The Immigration Benefit in the Economic Equation

As long as we’re on the topic of immigration (which I have been), I might as well address the economic argument heard so often.  We regularly hear how “illegal” immigrants put a financial drain on public services.  The services most often cited are health care resources and public schools.  While there can be no question that the use of public services costs tax money, the only way an economic argument is reasonable is if both sides of the equation are figured.  You must count not only the “minuses” without also figuring in the “plusses” for an accurate accounting.

In his book “From Boom to Bust and Beyond,” economist Jerry Tuma goes into great detail regarding the economy’s dependence on consumer spending.  He spells out how roughly 70% of the stimulus of our economy is based on consumer spending.  He further explains that since consumer spending drives the economy, population is the greatest indicator of the ups and downs of the economy.  Specifically, the segment of the society which spends the most is the 40-somethings.  As evidence, we are coming off a great time of prosperity as the baby boomers were in prime spending years.  Now, as the baby boomers are retiring and spending less, the economy will suffer some lag until the next surge in population ages to the point of their prime spending years. 

The “x” factor in population is immigration.  If there are immigrants during periods of negative or neutral population trending, their spending will boost the consumer spending.  They buy gas, groceries, etc. which are the goods that benefit local commerce and drive the economy.  People coming to this country buy in this country and that generates growth and prosperity in this country. They buy household goods, services, groceries, etc. which benefits local commerce and communities.  That benefit is real for everyone involved. 

The point is about allowing for the fact that these people who left their countries looking for a better life actually contribute.  They want to be a part of something they have believed can be great.  Typically, they value family and hard work.  They want their children to have things better than they did.  These kinds of motivation are consistent with the very heart of the men and women who founded and built our country in the first place.  It’s easy with time to give the founders and builders credit for their contributions and forgive the costs of their mistakes.  Consistent with that thinking, it’s only right that we credit the newest wave of builders with their contributions even if we are not yet comfortable with forgiving the costs of their decisions.

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