OPEN BORDERS by Bryan Caplan


The Science and Ethics of Immigration
by ; illustrated by
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An acclaimed economics professor and a celebrated comic creator team up to argue that a major component of global peace and prosperity is actually open borders.

In today’s acrid political climate, where even the fundamental humanity of immigrants is often denied, many readers may be surprised to learn that the U.S. effectively maintained open borders until the Immigration Act of 1924. Beginning there, Caplan (Economics/George Mason Univ.; The Case Against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money, 2018, etc.) and Weinersmith (Science: Ruining Everything Since 1543: A Collection of Science-Themed Comics, 2014, etc.) offer a cogent and accessible analysis of U.S. immigration policy and how it should change. The author and illustrator build a framework for their position based on moral, economic, philosophical, and pragmatic considerations, all while anticipating naysayers in a fun, open, and respectful manner. One example is the “Skittles argument” against open borders, which asks, “if there were three poison pills in a bowl of Skittles, would you take a handful?” Caplan and Weinersmith gently invoke the spirit of probability theory pioneer Carl Friedrich Gauss to illustrate that this argument against immigration is actually the “height of innumeracy” because the bowl with three poison pills actually contains millions of delicious candies—and refusing to eat is as childish as refusing to leave your house because you might get struck by lightning. “Numeracy won’t mend your heart if an immigrant kills someone you love,” writes the author, “but numeracy will prevent you from using one injustice to rationalize another.” For the sake of argument, Caplan and Weinersmith even accept the validity of the top complaints about immigration, but they propose “keyhole solutions” that address those concerns “without blanket restrictions on immigration.” If that’s not enough to spark serious discussions about open borders, they also enlist the wisdom of J.S. Mill, John Rawls, Robert Nozick, Richard Posner, Lee Kuan Yew, Immanual Kant, and even Jesus.

A highly effective way to talk about an issue that remains a nonstarter for so many nationwide.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-250-31696-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: First Second
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2019


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