About the Talk
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 face strong incentives to remain ignorant about the issues at stake. “Voting with your feet,” however, avoids both 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, choosing where to live within a federal system, and by making decisions in the private sector.
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.
By making a systematic case for a more open world, Free to Move challenges conventional wisdom on both the left and the right. This revised and expanded edition addresses key new issues, including fears that migration could spread dangerous diseases, such as Covid-19, claims that immigrants might generate a political backlash that threatens democracy, and the impact of remote work.
About the Speaker
llya Somin is Professor of Law at George Mason University, and author of Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration and Political Freedom published by Oxford University Press. He also authored previous books The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London and the Limits of Eminent Domain and Democracy and Political Ignorance, and is a regular contributor to the Volokh Conspiracy law and politics blog, hosted by Reason.
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