I find so much of the immigration debate to be asinine. It’s one of those debates, like the “Islamophobia” debate which has largely been overtaken by emotion. There was an article in The Times yesterday which reported on a study that immigration had driven down wages and Douglas Murray has sited a study that immigrants cost more in benefits than they contribute.
I didn’t need these studies to know this, a simple knowledge of economics and an understanding of the economic situation of the UK told me this: it had to logically follow from the facts.
Fact one: UK productivity levels are dire. Compare them with France or the US or Germany and you’ll find that they’re terrible. This tells you that the UK economy relies on sheer numbers of workers rather than the efficient use of workers; lots of unskilled labour versus a smaller, more highly skilled labour force. We know that this is true because we also have a problem of not having enough skilled workers.
So we can say from this that our economy is bringing in cheap labour to try and offset the lack of skills. It logically follows from the facts.
Well what happens when you bring in more cheap labour than the economy requires? What happens to price when supply exceeds demand? Yeah the price drops. So of course immigration drives down wages. We know that this is happening because concomitant with introducing a policy of mass immigration the last Labour government brought in tax credits to top up the pay of low paid workers.
So they knew that wages would be driven down and they introduced a measure to counteract the effects of their own immigration policy.
The economic argument for immigration has never added up. Yes it’s true that immigration does grow the economy, but only in an absolute sense, not in a per capita terms. Lots of low paid workers doing the jobs that British people won’t do because they’re too low paid aren’t going to be increasing the per capita wealth of the country. Only highly skilled workers in high productivity jobs increase per capita income.
Then there’s this argument that we need immigration for our public services. This obviously nonsense: lots of low paid workers aren’t paying for our public services; they don’t earn enough. Secondly the white population of the country is dying out. It doesn’t need more public services, it needs less. There was a point where we needed fewer schools, fewer teachers, fewer hospitals because there were fewer people. The strain on the public services was easing and the cost of them could have been met by producing a higher skilled, higher productivity workforce which would have paid more tax.
Instead we opted for cheap labour via mass immigration and now curiously enough our public services are massively under strain. Of course they are: the tax base hasn’t grown all that much because you don’t get much tax out of low skilled workers in low productivity jobs, but all of these people need education, healthcare, housing, social services etc etc. Of course they’re going to take more out of the system than they pay in.
If it were the case that mass immigration increased wealth on a per capita basis then wages would be rocketing, fewer people would need tax credits not more, the strain on public services would be easing because wealthy people do not need the state.
Rather than we’re in this position now where we’re using immigration to try and combat the problems caused by immigration. That’s not going to work.
The only thing that is going to work is shutting the border totally and so saying to UK employers, “Here’s all the workers that you’re going to get, if you want to compete in the market you’re going to have to invest in them and boost your productivity”. We can’t even let skilled workers in because then employers will simply continue to use immigration because it’s cheaper than investing in people.
If you’re worried about income inequality then you should be supporting this because it’s the only way of forcing wages up and so redistributing money.
Instead of this rational analysis what do we get? Emotional bullshit.