The recent victory of liberal leaders Emmanuel Macron in France and Mark Rutte in Denmark, over their extreme right wing opponents, Marine le Pen, in case of France and Geert Wilders for Denmark, has the whole liberal world heaving a collective sigh. What these victories also have done is to bring a balance to a world that seemed intent on fragmentation and exclusion. Liberals are taking heart in the fact that these two election results are an indication that people in Europe have indicated their choice for more inclusive policies than exclusive ones, providing a counter balance to the recent American election results.
The last few months –months following the Brexit results and the election of Donald Trump, and his famous lines ‘To put America first’, had led to a spate of measures by countries to place restrictions on new immigrants entering their country. In response to rising popular demand from their countrymen, policy makers scrambled to make rules that either banned certain categories from entering the country all together or to place such severe and unsurmountable screening criteria, that hopeful immigrants gave up voluntarily. Whether it is the scrapping of the 457 skilled workers visa class by Australia, or the restrictions placed on H1B workers by USA, the justification for the exclusionary policies was always the same – The need for protecting local resources and local jobs for local people. Advocates of a more closed door policy on immigration argue that, when jobs and resources are limited, the local people should be given the first right or choice to access these jobs. They argue that when immigrants enter the country, they take away the jobs that could have gone to local people, and that immigrants very often end up lowering the average wages in the industry by being willing to work for lesser pay than the locals. The argument is based primarily on the classical economic tenets that,
1. Human beings work from a principle of self-advocacy and seek to maximize their own return
2. Needs are unlimited, while resources are limited
3. When human beings bring their own selfishness to a free market economy, then trade happens at the best possible price for all. Free market economy sets the efficient price without intervention from the government
However, a relatively new branch of economics, known as new age economics, is slowly emerging that sees human beings as not independent entities seeking selfishly to maximize their own returns in competition with others, but essentially as highly interdependent beings, dependent not just on each other, but also on nature and the environment for their well-being. The new age economics model disagrees with the classical competitive market economic premise that man is essentially selfish in nature and seeks to maximize his own return in direct competition with others. New age economics operates from the principle that at higher order consciousness, man is highly altruistic, and his sense of well-being is maximized when he is sharing his resources rather than hoarding them for himself, and the field of neuroscience seems to back up that claim. Neuro science research has shown, that people are happiest when helping each other and sharing their wealth, rather than when they are competitive and making more money
New age economists emerged from a gap between the assumptions of the classical economics model, and the true nature of human beings. In 1966, economist E.F Schumacher, wrote a small essay entitled ‘Buddhist economics’ which pioneered the concept of new age economics. The essay argued that nations and people will be better off if they sought to minimize sufferings of others rather than maximize their own gain. In her new book – “Buddhist Economics – An enlightened approach to a dismal science”, UC Berkeley economics professor, Clair Brown, makes the case for integrating a Buddhist value system into the modern field of economics. She argues that by recognizing our interdependence on each other and on nature, and by focusing on relieving suffering, the economy would work in the interest of more people
Proponents of classical economics make a case for restrictive immigration policies by arguing that the economic well-being of the country is maximized when the country follows a skilled based approach to immigration than an altruistic approach. Under the skills based approach, only highly skilled individuals would be let into the country. New age economics argues that placing emphasis on skilled labor, and segregating skilled and unskilled labor, makes the process more mechanical, by thinking of immigrants as workers or labor rather than has human beings and undermines the principle of humanity. Although there may be a short term economic cost to the host country in case of an immigrant, the economic benefit to both the immigrant and the host country are far beyond the costs involved. An immigrant earns far more, in some cases even so much as ten times more what he would have earned in his own country. This increase in wealth, improves his quality of life, and some of the benefit is transferred to his country of origin. But what is more fascinating to observe is the benefit that accrues to his host country, immigrants are often hard working people, who are committed to succeeding, they often create additional wealth, most of which is spent in the host country. The immigrant goes on to settle in the host country, have children and pay for their education. All of these contribute to improving the wealth of not just the immigrant, but also of the host country as well as the country of origin, thus making immigration a non-zero sum game that benefits all involved in the long run.
As poet John Donne, famously stated – ‘No man is an island’ and so is no nation, we all benefit from helping each other and uplifting each other. Global Tree is committed to advocating a strong case for open immigration policies.