Are we luring migrants to their deaths?

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If the governments of third world countries can’t spend money on social services because they don’t have the money, how is it moral for the governments of first world countries to spend money they don’t have on social services?

One of the biggest differences between Western countries and the Third World is the level of support the government provides to make people’s lives better.  Of course, we do a lot off our own bats, creating jobs, inventing new things and ideas, and participating in our culture.  Democracy and an open economy are the foundation upon which our rich society flourishes.  But governments also play a massive role in maintaining a high standard of living.

To put this difference in its starkest terms, would you rather go to a public hospital in Bolivia, or a public hospital in Australia?  Would you rather be out of work in Bangladesh, or out of work in Great Britain?  Would you rather go to a public school in Sweden, or a public school in Nigeria?  Western countries have stronger economies, so their governments have more resources to invest in infrastructure and to perpetually support social services, however imperfectly.

But this does not tell the whole story.  Until a decade ago, Australia was able to maintain its social services out of its own pocket, but in recent years under both governments, its debt has grown higher than it has ever been, and social services expanded.  Europe has been running deficits for decades to support its welfare state, and the US debt has doubled under the Obama administration while government programs increase in size and number.

Western governments are borrowing money to give to us, using money we don’t have, to make our lives better.  We can do this because banks and other states calculate that they will get the money back, with interest.

But when you look at the monumental levels of debt being amassed across the Western World, the question has to be asked if it is ever going to be paid back.  Given that in many cases the best governments have been able to achieve is to slow the rate at which the debt is rising, and given how electorates are becoming increasingly addicted to support from the government, my fear is that the answer is no.

So a situation exists where Western states are able to make the lives of their citizens better by borrowing money which they are never going to pay back.

This situation poses a moral dilemma when we consider immigration from the Third World to the First World, its ever increasing numbers, and its ever increasing cost on those who attempt it.  The argument over whether immigrants come to our country to take our welfare and our jobs, or come to create new wealth, jobs and opportunities, is perennial; let’s assume it is a bit of both.  What is undeniable is that one of the reasons immigrants move to Western countries is that the quality of life is better, and one of the reasons the quality of life is better is that the government funds it.

With money it doesn’t have.

Which it is never going to pay back.

Immigrants from the Third World often come from countries which are not able to fund the level of social service infrastructure we enjoy here, partly due to the fact that they do not have the money, and if they were to borrow it, they would not be able to pay it back.

So, if we pay for social services through deficit spending, we are effectively participating in a grand, global hoax, whereby millions of desperate people are fleeing from one country which cannot support its people because it does not have the money, to another country which does support its people, even though it does not have the money either.

The blood of tens of thousands of souls who have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, the Timor Sea, or the Rio Grande, is on the hands of this unaffordable welfare.  This is important, because arguments for the welfare state are regularly placed in both economic and moral terms.  But the system is economically unsustainable, and increasingly morally bankrupt.

The solution must be to pare back government spending so its supports only the poorest of the poor, to become more self reliant, and find new ways, or rediscover old ways, in which to help each other.  Open markets have lifted over a billion people out of poverty in Asia over the last few decades, and can continue to do so throughout the world if given the chance.

It is morally wrong to offer the false hope of unsustainable government aid to millions of people prepared to risk their lives to come here.  And it would be a dreadful irony if we were to stifle what has made our societies so successful, just as the rest of the world is catching on.

 

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David Hiscox
David has studied history and political science at Melbourne University. His thesis was written on how the utilisation of Missile Defence can help to achieve nuclear disarmament. His interest in history was piqued by playing a flight simulator computer game about the Battle of Britain, and he hopes to one day siphon the earnings from his political writings into funding the greatest prog-rock concept album the world has ever seen.