Open Borders — Yes or No? An Analysis
In today’s world, open borders seems as far away as it’s ever been. Across the entire spectrum of political parties this issue is a non-starter even with the most liberal of parties.
Although many support the idea most ignore it for being utopian and unrealistic. We believe this is because most discussions around the issue are focused on ‘why’ it should be enacted rather than ‘how’ it could be enacted. Thus, with the absence of any concrete plans as to how it can be achieved, it stays exactly what people say it is — Utopian and unrealistic. Now before we look at whether it can be achieved, we should see whether it is even a good idea.
But (and this is a big but), we cannot make the mistake in thinking that opening borders is a trivial matter.
Now before we are to even begin tackling an issue as sensitive as this one, a certain level of maturity is needed. Open borders brings with it a whole host of issues & concerns and ignoring these would be irresponsible.
One of the principle objections to open borders is due to the fact that our world today has severe wealth inequalities between nations, ironically, a direct consequence of closed borders. This wealth inequality means that wealthier countries, were they to adopt an open border policy, will always be exposed to significant increases in migration from the citizens of poorer nations. This problem was summed up by the nobel prize winning economist Milton Friedman who said:
“With an unlimited supply of immigration, and limited resources from the host nation, a policy of open immigration would just not be sustainable for the host nation.”
Because dismantling the welfare state is an untenable solution, this leads to three things:
- An acceptance that open-borders is impossible thus the discussion is closed;
- ‘Solutions’ such as the exclusion of migrants from accessing welfare;
- Morally reprehensible outcomes such as the acceptance and legalisation of policies such as the imprisoning of families inside cocentration camps.
You see, migrational force on a nation can be analagous to water flow and a hydro-dam. Each dam (each nation) has a certain capacity of energy which it can safely harness & utilises to its full potential. Too high and the dam breaks. If one nation were to suddenly open its borders without the capacity to harness incoming migrational ‘potential energy’, then this energy would be wasted. Migrants would be competing for a limited number of jobs and houses, infrastructure strain would occur, rent would increase and so on and so forth. Of course, this issue would be mitigated somewhat if all countries or a bloc of rich nations (such as the European Union) were to simultaneously open their borders, however even if this level of coordination were possible (which it isn’t), this solution would be unable to handle the predicted levels of migration. The figures make for sober reading (not least because it illuminates the reality of life for such a large percentage of humanity today):
Excluding those who would are classed as refugees (that is those who are fleeing war, political persecution and so forth) the most accurate and extensive poll to date (460,000 people from 93% of countries) estimates that if they had the chance, 750 million people would choose to migrate from their home nation if they could. Coincidentally or not, this is around the same number who live in the UNs definition of extreme poverty or those that live on $1.90 or less per day. The result would be populations of the USA increasing by 150 million, Germany by 42 million & the UK by 30 million. Of course, like all data, this can only be used to build part of the truth. The data doesn’t tell us:
- over what time frame this migration would occur;
- and itdoesn’t take into account the factors which might prevent an individual from moving such as financial limitations, psychological barriers and cultural expectations.
However if we assume that these barriers would at some point in time be overcome by the individual there can be no denying that the world would experience a dramatic demographic shift.
Here is where we must be honest:
There is simply no way that any country can handle an increase in populations of this scale — infra-structurally, psychologically or sociologically. If we try to sugar-coat these numbers we will be disingenuous to the problem at hand and disastrous policy (of which we have already seen examples of) will be the result. The refugee crisis which began to ramp up in 2015 has already given us an insight into the consequences of blanket open border policies:
In 2015, Germany let in 1.5 million people, and Sweden let in 400,000 (these weren’t technically migrants as most were refugees from war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan but this doesn’t change the fact that there was a large increase in populations).
What was the result?
Far right, anti-immigration parties achieving their biggest wins since the end of the second world war. Extreme situations always lead to extreme reactions and in Greece, the country hardest hit with this pressure, this resulted in a party who openly practised the Hitler salute being elected into the Parliament.
However whilst these reactions may be bad enough, that is nothing compared to what is coming.
Whilst it took only around 5 million migrants to practically bring the European Union to it’s knees, there is an incoming crisis that unless is adequately solved, will make the current crisis seem like a walk in the park.
Over the next 30 years, it is estimated 300 million people will be upended due to the effects of climate change. Now whether climate change is occuring because of the pumping of co2 into the atmosphere or the cutting down of rainforest; or whether it is due to naturally occuring macro climatic changes is besides the point. Everyone on both sides of the argument can agree that the world IS warming. And this means that changes WILL occur on this planet. Changes that will directly affect 100s of millions, likely billions of people. In fact we are seeing these changes already occur today. Crops are failing more frequenetly, yields are getting smaller. This is a massive problem because as it currently stands, around 80% of the people on this planetin the developing world, 60 % of the people rely upon agriculature to make their living.
What happens when they can’t do that anymore?
They leave their lands. Already we are seeing an exodus of people away from rural areas towards the cities. This puts pressure on cities & on the job market in the developing economies. Because these economies cannot absorb this increasing demand, people leave their home countries in the search for greener pastures.
What will happen when 100 million people are banging at the gates of Europe?
To make matters worse, the one thing a migrant wants is a job. And the one thing the world is rapidly losing are jobs. AI, develoipment is rapidly taking away jobs. Many people push back against this argument by using the example of the weave. They say that “new jobs will be created” or “look at all the jobs that have been produced since the industrial revolution”. Well, there is a very important concept that people who trade the financial markets repeatedly confirm and that is:
‘past results do not indicicate future results’.
Whilst it may have been true in the past that greater technological advancement resulted in the creation of more jobs, it doesnt neccesarily mean it will be true. It might be, but if we look at the current trends, it seems incredibly unlikely. In fact, one of the biggest employers Mcdonalds have halved the number of employees whilst expanding rapidly their number of restaurants. And one only needs to look at the High-street to see how e-commerce has destroyed it. Even though it hasn’t happened yet, accountants will not be needed when everything is automatically recorded on distributed ledgers. Drivers will not be needed with self driving cars. Most lawyers will not be needed when smart contracts elimanate the need for hand written contracts. And decentralised finance will bankrupt the banking industry. Yes, new jobs will be created, but will this outpace the rate of destruction? It seems highly unlikely.
So we have a perfect storm. How do we prevent this from becoming a nation destablising issue?
First, we must recognize that this migrational pressure exists. And that it is problematic. It’s problematic for the host nations, it’s problematic for the nations of which the migrant leaves and above all else, it’s problematic for the people looking to migrate.
Second, we must recongize that the current policies (that of building walls & imprison families) — aside from being morally reprehensible — do nothing to actually stop migration from happening. All they do is hide the issue and destablises everywhere outside the walls. We must recognise that the person migrating north does not do so for the weather. Nor do they do so to ‘steal anyones job’. They are simply searching for a better life. This will to survive is the very characteristic that has spread humanity to every corner of the globe and is the reason why we are alive today. It is what humanity has always done. The theory of evolution states that species that fail to adapt to a changing environment die off. Migration IS evolution in human form. And just like you cannot stop evoluition, you cannot stop migration.
Moving on logically then, if nations cannot absorb this pressure, the only solution therefore is by reducing this migrational pressure.
How to do that?
With an increase in the quality of the migrants lifes at home. Some use this to wash their hands of the issue; to deflect the problem away from their own nation. But unfortunately this argument comes from incredible ignorance as to the realities of global international relations. Let us explore this further by looking at the conclusion of some research conducted by a group of NGOs Curtis-research. In their research they found that:
“at lower poverty lines ($1.90 according to the UN’s definition of extreme poverty), the national redistributive capacity to end poverty emerges thus poverty is a matter of national inequality”
“At the $10 poverty lines, which is associated with permanent escape from poverty, global poverty remains a matter of global inequality, as while national resources could address global poverty at the lower lines, such resources would not be enough to end poverty at $10 per day.“
In other words, even if a nation were to fix all it’s internal issues (with corruption being the main one), that still wouldn’t be enough to allow it’s citizens to permanently escape poverty. The relationships that currently exist between nations make this an impossibility. This might explain why people would feel compelled to clamber aboard rickety old boats and risk their own lives ones life to escape this trap. When you have a situation where someone, no matter what they do is unable to escape poverty, they are left with one option and that is to leave the area. For the nationalist to believe that the people who suffocated to death under the weight of the meditarenaon ocean were trying to steal their mind-numbingly boring, unskilled, low paid, job shows a person proundly ignorant to the realities of todays world and thoroughly brainwashed to their own nationalist propoganda. Again, whatever your stance on immigration may be, building walls (no matter how high) — do not treat the symptoms of the problems.
We have three solutions.
1. Keep building walls. A ridiculous, ignorant and totally terrible solution.
2. Open the borders. This is untenible. And terrible.
Now, the future of humanity does not lie with borders. Or nationalism. We are one human race inhabiting a shared home and if we want to mature as a species, we must transcend the immaturities of tribalist nationalism, divisions and borders. Unfortunately however, most people have been thoroughly nationalised and indoctrinated to their nationalist programs (and will continue to be as they pass through the national curriculum of each school and are continually exposed to their nationalist propoganda exposed to them). This is something that I believe will take 1, perhaps 2 generations more to be the minority view. And by that time, 100s of millions of people will have already been upended. And so that leaves us with only one solution in the present moment as far as I can see and that is through the establishing of a global universal basic income.
Why Universal Basic Income & not other welfare programs?
Due to its integrate-ability into the existing economic system the UBI is by far the most practical solution to reduing this global migrational pressure. And by utilising the invisible hand of the market, the UBI would do so far quicker than any other available policy in the toolkit.
Rather than money being distributed with central planning, each citizen would receive the income streamed directly to their bank account (digital wallet). This would bypass all intermediary corruption (ie politicians siphoning off money, wasteful spending etc).
In essence, the UBI will act as an economy stimulator or quantitative easing for the people. With this ‘stimulation fund’, private & public investment would be able to enter markets & develop infrastructure (schools, hospitals, houses, roads, energy, finance, insurance) with safety in the knowledge that there was sufficient ‘market liquidity’ or ‘market potential’ to pay for it. Importantly, even with the absence of investment by the public sector (governments), the private sector would still be able to enter & take care of society’s most pressing needs.
Now the big question is…
How can we as a society afford this?
Easily. Very easily in fact.
Data taken from the Bank of International Settlements (the ‘Central Banks Central Bank’) indicates that:
Global Financial Transactions between 2012 to 2019 amounted to nearly $97 quadrillion (Yes, $97 quadrillion).
A 0.01% tax on this amount would have collected $9.7 trillion in that time or $1.2 trillion per year. That equates to around $1600 for every man, woman and child on this planet. A 0.1% tax on this amount would collect $97 trillion or $12 trillion per year equating to around $16,000 for every man, woman and child on this planet. The World Bank has set the extreme poverty line at being $693.5 per year. Implementing this tax and distributing it directly to people would eliminate global poverty in an instant and stop this migrational pressure.
Note: we must recognise that although $1600 per year for those living in extreme poverty would be life transformational, that amount wouldn’t do much in the developed world. In developed economies where there are functioning tax and social welfare systems, it makes far more sense to implement the basic income in the form of a negative income tax.
Of course, we must realise that the chance of collecting all those taxes is unlikely.
All transactions in society went through a decentralised globally distributed ledger and were taxed automatically via a smart contract (smart taxation). It would literally take a few lines of code to implement this tax on all transactions going through the BIS — Bank for International Settlements (the ‘central banks central bank’).
What about privacy?
Individuals transaction information & history will be hidden from public view with the use of privacy enabling technologies. The only information required for the smart contract to work is the total amount of transactions on the network.
Aren’t transaction taxes bad?
Now some say that a transaction tax is bad for markets (mostly lobbyists for the banks). That is simply not true. Financial transcation taxes increase the difference between the price of ‘the spread’, NOT the price of the asset itself. In fact, an absence of a financial transaction tax probably negatively effects asset prices as it makes speculation far more profitable which increases overall market volatility. The following page is dedicated to answering this question in more detail here.
Thanks for Reading.
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