In Defense of Politics: A Response to Bryan Caplan

Audience in the lecture hall.

There are few economists smarter than Bryan Caplan, whose efforts to apply economic analysis to political phenomena have produced breakthrough insights, none more than his pioneering Myth of the Rational Voter (2007). But higher authorities also command deference. Aristotle is one. He warned in Book II of his Politics that political life is not reducible to an economic problem. Caplan’s recent post at Law and Liberty’s sister publication, EconLog, illustrates why.

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Libertarians Can Believe in Borders

Where to immigrate

A veritable avalanche of writings by libertarians I know and respect offer claims about libertarianism, immigration, and open borders. Apparently as a libertarian, I believe that countries should not limit entrance and exit across geographic boundaries. Alex Tabarrok says the argument is economic and “moral” because “law makers and heads of state,” and presumably misinformed citizens, prevent someone from immigrating in pursuit of work. According to Bryan Caplan, we could double our economic productivity with open borders and address concerns by limiting access to welfare until a threshold of tax payment is reached (a la Milton Friedman). Michael Huemer believes we are not entitled to limit access to valuable resources or to act on the aggregate preferences of citizens, since such policies may harm potential immigrants.

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Friday Roundup, December 7th

The next Liberty Law Talk is with John Fabian Witt on Lincoln's Code: The Laws of War in American History. Energy in the Executive: Don't miss Jeremy Bailey's review in this space of Jon Meacham's Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. Nicholas Johnson, a frequent contributor to these pages, is interviewed on NRA Radio about his post "Bob Costas' Supply-Side Gun Control Fallacy." Bryan Caplan at Econ Log: Decadent Parenting or selfish reasons to have more kids. The Federalist Society opens discussion on lawyers and the War on Terror in the 2nd decade of conflict. Getting federalism right, Ilya Somin reviews Michael Greve's The Upside-Down…

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