The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Out Of Control Anglo Immigration

It takes some deep work to make me anti-immigration. I figure people should have the ability to change countries: my mother did and so did all my ancestors, often multiple times.

But Canada’s managed it, and if I lived in Australia or Britain I’d feel the same way.

Let’s start with Canada

Yowsa! Something happened there, didn’t it?

A lot of people died during Covid. A lot of people were disabled due to Covid. That put upward pressure on wages and in a neoliberal economy, we can’t have that.

So Canada’s government decided to let in a flood of immigrants.

Result? Well, lower wages than otherwise, and…

Yeeha! One of Canada’s dirty secrets is that we have more homeless people per capita than California, with a lot worse climate.

And it isn’t just immigration:

Temporary workers, because we sure wouldn’t want to use Canadians or train them.

And hey, let’s pile on the pain with even more international students, who compete for housing too!

This is, obviously, deliberate policy. It’s bad for people who are already here, and immigrants are less thrilled than you might think, leading to record numbers of reverse immigration (immigrants going back home after finding out Canada isn’t the promised land.)

Australia’s the same:

Same student issues:

And yeah, same effect on the housing market, though it’s in a better place than Canada, which has probably the world’s worst housing bubble.

So then, Britain:

And, though it hasn’t had the same effect on housing in the US:

The difference in the US, which probably leaps out, is that it’s just a trend not a spike. it isn’t a clear deliberate policy choice, despite the squeals of Republicans. But it contributes to some of the same problems:

According to a Jan. 25 report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, roughly 653,000 people reported experiencing homelessness in January of 2023, up roughly 12% from the same time a year prior and 48% from 2015. That marks the largest single-year increase in the country’s unhoused population on record, Harvard researchers said…

…That alarming jump in people struggling to keep a roof over their head came amid blistering inflation in 2021 and 2022 and as surging rental prices across the U.S. outpaced worker wage gains.

Now there’s nothing wrong with immigrants, per se and no one who isn’t a native has any leg to stand on when screaming about immigrants to North America, Australia or New Zealand as intrinsically bad.

But when you have a homeless crisis and very tight and expensive rental and housing markets, obviously bringing in lots of new people is going to hurt the people who are already there who aren’t real-estate speculators and so on, and it’s obviously going to hit the poor, the working class and the middle class where it hurts, both on rent, housing prices and wages.

That means you’re going to increase racism, because people who can’t get an affordable place (and I can tell you that in Toronto, say, every low-end place has multiple applicants, and what is low end costs hundreds of dollars more than it did a few years ago) start blaming immigrants instead of hating their own ruling class, which is where the real blame belongs.

If you want racism, increase immigration without increasing housing. And that’s what Canada, the UK and Australia are doing.

And, of course, massive immigration’s primary purpose is to hold down wages, and you can’t expect people to be happy about making less than they would have otherwise. People know, because they see how many people apply for jobs they apply for,  they hear stories from their friends, and when immigrants are from visible groups, they can see it and hear it in the accents.

When all boats are rising, only true bigots mind immigration. But when people are struggling to find good jobs and a place to live, spiking immigration is an evil act.

Politically, its a hard place. In Canada, for example, immigration is up under the Liberal party. The Conservatives talk about cutting it back but look at that UK chart: that’s under a Conservative government. Will Canada be any different?

This is a ruling class issue: they aren’t hurt by a rising housing market and the more potential workers there are, the lower wages they have to pay. Older folks who own houses win, as housing prices go up. Immigration is good for elites and people who made it into asset markets. It’s good for insiders, that is, and bad for anyone out in the cold.

Since the people with power are insulated from the pain their decisions cause, my guess is that these policies will continue until there’s enough pain inflicted on elites to change their calculus.

A few riots where the mansions are might help with that, but Brits, Australians and Canadians aren’t the type.


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  1. anon

    I’ve been against mass migration for years. I’m not a racist or a Republican. I voted for Bernie in both elections. However, I don’t blame Americans who vote Republican because immigration is their number one issue. It’s easier for me to put immigration lower on my list of priorities because I don’t live in a border town or sanctuary city. I can see how that can be a complete nightmare for the citizens of those cities and how their safety and way of life are compromised on top of the obvious that uneducated and poor immigrants lower wages for the working class, cause housing problems, and strain resources.

    I have also seen how immigration has affected communities around me in the last two decades and it has not been good. Most of them aren’t well educated and bring with them beliefs and behaviors that aren’t desirable to the majority of Americans.

    It’s been easy for NIMBY (not in my backyard) liberals to criticize southerners for the insane level of migration from South America. Now that migrants are being sent to their cities in the North, they are looking for ways to stop the flow. Democrats will ultimately lose on this issue if they continue to support lax immigration policies. Even minorities and 2nd generation children of immigrants are now saying no to having hundreds of thousands more undocumented, mostly male, and potentially dangerous people in their communities.

    There are wealthy countries that have strict immigration policies for good reasons. They have limited resources and need to take care of their own people first. There is a high barrier to entry in these unless you’re an immigrant bringing a net positive (wealth, highly skilled in an area that is in demand, or willing to assimilate – fluent in the country’s native language or have a parent from that country). It’s time that America does the same. Looks like Canada, Australia, and Britain can use some changes to their immigration policies too.

    Glenn Greenwald published a video on this topic last week that is worth watching:

  2. StewartM

    Short drive-by

    And, of course, massive immigration’s primary purpose is to hold down wages,

    From where I sit, the actual purpose is to fill jobs, particularly menial jobs, as most businesses I see are running short-handed. It’s a combination of an aging, (already) unhealthy workforce plus Covid. While there may be workers, there aren’t enough healthy workers to do even moderately demanding jobs.

    This situation has led to wage increases for the poorest workers—I see even the burger chains are starting people out at $13 to $15 an hour, undreamed of just a few years ago. But it also means that people get crappy service, and things don’t get done as they’re not enough workers to go around. This feeds the perception that people have that this is a ‘crummy economy’ even though real wages are rising now.

    (This should be a lesson to the Austrian economists among the audience who deny the value of labor, and say that it’s the capitalist class who sit on their butts all day trading stocks who are the ‘creators’).

    For these reasons, immigrants are necessary. I do agree that our social betters have run this experiment for 40-plus years in a deliberate fashion to crush wages. We also don’t have housing because we’ve let the rich buy them up, and don’t have healthy workers because we don’t give people free health care. Even before immigrants started coming here, our real wages under St. Ronnie in the “morning in America” economy were in decline

    Addendum: Please don’t talk BS about AI being some solution just so we can keep the US white and Christian. The last damn thing I want is to get services from clueless bots. If I’m having a problem, I need a person to talk to; I’ve nearly always done all the obvious things.

  3. somecomputerguy

    Background; yet another under appreciated feature of the New Deal; extensive block grants from the federal government to the states. A federal government nominally financed by a very progressive income tax. That’s why local government had money to do things that are unthinkable now.

    Now, if immigrants are any burden at all on local government, that burden is going to be paid for, to some extent, by fines and fees. Fines and fees paid disproportionately by poor people.

    I don’t think it’s unfair to hand someone a union membership card at the border, and demand that they show it.

  4. Daniel Lynch

    The elites not only value immigrants as scab labor, but also as consumers to drive sales growth, because who wants to own stock in a company that is not growing?

    I oppose mass immigration for all those reasons, and in addition because like any population increase it lowers the quality of life and harms the environment.

    My state has suffered from a huge influx of white retired Californians, and I don’t like it for all the same reasons. They’ve driven up the cost of housing, reduced the quality of life, and damaged the environment. They’ve also shifted the political window to the right since these “Orange County Rejects” tend to be old, affluent, and conservative.

    A few immigrants are OK, but a lot of immigrants are not OK. So it has been throughout history.

  5. NR

    It’s not just about wages though. The dirty little secret about immigration that the right doesn’t want to admit is that immigrants do the shit jobs that no one else wants to do. Florida passed one of the most restrictive anti-immigrant laws in the United States and as a result they’ve had major issues finding people to work on farms there. It’s a complicated issue and the solution isn’t as simple as “just end immigration and everyone will get paid more.”

  6. Feral Finster

    TL:DR: say “more immigrants” and PMC yuppies think “cheap au pairs and ethnic restaurants! O goodie!”

    Say “more immigrants” and working class stiffs think “more competition for jobs, increased housing cots and longer lines for services…yay.”

  7. Soredemos

    Immigration should always be tightly regulated. If you don’t believe in that, you implicitly believe in labor arbitrage. Mass immigration is always a means of suppressing wages. Barring the glorious international workers revolution, which, newsflash, has repeatedly utterly failed to happen, nation-states should prioritize their own workers and maintain firm border control.

    I’ll go one further just to make myself a complete asshole in certain people’s eyes: it is not at all unreasonable or racist to expect immigrants to learn the dominate language in the country they’ve moved to. This should be a mutual responsibility; the host country should offer plenty of resources to help new immigrants learn the language. But the phenomenon of little immigrant enclaves where no one has to learn to language and they just come to rely on second or later generation kids to play interpreter, that shouldn’t happen.

  8. Soredemos


    I’ll go even further on the last point and say that outside of the initial language learning services, bi or multilingual public education is an abomination and shouldn’t exist. All it does is degrade the quality of the education in the dominate language, which should be the sole focus. The only exceptions should be states like Finland or Switzerland where public and government business is to some extent multilingual in day to day function.

  9. Soredemos

    @Daniel Lynch

    If elites were particularly worried about increasing consumer demand they wouldn’t pay most immigrants shit wages. The primary focus is on getting cheap workers.

  10. Joe

    My pet grudge, Don’t forget that the U.S. military has been vacuuming up young heathy people from the workforce for years to send off to places they return from with broken bodies and minds. A good portion of them are not only unable and unwilling to work but trained killers. Killers that can’t be left to run amok in the general population. They are paid to remain calm and medicated. Somebody has to replace them in the workforce and pay for them.
    More homeless in Canada than California, Wow.

  11. Curt Kastens

    The immigration numbers that we are seeing now are just the tip of the comming Tzu Nami. What are we going to do in the comming years as the number of failed states increases year by year. Are we going to build mine fields backed by trenches and machine gun everyone that manages to pass through the mine field with both legs??
    Things will not get better. We are all going to DIE in the next few decades and things are just going to become more and more disfunctional everywhere.
    Do you want your final testement to be that you stood in trench and machine gunned starving teenagers as they tried to survive by moving to a more hospitable climate??
    I can sympathize with those that want to limit immigration because it will destroy the social safety net even faster. Sadly events are superceeding old ways of thinking.
    We in the west have had a better life collectively speaking because we have used up the resources of the global south before the people of the global south could get around to doing it. This was made possible by agencies of the collective west often sabotaging the reformists governments of the global south.
    Immigration to the global north is the blow back of those policies. A blow back that was very perdictable. But do not forget that collectively speaking the global north had a party at the expense of those in the global south for decades.
    It is true that the benifits of that exploitation was not at all equally shared in the global north. So, who should you want to take action against for this state of affairs? A teenager from Guatemala trying to cross the border to live or those that created and nurtured the system that has led to this state of affairs??

  12. jrs

    I sometimes ponder “what does the right actually offer anyone, that it is becoming more popular globally?” I mean grievance politics fine, but I mean concretely. Now one can say that a lot of liberal centrist parties aren’t great either, and fine. But that doesn’t answer the question which wasn’t “why political apathy?”, but rather what is the right’s appeal and what does it offer ANYONE (beyond a few rich people) but grievance politics? What has caused it to become more popular globally?

    And the only thing I can come up with is immigration. Now this is super true in Europe, where it is why many social democratic parties have been losing, and it is more merely a propaganda tool in the U.S. where most people are NOT actually affected by immigration much. But yea that’s what it promises concretely. I’m not saying it even delivers necessarily, but that’s what it promises. And yes of course this rise of the right and the decline in social democratic parties is very bad.

    The problem is it’s very hard to be anti-immigrant morally when the immigrants are going to increasingly be climate refugees. We all know it. And the global north, and recently including China too of course, is what has driven climate change. And the immigrants are just trying to escape the hell we have created. But meanwhile that leads to the rise of right wing parties that will destroy our societies and the world even more.

  13. Life expectancy has fallen below what it was 25 years ago (America). 50 years ago Autism was unheard of while now almost 10% of male children get inflicted with it. Right now if you’re under 20 years old and do NOT have a chronic illness you’re in the minority. We spend a trillion dollars a year committing war crimes and bombing other countries. The cost of technological goods, utilities, healthcare, insurance, etc would be 1/10 what it is if our government didn’t give billionaires like Bill Gates monopolies. Trump and Jeff Bezos would be broke if they had to pay the back taxes they cheated on. The rich pay lower tax rates then the poor.

    Western society is like if you were 7 miles in the air on a Boeing 747. It is nose diving into the ground, and everyone on board is yelling about whether we need to kick the immigrants off.

  14. Curt Kastens

    In the specific case of Ukraine the EU citizens had better come to grips with the idea that they are going to have to accept 10s of millions of Ukrainian Refugees in to their countries. The Russians have to take seriously the idea that the west plans on supporting an insurgency inside of the Ukriane in Russian liberated territory.
    If Russians do take that threat seriously it would behove them to expel any Ukrainian that does not want to leave the liberated territory with the exception those people that actually are happy to be liberated.
    If the west wins the war in Ukraine they will demand money from Russia to pay for rebuilding the Ukraine. That would be a win win for the west and a lose lose for the Russians because making Russia repay for rebuilding the Ukraine would assist in destabilizing Russia.
    Therefore it is perfectly legitimate for the Russians to say. Look we can not force the collective west to reimburse us for rebuilding the destruction that the west was responsible for in the first place. But we can force the west to take care of the fools that they took advantage of by incticing those foolish Ukrainians to fight against us. We can force them to take care of the Ukrainians by force marching them over the border with the other NATO countries. And if the NATO countries do not accept these foolish Ukrainians then the west is going to have to watch them starve to death between the NATO and Russian Forces because we are certianly not going to shed any tears over their slow deaths. The deaths of the Ukrainian children will be a tradgedy that they did not deserve. But their deaths will be on the heads of the western leadership not ours. And if Ukrainian parents have to watch their children die of starvation because the west nations do not let them in. They might finally learn a good lesson. A lessson learned to late for this life. But it might serve them in the next if Buddha knows anything.

    I am not joking even a little bit about my own willingness to watch Ukrainina children die of starvation. That is the inevitable consequence of the collective west not dealing in good faith with other nations. Because of that I will save my pity for Russian and Palestinian Children.

    I do not give a fuck if anyone in the collective westthinks that I am a genocidal maniac the west has shown that it a completely principleless collection of nations. Therefore the peoples of these countries have no right to even complain about their suffering let alone claim that they have a right to defend themselves.

    I can make the claim to have a right to defend myself though because I am a coral island in a sea of corruption, just barely staying above the water at high tide. I recognize that most people in the west are powerless. What I mean is that western nations can no longer claim a right to collective self defence against counter attacks from thier victims. But some people in western nations can claim a right to self defence againt the exploitation and coercion of their own governments.

  15. mago

    As a former restaurant guy and all around roving sociological anthropologist type I’ve taken note of, oh, let’s just call it the dishwasher class or the grunt class.
    Of course I’ve worked with many a Mexicano, but also Asian rarities such as Khemer Rouge in Boston of all places. They lived in Allston/ Brighton and slept five (at least) in one room apartments coordinating day and night shifts so everyone got their bedtime.

    The Mexicanos did much the same, although they were usually packed into a trailer.
    The thing is that white boys and girls are fairly worthless when it comes to dishwashing or berry picking or weeding beet fields. Call on your brown skinned friends. They’re used to third world ways.
    Could become a survival skill in the first and second worlds.
    And, oh yeah, as an immigrant myself in days gone by, I learned the language sufficiently enough to navigate my world, both in the kitchen and on the street. Most refugees lack the conditions to do so, so they form their transplant enclaves and ghettos.
    Talking about the dispossessed here, not the techno hustler types.
    Anyway, immigration is here to stay, at least for a generation or two or three or more, until the chickens come home to roost—climate crises, war, extremism of all sorts.
    I’ll be gone to that spirit in the sky before it hits the dew point, but in the meantime, in between time . . .

  16. capelin

    It also serves to sow dischord and distraction amoungst the existing populations (of immigrant stock…).

    Who’s causin’ all the problems? Those damn immigrants, and those that are concerned about the situation.

    The other factor not mentioned here is the age-demographic shift in these countries. Lotsa sick and/or entitled old folks, coupled with a few sick and/or entitled young folks with their nose in their phone.

    (I’m generalizing but…) “ya can’t find anyone to actually do any work”. If you do, they are either older than 40 or brown and recent. I’ve heard lots of respect for immigrants because they know how to work.

    In a similar vein, look at how the U.S., via the Syrian war and the chaos of Libya flooded Europe especially, with displaced people. A body blow, and now Ukraine/Norstream and the ME effectively destroying their energy supply and manufacturing.

    A reminder: most people don’t want to leave home if they can at all help it.

  17. bruce wilder

    StewartM: “this is a ‘crummy economy’ even though real wages are rising now”

    predicated on an inflation rate of 3.4% in Urban-CPI for 2023

    does anyone believe that inflation rate is an accurate representation? I don’t.

  18. Some Guy

    A good summary, I feel like the (almost) all-party drive to increase immigration goes beyond purely economic reasons though. It seems almost ideological. For Canada, it will be interesting to see if the PPC gains any traction in the next election as the only party willing to promise a reduction in immigration.

  19. Jan Wiklund

    I would like to know the relation between building and population increase in those countries you have studied.

    In my old hometown (Stockholm) they virtually stopped building in 1993. They had two small spurts in the late 00s and the late 10s. While the population rose from ≈1,8M to ≈2,5M.

    So of course prices rose. Supply and demand.

    But in the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s they managed to more than double the apartment area while the population also more than doubled, from ≈130.000 to ≈300.000. And in the roaring 1960s increase from 1,3M to 1,5M, they were not bad either – except that the quarters they built then are such that those who have the opportunity leave them. On the other hand, what was built in the 1870s through 1890s is still extremely popular.

    And during these spurts the prices didn’t rise.

    So it’s apparently just about priorties. Investors and politicians nowadays don’t prioritize building. I suppose both think it is better to raise prices than to produce more. It is called rentier capitalism.

    In the late 1800s workers of Stockholm explicitely didn’t oppose immigration. They had discussed it but realized that it was ”both impossible and immoral to prevent poor people from working”. Apparently, they had the pull to make the city build apartments for them. I wonder why they don’t have today.

  20. Altandmain

    Ultimately, immigration, like the minimum wage is a class issue.

    It worsens inequality by making real estate more expensive and handed employers more bargaining power to lower wages, to treat workers worse, and to keep the profits for themselves.

    The left has betrayed the working class on this issue. You’ll see social democratic parties losing support all over Europe for this reason. The NDP deserves to be defeated at the polls too. They have been taken over by the upper middle class. They forget that the reason why left wing parties exist was because capitalism sucks. It still does. Yet here they are enabling the capitalists to screw the poorest native citizens.

    But when you have a homeless crisis and very tight and expensive rental and housing markets, obviously bringing in lots of new people is going to hurt the people who are already there who aren’t real-estate speculators and so on, and it’s obviously going to hit the poor, the working class and the middle class where it hurts, both on rent, housing prices and wages.

    Canada has the worse housing per capita ratio of any G7 nation.

    If anything, immigration should be restricted to a handful of professions like skilled trades in construction and where there are real shortages (ex: where there have been wage increases). Employers often lie about shortages to try to lower wages.



    There is one other reason why people vote for conservatives. They have culturally conservative viewpoints on issues such as guns, gay marriage, etc.

    There is a good article on what is needed:

    The major challenge facing Democrats today is that race, gender, identity politics, and religion appear to trump economics, at least as far as politically engaged primary voters go. The old-line Democrats were an economic liberal party with socially conservative and socially liberal wings (the social liberals, in fact, were in a minority). The new Democrats are a socially liberal party with an economic conservative wing (neoliberals) and a progressive economic wing. They all agree on social issues. They are loath to compromise on open borders (which is what the existing immigration dysfunction de facto gives us), transgender bathrooms, making room for pro-life members, or gay married couples’ wedding cakesbecause those are the only issues that hold their economic right and economic left together.

    So really what’s needed is a party that has 2 wings, an economically left, culturally conservative and economically left, culturally liberal divide. Note how most voters are actually economically left:

    That’s why the populists win. That’s also why the New Deal Coalition was successful.

    So the price of a new New Deal majority would be to let Democrats welcome abortion critics and opponents of mass immigration, so long as they favored a higher minimum wage, less “synthetic immigration,” and a pause on globalization (which facilitates international labor arbitrage). In the words of John Judis:

    As long as corporations are free to roam the globe in search of lower wages and taxes, and as long as the United States opens its borders to millions of unskilled immigrants, liberals will not be able to create bountiful, equitable societies, where people are free from basic anxieties about obtaining health care, education and housing.

    Actually, I think that this understates the number of cultural conservative, economically left voters. But that makes it even more important to do so.

    With a power vacuum, the right wing populists are left to fill in the gap now that the left has either betrayed the working class and joined the upper middle class. What’s surprising is how clueless many liberals are about this. They aren’t nearly as smart as they think and they are running their nations off a proverbial cliff.

  21. StewartM

    Bruce Wilder

    does anyone believe that inflation rate is an accurate representation? I don’t.

    Even if you don’t (and I might agree on some things) BUT you believe the numbers are rigged, you still can compare against other (similarly rigged) numbers. So yes, 3.4 % is “real” when compared to similar numbers in the past.

    Or are you arguing that inflation under, say, Reagan (the first president to start cooking the inflation books) of 5 % or more was less than the 3.4 % of today? And it’s unquestionable that real wages fell under Reagan even with the cooked numbers.

  22. StewartM


    As a former restaurant guy and all around roving sociological anthropologist type I’ve taken note of, oh, let’s just call it the dishwasher class or the grunt class.

    I did that very job! Plus janitor, plus restaurant, plus many more menial jobs!

    I once told a high school kid with a top-notch SAT score in school when he asked what kind of job he should do, I answered “Be a janitor. Do a job where people come up to you and talk to you like you’re stupid, and you should be amazed that these folks put up with this every day”.

    When I’ve done carry-out orders from my local restaurants, some of them are now including job invitations with the order (like “Would you like to work here?”) Some restaurants only do carry-out and delivery now as they don’t have enough employees to service in-restaurant dining.

  23. Jan Wiklund

    It seems I have to answer my own question: why haven’t workers the power they had 140 years ago to make the rulers build apartments for them, thus avoiding rent hikes?

    Of course it’s because they fell into the paternalistic trap during the 20th century. Instead of controlling their own parties and trade unions they left them to employed officials. Worst of all, of course, on the state level but also in the trade unions.

    Employed officials are middle class. If they get any power they soon become upper middle class, and begin to think like other upper middle class people. With time, ideology trumps reality, cultural issues trump economical. And we get into the stupid culture wars we have now instead of focusing on the economical issues that are most important to people. Culture can fend for itself brilliantly.

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