I was very much enjoying the latest skirmish between Tyler Cowen and Bryan Caplan–no matter who loses, I win–when I was astounded by this argument from Bryan, to drive home his point about how awful immigration restrictions are:
The obvious moral objection is that comparing slavery and immigration restrictions is absurd hyperbole. But it’s absurd hyperbole to call this apt comparison “absurd hyperbole.” Yes, enslaving a Haitian is plainly worse than forbidding him to accept a job offer anywhere on earth except Haiti. But they’re both dire harms. How would you react if the world’s laws barred you from every non-Haitian labor market on earth? With weeping and gnashing of teeth…
…Another helpful test: Suppose you had to choose between the following evils: (a) not being allowed to legally work anywhere but Haiti; or (b) being enslaved with probability X. What value of X makes you indifferent? My X=.33.
Say what?! All I need for my job is a good internet connection, which I imagine I could get in Haiti if I had to. And then on the weekends:
(BTW, I am quite aware of how awful certain parts of Haiti are.)