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Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration
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Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  277 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Economist Bryan Caplan makes a bold case for unrestricted immigration in this fact-filled graphic nonfiction.

American policy-makers have long been locked in a heated battle over whether, how many, and what kind of immigrants to allow to live and work in the country. Those in favor of welcoming more immigrants often cite humanitarian reasons, while those in favor of more rest
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 29th 2019 by First Second
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I read a graphic novel about immigration policy written by an economist and if that doesn’t sound like compelling reading to you, allow me to SHOVE THIS BOOK AT YOU AND URGE YOU TO READ IT.
If for no other reason than it provides a rebuttal to that moronic Skittles argument.
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it

Beautiful stuff, perhaps the clearest economic argument I've ever seen, and more moving than expected. I've seen people dismiss it as narrowly economic ("people value more than money ya know") but this is stupid: fully half the book is about morals and culture. There are dozens of lovely little easter eggs in Weinersmith's art too (e.g. "Conspicuone Pecansumption" icecream).

The arguments:

1. Closed borders lead to incredible suffering - not just the obvious oppression of camps, raids, struggle and drownings, but also the unneces
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: politics
Nicely illustrated but there are certainly some pretty serious troubles with its reasoning. The first and most significant is the issue than naturally pops up is that it simply equates increased production of wealth with progress and flourishing, which is view of reality that can only make sense if money in itself is treated as having an intrinsic moral value and human worth.

The other trouble is the author is fond of false comparisons. In particular there is a tendency to take the benefits of t
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I actually read a lot of middle grade and YA nonfiction comics, so I’m well aware there’s a decent audience who reads NF GN for fun and not just formal academic purposes. With that in mind, this had a good narrative thread and is very reader friendly-from my perspective as someone who dabbles in Econ and politics podcasts but has no background in this area at all.

Charts and graphs are sprinkled throug
Thomas C Regan
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is both hilarious and informative. I’ve been slowly coming around to the idea of open borders since 2016 or so, at first on the basis of, “If Republicans want to tarnish HRC by falsely claiming she’s in favor of it, it’s probably a good policy.” While I doubt that I’d agree with the authors on everything with regards to politics and economics, the arguments in favor of open borders seem smart, as do the examples of how to overcome arguments against them. I think the authors give short ...more
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Caplan and Weinersmith make a strong case for open borders that doesn’t belittle the views of their detractors. I would consider myself a strong proponent of increased immigration, but there are some arguments in this book I hadn’t heard of before such as the reply to concerns of lowered national IQ.

The Overton window on immigration policy has been too narrow for too long. I hope this book changes that.
Conor Duffy
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An outstanding and honest examination of the case for open borders

I'm a long-time fan of both Caplan and Weinersmith so I entered this book a little biased, but I finished it thoroughly impressed beyond what I expected.

Caplan methodically examines the case for open borders immigration from an economic and moral perspective, then proceeds to consider objections from financial, cultural and political standpoints. Sceptics of immigration should find that they get a fair hearing here -
Nikolas Bernaola Álvarez
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you are not convinced about open borders or know anyone who isn't you should really read this book. I'm pretty sure that along with veganism this is going to be another ethical issue where future generations will look back and be horrified.
Jul 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Read an ARC.

Far more informative and research based than I anticipated.
Julian Michael
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was looking forward to enjoying this book, but I left it disappointed. Maybe I'm not the right audience, because I'm already somewhat sympathetic to the idea of open borders, and Caplan approaches the issue as if he's arguing from outside the Overton Window. But in my point of view, the book's arguments are shallow and misguided.

The most amazing thing about this work is how much time it spends discussing the disparity in wealth and living conditions between the developed and develo
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
A well written, well thought out argument for open borders. This is not a book for your average reader, but it is accessible to most readers. If you have someone who loves data and thought experiments then this is a good title to suggest.

The art is also well done and is in the style you have come to expect from Zach Weinersmith. There are some extras that match up with the subject that you will enjoy while reading.
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Overall, an entertaining and informative graphic novel. I like seeing the creativity in making comics for a policy position and seeing how the mix of the humor and economics from the author Caplan and art by Zach Weinersmith create arguments that are less academic and easy to follow.

Some of the weak-points of this method, though, are due to the non-academic style. While there are notes at the back of the book, the argumentation does not use as long of sentences and it is a little bit
Chris Chester
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I'll preface this by saying that I've been a regular reader of Zach Weinersmith's webcomic for years. I would never have picked up a book like this normally, but since he specifically asked his normal readers to help him out with it, I preordered sight unseen because... you have to support the creators whose work you enjoy!

Having said that, this is a strange book and I'm not entirely sure who the audience is supposed to be. Obviously, Caplan is making an argument for open borders. Th
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book itself is good, but not great. It's good because:
- It presents the standard arguments for open borders well
- It somewhat competently rebuts a number of common objections
- It's fun to read.

It's not great because:
- He [weak-mans]( opposing arguments.
- His arguments in a few key areas are pretty weak or use bad evidence.
- There's nothing here that you w
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(with colors by the amazing Mary Cagle)

As an open borders absolutist, I've been wanting a book like this to come along for years. Living in the USA, it's almost mind-boggling that people aren't more inclined towards immigration, given that the contiguous 48 states are one of the world's best modern examples of the free movement of labor. Could you imagine Indiana making it illegal to hire someone simply because they're from Ohio? Or saying they have to get a special permit if they do
This is an interesting, and occasionally quite funny, book that argues for an unpopular opinion to which I'm pretty sympathetic: open the borders. As in, don't just increase refugee quotas or H1B visas, open the damn borders to whoever wants in.

It takes the anti-immigration arguments seriously and tries to engage with them, which isn't quite the same as understanding them. One of the weaker chapters is the one on culture, where the author frames his opponents' argument as revolving a
Open borders is one of those ethical questions, like slavery, that people in the future will back look back on with order. How could everyone convince themselves it was okay for one group of people to draw an enormous line and use force to keep other people out? How could they debate the economic and cultural effects, argue over the morality of minor policy changes, while taking for granted the validity of the whole evil premise? My political views have changed a lot since I was a 14-year-old an ...more
Becky B
George Mason University Economist professor Bryan Caplan takes a look at the most arguments against immigration or for severely restricting immigration, and then makes a case for greater immigration by looking at it from a human rights perspective, an economical perspective, a cultural perspective, and a logical/philosophical perspective. He also looks at some options which compromise between the two radical views.

Whether you agree with Bryan Caplan’s arguments or not, you’ve got to
I'd give this thought-provoking graphic novel on immigration a 3.5. I found it informative, passionate, and easy to follow. I had heard the phrase "open borders" before reading the book, but I had only a vague idea of what that might entail. This book set me straight, offering many justifications for not closing the borders to a certain country or ethnic group, instead, allowing individuals and their families to cross borders at will. His arguments are strong and backed with a lot of data and fa ...more
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a scientific way of looking at immigration and supports the idea of opening all borders around the world. While dramatic and a huge paradigm shift, the book focuses on data, not anecdotes, which I appreciate as someone with a little common sense... news cycles push outliers to increase clicks, but our policies and values should be set by the 99%.
I've been reading and loving Zach Weinersmith's online comic, , for years. When he started advertising this book, I was interested b
Joey Lawless
Nov 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
Profit is not the most important thing in the world. Anyone that thinks that it is a good idea, FOR ANY REASON, to have open, unrestricted borders on Western nations is not someone I have any confidence, or trust in. Anybody can "sell" anything with "facts", skewed statistics, and carefully selected examples. This reckless fabrication is far too often digested and unquestionably taken as fact by people that want so badly to believe that all people think, feel, and act the same as themselves. As ...more
Ryan Lackey
The format of this book (graphic novel) is probably second only to catchy short videos with personal stories as a way to push an arbitrary agenda to people.

Unfortunately, while it makes some arguments, it also commits one big statistical/logical fallacy repeatedly: if 1 x A is good, then 100 x A will be 100x better than 1 x A. A lot of things are non-linear. Making an argument that the entire population of earth migrating to the US will produce effects which are just linearly estimat
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's no secret that immigration is a hot-button - one of the hottest button - topics in current events. One one side, we have those who would welcome new immigrants, for cultural and humanitarian reasons; on the other, those who want to restrict the flow of people into the country, whether to protect the current citizenry, the culture, or the economic status quo. Economist Bryan Caplan has written Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration as a proposal to both sides. He argues in favor ...more
Neil Owen
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: physical
I was actually surprised I didn't like this more. Open Borders is a position I've always believe is a good solution for various problems, it seems simple, ethical and fair. However, given the overall lack of support broadly, it wasn't something I put much serious consideration into. I was expecting or hoping this book could bring me around to calling this the position I believed in. While it does make me more positive on the idea, there seemed to be a thick layer of gloss over many of the positi ...more
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm glad that this book exists and I think that it presents the main arguments for open borders in an entertaining, convincing way.

However, I agree with some of the other reviewers that some of the criticisms of immigration are not taken seriously enough. For example, Caplan claims that "culture" is behind the growth of countries like the U.S. This is an incredibly ambiguous term as used and is not much of an explanation. If culture is so important then it seems like we should be ver
Dubi Kanengisser
I'm a big fan of immigration, and of more immigration, but I was not convinced by this book. It seems to completely ignore the short term repercussions of the suggested policy, and refers almost singularly to the supposed doubling of GDP, while ignoring how this new wealth will be distributed and who would be harmed by these changes.
Of course, the book is very US centric, and only a country with such flimsy welfare and no public healthcare could make the argument made here.

Max Bolingbroke
Nov 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I came into this as someone who is still mostly undecided about whether open borders are a good idea, but with a slightly sceptical disposition. While far from completely convincing, the comic does a good job of making it seem at least plausible that the policy might be a good idea. Ultimately it does feel a bit insubstantial though -- Bryan Caplan does not seem to have the knack for steelmanning his opponent's argument.

Chapters 1 (the moral case for open borders), 2 (the utilitarian
Chris Pacia
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm generally very familiar with Bryan Caplan and his views on immigration so there wasn't much in this book new for me. Nevertheless it does present the case for open borders in a unique format. You don't often seen policy positions presented in comic form.

I suspect this format will prove to be very accessible to the average person. The book can be read cover to cover in just a few hours and its arguments are very clear and concise (and hard to argue with!).

However, I worry that th
Nica Borders
I would probably give this book a 2.5 if I could. Open Borders, despite the far left argument, is firmly a center left book. By the end, it makes it clear that this is on purpose, in an attempt to reach across the political divide for its arguments. As an avowed leftist, the arguments often left me feeling discontent. (There is a large section about IQ that never brings up the inherent eugenics and racism linked to the concept for example.)

However, I can also see that if someone was center righ
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics, comic
I never thought I would add a book with "comics" and "economics" as tags. While the author presents a compelling case for Open Borders, I think the book is too optimistic: There are many pros whose outcomes are too good and cons that are considered irrelevant.

For example, while cultural assimilation of communities does occur, it takes time (language takes a few generations). That is fine in the long term, but the author disregards the decades it will take for a large number of immigr
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Bryan Caplan is a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He received his B.S. in economics from University of California, Berkeley and his Ph.D. from Princeton University. His professional work has been devoted to the philosophies of libertarianism and free-market capitalism and anarchism. (He is the author of the Anarchist Theory FAQ.) He has published in American ...more