Guardian immigration economist blows stack

By Leith van Onselen

Following my demolition job on Tom Westland’s attempted take down of me in The Guardian, he has taken the ad hominem route posting the following childish retort, entitled “Response to Heath von Ocelot’s rejoinder”:

I’m not quite sure that there’s much point going into the weeds with someone whose legendary sloppiness with details led him to call me “Tom Westlake” throughout his rather lame attempted rejoinder (it’s since been silently fixed, so thanks, I guess), but since people seem to want a response, here are some loosely categorised points. It is, by the way, merely a response to the internal logical of the Malthusian (or, as I think I will start calling it, the international feudalist) position. I am not going to try to address the implied moral logic of van Onselen: that the criterion upon which we ought to judge immigration policy is the welfare of incumbent residents. As it happens, I think this is a deeply unethical social welfare function. But that is a matter of philosophy, not economics, and I shall try to stick to the economics.

Fiscal impact of lower-income recent arrivals

It’s not the case that because new arrivals have lower income than incumbents now, that they therefore must be a drag on the economy because they make a smaller fiscal contribution. This is because fiscal contributions have to be measured over the course of a lifetime, and migrants could make up the ‘deficit’ from their first years in later years. Obviously it’s impossible to determine what the fiscal contribution will be for the current batch of ‘new arrivals’ but there is some evidence in the census that earlier cohorts of migrants do outearn the Australian-born cohort after a period of time. There is plenty of reason to suppose that migrants might earn, on average, a lower amount of income at the beginning of their time in Australia but later earn higher incomes: they might be students, for example, and then become employed later, or they might be the spouse of a migrant who is initially unemployed but who later finds a job.

By the way, van Onselen’s attempted critique on this point would also need to address one of the other clodhopping analytical errors he made, but which I didn’t have space in my Guardian article to critique. A while back, he complained that migrants had ‘aged’ Australia, a claim based on the median ages of migrants and non-migrants in the ABS Migration report and the Census. The problem with this is that both the report and the Census count children born to migrants as Australian-born. If—as, logically, you ought to—you count the birth of children of migrants as a result of migration, then the way both the Census and the report define being a migrant will incorrectly overstate the impact of migration on population age. Similarly, an accurate assessment of the net fiscal impact of migration also needs to take into account the future tax paid by (as well, of course, asthe asset and liability dilution effects of) children of migrants.

Capital dilution

Van Onselen attempts to critique my (by the way, accurate) assertion that most of the literature suggests very minimal or zero wage and employment impacts of migration on incumbents by referring to general equilibrium modelling conducted by the Productivity Commission. I’m mildly surprised that a site like MacroBusiness that is so often critical of mainstream economics puts such blind faith in a CGE model. The PC’s model is a way of trying to simplify the complexity of our theoretical understanding of the economy into a large number of equations. This kind of work is definitely useful for tracing the complex interactions of various assumptions, but they are just this: theoretical assumptions. Van Onselen has been rather dismissive of the huge amount of careful econometric work in migration economics, for reasons he prefers to keep to himself, or (I wish this were a joke) because they’re conducted by academics who work for a university that accepts foreign students. Econometric analysis is also reliant on some assumptions, but van Onselen doesn’t really explain how the Bruenig et al. results emerge as a consequence of the assumptions they make. (Also, and this is minor: it’s weird for van Onselen to separate the Commission from Bruenig et al. and say he prefers the one over the other, since their paper was written specifically for the Commission as an input to its report, and was published with it. Presumably if the PC thought it wasn’t very good—and Bruenig is one of Australia’s top labour economists—they wouldn’t have published it.)

The results that van Onselen focuses on from the PC model, however, are. The model does forecast a drop in labour productivity and wages from migration, but this is entirely a result of the modelling assumptions rather than based on any empirical evidence. The PC’s general equilibrium model assumes that when each cohort of migrants arrives, the capital stock is unchanged at first and then slowly adjusts to meet the new arrivals so that the capital-worker ratio recovers. This will naturally lower labour productivity until such time as the capital stock is increased. As the PC explicitly says, this ‘abstracts from the possibility that firms anticipate changes and adjust employment, investment and output accordingly’. So, if migration is held relatively constant over the next thirty years, say, firms might very well invest in new capital in anticipation of each cohort arriving, rather than being ‘surprised’ by the arrival of new migrants every single year (as the PC’s model assumes). Unfortunately, the empirical/econometric evidence regarding the responsiveness of capital supply to a predictable increase in migration is very thin. We really don’t know much about firm behaviour in this case.* But the PC’s assumption that they don’t anticipate changes in labour supply and aggregate demand at all is an extreme one, probably wrong, and bound to overstate the extent to which migrants dilute the capital stock. (By the way, the focus on asset dilution also obscures one benefit of migration: it also dilutes national liabilities, like the national debt, which is accumulated by incumbent residents but paid off by both incumbents and migrants).

That it is implausible for public infrastructure spending to keep up with net migration at its present rate. This is asserted, but nowhere buttressed by logic. The fact that it has failed to keep up does not mean that a better policy on infrastructure provision (and a settled understanding about the size of future migrant cohorts, to help planning) could not allow us to keep up.

Arguments LvO simply doesn’t address

We are inside the production possibilities frontier for infrastructure provision as a result of bad policy, and it is immoral to have people who weren’t responsible for that inefficiency (potential migrants) pay the cost for these avoidable deadweight losses rather than the people who were responsible (incumbent Australians). Van Onselen complains that it is a ‘strawman’ to say that he wants to punish aspiring migrants. It isn’t. It is a simple logical conclusion of his desire to reduce immigration in order to reduce the strain on infrastructure. For whatever level of migration is considered to be acceptable from the point of view of infrastructure provision, it is undeniable that more intelligent infrastructure provision that didn’t waste our money on poor-value projects would raise that ‘acceptable immigration’ figure. Therefore, to propose cutting immigration without first fixing the massively wasteful policy system of infrastructure provision in this country is indeed to punish people: they want to come to Australia, and we say no because we’re too lazy to collect the economists’ proverbial $100 lying on the footpath. Van Onselen mightn’t like to acknowledge the impact his preferred policies would have on migrants who they would shut out, but they are undeniable, and, in my opinion, immoral.

In the presence of migration, per capita GSP changes—or, in general, any measure that compares the average of incumbents at time t with the average of incumbents and migrants at time t+1—are not informative about living standard changes (in both magnitude and sign) for either incumbents or migrants. This is a matter of simple mathematics. Van Onselen doesn’t explicitly address this part of my critique, and indeed I am not sure that he even quite understands it, since he still complains about migrants ‘dragging down average income’. Van Onselen’s argument about GSP is rather like putting a couple of green apples into a bowl of oranges and complaining that, on a per capita basis, the oranges are greener than they were before.

There are other problems with van Onselen’s analysis, but since I’m trying to write a longer, more reflective piece about the politics of migration in Australia, and since it’s my birthday today and I don’t really feel like spending the rest of it arguing with the Carlylean hysterics and alt-right anime nazis who inevitably flood your Twitter notifications when you talk about mass migration (I’m not saying van Onselen is either of those by the way, or that all opponents of high immigration are racist, just that in my experience this characterises a depressingly large number of the people who do respond when you write about this**) I will leave them for another time.

______

*If migration is entirely unanticipated (which is very unbelievable), then the rule of thumb in migration economics is generally that wages will fall, roughly, by the amount of the Cobb-Douglas coefficient on capital, or about 0.3%-0.4% for every 1% increase in population. To me, this sets a bound on the likely range of wage impacts. Of course, this works in reverse. A cut in migration numbers that was predicted by businesses would result in lower capital investment, and hence the wage impact of the drop in labour supply would be partially or totally counteracted by the investment response. Which seems to argue that the Malthusians shouldn’t be so loud about what they’re trying to do. They should focus on persuading politicians very quietly of the need to cut immigration. Then, when the politicians announce an unexpected decrease, since businesses will not have anticipated this immigration drop when making their investment plans, workers will have more capital each and hence higher wages, at least temporarily. This calculated reticence would have the added advantage of clearing my Twitter notifications of stale, repetitive arguments.

** Or sexist. Though I don’t hold people responsible for the comments made by people on their site, especially if they can’t afford moderators, nor, if I were running a commentary website like MacroBusiness would I be particularly proud of the calibre of discussion that was published in the comments section of the response to one of Jess Irvine’s recent pieces:

Lordy, that’s a gob-full, make no mistake!

Let’s get to some facts:

  • Westland misspells his own name on his  Twitter account, which is where I got it from…
  • a sustainable immigration intake does not necessarily imply Malthusianism (even centrist people like Ross Gittins support it) nor does it imply racism or xenophobia as his first article asserted. Australia’s natural environment simply has its limits and there are limits to growth. If that’s Malthus then so be it!
  • Westland also seems to believe that I am morally bankrupt because of the argument that Australia’s immigration policy (and indeed policy more generally) should serve the interests of incumbent residents first and foremost. Guilty your honour!
  • In any event, I have long argued that Australia should increase the humanitarian migrant intake (roughly only 5% of the total), while slashing the skilled migrant intake.
  • Westland next claim that “there is some evidence in the census that earlier cohorts of migrants do outearn the Australian-born cohort after a period of time” is highly debatable. The Productivity Commission’s (PC) Migrant Intake Australia report showed that while primary skilled migrants have marginally better labour market outcomes than the Australian born population in terms of median incomes, labour force participation, and unemployment rates, secondary skilled visas, and indeed all other forms of migrants, have much worse outcomes:

 

  • Next, Westland attacks the PC’s modelling on immigration, which shows incumbent workers are made worse-off, but then claims that I have “been rather dismissive of the huge amount of careful econometric work in migration economics”. So the PC cannot be trusted, but other modelling that supports his view can?
  • The rest of Westland’s thoughts are a grab bag of gibberish. He once again pins the blame for infrastructure bottlenecks on poor planning and the supply-side but completely ignores that running an immigration program nearly triple the historical average is the epitome of poor planning and greatly exacerbates these very same problems.
  • Westland’s final reference to MB commenters being “sexist” is a final pointless cheap shot. At least MB allows people to comment relatively freely. Most times that I have left a polite comment at The Guardian it doesn’t even make it through moderation, presumably because it challenges the leftist’s view of the world.

In sum, Mr Westland brought a knife to gunfight and is now trying to cover his tracks with an explosion of highfalutin smoke.

I am simply pointing out the obvious: that Australia won’t cope with a projected 400,000 per year increase in population – equivalent to adding a new Canberra each year for the next 30-plus years. Especially when 87,000 of this growth is projected to occur in Sydney and 97,000 is projected to occur in Melbourne. Our record speaks for itself.

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Comments

  1. I think his name is Westland.

    Why he uses Westlake on twitter is a bit of mystery.

    Possibly a fan of Oscar Wilde and one is a Bunbury name.

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      It has become the gag! By the way, here I was thinking youse on here were all communists but this battle seems to have made you look like the Nazis. Funny stuff.

      • If you really want to be the life of the party these days you need to be Islamo-fascist-commo-libertarian-LGBTI.

        That is the only guaranteed way to attract all the smoldering looks as you saunter past the Thermomix and open – without asking – another tub of French Onion dip.

      • That is the true irony. Most on here are closet socialists. Yet the immigration debate has become so tainted, that anyone that dare challenge it is branded a nazi fascist.

      • reusachtigeMEMBER

        Pfh007 – That’s offensive… it’s LGBTQIA !!! If I had my way it would be LGBTQIAR… can anyone guess what the R is for?

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        That is the only guaranteed way to attract all the smoldering looks as you saunter past the Thermomix and open – without asking – another tub of French Onion dip.

        If you open something as gauche as french-onion dip, nobody’s going to believe the rest of your story. 😉

      • I don’t know why Westlake simply doesn’t try to argue the property portfolio benefits of a new Canberra a year, increasing the attractiveness of reusa’s relations party attendees exponentially?

      • Drsmithy,

        Once I said saunter there was no other choice – the last saunterer was spotted in the wild at a swingers party in Balmain late 70s. French Onion dip is the only option for those that saunter. 😉

      • FiftiesFibroShack

        “If you really want to be the life of the party these days you need to be Islamo-fascist-commo-libertarian-LGBTI.”

        Now I need to know what you have to be to get kicked out of a party these days.

    • haroldusMEMBER

      I think it is high time that Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or to die.

    • FiftiesFibroShack

      His name is Westland. He might be having a bit of fun with LvO getting his name wrong.

    • The Patrician

      Sneering condescension. obfuscation and ad hominems
      Anything but address the issue
      Given the appalling state of public health, education and environmental degradation, what is a prudent migration intake for Australia Mr Westland?
      How does taking skilled migrants from poorer countries benefit those countries

  2. Could almost feel Westlake’s spittle fly across my face. He is on the wrong side of history on this. All these same arguments were made in Ireland, thankfully the housing bust organically turned mass immigration into net emigration…if only we had the political leadership to reform this nutcase immigration policy PRIOR to an economic bust.

    It is no coincidence that immigration is becoming a firebrand issue across the entire western world. It has a lot to do with the same incessant BS being fed to us by the likes of Westlake, and the fact that it is not translating into reality for working and middle class citizens.

    PS he will always be Westlake to me

    • An immigration lead disaster for Melbourne and Sydney is already baked in no matter if they cut back. An economic slow down will be very painful. The neoliberal economic model of benefits for the 1% and screw the rest is starting to implode as it is and never was sustainable.

    • Ireland has prior form on this topic.
      In 1840, Ireland’s population was 8 million and by 1940 it had halved to 4 million. About 2 million emigrated to the ‘new world’ and across the water to England, where they mostly led a life of servitude and crime, while about 1.5 million starved to death in the 1840’s and 1850’s as a result of the famine and its impact on a population that could not feed itself and a farming system that relied on one crop and split farms in proportion to each of the surviving male children, until they the land area was so small that they could no longer support a family.

      Every time Ireland has a massive policy failure, the rest of the world is meant to be a safety valve. I recommend that in future, the all head to Tom Westlake’s place and set up camp.

      • The majority of owned and worked land in Ireland during the 19th century was owned by a wealthy few, with the rest of the population relegated to small holdings on poor land that they either used for subsistence, or as a way to bulk up their meagre incomes from working the wealthy land owners farms. Ireland was a net exporter of foodstuffs all through the famine years. There was food there, but the absentee landlords shipped it to other markets. Ireland starved because of English indifference.

      • That is the sad truth The colonial landlords exported food across the wharves in Dublin to England under armed guard while people starved to death. The end result was the same. Land rules changed. Earlier it was the oldest son that inherited. The other sons either joined the church or the armed forces or worked as labourers while the girls married or went to the church. Rule changes meant that farms were subdivided until they could only feed themselves growing potatoes so that when the blight arrived, they were sunk

        The way foreigners are buying up the prime farmland in Australia, we could be heading in the same direction within 20 years if population continues to expand.

  3. kiwikarynMEMBER

    You shouldnt stoop so low as to argue with The Guardian, its nothing but fake news aka Greens propaganda designed to feed the small narrow minds of its readers/voters. If its not pushing climate change armageddon its the cultural enrichment obtainable from African refugees. Its a stinking pile of dog shit.

    • But karyn, butter wouldn’t melt in a Guardian journalist’s mouth don’tcha know.

      The people and the publication are unimpeachable and morally without peer!

      • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

        Believing you occupy the high moral ground makes it easier to overlook the suffering of people in your own society who you believe to be morally inferior to yourself – hence their incessant calls of racist towards anyone who disagrees with them.

      • DominicMEMBER

        Too right. It’s the moral superiority which makes every thought that comes into a Progressive’s head a ‘right’ thought and helps them sleep well at night. Never has society birthed a more worthless and nauseating bunch.

    • So…you think the Guardian is worse than the rest of the commentariat, do you?
      Just asking.

    • greedypuppyMEMBER

      FFS- the only rag in Australia that doesn’t kiss the Coalitions ass. Thank goodness

      • This. And also the only one that doesn’t celebrate some shitbox in Baulkham Hills costing 1.6 million dollars.

        They are Labor right, not Green. They just appear to be kind of Green to shuffle Green voters over to Labor right. That’s one of their core functions, as commanded to them by the Illuminati.

        None the less I find it the most palatable news source.

  4. I made a comment on MB a couple of days (a week?) or so ago, stressing that the current issues are not a result of immigration per se, but rather poor, poor planning by Australia’s government and institutions who tend to suffer from tunnelvision and do not take into account the broader impact of policy. I think Tom definitely has a point there.

    That said, the situation is now at a point where certainly Sydney and Melbourne are woefully incapable of dealing with the current influx of new arrivals and it seems too late to catch up with infrastructure investments, at least short term. In this regard I agree with your assessment.

    More than anything I think economists get caught in dick jousting too often.

    • Agreed, AnonNL.
      Neo-liberal policies are what have left us desperately treading water, but unchecked immigration is like a lead weight thrown on for good measure.

      • That’s what I said Leith. With proper infrastructure investments it could have worked. They didn’t and now the tap needs to close to allow Australia to recover. Note that some regions do heavily depend on a steady influx of migrants (eg SA to counter the brain drain) so the problem is not the same for the whole of Australia.

        Maybe you need to go out for a walk..

      • I can’t help but feel saying we’re bad at infrastructure implies it hasn’t been planned that way! We were pretty good at it from the 50’s to the early 80’s. Since then the downturn, imo, has been policy.

      • Agreed the tap needs to be shut, or at least turned right down. Meanwhile some effort needs to be made in making the not-Sydney and not-Melbourne parts of the country more attractive to move to. That may mean actively making Sydney and Melbourne less attractive to move into (either from overseas or locally).

      • Doesn’t make much sense running mass immigration into it, does it?

        What, are you saying that, because the dickheads who ran the country decades ago didn’t anticipate that we’d be letting in a new Canberra a year today, the dickheads who live here today don’t have to simply eat buckets of shit lest the likes of Westlake shout “immoral”?

    • Dude, a lot of immigrants come here to work for $9/hour.

      In 2004, we had a trickle of immigrants coming over to do that – but it soon became a tsunami.

      Was wage inflation really out of control in 2008? I think not. Certainly not in Pizza Hut. And Gillard gave 457 visas to Pizza Hut…

      What will that do to an Aussie trying to get a job in Pizza Hut?

    • Better Infrastructure is not a magic pill. The more people working in a CBD the greater demand for housing nearer to the CBD. Building houses on the outskirts of the city and spending a fortune on infrastructure will never change that simple fact.

      I will also point out that once these link freeways and train lines are built the main hubs will become overloaded and the upgrade costs will grow exponentially.

      • Better infrastructure enables decentralisation, i.e. the development of new business and residential hubs. This would allow people to live relatively near a business district travel-time wise. Look at Europe, cities are relatively small scale compared to Australian cities and linked up via very decent infrastructure. Here the options are very limited.

        I think the policy of sticking to the original settlements/landing sites is deeply flawed.

      • Jobs still focused in CBD. That is not decentralisation.

        Good luck getting big business to shift to the outskirts. I can’t see rich executives shifting from their luxury houses to the outskirts of Sydney/Melbourne for the greater good of a bunch of plebes.

      • Have a look at a map of Europe Freddy. Loads cities in each country, with almost equal amount of business hubs/CBDs.

        Outskirts stop being outskirts because of infrastructure investments. Aussies just do not seem to get
        this proactive approach.

      • What you want is big business shifting operations to smaller cities. That is a very different proposition and outcome to improving transport infrastructure in Sydney and Melbourne to facilitate even more people working in those cities.

    • Economists have little idea what generates ‘economic wealth’ and increases national economic ‘competitiveness’. They tend to dribble on about symptoms and their policy prescriptions, especially neoliberal ones, make matters worse until eventually we have a collapse – social and economic.

    • Poor planning is a given, we have to work with that. There are few places that do it anywhere effectively and they are not dealing with mass population growth.

      In any case, real planning it setting up the structure of a society and an environment that we want and that makes sense economically. What we are doing is just coping. We are trying to cope or deal with what is coming down the pipe at us as a result of poor public policy, without trying to control the pipe. That would be real planning.

    • St JacquesMEMBER

      The current system is working perfectly. Successful massive decentralisation would undermine the current economic model that revolves around RE speculation and other forms of rentierism . Unfortunately it is so advanced there’s no nice way out even if there were the will in high places, and there isn’t. Sorry all about my sexist remark and my morning brain spasm, but years I ago I personally saw and experienced how this mass immigration is affecting ordinary people at the bottom end, so it often becomes very personal.However I enjoyed my five seconds of internet infamy. Cheers.

  5. Opened the link, typed “Japan” in the search box and no mention of Japan was found.

    Searched for “Asia” and no mention of Asia either.

    Typical. Why is it ok for Japan to have a shrinking population but not ok for AUS to have less than 200,000 immigrants per year?

    “the spouse of a migrant who is initially unemployed but who later finds a job.”

    Lol! Thus denying an Aussie spouce a job.

  6. Jake GittesMEMBER

    It’s his birthday and he’s throwing everything out of the pen in a major hissy fit. When he turns 12 he’ll have to manage the anger better.

  7. Being able to pull up those comments shows he is a regular macro business reader.

    Pretending to be offended and reverting to name calling shows he has lost the arguement.

    • billygoatMEMBER

      Ha Ha J Bauer
      I thought the same thing. Clearly MB is read by many that don’t subscribe. Being female I had a chuckle at sexist comment – hardly. It’s as though Australian politicians & ‘change agents’ think having their wee girls play afl footy bring equality into the world. The ignorance in Oz is palpable. I hate that Australia has been I eoafed with $457 visa, illegal foreign buyers ect but actually would welcome humanitarian refugee (although Oz is so corrupted you could bribe your way into those.) Absolutely nothing presented in MSN is to be trusted. They’ll have the millenials so gender confused they’ll be changing vagina to penis & vice versa then dating, ‘marrying & procreating in the most absurd expensive circumstances that the millenials will be grasping at the euthanasia needle or pill to put themselves out of their misery. Job done & no need to worry about pensions or homes for the ‘elderly’ in 2057 onwards. I love a sunburnt county…

    • It is an odd strategy to repost comments that one finds offensive (and yes they were offensive) as it simply repeats the offense.

      A bit like those folks who trawl the net looking for a racist/sexist posts and then give the posters MSM airtime they could only dream about.

      And just so he could make a sneering comment that MB cannot afford ‘moderators’ like the Guardian.

      I think that is even more offensive than the original comments (though not by much)

      But all grist for the ‘outrage’ mill in the ‘culture wars’… after that is all this issue is really about it would seem.

      One might think the better solution to global inequality is to encourage Australia to export capital (free of interest charges) to developing countries but I suppose we might actually need to reduce our addiction to capital inflows from developing countries to do that.

      • Your freedom to eat yogurt and drink little bottles of israeli sweet digestive bacterium was hard fought and cost the sanity of millions.

  8. Ronin8317MEMBER

    When the guy wrote “very minimal or zero wage and employment impacts of migration on incumbents”, is he writing about some online game? This is blatantly false and easily verified by walking down the street of your capital cities into a 7-11 or Domino Pizza outlet.

    The part about future tax receipt and earnings makes me wonder where he got his economic degree from. Economics is not accounting, and people don’t ‘pay’ for their own retirement throughout their lifetime, it is ‘paid’ for by the people working right now. As a thought experiment : suppose every person of working age in the world is suddenly teleported by aliens to the another galaxy : what will happen to people left behind? They will have to get back into the work force and start working again.

  9. Aaaaah, remember the old days when nobody used to pay any attention to what you guys said…?

  10. Westlake, wasn’t that the boy band with Brian McFadden? Maybe this guy can be known as the boy band economist.

  11. “He once again pins the blame for infrastructure bottlenecks on poor planning and the supply-side but completely ignores that running an immigration program nearly triple the historical average is the epitome of poor planning and greatly exacerbates these very same problems.”

    This is the weird thing about Westlake’s rant – you are essentially agreeing with each on the key response – let infra catch up with the population.

    • GunnamattaMEMBER

      Thats what i reckon

      Westlake and LVO are running essentially the same line but…….

      LVO is saying we tailor immigration volume to infrastructure and economic narrative (which i completely agree with)

      Westlake is saying we tailor migration volumes to our need to be a great international bloke and adjust our infrastructure provision accordingly (without saying diddly squat on economic narrative)

  12. “We are inside the production possibilities frontier for infrastructure provision as a result of bad policy, and it is immoral to have people who weren’t responsible for that inefficiency (potential migrants) pay the cost for these avoidable deadweight losses rather than the people who were responsible (incumbent Australians). ”

    Immoral? Is he suggesting that immigration is immoral, because innocent migrants will have to pay the consequences of our incompetent governments? He may have a point.

    • kiwikarynMEMBER

      Yet again, someone suggesting that non-citizens not even resident in a country should be given greater consideration than the citizens present in a country. Has the world gone completely mad?

      • kiwikaren – that is fucking exactly what he is saying with that statement. Australian parliamentarians, elected as representatives by their constituents, ought to have, as their policy-making focus, people who didn’t vote for them, aren’t here at all but might move here one day

      • Actually.. I guess they already govern for foreign companies. Why not foreign people, too?

      • Perhaps “incumbent Australians” should be made to pay a levy, to be gifted to new migrant arrivals as compensation for the sorry state of our infrastructure?

      • That’s exactly what’s happening, look at Europe and what is happening there, same thing is happening here now. Any citizen that speaks out gets crushed by the oppressive left.

  13. demografixMEMBER

    4.6 million boomers born here and now there are 5.8 million due to immigration of which 80% will require a pension with the majority on a full pension.

  14. It’s sexist to call someone cute now? I need a PC Robotic upgrade, I’m still tied to my animal instincts 🙁

    • Worth noting that Westlake employs hate speech with the blatantly misogynistic term ‘hysterical’ merely two paragraphs up from where he accuses MB of allowing ‘sexist’ comments. I’m literally shaking.

      • FiftiesFibroShack

        Hysterical = misogynistic? lol. The fact you think it’s a term that only applies to women just makes this more amusing. And let’s be honest, Westland could’ve easily gone through the MB archives and found far worse comments that what he screencapped.

      • FiftiesFibroShack – it has those connotations.

        … I wonder whether @M’s shaking is something to do with the traditional treatment used for hysteria…. :O

  15. In rapidly churning out an adrenaline driven counter it seems he’s got the speed wobbles and meandering all over the place.

    “I don’t have time to address these facts, so let us just throw a bit of truth by assertion into the mix to throw them if my scent. My ego can’t take much more of this, you know.”

  16. HadronCollision

    Reading his riposte (TL;DR, by the way, a common arguing tactic), I thought, “hmmmm this actually makes sense” as he is appealing to the reader’s sense of his authority by using a lotttt of references to authoritative sounding bodies and people.

    And then, I read LVOs riposte de la riposte and it blithely and efficiently provides the overarching framework in which to anchor one’s view of the debate.

    Well done LVO

  17. In the interests of not being sexist I’d be tempted to described Tom as a prostiute as well….

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      This is what annoys me. I used to regularly talk about our Tony selling his arse on the street. Do I get a mention in the Guardian? Oh no, that’s okay talk.

      I’ve regularly called for violent uprisings, tumbrils, heads on pikes and politicians hanging from street lamps. I wave a noose at Andrew Fucking Robb at least once a week *waves noose at Andrew Robb*. Do I get a mention? Nooooooo…

      The Guardian has sucky double standards.

      • Mining BoganMEMBER

        That would be discrimination. They’re not allowed to do that.

        *runs off to draft a stern and cutting letter*

  18. TailorTrashMEMBER

    So the Indian student /immigrant working at the local Caltex on $10 per hour is better off than if he was back in Calcutta
    ……but the local born Australian Indian kid that can’t get that job is worse off …………….who has Australia more responsibility towards ?
    ……….perhaps Mr Westlake should give up his job to a deserving Indian………Its the least he could do .

    • Yep. That is my biggest problem.

      And one ignored by the likes of Kipron747, drSmithy, HadronCollision. Along with The Guardian.

      China Bob and Janet NZ actually cheered it (wage theft) on.

      I was ok with mass immigration as long as the unemployment rate steadily came down from 2001 till 2008 – then Lehman Brothers collapsed and perversely, the ALP gave 457 visas to Pizza Hut!

      Mass immigration should have stopped in 2009.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        And one ignored by the likes of Kipron747, drSmithy, HadronCollision.

        Er, what am I ignoring ?

      • HadronCollision

        What drugs are you on?

        I’m on the same side as MB (and you, I assume).

        Seeking a correction to your egregious misrepresentation of my position on immigration.

        Thanks in advance.

        PS, made my shower high flow a few months ago. Epic.

    • Interestingly payscale.com gives the average hourly rate for someone with 1-4 years work experience in Calcutta as 610 Indian rupees, equivalent to about $12AUD, so if true, someone from Calcutta is often not better off in Australia unless their living expenses in Sydney or Melbourne are lower than they are in Calcutta.

      It might be time to for 7Eleven franchisees to build up their networks in Nigeria.

      • TailorTrashMEMBER

        Fair point ……….not been to Calcutta since the 70s …..perhaps the chaps at the servos might be on a tad less though ……

      • For the time being, probably.
        But I don’t think it’s like the ’70s through ’90s, when I used to work with factory hands from Eastern Europe who often had advanced degrees in Engineering or mathematics because pushing a broom in Australia paid more than teaching a university class in Poland. It looks like a software engineer in Calcutta actually can earn a smidgen more than an exploited broom pusher in Australia – and for the time being, living costs are a lot less and wages are rising a lot faster in India compared to Australia, so overnight riches are progressively less obtainable by moving from Calcutta to Australia.

        No doubt for many years to come, you’ll be a lot better off if you get the same level job in Australia that you had in India, but it no longer seems as assured that you’ll still be better off if you accept a job several rungs down, as it might have been a few years ago.

  19. FiftiesFibroShack

    This (surprisingly) ended up being an interesting back and forth. Westland makes some arguments I hadn’t considered before, although, Australia’s recent history with refugees would suggest the moral argument for immigration isn’t going to be a winner.

      • Amen. ‘Ve been preaching this for a long time (except I would be tripling & cutting by 2/3, respectively)

      • To what end? Would that just make us feel better or would it actually work to solve any problem?

        There are tens of millions of displaced people around the world. whether Australia resettles 15K or 45K pa makes absolutely no measurable step towards addressing the real problem and in all likelihood, would encourage others to follow their compatriots and move away from societies that are in turmoil as a result of the impact of overpopulation, in the hope of being resettled.

        Ultimately, Australia’s population must stabilise. The more rapidly it can achieve that goal, the more resilient to exogenous events and environmentally sustainable it will become. Weakening Australia’s economy by drawing in ever more people of whatever category, only makes it harder for Australia to really assist people where they are.

        For the cost of resettling an individual in Australia, many thousands of individuals could be helped where they live. If there is a finite amount of funds to throw at the problem of displaced people, the logical way to spend that money is not to ship them all to Australia, which is like painting the chairs on the Titanic Green, but providing humanitarian aid where the live.

  20. I skimmed through Westgates tripe yesterday and from the comments I read Watergate was copping an absolute hammering as he should.

  21. This is what you fucking get, UE, for articulating an argument against immigration that has a good aspect and a bad aspect.

    The good aspect of your argument that it is evidence based and factually correct.

    The bad aspect is that people who are against immigration for reasons that differ to yours (ie racism) can now point to your words as justifying their position. This is dangerous to the likes of Tom Westland and his moral support of eliminating dead weight loss across the world

  22. But .. but … econometric models say it’ll all be good!

    What a charlatan. Why do the economics establishment continually sideline common sense in favour of models whose veracity few can challenge. Garbage in, garbage out.

  23. Maybe at last the debate we need as a country has started, even if Westlife seems to have strayed from the issue a bit.

  24. Know IdeaMEMBER

    He mentioned Nazis, he did, I saw it.

    Thank you Mr Goodwin. Game, set and match.

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      A proper leftie will jump in here and tell you it’s Godwin in quite a superior manner. One O.

      Oh, wait…

  25. Westland argues that Australia’s domestic policy needs to consider the living standards of foreigners. Not sure I agree that is what domestic policy is for, that is why we have a foreign aid budget and why we sign up to international treaties that encourage countries to adopt good economics and favourable human rights policies etc. But even if you accept his dubious contention, he considers that immigrants improve their own living standards by moving to Australia, but he ignores the living standards of people left behind after the migrants depart their home country – and there are far, far more of those people suffering in war zones, or in economically disfunctional regimes.

    Australia’s migrant intake is predominantly skilled and/or wealthy individuals, which hollows out the countries they leave behind, while Australia takes their skills and capital. By his own argument, population growth is good, so Australia accepting population from elsewhere is bad for those countries, and doubly so because they are the wealthy and skilled.

    As far as I can see, not only is Westland’s argument intellectually weak, it is morally bankrupt.

    • As I said in other thread, this guy just another deluded Global Socialist with little respect for the concept of Representative Democracy. Just open up the borders and believe in the socialist utopia of unlimited welfare, global peace, and unicorns.

      Be damned with the pesky voters. We do not care what they think.

    • “Westland argues that Australia’s domestic policy needs to consider the living standards of foreigners.”

      Wasteland has kicked a number of own goals but his admission that he doesn’t really care about incumbent residents and that Australia’s immigration program should serve foreign nationals is probably the most interesting revelation. I suppose we can thank Westlame for his honesty. It really confirms what we’ve been saying for a long time: those promoting high immigration aren’t concerned about the wellbeing of incumbent Australians.

  26. I can imagine a conversation in the Guardian breakroom
    “yo, I gotta write about climate change”
    “yeah dude just let the facts speak for themselves, scientists do a lot of research on this”
    “fark, I gotta do a story on immigration”
    “Well the trick here is to call everyone racist, stupid or immoral. Twist those facts!”
    “hang on, don’t we hate when people do that with climate change?”
    “oh, you joker. you’re fired, fuck off.”

  27. Hi all – it looks like this guy has been having a go at Leith for at least a year !

    https://thomaswestland.wordpress.com/2016/10/03/tear-down-those-walls/

    And it would appear that he is communist who believes that a nations wealth must be shared amongst the entire global population – and is IMMORAL to do otherwise as all the hard work and dedication and those who have come before us to build the institutions, infrastructure, civil society, productive land, etc are all dead – hence, their offspring have no right to the result, and there is no such thing as “nation building” – only equitable distribution of the worlds resources based on ad hoc “feels”.

    It is a matter of moral preference whether you think that Australia’s stocks of clean air and clean water (and its stock of high-quality infrastructure, for that matter, much of it built and paid for by people who are now dead)—like our stocks of iron ore and coking coal—are the property of existing citizens by right or whether you think that the unequal division of resources among the peoples of the world is largely arbitrary and often the result of historical patterns of state violence and conquest. If you believe the latter, as I do, then barring immigrants from enjoying these stocks of natural and infrastructural wealth, even at the cost of their partial degradation, is hard to justify morally.

    Extraordinary coming from a guy whose entire facebook feed- is literally shots with Tom in his best Tux. A real proletariat.

    I think we have found a whole new definition of “only the most wealthy and privileged can afford the luxury of indulging in the ideologies of universal poverty as an desirable outcome.”

    Anyway worth a read – but Tom – an economics graduate has this to say about how wealth is generated and distributed – his summary economics and international trade…..mind blown.

    There is an economy, Utopia*, with ten people in it. Each of these ten citizens earns $100,000 a year, every year. Utopian GDP is therefore $1 million (10 x $100,000); per capita GDP is, unsurprisingly, $100,000 ($1 million divided between 10 citizens). A few kilometres across the sea, on the island of Dystopia, is a potential immigrant to Utopia. In Dystopia, she earns more or less nothing. She has few skills, so when she migrates to Utopia, she gets a menial job and earns only $50,000—half of what the other Utopians earn. However, because of positive externalities—larger market size, maybe, leading to scale economies in production, or the fact that the migrant is visited by her family and therefore tourism exports go up—let’s say that native Utopians each now earn $101,000 a year each. Total GDP in the economy increases to $1.06 million, due to the increase in native workers’ wages and the addition of the immigrant’s wages. Per capita GDP, however, declines: dividing $1.06 million between 11 citizens gives us a per capita GDP of $96,364. And yet every single member of the economy, native and migrant, is better off than they were prior to the increase in immigration.

    Hey Tom – if there is an increase the net trade balance from migrants families coming to Australia to “visit” then great, or economies of scale, rolf, then this would be great – except you know, Dystopians earn nothing and can’t come here, and certainly don’t have the $50k to splash around – otherwise economic migrants wouldn’t come here.

    This guy is a first year graduate with a Batchelor of Arts pontificating about how the whole world should share its resources and that’s the real reason why we should have mass migration – its in fucking writing.

    Guy is a moron.

    • I knew it. Global Socialist with a deluded utopian view. Incapable of the real life example where Dystopian brings his aging parents who becomes a welfare drag, 100k (instead of 10) dystopians dragging down wages and straining housing/infrastructure/schools/hospitals. Just open up the borders it is win/win for everyone except those who live in reality.

    • AlbyManglesMEMBER

      good god George you know I cannot unread that, jebus, the whole thing is full of hilarious assumptions

      If a Sudanese refugee comes to Australia and gets a minimum wage job in a supermarket (and we assume that job didn’t exist before)……. yes lets just assume that shall we lol

    • “… yet every single member of the economy, native and migrant, is better off than they were prior to the increase in immigration.”

      American economist George Borjas played a similar game and came out with some interesting results in his recent book on immigration, “We Wanted Workers”.

      Using World Bank data, Borjas constructed a scenario of the world divided into an industrialised North and a poor South. Hypothetical removal of immigration restrictions would lead to a 60 percent increase of world GDP by $40 trillion (U.S.) per annum. However, as Borjas notes, two caveats of such a scenario are ignored by the open-borders brigade. One is that billions of people would need to migrate to the North to make this happen. Second is that income of capitalists worldwide would increase by nearly 60 percent, while the wages of pre-existing Northern workers would suffer markedly. The entire balance of the developed world would be turned upside down. The redistributive consequences of open borders would indeed be massive, with incumbent workers being the clear losers.

      Funny how neo-communists like Wastelife are allying themselves with big business capitalists these days in pursuit of open borders.

    • His repeated use of the word ‘immoral’ was a huge red flag. It’s a common tactic of the extreme-Left: paint people who disagree with you as immoral. Once you have asserted your moral superiority everything, however reprehensible, is acceptable (for the greater good). We saw this recently at the G20 in Hamburg where the ‘black block’ wreaked havoc. But of course the real consequences of this sort of ‘morality’ can be seen in authoritarian regimes where the end justifies the mean. I’m thinking Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Chavez etc.

      The really frightening thing is that people like him want to destroy our communities by flooding them with refugees and demanding unsustainable benefits (like Greece) because they think ‘pure socialism’ will arise out of the ashes. They really are that deluded. And if you ask them about the failures in places like Greece or Venezuela they answer that it wasn’t proper socialism or it was the capitalists who sabotaged socialism (like when the socialist nirvana in Venezuela collapsed because capitalists stopped paying $150 a barrel for their oil).

      This is what we get for the billions of public investment in universities – dangerous, morally unbalanced loons.

      And of course they are welcome at the Guardian.

  28. I wonder if he happened to pop in to the Lindt cafe on a certain fateful day if he would still be banging the drum for open borders

  29. sbinderMEMBER

    I imagine the “Apocalypse of Thomas” is rather non-deserving of the name. Although the mentions he gets here will just feed the ego.

  30. All I can say is it’s fantastic that these guys are giving Macrobusiness some exposure, so the common man can look at some stats, do some thinking and pay attention to what’s going on around them.

    But the PC crowd is OBSESSED with immigration being high, it’s like they want to be utterly sorrounded by foriegners so they can get a warm fuzzy feeling of “I did that” when they go out.

    Of course the majority live in areas where the foreigners can’t actually afford to live. Man i’d like to send some of these guys into the real suburbs to see what’s become of Melbourne, they’ve got NO idea.

  31. Open the borders. Flood the country with immigrants, because our ancestors built something with state violence that we don’t deserve. Enjoy.

    My first wife is crazier than a shithouse rat. So’s the second, come to think of it. They both appear to be paragons of stability, sanity and calm reason compared to Tom Wasteland and his lunatic propositions.

  32. Leith, as a long term Graun reader (plus 25 years) please don’t blame the Guardian as it has all sorts of contributors including bad ones like westlake or whatever he is called. I am surprised you get moderated as I leave comments on Guardian articles slamming either AGW deniers or New Atheists (and slamming New Atheists really is verbotten in Aust and the UK).

    Westlake’s piece really was as a dribble piece wasn’t it! You obviously disrupted his world view hence the cod intellectual responses he conjured outta thin air.

    This is good because it shows poking the ponzi is moving into the mainstream and I predict the attacks will intensify on you as you are rapidly emerging as the go to boy on this topic. However, I don’t think ignoring tbe “racist ” barbs will work, false as they are and I think they can still be used to shut down debate on the ponzi. To that end its time to move on from referring to the Bolt report and lets see you on Q&A ( yes, a hopeless anti liberal program) and at the Labor party conference ( if they are going to be the next Federal gov then its no good getting nods from Bolt et al).

  33. This Tom Westmoreland guy a smug, brainwashed useful idiot.

    Probably thinks the government is his friend and the elite’s goal of global control and enslavement of us little people (including by breaking down borders, as he cheers on) is a “conspiracy theory”. Newsflash when every second person believes something, it’s not in the realm of tin-foil hat kooks. How can anyone ignore what’s happened to Europe in a such a short period of time? Weaponized migration…

    The wheels are in motion, mass surveillance, coming ban on cash, soon we’ll be microchipped for our UBIs and cut off if we don’t obey authority. 60% reduction in sperm count in western countries? Oh nothing to see here *chortle* – just need to eat some more greens and get on the treadmill. It’s not like we’re being poisoned through the air we breathe and water we drink…

    The sheep don’t realise till it’s slaughter time… sad really.

  34. Pester is concerned that the majority of private school teachers and uni lecturers may be expats or recent immigrants making education some kind of foreign national subsidiary arrangement. That would be a lose / lose for Australia. Australians funding the roadblocks we put in front of our own kids job prospects in the education sector. Got to love it, Aussies paying for a set up,that ends with their kids dying of exposure as homeless persons. Pester is a voter drifting right away from mainstream political parties after voting once for Liberal after the shocking coal lease corruption with Labor.

  35. Leith I think your position is very worthy of discussion but why would you go on bolt report? You do realise that likely your rational view (of that our infrastructure spend ie gov exp is not keeping in line with immigration) is going to be used by bolt or his associates for the irrational view (immigrants are stealing our jobs and ruining our way of life)?

  36. It is, at the nub, this point that these people do not grasp in respect of political economy:
    “… the argument that Australia’s immigration policy (and indeed policy more generally) should serve the interests of incumbent residents first and foremost.”

    I live in London currently and voted for Brexit, I also move in circles where people overwhelmingly consider themselves “global citizens” (vomit at that expression). So I get challenged a lot about my choice of vote, sometimes with a lot of heat. As soon as you point out the reality of the world being arranged as sovereign governments to these people their challenge to the logic of voting Brexit completely folds. It is, at its most basic, identity politics and corrupts all the analysis these people do.

    Please note, I’m not necessarily advancing an argument for Brexit here, just that I understand some of the motivations behind it.