Implementing my Pledge to Donate Royalty Payments to Charities Benefiting Refugees

Giving Tuesday is an appropriate time for me to begin carrying out my pledge to donate 50% of the royalties generated by my book "Free to Move" to charities benefiting refugees.


Back in January, I pledged to donate 50% of all royalties generated by my book Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom to charities benefiting refugees. Today is Giving Tuesday, and therefore as good a time as any for me to begin to implement my pledge.

As of a few days ago, Oxford University Press indicates that we have sold some 1100 copies of the book, since it went into print in late May (after a delay caused by the Coronavirus crisis). By my admittedly rough calculations, 50% of the royalties for that number of sales amounts to about $1200.

I am therefore donating that amount to HIAS, one of America's oldest, largest, and most respected refugee-assistance organizations. That choice is partly guided by HIAS' high status and record of success in the refugee assistance field, and partly by the fact that other donors have promised to double any donations up to $21,000 given to HIAS during Giving Tuesday. Thus, the donation will have twice its "normal" effect.

I have consulted about other potential recipients for donations with leading experts on immigration and refugee policy, and will be giving future donations to some of those organizations, as well. I will announce those donations in due course. I should have additional funds available as more copies of the book are sold, and the publisher gives me more detailed data on how many copies of which type have been purchased (as the royalty amounts are slightly different depending on the format of the book, and we have hardcover, digital, and audio versions). My pledge also covers royalty income from potential foreign-language translations, which I am in the process of exploring.

For those interested, I will note that among the other organizations currently on my radar screen are Freedom For Immigrants and the Florence Project (both of which provide services to immigrants and refugees trapped in our awful immigration detention system), and Second Tree (which provides integration assistance and other services to refugees  from the Syrian Civil War and other recent conflicts in the Mediterranean region).

The Covid-19 pandemic and associated economic crisis have made the plight of refugees even worse than usual. So whether or not you ever read or buy my book, I urge those who have the means to do so to consider contributing to charities assisting refugees. Perhaps my admittedly modest donation can play a role in stimulating efforts by others.



NEXT: Four Thousand Years Ago, Textile Traders Invented a Basic Social Technology: Mass Literacy

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Why not host the refugees in your own home?

    This HIAS organization seems to be set up to bring in more refugees for the rest of us to support.

    1. Then you are ignorant. Very few immigrants require taxpayer support, except of course while detained in government waiting camps.

      If you really wanted to reduce taxpayer expenses, you’d work to reduce government, not find new ways to expand it.

      1. That’s not exactly true…

        One of the issues is that you’ve conflated refugees with all immigrants. The two groups are not synonymous.

        There are fairly significant differences between the groups, including education and so on. Another large difference is that refugees are instantly eligible for welfare, whereas most other immigrants need to wait 5 years before being eligible.

        Because of this, by most estimates, refugees “cost” quite a bit more than other immigrants.

      2. ” Very few immigrants require taxpayer support,”

        Not true.

        Average K-12 cost is $12,201 per pupil.

        Illegal immigrants per the Supreme Court have a right to go to school so each and every kid {including at one time all those so called “dreamers”] costs over 12K in “taxpayer support”. So at least $144K in taxpayer support.

        Now let’s talk about use of other government services. Cash taxpayer support is not the end of the matter.

        1. Educating our residents seems more like a public good than ‘support.’

        2. Actually, the calculations typically go the other way for refugees…the older refugees tend to cost more (in the long term).

          That’s because if a refugee is brought in at a young age, they are educated in the American system, and brought up through a full high school diploma, and more. This leads to being a higher earning (and higher tax-able) citizen more often. (There are of course exceptions, but we’re looking on average).

          When a refugee is brought in at an older age, often they don’t have American-level education or a high school level education. This generally means for their lifetime, they’ll be at sub-high school level education, with the attendant lower wages on average. In addition, remember refugees are eligible for all types of government assistance from day 1 (unlike other immigrants, who need to wait years to be eligible).

          If a refugee comes in at past retirement age, there generally won’t be any taxable benefit (outside of very select cases), and a much larger net loss will occur.

      3. Census confirms: 63 percent of ‘non-citizens’ on welfare, 4.6 million households

        Quotes and charts:
        A majority of non-citizens are tapping into welfare programs set up to help poor and ailing Americans, a Census Bureau finding that bolsters President Trump’s concern about immigrants costing the nation.

        In a new analysis of the latest numbers, from 2014, 63 percent of non-citizens are using a welfare program, and it grows to 70 percent for those here 10 years or more, confirming another concern that once immigrants tap into welfare, they don’t get off it.

        While most new legal immigrants (green card holders) are barred from most welfare programs, as are illegal immigrants and temporary visitors, these provisions have only a modest impact on non-citizen household use rates because: 1) most legal immigrants have been in the country long enough to qualify; 2) the bar does not apply to all programs, nor does it always apply to non-citizen children; 3) some states provide welfare to new immigrants on their own; and, most importantly, 4) non-citizens (including illegal immigrants) can receive benefits on behalf of their U.S.-born children who are awarded U.S. citizenship and full welfare eligibility at birth.

  2. He’s financially committed to his cause here. Are you yours?

    1. Absolutely. I have pledged 100% of my earnings from my next three movies to funding the Border Wall.

  3. Immigration law is now optional at least in the minds of the Dems. Wonder what they will think when others start viewing the law through that lens….

    1. Iirc there are more citizens in violation of federal tax law than there are illegal immigrants. Wonder when GOP will start viewing the law through this lens….

      1. Queeny,
        You should add “When will the Dems will start viewing the law through this lens?”

        Every single one in Congress shirks this duty.

      2. Last time I checked the IRS was pretty aggressive about prosecuting tax cases. More so then the Feds prosecute illegals. Would be nice if our government would spend its time and resources protecting its citizens instead of putting them in danger. But maybe that is a crazy idea…

        1. Check again, Jimmy.

          The IRS conducted 675,000 fewer audits in 2017 than it did in 2010, a drop in the audit rate of 42 percent

          New investigations of “nonfilers,” as they’re called, dropped from 2.4 million in 2011 to 362,000 last year. According to the inspector general for the IRS, the reduction results in at least $3 billion in lost revenue each year.

    2. They do. Ever notice that civil and criminal enforcement of environmental, white collar, and civil rights laws goes way down in Republican administrations?

      For instance, police departments are bound to obey various federal constitutional provisions. The current DOJ, however, does not care if they do or not. And indeed, the President himself has encouraged police officers to be rough with suspects and praised what appears to be an extrajudicial murder in Portland. In addition to being rights violations, these would violations of the most basic laws we have: laws against assault and unjustified purposeful killing.

    3. If the immigration laws can be safely ignored, which other laws can we now feel free to ignore?

      I could start by reducing the taxes that I pay, since I (and pretty much everyone) can better direct the money for personal and public benefit. I suggest that President Trump implement a de facto flat tax by forbidding IRS enforcement of any income tax collection above 10%.

      I could ignore New York City’s de facto gun bans and keep and carry a pistol for self protection in the many dangerous neighborhoods in that city that are neglected by the Manhattan elite.

      As a South Texas Hispanic rancher, I could ignore the federal gun laws, and construct my own fully automatic AR15 to protect my family from the drug cartels who walk through my property at night. I also suggest that President Trump forbid enforcement action against any federal gun control law violations that do not result in an an actual victim.

      I could build a small cabin in a National Park or protected wilderness for use by hikers and myself without first obtaining permission from the Park Service. One little cabin won’t hurt anything.

      I could ignore environmental laws mindlessly enforced by bureaucrats that place a small drainage ditch on my land under federal control because the water may someday drain into a navigable river (I am not making this up).

      The list is endless. But I will be prosecuted and end up in jail for all of these actions, even though all of them are non-violent actions that do not cause any harm to anyone.

      When you start ignoring some laws, others will start ignoring other laws. But perhaps if enough of us start ignoring all the laws, it won’t matter.

  4. This is fantastic, kudos to you. And please ignore and disregard the negative “I’ve got mine, the hell with you” comments that show a selfishness and mean spirited attitude towards the immigrants and refugees that have made this nation far better than it would be without them.

  5. OK…Good for you.

    I’ll admit my first thought was “They don’t send you a record of the royalties on your book, with the financial statement? Don’t you need that for your taxes?”

  6. I think the Mexican legal license should be recognized in the US, and $40000 a year lawyers should be allowed to practice. Mexico is more overlawyered than the US, thus their crime rates are very high. I am sure Mexico would love to dump their lawyers on the USA. Have Mexican lawyers teach law school at George Mason University.

  7. Ilya Somin, What a mensch!

  8. Good for you, Ilya.

  9. It’s cool when people use their own money for their favorite cause instead of appropriating everyone else’s money.

    We can’t all be rich professors with lifetime tenure. Some people don’t have extra money (or anything else extra) for your wish list and shouldn’t be forced to help out.

  10. Are any of those funds going to charities supporting libertarian refugees fleeing reason?

  11. “sold some 1100 copies”

    All those posts here pimping it and it sold a massive 1100 copies. Sad.

  12. Thanks for the virtue signaling. We now all know of your moral superiority and applaud you for it.

    Now maybe write something people actually want to read?

Please to post comments