Foot Voting > Ballot Voting

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Ilya Somin
Show Date
June 14, 2020
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Created time
Dec 8, 2021 3:10 AM
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Hindu mythology holds that the whole world rests on the back of a turtle. What does the turtle rest on? According to legend, “it’s turtles all the way down.”

While many are pushing for one-world-government to address new challenges like Coronavirus, there is another approach that can be dubbed “Federalism all the way down.” In other words, why stop at devolving power from Federal Government to the states? The more we decentralize power, the more people can effectively “vote with their feet” and choose which turtle– er, jurisdiction– they will reside in.

This is one of the core premises of Ilya Somin’s vitally important new book Free To Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom. Somin, a Law professor at George Mason University and blogger at Reason’s The Volokh Conspiracy, has been on my show several times to discuss his work on eminent domain, rational voter ignorance, and most recently, court packing. These topics deal with the delicate balance of powers between majorities and minorities; the voting public and life-time appointed officials. His latest book looks at the most important balance of powers of all – that which exists among the various jurisdictions where people can chose to live.

He finds that the option to vote with one’s feet is often a more powerful lever than the ballot box for getting the political change that we all want, yet feel powerless to achieve.

Tired of calling your congressman or donating to your favorite politicians to no avail? Why not send a stronger message and withdraw your tax dollars from your city or state if you are so unhappy?

Ilya’s new book also contains a bold defense of more open migration from other countries. He takes objections seriously but answers them one-by-one. The right to move should trump the alleged rights of ethnic groups or individuals to exclude on the basis of national origin.

Ilya joined me this Sunday to discuss his new book and the prospects for Federalism in the aftermath of Coronavirus. Will states that innovate safe ways of re-opening their economy be beneficiaries of an exodus out of states that don’t? Could the U.S. relieve global poverty by opening its doors to more immigrants from countries stricken by looming famines?

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