A Stranger Invited In: Libertarian Party Manifesto Home Affairs Pt. 3
This article shall cover the third part of the Libertarian Party UK Manifesto: Immigration. Covered is immigration policy, effects on wages and employment, types of immigrants, and the practise and morality of policies in the United Kingdom.
The purpose of these articles its three-fold; what would be the effects of these policies, and why would people want them? Do they uphold the Libertarian principles? That is what we discover in these articles.
We have covered monetary and fiscal policy for the Libertarian Party already. The Home Affairs section comes in five parts; if you click on the part you’d like to read, you can find out more.
Each section covers half a dozen or so policies from the Libertarians, picking policies that have enough to discuss, and have something to discuss. Policies that are too simple or too similar: “We propose murderers go to jail” or policies that are simple yes/no switches “We shall not do this” “We oppose drugs/We shall arrest drug users” aren’t likely to be covered. You can read the full Home Affairs manifesto yourself.
Part Three: Immigration
Immigration is a matter dear to the hearts of millions. Seriously, it’s one of the causes of both right wing and nationalist/populist voting. Parties who promised to deal with immigrants would do well in quite a few countries. It’s also the centre of multiple controversies including that of the U.S.-Mexican relationship recently. How much is it an issue? Here is the change in population over 10 years in the United Kingdom (ONS, 2019c). Here is another article on it and its effect on the working class’s wages and employment..
As we can see, some areas have seen a change of 16% to non-British nationals in some areas (the bluer, the more) (ONS, 2019c). Immigration is a national issue, from the top of Scotland to the south of England.
Personally, my family are immigrants to the United Kingdom, and I am an immigrant to China. I am not alone; 10% of Brits are married to a someone from a different ethnic background. Currently, 2% of the British population has a mixed-ethnic background, but it is a growing demographic in the United Kingdom (ONS, 2014). On a purely romantic level, this matters to a tenth of the population. 19.5% of the 2011 British census did not identify as White British; meaning that around one-fifth of the population are based in immigration to the United Kingdom (ONS, 2012). Simply put, this is something that matters to a great amount of the British population. Policies regarding this should be considered and fair.
Policy 15: Immigration should be points-based and fair; free movement impossible without removing the welfare state
Milton Friedman once said: “It’s just obvious that you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state” (Rector, 2007). A country that provides generous benefits to everyone must do so at a cost, a cost that is paid for by those who provide to even have soft borders would lead to economic migration to the country en masse, eventually toppling the country under the weight of its’ own generosity.
Shapiro (2019) even points out that you will create a crowding out effect on benefits, as the weight of government benefits ends up crowding out individual charity.
There is also the fact that with free movement in a country with welfare, to paraphrase Friedman (Rector, 2007), the supply becomes almost infinite; look how many people came to Europe so quickly when the chance arrived to do so as a refugee.
When supply becomes infinite, the price of that kind of labour decreases as a rule. I’ve discussed this here. Regarding a developed country (U.S.) and undeveloped country (Mexico), undeveloped countries make the price of unskilled or even skilled labour cheaper if that population can move into the developed country. Later in this article, we will see that it has indeed cheapened the price of low-education jobs.
In this, the Libertarian Party are correct that the reality of a welfare state supersedes the ideal of free movement of people.
Policy 16: We will allow free-flow of movement trade deals
Is it good for British people to have immigrants? Does it help the British economy? Do they hurt British workers? This is where we shall start this policy discussion. We have covered the effects of immigration between the United States and Mexico in this article. We shall first cover the theory of immigration, and we shall see if there is any evidence to what we are seeing. The education levels of the United Kingdom population is:
18.8% under-secondary education
35.4% is secondary education
45.7% are tertiary and above educated (OECD, 2019a).
So the United Kingdom has about half university-educated and above, a third above high school, and about a sixth below that. So the United Kingdom’s workforce is missing a large unskilled labour force, and over-represents OECD average on university attendance (37% on tertiary education). This is our competitive advantages and disadvantages in the workforce. We do not need more university educated people (although more of them certainly helps!), but that gap in our work force will create a vacuum to pull in competition. So who is coming?
The Polish make up the largest non-British minority in the United Kingdom, so they shall represent the E.U. nationals who are coming to the country for the purposes of this article. The Polish education level is at:
7.9% have below-secondary education.
62.2% have secondary education.
29.9% have tertiary education (OECD, 2019a).
So against the British, the Polish are most likely to enter the work requiring at least secondary education, and so most likely compete against this demographic of the population. Construction workers, labourers, and so on are the famous stereotype for a reason. I’ve spoken to several builders personally who say that the Polish conquer this market due to a work-hard attitude that the British themselves seem to lack; this is purely anecdotal, but it lines with the evidence.
The largest non-E.U. nationals to the United Kingdom are Indians (2.3%) and Pakistanis (1.9%) (ONS, 2012). We shall use them to represent the non-E.U. bulk of the British nationals. Note: that this represents Indians who are immigrating to the United Kingdom; not those British born and raised.
Indians have the following education levels, based on the best sources I could find:
72% have not finished secondary education (Malhotra, 2017).
25.8% have participated secondary education (Department of Higher Education, 2018)
Around 10% of Indians had tertiary education in 2004; however, it is closer to 20% in urban areas (Azam and Blom, 2008).
Pakistanis have the following education levels (UNESCO, 2019):
96% of children are enrolled in under-seconday education (males are 25% more likely than female). So 50% (+ 4% who never go to school) of them will not reach secondary education.
45.6% of children are enrolled in secondary education (males are 25% more likely than female). So 35.6% of them will have secondary education.
10.1% of children are enrolled in tertiary education (males are 10% more likely than female).
There are many arguments to be made; that the Indians and Pakistanis who come to the United Kingdom are most likely the middle and upper class residents of those countries, who have attended university, and also in most developed countries, they are among the highest earners. But we shall assume that the majority of people who come from outside the E.U. are the majority of those people, as they do indeed make up that majority of the population. After all, the United Kingdom does not possess a large majority of this kind of labour, but these countries can certainly provide it.
Why does this matter? Because working class people do not go to university (Universities UK, 2018).
So we know that young people from poor backgrounds do not go to university; it ranges from 10% to 25%. We also know that the majority of university graduates will work in the United Kingdom (Universities UK, 2018):
Why does all of this matter? Let me pull everything together. Half of the current generation are not going to university. Half are. Of our immigrants, they are mostly uneducated below university level (Polish; 70%, Indians 80-90%, Pakistanis 90%). Therefore, these people will be competing for the same jobs with our uneducated population. I will measure if this is roughly true in two ways; firstly, we would expect unemployment for our uneducated nationals to be higher than educated, and then we would expect wages for low-paying (and therefore low educated) jobs to be decreasing when higher paying (and therefore, higher educated) jobs are not.
Claim 1: Uneducated people are indeed struggling to find work (Universities UK, 2018):
Claim 2: Uneducated jobs are indeed suffering a wage drop while educated jobs are not (ONS, 2018b):
We can see above that low-paid jobs (both weekly and hourly; wage and salary, in other words) are decreasing, especially the hourly, but high paid jobs in both salary and wage remain stable. Is this a definitive argument? No, but it is supporting evidence. Both claims are true, and support the initial hypothesis.
Immigration does not help our working class, our low-paid, and our uneducated. It, as a rule, is providing further low-paid, uneducated, and working class immigrants to a system that is not providing employment to the existing population. In an economic sense, it is harming those who are already in dire straits. Not surprising; when I’ve brought up the plight of the working class man to a Libertarian before, he dismissed it. Few policies in the Libertarian manifesto care for our working class. Now let’s see if they would help the economy as a whole? One usual argument is that we need a younger population to fuel our ageing economy (more on how that will affect the U.S. and China here):
This graph (ONS, 2018a) explains that we have a population that is neither ageing too aggressively, nor too young. However, we have a large problem with pensions in this country (explained here) which I shall explain more simply here: 42% of current government spending is done on the state pension (Office of Budget Responsibility, 2019). When people complain about people stealing money on the dole while pretending to look for work, they only take 1% of the spending. The disabled? 8%. The majority is state pensions.
Why do we need so many young people? Because welfare spending on the 16-65 year olds is much lower than on children, or on the elderly.
In the above graph, despite being a tiny percentage of the population, government spending on the elderly MASSIVELY outweighs any kind of spending on children, and is 400%-500% of an adult (Office of Budget Responsibility, 2019). We need someone to pay all of this money, and that requires a massive young population to pay it.
This is perhaps the most convincing argument I’ve seen for immigration; it is unlikely that they will reduce the benefit enjoyed by the elderly, but perhaps we can get enough adults to pay for it. When they in turn get old…, well, that’s someone else’s problem. This is turn is sometimes turned into an argument for cigarettes and the like (1: more taxes, 2: more dead old people), but that is a discussion for another time.
My personal solution is that increasing technological advancement, such as automation, can be employed to make up for a shortfall in working population, but that requires massive investment from either business (scared off from Brexit) or government (who is already spending into deficit). Immigrants are mostly free (at point of import, anyway). We can see the current trends in migration in the United Kingdom below; while it is falling, we are still attracting more immigrants than people are leaving. As such, immigration is a factor in the increase of the population (ONS, 2019a).
So now we need to know more about the immigrants; do they work? Almost certainly; work was one of the largest reasons for immigration to the U.K. (ONS, 2019a). We can also see that there has been an upward trend in both E.U. and non-E.U. immigrants employed in the United Kingdom over the past 20 years, as seen below (ONS, 2019b):
We can also see how much immigration does not help the British economy by measuring economic inactivity; meaning people who are no longer seeking work, nor have work. Below is a chart analysing the existence of the economically inactive by region of birth (ONS, 2019b):
For the sake of comparison, let’s take the British nationals first. We are 76% employed, 3.7% are unemployed, and 21% economically inactive.
In terms of the E.U. nationals, 83% are employed, 3.5% are unemployed, and 14% are economically inactive.
We see that non-E.U. nationals are 65% employed, 7% unemployed, but a whooping 30% economically inactive.
Is this a drag on the economy? Well, in a sense, every citizen that is taking from the government spending is doing so at the cost of either a taxpayers burden now, or a future taxpayers burden in interest payments and repayment for national debt. But in real terms? The welfare payments for jobseekers (1%) and disability (8%) and child credits (5%) and housing benefits (11%) for the ENTIRE country of the United Kingdom is 25% total; not just immigrants, the entire country (Office of Budget Responsibility, 2019).
E.U. nationals come to Britain, are very likely to work, and are unlikely to become economically inactive. But there is evidence that they present a depressing factor on wages and employment for local working class and educated workforces. There is also an argument that many send their wages abroad via remittances and reduce the supply of capital domestically, but that’s also not part of this article (more here though).
But it must be said; non-E.U. nationals do present a real, likely, and current drag to the British economy, however small, and we must decide if that is something we would like in an economic sense. In the sense of our rights as people, we discuss it later. They certainly do not provide much demand to the economy, if nearly a third of them do not work, and so cannot provide much purchasing power compared to other immigrants.
Finally, I would like to discuss the lump of labour fallacy (Kagan, 2018). It is an economic argument that immigrants do not steal jobs, as jobs are not a single lump, and new demand creates new supply. I have two points to make against this defence; the first is that short-term, new jobs cannot be created so quickly to compensate for the new demand, and the second is that the United Kingdom is in a period of massive economic crisis, where companies are, or will be, leaving and taking their jobs with them, and new jobs are not being created particularly quickly. Long term, this may not be the case, but in the short-term, evidence shows it certainly seems to be, and with a constant stream of immigrants, it’s constant downward pressure on the market. The people who are not affected are the wealthy and the educated, and so it is not surprising that the majority of the educated and wealthy are pro-immigration, but those without these are not.
What does this mean for the Libertarian policy? In sheer economic terms, immigration is not good for the poor, working, uneducated class, but would likely provide a high supply of cheap labour that is good for businesses, as well as a competitive labour market is very attractive to employers in the future (when we need to attract them, let’s say, post-Brexit). Non-E.U. nationals do not provide much economic stimulus at present, and present higher rates of economic inactivity, which represent a drag on the economy and a burden on the taxpayer, although said burden is very, very small.
As the burden to pay for the welfare of the elderly is so large, I would recommend this policy to be followed only with E.U. countries, as they have high rates of employment, and simply hope we can outgrow the massive pension bill that our children shall have to deal with. Alternatively, reduce pensions, but that is political suicide.
Policy 17: The right to remove or reject foreigners who are convicted in a British court of Law
According to the House of Commons (2018a), 9,000 prisoners out of 86,000 were foreigners. Of this, 54% of them were from the E.U. (and 5% of the total population), and Africans made up a further 18% and Asians a further 12%.
As we are currently overpopulated in prison by 8,700 people (more on that here), being able to remove and reject these prisoners would certainly help reduce overpopulation to the point of having 300 cells spare.
That said, there is a point to consider. In this country, we have the right of passive resistance. The government already have a habit of arresting protestors if it can get away with it (see more in article); would this create a system where a perfectly reasonable protestor may be ejected from the country for facing down the government? It would create a dual-legal system; the natives can risk facing the law, but immigrants must shut up and look away. I would love to see some consideration about this, but the Manifesto has a single sentence to summarise this.
Policy 18: A contract to be made where a citizen can sponsor an immigrant to become a citizen, except when proven dangerous ‘beyond reasonable doubt”
Policy 19: We will end delays on married or civil partnered couples by expediting visas
I put these policies together because their points will be similar.
As a person who is married to a foreign citizen, who has her own degree, gave birth to my child, has worked for the British government before, has no criminal record, a perfect credit rating, and has travelled to and from the United Kingdom multiple times to study and visit, we still face a barrage of questions and issues when we come to the United Kingdom.
I am aware of the danger of using false marriages to get people into the country, but there are only 41,000 family visas given out each year (Home Office, 2017) compared to 530,000 illegal immigrants who are in the U.K. (ONS, 2015), it would be better to allow fully married citizens to enjoy their freedom with their spouse when it would take 13 years to equal an illegal population of the U.K., and could be done so with the government watching the comings and goings of them, and with the expectation that the citizens are able to get married to their own wife or husband without having to hope that Big Brother approves of their match, or of their own personal situation, to allow them to live with their spouse.
Again, while I understand the argument that ‘They are going to come here and soak up all of the [jobs, welfare, and money]’ (and if they are not from the E.U., then it is quickly likely to be one welfare, if they are from the E.U., then likely jobs, according to the statistics), the impact on the British economy is minuscule with only 41,000 such marriages happening per year, making it less than 0.1% of the total population of the U.K..
I also see the argument that ‘Oh, it’ll be used by [insert minority here] to conquer the country’. Firstly, the Libertarian Manifesto has stated multiple times that they reserve the right to cast out dangerous people. Secondly, it is a worrying argument; I won’t point to how the Jews were refused to enter the United Kingdom before the Nazis killed them; I won’t point out how the United Kingdom turned away from the Armenians in Turkey before they were killed; instead, I’ll point out that when we begin to base policy on your people, rather than merit, then the seeds of policies based on race begins, a mistake we have seen too often in history. You already know the arguments; let’s move on.
There is also another argument to be made; should you only be allowed to come to the United Kingdom if you prove you’ll work? Does a man or a woman not have the freedom to enjoy the raising of their children? They are only good people if they come to work in whatever work they can find, scared to be fired lest the British government deem them not worthy of being their husband or wife’s spouse and cast back from the darkness whence they came? But then, do the British taxpayers not have the right to refuse to pay for someone who doesn’t work, but comes here anyway?
Shouldn’t a British citizen be able to make the choice if they want to marry someone from whatever background they want? Are the poor only allowed to marry inside this country? Is marrying a foreigner a right for the rich? Because currently it is, as you must have enough money to ‘purchase’ the right for your spouse to come.
As such, I do not see a massive negative effect of this policy, I can see the liberal arguments in favour of it, and I believe it is an issue of freedom.
Moving on, it is not so easy to simply ‘prove someone dangerous’. Do you know why so many of the ISIS fighters returned to the United Kingdom? That only 10% are prosecuted (Dearden, 2019)? Because all of the evidence is in the Middle East. Unless they are stupid enough to load evidence to their Facebook or something, the Crown Prosecution Service has no evidence, Syria cannot and will not provide evidence (due to a lack of a functioning government, for a start), and we’re not going to send someone over to go and get it. To leave the level of evidence required at ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, the legal standard, means that you’ll only reduce the number of known dangerous people by 10%. It’s simply not a very effective law; it sounds nice, but it won’t do anything.
The Manifesto has the usual problems; they talk about border agreements, but never discuss which countries they would have them with. They talk about ‘getting rid of the dangerous people’, but don’t discuss how difficult it is, and how they would overcome it. They discuss a focus on immigrants with ’British values’, but don’t mention what they regard as British values, or how they would test it.
They mention some policies I agree with, such as marriage visas, and the right to refuse immigration, and to send immigrants who are criminals back, but are so vague with some policies that I don’t know what they precisely want. Typically, Libertarians are pro-migration, but they talk a lot about how to refuse it. I assume they do so because they want to appeal to the anti-immigration crowd. This manifesto at least recognised that a welfare state and their preferred immigration ideal are not compatible.
They talk a lot about they would choose immigrants who help the British economy; firstly, they do not specify which immigrants those are (I assume you fill it in with whichever immigrant you like); do they prefer cheap labour to keep production costs low, or do they want educated people to improve efficiency and innovation for long term growth? They just don’t say.
On the flip side, they discuss nothing about the economic inactivity of some parts of the immigrant population, and how to solve this problem. It also feels like spitting into the sea; the amount spent pales in comparison to state pensions.
Finally, their policies would depress the wages and employment of up to half of our current generation; we already see higher unemployment, and recently, a Nobel prize winner Angus Deaton noted that inequality will lead to the death of democratic capitalism in the United Kingdom (2019). I have written about this before, and we have seen it in our elections. I believe that the Libertarian Party is focusing on all the wrong parts, and their policies would accelerate this future while they chant “Free market efficiency” into the fiery skyline of London.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this, please consider following me on Twitter @LeonDeclis or on Apple News on the Idea Meritocracy channel. There is also a Facebook page at @IdeaMeritocracyEcon. Have a nice day!
This is here so people can read further; in a topic as divisive as immigration, I absolutely strive to be as objective as possible, and to keep the numbers as true to the source as possible. These sources are here so people can read further.
ONS always refers to the Office of National Statistics. Gov.uk is often the Home Office, but sometimes it doesn’t seem to be, so I stick it under Gov.uk.
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