Bloomberg: Open the Immigration Floodgates

May 3, 2011

 In case you missed NBC’s “Meet The Press” with David Gregory on Sunday morning, here’s a link:  It was one of those programs that got me fired up.  New York mayor Michael Bloomberg was one of the panel guests, along with David Axelrod and Virginia governor Bob McDonnell.

It was Bloomberg’s soliloquy about how to fix the economy in general and Detroit’s economy in particular that raised my hackles, soon followed by Gregory’s use of the  The Economist magazine’s feature article titled “What’s Wrong with America’s Economy?” to prompt a discussion about the state of the U.S. economy.

The following is the comment I posted on the “Meet the Press” website:

As a remedy for Detroit’s economic woes, Bloomberg suggests filling it with immigrants.  No doubt, that would reverse the decline in Detroit’s population.  But the people who already live in Detroit (including many immigrants) are experiencing the highest unemployment in the country.  What exactly would Mr. Bloomberg have all these new immigrants do for a living?  How would loading up Detroit with more labor capacity fix the problem that has driven people out of the city in the first place – the lack of sufficient work to employ them? 

Mr. Bloomberg also repeated a frequently made and patently false statement when he said that “this country was built by immigrants.”  While it’s true that the U.S., like every other nation on earth (with the possible exception of Iraq, where the garden of Eden is believed to have been located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers) is populated by the descendants of immigrants, the vast majority of labor that went into the building of everything you see in the U.S. was provided by native-born Americans.  Sure, immigrants contributed, but to say that the U.S. was built by immigrants is ridiculous. 

David Gregory then went on to prompt a discussion of the economy with the cover of “The Economist” magazine, which asks the question, “What’s Wrong With America’s Economy?”  How ironic.  What’s wrong with America’s economy is that its economic policy is guided by the field of economics which, thanks to its refusal to ever again consider the full ramifications of the biggest factor at work eroding our economy today – population growth – its theories, most notably those regarding trade, are fatally flawed. 

If economists ever get over the beat-down their field took in response to the seeming failure of Malthus’ theory about overpopulation and food shortages, and once again consider the full implications of unending population growth – not just strains on resources and stress on the environment – but other implications as well, they might discover the relationship between population density and per capita consumption.  They might come to understand how extreme population densities erode per capita consumption, driving up unemployment and making overpopulated nations utterly dependent on manufacturing for export in order to gainfully employ their bloated labor forces.  And they might come to understand that this is the driving force behind the trade imbalances that nearly collapsed the global economy. 

But, no, economists continue to foolishly rely upon population growth as an engine for macroeconomic growth and as a way to stoke sales and corporate profits, never giving a thought to the relationship between per capita consumption and employment.  Until economists emerge from the fetal position they adopted in response to cries of “Malthusians!” and open their eyes to the full ramifications of population growth, America’s economy and, indeed, the global economy as a whole will continue to deteriorate. 

Pete Murphy

Author, “Five Short Blasts”

Billionaires Meet to Curb Overpopulation?

May 28, 2009

This has been all over the blogoshpere in the last few days.  This London Times article is the only one I’ve been able to find that reported on the story. 

SOME of America’s leading billionaires have met secretly to consider how their wealth could be used to slow the growth of the world’s population and speed up improvements in health and education.

The philanthropists who attended a summit convened on the initiative of Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, discussed joining forces to overcome political and religious obstacles to change.

Described as the Good Club by one insider it included David Rockefeller Jr, the patriarch of America’s wealthiest dynasty, Warren Buffett and George Soros, the financiers, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and the media moguls Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey.

They gathered at the home of Sir Paul Nurse, a British Nobel prize biochemist and president of the private Rockefeller University, in Manhattan on May 5. The informal afternoon session was so discreet that some of the billionaires’ aides were told they were at “security briefings”.

Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, said the summit was unprecedented. “We only learnt about it afterwards, by accident. Normally these people are happy to talk good causes, but this is different – maybe because they don’t want to be seen as a global cabal,” he said.

Some details were emerging this weekend, however. The billionaires were each given 15 minutes to present their favourite cause. Over dinner they discussed how they might settle on an “umbrella cause” that could harness their interests.

The issues debated included reforming the supervision of overseas aid spending to setting up rural schools and water systems in developing countries. Taking their cue from Gates they agreed that overpopulation was a priority.

Is it really possible that the world’s biggest benefactors of overpopulation, who rely upon further population growth to expand their empires and fortunes, could actually become conscious of the dangers of further growth?  This whole story seems rather implausible, but not impossible.  We can only hope, right?  These are some people with serious influence in power circles.  If the world’s richest elite grow concerned about overpopulation, can meaningful action be far behind?