Open Borders: The Science And Ethics Of Immigration by Bryan Caplan & Zach Weinersmith

Open Borders: The Science And Ethics Of Immigration by Bryan Caplan & Zach Weinersmith

(with colors by the amazing Mary Cagle)

As an open borders absolutist, I’ve been wanting a book like this to come along for years. Living in the USA, it’s almost mind-boggling that people aren’t more inclined towards immigration, given that the contiguous 48 states are one of the world’s best modern examples of the free movement of labor. Could you imagine Indiana making it illegal to hire someone simply because they’re from Ohio? Or saying they have to get a special permit if they do want to work there? It’s stupid, as are most current immigration laws (and not just in America! Other countries are just as punitive and terrible!)

Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith do a much more comprehensive job than I do here in not only addressing the current state of affairs — primarily in America tho they do touch on global issues — but also advocating for open borders on both economic and humanitarian bases. Their intended audience is American and, presumably, either mildly hostile to their argument or, like me, desirous of backup in the face of the mildly hostile or worse. And they provide A LOT of well-researched backup. They debunk some of the most egregious myths around the subject and advance persuasive cases for not only the overall benefits of immigration but also for keyhole strategies to soften any short-term negative effects, none of which I found particularly onerous to the immigrant once I realized they meant those who were non-citizens. Charging non-citizen immigrants more for the use of certain social services is akin to charging a non-members fee, and is hardly a violation of their human rights, IMO, especially when held up against their freedom of movement altogether (ofc, charging immigrant citizens more than native-born is an entirely different discriminatory kettle of fish.)

This excellently illustrated volume (clean lines, no clutter, lots of sight gags and a really luminous last few pages,) breaks down the heady philosophical arguments cleanly, making it very clear without ever saying so outright that xenophobia and racism are the primary drivers behind restrictive immigration laws. The economic arguments do get a bit convoluted, and the bit where Mr Caplan is arguing with his colleagues seems a wee bit personal, tho I suppose philosophers have been griping about each other in their texts for centuries now (it has been a long time since I’ve waded through the subject, so forgive me if I’m misremembering.) For the most part, this is a strong, easily accessible brief for an important and unfortunately all too contentious subject.

First Second Press has always been one of my favorite publishers and I’m so, so glad they decided to print this. Open Borders is smart, practical and full of heart, and fully fits with their philosophy of quality reading material for all.

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  1. […] the/our religious and moral obligations to provide charity and sanctuary to those in need. As an open borders absolutist, I did not need any persuading, but I greatly appreciated how Mr Kessler channels the […]

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