Oz Update

July 30, 2010

It turns out that Australia’s new prime minister is making some concessions to political reality, and has abandoned the “Big Australia” favored by her predecessors in office. Of course, Bloomberg News spins this policy shift as a tale of impending recession and economic retrenchment , replete with insinuations of nativist bigotry by the Australian populace. Bolstering the writer’s own pre-existing assumptions with supporting quotes by the last Labor politician to lead his party to defeat-perhaps because he thinks the rabble he wanted to rule are ignorant, xenophobic bigots-the Bloomberg analysis fails to ask some important questions. 

For one, why must there be a shortage of workers? For several decades the Australian agricultural industry was deprived access to a supply of guest workers, the inaptly named visa-grantees big agro repeatedly assures us are absolutely essential to robust economic growth and a thriving farming community. Yet, agriculture not only boomed in in Australia, it adapted so well to those immigration restrictions that new innovations took hold which made those thousands of guest workers absolutely unnecessary, a lesson the American agricultural industry has yet to learn

Secondly, if Australia’s vibrant economy is due solely to its liberal immigration policies, shouldn’t that also hold true for the United States? In fact, we have an even lower bar to admission, with virtually none of the skills-based thresholds that Australia imposes upon would-be immigrants. Therefore, our economy should outshine even that of Australia, yet here we stand with a ten percent unemployment rate. Correlation is not necessarily causation, although it masks some of the deficiencies in the open-borders arguments, which escape deeper analysis.

Finally, if Australians are so congenitally racist, why didn’t they maintain the “draconian” immigration policies that the open-borders enthusiasts have largely eviscerated since the 1950s? Perhaps it was not a choice, or perhaps Australians are rethinking their priorities as they groan under the weight of densely-populated cities-something that even Bloomberg is forced to address towards the end of that article.

Reality always intrudes, even upon the most fervent open-borders fantasists.

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