Saturday, October 17, 2015

The ultimate utopia

Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Open Borders
Alex Tabarrok has a very nice and very short piece at the Atlantic, The Case for Getting Rid of Borders—Completely. (HT Marginal Revolution)

In the Soviet era, there were walls and guards with guns, and we deplored that people were not allowed to cross the border. Is it that different that the guards with guns are on the other side of the walls?

If you're a liberal, you should cheer the policy with the greatest chance of elevating the world's poor and reducing global inequality. If you're a conservative, believe in the rights of individuals and freedom, don't like minimum wages, unions, protectionism, and government control, it makes little sense to switch sides on this one issue.

The nation-state has not done well lately. A time of troubles, Toynbee would say. There's no denying it.

I wouldn't dream of denying it. But I'm not one who likes change: I don't want to throw away the nation-state. I want to fix it.


If you take Europe as an example, and start erasing internal borders, nation-state borders -- gradually, just to improve economic conditions (sucker!) -- it turns out the economy goes to shit anyway, goes to shit in large part because of border-erasing. Specifically, because of the elimination of national money in favor of the euro. But I don't have to tell you that. You've been telling me.

When things go bad, the word comes down that to make things better they need a stronger supra-national government. The problem, they say, is that the suppression of national sovereignty was not complete enough. They need not only a unified money but also a unified fiscal -- tax policy in common throughout the continent.

You know, that could work. But I don't think we want it. Do you get much face time with the U.S. President? How about your state governor? No? You stand a much better chance of getting a word with your mayor or town supervisor. Local government is more responsive to its people. National government is already unresponsive. Supra-national government would be even less responsive. It is less responsive. They do what they want, and they tell you it's good for you.

People like cochrane seem to believe that crap.

You want a global, unified state? Ha! So did Gene Roddenberry.

So do I. But the driving force behind global unification is the desire of the wealthy few to expand markets in order to capture even more wealth. So the time is not yet right.

If we can't make the economy good with the level of government we have now, then making government more comprehensive and less responsive is not the answer.

1 comment:

The Arthurian said...

Oh, and Tabarrok's trivial focus on letting people cross borders is really just a misunderstanding of Völkerwanderung.