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Very nice, Nick.

Ah Gene, thank you.

Funnily enough, just after posting this, I hoped you might drop by.

Perhaps this is over my head, but is the framing that the migrants change the nation and so force xenophobes to live in a different nation (one with some people who look a bit different)?

Usually, the scale of migration is not that a nations population increases by 100% each year, but rather a fraction of a percent per year, so there is a very real difference between the dramatic changes in the life of a family that enters a new nation and the very small effect of immigration on the quality of life of people already living there. It's true, for example, that a cup of coffee cooling in a room is also heating the room, but one frame is less valid than the other.

This is why opposition to migration generally comes from people who are bothered by the *idea* of migration, as opposed to the actual existence of migrants causing practical problems that are noticeable to the average person.

The timescale of migration changing a nation is generally much longer than the timescale during which younger generations change a nation; it's often the case that those most bothered by immigration tend to be both older and bothered by the inevitable change of a different generation as well.

This qualitative difference is really important in determining which frame provides the fewest distortions, you should view the coffee as being cooled by the room, rather than heating the room; you should view how the lives of migrants are changed by immigration rather than how the presence of immigration forces the lives of others to change.

rsj: the key assumption here is that physical geography (climate etc.) is identical. So you get the same equilibrium whether you have open borders or forced emigration. If people cared only about physical geography, there would be a case for open borders. But that assumption is not plausible. Few people want to go to England, or Sweden, for the climate. If all the English went to live in Sweden, and all the Swedes went to live in England, which country would be England, and which country would be Sweden, from the POV of someone deciding where to live?

The non-linearities you are talking about might affect the result. Should we assume convexity or concavity? (I always get muddled, of course.)

I wrote this post mostly for libertarians. Elite left-progressives tell the common people they must eat their broccoli, because eventually they will get used to it and learn to like it. Both sides have a massive blind spot.

Preliminary question: without Googling, which party/candidate (including fringe parties/candidates) is most against immigration?

Main question: how come I can answer that preliminary question much more easily for lots of foreign countries than I can for Canada? (I don't think it's just me.) What is Canada getting right? (Or is it?)

I think things have got turned around a little in Canada.

So-called conservatives mainly aren't really conservative at all. Many are really quite radical and want to make big changes to long standing institutions. I think this lot has embraced immigration as a way to drive down wages. But they are a nasty lot, and can't help finding other ways to stick it to 'those' people - like denying them medical care.

Many lefties who worry about the plight of workers are not too hot on immigration for the same reasons the radical right loves it. They have to be sneaky about how they say it though for fear of their shrill latte sipping tenured brethren howling 'racism!'.

I suspect small-c conservatives are skeptical (if it ain't broke, don't fix it? rate of assimilation? cost?), but there are so few small-c conservatives these days.


Historically, migration has been used for
1) driving down wages of the lower classes when the cost of international transport was high. Today, container ships do the job.
2) ethnic cleansing of the local populace (the "settlement colonies" of the British Empire, including the U.S.
In all cases, it was to the benefit of the host country ruling class. When the migrant bettered its economic conditions, it was a side benefit that guaranteed its loyalty, the way scabs are somtimes better paid than the strikers.
Today's bobos, while not really part of the true ruling class, benefit from the same dynamic. They assuage their guilt by pretending to "educate the poor into multiculturalism".
As an aside, does the framing change if one side carries an MG-42?

People move because life is better somewhere else. I think fundamentally, it's about quality of institutions or civil society. I don't think it has anything to do with geography, but with differences in how society in the two islands evolved.

Yes, it's possible to reform your own civil society if A) you know how to get from the corrupt society to the civil society through a series of incremental improvements, B) you manage to convince everyone else that you are right, and C) the current elites that would be discomfited don't have you arrested or otherwise block you.

But even then, it might take many generations to get there, whereas you can try to pack your bags and move to a civil society right now.

Jacques, Nick's set up here brought to mind a person trying to ditch a clingy ex (starting off on separate islands)... then you brought up automatic weapons, and this came to mind.

Patrick: "I suspect small-c conservatives are skeptical (if it ain't broke, don't fix it? rate of assimilation? cost?), but there are so few small-c conservatives these days."

That's me. But I'm not sure there's so few of us.

As a general rule, I don't think that immigration has much effect on wages. Sure, a higher labour/capital ratio would usually drive down wages, but immigrants save too, and "capital" is mobile internationally, so more machines can be added in proportion to new workers. But if does affect the land/labour ratio. And that shows up nowadays mostly in higher house prices (and lower wages in terms of housing), where the supply of building land is restricted. It's landowners, not capitalists, who have a class interest in higher immigration.

rsj: "People move because life is better somewhere else. I think fundamentally, it's about quality of institutions or civil society. I don't think it has anything to do with geography, but with differences in how society in the two islands evolved."

I think that's mostly true. But some people do move for a better climate, or because there's cheap land because of a higher land/labour ratio.

Yes, reforming your own society is hard. But maybe forced emigration, from the country you want to move to, to your country, could work. Colonialism/imperialism, in other words. If physical geography doesn't matter, it shouldn't make much difference whether A moves to Beta or whether B moves to Alpha. The only things that matter are: whether A and B live together or apart; who gets to decide.

As Tom notes, we don't have open borders or forced emigration when it comes to marriage; we only allow marriage by mutual consent.

Put it another way: are "social institutions and civil society" part of the physical geography or part of the people?

It took me a minute to get this, Nick - it seems trivial at first but in fact it's quite deep.

Frances: Took me a while to get it too. And I'm still not sure if I've got it.

As soon as you drop the "physically identical" bit then "Open Borders" become the better option though , right ?

Though I suppose if you assume that both A and B are looking for a win/win solution then even if the islands are not identical then both open borders and forced emigration will drive the same results (they could always choose to share all resources under either option)

Its only if you assume that either A or B would force a non-optimal outcome that "open borders" become better. (This would prevent a scenario such as A forcing B to live on the inferior island, and thus giving B the choice of either allowing A to live on the better island so he at least gets a whole island to himself , or forcing A to share the inferior island with him even though this probably diminishes his own enjoyment - under "open borders" they at least get to share the better island.)

Isn't the equilibrium under the forced emigration scenario that both sides will end up swapping the same group of people (presumably the least productive or whatever) back and forth? The equilibrium under the open borders scenario would presumably be for people to switch back and forth under the usual optimization processes so I don't think these two scenarios are really analogous at all... Or are you assuming that each island has identical populations (as in your A & B agents)? But even under those circumstances we get a prisoner's dilemma where each agent tries to move the other agent to whatever has become the inferior location. Am I missing something here?

The equilibrium changes when you add a third group. A, B and C. A and B want to live with C, C wants to live with A, not B. Under open borders C just moves in with A, under forced emigration on Bs turn he forces C to move with him, then on Cs turn he forces B to move to the empty Island, then on As turn he has C move back in with him (and the cycle repeats).

Patrick,

If group A like policy P and group B dislike policy P, I wouldn't rush to assume that group A likes P for the same reason that group B dislike P, especially if I found it satisfying to assume that group A likes P for that reason.

@ Sko- Does Group A want to live with Group B? Yes- then open borders and forced emigration have the same outcome- either A moves to B or B moves to A.
Does Group A want to live with Group B? No- Then open borders and force emigration have the same outcome- A never invites B, and A never moves to B. Repeat for group B, and you always get the same outcome. Either the two groups want to live together, or apart, or one group wants to live together but the other group apart (which leads to continual switching).

This solution only works for a two party example though.

W. Peden: In my simple way I think I more or less said that.

I have a goofy theory that small-c conservatives and many lefties have more in common than either would like to admit.

MF: If we allow side-payments, and assume zero transactions costs, then the Coase Theorem says we should get the same efficient outcome regardless of the allocation of rights (though the distribution of wealth will be different).

If we relax the assumption that the two islands have identical physical geography, then "Open Borders" and "Forced Emigration" may lead to different equilibria. Not obvious which is better, if gainers do not compensate losers. Depends on your criteria.

Doesn't the reason for the forced emigration matter?

@baconbacon- Right, I was originally thinking in terms of populations not agents.
As an aside, if you make moving islands costly then open borders should also result in a comparatively superior outcome to forced emigration.

Sko: "As an aside, if you make moving islands costly then open borders should also result in a comparatively superior outcome to forced emigration."

Why? For example, if A moves to Beta (under Open Borders), or if A orders B to move to Alpha (under Forced Emigration), one person has to move in either case.

@ Nick- because the cost is incurred by the wrong group in forced emigration. A wants to live with B a little bit, but less than the cost of moving islands. Under open borders A stays put, but under FE A makes B move and there is a net loss in efficiency, borne by group B.

Patrick,

I certainly think that social democratic political thinking and Burkean conservativism have some deep similarities, which may be why democracy has been sustainable in societies where they've dominated. Both see society as inherently unstable and in need of control, and both are evaluatively egalitarian but with an acceptance of elites & hirearchies for pragmatic circumstances, but they have different epistemologies and some factual disagreements. I found Thomas Sowell's "A Conflict of Visions" an imperfect but balanced assessment of the differences.

bacon: good point. Not sure how it plays out in the next period.

Patrick and W P: related article from the Guardian, on how Nordic "far right" parties have stolen the left's abandoned clothes.

"Put it another way: are "social institutions and civil society" part of the physical geography or part of the people?"

Neither. Institutions are due to the state of the system -- they are primarily about history. If you look for example, at the Stanford prison experiment, you can pluck a nice middle class person out of one environment and put them into a different environment and their life will be very different. The geography was the same -- it was still stanford, and the people were the same -- stanford students -- but the relationships between people changed and so the people's experience changed as well. There is a lot more state than people and geography, all the relationships between people and the history of previous relationships carries much information.

Or, in math terms, if there are N people in one common geography, then the space of relationships between those people is 2^N, just in the present period, but as history is important, it is an sum of 2^N since history started in that geography, so over many periods. As you explore the state space with identical people and identical geography but different relationships between people you can go from a stalinist dictatorship to a liberal democracy to a theocracy to an oligarchy, all with the same people and geography, but with a different history, different institutions, different legal framework, different distribution of wealth, different civil rights, different schools, crime, tax rates, worker protections, etc. There is a lot more going on that just looking at individuals + geography.

If A and B are similar, there are stable solutions, if dissimilar, unstable ones, and who is to say whose preferences are superior and who should be forced to live with someone else or pay? Open borders end at the property line.

Interestingly forget about national boundaries and think about neighborhoods/cities/states. Why do people move?
- more job opportunities
- better schools
- lower taxes
- higher pay

Freedom of movement is viewed as a fundamental right in most countries. Yet there are consequences for locals in the form of higher land prices and increased competition for local resources more generally. Why does this basic understanding go out the window when the boundary is the nation instead of the neighborhood?

Nick:During the "30 glorieuses", losing your !"/ty job meant you got a better one. That job would either go to an immigrant or through trade his cousin abroad. For them it was a less !"/ty than the one he had. Everybody progressed and was happy. I am old enough to have lived through that era.
Today, losing your job mean, at best, finding a !"/tiest one. Your job has gone to an immigrant, imported solely to be a scab or to its cousin doing the same role through trade. All with the blessing of the "enlightened" and "responsible" left.
And then you wonder at the success of the far right.

W. Peden, what does "evaluatively egalitarian" mean? Also, I'm curious: what are the different epistemologies you refer to? Admittedly I hardly know anything about the subject (having only within the last 9 months or so, encountered the word "epistemology" frequently enough to no longer have to look it up), but from my limited perspective a useful distinction is between reliable epistemologies (like the scientific method) and unreliable ones (like divination, dowsing, revelation, etc). Can the epistemologies you refer to be distinguished by their degree of reliability?

... which party/candidate (including fringe parties/candidates) is most against immigration? ... Main question: how come I can answer that preliminary question much more easily for lots of foreign countries than I can for Canada?

Why would you know which fringe parties oppose immigration? Fringe parties are obscure by definition. Are there any mainstream parties that oppose immigration?

If "revealed preferences" count for anything, Canada (2013 population 35mm) has been admitting about 250,000 legal immigrates annually for the past 25 years. America (2013 population 316mm) admits about 1,000,000 annually.

Maybe politicians don't oppose immigration here because there isn't a big voting constituency for that policy? Employing the forbidden Google suggests that the most prominent immigration opponent is an organization calling itself "Immigration Watch Canada" - mostly into lump of labour stuff. Who's ever heard of them?

I'm sure the answer is open borders. Both Stalin scenarios are forced, but one less so. When Stali imprisoned people and sent them to Siberia to build hydro plants, many died. When he told "free" people they needed to built hydro plants for the glory of USSR, they ere healthier. MLB fan told me in the context of maintaining civil defense (esp. for Madagascar), you need food, water and power. Power is a double entendre that also refers to democracy over dictatorship.
They've mentioned Vancouver's main problem is people have to work too long for their homes. And Wpg isn't the same now that a small group of people want to use violence (which is probably why has voted RW since late 90's). It is random often my living situation; twice I've had a decent job in Delta and Halifax, when two employees before me got hurt. If I'm not that lucky, I can move to Wpg #2 and try again. If someone else is in control, I might be stuck homeless/3rd-world-poor. Your islands may start off identical, but within one workday they will diverge. You can't possibly make the islands the same after one year; I'm only on one of them and I affect the island and each island has its own GPS co-ordinate.

it seems trivial at first but in fact it's quite deep

Please explain why you think this is true. I think the opposite: at first glance, it seems a bit complicated. But after a moment's contemplation, it is revealed to be trivial and boring.

There are two equilibriums (let's not pretend we are writing in Latin): 1) A wants to be with B and B wants to be with A. The rules make no difference, A & B will end up together. 2) A wants to live alone, B wants to live alone. The rules make no difference, A & B will live apart forever. (By symmetry, it makes no difference which island they end up on.)

There are two disequilibriums: 1) A wants to live with B but B does not want to live with A. The rules make no difference, they will exchange islands forever. 2) A wants to live alone but B wants to live with A. The rules make no difference, they will exchange islands forever.

The game, then, is of zero theoretical interest. It is also of zero practical interest, since it has no bearing on the world as we experience it. In our world, A may have the right to move to B's island, but has no interest in doing so, whereas B may have the right to exile A, but has no interest in doing so. The islands are not physically identical, because A has built infrastructure and B does not. In addition, there is a coordination problem, because there are many agents rather than one; all A's would have to agree to move at the same time in order to preserve their immaterial assets, whereas the B's can move individually and still benefit by proximity to A's. There is a profound asymmetry, and imposition of either of the game's rules would make our world unrecognizable; yet each rule would have different consequences.

So what was deep about this again?

Tom Brown,

Evaluative egalitarianism: each person's life, happiness and goals are equally valuable in principle, and only extra facts beyond their basic identity can allow for differences of treatment. For example, if you have an innocent child and a serial killer, it's ok to favour the former over the latter, but if you have a black slave and a white aristocrat, the state is not to favour the latter over the former. This has become so entrenched in Western society that we struggle to imagine that our not-so-distant ancestors would disagree.

The epistemological difference is largely down to who you think typically has the best information to make decisions. A Burkean conservative will think that customs and rules that are gradually developed according to some system of accountability will typically provide the best stabilising forces in society. A social democrat will think that democratically accountable leaders typically have the information to make potentially radical changes to society in a way that would better stabilise society than relying on gradually evolved traditions. In both cases, they're committed to generalisations rather than universal laws, e.g. a Burkean conservative would say that Nazi Germany in 1945 or Romania in 1989 needed radical change, and a social democrat need not be a 1790 French revolution crackpot with plans to change the calendar system in accordance with Pure Reason. And unlike liberals (in the old fashioned sense) neither have much confidence in individuals acting under a framework of voluntary contracts to stabilise society.

To give a slight caricature: looking at an old political institution, like a revisory second chamber, a Burkean conservative says, "If it works, don't fix it; if it doesn't work, fix it carefully." A social democrat says, "Can we modify this institution in some way such that the competing interests involved are resolved harmoniously?"

A Burkean conservative "on the move" can look a lot like a social democrat (after all, Burke himself was a cautious but determined reformer in his day, although you could do a dissertation on whether or not Burke was a Burkean conservative!) and a social democrat who is being cautious can seem a lot like a Burkean conservative. As I said, this might be why democracies in which both of these ideas are dominant can be so stable and functional: on many of the fundamental issues of political philosophy, Burkean conservatives and social democrats agree.

W. Peden, thanks for the detailed explanations.

Gave the MX6 some exercise early yesterday. Now I'm watching the full moon set over Lake Huron.

Phil: "Maybe politicians don't oppose immigration here because there isn't a big voting constituency for that policy? Employing the forbidden Google suggests that the most prominent immigration opponent is an organization calling itself "Immigration Watch Canada" - mostly into lump of labour stuff. Who's ever heard of them?"

That's my point, or rather my question. Why is Canada different? (I don't know, and don't have any particular answer in mind, except maybe Canadians have a sense that we actually do control immigration?)

On the post: solving for the equilibria (plus "disequilibria") is (relatively) easy. Yep, you get the same results under the two regimes. But how come "Open Borders" sounds to libertarian, while "Forced Emigration" sounds so illiberal, if they are both the same? Are we maybe thinking about the question in the wrong way? And what is an island? Are we talking about countries, or neighbourhoods, or clubs, or marriages? What are those things? Are they land, or people, or something in between? What's the difference? Are Open Borders libertarians too "spergy", or not spergy enough?

@ Nick
How does urbanisation work in Canada? Where do immigrants move? Are cities expensive? Are 'locals' being physically displaced by 'newbies'?

And secondly, what percentage of Canadians is 1st or 2nd generation immigrant?

And is it easy for immigrants to get Canadian nationality? Can they vote?

The above seem important factors in determining whether divisive 'us vs. them' politics will work.

National Socialism, aka Nazism, being the perfect example here.

Sorry if off topic, but don't know how else to post this:

Liar Loans Pop up in Canada’s Magnificent Housing Bubble

http://wolfstreet.com/2015/07/30/canadas-highly-touted-conservative-mortgage-standards-sink-into-liar-loan-scandal/

Nick - "But how come "Open Borders" sounds to libertarian, while "Forced Emigration" sounds so illiberal, if they are both the same?"

The crucial thing about the set up here is the identical islands, which means that the only thing that matters is society - immigration/emigration only changes who lives alongside whom.

If we had identical agents, but one island had water, and the other had none, open borders and forced emigration would be very different.

Sunset over Lake Huron sounds amazing. I'm sitting on the 2nd floor balcony, watching a particularly high maintenance and useless canine.

W. Peden, I wonder if Glasner's latest lends support to this at all:

"Both see society as inherently unstable and in need of control"

According to Stolpers-Samuelson, unqualified labor should earn relatively less in Mexico and try to move north, which it does. Qualified labor should be payed less in the US and try to move south, which it doesn't.

Oliver: I would have to Google to answer some of those questions. But recent immigrants tend to settle in or around the big thriving cities, like Toronto and Vancouver. There is a sense that immigration has pushed up house prices in those locations, so locals get priced out. (Of course, if you already own a house, you are crying all the way to the bank in the exurbs.)

But I don't think Canada is much different from other countries in those regards.

Frances: yep. If the two islands had different physical geography, and if agents only cared about that, it would be very different.

"high maintenance and useless canine."

Oh dear.

Jacques Rene: Yep. Many/most people like to live in a "foreign" country for about one week per year, but not more, unless there are some big payoffs. And it's not just about the weather and scenery.

Nick "Oh dear." Nah, he's o.k. really.

Oliver - And secondly, what percentage of Canadians is 1st or 2nd generation immigrant?

just over 20% of people living here are 1st generation, higher than other G8 countries - https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/nhs-enm/2011/as-sa/99-010-x/99-010-x2011001-eng.cfm

And is it easy for immigrants to get Canadian nationality? Can they vote?

Legal immigrants can get Canadian citizenship after living here for, I think, three years, and passing a test. They also have to swear allegiance to the Queen. Yes, they can vote. Basically legal immigration=pathway to Canadian citizenship. There are far fewer illegal immigrants here than in the US, because it's harder to get here, there have been for a long time temporary foreign worker programs that substitute legal for illegal immigrants and also (I suspect) relatively harder for employers to hire illegals.

"The above seem important factors in determining whether divisive 'us vs. them' politics will work."

Not necessarily. No one hates an immigrant like another immigrant!

Here's an example - Canada has had for many years a program that essentially allows people (rich people, the corrupt elite from Country X) to buy citizenship. No one is going to resent that more than a middle-class person from Country X, someone who came to Canada to get away that corrupt elite, and build a good life in a place where there is (relatively speaking) democracy and equality of opportunity.

Think of it as a 2 period multi-player version of Nick's game.

Is it also important to note that A or B might claim a very large island, but don't actually utilize very much of the claimed area?

"Sure, a higher labour/capital ratio would usually drive down wages"

If you got two sectors and you're trading at world prices (and no factor intensity reversals), then even that isn't true.

"Qualified labor should be payed less in the US and try to move south, which it doesn't."

This is the Lucas Paradox applied to qualified labor rather than capital. But of course the Lucas Paradox isn't really a paradox, and in fact it's not even much of a puzzle. The above statement only holds if you assume identical technologies. Which they're not.

I assume identical technologies. There is no "uniquely mexican " way to make anything industrial.

But there is a "uniquely mexican" government, "uniquely mexican" laws, "uniquely mexican" climate, "uniquely mexican" tax code, etc. There are also "uniquely american" technologies, for example, inside knowledge of firms, but that's just piling on.

The fact that qualified labor gets paid more in US sort of empirically falsifies the "should" part of your statement.

And anyway, Stolper-Samuelson does not say that unqualified labor should get paid less in Mexico and qualified labor should get paid more in US. Wrong theorem. You're thinking of the Factor Price Equalization theorem, but getting that wrong too. That says, that - again, under assumption of identical technologies - both kinds of labor should get paid the same even without migration and nobody should move anywhere.

The unqualified-labor-will-tend-to-move-to-where-it's-paid-relatively-more-and-same-for-qualified labor proposition actually isn't any of the standard trade theorems. It's a bit too common sense and obvious to be called a theorem.

@ Nick & Frances

No one hates an immigrant like another immigrant!

Maybe, but the discussion would not be framed in racist terms as it most definitely is here in Europe. It's less overt than in the '30s but it's certainly about keeping the uncultured -insert slur- out of the club. Whereas if the others are already club members / citizens, you're going to have to find other arguments. Of which there aren't that many. House prices.

Here in Switzerland, we also have about 20% foreign population. But it's notoriously hard to get Swiss citizenship and, funnily, approval for far right parties is highest in regions with the least percentage of foreigners.

I know about buying Canadian passports. I used to live in Hong Kong and when the British refused to hand out their passports, the more affluent locals went to Aus, Canada and some other, more adventurous places, to hedge against the commie takeover. Torongkong and Hongcouver, mostly... Tongan passports sold for 10'0000.00 / pop :-).

"approval for far right parties is highest in regions with the least percentage of foreigners."

Is that approval in general or approval among non-foreigners? I wouldn't expect an immigrant to have a prejudice against immigrants in general.

That was my point. Only citizens can vote and not many foreigners have gained Swiss citizenship. It's not necessarily about who gets to come in, but certainly about who retains control of the club. But Frances seems to disagree on that last point of yours.

sorry, that wasn't clear. Those are 2 points, of course. One, I say foreigners are less likely to vote against their own. That may be true for Canada, although Frances disagrees. Over here it's locals who vote because foreigners can't get citizenship easily. That would be in line with the above point. As a separate point, it is also those who have the least contact with foreigners who are most likely to vite against them. Fear of the unknown is a theory that explains that.

Nick, I wonder if your post here is applicable to this comment from Benjamin Cole:

"How about the criminalization of robust new housing construction in almost any desirable neighborhood in the entire United States?"

I happen to live in one of those "desirable neighborhoods" (Goleta, CA, just next door to Santa Barbara) and I do support the "slow growth" local politicians, because MY quality of life is adversely affected by out of control construction. For one, we don't have any water left... and yet just in the last year we've had two big hotels and five new housing projects go in, and an expansion of the air port. My two mile commute to work is starting to feel like driving through the cesspool that is Los Angeles. It'll get somewhat better when they stop tearing up the streets, but sheez! I've had enough.

A contribution relevant to the topic (shameless self-promotion).
https://ucy.ac.cy/econ/documents/seminar-papers/2006/alexandrakis.pdf

Nick, I extended your analysis to a completely different field. This post will spawn a whole literature!

Nick, here's how my crazy brain interprets your scenarios:

1 = no restrictions on human migration
2 = the conquest of the source country by the government of the destination country

Yes, it is true that if Canada toppled the US government and took control of America, it would be exactly equivalent to if the US and Canada had an open borders relationship (at least, identical with respect to freedom of migration). We open borders advocates make that point all the time: Nobody objects to open borders between New York and New Jersey, so why object to open borders between Cornwall and Massena?

I'm famous for missing wit in blog posts, though, so it's possible that you were trying to make the case for open borders all along. If so, forgive me for the thickness of my skull.

RPLong: my crazy brain works in a similar way. But if Open Borders is a good thing, why isn't imperialism (or colonialism) a good thing too? Why not advocate imperialism instead? (Wouldn't Mexican land be more valuable too, if it moved to the US?) And if imperialism doesn't work, in practice, why would anyone expect open borders to work?

Well, that's easy: open borders is preferable to imperialism for the same reason laws ratified through representative democracy are preferable to dictatorial fiat, even if the laws ratified are exactly the same in both cases. My econ professors always taught me that choice is valuable. Wouldn't it be strange to say that Congress shouldn't pass a good law based on the idea that, in practice, totalitarianism makes people miserable?

If I want (say) the US to annex me and my land, where is the totalitarianism?

Nick, unrelated but...
A rather funny take on your previous post on debt being a burden (to an extent, and to loanable funds)
Apples do not equal money. ;)
https://originofspecious.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/2420/

"because MY quality of life is adversely affected by out of control construction. For one, we don't have any water left... and yet just in the last year we've had two big hotels and five new housing projects go in, and an expansion of the air port. My two mile commute to work is starting to feel like driving through the cesspool that is Los Angeles. It'll get somewhat better when they stop tearing up the streets, but sheez! I've had enough."
You may be interested in land value taxation - a tax on the community generated "location, location, location." It automatically compensates for positive and negative externalities such as this.
Also, they don't make land anymore. A LVT would not affect the supply of land, as it fixed.

"If I want (say) the US to annex me and my land, where is the totalitarianism?"
"why isn't imperialism (or colonialism) a good thing too?"

That's easy. It depends on the empire, doesn't it? If by "imperialism" you mean something like "Latvia applies to join the European Empire and is accepted" then that is a good thing too. If by "imperialism" you mean something like "we march our army into your country, take away all your land and institute laws which discriminate against you" then that is a bad thing. The first one, at sufficiently abstract level is indeed similar to open borders. Ok, I support that kind of imperialism. The second one is not.

In other words, you're equivocating.

(actually open borders has one advantage over the "voluntarily joining an empire" scenario in that it can accommodate hetereogeneity of preferences as to whether the joining should happen or not)

notsneaky: if the people in country A cross the border into country B (without needing the consent of the people in country B), is that Open Borders or Imperialism?

Open Borders and "good Imperialism"

notsneaky: is it *always* "good imperialism"? What if they outnumber the original inhabitants of country Beta, and change the laws(/language/culture etc.) of country Beta to be exactly like the laws in country Alpha? How is that different from forcing the original inhabitants of country Beta to emigrate to a foreign country?

What if nobody moves, but one half +1 of the original inhabitants of Beta decide to change the laws of the country Beta to be exactly like the laws in country Alpha? Did that one half +1 Betans just "force" the other one half -1 of Betans to move? Is this *bad*?

Nick, I don't get it. The reason I mentioned totalitarianism is because "totalitarianism doesn't work, so why do we expect democracy to work?" is not a reasonable argument against democracy - in the same sense that "imperialism doesn't work, so why do we expect open borders to work?" is not a reasonable argument against open borders.

Now, your original blog post compared open borders to "forced immigration," and that's what I've been talking about. If you're now suggesting that it's not totalitarianism, meaning it's not imperialism, meaning it's not forced immigration, then why did you write a blog post about forced immigration?

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