Second, ignorance is the main roadblock to a more liberalized immigration policy. In all Western countries, respondents greatly exaggerate the size of the foreign-born population. The more ignorant respondents are more anti-immigration. Those levels of ignorance likely extend to ignorance of the actual levels of immigration enforcement and chaos. If there is a poll out there asking Americans about whether there should be more immigration enforcement as well as asking them about what they think the current level is, my bet is that there’d be a strong correlation between those who say there is no enforcement and that the government needs to cut immigration.
Unlike Scott Sumner I do not consider myself to be a utilitarian (although I am indeed a consequentialist), but I nevertheless agree with the thrust of this post by Scott titled “Us and them” – and I agree also that every peaceful human being on earth is of equal moral merit as every other such person. Here’s Scott’s opening:
I’m increasingly of the view that most of the great evils of human history result from the tendency of people to think in terms of “us and them”, instead of “all 7.3 billion of us.” That includes the past mistreatment of indigenous peoples, slaves, Jews, Roma, gays, landlords, capitalists, immigrants and many other groups. It’s the flaw in imperialism, racism, nationalism, theocracy, fascism, feudalism, communism and lots of other isms.
In preparation for writing a book on Jim Buchanan’s work I’m spending much time lately re-reading that work. The point that Arnold Kling makes here about representative-agent models is one that Buchanan often made – but Arnold makes it with concision that Buchanan never achieved on this matter.