Nicholas Harrington

The Economic Imperative of Mass Immigration

Migrants arrive on a special train service from Austria to Saalfeld, Germany, Sept. 5, 2015. The refugees will be taken to accommodation in Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia Saalfeld by bus.

Be it America, Australia, or Germany, resolve to immigration issues lies in policy that makes increased population a benefit or which stops the need for asylum altogether.


Western Europe appears divided into two irreconcilable camps: those who endorse mass immigration from impoverished, war-torn areas of the globe for humanitarian reasons versus those who bemoan the death by a thousand cuts of traditional culture and statistical increases in petty crime, violence, and rape that accompanies new arrivals. Let’s call Camp A the “Progressives” and Camp B the “Traditionalists.” Both Progressives and Traditionalists acknowledge there is some truth in the other side’s claims, but because each considers their mission more important than the concerns raised by their opponents, there is no way to reconcile their agendas. Progressives view themselves as global citizens and believe there is a moral duty to share the bounty of their society with all humanity. Traditionalists, however, see themselves as defenders of the very society whose bounty is being shared, consider themselves citizens of nations first, and don’t feel any particular guilt or moral responsibility toward those less fortunate living outside their borders.

Before drudging further into this politico-philosophical quagmire, we must discuss governments. We can’t talk about immigration without also talking about the institutions that devise, craft, advocate, and promulgate the legislation that causes this social divide. Social realists—those who pay dispassionate attention to history—assert that states only engage in actions that serve the national interest and morality only enters the equation to act as a justification for policies that are self-interested but rendered more palatable to voters with some moral cover. Syria is an excellent case study for the realist argument. There has been ample opportunity for Western European governments to prove sincerity in their professed concern for the victims of Assad’s civil war. In retrospect, Germany, France, Sweden, and the UK contributed nothing more than hollow rhetoric to the crisis and allowed the U.S. to fund and train the Syrian opposition (thus perpetuating the death and destruction), all while moralistically wagging their fingers in the direction of Damascus, and then later Moscow.

Setting up safe zones in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan while imposing a no-fly zone over Syria and sending in a joint NATO task force to liberate the nation from its tyrant would have been one foreign policy solution. Another option would have been to stop supporting the opposition and allow Assad to retake control, thus ending the crisis. Needless to say, the West pursued neither of these policies. Option one was dead on arrival because Western governments would not expend blood and treasure on the Syrian people. Option two was ignored because the U.S., until Russia entered on the side of Assad, believed that their clandestine efforts would result in the toppling of the Syrian regime and, as a sweetener, the completion of a gas pipeline that their Saudi allies had been eyeing covetously for many years. Instead the West, through their deliberate lack of action, allowed nearly 500,000 Syrians to die and 11,000,000 more to become displaced. Where is the morality in this? Of course, there is none—it was a national interest: cost/benefit analysis—plain and simple. The costs to the West were not worth the perceived benefits of ending the civil war. Ironically, Putin, the “dictator,” saved the Syrian state.

So, where does that leave the European migrant crisis? Primarily, it provides the appropriate lens through which to view Germany opening its borders to millions of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East. It had next to nothing to do with morality. Yes, the humanitarian aspect is compelling rhetoric, but this morality cloaks the policy imperative—the real driver of European immigration policy.

Unfortunately, the moral/humanitarian arguments don’t square with a government’s foreign and economic policy if it exploits and disregards the very people they claim to help up until the very moment they cross the border.

Why is Germany so willing to take millions of refugees from around the world? Why not invest in the development and reconstruction of the states from which the refugees are fleeing instead? Why not renegotiate IMF and World Bank programs that cripple their future prospects, lift sanctions, and engage better with their leadership? Why not impose harsh penalties on Western multinational corporations that exploit labor and resources in the nations from which they are receiving souls? The answer to these and most other questions is unsurprisingly: economics.

Germany has a generous welfare system. Retiring citizens receive (by international standards) comfortable pensions and medical benefits. Against a backdrop of more and more sophisticated (and therefore more expensive) treatments, longer human lives and Western European birth rates below replacement levels, the immigration policy becomes comprehensible. The governments of Western Europe are importing human capital to fund an inefficient—and in its current construction, un-sustainable—modern welfare leviathan. Germany, Sweden, France, et al look at Japan and see their future if they don’t correct the inverted demographic pyramid. The formula is quite simple: if you don’t have more new people coming into the system each year than people cashing out, you hit stagflation and, in time, complete fiscal meltdown. In some ways, the modern welfare state is akin to an elaborate Ponzi scheme. Early in the 21st Century, the UN revealed to Western nations the gig was up—the whole economic racket was on the brink of collapse—and they determined that immigration (replacement migration) was the only viable salvation for their unsustainable politico-economic project.

The irony, of course, is that neither of our two social camps (Progressives or Traditionalists) see immigration for what it is. They attack each other rather than direct attention to the appropriate target. Citizens should be critically examining a state structure that has proven utterly unsustainable and foreign policy that is totally amoral/immoral. Naturally, governments are delighted to have them at each other’s throats. The more they fight amongst themselves the less they see the real beneficiaries of the status quo. The first basket of winners are large corporations that continue to exploit cheap labor in the countries from which the refugees are fleeing (Western policies ensuring they remain poor, war-torn, and despotically run), and then sell their wares back into the West where consumerism is assured. The second basket of winners are the state administrators, bureaucrats, and politicians who find an alternative source of funding for their gargantuan and inefficient programs now that the native population has been exhausted as a sustainable source of revenue.

Where does that leave the European migrant crisis? … Yes, the humanitarian aspect is compelling rhetoric, but this morality cloaks the policy imperative—the real driver of European immigration policy.

Governments aren’t moral. If they were, they would make different decisions. The German immigration/refugee program is not a humanitarian effort. It has been economically determined. Of course, however, Merkel is delighted to have millions of hapless “government advocates” throwing flowers and lauding the benefits of love and empathy—blissfully unaware that the principle beneficiaries of the policy are large corporations, banks, and the state itself.

If Progressives want to make a meaningful argument in favor of mass immigration, they should highlight the economic imperative of importing new taxpayers because their generation is unwilling to have children. Unfortunately, the moral/humanitarian arguments don’t square with a government’s foreign and economic policy if it exploits and disregards the very people they claim to help up until the very moment they cross the border.

If Traditionalists want to mount a case against mass immigration, they should advocate for foreign policy that prevents people becoming refugees in the first place and domestic policy that encourages Millennials to have more children while discouraging the unsustainable expansion of the state.

Finally, Traditionalists need to understand that their current politicians will never fight to preserve German traditions and will allow them to be slowly chipped away. The fabric of society will change and the way things look, sound, and feel will never be the same again. The government will not reduce the steady influx of immigrants from parts of the world dominated by antithetical cultural and social values, despite quantifiable increases in rape, violence, and terrorism. This is simply because under the current configuration of state, immigration is not a choice, it is rather an existential necessity. Without these new immigrants, modern states will collapse—and states are going to do everything they can to prevent this from happening. Shocking to some, this includes facilitating social and legal changes to accommodate these new taxpayers and tolerating an elevated degree of pain for a diffuse minority of people as this period of transformation proceeds.



Related posts