December 26, 2013

Total economic growth is a decision for the electorate

Strange how the New Statesman suddenly favours a growth race between European nations when it turns out that immigration would be a decisive factor in a UK win.

We could increase the overall size of the economy by squeezing lots more people in. But it's not the total size of the economy that's the significant number, it's the size of the economy per head. What, for instance, would be the point in increasing the overall size of the economy if an immigrant influx lowered wages at the bottom end and increased inequality?

Would the electorate vote for it? Would the New Statesman advocate it?

In any case, no modern UK government has ever had a mandate from the voters to increase the overall size of the economy by increasing immigration. If it's such a great idea, are we going to see it in a party's manifesto? Thought not.

The rate of immigration is surely a decision for the voters, not one to be taken behind closed doors in Whitehall.

The New Statesman also recycles the nonsense that immigration is positive for the economy because the average immigrant pays more in taxes than he takes out in welfare payments. But we don't spend all our taxes on welfare. Taxes also fund key infrastructure projects like HS2 and key policies like MPs' expenses.

Well, OK, but the general point still stands. There's more to taxes than welfare spending.

Indeed, high immigration increases strains on the infrastructure. More housing ... more health care ... more roads ... more schools ... that's just the start of an impressively expensive list.

Quite apart from the economics, do the voters actually want to live in a more densely populated country?

If so, it will have to be paid for.

3 comments:

A K Haart said...

"do the voters actually want to live in a more densely populated country?"

If we are ever asked, we'll know the answer - which of course is the problem with asking.

James Higham said...

The New Statesman also recycles the nonsense

Even that statement would have sufficed.

L fairfax said...

I think some do but not the majority of what the voters think will not change what happens either way.