I want to draw attention to this analogy of Eli Dourado’s from a few months ago because it has stuck with me, and I find myself thinking about it often. In it, he says that our restrictions to immigration are attempts to preserve our advantaged positions and are similar to those who sought to preserve aristocracy:

It is perhaps unsurprising that those who think they benefit from the current system wish to keep it. They trot out all kinds of practical-sounding excuses for why we cannot completely open the border. All of these reasons have analogs in the system of class-based privilege. Most of us, I imagine, would like to think that if we were aristocrats of centuries past, we would see through the lameness of the arguments for using the state to keep down the lower classes. Yet the widespread opposition to open borders today shows that we are not that good.

I only disagree with this to the extent that I don’t think it applies to all opponents of open borders. My own opposition, for instance, is I think not grounded in any desire to preserve privilege, and fairly strong on cosmopolitan utilitarian grounds. Nevertheless, for many immigration opponents, I think his charge holds and that more people should consider it.

Bryan Caplan is quoted as having said the following about Robin Hanson:

 “When the typical economist tells me about his latest research, my standard reaction is ‘Eh, maybe.’ Then I forget about it. When Robin Hanson tells me about his latest research, my standard reaction is ‘No way! Impossible!’ Then I think about it for years.”

I disagree with Eli often -although in the grand scheme of things we are not so far apart- but I think something similar could be said about him, in that his ideas often sound radical at first pass, but they stick with you and provoke much thinking.


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