Open Your Mind and Open The Borders

Olly Neville January 15, 2013 11
Open Your Mind and Open The Borders

The debate on immigration has not been properly held in Britain, as a consequence there are so many misconceptions about lazy, job stealing, benefit taking immigrants that constructive debate is often near impossible. In fact when people open their minds and look at the facts open borders are a benefit to themselves, society and the world at large.

Lee Jenkins has written a fantastic article about immigration and the benefits of it, specifically from a pensions angle but immigration is not just a benefit to solve our pensions headache, it is a benefit all round.  All the research shows that immigrants are net tax benefits (see here, here and here) that is to say that on average any immigrant pays more in tax than they cost in services used.

Of course there are counter examples available, some will take more in services than they contribute, but overall immigrants pay more in tax than they cost. That means that the more immigrants we have the more money the treasury takes, the more we have to spend on projects that we want. Even after the cost of having more people in the country immigrants overall put more in than they take out.

Indeed the IFS looking at just eastern European migrants found that they pay 1.4 times as much tax as they receive in welfare. Natives of Britian on average pay 0.8 times as much tax as they receive. Immigrants fund us, not the other way around.

I must take issue with Lee when he says that we can not have open borders and a welfare state. Open borders are the only way we can have a welfare state. Immigrants, as net tax benefits, contribute more to the pot than they take out, without that positive net contribution the welfare state would collapse. Indeed the IFS point out that native Brits are net tax takers, we need immigrants just to keep the welfare state afloat.

The type of person to up sticks and move to another country has the drive and desire to change their life that Britain needs if we are to grow our economy. The fallacy that immigrations take ‘our jobs’ is based on the false assumption that there is a fixed jobs pie. Employers hire whoever is best for the job, if that is an immigrant that means they are the one who can do the job for the lowest price and highest quality. That means productivity rises, average prices fall, profit rises and new jobs are created. There is no fixed jobs pie that immigrants take a slice out of, people becoming employed create new jobs, it grows the economy and benefits us all. If we only employed British workers we wouldn’t have the most efficient worker in each job, prices would be higher, less jobs would be created. The pie grows and shrinks as employers hire the best workers for the job or not. The more applications an employer gets the more he can find the best on the more the pie grows. To take an example from America 52.4 per cent of Silicon Valley engineering and technology startups were founded by immigrants.  the people that will cross oceans and borders to make their lives better are the people that have the drive and will take the risks to start businesses and grow the economy. Immigrants take the low end jobs that British workers won’t and the high end jobs British workers can’t. They don’t steal jobs, they fill gaps.

To counter another argument against immigration. Britain is not full up, only 1.5% of Britain counts as developed. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18623096 that means 98.5% of Britain is undeveloped. We are not full to bursting, we actually have plenty of room, any issues with housing are down to idiotic state regulations holding back development.

Sam Bowman at the ASI has pointed out research that shows at the lowest estimate open borders would raise world GDP by 67%, at highest 147% Open borders: double world GDP  argue that open borders would (surprisingly) double the worlds GDP. A double in world GDP would raise us from $58trn to $116trn an incredible jump. The jobs that would be created, the people wrenched out of poverty, the services and goods that we would be able to receive would be huge.

The arguments against immigration seem to fall away: we can have open borders and a welfare state as immigrants are net tax payers giving more than they take. We aren’t full and we have plenty of space and immigrants create, not take jobs. The economic case is firmly pro immigrant. Any social or cultural cases seem to ignore that culture evolves naturally, and that immigrants can enhance our culture (foreign food restaurants, corner shops, taxis,  even foreign ways of celebrating) and that we are historically a nation of immigrants.  Change isn’t something to be feared, technology changes our society, inventions change how we do things, nothing is fixed. Culture has evolved for years and will continue to do so.

So immigration is beneficially economically, and while it may change culture just because some think that is bad does not legitimise preventing it. As Bowman points out the very basis of private property is allowing the owner to decide who he can rent his room to, or offer his job to etc not telling him who he can or can’t.  Bowman further points out that problems like ghettoization are state created  that the negative parts of immigration are not faults of immigrants or immigration but the state.

While many have taken to seeing immigration in very hostile and negative terms, often fueled by a lack of understanding of what immigrants do and the benefits they provide. There is one way to double world GDP, save Britain’s welfare and pension system from collapse, increase treasury revenue and create more jobs and businesses and that is to open the borders.

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  • Phil S

    you forgot to mention that they also need jobs, schools, hospitals, houses, roads etc. And also you mentioned the benefit to the uks pension pot but what happens when this new enlarged population also wants to retire? Increase the population some more? I think you can see where this leads

  • James

    Immigration is a short-term fix to a long term issue, what about the strain on our schools and the hosting shortage? If you’re gonna say ‘build more houses’ why should the British taxpayer fund a house for a new immigrant who hasn’t paid I to the system? And if you believe that Britain is 95% underdeveloped you would believe anything and everything Olly.

    Should immigrants who come here for our health care be allowed in here? they may have a disease that cold spread to British people or other immigrants for example tuberculosis?

    I may be persuaded to have open borders in return for abolishing the welfare state.

  • http://www.thebackbencher.co.uk Lee Jenkins

    Excellent piece Olly, I esp like that you mentioned that immigration drives down costs, helping everybody.
    …and thanks for the mention!

  • http://twitter.com/poorbastardmarv poorbastardmarvin

    If an area predominantly becomes a particular ethnic or religious minority then they can “ghettoise” – the state providing social housing need not be a significant factor.

    In the East End of London the areas are predominantly South Asian ancestry, and significantly Muslim. In these areas, groups youths from well off families, owners of restaurants are aggressively “Muslim”, the extreme example being Muslims on Patrol.

    This has little or nothing to do with economics and everything to do with ideology and culture. Sam implies social mobility would cure this. The evidence does not support this. In some cultures culture & ideology trumps everything.

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  • Rob

    “…on average any immigrant pays more in tax than they cost in services used”

    For a start, this SHOULD be a given, not something that simply justifies more immigrants. If this wasn’t the case, then we should be looking at deportation, not just closing the borders to new immigrants. However, that aside, you don’t have to be a genius to realise that there are immigrants living on welfare, and hiding behind the fact that they’re 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants now doesn’t appease that problem in the eyes of the ‘indigenous’ population. And the economic benefit of immigrants could reach a far greater average if we were more selective over the immigrants allowed in, and implemented a system such as that of Australia that demands that people coming into our country are skilled enough to gain well paid work quickly, and have money to deposit before entry. Taking an average seems very convenient, when in reality we should only be letting in the top bracket of earners.

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  • Daniel Jackson

    “Open borders are the only way we can have a welfare state. Immigrants, as net tax benefits, contribute more to the pot than they take out, without that positive net contribution the welfare state would collapse. Indeed the IFS point out that native Brits are net tax takers, we need immigrants just to keep the welfare state afloat.”

    That completely ignores the possibility that some of the native population wouldn’t be on benefits if there had been less immigration over the years.

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