An obvious contradiction that no one has noticed or addressed

A friend has repeatedly raised this question and perhaps there is a VFR reader who can answer it: How is it that (1) Europe needs an ongoing flood of Muslim immigrants to work and pay taxes to support Europe’s pension plans; but (2) the European economy is stagnant and Muslims are unskilled, socially isolated, unemployed, and on the dole?

As of 12:30 p.m., I’ve received two interesting e-mails from European readers (copied at the bottom of this thread). Both readers point out, using Norway and Sweden as examples, that easy welfare attracts non-productive Muslim immigrants and creates ruinous burdens for the European host countries. But neither reader has addressed my question. If Muslim immigrants are a net burden to the host countries, why then, every time the Muslim immigration issue comes up, do we hear immigration proponents say that because of Europe’s low birth rate, Europe “must” have millions of Muslim immigrants to supply tax revenues to pay for social spending? More to the point, why do we never hear immigration critics reply that, far from helping pay Europe’s social costs, Muslims are vastly adding to them? The assumption that a low-fertility Europe “needs” Muslim immigrants never seems to be challenged. For example, in Death of the West, Patrick Buchanan, who is of course an immigration restrictionist, took it as a given that Europe’s low birth rate requires Europe to take in lots of Muslims; indeed it was a central theme of the book, repeated over and over to drive home his point that low birth rates doom the West. It never seemed to occur to Buchanan that Muslims, far from having the middle-class or upper-class incomes that would pay the social security costs for Europe’s aging population, would be either low-income workers contributing little to tax revenues, or be recipients of social spending themselves. The same blindness to such an obvious point has been exhibited over and over again by immigration restrictionists.

More e-mails have come in. Robert B. writes:

Many economists have pointed out that using immigrants to pay for retirees does not work because they themselves get old, and they bring in their older relatives. It’s just a plausible ploy to justify immigration. Sorry I don’t have a handy reference. Of course, even if it worked it would be a Ponzi scheme which would have to crash eventually.

LA replies:

You state that although the immigrants pay for retirees, the immigrants will get old themselves and add to the social burden. Of course this is true and it’s a point that has been made many times. But this does not apply to Muslims in Europe. Muslims in Europe—or so we’re told over and over—are either on the dole or are stuck in low-end jobs, and thus are not, even while they are young, supplying the tax revenues to support white retirees. That’s the question that no one has noticed or addressed, even after I have explicitly raised it.

Bill Carpenter, a long-time VFR reader, writes:

Another factor that only you have written about is that immigration depresses native birthrates.

I think the contradiction is partly explained by the fact that half the population anywhere wants to expand the welfare state, so the expansion occasioned by unskilled immigration doesn’t upset them. Others can’t see their way to discriminating in immigration or anything else.

LA replies:

Once again, we can understand the motives of the left: they want the immigrant and welfare-receiving populations to increase, so they will use any argument that comes to hand, including the notion of Europe’s absolute need for Muslim immigrants to pay for social spending. But this doesn’t explain why conservatives and immigration restrictionists have never challenged this assumption. Their failure to challenge it is especially amazing, given that the left and the open-borderites put forth the two contradictory arguments virtually simultaneously: that Muslims in Europe are in a terrible economic state because of their lack of skills, their lack of assimilation, Europeans’ anti-Muslim prejudices and so on; and that Europe, because of its failure to produce enough babies who will grow up to supply tax revenues to pay for social spending, must have an ongoing influx of millions more non-productive and welfare-receiving Muslims.

Mr. Carpenter continues:

We need to be telling people that the solution for low birthrates, if anyone really wants a solution, is reduced immigration, economic liberty, and pro-family government policies—in other words, conservative government. Of course, the left doesn’t want a solution, it just wants to elect a new people. Leftists would rather rule over a poor hell-hole than see happy free people. Isn’t it ironic that the political philosophy that claims to be based on economics is the most indifferent to building a people’s real assets.

James H. writes:

You probably know this already, but this is one example of the many reasons why proponents of massive Muslim immigration support their suicidal policies so adamantly and irrationally: In their minds, they have suppressed all racial, cultural and other differences. Their liberalism and egalitarianism has made it impossible to detect anything that could suggest the Muslims’ obvious backwardness. They see the Muslims as they see themselves; they think that the Muslims are culturally equal to them, despite the obvious evidence that proves otherwise.—I think this is why, in most cases, proponents of massive Muslim immigration support the things they support; they’re blind to the Muslims’ backwardness because of liberalism. They’re not able to detect the Muslims’ economic, social, and cultural burdens, because that would cause an anomaly in their liberal thought process; it would violate their egalitarian principles.

LA replies:

My first thought on reading James’s e-mail was that he was also failing to address my question. But then it occurred to me. Could it be that the same inability or refusal to recognize Muslims’ backwardness, which affects liberals, also affects conservatives? That even immigration critics, being under the sway of liberal attitudes (as are virtually all modern Western people), are reluctant to point out the obvious fact that Muslims are a backward population that is dragging down Europe, and that that is why they fail to notice the contradiction I’ve been talking about? I don’t know that this is the case—I’m just suggesting the possibility.

James replies:
Yes, I think that liberalism is influencing conservatives’ thoughts.

Take Michael Savage for example, a renowned conservative talk-show host. Have you read his book Liberalism is a Mental Disorder? Although his book is an attack on liberalism and its double-standards, he ironically shows liberalism in his writing. Read the chapter that deals with Islam, I think it’s the second one. He writes from a neocon perspective, he uses P.C. vocabulary (i.e. Islamist instead of Muslim), and he says—these aren’t the exact words—“I think it’s wrong to think negatively of an entire religion because of a few extremists.”

Though Dr. Savage’s opinion on Islam has since changed, the opinions of other conservatives haven’t.

LA continues:

On further thought, the possibility I raised above cannot be true. Immigration restrictionists are not loathe to point out the social costs engendered by low-skill immigrant populations. So I am still without an answer to the question with which I began this thread.

Alan Levine writes:

I would only make the point that, low birth rates or population problems in the past, as in the late Middle Ages, were not “solved” by allowing the West to be overrun by hostile, possibly unassimilable foreigners, much less outsiders who are not even EXPECTED, any more, to assimilate.

LA replies:

It’s so bizarre. Most of the people making the argument that European nations need Muslim immigrants to stay afloat economically are people devoted to multiculturalism, an ideology that openly aims at the destruction of the Western nations. So why should anyone believe them when they advocate more immigration on the basis that it will help the Western nations?

Bruce B. writes:

I’m a little late but I’d like to take a whack at your question. You ask: “How is it that (1) Europe needs an ongoing flood of Muslim immigrants to work and pay taxes to support Europe’s pension plans; but (2) the European economy is stagnant and Muslims are unskilled, socially isolated, unemployed, and on the dole?” I believe the contradiction exists because assumption (1) is false with respect to both Europe and the U.S and with respect to both taxes/pensions and the “work that needs to get done.” Why is it false? Because Civilizations, particularly creative ones, adapt to conditions. I hear the “they do the work that no one wants to do” or “I don’t want to go pick tomatoes in the field” far more than “racist” when discussing immigration restriction with normal folks. When you were interviewed on radio regarding your Second Mexican War article (I haven’t listened to part 2 yet) and the hysterical Mexican called in and said something to you like “why don’t you go work in the fields!!” I thought you should have retorted “I don’t need to, I’ll go buy canned tomatoes.” Everyone around here (including a lot of folks who really don’t make that much money) wants to live in a brand new 3000 square foot McMansion with hand-laid brick walls surrounding the community and hand-laid brick walkways leading to their front door. Would it really be the end of Western Civilization if modest middle class folks had to live in modest sized houses, fix up older houses, have poured cement walkways (gasp!), eat canned tomatoes ? We want too much whether its the stuff we buy or our “right” to retire at 65 and live the good life without ever having to burden our children with taking care of us, and independent of whether we earned/saved appropriately for 20 years of said lifestyle. Look at Japan. They’ve had low birthrates for longer than the West. Their absolute numbers have now peaked and are starting to decline. Is Japan dead? Will there be a last Japanese man and woman alive who won’t reproduce with the “Death of Japan” following? The West will die because we will be replaced by or amalgamated with other peoples and lose our identity as a people. Its all about demography.

Europe lost 1/3 of its population over a very short period of time during the black death. Was it the death of the West or did Europeans adjust?

Regarding Buchanan himself, as a traditional Catholic, he has a particular loathing for contraception and, thus, is prone to assume that low-birth rate = bad in all ways. This influences his thinking. I’m sure this type of thinking influences others as well, but that it influences Buchanan himself is huge given that he has so much clout

As far as why the restrictionists don’t challenge the assumption I would speculate that in the restrictionists’ mind, the open borders folks have the empirical data on their side. The open borders lobby would simply say: “we’ve had all this immigration and the economy is strong” or, in Europe’s case, would say that Europeans are still living the sweet life. Things don’t appear to be broken until you think about the future (which is why folks like us think as we do).

* * *

Here are the two e-mails I received from European readers, which I replied to above but did not initially post:

Ingemar P. wrote

My rather unsatisfactory answer is that *because* Europe has such massive social welfare, the economy is stagnant and many of the Muslims that come over are unskilled.

With very wide social welfare, the incentive to work hard in order to be a success is ruined because the State will simply subsidize your way of life, even if it is the way of life of a failure. This safety net does not promote a productive lifestyle. Such a system is attractive particularly to unskilled Muslims workers, who see in Europe a chance to “get paid for doing less work.” (Skilled Muslims, on the other hand, are already successful in either their own countries or as expats in, say, Saudi Arabia). They come to Europe for these benefits but soon fall victim to them since they, like everyone else, can simply be lazy and still be able to support themselves. Long story short: The lazy Europeans hire Muslims and other foreigners to subsidize their cushy lifestyle, but the foreigners want in on the same lifestyle so nothing gets done and everything goes to pot.

And the Norwegian blogger Fjordman sent this item he had posted at Dhimmiwatch:

What Does Muslim Immigration Cost Europe?

Estimates indicate that immigration costs Sweden at least 40 to 50 billion Swedish kroner every year, probably several hundred billions, and has greatly contributed to bringing the Swedish welfare state to the brink of bankruptcy. An estimated cost of immigration of 225 billion Swedish kroner in 2004, which is not unlikely, would equal 17.5% of Sweden’s tax income that year, a heavy burden in a country which already has some of the highest levels of taxation in the world.

An ever growing group of non-western immigrants in Norway is dependent on welfare. This was the conclusion of a study by Tyra Ekhaugen of the Frisch Centre for Economic Research and the University of Oslo. If the present evolution continues, immigration will increase the pressure on the welfare state rather than relieving it because many immigrants do not join the tax-paying part of the population. “Non-Western immigrants” in Norway are recipients of social security benefits ten times as frequently as native Norwegians. If we remember that “non-Western immigrants” include Chinese, Indians and other non-Muslims who are known for (and statistically proven to be) hard working, this speaks volumes of the heavy burden Muslims constitute on the welfare state.

There is a risk that much of the profit Norway earns from oil could be spent on paying welfare for a rapidly growing immigrant population. The most profitable immigration would be high-skilled workers who stay for period of limited duration, but at the same time not too brief. A Danish think tank has estimated that the net cost of immigration was up to 50 billion kroner every year, and those were cautious estimates. Denmark could thus save huge sums by stopping immigration from less developed countries. A study found that every other immigrant from the Third World—especially from Muslim countries—lacked the qualifications for even the most menial jobs on the organized Danish labor market.

LA writes:

I’ve gotten a few e-mails that, while not exactly answering my question, provide good answers to the economic argument for Muslim immigration. I’ll try to post them in the next couple of days.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 21, 2006 10:47 AM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):