9/28/2005

Newberry: Peak People - immigration peaked in 2000

Peak People
by Stirling Newberry
Wed Sep 28th, 2005 at 07:42:49 CDT

The United States relies on imports of three things. One is oil, the other is money - often reimportation of the money we sent out to buy the oil - and the third is people. Particularly skilled people. You see, the American secondary education system sucks. Yes, that's the technical term for it. It just plain sucks. Now the reasons for this are primarily economic, we want it to suck. Or rather, we want the next school system over to suck more than ours does, so people will want to buy houses in our towns, and raise our property values. This is before you pile on top the crazies who want to turn the clock back to the Salem Witch trials.

Rita has made a lot of people worry about energy, and Greenspan and others are worried about money. Well we've reached peak people too and that is very, very, very, very bad news if it holds as a long term trend.

* Stirling Newberry's diary :: ::
*

Importing a person is a big win, particularly if that person is already college educated, and only needs a master's degree to get into the work force. We skip about 1.5 million dollars of costs to our economy, and get a high valued worker on the other side. Heck, they are even wiling to borrow money to take the classes, and work for several years as low grade labor, saving the economy hundreds of thousands of dollars more. In short, every high skilled immigrant represents 2 million dollars of savings and profit to the US economy.

More over, immigrants don't have accumulated wealth, which means they are savers, and they are even more willing to pay inflated home prices than the natives are. In fact, in many high tech areas, it is immigrant demand that is keeping home prices up. They are willing to take on more incremental reduction to present living standard to buy houses. This was used to prove that housing prices would never pop.

This points back to the social security problem, one of the variables is population growth, and population growth costs per/gdp. As pointed out above, importing fertility means that we get more, better educated, people, for the same money. The barrier means that they will disproportionately be from the top layers of whatever skill strata they have - intelligence, interpersonal, creativity, determination - or some combination of the above.

Without immigration increasing, the shortfall of Social Security will get much worse much sooner.

This is something that the racists will cheer, the reality is that this means a dramatic change in one of the most cherished rackets in America. One with a huge local constituency. It will be one of the issues that the reactionaries will use to control local government. That racket is the money for schools racket. Right now a significant fraction of the market value of a house is the education system's perceived quality. Not just for quality of education, but because parents, perhaps not consciously, want their children to be with the children of other upper middle and upper class children. It's not what you know, it's who you know.

There are essentially two options. One is to make the US immigration friendly again. The other is to restructure our education system so that the variation in educational quality is not as large as it is currently.

The reality is that the reactionary system thrives on creating contradictions and feeding off the crisis. For example, slashing research budgets used to create fuel efficiency, and then promoting Iraq as a way to get oil. Funding dictators, and then strutting around talking about over throwing them. In this case allowing the school racket creates a perpetual education crisis, which they then use to play the race card over and over again - starve schools of money and resources, and then tell people that it is "The Bell Curve".

This is one of them: Bush, by creating an environment of very slow job growth, has made the US much less attractive for immigration. The other factors, including a Christianist culture - which drives away the secular technocrats who are the most valuable to the US economy - and a spiralling housing market, along with an increasingly high risk period compared to other immigration areas such as New Zealand, Australia or Canada - simply add to this. While America is still a great immigration brand name, the marginal pressures on immigrants - the ones who actually think hard about it - are pushing more of them to other shores.

Next time you hear the "so why is everyone coming here if things are so awful" just say "immigration peaked in 2000."
Daily Kos: Peak People

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