Email of the day (1)
Comment of the Day

October 24 2011

Commentary by David Fuller

Email of the day (1)

On immigrant populations:
"David - I agree with your subscriber's comments linking demographics and immigration. However, the key thing is that most Western countries have been poor in recent years in their selection of immigrants (from a skill set point of view). It is not the Burqa of the Queen of Qatar that people mind so much as that of the uneducated lady living off government welfare in social housing in London. Because the resentment, I think, is not against the Burqa as a garment but as a symbol of "Freeloading". It seems to me that The US and the UK finally understand this and so future immigration policy is likely to be much smarter in immigrant selection.

"And in terms of those already here, there are grounds for optimism when you look at the second generation. From university enrolment to professional qualifications (doctors, lawyers, accountants), when you look at second generation US Hispanics and second generation Muslim Brits, there is a clear trend of a vastly improving second generation. And here's the rub: Open societies such as Britain and the US which bring in and integrate immigrants will over time vastly outperform closed societies such as Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain...........Brazil, Russia, India, China!!!!

"The same Eco-system that draws in immigrants also fosters innovation, entrepreneurship and wealth-creation. The Vikram Pandits, the Mohamed El-Erians will always gravitate towards open societies. Nearly 20 per cent of Cupertino, California hails from the Indian Sub-continent.

"This Openness, in my opinion, is the strongest reason for staying optimistic about the US and the UK in the long term. And lastly, hail the US constitution. "political gridlock" in Washington is forcing compromise between Right and Left. The unfettered power of the Left in Greece has pushed the country in a debt death-spiral. The unfettered power of the Right-wing Berlusconi has rendered Italy lame and stagnant. The US political system, with its checks and balances, forces through centrist policies. And for that reason, it remains the best political system on the planet today - despite all the political wrangling. Another reason to be very optimistic about the US long term.

David Fuller's view Thank you for this detailed email which makes some very good points. Immigration is often a contentious subject for understandable reasons some of which you mention. Countries such as the USA, Canada and Australia have generally been more accepting of immigrants because other than their now very small native-American, first-nation and Aboriginal populations, respectively, practically all of their citizens have an immigrant background.

The UK's reputation for tolerance can be attributed to the Commonwealth of Nations, many of which were former colonies or dependencies. It is perhaps too soon to say how successful the European Union will be with its commendable open border policies, although economic considerations should be an important factor in countries with shrinking populations.

With the global population supposedly about to reach 7 billion this month, and rising, immigration is likely to become an even more contentious subject in future. Some countries have policies favouring mainly economic immigrants, which is understandable. The UK has erred on the side of humanitarian tolerance, in my view, which is morally admirable until it very quickly reaches the point of being economically unsustainable. Nevertheless, hardly a day goes by without me being reminded of the cultural benefits and tolerance within a pluralistic city such as London.

I like your concluding point about "political gridlock" and the US Constitution "forcing compromise between Right and Left." However, that revered document cannot guarantee inspired bipartisan leadership, which seem to have been missing and would hasten the eventual recovery which we both expect.

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