A daily blog on the thrills, spills, and frequent absurdities of the world's one and only 'non-imperial empire' - as Barroso himself called it - the European Union.

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Thursday, 13 October 2011

Britain Doesn't Have the Resources to Cope with Immigration

Aren't we overcrowded enough already?

How can you be racist against immigrants? Immigrants are not a race. They are a socio-economic group. You can't be racist against immigrants any more than than you can be racist against any other socio-economic group, i.e. cab drivers, or the poor. You can be racist against individual communities, colours, and cultures, of course, but immigrants as a whole? No - simply because being an immigrant has nothing to do with your cultural or ethnic identity. You could be Polish. You could be Ethiopian. You could be a Brit abroad in Spain. You do not gain shared identity simply by moving from one country to another. That's why the assumption that racism is the cause of all opposition to immigration irks me so much: always has done. It makes no literal sense.

Mehdi Hasan doesn't call his opponents 'racist' over at the Guardian, but he does use another refrain older than the air - one that all those who have waded into a discussion about abortion will be familiar with. Steve Jobs, he says, was the son of an immigrant, and he made a valuable - some would say priceless - contribution to society. Ergo, we should allow in as many people as possible, as there is every chance that they may make an equally valid contribution to society, regardless of their ethnic origin. The argument appears to have some degree of strength: I am firmly of the belief that anyone, as all our brains are created equal, can be anyone and do anything.

But the argument has an obvious flip-side that makes it completely redundant. Just as it's possible that the descendant of an immigrant might be the next Picasso, there is an equal chance that they will be the next Stalin. As in the abortion debate, both sides will read out their lists of the best and worst examples of humanity, and achieve precisely nothing in doing so. You can't get anywhere with that line of argument. It is a closed circuit.

It also makes the mistake of assuming that much anti-mass immigration rhetoric centres around individuals. It does not. Relatively few people opposed to mass-immigration has a problem with individuals - especially not beneficial ones, the sons of graduates. An individual's requirements will ultimately be limited: they will take up a limited amount of space, they will use a limited amount of energy, they will need a limited number of school places, etc. The resources of a state will never fail to meet the needs of an individual. It is numbers we have a problem with. Especially large ones. If the resources of the state are failing to meet the needs of the existing population, then why is it logical to expect them to cope with large numbers of additional people added on. They can't and they won't.

The UK has a below-par electrical circuit. The demand for energy will outstrip supply within the next eight years. People are waiting years, even decades, for social housing - five million are already on the list. One hundred thousand pupils are already in overcrowded schools: one in five primary schools across the country is 'full' or 'above capacity.' Take a look at the infographic for London.  The number of people out of work has risen to levels not seen in almost twenty years, and there is not likely to be any dramatic increase in the number of jobs available. House prices are ridiculously high: a lot of my friends will not own homes before they are thirty. Where is the sense in calling for more people to be added on top of this?

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