Introduction, Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom
Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom, Oxford University Press (2020), pp. 1-14
17 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 18, 2020
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.
Free to Move 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.
The Introduction summarizes the core argument of the book and provides an outline of the chapters that follow.
Keywords: Foot voting, Voting with your feet, federalism, political freedom, immigration, migration, Tiebout, democracy, political ignorance, political knowledge, consent, nondomination, foot voting, self-determination, property rights, world government, constitutional design, refugees
JEL Classification: F16, F22, K33, K37, P14, P16, P48, R11, R5, H10, H11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation