17 Sep 2014


David R. Henderson, Krugman, Potpourri 60 Comments

==> Tyler Cowen elicits outrage from his readers (in the comments) when he writes, “[T]his story will not end with a “no” vote from Scotland, unless it is strongly decisive. Regardless of the result, allowing this referendum to go forward likely will go down as one of the greatest unforced errors in recent times.”

==> I’ll almost certainly be writing something on this topic, but in the meantime, here is Bryan Caplan’s interview about “open borders” (make sure you see his point about Spanish-speaking immigrants), and here is Gene Callahan giving a good jab on Caplan’s opening rhetorical move, as well as a longer post using Hayekian dispersed knowledge to justify a “non-open border.” (I am putting these terms in quotation marks because the writers in question don’t really mean what the words might imply.)

==> Silas Barta was thinking about women killing their husbands before you even knew the village had a queen.

==> Scott Sumner has a good post on why ending slavery made the U.S. richer. I think Scott also missed a huge point: The (so-called) Civil War itself was very destructive, and so his empirical arguments are even stronger (I think?).

==> David R. Henderson was writing memos to Martin Feldstein when I was watching Voltron. I think I made the wiser choice.

==> There’s something oh so special when Paul Krugman writes, “Nor are zombies and cockroaches the only kinds of bad faith; the worst, as far as I’m concerned, involves refusing to take responsibility for your actual statements.” I’ll just leave this here.

60 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. Levi says:

    Voltron was awesome! I’m pretty sure I watched re-runs though.

  2. Darien says:

    Next Porcfest, let’s do Voltron cosplay. You in, Bob?

  3. Tel says:

    From Silas:

    “Every man is unfaithful.” –> “All investors are incapable of beating the market.”

    That’s ridiculous, the market is made of investors; the definition of an average dictates that the same amount of money lost by one group of investors is gained by other investors (as compared to the market average).

    • Silas Barta says:

      I meant that as “incapable over a long enough time scale”, though you’re right, it may not even be true then.

  4. Raja says:

    Question: How do we figure out whether a relationship is causal or correlated? Using deductive reasoning we can find causal it seems, but can we find causal relationships using stats in soft sciences?

  5. rob says:

    I’m looking forward to a more fruitful discussion on the issue of open borders on this blog (with views from both sides being allowed to be expressed freely) than what Gene Callahan permits in the comments sections of his own blog.

    I’m far from an expert in this area and actually do think that people who live in an area should have some control on who is allowed to move there. I’m just not convinced that the US government is the appropriate body to be policing this for the whole US territory.. I tried to engage Gene in a discussion on the topic in the comments section of first post of his that you link to above.

    However Gene just treated me like someone who was out to troll him. First he acted all offended when I asked some some clarifying questions on his view on the the limits of state power, then he banned me when I made a light-heated comment on a follow up post of his ( http://gene-callahan.blogspot.com/2014/09/calling-someone-who-thinks-that-there.html ) suggesting that as he thinks the government is the right body to choose the optimal level of immigration then he might also wish to have the government control the optimum level of calorie intake in its area of power.

    Gene runs his blog like a petty bureaucrat, personally approving all comments, and its my experience that he often doesn’t approve perfectly reasonable comments for no reason beyond (I suspect) that he has the power to do so and finds it easier to just ignore viewpoints that conflict with his own than address them.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Gene is allowed to close the border of his comments section.

      • rob says:

        Well its his blog so he can be a local despot if he wants to be.

        But when other commentators respond to comments I have made – and then Gene declines to publish my (perfectly sanguine) responses to them – it does make you wonder how interested in free debate he really is.he.

        • Raja says:

          Who are Gene’s customers? I guess those who visit his blog. If his service is lacking you have the choice to move to a better service provider. And you are here now, in the bosom of rationality, logic, religion and karaoke. Of course being good looking is a prerequisite to posting here.

        • Gene Callahan says:

          rob, you are being a jerk:
          1) Until two days ago, I NEVER “declined to publish” your comments. Everyone else posting recognizes that I often get backed up several days in posting comments, then they come out in a flood. Only YOU have taken this as some personal vendetta! Everyone else just figures “My comment will show up sooner or later.”
          2) You were continually warned about wasting my time by posting completely fanciful re-writings of what I said. Then you did it again. You are a complete time waster. Sorry, but I am a busy person, and don’t need to put up with this, especially after you had been warned about a dozen times.

          • rob says:

            If that is your comments policy then , fine – but I have asked about it a couple of time (in comments that were never published at all !) and you never provided clarification (until now, when I raise it in a more public forum) – it certainly seems odd that you are so selective in what you approve immediately and what takes a few days, and what never appears.

            Its your blog and its fine that you have banned me (though the reason you give is a little spurious, – I have never really mis-stated your views in a very material way, IMO, and if I did so, it was by mistake and not in any attempt to annoy or waste your time ).

            Anyway – I just wanted to warn others (who don’t share his views) that commenting on Gene’s blogs may well end in frustration and the feeling that Gene doesn’t really like open debate.

            Mission accomplished.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              rob, FWIW, I thought for a while Gene was zapping my comments, but what was happening is that if his software doesn’t recognize your identity, and then you submit the comment, the screen refreshes and you think it “took” it. But it didn’t.

              So now, I first put in a single letter and hit “publish,” then it shows me as Bob Murphy, and I type in my real comment.

              • rob says:

                I don’t think its that , as I normally see the “your comment will be visible after approval message”.

                Anyway , don’t want to be too much of a jerk.on this. Its his blog and he can enforce whatever rules he wants

                I was annoyed that Gene banned me for what I consider to be spurious reasons. Hopefully I’ve annoyed him a bit in return, and now I’ll move on.

      • Silas Barta says:

        Silas Barta likes this.

    • Philippe says:

      “as he thinks the government is the right body to choose the optimal level of immigration then he might also wish to have the government control the optimum level of calorie intake in its area of power”

      I’m not sure what you mean by your comment. Who do you think should determine who can cross the border, given that the border is a legal/state creation?

      • rob says:

        If you read Gene’s post he is claiming that there is an optimal level of immigration just as there is a optimal level of calorie in-take.

        I do not think that many open borders advocates would dispute this. They just think the market (or local property owners) will be able to find this optimum better than the state.

        My (admittedly silly) comment was that to be consistent we should have the state determining the optimal level of calorie-intake as well as immigration if we think it is the right body for doing this kind of thing.

        • Philippe says:

          “to be consistent we should have the state determining the optimal level of calorie-intake as well as immigration if we think it is the right body for doing this kind of thing.”

          I don’t see how that follows logically at all.

          • Philippe says:

            by ‘determining the optimal level of calorie intake’ do you mean declaring what the ‘official’ optimal calorie intake is, or somehow forcing people to consume that optimal amount of calories?

            • rob says:

              Well. it was meant as a jokey one-line comment rather than one that holds-up to serious analysis!

              But the logic (such as it was) is:

              – Gene thinks that there is an optimal level of immigration less than infinity and the state is the best one to choose and regulate that level.

              Gene thinks that there is an optimal level of calorie intake less than infinity, perhaps we should consider the state as the one to choose and regulate that level too.

              • Philippe says:

                “Gene thinks that there is an optimal level of immigration”

                ‘immigration’ refers to the movement of people across borders established by the government of the state. How could someone else decide how many people should be allowed to cross said borders?

                “Gene thinks that there is an optimal level of calorie intake”

                If a private member’s club decides who can enter its premises, does it follow that the club management should also decide how many calories each member can consume? I don’t know why you think the latter would follow logically from the former.

              • rob says:


                As far as I can tell Gene thinks its some kind of logical or (at least practical) necessity that the state should regulate immigration partially based on the fact that “it has a non-finite optimum”.

                If he thinks that and he also thinks that there is a non-finite optimum for calorie intake (I assume he does) then it seem a question worth asking (at least in jest) whether he would like to see the state regulate that too.

              • rob says:

                And on “‘immigration’ refers to the movement of people across borders established by the government of the state.”

                I was thinking of it as synonymous with “migration” – the movement of people geographically. I guess it may becomes immigration when controls are put in place to restrict it.

              • Philippe says:

                why do you think that an organization which regulates movement across borders it has established should also regulate the consumption of calories by individuals within those borders? It seems like a total non-sequitur to me.

                If you allow someone to live in your house, does that mean you should also decide how much food they are allowed to consume?

              • rob says:

                Well , if you have a state with arbitrary powers I see no particular reason why it wouldn’t choose to do both, if it felt there was political benefit in doing so.

              • Philippe says:

                “I see no particular reason why it wouldn’t choose to do both”

                Deciding how many calories people can consume does not follow logically from deciding how many people can cross the border.

                If it did, then if you allowed people to live in your house it would follow logically that you could decide how many calories they would be allowed to consume.

              • Rick Hull says:


                Rob’s #2 does not necessarily follow logically from #1. His point is that Gene’s justification for #1 also justifies #2. He is pressing Gene for a more specific justification for #1. He is implicitly criticizing Gene’s justification as an “I win” trump card that could also be used to justify some awful things.

              • Philippe says:

                “His point is that Gene’s justification for #1 also justifies #2”

                does deciding who can enter your house justify deciding how many calories people can eat in your house?

                Again, you are non-sequituring.

              • Rick Hull says:

                Now you are being deliberately obtuse at best, or moving the goalposts at worst.

                Neither Gene nor Rob discussed entering houses — that is your analogy.

                The question is not whether Rob is correct, but rather whether his challenge to Gene was trolling or legitimate.

                Your house analogy may shoot down Rob’s argument, but you should at least acknowledge his argument for what it is, on his terms.

              • Philippe says:

                “you should at least acknowledge his argument for what it is, on his terms”

                what is his argument? It seems to be that: if the government can decide how many people can cross the border, then they can decide how many calories you must consume. I don’t really see how that is a logical argument.

          • Bob Murphy says:

            Philippe, did you forget that *Gene* was the one to make an analogy between immigrants and calories? If you think rob is making a non sequitur, then so is Gene. rob is merely showing Gene that his analogy doesn’t work, even on his own terms.

            • rob says:

              Thanks Bob.

              To add:

              Gene is saying ‘ Calling someone who thinks that there might be an optimal number of immigrants…
              less than infinity “anti-immigrant” is like calling someone who thinks there might be an optimal amount of calories consumed less than infinity “anti-eating.’

              The thinking behind my comment was

              – Most open borders advocate don’t disagree that there there is an optimal number of immigrants so his post was a bit off target

              – And as his solution to the fact that there is an optimal number of immigrants is to have the state regulate it, I suggested (in jest) that perhaps he would want the state controlling calorie intake too.

              I guess trolling is in the eye of the beholder, and I admit it wasn’t exactly Oscar Wilde standards – but a blog ban for that seemed a bit harsh.

          • Jan Masek says:

            It doesn’t, that’s the point. In both calories intake and immigration.

    • Jan Masek says:

      Why do you even care? Mr. Callahan switched sides for some reason. His blog doesn’t show this reason (at least not in a prominent place, I looked quite hard but won’t spend hours on it). His supporters don’t know his reasons (well, at least one didn’t). So I can only guess the reason. But I don’t care. Why should I? He says nothing of substance. He never elaborates on his criticism of austrians/anarchists, just makes random bitings that can easily be refuted.
      His comments policy is weird but who cares? There is so much stuff to be read by fascinating intellectuals that I wouldn’t spend a minute arguing with Mr. Callahan.

  6. Bob Roddis says:

    Recently on the Charlie Rose PBS TV show, Rose’s guest was Jeffrey Goldberg who constantly appears in the “prestige” media as an “expert” on the Middle East. Glenn Greenwald explains Mr. Goldberg:

    One of his most obscenely false and damaging articles — this 2002 museum of deceitful, hideous journalism, “reporting” on Saddam’s “possible ties to Al Qaeda” — actually won an Oversea’s Press Award for — get this — “best international reporting in a print medium dealing with human rights.” Goldberg, whose devotion to Israel is so extreme that he served in the IDF as a prison guard over Palestinians and was described last year as “Netanyahu’s faithful stenographer” by The New York Times’ Roger Cohen, wrote an even more falsehood-filled 2002 New Yorker article, warning that Hezbollah was planning a master, Legion-of-Doom alliance with Saddam Hussein for a “larger war,” and that “[b]oth Israel and the United States believe that, at the outset of an American campaign against Saddam, Iraq will fire missiles at Israel — perhaps with chemical or biological payloads — in order to provoke an Israeli conventional, or even nuclear, response,” though — Goldberg sternly warned — “Hezbollah, which is better situated than Iraq to do damage to Israel, might do Saddam’s work itself” and “its state sponsors, Iran and Syria, maintain extensive biological- and chemical-weapons programs.” That fantastical, war-fueling screed — aimed at scaring Americans into targeting the full panoply of Israel’s enemies — actually won a National Magazine Award in 2003. Given how completely discredited those articles are, those are awards which any person with an iota of shame would renounce and apologize for, but Goldberg continues to proudly tout them on his bio page at The Atlantic.


    This is all in line with the MSM failing to ever note that Obama overthrew the elected government of Ukraine or that Hillary and Obama turned Libya into an Islamist Mad Max Zone (while the Republicans were calling Obama a weenie and peacenik).

    Krugman serves a similar role as a defender of the Klepto-Keynesian regime. Pretending otherwise harms our cause.

    • J Mann says:


      I read Goldberg’s 2002 New Yorker article, and I’m not sure I can see Greenwald’s point. Goldberg reported that Israeli and US analysts were concerned that if the US attacked Iraq, (1) Iraq might attack Israel in an attempt to cast the conflict as colonialists vs muslims and arabs; and (2) Syria or Hezbollah might attack Israel.

      Is Greenwald arguing that analysts weren’t really concerned about those things in 2002 or that Greenwald shouldn’t have reported them? It seems to me that if he had written a piece that said “We can totally attack Iraq without any threat of igniting unrest across the Middle East,” Greenwald would characterize that as carrying water for the war party as well.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      What Goldberg wrote in 2002:

      There is some debate among arms-control experts about exactly when Saddam will have nuclear capabilities. But there is no disagreement that Iraq, if unchecked, will have them soon, and a nuclear-armed Iraq would alter forever the balance of power in the Middle East.

      Saddam had no WMD and no nuclear weapons program. Why is Goldberg still on TV? On “public” government subsidized TV?

  7. J Mann says:

    I think Krugman’s wrong on civility, and I think his examples are instructive. Krugman offers the following “quotes” as examples of people who have forfeited their right to civility.

    “The failure of high inflation to materialize doesn’t mean that I was wrong, because I only said that there was a risk of inflation”

    I think this claim would benefit from a civil attempt to understand it. Krugman presumably believes that people who called the housing “bubble” several years before the crash were correct to maintain their views even after several years of the crash’s failure to materialize. He has a factual assertion – that tripling the money supply and/or allegedly committing to a substantial future debt load provides no signficant risk of inflation, presumably because the Fed can be trusted to reduce the money supply as velocity increases and/or that markets will conclude that future governments will manage future debt without monetezation.

    But Krugman doesn’t actually believe that a few years of market data should change people’s minds about risks they think aren’t priced in – he should move to a civil discussion of (1) here’s why inflation Cassandras claim to be worried, (2) here’s why I think they’re not right about the risks (and one of those reason is that the inflation futures market doesn’t seem to be worried, and that’s made up of a lot of smart people with money on the line.”

    “When I said that Obamacare spending adds a trillion dollars to the deficit, I wasn’t misleading readers, because I didn’t actually deny that the ACA as a whole reduces the deficit.”

    Who is Krugman paraphrasing here? Is this the debate about whether ACA can take credit for the Medicare “doc fix”? If I understand that, that’s a semantic debate — IIUC, ACA funding assumed that (1) but for ACA, Congress would have passed a law (the “doc fix”) that would have cost a lot of money and (2) because of ACA, Congress wouldn’t.

    I think that depends on a counterfactual (what would have happened but for ACA) and a definition problem (when people hear “won’t add a dime to the deficit,” is this the kind of thing they understand, but Krugman’s main complaint is that other people won’t concede he’s right even after he’s explained himself, which doesn’t seem so beyond the pale as to forfeit a right to civility.

    Krugman’s main problem, assuming he’s arguing in good faith, is a lack of charity – he almost never reads someone who he disagrees with to try to understand the strongest interpretation of their argument, but he demands that his readers extend him that courtesy.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      Krugman writes:

      When there’s an honest, good-faith economic debate…….by all means let’s be civil. But in my experience demands for civility almost always come from people who have forfeited the right to the respect they demand.

      Krugman does not understand the first thing about Austrian and/or libertarian analysis (of course, no non-Austrian or non-libertarian does). How civil should we be towards him?

      BTW, I stand by my comparison of his “economics” with the regime’s never-ending foreign policy lies. It’s all from the same source. As Stockman emphasizes daily and as we all know, Klepto-Keynesianism is how the war machine is and has always been funded.

      • Cosmo Kramer says:

        “Krugman does not understand the first thing about Austrian and/or libertarian analysis (of course, no non-Austrian or non-libertarian does). How civil should we be towards him?”

        Is this true? Is there no statist that simply disagrees with our point of view but understands how it was reached?

        • Bob Roddis says:

          I first said that tongue in cheek on the Yglesias blog back in 2009. I assumed that SOMEONE would take up the challenge and at least take a shot at refuting the assertion.

          They never did which I found very strange. And they still haven’t, except for LK.

          If you can find one, that would be great. I’m talking about someone understanding and applying basic concepts and analysis including economic calculation/miscalulation and prices as information plus voluntary exchange vs violent intervention, as opposed to a superficial understanding of ABCT.

          • Philippe says:

            it would be interesting if you could actually explain you personally mean by:

            “economic calculation/miscalulation and prices as information plus voluntary exchange vs violent intervention”

            but I suspect that your explanation would be on the intellectual level of “violence distortions because of violent funny money squirtings = BAD!!@!!… because!!!!”

            • Bob Roddis says:

              I’m sorry but that seems to be the intellectual level of your understanding.

              This is a slide from a Bob Murphy Mises.org course lecture that he produced for free a few years ago. I don’t have quick link for his post:


              Listen to that lecture.

          • LK says:

            Hayek’s famous paper “The Use of Knowledge in Society” is well known in mainstream economics, as is the theory in it.

            The Austrian “basic concepts” that roddis speaks of — e.g., a flexible wage and price system that equates supply and demand in product markets — are also part and parcel of neoclassical theory.

            In fact, the one person here who is woefully ignorant of these concepts is… bob roddis.

            Witness his inability to give a yes/no answer to this simple question:

            “Is the idea of a tendency towards market clearing wages and prices by human action (even if the whole economy never reaches Mises’s final state of rest equilibrium) a fundamentally important part of the Austrian theory of economic coordination?”

            Yes or no?
            Just watch as roddis implodes as he tries to answer this question, or more likely runs away and hides.

            • Bob Roddis says:

              From “In Defense of ‘Extreme Apriorism’”
              By Murray N. Rothbard:

              From our [fundamental action] Axiom is derived this absolute truth: that every firm aims always at maximizing its psychic profit. This may or may not involve maximizing its money profit. Often it may not, and no praxeologist would deny this fact. When an entrepreneur deliberately accepts lower money profits in order to give a good job to a ne’er-do-well nephew, the praxeologist is not confounded. The entrepreneur simply has chosen to take a certain cut in monetary profit in order to satisfy his consumption–satisfaction of seeing his nephew well provided. The assumption that firms aim at maximizing their money profits is simply a convenience of analysis; it permits the elaboration of a framework of catallactics (economics of the market) which could not otherwise be developed. The praxeologist always has in mind the proviso that where this subsidiary postulate does not apply–as in the case of the ne’er-do-well–his deduced theories will not be applicable. He simply believes that enough entrepreneurs follow monetary aims enough of the time to make his theory highly useful in explaining the real market. p. 4


              • Philippe says:

                squirtings!!! No one understands the violent squirtings!

                This is a very important and educated point made by a very intelligent and really grown-up and well-educated and knowedgeable individual known as ‘Bob Roddis’.

                Real economists just don’t understand the very intelligent and adult theories of Bob Roddis, because the theories are just too educated and intelligent and grown up for real economists to understand.

                The point is that Bob Roddis has very special, intelligent and grown up knowledge about the violence of funny money squirtings which actual economists just don’t get, because they are just not as intelligent, educated and physically developed as Bob Roddis, who is an acknowedged expert on everything he says, according to him.

                This is a real problem, because it is very obvious that whatever the highly-knowedgeable and highly-educated and not-at-all crazy Bob Roddis says is obviously right, and whatever real actual economists say is obviously wrong.

                We know this for a fact because violence funny money squirtings violently distort economic calculation and therefore economics is wrong. This should be obvious to everyone, therefore it is a mystery why real actual economists just don’t understand the highly-evolved and really intelligent theories of Bob Roddis.

              • Bob Roddis says:

                Trollin’ trollin’ trollin’


              • Philippe says:

                very highly-evolved, Bob. You’re getting there.

              • LK says:

                So Roddis can’t answer the question — what did I tell you?

              • Philippe says:

                Bob is very intelligent.. so you have to give him some time to elaborate on his highly developed funny money squirting distortion theories.

                These very adult theories can not be easily articulated, which is why real actual economists just don’t understand them.

                No one understands the very educated and not-at-all juvenile-or-insane Bob Roddis.

                It’s all a conspiracy, see…

              • Major.Freedom says:

                At least Bob doesn’t psychologically depend on mommy and daddy government to protect poor wittle Phiweepe fwum the boogeyman.

            • Anonymous says:

              “Is the idea of a tendency towards market clearing wages and prices by human action (even if the whole economy never reaches Mises’s final state of rest equilibrium) a fundamentally important part of the Austrian theory of economic coordination?”

              Yes or no?

              The answer is yes, the idea is important, but since the concept of “market clearing” is poorly defined and used for various purposes, the same idea can be better expressed.

              Prices (including wages) will adjust toward a plain state of rest. In the short term this means that no market participants can find mutually profitable arrangements for trade (or employment in this case). Over time, a discovery process takes place (we don’t know how long it will take) and market participants adjust their knowledge and expectations to new information, which in turn results in another plain state of rest, and another round of price adjustment.

              The process never really comes to an end because new information is always entering the system but we can usefully deploy a model where we assume that the process does iterate towards an equilibrium. This helps us understand the effect of a change (e.g. increase in minimum wage).

              Nothing guarantees “market clearing” if by that you mean some concept of full employment (which itself is poorly defined and often shifts in meaning) or empty warehouses.

        • Bob Roddis says:

          Anyone who goes on and on about a few misplaced CPI predictions from 2009 does not know and does not want to know Austrian analysis. As we all know, Rothbard’s theory of the Great Depression is based upon central bank-induced price distortions that did not show up at all in the CPI.

  8. Garrett M. Petersen says:

    There’s a simple solution to Gene’s worries about culture clash: immigrant communities. It is extremely common for immigrants from the same place to all settle in the same neighbourhoods when they first enter a new country. There are instances of entire Italian towns picking up and moving to the same part of America, taking all their local knowledge of local customs with them. This self-segregation solves the problem without the need for government intervention. However, in order for immigrant communities to exist, there must be enough immigrants from the same place to form a community, so I think Gene’s argument cuts the other way. Harsh migration restrictions force the few migrants who get through to mingle with people with whom they have no cultural similarities.

    • K.P. says:

      Communities don’t clash? Depending on the immigrant community, it seems like that could be a much larger problem than a few out-of-towners.

  9. Reece says:

    Callahan seems to be making some pretty shocking leaps in his blog post that really don’t follow at all. For example: “a group has the right to control who can become a member of the group. If it loses such control, it will soon cease to be a coherent group.” He provides no evidence for this assertion whatsoever. It doesn’t even make any sense. There are plenty of groups where a single individual can add newcomers to it without permission from a group leader, and these are still coherent groups. Anyone involved with Facebook groups is probably aware that many allow individual members to add others. Some don’t even have an admin at all. These groups don’t suddenly fall apart.

    His article is more interesting, but he pretty much answers it himself at the end; immigrants bringing new ideas is a good thing (“it keeps it open to new ideas and new ways of doing things, and helps prevent ossification”). He seems to think that there is some point where the value from these new ideas is not worth the lost value from the knowledge problem. I don’t see why this would be the case. Perhaps the value of the new ideas drops over time as you have more and more immigrants, but the current customs lost also drop slower (the first immigrant moving to the neighborhood more significantly impacts these customs than the second). He gives no reason to believe that the immigration level under open borders would be any higher than the point where the new knowledge is not worth as much as the loss due to the knowledge problem anyway. It seems more likely that different people have different points where they prefer stable current customs over new knowledge, and that they would be less likely to sell their homes when it was at a point they liked, and more willing when it was not, and that housing prices and the thoughts of the potential immigrants on where this point is would help regulate how many people and which people were moving in. Sometimes, entire communities might flip cultures, but I don’t see why that is a bad thing – some current residents might be worse off, some might be better off.

    The examples he links to don’t really help his case of there being a significant knowledge problem. Most of them seem to be about racial-based conflict and over public resources and political control – which both are problems, but not related to the knowledge problem (and libertarians have talked about these issues extensively).

    • rob says:

      What I find interesting is that Gene in that post identifies many of the issues with immigration as occurring at the local level.

      However rather than drawing the conclusion that these issues should also be addressed at the local level he thinks that they should be address (for the US) by the federal government controlling immigration policy

      If he is going to go all Hayek on us, you think he would be smarter than just to use Hayek’s theories as a stick to try and beat his opponents, and then abandon them just at the point that Hayek views on decentralization and knowledge might have led him somewhere interesting,

      • Reece says:

        Well, he doesn’t really call for the government to enforce an immigration policy in his main article. He just notes that this is one potential problem with large-scale immigration, and doesn’t make a full conclusion on open versus closed borders.

        His non-academic blog post is where his main problems come in. There he claimed that not only would there be problems if the government didn’t control the border, but the United States would actually cease to be coherent group and fall apart. (He also completely missed Caplan’s point; it wasn’t directed at people that think the government has a right to all of the land under it. The government *functionally* stops immigrants from getting a job. Imagine if the government instead made a law saying that black people or some other group just couldn’t walk into any work area or job application spot – that would obviously be just as crazy, but Callahan’s argument would likely apply to it. Or, even more direct, babies; if the group has the right to determine who can become part of it, then the group has the right to kick all babies out of the United States. Caplan was not making his argument for people like Callahan, he was making it for people with a standard moral philosophy.)

        I liked his article, and thought he was mainly fair there. His blog post was not so good.

  10. Major.Freedom says:

    This whole “open borders” debate can be settled with a person who disagrees with you by just being asking whether that person supports their own homes having open borders, or if they prefer to set rules on who can and cannot enter their homes.

    Then just imagine all homes adjacent to one another, and oh let’s add land with businesses like office buildings and farms. Then bang you are talking about “societies” being closed as determined by the property owners.

    The confusion arises in the ephemeral abstract world of holistic aggregates where property rights are either muddled or ignored altogether.

    Unfortunately the terms “open borders” and “closed borders” are commonly referring to government policy. Governments do not own the lands upon which they enforce open or closed border policies. But this is ignored most of the time, so people’s passions about what people should be able to do, gets lost in a muddle of vague or contradictory unstates property rights assumptions.

    • Reece says:

      It’s more than just that. If I walk over your border, you can’t cage me for months. But if I walk over the government’s border, they can cage me for months. That’s way beyond a proportional response even if they did own it, which as you note, they don’t.

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