The unacceptable costs of British GDP growth
Economic growth based on low-skilled, immigrant-induced population expansion can have benefits but it can be negative too, especially in a welfare-based economy. Serious, rather than hysteria-based, discussion about immigration is essential
Great news for the British public. Britain is set to become the biggest economy in Europe. It is reported that Britain’s GDP will grow from £1.59 trillion to £2.64 trillion by 2028 – so says the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), a global forecasting authority.
This news was enthusiastically greeted across the political spectrum, from left to right. That makes sense, as both left and right have always been somewhat irrational about economic growth. They both assume it is always and necessarily a ‘good thing’.
But is it? Is economic growth always a benefit to society?
Take a look at what the CEBR says will drive Britain’s spiralling economic growth. Population increases fuelled by immigration, they say, will be the main stimulus boosting Britain’s GDP.
But the CEBR does not say how immigration increases GDP.
For example, GDP measures the size of an economy, nothing more. However, what is actually happening within the economy is much more telling. Consider the following facts. GDP calculations include the cost of police protection and national security. If security costs increase, GDP increases.
The threat of Islamic terrorism within Britain, for example (a consequence of a very small but dangerous number of immigrants), has brought about unprecedented costs of security both at home and abroad, with such costs showing as a positive in the GDP national statistics.
Is such a GDP increase a benefit to society? Obviously not.
Abu Qatada, the now deported suspected Islamic terrorist, cost the British taxpayer millions of pounds in security protection, legal costs and social welfare for his extended family. Those costs showed up in the national statistics as a positive increase in GDP, yet the British people would have been far better off with no Abu Qatada and a lower GDP.
However, such costs are minor compared with the costs of health, education and housing that overly rapid and uncontrolled immigration can in some instances lead to.
Consider housing. According to Migration Watch, a watchdog group that has written for major publications such as The Spectator, on current immigration figures the British population will grow to over 71 million by 2032, meaning there will need to be at least two million new homes.
To accommodate such large numbers of immigrants – equivalent to the populations of Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, Sheffield, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and Oxford – there are proposals to build housing on green-belt land and on flood-plains, with all the associated infrastructure of roads, rail and schools.
Such a huge building programme will indeed increase GDP. In fact, it will add billions of pounds to it. But how does such a GDP increase benefit the British people? In what way does pouring concrete over an area the size of several major cities benefit the British people?
At the moment there is major opposition to the vastly expensive HS2 rail-link project because of the destruction it would cause to settled community life. However, if Migration Watch projections are correct, then destruction of green-belt areas and flood-plains caused by immigrant housing needs will be infinitely greater. (Obviously, this is not the fault of the immigrants, as I will explain.)
To be told that all this immigrant-fuelled building adds billions of pounds to Britain’s GDP should not simply be accepted without thinking the matter through in a mature and sober fashion..
The same arguments apply to immigration pressures on health and education. Again, this is not the fault of the immigrants who plainly need their children educated and their health care needs met in the same way as everyone else.
Nonetheless, more and more, one hears reports of British people moving home to secure better schools for their children. MigrationWatch figures for 2010 show that in inner London, 55 percent of all primary school pupils did not have English as a first language. In outer London the figure was 39 percent.
According to Migration Watch, immigration will generate a need for over one million extra school places over a 10 year period at a cost of £100 billion. That £100 billion may look good in the GDP figures, but the reality for ordinary British people is relentless competition for school places and resources.
If more and more British people have to move home to secure a decent education for their children, then immigrant-induced higher GDP figures are not obviously of benefit to the British community, including immigrants who have already settled here and have in many cases made great contributions to society.
The danger is that uncontrolled, immigrant-induced population and GDP growth could turn Britain into a building site for the rest of the world to move into, with local British communities (again, including recently settled immigrants) stepping aside to make room.
But whatever you do, don’t blame the immigrants, recently arrived or yet to come. It is the politicians who want those increased GDP figures and seem unwilling to debate the issues described above.
Like the HS2 project, uncontrolled, immigrant-induced spending is little more than boondoggling economics, whose purpose is not real economic need for the British people but an excuse to kick-start a welfare-exhausted economy, even if it means destroying the quality of life of most British people whatever their ethnic origins and ancestry.
Furthermore, these damaging effects are usually independent of the immigrants’ financial contributions.
In 2008, a House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report on the economics of immigration stated: We have found no evidence for the argument, made by the government, business and many others, that net immigration generates significant economic benefits for the existing UK population.
The House of Lords Committee went further and stated: It is the immigrants themselves rather than the extant residents who are the main gainers.
These House of Lords findings bear out an obvious truth: you cannot have large-scale, low-skilled immigration to a welfare economy without anticipating problems. Such immigration results in a net cost to the taxpayer.
There is an interesting contrast here with the mass waves of successful immigration to the United States in the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. Many of those immigrants were less skilled than those I am referring to; yet the United States was not a country built on welfare. They had to "build America" for themselves, and brought enormous benefits as they did so.
These days, limited immigration of highly skilled and high earning personnel can also benefit an economy. Per-capita growth can increase.
But economic growth in a welfare economy based on low-skilled, immigrant-induced population expansion usually benefits only the immigrant community and a few get-rich-quick property developers, all at the long-term expense of everybody else.
Such economic growth is essentially a Ponzi scheme, and like all such schemes it will collapse. It will do so simply because it is unsustainable without a radical overhall of how our political-economy is constructed.
And, to stress the point one last time, that is why we should blame the politicians and not the immigrants themselves, who are simply looking after their own interests, just as ordinary British people want their interests looked after too.
Vincent Cooper is a regular contributor to The Commentator
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