Ilya Somin: “Free to Move” – New Book
Note: this piece was originally published in Reason, and was written by Checks & Balances member Ilya Somin.
After a delay caused by the coronavirus crisis, my new book Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom is now in print. An audio version is available for preorder and will be released on June 23. This is the first of a series of posts based on the book. It includes a brief summary of what it is about, and explains why I wrote it.
Here is the summary of the book prepared by the publisher, Oxford University Press:
Ballot box voting is often considered the essence of political freedom. But it has two major shortcomings: individual voters have little chance of making a difference, and they also face strong incentives to remain ignorant about the issues at stake. “Voting with your feet,” however, avoids both of these pitfalls and offers a wider range of choices. In Free to Move, Ilya Somin explains how broadening opportunities for foot voting can greatly enhance political liberty for millions of people around the world.
People can vote with their feet through international migration, by choosing where to live within a federal system, and by making decisions in the private sector. These three types of foot voting are rarely considered together, but Somin explains how they have important common virtues and can be mutually reinforcing. He contends that all forms of foot voting should be expanded and shows how both domestic constitutions and international law can be structured to increase opportunities for foot voting while mitigating possible downsides.
Somin addresses a variety of common objections to expanded migration rights, including claims that the “self-determination” of natives requires giving them the power to exclude migrants, and arguments that migration is likely to have harmful side effects, such as undermining political institutions, overburdening the welfare state, increasing crime and terrorism, and spreading undesirable cultural values. While these objections are usually directed at international migration, Somin shows how a consistent commitment to such theories would also justify severe restrictions on domestic freedom of movement. That implication is an additional reason to be skeptical of these rationales for exclusion. By making a systematic case for a more open world, Free to Move challenges conventional wisdom on both the left and the right.
Continue reading at Reason.