Thursday, August 15, 2013

Are We Addicted to Immigration?

There was a time that I couldn't get going in the morning without a coffee and a cigarette.   They were, to me, at that time truly indispensable.

What brought back that old memory was Mehdi Hasan's op-ed in Britain's New Statesman arguing that, without immigrants, Britain wouldn't function.  It's a common refrain here in Canada and I think we have to ask ourselves if we're not succumbing to an addiction.  If we're to go to a steady-state economy, as I and many others believe we must, we'll have to give up the growth paradigm that fuels our dependence on immigrant labour.   Here's Hasan's take:

I have a modest proposal for the likes of Ukip, MigrationWatch, the Home Secretary, David Goodhart, Paul Dacre and, of course, the BNP. Why not call for “A Day Without Immigrants?” Wouldn’t that demonstrate, once and for all, that neither our economy nor our society needs migrants? That they are a burden, rather than a blessing?

“A Day Without Immigrants” was the name given to a rather innovative series of protests in the US in 2006, which brought more than a million Latinos on to the streets of 50 cities, from New York to Los Angeles. They boycotted shops, schools and their places of work to try to highlight the plight of undocumented migrant workers.

But here’s how I’d implement a similar boycott here: anyone in the UK born abroad or with a parent born abroad would stay at home for 24 hours. Any business or organisation founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant would close for the day.

Britain would be transformed – but, regrettably for the immigration-bashers, in a wholly negative way. In fact, I suspect it would be a pretty awful 24 hours for most Britons, dark and dystopian, even. Think Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later – but without migrants, rather than with zombies.

Of course, Hasan is focusing on the essential role that existing immigrants play in our societies.   The key issue, however, is what levels of immigration should we have in future if we're to achieve a steady-state economy?  Under that model, population is capped so that births and deaths are roughly equal.  Immigration would only be permissible if birth rates failed to keep pace with deaths.

Yet we have become addicted to a steady influx of cheap labour immigration to continuously grow our economy well past sustainable, steady state levels.  That's a lot like that first cigarette in the morning.


Lorne said...

While I think that immigration facilitates a number of positive outcomes, Mound, what bothers me the most is that business seems addicted to importing tradespeople. We are always told there is a shortage of tradespeople in Canada; our immigration policies currently seem to militate against business making the necessary investments in apprenticeships for our young people, despite the fact that fairly generous government training incentives do exist.

For example, my nephew, from the Toronto area, had to move to Calgary this past winter to work on a plumbing apprenticeship. Why?

Anonymous said...

Lorne: You are on with your comment. Isn't Toronto the home base of immigration from all over the world? Make no wonder your nephew had to move to Calgary for training. He will experience smaller classes which is good. Australia is having a hell of a time with illigals wanting asylum. Australia is a very dry country at the best of times and can only take a sustainable population. But many people are condeming them for their worry and stopping so immigration. Anyong

Anonymous said...

Also Lorne, business in Canada at the moment does not want to fork out for is called greed and would rather rely upon a governmwent using tax payers money to bring in immigrants with whom business pays less. What a way to support their own country. And, people wonder why we are becoming third world..go figure.