I was focusing on those countries[western Scandinavia] because on paper they should be the best countries for an immigrant to arrive in and quickly become a net contributor to the economy. I can bring up others... in the UK it is estimated that immigration from outside the EU between 1995 and 2007 cost £120 billion, in France it ends up costing around 26 billion euros a year with immigrants being twice as likely to be unemployed as the existing population and in Spain it's at roughly 25 billion euros.
Fair enough, but I'm not sure if absolute cost per year should be enough to sway people from bringing in refugees. How much of a relative cost is that, really? What else have those countries done with similar sums of money recently? Granted there's always someone who says 'not one dime of mine
' for this or that and it seems easy to say that if "that" is funding for someone labeled as a different group somehow at the start. But that may still be more a political will problem than a simple feasibility statement.
Perhaps for some comparison, here's an argument that Canada
for example could afford to catch up with say, German levels of immigration -- at least, by a fraction. This speaks to both how cheaply (relatively!) immigration can be subsidized, and what might be possible when people do have the will and not just a spirit of "no one rides for free in my great country, everyone
should suffer as I have all their life!"
Contrary to popular perception, the government of Canada pays very little to support refugees arriving in Canada. Financial support can be provided for up to one year or until they find work, whichever comes first. In Ontario, a single refugee could receive up to $781 per month for a year, in addition to a one-time allowance of $905. Germany calculates that they spend slightly more, about $11,600 (in Canadian dollars) per new refugee. Increasing our refugee intake by a factor of 20 would cost approximately $2.2 billion a year.
That might sound like a lot, but it works out to $63 per Canadian. The parties would only need to give up a few of the boutique tax credits they are sprinkling across the country. Better yet, the government could pledge to match whatever the public promises up to a maximum of $1.1 billion. This would cut the cost in half and force Canadians to put up or shut up. When this approach has been used in the past, to address an overseas natural disaster for example, the public has been extremely generous. We might surprise ourselves.
Frankly I'd also hold Germany up as a good example of why the "use immigrants to fill the low skill manual labour jobs market" position is a weak one; they did exactly that in the 1960's and 70's with Turkish workers during the Wirtschaftswunder. Today those Turkish immigrant communities (and their children) are stuck in an economic underclass with low levels of employment, income or integration.
Again that's fair enough if you assume nothing else can/should ever change to deal with the present situation better... But Germany doesn't generally use the same logic to drive policy and thus just kick the Turkish community out, either (as far as I know, though some rightists might prefer to). The United States is more or less aware that the Black population, or take the Filipino population in Hawaii, or some of the Native American population in quite a few states, or much of the Latino population now are not making huge financial headway...
All of these are de facto economic underclasses. The existence of underclasses -- and state interest in having them -- isn't a result of "generous" immigration policy. That's just rhetoric the far right trots out whenever they think they can get some votes and rally the people against a handy scapegoat/distraction, particularly when the overall economy is suffering and the middle class is getting dragged down too. But the Western economic models generally require
an underclass; the only question is how many is too many to be merely as 'flexible' (i.e. to fill the quota of expendables) as the market wishes.
If you really have a problem with encouraging underclasses as such
, then perhaps adopt a model that distributes wealth more equally than what we have (here's Europe
just for example, have talked about the US enough elsewhere). Then it's more convincing to argue about how relatively affordable or not taking in more people on subsidies is, in some larger picture of what's feasible. Governments have
already been funding the policy
of encouraging underclasses for a very long time. While there might be some limit to just how many people a country can take in on some basis or other, it's odd to say they don't want to fund what they are
otherwise funding until we have a really convincing reason for drawing the line in some particular place.