America does not need more people to stay prosperous

Summary: One of the great lies that rules America is that we need more people to keep America prosperous. It is daft and so easily debunked. If only people were told …

Vision of a New America, as migrants swell our population.

Depressing cityscape with construction of new buildings.
Photo 101393583 © Oleksandra Naumenko – Dreamstime.

“America desperately needs more legal immigration.”
Tyler Cowen, Professor of Economics at George Mason U (source).

Economists, like generals, tend to have their eyes focused on the past. Such as their belief that America’s prosperity requires a growing population. This is daft for several reasons.

First, more people means higher GDP. That means more profits for corporations. But it does not boost per capita GDP, which is what citizens care about. The nation might have higher income in aggregate, but average (esp. median) income might be lower.

Second, “immigrants” is not a meaningful category. Migrants are not identical cogs. America can use more highly educated people, and more people coming with capital. But this is not 1880 or 1920, with factories opening to employ unskilled workers at good wages. The US economy has little ability to absorb large hordes of uneducated, unskilled, poor people. Too many of these will boost our already too-large underclass, causing social problems that will last for generations.

Third, this ignores the new industrial revolution now in its early stages (more about that here). Workers in the service industries, farming, and manufacturing will be replaced by better algorithms, sensors, computers, robots, and smarter machines (i.e., semi-intelligent machines). Every sector will be affected, and job losses over time could approach those of the Great Depression (see this McKinsey study, which clearly sees the potential for massive job losses, but assumes on faith that new ones will appear to replace them).

Increased productivity means a better and richer nation if we can cope with rising unemployment. It is a political problem of fairly dividing the pie. The resulting rapid growth will help manage the national debt (as it did in the 1990s, before Bush Jr.’s tax cuts) and reduce the burden of paying for our retirement systems. Absorbing large numbers of migrants and their children (many children, due to their high fertility) will boost unemployment and exacerbate this long crisis.

In that future, a shrinking labor force will be a blessing. We can better educate our smaller labor force to match the new jobs, without a large number of socially disruptive unemployed people. We will have the incentive to lift people from the underclass. Fewer people plus less-polluting technology could radically reduce the burden on our environment. America and the world could become a high-tech garden.

UN Fertility Graph

Why recommend more immigration?

A constant through modern history is that business owners want immigrants as cheap labor. Increase the supply of labor, decrease its price. For example, hostility to Chinese immigrants in the 19th was worsened by their use as strike-breakers. Our plutocrats have little concern with the wider effects of massive immigration of people from failed states. : social disruption, rising social service costs, rising inequality, and lower wages for natives. Plutocrats find it easy to choose between open borders or the welfare State (we can have only one).

The Left sees that a massive flow of migrants will collapse our social systems, allowing them to rebuild on the ruins – and get votes votes votes. It is the fast track to their goal of a new America. Hence the strong support for open borders by the Democrat’s presidential candidates at the first debate (see the transcript).

Years of propaganda have convinced a large chunk of America that immigration is wonderful, no matter what the numbers or the type of immigrants. But we can learn. We can see the world clearly. We can organize and retake the reins of America.

Reality check

The extreme case of the “more people needed” madness is grossly overcrowded Japan. See Japan refuses to die, soon to become a 21st century star. Also see these posts about immigration, a key political battle of out time.

  1. See the hidden history of immigration into America (it ruins the narrative).
  2. Diversity is a grand experiment. We’re the lab rats.
  3. The Democrats will open the borders & make a New America.
  4. Prepare for mass migrants, the greatest challenge to America.
  5. The Left goes full open borders, changing America forever.
  6. Our rulers make a new people for America.
  7. See prescient warnings about immigration, which we ignored.
  8. Immigration is the key political battle of our time.
  9. See the lies that keep the borders open.
  10. The devastating economic effect of mass migration.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about immigration. and about the new industrial revolution.

Ideas! For shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

Three books about immigration, all well worth reading

See George Friedman’s (founder of Stratfor) prescient predictions about the American southwest in his 2009 book The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century. He describes where we’re going, facts too disturbing for most experts to say in public. This is a useful feature of such writing: since it is just guessing, we allow statements about the obvious that are politically or socially unacceptable (just as are, in a different way, statements by a court jester).

Europe is our future. If we act quickly, we can learn and avoid their mistakes. These two books provide clear warnings.

Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West by Christopher Caldwell (2009). See this post about it: About Europe’s historic experiment with open borders.

The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam by Douglass Murray (2017). See these posts with excerpts from the book: Martin van Creveld’s reaction to Europe’s rape epidemic. Warning of the “Strange Death of Europe”, and Strange perspectives on the challenges facing Europe.

Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West
Available at Amazon.
Strange Death of Europe
Available at Amazon.

 

21 thoughts on “America does not need more people to stay prosperous”

  1. “Our plutocrats have little concern with the wider effects of massive immigration of people from failed states. : social disruption, rising social service costs, rising inequality, and lower wages for natives. Plutocrats find it easy to choose between open borders or the welfare State (we can have only one).”

    Thanks. I agree with everything you said. American capitalists can’t let a global reserve army of labor in the billions go unexploited. They will both try to outsource jobs to that labor or import that labor into the US. This is why The US Chamber of Commerce loves and wants to maintain the de facto open borders system we’ve had for decades. When capitalism dominates so overwhelmingly, as it does in America, corporate profits come first and social disruption and worker immiseration are dismissed as mere collateral damage.

    1. Gloucon,

      “American capitalists can’t let a global reserve army of labor in the billions go unexploited.”

      That’s an important point. Engels and Marx both wrote about this (in their usual turgid language). Here is perhaps the clearest description. From Das Capital, chapter 25 “The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation”, section 3 “Progressive Production of a Relative surplus population or Industrial Reserve Army.

      “But if a surplus labouring population is a necessary product of accumulation or of the development of wealth on a capitalist basis, this surplus population becomes, conversely, the lever of capitalistic accumulation, nay, a condition of existence of the capitalist mode of production. It forms a disposable industrial reserve army, that belongs to capital quite as absolutely as if the latter had bred it at its own cost. Independently of the limits of the actual increase of population, it creates, for the changing needs of the self-expansion of capital, a mass of human material always ready for exploitation.”

    2. I can assure you though, its not “exploitation” for the immigrants because overall they do improve their situation by coming here.

      Also, it doesn’t have to be a lets exploit them here vs there sort of thing.

      There is still tremendous potential in these countries, with larger labor forces and economies that are minuscule in comparison.

      The answer it seems to me is foreign direct investment in these countries.

      The countries could use the capital boost, it could provide favorable returns to investors, and it would make it unnecessary for the excess labor to try and emigrate to countries like the US.

      1. Dave,

        I agree on all counts. But the crux of your analysis is this:

        “The answer it seems to me is foreign direct investment in these countries.”

        Unfortunately, decades of experience has shown this to range from difficult to impossible. These are called “failed states” for good reason. The world is littered with development projects in these nations – funded by both private and public capital – that were abandoned as impossible to operate. Either local conditions made it unfeasible, or the corruption was too great to allow profitabililty. Or both.

        So private capital invests in the first or second world. Successful second world nations often follow the East Asian model, and require little or no foreign capital. Investments in third world nations tend to focus on extractive industries (eg, mines, farms, ports) which can be run even in adverse circumstances.

        Nobody has found a way for foreigners to help uplift failed states. Perhaps that can only be done by their own people. Perhaps by facilitating immigration from those states of their best and brightest, we are hindering those nations’ development. We steal their best, and don’t even repay the donor nations for migrant’s upbringing and education.

        And we preen ourselves as morally righteous, even superior, when doing so.

      2. What I think could be a (kind-of) solution: Let the migrants in for a limited term and make sure they leave behind the corruption of the “Failed States.” Let them gain some experience, make them go to Saturday School, where they could get a glimpse on how society should work and when their term expires and they go back home, they could start the process of cleansing the kleptocracy to make the follow-up investments work.

      3. Larry,

        You are right, and directed efforts at development have had mixed results at best, even when all conditions are perfect, which of course they rarely are.

        My solution was aimed at the large investors though in terms of saying it is not always necessary to either outsource or import cheap labor.

        From what I have observed, if the countries themselves make positive steps towards rule of law and protecting property rights, international companies will invest on their own initiative, no need for any intentional do-gooding on our part.

        Look at Peru for example, 20 years ago it was as messy and dysfunctional as any other Latin American nation. Yet they made the right choices and although corruption is still a major problem, they have averaged over 5% growth per year now for over a decade and they seem to be on track to reach high-income status by 2029.

      4. Dave,

        “directed efforts at development have had mixed results at best”

        They are “mixed” because those totals include both failed and developing States. Such programs targeting failing and failed States, have an almost uniform record of failure. Except for the usual very small scale projects, either lucky or run by extraordinary people (both being impossible to scale).

      5. That makes sense. What countries in this hemisphere would you classify as failed or failing?

        Haiti is obvious, and Venezuela is pretty close, but in the case of Venezuela the failure resulted from a specific set of policies because traditionally the country was one of the more prosperous in the region.

      6. Dave,

        The best known somewhat quantitative effort to look at Failed and Fragile states is done by the Fund for Peace. See their 2019 report.

        Note that outmigration depends on not just the condition of the State, but also on the proximity of a better place – and how large the difference, and how welcoming it is to migrants. It’s a complex dynamic.

        When considering the effect of foreign capital, consider not the condition of the recipient but its size. Consider Brazil. It is often considered a failed state (absurdly, imo, since there are so many that are in much worse shape). How much capital would be needed to uplife it? The mind boggles. But a decade of high oil prices was a bonanza for its government-owned oil company. Much of its profits were either wasted or stolen. If that happened to domestically generated funds, history shows that foreign capital would be burned even faster.

  2. We have the same idiotic debate in Australia. The only reason we are not already in recession is because of immigration. Australia is a dry continent. Already our biggest river system has dried to a line of waterholes while massive irrigation systems pump keeping them dry,
    Immigration is a huge Ponzi scheme Get workers in now to support the services the old need. Then repeat, and again, repeat. It cannot be done. It’s all finite. Australia is overpopulated already. Stupid politicians don’t want to know.

    1. John,

      I know little about Australia and Japan, but I have wondered about that exact point. Both, in different ways, are at or over the carrying capacity of their land – yet advocates for open borders want both to have rapidly increasing populations. That makes no sense.

      1. Japan is case in point for such a small area it is very populated. Yet I keep seeing articles about Japan needing more immigration. Id say they are fine they way they are going.

  3. Wages in part are a function of the supply of labor. More people explains in part why real.wages haven’t gone up in 30 years.

    1. Sven,

      “More people explains in part why real wages haven’t gone up in 30 years.”

      That’s too crude. Economic analysis is almost always about ratios. The economy has expanded, which requires more workers (ie, more demand). Price is the fulcrum between supply and demand.

      Also, economic aggregates often mislead more than they clarify. “Labor” isn’t an undifferentiated thing. The demand for unskilled labor hasn’t risen as fast as the supply (thank you, open borders), so its real wages have fallen. So now even upper middle-class people can afford servants to do their lawns, clean their houses, and raise their children. Falling prices create new demand. But demand for people in an underclass has some ugly long-term effects.

  4. Donald Vandergriff

    Great post Larry, been saying this for years, and people tell me I am crazy. but it is the law of averages, at some point there is more than you need and resources and land are finite, not infinite, but it is easier for politicians to go with the Ponzi scheme because of religions and mental laziness on the part of most people. Just produce more sounds good and will solve all our problems. At least Japan is demonstrating that they can innovate with zero population.

    1. Don,

      “It is easier for politicians to go with the Ponzi scheme because of religions and mental laziness on the part of most people.”

      Our rulers are neither religious nor mentally lazy. Our belief in their incapacity is one source of their power. Open borders is a bipartisan policy with strong support – as Trump has learned – because it works well for Left and Right. It is perhaps the most powerful tool our ruling elites are using to reshape America.

      Nothing will change until we realize this, and the dangerous state our fecklessness has brought us to. Then reform will become possible, but not inevitable.

    2. Don,

      A question for you, as one of the people I know who best understands these things – Are we better off facing an enemy with complacency about our power, or with fear about their power and our dangerous situation (and the resolution to overcome it)?

      I see both fear and complacency about our rulers in the comments on the FM website. Neither seems to motivate people, which is why I’ve turned to inciting anger. But I suspect there is a better way, which I don’t see.

  5. I remember reading that George Friedman book, though I’d forgotten the title for a while. I thought some parts of it were a little far fetched, but I keep hearing about Turkey in the news…

    As for the topic of needing more people, I am inclined to agree… though the topic is in my experience deeply mired in ethnic anxieties which I do not share, so it is difficult to approach discussion. I am glad that you have a space for it here. I also think that the predictions of a population crash are a lot more likely.

    As for the other topic I have come here because you have positive (both in the sense of useful, and the sense of encouraging) things to say and you do not seem motivated by a strong desire to manipulate my emotions.

    1. SF,

      “I also think that the predictions of a population crash are a lot more likely.”

      Almost every expert in the field expects a population crash to begin. Estimates of the date vary, depending on forecasts for the decline in fertility of sub-Sahara Africa. That is, of course, something about which we can only guess. But it will happen.

      The high-end estimates of global population assume that much of Sub-S Africa reaches the population density of China. That seems unlikely, imo. That would require a highly organized and high-functioning socieity. If those nations evolved to that condition (a big change), their fertility would almost certainly collapse along the way – just as everybody else’s has.

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