David R. Henderson  

Mark Steyn Agrees with Bryan Caplan on Immigration

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about one important factual claim, not about the best policies.

My fellow Canadian Mark Steyn wrote recently about what he sees as some of the harmful effects of Muslim immigration into Europe. I hasten to say that I don't disagree with everything he says. Check this interview he does about the Muslim population in Malmo, Sweden and see if you don't feel at least a little concerned about the "Aim and shoot at the Jews" line (at about the 3:07 point) chanted by a number of Muslim activists in Sweden.

That's the bad news.

Here's the good news. Steyn writes:

As I said to Tucker Carlson the other night, the demographic transformation of the western world is "the biggest story of our time", and it will indeed determine all the others:

~Taxes? Big Government welfare programs depend on a high degree of social solidarity between givers and takers. If you think in France or Germany that young Mohammed and Ahmed will be willing to pay higher and higher taxes so that Jean-Pierre and Fritz can continue enjoying their present thirty-year retirements, you're deluded.

~Defense spending and ISIS? More UK and Canadian Muslims have volunteered for the Islamic State than serve as soldiers of the Queen. As you can tell from their kid-glove treatment of returning jihadists, it's unlikely that these countries will still be willing to follow America into the sands of Araby as Islam becomes a bigger and bigger domestic and electoral consideration. As for the broader international order, two of the Big Five at the UN will be semi-Islamized (and, indeed, semi-Islamic nuclear powers).


I'm not surprised that Steyn is worried about the second issue: he strikes me as someone who favors U.S. military intervention in the Middle East (see here for a quick example). But for those who oppose such intervention, having more allies--even if their intentions and motives are very different from mine--is welcome.

What does surprise me, though, is that Steyn, whom I had always thought of as a critic and opponent of the welfare state, seems genuinely upset that "young Mohammed and Ahmed" will not "be willing to pay higher and higher taxes so that Jean-Pierre and Fritz can continue enjoying their present thirty-year retirements." Isn't opposition to taxes, especially taxes for government-run Ponzi schemes, a good thing?

Here's one of co-blogger Bryan Caplan's many posts arguing that ethnic diversity undercuts support for the welfare state. The usual argument, and the one Bryan normally makes, is that the existing population that were here before the immigrants will be less supportive of the welfare state when immigrants who are not like them arrive. But Steyn is arguing that those very immigrants, who tend to be young, will not be very supportive of welfare for the elderly who were here before the immigrants. Both claims could be true. Indeed, I think both claims are likely to be true.


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COMMENTS (20 to date)
Thaomas writes:

Social Security and Medicare is not a "Ponzi Scheme," just welfare that is unfortunately funded by a wage tax rather than a progressive consumption tax. If Ahmed consumes he should pay for Fritz's pension.

MikeW writes:

Thaomas -- They are Ponzi schemes (especially Medicare) because they are funded by future workers, not by your own contributions. It is thought that there will not be enough future workers because of declining birth rates, so things may not go well.

Robert EV writes:

They aren't Ponzi schemes because there's no way to rationally enter or exit at specific times.

If they are Ponzi schemes, then every tax which funds anything with a future benefit is also a Ponzi scheme to those who pay in but die before the full benefit is realized.

Asian immigrants have seemed to have no problem paying into SS in the USA since they were allowed to immigrate in numbers. And they're still doing it despite the common belief that SS won't be there as much for future retirees.

Niko Davor writes:

I agree that immigration reduces solidarity, which generally reduces support for the welfare state and can fuel healthy free market reforms. Introducing racial fragmentation and reducing solidarity can have all kinds of consequences. It seems impossible to predict what would happen, even with data based on passed smaller scale scenarios. A free market utopia sounds great, and loosely plausible, but outrageously speculative.

We are experiencing the racial fragmentation and undermined solidarity in the US right now. This is generally considered a bad thing, even by other closely affiliated bloggers like Tyler Cowen or Scott Sumner. Most seem to argue that society needs to maintain high solidarity and avoid polarization and be unaffected by an immigration shock. Caplan + Henderson are arguing this is a feature not a bug of immigration and racial fragmentation.

Alan Goldhammer writes:

MikeW repeats the often stated and misleading, "...They are Ponzi schemes (especially Medicare) because they are funded by future workers, not by your own contributions. Perhaps MikeW, unlike me, is not on Medicare. I can assure him that I pay monthly for my Medicare Part B benefits and these payments are also means tested depending on one's adjusted gross income from the previous tax year. I get my Part D drug benefit (also means tested) from my former employer and I also pay for that benefit just as I would if I were in a Part D plan. The problem is with Medicare Part A for which those in the plan do not pay any premiums for and this is covered by those workers who pay into Medicare as opposed to those who receive benefits.

I can assure you that depending on what one's retirement income is, Medicare is not inexpensive (it certain is not free!!).

patrick k writes:

Ahh, just another benefit of being an aging baby boomer--I won't be here to see the downsides of all these blackboard theories.

RL Styne writes:

Yes, but the reason said diversity undercuts support for the welfare state is because it creates a low-trust society. You can't have it both ways, man. Yeah, support for a large welfare state is an unintended negative consequence of a high-trust culture, but is it 100% clear that creating a low-trust society by bringing in cultures that absolutely refuse to assimilate is preferred?

I'd love to hear your response.

David R Henderson writes:

@RL Styne,
Yeah, support for a large welfare state is an unintended negative consequence of a high-trust culture, but is it 100% clear that creating a low-trust society by bringing in cultures that absolutely refuse to assimilate is preferred?
No. Certainly not 100%.

MikeW writes:

Alan Goldhammer -- I have not verified this, but I have read that Medicare recipients pay only about a third of the cost of the Medicare benefits they receive (on average).

Alan Goldhammer writes:

@MikeW - as I noted, it's important to distinguish between the various Medicare Parts. Part B covers doctor visits and has negotiated payment schedules. It also has a yearly deductible and a 20% co-pay per visit. this is the primary reason why all of us oldsters purchase a separate Medigap policy that covers the other stuff. I don't know of CMS breaks down the costs to the system for the various parts of the program. Part D, the drug benefit, is administered by private 3rd parties (something the pharmaceutical industry pushed for and got; I was working at PhRMA, the main trade group, at the time of passage).

Just an FYI, my yearly premium total for Medicare and my Medigap policy is about$6400/year (my former employer picks up part of the premium for the Medigap policy which includes the drug benefit). This should give you an idea about the costs. As I keep a spread sheet of all my expenses, I can tell you for certain that my billed medical costs did not exceed the joint premiums paid for the past year.

Floccina writes:

MikeW they are not Ponzi schemes because there is really no guarantee what they will payout. They are welfare programs like TANF, they depend on the voters willingness to give some amount of money to retirees. SS is disguised as a Ponzi scheme but is not.

mercer writes:

"immigrants, who tend to be young, will not be very supportive of welfare for the elderly who were here before the immigrants."

No there are very supportive of bringing their own elderly here and getting them on welfare. Details here:


https://normsaysno.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/the-immigrant-welfare-debate-is-back/

Please tell people outside of California how support for CA social spending has diminished with increasing ethnic diversity. I see no evidence it has.

MikeW writes:

Alan Goldhammer -- Just because you're paying quite a bit for your Medicare+ doesn't mean you're really paying the full amount. Remember that most health-care costs occur in the last year of life... when they can sometimes amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Hans writes:

"~Taxes? Big Government welfare programs depend on a high degree of social solidarity between givers and takers. If you think in France or Germany that young Mohammed and Ahmed will be willing to pay higher and higher taxes so that Jean-Pierre and Fritz can continue enjoying their present thirty-year retirements, you're deluded."

Someone is ignorant, as the vast majority
of Euro Muslim immigrants are on the dole.

Hans writes:

I am very fond of Herr Steyn, however, how
he able to deduce that more Arabs are foreign
terrorists, than serving in the Queen's army
is simply conjecture. Nevertheless, he maybe
correct in that assessment.

Here is an interesting story of Muslims
serving in the Isreal army.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3362369/Are-Israel-s-bravest-soldiers-Meet-Sunni-Muslim-Arabs-fight-line-unbreakable-blood-pact.html

David R Henderson writes:

@Hans,
Someone is ignorant, as the vast majority
of Euro Muslim immigrants are on the dole.

I had heard or read that it was a large fraction. I had never heard that it’s “the vast majority.” Do you have cite on that that you’re willing to provide?

Hans writes:

Thank you for your reply, Mr Henderson.

I will provide a link or a "cite" for you.

In the interim, I find very little difference between large and vast. For me the words have a similar content.

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=what+percent+of+muslam+in+europe+are+on+welfare%3F&atb=v85-1__&ia=videos

Pick what you want. duckduckgo (the real do no evil)

https://nationaleconomicseditorial.com/2017/02/19/german-economy-immigration/

Merkel's concept of importing labor to buttress Deutschland's labor market is forward thinking; after all, Germany exports nearly 50% of her GNP.

Unfortunately, the Chancellor and others vision has been distorted by their social and diversity values.

There are regions worldwide, which have a long record of human failureship; whether economically or culturally and thus constituted a grave and moral risk.

And of these the most profound would be Middle East and its Islamic constituents. Remove the God given asset, goo, their economic status would indeed resemble that of the most impoverished parts of the planet.

What is occurring today, is simply Castro's version of the Mariel exports, providing little if any positive value to the host nation.

A clarion example of a failed state in our hemisphere is Haiti. Would immigration from this country prove to be beneficial? No, in general, it would be a net negative.

There are also other issues at play but it would be off subject.

To those whom argue that social and cultural values have no political or economic impact, will lead a nation to damnation or decline.

d

David R Henderson writes:

@Hans,
I will provide a link or a "cite" for you.
Thank you. I look forward to it.
In the interim, I find very little difference between large and vast. For me the words have a similar content.
I agree. But, as I think you probably realize, that’s not the issue. I said I thought it was a large fraction. You said that’s it’s the vast majority. A "large fraction" could be 30%. The "vast majority” necessarily means that it’s well above 50%. It is this latter claim that I would like to see a cite for.

Hans writes:

Mr Henderson, half of Europe knows and the other half does not wish to talk about it.

http://rightwise.com/news/percentage-muslim-refugees-welfare-will-disturb/

https://www.frontpagemag.com/point/183720/80-turkish-muslim-settlers-germany-live-welfare-daniel-greenfield

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5856/welfare-jihad

"Separately, a study by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research found that Muslim immigrants were more likely to be unemployed and living off the social welfare state than any other immigrant group in Germany.

According to the study, 55% of the immigrants from Lebanon are unemployed, as are 46% from Iraq, 37.5% from Afghanistan, 37.1% from Iran, 27.1% from Morocco and 21.5% from Turkey. In real terms, immigrants from Turkey (140,000) constitute the largest number of unemployed. The report said the root cause for the high unemployment rates was the lack of educational attainment and job training qualifications."

https://nationaleconomicseditorial.com/2017/02/19/german-economy-immigration/

https://nationaleconomicseditorial.com/2017/05/23/immigration-costs-denmark/

https://nationaleconomicseditorial.com/2017/10/06/20-percent-british-muslims-employed-full-time/

https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/the-pernicious-myth-of-the-oppressed-european-muslim/

Second paragraph from the bottom.

Hans writes:

It should be noted, that immigration is not
only a strain on taxpayers' wealth
but also has lead to a surge in crime.

Both of these issue have exploded
in Western Europe and currently there
are no means of coping with either problem.

These leftist programs and political dogma
have sowed the seeds for their own destruction.

The outlook for Euroman is bleak indeed.

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