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November 23, 2012 / JayMan

Open borders question…

If open borders are so great for everyone, why do open borders advocates call for throngs of foreigners to flock to America and not for Americans to flood into other countries?

Edit: See also this post by Steve Sailer:  iSteve: Open Borders: Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose


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  1. The Reluctant Apostate / Nov 23 2012 2:06 PM

    I suspect it has to do with the fact that the natural flow of people is from poorer countries to richer countries. If a land has more economic opportunities and there are no restrictions on movement, then people who have not been able to make ends meet in less economically developed areas will move to the more developed lands in search of economic opportunities.

    There is of course, some incentive for flow in the opposite direction, but it is of those with wealth who wish to make it go further. In areas where the people are well-moneyed, the cost of living tends to be higher, so some people will move into lower income areas to take advantage of the lower prices. However, this represents a trickle as compared to the flood of migrant workers looking for better jobs.

    In the end, removing barriers to movement serves the interest of those at the top of the income and wealth distributions, both because through supply and demand, it lowers the price of labor in economically developed areas, bringing the benefits of a wealthy consumer base and a desperated worker pool, and because it allows those with great wealth to stretch it further in lands where the lack of well-heeled consumers has not yet driven prices sky high.

    • Anon / Dec 4 2012 7:48 PM

      allowing non-group members into ones living space is not particularly natural, and hence the opposition to colonization.

  2. Handle / Nov 24 2012 1:50 AM

    Because, like Steve Sailer says, the long-term strategy of the left is to import enough people who will vote in a way to guarantee permanent one party rule. This is a victory worth almost any price to achieve, even the permanent, existential transformation – the irreversible destruction of the prior nature – of the thing over which you were trying to rule. When Douthat admonishes the Democrats for not winning through persuasion and ideas, but through raw demographics and social breakdown, they reply, “Um, yeah! So? Totally worth it!” The End.

    • Curious Observer / Nov 24 2012 8:59 AM

      It’s an appropriate time of year for white Democrats to consider what caused the previous inhabitants of this territory to lose their hold on it. Part of the reason why tribes such as the Wampanoags tolerated and even assisted white settlers in the early days of colonization was that they hoped to secure alliances against their old tribal enemies. In the same way, an alliance of certain whites has thrown in its lot with third-world immigrants to achieve a lasting hegemony through sheer demographic force, but will find that once their support is no longer necessary, their erstwhile allies will probably do away with them, as well.

    • JayMan / Nov 24 2012 10:49 AM

      My post wasn’t really directed at Democrats, and it’s unclear that if they are squarely to blame for immigration policy being what it is. Rather, my post directed at the likes of Bryan Caplan and fellow libertarian advocates of open borders such as the fellows over at this site.

    • The Reluctant Apostate / Nov 24 2012 1:42 PM

      If you’re specifically wondering about Bryan Caplan, it’s informative to know that he’s an economics professor and looks at this issue with a fair amount of influence from economic models. Generally, economic models show that free trade is more economically efficient because of the effects of comparative advantage. Thus any restriction on free trade causes a “deadweight loss” of economic activity.

      Like these economic models, Caplan is not one who is terribly concerned about who it is who wins and loses or many of the surrounding effects on the society being analyzed. Instead he sees economic losses due to restrictions to trade (restriction of movement of workers being analogous to other restrictions on free trade) and he sees a deadweight loss for the restrictionist society as well as losses for the potential workers. From that viewpoint, it’s not hard to see immigration restriction as immoral.

      However, it’s worth noting that it comes out of a highly simplified model of the world and ignores cultural impacts on society and supposes a degree of interchangeability of agents that makes for a simpler analysis, but doesn’t serve as a good template for making social decisions.

    • JayMan / Nov 24 2012 2:15 PM

      Thanks, I think you’ve pretty much summed it up well!

      The trouble with many economists, particularly libertarian ones, is that they don’t realize that their field is, at best, a useful approximation of human behavior and hence fail to see its limitations.

    • e / Nov 24 2012 10:43 PM

      Honestly, speaking as someone on the left, if this is really part of our strategy, no one has ever mentioned it. It’s not even a policy I favor.

      The left could achieve electoral success more easily by simply advocating policies which benefit 55% of the already-present population. Importing people takes a long time, and their children and grand children are not guaranteed to vote the same as their parents.

    • asdf / Nov 26 2012 10:14 AM

      Bryan is a Cathedral academic. Libertarianism and leftism are the same thing with minor disagreements over method (they are both universalist utilitarians, after that its just a question of what model you use).

    • JayMan / Nov 26 2012 12:59 PM

      I don’t think the disagreements between libertarianism and liberalism are all that minor…

    • asdf / Nov 26 2012 10:18 AM


      It’s not that one fails to see it, but that one is incented to fail to see it. Either through cash reward, social status, career opportunity, mating options, or simply not wanting to keep constant cognative dissonance in ones head.

    • asdf / Nov 26 2012 1:37 PM

      What exactely would you consider the disagreements between libertarianism and liberalism?

      Libertarians believe that the purpose of life is utilitarianism (the most net happiness for the world as a whole).

      Liberals believe the same thing.

      It seems to me the only disagreement is how to get there. If one side could conclusively prove its case over the other they probably already would have “won” the arguement by now. So its save to say the various assumptions, methods, values, and models of both movements all have some merit (towards the shared goal of both) and we are going to end up with some kind of muddle through scenerio.

    • Toad / Dec 4 2012 1:27 PM

      “the long-term strategy of the left is to import enough people who will vote in a way to guarantee permanent one party rule.”

      It’s just a successful play in the game called decision by majority vote. Or “Consent of the governed” if you will.

      Another successful play is: “give money to people who vote for your party with the taxes paid by the people who don’t vote for you”.

      And another is: “become expert at propaganda technique and target the gullible masses”.

      Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

  3. e / Nov 24 2012 10:45 PM

    Practically speaking, there are just a lot more people trying to get in than out.

  4. Anthony / Nov 28 2012 1:50 PM

    To answer the original question: We already did that.

  5. Matt / Dec 4 2012 10:54 AM

    Crash the system is what it is. Cloward-Piven style. This is being played out in every White Western nation.

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