Immigration is Not the Answer

As one of the world's most open economies is beginning to discover:
Singapore may well serve as a case study for what happens when leaders try to offset slowing economic growth with immigration and increased birth rates. There are lessons that Japan or Italy would do well to study. All of it is turning into a political liability for Lee, the son ofLee Kuan Yew, who is regarded as the father of modern Singapore.
The erosion in his party’s popularity is accelerating after the release Jan. 29 of a white paper that contained the 6.9 million figure, which it calls a projection, not a goal. Lee Hsien Loong has since said the number of people will be “significantly” lower than the report suggests. Will Singaporeans buy that?
“The new population policy is anti-Singaporean and it threatens our existence and livelihoods,” says Gilbert Goh, 51, an advocate for unemployed citizens and an organizer of a protest planned for this week.
Sadly, some of the rants one reads in the media and online veer toward xenophobia. If Singaporeans are so livid, they should stop supporting Lee’s party. After all, isn’t the government, by seeking to import more human capital, telling its own people that they lack the skills to compete? Anyone who doubts Singapore is serious only has to look at accelerating efforts to reclaim land from the sea for development, giving the city the room for population growth.
The real question, as public angst rises, is whether the opposition is justified. Former United Nations demographer Joseph Chamie says it is. To Chamie, the view that it’s almost always better to have more and more people is the human equivalent of what Bernard Madoff did with money, something he calls “Ponzi demography.”
The human-pyramid scheme works like this: Population growth, either through births or immigration, boosts demand for goods and services, increases borrowing, boosts tax revenue and adds to corporate profits. Everything seems grand and leaders take a bow. It’s a bubble, though, and it eventually bursts when population growth stalls. Incomes top out, high debt crushes consumption and investment, the need for public assistance rises, environmental degradation increases and angry people take to the streets.
That didn't take as long as I expected. Singapore, as I've stated before, is my favourite place on Earth. I have a long history with that island nation. I have family ties to it. I love going back there. And I can verify every single word of that Bloomberg article.

Singapore's government basically tried immigrating their way out of their population problem. Singaporeans weren't having babies, due in no small part to the one-child policies put in place during the first 30 years of the country's history. And now they're beginning to realise that this is a spectacularly stupid idea.

Whenever I go back to Singapore, I have a hard time recognising the place. The entire island is basically one giant construction site these days. While I love to see the progress and the growth, I know full well that a lot of that growth is artificial. The influx of foreigners into Singapore has not been a net boon for the island. The values that created Singapore are not shared by those foreigners- an outcome that anyone living in America's Southern states could have told you all about. The things that make Singapore special- an open economy, low taxes, a great environment for doing business, a hyper-efficient public infrastructure- will be degraded and destroyed by the deliberate strategy on the part of the government to grow their way out of their problem using shortcuts.

This is a lesson that America needs to learn also, and fast. Counting on Hispanic and Islamic immigrants to grow your way out of trouble is a fool's gambit. It's not going to work, and the end result will be a divided country where the Constitution will mean even less than the paper it's printed on.


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