Derek Sivers

Open Borders - by Bryan Caplan

Open Borders - by Bryan Caplan

ISBN: 1250316960
Date read: 2021-08-30
How strongly I recommend it: 10/10
(See my list of 200+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

A nonfiction comic book, by an economist, about unrestricted immigration. What? Yeah. Everyone should read it. This fun easy read of a single well-argued point will change your mind no matter what your previous stance. Brilliant illustration by Zach Weinersmith helps make the topic stick. NOTE: Don’t try to read it on a little black-and-white Kindle. It really is a comic book and needs to be read full-size in color.

my notes

We live in a global apartheid, based not on the race of your parents, but the nation of your parents.

Immigration laws discriminate - telling people where they can live or work - based on the wealth of the country they were born in.

People should be judged not by the nation of their birth, but by the content of their character.

Philosopher Michael Huemer’s "Starving Marvin" scenario:
Marvin is starving - in desperate need of food.
So he goes to the marketplace to buy bread.
But Sam intentionally blocks the way, preventing Marvin from getting there.
So Marvin dies.
Sam’s blockade was an act of murder.

U.S. had open borders until the 1920s, and thrived because of it.

People working in desolate places - places inhospitable for wealth creation (metaphor: farming the Antarctic) - are contributing nothing to the global economy.
Open borders - allowing anyone to work anywhere - would bring 50% to 150% gains in gross world product.

Mass production is needed to sustain mass consumption.
When workers produce more stuff, almost everyone is better off.

Companies pay more in rich countries than in poor countries because the workers are more productive there than at home.

Open borders makes poverty visible. Living in the first world, global poverty is invisible to you.

Some places decline in population. Like rural Nebraska, for example. Or Ireland during the potato famine. But imagine if migration out of there wasn’t allowed. It would create a zombie economy and tear itself apart.
Labor mobility enriches and saves lives.

Immigrants cause less crime than natives. Foreign-born incarceration rates are a third lower than native-born rates.
Naturalized immigrants are one-fifth of natives’ incarceration rate.

Restricting immigration is like the old medical solution of amputating, with a saw, any part of you that had a problem. Poverty? Restrict immigration! Fiscal collapse? Restrict immigration! Etc.
But like keyhole surgery now gets specific to fix the problem, these problems should be fixed specifically, not by resorting to restricting immigration.