Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Sharing America, Saving America

An old friend sent me a link to a presentation about population growth and immigration. This point of this presentation is simple: American cannot allow immigration to continue at current levels and maintain our way of life.

Some would say this is an outrageously selfish viewpoint. America is a land of plenty, these people would say, and we have a moral responsibility to share the bounty with the rest of the world. While I understand that perspective, I doubt that there are many people who really want to practice it. I expect that the Great Depression would seem like a time of plenty compared an America after a sudden massive influx of immigrants.

The current population of the More Developed Countries (MDCs) is 1.2 billion, of which 300 million, or 25% live in the United States. The natural population growth rate of the MDCs is 775,000/yr (0.6%), but net immigration is nearly 2 million, half of which is coming into the United States.

The population of the rest of the world, the Less Developed Countries (LDCs), is 5.4 billion, with a natural growth rate of 77 mllion/yr. This is 1.4% annual growth, or 22 times the rate of the more developed nations. Net immigration in the LDCs is negative 2 million, as one would expect.

How many of those 77 million new people each year should be allowed to come to the United States? If we're taking half of all immigrants now, should we be taking 38 million or so new folks each year? This would increase our annual growth rate to 3.21%/yr, or 50-fold. Meanwhile, the growth rate for the rest of the world would be lowered only 50%.

Let's put that in perspective. This 38 million is about the same as the population of the entire state of California. Or New York and Pennsylvania put together. It is more than three times the population of Ohio. Per Year.

Can you imagine what America would be like if an influx of this magnitude were allowed?

One of the characteristics of MDCs is a stable population. For many reasons, family sizes are smaller in MDCs, to the point that some countries are projected to have negative growth. For example, Sweden's natural growth rate is projected to be -0.1% by 2025. Even China, after a few decades of purposeful population control, is projected to achieve a natural growth rate of 0.2% by 2025.

Meanwhile, the people of the LDCs continue to pump out kids. While women in the US bear on average 2.1 children and in China 1.7; in Somalia the average is 6.8 and the natural population growth rate is 2.9% per year.

The mission of America is to not let the rest of the world pull us down unto poverty. Rather, I believe it is our mission to practice some tough love. For a country to get our assistance, I believe it must show that it has taken the appropriate steps to bring its population under control. China figured out how to do it -- it just takes the willpower.

All population data is from the US Census Bureau International Database.

2 comments:

Fernando (Nerd Gaucho) said...

You say: "The mission of America is to not let the rest of the world pull us down unto poverty. Rather, I believe it is our mission to practice some tough love."

Who told you guys that the US must have a "World Mission"?. Why not take care of your own backyard like Canada or Sweden for that matter instead of playing "World Police" ??.

What makes the conservatives so obsessed with "Manifest Destiny" nonsense?

Finally, you say " For a country to get our assistance, I believe it must show that it has taken the appropriate steps to bring its population under control. China figured out how to do it -- it just takes the willpower."

What makes you think that the US gives "so much" assistance to other countries?. Latin America for instance has only received mostly "military aid" that means weapons and financing for right wing death squads in the 80s, or "Plan Colombia" now...

From the book "Fuzzy Math: the essential guide to the Bush tax plan"
by Paul Krugman

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I was talking politics with a doctor --a well-educated, affluent man, the sort of person you would expect to be fairly knowledgeable about the world. And he startled me: when the talk turned to the federal budget, he declared that we could surely make room for tax cuts by 'cutting back on all that money that the United States gives as foreign aid'.

For the record: about 0.6 percent of the federal budget goes for foreign aid, and half of that consists of millitary aid to our allies -that is, it really should be considered part of our defense budget.

But the doctor was under the impression that "Humanitarian Foreign Aid" is a big-ticket item in the federal budget, comparable in size to defense spending or Medicare.

And he was under the impression that the USA is a generous aid giver, when in fact we are the Scrooges of the advanced world, giving a smaller percentage of our national income in aid than any other major advanced nation. Alas, his belief in that particular urban legend is not unusual. Polls suggest that most voters think that foreign aid is around 15 percent of federal spending -about
25 times larger than it actually is-.
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Paul said...

Fernando:

Thanks for the comments. I think you may have misread what I'm saying in this post however.

For one, I prefer not to be labeled a Conservative, or a Liberal for that matter, because both labels have been hijacked by the Democrats and Republicans. I'm rather more independent than that, but if you wanted to hang a label on me, Libertarian might be closest.

I won't disagree with your assessment of our level of assistance SENT to other countries, mainly because I am ignorant of the facts in this matter. But one of the ways we give assistance to other countries is to accept masses of immigrants. My community is bearing the cost of absorbing tens of thousands of immigrants into our school systems and social service programs. The labor force of virtually every landscaping business and building subcontractor in our area is Latino. Those aren't new jobs -- they're jobs which were held by born-in-America citizens.

Is that a net positive or negative? Well, for consumers, the price of many services has gone down, or has increased at a much slower rate than it might have had the immigrant labor not been available. I'm not sure all of these wages are contributing to the operation of our community infrastructure because I think many of these laborors work as a 1099 contractors, expected to pay their own taxes (but not sure they do). Meanwhile my taxes are going up because of the the load on our schools and social services.

Net gain or net loss? Don't know for sure, but my bet is on the loss side.