Re: Against ‘Kill the Bill’

by Mark Steyn

Rich, I tremble to intrude on a dispute between Bill Kristol and David Brooks, so I will cite another Weekly Standard man, Christopher Caldwell. Brooks’s shallow argument reminded me of a Caldwell observation that I quoted in my book After America (page 242, if you’re interested):

Almost every claim made for the benefits of mass immigration is false. “Sober-minded economists reckon that the potential gains from freer global migration are huge,” writes Philippe Legrain in Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them. “The World Bank reckons that if rich countries allowed their workforce to swell by a mere three per cent by letting in an extra 14 million workers from developing countries between 2001 and 2025, the world would be $356 billion a year better off, with the new migrants themselves gaining $162 billion a year, people who remain in poor countries $143 billion, and natives in rich countries $139 billion.”

$139 billion? From “a mere” 14 million extra immigrants? Wow!

As Christopher Caldwell points out in his book Reflections On The Revolution In Europe, the aggregate gross domestic product of the world’s advanced economies for the year 2008 was estimated by the International Monetary Fund at close to $40 trillion. So an extra $139 billion works out to an extra, er, 0.0035. Caldwell compares the World Bank argument to Dr Evil’s triumphant announcement (in the film Austin Powers) that he’s holding the world hostage for one million dollars!!! “Sacrificing 0.0035 of your economy would be a pittance to pay for starting to get your country back.” As for that extra $139 billion divided between the inhabitants of all the world’s “rich countries”, that works out to less than what the US Government spent in 2010 on unemployment insurance ($160 billion).

Any economic benefit from the amnesty bill by the year 2033 is peripheral, not to mention laughably speculative. But the cultural effect from admitting through amnesty and the consequent chain migration tens of millions of unskilled immigrants from a narrow demographic source is less speculative: It will be lasting, profound, and transformative. Culture trumps economics.

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