Recently, Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow Dan Griswold sat down with Ilya Somin to discuss his new book, Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom. Somin is a professor of law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law. In addition to Free to Move, Somin is the author of several other books, including Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter, and is a regular contributor to the popular blog, The Volokh Conspiracy. This transcript, as well as the audio of the conversation, has been slightly edited for clarity. GRISWOLD: Welcome, everybody. My name is Dan Griswold. I’m a senior research fellow and co-director of the Trade and Immigration Project at the Mercatus Center. I’m here today to talk to Ilya Somin. Ilya is a
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Recently, Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow Dan Griswold sat down with Ilya Somin to discuss his new book, Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom. Somin is a professor of law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law. In addition to Free to Move, Somin is the author of several other books, including Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter, and is a regular contributor to the popular blog, The Volokh Conspiracy. This transcript, as well as the audio of the conversation, has been slightly edited for clarity.
GRISWOLD: Welcome, everybody. My name is Dan Griswold. I’m a senior research fellow and co-director of the Trade and Immigration Project at the Mercatus Center. I’m here today to talk to Ilya Somin. Ilya is a professor of law at George Mason University. He’s also the author of a fascinating new book, which I’ve read. There should be a review near this podcast on the website, Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom.
Ilya is a nationally known expert in constitutional law, eminent domain, federalism, political participation, property rights. Along with the book we’re talking about today, he’s written a number of other books. He’s been published widely. His writings have been cited in decisions by the US Supreme Court. Ilya earned his B.A. at Amherst College, an M.A. in political science from Harvard University, and his law degree from Yale Law School.
SOMIN: Thank you very much for having me.
GRISWOLD: Ilya, I’ve read your book and just loved it. I’ve read countless books on immigration, some of them skeptical of immigration, some of them in favor. Your book has a lot to say about immigration, but what was interesting about it is the broader thesis of it. We’ve all heard the term of “voting with your feet,” but you’ve turned that around—foot voting. It’s in the title. What do you mean by foot voting, and what different ways do human beings exercise foot voting?
SOMIN: It’s possible that I coined the term foot voting earlier in my career, or so Wikipedia suggests that I might have done so, and I did it because it’s less clunky than voting with your feet. It’s only two words. What it essentially means is choosing what government policies you want to live under in a situation where unlike at the ballot box, you have the ability to make a choice that’s individually decisive. When you’re voting at the ballot box, you’re usually one of many thousands or many millions of voters. The chance that your vote will make a difference is extraordinarily small.
By contrast, when you vote with your feet, if you’re allowed to do so, there is a much higher chance that your vote will make a difference. There are several different ways in which people can vote with their feet. One is within a federal system deciding which state or locality to live in. Another is through international migration, what you study in your important work. Finally, there’s also foot voting in the private sector. Many times private sector institutions provide services that are similar to those that are usually provided particularly by regional or local governments. The private sector also is potentially an arena for foot voting.
In the book, what I try to do is bring all three of these types of foot voting together in a common framework and explain how they have many similarities in common. They have many of the same advantages, and expanding all three of them could do an enormous amount of good.
GRISWOLD: A lot of your argument depends on this term “place premium.” What do you mean by that? Why is that important in analyzing the overall effects of more foot voting?
SOMIN: I would say only a part of my argument depends on it, but it is an important idea. A place premium is the extra productivity or extra income that somebody can have from being in a particular place because some places are more productive than others, have better institutions than others, more resources and so forth. For instance, if you’re a farmer in Antarctica, no matter how good you are at farming, you still can’t grow very much because Antarctica doesn’t allow you to do that. You would want to move somewhere where you can farm better.
Similarly, if you’re a worker of almost any kind in a country with a corrupt or oppressive government, very often you can’t be productive to any great extent no matter how smart you are or how hard-working. Therefore moving to a freer and better organized society can get you a place premium and also enable you to produce more goods and services that can benefit other people.
GRISWOLD: As you argue, you mention and, of course, you fully believe in democracy versus more authoritarian systems, but you are critical of the limited role that people can play. It’s such a heavy lift—in fact virtually impossible—for the average person to change the environment they live in, but just by moving, they can enjoy the benefits of this place premium. I think that’s such an important point.
Ilya, let’s drop in on those three different types of foot voting that you developed. Let’s look at the US federal system or of any kind of federal system, but of course as Americans we’ll think of our system. First off, traditionally how important has foot voting been in the United States in our system? You have some interesting historical examples. Then let’s talk about some obstacles. You’re as aware as I am, the mobility of Americans has tended to drop off in recent decades. Fewer Americans picking up and moving each year than in the past, and I want to tease out why you think that is. But first, what’s the importance of foot voting within a federal system like we have here in the United States?
SOMIN: It’s extremely important. We have obviously 50 states but also many thousands of local governments. They provide a lot of options for people to choose the government policies that they prefer. Historically, foot voting has been an enormous vehicle to increase freedom and opportunity, particularly for the poor and oppressed. The most famous example is the Great Migration of African Americans from the Jim Crow states to the North and the West, where there certainly was not a total absence of racism, but there was less racism and less oppression than in the South.
There are other examples. People moving to states with greater economic opportunities and lower housing costs, gays and lesbians moving to areas that were more tolerant of that group. In the book I discuss the less-known case of Western states offering much more in the way of equal rights to women than was available in the East, because they wanted to attract more women. That was a valuable foot voting opportunity. There are many other examples from American history as well, but those are some of the biggest ones. But the key point is that foot voting expands people’s freedom of choice. It expands their economic opportunities. It also enables them to escape poverty and oppression and corruption.
Another recent example is how the dysfunctional city government of Detroit— In the 1950s, Detroit was one of the four or five largest cities in the US, population-wise. Now it’s much, much smaller than that because thanks to foot voting opportunities, many of the people who otherwise would have been trapped in Detroit’s dysfunctional government were able to leave. Should we go on now to your other question about the reductions in mobility in recent years?
GRISWOLD: Yes, but let me just jump in with a little comment. I learned a lot from your book. I was aware that Wyoming and some other Western states had been on the forefront of giving women the franchise, but you showed it in a very illuminating light. That is, they were competing with other states for people. They figured giving the vote was a way of attracting not only men but women to the state. That’s another great point that you make. You were kind of hinting at it there. It isn’t just good for the people that move, but it encourages better policies among the localities to keep people there, attract people there as taxpayers.
Yes, let’s pivot to the ways that government creates obstacles to mobility within a federal system. You’ve mentioned at least a couple that resonated with me—occupational licensing, housing regulations. Maybe just expand upon that.
SOMIN: Sure. In recent years interstate mobility for the poor in the US has unfortunately declined even though we badly need it. It’s one of the reasons why productivity growth and wage growth for the working class, both the white working class that we’ve heard a lot about since the 2016 election and also the minority working class, that wage growth has not been as great as in some prior eras. One big reason for that is obstacles have arisen to the ability of those people to move to places where there’s greater opportunity.
There’s a number of them, but the two big ones are the ones that you mentioned. One is restrictive zoning, which in many places—particularly on the East and West Coast—has made it almost impossible to build new housing in response to demand. Therefore millions of people are priced out of the housing market in these places where they might otherwise have more opportunity. That would be great for those people if we can break that down, but it’s also great for the overall economy, which would be more productive.
The second, which you also mentioned, is occupational licensing. About 30%, or even more, of American workers have to have licenses just to do their job. Those licenses are created on a state-by-state basis. Often the way it works is it essentially excludes new competitors. Even people who worked in the same industry in another state can’t come in. We sometimes think, “Well, yeah, that’s only limited to doctors or lawyers or sort of high status, white collar occupations that may require a lot of education.” But it also applies to numerous working class jobs—plumbers, even florists in some places are licensed. You can’t become a florist unless you take many months to do an expensive course, or a hairdresser, or any number of other occupations which otherwise could provide important opportunities for people.
GRISWOLD: Thank you, Ilya. That’s not only a great insight, but it resonates because Mercatus has done a lot of work on both those issues. I’ll just urge listeners to check out the Mercatus website for the work we’ve done both on housing policy and occupational licensing. You know, Ilya, one part of your argument that really was fresh and new to me was the idea of in the private market. Of course, people have choice. That’s what the market’s all about, freedom and choice in their expenditures and things. But planned communities, you have some very startling numbers about the number of Americans that live in planned communities, the number of planned communities, their growth over the recent decades. Expand a little bit on that arena of foot voting in the private sector.
SOMIN: Sure. So almost 70 million Americans live in private planned communities in one type or another, like condominiums, homeowners’ associations, and a number of other types. It is not true, as Robert B. Reich famously said, that this is the “secession of the successful,” and this is only available to a small economic elite who are trying to wall themselves off from the ordinary people—unless you believe that there are 70 million economic elites in the US, which almost certainly is not the case.
And from a foot voting perspective, this development has a number of advantages. One is it offers much more scope for freedom of choice than even foot voting in a federal system does because in a given area, you can fit in more private planned communities usually than the number of state or local governments. Second, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest—I cite some of it in the book—that on average at least, private planned communities often provide better services than the equivalent services provided by local governments. They often provide better environmental amenities, better garbage disposal, better education in some cases, and relevant to recent discussions, often better security services.
Many of them have their own private security. They’re not perfect. They’re not completely free of racial and other prejudices, but there is much less in the way of incidents where they beat up innocent people or engage in massive racial discrimination. And if they do do something wrong, they don’t have qualified immunity which protects them from lawsuits by ordinary people. And in many cases, they don’t have unions, which— Police unions prevent them from being fired or even investigated for abuses.
So I’m not saying private planned communities are the solution for all of our problems—and in the book I describe how there are steps we need to take to make this form of organization more available to more people—but it is an opportunity for foot voting and one that I think doesn’t get enough attention from previous scholars who have written about voting with your feet.
GRISWOLD: Thank you. Well, let’s turn to an arena that does get plenty of attention. It’s in the news recently with the Supreme Court decision on DACA, but that is the movement of people across international borders. And again, I’ve read a lot of books on that. I’ve heard a lot of arguments. You make them so cogently, and within this analytical framework that I think is really helpful, so I’d urge anybody with an interest in immigration on either side to check out your book for all those reasons.
But could you just briefly unfold for the listeners the importance of international foot voting across international borders? You, as a policy recommendation, focus on the refugee laws and expanding the definition of refugees and the way we think about them. And then I want to jump in about some of your keyhole solutions. So why don’t you just take it from there?
SOMIN: Sure. I started my career as a scholar of federalism, focusing primarily on internal foot voting, but it gradually dawned on me what perhaps should have been obvious in the first place, which is that foot voting through international migration is a similar phenomenon, but even more important and has even bigger potential gains. Why? Because the difference between countries, say the difference between the US and Cuba, or the US and Mexico, or the US and Venezuela, is far, far larger than the difference between whatever you think is the best US state versus the worst US state, and therefore the gains to be had are much larger. When a Mexican or a Cuban or another immigrant from a poor, badly run nation, just stepping into the US, they can almost immediately become two or three times more productive in terms of the wages they can earn and what they can produce.
Economists estimate that if we had free migration throughout the world, we could double world GDP. That is, the world would be twice as wealthy as it is now. That’s because there are so many millions of people trapped in poverty and oppression, but the gains here go far beyond simple, narrowly economic terms. There are also gains in freedom of all kinds. Think of refugees fleeing tyrannical regimes, people fleeing racial or religious persecution, and so on. And think also of the one-third of the world’s population that lives in countries which are non-democratic. For them, foot voting through international migration is really the only potentially feasible way by which they can have any say at all in terms of the type of government they live under.
So the gains here are enormous. They probably outweigh those that are available through any other policy change that is even remotely feasible in the foreseeable future.
GRISWOLD: Yeah. That’s great. And again, your proposal is expanding opportunities for immigration generally, focusing on the refugee. And, of course, you marshal a lot of great arguments and research showing that immigration is good for natives as well. There are, of course—we hear them every day—more legitimate questions about immigration. Are they going to change our culture? Are they going to be a burden to taxpayers?
And here, where you get into keyhole solutions, which is a term I also came across in Bryan Caplan’s wonderful graphic nonfiction book on immigration. Could you give an example of a keyhole solution? What do you mean by that? I think you mentioned, at least in context of guarding taxpayers, concerns that they’ll come in and change the political culture. What do you mean by keyhole solutions to objections to more increased immigration?
SOMIN: Sure. So, in the book, I deal with two general categories of objections to expanding migration rights. One is claims that there’s an intrinsic right to reject migrants, even without any particularly good reason. We’ll perhaps talk about that later in your interview. But the other is concerns about specific negative consequences or potential negative consequences, such as the ones that you mention. Perhaps spreading bad cultural values, harmful political effects, overburdening the welfare state, and so on. And to deal with those kind of objections, I propose a three-step framework.
One is, we should ask, how big a problem is this really? In many cases it turns out that it isn’t much of a problem at all. For example, far from increasing crime, immigrants actually have much lower crime rates than native-born Americans, so they’re actually reducing the crime rate rather than increasing it. But second—and here’s where the keyhole solutions come in—you ask, if there is a real problem—and I admit there are going to be cases where there is—then is there a way to address it other than by simply excluding people?
And here’s where keyhole solutions come in. Keyhole solutions is simply a term that people who study this area use for approaches to addressing problems that might be caused by migration without restricting the migration itself. So for instance, if your concern is that immigrants will overburden the welfare state, you can reduce or even eliminate their eligibility for certain types of welfare benefits. We already actually did this to a great extent with the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, but you could do it even further.
If your concern is that immigrants will be bad voters—they’ll vote for terrible politicians or whatnot—then you can restrict eligibility for the franchise, as we in fact already do. Even in the status quo, immigrants cannot become citizens unless they’ve been in the US for at least five years, and even then they have to pass a civics test that about two-thirds of native-born Americans would fail if they had to take it. So in principle, you could say instead of five years, it could be seven years or 10 years. You could make the test harder, and so forth.
And I have similar keyhole solutions for a wide range of other problems, though in many cases it will turn out that the problem isn’t really much of a real problem, like the one for crime. But if it were to be a problem, then there’s also a keyhole solution available as well.
And I just want to mention the third part of my framework. Let’s say there’s a real problem, and there isn’t a clear keyhole solution. Still, you want to ask a third question, which is, “Maybe we can use some of the vast wealth created by free migration to address negative side effects.” So for example, let’s say you had a situation where immigrants really were increasing crime, and let’s say there wasn’t a keyhole solution for it. Then you could say, “We’re generating a lot of extra wealth from the migration. Let’s tax some of it, and let’s spend it on putting more cops on the street, which data does show reduces crime if there’s more cops on the street.”
Indeed, as I discuss in the book, if we were to abolish ICE and similar immigration enforcement agencies and instead spend that money on ordinary police on the streets, we could get many thousands of additional police officers. I should caution that that should also be coupled with tighter restrictions on abuses by police. But, even in the status quo, there is data that police reduce crime. And we can acknowledge that, even as we also acknowledge that there is, of course, problems with police abuses as well. And that’s just one of many examples of how we can, if we need to, tap the extra wealth created by migration to alleviate potential negative side effects.
GRISWOLD: One of the arguments you make—and this is a great one—it hasn’t occurred to me really, and that is as Americans, we’re comfortable, in fact we just take for granted this internal mobility within the United States, that somebody in Mississippi can pick up and move to Connecticut. Or maybe more likely somebody in Connecticut or Illinois can move to Texas, and nobody is checking their papers or anything. Virtually all the arguments the critics of international immigration make could be applied domestically. I mean, they have to be careful, and we have to watch that. So, help us understand the parallel you’ve drawn between the arguments against international migration and domestic migration.
SOMIN: Sure. What you said is absolutely correct. Nearly all of the arguments used to justify restricting international migration, not only can be but historically often have been used to justify restricting internal migration. So, if you worry that immigrants will have bad values and vote for bad politicians, that same problem could arise if Californians move to Texas. For example, some conservative Texans worry that Californians who move to Texas will vote for Democratic politicians who, in turn, might enact bad policies.
Similarly, I live in the state of Virginia, which is next door to West Virginia, which has higher crime rates and a poorer population. If too many West Virginians move to Virginia, you could argue that the West Virginians would burden the welfare state in our state. In principle, they might increase our crime rate. They also perhaps might vote for bad politicians, or at least even worse ones than we currently vote for, and so on. So, those same kind of objections can be made.
And, of course, we have cultural variation between different regions of the US. So, you can say maybe people from a given region would spread their bad cultural values, and so on. Many of these kind of justifications were in fact used in the 19th century when a number of states, including some states in the North, forbade in-migration by free blacks because they said, well, this is a harmful group of people that would do all sorts of bad things. And it’s also the case that some states tried to restrict the movement of what were then called “poppers,” that is, poor people from other states.
But today we take it for granted that these sorts of problems are not enough of a justification to prevent Californians from moving to Texas or West Virginians from moving to Virginia. We also recognize that any problems are outweighed by the huge gains. And, to the extent there is still a problem, we look for more humane ways to try to address it than by saying, if you’re born in West Virginia, you’ve got to stay there. And I would say that what is true for West Virginia should also be true for Cuba or Mexico or Venezuela, and so forth.
GRISWOLD: Excellent, Ilya. Well, you mentioned the historical migration of blacks to the North, that Great Migration. You quote to really good effect Frederick Douglass. I love those two quotes. I’ve read a biography or two of Frederick Douglass, including his autobiography. I knew he was a great champion of human liberty, but I hadn’t read those exact quotes about human beings having a right to migrate, of all races and all kinds. And, of course, that is a timely issue. It’s always an issue in America, but especially timely these days. Can you expand a little bit on that, on the effect of foot voting, or what I might say the suppression of foot voting on minorities in the United States? The stake of black Americans and other minorities in foot voting?
SOMIN: Sure. So historically minorities have been big beneficiaries of the availability of foot voting because often they were the people who were most oppressed and most impoverished in the regions where they initially were. That’s especially true of African Americans in the Jim Crow South. But there are other examples as well.
Of course, Douglass also later understood, even after the abolition of slavery, it was important to have freedom of movement for African Americans. And he realized what most people, even today, don’t fully get, which is that there is a connection between freedom of movement domestically and freedom of movement internationally. He was a big defender of international migration in his 1869 Composite Nation speech, which is one of the great American speeches and is not often enough read today. But I quote a lot from it in the introduction of the book.
He talks about Chinese immigration to the US at the time. There was a great deal of racist opposition to it. And he saw obvious parallels between that and domestic racism and also between excluding migrants from other countries and preventing African Americans from moving around freely in the US. So in that sense, he in the 1860s and ‘70s, or perhaps even earlier, foreshadowed a lot of the thesis of my book. But I had more time and opportunity to sort of flesh out the ideas because he was busy with a lot of other things back then.
GRISWOLD: Ilya, you just marshal an incredible amount of research in this book, just sustained argumentation, which I think is great. But you also have a personal story. You say early on, you just have the line, “I was born in the Soviet Union in 1973.” What importance did foot voting play to the Somin family and your personal story?
SOMIN: Obviously, other than perhaps being born, it was the single most decisive event in my life in that the difference between the life that I have now as a professor, public intellectual, whatever, and what I might have had in the Soviet Union or later, post-Soviet Russia, is enormous. And such as I’ve been able to achieve or have been fortunate enough to do is almost entirely due to the difference between Russia and the US, rather than to any personal merit of mine. There are lots of people who are smarter, more hard-working than I am, who are still in Russia. But they get very little reward for their efforts because they live in a society which is, although not as bad as the Soviet Union, of course, but is still corrupt, oppressive, and unjust in many ways. And the US, though we certainly have our flaws, is much better than that.
So, I note that as just one small example of the power of foot voting and how it makes a person more economically productive than they would be otherwise, but also radically transforms your life in all of these other ways. I think that’s true for international migration. It’s true for internal foot voting as well. In the introduction, I also discuss the story of J.D. Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy. He and I have completely different backgrounds, other than both eventually going to Yale Law School at different times. But we are both people whose lives were fundamentally transformed by the power of mobility. He would not be able to have been who he currently is if he had been trapped in the dysfunctional and poverty-ridden community in which he was born.
GRISWOLD: As a lot of people remain in the United States. Ilya, we’re getting close to the end of our time. Just one follow-up question on earlier talking about international migration. Obviously, it’s to the benefit of the migrant, the immigrant. But, of course, Americans have concerns. If we adopt more open immigration, we’ll be flooded and it will change our culture and everything. And you’ve addressed that, I think, in a nuanced, thoughtful way about the keyhole solutions.
But you give a couple of examples of societies that accepted large numbers of immigrants from a very different culture, one being Israel and all the immigrants from Russia, Jews. And then Jordan taking huge amounts of immigrants proportionate to their population from Middle Eastern countries. Can you just briefly talk about those examples and why they should put us at ease about accepting more immigrants to the United States?
SOMIN : Sure. Obviously, in the case of the US, we also have the example of the US itself accepting an enormous number of immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century, most of them from authoritarian societies with different cultures. But the Jordanian and Israeli examples are relevant in that there is this argument which is sometimes raised which says, well, there might be damage to political and economic institutions if you accept a large number of immigrants in a relatively short period of time, and particularly if they come from societies which themselves have bad institutions or are authoritarian.
Israel in the 1990s was a good test case of this in that within just a few years they accepted enough immigrants from the former Soviet Union to comprise some 20% or even more of the total Israeli population. The Soviet Union, as certainly I have reason to know, was an authoritarian society with a lot of corruption and many of the kinds of problems that we would normally say, “Well, if the sending country has these problems, if migrants were to ‘bring their culture with them’ or bring the problems of their society with them, it should have happened in that instance. But in actuality, by at least every measure that we have, the quality of Israeli political and economic institutions did not decline.
In fact, it was even improving during this period, though I’m not claiming it was because the Russians came. It was because of other sorts of reforms that the Israeli government was undertaking independently of their influx. Now you might say, “Well, this example doesn’t really work because in both sides the majority population were Jews.” But this, I think, underrates the fact that first, a pretty large proportion of the Russian immigrants were not in fact even ethnic Jews because many of them were relatives of people who were ethnic Jews but were not themselves ethnic Jews.
Second, many Russian Jews, including my own family but also many of those who came to Israel, did not practice the Jewish religion, did not necessarily have a very strong sense of specifically Jewish cultural identity and the like. Certainly they were very different in many of their cultural practices from the native-born Israeli Jews. The Jordanian example from the same period is also interesting in that Jordan during that period took very large numbers of Palestinian refugees, particularly from Kuwait but also from other places.
Of course, these people also came from very authoritarian and flawed societies. Jordan itself, of course, I would say is sort of a mixed state. It’s partly democratic and partly authoritarian but had relatively good institutions by the standards of its region. Compared to Syria or Saudi Arabia, Jordanian institutions looked pretty good. And there too, the quality did not decline as a result of this influx. Granted both groups spoke Arabic and had for the most part a common religion, but Jordanian society is deeply divided between Palestinians and members of other groups. So we shouldn’t underrate the fact that from the perspective of the people involved, this was not just all the same group, but it nonetheless worked quite well.
I’m not claiming therefore that this proves there can never be an influx of refugees that’s so quick and so large that it damages the host country’s institutions, but the threshold for such damage turns out to be much higher than a lot of people think that it is. It should certainly be good news for the US, where we’re a nation of 300 million people. Whereas for Israel, an influx of 2 million was an enormous change in their society, an enormous proportion of their total population, for us an influx of a comparable number of people might be one that most Americans only barely notice.
GRISWOLD: Well Ilya, we’re about out of time. Is there any other aspect of your book, part of your book, that you’d just like to mention briefly to the listeners that we haven’t covered?
SOMIN: Yeah. I’d also like to mention the fact that, as I only briefly adverted to earlier, that I am aware of these arguments which say that there is a right to exclude, either because the dominant ethnic group of a nation owns the territory and therefore has a right to exclude members of other groups—France for the French, Germany for the Germans. I addressed that in some detail in the book, but this is not an argument that is going to be very compelling for immigration restrictionists in the US, due to the fact that if any group has a right on that basis in the US, it would be Native Americans who could kick out the rest of us.
In addition, I address the more individualistic type of argument, which says that a nation is like a house or like a club. So that just as a homeowner can say that he or she has the right to exclude any strangers from their home, even if there isn’t a particularly good reason to keep them out, or members of a private club can say, “Well, this is just a club for Red Sox fans, and fans of all other teams have to stay out.” So this is analogized to the power of a national government to exclude people.
I take on that argument in considerable detail in the book as well. I explain why it has dire implications, not just for immigrants, but also for natives, in that if you really believe that a national government has the same powers as a homeowner or as members of a club, then you have to recognize that a homeowner can do things like only allow the speech that he or she agrees with in their house, or only allow the practice of the religion that they like—perhaps only the Muslim religion or only the Christian religion or whatnot—and exclude everybody else. So if national governments are really like homeowners, then that’s really bad news for natives and not just immigrants. And it’s an analogy that we should reject.
GRISWOLD: Thank you, Ilya. Well, we have been talking to Ilya Somin, professor of law at George Mason University, about his new book, Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom. It’s from Oxford University Press. I’ve got a review of the book, highly recommend it. It is just a tour de force, lots of solid research, high level argumentation. It’s just a very insightful view of some very timely topics. So Ilya, thank you very much.
SOMIN: Thank you so much for having me.