Free to Move

Upcoming Cato Institute Virtual Book Forum on my New Book "Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom"

The event will be held on August 13, and is free and open to the public.


On August 13, the Cato Institute will be holding a virtual book forum on my new book Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom. There will be commentary by economist Bryan Caplan and immigration law scholar Peter Margulies, who recently reviewed the book at the Lawfare website.

The event will run from 12:30 to 1:45 PM Eastern time, and is free and open to the public. Registration and additional information is available here.

In June, I  did a series of posts about Free to Move. The last post in the series, which has links to the earlier ones, is available here. In the first post in the series, I summarized what the book is about, and why I wrote it. The Introduction to Free to Move, which provides an overview of the rest of the book, is available for free download on the SSRN website here.

As previously indicated, I have promised to donate 50% of the royalties from Free to Move to charities benefiting refugees.

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  1. “As previously indicated, I have promised to donate 50% of the royalties from Free to Move to charities benefiting refugees.”

    That calls for (more) free beer!

    (The logistics are unusually difficult at this moment; please be patient.)

  2. What, exactly, is the difference between “free to move” and European colonization?

    In both cases, you have an existing society where others — outsiders — arrive and attempt to take what they have away from them, either by force of superior arms or by force of superior numbers.

    1. If he has anywhere responded to that point, I’ve missed it.

      Foot voting only works if there are DIFFERENT places to walk to. But, totally unrestrained, it tends to erase those differences.

      Ilya really does not want to face the fact that you can destroy what a place has to offer by letting in everybody who wants to go there. He knows that he is vastly better off himself due to his parents bringing him here, and wants to share it with all the world. But if he gets his way, there won’t be anything to share anymore, and the people who previously enjoyed that liberty, (Including him!) will lose it, too. We’re already losing it.

      It really is lifeboat ethics, and Ilya, having been saved, wants to haul everybody on board, and sink the lifeboat.

      1. Immigration has improved this nation enormously. Some people want to pull up the latter because of their backwardness and bigotry.

        We have encountered successive waves of ignorance and intolerance — often related to immigration, skin color, religion, or perceived economic pressure — throughout American history. Those targeted have included the Irish, Jews, blacks, Italians, agnostics, gays, Asians, Catholics, women, eastern Europeans, Muslims, Hispanics, atheists, other Asians, other Hispanics — most of America, at one time or another.

        The beauty of America is that our lesser voices don’t win, not over time. Our current batch of bigots seems nothing special, its reliance on the charms, insights, and integrity of Donald Trump notwithstanding. I expect America to overcome our current bigots much as it has stomped their predecessors.

        I expect America to continue to improve, and immigrants to continue to constitute a substantial element of that improvement. Ironically, our declining, can’t-keep-up backwaters — which tend to be the most hostile to immigration — would benefit more than most from the entrepreneurship, ambition, education, optimism, skills, and drive immigrants can contribute to a community.

        1. Right, you think immigration has improved America, because it has changed America, in directions you like.

          1. Hmm, would the Rev be for or against South African and Zimbabwean whites, particularly the farmers, coming en masse as a persecuted minority, to the U.S.?

            If I ask, I already know.

          2. I oppose limitations on movements across state and city borders. I do not see how national borders are any different.

            This country had no immigration laws for 100 years, then instituted them against Asians but had massive immigration from Europe for fifty years, and only then reduced all immigration. The country did not fall apart from all those immigrants. It would not have fallen apart from Asian immigration. It will not fall apart from modern immigration.

            Xenophobia and status quo-ism are lousy excuses.

            1. “This country had no immigration laws for 100 years, then instituted them against Asians but had massive immigration from Europe for fifty years”

              It’s not “exactly” true that the country had no immigration laws. But more to the point is that the practical limits on immigration prevented mass immigration.

              One good way to look at immigration to the US is the % foreign born by decade. The % foreign born in the early 1800’s was actually quite low. For example, in 1830, just 1.6% of the US population was foreign born. This went up to 9.7% by 1850
              The period of time from 1870 to 1910 saw a historic high of the foreign born population, at ~14%. Unsurprisingly, this is when immigration laws started to increasingly take effect, as the number of foreign born immigrants began to become to large to easily assimilate. After 1910, the foreign born population began to drop, dropping to a low of 4.7% in 1970.

              But once again, we’re nearing that historic high, with the foreign born population in the US at ~14% today, increasing dramatically from that low in 1970. It may be time to limit that increase, and allow time for the current foreign born population to thoroughly assimilate.

              Once again, we’re at that stage, with the

            2. Why was the Klan popular in the 1920’s?

          3. “Right, you think immigration has improved America, because it has changed America, in directions you like.”

            I like linguine, collard greens, Jameson, egg rolls, burritos, sushi, bagels, pad thai, tacos, pierogis, falafel, and more. I am not fond of kimchee or lutefisk, though.

            America has withstood the cultural onslaught of pizza, Irish stew, kung pao chicken, haluski, hummus, and enchiladas . . . I believe we are strong enough to handle even more diversity.

            1. Kimchee is pretty good, actually. I make my own. I agree, though: Pass on the lutefisk, bulad is better. (Especially squid bulad. It’s crunchy!)

              But you don’t need open borders to have a diverse cuisine. You just need non-zero immigration.

              Some immigrants improve the country, some immigrants are a wash, and some are positively harmful. Unless you have selective immigration, you can’t reject the last. Open borders means taking the health and the plague carriers, the lawful and the criminals, the educated and the ignorant, the productive and the parasites.

              You want immigration to improve America? It’s the restrictionist who are your allies, not open borders advocates like Somin.

              But, of course, all you really mean by improving the country, is increasing the left’s political power. For that purpose you want the parasites, happy to go on the dole and vote for you in return.

              1. I want people with drive and ambition — in part to try to improve our left-behind-and-getting-worse backwaters, where indolence, backwardness, ignorance, resentment, and superstition (compounded by bright flight) have created a depleted human residue steeped in dysfunction and disaffectedness.

        2. “Immigration has improved this nation enormously”

          How do the Native Americans feel about this “improvement”?

          1. White clingers invoking Native Americans?

            1. That’s right… The immigration you speak so fondly of completely and utterly wiped out their culture, way of life, and ended in a virtual genocide for more than 90% of their population….

              That’s an improvement though, according to you, right?

              1. I was focused on events I have observed during my lifetime, you disingenuous, half-educated, bigoted, right-wing clinger.

                1. So, in other words, you ignored more than 80% of history because it was inconvenient….Or more likely because you were never “educated” about it.

                  Poor Rev.

                  Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

  3. Wow wow wow. What an intellectually diverse panel.

    1. Agreed. But at least Cato is permitting questions to be asked; I’ve posted one myself. Whether the questions will get any response is, of course, another matter.

      But you can ask them, anyway.

  4. Sorry, I am not a recruiter and have no beer to offer.  As wonderful as your idea to vote with one’s feet is, especially here in the States, there is good reason at the moment to throttle back our usual rates of immigration:  because, duck and cover, we are beset by the global pandemic Covid!

    When much of our economy is no longer shut down and faltering, when all schools reopen, when we no longer have to wear oxygen-depriving and submission-signalling masks out in public or to purchase groceries, when civil rights-violating contact tracing and mandated quarantines are no longer imposed upon pain of penalty or jail time, when our broke government no longer elects to hand out huge sums of printed money to “struggling” mega-corporations and meager amounts times multi-millions to citizens out of work or handicapped by the shutdowns 

    When the nation’s health system is no longer overtaxed with patients and strained by unaffordable benefits and the “global pandemic” is not considered to be so serious as to force inject us with a new and hurried vaccine, when the titanic mortgage default debacle and pension fund implosion to come as a result of the official brute reaction to Covid is absorbed by the economy, and when our economy and society are more or less restored to some level of viability and comity, it is then we could afford to welcome many more wonderful immigrants into our country, again.

    1. [Trouble posting- 3rd try]

      We love immigrants, especially the ones already here along with the native born who are having to bear the current burden of Covid and our government’s response to it.  Are you proposing we endorse a policy of generous immigration during a wrenching “global pandemic,” when most of us who are already here are denied our civil liberties and many their livelihoods and soon their houses?  

      How is this thinking not of a piece with how leftist liberal government and corporate culture have politically prioritized and endorsed BLM and other protesters with their shouting, spewing, and brick throwing arm-in-arm disruption over others of us who are not legally able to attend class, parties, or church and synagogue due to social distancing dictates and virus transmission dangers of listening, singing, and dancing?

      In this strange and strained time of disease and autocracy, are the immigrants you propose going to fix things here and be a social, political, and economic immediate net plus for all of us (and not just for the tech and research sectors seeking smart cheap imported labor), when the many current immigrant residents, along with natural citizens, have not been able to sustain the expense and stop the loss of liberty from Covid and all of whom are likely facing no small degree of hardship to come?

      Seems doubtful;  the risk of not curtailing immigration during our Covid crisis and its aftermath would be the height of irresponsibility to our Joe-José-Yusef public, though likely lucrative for shareholders.  Let’s get on our feet, again, so we can all vote with our feet within the States and legally across global borders.

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