akashiver: (avatar)
[personal profile] akashiver
Green Card!!!

It arrived when I was at ICFA. It is, in fact, green! Apparently I'm supposed to keep it on me at all times. I'm going to ask other immigrants about this, because I don't like taking important, hard-to-replace documents with me to the gym.

Green Card!!!

As I sat down to write this post the following Guardian article popped up in my Facebook feed: Why the Left is Wrong about Immigration .

I read it with interest, obviously. And I was left scratching my head. Maybe it's because I'm in the USA rather than Britain, and I don't know Britain's cultural immigration battles that well. But as an argument I thought it was deeply flawed.

First of all, Goodhart assumes that people who support immigration do so because they subscribe to a model of global citizenship in which "they seem to feel few national attachments. Indeed, they feel no less a commitment to the welfare of someone in Burundi than they do to a fellow citizen in Birmingham."

1) In my 18C day we called this ideal "cosmopolitanism." And then, as now, only a minority of people practiced it.

2) Er, what? I haven't met these people. People who care deeply about aiding a different country - sure. Environmentalists who see themselves as inhabitants of a planet - sure. People who support immigration because nationalism is so 20thC??? Not so much.

Mind you, I live in the USA. All the Americans I know come from immigrant families at some point, and the ones who enthusiastically support immigration do so because they believe that's an essential part of their national history and identity.

In other words - nationalism and immigration support aren't incompatible. But Goodhart assumes that they are.

In the second part of this article Goodhart discovers "brain drain:"

"Desperately poor countries cannot afford to lose their most ambitious and expensively educated people... Just as rich countries can become over-dependent on immigration, which then reduces the incentive to improve the training or work ethic of hard-to-employ native citizens, so poorer countries can become over-dependent on emigration... Rich countries should be saying... we will also agree not to lure away your most skilled people..."

1) Wait. At the beginning of the article, the problem is that immigration supporters aren't selfishly nationalist enough. Now the problem is that the thing they're supporting -- immigration -- benefits their own nation at the expense of others. So... it's too nationalist? This for me is where Goodhart's argument just breaks down.

2) The old "our own citizens have 'poor work ethic'" argument... First, I doubt that's really the problem. Second, if it is, how is the government supposed to fix it? If losing "their jobs" to immigrants isn't enough to make the lazy Briton (or American) get up off the couch... what is?

As an argument against easy immigration, I give this article a C- . Being what Americans would call a "big government" person, I'm for the government exerting careful control over immigration,* but I'm anti-stupidity.

At some point I'm going to post a reflection on my immigration  experience & American politics. But not today.

*P.S. Americans: Why is it that the same people who support small government and free markets tend to be the  ones calling for more government control over the mobility of international laborers -- mobility that's dictated by the supply and demand of the free market?
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December 2015

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