Posted by: secretperson | April 5, 2008

Immigration Frustration

In response to the House of Lords immigration findings, that is that there has been no economic benefit to the population despite what we have been told, the Guardian have had a couple of articles from an economist called Philip Legrain singing immigrations praises.

In the first article lists a number of points, namely that immigrants help the economy by being flexible. That was the claim the Lords studied, and found lacking, though he doesn’t address their report at all, other than to ‘name and shame’ a couple of Tory members of the all party committee.

I can’t be bothered to address his points in turn, but essentially he takes an economists view that anything helping bosses is good. Now while I think some kind of capitalism is the best system, it cannot be unfettered. After all a complete lack of workplace health and safety regulation would be good for the economy by lowering costs to employers, but is not necessarily desirable.

He also takes examples of some succesful migrants, such as Nobel Prize winners, as an argument for unlimited migration. That is as equally wrong as stopping all migration because one terrorist was a migrant.

He concludes

Britain urgently needs a heavyweight, economically rigorous report into the economics of migration, along the lines of the Stern report on the economics of climate change. The House of Lords report is certainly not it.

What he means is a report that agrees with his own pre-concieved ideas.

In the second article Legrain claims Britain is not crowded, and that even if it were that would be a good thing, because people are good.

I don’t dislike people, but there are limits! I’d rather live in a big house, with my own space than crowded ten to the room like workers in Victorian times. As I commented on the piece, Mr Legrain would have us living like human battery hens. The way he argues, he doesn’t just say that Britain (England of course being the most overcrowded bit) can take more people than currently, but he seems to see no limit to the number of people we can support at all.

He dismisses the predictions of the Office for National Statistics, but provides no statistics of his own. There are the usual hints that anyone who disagrees is a racist. Mention of the Daily Mail and Jews in the 1930s. I thought we were getting over the times when immigration could no longer be discussed sensibly, and I thought that was the fold of ideologically bound politicians, not supposed economic experts.

And I don’t even know where to start on his most ridiculous statement:

While parts of the country are more densely populated than others, there is still plenty of space: nearly three-quarters of Britain is agricultural land.

Agricultural land is equivalent to free space? What does he think all these millions of people he wants are going to eat?

Us human battery hens will also be left with no grain!

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