Thursday, September 08, 2005

Immigration once again

As usual on this issue, no economics, just noise. Actually, it's not so much an issue but people shifting goalposts, suddenly becoming unsettled, etc, all because the cause of the restlessness has not been dealt with.

Complaining about immigrants and even going further to say that they cost taxes (as seen on some papers) when they actually pay taxes and most don't even have access to the welfare system, reveals an undercurrent that has no economic or statistical backing, no empirical backing, just arbitrary reasons for complaining so vehemently about immigrants.

A while back, I watched a Dimbleby show on the BBC where I learnt - to my surprise - that at the time, around 50% of economic migrants into the UK were white American female professionals. It therefore comes as no surprise that this report reveals that there are more American migrants living in Britain than Bangladeshis. However, I also do remember that before Dimbleby revealed the fact (which caught-out many on the panel and the audience with their skewed numbers and skewed thinking), the argument was meandering around race. People came just short of calling it a race thing. But as I remember, Dimbleby did ask the question and somebody (whom I won't mention) confirmed that it was. The responder then went into some nonsense about "integration" or lack thereof as his reason for blatantly citing race as the undercurrent for his argument.

Call a spade a spade, I always say!

We keep releasing report after report on the effects of immigration, etc, but the economic and social pros and cons have been in the public domain for a very long time. You cannot find a sound economic argument, for instance, which will suggest that immigration is hurting the economy. And I am of the view that (like Brazil) the fusion of cultures creates more interesting lives. London is an interesting place with its diverse music, food, etc. So who are these boring people who would like to water down the cultural fusion?

I once read a newspaper poll about a random street survey on immigration. The public was asked what percentage of the population they thought comprised of black people and to my surprise, the average response was well above 20%! That was so shocking given that the Office for National Statistics has correct information, free for everyone to access, that places the total ethnic minority population at just under 10% and in that 10%, we find further breakdown into very small percentages, with Black people coming at around 2%. However, the average Joe will not go to National Statistics to get the facts, he will read skewed reports and listen to agenda-driven politicians and then regurgitate the same wrong thinking without giving it a second thought.

So, given that:
1. Immigrants contribute more to the economy than they cost.
2. A noticeable percentage of the immigrants (though not viewed under this label) are American.
3. When listening/reading on immigration, all we see and hear is about Eastern Europe and ethnic minorities, not the Americans, or Australians, etc

What is the real issue then?

The discussion on immigration is down to:
"more of that lot please, and less of those people. Don't ask why (go figure)".
If you dispute this, read up on the policy and do some maths (using statistics), the devil is in the details.

To quote Chris Dillow from stumbling and mumbling:
"...This doesn't mean there are no arguments against immigration -there are. It's just that the best arguments aren't economic ones."
In writing the above, Chris Dillow was defending his very valid economic point in favour of free immigration. To quote his comments:
" If the "national interest" means anything at all, it can only be the sum of individual interests. If I choose to employ, say, a Nigerian, it can only be because doing this is in my interest. If no-one else's interest is affected, the national interest is enhanced by my decision. Free migration of labour is therefore in the national interest."
"...A third possibility is simply that third parties just hate the idea of immigrants, so their welfare falls when I hire the Nigerian. But politicians would never pander to such racism, would they? "
Well done Chris Dillow, you're asking the right questions.

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