Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Complexities of Immigration Policy

Immigration policy, at first blush, would seem to be about deciding whom we allow into our country, and about when and why and how we allow them, and about how we prevent others from violating the law by sneaking in illegally. But the question quickly becomes even more complex when we see the ripple effects that immigration policy has in terms of education, healthcare, and the economy.

One topic within the larger theme of immigration policy is the notion of 'amnesty' - allowing those who have knowingly violated the law by sneaking into the country to stay, and allowing them to obtain papers as legal resident aliens. Those who favor the amnesty approach to dealing with immigration envision that these aliens might one day even became voting citizens, just as those who enter the country legally do.

In an report issued by the Excellence in Broadcasting Network, a surprising link was found between what might seem to be two unrelated policy questions: abortion and immigration:

If you use the popularly accepted figure of 1.3 million abortions a year, go back to Roe vs. Wade 1973, 52 million taxpayers haven't been born, is the way Washington looks at it. They don't look at it morally. They don't look at it in any kind of cultural way or any kind of cultural impact. They just say we're 52 million people short. We have 52 million fewer people paying taxes. We gotta replace 'em. Hello amnesty.

The economic effects of abortion policy have long been understood: social programs for retirees, like Social Security and Medicare, require a large pool of working people. It is a relatively simple matter to arrive at a numerical ratio which expresses the situation - the number of working people compared to the number of retired people. The more workers per retiree, the better. If the USA had, for an extreme example, twenty working people for each retiree, there would be no problem funding these programs. At the other extreme, if we had one working person for twenty retirees, the system would quickly collapse. We have found ourselves at neither extreme, but the trend is for fewer and fewer working people. This is the source of the funding problems which have plagued Social Security and Medicare.

There is a twofold reason for which some politicians drive toward more immigration. The more cynical elected officials need

a permanent underclass in order to keep themselves alive as Santa Claus, to keep winning elections and stay in power. But Washington overall, much as they hate people, much as they hate their base, much as they hate the middle class, they still need people working and paying taxes, regardless how many people are gonna be paying a lot or a little. The illegals income levels might be such they wouldn't be paying much, but it's better than nothing.

One group, therefore, wants more immigrants simply to supply itself with another constituency from which to obtain votes. The second group, less cynical, sees a need for workers, i.e., a need for taxpayers.

There are, however, other solutions to these problems. One, obviously, would be to encourage a higher birthrate. Economies are most sustainable when the birthrate is around three children per adult woman. Birthrates lower than that, in any country anywhere, encounter economic instability.