That Immigration Report

The number of immigrants entering Britain should be capped, an influential House of Lords committee has warned.

OK, how?

The vast majority of the immigration is from other EU states. We can\’t change that in any way at all.

Asylum seeking is regulated by UN agreements isn\’t it?

Which leaves extra- EU immigration for either economic or family reasons. The economic immigration is a small part of the flow in itself and it\’s already pretty difficult.

Which leaves family immigration: again, a small part of the problem anyway and are we really saying that we\’ll have solved the perceived problem if someone\’s elderly granny can\’t come and live with the kids?

What, in fact, can actually be done, within the set of regulations already woven around the subject?

We can leave the EU of course, and take back the powers currently weilded by Brussels over who is allowed to enter….

 

The Benefits of Immigration

OK:

"Our overall conclusion is that the economic benefits of net immigration to the resident population are small and close to zero in the long run," the report will say.

Let\’s say they\’re right.

The benefits to the immigrants are large, if not huge. It\’s thus a net addition to human happiness.

 

Snark, Snark

Many British expatriate communities refuse to integrate with their host nations. They congregate in ugly ghettos in the French countryside and along the Spanish coast, eating their own food – egg and chips; imported Marmite – and speaking their own language. They offend the tolerant and peaceable people of their host nations with their imported and alien customs of "binge drinking", promiscuity and visible displays of pink flesh.

Though many of them claim to have been "forced" out of their own country by a "totalitarian" government and a punitive tax regime, let us be clear: these people are selfish economic migrants. The worst of them write seditious letters to newspapers back home in an attempt to destabilise the Government.

A large number sponge off their host states – taking advantage, for example, of the advantageous tax regime available in the Republic of Ireland, or earning money in the United Kingdom by "teleworking" and failing to declare it in their host nations. Some join the black economy – taking payments in cash or avoiding tax by domiciling their assets offshore. Still others turn to crime, using their expertise to join the banking sector.

But to stereotype all emigrants in that way is to ignore the vast contribution they can make to the countries in which they live. It is to fall victim to one of the ugliest and most canting paranoias of our age.

The vast majority of emigrants are people who only want the best for themselves and their families. Indeed, many of them form the backbone of their host nations\’ economies – bringing skills in short supply over there, and doing the jobs that natives of those countries consider beneath them: as lawyers, public relations executives and marketing men.

Is it so bad to take advantage of the lowest tax regime you can find, within the law? And is it so wrong to save up as much of your monthly pay-packet as you can, so as to send money – as very many do – home to your family back in England?

Tee Hee. Very good Sam.

Charging For Visas

The basic principle here seems sound enough:

Foreigners coming to Britain are to face a new "immigrant tax" under Government plans to try to make them help pay for the schools and hospitals they use, ministers are to announce.

Why not charge people who want to come here? However:

Sources indicate that the additional levy could be set at 10 per cent of the visa fee – an additional £20 for the usual £200 visa granted to those wishing to stay in Britain longer than six months.

That\’s not actually what they\’re doing. The amount is so inconsequential, almost certain to be swallowed up in the costs of administrating the scheme, that it\’s simply a political gesture, look, see, we\’re doing something about all these appalling foreigners. Dog whistle stuff.

Ach

Yes, I know, we have limited resources, we don\’t want to have health tourism, we can\’t have open immigration and the welfare state, yes, I know the arguments:

The deportation of a Ghanaian woman with terminal cancer was defended by the head of the immigration service yesterday, who disclosed that there were hundreds of similarly difficult cases each year.

Lin Homer said that the removal of Ama Sumani, who was in hospital in Cardiff, back to Accra was heart-rending but not exceptional.

She spoke as The Lancet described the removal of Ms Sumani as atrocious barbarism. “To stop treating patients in the knowledge that they are being sent home to die is an unacceptable breach of the duties of any health professional,” it said. “The UK has committed an atrocious barbarism. It is time for doctors’ leaders to say so, forcefully and uncompromisingly.”

Ms Sumani, 39, suffers from malignant myeloma and was receiving dialysis at a hospital in Cardiff when she was taken by immigration officers and flown back home last week because her visa had expired. She left the hospital in a wheelchair accompanied by five immigration officials before being driven to Heathrow to board a flight to Accra last Wednesday.

Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said that he had spoken by telephone to Ms Sumani in her Accra hospital shortly before a hearing of the committee — at which he told Ms Homer, the chief executive of the Border and Immigration Agency: “Her health has deteriorated since she arrived in Ghana.”

A little bit more of the milk of human kindness (not that a bureaucracy can offer that of course) would have been appropriate. Sorry, for all my supposed economic rationality I would have said bugger it: treat her. While I\’m not a believer in the rationale for the New Testament certain of the lessons contained strike me as being true: our Samaritan didn\’t ask whether the near corpse at the roadside was a Jew or a Palestinian, did he?

Blindingly Obvious

Nice to welcome Migrationwatch to one of the better known ideas in economics:

The report says more effort should be expended on getting our own population into work rather than encouraging immigration.

But this becomes more difficult with generous benefits and means testing.

The report shows that:

* A family with two children is just £30 a week better off working on the minimum wage than not working.

* A single person under 25 on the minimum wage of £193 per week is only £10 a day better off than a non-working person.

* A family with two children and one working member receives £79.50 a week of Working Tax Credit. However, after means testing he keeps only £6.77.

* Working families with children and one working member on the minimum wage are slightly worse off than the same family receiving the maximum Incapacity Benefit.

* A single person on the minimum wage would be £3 a week better off than a single person on the highest level of Incapacity Benefit.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: \’\’We keep hearing that we need immigrants to do the jobs that the British won\’t do.

\’\’It has been suspected for some time that benefit levels are a real disincentive to take work that is on offer and our research spells out why this may be so."

He added: \’\’An important factor is that wages are now so close to benefits that there is very little financial incentive for unskilled British workers to find a job.

\’\’By contrast, Poles have very strong financial motivation.

\’\’On the minimum wage in Britain they are earning four to five times what they would earn at home.

You can have open immigration or you can have a welfare state. Having both will necessarily cause this sort of problem.

As to what we can do about it, well, while we\’re in the EU, we can\’t change the open immigration part. So we\’ll have to change the welfare state part. Which is, I think, an interesting idea. The EU is based upon the idea, at least as far as welfare is concerned, on cementing the social democratic ideal. But as we can see, other parts of the mission make this difficult.

As to quite what we should do about the welfare state part, that again has problems. For what we need to do is "make work pay" and we can do that in one of two ways. Either lower benefits or reduce the amount of means testing (or, the same thing but different language, raise the taper rate, ie withdraw benefits more slowly as people earn more). Neither of which will really fly politically.

Which leads us to a citizens\’ basic income, something which has no taper rate at all (although some versions have it being reclaimed at high tax rates, say around where the current upper tax rate starts), which rather neatly solves the problems of those working seeing such high marginal tax rates. And thus, as is complained of, not actually working, having been (rationally) persuaded that working at 90% marginal tax rates isn\’t worth the candle.

However, this solution also requires leaving the EU, as we cannot pay such a benefit only to citizens, we must pay it to all, including the immigrants.

So, first step is to leave the EU, then we can decide which of the two solutions we\’d like to employ. But leave the EU we must.

Immigration and Unemployment

A new report:

More than 100,000 young Britons may have been pushed into unemployment by the new wave of Eastern European immigrants, an economic analysis on the impact of migration has revealed.

Mhm Hmm.

Since 1997, 1.5 million foreign workers have entered the British workplace, with many of these arriving from Eastern Europe in the past three years since the European Union expansion. This new group typically earns 40 per cent less than British workers.

Since 2004, the number of unemployed British 18 to 24 year olds has increased by 100,000, according to the study. "There is some evidence that the growth of immigrant employment seen in the last few years may have come at the expense of the domestic workforce," the report concludes.

They also report that interest rates are lower, the economy as a whole is larger, trend growth is higher etc etc

But let\’s think about those 100,000. Ignore the other points for a moment. We\’ve got 1.5 million hugely benefitting from the much higher wages here than they would have got (if they would have got any at all) in their native countries. We\’ve got (taking these numbers as presented) 100,000 sufffering from the good fortune of those 1.5 million. And at some point we need to weigh those two effects in the balance. 1.5 million benefit and 100,000 don\’t looks like an increase in total human happiness to me. Thus the whole process is a good thing.

It is of course possible to take an opposite view. That for 100,000 of us Brits to suffer is a great deal worse than whatever benefit might accrue to 1.5 million Johnny Foreigners. If that\’s what you think then carry on, go right ahead: while I\’m perfectly willing to agree that there\’s something special about us Brits I\’m not sure that valuing J. Foreigner at 1 fifteenth of a Brit is valid.

Enoch Was Right!

I\’m still really rather amazed about this scandal over Enoch Powell:

Nigel Hastilow, Conservative candidate in a Midlands marginal, wrote in a newspaper in Wolverhampton (where Powell was MP when he made his infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech in 1968) that most local people think immigration is our biggest problem, and that “Enoch was right” to say mass immigration would change Britain “irrevocably”.

Because of course this is entirely true. Mass immigration did change Britain irrevocably. As did the invention of the telephone, the seed drill and as the internet currently is. That is simply a complete no brainer.

The rather more complex question is whether all four changed Britain for the better: I happen to think so, yes, but that\’s a rather different matter. That the change was predicted and that the change has happened are simply facts, facts that cannot be argued with. So why the lynch mob?

Immigration Controls

I think you\’ll find that this was predicted:

According to Romanians who have worked in Britain, many who exercise their right as EU citizens to enter the country simply disappear into the black economy. Others sidestep the regulations by seeking self-employed status or by securing a contract with a British firm.

Daniela Marinescu, who runs the Phoenix recruitment agency from an office in a concrete block near the centre of Bucharest, said the rules simply pushed those who wanted to work in Britain underground. "Most people who want to go to the UK will go there to find jobs on the black market," she said.

All that happened, following the denial of the right to work, but with the right to enter as EU citizens, was that people entered and worked illegally. Such a victory for those wanting immigration curbed, eh?

You What?

Sorry?

Fresh doubts over the Government\’s immigration figures emerged last night after new statistics showed that almost one million people from outside Europe have been given the right to work in Britain over the past three years.

This is the one part of the immigration process that the Government can, in theory, control. And they can\’t even count it properly, let alone control it?

Immigration

Well, sorta. John Kampfner is generally pretty good in this piece about immigration. Distinguishing between asylum and economic migration and so on. Except, except:

In truth, nobody could have envisaged the scale of the influx. A decade or more of strong economic growth has been cause and the consequence of such a higher number of immigrants. It is the middle classes, and employers in general, who have benefited most from a ready source of eager, skilled and undemanding workers. They have driven down wages and business costs, thereby increasing profits.

No, the people who have benefitted the most are the immigrants themselves. That always gets left out of the calculations from people like MigrationWatch and it shouldn\’t be left out. We\’ve clearly and obviously had an increase in both human happiness and wealth as a result of this wave of immigration. Sure, ther are also problems associated with it: but when looking at any form of cost benefit analysis we do have to include all of the costs and all of the benefits.

A Grown Up Debate on Immigration

Yes, as David Cameron says, let\’s have a grown up debate on immigration. Most important that we do actually.

Immigration is too high and must be reduced, David Cameron is to announce.

In his first major speech on the issue, the Tory leader will challenge Gordon Brown to a "grown-up" debate.

As has been noted here before the only one of the four types of immigration that the UK really controls is family reunification. Intra EU movements cannot be stopped, asylum is ruled by UN agreements and extra EU economic migration is about to become subject to the new EU "blue cards".

So anyone who wants to seriously change the amount of immigration needs to state that we have to be outside the EU for this to happen. That would be the adult debate…we\’d like to change this situation but we don\’t actually have the power to do so. So how do we reclaim it?

I\’m, as most will know, in favour of the free movement of labour, so I\’m not actually advocating that we do change the immigration rules. Just pointing out that it\’s all very well to talk about it, but if you don\’t actually have the power to change it, then that\’s all it is, talk.

Seumas on Health Care

Is it too much to ask for factual accuracy in a newspaper?

UnitedHealth is the largest healthcare corporation in the US, making billions of dollars a year out of cherry-picking patients and treatments, squeezing costs and restricting benefits to 70 million Americans forced to get by in the developed world\’s only fully privatised health system.

The US does not have a fully privatised health care system, nothing like. For one thing, "privatised" means that it was once a socially provided system which was then returned to the private sector. As the US system has never been fully socially provided, "private" might have done, but "privatised" is simply incorrect.

It\’s also entirely incorrect because the US system is not fully private either. With Medicare, Medicaid, the VA and so on something like 50% of the US system is in fact socially provided. In the UK, it\’s 90%. What we have here is a difference in emphasis, not the complete divide that Milne is suggesting.

Last month, UnitedHealth agreed with insurance regulators in 36 states to pay out $20m in fines for failures in processing claims and responding to patient complaints. That follows a string of other fines over delayed payments, Medicare fraud and "cheating patients out of money" in New York State.

It\’s a different way of doing it, for sure, but then that\’s the way the US does its regulating, through the courts. It might not be the best system ever but it contrasts quite nicely with how the NHS Trusts deal with their own failures, doesn\’t it? Wasn\’t that manager in line for a £250,000 pay off for presiding over the deaths by infection of 100 or so people before the mob started to bay?

a compelling indictment of the US health system – under which 18,000 Americans die a year because they are uninsured.

Interesting number I\’ve not seen before. Anyone know where it comes from?Worth contrasting that with the 100,000 Americans a year who die because they do get medical treatment though, isn\’t it? And how many does the NHS kill?

I agree with him that the current reforms don\’t look all that good, and that recent ones have not performed as advertised: but why is it necessary to make such statements clearly not grounded in reality to try and bolster the case?

Maddy Bunting Sensible Column Shocker!

No, really, she\’s actually managed to make contact with the same planet the rest of us live on:

No, Brown is much too savvy a politician; he\’s been wary of going anywhere near this most difficult of public debates. Yet in a poll in the summer, voters put reducing immigration as the task they most wanted the new prime minister to tackle, well ahead of health or education. He may dodge the issue today, but at some point Brown has to get stuck into how you persuade the voters that: a) migrants bring economic benefits – indeed, parts of our economy would collapse without them; b) rapid migration is not a cost-free option; and c) it\’s worth paying for.

What is the world coming too when we\’ve got good sense from the Mahdi in The Guardian?