Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith – Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration

Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith – Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration

A graphic novel about immigration policy, and a superbly done one at that. Caplan, a former professor of mine at George Mason, wrote most of the words. Weinersmith, creator of the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal web comic, did the artwork and many of the jokes.

This book is aimed at skeptics, and Caplan and Weinsersmith do a much better job of appealing to them than most people do. In some ways, Open Borders is an example of what happens when someone is able to pass an ideological Turing test—a concept Caplan coined in 2011. They are routinely charitable to their opponents, and confront their strongest arguments as their proponents actually present them. This is much more effective than building up straw men and knocking them down, leaving the original argument untouched. It is also more difficult, which is why many people do not bother.

If immigration restrictionists pick up the book—and early sales figures suggest some of them are—Caplan and Weinersmith should allay a lot of peoples’ fears with their calm, accessible presentation that is rigorously backed with data and research (interested readers can consult roughly 30 pages worth of notes at the back of the book). They convey a tone that is light-hearted and serious at the same time, which is not an easy balance to strike. And even if they don’t convince very many people to embrace open borders, the sheer weight of data, theory, philosophy, and morality in their favor should at least push most readers a little bit in their direction at the margin.

Caplan and Weinersmith make a very good team. Hopefully they collaborate again in the future.


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