April Freeman Banner 2014


Untapped Prosperity in People - Bryan Caplan Edition



I happen to be a dad. I know I would do any number of things for my wife and my boy. Would I set off across the Sonoran Desert, risking death from thirst, heat exhaustion, or the U.S. Border Patrol?

Yes. Yes, I would. Luckily, I don’t have to. Despite the great predatory apparatus in Washington, the United States is still a rich country. If I were living among dangerous cartel elements in a Mexican border town with few opportunities, the trek might not seem so risky.

But what about the economics of immigration? That is, does a more dispassionate analysis complement our instincts about what dads would do for their kids?

In The Superwealth Interviews, I sat down with Bryan Caplan, one of the best economic thinkers in the libertarian movement. Caplan reminds us of a simple fact: immigration laws destroy wealth.

You know that paper he says he gave his dad? It’s right here. If you’re still troubled about the issue of immigration, Caplan's Cato paper is worth reading.

Of course, there are problems with unrestricted immigration:

  • Politicians create carrots for immigrants to become dependent on welfare, rather than to work.
  • Dependent immigrants end up not assimilating as quickly—and sometimes balkanize, as the North Africans of the banlieu around Paris have.
  • Immigrants can become political pawns, because they are easily bought by politicians offering goodies in exchange for votes.

These are all serious problems. But we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. One way to create more prosperity is through the gains from trade. And international trade in labor is impossible if your trading partners are languishing abroad, sitting in the back of a patrol van, or dying in the desert.

Max Borders Author Thumb



Max Borders is the editor of The Freeman and director of content for FEE. He is also cofounder of the event experience Voice & Exit and author of Superwealth: Why we should stop worrying about the gap between rich and poor.

comments powered by Disqus


* indicates required
Sign me up for...


April 2014

Around the world, people are struggling to throw off authoritarianism, with deeply mixed results. From Egypt to Venezuela, determined people build networks to overthrow their regimes, but as yet we have not learned to live without Leviathan. In this issue, Michael Malice and Gary Dudney discuss their glimpses inside totalitarian regimes, while Sarah Skwire and Michael Nolan look at how totalitarian regimes grind down the individual--and how individuals fight back. Plus, Jeffrey Tucker identifies a strain in libertarianism that, left unchecked, could reduce even our vibrant movement to something that is analogous to the grim aesthetic of architectural brutalism. The struggle for our lives and freedom is a struggle for beauty; it begins inside each of us.
Download Free PDF