Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Migration Controls = RACISM!!!

That's right. If you want to control immigration you are a racist. Why is that you ask? Its because everyone has a right to the fruits of your labors. Forget about the strain it puts on social services (health care, education & law enforcement). Immigration is okay since its part of the free market economic principles. HUH? This is confirmed by a Harvard economist. One Lant Pritchett.

The bottom line is spread the wealth around. Its even mentioned in the post below!! Just another socialist plea. Or should I say communist plea.

January 6, 2009 11:45 AM

migration.jpgI like heretical ideas. Especially ones that make more sense the longer you think about them. So here is my New Year offering: let's open the world's borders to migrants.

It has always struck me as odd that we are so keen to allow the flow of cash and goods across borders without let or hindrance, but try so hard to deny the same rights to people. That is both unfair and a denial of the free-market theories on which much of the world's economy is built.

Surely if free trade and the free movement of capital is so good for an efficient global economy, then the same should apply to the free movement of labour?

I can't see the fault in that logic. And for the apostles of the free market to deny it reeks to me of racism and xenophobia. Worse, the stench is disguised by a cheap perfume of do-gooding development theory and environmental hand-wringing.

Until recently, I hadn't realised that there were economists around who agreed with me. But Lant Pritchett at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, does. I went to see him in Boston a few weeks ago.

He says that the current ever-tougher controls on migration into the rich world are the new apartheid of a globalised world economy - locking up poor people in prison-camp countries not so different from the hated Bantustans or "black African homelands" of apartheid-era South Africa.

After all, he says, a Vietnamese labourer would have nine times the purchasing power if she did the identical job in Japan. A Kenyan could be seven times better off in Britain. Tongan workers earn four times more in New Zealand, Mexicans seven times more in the US, and so on. Why not let them come?

But no. Instead, we ban the movement of people and "outsource" the jobs to places where pay is rock bottom - like Vietnam and Kenya and so on.

Except some jobs can't be moved. We do need some of these would-be migrants to do all kinds of menial jobs that even the poorest people in rich countries won't do. Jobs like picking grapes in California and oranges in Spain, cleaning toilets in Britain and hotel rooms in Italy, looking after babies in Washington and gratifying the libido of men from Tel Aviv to Toronto, Munich to Manchester, and Stockholm to Sydney.

So we look the other way while huddled masses are smuggled in. Criminalising millions of "economic migrants" delivers the goods while keeping this foreign underclass devoid of any rights. Because if they complain they will be sent home again.

At least South Africa was honest about what it was doing.

Those who think themselves progressives come up with lots of reasons why, regrettably, we have to keep tough controls on migration.

  • They pretend that even the keenest migrants are victims who would be better off back home. Nonsense.
  • They argue that migrants do more damage to the environment if they join us in the rich world. Which is one of the most despicable of self-serving green arguments.
  • And they hypothesise that migration is bad for the economies of the sending countries. That too may be largely poppycock. Economies are made up of people. The ultimate idea, surely, is to help people and not economies. And Pritchett points out that "two of every five living Mexicans who have escaped poverty did so by leaving Mexico; for Haitians it is four out of five."

Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of poor people in poor countries already rely on remittances from relatives working in richer economies. Whole economies would collapse without this drip-feed of cash, which dwarfs international aid.

Remittances amount to a staggering 45% of the cash circulating in Tajikistan, mostly from construction workers in Russia. In Moldova, Europe's worst-faring economy, the figure is 38%, in Tonga 35%, in Lebanon 24%, and in Honduras, Guyana, Jordan, Haiti and Jamaica around 20%.

What is more, most of the remittance cash gets into the pockets of ordinary citizens rather than the Swiss bank accounts of their leaders or the salaries of western consultants.
This is good news. And Pritchett argues that extending the remittances economy by opening the borders to many more migrants is a sure-fire route to spreading the world's wealth around. In a global economic recession, it may be about the only way.

Pritchett, incidentally, is not just any crackpot economist. He has a side-job advising Google on its philanthropic efforts to cut global poverty. And he was for many years a close colleague at the World Bank of Lawrence Summers - the man about to become Barack Obama's head of the National Economic Council.

Now, wouldn't it be great if a bit of this compassionate, libertarian and free-market thinking seeped into the White House over the next four years.

Fred Pearce, senior environment correspondent

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