The political class of today is eating a mess of its own making. For too long no one would talk about immigration, now they can’t talk enough about it. A force that is overwhelmingly beneficial for the UK and its economy now is being attacked on all sides because no one would stand up to defend it.
The Prime Minister is the latest to throw facts to one side as he alongside Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg tread on ground previously only occupied by undesirables like UKIP, the BNP, and the National Front.
Cameron has claimed that there is a worry that too many immigrants are coming over to claim benefits. Here at least he is right, there is such a worry. Unfortunately as with most things fuelled by Daily Mail hysteria, it is complete and utter nonsense. As research carried out by the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration has shown, immigrants are far more likely to be employed, far less likely to be claiming benefits or tax credits, and significantly less likely to be in social housing than their native counter parts.
The ASI’s Sam Bowman of course makes the argument better than I ever could: Bowman has previously shredded the lump of labour fallacy exposing those who think that immigrants ‘steal’ jobs as naïve at best and foolish at worse. In his latest piece Sam points out that immigrants don’t keep British workers out of jobs either. High marginal tax rates on those entering work means that sitting on benefits is the better option. Far too many times pundits have claimed that hundreds of thousands of Brits would be in work if it wasn’t for all those immigrants, before they have even looked at the facts. Our distorted welfare system is what does for British workers and the British youth, not Eastern Europeans.
Furthermore, if we did kick out all the immigrants in jobs and forced Brits to do them we would be worse off. Employers don’t hire people randomly, they try and get the best person for the job. When an employer highers an immigrant over you and me it’s not because they’re anti British it is because they made a calculated decision that they will get more bang for their buck, more productivity for their pound, out of that worker than you or I. A more productive workforce means lower costs, cheaper goods for consumers. Removing immigrants would mean price rises in many goods; now that really would hurt Britain.
The welfare system is another argument against immigration, but like all others it is intellectually bankrupt. Our welfare system is generous to a fault, if you’re a Brit. As Bowman points out, welfare is hugely limited if you’re not a British native, the myth that you can come over here and sit on welfare is exactly that, a myth.
Simply put there is no economically credible argument against immigration, study after study has shown that immigrants pay more into the system than they take out, a point Bowman also covers. All the evidence shows that immigrants use less services than Brits, and pay in more. Immigration is far from collapsing society, without the massive net tax benefit immigrants provide our debt and deficit would be gigantic. Furthermore there is a huge amount of intellectual dishonesty, especially amongst those who are anti-immigrant yet espouse the benefits of free trade. The two are one and the same. If you oppose immigration to be logically consistent you must oppose free trade. In terms of jobs there is no difference in a Bulgarian producing a widget in a factory in Bulgaria and selling it to British consumers than him producing a widget in a factory in Britain and selling it to British consumers. In each case the work is done by a non Brit.
While no politician spoke of immigration, fringe elements of British politics were allowed to take over and control the debate, now the orthodoxy is that immigrants and immigration is bad. Cheap politicians have sold Britain down the river twice, first by refusing to voice the common sense arguments for immigration when they needed to, and again now for giving in to the tyranny of the loudest shouters, the aggressive and the uninformed. There is no evidence that immigrants have a negative impact on Britain, certainly from an economic view they are overwhelmingly positive, but sadly hate and mistrust have once again overcome common sense and evidence. Reason, logic, and fact have no place in the immigration debate, it has been taken over by fear mongering and economic illiteracy.