07 Jan 2020

BMS ep. 91: Bryan Caplan on Open Borders and His Critique of Austrian Economics

Bob Murphy Show, Bryan Caplan 7 Comments

7 Responses to “BMS ep. 91: Bryan Caplan on Open Borders and His Critique of Austrian Economics”

  1. Jnaus says:

    Let’s try it out! Let’s pick an area that borders the 3rd world and try open borders for say 10 years, adn then see the results. Then if it’s a tremendous success, we implement it on a larger scale.

    Maybe the US should push Israel, a prosperous 1st world nation bordering several impoverished 3rd world countries (including Syria with tons of refugees), into opening its borders. Make Israel completely open borders to all Egyptians, Africans, Syrians, Saudi, Jordanians, Palestinians, Lebanese etc. who want to go move there, without border control/restrictions/anything.

    Then we see what happens. If Caplan is right it’ll be an incredible success and a beacon of hope for all of us. But I say we wait for ten years of open borders Israel before committing to it in the West, just in case the tiny probability of it NOT going well occurs.

    • Tel says:

      Don’t be silly … we don’t need to wait ten years, we don’t even need to try it out. Just go to Israel with a bunch of surveys and get everyone to fill in the boxes, asking what would happen in ten years if it was tried out. Then simply collate the survey results. See how easy it can be?

      Now we all accept that survey results might not be 100% accurate … but they are pretty close and you can make them even better by adjusting the results where necessary, throwing away the ones you disagree with, and doing some other minor tweaks like that. Then you get quality controlled survey results … and these are astoundingly similar to real world empirical tests … especially good when we can take advantage of the excellent efficiency gain of never doing the empirical test as a comparison!

      • Transformer says:

        Why not model it using a computer simulation? Apparently they have been able to build models to simulate the change in global temperature and make predictions that are so accurate that the real recorded temperatures fall within the models 95% confidence intervals most of he time.

  2. Harold says:

    I have read Landsburg’s arguments on this pertaining to the USA. He points out that *at present* the evidence points to a general improvement of living standards in the USA if more immigration were allowed. Therefore immigration should be allowed now. This may change in the future, in which case the opposite conclusion could be reached at that point.

  3. PSzar says:

    I did not find Caplan at all convincing in his rejection of demonstrated preference and explicit acceptance of indifference. I’ve simply renewed my zest for rejecting the notion of indifference. In any example of supposed “indifference”, It sounds more like it applies to elasticity, or the idea that the margin may not appear to be a hard line/non-existent space like an asymptote. In the end I say the cases he calls indifference are in fact just a lack of incentive to change one’s final decision and demonstrated preference. This likely falls back into the argument about tautologies but I think “demonstrated” preference is just that.

    Whether it is the identical other than red/green sweaters, if told to take one, indifference will disappear on acting. If selecting to be *given* one vs reaching out and taking it results in supposed indifference, the real baulking implies a preference for not bearing the weight of the decision. A psychological victory for the subject.

    The choice to not move out of a state is like my choice not to step into oncoming traffic. Just because I didn’t do it doesn’t mean it was a deliberate decision, maybe I’m not even thinking about it. The incentive to move hasn’t shown up.

    The “ordinal” nature of our preferences and the real world, stepped-demand curves imply there are real potential gaps in price where no change takes place. Are these indifference or just a lack of incentive/reward to take action, which requires mental effort to overcome the leisure of doing nothing?

    • Harold says:

      “The “ordinal” nature of our preferences and the real world, stepped-demand curves imply there are real potential gaps in price where no change takes place.”

      Whilst this is clearly true for individuals, does not the whole idea of the “marginal consumer” sort this out? Given a market with sufficient consumers there will always be one at the margin who will be influenced to change by a small change in price. Or am I missing your point?

  4. Matt M says:

    I know I’m way late on this – just want to say I really enjoyed this episode, even though Caplan came off as a bit snarky due to his absolute refusal to concede even a little bit of a point to you throughout.

    I think you’re totally right about the “open borders” terminology, although I would have perhaps argued it a bit differently. My argument to Caplan would be that he does himself a disservice by using a term that, while generally understood, is also generally unpopular. He thinks he’s making his life easier by using a popular term, but he’s actually making it harder on himself by using a term loaded with baggage that isn’t actually a part of his position at all.

Leave a Reply