An application of a parable

It’s no good bringing up Milton Friedman’s famous line, “You can have open borders or a welfare state, but not both,” against those of us liberals who advocate freedom of movement and for one simple reason: We agree! We don’t want what is commonly (and unfortunately) known as “open borders” and a welfare state; we want “open borders” and no welfare state. We oppose the government bribing men with other people’s money, every bit as much as we oppose it telling them who they can and can’t enter into voluntary exchanges with.


2 thoughts on “An application of a parable

  1. The phrase “Freedom of movement” is a bit too much of a shorthand: Movement is from one place to another. One can surely be free to move from one place, but does that always mean that one is free to settle in any other place?

    If the freedom to move to a particular place is a right then there is a corresponding obligation on those in the destination to allow that to occur. As with all rights (rather than liberties), this would in some cases require (State or Uber neighborhood) enforcement to over-ride neighborhood protestations against unsuitable new-comers.

    It may be more correct to say that the liberty in question is not Freedom of Movement (which only makes sense as a right) but is The Freedom to Leave. Whether one can find a suitable new home is a different matter; it depends on particulars.

    This principle is normally masked within a State, because States generally grow within an ethnic nation, where norms are common and new-comers from other parts of the nation are already very similar to the people in the existing neighborhood, and so would normally be welcomed. But this easy assumption breaks down when talking about people from very different cultures.


    1. This is the problem with “open borders”, I suppose. (This, is what I ought to have linked to in the post). It’s an incredibly confusing and misleading term. Private borders, that’s the thing. If a man doesn’t care for immigrants, fine. No one should force him to deal with them, employ them, work for them, socialise with them, rent his house out to them, etc, etc. Equally if two people do want to engage in voluntary, peaceful activity together, no one should prevent this, either. In a word, “Anything peaceful”.


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