. I generally don't read comic books, and I'm pretty sure this is the first non-fiction comic book I've read. My friend, undoubtedly, is objecting to my calling this a comic book. It certainly is what I'd call a "scholarly" work. That is, it's non-fiction, has source notes and a bibliography (but no index). It's about 250 pages, but my by reckoning is a paltry 10-12,000 words. That's pretty lightweight. The scope of the work This is not a book I'd have read on my own, but a friend loaned it to me. I generally don't read comic books, and I'm pretty sure this is the first non-fiction comic book I've read. My friend, undoubtedly, is objecting to my calling this a comic book. It certainly is what I'd call a "scholarly" work. That is, it's non-fiction, has source notes and a bibliography (but no index). It's about 250 pages, but my by reckoning is a paltry 10-12,000 words. That's pretty lightweight. The scope of the work is suitable - it covers most of the arguments I've been making for years - but it lacks the depth. A more serious work would support the various positions with robust arguments, examples. This comic book form is naturally light on verbiage and, I think, short-changes the subject. The book includes most of my own arguments for open borders, but not all. It does, however, address some possible ways that that goal might be achieved, which is farther than I've tried to go. Generally, when I read good non-fiction, some combination of the text, the notes, and the bibliography will point me to other interesting works. Here, because of the terseness and the format, I'm left wanting. The bibliography is quite long for such a short work, and I'm left without any way to know which, if any, of these references I might want to investigate further.

  29. 5 out of 5

    A

    I never thought I would add a book with "comics" and "economics" as tags. While the author presents a compelling case for Open Borders, I think the book is too optimistic: There are many pros whose outcomes are too good and cons that are considered irrelevant. For example, while cultural assimilation of communities does occur, it takes time (language takes a few generations). That is fine in the long term, but the author disregards the decades it will take for a large number of immigrants to assi I never thought I would add a book with "comics" and "economics" as tags. While the author presents a compelling case for Open Borders, I think the book is too optimistic: There are many pros whose outcomes are too good and cons that are considered irrelevant. For example, while cultural assimilation of communities does occur, it takes time (language takes a few generations). That is fine in the long term, but the author disregards the decades it will take for a large number of immigrants to assimilate a new culture, especially since it would be hard to claim the effects are linear. Despite its limitations, though, I think this book makes a compelling case for Open Borders; it is well explained, clear argumentation from many points of view (mostly economic, but also moral and cultural). I think this is a recommendable reading for pretty much anybody, even people not interested in economics and migration policies.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Steven Zoeller

    A great, inoffensive introduction to a worthy cause. I have but one major qualm with Caplan’s argument. He entertains the objection that open borders would flood the nation with immigrants whose cultural values may be undesirable. For example, a liberal might worry that increased immigration from Mexico will lead to increased opposition to abortion. He replies that one needn’t worry too much about such a scenario because immigrants rarely vote. I myself don’t think the objection is very powerful, A great, inoffensive introduction to a worthy cause. I have but one major qualm with Caplan’s argument. He entertains the objection that open borders would flood the nation with immigrants whose cultural values may be undesirable. For example, a liberal might worry that increased immigration from Mexico will lead to increased opposition to abortion. He replies that one needn’t worry too much about such a scenario because immigrants rarely vote. I myself don’t think the objection is very powerful, but I consider Caplan’s response naive. A liberal who favored border restrictions might well grant the laws won’t change and still dread things like the shaming of women who’ve had abortions and extrajudicial violence against abortion providers. There’s more at stake than the law when it comes to cultural change. He should have treated this complaint more seriously.

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